What would be some good metics to evaluate RPG rules/systems? - Page 5
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  1. #41
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    For me, the most informative information about a game is whether it has a narrative, gamist or simulation focus. That pretty much tells me the main thing I need to know. Next is the page count, which tells me roughly how complex it is, and then finally a quality measure which is usually a review from someone I trust.
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  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riley37 View Post
    (I will only rate a game on metics, if it's set in ancient Athens.)
    Here in the U.S. we still use standards, not metrics.
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  3. #43
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    What matters are the choices that the players make.

    So what do the rules

    1. force choices for the players to make?
    2. ask choices that the player may or may not make
    3. suggest
    4. ask the DM to force/ask/suggest choices

    It's complicated; something like 5e would have different answers if the standard encounter XP budget was doubled. Or if the monsters in the MM were more or less difficult than they are now. AD&D would have different answers if the tables at the back of the DMG were removed. Both force the choice of race and class, but these are not the same thing in both editions (multiclassing and the racial harmony table).

    You'd also have to look at all the spells and abilities.

    So, good luck.
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  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by LostSoul View Post
    What matters are the choices that the players make.
    Interesting point. I'd guess that it also matters how many of the choices are front-loaded. In AD&D you have X choices to make, before you have a playable entry-level character and can make your first action declaration to specific events in the scenario. In 5E D&D you have Y choices to make. Which is greater, X or Y? How many choices does it take to make a PC for Pathfinder, Savage Words, GURPS, Call of Cthulhu?

    There will still be variation by table. Some AD&D players just rolled stats in order; your first roll is your STR. Other DMs allowed players to move stats around, which means more decisions. Perhaps some systems encourage more DM discretion than others, over which choices are in the hands of players.

    "You'd also have to look at all the spells and abilities." - Only for games which involve spells. Some do, some don't; perhaps that is itself a metric.

  5. #45
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    Player Agency % 50
    40
    30
    20
    10
    .1 .25 .5 .75 1 1.33 2 4 10
    Rules/Fluff Ratio

    How's that look? Forgive the forum formatting limitations.
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  6. #46
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    A difficulty on rating player agency is that it can vary in manifestations such that it can be a meaningless metric. For example:

    System 1 has a highly narrativist focus, where each participant gets an equal share in telling the story. The players are allowed to declare certain things about the world to be true, including things that extend far beyond their characters’ immediate interests. The world exists as a backdrop for the story and bends and molds around the characters. What exists tomorrow, or beyond those mountains, is totally based on the immediate needs of the story, and left blank until filled in by someone during play. Beyond the world, the mechanics are also designed to support plot. The rule of cool is the norm, and the heroes can’t fail unless that’s how they decide they want the story to end.

    System 2 has a more simulationist focus, where the emphasis is on world exploration, with the world being treated as its own entity with “solidity” and not subject to play-time adjustment. The duke’s secret invasion fleet is going to make it to the planet tomorrow, regardless of the fact that no one but the GM knows that, and that date isn’t going to change to accommodate what could be seen as a better story. The things beyond those mountains are either already drawn on a map, or they randomly determined based on geological and geographical probabilities. There is not a swamp there because that would make the best story or be convenient. There is or is not a swamp there based on how the world was pre-designed. The mechanics provide a consistent framework where results follow actions based on whatever passes for physics in that world, and neither players nor GM can alter the causally-determined results of actions.

    Both of these could be considered high player agency systems. In the first the players have a high degree of influence over the course of a created story, the development of a world, and the outcomes of particular tasks. In the second the world and mechanics allow the players to truly explore a world, choose actions that have fairly predictable results based on known (to character as well as players) in-world physics, and experience accomplishments based on skill and luck, similar to real life.

    Both of these could also be considered low on the player agency scale because they each fail to provide the points of agency of the other. Many systems blend some of these elements together (with varying degrees of success), but I find it hard to imagine a system that was high on both of them.

    (As an aside, I consider these play styles to be so distinct that they shouldn’t both be considered the same thing. At this point in the state of role-playing, deeper levels of distinguishing names should be developed and applied to the distinct types of play such as the those just described.)

    From a practical stand-point, I can enjoy either type (and if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be a combination that leaned towards system one if set on contemporary earth, and towards system two if set in an imaginary world), but saying something is high in player agency isn’t necessarily going to explain what kind of agency the system provides. I think any good system ought to provide a high degree of player agency in some way or another.
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  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post
    Both of these could be considered high player agency systems.
    And both in practice could fail to provide player agency depending on the techniques that the game's moderator/referee/secret keeper/story teller employed to shift agency back to themselves.

    And that means that we have to look beyond just the systems that the game's rules put in place, but at the games actual processes of play. In practice, I think 'System 1' will be harder to railroad, but only because 'System 1' type games tend to be more recent, and as such tend to define the processes of play more tightly as part of the rules that they present. But I've watched videos of 'System 1' games actually being played, and there is still enough room for a Gamemaster to skillfully manipulate the process of play, that it was very difficult for me to tell by watching the video whether the players had any agency at all.

    And certainly, I know 'System 2' type games well enough, and how to run them, and the subtle techniques you can employ, that I know I can successfully manipulate and steer players without them realizing how little agency they really have at that moment. And that's not even to get into situations where, I'm the player, and I know the GM is running a module, and so I willingly get on the rails and give up the agency I in theory have, because I don't want to make life difficult for the GM. So here, in theory I have a lot of agency, but because published modules run as is are typically 'small worlds', despite the agency I may have, in practice because of how the game was prepared (or not prepared), my agency is limited to comparatively small 'tactical' choices and not larger narrative choices.
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  8. #48
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    How about word count in system dedicated to explaining grappling as one axis?
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  9. #49
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    So... Instead of a series of axes, perhaps a list of tags or descriptors might be easier to get to. Some of these tags might be mutually exclusive (or almost so), but many would not.

    So you might describe GURPS with the following tags... [Point-Buy], [Universal], [Modular], [Unified], [Roll-Under] ... relating that the system uses point-buy character generation (as opposed to, say [Class-Based]), is a universal system (as opposed to a system designed for a specific type of play, for which I can't think of a good descriptor ATM), has lots of modular options, a unified mechanic, featuring a roll-under system, and so on.

    And you might describe Monsterhearts with... [Class-Based] (or maybe [Play-Book]), [Focused], [Stand-Alone], [Unified], [Fail, Success w/Cost, Success] ... relating that Monsterhearts uses classes (or playbooks, in the PbtA terminology) is a focused, rather than universal type game, is meant to be used more or less as is (although new Play-Books oughtn't to be too hard to add) rather than modularly pieced together, and uses the Fail, Success with a Cost, Success mechanic common to the Powered by the Apocalypse games.

    I'm sure that there are other descriptors that I am overlooking, but that might be a reasonable start...
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  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post
    System 1 has a highly narrativist focus, where each participant gets an equal share in telling the story. The players are allowed to declare certain things about the world to be true, including things that extend far beyond their characters’ immediate interests. The world exists as a backdrop for the story and bends and molds around the characters. What exists tomorrow, or beyond those mountains, is totally based on the immediate needs of the story, and left blank until filled in by someone during play. Beyond the world, the mechanics are also designed to support plot. The rule of cool is the norm, and the heroes can’t fail unless that’s how they decide they want the story to end.

    System 2 has a more simulationist focus, where the emphasis is on world exploration, with the world being treated as its own entity with “solidity” and not subject to play-time adjustment. The duke’s secret invasion fleet is going to make it to the planet tomorrow, regardless of the fact that no one but the GM knows that, and that date isn’t going to change to accommodate what could be seen as a better story. The things beyond those mountains are either already drawn on a map, or they randomly determined based on geological and geographical probabilities. There is not a swamp there because that would make the best story or be convenient. There is or is not a swamp there based on how the world was pre-designed. The mechanics provide a consistent framework where results follow actions based on whatever passes for physics in that world, and neither players nor GM can alter the causally-determined results of actions.

    Both of these could be considered high player agency systems. In the first the players have a high degree of influence over the course of a created story, the development of a world, and the outcomes of particular tasks. In the second the world and mechanics allow the players to truly explore a world, choose actions that have fairly predictable results based on known (to character as well as players) in-world physics, and experience accomplishments based on skill and luck, similar to real life.

    Both of these could also be considered low on the player agency scale because they each fail to provide the points of agency of the other. Many systems blend some of these elements together (with varying degrees of success), but I find it hard to imagine a system that was high on both of them.
    Oh. Then I guess my chart would have a footnote describing player agency as "GM-like control over plot and setting." At 100%, all players share this control, and there is basically no GM. At 0%, players just roll dice and Matt Mercer tells them what happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    And both in practice could fail to provide player agency depending on the techniques that the game's moderator/referee/secret keeper/story teller employed to shift agency back to themselves.
    I like "guide," personally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    And certainly, I know 'System 2' type games well enough, and how to run them, and the subtle techniques you can employ, that I know I can successfully manipulate and steer players without them realizing how little agency they really have at that moment.
    Which is why narrative control lies at both ends of the spectrum. You can give players all the rules you want to do whatever they want, but if the guide is the only narrator, the players have agency only to the extent that it's given by the narrator.

    In Numenera, players roll all the dice, they use XP to change the GM's mind, and they use abilities to determine/adjust how difficult a task is. The book encourages the GM to let players describe their actions, and gives many examples of negotiation between player and GM of certain outcomes. I'd put its Player Agency rating at about 40%, as in, the GM still has most of the control, but the players have a lot of influence in what happens. I don't know how the rules go, but if you've seen Titansgrave (the web series), you'd know that a game can be played with more player agency than Numenera. The players in the series do a lot of GM-level narrating, so I'd put that at a good 50%, if not more.
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