As with many a discussion started on this forum: I've been intrigued by Eero's D&D/OSR/sandbox game
, as well as other similar things. I'm writing both to hear from him, but also more generally.
Eero (and others) solves the issue of balance in challengeful play by making it "player negotiated". What they mean by this, I believe, is that they create and improvise the setting and situation by asking "What does the fiction demand?". So when the players enter the room, the question is not "What is an appropriate challenge for their level?" but "What has to be here given the facts established about the situation?". If this results in challenges too hard for the PCs, it's the players' responsibility to seek challenges elsewhere.
So Eero aims for this reason (and I think for aesthetic sensibility) to keep the whole campaign world as it has been revealed fictionally plausible. Something that appeals to me, and has done so for most of my experience with roleplaying.
My question is, and this is a problem I've always had with D&D in its various forms: This kind of play hinges heavily on the PCs exploring dungeons to find loot, with a high fatality rate. How do you deal with creating characters who do this? I get the impression that this may just not be a focus of OSR-play - D&D has generally been infamous for its 2D characters, and obviously this kind of play emphasizes using your character as a tool to beat challenges.
But I just find it weirdly dissonant. You have this world, which is meant to hang together, with NPCs and monsters and locations and everything else in relationships that should allow the players to make sense of the setting they are in and explore it meaningfully. And then you have these player characters, who seem suicidal, perhaps psychotic and behave in all kinds of weird ways, like they have this constant stream of them joining the adventuring "party" and being completely willing to carry on where their predecessors left off - despite the fact that most of them died!
So, Eero and others, how do you deal with this? Do you just accept the characters kind of stick out from the rest of the setting and don't make a lot of sense? Or do you have advice for how to create characters who are willing to explore dungeons, but aren't just insane or suicidal?