6 thoughts on “Dungeons and Dragons: Crate and Barrel”

  1. Yeah, let’s encourage Diablo-style gameplay in our tabletop sessions, shall we?

    DM: “You’re in a ten by twenty foot room, deep underground the temple. There are two doorways, the one you came from and another one in the east wall.”
    Fighter: “OK. Are there any barrels in the room?”
    (clatter of dice)
    DM: “Yes. There are… fifteen barrels, and three crates.”
    Fighter: “Alright! I smash one.”
    Thief: “Wait! Which one is he smashing?”
    DM: “Uh… does it matter?”
    Thief: “Sure! What if the one he’s smashing is the one with the magical item in it?”
    DM: *sigh* “Alright, let’s draw this up…”
    (DM draws the (empty, but for barrels and crates) room up on a battle map)
    DM: “Alright Thor, which barrel are you smashing?”
    Fighter: “This one!” *points*
    Thief: “Wait! I’m closer to that one than you are!”
    DM: “So? Were you going to smash it?”
    Thief: “Sure! I’m faster!”
    DM: *sigh* “Alright, I guess the only thing we can do it… roll initiative…”
    (clatter of dice)
    Thief: “Yeah! Score! Alright, I move up here…” *moves his token over to the barrel*
    Fighter: “Wait! You might not be strong enough to smash the barrel! Your dagger only does… 1 to 4 hit points damage… and wood has damage reduction… hold on…” *leafs frantically through the rulebook*
    DM: “Yes, Thor’s right. Biblo, roll for damage. No, you can’t use backstabbing rules, it’s a barrel for God’s sake.”
    Thief: *grumble* *rolls dice* *moans*
    Fighter: “Yeah, see? It’s nowhere near smashed. Alright, here I come…” *moves his token to the other side of the barrel*
    DM: “Uh, no, you can’t use flanking rules either. Roll the dice.”
    Fighter: “Aw, shucks. Alright, here goes…” *rolls dice* “Oh crap, snake eyes.”
    DM: *chuckling* “And the barrel holds!”
    Wizard: “Hold on there a second… fireball!” *spreads fingers across table*
    Rest of the group: “NOOOOO!!!”

  2. If people use it in that way.. yeah, its silly. But if you use the options, its a way to very quickly fill out store rooms and such in your campaigns, so that when the party says, “Let’s search the crates!” You can just slide the piece of paper out and say, “After spending two hours opening crates, here is what you found.” Much better than saying, “You find some cooking supplies, and… umm… some cloth.. and… some other junk.”

    My experience with Pen & Paper games, players like details, even if they aren’t important.

  3. Here’s the thing.. if you’re doing PnP.. the extra time spent picking thru the crates is wanted. It adds to the realism/immersion in the game. It’s trivial, redudant, and time consuming… but those are traits that work ok with a regular PnP group. That does not translate well to an MMO, and perhaps that is a telling difference between the genres, and something the developers of MMOs need to look to.

    True, back in the day when running a PnP adventure, as a DM, I tried to make my world as detailed as I could, but if it bogged down too much, we moved on (took short cuts on the ‘what-I-get’ part)… MMOs I cant see people enjoying the extra time, as it’s a computer game, and by nature it’s “here, now, flash. there, bang, I got it” type stuff

    I showed this tool to my daughter (bless her heart, she’s now the DM for her own clan of nerds… makes me proud) and she said “ah cool!”

    From nerd mouth to God’s ear… looks like a good tool to me.

  4. Aaah, you people drive me nuts. :)

    Me, I play PnP for high drama and epic stories – i.e. things you can’t get in (today’s) MMOs. IMO, that’s PnP’s forte. On the other hand, today’s MMOs, incapable of delivering a customized, narrative, epic experience and driven by subscription dollars, have mastered the art of making the trivial, redundant and time-consuming FUN, to varying degrees. When I think MMO, I think trivial, redundant and time-consuming barrel- and mob bashing, rinse and repeat until the next ding, when you can start fiddling with your stats and eq build.

    Wasting hours on human-moderated barrel bashing and crate searching for various mostly useless items may be a good way to spend a PnP gaming session if you’re trying to kill lots of time and your DM was recently lobotomized, but frankly, I’d rather creep through dark catacombs, fighting fearsome ghouls, trying to find the hidden entrance into the lich’s lair – and then have some time left over for computer games, than spend it doing stuff that video games are reasonably good at and humans are not.

    This is why I can’t stand WotC. Seriously, how many random treasure generators does one game need? I like Donjon’s (http://www.crngames.com/donjon/) approach much better:

    Player: “I’m searching the crates.”
    (rolls dice, scores two successes)
    DM: “Alright, what do you find?”
    Player: “Hm… I find a wheel of cheese for one success… and a rat, for the second!”
    DM: “The rat bites your hand!”

  5. I’d expect the rat to run off with the cheese too.

    The funny thing with D&DO’s crate syndrome… if you pokemon the breakables (gotta catch ’em all!) you get an extra 10% xp from the adventure. The crates train you… somehow.

    In any game, motivation for a player to endure crate syndrome varies. This online game gives xp sometimes. Most give you loot. Particularly the GM that rolls on a loot table. If there’s 200 crates, and odds are that 1 will net you a magic item that’s worth something… and there’s no penalty? Risk vs reward. Your party will smash crates and check sacks like an OCD patient whose parents were killed by a mimic.

    Which isn’t bad as a backstory, really.

    In a P&P game, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings. Sometimes, you can use the terrain to your advantage. Sometimes the silly things in the kitchen can make stink bombs, or bait… or with the right mix, improvised napalm, boiling oil… You get the right geek in the room and there will be a Martha Stewart solution to a dungeon problem. It’s a good thing. ;)

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