Stormwind Disclaimer: The Future Looks Grim for Fools  

Posted by Michael Donaldson

Have you ever met a Halo Player that thought Sniper Rifles were bullshit, and that anybody who uses them is "bad" at the game? Whether or not you sympathize with this man (I do not), it seems like a good analogy at first when you move it over to D&D, doesn't it?

When Sn1perzR4Nubs hosts a game, he turns sniper rifles off. Most people never notice. Those who do notice find other ways to play the match. Everyone is happy. Does this prove that Sniper Rifles are overpowered or unfun? No. It only proves two points.

  1. Halo is fun even without Sniper Rifles
  2. Halo had the foresight to allow players to customize their gaming experience
Dungeons and Dragons is, in a lot of ways, similar to this aspect of Halo - there are a lot of tools at the disposal of players and DMs that some players don't like. Attempting to suggest that all aspects of Halo are balanced (Ever used a needler? They suck. No, stop protesting. They're awful. Just because you killed someone with them doesn't mean they don't suck.) is foolish, and the same connection holds true with Dungeons and Dragons (First player of mine to take Toughness will have to beware this blog's title). But the analogy breaks down here.

While Halo has some low double digit number of tools available to the player, Dungeons and Dragons has thousands and thousands of different character options available to its participants. While each DM has a rough idea of what he finds fun or acceptable, the options aren't a small drop down list on a single menu - they're a plethora of options contained in a multitude of publications. It is unlikely that your DM has read them all; impossible that he would remember them even if he had. I cannot express the importance of what I am about to tell you in keeping a campaign fun for everyone.

It is the player's responsibility to use these resources with respect and maturity and always keep in mind the DM's expectations when it comes to character creation.

It is not the DM's responsibility to ban every single feat, race, prestige class, or item that he doesn't want in his game. If the DM bans a way for you to achieve a certain effect, it is disrespectful to find another way. Your DM has banned it for a reason. It is not to piss you off. If it is, he is an asshole. I doubt he is an asshole. Well, he probably is an asshole - but probably not for this reason.

I say all of this for a very specific reason - there is a great amount of animosity in the gaming community over the rollplaying vs roleplaying debate. At the peak of this debate, Tempest Stormwind of the WotC boards very famously outlined the fallacy that the enjoyment and implementation of character optimization absolutely in no way hinders story, character development, or roleplaying. This is a fact - I myself enjoy character optimization, but often use my skills in this area to create mechanically a thematic idea of a character I have written in my head.

In many of the upcoming posts I will be displaying mechanically powerful or silly abilities. Many of them are not intended to ever see a real D&D field. My next entry will literally be about a man who can grapple every living being within 50 of him with a single, medium sized Mancatcher simultaneously. If you play this build, you are not playing D&D in good faith.

This blog is not a tool for you to ruin your DM's next campaign by reverse engineering a psionic lion's charge-ing half-ogre who is leap attacking with his monkey gripped sugliins on the back of a magebred dire swan. This is your only warning.

Also, Sniper Rifles are part of the game. Learn to play Halo! :)

This entry was posted on March 10, 2010 at Wednesday, March 10, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Level 6 Half-Ogre with 24 Strength, Full BAB, Sugliin Weapon Mastery, and +1 Sugliins Power Attacking for 4. Using some stupid spell that gives you four arms, you two-hand each of them and use lion's charge to basically pounce.

+10/+10/+5/+5 Assuming Weapon Focus.
2d8+22 per attack.
8d8+88 if all attacks hit.
Damage Threshold 24-152

March 10, 2010 at 8:36 PM

"Also, Sniper Rifles are part of the game. Learn to play Halo! :)"

As much as I agree with what you said above, that players have a responsibility to the game just as much as the GM does, when it comes to their characters... I cannot agree with the totality of your analogy.

Sniper Rifles are a possibility to include in the game, but the ability to turn off sniper rifles is ALSO a part of the game, included by the designers because they realized that some people prefer to play without sniper rifles...

On the whole though, I agree, optimization does not preclude rollplaying. Great post.

March 10, 2010 at 10:05 PM

That last little line was just a joke :P

March 11, 2010 at 2:41 PM

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