A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life - Page 10
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  1. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    Setting aside the discussion of exactly how bad that would be...

    You may have forgotten what the players actually asked.
    "Hey, GM, we'd like to go to a tea house and search for members of the sect."

    "Yes, and... please roll Streetwise-equivalent skill... *roll*.... you don't find any of them there, but there's this other interesting thing that happens..."


    This is contrasted with...
    "Hey, GM, we'd like to go to a tea house and search for members of the sect."

    "No, you may not. There are no tea houses here."


    Yes and... does not imply success at the attempt. It merely implies that the players can stipulate the existence of a heretofore unnamed or un-detailed tea house. The first example allows flow to continue, where the second gives them no setup for continued narrative.
    No, that isn't what was being contrasted. In both cases the GM was letting the players go to the Tea House. What was in question was whether bone breaking sect was present at the tea house. In my games the players are free to go to the tea house, but just because they ask if Bone Breaking sect is there, that doesn't mean I am going to say they are. And this wasn't originally a thread about the GM making a judgment on the matter versus 'yes and'. It as a thread where the style of play that i've been describing has been cast as mother may I. But as your example shows, it isn't, because the players are being allowed to go to the tea house.

    The area of the debate that was in focus was whether bone breaking sect is there or not, simply because the players raised the possibility, and how that is resolved. The big point of contention is some posters say if the GM is free to decide what is present at the teahouse, that this constitutes mother may I. And they were contrasting it with approaches they regarded as not mother may I, which included Yes and, say yes or roll the dice, and other mechanics or procedures that take that decision away form the GM or force the GM to think through a process before arriving at the decision. This is essentially not really an argument about mother may I. It is another play style debate masquerading as a topic (not the original OP, but the conversation that evolved and was raised in this thread). Mother May I is being used to dismiss any approach where the GM makes a decision about these matters. People are free to do that if they want, but when others realize what is going on, I think it is fair for us to comment on the kind of rhetoric being used. The whole mother may I thing, probably doesn't even matter. All that matters is points are being scored against style X in favor of style Y (and I think this is a reasonable conclusion to draw because so many of these threads just happen to be the same kind of point scoring between these two styles).
    Last edited by Bedrockgames; Tuesday, 5th February, 2019 at 12:47 PM.
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  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    but based on my experience I think it takes us even further away from a "GM decides everything that occurs" approach.
    This is a mischaracterization of the style. Another straw man. Even in the approach I and others are talking about, there are times when the GM defers to a procedure or a dice roll (many of us may still believe the GM has final say on whether those outcomes fly, but they still are not simply deciding everything in the game).

  3. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    Many is the time when the procedure is more like, "Hm. We want to find members of this sect. Where are they likely to hang out? In this culture... maybe a teahouse? Hey, GM, we go look for a teahouse to see if we can find some members of this sect!" And, this idea is *entirely reasonable*, but the GM didn't think of it beforehand, and so there is no teahouse detailed in the campaign setting, though there are plenty of them implied. The GM has the choice of winging it, or shooting down a reasonable idea because they didn't think of it.

    This latter is, long run, a losing proposition. The players literally have more brains than the GM. They will think of things the GM hasn't considered, as the GM is one person with a day job and other things to do with their time than detail out everything to the finest detail. The GM is well-served to answer most incidents of , "Mother, may I?" with the improv technique of, "Yes, and..."
    No, you're conflating two entirely different points here. The DM is not saying "No, you can't go to the teahouse", nor is he saying "No, there is no teahouse". Those two things would be examples of a DM going against the idea of "Yes, and...".

    But whether the teahouse is actually a location where the players may run into members of this sect, is a whole different matter. I could allow the players to visit the teahouse and still rule that no members of the sect are present. As a DM I am not (always) well-served to just put the sect-members whereever the players decide to go. In fact, I think this is a pretty bad idea.

    However what I could do instead, is have the players gather information at the teahouse, which may award them with a clue to where the sect is actually hiding.

    As a DM I shouldn't always be rewarding every ludicrous action of my players. Instead, I should try my best to provide interesting interactions/gameplay for them, or provide other plothooks/clues for them to pursue, if they happen to be looking in the wrong place for the sect. As a DM I know where the sect is hiding, and that is where they (probably) are. They are not a quantum sect, they don't just teleport into the players path. If I make the sect just pop wherever the players go, this could seriously break their suspension of disbelief, which may not be what I want to do.

    This doesn't mean that I am above moving bits of plot directly in the players path, in fact, I do that all the time. As long as something has not been revealed by me, it could be anywhere really. But it has to make sense. If all the clues point towards the sect hiding underneath the old opera house, I shouldn't be moving them to the teahouse, just because that's where the players decide to go. Instead, I should be coming up with something interesting they find there, and possibly something to help them get back on the right track.
    Last edited by Imaculata; Tuesday, 5th February, 2019 at 12:57 PM.
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  4. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Imaculata View Post
    But whether the teahouse is actually a location where the players may run into members of this sect, is a whole different matter. I could allow the players to visit the teahouse and still rule that no members of the sect are present. As a DM I am not (always) well-served to just put the sect-members whereever the players decide to go. In fact, I think this is a pretty bad idea.

    .
    This is an important point. When I am playing a game like this, I want to feel like I am exploring a place and being rewarded for making sound choices. If there is no good reason for me to believe they are at the tea house, and they are just there because that is where I go looking for them, that is all a bit quantum ogre to me. I don't care as a player if they are there or not, I care that the GM is actually thinking about whether they should be there, and not just having it be so because that is where I went. And I am not saying this is the only way to do it, the best, or even the most popular way. I am just saying it is a perfectly fine way to run a game that many people find satisfying. But others in the thread insist that it is mother may I. And again, I have to point out, mother may I is a criticism. It is a complaint players make about play when it is not fun and feels like a game of mother may I. What I keep seeing happening in these discussion with this group of posters is they are they are consistently using terminology in this way, to play up their preferred styles while knocking down others. I think any lexicon of gaming that is that biased, has to have its utility questioned. If you are going to use terms that liken an entire approach to a child's game, or if you are going to attribute positive moral qualities to one style and negative ones to a contrasting style, it isn't a particularly objective lexicon.
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  5. #95
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    Hard No's in the Combat Pillar (i.e. immunity to x damage) are A-ok, however
    Hard No's in the Exploration or Social Pillar = Mother May I
    Last edited by Sadras; Tuesday, 5th February, 2019 at 02:13 PM.
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  6. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    But yes, D&D has some realism in it. For example, it depicts the average human with five fingers on each hand. REALISM! So I suppose we should pat D&D on the back for having "some realism in it"? But we should also be clear here. Having "some realism" is not the same thing as valuing or desiring realism. Realism is, to reiterate, likely not the actual goal people drive at when making appeals to it. And valuing realism is not the same thing as attaining or applying it reasonably. Applying notions of realism to D&D is an inherently failed enterprise because our biased notions of 'realism' are woefully stuck in a position of ignorance (and irrationality) about a wide variety of pertinent subjects that would inform our preparation and play about the game world.
    Yes, having some realism is the same as valuing realism. It's just that the value is variable. If it wasn't valued, it wouldn't be used in nearly the amounts that it is, or even at all. There's a lot more than just humans with 5 fingers. Grass, swords, spears, wolves, horses, eating food, breathing air, and much more is all realism in D&D. Realism just isn't all or nothing like many want to portray it. It's a point on a spectrum and the value you place on it, the value I place on it, and the value the game designers place on it are probably all different. You don't have and use something if there's no value to it.

    What makes for "realistic" imagining of hit points? What makes for "realistic" falling damage? What makes for a realistic damage for a longsword? What makes for realistic natural healing rules? Or Armor Class rules? "Realism" is lipstick on the pig of D&D's gamism.
    Simply having falling and falling damage at all is a level of realism, as are the existences of the long sword and healing.

  7. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    This is why, in the OP, I bracketed some theological questions. If we want to talk about the role of providence in the context of a RPG, that's an interesting discussion: but based on my experience I think it takes us even further away from a "GM decides everything that occurs" approach.
    There isn't a "DM decides everything that occurs" approach to the game, unless the DM is the only one playing the game. The players decide what their PCs are going to do, and how they go about doing it. That's a significant amount of the game.
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  8. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    This is contrasted with...
    "Hey, GM, we'd like to go to a tea house and search for members of the sect."

    "No, you may not. There are no tea houses here."


    Yes and... does not imply success at the attempt. It merely implies that the players can stipulate the existence of a heretofore unnamed or un-detailed tea house. The first example allows flow to continue, where the second gives them no setup for continued narrative.
    The "No, you may not." portion is unfair. They can still go look for a tea house in search of members of the sect. The story continues and can also give them a setup for the continued narrative. While looking for the tea house they may run across some other type of restaurant, or perhaps a different kind of building altogether that seems like it might have sect members in it. Or maybe while asking around town they come across an interesting character who has some information, or make themselves known to agents of the sect who then report the PCs actions to it.

    You don't have to say yes and allow the PCs to create a tea house in order for the story to move forward.

  9. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Imaculata View Post
    This doesn't mean that I am above moving bits of plot directly in the players path, in fact, I do that all the time. As long as something has not been revealed by me, it could be anywhere really. But it has to make sense. If all the clues point towards the sect hiding underneath the old opera house, I shouldn't be moving them to the teahouse, just because that's where the players decide to go. Instead, I should be coming up with something interesting they find there, and possibly something to help them get back on the right track.
    Yep. They could see Enrico Palazzo sitting at a table with another opera member and overhear them complaining about seeing odd people at the opera lately.
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  10. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    You don't have to say yes and allow the PCs to create a tea house in order for the story to move forward.
    I think this is a really key point. There is a big difference between 'we go to the tea house we already knows exist" and the GM creating a teahouse simply because the players say they go to one (again, if that fact hasn't yet been established, it is perfectly reasonable for the GM to decide whether there is one or not---in my wuxia setting, Tea Houses in big cities are pretty ubiquitous, so it is probably going to be something like 'why yes there are eight tea houses in this city---and I will usually make them up there on the spot so the players can choose). One trick to making this style work is to take notes in advance of what is happening and also make some decisions about those things. If I sense the players are going into the city to look for Bone Breaking sect, I migth start scribbling notes to myself about where bone breaking sect members are in the setting, what they are presently doing, if there is anything going on in the city involving them. I don't have to do any of these things. But it is something I tend to do so when players do ask, there is a concrete response. Again, if the stuff hasn't already been established in some way. And the world is always bigger than just bone breaking sect. The players might go looking for them at the tea house. They might find someone else with an interest in the sect, a former member of the sect, or a group of students from a rival sect who are planning on finding some bone breaking sect members themselves (who might prove useful allies, but whose aggression could pose a problem if the players are trying to be tactful).
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