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Plunder vs Plot

 
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Redtwin
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Joined: 02 Aug 2005
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Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:39 pm    Post subject: Plunder vs Plot Reply with quote

So there's a podcast from the Escapist Expo by some of the early folks involved in D&D talking about the history of it. It's at:http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/escapist-expo/6309-The-History-of-Dungeons-and-Dragons and it's worth listening to on it's own merit.

One of the things they mentioned was that early D&D was about plunder. You're here to kick in doors and get treasure, and we aren't really interested in why you're there. With 2cd Ed, the focus shifted strongly to plot. You're a hero going out to save the world from the forces of darkness.

I hadn't realized how strong that divide is. All the early games I played in were very much about plunder, and the shift to plot was a huge transition. I'm really all about plot and story, and what really drew me into RPGs in the first place was listening to stories people told about what happened in their games.

That's giving me a lot of perspective into the discussions I've read and been involved with here. I almost always try to inject a plot viewpoint, and I'm puzzled when people post a plunder one, because it doesn't match what I'm here for, and I bet they're just as puzzled by me.

Just something interesting I wanted to share.
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Snate56
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's because plunder is a no-brainer, you throw plot in and it forces people to think. Laughing




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Dracones
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Joined: 26 Aug 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Plunder isn't a no-brainer. The dungeon was a puzzle you had to solve to get at the treasure at the end and you could fail miserably. Some of those old school dungeons are the hardest ever made.

The story was what resulted from the players trying to figure out how to work through the dungeon. Rather than the story being set by a plot, it emerges from the play.

Savage Worlds is actually pretty old school in this regard with the mechanics because they tend towards emergent play with wild dice and how random some of the results can be. Plot point campaigns are sort of hybrid old school/new school because they have a plot, but tend to be pretty open to how the players arrive to it.
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Cryonic
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Plunder came before plot because creating an adventure for a random group of heroes to go on was easy (Convention gaming and intro for new players). Plot came later as stories started to evolve from the adventures. Like the giant plot that starts with The Temple of Elemental Evil, then moves on to Pit of the Slavelords, then Against the Giants and finally Queen of the Spiders.

Plot games work best for a group of players and GM that continue together. If players are only around for a session or two, then plot doesn't really do much as they won't experience it.
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decalod85
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Joined: 02 Aug 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dracones wrote:
Plunder isn't a no-brainer. The dungeon was a puzzle you had to solve to get at the treasure at the end and you could fail miserably. Some of those old school dungeons are the hardest ever made.

The story was what resulted from the players trying to figure out how to work through the dungeon. Rather than the story being set by a plot, it emerges from the play.

Savage Worlds is actually pretty old school in this regard with the mechanics because they tend towards emergent play with wild dice and how random some of the results can be. Plot point campaigns are sort of hybrid old school/new school because they have a plot, but tend to be pretty open to how the players arrive to it.


The GM has a huge responsibility for filling in plot point campaigns. If left barebones, they are waaaay too railroady.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, I don't mind a good plunder-based game now and again. (Why, it's perfect for Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG! PLUNDER!) Inevitably, "story" happens along the way, if for no other reason than through the interactions of the protagonists with each other and their environment. As Cryonic noted, a "treasure" plot (or a "slay the wicked monster terrorizing the kingdom" plot) is a pretty nice way to get a bunch of random adventurers together. A more robust story could emerge as the GM gets a better feel for the motivations of the heroes and the things that intrigue the players.

I've been in a few messy campaigns where it looked like there was an attempt to force a random band of characters into the roles of world-saving heroes or kingdom peacemakers, and some of them were having none of it. And on the other hand, some of this "band of misfits" business led to some pretty memorable mishaps, sometimes spectacularly disastrous enough to be worth the price of admission alone. ;D

So, I'm fine with "plot"-based adventuring, or even just "explore and loot." The latter is bound to get old after a while, but these days I consider myself lucky if I'm in a gaming group that lasts long enough for that to happen. On the other hand, I've gone through some module series (in various systems) that were very forced, and read more like STORIES meant to entertain the GM than interactive adventures to involve the players.

In the end, I think I've come to prefer "modules" that flesh out a location and its inhabitants, and perhaps give me a few "adventure seeds" for where to go from there. I could, with a little effort, string together a bunch of "dungeons" into some larger narrative -- and if the heroes show no interest in visiting the Dungeon of Certain Death, I can work with that (and just recycle some of those devious traps and interesting encounters for some other scenario).
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The Dread Polack
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's funny that it seems completely normal for my friends and I, when playing a board game like Descent or Battlestations, for a story and even some roleplaying to come out naturally.

I think when you consider that RPGs as we know them came out of wargames, it makes a lot of sense. I can't play a wargame without injecting a bit of story into it. Storyteller and Fate are just steps on that evolution. It'll be interesting to see what people think in 20 years.
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BObrien
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Plunder vs Plot Reply with quote

Redtwin wrote:


One of the things they mentioned was that early D&D was about plunder. You're here to kick in doors and get treasure, and we aren't really interested in why you're there.


To my way of thinking, there's really a third option here... Sandbox. Sure, dungeons may have been made to plunder, but I think one of the things the OSR has taught us is that there's a lot of interesting stories out there that aren't necessarily linked to one overarching plot. Or stories emerge because there's enough of a thread there to say "hey, I want to learn more about X".
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Dracones
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really think early D&D was more about the gaming side than the roleplaying or becoming a character side. It was treated like a boardgame without the board.

Hence you rolled for your stats, then picked a class suited to those stats, and jumped right in. It's why some aspects of early D&D(roll 3d6 straight down or exp for treasure) can seem real odd to most people playing today. It wasn't played the same way, it was more a game of monopoly than group story time.

D&D sort of evolved at DM tables where a lot of house ruling happened and people got more and more into the roleplaying and character/world building aspect of the game. It was sort of a natural growth out of those early rules. Later RPGs then began to focus on that with a lot of tug and play between the extremes.

Plunder works extremely well when for every 1 gold you loot you get 1 exp point. Plunder = power in that system and it drives the game forward in a way where plot based games can lose focus(when the PCs don't care about the plot). But of course it also means your players tend to be more mercenary and the game will have that feel. It also doesn't feel "realistic" which is a big reason it was house ruled away at a lot of tables in favor of upping monster kill experience or the DM just handing exp out for completing tasks(the start of plot based exp systems).

Of course today's D&D is encounter based and rewards exp for that. SW pretty much awards exp for just showing up which I've also seen house ruled into D&D too(gain a level every 2-3 sessions).

I think it'd be pretty interesting to hack SW to be plunder based in a sandbox setting. You'd really only need to switch out the exp system to award for looting and plundering. I'm kind of surprised settings haven't already touched the exp system in SW. I suppose the 2-3 exp per session is a nice rate of gain and setting makers haven't wanted to risk messing it up.
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