Stray Thoughts

With all the talk of fourth edition rules improvements, I’ve been having some tangentially related thoughts.

Cinematic heroic things are often penalized or dissuaded by the D&D Rules. Standardly, the game seems kitted out for tough, mediaeval adventure: Attacks of Opportunity, limited actions per round and the risk of failure discourage players from attempting interesting actions. Stepping onto a table takes a move action and a DC15 Jump check. Punching someone for effect instead of just swinging a sword provokes an AoO and deals little damage. The rules as written discourage a lot of cool things.

You have to wonder if it’s not feasible to allow D&D to be played as a high-cinematics game, wherein certain realism drawbacks are curtailed in the interests of encouraging players to undertake interesting actions. Consider, perhaps, that stepping onto a table requires no action or skill check. Likewise, if a player wants to smash the table with his warhammer, why bother rolling for damage? These unusual, “secondary” actions are primarily made for reasons other than powerplay, and so any failure chance will only make a player look stupid for having fumbled an attempt at such a minor action.

Perhaps D&D could learn a thing or two from the Wushu roleplaying game, where interesting, heroic actions are actually more likely to succeed.

Comments (4)

Stupidranger (September 11th, 2007)

In my experience as a player, the ability to plan and execute fun and exciting actions can be allowed if the DM is open to allowing roleplaying opportunities. I think a lot of it depends on your DM’s disposition to promoting character development and roleplaying.

Phil (September 11th, 2007)

The Book of Nine Swords absolutely reeks of Wushu. Most of the manuvers featured in the book are Standard Actions which leaves the player a full move action to set up the attack… Jump down from a wall, Tumble past mooks, Dropkick a Big Bad and then have your feet explode in a torrent of Divine Energies.

We’re having a blast having a player use one of the classes of that book in our game.

Firkraag (September 11th, 2007)

It is an issue I have had for long with things like shield bashes - historically I am sure warriors would bash each other with their shields all the time, but perhaps more importantly, it is an impressive maneuver used all the time in action movies and what-not.

Still bashing with your shield in D&D is a waste of time most of the time. Hurray for action/fate/hero points to encourage cinematic acts.

Ralzakark1 (October 8th, 2007)

The variant Iron Heroes caters for exactly this kind of swashbuckling adventurer; it has special rules for combat stunts and challenges, plus expanded use for skills in combat. I highly recommned it.

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