Friday, April 20, 2012

Hail the Mighty Heroes--Laid Low by Mushrooms!

Okay, in response to Brendan's request I shall attempt to frame the stupidity that led to my final Pathfinder TPK. I say final because I won't be playing the game any longer. I still hope to enjoy future TPKs : )

My group had been delving through about one fourth of a three level dungeon, and had just descended to level two. They had recently made it past a low level necromancer who had raised a minotaur skeleton and 3 skeletal knights. Without going into too much detail I had saved them from death twice due to tactical errors and then changed a trap to save another when he stuck his head where it didn't belong. But anywho, they had discovered the opening that led into a "bottomless" chasm. Without taking the time to heal from their wounds, or recharge spells they simply rushed downwards into the abyss. In spite of the fact I had tried to lay on the warnings heavily by describing the strange sounds that emanated from the depths below. And the fact that most of their attempts to illuminate the darkness below was swallowed up by the unimaginable depths beyond.

I also made it very clear (I thought) that the way across the chasm hung about 30 feet away in the form of a cut rope bridge hanging from the opposite wall of the shelf. A good throw with a grappling hook could have easily reestablished them a secure way across. The chasm was an obstacle to overcome--NOT to descend down into!!

Well, after a few minutes pondering, the wizard decides he is going to use what amounts to Tenser's Floating Disk. I can't recall what it's called in PF. Well, if he took the time to read the spell he would realize if you float the disk out over empty space it is going to wink out of existence. I tell him to read his spell description first, but meanwhile it looks as if a grappling hook could probably snag the opposite shelf. The wizard player looks up from the book and still says he wants to try the disk. I ask him again, did you read the description? Yes, he said I can lift 250 pounds at a time because I'm third level. Did you read the whole thing? I ask again. Yes, I'm casting it and climbing on.

Okaaayyyy ... I describe the act of him floating about five foot out when he falls screaming into the abyss. Amidst gasps and shouts the wizard yells feather fall. Which I allow him to cast. Now, previously I had determined this pit to be 1268 feet in depth. But calculating his feather fall to allow him about 100 foot or so after his initial plummet I simply change the depth (I know, I know). This was actually a stupid decision on my part for several reasons--if I had just let him die the rest would never have occurred.

I describe the floor of the subterranean world as being covered in giant mushrooms that were covered in a fine white powder. Tunnels and fissures led off in every direction and he could hear a slithering sound as if something large and fleshy was crawling on the floor of the caverns (worm children). I also made it clear by directly stating this was a bad place to be. Definitely deeper than they were ready yet to adventure. The best course of action was to find a way up right now. (They had linked 4 ropes together to reach the bottom--they could have just climbed back up.)

But no, they had to take a look around. I explained that the remains of dead creatures lie all around covered in the same white dust that covered the mushrooms. So, one of the yahoos shot a mushroom with an arrow. Well, you can imagine the result. Spores shot up into the air showering everyone in fine, white powder. Save vs sleep--all but three fail. That's when the slithering worm children move in. They lost several of their sleeping comrades to the worms as the three remaining conscious tried to protect themselves and the others. The worms had dragged them off to who knows where, but me in my softness assured them they could still be rescued if they could locate the lair where their comatose bodies were stored.

The battle has drawn the attention of a Drow patrol party, which captured the three remaining adventurers. Why capture? Cause I tried not to kill them. I ruled that they were using subdual attacks instead.

Now at this point you are probably wondering why I am alternating between rather difficult encounters and saving their butts when they got too deep or made stupid mistakes. Perhaps a bit of background is warranted. I had set up an overarching campaign ala G1-2-3, D1-2 and Q1. They were following the trail of trouble in the hills and mountains north of Andoran that involved increasingly brave goblin raids. These gobbers had been encouraged by a band of orcs who were working for an ogre magi that had encountered a long hidden idol of Lolth. She (the ogre mage) had begun to tap some of the power of the idol and that of course drew the attention of the Drow. The Drow saw the opportunity to "utilize" the ogre magi's power over the masses of evil nonhumans in her demesne to open a pathway into Andoran itself. Behind the scenes political manipulation had already begun in the capital with the Drow employing dopplegangers and magically disguised mind flayers to begin to exert influence over political leaders. Hence the opening to the Drow Twilight Realm in the current adventure--though they were NOT supposed to get there so soon.

But if that doesn't explain my wishiwashiness sufficiently strike it up to the schizophrenic way I was trying to game. In so many ways completely against my nature.

So on with the tale. I may have tipped my Drow Hand early, but I was desperate to hold the tale together. My PCs were in too deep too soon and I needed a way out if the campaign and their butts were to be saved. Also, I really felt like the Drow would have just interrogated them under torture and with magical charms and then killed them. But no, I had the Drow take them back to their leader a mid level Drow Wizardess who offered them an alternative. They could take the "DrowPact". Now, I admit to making this up on the spot-- pulling it out of my wazoo as it were. I said that if they took the pact they would be released to find their friends, but at some time in the future they would be called upon to perform a favor for the Wizardess. A time at her pleasure and they would be compelled to carry out her task no matter the cost of sacrifice. (I was planning on having her utilize this at some point in the future by having her make these three turn against their party at the crucial moment when they were close to the end of the campaign.)

So of course they accepted. Even though one of them was an Elf!! And a magic hating Barbarian no less!!! I told him this went against everything he believed in as an Elf, that he was betraying his people, that he didn't trust this evil magic, and the he had no desire to relinquish control of his will to a Drow Sorceress blah blah blah. It didn't phase him of course--he thought it was cool. ... *sigh*

By this point I am beginning to feel sick inside. I had managed to pull the situation together by bending about every rule that mattered and breaking quite a few besides. And by now I could sense that my players were feeling invincible, like ultimately nothing was really going to harm them. They would always be rescued, no matter the cost. But i trudge on, feeling like I've betrayed my inner gaming "sense" in saving them time and time again. The Drow should have killed them, the worm children should have killed them, the skeletons should have killed them, the Necromancer, the fall--need I go on?

So they accept the pact, are blindfolded (so they won't know the way to the Drow hold) and delivered back to the place the Drow found them. They are about to set off towards the lair of the worm children to rescue their comrades when one of the remaining three decides he has to have some of the white powder. Okay I say there's plenty laying around all over the cavern and the bones. (In case you're wondering this deep fungi lives off the decaying bodies that it puts to sleep; their victims eventually decaying into mushroom food.) No he says, I want to scrape some off of the mushroom into an empty vial. I looked at him shocked. Are you sure you want to do that? I mean the last time you guys touched a mushroom it set off the spores. No, he says, that guys shot it. I'm just going to carefully scrape some off the mushroom itself so it's still real potent.

Okay, here I'm getting a little mad. Because it has got to be so obvious I don't want him to do this. That the results of mushroom molestation had been clearly demonstrated less than an hour before. Was he really going to be this stupid. I looked at the other players, who were all just waiting. No one is saying anything. So I try again. Well, you don't have to get it off the mushroom, you can get it of the floor--I mean it looks like to you that the mushrooms use this as a way of capturing their food, so the stuff has to be operative as long as it's touching flesh (I gave this away to him--no nature roll, no nothing I was just trying to convince him that touching the actual mushroom was not a good idea. But no, he said he was just going to carefully scrape some off with his dagger, that he wasn't going to touch the powder or the mushroom. No, but your dagger will and the mushroom will feel it ... He couldn't be dissuaded.

I shook my head, I was deep in thought for what seemed like a minute or more--likely it was no more than 10 seconds. Maybe I was hoping someone would say something. No one did. What was really going on inside me was that I was slowly and surely snapping. Breaking in two. Coming unravelled. The strange thing was I was so sad. So very deeply sad. Like I was somewhere I didn't want to be. Doing something I hated. I'm 43. A grown man. I do cry--I'm okay with displaying emotion, but I certainly don't truly feel like crying very often. And at that moment that is all I wanted to do. I didn't. Didn't actually shed any tears. But the knot in my chest and the tightness in my throat made clear to me this was really affecting me. Not just the decision they had made, but I realized in that moment I hated the way I was playing. And that's when it all came back to me in a flash. Six weeks of total Monty Haul Crap. And I recall telling myself inside--let 'em rot.

I explained the last thing they recall was a cloud of white exploding around them like a sudden blizzard and then all went black as they felt themselves slumping to the floor. They had all failed their save. I closed my screen and asked them to pass their character sheets to me. I answered the few questions they asked with, nope your dead. And you don't know--you just never woke up.

Was it the worst decision of their career? I'm not sure, but the string of incidents that led up to that point. Their blatant disregard for good common sense. It was just shocking. And I was so stunned by what was either sheer stupidity or a complete lack of respect for the game. At that moment I thought that guys like this shouldn't even be allowed to roleplay. And this is the first time I played a non-"old school" game all year long. The only thing that comes close is when I played 4e for about 5 months or so. And the same problem resulted then. The same sorts of crazy off the wall crap that makes no sense whatsoever. complete lack of fear of the world in which they are adventuring. Reliance on healing surges, recharging powers, endless supplies, sunrods or endless light cantrips instead of torches, etc. etc. etc. It was simply nothing like the fantasy I read, knew and loved. And I had finally come to the opinion that this kind of gaming does not teach or foster the kind of gaming that I like to participate in. So, for me--Pathfinder had died. 4e had been long dead. Pathfinder had lasted longer, but it too had went the way of the Monty Haul ghost. I was just NOT going to put myself through this kind of tripe again. I love this game too much and spend so much precious energy, time, imagination, devotion and love to go through this kind of pig tripe.

Pig Tripe ... Yum? NOT.
Onward and upward my friends--keep the torch burning! Hell who am I kidding? We ARE the torch!!!!


Tenebrous said...

Sorry to hear of your recent experience, Chris. Knowing how much love you have for the role playing experience, I can imagine how much it must have hurt to go through that and how unappreciated you probably felt having made so many compromises for the sake of your gaming club. It is good to see you back, though. Your blog entries have been missed.

Eric said...

I'm no fan of Pathfinder because of its support of the adversarial style of play. But I think the rules aren't so much at fault here but a complete mismatch in the style of play you and your players wanted.

It also seems that you were expecting your players to want to change their style of play mid-game. That's not fair.

It's clear they didn't want the adversarial style of play you did. I think a key sentence in your post was 'I don't want him to do this.'

No, that's wrong. It's not your character. You don't want anything when it comes to the players' characters. You're not playing them. You're not them. Your role is to facilitate their story.

On top of everything else, there was no harm, at all, in allowing the character to collect a sample of powder, which was reasonable for him to expect he could do. In fact, it could have led to more adventure through a wide variety of avenues.

Brendan said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's interesting how much these games can affect us.

Eric, I think what Chris meant was not that he wanted to take control of the character, but that he wanted the player to show respect for the setting.

As a referee, I don't think it is my responsibility to facilitate the players' story. My responsibility is to provide an interesting setting and fair rules arbitration.

Aaron said...

Oh, thank god for your players. Now if only you'd quit DM'ing too, so you wouldn't have to ruin any other games when things slide slightly off your rails. Or when your players just don't want to play the same style of game as you apparently want to force them to play. Not everyone likes playing a dirt farmer who is afraid of the world.

Brendan said...

Aaron, I don't think Chris made it clear whether he was running a linear story or an open world. So the comment about rails seems unwarranted.

There's a lot of space between a dirt farmer afraid of the world and a super-hero who will always be rescued by the plot. I find this "dirt farmer" meme really bizarre (I've seen the exact same example many times before). If there is no chance of failure, why do we have these complex mechanics for adjudicating things impartially?

I do agree that there seems to have been a style mismatch. But successful compromises must contain concessions from all sides. It does not sound like these players made any concessions to the taste of the referee (who is always the player that needs to put in the most work to make a game successful).

Aaron said...

There's an immediate disconnect (and a clear example of adversarial playstyle) any time anyone refers to themselves as a referee. Either they are mimicking a playstyle they weren't even alive for, or they were alive for it - in either case they are sorely disconnected from the advances in good game design that have occurred over the last 20 years, let alone the last 5 or so.

It's fairly obvious by reading his post that he was running a linear story, based on his commentary about players not supposed to be in certain locations "yet" and the backstory indicating when he expected them to get there, etc. Which is fine, but it seems obvious his players were more concerned with just playing and having fun, a playstyle which tends to be entirely at odds with the DM'ing style that is encouraged by Pathfinder and all of the bullshit 'OSR' stuff.

The area between dirt farmer and plot rescued superhero is a huge gulf, in which it sounds like these players wanted to live. They clearly exhibited their desire to work outside of the bounds of the obvious linear storyline, and find interesting ways to resolve problems, between the (admittedly misguided) attempt to use the disc to cross the chasm, and later to gather some resources from the world around them for later use via the mushrooms.

The problem is, the adjudication of those attempts was crippled by the DM's staunch inability to modify the 'plans' he had in place, and instead punish the players for not adhering to rules they had no knowledge of. It's obvious from the interactions with the players that they didn't expect there to be a problem with harvesting the mushrooms, and there's nothing that intuitively tells you that there should be a problem with it, because you're trying to impose "common sense" into a fantastical world with rules that are all in someone's head.

You can't 'fairly' adjudicate a rules dispute in a situation where both sides don't have all of the facts, and you are also one of the involved parties (the one with more knowledge.) Instead of "giving away" info about how the mushrooms trap their food, why not say "your character would realize that if you do this they will vomit spores again, NOW are you sure?" instead of allowing poor communication to result in a TPK.

Eric said...

>why do we have these complex mechanics for adjudicating things impartially?

Why do we have such simple mechanics for maintaining narrative flow?

Your question only exists if you're playing Pathfinder (or similar). The answer is: Because that's what Pathfinder chose to have. It doesn't represent the style of gaming—not at all. Nor should it be used to dictate a style of play onto people who obviously don't want it.

>If there is no chance of failure

No chance? This myopic worldview suggests a binary universe, with no shades of gray, that doesn't (shouldn't?) exist. Someone upstream said there's a huge gulf between dirt farmer and superhero, and that's correct. That gulf is, indeed, massive and there's plenty of room to have a game that has "chance of failure" without being so oppressively adversarial that TPKs result through no resonable fault of the party. A happy place inside the wide open and fun gulf is what practically every modern game offers.

Eric said...

>But successful compromises must contain concessions from all sides. It does not sound like these players made any concessions to the taste of the referee (who is always the player that needs to put in the most work to make a game successful).

The players conceeded immediately when they started to play with Pathfinder rules, a set antithetical to their style of play. Their whole characters and play were saddled with that rules framework. They conceeded every time they had to use save-or-die mechanics, or rely on needless skill checks to know information anyone within that world or situation should know, or any number of other ridiculous hoops the rules put in front of players who'd rather have fun with their characters and see what the story holds than use energy to churn through mechanics.

Also, the amount of work the DM puts in is dictated by the rules and the skill of the DM. There are rulesets of modern games that require very little—if any—preparation. In fact, I've run some that require literally no preparation beyond the first night's play, aside from physically setting up the table and unlocking the front door to let people in.

So, no, the DM deserves no special consideration over and above anyone else at the table expressely because the DM decides what level of work to put in. You can't say "woe is me" while at the same time deliberately choosing to take a more arduous and purposefully difficult and complicated path up a steep hill—while the players are already halfway up having taken the gondola.

To continue the analogy, they're not at all interested in the hike, they're interested in the destination and being together and having fun along the way up. That someone chose to get blisters when they didn't need to, that's that's person's problem, not theirs. If anything, that person's holding them back since they need to wait for him to catch up.

Brendan said...

The players conceeded immediately when they started to play with Pathfinder rules, a set antithetical to their style of play.

Um, what? You clearly haven't been reading the previous blog posts about this group. Chris did not want to play Pathfinder, he wanted to play Labyrinth Lord (IIRC). His players wanted to play Pathfinder.

Further, I don't think Pathfinder has save or die mechanics (though I am not an expert on Third Edition games).

Eric said...

>You clearly haven't been reading the previous blog posts about this group

That's correct, I have not. I was going entirely by this post. It was a poor choice.

>I don't think Pathfinder has save or die mechanics

I didn't think it did either, but the poster mentioned using save vs sleep. If there's one type, there's more.

Regardless, any situation where you save vs. something and lose control of your character is functionally equivalent to character death.

i.e. The antithesis of fun.

Eric said...

ETC: Choosing Pathfinder was a poor choice.

Chris said...

Hey guys I really appreciate all the dialogue. I responded to Aaron's comments in a new post--check it out.

Anonymous said...

Regardless, any situation where you save vs. something and lose control of your character is functionally equivalent to character death.

I feel compelled to point out that characters are generally unconscious for around 1/3 of each day, & thus not in control for that time. Is the fact that most PCs need sleep also the "antithesis of fun"? And that if they fail whatever roll your pet system uses for noticing things while they are asleep they have functionally failed a save vs. sleep from the perspective of the rest of the universe?

Chris said...

@Eric: Eric, the reason I didn't want them to touch the mushrooms, was because I was trying to keep them alive. You touch the mushrooms you fall asleep in a very dangerous place. I suppose I could have just ruled they made their saves regardless. And of course he had the right to take powder, I was just suggesting he get it off e ground. In the end I did let him take it--he just caused the mushrooms to release the powder, all of them fell into slumber at which point there was no friendly soul nearby to keep them from certain death.

Chris said...

One more thing ... I don't really think Pathfinder promotes adversarial playstyle. Quite the opposite.

Greylond said...

Without a chance of real death and/or real failure then players get lazy and loose the ability to think. RPGs are about puzzle solving, be they tactical, trap, social, whatever. The central core of RPGs are taking what information given by the GM and figuring out what to do. Giving the answers and/or keeping the characters from actual consequences means that the Players get mentally lazy. Same thing if you have a crossword puzzle and the answer right next to it. Players who regularly face character death are those that excel at figuring out what to do when faced with a challenge.

Just because some newer games have evolved away from that ideal doesn't mean that they are better... ;)

Brendan said...

Chris, I find it really strange that some of the commenters seemed to be reading your post as a defense of Pathfinder when, if anything, it is the opposite. I'm really curious what system they play with.

Regarding the word "referee" as opposed to other terms. I very consciously choose to use referee rather than some of the other more common terms because 1) DM is associated with only one game (and is a trademark) and thus is not general enough for the role I am talking about. GM sounds like someone wants to say DM but doesn't want to infringe on the trademark. Replacement term X (Labyrinth Lord, Storyteller, Hollyhock God) is either pretentious or conveys a more specific meaning than I want. Judge is an okay term (and has the Judges Guild pedigree) but suggests a level of power over the other participants that is not ideal. Referee, however, is general, connotes impartiality, and has nothing to do with an adversarial role. A referee is someone who fairly interprets the rules. Also, it is general enough to encompass an entirely open sandbox game, a heavily plotted scene by scene horror game, or anything in between.

I was not playing tabletop RPGs in the 70s or 80s (I actually started with Second Edition AD&D in the early 90s). I learned this term when I discovered the OSR last year, but I use it because it most efficiently conveys the role (in my opinion).

Eric said...

>Is the fact that most PCs need sleep also the "antithesis of fun"?

Is that false equivalence meant to be taken seriously?

Eric said...

>the reason I didn't want them to touch the mushrooms, was because I was trying to keep them alive.

I honestly don't understand that—if you're telling the truth about not wanting to cause a TPK. If that was actually your goal, you could have merely let the powder be collected and that's that. There's no justifiable reason that the character couldn't have collected it and moved on.

> I don't really think Pathfinder promotes adversarial playstyle. Quite the opposite.

That's a bewildering perspective.

Brendan said...

Eric, do you have any experience with earlier versions of D&D? There are several different play styles, but one (arguably the original) involved using predesigned scenarios. It was considered bad form to change the scenario to help the PCs. So, for example, if your notes say the dragon has 50 HP, and other stats, it would be cheating to change those stats once play had started. In fact, it would devalue the players' accomplishment when defeating the dragon if you tweak it in "real time" to match the capabilities of the PCs. That's why the idea of "balanced" encounters is disliked by many old school players.

If your notes say that the mushrooms spray sleeping powder if touched, then that's what they do. Players need to learn this and then make decisions based on it. Sometimes there are clues, but most of the time common sense alone is enough (don't touch scary shit in the underworld especially if it has already put you to sleep once). This is not adversarial. In fact, it could be an asset to the players. If they learn what the mushrooms do, they could lure enemies to the mushrooms and use them as a weapon. "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." There is a maturity and responsibility to this kind of gaming which is lost if the referee protects PCs from the consequences of their actions.

If the resolution of some situation is not clear from the explicit rules and prepared material, then you need to make a ruling, but this is not an arbitrary decree where the ref gets to make anything up. In such a situation where something is not obvious or could go either way, using a die helps keep the ref impartial.

This is not just a referee perspective either. As a player, I don't want everything about the play experience to be tailored to my PC. I want to be able to explore a world that has real consequences unconnected to any predetermined ending. The alternative, making everything about the PCs, is solipsistic in the extreme.

This is obviously not the only kind of legitimate tabletop RPG play. There are other good games that work in different ways. But old school D&D works in this way.

The recent generation of games (including Pathfinder, but also Fourth Edition D&D) all include significant nods toward "story first" gaming, and have been designed to eliminate many of the aspects of old school D&D which are perceived as too dangerous because someone somewhere decided that it was "not fun" to have a chance of real failure.

I think you need to lay your cards on the table and tell us which games you play and which games you see as non-adversarial because otherwise we will be talking past each other. See, I think you are perceiving Pathfinder as an old school game, and it's really not (from my perspective), though it can be modified to play in a old school manner with some work.

The Pathfinder GameMastery Guide has a whole section on TPKs and different ways to approach them. Suggestions range from "I want them alive" to "Let Failure Be Failure" and even to rewind and play over.

Chris said...

>if your notes say the mushrooms spray sleeping powder, then that's what they do. Players need to learn this and then make decisions based on this.

Thank you Brendan. That is exactly what my thinking is. In fact I really can't see that playing any other way would be enjoyable or make sense to me. Are there other ways to play? Sure there are. They just don't make sense to me. And you have managed to communicate my thinking better in fact than I evidently was. Thank you for that. I also feel that such thinking is integral to an old school mindset, but I may be pushing it to far to say that.

Chaining the nature of monsters, traps, challenges, npcs or the like just so that pcs won't die is absolutely anathema to me. It was the way I was taught to play and to gm. And frankly it makes the game mean much mor to me. I'm sure there are others who feel differently, but thank you again for making my own line of thought more clear.

Christopher B said...

I just stumbled into this, so sorry for coming late to the party. That being said:

It's interesting - no, actually, make that irritating - to me that certain readers find it necessary to berate our author for tiring of catering to the apparent wish-fulfillment needs of his players. While I agree that he could have made his warnings more clearly (informed the player who insisted on taking the spores from the mushroom that his character knew that doing so would likely cause more to be released, or informed the player who misused Floating Disc that his character knew that it would not work in the manner he wished - and that attempting to do so would likely get him killed) he nonetheless gave them subtle but definite warnings about the hazardous nature of their chosen actions. Telling a player to read and be sure to understand the rules of a spell he's using, or that even if he doesn't touch the killer mushroom, his dagger will, seems like fair warning to me.

Where I come from, when the DM/GM/ref (or whatever you finally decide to call it when you're done arguing semantics over a stupid term from a game) asks "Are you sure you want to do that?" or something similar, you have to stop and reassess the wisdom of your actions.

It's not too much to ask the players to exert at least a little common sense and concern for their characters well being, despite what some commenters would have us believe. Having to constantly change rules or situations to protect the characters from their players is not an ideal any game system should strive to achieve. After all, if your players don't want to engage with the world (which means at least coming close to adhering to the rules of that universe, as defined by the game system) why bother playing a game? I'd just have my players leave their character sheets at home; just bring milk and cookies, and we'll all have Happy Story Time.

Furthermore, this business of calling out game systems and play styles is little more than obfuscation (be it intentional or not). This issue isn't about game system, but about expectations. (And it's quite obvious that the expectations of the author and those of his players are nowhere near the same wavelength.) I don't give a crap what system it is, or how "perfect" it might supposedly be, it doesn't exist in a vacuum. The game isn't the system - it's the players. It's ultimately the players that make it or break it, therefore. A good group of players can create the greatest sessions of play from the most "broken" system; while a bad group, on the other hand, could generate the worst sessions even from the "best" system. Touting or blaming the system in either case is an exercise in idiocy (or the result of some deep-rooted psychological malfunction).

People who feel the need to harp on game systems when presented with anecdotes like this (Eric and Aaron, I'm looking at you) should find better things to do with their time. Most of us reading these posts and comments really couldn't give a crap about this sort of nonsense. It's a game - regardless of the system or genre - not some deep mental exercise. Many of us read gaming blogs to read about players' experiences, not to be subjected to childish arguments over the intricacies of gaming. Lighten up, stop taking yourselves so seriously, and stop trying to constantly start fights over whose system or playing methodology or whatever is better. And stop projecting your own issues onto others; just because you got abused at the hands of a bad GM, have inadequacy issues, or whatever your psychological drama du jour is, don't make us all have to suffer through it.

Basically, to you game system pundits: get the Hell over yourselves already.

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