Originally posted by me over here. In regard to putting the players to the test, an urge perhaps felt by people even as they use a largely gamble based RPG:
I'll give the background to this 'challenge the player' impulse.
1. D&D and many others have no option for not to the death of gaining XP, or little in the way of that.
2. So players are forced into potentially lethal combat in order to play at all.
3. Which is based around random rolls, which they can't affect.
4. Then the players get hissy when they lose (especially a beloved
character perma dead) or threaten to get hissy or the DM just second
guesses they will or might.
5. The DM then starts looking for ways to invent challenge for the player, so it's the player who screwed up if they die.
6. The dice are still there and get in the way of #5.
7. It all hinges on the fact that to play at all involves going into
potentially lethal combat, whereas if there was a non lethal option then
players could choose (that actually gained XP and gold) whether they go
into non lethal activities or potentially lethal combats is their
choice. Thus forfilling #5 by dint that they could have chosen non
lethal/stayed in the shire, but didn't.
From someone who wrestled with this, each of those steps, for years.