Monte on Logic in RPGs - Page 8


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  1. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkyle View Post
    Well, there are always going to be rules questions. Not everyone has perfect system mastery. But there's a big difference between the DM giving a player a clarification or reminder of the existing rules, and inventing new rules on the spot.
    Sure, I agree. The distinction I was trying to draw was between asking rules questions and asking fiction questions. It's being forced to ask the latter which causes MMI play.

    'How does a reflex save work?' is a rules question. 'Is there a chandalier I can swing across the room on?' is asking for permission to swing across the room on a chandalier. The only way to avoid players asking 'Is there a chandalier?' is by giving them authority to create one.

    Where this gets grey is that the GM probably still has to set a difficulty for swinging across the room. It's a daring ploy, so we want risks and consequences attached.

    On one hand this can then be used as a form of 'requiring permission'. That is to say the GM can say "Okay, so there's a chandalier. But it's a DC 75 jump to get to," allowing the player creation rights while negating their use.

    Other systems give players authority over fictional positioning but then detail procedures over negotiation of stakes and defined outcomes before the roll. They also tend to tie those outcomes into mechanics which give PCs more to lose than just hit points, so that stakes can become more nuanced in the fiction.

    I think its interesting that Mike Mearls coined the Mother May I term (his post is here mearls: The Metagame of RPGs ) in reference to playing rpgs with minis and a grid.

    Minis and a grid give players clear fictional positioning power during combat. Playing 4e I have strong authority in combat thanks to the grid and the rules but weak authority outside combat. The transition from strong to weak is, I think, the root cause of many of the complaints about 4e (no edition warring intended - I have a lot of time for 4e).

    Previous editions of D&D don't have this particular disparity, but have other inequalities which can cause problems - codified spells give casters authority which non-casters don't enjoy, being an obvious example. (There's an interesting contrast with problems which can arise in Ars Magica where play centres on being magicians and yet the effects of magic are determined almost exclusively by GM fiat. Mother May I as the focal point of the game!)

    In Burning Wheel I have moderate authority all the time, in Apocalypse World or Lady Blackbird I have tremendous authority all the time. Great games. I think systems play best when authority is consistent both throughout the game and between the players.
    Last edited by chaochou; Thursday, 7th June, 2012 at 10:51 AM. Reason: spelling, added Ars Magica in

 

  • #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lwaxy View Post
    And then some GMs ,may say jumping into the water isn't in the rules so it won't work that way.
    Which is probably what I would do - not to be a bum to the player, but because doing so has some potentially nasty implications for the game world. That "itching" spell is now useless underwater, for example, or when used on swimming monsters. Maybe it can also be countered by other spells, like Gust of Wind or Create Water. Nothing wrong with designing a spell that has such weaknesses, but deciding on the spur of the moment that an established spell has such unconsidered weaknesses may be very disruptive of the fabric of the fiction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    They absolutely do, just as they compete with Sporting Events, Movies, and any other form of entertainment that costs money.
    This is certainly not true for me - unless you are talking about playing in sport, making movies and such like. RPGs go beyond "entertainment" because they are not passive - I take an active part in them, whether I am a player or a GM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    Now I think I know where a lot of the argument is stemming from. The assumption is that tighter rules = less imaginative play. And in a vacuum I would also question that premise, and I have in the past many times. I myself enjoy crafting rigorous and solid rulesets.

    But at least in my own experience, that premise has played out. I have seen far more imaginative and creative play in rules lite systems than I have rules heavy ones, even with the same players and run by the same DM.
    My experience is that well structured, interacting rules systems create the most genuinely unexpected moments of creative coolness. If I as GM am making up the rules as I go along, anything that I don't see as "expected" to some degree is, pretty much by definition, against the "rules". Sure, a player might impress with a piece of argument/poetic insight that acts to persuade me to go beyond the rules as I intuitively grasp them - but by the time the action happens I have already "internalised" it.

    With a good, interactive rules system, on the other hand, players can make stuff happen that genuinely surprises and awes me. And if the rules allow that without breaking, I'm utterly impressed!

    Quote Originally Posted by dkyle View Post
    This is also where "rulings not rules" breaks down if you also want consistency (as Monte says is very important). Consistent rulings are rules. They're just rules invented by the DM, on the spot, and likely to be poorly remembered from session to session. Why that should be expected to be better than rules carefully crafted by professionals, and well presented in a book, is beyond me.
    Yeah, this is al old saw, for me. If "consistency" is important (and I think it is), then each "ruling" must be a "rule" (i.e. the same situation must generate the same ruling in all cases), so "rulings" just amount to "making up the rules as you go along". Much better, to my mind, to decide and communicate the rules up front. Whether that is a "professional" production or a homebrew ruleset or hack of a published system is pretty immaterial, as I see it - but formulating and communicating up-front is almost always better than making the stuff up as you go along (even though "Universalis" gives a very intriguing model for doing that collectively).
    Last edited by Balesir; Thursday, 7th June, 2012 at 12:22 PM.
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    For Me Monte's essay seems absolutely spot on. It seems I've been hearing this argument for ages but rarely summed up so well. Unfortunately the lines of demarcation are so clearly drawn between "Rules for everything" and "GM Logic" camps that it has gotten increasingly difficult to even enter into a conversation about the topic without assaulting someone's deeply held beliefs. Which has only served to polarize the already small community further given that everyone is not only "right" but they are "unassailably right" and to suggest that re-evaluating our ideas about something as trivial as how we entertain ourselves is akin to blasphemy.  Unfortunately at the end of the day it all comes down to a matter of personal preference and there really isn't a right or wrong there, just which you like more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chaochou View Post
    Sure, I agree. The distinction I was trying to draw was between asking rules questions and asking fiction questions. It's being forced to ask the latter which causes MMI play.

    'How does a reflex save work?' is a rules question. 'Is there a chandalier I can swing across the room on?' is asking for permission to swing across the room on a chandalier. The only way to avoid players asking 'Is there a chandalier?' is by giving them authority to create one.
    Really? I would have thought that a decent description of the immediate surroundings would do the trick.

    Part of being a GM is making the game world come alive via description. This includes filling the world up with NPCs and general "stuff" such as chandaliers and other furnishings.

    If a chandalier is present and a player would like to attempt to swing on it then he/she doesn't need my permission to try and do so. It is simply an action option that the character has and choose to act upon or not as the player wishes.

    As for the spontaneous creation of world elements by the players, it depends entirely on the style of play desired. If I were running a swashbuckling campaign in the Toon style then this sort of thing would be commonplace. Creating chandaliers, carpets, ropes attached to who knows what suddenly materializing when needed, etc. would be the meat & potatoes of that campaign.

    That style might not be suitable for every campaign though.
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    Never going to have the Ultimate Perfect Ruleset For Everybody. Trying to codify the "fog of war," magic, heroic-physics-defying feats, and incorporate the real-world personalities of all involved (game designers, players, DMs, et al)...It's all about preference. Play what the group (DM+players) prefer (and is of course fun). I'm sure there is a system out there that comes fairly close to the desires of most any group.

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    This is a tricky question, because IMO it isn't as simple as "rules-heavy" versus "rules-light." A rules-light game can be an enormous burden on the GM who has to adjudicate everything on the fly, not to mention frustrating for players who have trouble figuring out what their PCs can do.

    I think a better way to view it is this: Every game has a GM who is capable of independent thought and judgement. This is a powerful resource. But it is also a finite resource; the GM only has so much time and mental energy to spend on adjudication. Therefore, it is the task of the game designer to build a system that uses the GM's talents to greatest effect. That means applying that resource in a focused, efficient way, in the places where it will yield the most benefit.

    In particular, the GM should not be called upon to arbitrate routine events. In a D&D-style heroic fantasy game, when a player swings an axe at an orc with intent to kill, no special circumstances in evidence, the rules should handle that without either GM or player having to do anything but work the numbers and roll the dice. It's when the player wants to backflip off a cliff, catch hold of a vine on the way down, swing across a chasm, swing her axe to knock over a stone idol on the far side, and then swing back before the falling idol hits the bottom, that the GM should get involved.

    But even then, a good system will provide both GM and players with a framework to build on. As others have pointed out, RPG players are very vulnerable to Hammer-Related Nail Observance Syndrome. If the rules tell you exactly how to whack an orc with an axe, and offer not so much as a hint on the backflip-vine-swing-idol-knock-swing-back maneuver, you won't see much of the latter.
    Last edited by Dausuul; Thursday, 7th June, 2012 at 06:21 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Elrond
    As you can see, weve had our eye on you for some time now, Mr. Baggins. It seems that youve been living two lives. In one life, youre Frodo Baggins, well-to-do scion of the respectable Baggins family. You smoke pipe-weed, you celebrate your uncles birthday, and you help teach your gardeners son his letters.

    The other life is lived in the Wild, where you go by the adventurer alias "Underhill" and carry the most powerful relic of evil we have a name for.

    One of these lives has a future. And one of them does not.

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    I'd like to point out that the game world is a logic unto itself. That's why consistency is so important, like in board games, card games, and other traditional games you've probably seen.

    Making a game similar to reality can help as a kind of hint with as of yet encountered elements of that constructed fantasy world. Virtual reality games of any kind attempt that similarity for practical purposes, if for no other reason than to attract customers who can identify with something, anything in the game.

    Being people this is why most every one puts characters in their world and have the players run characters. Characters are considered us. Even when we characterize objects that are not people we do it by attributing them as how we attribute ourselves.

    I think the rules of the game world are really the logic system for the DM to use when refereeing the game. To be consistent and provide a trustworthy game world useful for strategizing within, the DM needs to stick by those rules. Now I think he or she picks those out personally, or with advice by the players, but sticking by them doesn't make them moral or necessarily good or fun. I think that's what table rules are for.

    A good game includes both variety and reliability to challenge both memory and creativity in the players.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkyle View Post
    If the article isn't addressing that problem, then I really have no idea what it is addressing.
    Later ...

    Quote Originally Posted by dkyle View Post
    OK, sure, but I'm not seeing what this has to do with Monte's essay.
    Glad we got that cleared up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Jerome View Post
    Later ...

    Glad we got that cleared up.
    Huh? What's cleared up? Your post still seems to be talking about something entirely different than what Monte's essay is about. You're talking about different choices rules. Monte's talking about "rulings not rules". And I'm still not seeing much of any point to Monte's essay other than "rules make people think they are limited, so rules are bad". Which is the issue you said was not addressed by the essay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jtylerk View Post
    Never going to have the Ultimate Perfect Ruleset For Everybody. Trying to codify the "fog of war," magic, heroic-physics-defying feats, and incorporate the real-world personalities of all involved (game designers, players, DMs, et al)...It's all about preference. Play what the group (DM+players) prefer (and is of course fun). I'm sure there is a system out there that comes fairly close to the desires of most any group.
    I think this is spot on - there is a set of rules available for most if not all tastes. The problem is that some people insist that their specific tastes are catered to by a system called "D&D".

    For myself, I'm quite happy for them to have that, provided that they (1) leave the systems I like extant and supported and (2) shut up and go away once they have what they claim to want. Sadly, the first of these is seldom within their power, and hence conflict arises.
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