The Gygaxian No

A d20 iconRandom aside: One design ethic that I do not particularly enjoy in D&D is what I would describe as the “Gygaxian No” – that is, the players have legitimately earned certain abilities and spells, and adventure designers explicitly negate them for simplicity or effect.

Two most common examples being higher level adventures that take away mobility effects (like flight), and effects which explicitly pierce immunities.

I 100% understand why adventures remove mobility, I just find it lazy and sloppy in almost every situation, especially because it’s almost never “This is harder”, but rather “This is FORBIDDEN”

And I just find the immunity thing a jerk move. Player immunities are reasonably rare in D&D, and are often against rarely-encountered things like disease, and the result is often the only time disease shows up is when it ignores immunity, and that’s just crappy.

What’s most curious to me is that this is not actually a problem with D&D – it’s not a thing the rules require! It is 100% bad habits in adventure and encounter design, passed down by tradition.

and to unpack a little, the immunity thing is actually a bit worse than a jerk move, it’s explicitly a violation of the social contract. As soon as players realize that the game may randomly negate choices, they are well served to change how they choose in more “safe” directions

Which is to say, just taking stuff that works well in a fight. If you’re wondering why your players are min/maxing all the time, make sure to consider the lessons they learned when they tried something else.

(From a Twitter Thread)

1 thought on “The Gygaxian No

  1. OldManScythe

    “ Which is to say, just taking stuff that works well in a fight. If you’re wondering why your players are min/maxing all the time, make sure to consider the lessons they learned when they tried something else.”

    I remember gaming with new people, and I had to convince them that taking things like allies, contacts, and mentor wasn’t just a waste of dots. That I wouldn’t just kill them off, and they would be useful.

    But you could see the fear in their eyes. You could see them struggle with not taking points in something that would be far harder to take away by less than fiat.

    Reply

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