Given past experience, I've been sort of going back and forth as to whether to post more here, but why not? I'd only start by saying I hope the below ideas are taken as they're meant, as sincere offering of the conclusions of a few personal brainstorming sessions made to try to make future such tournaments more fun for all involved, since that's what we're all here for. To those whom the post offends, true apologies, but please stay out of my inboxes. ^^
So, these have been super fun for me and, I think, for a lot of other participants, too. I didn't have any OOC troubles during the first tournament, and this second went just as fun through my first three or so duels, but the fun was rather sucked out of it when I started to see osay/otell/PM/forum post/even further out-of-game discussion turned toward class OPness and even worse, accusations of my personally being a cheat/powergamer/whatever. I understand some PCs will IC not be happy to lose--I have a sore loser among my own roster--but when things start bleeding into OOC I had a very hard time enjoying, and frankly have since had some real difficulty in enjoying Areia in general when it comes to combat situations even PvE, which really, really sucks. That is the main reason I elected not to partake further beyond a re-match I was asked to give despite also being re-assured that I never broke any rules. I don't know (and don't particularly want to know) whether I was the only one in this second season to be complained at for such things, by participants and even by non-participating observers alike, but if not, hopefully this will help make future contests feel even more level.
Some of the points above taken together, I'm led to believe the biggest issue (again, in my own experience) was a feeling that certain classes are vastly underpowered compared to other classes, even given the rules--rules that, judging by the numbers I've seen as they continue, have actually done really well despite popular opinion--already put in place to try to mitigate those gaps. The first tournament saw very, very few casters as I recall, and so it wasn't so much a trouble then. So, what if in the next contest (I do hope there'll be a next just as soon as this one came!), we keep the open format of bouts but within base-class limitations for the beginning, let that go on for a time, and once the best of each class has proven him or her self, then open it up fully to cross-class competition? Essentially, these are the benefits I see gained from such a format:
- Not overly complicated to understand or remember. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I think ease of use, so to speak, is just as important as fairness for rules. If witnesses, or for that matter the combattants themselves, who are already burdened with the pressure of performing well, have to memorize five thousand unclear rules, less fun will be had and more complaints will invariably arise. So, keep it simple.
- The open, free-for-all style format is maintained, giving each PC an equal chance at everyone instead of pitting one PC randomly against only one other, who might well be far beyond his or her skill level, before elimination. I very much like this format in general over the one-strike-your-out sort of field, and I think most agree.
- Essentially round one would comprise warriors (including squires/paladins) v. warriors, priests v. priests, etc., which will start the game on grounds that I can't honestly see being challenged. Every combattant will have the same potential etc. as each of his opponents. What about the differences between secondary-casters and non-casters within one base-class? I suspect that casting differences in general will only be felt most strongly during the second, cross-class round (see below), in practice. Fighters don't have magic but paladins do; nevertheless, none of a paladin's magic actually targets a fighters worst weaknesses, and really only serve to bring the paladin onto equal footing with the fighter as far as stats, damage, tohit, etc. go. Likewise with rangers v. fighters, and bards v. thieves.
- Once a winner or winners (I would say that if two or more people in the same base-class gain an equal number of wins, they can all go to the open round)are found for each base-class entered, then it will be assumed that you are the best of your peers, proven capable of branching out to test yourself against a master wizard, or a superb thief. This allows for there still to be one ultimate winner at end, which is the goal in my mind, since having four or five different champions based by class feels messy and, given the rewards that we've seen for champions, too much.
- Just as with the first hypothetical round, and as in the Elminster Open, whoever gains the most wins in this second round is named overall winner, ties determined by melees/whatever as normal.
Further but less sweeping ideas:
maintain the rule barring consumed/activated items. I felt that during the first competition, activated items, instead of skill and strategy, were the focus for a lot of bouts. Please god--don't take that as a swipe against anyone who used activated items during the first contest--I really, really, really love you all and just want to be friends! I don't mean to say it was unfair or whatnot, but it definitely gave characters with deeper roots, as well as those with better connections, an edge. More importantly to me, the duels in the Elminster Open have been much
more exciting for observers and challenging for participants, I think, purely because it's more a test of who knows his class and strategy best, over who's going to pull out the flashiest item(s) which may or may not have been borrowed from buddies. I did consider suggesting allowing non-casters and secondary-casters to use activated items when pitted against primary-casters, but frankly, from what I've seen in the Elminster Open, it would likely do little more than to make casters feel like they're the ones being given unfair circumstance. Besides, the next idea will help even more with the cross-class issue I hope.
Consider ruling that all casters (i.e.
, wizards, clerics, druids, as well as paladins, rangers, bards) compete with combatmode -cast set. This is a more general rule than allowing certain things in certain conditions, so it is easier to follow and judge. Moreover, it will allow fighters and thieves a chance to interrupt spellcasting. I foresee a possible arising of complaint about how hard and awful it is to train concentration especially for low-CON or low-INT PCs, but as far as I've always seen, it takes really only middling concentration levels to be able to cast through most warrior's attacks half reliably, even without tons of CON. As an example, Areia faught a high-STR warrior the other day with combatmode -cast, and actually did a lot better than I had intended lol, without CON buffs and with only fair concentration proficiency.
These are the best things I could think to suggest while maintaining relative simplicity in rules. In addition to considering the rule about activated/consumable items, I thought about suggesting to add more spells to the ban list, as I myself refrained from casting certain spells (e.g.
, never used timestop, disintegrate)and certain others v. certain classes specifically to try not to be an ass even though that ended up not going well (e.g.
, didn't use black tentacles v. secondary-casters, etc.), as well as other possible suggestions, but it ended up getting too complicated. I sincerely think a format like the above with added non-defensive casting is a very good bet for finding suitably enjoyable grounds for our magically disabled friends as wel as our magically gifted ones. Feeling like you or someone else is being bullied by powerful characters is no fun, but neither is feeling like you're the bully when you never intended anything the like. Hopefully this will lead to more funzies all around!
In future tournaments,
- Keep the open format, but keep it restricted to like-classes v. like-classes to begin with.
- Once a winner or winners for each base-class is found, open it up to cross-class combat.
- Keep the restriction against consumable/activated items.
- Everyone fights with combatmode -cast.
Nascentes morimur, finisque ab origine pendet.