When it comes to PC games, my favorite stealth games are the Thief series, followed by Robin Hood and Desperados. The first focuses on an individual, Garrett, and the second two involve managing a group of individuals, Robin Hood and his Merry Men and John Cooper and his pals respectively.
All three focus on resource management, limited abilities, observational skills, learning the game’s AI that can alter on the fly (i.e. patrol routes changing, noticing something is stolen, finding someone tied up, hearing a noise, catching the glimpse of a shadow, etc). This gameplay ultimately encourages your creativity to solve the problems presented.
There is more than one solution to the problems presented and failure is typically imminent if your tactic is “Just kill the goblins!” For instance, while Desperados does have its shootouts, in Hang’m High! going in guns blazing trying to save Doc will end in failure.
When Tess finished editing the Temple of Nilbog, she pointed out that not only did I rob them of discovery, I also took away their game tactic fun. This followed a conversation of how I disagreed with the often false comparison that using miniatures somehow equates to using tactics.
Greg’s Barrowmaze podcast addressed several good points about miniature use, covered some good advice to prevent them from slowing down play and some other good bits. For those interested in listening to it on the go, I converted the podcast to an mp3.
When we played 4E Encounters it was jarring to see the girls suddenly treat Dungeons & Dragons like a board game. And, seeing WotC’s method of introducing Dungeons & Dragons to new people upset me.
It was not just the miniatures. Things like “healing surges” and “power cards” and “perception checks” just did not make any sense.
I understand how the mechanics work, but there is a disconnect with the imagined game world. Every time someone used a healing surge, all that came to mind was the strained face of that character taking a crap. Suddenly that character is relieved?
The Delvers have planned out assaults, circumvented obstacles and creatively use their surroundings with great success, and all without the use of miniatures or a game board to “help” them “do tactics.”
Their “perception check” is their own brains. This is the implied method of play by the original creators. One of The Delvers is diagnosed with ADD. She does not require a dice roll to make a lazy man’s perception check.
This is not gospel, but it comes more naturally than trying to explain what a healing surge is and what that actually means.
Gary made me laugh when he all capped in Tomb of Horrors, “THIS IS A THINKING PERSON’S MODULE, AND IF YOUR GROUP IS A HACK AND SLAY GATHERING, THEY WILL BE UNHAPPY!” Even when it is spelled out the message is misunderstood.
The Delvers are not always successful and sometimes the only option is to kill the goblins, but pulling out the double-decker bologna sandwich is much more rewarding for any enthusiastic player and DM.