Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chinese Food

I like Chinese food. There are exceptions, but - in general - I very much like Chinese food.

There's one particular dish that I like. It's called "Sesame Chicken." Here's the thing, though: I've never had it the same way at two different restaurants. Not even close, sometimes.  One restaurant has a dry, deep-fried chicken where the sesame seeds are part of the coating, and it's served with a gravy.  One restaurant has a honey-sesame glaze. One restaurant serves me a sweet-and-sour coating on a deep-fried chicken. So far, I haven't had a sesame chicken that I disliked.

I see gaming the same way. The RPG world? That's Chinese food. Each dish? That's a game. Every restaurant is a different group, and so on. Sesame Chicken? For me, that's fourth-edition D&D. No two chefs (DMs) prepare it in the same manner, but so far, it has not failed to be enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was browing the forums, and I stumbled across a discussion of minions.

In D&D, a minion is a monster with a single hit point. If you successfully hit a minion, you kill it. Minions don't stand alone - they travel in packs with more durable foes.

Now the rules - so far as I have been able to find - don't tell you if the PC's should know who is a minion and who isn't. Why is that important?

In D&D, there are three sorts of powers - At-Will, Encounter, and Daily. You can use At-Will powers every turn. Over and over and over. You can use Encounter powers once per Encounter. They take a five minute rest to reset themselves. Daily powers can only be used once per day, and require a six hour rest to reset. Especially cruel DMs won't allow players that much time to rest. It's a resource management decision - before attacking someone, you have to ask yourself, Is this worth spending a Daily attack on? If it's a minion, then using a Daily is a complete waste.

As you may or may not recall, I'm currently involved in two games - one is traditional table-top face-to-face, and the other is online. In neither one does the DM tell us who the minions are. This means that we end up 'testing' our foes with an at-will or two before wading into the bigger ones.

Both of these games have been going pretty much since 4E was released, just over two years ago. And we've used the same set of rules since we began.

So I was a bit shocked when I read in the thread mentioned above that most (if not all) DM's tell their players which ones are minions - either blatantly pointing out, "These six goblins are minions," or through description, "These six are similarly-armed with what looks like hand-me-downs from their older siblings."

And, while I prefer the way we do it, I can see the appeal of knowing who the minions are in advance. I wouldn't walk away from a game using this interpretation of the rules.

It's just a different kind of sesame chicken.

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