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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Today, 01:55 PM
    In your case, you seem to know both BW and D&D, which are the two systems I referenced in the post of mine that you quoted. Do you have any thoughts about this mind flayer and false memories example that might draw on either of the systems? Or if you want to engage it by reference to another system, that would be interesting too!
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Today, 01:48 PM
    Do you have much experience with 4e D&D? It's a bit of an open question exactly what tools 4e provides, because the skill challenge is - as presented - such an open-ended or un-nailed-down framework that (experience suggests) needs users to bring ideas and/or experience from outside to really get the best out of it. I think a skill challenge might be able to handle the scenario you're...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Today, 10:22 AM
    I'm not sure about incentives. When I read the Strike(!) I think of "intent and task" and failure narration in BW. Or the example from AW that I posted upthread. If the check fails, the GM is entitled to narrate the failure by imposing a new and unwanted description of the PC's action. But I don't think in any of the systems this could go as far as you've fallen in love with the maiden unless...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Today, 10:16 AM
    This is an interesting question - in general, and about D&D play: To what extent is the GM permitted to rewrite player-authored PC backstory by drawing upon a combination of (i) situation and stakes and (ii) failed checks. In BW (for instance) I think this is fair game. The only version of D&D I can think of able to handle this is 4e. I don't really see how it would be done in AD&D. And from...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Today, 10:02 AM
    If the player is avoiding expedience by sticking to conceptualisation, how is that conceptualisation going to be challenged? Or changed? If the player is at liberty to change conceptuatlisation in response to choices, what governs those choices? Self-evidently it can't be conceptualisation. You don't want it to be expedience. Is it whim? Do you have actual play examples to post that...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Today, 08:23 AM
    I'm not sure I'd include Heinlein as being "sophisticated". At least as far as gender issues go. Funny thing is, if you click the link, there's a big red button for an additional thought to the comic: Kinda funny.
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Today, 06:30 AM
    So I've skimmed the recent bits of the thread. In a follow-up post, I'm going to relay a recent PC:PC social conflict in Strike (!) and invite folks to chime in on how they perceive this anecdote (a) contrasts with gameplay where social conflict isn't formalized and (b) there are neither mechanical feedbacks nor PC build components involved. But first, I want to post some text from Strike (!)...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Today, 04:28 AM
    Just a bit of a tweak to the nose. :D from http://smbc-comics.com/comic/golden-age
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Today, 12:35 AM
    Gimme a break. No one is telling you to conform. You are being asked to not fling poo every single time the issue comes up. He’s got a point. There is NOTHING stopping you from having 2e style tieflings in your game. Zero. Zip. Nada. So why are you trying to force everyone else to adhere to your tastes?
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:27 PM
    I would be more than willing to discuss the merits of Exalted 3e elsewhere. It is a fundamentally different game that I feel delivers on the promise of previous versions of the game. Here I would like to focus on social mechanics, their effects, and implications.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:08 PM
    (1) This thread is in general RPG. Not D&D. There's a reason for that. (2) I'm not saying that players should or shouldn't do anything in every system. The OP invites discussion about various ways in which true descriptions of PC actions might be established. The current discussion has moved on a bit from that, to also talk about how true descriptions of PC choices, PC emotional states, etc...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:01 PM
    You posted this not too far upthread: Before you posted that, Campbell already posted on outline of mechanics from Exalted which contradict what you said: the player in Exalted (i) does not sit out of the loop, and (ii) does have input on how his/her PC would react. Further upthread I posted the Apocalypse World mechanics for PvP seduction/maipulation. In that system the player gets to...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:52 PM
    This is missing the point. One may as well ask, What story can't D&D produce? Well, if the players and the GM all get together and agree on it then you can play out Casablanca in D&D, can't you? (That was Campbell's point about consensus.) But the current topic of discussion is how that might be done, and what sort of play experience might be involved. The example of Exalted, for instance,...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:34 PM
    I guess you can assert things in ignorance, yet avoid error, if you get lucky. On this occasion though, your luck has failed you. The claims you make aren't plausible even within the compass of D&D, which includes the 4e skill challenge mechanic. They are completely wrong when it comes to other systems such as the ones that chaochou has mentioned.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:41 PM
    This completely misunderstands chaochou's point. As I posted upthread, "cheating" or acting on out-of-game motivations has nothing to do with what anyone is talking about in this thread. The basic point is that, in the scenarios you keep putting forward, nothing happens to the PC's inner being or self-conception that the player did not choose. So the player choose that which s/he prefers....
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:35 PM
    Duel of Wits from Burning Wheel has been mentioned. It's an interesting example, because it permits PCs to be persuaded (by other PCs, or by NPCs) but doesn't change their underlying motivations/orientations. In the context of (say) a maiden trying to persuade a PC to help her, it can certainly permit that. And if the maiden is charming or flirty that can factor into her checks (eg FoRK...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:05 PM
    I'll leave the fidelity claim to one side. But the second claim is an empirical one. I'd be curious to see if it's true. Personally I doubt it - I don't have experience with Exalted, but in my experience with other systems that provide various sorts of systematic support for engagement with PC motivations and emotions the range of characters played - when considered in proportion to the overall...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:15 AM
    I think this is very important when approaching social/emotional conflict in RPGs. Otherwise there is a significant risk of all the characters turning out to be the same ie merely expedient. That's fine for Dying Earth but not desirable in general, in my view. Can you explain this further in relation to the system you've described? Is this the depletion of Willpower, or something else as well?...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 06:29 PM
    Let me start off by saying I do not like viewing game mechanics through the lens of necessity. No mechanics are actually necessary. Anything can be resolved through consensus. That's what the online freeformers do. However, sometimes consensus is like boring and stuff. I'm going to start with an example of a system that I consider to have the most impact on player agency of the games I like to...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 03:46 PM
    If your perspective is that playing DitV is the same as playing DL, then I have to ask - have you played DitV, or any system like it? So now it's corrosive for people to talk about their play experiences, and what they found different in different systems? This is why I described you upthread as hostile to analysis. As for the idea that GNS is corrosive - the only anger and hostility I...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 03:34 PM
    I can see why you say this. But for me, this brings us back to Campbell's remarks: The absence of choice in the example I provided occurred at the point of the killing. At that point, thie player learns - without having any say over it - that his PC is a killer. At that point, playing the character with integrity generates the crisis. There were subsequent events, too, that played on the...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 10:15 AM
    Yes, I mean faithfulness to what the unfolding fiction reveals about the character. Not accuracy. I was trying to build on what Campbell had said. There's the example that's been given by Umbran. Here's another example, which is based on an actual play experience I had many years ago now. The basic structure of the example is not too different from Umbran's. One of the PCs was a...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 04:53 AM
    I have already spoken on how social mechanics can serve as an immersion tool to help players feel what their characters should be feeling in the moment. Another crucial function can be to deliberately welcome the wholly unwelcome. It introduces outcomes which no one at the table would deliberately choose, but are nonetheless compelling. Vincent Baker calls this the fundamental purpose of RPG...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 04:27 AM
    I agree with Ovinomancer and Umbran that making a choice - even a hard choice - isn't a challenge to character and character concept of the sort that has been raised in this thread. Whether you need mechanics (social mechanics, emotional mechanics, whatever they might be) to generate that sort of challenge is a further question. My view is that you don't, although obviously they might help....
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 03:42 AM
    It means that the RPG can have story arcs comparable to other dramatic mediums. In film, think eg Casblanca. In literature, think eg The Human Factor. In genre fiction, think eg Han Solo (who, in Star Wars, turns out not to be the mercenary he thought he was) or Nameless, Jet Li's character in Hero (who in the end choose not to take the vengeance that he had pursued). Of course many other...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 02:53 AM
    B/X D&D as a wonderfully tuned focused sandbox dungeon crawling game that provides clear guidance on how to play is one of the better designed role playing games ever made. It does what it does very well. It's character options are remarkably well balanced (better than any edition barring 4e). I say this as someone who did not have the joy of playing or running B/X until the 4e era. My opinions...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Friday, 12th July, 2019, 03:56 AM
    I'm going to say something I expect will be controversial here. If I am playing or running a game that is supposed to be more character focused I absolutely do make aesthetic judgments of other players and I expect the same in kind. We should all be invested in each others' characters - be fans of them. For that to happen players should play their characters as if they were real people with...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 12th July, 2019, 01:10 AM
    That’s your definition of small? Ok. I can see why you think the way you do.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 12th July, 2019, 12:33 AM
    Very pretty. And, oh look, North is at the top of the map. :D :p
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 11:28 PM
    I run two versions of D&D; 4e and Moldvay Basic. So the answer is while D&D 4e can scratch an itch similar to Mouse Guard, Cortex+ , Dungeon World, and Mouse Guard, it and Moldvay Basic can't reproduce Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World, Dread, Blades in the Dark, Torchbearer, My Life With Master, Sorcerer, and Star Wars like Strike (!) and Scum and Villainy. Because system matters.
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  • Jonathan Tweet's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 04:03 PM
    I wrote that kobolds had "sorcerer" as their favored class and that they say that they have the blood of dragons coursing through their veins. I meant everyone to figure that they were deluding themselves, but everyone loved the idea and it became canonical, basically. I don't remember how that got applied to human sorcerers, but we were definitely trying to make 3E cooler than 2E.
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  • Jonathan Tweet's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 03:58 PM
    That's a good analysis. The other trick is that if charging up let's you get double-value out of your daily spells, it increases your per-day power level even if it doesn't increase your per-round power level.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 05:48 AM
    In D&D there is no limit - neither a hard one, nor even a soft one based on principles - as to how many special abilities a GM can use and how many saves s/he might force. This is not a universal truth of RPG design: I quoted the principle from Prince Valiant upthread; Marvel Heroic RP/Cortex+ Heroic uses the Doom Pool to modulate the challenges the GM introduces; other systems have other...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 05:40 AM
    And by that we can reasonably extrapolate that for game purposes a cave troll has lots of hit points and-or a high Con score. <snip> Just as you can't say a creature described as being particularly tough (relative to other creatures) in the fiction doesn't have lots of hit points, you can't say a creature with lots of hit points (relative to other creatures) isn't tough. Put another way,...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 05:33 AM
    I don't see how this could be a general truth about RPGing. Maybe it's a truth about a certain sort of approach to D&D, Classic Traveller and maybe RQ. In Marvel Heroic RP, combat - ie fisticuffs between superheroes and supervillains - isn't a result of failing to overcome challenges in some other fashion. It's how heroes defeat villains! In Prince Valiant, a joust can be anything from...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 05:31 AM
    This could really be a topic all its own.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 03:41 AM
    A long post as I catch up on this thread. The second bit here suggest to me that you're not familiar with the play of any of the non-D&D games that Aldarc, Umbran, Ovinomancer and I have referenced - Fate, Pendrgaon, Prince Valiant, MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic, Bunring Wheel, etc. And the first bit is odd, because the way you find out whether a D&D character is tough enough to beat Orcus in a fight...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 03:30 AM
    Lanefan, FrogReaver - you've both made some recent posts which dispute the analysis of action put foward in the OP. Eg you both deny that I melt the maiden's heart with my wink is a true description of a PC's action, and a description of the same action as I wink at the maiden (although obviously a different description). I'm not that interested in turning this thread into an argument in the...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 03:29 AM
    This is why I say you don't undertand the 4e combat resolution mechanics. This claim isn't true of 4e; hit points aren't a description of anything. The toughness of a creature is described in the fiction - just as (say) JRRT conveys that the cave troll is tough. The hit points are then a device - together with AC, attack rolls, damage dice etc - that are used to determine the outcomes of fights....
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 03:22 AM
    Well let's turn it around. Why is it so important to you that you have played narrativsit? Are you making a judgement? I don't play many boardgames other than backgammon (which I love). But modern boardgames, with their need for clever and calculated play, are things I'm not very good at. My personal discount curve is too steep (probably in all areas of my life, and certainly in these games)....
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 11:48 PM
    I disagree that 5e is more flexible. I attribute most of its success in being wonderfully tuned to the predominant play pattern first established with Dragonlance and refined by 1990s games like Vampire, Shadowrun, Legend of the 5 Rings, etc. GM creates an elaborate plot for players to play through. Along the way they get to express their predefined awesomeness at controlled points, but never...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 11:30 PM
    Although I fought the label at first I have found that I'm fairly immersion focused as a player. Mechanics that help me feel the pressure of social expectations, emotions, and weight of character beliefs only serve to aid in immersion. I'm not a huge fan of mechanics that dictate behavior, but ones that impact success and failure like strings in Monsterhearts or Conditions and Influence in Masks...
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  • Jonathan Tweet's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 05:28 PM
    Not much to say. Rich Baker created the original sorcerer as basically a variant wizard with different spell-casing rules, and I suggested we switch the main ability from Int to Cha to create more differentiation. A "spell point" system appeared with the psionicist, and it had the drawback that the player could cast a top-level "spell" every round and burn through their resources too fast. 13th...
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  • steenan's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 04:41 PM
    I think the question is strange. It treats D&D as some kind of default, as if one needed a reason to play something different. For me, D&D was just one of the games I tried; neither the first nor the best one. In general, I prefer varied experiences. I switch between games to do something different. Sometimes, we play series of one-shots, jumping between games. At other times, we play...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 11:25 AM
    Shhhh. If you added this sort of thing, the edition warriors would have had the WotC dev's heads on pikes. After all, this is precisely what 4e did and apparently everyone hated it because it was a spectacularly bad idea. So bad of an idea that it retroactively kicked puppies before they were even born. So, good luck with this.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 12:08 AM
    GNS is an analytic framework. It's not a claim about what anyone has or hasn't done, or should or shouldn't have done. It's a claim about a certain sort of goal of play, not about system; but there is a recognition that some systems suit some goals better than other systems do, and better than they suit other goals. There's not reason to think that any given goal must be present in play...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 03:41 PM
    It seems to me that "win condition" here is turning into something like happy with the outcome. Whereas in a scenario like ToH or Ghost Tower of Inverness or The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan or White Plume Mountain or Castle Amber (to fasten on some classics of the genre) when we talk about win conditions we're certainy not talking about (say) being happy with how we reconciled two feuding members...
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  • Jonathan Tweet's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 02:45 PM
    Mechanically this change seems to work for handling supernatural for offense and defense, and it's sure worth a try. As the guy who switched the 3E first-draft sorcerer from Intelligence to Charisma, I would miss the distinction between the bookish wizard and the flashy sorcerer. More generally, Int, Wis, and Cha represent real-world qualities (however imperfectly), and these feel like...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 11:27 AM
    This seems to miss the whole point of the OP. If person A jums over the Grand Canyon, it follows that A tried to jump over the Grand Canyon. But A didn't perform two different actions - trying to jump the canyon, and then actually jumpiing it. S/he performed a single action which falls under both descriptions. Which descriptions are made true in a RPG, by whom, and how, is what this thread...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 11:04 AM
    Heh. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 07:15 AM
    There is an assertion by some, or at least a very strong implication, that the PC can fail the test, or even feel its force, only if the player decides. In what sense? What body part moves? What intention is formed? Of course the maiden is acting: she is winking. But the PC whose heart is melted is not. No no more than it is an action on Frodo's part to have his finger bitten off by Gollum.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 07:13 AM
    This still makes no sense. Are you talking about the fiction (in which nothing has hp - hit points are not a part of the gameworld) or about resolution mechanics? Likewise. I don't think you understand how 4e's combat rules work.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 07:11 AM
    Not really. Suppose that the first is stated by the GM, the player makes a Resist Passion roll, and fails, and then the GM state the second. How did this situation suddenly change from "test" to "manipulation"? Or to give a different example. The GM has described the dungeon corridor that the PCs are standing in. The player says I walk down the left-hand path, inspecting the ceiling as I go....
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 03:47 AM
    Scene framing isn't really part of play though. The play exists once a scene has been framed. Framing -> Play -> Framing -> Play. What's important is that player decisions are based on solid ground during the moment of play.
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 8th July, 2019, 06:52 PM
    This is where these conversations get so unwieldy. I mean...how is this question even conceived? OF COURSE THEY DO. If the point of play is (a) competitive integrity and (b) autonomy and expression of agency in decision points (and it is in this case; Gamism)...well, in any_activity where these things are the apex play priority, the legitimacy of (a) and (b) utterly depends upon win/loss...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 8th July, 2019, 09:09 AM
    Never minding the number of sock puppet accounts people have as well.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Monday, 8th July, 2019, 08:44 AM
    The issue is framing it, in advance, as a scenario with win conditions. That can very easily butt up against the notion of establishing a story through play as opposed to playing through a pre-established story. I can't ask you to prove a negative, so what would you consider "support?"A serious account of someone who turned up to play Burning Wheel, played through something like DL or...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 8th July, 2019, 12:14 AM
    Hussar replied to No Magic Shops!
    Not sure I buy that Maxperson, since the last two modules I bought - Dragon Heist and Ghosts of Saltmarsh include rather lengthy rules additions. GoS contains all the rules needed for running naval combat, for example. So, it's not like modules are not a source of mechanics. Traditionally, as well, in D&D, modules have often served as the source for new mechanics or for adjustments of existing...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 10:04 PM
    Upthread the notion of roleplaying - what it is, what it isn't - was raised. The closest to a consensus position that was put forward was that it involved playing the role of a character in a fictional world. In a RPG, there is an additional element of advocacy for the character on account of it being a game, where the participants therefore in some sense aspire to do well. A number of...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 09:14 PM
    No. We're asking you what action you think is required on your PC's part. At least I am. (And I'm pretty sure the same is true for hawkeyefan.) My heart being melted isn't an action. It's an emotional state. What action do you think is required/dictated by that state?
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 07:55 PM
    I think you'll find that the answer to these two questions is the same! hawkeyefan and I are wondering what you envisage melting someone's heart as requiring or dictating.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 07:53 PM
    That second sentence has the potential to be controversial! I'd put it this way: the designers realised that the relationship between a certain sort of mechanical design, and the infiction category magic, is contingent and a matter of aesthetics. So for a brief period D&D design caught up to Greg Stafford c 1989! (I'm referring there to Prince Valiant, of course - the most undeservedly...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 06:26 PM
    Does D&D encompass non-5e versions? In that case, I already posted the example of the Fang Tyrant Drake's furious roar (which paralyses with fear). In 4e there's no need to conceive of the fear caused by dragons as magical, either (which brings them closer to the Smaug-ish form of dragon terror).
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 06:23 PM
    The category of "special ability", like the category of "magic", only makes sense in some games or some contexts. Some systems don't really have "special abilities" at all in the D&D sense. And even where a system does feature special abilities, the fact that some statblock includes such a thing doesn't necessarily mean that the relevant infiction capability is gated behind such a mechanic. In...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 06:14 PM
    I think dictated action, or fiat, or what Ron Edwards calls drama resolution, is interesting in this context. I agree that it's not typical. In adjudicating a skill challenge I once narrated one of the PCs moving across the room - in the fiction, he was influenced by a Pact Hag; mechanically, this was setting up a complication (the Hag was going to pull a rope to open a pit); I can't recall...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 03:58 PM
    Can you tell us more about exactly what the response is that is dictated?
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 03:44 PM
    I'm not sure what monster abilities you've got in mind. In Prince Valiant, for instance, Incite Lust is more likely to be found on a maiden than a monster! Because the NPC maiden melting a PC's heart with a wink is Lanefan's example he'll have to tell you exactly what he had in mind. I've been thinking about the example as a placeholder for stuff in the same general neighbourhood in RPG...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 11:18 AM
    What mandatory effect are you referring to? Can you describe a concrete example, with reference to a real or conjectured system, that explains what you've got in mind. All I'm seeing so far is a conjecture of a system that, in some circumstances, permits a GM to tell a player The maiden's wink softens your heart. Until you tell me more about what you have in mind, that's not an example of...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    3 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 10:57 AM
    I don't understand what your example has to do with minion rules. Minion rules are a mechanical device in some systems (4e D&D perhaps most famously, but certainly not exclusively) for adjudicating declared actions (in 4e D&D, mostly fight-y actions) by players for their PCs. If your ingame inhabitant sees her doughty working people cut down with little trouble by Conan and friends, where is...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    1 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 10:52 AM
    The example of a NPC maiden softening a PC's heart with a wink came from you. So what system did you have in mind? I don't think the onus is on me to flesh out your example! If you think your example is underspecified then flesh it out yourself! In the OP I put forward, as a description a PC's action, I soften the heart of the maiden with a wink. Systems I can think of where that is a...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 05:03 AM
    Hussar replied to No Magic Shops!
    Heh. One of the most unfortunate things about 4e is a LOT of the really interesting stuff that came out for 4e came out after so many folks had left. Had they led with a lot of the stuff, they would have been much better off. :(
    960 replies | 46030 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 04:42 AM
    Hussar replied to No Magic Shops!
    Funny how experiences differ. My 4e rogue believed that he was touched by a god (Kord) and that he was a prophet of Kord. He had a life stealing dagger (granted you x temp hp if you killed a target) and he consecrated all his kills to Kord. :D He wasn't really running on all 8 cylinders. :D "Souls for Kord" was a great line. But, that dagger became a major focus point (as well as a faintly...
    960 replies | 46030 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 04:32 AM
    I'm no big fan of GNS theory, mostly because bringing it up tends to be like invoking Tolkien in RPG discussions - it's the geek version of Godwinning a thread and more time gets spent debating the theory than actually using it. But, Tony Vargas, I do think you are way off base here. GNS theory is not exclusionary at all. It's, as Lost Soul above pointed out very concisely, simply a...
    126 replies | 8741 view(s)
    3 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 04:18 AM
    With respect, this makes no sense. From the POV of a character in the ficiton you can't tell the resolution mechanics (including minion mechanics) that resultedin a certain outcome. You just experience the fictional events - eg that Aragorn swung his sword and chopped off the orc's head. Mechanical system - like minion rules, or rules that privilege PCs over NPCs (Apocalypse World has this...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    1 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 04:10 AM
    Why are you assuming that there is no game system? I've posted many such examples in this thread: Prince Valian special effects; Marvel Heroic RP/Cortex+ Heroic emotional stress and complications; the example from AW; etc. And in some systems, maybe the GM can narrate it by fiat if it follows naturally from what has gone before, just as in (say) Moldvay Basic the GM can narrate that the PC...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    0 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 03:51 AM
    What's in doubt? That's not an a priori category. It's a function of genre conceits, table expectations, system design, probably other stuff too. A RPG could be designed where every time I get to decide whether or not the NPC influences me. Or not. It could be designed where every time I get to decide whether or not I dodge the bullets. Or not. Just as D&D has an armour class, and RQ has a...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    2 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 03:44 AM
    I don't even know what this means. I'm talking about events in the fiction. In the fiction, there is no such thing as "overriding the PC". There is just one human affectig another. This is a real thing that happens in the real world all the time, so I have no trouble imagining a fantasy wold in which it happens. Galadriel melts Gimli's heart. Aragorn melts Eomer's heart. Frodo almost melts...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    3 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th July, 2019, 03:36 AM
    In narrativist play the notion of setting win conditions is complicated at best. The notion of "scenario", as opposed to "situation", can also be problematic. I don't think Ron Edwards et al intended to be "deceptive". Who are they trying to deceive? Every one of the major essays has a glossary appended; the major essays set out in detail what is meant to be conveyed by various terms; the...
    126 replies | 8741 view(s)
    2 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 05:11 PM
    But having someone wink at you is also an infiction act. I don't understand what distiinction you think you're pointing to here. These are just bare assertions of preference. As Ovinomancer already noted. It's not "out of fiction". The wink occurs in the fiction. The melting of your PC's heart happens in the fiction. No difference from a spell. And the rule that explains how winking...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    3 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 08:43 AM
    Re-read the example. You're interpolating things (eg "day-dreaming") that aren't there. From Apocalypse World, pp 155-56: “I read the situation. What’s my best escape route?” She rolls+sharp and . . . misses. “Oh no,” she says. I can make as hard and direct a move as I like. . . . “You’re looking out your (barred, 4th-story) window as though it were an escape route,” I say, “and they...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    2 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 08:41 AM
    double post deleted
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 08:08 AM
    Hussar replied to No Magic Shops!
    No. It didn't.
    960 replies | 46030 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 07:57 AM
    No horse in this race, but, it's kinda interesting anyway. No. Matters in the sense that there will be mechanics in place to deal with this element. Thus, broken builds matter in a gamist game because they violate the win conditions - the same way that using a cheat code or an exploit in a video game violates the nature of the game. In non-gamist games, broken builds don't matter...
    126 replies | 8741 view(s)
    2 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 07:24 AM
    Physicists call the heat given of by a burning match "work". Even though no one is doing any work. Most jargon has an origin that explains where it came from even though the present use of the jargon wouldn't reveal that. Immersion is often used to describe a mental state. A person can play a Paizo AP and be engaged in the world of the story without entering that mental state, I think. It's...
    126 replies | 8741 view(s)
    3 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 03:42 AM
    Sure. I'm not disputing or even commenting on your preferences. I'm commenting on whether or not something is RPGing. Thanks (taking this at face value and not as ironic/sarcasm). But what's happened to your tags?
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    0 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 03:38 AM
    Two things in reply: (1) I reiterate what Ovinomancer says about Bob. Whether or not it can be roleplayed, and counts as roleplaying, has nothing do with the stuff the GM (or other player) is imagining as s/he tells you what has changed about your PC's mental states. (2) You seem to be pre-supposing that the only way that human beings can influence one another's mental states is by way of...
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    0 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 03:27 AM
    This makes sense. In my Burning Wheel game one of the PCs was subjected to Force of Will by a dark naga. I told the player that he had to write a Beilef reflecting this, and the two of us hammered that out over the course of a few minutes. Then the player just went on playing his PC.
    626 replies | 15105 view(s)
    0 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 6th July, 2019, 03:20 AM
    Gamism = RPGing with win conditions. Gygaxian dungeoneering is an example. Supers-type RPGing where the Hulk has to beat up on the Thing to save the day is probably another. And I susspect a fair bit of Rifts play is like this also. Stuff that matters in design includes GM fairness and, in crunch-heavy systems, broken builds. Simulationism = RPGing in which the players' goals is to "be there"...
    126 replies | 8741 view(s)
    4 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 4th July, 2019, 11:07 AM
    Considering that in a given round of combat, you are likely having somewhere around 5 attack rolls per round (probably more), I find that very hard to believe. Two four round combats in a session (hardly a heavy combat session) would result in 40-60 attack rolls. I seriously doubt you have that many skill checks in a given session. But, even if you did, how much of an impact is guidance...
    132 replies | 65121 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 4th July, 2019, 11:01 AM
    Hussar replied to No Magic Shops!
    Note, that Ghosts of Saltmarsh makes buying magic items a la carte entirely possible. Granted, you might have to wait for Magic Amazon to deliver your bespoke item, but, it is entirely possible to buy magic items in Saltmarsh.
    960 replies | 46030 view(s)
    0 XP
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Tuesday, 21st May, 2019

  • 04:28 AM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post If there's one game where stat differences are justified, what game would that be?
    you've framed it in the context of wanting to make a game where "men are from mars" because you think that's how "things are IRL" CapnZapp didn't say that's how things are iRL. To the contrary, The point isn't to moralize or repress someone's real-life gender identity. The point is that in this world, and in particular my take on it, "men come from Mars, women come from Venus".The phrase this world referst to the imagined world of the RPG, not real life. I doubt I would play the game that CapnZapp posits. I do play RPGs which, as part of their presentation of mediaeval life, note the significance of certain gender distinctions (Burning Wheel has some lifepaths that are women only; Prince Valiant has a discussion of assumed gender roles, and how this might bear on the incorporation of women PCs into the game). I agree with the suggestion by you and steenan that what CapnZapp is looking for would probably be better achieved by having gendered lifepaths or gendered "playbooks" (to use the PbtA terminology). In a D&D-type game, this would be gendered classes. Mazes and Minotaurs is a semi-spoofy OSR-ish RPG that does this, with its women-only amazons and men-only barbarians and spearman. I have no idead how many people actually play it.

Monday, 25th February, 2019


Sunday, 18th December, 2016

  • 07:05 AM - TheCosmicKid mentioned steenan in post Multiclassing
    This reads to me like you don't like classes and like multiclassing because it makes the game less of a class based system.No. Please don't put words in my mouth. GURPS and M&M have different design goals than D&D. GURPS is trying to be the Generic Universal Role-Playing System, and M&M is trying to emulate the superhero genre. For those goals, freeform is better than a class system. Which is what I said. But one size does not fit all, and for a heroic fantasy game like D&D, a class system is an excellent design choice. What, in your words, are the advantages to a class based system?I basically agree with steenan: ease of character creation and advancement and archetypal clarity. I've already explained how multiclassing detracts from neither of those things. To steenan I would add a clear and satisfactory sense of progress over a character's career, which, again, multiclassing does not detract from -- it just means the character has two careers rather than one. I ask because I believe we see different advantages. Multiclassing does take away from what I enjoy about the class based system of 5e. If you don't like classes in the first place, isn't it better to just play a different game? It just seems like the worst of both worlds. Yes, for people who don't like class based games, multiclassing makes that game less of that so for them it will be better. But why not just make it much better for you by playing something else?Between the two of us, you're the only one who is expressing dissatisfaction with a part of the D&D rules. If you don't like multiclassing, then why not make it much better...

Saturday, 30th January, 2016

  • 04:30 PM - The Fighter-Cricket mentioned steenan in post HELP! I'm a new DM
    Just a few quick most basic tips for anyone who dons the DM cape: - Relax You are not there to entertain, but to make play possible. If you don't know something or are lost in the job of DMing, talk the other players and tell them about the situation you are in. If you feel that your game night was unsatisfactory then talk to one another what would make it more fun for everyone. - Situations not Stories You lay out certain situations (see steenan's spot-on advice) in which the PCs can interact but you don't have to create hundreds of interlocking parts of a world. (And in fact: also shouldn't.) Pro tip: Write down three NPCs (maybe three helpful or neutral ones and up to three "bad guys") that can be of importance to the next 4 hours of play (or the next session if it's longer then 4 hours). Write down one (!) motivation/trait/quirk for these NPCs. When they appear (whether it's a magical pawn shop owner, a fighting military baroness, or a dragon librarian) try to go with the flow and improvise. (There are no false ways to do it.) - Let it go Don't try to control everything in the world or the gameplay situation. Let your and the players' imagination run wild if you wish. And don't let the rules stop you too much. (If you have e.g. a great underwater fighting scene with a demonic kraken and you keep messing up rules for underwater fighting: ditch them now and if you really wish, look them up later.) One of the most ...

Friday, 30th October, 2015

  • 09:13 PM - El Mahdi mentioned steenan in post Warlord Name Poll
    ...oogleEmpMog ; @Mon @MonkeezOnFire ; @MoonSong(Kaiilurker) ; @MostlyDm ; @Mouseferatu ; @MoutonRustique; @Nemesis Destiny ; @neobolts ; @Neonchameleon ; @Nifft ; @nightspaladin ; @nomotog; @n00bdragon ; @Obryn ; @Ohillion ; @oknazevad ; @Olgar Shiverstone ; @Orlax ; @Otterscrubber ; @Pandamonium87 ; @Paraxis ; @PaulO. ; @Pauln6 ; @Pauper ; @payn; @pemerton ; @peterka99 ;@ Pickles III ; @Pickles JG ; @pkt77242 ; @pming ; @pogre; @PopeYodaI ; @Prickly ; @procproc ; @Psikerlord ; @Psikerlord# ; @(Psi)SeveredHead; @Quickleaf ; @Raith5 ; @raleel ; @Ralif Redhammer ; @Raloc ; @Ranes ; @RangerWickett; @Ratskinner ; @redrick ; @Rejuvenator ; @Remathilis ; @Ristamar ; @RolenArcher; @Roland55 ; @RPG_Tweaker ; @Rune ; @Rygar ; @Sacrosanct ; @Saelorn ; @Saeviomagy; @sailor-Moon ; @SailorNash ; @Saplatt ; @Satyrn ; @Shades of Eternity ; @shadowmane; @sheadunne ; @Shasarak ; @shidaku ; @shintashi ; @Shiroiken ; @SigmaOne ; @sleypy; @sleypy01 ; @SpiderMonkey ; @Staccat0 ; @Staffan ; @steeldragons ; @steenan @STeveC ; @strider13x ; @Strider1973 ; @Sword of Spirit ; @Talmek ; @TerraDave; @TheCosmicKid ; @The_Gneech ; @TheHobgoblin ; @The Human Target ; @the Jester; @The Mirrorball Man ; @The Myopic Sniper ; @ThirdWizard ; @Tia Nadiezja ; @Tinker-TDC; @Tonguez ; @Tony Vargas ; @Tormyr ; @TrippyHippy ; @tsadkiel ; @tuxgeo ; @twigglythe Gnome ; @TwoSix ; @Uchawi ; @Ulorian ; @UnadvisedGoose445 ; @UngeheuerLich; @Us ; @Valmarius ; @Warbringer ; @was ; @wedgeski ; @Wednesday Boy ; @Wik ; @WillDoyle ; @Winterthorn ; @Wuzzard ; @Xeviat ; @Yaarel ; @Yunru ; @Zalabim ; @Zansy; @Zardnaar ; @Zeuel ; @ZickZak ; @ZombieRoboNinja ; @ZzarkLinux

Saturday, 6th June, 2015

  • 04:29 AM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post Let's Talk About Metagaming!
    .... If you want to ensure the death of your enemy (story), you choose to use your shortsword that does 4d6+10 damage (rules). You use the rules to create the story. Metagaming is one step removed from gaming. When you're metagaming, you're not trying to ensure the death of your enemy (story). You're trying to do as much damage (rules) possible, and using your 4d6+10 weapon (rules) to do it. It's a subtle difference, so I'll boil it down a little bit (a lot?): Gaming is using rules to make a story. Metagaming is using rules to affect other rules. I have to admit, I'm struggling to find the distinction that you're making here between Gaming and Metagaming. I think what you might be aiming to imply is that Metagaming is "using rules to affect other rules with disregard for the (perhaps aberrant) fiction that is created (hence genre/trope-incoherent story emerges)." Is that what you're meaning? If it is then we've completed the circle and we're back to LostSoul's and steenan's well-constructed points above (and pemerton and my own). If the system incentivizes PC build choices that produce genre/trope-incoherency or aberrant fiction, then the blame needs to be placed on the system...not on the players.

Thursday, 4th June, 2015

  • 01:02 PM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post Let's Talk About Metagaming!
    I think you'd be hard-pressed to find game rules that don't correlate to anything in-game. Metagaming, then, isn't about what has an in-game correlation; it's about intent. If your intent is to impale a foe, you're not going to hop off a charging horse with your lance to do it. <snip> Let's not chastise players. But let's hold them accountable when their metagaming causes other players to see the table, dice, and rulebooks, instead of the battlements, sunset, and flaming arrows.I don't really follow; and I see LostSoul's post as making a pretty similar point to mine. If the rules of the game make a PC more likely to impale an enemy by attacking on foot rather than mounted, then what is wrong with the player having his/her PC attack on foot? Conversely, if we want the players to have their PCs act as if attacking on horseback is a better way to impale, why don't we make the game rules reflect this? EDIT: I hadn't read post 16 yet. steenan makes the same point too. A well-designed game shouldn't give rise to conflicts between fiction and mechanics.

Tuesday, 17th March, 2015

  • 01:47 AM - Neonchameleon mentioned steenan in post I suck at DMing. Can anyone help?
    ...most any acceptable PCs in and they will in theory come out the same way. So. I'm going to make three suggestions. The first is a book of guidance. Play Unsafe which is basically what we can learn about stories from improv drama. It's going to be a completely different way of looking at things from the one I think you have - but a really useful one. The second is Fiasco - an RPG made by boiling down the Five Act Structure into a mechanical system and playing from there, You can use it to write a Cohen Brothers movie in the time it takes to watch one - and it really teaches about relationship maps, the five act structure, and tilts. To see how it works watch the Tabletop playthrough - and remember that that's a good playthrough but not an outstanding one. The third is a new RPG - Apocalypse World. (If you've got a group for it then Monsterhearts can be even better, but I doubt you have the right group). Apocalypse World is the non-D&D parent game of Dungeon World (mentioned by steenan), and it flows quite a lot better. It also has two real things that DW (and for that matter D&D) doesn't. First is PC investment in the setting during character creation; D&D (and DW) has you create PCs as near islands; AW character creation and character classes represent your place in the world from the local boss (the Hardholder), the local gang leader (the Chopper) to someone trying to get by (the Operator) or even a lethal drifter (the Gunlugger). Second is the narrative dynamite. PCs don't just get more skilled as they gain experience, they also change even to the point of changing Playbooks/Class. This can be obvious career development (e.g. Chopper->Hardholder as the gang leader takes over), a reversal (e.g. Gunlugger -> Angel (Medic)), or just something that kinda happened in play and looks like a really interesting direction for the character (e.g. Operator -> Hocus as one of the Operator's schemes involves them founding a cult and their cult becomes their defining drive). Al...

Sunday, 21st December, 2014

  • 06:04 PM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post How to design a game where players don't seek to min-max
    Great post steenan . Its a pity that it hasn't gotten more traction with/commentary from other posters in this thread. Unsurprisingly, I agree. Players will always min-max, no matter what you do. You can only try to make it a suboptimal choice by making the game as varied as possible instead of a primarily combat game which seems what you are designing now or by minimizing the direct influence players have during character creation like with career based character creation seen in Traveller. This isn't always true. While it is true that a great many systems do line up classic TTRPG incentives (win/achieve your primary goals and you progress/advance your character) to create a feedback loop that rewards min/maxing, that isn't the only primary goal:xp paradigm out there. You can make character progress/advancement either outright at tension with or orthogonal to "winning". This creates a dynamic where "winning" is irrelevant to or outright adverse toward character progression. Obviously, th...

Sunday, 14th December, 2014

  • 04:35 PM - D'karr mentioned steenan in post Saves and 4th Edition and Jim Darkmagic *SPOILERS*
    4e has several mechanisms within the base framework that can be used/modified to act like some of these desired effects. For example I've used the Disease Track to evoke the feel of short term and long term injuries. Something similar could be done to evoke the feel for a long term domination/charm, similar to Saruman's hold on King Theodred of Rohann. But I agree with steenan that these should be used as part of a "high stakes game" in which the player is interested in playing out the effect, not as simple save or suck effects. I would have really liked to have seen WotC put out a book like Unearthed Arcana with variant things like this.

Friday, 12th September, 2014

  • 12:36 PM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post It needs to be more of a sandbox than a railroad?
    ...So I did provide something interactive for the players, drawing on the material provided by the module. But, contrary to the paragraph from mcbobbo in the middle of the quotes, the players didn't have to take their PCs into the caves. All of us (players and GM) followed the adventure where it led. Either your DM allows for you to leave the area and ignore Giants/Temple (playing a sandbox campaign) or forces the issue (railroads the campaign)Similar to my discussion with Quickleaf, I think it misdescribes the range of options to treat sandbox and railroad as two extremes on a spectrum. There are other approaches. For instance, if the GM describes the Keep being under attack by hobgoblins from the Caves, then that is "forcing the issue", but - provided the GM is actually framing the PCs into a situation of interest to the players - then they are not just going to have their PCs leave the area. But this goes back to the issue of D&D adventure design, raised upthread by Yora and steenan. D&D modules have a tendency to be very weak when it comes to the situation. So instead of suggestions for forcing the issue by dropping the players into the action ("You are in the Keep when hobgoblins assault it - how do you react?"), they tend to either set out a rather static situation (static, at least, as far as the PCs are concerned - eg KotB, GDQ, etc) or else set up a "hook" which the PCs have to follow if the adventure is to go anywhere at all (countless examples could be given, but Dead Gods and Expedition to the Demonweb Pits are two that come straight to mind). That's one reason why I'm fairly choosy with the modules that I use. A railroad gives that emotional narrative and provides a strong direction, but sacrifices player agency. With more active or critical players it can lead to moments without a strong sense of motivation and a sort of "why do I care?" attitude.I think the tension in this paragraph brings out my own objections to railroading - they purport to g...

Monday, 9th June, 2014

  • 03:41 AM - dd.stevenson mentioned steenan in post Old School Exploration in 5E: A Dungeon World Hack
    Inspired by the feedback from steenan and DMMike , I've rewritten most of the questions--hopefully in a way that will be more appealing to players. I've also attempted to clarify what these skills grant during ordinary gameplay without spending an HD. Naturally, I'd love to hear any and all comments on these rewritten skills.

Friday, 28th February, 2014

  • 09:51 PM - Neonchameleon mentioned steenan in post Things to do in a tabletop rpg that are not combat related?
    I am wondering if my group is just hack'n'slash. We have 6 players, could maybe be 7. 2 are power players, 1 likes sandbox, 1 doesn't really care to much and like 2-3 of us kind of prefer RP'ing rather than crunching numbers. Find a different game than D&D I'd suggest. D&D is very combat heavy - find something that gives as much weight to non-combat solutions as it does to combat ones. It's what the rules point you at; they give more weight to combat than anything else except spellcasting (and that mostly for combat). steenan's already suggested Fate Core, Smallville, and Mouse Guard. To that I'd add Apocalypse World, Leverage, Hillfolk, Nobilis, and Fiasco. Monsterhearts if you feel up to it (many won't, for good reason). 2. What are some things you can do in a table top RPG that are not combat related? Like I've read you can have PC's goto a tournament. Do they compete? What can they compete in? Hmm... just current experiences for me. Last night in my Firefly game, (not linked because this is the playtest version) the PCs were in a cheat-like-there's-no-tomorrow boat race. Which included trying to drive their boat, trying to keep it afloat, trying to investigate the other crews to work out how they would cheat, trying to shame the race organiser into giving them their winnings, and above all trying to stay afloat in the boat race enough to win - which included when they were sinking and the only boat in front of them had no engines, driving their boat up the other one's back and using its bouya...

Tuesday, 25th February, 2014

  • 05:41 PM - Cadence mentioned steenan in post 4e/13thA immersion question and 5e/13thA DoaM question
    Thanks for all the suggestions! @(Psi)SeveredHead for asking about the surroundings and looking for the coolest move @steenan for thinking about whether some powers focus a lot more on the system than the story @Dragonblade for suggesting to think about how each power should play out for the character @TheFindus for focussing on what the character would do in the situation @Dungeoneer for avoiding analysis paralis by trying to simplify some things in the build @Balesir for thinking about what I want to achieve and then grabbing a power that helps that, instead of the other way around Next game is tonight. One of the other players suggested printing out the various spells and powers (index card size) instead of literally having them on a big list. I'm hoping that having them sorted into thematic piles will make it easier to follow the suggestion to think about what I want to do, and then grabbing the action that enables it. (Seems obvious thinking about the power cards in 4e, but something I'd never used in the editions I've played more). Since a bunch of the domain powers are buffy/quick actions, I...

Monday, 24th February, 2014

  • 03:47 AM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post My happiness or yours.
    I don't get this whole "my turn" thing. And agree with steenan, the Jester and others: buy and play games you enjoy, don't buy and don't play games you don't enjoy. If you are compromising in playing a game with friends that is not your favourite, well that's not the publisher's problem. It seems to be a result of friends having different tastes. Most of us have worked out ways to deal with this, from choosing pizza to choosing movies to choosing games. For WotC it is a commercial problem - how to maximise their market uptake - but I can't see that it has any moral dimension. No one has an entitlement that a commercial publisher deploy its resources to make a game well-suited to them. Heck, design your own game and then invite your friends to play it with you! (I think there are some posters on these boards who have done just that.)

Thursday, 23rd January, 2014

  • 01:13 AM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post Do alignments improve the gaming experience?
    ... correctly up until the point where you have 3 hit points left, an unscathed giant is bearing down on a mother and her child and you think... sacrificing myself in a hopeless situation isn't REALLY about commitment or duty... it's just senseless stupidity... and so you decide to hide or run as the mother and child are killedThese characterisations of "advantage", or of "temptating the player of the paladin to have his/her PC act expediently rather than honourably", seem to me to make a whole lot of assumptions about both mechanics and playstyle. The mechanical assumptions are that the paladin player will be more mechanically effective when making attacks that are sneaky rather than honourable. That is not true across all RPGs, and not even true across all versions of D&D - for instance, it is not really true in 4e, where the paladin's powers are designed so as to mechanically support the play of an honourable warrior. (This is 4e's approximation to the sort of approach suggested by steenan upthread.) The playstyle assumption is that the GM is not adjudicating in a "fail forward" style, and hence that, unless the PC achieves immediate victory in the confrontation, the player will have "lost" the game. Once you change that assumption, the player does not need to worry that if s/he compromises her conception of the PC's values, s/he will lose the game (eg by having his/her PC die and hence his/her participation in the campaign terminated). I don't understand whether this is a rebuttal to the quote you posted or simply a development of an interesting point about gaming and philosophy in general (or both!). Who says the mindset of the Paladin is that the universe is on the side of good?This actually relates to the issue about weaknesses and advantages. There is a moral/cosmological tradition - found in Plato, and also in a number of mainstream religions - that the good person cannot suffer. If this is true, then the paladin who succumbs to expedience is not gettin...

Tuesday, 21st January, 2014

  • 12:02 AM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post Do alignments improve the gaming experience?
    ...D&D. I don't know the Dungeon World version of this, but it is similar to Beliefs in Burning Wheel, or to Milestones in Marvel Heroic RP. In these approaches, it is generally accepted (I think) that the player has primary authority over deciding when the trigger has been meant: ie provided the player makes it clear in play that in (say) forcefully suppressing the testimony of the farmer who is being stalked by the werewolf s/he is doing so in order to stop a village-wide panic, s/he gets the benefit of the LN trigger. The GM's role is simply to judge player sincerity as part of overall game management, not to second-guess whether or not the farmer really is innocent, nor whether or not preventing a village-wide panci is really a social benefit. Hence these approaches don't exhibit the features that I am critical of in relation to traditional mechanical alignment, of requiring the player to subordinate his/her evaluative framework to that of the GM. Right on the money (and good post steenan). steenan's post is very much like Beliefs in Burning Wheel and Milestones in Marvel Heroic RP (first thing I thought of), and to a lesser extent, like Dungeon World (and I agree with steenan that the feedback in Dungeon World is less provocative). The facets of such a system are very different than classic alignment in D&D. You have: - Transparent, codified, non-negotiable trigger mechanism requiring no real adjudication. - Immediate, positive mechanical feedback. It produces a very different sort of play than what classic D&D alignment produces. Further, I would say that it functionally, in play, fulfills the promise that D&D alignment promised (tight thematic play that challenges on an ethical/moral basis and allows those answers to emerge in play) whereas D&D alignment so often has sown dysfunction and angst at the tables I have overseen. I say that as a GM with a considerable background in philosophy and ethics and a very stringent moral compass throughout my life. Regard...

Tuesday, 10th December, 2013

  • 01:38 AM - Trit One-Ear mentioned steenan in post Player Preference Survey
    This is some solid advice. If I were starting a game from scratch, I would probably do more of what steenan and Quickleaf are suggesting. We've luckily played together on and off for a year now, so we have a decent idea of how we like to play together (or at least, I hope we do). That being said, I'm definitely going to take some of these questions and thoughts and inject them into my original survey. I like el_stiko's way of giving the heroes two clear options to decide between, but I'm wary of making players who like a mix of play give me a polarized opinion. His 1-5 rating is more helpful for me as a GM to deduce where my player like to spend the most of their time. I'm sure I will get varying responses from my group (composed of multiple age groups, experience, gender and of course personalities). By counting up which responses get the highest number however, I can take a general reading for the group as a whole. Will this mean I'm crafting the "perfect" game for everyone? Extremely doubtful. But I can at least give player A enough hack-and-slash while balancing that with player B's lov...

Monday, 9th December, 2013

  • 02:49 PM - DMMike mentioned steenan in post Top 8 Monsters and Spells!
    steenan: those sounds awesome! What the heck are they? Let's start a list... Monsters (level): Kenku (1), Kobold (1), Goblin (1), Skeleton (1) Kuo-Toa (2), Rot Grub (2), Lizardfolk (Reptillans?) (2), Zombie, Human (2) Werewolves (3), Doppelganger (3), Bugbear (3), Ghoul (3), Ogre (3), Dire Wolf (3) Minotaurs (4), Gargoyle (4), Flock of carnivorous butterflies (swarm) (4), Chocobo (4) Werebear (5), Gray Render (5), Basilisk (5), Slime/Ooze (5), Mind Flayer/Cthulhu acolyte (5) Will o' Wisp (6), Vampire, Dwarf (6) Aboleth (7) Dragon (10) Demon (from between the stars) (92) Lich (just a vampire who hasn't been keeping up his appearance) Quasar Dragon (no idea) Consider levels (and several of the above are arbitrary) to mean "general danger level." And if you have an interesting twist to put on some of the simpler ones (kobold?), chime in!

Monday, 4th November, 2013



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Wednesday, 10th July, 2019

  • 05:13 PM - lowkey13 quoted steenan in post Why do you play games other than D&D?
    I think the question is strange. It treats D&D as some kind of default, as if one needed a reason to play something different. For me, D&D was just one of the games I tried; neither the first nor the best one. Is the question strange? If you include PF as part of the greater D&D family (a reasonably supposition), then you will usually see that more than 80% of all games and players are playing "D&D," with no other RPG getting any real noticeable push. Everything is niche compared to D&D/PF. So, yeah, I'd certainly say that D&D is the default for TTRPGs. (Even moreso when you people who aren't familiar with TTRPGs try and discuss it, and "D&D" becomes a generic way of referring to the games- much like Kleenex for tissue or Xerox for photocopy or Google to search for something on the internet.... I mean, you can bing all of this if you want.)

Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019

  • 01:49 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Players choose what their PCs do . . .
    Isn't this what the IIEE framework for resolution is about? There are two separate but connected parts of an action a player declares. What the character does (in a "thin" sense) and what the player wants to achieve.Yes, although we can then take the inquiry the next step: what descriptions are permissible in respect of what the player wants to achieve? For instance, is this to be described as I open the safe or I find such-and-such stuff in the safe? As my wink is a jaunty one apt to soften a maiden's heart or my wink softens the heart of this very maiden? Maybe, for example, the player wants to attempt something that is possible, but bunches too many activities into a single action, while the GM thinks that the situation needs more focus and should be played step by step.This is a thing, but I think it's orthogonal to the issue I'm raising in the first para of this reply.

Monday, 17th June, 2019

  • 06:17 PM - doctorbadwolf quoted steenan in post What Would You Want From A Game About Defenders of The Faithful?
    Your characterization screams "Dogs in the Vineyard" to me. It's a great game because, despite being about defenders of faith and faithful and containing supernatural evil, it's not a game of "us versus them". You have the rules of faith. Then you get faced with situations that are much more complicated. It's obvious that there is sin, that the demons are at work. But telling the good from evil is your job and there is no "correct" answer. There is no "right" judgement, known to the GM, that you need to figure out. You judge and you take the responsibility for it. It's a great game about faith and morality in part because it has no rules for faith and morality. Instead it has rules that force players to think about what faith really means to them, what is moral and what is not. If you haven't played it, you definitely should. ;) Definately not what I’m looking for in this context, but I’ll check it out.

Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019

  • 04:36 AM - Ratskinner quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    That's definitely not the case with Capes. The flow of play in Capes is very structured. It's clear who makes each decision, who narrates each part and what exactly is resolved by dice. What is, in traditional games, the responsibility of GM, in Capes is not only distributed between players but also moves from one player to another during play. Each player in turn sets a scene. Within a scene, each player may use their action to define a stake that must be resolved and it's typically other players who select sides on given issue (which allows them to narrate its resolution). It's impossible to be a "backseat GM" without clearly violating the rules of the game. Capes is near-miraculous, IMO. Totally changed my perspective on what story/role-playing games could be: clearly-structured Conflict Resolution, insanely fast character creation including drives, as well as the power and speed of completely abandoning Simulationism. I've often wished for a "Second edition" that had the rules more...

Sunday, 31st March, 2019

  • 12:46 PM - pemerton quoted steenan in post How to deal with death in RPG?
    In my opinion, if death isn't a possibility in your campaign, this undermines the stakes and severely undermines the threat of your monsters. The moment the players notice that you are jumping through hoops to keep them alive, you lose a lot of the suspense.This is a General RPG thread. So I don't think there can be any assumption that the only "loss condition", even in combat, is death. The three FRPGs I've GMed most recently are Cortex+ Heroic, Prince Valiant and The Dying Earth. The former two don't involve death as a serious threat. The third I only GMed today, and I didn't have to remind myself of its health/death rules because there was very little fighting in the game, and no successful attacks. In Prince Valiant, the most common form of fighting is jousting between knights, and the stakes are losing (or gaining) warhorses, arms and armour, as well as status/dignity. And these are some of the most dramatic fights I've GMed! It's just a matter of the game following a consistent...
  • 11:16 AM - Imaculata quoted steenan in post How to deal with death in RPG?
    If character arcs and character development are an important part of the game then the game shouldn't have random character death. Death in D&D is almost always going to be random. You don't pick which fight you lose, and neither should the DM. There may be a few cases where a player decides to sacrifice himself for his party, but quite often you don't get to choose the moment and manner of your character's death, no matter how focused the game is on character development. On the other hand, if the game is about deadly danger then it should kill PCs and should make it explicit that they are not expected to last. To be consistent, such a game should not push players towards character development arcs nor hide interesting abilities behind mechanical advancement. This seems very odd to me. I would think that the more the players care about their characters, the more real the threat of death is. It is especially those characters who have had a lot of character development, whose death ...

Thursday, 21st March, 2019

  • 11:16 PM - Staffan quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Complexity is always a cost. It requires mental effort and time spent handling it during play. That's a good point. I read a similar discussion over on the Paizo forums, where someone said something like "Complexity is the currency with which you buy depth," and I thought it was a great analogy. It's very hard to have (mechanical) depth without complexity. You need the complexity to get the depth. But the complexity has to be spent carefully, where you get the most bang for your metaphorical buck. This is probably different for different games - a game about playing wizards can get away with tons of info on magic - summoning, research, magic languages and having those have different uses, and so on. But when the wizard is one character type among many, you don't need that much magic stuff. And different people have different tolerances for complexity - and that tolerance may change over time. I sure know mine has - I used to love getting into the nitty-gritty stuff of 3e/Pathfinder, b...

Wednesday, 20th March, 2019

  • 10:30 PM - Sword of Spirit quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Complexity is always a cost. It requires mental effort and time spent handling it during play. This, in itself, does not make complexity bad. It makes it a budget. The question is, how well it is spent. How much value does the game offer in exchange for the complexity? Or, in other words, how well do the complex rules support and direct the process of play, compared to what simpler ones would do? Unfortunately, RPGs tend to waste their complexity budget. We still have to learn what creators of board and card games already did - how to get the most return in exchange for the least amount of complexity. In a lot of cases, rules are made complex in the name of "realism" or "simulation" that really isn't. They replace common sense with processes that produce absurd results and need to be moderated by the GM to work, thus turning their supposed gain into a loss. In a similar way, offering a lot of options that are wildly unbalanced wastes complexity, as many of them will never be used (or...

Monday, 25th February, 2019

  • 02:14 AM - Maxperson quoted steenan in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    It has a lot in common with Stanford Prison Experiment. Nearly all traditional games game the GM a lot of authority and power, without anything to keep it in check. A GM had nearly total control over in-game events, could change or ignore the rules, could reward and punish players. In such setup, one doesn't have to be a jerk initially to become one in the context of the game. Friendly and well socialized people can become very toxic GMs while still behaving well outside of the context of a game. While this approach is rarer in modern games - they often clearly define agendas and areas of responsibility - it's still treated as a default by a lot of groups, as can easily be seen on most RPG boards. Until this changes, we'll keep creating jerk GMs. The loss of players keeps it in check for most people. It isn't much fun to DM a solo game with no players, so DMs do feel pressure back from the players to not be a jerks about their position.

Sunday, 17th February, 2019

  • 02:37 PM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Rules Light Games: Examples and Definitions
    I call a game "rules light" if I can run it for players new to the game and they have all the information they need on their character sheets and single page cheat sheet. No need to browse books during character creation or during play, no need for me to handle the mechanics because it takes too long to understand it. Traveller started out pretty rules light and then supplements came.I'm a big fan of Classic Traveller and have recently been playing it a fair bit (a report of today's session is here). But I don't think it reasonably counts as rules light. Character creation can be reasonably quick and quite colourful, and the skill names generally give you a sense of what your PC can do. But the game has a lot of subsystems (for intersteller travel; for using vacc-suits; for vehicular travel; for landing small craft in inclement weather; for combat, both melee and ranged; for ship combat; for making repairs to a ship during combat; etc, etc). In our play I'm finding that, as referee, I'm c...

Saturday, 19th January, 2019

  • 03:56 AM - Shasarak quoted steenan in post Worlds of Design: How "Precise" Should RPG Rules Be?
    It may also be both strict and detailed, like D&D4 or Burning Wheel - such games work great when everybody knows the rules and engages them fully, but very poorly when played casually. I found that the Pathfinder 2 playtest was very much like this, full of strictly detailed jargon that works great if you can understand what is going on but man was a real pain to groke at the start.
  • 01:40 AM - dave2008 quoted steenan in post Worlds of Design: How "Precise" Should RPG Rules Be?
    I think it's important to notice that there are two different axes that ... 5e as three actually: handaxe, battleaxe, and greataxe ;)

Friday, 13th January, 2017

  • 07:35 PM - MonkeyWrench quoted steenan in post What happened to the punk aesthetic in D&D?
    So, it's not that people are not creating their own material. They just do it using different games and typically write on different boards. ;) This is very true. The DIY attitude is alive and well in the OSR and the games that have spun off from it.

Sunday, 8th January, 2017

  • 04:16 PM - knasser quoted steenan in post Explain to me again, how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.
    Observing that Earth is round is simpler. Choose two points, preferably on the same meridian (for ease of calculations). Measure how high above the horizon the Sun is at noon in each od them. From the difference between the angles and the distance between measurement points you can calculate the Earth's radius with not much trouble (it's distance/angle, with angle in radians). This kind of measurement has been performed successfully in ancient times, by Eratosthenes, IIRC. Thank you also. I guess I can't really do a flat earth because for the sun to rise and set in anything like our own world, the flat world would have to be very small, I guess. I mean, assuming the sun goes round the world.

Friday, 6th January, 2017

  • 10:49 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Twist. Just DM enjoyment or OK for Players?
    ...e twist fits the social contract and metagame conventions of the campaign. For example, in most games I run, the story is strongly player-driven. When I create NPCs for players to encounter, I make no assumptions on whether players will like them or not, if players will trust them and what will come of their interactions. And players know about it. NPCs have their beliefs and motivations and it's not that rare that a genuinely moral person is opposed to PCs for some reason. But in a quest-driven game, there is a metagame convention that quests are accepted. If players become distrusting and refuse to accept quests (or haggle too much on rewards, or demand explanations why the patron does not handle the matter themselves, or ...), the game grinds to halt. The group, for metagame reasons (fun play) ignores this kind of concerns and skips to the quest itself. So if a patron betrays the party, it's not only an NPC abusing PCs' trust. It's also the GM abusing the social contract.I think steenan's analysis of the dynamics of this in a "quest-giver" game, where the job of the players is to "follow the story", is a very good one. My suggestions in my previous post are intended to straddle the two different sorts of approach - by avoiding having the quest-giver be the villain, and by locating the twist in a different NPC.
  • 08:21 AM - 77IM quoted steenan in post Twist. Just DM enjoyment or OK for Players?
    There are two important things about twists to be taken into account. One of them is foreshadowing. Events that seem meaningful but their full meaning in unclear until the twist is revealed - and then everything falls into place. Foreshadowing ensures that the twist does not come out of the blue. When it happens, players think "Why haven't we realized it earlier? It should be obvious from the facts we knew!". And maybe they do realize it earlier. In this case, the GM should accept it, without trying to change things behind the scenes and take the well deserved success from players. A twist well foreshadowed is like a good detective story - fun whether the reader deduces the solution or not (getting the "I should have noticed that" moment). The other aspect is how the twist fits the social contract and metagame conventions of the campaign. For example, in most games I run, the story is strongly player-driven. When I create NPCs for players to encounter, I make no assumptions on whether pl...

Thursday, 5th January, 2017

  • 12:53 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    On the other hand, a world that runs on "realistic" logic makes it easier for players to make predictions and exploit the way the setting works. While it's possible in fairy-tale logic too, the world behaving like our one (plus magic, monsters etc. and their implications) allows players to use scientific reasoning within the game, and that gives them a powerful tool.Depending heavily on how adjudication and resolution work in that system. To go back to @I'm A Bananna's example, for instance - in one sense being able to defeat the elves by burning their crops may be a powerful tool, but how does burning the fields get adjudicated in the game? In high level D&D a Firestorm-type spell answers that question, but what if the PCs are low or mid-level and trying to do it with flint, tinder and torches?

Wednesday, 4th January, 2017

  • 06:49 PM - Tony Vargas quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    I don't think either one is more valid or inherently preferable for D&D than the other, and you often need a mix of both in a single campaign, just as JRRT mixed them both in his works. Nod. Like most "there are two kinds of..." saws (or three kinds in the case of GNS). At its best, combining the two can get you something like the literary genre of "magical realism." There are dangers, though... D&D, since it has mechanics, can easily fall into a mostly-'naturalistic' (or deterministic, or simulationist, I suppose) rut that sucks the fantasy/fairy-tale/mythic feel right out of it, elevating the mechanical details of the rules system to a sort of de-facto set of laws of physics that dictate the nature and development of the world and characters. Mixing the realistic and fantastic can also result in a double-standard in which some game elements are mundane and marginalized while others are miraculous and run the show. In a fantasy game grounded in realism, all the PCs have to be in about...
  • 01:27 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    Thanks all for replies/posts. I've picked out a few to respond to that struck some particular chord in relation to the ideas that prompoted my OP. I don't know if the question here is "how to rationalize it", really. It's more of a question of "Does it help the game to rationalize fantasy?" Should you, as a DM, have answers ready if your players want to find the "man behind the curtain", as it were? Or should your players have an expectation that such systems exist at all? Assuming your players do go looking for explanations, my go-to rationale is extraplanar activity. D&D players are pretty conditioned to accept weird stuff from other dimensions as a reason for situations not working the way they normally do. This is indeed something I typically do not like featuring in our stories, unless we're playing old-school dungeon crawls, but even in that case I avoid ecology-based monster and prefer undead, golems/elementals, outsiders etc.I think it's not a coincidence, relative to my...

Monday, 26th December, 2016

  • 10:16 PM - quoted steenan in post DMs, Do you allow your group(s) to play Evil PCs and/or parties, & why?
    ... to preserve their ethics, even if that makes it harder to achieve their goals. Now mind you I like playing paladins. Really do. I like being the good guy, always have. But I like the idea that my character makes a conscious choice to do the right thing. Sometimes playing a paladin is just too easy and it makes the character flat and two-dimensional. They never really make any real decisions, their codes and alignments and religions have it all laid out for them where they should step and when they should take that step. Further: selfish motivations can be some of the best motivations. And really, I don't even see how a person would use questionable methods if they weren't selfish. You use questionable tactics for the simple reason that it is a faster way to achieve your goals. Maybe your goals are to help the poor, but if you think the best way to do that is to kill the bourgeoisie, that's a selfish decision. You have decided that your goals trump other people's lives. @steenan if your players are never selfish, I don't see how they could ever use questionable tactics. I will add though, it's one thing I've like that 5E and other systems have codified: that "ideals" (bonds/flaws, etc...) are something that should go down on your character sheet for the GM to reference right along with your attack mods and class levels. Even if your only goal is to get rich and retire young, that's a goal I can work with to put you in some interesting situations.


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