Day 12: Triumph
“To feel the thrill of victory…there has to be the possibility of failure. Where’s the victory in winning a battle you can’t possibly lose?” Dr. Pulaski- Elementary, Dear Data, Stardate: 42286.3
I’ve been playing role playing games for a long time. Probably longer than some of my readers have been alive. I’ve seen and heard about many different styles of gaming and GMing. I know these #RPGaDAY2021 posts are supposed to be focusing on the positive side of our hobby. But I wanted to make today’s post some constructive criticism.
I’ve never found “Monty Haul” campaigns enjoyable. For those of you not aware of what this is, let me quote page 229 of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition Dungeon Masters guide by Gary Gygax.
Monty Haul – A campaign (or the DM running it) in which greatly excessive amounts of treasure and/or experience are given out.
Further insight on this is where the name came from. Monty Hall was a game show host who’s famous program was “Let’s Make A Deal”. He was known for giving away a ton of prizes to the contestants. DMs and GMs who give a lot of unique items, money or experience points to players beyond the scope of their character level, run the risk of giving too much. Thus the term “haul” in “Monty Haul”.
I know that when I’ve reached the top of the mountain, I’ve accomplished a major goal. That mountain I may be climbing could be a earning rank advancement in my Star Trek club through service, a character I’ve moved from 1st to 15th level naturally, or even enjoying the vegetables from my garden that I tended all summer. If I’m a 3rd-Level Fighter, don’t bequeath me a castle just yet, I know that I haven’t earned it. Yet I’ve had a DM try to do that. Let me work my way through the levels, role playing my way in the game. I know eventually I’ll get that castle/hideout/wizard’s magical realm in another dimension.
Giving away items that are too powerful (or quickly running us up through the levels by awarding excessive experience points) reminds me of the cheat codes in video games. I’ve had friends that would only play these games with the cheat codes. They wanted to get through the story faster is what I was told. I only used cheat codes in very difficult circumstances or if I’ve already played the game a million times and I want to get past an unpleasant level. WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness was a really popular video game that I enjoyed. I would still play it now. It is also popular when we use to hold LAN parties (I haven’t heard that word in a long time) with WarCraft II being one of the games scheduled. I recall one LAN party where we all had our computers in the same room with our speakers on. We could hear where other players were at when units were created or buildings finished. You could not use cheat codes in WarCraft II without the benefits also being applied to the other players. So we agreed not to use them. As I was managing my resources and building my troops, I was able to create three Griffin lairs. Griffins were flying troops and very nasty in large numbers. I had planned it so that all three would generate a new unit at the same time. In the middle of the LAN party the sound coming from my speakers was not one, not two but three Griffin cries (the sound the unit made when it was ready for battle) happening one after the other. From across the room I suddenly heard one of my friends exclaim: “He has three Griffins? Crap! I haven’t even made it to Archers yet.” My triumph was listening to the sounds of panic fill the room as suddenly everyone was re-adjusting their defenses to counter my upcoming aerial assault.
There is no winning in role playing games other than everyone having fun. I believe that fun should come through overcoming the challenge naturally and not having triumph handed to me on a silver platter. Don’t give me a helicopter to fly to the top of the mountain, let me make that climb with the possibility of my character failing.
Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.
Today’s suggestions was a difficult batch. It was days like this one that made me wonder if I wanted to participate in this challenge. Other days have been just as uninspiring. “Think” didn’t make me think of anything. Same with “Consensus” and “Deep”. I almost waited until the day of to see what other participants were posting about. But I also wanted to get these blog posts done in advance and schedule them for the day of. I was really worried that I was going to turn today’s post into a massive soapbox. I may have still stood on one, but I hope it helps some DMs/GMs with their future campaigns.