April 22, 2014

Am I Behind the Times?

In a recent discussion on some forum board it was brought up that certain Pathfinder adventures do not provide the stats for some of the encounters/monsters the players can run into. Instead, notes are made as to which book contains the listed monster. This was done in the name of saving page space. Thereafter it was brought up that the stats can be looked up online for free so a GM does not need to actually own the book that has the monster stats.

I counter-argued that when I purchase an adventure I want the stats in the adventure I am running. Going online to look up monster stats is not extra work I want to be forced to do to run an adventure; any extra work I do to run an adventure is always geared toward integrating the published adventure to how my group and their characters play. However, this article is not about the merits of including monster stats in a published adventure. Instead, this article is about some of the comments during the discussion that leads me to believe that I am behind the times in how I run my rpg games.

It seemed to me that a lot of people were surprised that someone does not use a laptop or other device during game play. To them is seemed that using a laptop was natural and a no-brainer - that everyone does it now. Maybe this is a by-product of the modern age where everyone has some sort of device connected to the internet at all times. I am the only person in my circle of friends without a cell-phone. I do not game with a computer at the game table. Sure, I do use the internet and computers extensively for rpgs. Heck, I write a blog on gaming. The one thing I don't do is use one at the table on game night. I've never seen a need.

And yet there are now products being put out by one of the biggest rpg game publishers out there that in effect requires a gamer to have internet access - requires the use of the internet in order to be able to use their products. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with a product that absolutely requires outside sources in order to make it work. Back with 4E many people complained that you needed their character generation software in order to make characters. However, not even 4E required this; sure, it made things easier but they were never required. You could pick up any 4E adventure and run it without opening another book.

Is this intimate tie between gaming and internet (or computer devices) a thing that will continue to become even more intertwined? I certainly hope not, but I fear it will become so. I am all for computers and the internet enhancing play, but I feel they should be enhancements, not requirements. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I agree completely. I'm a huge proponent of simple paper, dice, pencils and books.

Nicholas Bergquist said...

All my players have laptops or tablets at the game tabke...I have stacks of books and paper. I've told them that the day they can always beat me to the punch on looking something up maybe I'll convert then. I have a Microsoft Surface, and lots of tablets....but running the game with them is not a natural-feeling experience to me, and slows me down considerably.

Kevin said...

Tablets and laptops at the table can be a huge resource, but they can also be a huge distraction. DM/GM prep has gotten a lot better over the years, and is nothing like it was back in the early days of the hobby. I think DM/GM's should have everything in a published adventure necessary to run it already within the adventure. This was one of the best innovations from the 4e era. With the adventure and a rules compendium, I could run at GenCon, Origins, or any other location with confidence. Back in AD&D it was common for me to have 5 or more books behind the screen with me. Leaving monster stats out of a published adventure unless it is super generic, and there is a digital bestiary for the N systems that are supported.

So I am ok with Legacy of the Crystal Shard and Murder in Baldur's Gate, since they were intentionally multi-edition compatible, but since Pathfinder only has one version, to leave out monster stats seems to be cheap or lazy. Something that undermines the impression that Paizo does things better than WotC, assuming Paizo is the publisher in question. If not, then a 3PP is not living up to the standard.

Anonymous said...

Seconding Kevin on distraction. I hate, hate, hate hearing the gentle bong of a push update at the gaming table.

Respect the table.

Anonymous said...

pretty nice blog, following :)