Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

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Cryanhall
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Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:10 am

Hi all,

This is my first, non-greetings post. I apologize for the length in advance. In putting together my own character sheet to suit my needs, I came across a rules question and I wondered how other people handle it.

Without thinking about it I put a Turn Undead table on the character sheet I’m designing. Then, in going back to the core rules I realized that although the player rolls, the GM is the one consulting the table to check to see if the attempt was successful. In other words, the player makes the attempt blind to their chances. I brought out my old copies of B/X because that’s not how I remembered playing it back in the day. I found I was correct. Those rules indicate player knowledge of the number to beat. The difference itself doesn’t bother me – I happen to like the changes BF has made from B/X.

I can understand the reasoning behind keeping the table hidden from players. It keeps players from meta-gaming and makes the simulation a little more authentic. If beginning players are unsure of the number they need to beat it makes the suspense a little more real. It’s part of the same logic of describing a monster the characters have never encountered before rather than just saying, “You walk into the room and see a Displacer.” However, I think there are some compelling reasons for house ruling players to have those numbers in front of them, and I wondered what other people thought and how many GMs out there truly run it rules-as-written.

1. Experienced (and older) players have a general idea of the toughness of each monster which means the player has to play the character as if they didn’t know that information.
2. New players might set themselves up to get killed attempting to turn something far beyond their reach. At the same time, one would hope low-level clerics wouldn’t run into undead that they don’t have a chance at turning in the first place so seeing those NA chances aren’t much of a giveaway.
3. Not knowing the number may actually encourage meta-gaming if a cleric never attempts to turn the undead because they don’t want to waste a round on a potentially hopeless roll instead of swinging a mace.
4. Wouldn’t the cleric as a character have some idea of their chances either through their ecclesiastical training or communing with their deity? I mean, I doubt each cleric is individually inspired to start waving their ankh or iron cross around in the hopes of spooking the spooks. Someone had to have told them it was a good idea.
5. A player seeing their cleric’s turn chances isn’t really any different than thieves knowing their chances to attempt their skills. I’m sure there are plenty of 1st-level thieves skittish to attempt to Hide knowing they have a 10% chance, particularly with the GM making the roll.
6. Having all the rules in one (cheap or free) core book makes it likely the players will see this information at some point anyway.
6. Finally, and maybe most personally persuasive, letting the player know the numbers keeps me as a GM from having to look up the result on a table. Maybe that makes me lazy, but I think it ultimately speeds play.

Sorry if this has been asked before. I did search a bit to see if it had been brought up, but I didn’t come across anything. I did see that BF’s increased difficulty for turning undead came up, and personally I have no problem with that.

I realize this is a very small mod, and I don’t need special dispensation to go ahead and make the change. I was just curious to know how many GMs play it this way. I know at least one character sheet on the Downloads page had a table on it (Kerc’s), so I figured I’m not the only one. If anyone does run it this way and has compelling reasons why I should consider running it as written, I’d be interested too.

Thanks.
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SmootRK
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Re: Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:22 am

I don't have a problem with players having access to table, nor this particular die roll... as the results of the die roll are readily apparent just a soon as die is thrown (either turns/destroys or doesn't). In my mind the cleric is going to have an idea of how far his abilities can go, not unlike a thief gets a general idea of how far Thief abilities can go... prior to attempting anything (though many of thief abilities are not readily apparent after the attempt, unlike cleric turning as already mentioned).

So, in my opinion... no problem with player knowledge on this. Maybe a little bit meta, but in this case is OK by me.

All that said, I don't generally use Turning rules "as is" in my game. I like undead to be a little tougher, so I use this as a damaging "holy blast" like described in my "holy quasi-class". I don't really like a die roll to simply erase an otherwise very challenging encounter. Mean against clerics?, maybe... but it is how I like it. I give clerics other Deity specific powers anyhow, so I feel like it works out.
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mTeasdale
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Re: Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:54 am

To me, a part of B/X playstyle is about player skill. The game is lethal, characters come and goes, and much characters don't have that much special abilities. The way to advance in the game is more about player skill, strategies and the use (and sometimes abuse) of the game's mechanics, like morale.

I don't think that B/X or BFRPG is the best game for immersive or character centric games. And its pretty much impossible to suceed in Old School games without a bit of metagaming.
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chiisu81
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Re: Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:58 am

I think D&D/OSR is fine for any style of gaming, regardless of which edition, house-rules, yada yada. As always it comes down to the GM and the players, and what kind of game they really want to run. We all know BFRPG is more than capable of any style. ;)

I personally like having the players roll but not know the table values.
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Re: Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:03 pm

The player should know, in my opinion, how well he or she rolled, and should have access to the table. Then, when an attempt to turn a zombie fails, but should have succeeded, the player must re-evaluate his or her identification of the monster... a real "oh crap" moment.
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Cryanhall
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Re: Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:24 pm

Thanks, everyone. Good points all around. I think it's a good idea in general to always keep the players guessing regardless of what they see on their character sheets.

I've got my character sheet down to two versions now. One has the Turn tables on there (along with a Thief Skills table) which makes character generation faster since they don't have to write down all that verbiage. The other contender leaves enough blank room for special abilities (race & class), skills, languages, etc. and is maybe a little more versatile no matter what class is chosen.

My ideal character sheet would display everything you need no matter what kind of character is being played, and yet would not feel cluttered or require you to write in tiny boxes. It's a challenge to have enough info on there so no one has to look up anything in the book during the game, but still have room for the player to grow with advancement.

I'm pretty happy with what I got, but I'd still like to get some player feedback. I plan to run something with a few guys from the office soon. I'd solicit feedback here, but there are already so many sheets up as it is.

Thanks again.
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Re: Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

Post Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:40 am

My two cents

With regards to the "metagaming" discussion: I see it as impossible not to metagame. The numbers are all just easy translations from the game to our understanding. As Smoot and Solo have already said, knowing the table gives the player an idea of what their cleric is capable of.

Even in more "characterized" games, the player is ultimately the one making decisions for a character in a different world, based on the player's perception of the world, and the player's ideas on how someone would react in that situation. Furthermore, the characters weren't born in a vacuum. If monsters are real things in their world, then they would have grown up hearing about them, just like we all grew up hearing about strange wild animals. That doesn't necessarily mean what they think they know is always right :twisted: .

With regards to your ideal character sheet: I haven't found a way to have all the information, and fit it onto one sheet in an easy, readable way. That's why I keep easy to access references on my GM screen, and a reference rules book on the table. That said: I include these on my character sheets, then just change the numbers as the levels change.
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Cryanhall
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Re: Player Access to Turn Undead Table?

Post Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:39 pm

Thanks, Clever_Munkey.

I've decided to include the Turn Undead and Thief Skills tables on my sheet. I think I'm going to add a couple of extra, empty slots under the Thief table for other classes who have special percentile-roll abilities like Rangers' Track, Assassins' Poison, and some of the others (Bards, Sages, etc.). I know not everybody runs with those extra classes (I don't plan to), but it would be nice to have something versatile to share.
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