Why are we okay with violence in RPGs? - Page 27
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  1. #261
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    I think that there probably is an objective difference. I could easily write a computer program to adjudicate, in the same way you could write a program to play chess and determine what was or wasn't a valid move. But I don't think I could so easily write a computer program to author. And if I could write a program which engaged in authoring, it would be at least quantitatively different than one that could adjudicate. Present cRPGs are very good at adjudication, but authoring in the sense that Umbran means it is beyond our understanding. We can attempt to simulate authoring through what is called procedural generation of content, but the very fact that it is procedural and therefore bounded, suggests that even this is more like adjudication than what Umbran is calling authoring.

    Adjudication seems to relate to some sort of finite set. While authoring seems to be boundless, or at least a set so large it would be beyond our ability to even imagine constraints.

    So I offer this objective definition. If the process is procedural, then it is adjudication. But if the process cannot be defined by any presently known procedure, and seems to require that element we call imagination, then at the point it requires imagination it is authoring.

    I do agree that certain systems have no adjudication by this definition, as in some systems the GM is empowered always to imagine a resolution based on undefined categories and never really has an outcome imposed on them. These 'wheel of fortune' systems never really say what happens, but instead generate very vague hints like 'Fumble', 'Failure', 'Partial Failure', 'Success with Complications', 'Success', 'Critical Success' and so forth, and leave it up to the GM or some sort of non-procedural negotiation among the participants to decide what that hint means.

    You can imagine my opinion of that sort of system.
    But that isn't what adjudication means. Adjudication is just making a judgement. I would agree there are different kinds of adjudications. There is a distinction between a rules adjudication and a setting adjudication. But they are both judgments the GM is expected to render. I think framing them as authoring is actually something of a problem. The GM should always be mindful in my view of his or her role as a referee who is supposed to make fair and reasoned judgements. Authoring suggests a GM being a much more active force in shaping the campaign, which I think can lead to railroading issues.

  2. #262
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post

    I do agree that certain systems have no adjudication by this definition, as in some systems the GM is empowered always to imagine a resolution based on undefined categories and never really has an outcome imposed on them. These 'wheel of fortune' systems never really say what happens, but instead generate very vague hints like 'Fumble', 'Failure', 'Partial Failure', 'Success with Complications', 'Success', 'Critical Success' and so forth, and leave it up to the GM or some sort of non-procedural negotiation among the participants to decide what that hint means.

    You can imagine my opinion of that sort of system.
    But this seems very much not objective because you are defining away games you don't like. I think this is a classic problem in gaming taxonomy and nomenclature where we often frame the language in a way that gives primacy to our preferred playstyle and minimizes other play styles.

  3. #263
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    Death? Energy Drain? Save or die sucked and was all over the place with poison, and energy drain was hell. It had no save and you never got back all of your experience, even if you were lucky enough to be drained within a day of someone who could cast restoration. And you started encountering a lot of energy drain undead well before the party could cast restoration itself, assuming your cleric wasn't also drained.
    Yeah, a swarm of wraiths could really mess up your day.

    Sure, if it just hung out on the ground ready to duke it out. Played intelligently, that dragon would destroy a 9th level party. I also like how you made it a party of 6-9 NPCs, rather than the typical 4. Double the party size and you double the monsters. So 8 PCs against a pair or three of ancient red dragons.
    In fairness, 1e did generally assume a larger party size: parties of 6-9 PCs were commonplace. Most 0e-1e modules were written with this kind of party size in mind - check their intro notes and you'll see.

    It wasn't until 3e that the party of 4 PCs became the standard.
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  4. #264
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    Yes, that's pretty much the essence of it.



    So, here comes the stickler. I'm not really interested in arguing the qualitative. I'm arguing for essentially the quantitative. In other words, whether or not the DM is roleplaying isn't really an interesting contention. While I might agree that there is some diminishing point at which the GM is not roleplaying at all, that's not to me the essence of the issue. The point is that he is roleplaying "less well"/"more badly" than the first GM. And as a mature form of art, we ought to be pushing toward the skillful play of the GM who brings the gnoll more to life and creates the more interesting characterization.



    I do think it is essential to roleplaying, and that a game in which it is not essential at all to be immersive isn't a RPG. Thus, you can speak in character in the game of monopoly, but doing so is no part of the game. Thus, it's not a roleplaying game. I'm not going to argue at what point immersion so disappears from play that it isn't an RPG any more, but I will argue that less important it is to your process of play, the less of a RPG you are playing, and the more you are moving toward playing a wargame or some sort of board game.



    But I'm contesting that whether it is essential or not, by the definition I outlined I can objectively show that it is the more cinematic experience.



    Combat certainly can be non-cinematic, and often is non-cinematic. To understand how it does not have to be non-cinematic, you have to go back to my definition of cinematic which is, "Creates a shared imaginary space which the participants can each concretely imagine what is going on and will each imagine much the same thing." So consider the common rules proposition, "I [try to] attack." This is a very uncinematic and unimmersive proposition. The participants are given little sense of what to imagine by such an abstract proposition, and neither are required to imagine what happens nor are prompted to imagine what happens. Likely all that will be mentally considered by the participants is some mechanical result, such as the deduction of abstract hit points from a pool of hit points to be abraded away. But now consider the following rules propositions:

    "I step to the side and attempt to cleave the legs out from under the orc with my battle axe."
    "I trust my shield into the orcs face and attempt to hurl him backwards over the cliff."
    "With my blade locked with the orc, I attempt to hook my leg around his, and trip him over backward."
    "I leap up on to the altar, and with an overhead smash, bring it down on the orcs helm."
    "Stepping back from the fray, I cast a spray of magic missiles into orc horde."

    These are all highly cinematic rules propositions. Everyone participating in the game is prompted to imagine something concrete by such propositions, and each is likely to produce a transcript of their play experience that is similar because they all imagined nearly the same thing. Whereas with something abstract like, "I attack.", who knows.

    My contention is that a game system is improved if it tends to encourage more cinematic propositions because there is an onto mapping between cinematic propositions and the rules systems that adjudicate those propositions. In other words, it matters if you leap onto the alter, or step to the side, or whatever because it changes the outcome or at least the odds in the outcomes.

    Now of course, we don't live in a perfect world. In an idealized system such highly cinematic propositions are well and good, but as a practical matter in the real world highly cinematic systems tend to be granular by definition and granular systems tend to have high complexity and slower resolution of play. So in a real system, you have to make a trade off in cinematic versus speed of play. But in a hypothetical system where everything was equally simple and equally fast, we'd always tend to prefer the more cinematic system because having a shared imaginary reality filled with concrete actions always ALWAYS produces the more exciting transcript of play (essentially, what you remember of the game) than merely abstractly whittling down a pool of hit points by rote action.

    There are of course techniques for turning abstract declarations into more cinematic resolutions, but the problem with that process is that the player's choice matters less to the outcome, which over time reduces player interest in the game.



    They can, if they encourage people to substitute more abstract metagame declarations for more concrete in game declarations. If for example, the mechanics encourage you to simply state your social move as a metagame classification, without ever providing some idea as to what actually happened in the game when you performed that move, then you have a process where some rules generated an outcome, but no roleplaying necessarily took place. No one will have a clear idea what happened in the game reality, only that you transitioned from one game state to another after a move was made. And at that point, you are playing a board game, because part of what makes a board game a board game is the reality it is modelling does not need to be and usually is not concretely imagined.

    Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I find most consciously created Nar games terrible at actually creating Narrative and the experience of being in a story.



    Well, by my definition you could do some sort of double blind study, and if the participants could at a higher percentage rate agree to what the essentials of an action had been based on the proposition, then we could prove within a certain confidence interval than one sort of play had been more immersive than the other.

    For example, for the proposition, "I attempt to persuade the Duke.", if two separated participants independently reported afterwards the same words said to the Duke, then that was immersive. But I think it is clear they'd do a much better at agreeing what had been said with a proposition like, "Your Grace, you have always been known as a man of honor. If you do not lend your strong aid now, and tragedy ensues, what will your loyal subjects say of you?"



    All of which is irrelevant. That's just the underlying mechanical engine which the GM then cranks the handle of to decide whether or not the Duke is persuaded. The point is the proposition. The underlying mechanical engine only matters to the extent that it pushes the game toward abstract declarations by prioritizing the meta-declaration over the proposition itself.



    Point is, you have to define the NPCs goals and traits. Some systems encourage you to do that and provide a framework for it. Others provide no such encouragement or framework, but as I'm hopefully showing - even in systems that traditionally don't define NPC social traits in a mechanical way - you still can define those traits in a mechanical way.



    Well, I direct you back to the start of this line of argument for why combat and social challenges are inherently different in a TRPG context, and why therefore attempts to treat them as exactly the same tend to fail, and are quite possibly poor design because they are more unalike than they are alike. (https://www.enworld.org/forum/showth...=1#post7621872)
    Good roleploy, as in invested in the character and with strong advocacy, does not require acting. Acting may be sufficient (although I don't believe it is), but it is certainly not necessary. You are arguing a preference as objective fact.

    And it's a fine preference. I enjoy acting in character as much as the next person. But roleplaying isn't defined as or by acting.
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  5. #265
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ovinomancer View Post
    You are arguing a preference as objective fact...But roleplaying isn't defined as or by acting.
    You are stating that as if it was an objective fact. I at least have an argument for why it isn't. I could make further ones.

  6. #266
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    As a referee/DM I really don't differentiate between someone saying to me as if they are a PC and I'm the king, "Your grace, your honor and integrity are legendary thought your realm, as is your sense of justice and mercy...etc, etc." and "OK Aaron, Bill (the players PC) is going to go talk to the King and I'm going to play up how honorable and merciful he is by reputation and try to butter him up a bit that way while making my appeal for help...etc etc" Both accomplish the same goal.
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  7. #267
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    The question I have for that statement is, "Is relying on Save or Die or Energy Drains to challenge PCs fun?"
    It was and wasn't for me as a player. As a player I enjoyed risk and took great pains to scout and avoid ambushes, as well as avoiding undead when possible. Then 3e came out and saves were allowed against energy drain. At first I was very happy. Then I noticed how easy those saves were, how you got two chances to make them, and how easy it was to get restoration. I played 3e from the day it came out, until about a year ago. Not once did I ever lose a permanent level. Maybe once or twice poison got a PC of mine.....maybe.

    I stopped being as careful, because the game became waaaaaaay easier. There was far less challenge than in the prior two editions, which did take away from my fun. So while it wasn't fun to lose a ton of PCs to poison, and while it wasn't fun to lose tons of levels/exp, it also spiced up the game in a way that 3e and 5e don't really have.

    The problem started in 1e Unearthed Arcana. Fighters post UA were dishing about twice as much damage at a given level as the game had been built around, but even before UA AD&D had a problem that almost everything in the game was a glass cannon capable of dishing out far more damage than it could take. I used to joke that the initiative roll was the mid-game of AD&D combat, and that round 1 was the end game. Any monster that went last in the round would never get an attack off.

    Still there are a variety of things you could do about that. The most important is to not put your fights in 'tournament spaces'. Instead of arenas with flat floors, you put the fight where the PCs are at a disadvantage of some sort. And you use the sort of monsters that can actually manage to challenge PCs. You can also tweak monsters from the MM's a bit and end up with good challenges, which works well in any edition. For example, taking a standard Ogre and giving it better than normal equipment like plate mail and a two-handed sword can on its own make an encounter much more challenging. I wrote a short guide.

    I left AD&D in the early 90's, frustrated by the amount of rules and changes that I felt at the time I'd need to make to get the game to work. In many ways, it's a terrible game. In many ways it's brilliant. I get occasionally struck by nostalgia for the game, and want to run it with the knowledge I've accumulated since the time I left it.

    We didn't allow UA stuff for the most part.

  8. #268
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    Yeah, a swarm of wraiths could really mess up your day.

    In fairness, 1e did generally assume a larger party size: parties of 6-9 PCs were commonplace. Most 0e-1e modules were written with this kind of party size in mind - check their intro notes and you'll see.

    It wasn't until 3e that the party of 4 PCs became the standard.
    Well, my example was for 4. If you're at 6-9 we up the number of dragons and treasure is all. The math still works out the same as far as XP from monsters vs. XP from treasure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    A bag of holding or four. It's not as if most of that didn't come from gems, jewelry and platinum anyway. One of the largest bags of holding could hold 150k of the 250k with 1000 pounds left over.



    Death? Energy Drain? Save or die sucked and was all over the place with poison, and energy drain was hell. It had no save and you never got back all of your experience, even if you were lucky enough to be drained within a day of someone who could cast restoration. And you started encountering a lot of energy drain undead well before the party could cast restoration itself, assuming your cleric wasn't also drained.



    Sure, if it just hung out on the ground ready to duke it out. Played intelligently, that dragon would destroy a 9th level party. I also like how you made it a party of 6-9 NPCs, rather than the typical 4. Double the party size and you double the monsters. So 8 PCs against a pair or three of ancient red dragons.
    See this is why I have such a hard time taking you seriously @Maxperson. You obviously never played adnd. 6-9 pcs was the standard group. Four pcs is a 3e thing.

  10. #270
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    Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?

    Whoops double post. My bad.
    Last edited by Hussar; Wednesday, 19th June, 2019 at 04:41 AM.

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