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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Today, 05:23 AM
    I agree. The GM's primary role in TTRPGing (outside of a few instances) is (a) to know what adversity is relevant to this particular play and (b) bring that adversity to bear against the PCs in the imagined space in the most interesting/compelling/challenging/provocative (and these will be contingent upon the game) way possible. Above I mentioned a Dogs play excerpt. The adversity I...
    673 replies | 17688 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Yesterday, 11:59 PM
    Jim McGarva has a perfect catch-phrase for this sprinkled throughout the Strike (!) rulebook, which is basically a riposte to all of the stuff we heard about with genre-incoherent drift in 4e: "DON'T DEMAND NONSENSE!" One such quip is on fictional positioning and permissible action declarations: If I'm running Dogs and the player thinks someone is under the thrall of demonic...
    673 replies | 17688 view(s)
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  • innerdude's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:34 PM
    So, my game group is now two sessions into our GURPS supers game (basic setting is Brandon Sanderson's "Reckoners" universe). And here's the thing that keeps coming to me time and time again --- the system just keeps getting in the way more than it facilitates the effectiveness of the narrative. Way too much time is getting spent referring to the rules, checking equipment stats (oh my...
    71 replies | 3425 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:27 AM
    Can you explain more what you mean about not being sure about incentives? Not sure about incentives interfacing with the decision-tree in a moment of thematic choice? Incentives that push back against the impetus to establish a win condition for a scene/arc or create extra obstacles to that win condition in exchange for advancement? Something else? Paragraph 1 Response: That makes...
    673 replies | 17688 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 15th July, 2019, 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 (!)...
    673 replies | 17688 view(s)
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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.
    88 replies | 2984 view(s)
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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...
    155 replies | 10763 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 4th July, 2019, 01:40 AM
    Only very, very tacitly following this thread, but this caught my eye in a "what in the world...?" sort of way. I think this may in fact be a source of dissonance that you and I have in some of these conversations, particularly where it pertains to The Forge and, more specifically, "system matters." The most fundamental core mechanic of VtM and White Wolf games is "The Golden Rule" or...
    155 replies | 10763 view(s)
    4 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 3rd July, 2019, 03:55 AM
    Good post. I think one of the big problems we have in this sort of discussion relates to your first paragraph. There is a common refrain shared by a lot of TTRPG players that people (in this case their PCs) possess a level of cognitive continuity and coherency, or a lack of disunity among the various mental states and hardware that we all inhabit/deploy simultaneously, the sum of which...
    673 replies | 17688 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019, 11:59 AM
    Any game that encourages the GM (myself) to covertly or overtly subordinate player decision-points or action resolution mechanics (and through it the integrity of player decision points) to their personal conception of what play trajectory should look like. So much of late 80s through mid 90s TTRPG design. I’ve run many of these games or sat in on them, so it’s probably too late for that.
    111 replies | 8268 view(s)
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  • Mark CMG's Avatar
    Saturday, 29th June, 2019, 05:04 PM
    Gamer and designer Lee Garvin passed away. https://www.facebook.com/lee.garvin.3 https://www.patreon.com/LeeGarvin https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/334884471/killing-lee-garvin
    203 replies | 16091 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Saturday, 29th June, 2019, 04:25 AM
    What do we call it when the GM subordinates the players' decision-points and/or the resolution mechanics' attendant outcomes to said GM's preconceived metaplot? And that's fine. But call it what it is. In fact, if you and your players are looking for that play experience, then being honest about what it is, openly analyzing the machinery of it, and getting better at deploying it should be a...
    59 replies | 2550 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th June, 2019, 03:35 AM
    Let me start with: "I don't have much interest, if any at all, in this conversation...so I'm not particularly interested in getting drawn back in." However, I think I have some virtual ink to spill on the internet on this one. For my money, the two have significant differences in TTRPGs. In TTRPGs, I associate "scene" with "a discrete unit of play, whereby situational framing >...
    181 replies | 5696 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 24th June, 2019, 09:10 PM
    I'm with Aldarc here. I don't think the answer is a single general use Urban Fantasy TTRPGing system with theme/premise-neutral mechanics to rule them all (this almost always leads to an overwhelming GM presence in play trajectory to manufacture an experience...typically putting players in a significantly more passive position than in a game like Blades in the Dark). This is precisely why I...
    101 replies | 5057 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 24th June, 2019, 03:16 PM
    Ah ok. (I’m asking this out of a position of ignorance) So when someone refers to “Urban Fantasy” in TTRPGing, are they referring to “a malleable game/system without a tight play premise baked in so it can be drifted to (say) the modern focus of ‘paranormal romance’ or something similar?”
    101 replies | 5057 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 24th June, 2019, 02:48 AM
    Something similar to that play anecdote that you're mentioning above happened in my 2nd 4e game that went 1-30. While that was a Bladesinger rather than a Fighter, it was all martial, so its applicable. It was mid-Paragon Tier. While the Druid and Rogue dealt with an endless tide of mooks, the Bladesinger was locked in a duel with the Captain of the Guard (CotG). The player wanted it to...
    11 replies | 697 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 23rd June, 2019, 09:34 PM
    Does Blades in the Dark not qualify as Urban Fantasy? Grimdark, cutthroat urban setting (Duskvol) - check Paranormal (overruneth and all kinds) - check Magic - check Factions/tribes embroiled in endless war to ascend hierarchy - check
    101 replies | 5057 view(s)
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  • innerdude's Avatar
    Sunday, 23rd June, 2019, 06:27 AM
    The biggest problem with the popularity of urban fantasy is that vampires aren't cool anymore. There's a dearth of original media material. Twilight, the execrable films moreso than the books, destroyed "urban fantasy." In terms of books, there's very little original material being produced, because it's passe. Stuff written by once-popular urban fantasy writers like Charlaine Harris,...
    101 replies | 5057 view(s)
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  • innerdude's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 06:09 PM
    For 3 or 4 months now, one of my game group buddies has been asking to run a campaign after our last Savage Worlds campaign finished up. Well two weeks ago, the SW campaign ended on a high note. 2 days later, my buddy drops an email --- "Hey guys, I'm prepping for our new campaign! It's going to be a super heroes game loosely based in Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners universe, and I'm dropping...
    14 replies | 634 view(s)
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  • innerdude's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 05:43 PM
    Just thought of one more --- Warhammer 40k, whatever version (Dark Heresy, Trader, etc.) This is one where I'm not even sure I've picked the book off the shelf to read it. The cover art alone is enough for me to give it a big, fat "nope." :p I have to admit, I'm also very surprised at how often Savage Worlds is being mentioned in this thread. Maybe it's just where I was at the time when...
    111 replies | 8268 view(s)
    1 XP
  • innerdude's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 06:16 PM
    Wow, 19 pages in . . . . So um, maybe I'll just answer the OP's question and slink away . . . . :cool: Age of Sail. Hands down, no questions asked, if D&D wasn't "medieval fantasy" by default, I'd want it to be Age of Sail.
    448 replies | 15335 view(s)
    5 XP
  • innerdude's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 01:16 AM
    To say nothing of the fact that class/level based systems require vastly MORE up front work for long-term play, because you have to constantly be looking ahead 2-5 levels to make sure you're hitting the required minimums for that one "really cool feat thingy I want at level 7, and level 10, and level 12". Point buy systems allow you to naturally and organically branch out your character into...
    109 replies | 6215 view(s)
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  • innerdude's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 01:07 AM
    Oh man, the d20 Wheel of Time system was a hot, flaming mess on a poopstick. We actually tried playing one session of it, and even the player who was a die-hard Wheel of Time fan basically agreed it was garbage.
    111 replies | 8268 view(s)
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  • innerdude's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 10:56 PM
    May I highly, highly recommend the Interface Zero campaign setting for Savage Worlds? The Interface Zero 2.0 campaign book is one of my favorite RPG sourcebooks of all time. It's seriously brilliant in every way. The other thing you might want to look at is Genesys + the Android Netrunner sourcebook, Shadow of the Beanstalk​.
    21 replies | 1112 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 04:49 AM
    B/X - The tight, holistic focus of design around its play paradigm. - The Exploration Turn/Rest > Wandering Monster Clock > Resource Attrition/Risk Reward Cycle Loop. - Monster Reactions/Morale. - Gold for xp. 4e - (Again) The tight, holistic focus of design around its play paradigm.
    52 replies | 2743 view(s)
    5 XP
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Saturday, 2nd March, 2019


Friday, 1st March, 2019

  • 06:40 PM - hawkeyefan mentioned innerdude in post A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
    Here's my response to this: innerdude started a thread about how to handle certain aspects of scene framing and adjudication/resolution "without making players play the 'Mother may I' game". From reading the OP of that thread, it's clear that innerdude was not looking for advice on how, as a GM, to avoid "being a douche" or being a "very rare bad DM". It's quite clear that you wouldn't have framed innerdude's question the same way that he did. But given that he framed it using the terminology that he did, and that the subsequent discussions have taken up that terminology, it adds nothing to them to repeatedly insist that a different word should have been used. You may have noted that in my posts, when I'm not responding to another poster who has used the phrase "Mother may I", I have generally referred to GM decides as a method of adjudication and resolution. That's because the topic of this thread is not what word/phrase would it have been best for innerdude to use. The topic is - given that we all know what innerd...
  • 10:04 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
    as I already posted upthread there are some contexts in which even the Death Knight's immunity to fear may be an example of "Mother may I" (eg as an important aspect of play, a PC has sworn to drive away the next foe s/he encounters by sheer terror alone, and then the GM presents a Death Knight as the next foe and thus dictates the failure of the PC's oath).There no Mother May I there, either. The player is not asking if his PC can do something. He is doing it. It's also okay to fail at something. Even something the PC swears to do.This goes right back to the issue innerdude was concerned with in the OP on the other thread, namely how do framing, player-chosen stakes, and adjudication/resolution interact? And as chaochou noted, we can't talk about these things meaningfully without attending to differences between systems. Upthread, Manbearcat and Ovinomancer, in reply to Numidius, explored this in the context of Dungeon World. Their point was that, although in DW all backstory authority rests with the GM, the principles of the game oblige the GM (i) to have regard to player-chosen stakes in (ii) adjudication - eg establishing the outcomes of an attempt to Spout Lore or Discern Realities - and (iii) framing. In respect of the lattermost, the GM is obliged to build on the fiction that was established via adjudication. Thus (i) feeds into (ii) feeds into (iii), and so even though players don't have backstory authority, their choices as to what matters - looking for secret doors, swearing oaths to drive foes away in terror, whatever it might be ...
  • 05:18 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
    Even in its heyday during 1e, and the DM had authority to do whatever he wanted, it still wasn't Mother May I. Why? Because in addition to the rules, it's also a social game where the DM is obligated not to be a douche. So when the player said that his character was going around the sequoia tree to see what was on the other side, he wasn't asking permission, despite the fact that the DM could have been a douche and said no. Not one edition of D&D has risen to the level of Mother May I on its own. Some very rare bad DMs can bring it there, but that's an issue with that particular jerk, not the system.Here's my response to this: innerdude started a thread about how to handle certain aspects of scene framing and adjudication/resolution "without making players play the 'Mother may I' game". From reading the OP of that thread, it's clear that innerdude was not looking for advice on how, as a GM, to avoid "being a douche" or being a "very rare bad DM". It's quite clear that you wouldn't have framed innerdude's question the same way that he did. But given that he framed it using the terminology that he did, and that the subsequent discussions have taken up that terminology, it adds nothing to them to repeatedly insist that a different word should have been used. You may have noted that in my posts, when I'm not responding to another poster who has used the phrase "Mother may I", I have generally referred to GM decides as a method of adjudication and resolution. That's because the topic of this thread is not what word/phrase would it have been best for innerdude to use. The topic is - given that we all know what innerdu...

Sunday, 24th February, 2019

  • 04:12 PM - darkbard mentioned innerdude in post A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
    ...lieves 'like' means 'follows the same exact underlying process'. This hasn't been a debate where people are on the attack against your playstyle. I think the reverse is true. Countless times, posters have said, if you like X game, or want story, that is fine. They are just saying here is what I like to do, and then that approach gets put on trial in the thread. I told Pemerton many times, it sounds like his approach is working for him, and that is great. He should write about it. What ticks me off a bit, is he can't seem to do that without belittling or refusing to see how other people approach the game. And that mentality is prevalent in so many of these threads on this kind of topic. Obviously though, if players are there for the puzzles, they probably won't like a game that doesn't engage puzzle solving skill, but rather focuses on drama. The reverse is true as well. Your perception of how this conversation has developed is so very different from mine. If I recall correctly, innerdude started the OP with his belief that X implementation could be mother-may-I, which he dislikes and was hoping to avoid, and so he was seeking out ways to make this so. Others (like pemerton) made suggestions to this end, which innerdude liked, but some (like you, Bedrockgames) came in to defend the style of GM-fiat that innerdude already said he didn't want to rely upon! If the OP clearly has a desire for gameplay and preference for certain principles or techniques, pop in to propose an alternative, by all means, but what seems to have happened here (predictably) is that those who disagree with the OP's persepective are trying to argue the OP into a perspective he doesn't agree with and works against the very gameplay and preferences his OP presents. This is like having started a post saying "I'm looking for a good prewritten adventure that features gnolls as enemies" and having opposing ideologues jump in again and again to tell you to write your own adventures rather than rely upon...

Saturday, 9th February, 2019

  • 08:08 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
    So his armour is as good as a dragon....as long as he is also 30th level. In ADnD you can get armour that is a little bit less then a Platinum Dragon for any level character. In 3e you can get armour as good as a Dragon for any level character.If the dragon is 1st level, its AC is 23. What's your point? Mine is clear, and was a reply to a post from (I think) innerdude: that 3E is what I regard as an unhappy mix of gritty and gonzo, and deploys what I find an irritating degree of simulation by applying what appear to be ingame explanatory labels like "natural armour" to phenomena which clearly have a purely mecanical function and rationale. The fact that 4e uses level-based adjustments to its stats is a well-known feature of that system. It doesn't bear in any way on my point. That wasn't the criteria you set, though. You said armor equal to the dragon's armor. If you add in spells and other things, then you are no longer talking about armor.What spells? Strange. I could have sworn you mentioned a level bonus, which is a source of AC other than armor and shield.Does the level bonus and the base 10 need calling out? The dragon's AC has those in there as well. My point is that in 4e the high level paladin, whose only non-system-mandated AC components are plate armour and a shield, has an AC on a par with the dragon's. There is no "natural...

Thursday, 7th February, 2019

  • 08:48 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Introducing Complications Without Forcing Players to Play the "Mother May I?" Game
    ...'ve already mentioned how BW and 4e handle the issue of establishing odds of success. In the case of MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic, every check is an opposed one, and the system has elaborate rules for establishing and maintaining the Doom Pool which is the default source of opposition if nothing else applies. Prince Valiant plays somewhat between Traveller and Cortex+ Heroic in this respect - many checks are opposed; where they are not, the system for setting DCs compared to the system for determining the size of player dice pools tends to mean that initial chances are rarely less than 1 in 4 (ie 2 successes on 2 dice), although the complex resolution system can exhibit a death-spiral effect, which is a reason to use it with caution. Perhaps all the systems I play count as "specific/niche game engines"? Ah, you mean without forcing players to provide further details for their action declarations so as DMs we can adjudicate the likely chance of success. Such Bad DMs.I don't think that innerdude has even indicated what system he is playing, let alone how action declarations work in that system, so I'm not really sure what you're getting at here. Eric: I try get my shard back from the Frost Giant without starting a fight. DM: How do you go about that, she has already placed it back in her hair? Eric: I use diplomacy, I'm proficient. DM: Cool, what do you say to her? Eric: Well, I ask nicely, smile a lot and bow often? DM: Is there something specific that you say? Eric: Nah, I have a +7 on my Diplomacy roll. My character is really good at persuading people. Matt: Yeah, but this is a giant, a Frost Giant, who has recently been annoyed with humans for lying to her and her kin. They've been sent on a wild goose-chase, we are lucky they don't kill us. Eric: All the same, besides who cares about that backstory. My character is a really good talker. DM sets the DC, Eric rolls a 25 after modifiers. Eric: I roleplayed the crap out of that! Liz: You sure did E. (They h...

Wednesday, 6th February, 2019

  • 02:00 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Introducing Complications Without Forcing Players to Play the "Mother May I?" Game
    ...And for a magic-user is "I spend three weeks in my tower researching this spell." AD&D also allows spending a day traversing a hex to be resolved as a single action (check for getting lost, check for encounters). In Classic Traveler, a legitimate aaction declaration is "I spend a week looking for a branch of the Psionics Institute". Things like "I take over bone breaking sect", "I go the tea house and find members of bone breaking sect" are not really the same thing (this is blending an action declaration with narrating things going on in the setting (and the first one is covers far too great an expanse of time/events to be considered a far declaration in most games.This depends heavily on system. THere are the examples I gave just above. The Wilderness Survival Guide (late 80s AD&D) allowed hunting as an action declaration, which equates to going out into the wilderness looking for an animal to kill. 4e D&D allows foraging as an action declaration. I don't know whay system innerdude is playing - the OP doesn't tell us - but there's no reason to think that it is more narrow than the range of permissible action declarations in AD&D, Classic Traveller and 4e. A player may say "I go to the tea house and find members of bone breaking sect" but most GMs are going to read that as "I go to the tea house to see if there are members of bone breaking sec there", and many do not feel they have to add the sect into the scenario just because the player included in their statement.I've bolded the bit that you keep saying but that no one in this thread has suggested as a good way of running a game. (That's not to say that it may not be a good thing in som circumstances. But no one has actually suggested it.) The most common way to resolve action declarations in most RPGs is by dice rolls. I go to the tea house to see if there are sect members there can be resolved by dice rolls pretty straightforwardly in many systems, and I posted as much quite a way upthread: This i...

Saturday, 2nd February, 2019

  • 02:58 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Introducing Complications Without Forcing Players to Play the "Mother May I?" Game
    I just think it is worth remembering not everything thinks in the terms that you and Pemerton appear to beNot really. When I go online looking for a mud cake recipe, I don't need to keep in mind that some people don't like chocolate or cakes. When I post asking for advice on how to stat up Godzilla in 4e, I don't need to keep in mind that some people don't like 4e and others find Godzilla silly. And when innerdude asks for advice to solve a problem he (? I think) is experiencing in his game, and fairly clearly sets out the parameters for a useful solution, I don't see who he needs to keep in mind that other people don't have that problem or would reject his parameters.

Thursday, 31st January, 2019

  • 08:26 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Introducing Complications Without Forcing Players to Play the "Mother May I?" Game
    Sadras, I read your post as setting out an outline for prep, not a sketch of the form that play might take. If I got that wrong, sorry. If I got that right, read on! I think that any pre-set sequence of events for the game creates "Mother May I" or similar sorts of issues - ie the GM has already decided how things will go, and deviating from that is at the GM's sole discretion. I may have misunderstood innerdude's post, but I took it that he is looking for a method of establishing and signalling consequences as part of the setting up of situations in the game and then resolving the actions that the players declare for their PCs. To me, this is a system problem (using a fairly liberal conception of "system"), but not a planning problem. I'm focusing especially on this from the OP: I don't want to turn the game into a game of escalating consequences, for which the player(s) have no recourse other than to cow-tow to what I'm presenting. I want them to have avenues for success, while still balancing the need to present challenges. So how do I do this better? How do I introduce consequences/complications that are A) interesting, B) have real dramatic heft within the fiction, and C) don't require the party to start finagling with me as the GM?As I read it, the worry about "kow-towing" to the GM and its close neighbour (c) "finagling with the GM" (= Mother May I, I think) is this: if conseq...

Wednesday, 30th January, 2019

  • 02:21 PM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Introducing Complications Without Forcing Players to Play the "Mother May I?" Game
    Establish possible Avenues of Success with Identified Checks Points as well as Risks/Degrees of Failure (gang war, coerced into partnership or ongoing extortion, loss of influence, supplier sabotaged, customer base threatened, exposure and arrest...etc). Some will be known others not, whatever makes sense in the narrative. <snip? So at checkpoint 1 say, a Gang War is contained and the loss is some street muscle (minor setback). At checkpoint 2, the Gang War escalates in duration and violence resulting in innocents being injured and killed in the crossfire, resulting in a severe loss in street muscle (major setback) as well as a Complication (the party is called to investigate, not knowing one of their own is responsible for the event).It's not clear to me how this is avoiding "Mother May I", which seemed to be something that innerdude was worried about in the OP. Adding an NPC doesn't have to introduce obscurity, though. They can become a useful conduit to convey information.Reading innerdude's OP, and inferring from some of innerdude's previous posts on this board, the worry doesn't seem to be about how, in the fiction, the PCs learn what is resulting from the choices they make. The concern seems to be about how, at the table, the players learn what might result from the actions they declare. (Hence the reference in the thread title to avoiding "Mother May I".) Introducing a NPC to act as an in-fiction lightning rod for at-the-table concerns about how scenes are being framed and potential complications established doens't seem to me to actually address those concerns. But maybe innerdude will clarify.

Tuesday, 29th January, 2019

  • 11:57 PM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post Introducing Complications Without Forcing Players to Play the "Mother May I?" Game
    innerdude - I'm not 100% clear what the details are of the game you're describing. Eg what actions are being declared by this player for his PC? How are stakes/what's at risk being established? Etc. But here's a more general comment that might be relevant or might not: you know how sometimes genre fiction suffers from the eking out of one more series, or one more issue? The same thing can happen in a RPG. At a certain point, the story of the character is done because s/he has achieved his/her goals, and framing more challenges/complications is just dragging things out and basically forcing a shark-jump. If neither you nor the player knows what is still at stake for the PC given his/her situation, then maybe the PC's story is done.

Thursday, 15th March, 2018

  • 08:55 AM - CubicsRube mentioned innerdude in post Any Dungeon World players here?
    innerdude absolutely right. It will never appeal to tactical players as there isnt enough crunch and it all comes down to narrative justification. It works well as a narrative game, and i tend to lean more towards that, hiwever even i wish there were rules for things sometimes, such as movement and positioning. But because it is so different, it can be a great break away from trad games for a few short sessions. Dw works great for a one shot or short campaign.

Monday, 5th March, 2018

  • 05:32 PM - Ovinomancer mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...ot at all interested in finding ways to discredit the playstyle, as I enjoy that playstyle. I don't run that playstyle, for a number of reasons, but I'm going to try a few games of Blades in the Dark because that goal of play and setting strongly appeals to me whereas many of the other examples of that style (Burning Wheel, Dungeon World, etc) don't really appeal to me. I cannot run a heist game well in a DM-facing style without a huge amount of work, something I'm not interested in, and hours of in-game planning and contingency planning, something I'm also not interested in. Blades provides a nice framework for a style I am interested in, and I'm not adverse to the concepts of player-facing games at all, so it's something I actually want to run (as opposed to the others, which don't appeal to me because I prefer my D&D as D&D for reasons). I think you'll get a lot more out of these discussions when you stop trying to shove everyone into boxes they don't fit in. Your comment to innerdude above about who repped his posts is very telling of a mindset that's keeping track of the 'sides' in a discussion and assumes that rep is an indication of which side a post is on. I don't think that's very useful as a metric at all. Also, you should maybe listen a bit better to many people saying your formulation is dismissive and find a better one that still sticks to your points. This insistence on 'the DM telling you things in his notes' bit is a great example. When shown something that isn't in notes, you've changed your statement to 'what I mean by notes is things pre-authored or made up on the spot but kinda seem like their pre-authored' and stuck with your formulation. This undermines your argument about pre-authoring being bad because you've now added DM provided narrative that isn't pre-authored but is instead responsive to player input as in the same category so that you don't have to back away from other things you've said. You've now conflated two different arguments ...

Sunday, 25th February, 2018

  • 03:42 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...ncy."I search the study for the map" and "I hit the streets hoping to meet up with one of my contacts" are both declarations of actions that the PC is capable of. But that tells us nothing about how those action declarations are to be resolved. They don't have to be resolved by reference to GM-authored, unrevealed backstory (like the map isn't there or all your contacts are either dead or too scared to speak). In Classic Traveller (1977), it is clear that Streetwise checks are not to be resolved that way. I feel like there is little trust being afforded to the GM throughout much of this discussion. I’m not sure why. There was an extensive discussion of this c 500 posts upthread. It's nothing to do with trust. I'm sure as a GM I could tell a somewhat interesting story. But it's not what I want out of RPGing. The point generalises: the reason I want to exercise agency as a player is not because I don't trust the GM, but because the GM isn't me, and I want to play my character. innerdude made a nice post about this around 80-odd posts upthread.

Saturday, 24th February, 2018

  • 03:06 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...ng! I shot you," is that a bullet was fired. It's playing a game - a social process. The social processes in a RPG are different - eg the rules for declaring "I take the wand from my backpack" are not structured around physical location and possessions as in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers - but the basic idea is the same. The players write their own script. They have full control over their PCs words and attempted actions. What they don't control, and which has nothing to do with player agency, is the stage setting(game world) and the results of their attempted actions(unless they have an mechanical ability that gives such control).As I've said, this is at best extremely modest agency over the content of the shared fiction. For instance, a game in which every outcome of action declaration is decided by the GM based on what s/he thinks makes sense or would be fun would fit your description of player agency. It also relates to what I posted upthread, which I took innerdude to be in broady sympathy with in a recent post: what you describes opens up the scope for a very big gap between playing the character I want to play, and what actually happens in the game. What gives them agency is the ability to leave the paths and go or do what they want within the power of their PCs. But they can't do any of these things. They can't find the map in the study if the GM doesn't allow it. They can't bribe a guard if the GM doesn't allow it. They can't meet a long-lost friend in the village if the GM doesn't allow it. "The power of their PCs" is a red herring here. Because the power of a person depends primarily on the opportunities by which they are surrounded, and what you describe is an approach to play where that is all controlled by the GM. novels don't have players directing where the story goesBut a choose-your-own adventure does. Nevertheless, the player doesn't have very much agency over the content of the shared fiction. And if you think this is...

Friday, 23rd February, 2018

  • 02:07 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Who says the GM will not be drawing on the material from stuff provided by the players? This is going to vary by table.You're the one who said we were talking about GM-driven games - I'm just following your lead! If, in fact, the players are contributing the key material (eg the stakes, the context, the motivations that are going to be actually salient in play - see my reply just above to innerdude - etc) then why would you describe it as GM-driven? I think all games contain elements of both "styles". In the past, I've been told I am wrong in that regard....that the game must be either one or the other. This thread seems to be putting forth that same concept. Am I misunderstanding? Do you think that a game can be both player driven and GM driven? Or that it can contain elements of each?I think that saying that "all games contain elements of both "styles"" is, in the context of a thread like this, mostly unhelpful. It adds nothing to the analysis, and tends to make everything dissolve into porridge. It makes it impossible, for instance, for innerdude to make the point he just made in his most recent post. It means that we can't talk about the difference between Lanefan's example of the GM making up all this off-screen fiction about the harlot, and the way that Manbearcat might conceivably have produced similar fiction using DungeonWorld. I honestly don't know much about...

Friday, 16th February, 2018

  • 03:14 PM - Celebrim mentioned innerdude in post So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?
    Based upon my novitiate impression of Savage Worlds, I would say that in comparison with 3.5 D&D (RAW, at least), players have an easier time of customizing a character concept right out the gate at character creation, though not necessarily with all the edges/feats that you would necessarily want. I'd agree with that. Savage Worlds encourages play in a narrower range of power levels. Your starting character is not quite as narrow or shallow in their power as a first level character, and will never be quite as potent as a high level D&D character. While I being honest about the fact that a player in my game is basically playing an archer with telepathic, telekinetic and precognitive powers, it's also true that the concept really doesn't get to where the player intends it to be (what innerdude describes as "bad-ass") until like 4th level or so owing to the need to multiclass and acquire the right feats. In that sense, SW is trying to force play into the span that a lot of players consider D&D's sweet spot. And to a large extent, I'm OK with that. It's other areas of the rules that I find less satisfying. Sure, but shouldn't that principle also apply to game systems you are averse to, such as Savage Worlds and Fate? :erm: Absolutely. My problems with SW are largely in its fortune system which I find manages to be both unnecessarily complex and too limiting at the same time. But could you play a game that is basically D&D with SW? Sure. Heck, with the right GM I'd probably enjoy SW. I just don't want to run it, and don't feel it adds anything I couldn't already do with a D20 game. FATE on the other hand has a ton of issues for me. Again, I find its dice pools hit a bad spot that is both unnecessarily complex and too limiting at the same time, but I ...
  • 08:11 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... items to help him free his brother from balrog possession with a chance to acquire an angel feather. The "challenge" in the scene was to determine the nature of the feather, whether it was worth trying to buy, whether instead to try and steal it, etc." In other words, there was no challenge that had to be overcome to establish fictional positioning to pursue the player's goal. (The choice of instinct also affected the content of the fiction: one reason for, later on in the session, establishing the NPC mage's residence as a tower was because it spoke to an instinct about falling.) In "story now"/ "standard narrativistic model" RPGing there's no need to fiddle about and delay the onset of the real action. The first encounter in my 4e game, following the initial scene where the PCs met one another and their patron, involved a clash with Bane-ite slavers, whom most of the PCs had an established reason to oppose beyond just them being a challenge the GM threw out there. Although innerdude is mistaken when he says that your description of my argument is "a pretty accurate assessment" - because that description didn't address at all the source of material - innerdue is 100% correct to say that " If [the GM] wants to frame a "pass the guards" challenge or a "successfully sneak through the hallways undetected" challenge, great! As long as the scene frame represents appropriate dramatic need." Whether having guards outside the study will satisfy that criterion is an entirely contextual matter, depending on such things as (i) established fiction about the study, (ii) established fiction about the guards, (iii) elements of the framing of both, etc. If a PC is a worshipper of Ioun, and the guards are there to stop the unworthy gaining access to valuable knowledge, then it sounds like it could be quite interesting (and also ripe for the PCs to persuade the guards to let them through, if they want, by persuading them that keeping secrets is what Vecna wants, not Ioun). If t...

Friday, 26th January, 2018

  • 06:21 AM - pemerton mentioned innerdude in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...nd hence include (iii) as a desideratum. Both the examples I gave satisfy (iii) - a skill challenge isn't lost with a single failure; and one invisilbe foe (who is otherwise part of a fairly designed encounter) isn't going to lead, in iteslf, to a TPK. I think when the whole mansion is the scene, and the map is hidden in the bread-bin in the kitchen, there may well be a real risk of (ii) failing - both because the breadbins may have no inherent salience to the players as potential map repositories, and because the players are very dependent on the GM presenting the mansion to them by way of narration, and that narration may fail to engender the right sort of salience of breadbins in the kitchen (especially if the GM is worried that drawing attention to the bread bins may give away what s/he is hoping will be a puzzle). I think there are also risks around (iii) - assuming that this map matters for whatever purpose, then failing to find it may be a "rocks fall"-type roadblock. (As innerdude alluded to in his most recent post.) One way of thinking about the Gumshoe system is that it's really an attempt to circumvent (iii), by making sure that at least the basic clues are handed out automatically once the fictional positioining is more-or-less adequate. Which then removes a lot of the burden of (ii); but obviously also gives the game very much the flavour of "following the GM's story", I think.


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Wednesday, 17th July, 2019

  • 06:01 PM - dbm quoted innerdude in post How do you get to GURPS?
    So, my game group is now two sessions into our GURPS supers game And here's the thing that keeps coming to me time and time again --- the system just keeps getting in the way more than it facilitates the effectiveness of the narrative. the GM claims to "love" the GURPS system, but only has a relatively passing familiarity with said rules (he's only GM'd maybe 3 or 4 times in his RPG "career"), a lot of stuff is just getting hand-waved anyway. "Oh, I don't know about that, buuuuut, I think it's sort of like this, so . . . we'll just go with that for now." In my opinion, supers is probably the hardest type of game to run well in GURPS. It can be done, but you are giving yourself a lot of balls to juggle and, given the impact of super characters, those are bowling balls... To the key question of this thread (how to get people to play a complex game) the relevance here is to pick as straight forward an option as possible for that game. I started with Dungeon Fantasy. Modern horror would p...

Sunday, 23rd June, 2019

  • 08:10 AM - Dannyalcatraz quoted innerdude in post The urban fantasy market seems awfully stagnant
    The biggest problem with the popularity of urban fantasy is that vampires aren't cool anymore. There's a dearth of original media material. Whaaaaaaaaaat? http://media.tumblr.com/37847ba1fbf9533594524e5e0861e692/tumblr_inline_mi0y2eMnvT1qz4rgp.gif

Thursday, 20th June, 2019

  • 06:30 PM - Xaelvaen quoted innerdude in post "I'd Never Normally Play This, But . . . ." -- i.e., That One Time You Got Talked Into Going Way Outside Your Comfort Zone
    I'm interested in hearing how you all navigated the tricky emotional pitfalls when it's something your buddy's really in to but you just don't have an affinity for it, how you avoided subconsciously sabotaging the proceedings (or maybe even if you didn't avoid it) . . . . I'm sure there's some good stores out there, so kindly share if you're of a mind. :) I'll note, I played 3.0/3.5 and pathfinder quite a bit until D&D 5E released. However, I had a friend who wanted me to play in his Pathfinder game and... I really didn't want to go back. It felt like taking a step backwards in RPG progression. However, I gave it a try - he ran one of those campaigns from Paizo, I don't even really remember which one, but I went Fighter - nice and simple, and decided that since the combat of PF is what bogs me down, I'll keep it easy to navigate, that way I can focus on the character and hopefully let the system meld into the background. I failed to calculate just how many new supplements there were in tha...
  • 06:18 AM - Lanefan quoted innerdude in post The MAYA Design Principle, or Why D&D's Future is Probably Going to Look Mostly Like Its Past
    To say nothing of the fact that class/level based systems require vastly MORE up front work for long-term play, because you have to constantly be looking ahead 2-5 levels to make sure you're hitting the required minimums for that one "really cool feat thingy I want at level 7, and level 10, and level 12". Only in a game where you can reasonably expect your character to survive that long. I'd hazard a guess that you're basing these statements on some 3e/PF experience, as that was the edition where this kind of thinking was (sadly) in vogue. Long-term play in 0e-1e (and maybe even early-version 2e) doesn't really have these kind of considerations, with the glaring exception of the as-written 1e Bard. The big advantage of class-based systems is the very thing you complain about a few pages upthread: that no one character can do everything and thus needs other characters - i.e. a party - to cover the weaknesses. This is a strong feature in any game purporting to be based around the concept o...

Wednesday, 19th June, 2019

  • 05:23 AM - Tony Vargas quoted innerdude in post The MAYA Design Principle, or Why D&D's Future is Probably Going to Look Mostly Like Its Past
    To say nothing of the fact that class/level based systems require vastly MORE up front work for long-term play, because you have to constantly be looking ahead 2-5 levels to make sure you're hitting the required minimums for that one "really cool feat thingy I want at level 7, and level 10, and level 12". That was mainly 3e, I think. I mean, 3e/d20 was hugely influential, so that's not dismissing the point, but classic D&D was prettymuch choose race, choose class, hold on for dear life. 4e, you could retrain every level. 5e, feats & MC are optional.
  • 03:53 AM - billd91 quoted innerdude in post The MAYA Design Principle, or Why D&D's Future is Probably Going to Look Mostly Like Its Past
    To say nothing of the fact that class/level based systems require vastly MORE up front work for long-term play, because you have to constantly be looking ahead 2-5 levels to make sure you're hitting the required minimums for that one "really cool feat thingy I want at level 7, and level 10, and level 12". No you don't. Most casual players aren't going to bother with that kind of medium to long-term planning.
  • 01:51 AM - LordEntrails quoted innerdude in post Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them
    Oh man, the d20 Wheel of Time system was a hot, flaming mess on a poopstick. We actually tried playing one session of it, and even the player who was a die-hard Wheel of Time fan basically agreed it was garbage. I could never make heads or tales of it. It seemed like their was a lot of unspoken player self balancing and house rules required. Glad to hear my opinion shared some other views.

Tuesday, 18th June, 2019

  • 11:41 PM - LordEntrails quoted innerdude in post Cyberpunk Genre RPGs
    May I highly, highly recommend the Interface Zero campaign setting for Savage Worlds? The Interface Zero 2.0 campaign book is one of my favorite RPG sourcebooks of all time. It's seriously brilliant in every way. The other thing you might want to look at is Genesys + the Android Netrunner sourcebook, Shadow of the Beanstalk​. Absolutely! I'll add those to my list to consider :) If you're not opposed to PbtA games, I'd highly recommend The Veil. I've also heard good things about The Sprawl; from what I've heard, The Sprawl is the more traditional, mission-based Cyberpunk while The Veil is definitely leans harder into the weirder, more philosophical stuff about self and identity and the like. Edit: Just read a comment that compared The Sprawl to Gibson, so that might be up your alley. Never played PbtA, so I'm open to the idea. Anything you can comment on about the system? I saw another reference to The Sprawl, but the link was bad (wikipedia). Do you know if its still around or have ...

Sunday, 16th June, 2019


Saturday, 15th June, 2019

  • 08:33 PM - Tony Vargas quoted innerdude in post The MAYA Design Principle, or Why D&D's Future is Probably Going to Look Mostly Like Its Past
    The one thing about D&D that has essentially become a deal-breaker for me is the class/level paradigm instead of point buy. Alternatives to class/level appeared almost immediately. Traveller ditched level - and indeed, advancement beyond accumulating wealth - RQ was skill-based. Champions! was out in '81, with a fully point-buy, effects-based system. Yet, even games that eschew class/level have some sort of advancement, and some sort of archetypes. If you played Champions! Back in the day, you talk of Bricks, Energy Projectors, Martial Artists and Egoists as readily as fighters, clerics, thieves and MUs.

Friday, 14th June, 2019

  • 09:11 PM - billd91 quoted innerdude in post The MAYA Design Principle, or Why D&D's Future is Probably Going to Look Mostly Like Its Past
    (emphasis added to quote) The one thing about D&D that has essentially become a deal-breaker for me is the class/level paradigm instead of point buy. The idea of rigid "adventurer roles," the fact that you're essentially forced to flat-out suck at some things with no viable recourse through character building, the baseless idea that "niche protection" somehow leads to better gameplay and sharing of "spotlight time" . . . . All of this is radically outdated thinking. And not only is it radically outdated, it's somehow become perversely acceptable to tout these things as features, not bugs. I'm not entirely sure they're outdated thinking. D&D's success may derive significantly from its brand, but the class/level paradigm is easy to grasp for new players and casual players. The requirements of point buy systems are a barrier to casual interaction with the game. To put forth an anecdote, when I ran Mutants and Masterminds for my group, a group in which the least experienced player has 20+ y...

Thursday, 6th June, 2019

  • 03:16 AM - uzirath quoted innerdude in post How do you get to GURPS?
    When GURPS really shines when you play in the 110-140 point character range as a starting point. Enough to have a level of "core competencies", but you're not breaking the math right out of the gate. Over on the SJG GURPS forum, there's a current thread about low-powered campaigns posted by a guy who likes playing high-powered games. As these things tend to go, a lot of the debate is overly nit-picky, but Bill Stoddard posted a summary of GURPS campaigns that he's run in the past decade or two. Bill is the author of numerous GURPS books, including Fantasy, Supers, and Steampunk, among many others. He gave me permission to repost his list here since I thought it might be of interest in this conversation, both in terms of the variety of campaign styles that a successful veteran GM has run, and the range of point-levels. Worminghall: 75 points. Beginning students of magic at a medieval English university, typically aged 14. I provided a default template worth 75 points, with room for customizat...

Wednesday, 5th June, 2019

  • 08:19 PM - Saelorn quoted innerdude in post How do you get to GURPS?
    When GURPS really shines when you play in the 110-140 point character range as a starting point. Enough to have a level of "core competencies", but you're not breaking the math right out of the gate. While I agree with the sentiment, 110 points is more than enough to break the game with superhuman abilities, if you try. It really helps to add explicit limits, like capping all skills at 18.
  • 07:50 PM - Saelorn quoted innerdude in post How do you get to GURPS?
    It's ultra realistic. If you're tired of the "non-realism" of hit points/healing surges, falling of cliffs and not dying, etc., then this will be a step in the right direction. You'll have the flexibility to play in any genre without having to completely re-learn the game. As a nominal fan of GURPS, in theory if not in practice, I find this contradiction to be one of the major limitations of the system. That is to say, everything is so grounded in reality, that it tends to fall apart as you shift to non-realistic genres. It does street-level superheroes far better than it does cosmic stuff, for example; and a fight between two swordsfolk with above-average skill plays out far more satisfyingly than a fight between superhumanly-skilled combatants.
  • 06:03 PM - uzirath quoted innerdude in post How do you get to GURPS?
    You'll get to pronounce to all the world that you're now part of the elite group of roleplayers who have "discovered" that GURPS is the greatest RPG of All Time, and anyone who says differently is a hater and clearly doesn't "get it." (I'm not being sarcastic in any way when I say that at least 3 people in one of my past gaming groups repeated this to me essentially verbatim.) Sigh. That's so disheartening, isn't it? How bizarre that so many of us in this quirky niche hobby spend so much energy arguing that our game about imaginary worlds is the best game and that all the other games about imaginary worlds are stupid. I appreciated your thoughtful list, even though GURPS ain't your thing.

Tuesday, 4th June, 2019

  • 07:23 PM - Tony Vargas quoted innerdude in post The MAYA Design Principle, or Why D&D's Future is Probably Going to Look Mostly Like Its Past
    you assume a more balanced mechanical implementation meant the game was better at catering to all styles and ranges of play, but I don't think what you mean when you type that is what I mean when I consider the narrow range of play styles 4E worked with.They are very different things, yes. Better balanced games, by definition, offer more options that are both meaningful and viable in play, of course - objectively, more options mean more opportunities to express different play styles. Your claim about about 4e forcing a narrow range of play styles is deeply mistaken, but, like your earlier posts, on-topic in the sense of being an example of what the article the OP linked was talking about, though it requires taking it to another level. Condescension of implying I'm somehow unable to adapt to the / unfamiliar / aside, "Familiarity" was a callback to the OP, not an attack on you: In terms of product design, MAYA stands for the "Most Advanced Yet Acceptable" version of a given produc...

Friday, 1st March, 2019

  • 03:26 AM - Nagol quoted innerdude in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    I began reflecting on this while authoring a reply in this thread, and it's stuck with me since then. Why is it that this particular hobby is so prone to producing narratives that involve having to put up with / get away from dysfunctional, misanthropic GMs? Why does this remain such a broadly-familiar trope in our hobby? The obvious, easy answer is to say that it's no more prevalent than in any other hobby, that the world is filled with jerks in all walks of life, and that RPGs are no more prone to having jerks within our ranks than any other sector or leisure activity. But it feels to me that there's something more to it than that. If you've never read the book Code by Lawrence Lessig, I highly recommend it just on general scholarly principle. :) He's a former dean of Stanford Law who's argued numerous copyright and IP cases within the United States Supreme Court. In the book on page 123, he essentially lays out a set of four basic constraints that tend to regulate individua...

Wednesday, 27th February, 2019

  • 06:12 PM - Celebrim quoted innerdude in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Celebrim sums it up pretty well here, with the key idea being, why the need for complexity? What does the complexity actually positively accomplish either at or away from the game table? That's an extraordinarily deep and useful question, and my way of answering it depends on me discussing what I think an RPG is, and what I think makes a good and successful RPG. My answers are radically different than the conventional ones The Forge offers, so bear with me. So to begin with, I believe an RPG is a game of structured make believe story-telling that is composed of a collection of mini-games which simulate aspects of the genera of the story that is being told. An RPG is successful, if the different mini-games satisfy one or more of the potential aesthetics of play of the participants in a compelling way. That may require some breakdown to fully get at what I'm saying, but from that definition we can I think immediately espy the utility of complexity. First, complexity is useful because ...
  • 05:56 PM - Morrus quoted innerdude in post Why the hate for complexity?
    So the question again is, why are you adding complexity? It's already been shown through decades of real-world experience that "complexity for the sake of realism" is a dead-end goal. So why else would you add complexity? Because I enjoy it. Are you wanting to just give players more options to muck about with away from the table? Absolutely! System mastery is its own fun for some. Tinkering is an enjoyable activity for many. Because it's no denying that this was a huge draw for D&D 3.x / Pathfinder. But that again only plays into the needs of a small subset of gamers. Well, I only need to worry about a small subset of gamers. Me and my friends! (Or if I'm designing, as a small press publisher I don't need to sell millions of copies to make a living).
  • 12:02 AM - Hussar quoted innerdude in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    I think the "I was just roleplaying my character" defence for antisocial behaviour, which works for both players and GMs - players can hide behind their characters, GMs can hide behind the whole world - gives license to jerks, and it isn't present in most other hobbies. I think this is a really key point. It's not that the hobby attracts more jerks, it's that the nature of the hobby makes jerky behavior a bit harder to pin down. Is the DM a jerk or is he playing that character really well? Is the DM abusing his authority or is he legitimately running the game. The line can be pretty hazy sometimes. I didn't claim that there were more jerks in our hobby than others. I claimed that there is long-standing, continuous narrative in our hobby of "jerk GMs" causing problems within the social fabric of our shared culture. And I wanted to better understand why. Because it's clear that over time, the makers of games within our hobby have responded to our shared cultural fabric in unique...


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