Introducing Complications Without Forcing Players to Play the "Mother May I?" Game - Page 11
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  1. #101
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    Side note: while typing that last post I typoed (then fixed) "declaration" as "declaraction" - did I just invent a new term?
    Laugh Sadras laughed with this post

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    System dependent, and even then only after digging for more detail and-or some actual role-play. Were I the DM it'd be no anyway, as my game has no such mechanics.
    This is true.

    I have creative players, so I cannot immediately discount that they might not have come up with something plausible, however at that time the majority of the PCs were sidetracked with the main negotiations which were taking place. This shard situation was a side issue so the PC was very much on his own on this.
    He realised fairly quickly he had messed up by not thinking this entire scenario through beforehand. Right now I cannot conceive of a plausible reason why the FG would have willingly returned the shard so I would not have offered a roll. Again, I have creative players so...

    In any event the player does not blame me. If anything the gifting of the shard assisted in the PCs safely leaving the FG, so there was some benefit attributed for the loss of the artifact, which I honestly do not think the players realised at the time.

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean here. What is "too much" or "too little"? Too broad/not broad enough actions? Too lofty/not lofty enough goals? Too little/too much detail or granularity? Please elaborate.
    The topic of granularity, as you mentioned, certainly is a part of it. In addition to some of the earlier ideas I've taken note of---(A) Incorporate challenges/obstacles into player resource and game mechanics "plugins"; B) Have constant, open dialogue with the players about the perceived state of the fiction and the player's goals---it feels like I need to add C) Frame character's stated goals into discrete, possible scenes that represent viable, transparent courses of action to the players.

    In my head the level granularity needed is at the level of "scene," which I'd define as a fairly finite locale or set of locales wherein key NPC interactions and physical challenges are present. Obviously this needs to be done flexibly and with an eye to giving the players as much freedom as possible.

    I'm thinking now one of my problems was that I haven't done the work to more rigorously break out the specific challenges into their discrete parts. The result, I think, was that the players were feeling uneasy because they felt like they were having to suss out huge swaths of "hidden backstory" and were making decisions in a vacuum.

    Breaking the consequences/obstacles into scene-level blocks will make it easier to convey to the players where they are in the fiction, give them more solid footing for making choices on the timing/danger of what's coming, etc. I think this will help with their level of engagement as well.

    Interestingly, this is something I've done mostly intuitively in the past, but have sort of let fall by the wayside recently, so it's good to actually vocalize/capture it in writing. Helpful stuff, @Lanefan, so thank you.
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  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    Some place lesser value on the roleplaying aspect of the game.
    That may be so, but @chaochou is not such a RPGer. There's no particular correlation between GM decides what happens when players declare actions for their PCs and roleplaying.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    Right now I cannot conceive of a plausible reason why the FG would have willingly returned the shard
    There are issues in D&D with Frost Giants, to do with how the table and the GM understands Chaotic Evil alignment. Some tables play CE as unceasingly selfish and vicious, so that there is no possibility of generous or even reciprocal dealing with such a being.

    But putting that to one side, and thinking of the Frost Giant as a fully-developed emotion (if selfish) being, here is a possible reason: when the Frost Giant was young, someone once shared a hair ornament with him. The PC's look and gesture reminded the giant of that moment, and so he returned the shared ornament (ie the PC's shard of the Rod of Seven Parts).
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  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    Except describing this just as 'the outcome of a declaration made' is misleading. The players is announcing an intention to go to the tea house and also happens to state why they are going (and you are picking up on that reason as part of the action declaration).
    Yes I am, following your lead: the player declares that his/her PC goes to the tea house to look for sect members.

    This is like in AD&D where a player declares "I search the wall to look for signs of secret doors."

    It contrasts with, say "I go to the tea house to see if anything interesting is going down there" or "I search the wall looking for anything that differs from just a plain, flat, solid wall."

    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    The GM lets them go the tea house, and decides what is at the tea house when they get there.
    Yes. The GM decides the outcome of the action declaration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    An action declaration is something like "I smash the barkeepers face" or "I walk into the tea house".
    Says who? In AD&D, a legitimate action declaration for a 4th level paladin is "I meditate and pray for my warhorse". 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".

    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    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:

    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    This is an interesting example.

    In B/X or Gygax's AD&D, this is Mother May I - there is no rule for resolving this beyond the GM's decision about whether or not sect members may be found at the Teahouse.

    In Oriental Adventures there is a mechanic for this, available through the otherwise rather weak yakuza class. In Classic Traveller, this can be done via the Streetwise skill. Neither offers any guidance for how to establish or handle consequences of failure.

    In Burning Wheel there is a mechanic for this (Circles and -Wises checks) and also a clear procedure for establishing and handling consequences.

    If a group doesn't want Mother May I, but does want hunting down sect members to be part of play, then it makes sense to choose a system that will facilitate this. (As @chaochou suggested in his post.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    If the GM had a note like "Bone breaking sect can only ever be found in this one spot on the map" and the players had to keep guessing until they found it, that would be mother may I. But in the example we've been talking about, I and others have said in our responses we are trying to emulate a living organization and environment, where things are not simply pinned down to one spot. And our judgement is simply more "well who would be there at this time". It is possible bone breaking sect would be there, possible they wouldn't, possible one of their representatives or allies or enemies would be there as well. That isn't the kind of play most people have in mind when they say mother may I.
    To be frank, the tea house example in which the GM simply decides, unilaterally, that there are no sect members at the tea house, seems like a version of "the sect can be found only on one spot on the map" - the spot might be bigger than a single 30-yard hex, but apparently doesn't include the tea house!

    @chaochou and I are also emulating "living breathing worlds" in our RPGing - that is why in our games the most unlikely things sometimes happen (like perhaps a sect member being at the tea house to meet his mum for tea, if that's what the action resolution dice point us towards).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    It is only mother may I in conversations where people have an axe to grind against something like the traditional GM role or old school style of play, or sessions where role play and in character exploration are really important. Not saying you got to like these things But it is pretty obvious a lot of people in this thread have an axe to grind against a style and are using a term like mother may I to sneak in critiques of it.
    You can take that up with the OP - I am simply following the usage he introduced in the thread title and first post.

    But the idea that role play and in character exploration aren't important in games like DW or BW is obviously ridiculous. Likewise that "traditional" RPGing has to involve the sort of GM role you are putting forward: it hardly gets more traditional than Classic Traveller, and that system needn't inovlve that sort of GM role at all.
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  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    That may be so, but @chaochou is not such a RPGer. There's no particular correlation between GM decides what happens when players declare actions for their PCs and roleplaying.
    An action may be declared but that does not mean we skip straight to the mechanics. If we do then chances are we consider roleplaying to be inferior to rollplaying.
    Last edited by Sadras; Wednesday, 6th February, 2019 at 06:51 AM.

  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    An action may be declared but that does not mean we skip straight to the mechanics. If we do then chances are we consider roleplaying to be inferior to rollplaying.
    To me that just suggests bad mechanics!

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    Some place lesser value on the roleplaying aspect of the game.
    Ah yes. The Mother-May-I One-True Wayist manifesto.

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    We recently had a session where the party tracked down the group of Frost Giants hoping to negotiate some sort of deal with them (long story).

    Anyways one of the PCs was carrying one of the shards of the Rod of Seven Parts (modified) which also happens to be the PC's heirloom. The PC noticed that one of the Frost Giants (Frost Giant Everlasting One, VGtM) had a similar shard but was using it as a hairpin (stolen idea).

    The above PC managed to gain the Frost Giant's attention and showed him his shard, holding his upwards in open palms for the FG to inspect. The FG, intrigued, took the PC's shard and removed her hairpin and with little difficulty joined the two shards. Satisfied, she then placed the now unified piece back in her hair. The PC, then in desperation, made an attempt with his hands and a loud cough that he desired his piece returned. The FG, unperturbed began chatting to her fellow kin. The negotiation with the FGs ended successfully and the two groups parted ways.

    Needless to say, the PC was annoyed, but was unwilling for the party to take on the 7 FG's in order to retrieve the artifact he had had from 1st level (party is currently level 10).

    None of that was rolled for, except for the negotiations which were a separate exercise. None of that was planned for obviously. The PC declared his actions. I as DM adjudicated the interaction. No dice was necessary for the FG response in relation to the PC wanting his shard back. I determined the reasonable course of action for the FG based on the actions declared by the PC and my knowledge of FGs.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    The giant was under no compulsion to return anything. It did not fear or respect the PCs. If anything, the group of giants were annoyed by the party's presence. The spell Suggestion in 5e requires a sentence or two for the spell to work and "the suggestion must be worded in such a manner to make the course of action sound reasonable."

    So why would the giant return the shard back to the character? What would its reason be?
    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    I have creative players, so I cannot immediately discount that they might not have come up with something plausible, however at that time the majority of the PCs were sidetracked with the main negotiations which were taking place. This shard situation was a side issue so the PC was very much on his own on this.
    He realised fairly quickly he had messed up by not thinking this entire scenario through beforehand. Right now I cannot conceive of a plausible reason why the FG would have willingly returned the shard so I would not have offered a roll.
    I have bolded the bits which, to me, suggest that the player's success in persuading the giant to return the shard was conditional on the GM's opinion about what makes for good or bad fiction (here expressed in terms of reasonable cause of action for the frost giant).

    I think that is the sort of thing the OP is trying to avoid when using the phrase "without forcing players to play the "Mother may I" game".

    One interesting consequence of using action resolution mechanics that go beyond GM decides is that, if the player's attempt succeeds, then someone - often the GM - has to establish a reason why. That can produce richer fiction, eg a reason why this Frost Giant would engage in an act of reciprocity or even generosity.

    It puzzles me that such an approach should be characterised as involving less roleplaying. I don't see how the player's roleplaying would be reduced in the example if (for instance) a reaction roll or CHA check were made to determine how the giant responded to the character's gesture. And the GM's roleplaying might well be increased, for the reason I gave in the previous paragraph.
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