Monday, June 18, 2018

Rules of Engagement

I've been ruminating on several blog posts for several months, so here's a sliver of one that I should get out of my head sooner or later.

Back around the New Year, a friend of mine was talking about D&D, and how he didn't like the idea of how a fighter with high Armor Class (or low Armor Class, if you're playing with descending AC) is going to use hit points less than everyone else.  It means that our hypothetical fighter is not engaging with every part of the system, and so this GM is inclined to include monsters with better to-hit scores that will strike an inflated AC more frequently.

That almost sounds like a punishment.

If a player makes a character a certain way, that's presumably because they want to play that character with certain expectations as to how things are going to go.  If you play a high-movement, low-AC character, you presumably expect to stay mobile enough that you're never a valid target (or if you become a valid target, you leave).  If you play a wizard, you want to engage with those tasty spells.  And if you make someone with a notable AC, you want to be the immovable object.

Don't punish that choice by devaluing their AC, instead look at everything else on the character sheet.  If you still want to provide a challenge or target hit points or whatever, they probably still have several weaknesses that enemies can exploit.  Your hypothetical walking shield wall is probably still vulnerable to spells, being neither the most mobile nor the most strongly-willed.  And that's without getting into other consequences such as threatening their equipment, allies, family members, fellow party members, and the like.

Besides, there's no need to punish players for their good decisions when they're always likely to cause blowback with their bad decisions.

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