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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    I wouldn't mind making room for Sherlock Holmes, but I think the way I would choose to do it is by inventing new affordances first....
    Love this post (snipped the rest for brevity).

    I would add is that because the mechanics are intertwined with the fluff it requires either preparation or improv to execute well. That is, if the DM just said, "You find a Clue" and didn't elaborate, the players would likely want to know what that Clue was, and "I dunno...it's just a Clue" would be unlikely to satisfy anybody.

    And then the danger is that if the Clues are poorly designed (or over-thought by the players) and, unable to resist the temptation to ignore the game mechanics and solve it themselves, the players start jumping to incorrect conclusions.

    Ideally I'd like a system that could be fluffed as desired, but that wouldn't suffer from being left abstract.

    Contrast with combat, where people at the table might disagree about the number of HP that a creature should have, or how much damage a weapon should do, but that doesn't get in the way of applying the mechanics in a way they all agree on.

    Yeah, internet analogies are like a lemon meringue pie. No matter how delicious they are to the person who makes them, there's always someone who will want to quibble about the way they were made.
    I don't think it's (always) a matter of misunderstanding, though. So many internet arguers think they are in a zero-sum superiority game that analogies, which are almost always imperfect, become irresistible targets for poking holes in another's argument. By treating them as proofs not illustrations.

    But, yes, the conclusion is the same. I'll try avoid analogies. It's like trying to fix a loose mounting plate on a carburetor where you have to remove the whole unit....oh, wait, I'm doing it again.
    Last edited by Elfcrusher; Friday, 27th January, 2017 at 05:57 AM.
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  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    One of the better things about 5E is that you really can ditch clerics successfully in favor of bards and druids, and to a lesser extent paladins,
    And Tranquility Monks!

    /happydance

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    And then the danger is that if the Clues are poorly designed (or over-thought by the players) and, unable to resist the temptation to ignore the game mechanics and solve it themselves, the players start jumping to incorrect conclusions.
    Dangerous, but also delicious to the DM. It makes it all the sweeter when the players realize retroactively, "Doh! Lady Margaret, that lady we killed--she wasn't the vampire. She was the person the vampire wanted dead all along!"

    (BTW, the solution to a mystery might be a Clue in another mystery.)

    I certainly agree that doing these things well takes a lot of thought and preparation. I personally wouldn't try to improv it on the fly. Even the example I gave in that post is a little bit rubbish, and that's after I rewrote several of the clues during the course of revising the post. The initial version was even more rubbish.
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  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    Here I have to point out that I'm a computer programmer, and I choose my words carefully.
    Feel free to write assertions in C++ if you think it would help.

    believe I wrote that you can't create a "mechanically interesting" class without mechanics; this is not to be confused with saying that you can't create a class that has advantage on every skill used in investigation, but rather a value judgment that such a class doesn't meet my threshold for "interesting."
    I think the misunderstanding is coming from the vague idea "mechanics". We have agreed that they are out there, but we haven't really spoken on what they are like. This would be easier if we had a common frame of reference. I don't know that we do, but suppose we are building an RPG and we are tasked to defining RPG subsystems. The architect would like us to build supplemental systems that would allow the game to be played in different ways that aren't well supported by the core game and its turn based tactical wargaming core. One of us might be building a 'Mass Combat' subsystem. Someone else might be building a 'Evasion/Pursuit' subsystem. Someone else might be building a subsystem for handling Stealth or Long Distance Travel.

    Now, there are several ways to go about this. There is no reason why each of the subsystems would have to use the same rules. Each of us could build systems for running each of the different aspects of the game that were self-contained, and we could just transition between games during scenes. I suspect a lot of cRPGs work like this. Think about Mass Effect II and how there were specific 'combat zones' and specific dialogue interfaces that didn't really interact with other parts of the game. And that's fine, and maybe our hypothetical Mystery/Investigation subsystem works like that. We flip to it and it self-documents what characters from the main game can do.

    But, it's also possible that the main game's core resolution components and fortune mechanics are integrated into each subsystem. That is, the 'Evasion/Pursuit' subsystem instead of having its own unique components might have all the values derived from or shared with the core game. All the subsystems might rely on a D20 style mechanic. Your athletics skill bonus in the main game is used to resolve an 'Evade Obstacle' test in the evasion/pursuit subsystem. Your tactical movement rate might directly impact your bonus in opposed 'Pulling Away/Closing the Distance' checks. If you make a 'Break Away' maneuver, it depends on your Acrobatics, Ride, or Handle Animal skill depending on whether you are on foot, mounted, or controlling a vehicle. And so on and so forth.

    The architect could have looked ahead at this and said, "I want this class to be particularly good at 'Running Away'" and foreseen how various character components and abilities could be reused in different subsystems. When a game master makes the decision then to switch to a new subsystem, he calls then for the exact same familiar tests that the player is already used to making. The only difference is that the player's propositions get resolved by a different underlying engine. Instead of moving a figure on a grid map a fixed distance to 'chase' an opponent in what (if the goal is pursuit or evasion) would be a dull straight forward (disassociated) mechanic were player's characters froze in place while someone chased them and the range opened up and closed incongruously, we would be using an abstract continuous (associated) system where we tracked only the relative distance between a group of moving entities and adjusted it according to opposed tests and different actions that the character's undertook.

    So we have mechanics there that are exciting and appropriate to the scenario we are imagining that don't interfere with our imagining it and make the outcome tense, exciting, and doubtful in the way using the tactical wargame to resolve pursuit/evasion wouldn't be.

    But we don't actually need separate character abilities on the character sheet to interact with that subsystem. If we knew ahead that we wanted a mystery subsystem, we could have some broad skills like Insight, Observation, Research, Bluff, and so forth and call out our intended 'skilled investigator' class as being advantaged in those things in various ways.

    So yes, I think we have to build the subsystem before we can expect the average table to be able to play that part of the game well (because rulesmithing is hard). But I don't think it necessarily requires the subsystem to interface with a character at a level beyond things like, "You have advantage on Insight and Observation checks." or "You may make Observation rolls as a Free Action without a penalty" or "You have a number of Focus points equal to your class level. Before rolling an Insight or Observation check, you may spend a focus points to set the result of your roll to '20'. Replenish your Focus tokens after a long rest." or "Library research takes you only half the usual amount of time." or whatever.

    I don't understand how that is inherently not interesting. I mean fundamentally, that's the sort of things that 3e feats or 5e class abilities do with characters interacting with the combat subsystem. It's interesting to the extent the combat subsystem is interesting, and boring if the subsystem is boring.

    I wouldn't mind making room for Sherlock Holmes, but I think the way I would choose to do it is by inventing new affordances first (i.e. rules for solving mysteries), and then write the character class in terms of those affordances. I think there isn't any reason you couldn't introduce the notions of Scenes, Find a Clue, and Noticing clues into D&D--the example I gave was intended to still be in the D&D genre.
    Yeah, but there is also no reason why or GUMSHOE inspired subsystem could define its interactions in terms of the core character abilities. For example, we might right something like this, "If the character is Proficient in Perception, he always notices a Hidden clue any time he investigates the area where the Hidden clue is found." or "If the character is Proficient in Research, he always discovers a Library clue any time he researches an archive where the clue might be found." or "If the character is Proficient in Bluff, he always discovers a Rumor clue any time he seeks rumors in an appropriate location."

    When I suggest creating rules for things like Find a Clue/Solve a Scene, it is in the context of offering more affordances to the players at the metagame level, so they know what kinds of action declarations make sense. It doesn't mean that action resolution has to get new rules.
    I'm of the opinion that a player might benefit from knowing the rules, but that knowledge of the rules should not be necessary. A player doesn't have to know that in the rules "Run Down Rumors" is a thing, to suggest that they go to the pub, buy some locals a drink under some pretense, and after a while try to get them to talk about something with a leading conversation.

    A Sherlock would be able to make an intuitive leap to receive this information as soon as he acquired three Clues, instead of four.
    Alternatively, a Sherlock wouldn't even need to roll to Notice a Clue. He just would - no chance of failure (because he's proficient in Perception, Investigation, and Linguistics, and our rules tell us that Clues are automatically found by characters proficient in the relevant skill, bypassing the fortune mechanic). This would simply require the subsystem to reference the rules, rather than the rules to reference the subsystem. Likewise, alternatively, according to the rules of clues anyone when finding a clue could spend a Focus point to, after noticing a clue, to receive the gist of a from a location he's not yet visited, or to intuitively know the location of another clue. The Sherlock, being vastly more equipped with Focus tokens than other classes, is best able to interface with those rules. And the nice thing here is that a DM doesn't even have to have our Mystery/Investigation supplement or want to use it. It won't be cluttering up his game if he wants to run hack and slash. And the player of the Sherlock will have things to do with his abilities even if he doesn't find himself in a Mystery game where he shines the most, or will shine even if the GM decides that the mystery here is too simple to justify a full fledged Mystery Scenario and just asks for an Observation check.

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    *snip a bunch*
    But we don't actually need separate character abilities on the character sheet to interact with that subsystem. If we knew ahead that we wanted a mystery subsystem, we could have some broad skills like Insight, Observation, Research, Bluff, and so forth and call out our intended 'skilled investigator' class as being advantaged in those things in various ways. *snip a bunch*
    I'm 100% on board with you here, and as you can see from my example, this is also the sense in which I'm using the word "mechanics". It's not a distinct ruleset; it's a set of new affordances. However...

    So yes, I think we have to build the subsystem before we can expect the average table to be able to play that part of the game well (because rulesmithing is hard). But I don't think it necessarily requires the subsystem to interface with a character at a level beyond things like, "You have advantage on Insight and Observation checks." or "You may make Observation rolls as a Free Action without a penalty" or "You have a number of Focus points equal to your class level. Before rolling an Insight or Observation check, you may spend a focus points to set the result of your roll to '20'. Replenish your Focus tokens after a long rest." or "Library research takes you only half the usual amount of time." or whatever.
    "You have advantage on Insight and Perception checks" (there is no Observation unless you introduce it as a new rule so I assume you meant Perception) doesn't lead to a mechanically-interesting class because it's redundant. There are already many ways to get advantage on these checks, and there are classes like the Bard which are extremely good at boosting you even further. It's redundant.

    I discount "you may make [Perception] checks as a [bonus] action" because action economy is rarely interesting outside of combat, and it's not even all that interesting in combat unless you're involved in a stealth duel.

    The other two mechanical benefits sound interesting, but illustrate the point--they're defined in terms of a hypothetical subsystem, not PHB rules. "Library research is twice as fast" isn't interesting to a player if the DM just makes up an ad hoc number each time and then cuts it in half. Half of arbitrary is still arbitrary.

    I don't understand how that is inherently not interesting. I mean fundamentally, that's the sort of things that 3e feats or 5e class abilities do with characters interacting with the combat subsystem. It's interesting to the extent the combat subsystem is interesting, and boring if the subsystem is boring.
    I hope my explanation is satisfactory.

    Yeah, but there is also no reason why or GUMSHOE inspired subsystem could define its interactions in terms of the core character abilities. For example, we might right something like this, "If the character is Proficient in Perception, he always notices a Hidden clue any time he investigates the area where the Hidden clue is found." or "If the character is Proficient in Research, he always discovers a Library clue any time he researches an archive where the clue might be found." or "If the character is Proficient in Bluff, he always discovers a Rumor clue any time he seeks rumors in an appropriate location."
    Yep, those would be interesting abilities. And they're built on top of a subsystem that sounds interesting, and 100% compatible with 5E. Mearls & Co. have talked about "rules modules" and a "major mechanical expansion" to 5E that is in the works; I don't expect but would be hugely and pleasantly surprised if the mechanical expansion expanded it in an entirely new direction like the ones we're spitballing about right here. E.g. "Dungeon and Dragons: Unsolved Mysteries". "Now with more enigma templates and random tables!"

    GURPS did this kind of thing quite a lot, publishing rules modules that took the game in new directions. It doesn't require altering the basic chassis of the game, but it can alter the game structures quite a bit.

    I'm of the opinion that a player might benefit from knowing the rules, but that knowledge of the rules should not be necessary. A player doesn't have to know that in the rules "Run Down Rumors" is a thing, to suggest that they go to the pub, buy some locals a drink under some pretense, and after a while try to get them to talk about something with a leading conversation.
    I absolutely agree. But he does need to know that he can say "I go to a pub" instead of "I walk ten steps forward"/"I look around for signs"/"I go in that building"/"I look around"/"I leave that building"/etc.

    Alternatively, a Sherlock wouldn't even need to roll to Notice a Clue. He just would - no chance of failure (because he's proficient in Perception, Investigation, and Linguistics, and our rules tell us that Clues are automatically found by characters proficient in the relevant skill, bypassing the fortune mechanic). This would simply require the subsystem to reference the rules, rather than the rules to reference the subsystem. Likewise, alternatively, according to the rules of clues anyone when finding a clue could spend a Focus point to, after noticing a clue, to receive the gist of a from a location he's not yet visited, or to intuitively know the location of another clue. The Sherlock, being vastly more equipped with Focus tokens than other classes, is best able to interface with those rules. And the nice thing here is that a DM doesn't even have to have our Mystery/Investigation supplement or want to use it. It won't be cluttering up his game if he wants to run hack and slash. And the player of the Sherlock will have things to do with his abilities even if he doesn't find himself in a Mystery game where he shines the most, or will shine even if the GM decides that the mystery here is too simple to justify a full fledged Mystery Scenario and just asks for an Observation check.
    Sure, that works too. Once you have a subsystem, it's easy to think of ways the Sherlock could interface with it.

  6. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    Feel free to write assertions in C++ if you think it would help.
    Please don't. Psuedo-code at most, 'k?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    Yeah, internet analogies are like a lemon meringue pie.
    I am excessively fond of both.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    One of the better things about 5E is that you really can ditch clerics successfully in favor of bards and druids, and to a lesser extent paladins
    Oh, that's been true for quite some time. You could even get by with a Druid in 1e, just, if you survived 1st level. By 2e the Druid was a viable option. 3e, Druid & Bard both (the Bard did not have a good publicist, though, it seems), and healing, specifically could be covered with cheap Wands. In 4e, the Warlord in the PH, and Bard, Artificer, Shaman, Ardent, and Druid (Sentinel) later, could all replace the Cleric (who was still arguably first among equals in the healing arena, specifically), and healing resources weren't dependent upon them, nor upon items, thanks to Surges (something 5e retains a vestige of with HD).

    It's nice they didn't go so retro as to completely unwind all the post-Band-aid-Cleric support options. I'd like to see some more return, though. The Artificer is in the pipeline, now, there's still hope for an Ardent as mystic sub-class, I suppose. But the Warlord would be the most significant, since it (done well) would open up support options even under lower magic campaign styles.

    Clerics are incoherent theologically and they make the story incoherent as well, unless you make the assumption that gods don't really exist and that clerics are all just deluded magical technicians of some sort, just like wizards--but most DMs don't make that assumption, so clerics are generally just a mess.
    I generally settle for saying they're not much represented in genre, but OK.

    What makes you think Jim Butcher hasn't been influenced by D&D?
    I could buy Lawrence Watt-Evans
    They were two I could think of off the top of my head who are on record as D&Ders. I think the influence is clear in some more subtle ways, too. The more practical attitude characters tend to take towards the fantastic, for instance. What you don't see in their work (or anyone else's, unless trying /really/ hard to cleave to it an actual D&D IP novel (and even then the effort seems strained) is the sore-thumb elements were D&D just clashes with the broader fantasy genre.

    Like Clerics.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Friday, 27th January, 2017 at 07:06 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    I generally settle for saying they're not much represented in genre, but OK.
    Sorry. A pet peeve.

    (I do think 2nd edition priestly spheres were incredible though, especially the Tome of Magic ones like Mathematics and Mind. Too bad 5E chose to go with domains instead.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    They were two I could think of off the top of my head who are on record as D&Ders. I think the influence is clear in some more subtle ways, too. The more practical attitude characters tend to take towards the fantastic, for instance. What you don't see in their work (or anyone else's, unless trying /really/ hard to cleave to it an actual D&D IP novel (and even then the effort seems strained) is the sore-thumb elements were D&D just clashes with the broader fantasy genre.
    Ah, so you were saying the opposite of what I thought you were saying. I thought you were giving them as examples of writings who were not influenced by D&D, since Celtavian said it would be hard to find anyone who wasn't influenced by D&D and you spat out those two names.

    Thanks for clarifying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    Sorry. A pet peeve.
    Totally understandable.

    (I do think 2nd edition priestly spheres were incredible though, especially the Tome of Magic ones like Mathematics and Mind. Too bad 5E chose to go with domains instead.)
    Oh yes. The best of the Complete books, IMHO. Spheres only held on for the one edition. Hardly heard a peep from Philosophies or Forces either, IIRC. 3.x/PF, 4e, 5e - all 'Domains.' 5e Domains are a teeny bit closer to spheres in that they can determine a few more new spells than in 3e.


    Ah, so you were saying the opposite of what I thought you were saying. I thought you were giving them as examples of writings who were not influenced by D&D, since Celtavian said it would be hard to find anyone who wasn't influenced by D&D and you spat out those two names.

    Thanks for clarifying.
    Yeah, I could've made that clearer. I suspect the case could be made for pervasive, indirect influence, too. I hope I made the point that the most genre-aberrant D&Disms are still mercifully absent from the broader genre, even in the strongest cases of such influence I could think of.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    "You have advantage on Insight and Perception checks" (there is no Observation unless you introduce it as a new rule so I assume you meant Perception) doesn't lead to a mechanically-interesting class because it's redundant. There are already many ways to get advantage on these checks, and there are classes like the Bard which are extremely good at boosting you even further. It's redundant.
    So, I'm not actually trying hard to adhere to the rules of any particular system. I'm just throwing out general terms related to a hypothetical system to give the gist of the idea. If it would make it easier to understand, I'll start hard forging the rules examples in a 5e compatible system.

    Secondly, I still don't get it. How is it 'redundant'? The idea that you can already see that existing classes would be able to integrate with the system using their existing class abilities is the exciting part, and the fact that it doesn't require reengineering the classes to fit the new sub-system is the whole point. That even less reengineering would be required if the system looked ahead far enough is I consider good design.

    but illustrate the point--they're defined in terms of a hypothetical subsystem, not PHB rules.
    That's on purpose. If you want them in terms of PHB rules, it will take me a little bit longer - first because I'd have to study 5e - and secondly because rulesmithing is as much harder than these sort of gist of the idea examples as writing code is harder than talking about the overview of what is wanted from a web form. So, don't get too caught up in the details of the rules I'm suggesting. What's not important is the details, but the relationship of generic rules to a newly created subsystem. Think of it in terms of an order in which projects are compiled when building a solution. I argue I can compile the 'base class library' with no knowledge of the 'mystery resolution subsystem' and the mystery resolution subsystem can still be a fully functional and exciting subsystem even if the classes don't directly reference it.

    I discount "you may make [Perception] checks as a [bonus] action" because action economy is rarely interesting outside of combat, and it's not even all that interesting in combat unless you're involved in a stealth duel.
    In this case, I was thinking not of 5e's particulars but rather the difference between being able to walk into a room and detect a secret door without trying, and having to specifically search/touch the walls to find them. The idea of the language, rather than its particular rule implementation, is that in whatever system we are designing for, we are making finding things (potentially) automatic rather than something a player has to propose. We can pose this rule in 1e, my house rules, 5e or whatever. We just have to inspect the specific of the system. The rule in this case is actually written pretty close to what would make sense in my house rules.

    The other two mechanical benefits sound interesting, but illustrate the point--they're defined in terms of a hypothetical subsystem, not PHB rules. "Library research is twice as fast" isn't interesting to a player if the DM just makes up an ad hoc number each time and then cuts it in half. Half of arbitrary is still arbitrary.
    I'm not entirely sure you understand what the quibble is over. I did agree with you that it only makes sense to make a character that is skilled in solving mysteries, crafting objects, running away, or whatever it is that the character is skilled in if that is a thing that happens in the game - that is, that there are mechanics for that thing. I do not agree that the classes need to know the specifics of the system. So while I agree with you that an ability like, "You can craft objects in half the time." or "You can craft objects at half the cost.", is pointless without a system for crafting objects, I'd point out that the ability "You can craft objects in half the time." does not know what that system is. The only thing it knows about the crafting system is that it takes as inputs cost and time. And I would argue that these generic class abilities are as interesting as whatever that system happens to be. If crafting objects is an interesting fun subsystem, then it may turn out that those class abilities are valuable. If they aren't, or if crafting is not a part of the game, they are pointless entries in your class abilities that you wonder why are even there.

    Yep, those would be interesting abilities.
    And now I'm further confused. First they are boring. Now they are interesting. They look very much like generically worded versions of the same ideas I've been discussing to me. Maybe I'm just getting them across better?

    I absolutely agree. But he does need to know that he can say "I go to a pub" instead of "I walk ten steps forward"/"I look around for signs"/"I go in that building"/"I look around"/"I leave that building"/etc.
    Not really. You have just hit on what is I consider one of the most fascinating things about RPGs, and that is proposition validation. What propositions can a player offer that the GM will accept as valid? Surprisingly, very few RPGs attempt to even answer this question in any formal manner. D&D so far as I know has never given a former answer regarding what is a valid proposition, even though proposition validation is potentially the most impactful thing that determines not only how play progresses, but what the actual play is. If you were to read a D&D rule book, you would never find the answer to the question, "Is go to the pub a valid proposition, or must I specify that I walk west, open the door under the Green dragon sign, and go in?" Typically, the answer in D&D is actually, "It's complicated". A GM may or may not accept "I go to the pub" as a valid proposition, depending not just on the particular quirks of the GM, but on what the GM knows about the current situation, everything that lies between here and the pub, and the pub itself. And even if he takes broad intention as a valid proposition, he may well interrupt the action with a bang, as some situation that the player doesn't know about asserts itself. Depending on the player, this may cause the player to assert that the GM's bang is an invalid response to the player's proposition, and that the GM owes the player a retcon as the player would not have just walked into the scenario that the GM has proposed.

    And I think that the important point here for these purposes, is not only is it usually the case that the player doesn't know the rules for proposition validation, usually the GM doesn't have a formal ruleset or theory of proposition validation either unless he's playing the rare game like (IIRC) Dungeon World that actually narrowly defines all the valid propositions that are possible in the system, and suggests mechanisms for confirmation of the proposition so that the GM knows the proposition exactly before he rules on it.

    Sure, that works too. Once you have a subsystem, it's easy to think of ways the Sherlock could interface with it.
    No, no. The other way around. Once you have a core system, if it is a well designed core system, it's easy to think of ways for the subsystem to interface with it.
    Last edited by Celebrim; Friday, 27th January, 2017 at 07:33 AM.

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    @Celebrim,

    It seems as if neither of us is completely clear on what, if anything, our disagreement is about, because we seem to agree on most things and are merely confused about where the other person is disagreeing.

    We have both proposed approaches for implementing a Sherlock, and those approaches seem pretty similar. I suspect that if you wrote up a complete proposal (subsystem + class which takes advantage of the subsystem) I'd find it interesting and generally sensible though I might not like it more than one that I designed myself (I am a DM after all--endless tinkering with our games is kind of what we do); I suspect that the reverse is also true.

    Beyond that, there's probably not much point in trying to nail down exactly where our differences lie, because neither of us has more than a vague outline of a Sherlock system anyway. You say potato, I say potato.

    RE: what you call "proposition validation" and the Alexandrian calls "game structure", the only useful thing I have to say right now is that I find it useful to prompt the players with potential actions as part of your scene description.

    You've just gotten off the boat and are looking around the docks. Seven other ships are in port right now, one of them an elvish Man-o-War. There's an old man with a cardboard sign with 'save the world from Cthulhu' written on it, begging for alms at the end of the dock. Do you want to talk to the old man, visit the elvish ship, look for trouble, or do something else?

    And your point about "bangs" and player demands for a retcon is thought-provoking as well.

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