A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
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  1. #1
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    A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life

    This thread is a spin-off of this thread. Its immediate trigger is the following post:

    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    they take the immediate step toward that goal "I go down the street to Lofty Silkworm Teahouse and look for people who might be part of Bone Breaking Sect".
    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
    It is no more mother may I than real life is mother may I. The players are going to a specific place looking for something. It isnt binary. Anything could be there, including other leads. The GM isnt playing mother may I, the GM is serving as the mechanic to determine the outcome.
    In real life, people move through a physcially-structured environment where events happen in accordance with causal processes. Notions of request, permission, decision etc have no explanatory work to do in relation to real-life causal processes (except for a rather narrow range of phenomena involving interactions between human beings).

    At a RPG table, in the situation being described in the posts above, the players give rise to an idea - our PCs find some sect members at the teahouse - and they suggest that that idea should be an element of the fiction that is being collectively created at the table. The GM then decides whether or not that idea actually does become part of the shared fiction, and communicates that decision to the players by telling them what it is that their PCs find at the teahouse.

    That causal process has very little in common with the causal processes that bring it about that, if I go to a teahouse looking for members of a particular sect, I find any of them there. The most obvious difference is that whether or not, in real life, I meet any sect members doesn't depend upon whether anyone takes up a suggestion I make about an interesting idea.

    Whether or not the GM making decisions about the gameworld, and then conveying that to the players, makes for good RPGing seems a matter of taste. But whether or not such a process is like real life seems a straightforward matter of fact. It's not.

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    I am not going to participate in this thread like I told you in the Original, but I will respond here since you quoted me and started a thread with it.

    I think we just have a fundamental disagreement about what an RPG is trying to do and how much it can feel like a real world experience. Obviously the GM isn't a going to run a simulation of reality, but a GM can emulate the physics of reality, genre, etc. Different GMs will be using different logic and be emulating different concepts. But there is nothing in the GM fielding players going to a tea house looking for people that needs to be different than me going to a tea house looking for people in real life (or different from characters in a movie going to a tea house looking for people). You are insisting on the primacy of the GM weighing the suggestion. The GM isn't under an obligation to do so. A GM might simply ask him or herself "what is reasonably at the teahouse". It doesn't have to connect to the player's suggested course of action. It can, but it doesn't have to. My issue is you are making a very binary, yes or no, proposition. And you are failing to capture the full nuance and immersion of this style of play, while reducing it to the pejorative label "Mother may I".

    And my point wasn't about reality simulation. It was just that the tea house example isn't any more mother may I, than a person going to a teahouse and not finding what they are looking for is mother may I. A good GM is trying to create a world that feels authentic and real, or that feels like it sufficiently emulates the genre that he setting is set in. You are focusing on why the players want to go to the teahouse, but another way to describe what is going on is "Players go to the teahouse and the GM decides what is there". That isn't like a game of mother may I. Especially if the GM populates the teahouse with all kinds of possibilities (which often happens). Framing it as 'request, permission and decision' just doesn't reflect what this style is about. Again, you make good arguments, but nothing you say at all matches what I see at the table.

    At a RPG table, in the situation being described in the posts above, the players give rise to an idea - our PCs find some sect members at the teahouse - and they suggest that that idea should be an element of the fiction that is being collectively created at the table. The GM then decides whether or not that idea actually does become part of the shared fiction, and communicates that decision to the players by telling them what it is that their PCs find at the teahouse.
    Not really. The GM just decides what is at the Tea House. He isn't necessarily weighing what the players suggest at all. The players are not really suggesting anything either. That is just their reason for going to the tea house. Just like in real life. When I go to the store because I am hoping to run into my friend Marco, doesn't mean I won't bump into something equally engaging that I wasn't expecting, or bump into Marco's wife instead and hear news that he is in the hospital. I think you are assuming I am there to try to meet dramatic expectations that the players have in their minds, and that anytime they suggest something, that is what I am considering. But I am not. I don't shy away from drama. I just don't look to the players for the dramatic suggestions in that way.

    Note: not going to respond any further to this one.

    EDIT: Also just want to note, while a game world isn't physical like the real world, part of world building is developing the geography, the institutions, etc. So there is still a sense of movement through physical space and a sense of people being connected to various things. In the tea house example one of the first things I am going to consider when I decide what is in the teahouse is what groups and organizations are active nearby. That will give me an idea of who is likely to be present. It might not be someone from Bone Breaker sect like the players want, but there is a reasonable chance someone useful will be there. Again though, the guiding factor is going to be who is in the region. Sometimes I will consider dramatic reasons as well. But I am more sparing with those.
    Last edited by Bedrockgames; Saturday, 2nd February, 2019 at 06:34 AM.
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    This thread needs a big fat "If you assume all RPGs and all tables function in this manner."

    They don't.

    So, I guess we're done?
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    If the GM already has the tea house detailed, it functions exactly like real life - the PCs find what is already there.

    Otherwise the GM can wing it, perhaps by setting a reasonable probability. This can be done with a purely world-simulationist mindset, which emulates real life fairly closely in outcomes though not in process. Or it can be done with a dramatist mindset, considering what would be cool/dramatic. Or a gamist mindset, what would be a good challenge for the players.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    If the GM already has the tea house detailed, it functions exactly like real life - the PCs find what is already there.
    I don't think it's exactly like real life at all! Bracketing complex theological questions, the occupants of a teahouse in real life aren't there because someone thought that was a worthwhile exercise of his/her creative imagination.

    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    Otherwise the GM can wing it, perhaps by setting a reasonable probability. This can be done with a purely world-simulationist mindset, which emulates real life fairly closely in outcomes though not in process. Or it can be done with a dramatist mindset, considering what would be cool/dramatic.
    The fact that these aesthetic choices have to be made (whether expressly or implicitly) is a big part of what marks the contrast with real life. Bracketing some complex philosophical questions, real life isn't primarily an aesthetically-governed lesure time activity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I don't think it's exactly like real life at all! Bracketing complex theological questions, the occupants of a teahouse in real life aren't there because someone thought that was a worthwhile exercise of his/her creative imagination.
    I said it functions like real life. Whatever the pre-game process that created the teahouse.
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    Walking through a physical space and experiencing it has very little in common with imagining or pretending one is walking through a physical space while actually sitting around with friends and having one of them recite a descritption of what is there.

    I'd also like to suggest that this thread is not about what a "good GM" does or doesn't do. It's about analysis of gameplay, not preferences for gameplay.

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    Pemerton some of us prefer to focus on the ROLEplaying part of the game rather than the rolePLAYING part of the game.

    Hence we enjoy the RL sim of it rather than just risks and compliations in terms of x and y.

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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    I said it functions like real life. Whatever the pre-game process that created the teahouse.
    But in that case it functions like real life if the GM makes it up on the spot based on a sense of what will be fun; or if the occupants of the teahouse are determined by resolving a "Luck at finding foes in teahouses" check. That is, some process or other invovling one or more of the people at the table determines who/what is in the teahouse, and then the PCs encounter that person/thing.

    To add a bit more analytical detail: the already there always obtains in the fiction. So for it to be significant in respect of GM prep vs GM improv, it has to be talking about the real-world process of content creation. And none of those processes functions like the real life process of going to a teahouse and checking it out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    Pemerton some of us prefer to focus on the ROLEplaying part of the game rather than the rolePLAYING part of the game.

    Hence we enjoy the RL sim of it rather than just risks and compliations in terms of x and y.
    I have no idea how this bears on the thread topic. It seems to be about what I said, a few posts up, the thread is not about, namely, your RPGing preferences.

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