Why are we okay with violence in RPGs? - Page 20
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  1. #191
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    When you put it that way, it's amazing we spent so many hrs playing it!


    And, typically only one character...

    I can see how some table take a fair play message from encounter guidelines - and, hey, its not a dysfunctional style of play for the DM to essentially assemble foes for the party like building an army in a wargame, then playing that side intelligently, to win.
    That's the sense I was going for....


    Yes, I do find that idea compelling. It was just 1e treasure for XP as an example that threw me.
    And, while I argued that the WotC eds have implemented some sub-systems that move the game towards more non-combat challenges, I have to acknowledge that none ever really succeeded. Skill Challenges were probably the closest, but they were still more abstract, and faster/less engaging than combat, unless the DM stepped up and elaborated on them to a degree that the game didn't tend to encourage.
    Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that XP for GP was a solution. Just that it at least offered something for those who didn't fight their way to the treasure. Later editions certainly got other things right (skill systems, etc.) but got other things wrong.

    I think the flatter math of 5E should have also been applied to XP. No need for hundreds and thousands of XP. Have each instance of a certain action grant an XP. Make them class and perhaps race and alignment specific. And it'd probably have been a good idea to connect the Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws to the system, too. Limit how much XP a player can get for any individual action. If a Fighter can only gain XP twice for combat in any given session, he's not incentivized to resolve every challenge with a fight. Each PC would have very specific play goals, and could actively and clearly work toward obtaining those goals.

    You'd have to couple this with other things, though. You'd have to make non-combat action resolution more engaging than:

    Player: I try to sneak past the guards.
    DM: Okay, make a Dex-Stealth roll.
    Player: I got a 7.
    DM: Not good enough. The guard sees you and charges.

    This just doesn't really compare to the depth of combat in the game. I think that you'd need to increase the depth of non-combat actions and encounters. I also think that speeding up combat a bit would also help. Obviously, every table will have preferences, so you have to leave it adjustable, but I think that generally speaking, that's the route they should have gone if they wanted the game to genuinely be about 3 pillars rather than 1 pillar and a pair of support beams.

  2. #192
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that XP for GP was a solution. Just that it at least offered something for those who didn't fight their way to the treasure. Later editions certainly got other things right (skill systems, etc.) but got other things wrong.

    I think the flatter math of 5E should have also been applied to XP. No need for hundreds and thousands of XP. Have each instance of a certain action grant an XP. Make them class and perhaps race and alignment specific. And it'd probably have been a good idea to connect the Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws to the system, too. Limit how much XP a player can get for any individual action. If a Fighter can only gain XP twice for combat in any given session, he's not incentivized to resolve every challenge with a fight. Each PC would have very specific play goals, and could actively and clearly work toward obtaining those goals.

    You'd have to couple this with other things, though. You'd have to make non-combat action resolution more engaging than:

    Player: I try to sneak past the guards.
    DM: Okay, make a Dex-Stealth roll.
    Player: I got a 7.
    DM: Not good enough. The guard sees you and charges.

    This just doesn't really compare to the depth of combat in the game. I think that you'd need to increase the depth of non-combat actions and encounters. I also think that speeding up combat a bit would also help. Obviously, every table will have preferences, so you have to leave it adjustable, but I think that generally speaking, that's the route they should have gone if they wanted the game to genuinely be about 3 pillars rather than 1 pillar and a pair of support beams.
    To me, looking at your sneak example, that's a pretty bland setup. Its setup like it's a throwaway scene, not a real task.

    Add in a setup with meaningful scenery, NPCs around and scenes back and forth past the guards etc and you get opportunities for PCs to arrange distractions, to find ways that dont require stealth checks, to investigate and bribe or persuade etc etc etc.

    In other words, your sample started way too late in the scene to be interesting. (Although, honestly, there could still be a more robust set of options for the guard's reaction.

    "7, not good enough, the guard sees you, but doesnt say anything, just smiles and make a gesture with his hands like handling coins." Some success with setback. - PHB.

  3. #193
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    I disagree very strongly. It isn't just about the stakes. It is about how difficult it is to adjudicate something as physically unpredictable and dynamic as combat fairly without a resolution system. With social situations, it is much easier to adjudicate based on the NPC personality in question and the reasonableness of what players are proposing. Negotiations are things we do all the time. Not saying it is the only way to do it But I think if people are honest with themselves, they will have to admit, most people find it easier to manage the social aspect of play without mechanics but harder to manage combat without mechanics. I don't think it is purely because it comes from war-games. I think there is also a very functional reason you see combat mechanics being so central to rules systems. It doesn't need to reflect a focus on combat. It can easily just be that combat requires it more, and the other stuff is more manageable without.
    I do agree with you that we are, generally speaking, more comfortable with managing the social aspect of the game without rules than we would be the combat aspect of the game without rules. But this is likely a byproduct of the fact that we actively do the social actions in real life....we try to convince people, we discuss, we socialize...so there's a framework we can access. Most of us (I hope) aren't engaging in life or death combat with deadly opponents in day to day life. So yeah, I think we all have a better idea of what might be considered a compelling argument than what would be the best approach to attack with a broadsword.

    But I don't think that automatically means that social interaction rules shouldn't exist, or that combat rules must be more complex.

    I do think that it's a bit of a chicken or egg thing.....is the game combat heavy and that's flavored our expectations, or have our expectations influenced the rules design? It's a bit of both, for sure, I'd say.

    I don't think that there's any reason a game cannot be focused on non-combat more than combat, or that there must be more rules for combat. I think this is simply the general trend, which reinforces long standing play expectations.

  4. #194
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post

    But I don't think that automatically means that social interaction rules shouldn't exist, or that combat rules must be more complex.
    .
    I never said this at all. This is a matter of preference. Some people like social interaction rules, some people don't. Both options are fine. Personally I am less inclined to social interaction rules because I have trouble using them in practice. But I don't think there is a problem wit them being in a game. My only point was you can still have plenty of social interaction even if there are no rules in the game (in fact for me, it makes it easier to do so if there are not such rules in the game)

  5. #195
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
    To me, looking at your sneak example, that's a pretty bland setup. Its setup like it's a throwaway scene, not a real task.

    Add in a setup with meaningful scenery, NPCs around and scenes back and forth past the guards etc and you get opportunities for PCs to arrange distractions, to find ways that dont require stealth checks, to investigate and bribe or persuade etc etc etc.

    In other words, your sample started way too late in the scene to be interesting. (Although, honestly, there could still be a more robust set of options for the guard's reaction.

    "7, not good enough, the guard sees you, but doesnt say anything, just smiles and make a gesture with his hands like handling coins." Some success with setback. - PHB.
    Sure, the set up was very basic....and although that was largely for the sake of brevity, I don't know if expanding a bit upon the set up will matter all that much. A lot of times, that's exactly what a skill check boils down to.....one roll, with a success or fail end state. I'd expect that most attempts to avoid combat by using a skill or a spell wind up coming down to one roll, and a failure almost always results in the combat taking place anyway. Very often with the PCs in a worse position than if they'd simply charged in at the start.

    Again, that's speaking in general; there are certainly examples of a different approach (my 5E game would have plenty of examples to offer).

    The idea of a partial success, or success with a set back, is a very good one, and is the kind of thing I'm talking about when it comes to improving the non-combat actions. The PHB does talk about them, which is a good thing, but I think they likely could or should have gone a little further.

  6. #196
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    I never said this at all. This is a matter of preference. Some people like social interaction rules, some people don't. Both options are fine. Personally I am less inclined to social interaction rules because I have trouble using them in practice. But I don't think there is a problem wit them being in a game. My only point was you can still have plenty of social interaction even if there are no rules in the game (in fact for me, it makes it easier to do so if there are not such rules in the game)
    No, but you said more people would be comfortable with them not existing. So I was addressing that. I think that's mostly due to expectation and tradition, or maybe a feedback loop of both.

    I'm currently playing a game that treats all the combat and non-combat actions the same....it has a universal mechanic that's resolved the same for all actions.

    Combat is still a big part of the game. But non-combat is just as important, and is just as engaging.

    So I think the existence of engaging mechanics for social interaction can actually add to play rather than detract from it. The problem is that the most common social interaction rules aren't really all that engaging.

  7. #197
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    No, but you said more people would be comfortable with them not existing. So I was addressing that. I think that's mostly due to expectation and tradition, or maybe a feedback loop of both.
    All I meant was more people are able to play the game with an absence of social mechanics than they are with an absence of combat mechanics. i wasn't addressing whether more people wanted them or not. Personally my impression is more people do want social mechanics than don't. This is why I include them in my own games, despite not being partial to them myself.
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  8. #198
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    All I meant was more people are able to play the game with an absence of social mechanics than they are with an absence of combat mechanics.
    100% correct. It is easy to use role playing in place of social mechanics vs. trying to adjudicate combat without mechanics.
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  9. #199
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    It is a lot harder in my opinion to adjudicate a game with zero combat rules than one with zero social rules. I think most social interacts can easily be handled by role-play. Combat screams for a resolution mechanism
    I rather think that depends upon what the focus & intent of the game is. Just this weekend, I played a game which had no combat mechanic. The PCs weren't people addressing their challenges via personally applying physical force, so no system for doing so was included. We didn't miss it.

    If the intended action in a game is "kill things and take their stuff" then yes, your game needs a combat mechanic. If the intended action in game is... "Kill things, and take their stuff... and then persuade the king to not execute your PCs after you killed many of his subjects," then you really should have a social conflict resolution mechanic.

    I will toss out there, for folks to chew on, whether the GM is adjudicating when they are not referring to any rules. A referee or game judge's job is to mediate between the players and the rules. If there aren't rules, are they really acting in that capacity?
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  10. #200
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    Why do you need rules for one, but not the other?
    My suspicion is that it is because gamers tend to prefer the least abstract experience of the scenario possible (or at least that is convenient).

    For combat, the least abstract thing to do would be dress up in armor, take up some sort of sparring weapon, and play out the combat. This is exciting visceral and only slightly abstract and many people do it, yet it is not particularly convenient and leaves open problems of how you simulate giants, dragons, magic, and most of all being someone other than yourself.

    The combat rules used by most systems, and certainly by the most popular and enduring systems, tend to be as un-abstract as is convenient to run in a table top game. All those fiddly rules help describe a less abstract reality for the combat, where moment by moment decisions can be played out in a way that allows the participants to imagine what is going on.

    By contrast, the least abstract way to simulate social interaction is with social interaction. Table-top RPGs after all are inherently social games, and so the easiest way to simulate a conversation is simply to have that conversation. Actually having the conversation creates in a non-abstract way what was said in a far more detailed, complete, natural and convenient manner than any attempt to model conversations as combat ever could. Thus, while the least abstract combat system involves the most rules, the least abstract social system involves the fewest rules.

    And while there are some complexities to overcome in imagining conversations, I personally as a DM find it easier to simulate speaking and thinking like a dragon - however unrealistic my approximation may be - than I find it to actually simulate moving and fighting like a dragon. I can pretend to hubris and greed far easier than I can pretend to fly and breath fire and be 40' long. Barring acquiring the ability to change shape and bend the laws of physics, I'm going to need to model the later in a way I don't need a model for something I can do like conversation.

    So in a sense, yes we do choose rules for one over the other, but I don't think it is true that we do this for arbitrary reasons or even that the reasons are primarily cultural in nature.
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