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Re-visiting insanity

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Halaster-Blackcloak
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Re-visiting insanity

Post#1 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:29 am

I don't understand it. I've never understood it. I never will understand it. Why do people go through such elaborate contortions to "balance" the game when they decide to remove demi-human level limits? I know, here we go again. But I just don't get it. I was reading a blog and ended up clicking a link that led to a discussion at DF, and there we were again.

People make such a big deal out of it, as if removing demi-human level limits is a radical act of disobedience that is going to derail their game if not handled correctly. Iv'e seen people fret less over handling samples of ebola virus than some people fret over how to "fix" the "problem" of removing demi-human level limits. I mean dear god, if it's that horrendously dangerous a move to make, then simply keep the rule intact. Every time I see the topic come up, I want to grab someone by the throat and say: It's not gonna kill your game! Relax! There's nothing to 'fix'. Just ignore the rule. Nothing bad will happen!".

Look, it's been proven time and time again in these debates that the only thing that removing demi-human level limits is going to do is (at worst) - perhaps - cause a greater percentage of players to choose demi-human characters over human characters. Is that a problem, really? Removing those silly rules has zero impact on the campaign world, and the oft-repeated, silly, cliched, unfounded and illogical nonsense about 100th level elven wizards conquering the world has been disproven so many times that you'd think people would have stop fretting over it by now. Instead, they create lists of charts and percentages and levels and compensations and engage in contortions to the point that you'd think if they didn't do so, the gaming table would burst into a pyre of spontaneous combustion, consuming all attending.

I glanced through the thread I saw (at DF) and at least one person spoke with common sense (which is a rare thing over there these days). Phantasm72 wrote:

I haven't used level limits for 20 years, so I guess I have some experience with it. I don't do any of the things you suggest. I don't penalize demihuman characters in any way, I don't give a bonus to human characters either. Game works absolutely fine


Bingo! Same here. Never had a problem. Look, you can give a 10% or 25% xp penalty to demi-humans to go above their "limit" (slow advancement rule), you can give human PCs a bonus to an ability score or give them extra specialization or whatever...bottom line, your damned human is still not going to gain infravision, chances to detect slopes/secret doors/depths, enjoy enhanced resistance to poison or magic, gain a bonus to hit with a sword or bow, gain thaco/AC bonuses against giants, etc, etc. Suck it up buttercup! Your human is a freaking human for god's sake! End of story! He can't do what demi-humans do. No matter how you f#<k around with xp or proficiencies or ability scores.

So my take is this. If for some reason you fear removing demi-human level limits like humans fear ebola virus, leave them in the game. If you don't want the rule, discard it. End of story. No need to go through the extreme machinations I see so many people going through. It's not going to unbalance your game or change the racial make-up of your world. If it's that problematic and you think it will, don't be a DM. You're not fit to handle it. Just keep the damned rule in place.

Now granted, I know there are DMs who, with legitimate reasons, may want a predominantly human party. An example I've given is a DM who wants to involve the PCs extensively in Underdark adventures. That DM may not want most of the party to have infravision and the ability to detect slopes and passages and depths. I get it. Fine. I'd feel the same way. But the obvious (and simplest) solution is to simply tell the players: "For this campaign, I need to have at least 75% or the party human, not demi-human." Let them work it out. But I see these posts and I think: "Jesus H. Christ, people! It's mental masturbation to the extreme! You're doing cartwheels trying to find a solution to a non-problem."

Argh! Rant over! I throw my hands up in frustration! I'll never understand why people feel compelled to turn a "2 + 2 = 4" math problem into a 40-page trigonometry exercise. :roll:

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Meph
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Re: Re-visiting insanity

Post#2 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:21 am

I ditched demi-human level limits back in the late 80s. Seemed like a pointless restriction in our home game that had no real effect other than drive players away from certain races for fear of capping out some day. Of course it was the rare game that hit those levels but it's still the point. Ignored them and our fun wasn't somehow magically ruined.

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Halaster-Blackcloak
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Re: Re-visiting insanity

Post#3 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:02 pm

Bingo! I've ranted about this topic more often than most others (parse that as: more than most other topics as well as more than most other people). :lol: And in the end, the only conclusion is always that the rule serves no purpose other than to coerce players into playing humans. Period. And even that is a disgrace because very few legitimate campaigns ever reach the level where the limits kick in anyway, so players who know they probably won't reach say 9th or 12th level have no reason to abandon demi-humans because they know the limits will never kick in, while those who assume it will last that long are strong-armed into playing a race they really don't want to play. I don't know why Gary had such a hard-on for playing humans in a fantasy game, but it was the stupidest, most illogical, broken, useless rule he ever wrote, by far.

It amuses me and disturbs me at the same time, watching people contort themselves over how to "save" their campaign from the "sin" of doing away with level limits and the hoopla they go through to create these elaborate workarounds. Then when they talk to people like us, it's like they can't believe it...

"You removed demi-human level limits? OMG! What did you do to fix the problem so that 100th level elves aren't dominating the world and killing off all the humans? I had to give humans a +1CHA bonus and weapon specialization bonuses and NWP bonuses and..."

" :roll: I didn't need to do anything. That's a stupid argument. Demi-human level limits have nothing to do with that. Here's why they're meaningless [insert 50 different logical proofs that demi-human level limits is a useless, meaningless rule that has zero effect on the campaign world]. You can simply ignore the rule. There's nothing to 'fix'. Just ignore it."

"But...but...that's not true! For 1) Elves would hit 100th level and take over the world and 2) no one would ever play humans."

"1) Wrong - re-read my last 50 points explaining why that is absolutely not true and a silly argument and 2) if they don't, so what?"

"But...but..."


:roll:

And it's always the same foolish people who insist that removing the demi-human level limits will unbalance the game despite being given irrefutable proof in the form of arguments obliterating their claims along with demonstrative proof of entire long term campaigns where removing the limits without any compensation had no effect. It's like a mental disorder that refuses to see reality.

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garhkal
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Re: Re-visiting insanity

Post#4 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:13 pm

Hal.. Would you call MY arguments for why i have used them, childish?? OR my reasonings foolish?

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Halaster-Blackcloak
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Re: Re-visiting insanity

Post#5 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:18 am

Not at all. I recall agreeing with you on those. Wanting a mainly human party. That's legitimate. All I'm saying is that the over-used "100th level elves will rule the world" trope has been repeatedly proven to be nonsense. Along with most of the other "concerns" people have when the eliminate level limits. Bottom line, level limits only achieve one goal and serve only one purpose - strong-arming players into playing humans. That's it. End of story. Aside from that, the rule has zero effect on the campaign, the game world, race relations, race demographics in the game world, etc.

No matter how much proof anyone gives to refute the "100th level elf wizards rule the world" nonsense, people still argue for it. Along with all the other nonsense. Bottom line again, the ONLY effect that either using or not using level limits has on the game is its direct influence on some (not all) players in their choice of character race. That's it. It has no effect on game balance, demographics, etc. And all the machinations and hoops jumped through in order to "balance" the act of doing away with level limits really make no sense and do not in any way "balance" the races. An elf will always be able to see in the dark, resist charms, etc. while a human will not. Giving humans an extra NWP or whatever does not make them equal. At any level. The only way to "balance" humans with demi-humans is to grant humans magical abilities on par with those of the demi-humans. But in that case, humans are no longer humans and the level limit rule becomes moot anyway so we've just reinvented a broken wheel.

In all these years of debate, not a single person has ever given me a single argument that stands up to logical scrutiny or given a demonstrable example to show that removing demi-human level limits can have any effect on the game world (demographics, etc) or the campaign itself, other than the fact that perhaps more players will play humans more often if we retain level limits. And even that effect is dependent on whether the players care about level limits (will the campaign last that long), etc.

Useless, broken rule that so many of us have managed to simply ignore without the slightest indication of imbalance in the game, despite not doing anything to "make up for" taking the rule out. Ignore it. Zero effect. That's just reality. To carry on about how to "fix" the "problem" of removing level limits is nothing more than imagining a problem where none exists, then stressing out over how to balance an effect that also does not exist. It's mental masturbation, minus the orgasm.

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garhkal
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Re: Re-visiting insanity

Post#6 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:00 pm

Halaster-Blackcloak wrote:Not at all. I recall agreeing with you on those. Wanting a mainly human party. That's legitimate.


Fare enough, but when you seem to coach it in the "I've heard it all before, any argument is flawed" manner you started off with, it does seem like that might include why I still use them...
And even with me giving my current batch of players the option, 3 times out of 3, they've all voted to a man, to keep with the level limits..

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Halaster-Blackcloak
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Re: Re-visiting insanity

Post#7 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:12 pm

I think we'll all have somewhat different experiences with the rule. If you get players who think it's fair to limit demi-humans because they want to play humans, and if the DM agrees, then absolutely it's the right choice for that group. I've never criticized how people choose to use the rule, only the rule itself. I think people read too much into the topic sometimes, and that's probably my fault because I post such extensive material about it. All I'm really saying is that these are the basic facts of the rule:

1. Gygax included the rule because he (admittedly) wanted players to choose humans over demi-humans for the most part.
2. The rule does not really do anything to achieve "balance" between the races, as I've shown so many times before.
3. The rule doesn't have its intended effect on most players who realize the campaign is unlikely to reach the level where the rule becomes relevant, however...
4. The rule hurts players who may want to play a demi-human but who fear ending up having to play a character that lags behind the rest because that player assumes a long active campaign.
5. In 2E, they injected this idiotic nonsense about elves taking over the world and wiping out humans, which, when we examine it logically, is beyond ridiculous. The argument that if elves (or any race other than humans) are allowed unlimited advancement, it will (by default) mean the end of humankind is completely false and utterly without logical support or even precedent.
6. People seem to take that 2E admonition to heart, even though they want to remove the rule.
7. This sets up a series (in some DMs) of attempts at ridiculously complex compensations in order to attempt to ameliorate the "harmful" effects of ignoring the rule.
8. The DM can simply ignore the rule, and doing so has zero effect on his campaign world. The only possible effect (possible, not guaranteed) is that by doing away with the rule, a greater number of players will play demi-humans rather than humans. Which, unless the DM has a specific desire (for whatever reason) to have a mainly human party, it irrelevant to the game.
9. If the DM does desire such a humano-centric party, it's more easily and logically achieved by means other than the sloppy, illogical rule.

It's akin to the DM picking up the National Enquirer and reading about how Planet X or Niburu is about to crash into the earth and destroy us all, and so he goes out and attempts to create a rocket ship to take him off the earth, create breathing apparatus and shelters for protection on whatever planet he's flying off to, trying to figure out how to transport enough food for the journey, etc. And some of us just shake our heads in disbelief and say: "Well that's certainly a galactic waste of time!". Just ignore the article, because there is no Planet Niburu that's going to crash into the earth! I've been hearing that predicted "next month for sure!" every year since I was in grade school. I'm still waiting. :roll:

The other point that got lost in the rant is this...

If a DM is so worried about the effect (in reality - non-effect) of removing the useless rule that he spends hours and hours contemplating how to "fix" the "problems" caused by removing the rule, he should probably just leave the rule in place. It's pointless to try explaining reality to some people (especially at DF) because they take that silly admonition from the 2E DMG as seriously as if it had issued forth from the mouth of God himself and was engraved on the tablets as the 11th commandment! :roll:

Some of the people there have written such elaborate work-arounds that they might as well have written a book called DMGR20: Safe Removal of Demi-Human Level Limits. It's absurd. It's not that big a deal. Ignore the rule. Or use the rule. But by god, don't turn the act of ignoring the rule into a 200 page work-around in order to "fix" the non-existent side effects of doing so!

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