View Profile: howandwhy99 - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Olgar Shiverstone's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 02:04 PM
    I have fond memories of my hobbit thief Barfo, my first CRPG character in Ultima I. He died a lot. BARFO, YOU ARE DEAD. ATTEMPTING RESURRECTION ... I never really did figure out the overarching story line to that game back then; I just enjoyed wandering Sosaria, fighting monsters, getting treasure, and stealing from shopkeepers.
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  • Olgar Shiverstone's Avatar
    Sunday, 23rd June, 2019, 06:48 PM
    Nope, I have the same issue. Chrome/WIN 10.
    92 replies | 12141 view(s)
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Friday, 2nd February, 2018

  • 12:35 PM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...t door is a part of a larger agency to engage that dungeon in the order you wishAgency in Gygaxian dungeoneering has two main elements. (1) The dungeon map is a real artifact. It is a strong constraint on the fiction that the GM narrates when the players trigger narration of fiction. The dungeon key is another strong constraint. These constraints establish a maze/puzzle that the players can solve. And that puzzle has "nodes" - in the fiction, they are rooms of the dungeon - which contain the elements of the win condition for the game - in the fiction, this is treasure; and also contain obstacles to both solving the maze and meeting the win condition - in the fiction, these are traps, tricks and monsters. The players' agency consists in solving the puzzle in a way that achieves the win condition; overcoming the obstacles is an important means to doing this. (2) The second element of player agency is what distinguishes Gygaxian dungeoneering from a boardgame (and whereas I think howandwhy99 and I broadly agree in respect of (1), I know that we disagree on the following point). Because the dungeon is not only a physical artefact (a map) but is also an imagined thing, the players can declare, as moves in the game, whatever they conceive of their PCs being able to do given their fictional positioning. This means that overcoming the obstacles permits a range of problem-solving solutions that goes beyond a traditional boardgame. In Talisman, just to pick an example, you can't cross the river by damming it; in classic dungeoneering you can. The second element of agency in Gygaxian dungeoneering depends very heavily on fair refereeing ( Iosue had an interesting thread a few years ago that talked about Mike Carr's comments on fair refereeing). It also depends upon the obstacles, and their basic natures, being settled in advance of the players trying to overcome them by declaring moves for their PCs. (This is why Lewis Pulsipher said (paraphrasing) "Never put a diamond-studde...

Sunday, 28th January, 2018

  • 03:57 AM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    They were; and they were niche within the hobby then and - along with many similar systems published since - are niche within the hobby now.Best of White Dwarf Scenarios (vol 1) has scenarios for three systems: D&D, RQ and Traveller. Volume 2 has scenarios for D&D and Traveller only. Traveller and RQ were niche only in the sense that they weren't D&D. Hidden-design play has been the default (and majority) approach since Day 1. Most contemporary D&D play is not "hidden design" in howandwhy99's sense. Just to give one example: in hidden design play the ability to try again is crucial: you can go back into the dungeon and have another go (at mapping and thus unravelling the maze; at working out the solution to the green devil face or the orange mist; etc). But very few contemporary D&D adventures are based around retries like that - they are one-way trips through a series of episodes/scenes. I do think you are wrong in saying players have no agency in my style of game.I think that the bigger the "sandbox", and so the more that the players rely on the GM to present them with bits of it, to make bits of it salient, etc; then the less agency they have, because their cognitive access to the materials they need to beat the challenges (related to Nagol's comments uptrhead about "levers") becomes dependent on the GM. Part of the cleverness of the dungeon idea is that the parameters (geography; social relations between NPCs/monsters; the possible subject matter of clues foun...

Wednesday, 24th January, 2018

  • 04:31 AM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for? correct or not is secondary; the main point is that all these questions have to settled by the GM (either in notes, or - for this sort of thing - more likely on the fly by a mixture of extrapolation and intuition). So the players are no longer engaging with a puzzle that they know is there, and whose parematers they either know, or can relatively easily establish by way of action declarations whose consequences are broadly forseeable. Ratther, the players are utterly dependent on the GM's view of the situation, and choices about what to tell them about it. That's a real difference. The game is still driven entirely by the DM telling the players what is going on, which the players interpret through a personal lens. <snip> here's the thing about plot... dungeons are a plot. Each room in a dungeon is a scene. And encounter or moment where something happens. <snip> The dungeon map is basically a flowchart of the plotI think this is the one point on which I agree with howandwhy99 - a classic dungeon isn't a plot, and the rooms aren't scenes. A classic dungeon is closer to a gameboard, although it is not identical to one because - unlike, say, a chess or monopoly board - it also establishes content for a shared fiction, and hence fictional positioning. But the way in which a classic dungeon resembles a gameboard is that it establishes clear parameters for player moves - "We walk down the corridor until we come to a corner or doorway" - and also clear parameters for the GM's descriptions to the players - so that when the GM says "OK, you proceed for 60' and then come to a T-intersection", the GM isn't just making that up but is reading it from the pre-prepared dungeon map. And there are conventions at work here: the referee tells the players the real distances, even though we might wonder, in the fiction, how good the PCs' ability to estimate those woudl be; and the map is a physical artefact that the players use to help play the game, although it is also h...

Tuesday, 23rd January, 2018

  • 10:31 AM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    What purpose do you think the worldbuilding of The Village of Hommlet (1979) serves?As was discussed upthread (somewhere in the first page or two), I don't know. howandwhy99 suggested it is just another dungeon. I don't know if that's how Gygax used it or intended it. It doesn't seem very effective as a living, breathing world, though, because some of those NPCs would deal with the Moathouse pretty handily, wouldn't they? Are they meant to offer protection to any PC who kills Lareth the Beautiful? The set-up in B2 seems clearer to me - it creates both a rules framework for keeping the PCs in line when they go back to town (eg mid-level fighters who will beat up lawbreakers) and (with the priest in the tavern) establishes some additional social puzzles.

Thursday, 29th September, 2016

  • 01:11 PM - Wicht mentioned howandwhy99 in post IRON DM 2016! (Sign-up and Scheduling)
    A morning bump and some shout outs.... Last year's competitors that we haven't heard from: LucasC, Wik, MortalPlague, Nifft (who has been a judge) Some other former contestants we haven't heard from: Waylander the Slayer, Radiating Gnome (who has also been a judge), phoamslinger (who has also, also been a judge), UselessTriviaMan, EP, Mike Myler, Dragonwriter, Loonook, steeldragons, Lwaxy, Shoe, howandwhy99, ender_wiggin, FickleGM Again, with a plug, if you haven't done this before, we greatly encourage you to give it a go and throw your hat in the ring. You might be our 2016 Iron DM champion. But you won't know until you try.

Tuesday, 19th January, 2016

  • 12:50 AM - TwoSix mentioned howandwhy99 in post Failing Forward
    This can be appropriate for certain sorts of mystery/puzzle-solving games, where the emphasis is on the procedural challenges of learning the truth rather than on the dramatic/evaluative challenges of coming to grips with the truth. But I don't think it makes for very good character-driven drama. (This distinction, in turn, goes back to one that chaochou drew way upthread between play that focuses on competence and play that focuses on character. It makes me think of howandwhy99 's assertions of the hidden map of the dungeon that the DM kept behind the screen that the players were trying to puzzle out. It feels like as the game's scope expanded beyond a dungeon crawl, the "hidden map" simply became the DM's understanding of the moving parts of his campaign scenario, and the puzzle was for the players to figure out how the secret plot was unfolding.

Wednesday, 11th November, 2015

  • 12:14 AM - Balesir mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    ...the Galaxy" - and Traveller's procedural content generators seem ideally set up for exploration, much more than for the 'mercenary strike team mission' which I think is typical of Patron play. This makes me think that the "patron" style play was a sort of pandering to gamist sensibilities, and as such I would see it as a mistake, for Traveller as written. Add some sort of "experience" system, though, and you could have a gritty gamist vehicle. Some of the calls for "character advancement" systems, and some of the houserules I saw to provide such a thing, suggest that there may well have been folk enjoying just such a game. This would fit nicely into what Edwards calls "drift". The exploration of Setting (the "Odyssey to the Distant Worlds of the Galaxy") is clearly a leading possibility, but I mentioned a couple of Situation explorations above, rigorously applying the random determination for encounters and worlds leads to an exploration of System (which, frankly, sounds like what howandwhy99 is proposing, leavened with a dose of gamism in the individual encounters) and I think explorations of Character cover most immersionist play. I had originally discounted Colour, the last of Edwards' RPG elements, as a focus of exploration, but on reflection I'm not sure I was right to. I can see an exploration of the game world where adding description and details of the character experience - either given to the player(s) by the GM in immersive play or created collaboratively - could make for an enjoyable excercise, from a certain perspective. So, my suggestion would be modified to: focus on exploration of anything you like. Classifications under which to find inspiration about an exploratory focus might usefully be the elements of an RPG given by Edwards: Setting, Situation, Character, System and Colour. Any of the classifications could yield a suitable focus for exploration.

Saturday, 7th November, 2015

  • 06:26 PM - Parmandur mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    Yeah, this pretty much wholly debunks howandwhy99's ongoing theories. The only real defense against this would be to say, "The creator of Traveller was wrong, and didn't know what he was doing, and anyone who listens to him or gives any credence to what he says is just as wrong." I am not sure where howandwhy99 got his basic definition of words, since it contradicts both dictionaries and the definitions provides by all of the founders of the hobby? Unless he wants to argue that Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and Marc Miller were Marxist theorists working to undermine the norms of "gamer culture."
  • 04:55 AM - innerdude mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    ... snip a major chunk of interesting and relevant text ... The idea of a shared fiction is pretty clearly there in the 1982 text, and of RPG play having some fairly intimate connection to creating or participating in a story. Yeah, this pretty much wholly debunks howandwhy99's ongoing theories. The only real defense against this would be to say, "The creator of Traveller was wrong, and didn't know what he was doing, and anyone who listens to him or gives any credence to what he says is just as wrong."

Wednesday, 28th October, 2015

  • 11:13 PM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    ... the GURPS/simulationist style, and your expressed distaste for what Edwards calls the Sorcerer/narrativist style, shows that he is wrong to distinguish those two styles as reflecting significant differences of play approach within the RPGing community. To me it seems to reinforce the point that he has identified and relatively accurately described an important difference in play approaches. I also think you have misunderstood Edwards comment about bushido (or chivalry, or whatever) in Sorcerer et al. The point is not that any moral code must be shown to be false. The point of the sort of play approach he points to is that characters are subject to stress, and hence change. Your example of suffering for a code could easily be incorporated into that approach - the initial descriptor, which is expected to be placed under stress by play, might be something along the lines of keeping to my oaths is no problem for me. This also reinforces the point I made upthread, in response to howandwhy99, that Ron Edwards is not any sort of post-modernist. His conception of story, and of the role of character within a story, is thoroughly modernist: the character has some sort of dramatic need, circumstances conspire to thwart the straightforward satisfaction of that need, and in overcoming those circumstances the character comes to realise that his/her initial conception of what s/he needed, and what his/her situation was, was in some sense incomplete or deficient. So at the resolution of the story, when the character has reached some sort of resolution in relation to the initial need, that resolution may be something which - at the beginning - the character would not even have recognised as speaking to his/her situation and his/her need. (In the more tragic version, the character ends up in a situation which s/he might - at the start - have counted as resolution, but in light of the changes to the character is now deeply inadequate or unsatisfying in some fashion.)

Tuesday, 20th October, 2015

  • 07:29 PM - innerdude mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D on some previous theories and differentiate it from the other two GNS "pillars," but it mostly just comes across as half-baked. It has definite undertones of, "Well, I don't really know how this works, it's something I've not experienced myself, but I can imagine it working this way because these reasons." His idea behind "High Concept Sim" is about the only thing that feels even remotely useful, but even then I think it's much more related to "story" approaches to gaming than "simulation," but Edwards can't possibly allow any hint of this "simulation garbage" to seep into his precious "narrativism." It's my impression that much of the theory around "gamist" approaches are correct in principle, but basically miss the point entirely as applied to what makes a working, mainstream RPG, namely that Ron seems to think that "gamism" solely in and of itself is a totally valid approach to playing RPGs.....and I vehemently disagree with that assertion. Which is also why I disagree with howandwhy99's approach to RPGs as well; RPGs have a "game" component, but if they don't have something else they're not a true RPG. I think the general concept of "narrativist" theory/Story Now/player authorship is generally the strongest component---probably because it's the one they were trying to fix the hardest---but I have absolutely no desire to play any of the "narrativist" games the theorizing actually produced (Life With Master, Dogs in the Vineyard, etc.). I can see wanting to incorporate certain small "narrativist" components into mainstream RPGs.....but a wholesale "narrativist" game has almost zero resemblance to the kinds of traditional RPGs I enjoy. What does that mean exactly? I'm not sure. So, in summary*: as a whole, GNS's broad-based claims are simply untrue. But I occasionally see bits and pieces and individual concepts here and there that can be useful under very specific applications, or might form an interesting basis for specific, situational mechanics in a traditional R...

Sunday, 18th October, 2015

  • 02:04 AM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    ...reason they don't know - namely, the GM's decision about the personality of the Duke. But within the course of the resolution to which the Duke's personality matters they can learn the relevant information. For me, that is about as far as I want to go with "secret backstory". (2) is an example where the players can fail in their action declaration (of various attempts to break through the wall, etc) for a reason they don't know - namely, that a special code word is needed to open the magical portal. Even if, during the course of their attempt to have their PCs get through the door, the players learn that a codeword is needed they can't learn the codeword without heading off into some other set of episodes and encounters. That is the sort of "secret backstory" that I personally don't like in a game. I get the sense that in your GMing you have stuff that is more like (2) as well as stuff that is more like (1). Certainly, I think the typical sandbox probably has stuff like (2). And howandwhy99's whole theory of D&D seems to include that it must have stuff like (2) or it doesn't count as an RPG.

Saturday, 17th October, 2015

  • 05:29 AM - Campbell mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D, and is part of the reason I'm glad that my corner of the hobby moved on from The Forge. The point of that criticism should be to understand why certain games don't work for us and encourage new games that we can totally jam out on, and not to deny a part of the hobby the sort of play they like or attempt to excommunicate them because they like different things. Where the OSR has been effective it's because of celebration of this thing they really like and think other people would like too if they gave it a shot. We really need more of that in general. Here's why more people should play Apocalypse World - you can get together with friends and play a game where you are all dangerous, capable people trying to carve out your own piece of a world that's gone to :):):):). You get to be a vital part of a community that needs to reestablish itself after society just hit the reset button. Do you push it towards oblivion or build something new? Let's play to find out. As an aside for howandwhy99: Have you taken a look at Stars Without Number? It's a totally cool space exploration RPG that is designed for the sort of play experience it sounds like your after. In between sessions part of GM prep involves a phase where you use random charts to figure out what's going on in the galaxy. It's a cool little game.

Wednesday, 14th October, 2015

  • 10:13 PM - Balesir mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    ...y of economics concerned with analysing the way that people behave when trying to optimise outcomes for themselves. Specifically, it looks at situations where several people make decisions all at once and the outcome relies on the combination of decisions made by all "players". This analysis is obviously applicable to games that involve more than one player making simultaneous decisions that combine to determine an outcome, as well as applying to the behaviour of economic agents. A couple of interesting observations arise from this: 1) The main reason that Game Theory applies to several games is precisely that many games work on the conceit that they represent or simulate a "real life" situation. Since their earliest inception as training for adult life - a role they still fulfil among immature animals, including humans - games have commonly been based on the "fiction" that the actors in the games are pursuing "adult" activities. 2) Game theory is not really applicable to D&D as howandwhy99 would have it, since the players are playing cooperatively and the GM is not a player in the Game Theory sense that (s)he is not making decisions... Game Theory, just to be clear, has nothing whatsoever to do with stories or storytelling. Its relationship to games is also quite incidental.

Tuesday, 13th October, 2015

  • 02:10 PM - Neonchameleon mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    You know that sounds like conspiracy theory, right? With respect, in my experience those who want a "pure game" experience like you describe simply slip on over into things that aren't called role-playing games - board games, wargames, and some computer games typically give them what they are looking for. All the tactical decision making, none of the mucking about with story. The "Role playing" portion of things really does imply some level of story to most folks, and that's something you'll probably just have to learn to live with. Absolutely seconded. In fact I'm going to go one step further. There is nothing wrong with the principles howandwhy99 is claiming for some games. But D&D was founded on the absolute rejection of those principles. It was founded on Arneson playing Braunstein rejecting his role as students' revolutionary leader and instead playing "con artist pretending to be from the CIA". In other words fundamentally rejecting his soical role and pushing at the boundaries to see what could be done. And Braunstein itself was a freeform LARP. A game with adjudication and without rules. And D&D came out of the GM losing control of his game. It was further cemented through the Castles and Crusades society and Arneson's group rejecting their massed battles and instead going for stealing magic swords off each other and counting coup in a way not covered by the rules to the point Gygax visited to ask them wtf they were doing. Because they were fundamentally rejecting the social roles built into the game in favour of what they found more interesting. Board games and computer games are frequently as Howandwhy99 describes (i...
  • 01:16 PM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D change rules and rolls that he didn't like or didn't make things more exciting for the players.Although Gygax didn't use contemporary terminology, I think it's tolerably clear that when he talks about suspending the rules he is talking about content introduction rather than action resolution. For instance, in the passage about wandering monsters that Celebrim quoted, he says it would be contrary to the precepts of the game to have the monster turn up but then fudge the combat. In a later passage on managing play, he does canvass alternatives to PC death on zero hp, but stresses that they must still give effect to the monster's victory in combat. So the options would be unconsciousness or maiming in lieu of death. This is an early version of the 4e/5e rule that zero hp can be unconsciousness rather than death. (And the benefit is meant to be confined to players who played well but got unlucky - so there's a GM gatekeeper role that's absent in 4e/5e, and which also sits oddly with howandwhy99's conception of the GM's function.) Somewhat similarly, when Gygax emphasises the priority of the GM's judgment in the game, I think he is mostly emphasising the role of the GM in adjudicating fictional positioning. I don't think he is saying that the GM is entitled to engage in some sort of dice-roll-ignoring free-for-all. People cannot play D&D without a design to be deciphered in place prior to play. <snip> Maybe you never really thought about why there are so many random tables in D&D or never really knew.With respect, this is a non-sequitur. No one is disputing that D&D depends upon the GM to manage backstory - drawing maps, generating content etc. But in Gygaxian "skilled play" the goal of play isn't to work out what method the GM used to create all this stuff. The goal, rather, is to work out the details of this stuff. From the players' point of view it is irrelevant whether the GM chose to put a troll in room 3 of level 4, or whether that was the result of a ran...

Saturday, 10th October, 2015

  • 07:12 PM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    I view Vampire - The Masquerade* at best as a dysfunctional game. <snip> This thing I like to do is so fundamentally different from that thing people who play Vampire as directed do I have trouble seeing how anyone can associate the two. I have visceral and violent reaction every time I see anything like The Golden Rule, calls for keeping players in the dark so you can pull off a big reveal, fudging, etc. It's far too pervasive in our hobby for my tastes. I guess this is me taking far too many words to say I like games, and am not really that interested in story or narrative.My experience with V:tM is less than my experience with AD&D 2nd ed, but my response to the latter (and to the little V:tM that I have played) is the same as yours. For reasons that I don't understand, given that it's been pointed out more than once in previous threads, howandwhy99 seems not to realise that the Forge (and the games that it gave rise to) is founded in profound hostility to V:tM, AD&D 2nd ed and that predominant late-80s-through-90s style of play. (This hostility saw its climax in the notorious "brain damage" episode.) As to interest in story or narrative, for my own part I am interested in them this way: I want my FRPGing to feel like there are dramatic stakes, and character arcs, that at least tolerably resemble B movies in the genre, or Claremont-style superhero comics. If a FRPG can't fairly reliably produce that sort of experience, I don't really want to GM or play it. I have had the sort of experience I want playing two sorts of games. One is playing RQ, Stormbringer or similar BRP engines in tightly-designed tournament scenarios, in which rich pre-written PC backstories make contact with the pre-written scenario, driven by very skilled GM descriptions and characterisations of NPCs. I'm not a good enough GM in those respects to run suc...
  • 06:37 PM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    howandwhy99, you do realise that Ron Edwards is not remotely a postmodernist, and that his approach to story and (what he calls) premise is thoroughly modernist. If one wanted to apply a postmodernist critique to Edwards, one would begin by pointing out that he classified The Dying Earth RPG as a system that facilitates narrativism, although it does not involve addressing a premise in his sense of that notion. Because I'm not a postmodernist, I'll leave that deconstructive task to someone else. I prefer to slightly reconstruct the notion of narrativism so that it fits the examples that Edwards puts forward (including The Dying Earth). In my experience it's often the case in social theorising that formal definitions are put forward that don't actually capture the interesting phenomena the theorist is pointing to. (Eg Durkheim falls foul of this in his definition of "social rules" in The Rules of Sociological Method. If it can happen to a genius like Durkheim, I can easily forgive it in Edward...
  • 04:53 PM - pemerton mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    ...hink of it is this: in a RPG, unlike in a boardgame, fictional positioning matters. And sometimes - in fact, often - adjudicating the fictional positioning requires non-algorithmic judgments on the part of the GM. I think an interesting and hugely important feature of the Vincent Baker-influenced games that Campbell has mentioned (I don't play much "powered by the Apocalypse", but am currently running a Burning Wheel campaign) is that they have found a way to try and regiment the adjudication of fictional positioning: namely, it is factored into the framing of action resolution, as an input into a relatively structured and abstract system of action resolution (eg in BW, it forms part of the negotiation around obstacles and advantage dice as well as intent-and-task), and then the actual outcome is determined purely by rolling the dice to chooses between the player's preferred outcome and the GM's alternative narration of failure. In my view (and somewhat ironically, given that howandwhy99 derides them as non-game storytelling), this is a huge part of how these games are able to have the sort of focus-on-the-fictional-stakes aspect that Campbell describes, without degenerating into either playing the GM or adversarial GMing. They are much less hostage to that sort of degeneracy than were earlier systems that hadn't benefitted from this design insight. Classic D&D certainly didn't have this sort of apparatus for regimenting the adjudication of fictional positioning, and (but for a brief attempt with 4e's skill challenges) it still doesn't. So GM adjudication of fictional positioning not just in framing but in actually determining outcomes remains pretty crucial. From the GM side, this is why advice repeatedly stresses the need for the GM to be neutral - the GM should be trying to reason within the fiction without fear or favour towards the players. From the player side, this isn't code-breaking in any special sense. It's just reasoning about the fiction as if it were r...
  • 01:06 PM - Balesir mentioned howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    ...hallenges or increasing difficulty for things you don't like. As soon as the players realise that either of these is going on, it may change their behaviour from engaging with the game-world to engaging with the GM in a toadying and sycophantic manner (in ther sense that they start trying to please the GM by whatever route works, not that they begin making comic-book addresses of adulation). I think this is the essence of what Musson was getting at with the "never let the players find out" comment. What is important is that the players continue to engage with the game world, not with the GM. Whatever techniques are used must not compromise that position. Third, even when playing gamist, dungeon crawling D&D, quite often the players have to engage in reasoning which is not "code-breaking" reasoning, but reasoning about the internal logic of the shared fiction - for example, thinking through motivations, relationships etc of the NPCs and monsters. I am rather more sympathetic to howandwhy99's general point on this one. Code-breaking, at least in the pre-computer age, was about divining what the user of the code was trying to communicate in some language. Informed reasoning about their intent and situation was thus part of the "code-breaking". The entire enterprise of science is, in a similar sense, "code-breaking"; it is an attempt to work out what is going on "behind the screen". If certain assumptions about (NPC) motivations and intentions cause other observations in the game to "make sense", then it is not unlike looking at a coded message and finding that assuming a certian sequence of letters to represent a particular port makes other things in the code fall into place. "Decoding" people's motivations is indeed, I would say, a form of "code-breaking". The problem may arise, as I mentioned above, when it ceases to be the NPC's motivations that are being decoded and becomes the GM's motivations that are the topic of investigation. Even if a module has no NPCs of no...

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Saturday, 28th July, 2018

  • 01:56 AM - pemerton quoted howandwhy99 in post The Sandbox and the Railroad
    I don't think there is spectrum between a "sandbox" and a "railroad". One is a game and the other is a story.I think this is a slighlty tendentious way of putting it!, but I tend to agree with the underlying claim I call this the players railroading themselves - the GM, knowing the characters and what motivates them, can put down fifty adventure hooks and know exactly which one will be chosen.Why use the phrase railroading themselves? Isn't it just clearer to say choosing? specifying where the authorship comes from is superfluousMaybe I missed the broader context in which this comment was embedded - but given that the principal activity of a RPG is narrating events that involve fictional elements, I don't see how it can be superfluous to talk about how authors those elements and those events! If the GM authors everything that matters, what is the funtion of the players? Pure audience? One thing I've noticed too is that the player's perspective on the level of freedom available to t...

Saturday, 27th January, 2018

  • 11:57 AM - pemerton quoted howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    So you're saying I am not to trust the above assessment by Ovinomancer of you in this thread? That you actually are an advocate for the RPG hobby as truly the hobby of hidden design games? And that this is a good and preferable practice more people should identify as the real hobby of RPGs?As the OP says, there are different approaches to RPGing. Gygaxian D&D is what you call "hidden design" - I personally find the idea of mazes and puzzles more a better way to try to explain the play of it, but that's probably a tangential matter. I also think that that style of play has been a minority approach in the hobby at least since 1985 or thereabouts, and maybe even before then. There are other ways of RPGing - they were clearly emerging in the late 70s, because Lewis Pulsipher wrote essays explaining why he preferred what you call the "hidden design" approach and what he called the "wargame" approach. Classic Traveller was published in 1977, Runequest in 1978. I think it's possible to play Gloran...
  • 01:41 AM - pemerton quoted howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    What appalls me is your attempt to vilify the seminal moment of RPGs as "badwrongfun", when Arneson and Gygax took the massive and nuanced game designs from wargame tables and hid them behind screens. I have no idea where you suppose I did this. On the first page of the thread, you said I know I've been saying things like the OP does about old school D&D for years. But it's nice to read others saying it too. You do realise that I wrote the post that you were praising, don't you?

Friday, 26th January, 2018

  • 10:11 PM - Arilyn quoted howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Obvious to any game designer who has read the Big Model, it is an intentional falsehood meant to subvert all gaming by treating gaming as the act of improvisational expression, which it is not. Read any actual game design theory for hundreds of years. Gaming is the act of goal seeking in a structural design, whether made by a person or not. Narrative concepts and terminology are part of a fundamentally different culture which does not coincide with game culture. Yet you continue to perpetrate the lies of The Big Model when you continue to call elements of gaming "fictions" (a narrative term). There is no such thing as an actual fiction, I assume you know this. The theory of narratives is meant to be used pragmatically just as any other. Game elements are structures, mechanical designs which operate together in a single apparatus for the players to game (seek pre-existing goals within). Yes, this means the cobwebs have to "be there", at least in the hidden game design the DM has behind the scree...
  • 09:11 PM - Mercurius quoted howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    The Forge & the current vein of narrative theory they use (not just a theory at all to them, I propose) is nothing less than Anti-Game Theory. And and it is Anti-D&D. Regardless of whatever the latest brand name owners purvey. You seem to be implying that there's a clear right way to play D&D (as a game, with clear objectives of mastery, winning, etc), and a wrong way (as a shared fiction, creative expression, etc). Isn't the Right Way to Play D&D a unique mixture of 40+ years of game design, play, ideas, and personal experiences that each group makes their own? Even if the variance between most groups is only slight, isn't the whole spirit--even letter--of the game to make it your own experience? Furthermore, regardless of how D&D was played in 1974, isn't it valid to play it in different ways? And can we not look at D&D as a living tradition that has no absolute cap on branchings and variations?
  • 02:41 PM - pemerton quoted howandwhy99 in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    So I dug up pemerton's penchant for The Big Lie perpetrated by the Forge and his desire for continuing their historical revisionism of RPGs into a "storytelling" hobby.Putting to one side the melodramatics - I'm not censoring anyone with a "big lie" - neither I nor The Forge has ever asserted that RPGs are a "storytelling" hobby. I do assert that RPGing always involves a shared fiction. "I walk down the corridor and brush away the cobwebs" isn't just a move on a gameboard, because the cobwebs aren't on the gameboard. The "exist" only in the imaginations of the participants. The fact that RPGs involve shared fictions of this sort is what explains (i) why there is no limit on the possible range of player moves, and (ii) why they're different from boardgames. I know from past discussions that you seem not to grasp the difference between a fiction - an imagined thing - and a story. But that's on you. The difference isn't very complicated.

Friday, 12th January, 2018

Monday, 11th September, 2017

  • 08:28 PM - Coroc quoted howandwhy99 in post Should Published Settings Limit Classes and Races Allowed?
    With the new effort to republish popular game settings there is a desire to update them to 5th ed. What also tends to happen is the redesigning of settings to fit the new edition's rules. This is nothing new. In fact, many settings were designed backwards to fit the rules. 2nd ed Darksun is the perfect archetype for this thinking. Its creative designers stretched the game to the very limits of what was possible with a D&D game setting. Why the limts? Because sometime along the way D&D came to mean not only the core rules, but every class, every race, every monster, every magic item, ad nauseam. Of course to some degree every version of D&D is its own setting, but the trap is making every setting into edition specific kitchen sinks. We can all customize our home games, but are buyers open to purchasing published settings where not only new options are given, but some published options are specifically not given? No elves? No paladins? No fire magic? YES BY ALL MEANS YES! A lim...
  • 01:04 PM - Li Shenron quoted howandwhy99 in post Should Published Settings Limit Classes and Races Allowed?
    Of course to some degree every version of D&D is its own setting, but the trap is making every setting into edition specific kitchen sinks. That's exactly the problem. IMHO too many publishers are worried to lose potential customers if they don't put let's say Paladins or Half-Orcs in their settings. I guess their logic is "a Paladin or Half-Orc fan would not buy my setting". I don't think gamer are that stupid to always wanting to play the same character and refuse to play anything that doesn't include the option. On the contrary, both as a DM and player, why should I buy another setting that is no different from vanilla D&D? Additions, modifications and subtractions all help towards making a setting more unique. As for the specific topic of republishing old settings, I have a strong opinion that all a setting needs is rules updates, and no narrative change. Unfortunately classes and races comes with rules, so it's almost impossible not to touch the story while updating the ruleset. ...
  • 01:59 AM - Lehrbuch quoted howandwhy99 in post Should Published Settings Limit Classes and Races Allowed?
    Should Published Settings Limit Classes and Races Allowed? Yes, published settings should be clear about what is endemic to the setting (or at least to the parts / continents detailed in the canon setting). But, there should be nothing limiting anachronistic PCs. For example, being the only Dragonborn in a world where such creatures are extinct / never existed is a great premise for a character. Of course, whether it is a good idea for a specific player to have a specific anachronistic PC in a specific campaign is a matter for the players / DM to sort out. The answer depends on the context, just like any other decision regarding party composition.

Sunday, 10th September, 2017

  • 07:20 PM - Satyrn quoted howandwhy99 in post Should Published Settings Limit Classes and Races Allowed?
    We can all customize our home games, but are buyers open to purchasing published settings where not only new options are given, but some published options are specifically not given? No elves? No paladins? No fire magic? I have a semantic quibble that's making it hard for me to answer. I can't tell if you're talking about a setting that limits the races by not mentioning them, or if it limits the races by explicitly saying "these are the only allowed races" or "no gnomes." I'm totally fine with settings that "limit" races by never mentioning them. I don't want them to tell me "No gnomes allowed."
  • 06:27 PM - Morrus quoted howandwhy99 in post Should Published Settings Limit Classes and Races Allowed?
    We can all customize our home games, but are buyers open to purchasing published settings where not only new options are given, but some published options are specifically not given? No elves? No paladins? No fire magic? To answer that question, I think all we need to do is find out how well Adventures in Middle Earth is doing.

Friday, 29th January, 2016

  • 10:32 PM - Sword of Spirit quoted howandwhy99 in post Why OD&D Is Still Relevant
    OD&D is king. It's still more relevant to the design of almost every computer game today, and in the last 30 years, than to any present day tabletop RPG. New RPGs aren't about beating a game system anymore. OD&D and most every 80s and 90s tabletop RPG were about mastering the system - like any chess player, sports athlete, or all around gamer. That's what's forgotten. OD&D was the first game players had to beat. The killer core design found in millions of variations from Super Mario Bros. to Zelda to most everything after. It's solve the game. Solve the game. Solve the game. Those ideas used to exist in the old wargaming days. Mountains of lost cultural material shoveled over and given rewritten histories. It's inconceivable how many self-avowed "gamers" think that games should exclusively be conceived of as so-called "group story making" and shame other ideas out of conversations. How much self-righteous absolutism does it take to claim "in the many centuries of humanity no culture of ideas ...

Sunday, 8th November, 2015

  • 02:18 AM - Neonchameleon quoted howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    FYI, D&D is designed based upon wargaming theory from the 60s and early 70s. All of which has clearly been expunged from the hobby and none of which you could ever find in the Big Model. That model isn't even about games, but collaborative storytelling. FYI D&D is based on a subversion of wargaming from the 60s and early 70s - one in which Arneson in particular rejected the official victory conditions, routes to victory, and roles imposed by the game. If your definitions have anything at all to do with wargaming theory from back then, D&D stands as a stark rejection of them. And the Big Model is a theory of RPGs not wargames anyway. And is so broad a theory that it can cover anything from wargames to cooking brunch - which is why it is useless as a practical theory.

Sunday, 18th October, 2015

  • 04:39 PM - Maxperson quoted howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    The game uses labels referring to an actual design. There are actual pieces and a grid in the pattern which is the chessboard and pieces. Maybe a chess king may resemble a person who's king , but it's not what is being referred to. It's to the piece in a game. Same as a troll in D&D. Treating a shoe as a flower pot or a door stop gets us treating the shoe as something else. Games are a recognizable culture of ideas. Treating a design in the world as a game, namely a pattern we attempt to manipulate to achieve objectives -inherently already existing in that pattern - is playing that real world element as a game. A design of a game is like a mathematical model. That it is playable as a game means it has a pattern underlying its design. At this point we understand what your personal definition of game is. However, you have yet to show evidence that your definition is the only or true definition of game and not just your personal belief. We on the other hand have shown much evidence that th...
  • 12:25 AM - Balesir quoted howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    You can take a person who (unless they are lying about their own taste for some inscrutable reason) says they want thing x. Take one who wants thing y. Film them both being satisfied at the same moment in a game in their separate things. Ask them if that's what happened. You seem to be greatly invested in the "absolute proof" of wrongness in GNS; I hope you gain some joy from that. It probably makes what I'm going to say pointless from your perspective, but I will do so anyway for the benefit of others who may read this. GNS, as I understood it, said that an individual approaches an instance of play with an agenda. They rarely, if ever, approach such an instant with more than one agenda, and the resolution of that instance will either fulfil their agenda satisfactorily from their point of view or it won't. I find that this is true of me, but I don't rule out that others may carry simultaneous agendas into an instance of play; maybe you do, yourself. Showing that different individuals can ap...

Saturday, 17th October, 2015

  • 11:04 PM - Celebrim quoted howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    I've already responded to you at length, but a few things in your other post just leapt out as obvious nonsense. I've looked at it before. It's a "skill check game", i.e. a "Check game". In other words, a game based on a mechanic that is in no way a game mechanic. There are no such things as "checks" in games. Don't the third and fourth sentences of that paragraph contradict the second? Either it is the case that it is a "skill check game" or else it is the case that there are no checks in games, but both can't be true. And you've no way shown that a skill check can't be a game mechanic. For that matter, since you earlier asserted that games were things we treated as games, so can't it be true that if we treat something with skill checks as a game, it's a game. If it isn't a game, what is it? You're so completely wrong, you have idea what playing a game is. You're still stuck in "games are fiction, and narratives, and we create them, and..." That's all dogma and not the first throug...
  • 09:29 PM - Celebrim quoted howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    That's great news. That's not what I was told repeatedly from people on that site 10 years ago. First, if you were told that, then they were wrong. The Big Models official documentation, the Wikipedia entry, and the web domain dedicated to the The Big Model all indicate that it is a theory of RPGs and not a theory of games generally. I suppose some people might have tried to experimentally extend the concepts in the model to non-RPGs, but at this point I don't trust you to accurately report a conversation, so I have no idea what you may have been told. You know, that's really funny. The reason I first heard about the Forge was as part of a story about some crazy guy online who was claiming all games were actually just "scenery shifting" (and wasn't being ironic). You've never heard that about them before? I know what "scenery shifting" means. And I know that it is a term appropriated from stage craft. But again, at this point I have no reason to trust you to relate any anecdote accur...

Friday, 16th October, 2015

  • 03:24 PM - Celebrim quoted howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    That's exactly what the borders are for the Big Model. In it, Tetris is scene shifting to create a narrative, or some such BS. First of all, again, the Big Model doesn't apply to Tetris. I went back and looked, and three different sources all agree that The Big Model is a theory of RPGs, and not games generally. Besides which, you aren't even correctly describing The Big Model. Besides which, you are the one that keeps dragging The Big Model into this discussion. As far as I'm concerned it is a complete red herring. You keep refusing to discuss RPG's as they actually exist pre 1985 without reference to The Big Model based solely on the cultural artifacts that existed at that time without referencing The Big Model or any other irrelevant anachronistic theory. The biggest irony in this whole thread is you are The Big Model's biggest proponent. Games are simply patterns existent in the world which we treat accordingly within the culture of games. Stitch heap tense snobbish mint o...
  • 09:55 AM - pemerton quoted howandwhy99 in post Improvisation vs "code-breaking" in D&D
    What you are quoting is strategic advice for the players. Yes. I know that. Players set their objectives in D&D, not the DM. The DM must not change anything regardless of these decisions.Yes, I know he is saying that. If it's true that you started playing D&D in 1985, then I was familiar with this particular approach to play (especially from the writings of Lewis Pulsipher) before you started playing the game. Everything the DM is allowed to tell the players is from that map.The thing is, this is not literally true. Most GMs label the rooms on the map, and then have a separate bit of paper on which they right down the details, under the relevant labels. And different GMs write down differing degrees of detail. Suppose, for instance, that the GM doesn't write down the colour of the roof. What happens if the players ask "What colour is the roof?"? The GM can't answer that it is colourless. S/he has to make something up. And making up that stuff can have downstream consequences. For instan...

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