Jeff Rients talks about an unbridgeable gap here which concerns this post about randomness in encounters.
The problem is that ANY roleplaying game that have masses of players in the same setting have to be fair. Fair in that players don't meet any less difficult or less easy encounter than any other group of players. So if a Doom of Lord Death module is being run for five groups of players; each will meet the same challenges with the outcome being based solely on how well the players play their characters. This is an issue that Living Table-top campaigns, Convention Tournaments, MMORPGs, and Live-action Roleplaying Games have to successfully address.
And it is totally antithetical how tradition table-top RPGs are run. Traditional games are run between a small group and a referee. By definition you can't standardized these type of games as each group of players and their referees are unique. If you try then the result in a watered down experience in which everyone quickly loses interest.
It OK to have these limitations in Living Table-top, etc. Part of the appeal of those games is that you are in a massive setting with a lot of players. To have that you have to have the limitations on encounters so they are fair.
I feel that too much of D&D has been influenced by trying to cater to the convention and living campaign crowd. AD&D originated in the Gygax's desire for a standard game and it has been extended to it's logical conclusion in 4e.
Now 4e can be run old school. The advice is there in the DMG, the tools are there. But focus is not there. Especially in the add-on products like adventures.
In some ways this is a problem limited to D&D. Because of it's dominance in the hobby it is the one RPG that can be counted on to be run in standardized formats. Based on my experience with Live-Action roleplaying ANY RPG can suffer from this given the same circumstances.
What should have happened is that D&D had a set of conventions rules and kept the core rulebooks focused on being a flexible toolkit for players and referees to run any game that their imagination allowed.
So there is indeed a unbridgeable gap.
Part 35: "A Potent Weapon in the Hands of a Dwarf"
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