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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th December, 2018, 03:43 AM
    In terms of (basically a layered companion character on top of the PC's portfolio) PC deployment, I think you're missing their context in terms of how they hook into the primary objective. 1) The primary objective overall is to (a) get into the mother ship (1000 feet up) and (b) dispatch the Far Realm aliens and their temporal machinations. In order to get 1000 feet up, you need to be...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th December, 2018, 03:01 AM
    Didn't see this thread. I mentioned it in my thread (and elsewhere) that my thoughts on the primary changes from 1e and Basic/Expert to 2e weren't about rules organization, classes, bending the knee to mainstream outrage et al. There were a few very specific things that changed the culture of D&D play that were contemporary zeitgeist coinciding with (not coincidentally) 2e rules and ethos...
    34 replies | 910 view(s)
    4 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th December, 2018, 01:10 PM
    That makes sense to me. I'd throw History in there with Dungeoneering and Endurance.
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th December, 2018, 04:49 AM
    Forgot to handle this. In 4e, I would handle the localized Temporal issues caused by the Time Reaper with the Disease/Condition Track: Temporal Anomaly Attack: +25 vs Will when first entering the localized effect. Stage 0: The target recovers. Stage 1: The target's speed is no longer reduced and its penalty to defenses is -1 instead of -2. Stage 2: Initial Effect: The target's speed...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th December, 2018, 04:41 AM
    Alright, back to the primary topic in the lead post. In 4e, I would probably handle the two Hoverpods as follows: HP 212; Bloodied 106 Initiative +21 AC 37, Fortitude 34, Reflex 35, Will 32 Speed 0, fly 8 (hover) Lasers At-Will Attack: Ranged 10 (one creature); +25 vs. Ref Hit: 2d8 + 7 damage.
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 10th December, 2018, 07:12 PM
    I mean these people have no integrity. They're rotten to the core. They spend their mornings kicking puppies while they twirl their evil mustachios and hatch vile plots for world domination. Ok, seriously. I think two classic examples of not playing the world with integrity would be: a) Post-hoc creating a block of an action declaration (maybe a spell cast or a piece of gear deployed...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 10th December, 2018, 05:52 PM
    There is a substantive difference. However, the problem I see is the culture of D&D embracing the early 90s first principle of GMing that "there is no such thing as GM accountability for playing the world with integrity. The GM is only accountable for what they perceive will create the best story and most fun at the table." The problem with that first principle is that it relies upon (a)...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 9th December, 2018, 03:51 PM
    I'm going to move the core part of this thread either later tonight or tomorrow, but I was thinking. The Skill Challenge above where the Fighter takes over the ATST vehicle? That would have involved: a) Leaping atop of it b) Ripping the hatch off c) Defeating the crew decisively in short order d) Figuring out/adlibing through the alien tech on the fly to pilot it
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 9th December, 2018, 03:20 PM
    100 % agree with this. D&D World Causality Chain (so players can successfully infer odds/opportunity cost/outcomes based on some combination of world system mechanics + tropes + D&D's wonky mechanical artifacts + the sum total of their total experience and their personal experience under a specific GM) is absolutely central to skilled play in trad D&D. Its and discussion of this was central to...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 8th December, 2018, 07:09 PM
    Quickleaf If you’re interested in treating it like a Basic Dungeon Crawl with Fail Forward, I suggest the following: 1) Scale the Exploration Turn/Movement Rate to your liking for the climb. I would have 3 rates though (Fast + Disadvantage on a Check/save to deal with an obstacle, Medium with no penalty, Slow and Advantage). This will create an interesting decision-point for the players...
    59 replies | 1087 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 8th December, 2018, 02:48 PM
    Starting from the bottom: 1) I never thought you were making a claim about the quality of Dragon (nothing I posted engaged with that). The claim you made that I was addressing (which it appeared to me you were making indispute of my “Trad vs 2nd wave” idea) was that there was an overwhelming pervasiveness of “realism sim” culture so embedded in D&D that the power of that signal was there in...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 8th December, 2018, 06:24 AM
    @Quickleaf Use Exploration Turns and Wandering Monsters/Random Encounter clock. Per the DMG, the Dungeon Scale: 1) 20 sq/min (Slow - Advantage) 2) 30 sq/min (Normal) 3) 40 sq/min (Fast - Disadvantage)
    59 replies | 1087 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 8th December, 2018, 03:39 AM
    Some thoughts (that don't just pertain to the quoted text above but to other posts): 1) I agree with AA's post directly above. I'll elaborate: a) AD&D 2e moving xp for treasure/gold from the primary way to advance to an option was no small thing. b) AD&D 2e introducing "Roleplaying xp by way of DM fiat" was no small thing. c) AD&D 2e introducing xp awards for using noncombat...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th December, 2018, 10:08 PM
    @Celebrim I don’t have time to read your response in detail and respond to it, but one thing sticks out at a quick look. You appear to be using “system” as an analog for “rules” and then evaluating my post based on this usage. I don’t agree with that usage. When discussing a game, when I say “system”, I don’t mean discrete parts. I’m talking about the integration of all of play...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th December, 2018, 09:50 PM
    I definitely agree with what you’ve written above (never claimed differently). If I was forced to do 1st, 2nd and 3rd wave categories, I’d probably go: OD&D, Basic, Expert - 1st 1e - mostly 1st with some 2nd 2e - mostly 3rd with some 2nd and a smattering of 1st 3e - mostly 2nd with some 3rd and a smattering of 1st 5e - half 3rd, 1/4 2nd, 1/4 1st
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th December, 2018, 08:47 PM
    Obviously you know I don't agree with this. I outlined upthread (somewhere near the beginning) what I felt are the most fundamental pieces of machinery/feedbacks that creates any singular sequence of play in traditional D&D and the holistic experience: 1) A mapped/keyed/scaled/stocked environment (primarily dungeon but possibly wilderness...where the game's machinery is put under...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 5th December, 2018, 05:22 PM
    With a Secondary Skill and a buff from elsewhere (maybe spending a surge or a use of some kind of power), I suspect the Fighter and Rogue could up their odds of one of the two of them making their check by 50 %, so lets assume one succeeds and one fails and the mother ship deploys defenses (as happened in the 5e game) in the form of an L+1 combat (6050 * 3 = 18150 and change). Remember, in terms...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 4th December, 2018, 03:09 PM
    Coming up with applicable, interesting failure outcomes is top 3 on the list of things GMs should constantly be working to improve. Yup. That’s spot on. That is pretty much exactly what Advantages are; player-facing currency to barter (4e’s equivalent of) Position down or Effect up.
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd December, 2018, 06:24 PM
    So in the above complication (mothership would detect the incoming and would communicate some kind of request for authentication (looking for a "call sign" equivalent) via the heads-up displays in the two Hoverpods), the odds that one of them succeeds is probably in the vicinity of 33 %. The odds that both succeed is pretty remote. As such, we would be looking at a combat nested in the SC...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd December, 2018, 06:03 PM
    Quoting myself right quick (weird) and I'll answer the immediately above question. 1) Fighters are significantly more capable, and significantly more capable of mythical feats, out of combat than their traditional D&D counterparts. 2) Rogues (in particular, the swashbuckler/duelist archetype) are significantly more capable in combat than their traditional D&D counterparts. 3) Wizard's...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 1st December, 2018, 02:53 AM
    Alright, a quick interlude. So we're at the point in this adventuring day where the following is true: * Aliens from the Far Realm are invading the material plane with their weapons, their vehicles, their tech, and their psychic attacks. The PCs are at the endgame and cutting through their forces in a direct assault upon their mother ship. * A Fighter has single-handedly taken down and...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Friday, 30th November, 2018, 04:46 AM
    So I'm thinking the next thing we'd see in the above scenario would be the following: * The Wizard is flying up to the mother ship with Wraithform * The Fighter and the Rogue are flying up in Hoverpods Complication? I'm thinking the mothership would detect the incoming and would communicate some kind of request for authentication (looking for a "call sign" equivalent) via the heads-up...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Friday, 30th November, 2018, 04:03 AM
    I think the difference would be most acutely experienced if you performed the following experiment: a) Run a 4e combat. b) Run a follow-on noncombat scene using Dungeon World and Apocalypse World/Blades Clocks (which may be as close as you get to 4th edition noncombat conflict resolution).
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 29th November, 2018, 03:12 PM
    I No worries! This isn’t a derail (and details are fine so long as they’re interesting!). This hooks into some of my comments above about how Skill Challenges work and GM responsibility. Just like in Dungeon World (and PbtA systems), the players are rolling all the dice. However, both GM and players are “making moves” that impact the gamestate. The GM’s moves in a Skill Challenge...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 29th November, 2018, 05:23 AM
    So through these two encounters, my guess is that we'd see something like: * Rogue down 3 Surges and probably a Daily Attack, a Daily Item, and a Consumable. * Wizard down 2 Surges and probably a Daily Attack, maybe Paragon Path Daily or a Utility (such as Arcane Gate to let the Rogue and Wizard more easily traverse the battlefield in their efforts to handle the Hoverpods and AT-STs) and a...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th November, 2018, 07:37 PM
    Yeah. It’s not happening. Here is the interesting/frustrating thing. An epic level Fighter jumping up and climbing upon an AT-ST, ripping off its hatch, jumping in and killing the crew, navigating the alien technology. That’s all too gonzo. But confronting a Collosal Red Wyrm in mortal, physical combat, and winning...completely legit? I think if you asked your average person (who...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    4 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th November, 2018, 05:28 AM
    So getting back to the L+5 combat above. It would be a combat where the 3 PCs would have to deploy some daily resources to pull out, for sure. Much like my last group (with no dedicated Leader), I would anticipate each member of this group having multiple ways to trigger their own surges or allies' surges. This is what I would anticipate (riffing off of Garthanos's speculative declaration for...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th November, 2018, 04:21 AM
    You're understanding me correctly. To be clear: Opportunity cost in terms of... If I forgo this Move Action to get in position (instead spending it to push toward success in a relevant SC) to use x Standard Action for Combat I'll have to use lesser effective y Standard Action. Or, more difficult still, consider the course of action that Garthanos carved out above: Fighter spending...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 27th November, 2018, 11:40 PM
    Here are the issues as I see them: Combat: A substrate upon which fictional positioning and how it relates to gamestate (the two creating a feedback loop until the conflict has been resolved), action economy, and related opportunity cost dictate moves made and attendant outcomes. vs Skill Challenge: A substrate upon which fictional positioning and how it relates to gamestate (the two...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 27th November, 2018, 12:26 AM
    Agreed. This is completely true. My take on this was they just had to formulate stuff in books for adventure design. Later books and Dungeon Magazine spoke out against this. I'm sorry, but all of this is utterly untrue. Utterly so. Again, if the fictional situation doesn't support an action declaration or a genre trope by way of action declaration...its simple. Its not doable. And...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    5 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 26th November, 2018, 08:01 PM
    First off, I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing the game for both 4e advocates and non-advocates. Its an incredibly well put together game and the creators should be rewarded for their hard, excellent work. Broadly: Non-combat does have a few scene resolution frameworks. However, its primary engine is PBtA-esque: 1) Declare action and pick up d6 2) If (Dis)Advantage, take 2d6 and...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 26th November, 2018, 07:38 PM
    I could see this being done with a Complexity 1, Level 22 (its basically a Contest so against this tank and its crew) SC. Move Action (equivalent) for the action economy of the challenge for the Fighter. I could see: 1) Mighty Sprint Encounter Power Athletics vs Medium to run > leap > climb to the top. 2) Improvised Attack (to wedge his greatsword in there to leverage the top off, so...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th November, 2018, 08:04 PM
    Sure mate. I'll get a post up either tonight or tomorrow about Strike!'s action resolution and how 4e could crib it.
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th November, 2018, 08:01 PM
    Alright, so I think we can at this point see how the opening framed situation (mechancially, Skill Challenge Level + 2 Complexity 1; parley) could snowball into the follow-on combat as a consequence of failure: Level + 5 (failure at end of SC leading to +2 buff to Encounter Budget) Combat (arising from failure above). Level 28 Combat @ 13000 * 3 PCs = 39000 XP budget I would probably break...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th November, 2018, 06:44 PM
    Yup. I absolutely agree. With 4e, this could have been accomplished via the Dungeon Worlding of resolution. It would have fit well with the system. Strike! (4e hack) goes this route and pulls it off pretty damn well.
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th November, 2018, 06:33 AM
    So in Blades in the Dark parlance that would be setting Position and Effect. 4e handles this pretty much the same way, it just doesn't explicate it like that. So the default Position in Blades in the Dark is Risky with Controlled and Desperate being on opposite ends. The default Effect is Standard with Limited and Great being on opposite ends. Trading Position for Effect or vice versa...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th November, 2018, 03:22 AM
    That actually makes a lot of sense. I could see it going down like this: 1) Fighter succeeds at Endurance check to stoically accept the laser fire square in the chest armor (effectively in Dungeon World terms "Defy Danger Con") that would lead to (a) 3rd success (vs 1 failure) and... 2) The commander and his heavy armor brigade realizing they've been sent on a suicide mission. He...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th November, 2018, 01:40 AM
    I consider traditional D&D to be 1e and Basic (I never played OD&D). 2e and 3e move off of the trad conception of the game a few nuanced but significant ways in terms of machinery and play priorities. 5e much more closely resembles a mash-up of 2e and 3e (particularly in ethos) than it does 1e and Basic, but it be drifted there with a little effort; xp for Treasure/Gold only, no Feats,...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th November, 2018, 01:31 AM
    Alright. Let me get back to it. I like this Garthanos. This would, of course, be taking place before/in the stead of the Fighter's move and the fiction subsequent to that. However, I'm not sure about Insight as the triggered skill for the action declaration. It seems to me that it would go one of two ways: 1) History if the Rogue is pulling out some kind of "if you destroy our world,...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 24th November, 2018, 07:13 PM
    I’m going to answer this in relation to my above post as it lets me append another facet of this (which is another aspect of robust PCs): The fact that 4e PCs/a group is robust to (a) significant deviation in workday (both in intraclass balance and group staying power), eg 1 mega-difficult encounter all the way to a 12 encounter (or more...that’s the most I’ve done) workday, is a feature for...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 24th November, 2018, 05:59 PM
    So I have 4 thoughts for this: 1) Much of the “problem” (insofar as it may be a problem) is in GM timidity/neutrality in framing of situation/conflict and in consequences. If a GM hard frames a particular PC into a focused complication that they have to deal with RIGHT NOW (or there will be consequences), it crystallizes the situation such that responses (and respondees) will fundamentally...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 24th November, 2018, 04:54 PM
    Let me unpack my thinking on this a little more. The Wandering Monster Clock machinery isn’t just a system of discrete parts. It works in concert, holistically, in order to engender the play experience. This is why when people were claiming that 5e could reproduce the actual 4e play experience (because a widget here, a bit there, a bob here each bore some kind of recognizably 4e aspect to...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    4 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd November, 2018, 02:05 AM
    Alright, so we've gone over Monster Reaction Rolls vs intentional GM pressure on thematic portfolio. Let us get back to how this may work out in 4e. To recap: Quite clearly, we have a Star Wars like situation where a group of NPCs in vehicles are threatening the PCs. The Wizard begins with a request for parley in their Far Realm language. The commander probably opens and peers out of...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd November, 2018, 01:17 AM
    I definitely agree with this. I think the matter is made worse (a) when folks are averse to playing different kind of games (doesn't even have to be TTRPGs...could be Eurogames) and (b) when a culture becomes insular and averse to self-reflection/analysis. And that can be any culture. Its not great when players of rules-lite systems don't understand the mental framework that responds to a...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 22nd November, 2018, 04:09 PM
    Alright, continuing on. I'm going to extend this little bit of a digression to talk about Trad D&D (for this, I'm using Basic and 1e) vs 4e, 5e, and Torchbearer. One of the primary pieces of machinery in Trad D&D is Monster Reaction Rolls/Table. When the PCs encounter a Wandering Monster or a Random Encounter, the disposition of a creature is often unfixed (except for things like Oozes,...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    5 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 21st November, 2018, 07:37 PM
    @Joshua Randall Not a lot of time, but in short: Deeeeeeeffinitely do not agree. Of the two games I GMed 1-30 and the other game where I GMed a section of it (it was a DW campaign that we switched to 4e for one level - 27 - just as an experiment), the OVERWHELMING % of Epic Tier Combat encounters featured budgets between L+4 to L+7. It’s easily enough done by:
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 21st November, 2018, 05:34 AM
    I'm going to briefly transliterate what the various gamestates would be like in 4e, given the above. Afterward, I'll discuss the differences in play (the mental framework of players, the mental framework of GMs, the general feel of the each game, the nature of the movement from one gamestate to the next). * Skill Challenge Level + 2 Complexity 1; parley This would be a failed parley...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 21st November, 2018, 04:37 AM
    If I transliterated the scenario I conveyed above into 4e, it would be SIGNIFICANTLY different. You would have superheroic genre logic. You would have Closed-Scene as the exclusive locus of play trajectory. You wouldn't have serial accounting for time and space in the way. There wouldn't be serial exploration, a keyed map, or Exploration Turns that are pressured by a Wandering Monster/Random...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 21st November, 2018, 04:35 AM
    Below is the 5e play excerpt: Alright, so here was the last session I GMed in 5e. Of note: 1) This was an Epic Tier Aliens Invasion scenario with actual Far Realm "Grays", War of the Worlds type bio-constructs (like pilotable golems, but made of organics), and their mother ship. However, instead of harvesting bio-material, they were harvesting time, slowly turning back the clock of this...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 21st November, 2018, 04:32 AM
    Immediate Disclaimer: This analysis is going to have to span a few posts. I'm going to examine my last 5e play Excerpt which was at level 18. That Tier is "Master's of the World": "...characters have superheroic capabilities, and their deeds and adventures are the stuff of legend. Ordinary people can hardly dream of such heights of power-or such terrible dangers." This text is...
    151 replies | 5136 view(s)
    8 XP
  • innerdude's Avatar
    Tuesday, 20th November, 2018, 11:11 PM
    In my view, all game rules are "descriptive," in that they "describe" acceptable end states. When I consider the purpose of rules in a game, ultimately the intent is to describe (define) what is and is not an acceptable change state / state change for those playing the game. To play chess, you accept that from any given current game state, there is a finite set of acceptable state changes...
    22 replies | 633 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 19th November, 2018, 08:17 PM
    All encounters should be: 1) Interesting 2) Meaningful I don't want to waste any table time on "uninteresting" or "meaningless" encounters. Oftentimes, "difficult" falls under the classification of either (1) or (2) or both of them. Difficult could be "measure of challenge" or "costly in some non-fungible way (eg you aren't simply trading resources for success)".
    42 replies | 1136 view(s)
    4 XP
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Thursday, 15th March, 2018

  • 08:55 AM - CubicsRube mentioned innerdude in post Any Dungeon World players here?
    innerdude absolutely right. It will never appeal to tactical players as there isnt enough crunch and it all comes down to narrative justification. It works well as a narrative game, and i tend to lean more towards that, hiwever even i wish there were rules for things sometimes, such as movement and positioning. But because it is so different, it can be a great break away from trad games for a few short sessions. Dw works great for a one shot or short campaign.

Monday, 5th March, 2018

  • 05:32 PM - Ovinomancer mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...ot at all interested in finding ways to discredit the playstyle, as I enjoy that playstyle. I don't run that playstyle, for a number of reasons, but I'm going to try a few games of Blades in the Dark because that goal of play and setting strongly appeals to me whereas many of the other examples of that style (Burning Wheel, Dungeon World, etc) don't really appeal to me. I cannot run a heist game well in a DM-facing style without a huge amount of work, something I'm not interested in, and hours of in-game planning and contingency planning, something I'm also not interested in. Blades provides a nice framework for a style I am interested in, and I'm not adverse to the concepts of player-facing games at all, so it's something I actually want to run (as opposed to the others, which don't appeal to me because I prefer my D&D as D&D for reasons). I think you'll get a lot more out of these discussions when you stop trying to shove everyone into boxes they don't fit in. Your comment to innerdude above about who repped his posts is very telling of a mindset that's keeping track of the 'sides' in a discussion and assumes that rep is an indication of which side a post is on. I don't think that's very useful as a metric at all. Also, you should maybe listen a bit better to many people saying your formulation is dismissive and find a better one that still sticks to your points. This insistence on 'the DM telling you things in his notes' bit is a great example. When shown something that isn't in notes, you've changed your statement to 'what I mean by notes is things pre-authored or made up on the spot but kinda seem like their pre-authored' and stuck with your formulation. This undermines your argument about pre-authoring being bad because you've now added DM provided narrative that isn't pre-authored but is instead responsive to player input as in the same category so that you don't have to back away from other things you've said. You've now conflated two different arguments ...

Sunday, 25th February, 2018

  • 03:42 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...ncy."I search the study for the map" and "I hit the streets hoping to meet up with one of my contacts" are both declarations of actions that the PC is capable of. But that tells us nothing about how those action declarations are to be resolved. They don't have to be resolved by reference to GM-authored, unrevealed backstory (like the map isn't there or all your contacts are either dead or too scared to speak). In Classic Traveller (1977), it is clear that Streetwise checks are not to be resolved that way. I feel like there is little trust being afforded to the GM throughout much of this discussion. I’m not sure why. There was an extensive discussion of this c 500 posts upthread. It's nothing to do with trust. I'm sure as a GM I could tell a somewhat interesting story. But it's not what I want out of RPGing. The point generalises: the reason I want to exercise agency as a player is not because I don't trust the GM, but because the GM isn't me, and I want to play my character. innerdude made a nice post about this around 80-odd posts upthread.

Saturday, 24th February, 2018

  • 03:06 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...ng! I shot you," is that a bullet was fired. It's playing a game - a social process. The social processes in a RPG are different - eg the rules for declaring "I take the wand from my backpack" are not structured around physical location and possessions as in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers - but the basic idea is the same. The players write their own script. They have full control over their PCs words and attempted actions. What they don't control, and which has nothing to do with player agency, is the stage setting(game world) and the results of their attempted actions(unless they have an mechanical ability that gives such control).As I've said, this is at best extremely modest agency over the content of the shared fiction. For instance, a game in which every outcome of action declaration is decided by the GM based on what s/he thinks makes sense or would be fun would fit your description of player agency. It also relates to what I posted upthread, which I took innerdude to be in broady sympathy with in a recent post: what you describes opens up the scope for a very big gap between playing the character I want to play, and what actually happens in the game. What gives them agency is the ability to leave the paths and go or do what they want within the power of their PCs. But they can't do any of these things. They can't find the map in the study if the GM doesn't allow it. They can't bribe a guard if the GM doesn't allow it. They can't meet a long-lost friend in the village if the GM doesn't allow it. "The power of their PCs" is a red herring here. Because the power of a person depends primarily on the opportunities by which they are surrounded, and what you describe is an approach to play where that is all controlled by the GM. novels don't have players directing where the story goesBut a choose-your-own adventure does. Nevertheless, the player doesn't have very much agency over the content of the shared fiction. And if you think this is...

Friday, 23rd February, 2018

  • 02:07 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Who says the GM will not be drawing on the material from stuff provided by the players? This is going to vary by table.You're the one who said we were talking about GM-driven games - I'm just following your lead! If, in fact, the players are contributing the key material (eg the stakes, the context, the motivations that are going to be actually salient in play - see my reply just above to innerdude - etc) then why would you describe it as GM-driven? I think all games contain elements of both "styles". In the past, I've been told I am wrong in that regard....that the game must be either one or the other. This thread seems to be putting forth that same concept. Am I misunderstanding? Do you think that a game can be both player driven and GM driven? Or that it can contain elements of each?I think that saying that "all games contain elements of both "styles"" is, in the context of a thread like this, mostly unhelpful. It adds nothing to the analysis, and tends to make everything dissolve into porridge. It makes it impossible, for instance, for innerdude to make the point he just made in his most recent post. It means that we can't talk about the difference between Lanefan's example of the GM making up all this off-screen fiction about the harlot, and the way that Manbearcat might conceivably have produced similar fiction using DungeonWorld. I honestly don't know much about...

Friday, 16th February, 2018

  • 03:14 PM - Celebrim mentioned innerdude in post So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?
    Based upon my novitiate impression of Savage Worlds, I would say that in comparison with 3.5 D&D (RAW, at least), players have an easier time of customizing a character concept right out the gate at character creation, though not necessarily with all the edges/feats that you would necessarily want. I'd agree with that. Savage Worlds encourages play in a narrower range of power levels. Your starting character is not quite as narrow or shallow in their power as a first level character, and will never be quite as potent as a high level D&D character. While I being honest about the fact that a player in my game is basically playing an archer with telepathic, telekinetic and precognitive powers, it's also true that the concept really doesn't get to where the player intends it to be (what innerdude describes as "bad-ass") until like 4th level or so owing to the need to multiclass and acquire the right feats. In that sense, SW is trying to force play into the span that a lot of players consider D&D's sweet spot. And to a large extent, I'm OK with that. It's other areas of the rules that I find less satisfying. Sure, but shouldn't that principle also apply to game systems you are averse to, such as Savage Worlds and Fate? :erm: Absolutely. My problems with SW are largely in its fortune system which I find manages to be both unnecessarily complex and too limiting at the same time. But could you play a game that is basically D&D with SW? Sure. Heck, with the right GM I'd probably enjoy SW. I just don't want to run it, and don't feel it adds anything I couldn't already do with a D20 game. FATE on the other hand has a ton of issues for me. Again, I find its dice pools hit a bad spot that is both unnecessarily complex and too limiting at the same time, but I ...
  • 08:11 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... items to help him free his brother from balrog possession with a chance to acquire an angel feather. The "challenge" in the scene was to determine the nature of the feather, whether it was worth trying to buy, whether instead to try and steal it, etc." In other words, there was no challenge that had to be overcome to establish fictional positioning to pursue the player's goal. (The choice of instinct also affected the content of the fiction: one reason for, later on in the session, establishing the NPC mage's residence as a tower was because it spoke to an instinct about falling.) In "story now"/ "standard narrativistic model" RPGing there's no need to fiddle about and delay the onset of the real action. The first encounter in my 4e game, following the initial scene where the PCs met one another and their patron, involved a clash with Bane-ite slavers, whom most of the PCs had an established reason to oppose beyond just them being a challenge the GM threw out there. Although innerdude is mistaken when he says that your description of my argument is "a pretty accurate assessment" - because that description didn't address at all the source of material - innerdue is 100% correct to say that " If [the GM] wants to frame a "pass the guards" challenge or a "successfully sneak through the hallways undetected" challenge, great! As long as the scene frame represents appropriate dramatic need." Whether having guards outside the study will satisfy that criterion is an entirely contextual matter, depending on such things as (i) established fiction about the study, (ii) established fiction about the guards, (iii) elements of the framing of both, etc. If a PC is a worshipper of Ioun, and the guards are there to stop the unworthy gaining access to valuable knowledge, then it sounds like it could be quite interesting (and also ripe for the PCs to persuade the guards to let them through, if they want, by persuading them that keeping secrets is what Vecna wants, not Ioun). If t...

Friday, 26th January, 2018

  • 06:21 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...nd hence include (iii) as a desideratum. Both the examples I gave satisfy (iii) - a skill challenge isn't lost with a single failure; and one invisilbe foe (who is otherwise part of a fairly designed encounter) isn't going to lead, in iteslf, to a TPK. I think when the whole mansion is the scene, and the map is hidden in the bread-bin in the kitchen, there may well be a real risk of (ii) failing - both because the breadbins may have no inherent salience to the players as potential map repositories, and because the players are very dependent on the GM presenting the mansion to them by way of narration, and that narration may fail to engender the right sort of salience of breadbins in the kitchen (especially if the GM is worried that drawing attention to the bread bins may give away what s/he is hoping will be a puzzle). I think there are also risks around (iii) - assuming that this map matters for whatever purpose, then failing to find it may be a "rocks fall"-type roadblock. (As innerdude alluded to in his most recent post.) One way of thinking about the Gumshoe system is that it's really an attempt to circumvent (iii), by making sure that at least the basic clues are handed out automatically once the fictional positioining is more-or-less adequate. Which then removes a lot of the burden of (ii); but obviously also gives the game very much the flavour of "following the GM's story", I think.
  • 06:20 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    .... Which they go on to explore. New content is needed. A player (playing his PC) persuades the group to lay-over in orbit about a world, so that his PC can look for signs of alien influence. He decides to do this by examining trinkets for sale in a market. New content is needed. Etc, etc. New content is needed all the time. Players don't need to be very bright to work out that the new content is coming from somewhere! Maybe the GM pulls out something s/he prepared earlier and slots it in - this is where module maps, module vignettes, monster manuals, etc come in handy - or maybe the GM makes stuff up from scratch - this is where a familiarity with basic genre tropes and devices is useful. This also reiterates the difference between prep, and (pre-)establishing a setting. If you don't trust the DM, what's the point?Trust the GM to do what? I trust my BW GM to run an interesting game. What's that got to do with the point of worldbuilding? I'm sure if I wanted to play what innerdude has called a "setting tourism" game, he could do a good job of that too. But that's not what I play RPGs for. when I sit down at a D&D table I trust that the DM is going to present an entertaining game with a consistent (or maybe a better term is reliable?) setting and that - despite occasional moments of unfairness that may be generated from either side of the screen - the game will be fair in an overall sense. I trust her to have come up with an interesting story or plot or reason for us to go adventuring.OK - when I sit down at the BW table I trust that the GM is going to present an entertaining game with a consistent and reliable setting and that the game will be fair in an overall sense. I trust him to come up with interesting framing that will push me (as my PC) in difficult and surprising directions. Occasionally he might falter - we're all human - but most of the time he delivers. Our contrasting preferences for RPGing don't really bear on the issue of how much either o...

Thursday, 25th January, 2018

  • 04:23 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    for me "pre-authored content" is rarely if ever set in stone. I always try to be responsive to the situation. I can and will adapt and change pre-authored content.It may be time for another distinction, which I made in a reply to innerdude somewhere upthread. Not all worldbuilding is prep. Eg if the GM draws a map of the whole gameworld, but the campaign takes place only in one little geographic segment of it, then that is not prep for play. And not all prep is worldbuilding. If you make notes of (say) 10 encounters you think might be fun to run, but you work out what to do with them, how to sequence them etc in the course of play then you didn't build a world, in the sense of establish - in advance of play - content of the shared fiction which then feeds into action resolution. This is why a "no myth" game isn't the same thing as a "no prep" game (though in some systems could be run that way - of systems I know, Cortex+ can be run with no or virtually no prep; 4e, on the other hand, requires someone (either me or the designers) to write up all those stat blocks in advance).

Saturday, 20th January, 2018

  • 06:14 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...oughts. That's what I'm getting at here.Understood, I think. This means that the GM is playing a very big role - s/he is the artist, and the players the (crtically engaged) audience. I mean yes some tables fundamentally change the world the campaign takes place in...but really that was part of the art to being with, the ability to change what exists within it. There are some worlds where this is not a fundamental aspect of the art and play is more akin to a choose-your-own-adventure story, there are pre-written "holes" that the players are expected to fill. In other campaigns the players are a "new variable" capable of changing up the existing dynamic written into the campaign. The "art" of the built world is either designed with the players ability to change the world, or it isn't. The latter can range anywhere from something more akin to an art viewing to a choose-your-own-adventure.This is very clear, thank you. I'm interested to see what others think of it (eg Sadras, innerdude, Nagol, Manbearcat, redrick).
  • 06:08 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...vance. The player (who doesn't read comics) has read Nightcrawler's sheet, sees that he's a roguish romantic type, and so naturally suggests an outing to a bar. I have never heard of B.A.D. except in the context of some "datafile" descriptions in the back of my copy of MHRP Civil War. When the players decided they were going to a bar, I flipped through the (several) pages of characters at the back of the book, noticed Asp (she comes early in the alphabetical listing) as someone who might be suitable for meeting in a bar, and then threw in the other B.A.D. characters that are referenced in Asp's description. As far as relying on my (rather sketchy) knowledge of DC - the Washington Monument, the Capitol Dome (which also came up in the game), and the Smithsonian aren't elements of any worldbuilding. They're actual places which some of the players (not me) have visited, and which we all have some basic familiarity with from images on TV and in movies. They're in the same category as innerdude's reference to 18th century France. Your second example ignores that Greyhawk was used as a world and only focuses on the tree created by a player. Sure, the tree is important, but you already leveraged the vast work and world of Greyhawk before the tree was even introducedIn what way? Showing someone (the player) a map with a little village on it called Five Oak isn't "leveragign the vast work" of anything. It's leveraging a single map and place name. There's no description of any powerful recluse wizards in the GH City boxed set description of Five Oak. Besides all the myriad of other reasons provided by posters above, the table doesn't waste precious play time on worldbuilding. For example, if I as DM establish a map, the setting calendar, the seasons, where various settlements lie on a map, the general terrain and distance between these settlements, then it will be easy to work out the length of time required to travel from one settlement to another when a player asks m...

Wednesday, 16th August, 2017

  • 03:00 PM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post How I Learned To Stop Worrying About Game Prep
    innerdude Your posts are interesting. My experience with theatre is pretty minimal, so I can't comment on your characterisation of a director's role and duties. When it comes to GMing, I think what's very important is a sense of story/drama - as in, what would be fun/interesting/exciting here, now? - and some sort of ability to modulate this in response to player signals. I think that second bit is perhaps more important than the first. In my experience, even fairly mediocre GMing can produce a reasonably enjoyable RPGing session if the GM leaves room for the players to do their stuff in relation to the (mediocre) content and situations the GM is providing. What (in my experience) tends to go wrong with mediocre GMing is when the GM tries to assert control, bumps into contradictory preferences from the players, and keeps going. No amount of prep is going to save that game.

Tuesday, 15th August, 2017

  • 08:26 PM - Celebrim mentioned innerdude in post How I Learned To Stop Worrying About Game Prep
    innerdude: I like and agree with a lot of what you said, but don't share a language with you for discussing it. There is buried in your description all sorts of different approaches to solving the problem of making your campaign not be "lifeless, dead, and hollow". For example, someone reading a sentence like "It's the difference between a group of actors standing in place on stage, holding scripts in hand and reading to the audience, and that same group of actors being in costume, moving around on stage (using blocking), and having real props and sets.", who might reasonably conclude that what is needed is better costumes, better acting, and better props. And buying or building props to use in your game is a sort of preparation for the game, albeit it a very different category of one than we usually think of when we say "prep", that is going to have a big impact on how the gameplay of the game actually ends up coming across. But I think you agree with me that what is important is this thi...

Wednesday, 14th June, 2017

  • 10:13 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Reading through Dungeon World, questions for GMs, RE: Initiating a GM "move"
    innerdude I'm not actually a DW GM, and so can't give answers based on DW experience. So I'll just reply to your last question, based on my experiences with BW and the non-combat aspects of 4e. are there areas where the players have more of a tendency to argue against the results of a GM move? In this case, I'm guessing "Say yes or roll the dice (i.e., initiate a move)" is the overriding philosophy here, but I'm wondering if there are specific areas where players are more prone to say, "That's not fair," or "That doesn't make sense." Is it difficult in some circumstances to find a satisfying resolution that meets the fictional need, the stated intent of the PC action, and the result of the roll?This issue of fairly adjudicating the fiction is an important element in BW and 4e (especially the non-combat/improv parts of 4e). My general advice would be: * If the players have a firm view of how the fiction works (eg how magic portals work; how to build a "tank trap" that will slow goblin ...

Tuesday, 13th June, 2017

  • 02:06 AM - Manbearcat mentioned innerdude in post Reading through Dungeon World, questions for GMs, RE: Initiating a GM "move"
    innerdude , couple things: 1) I would recommend you read my PBP here. That should help you quite a bit. 2) I would recommend you watch a game run by Adam Koebel on Youtube (co-creator of the PBtA hack). 3) See pemerton 's post directly above. It all depends on the status of the fiction (while you maintain fidelity to the game's procedures, play agenda, and GMing principles). 3a) GMs don't roll dice in DW. The moves they make are things that happen in the fiction as a result of: - a 7-9 result on a player move. - a 6- result on a player move (and they mark xp). - a soft move which is the general framing of a scene. - when the players present you a golden opportunity because they have ignored or not properly dealt which a telegraphed soft move such as "reveal an unwelcome truth", "show signs of an approaching threat." So I'm going to fill in some blanks on your scenario above as I don't know enough. Situation: The PCs are tracking some refugees from a raid ...

Monday, 12th June, 2017

  • 11:08 PM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Reading through Dungeon World, questions for GMs, RE: Initiating a GM "move"
    innerdude, "deal damage" is a GM-side move. Among the judgements a DW GM has to make is when to go hard and when to go soft. Do you "reveal an unwelcome truth", triggering Defy Danger or something similar? Or does a flight of hobgoblin arrows deal damage to the heroes? GM's call, in accordance with the logic of the fiction and the core GMing principles.

Wednesday, 10th May, 2017

  • 02:09 PM - Corwin mentioned innerdude in post So long and thanks for all the fish!
    "Laugh @BoldItalic, @rgoodbb, @innerdude laughed with this post" Do you guys not know how to follow instructions? I said "all of my previous posts". Not that one! Ugh. It is so hard to find good help these days...
  • 11:04 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Judgement calls vs "railroading"
    ...o AP. On the issue of conflict. There's a fairly widespread view that a story results from some sort of dramatic need on the part of the protagonist meeting some sort of obstacle or complication, with the story itself consisting in the resolution of that conflict (which may involve overcoming it, or falling to it, or the dramatic need itself transforming in the process of confrontation). When I say this view is widespread, I'm not just talking about RPGing. Eg this is what my primary school-aged daughter is taught in her English classes. The GM advice in games like DitV, BW and other "standard narrativistic model" games is intended to facilitate the creation, in play, of stories in this sense. And the advice itself is written in a certain context. This includes a widespread view in the community of RPGers (eg Lanefan expressed it upthread) that the only way to reliably achieve story in that sense is by way of railroading. It also includes a fairly widespread view, articulated by innerdude (I think) upthread, that the players should have to "work" to find the action or to find opportunities to realise their PCs' goals. (A very common instance of that view in D&D play: that being able to enchant an item first requires undertaking a quest to find the ingredients.) "Story now"/"standard narrativistic" RPGing was developed and (over the 10 years or so from the mid-to-late-90s through the mid-to-late 2000s) formalised as a deliberate response to, and rebuttal of, those two views. The emphasis place on "framing", for instance, and the attention paid to how this might work in a RPG, is about ensuring that the GM brings the stakes to the players, instead of making it a signifcant part of play to hunt for the stakes. And via techniques such as "say 'yes' or roll the dice", emphasis is instead placed on the resolution of the complication itself - the dramatic moment (whether that be trying to persuade a stranger to accompany you to your home, or trying to light a fire despite t...

Wednesday, 15th February, 2017

  • 07:05 AM - Rune mentioned innerdude in post (LOTR) I don't normally ask for system recommendations, but when I do, it certainly doesn't involve Dos Equis
    innerdude, I'm not sure Dungeon World would satisfy your players' itch for tactical play, but I think it would be plenty robust enough otherwise. The "draw maps, leave blanks" principle can pretty easily be switched out with "paint a picture, leave room for discovery." Fronts, as usual, can do the heavy lifting from the GM side. The tricky part is coming up with playbooks and setting-specific moves. I've actually been working on a TOR/Dungeon World Hack, so, if you do decide to go this route, I could save you a lot of work. I've been keeping the tone of TOR as much as possible, including the assumed time-frame, so you'd still have to fill in some blanks, but it would be a starting point.


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Saturday, 28th July, 2018

  • 01:56 AM - pemerton quoted innerdude in post The Sandbox and the Railroad
    I don't think there is spectrum between a "sandbox" and a "railroad". One is a game and the other is a story.I think this is a slighlty tendentious way of putting it!, but I tend to agree with the underlying claim I call this the players railroading themselves - the GM, knowing the characters and what motivates them, can put down fifty adventure hooks and know exactly which one will be chosen.Why use the phrase railroading themselves? Isn't it just clearer to say choosing? specifying where the authorship comes from is superfluousMaybe I missed the broader context in which this comment was embedded - but given that the principal activity of a RPG is narrating events that involve fictional elements, I don't see how it can be superfluous to talk about how authors those elements and those events! If the GM authors everything that matters, what is the funtion of the players? Pure audience? One thing I've noticed too is that the player's perspective on the level of freedom available to...

Friday, 27th July, 2018

  • 08:39 PM - Lanefan quoted innerdude in post The Sandbox and the Railroad
    One thing I've noticed too is that the player's perspective on the level of freedom available to them can change if a player determines that a character is "bought in" to whatever stakes are at hand. When this happens, then the player and character are "invested," and plot linearity (if any) fades to the background. The character is doing what the GM "wants" because the character's fictional positioning would indicate that they would act in that manner. I call this the players railroading themselves - the GM, knowing the characters and what motivates them, can put down fifty adventure hooks and know exactly which one will be chosen. I've done it to myself, in the past: played a character that in effect railroaded himself into things that wiser characters might have avoided, just because of his personality and motivations. The problem comes in when a player has a character idea that doesn't quite mesh with the fiction as authored. I had this problem in the last campaign where I was a playe...

Wednesday, 7th March, 2018

  • 03:27 AM - Maxperson quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    My wife has written several novels now (none published yet, sadly), and she and I talk constantly about story and narrative pacing, character arcs, plot arcs, etc. There's lots of "rules" around how to write effective fiction, but two of the most important are "Never let your protagonist earn a victory cheaply," and "Don't let your characters act out of character." "Story Now" play, as I see it, is an attempt to directly address the second point. If players/characters aren't allowed to advocate for their narrative agenda in RPG play, they are in effect, "acting out of character." At which point, the player is forced to subsume their actual character design and just "go along with it." This is essentially what I ended up doing with my PC for a year in the last Savage Worlds game in which I was a player. I had established clear narrative stakes for her through her character background and her choice of magical talents---she will valiantly fight against any and all forms of slavery. Yet...
  • 12:43 AM - pemerton quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    The other thing that keeps coming to mind is, neither side (GM and players) is immune to making mistakes from time to time. Sometimes players will wrongly advocate for a fictional state change that would, in fact, make the game worse. Sometimes the GM will wrongly impede players from advocating for their character agendas. Sometimes the GM offers too few concessions to the narrative, sometimes the players ask for too many. GM experience plays a big role in making this work.This is all true. That's why I've been posting assuming a GM who is doing what s/he set out to do. It's also why I think detours through "pemerton doesn't trust GMs" and the like are just that - detours. Preferring RPGing in which players exercise significant agency over the content of the shared fiction has nothing to do with distrusting the GM, or thinking the GM will do a bad job of "telling the story". It's rather than (as a player, and as a GM) I don't want the GM to be telling a story - because I am looking for a d...

Sunday, 4th March, 2018

  • 11:23 PM - pemerton quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    "Is there a vessel in the room that would allow me to catch the mage's blood?" isn't an action declaration, it's a query --- I'd call it a "scene frame query." It's asking for confirmation from the GM about a particular element within the scene frame. An action declaration would be, "I find a vessel in the room that would allow me to catch the mage's blood, and I start capturing the blood." An action declaration of this type does include direct player authorship of something into the fiction---the presence of the vesselI was treating it as equivalent to "I look about for a vessel in the room that would allow me to catch the mage's blood." "I find a vessel . . ." I think is a valid action declaraiton only if (i) it's already established that the room is full of vessels, or (ii) the player is allowed to exercise fiat authorship. From a practical, in-game perspective of actually GM-ing, this is where it starts to get interesting for me. 1) The GM can simply agree with the player witho...

Thursday, 1st March, 2018

  • 06:39 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I think my post earlier, talking about example "scene frames," was very much looking at this is the same way. It's a very difficult line to draw to say that NOTHING can be secret from the players if it hinders their ability to author fiction. Even for me, someone who WANTS more player-driven play, that seems extreme. My example with the magistrate and the hidden prisoner was very much posing this question---is it okay to have the "hidden" gambling debt backstory for the magistrate, if it's trivially knowable with any sort of intelligent effort put forth by the players? I think in that case, assuming that it only affects the ease of success and doesn't thwart success entirely, and as long as there are multiple other options available to the players---including ones they might author themselves---I don't know that simply having some "hidden" element in a scene frame is a bad thing. It would become a "bad thing" if 1) the PCs' success/failure either solely or greatly hinged on discovering that el...

Wednesday, 28th February, 2018

  • 07:55 PM - Celebrim quoted innerdude in post What’s the most complex RPG out there?
    This was the point at which I realized that the trade-off for "realism" in RPGs was overrated. GURPS was an eye-opener for me in that respect as well. In particular, I've never met a system I didn't want to house rule and I immediately noticed a few problems with GURPS I wanted to tweak. 'Fortunately' there was this brilliant guy who had written a brilliant expansion of the GURPS rules he called GULLIVER that 'fixed' pretty much every problem I had with the system. But then I discovered there was a problem. The system was borderline too complex to run, but it was enormously too complex to prepare. The problem with something like HERO isn't the burden it puts on the PCs. As people correctly point out, once you finish a character sheet much of that burden is behind you and you can play the game in a fairly straight forward manner. The problem with all that front end loading of the complexity is that it makes prepping for a game vastly too difficult. The same sort of problem ca...
  • 07:36 PM - aramis erak quoted innerdude in post So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?
    @aramis erak --- how often do the rules mandate adding/removing or upgrading/downgrading dice? Is this something commonly done in play? Is it primarily when applying the effect of a talent? This does seem to be a point where gameplay slowdown could happen, if the players and GM aren't "on the spot." As far as cost, I had already assumed that I was going to get at least one set of dice as part of my purchase of the system, and ended up just buying two. That way when I finally start using it, I'll never have to worry about having enough dice to add to the pool. Basic skill pool pool building is expressed as upgrading dice. Every skilled attempt uses the upgrade. Base: Greens equal to higher of skill or attribute; upgrades equal the other, for a net result of lower of skill or attribute yellow, and difference of the two in green. Non-skill upgrades? about 1 in 5 checks for experienced characters, 1 in 20 for inexperienced. Why? many talents work by providing extra upgrades. Upgrades can ...
  • 06:23 PM - Arilyn quoted innerdude in post What’s the most complex RPG out there?
    GURPS' basic resolution system is actually quite simple . . . until combat starts. At that point, dear merciful heavens . . . . I'll never forget the one fight when I was a player in a GURPS game that literally took 3 hours---and it was just a basic, run-of-the-mill fight between a party of 4 PCs and seven or eight lower-echelon swordsmen. Every single turn took fifteen minutes---"I'm using my tetsubo then burning two fatigue to activate this maneuver. Oh, and I'm taking the -5 aim penalty to go for the head . . . *rolls* I succeed." *GM rolls* "He doesn't block you, let me roll to see if he can dodge." *rolls* "Nope, you hit." "Sweet!" *Makes critical hit chart roll* **Player and GM spend next 10 minutes hashing out just exactly what happens based on the critical hit chart, whether the enemy needs to make its Health roll to remain conscious, blah blah blah.** This was the point at which I realized that the trade-off for "realism" in RPGs was overrated. This has not been ...
  • 06:19 AM - aramis erak quoted innerdude in post So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?
    Quick comment on the Fantasy Flight narrative dice system--- It took me a couple of times of reading through the Genesys core mechanic section to fully grasp it, but once I understood the basic concept, it actually seemed quite elegant. In truth, it's no more complex than d20---"Okay, so, I have +3 from proficiency, +3 from Strength, +1 from my magic sword, +1 for weapon focus, -1 because the enemy has some nifty defensive ability, oh, and I'm going to to a Power Attack for another -2, so, what's my bonus now? Oh, and I'm rolling with Advantage? . . . Okay, and my total is.....?" Whereas in Genesys the conversation would be, "Okay, so I've got three ability dice and I've upgraded two to proficiency dice, against a Difficulty 2 maneuver (2 difficulty dice in the pool), with one Advantage die and one Disadvantage die." *rolls* "Okay cool, so I have a total of two success and and one threat." The difference with the narrative dice system, the difficulty is already calculated in to the...

Tuesday, 27th February, 2018

  • 11:54 PM - Ilbranteloth quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Another idea that I have had to come to grips with in this thread as well---is there a difference between "secret backstory" that negates player agency, and "scene frame maneuvering"? In other words, are there things happening in the background relevant to the player's current concerns and framing of the challenge which the PCs would not logically be aware of, but which could increase/decrease the possibility of success for the PCs? Example: If you've framed the PCs into a scene where they need to go hunt down an otyugh in the city underground, it's not "secret backstory" for the current location of the otyugh to be unknown---that's part of the framing of the challenge. Or is it? Depending on the rationale for play, I could easily see this going both ways. If part of the challenge is to successfully navigate the sewers, putting the party's resources at stake, keeping the location "hidden" might be part of the challenge frame. But if a player declares, "I talk to several city sanitation worker...
  • 11:51 PM - pemerton quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    If you've framed the PCs into a scene where they need to go hunt down an otyugh in the city underground, it's not "secret backstory" for the current location of the otyugh to be unknown---that's part of the framing of the challenge. Or is it? Depending on the rationale for play, I could easily see this going both ways. If part of the challenge is to successfully navigate the sewers, putting the party's resources at stake, keeping the location "hidden" might be part of the challenge frame. But if a player declares, "I talk to several city sanitation workers and town guards to discover the last known points of activity for the otyugh," as a GM, I'd be hard pressed to negate that player declaration if the fortune mechanic indicated a success.There are a number of different ways to adjudicate "succesfully navigating the sewers". This could mean that the GM already has a map of the sewers drawn, with the location of the otyugh marked on it, and the players' main goal is to declare moves which will...
  • 08:21 PM - Nagol quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Another idea that I have had to come to grips with in this thread as well---is there a difference between "secret backstory" that negates player agency, and "scene frame maneuvering"? In other words, are there things happening in the background relevant to the player's current concerns and framing of the challenge which the PCs would not logically be aware of, but which could increase/decrease the possibility of success for the PCs? Example: If you've framed the PCs into a scene where they need to go hunt down an otyugh in the city underground, it's not "secret backstory" for the current location of the otyugh to be unknown---that's part of the framing of the challenge. Or is it? Depending on the rationale for play, I could easily see this going both ways. If part of the challenge is to successfully navigate the sewers, putting the party's resources at stake, keeping the location "hidden" might be part of the challenge frame. But if a player declares, "I talk to several city sanitation workers ...
  • 07:59 PM - Ovinomancer quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I think my post earlier, talking about example "scene frames," was very much looking at this is the same way. It's a very difficult line to draw to say that NOTHING can be secret from the players if it hinders their ability to author fiction. Even for me, someone who WANTS more player-driven play, that seems extreme. My example with the magistrate and the hidden prisoner was very much posing this question---is it okay to have the "hidden" gambling debt backstory for the magistrate, if it's trivially knowable with any sort of intelligent effort put forth by the players? I think in that case, assuming that it only affects the ease of success and doesn't thwart success entirely, and as long as there are multiple other options available to the players---including ones they might author themselves---I don't know that simply having some "hidden" element in a scene frame is a bad thing. It would become a "bad thing" if 1) the PCs' success/failure either solely or greatly hinged on discovering that el...

Monday, 26th February, 2018

  • 10:19 PM - Nagol quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    This is a good question. But it does tie in somewhat for the need to define just what the difference is between "worldbuilding" and "secret backstory." Where is the line drawn between them? I think you can do many kinds of worldbuilding that don't directly veer into secret backstory. A possible useful delineation might be a twist on the old adage, "Never put something in front of the players that you don't actually intend them to interact with." In most cases this is in reference to NPCs, meaning, "Never put an NPC in physical proximity to the PCs unless you're fully willing for that NPC to be attacked and killed." But there's a hint there of the line to draw between worldbuilding and secret backstory---As a GM, no entity state or state of being within the fiction should ever be assumed when there's the potential for the party to interact with it. It sounds pretty bold to put it like that, but in my head it rings true. In other words, do worldbuilding to your heart's content. Creat...
  • 12:19 AM - pemerton quoted innerdude in post So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?
    how does a system bridge the gap between "how it reads" and "how it plays"? Or is this simply too nebulous? For example, I've seen in some forums where some defenders of Savage Worlds try to convince people to play it by saying "it plays much better than it reads." This totally blew my mind, because to me Savage Worlds pretty much played EXACTLY the way I expected when I read it---it was one of the reasons I was willing to give it a shot in the first place.What someone sees when s/he reads a rulebook is likely to be heavily conditioned by what s/he is familiar with in relation to those sorts of rules. As a bit of autobiography - I bought the HeroWars rulebooks around the time they came out (early 2000s), and read them, but found it very hard to envisage what sort of game they were intended to support. I'd had the same experience decades earlier reading the Classic Traveller rulebooks. I still find the HeroWars books pretty heavy going - the HeroQuest revised rewrite I think does a much bet...

Sunday, 25th February, 2018

  • 08:16 PM - Rygar quoted innerdude in post So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?
    Why does D&D and its offspring continue to have such a vice grip on the hobby, and what is it that stops people from even considering anything else? Because I can honestly say, once I took a look outside the D&D window, I've never looked back. Several reasons... 1. Familiarity - Pretty much all of video gaming is built on the D&D foundation. It's easy to get into because most people have already experienced its rules in some form. Its setting is also very accessible since it is a relatively unspecialized fantasy world until you get into settings. If you try playing Numenera you have to learn everything from the ground up, if you play generic D&D then all you need to know is what you've seen/read in various media your whole life. 2. Roleplaying - D&D makes roleplaying completely optional and largely unnecessary. Many alternative systems try to force roleplaying. Most people aren't comfortable with dedicated roleplaying. They get self-conscious and nervous. 3. Lack of material...
  • 12:05 AM - Lanefan quoted innerdude in post So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?
    When I look at it that way, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility, but it's a longshot at best. And even if it were to happen, there's really only two companies in the RPG space that are even remotely positioned well enough to make it happen on a large enough scale---A) Wizards of the Coast, who, along with their parent company, Hasbro, are unlikely to want to create a competing product against their own flagship RPG, and B) Fantasy Flight Games. There's lots of really great "boutique" companies in the RPG space---Cubicle 7, Green Ronin, Goodman Games, Steve Jackson, Pinnacle Entertainment, etc.---but they lack the corporate backing that WotC and FFG could potentially bring to the table.You left out Paizo, who are probably big enough to be C) in the first quoted paragraph.

Saturday, 24th February, 2018

  • 08:38 PM - aramis erak quoted innerdude in post So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?
    So here's the follow-up question to all of this: What would it take for a roleplaying system to completely, fully supplant D&D as the clear market leader? 1) multi-media support/cross-fertilization: Novels, Vids, boardgames, and computer games, both Fremium and pay-once 2) solid, clear, and playable rules 3) a good boxed beginner game 4) support for the monomyth in both system and published adventures 5) published high quality no-errata core and adventures 6) wizards to engage in another bout of cranio-rectal insertion. 7) Paizo to suffer a bout of cranio-rectal insertion at the same time. Without Wizards and paizo both being blinded by trying to see out through their bellies, ain't going to happen. FFG has 1-4 down pat, and has a top-5 game... if Wizards and Paizo botch their game lines somehow at the same time, we might see a flip over to Star Wars.
  • 04:39 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    To carry it a bit further --- let's suppose that there's far more options available to "forward" the fiction than even that. The orcs immediately band together and go on a raiding rampage to a nearby village. The orcs are okay with it, because they didn't really like the taste of that water anyway, and can sustain healthful hydration from the demonic fountain that's spouting blood on Level 19 of the dungeon. The orcs are convinced that it was a sign from Gruumsh, and they should immediately evacuate the area. The orcs laugh and smile and eat apple pies together with their pet winter wolf, while wearing sombreros and stilts because clearly these orcs are acrobats. Now of course the argument here might be, "Well none of those are realistic! None of those follow-up results seem to follow from the authored fictional cause!" And this is true---but it doesn't change the fact that no matter what result is chosen by the GM, he or she is still the one authoring the fiction. Now, see, my ar...


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