Choice of Missions

I've never played them, but I've heard that there are online games very much like an AD&D campaign set in a world full of dungeons of various difficulty levels. A player controls a party of adventurers, who go around the world visiting dungeons and trying to strip them of their treasure.

The crucial difference between this and table AD&D is that the player has choice of missions. As a player you have to find out what dungeons exist, try to gauge how hard they will be to loot, evaluate whether your party is strong enough to succeed at a certain dungeon, and then decide whether or not to take on that dungeon as a challenge.

In table AD&D, on the other hand, the GM creates one mission and then the players are expected to attempt that mission. There is a general assumption that the mission will be at a difficulty level which the party can handle. The GM's job is seen as setting up a mission at which the player characters can succeed. In other words, the GM lets the players win. Some GMs make this worse by 'retconning', making the scenario easier if the PCs do less well than expected. This means that the party basically can't lose no matter how badly the players blunder.

Being allowed to win like this takes the feeling of challenge out of the game. I don't see much point in playing a game where I'm allowed to win. I would like to see a table RPG in which the PCs have more choice of missions as in the online games described above. Instead of just blindly going into a prepared scenario and trusting that they can win, players would have to evaluate potential missions and then choose whether to take them on or not.

This would be difficult to write of course. We would have to abandon the idea that the GM writes a scenario and then the players must accept it. Instead the GM would have to provide a world, and then the players would try to find out about things in that world and then decide what they will try to do. Once they'd decided on a mission, the GM would then have to design the mission they'd chosen as the scenario. Some kind of world management game system might well be needed. It would be a difficult game to write, but I would like to see it tried. I may have a go myself one day, if I ever have time - which seems unlikely.