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"Realistic" things that no-one actually wants to deal with in fantasy games

FoolishOwl

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I imagine you could design a game in which the adventurers travelled with an entourage of support staff and guards, and that part of the game was developing, maintaining, and protecting that entourage, allowing the adventurers to travel farther and explore more dangerous areas and so on. But that might get away from the focus on individual heroism.

Also, I have to think of Brecht here. "Caesar beat the Gauls. / Was there not even a cook in his army?"
 

Dalillama

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I imagine you could design a game in which the adventurers travelled with an entourage of support staff and guards, and that part of the game was developing, maintaining, and protecting that entourage, allowing the adventurers to travel farther and explore more dangerous areas and so on. But that might get away from the focus on individual heroism
To an extent, early edititions of [A]D&D were that game, or at least were written with the expectation that people would play them that way. (Which I'm wondering might account for some of the prevalence of save or die effects; hirelings could be the ones who find that out, just by being in the wrong place when an attack comes in). There's extensive rules for hiring all those sorts of helpers, and the wargamers who kicked it all off naturally assumed that of course everyone would put together expeditions with hirelings etc. because that's what you do when you're preparing an expedition into a hazardous wilderness. But it's not what you do in Lord of the Rings or the Shannara books or the Belgariad or etc. Those are all small bands of heroes who are semi-undercover for various reasons and/or have other reasons to not bring an entourage. So all the second wave players, who weren't wargamers and didn't have at their fingertips details about the military journals of Captain so and so and the details of the First Crusade and suchlike, but wanted to play Frodo or Allanon or Mandorallen, just said 'what's all this about hirelings and such? I guess it's a name level thing, we'll worry about it then'. And there were a lot more of them than there ever were medieval wargamers, so that perspective tended to shape the game thereafter, and it got more and more about a small band of lone heroes and less and less about warlords and mercenaries.
 

WistfulD

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We (speaking as a second-waver taught by first wavers) certainly were aware of the fact that the first thing you did with your first big haul was not buy some cool new gear, but instead hire some hirelings to help you survive to get your second big haul. In some ways the ruleset did support it, especially by negative reinforcement of the contrapositive -- you really need so many front-liners to jam the dungeon hallways to defend the back line full of wizards, injured, and lightly-armored hirelings (as well as people to guard the pack animals while you were down in the dungeon). Exactly how one actually plays early edition TSR A/D&D without hirelings is a mystery to me, other than we all had our own houserules for later play (such as a gentleperson's agreement that people can't push past the front line very readily). On the other hand, in many ways the game didn't support it for reasons such as that hirelings recede in relative resilience as PCs level (and start facing more opponents with save-or-dies or area-effects).

As [U]Lukas Sjöström[/U] brought up, other games exist which address this problem in ways I feel D&D never quite perfected. Those games do struggle, though (or not have as a design goal, I should qualify) to have the same individual heroism level, as FoolishOwl puts it, as D&D after people decided on the 4-6 person party.

It's as if Adventuring for a living was dangerous or something! :D
That's a great realism explanation, but I posit that that's an example of game-not-really-supporting. Realistically (again, this is the thread topic we are supposedly discussing), adventuring like this, with the casualty rates amongst hirelings like those early D&D generated would simply not be a common thing (and hireling rates would be through the roof, all paid in advance, to their presumably-future-grieving-family).

I'm not saying we didn't play that way, and have a rollicking good time. I encourage self-taught second-wavers and later to explore what the early game looked like, because a lot of complaints about the early game come from not understanding the initial context. However, when looking through the filter of realism (such as supporting the knight with a weapon for every occasion), one should note how some of the assumptions of the game are going to run into them.

As I said way upthread, on some level, treasure-hunting in extreme-unknown arenas (dungeons) in a world full of undead and dragons is in some ways inherently unrealistic. If we press on one lever of realism (the right arms for the right opponent), it is going to push up against another one. That is to be expected.
 

Dalillama

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We (speaking as a second-waver taught by first wavers)
My point is that a lot of second-wavers weren't, though. They (or I suppose I should say we) just went round to the shop, saw a Fantasy Game with wizards in, and started playing with their fantasy nerd pals.
On the other hand, in many ways the game didn't support it for reasons such as that hirelings recede in relative resilience as PCs level (and start facing more opponents with save-or-dies or area-effects).
Yeah, that's definitely an issue, and one that might've been fixed in later editions had they continued to focus on that style of play.
Realistically (again, this is the thread topic we are supposedly discussing), adventuring like this, with the casualty rates amongst hirelings like those early D&D generated would simply not be a common thing (and hireling rates would be through the roof, all paid in advance, to their presumably-future-grieving-family).
Maybe not. Lots of massivly hazardous jobs historically paid absolute garbage. Sailing, mining, soldiering, and farm labour* all come to mind. And, like soldiers, hirelings expect to be in for a share of any loot that's acquired, which can amount to quite a lot if you're lucky. A risk of death for a chance at wealth is something a lotta folk have done over the years.

*I'm minded of a folk song in which a recruiter extolls the safety and luxury of being in the army over being a hired farmhand.
 

DarkStarling

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My point is that a lot of second-wavers weren't, though. They (or I suppose I should say we) just went round to the shop, saw a Fantasy Game with wizards in, and started playing with their fantasy nerd pals.

Yeah, that's definitely an issue, and one that might've been fixed in later editions had they continued to focus on that style of play.

Maybe not. Lots of massivly hazardous jobs historically paid absolute garbage. Sailing, mining, soldiering, and farm labour* all come to mind. And, like soldiers, hirelings expect to be in for a share of any loot that's acquired, which can amount to quite a lot if you're lucky. A risk of death for a chance at wealth is something a lotta folk have done over the years.

*I'm minded of a folk song in which a recruiter extolls the safety and luxury of being in the army over being a hired farmhand.
Probably the most direct equivalent is being a whaler. In for the long haul for dirt pay and you WILL be fighting giant creatures that can easily kill you, but you have experts and if you luck out you can make it rich.
 

FoolishOwl

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Yeah, that's definitely an issue, and one that might've been fixed in later editions had they continued to focus on that style of play.
It's also the case that strategy games of various kinds are quite popular, both computer games and board games, so I don't think the idea of a game built around organizing an army is any more niche than a fantasy role-playing game is.

(Yes, I'm re-considering my earlier point.)
 

Dalillama

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Probably the most direct equivalent is being a whaler. In for the long haul for dirt pay and you WILL be fighting giant creatures that can easily kill you, but you have experts and if you luck out you can make it rich.
"Well, a man must be mad, or want money bad, for to venture catching whales.."
It's also the case that strategy games of various kinds are quite popular, both computer games and board games, so I don't think the idea of a game built around organizing an army is any more niche than a fantasy role-playing game is.
Those are generally much less involved in the minutiae than old-fashioned tabletop wargaming; how many of those games involve tracking whether you brought enough fodder to keep your horses at top form or the like? In any case, whether large-scale strategy games are niche or not, the D&D family of games weren't occupying the same niche as them for very long.
 

WistfulD

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My point is that a lot of second-wavers weren't, though. They (or I suppose I should say we) just went round to the shop, saw a Fantasy Game with wizards in, and started playing with their fantasy nerd pals.
Yeah, that's definitely an issue, and one that might've been fixed in later editions had they continued to focus on that style of play.
To be sure. It is a side hobby, I often speculate on what might have been with some of that stuff.

Maybe not. Lots of massivly hazardous jobs historically paid absolute garbage. Sailing, mining, soldiering, and farm labour* all come to mind. And, like soldiers, hirelings expect to be in for a share of any loot that's acquired, which can amount to quite a lot if you're lucky. A risk of death for a chance at wealth is something a lotta folk have done over the years.
Probably the most direct equivalent is being a whaler. In for the long haul for dirt pay and you WILL be fighting giant creatures that can easily kill you, but you have experts and if you luck out you can make it rich.
Those are valid points. Likewise, all those porters for 'great white explorers' (either in history, or in the H. Rider Haggard style novels that inspired the pulp novels that inspired TT RPGS) were being paid for extremely risky work on reckless endeavors. Same with military endeavors in general (I am still amazed that the salary in many cases was low, but the soldiers could expect to loot and pillage if their side won, apparently the physical objects carried back were enough to make such an endeavor highly rewarding).

Maybe I'm overly hung up on it, but it still feels off (especially from a 'realism' framework) that one could go back to town, after having lost 75% of your hirelings after surviving a green dragon wandering encounter, only to hire new hirelings (at the same rate, unless your DM decided you'd made too much of a name for yourself as hireling killers) to set out for the swamps of Qwertyuiop, home of feral were-willowthewhisps. Especially all so that the party fighter can switch between greatsword and guisarme-voulge when the later would gain him a relative +2 to hit against the occasional armored opponent they ran into (as was a common variance with the WvsAC table). :p
 

Dalillama

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Maybe I'm overly hung up on it, but it still feels off (especially from a 'realism' framework) that one could go back to town, after having lost 75% of your hirelings after surviving a green dragon wandering encounter, only to hire new hirelings
Did you find the dragon's treasure after you killed it? (You did kill it, right? If not, you're gonna have a reputation as either incompetent or a bad-luck officer). When you found it, how much did each of the 25% who survived get of it? Cos if they're in the taverns in fancy new togs, telling tales of adventure and derring-do, dripping with gold and buying rounds for the house, then yeah. You're gonna get plenty of takers for the next trip, cos they all wanna be one of those guys, and humans are really shit at risk assessment.
 

FoolishOwl

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Those are generally much less involved in the minutiae than old-fashioned tabletop wargaming; how many of those games involve tracking whether you brought enough fodder to keep your horses at top form or the like? In any case, whether large-scale strategy games are niche or not, the D&D family of games weren't occupying the same niche as them for very long.
True. I suppose I'm just wondering if a game that was a mix of fantasy role-playing with some features like a lightweight 4X game might work well now.
 
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