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  1. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    That's an interesting theory, but for me, it puts too much intention into the acts of those who have Lawyered Rules.
    I don't know if you're joking, but when we hate people so much we cease assigning human desires and intentions to them, history tells us that bad things happen...

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    You know, I actually think a significant part of the Rise of the Ruleslawyers, at least in my circles, is how the books changed. They went from often contradictory and vague tomes with an almost mystical feel about them to very clear and concise college textbooks style books. When we played with the first type of books, it was easier, often, to just left the DM say how it was than to search for a particular rule. In 3e and then 4e, the rule referencing was just so danged easy.
    I see a very natural progression, here.

    The rules books initially gave some rules suited very specifically to "competitive" play against the monsters: hit points (resources to manage), experience points (prizes for winning), classes (reasons to join a team) and so on. But the rules were too vague for a full-on combative contest, so a referee was needed; and the stipulation was that this was the same guy as the "enemy". The natural outcome of this was that the DM had to become an entertainer and an illusionist. S/he couldn't be an antagonist, because they held all the real power, but the players needed opponents to kill and steal stuff from, so the DM had to build an illusion.

    At the same time, the rules seemingly expected the players to compete with the monsters; but with the DM determining not just the monsters' placement, motives and moves, but also just what the rules meant about what their characters could do, this wasn't really feasible. So the players learned to shift their attention to other outlets; to competing to please the DM (and thus get their neat ideas accepted as "working"), to enjoying the ride as the DM spun out a 'story' and to immersing themselves completely in their character, imagining what it would be like to be really "there".

    Along come more explicit rules. For many players, this doesn't really matter. The DM looks after all that stuff, anyway, while we do improv acting, immerse in the world experience or just enjoy the tale unfolding. But for the competitive ones - the frustrated tacticians - this makes a huge difference! Now, the rules actually say what their character should expect to be able to do! A constellation that has been there in part from day 1 - the impetus to implement tactical plans to kill things and take their stuff in a way you, the player, actually have significant control over - has finally been realised. And so, the assumptions clash.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    To circle back to what you disagree with me about, though, I think the rules-vaguery I mentioned, with my groups, was a reminder the DM was arbiter. He had to be. As the rules become easier to reference, perhaps some additional reminders in the player-facing text would have pushed back against the Rise. Perhaps not.
    I can only say that I hardly see Rules Lawyering at all these days. This is for a variety of reasons:

    - When I run 4e, it is because the rules are actually explicit, unambiguous (for the most part) and clear. I know the rules well, and I stick to them, because they work. If I want to change them, that is my prerogative, but I tell the players up front what the changes are. The rules are their communication from me concerning how the game world works.

    - When I run HârnMaster, it is because no-one at the table is under any illusions that "competition" or "overcoming challenges" has anything to do with what the play is about. We are all there purely to explore the world of Hârn and build upon its already impressive "reality" to forge a great "myth" in all our minds, shared by all. Rules lawyering given this objective is pointless.

    So, my opinion, the key things are communication and clarity. And the rules of the game are a very important locus of communication.
    Last edited by Balesir; Monday, 30th April, 2012 at 05:16 PM.
    Balesir
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  • #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaran View Post
    My biggest issue with 4e was that it felt like the sell of books overshadowed everything else. Of course, this didn't really curb my enthusaism in buying most of them. Still, I really hated that popular monsters and classes were pulled from the orginal core books and placed in later books. While I don't care for gnomes much I feel like they should have been in the first PHB. Dragonborn and Tieflings in my opinion should have been in another book.

    It also seemed like half the classes that were in the 3.5 book were pulled from the 4e PHB and put in later books. What was really strange is the fact that the Bard's mechanics was actually talked about before 4e was released. And then we find out that the Bard was not in the PHB. I think this was a bad move for WotC since it meant for anyone who wanted to convert characters had a good chance of not being able to. I think these decisions were done so that players had to purchase other books beyond the first phb and I do not think that is good for customer satisfaction. If they want players to buy more books then create new content that is both new and stands on it's own merit.

    I really hope that they stand by their statement that they will not have to do such strategies because they have other income sources like the boardgames and miniatures .
    While we disagree on what should have been in what book, my overall feeling is that the PHBs were simply too small. PHB 1 and 2 could have pretty easily been combined, and PHB3 expanded. 5 races and 5 classes I think, after multiple editions extending those numbers into the sky, is just too little to start with.

    And I think Wizards sees this to some extent. I hope they hold true to that and give us 10 full classes in 5e's PHB1, and, I can only hope, give us ~10 full races as well.

  • #153
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    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    I don't know if you're joking, but when we hate people so much we cease assigning human desires and intentions to them, history tells us that bad things happen...
    Oh, it's nothing near as heinous as what is implied by ellipses. Rather, I, personally, have Lawyered Rules. And when I did it it wasn't with any intention of changing the feel or whatnot. I Lawyered Rules, because the DM was getting them wrong. That's all. I didn't have much thought for the impact that was having on the table or the direction of the campaign.

    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    The natural outcome of this was that the DM had to become an entertainer and an illusionist. S/he couldn't be an antagonist, because they held all the real power, but the players needed opponents to kill and steal stuff from, so the DM had to build an illusion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    So the players learned to shift their attention to other outlets; to competing to please the DM (and thus get their neat ideas accepted as "working"), to enjoying the ride as the DM spun out a 'story' and to immersing themselves completely in their character, imagining what it would be like to be really "there".
    Can I just say, on behalf of whoever DM'd you during these times, I'm sorry? I'm not being sarcastic, and this is not a 'thing'. I've seen around here on the boards this belief that older editions, through the quirks or realities of their rules, caused players to feel like they lacked agency. I never felt that way as a player in older editions (maybe I just lacked the perception to notice), and I hope my tables never felt that when I DM'd. I have felt the lack of agency at other times, though. And it sucked.

    So, I'm sorry. I can definitely understand why someone whose experience has been that DM as arbiter results in a lack of player agency doesn't want a return to the DM as arbiter system. Hopefully, D&DN allows everyone to play in the same sandbox.


    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    But for the competitive ones - the frustrated tacticians - this makes a huge difference!
    Kind of, I love the phrase frustrated tacticians. Kind of, I love it a lot. I think it applies to a deeper felt ennui than just at the RPG table.

    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    I can only say that I hardly see Rules Lawyering at all these days. This is for a variety of reasons:

    - When I run 4e, it is because the rules are actually explicit, unambiguous (for the most part) and clear. I know the rules well, and I stick to them, because they work. If I want to change them, that is my prerogative, but I tell the players up front what the changes are. The rules are their communication from me concerning how the game world works.
    And we just have different experiences here. At conventions, with RPGA, at home play, and at D&D Encounters, I've just seen much more of it. Now, some, is the benign 'you forgot to add x' type rules lawyering. But some of it is definitely the complaining about encounter levels, short rest frequency, or magic item entitlement. I think you've just found a good group, and they trust you. That's always good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    So, my opinion, the key things are communication and clarity. And the rules of the game are a very important locus of communication.
    I agree with this. I'm not really wishing for a return to obfuscatory text. Not really. I just like reminders about DM arbitration. Not because I want to be Stalin and drag my players to a gulag, but because I think a rules light system, which D&DN appears to be at its core, needs DM arbitration.

    Fortunately, there should be tactical combat mods and the like for frustrated tacticians who want clear and present player agency.

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  • #154
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    Rather, I, personally, have Lawyered Rules. And when I did it it wasn't with any intention of changing the feel or whatnot. I Lawyered Rules, because the DM was getting them wrong. That's all. I didn't have much thought for the impact that was having on the table or the direction of the campaign.
    Oh, OK - maybe, then, the boot was on the other foot? Did it occur to you that the DM may have been ignoring the rules and making up new ones on the fly to generate a specific story or feel? It sounds like you just assumed that playing by the rules was the "correct" way to play. It happens that I agree with that notion (becuase I think if the rules aren't there to be followed, they shouldn't be there!), but I know that many folk don't see things that way. The illusion of having those "rules" while they pursue their own objectives (which may be perfectly benign ones) using power, rather than rules, to attain their ends seems as natural to them as following the rules does to you or I.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    Can I just say, on behalf of whoever DM'd you during these times, I'm sorry? I'm not being sarcastic, and this is not a 'thing'. I've seen around here on the boards this belief that older editions, through the quirks or realities of their rules, caused players to feel like they lacked agency. I never felt that way as a player in older editions (maybe I just lacked the perception to notice), and I hope my tables never felt that when I DM'd. I have felt the lack of agency at other times, though. And it sucked.

    So, I'm sorry. I can definitely understand why someone whose experience has been that DM as arbiter results in a lack of player agency doesn't want a return to the DM as arbiter system. Hopefully, D&DN allows everyone to play in the same sandbox.
    It doesn't necessarily lead to lack of player agency - rather, the player agency is only there to the extent that the DM allows it to be, and the player has no clear and unambiguous way to identify that extent.

    This is where some of the "good DM"/"bad DM" stuff comes about. It's not linked to specific actions or approaches, as such, but rather "good DMs" set the extent of player agency such that the players' expectations for it are met, whereas "bad DMs" set player agency in a way that does not meet the players' expectations. It's notable that this can run in either direction; I have heard players complain of too much, as well as too little agency.

    In my own GMing I have, with some notable exceptions, been reasonably successful in meeting players' expectations of agency, I think. But that does not mean that I see deliberate vagueness or ambiguity in game rules or deliberate schemas of "GM power overrides rules" as anything but inferior ways to design an RPG.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    Kind of, I love the phrase frustrated tacticians. Kind of, I love it a lot. I think it applies to a deeper felt ennui than just at the RPG table.
    Heh - you may well be right, there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    And we just have different experiences here. At conventions, with RPGA, at home play, and at D&D Encounters, I've just seen much more of it. Now, some, is the benign 'you forgot to add x' type rules lawyering. But some of it is definitely the complaining about encounter levels, short rest frequency, or magic item entitlement. I think you've just found a good group, and they trust you. That's always good.
    Ah, OK - that blindsided me because I don't see that stuff (encounter levels and so on) as "rules" or "systems" at all. Those are setting/adventure/situation design features and they have absolutely zip to do with the players in a D&D type game. In rules terms, those are "scene framing", and the rules say that scene framing is done by the DM. There can be good and bad scene framing, for sure, but it's still the DM's prerogative.

    Once in the scene, however, the rules dictate what results from the characters' (and monsters') actions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    I agree with this. I'm not really wishing for a return to obfuscatory text. Not really. I just like reminders about DM arbitration. Not because I want to be Stalin and drag my players to a gulag, but because I think a rules light system, which D&DN appears to be at its core, needs DM arbitration.
    Ahh, big subject. There are more ways to have "rules light" than just to lump the ad hoc design of "rules systems" onto the DM. If you assume an action resolution based system (i.e. the players in the game describe actions for their characters to take, and the systems - whether written or invented by the DM ad hoc - resolve the outcome of those actions), then, yes, "rules light" will mean "rules incomplete", so the DM will need to make up rules for cases not covered.

    If you assume a conflict resolution system, on the other hand (i.e. the players describe objectives that they wish to pursue in a scene, and inject the means they will leverage in advancing that objective, while the system resolves whose objectives get achieved and to what extent), the rules system can be quite simple without any need for GM extrapolation or fiat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    Fortunately, there should be tactical combat mods and the like for frustrated tacticians who want clear and present player agency.
    Hmmm; maybe. If such things are not built into the core of the system - the descriptions of the character abilities, the core mechanics of resoltuion - I'm not sure they can be well realised in any "module". But, that's OK - 4e does a pretty good job in that department. And maybe 5e will do something worthwhile but different?
    Balesir
    "Eschew obfuscation!"

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