Why are we okay with violence in RPGs? - Page 29
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  1. #281
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ovinomancer View Post
    Well, yes, that's how it works -- your preference isn't objective just because you have it.
    Nor is it merely a preference and subjective just because you claim it is so.

    Even the very definition of role-playing suggests a strong and natural connection between acting and the act of role-playing: "the acting out of the part of a particular person or character, for example as a technique in training or psychotherapy" To suggest therefore that this connection is therefore only a preference, and not in some way closely connected to the act of role-playing and in particular to the degree and quality of the role-playing requires a very high burden of proof on your part. At the very least, you have to address the argument I have developed showing why it was the "superior form of role-playing" (as you put it). And though I'm not one, I'm inclined to think that a therapist or an occupational trainer would agree and encourage the more immersive, more literal experience, for much the same reasons that I've outlined. For one thing, when you are applying role-play to train a person for some real life experience, you need that person to act as much as they would in real life as possible.

    Likewise, "it's possible to strongly empathize with a character without acting in first person -- ie, a character may be fully and faithfully represented in the 3rd person.", may in fact be true, but it in no way is a counter claim to what I've said. Empathizing with a character isn't what is at stake in the argument. I can fully empathize with a character in a novel or a movie, and yet I think we both agree that no role-playing is going on while I watch a movie or read a novel. You can empathize all you want, but the more you actually act out the role, the more you are role-playing by definition. I'm not going to draw a hard line and say, "Oh, for this little amount of acting you are no longer roleplaying." But I am going to insist that the more you act, the more you are actually role-playing and that such a line where insufficient acting occurs to call it role-playing exists, otherwise everything is role-playing.

    Now, it would seem to follow that the closer one can approximate the character's role and motivation, the better the roleplay. Agreed?
    Agreed, but that statement doesn't demonstrate your claim, but mine.

    "Well, that's just like your opinion, man.", is itself something you have to prove.

    Look, I'm well aware that this argument makes people uncomfortable. You are correct that role-playing skill is not equally distributed, and everyone who plays is sensitive about their ability to role-play and no one likes to think that they are less of a role-player than someone else. Groups are in certain comfort zones and have ways of doing things, and that's fine so far as it goes. But we're adults in this room, and it's time to recognize that though we certainly shouldn't be judging anyone for lack of skill in role-play, we should always be nurturing and encouraging growth in skillful play just as actors want to be better actors, athletes want to be better athletes, and chess players want to be better chess players.

    This fails miserably if a player is playing a character with abilities outside of their own such that it is impossible for them to act out those abilities in person. It also is saying that the declaration of, "Bob the Sage casts Augury by making the sign of the outworlds to call on Fgthan the Demure," is less roleplaying than acting out making the sign of Fgthan, especially when no one has any idea what this involves.
    No it doesn't, and no it isn't. If you'll have read my argument up to this point, it ought to be especially obvious why neither statement is true.

  2. #282
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    Below is the presumption from 1e. You guys are looking at modules, often created for tournament or convention play, where you had more players than normal.

    From page 7 of the 1e PHB:

    "The game is ideally for three or more adult players: one player must serve as the Dungeon Master, the shaper of the fantasy milieu, the "world" in which all action will take place."

    That's it. That's the presumption. Three or more. And if the minimum three still qualifies "ideal," then encounters would have to be based around that number or close to it. Four anyone?
    oh! Oh! Mr. Kotter. What about kid players do they count. Or
    from saltmarsh 1981
    The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is the first installment in a series of three modules designed and developed in the United Kingdom, for beginning adventures with the AD&D rules. The adventure can be played by 5-10 characters of levels 1-3. This module contains large-scale maps, full background information, and detailed encounter descriptions for the players and DM....

    danger at dunwater
    ..Danger at Dunwater" is the second part in a series of three modules designed and developed in the United Kingdom for beginning adventurers with the AD&D rules. Its plot follows direct from that of the first part (U1: "The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh"). This adventure can be played by 6-10 characters of levels 1-4. This module contains large-scale maps, full background information, and detailed encounter descriptions for the players and DM......

    Anybody else remember when the modules told about how many pcs you needed to run in the adventure?

  3. #283
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    How is reading what is says straight out as what it says straight out as "way too much?" If the game is ideal for three of more, a single dragon cannot be balanced against 6-9. That would not be ideal. Rather, one dragon is balanced against around three so as to be ideal and if you have more players than that, you add more dragons.
    I have no stake in this "how many players is the right number of players" side discussion, and by quoting you I'm not at all asserting that you are being particularly or especially ridiculous compared to some of the other things that have been claimed. But, the whole argument strikes me as ridiculous, and this sort of claim just seems well beneath the logic and insight you'd normally bring to a thread.

    1 Dragon = 3 PCs? Really? Is that how you think it has ever worked? Are dragons and PC's as standardized as coins?

  4. #284
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper View Post
    Anybody else remember when the modules told about how many pcs you needed to run in the adventure?
    Yes. But I also remember how unreliable those guidelines were, how hard they could be to interpret in practice, and that they were guidelines.
    XP jasper gave XP for this post

  5. #285
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    3-6 players can easily play 6-10 PCs - nothing limits them to one each...
    We never ran hirelings or henchmen until my current S&W game and usually ran one PC, one power gamed out, min maxed, "sure I rolled those stats..." PC each.

    But we didn't run though a lot of the classic modules.

    Wish I had.

  6. #286
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    Nor is it merely a preference and subjective just because you claim it is so.

    Even the very definition of role-playing suggests a strong and natural connection between acting and the act of role-playing: "the acting out of the part of a particular person or character, for example as a technique in training or psychotherapy" To suggest therefore that this connection is therefore only a preference, and not in some way closely connected to the act of role-playing and in particular to the degree and quality of the role-playing requires a very high burden of proof on your part. At the very least, you have to address the argument I have developed showing why it was the "superior form of role-playing" (as you put it). And though I'm not one, I'm inclined to think that a therapist or an occupational trainer would agree and encourage the more immersive, more literal experience, for much the same reasons that I've outlined. For one thing, when you are applying role-play to train a person for some real life experience, you need that person to act as much as they would in real life as possible.

    Likewise, "it's possible to strongly empathize with a character without acting in first person -- ie, a character may be fully and faithfully represented in the 3rd person.", may in fact be true, but it in no way is a counter claim to what I've said. Empathizing with a character isn't what is at stake in the argument. I can fully empathize with a character in a novel or a movie, and yet I think we both agree that no role-playing is going on while I watch a movie or read a novel. You can empathize all you want, but the more you actually act out the role, the more you are role-playing by definition. I'm not going to draw a hard line and say, "Oh, for this little amount of acting you are no longer roleplaying." But I am going to insist that the more you act, the more you are actually role-playing and that such a line where insufficient acting occurs to call it role-playing exists, otherwise everything is role-playing.



    Agreed, but that statement doesn't demonstrate your claim, but mine.

    "Well, that's just like your opinion, man.", is itself something you have to prove.

    Look, I'm well aware that this argument makes people uncomfortable. You are correct that role-playing skill is not equally distributed, and everyone who plays is sensitive about their ability to role-play and no one likes to think that they are less of a role-player than someone else. Groups are in certain comfort zones and have ways of doing things, and that's fine so far as it goes. But we're adults in this room, and it's time to recognize that though we certainly shouldn't be judging anyone for lack of skill in role-play, we should always be nurturing and encouraging growth in skillful play just as actors want to be better actors, athletes want to be better athletes, and chess players want to be better chess players.



    No it doesn't, and no it isn't. If you'll have read my argument up to this point, it ought to be especially obvious why neither statement is true.
    The best firm of your argument I can divine is that, given equal empathy and faithfulness to the character portrayed, that speaking in first person with affectations of mannerism and accent, is prima facie superior to presenting the character in 3rd person. Both characters presentations are equally "true" reoresentations of the character, but one adds a performative act the other lacks, and that this performative act elevates the one to be a superior representation of the character. That acting is necessary to achieve the highest tiers of roleplaying.

    I disagree, for the following:
    1) performative acts by themselves do not increase the honesty and fidelity of the reoresentation of a character. Else it would be true that all stage or screen representations of a given character from a novel would be superior to the written character.

    2) given 1, if performative acts cannot, by themselves, elevate roleplay, consideration of how they can is warranted. This really boils down to ways in which performance can increase character fidelity. And, yes, it can increase character fidelity, if done well. If done poorly, then it can decrease character fidelity. Again, considering 1, this would mean that performance can only improve roleplay in cases where it improves character fidelity. Ergo, the key element here is not performance, but increased character fidelity.

    3) other forms of media that do not include acting can present extremely well formed character representations. Acting does not always improve these representations when the character is transitioned to a new medium. Therefore, acting cannot be the best form of representation if a character by default. It may be, but is not guaranteed to be so, even when gifted actors are involved.

    4) Point 3 becomes even more obvious when the character becomes more fantastical and representation is outsude the physical abilities of the actor. In the case of very fantastical things, acting cannot be said to be a more accurate representation of the character than a non-acted description of behavior may be. The sound of a dragon's roar, for example, can have more fidelity as a description than as acted out by a participant.

    5) Acting also tends to place more of the actor into the role. There's a reason many good actors have a niche if characters they portray (Ben Affleck is a fine actor so long as he's playing a jerk). This often results in a reversion to mean when acting -- tge further away a character's trait is from you, the less well it will be acted. Hollywood can escape this by having scripts and directors, but still fails at times. RPGs have no such controls, and player acting will always revert to closer to the player over time than to the character.

    The above show cases where acting dies not result in the best roleplay. I've already acceded that acting can be a natural way to improve character fidelity, but it is not sufficient or necessary to do so. I like acting, I'm good at it (for tabletop purposes), and tend to prefer it as my approach. I harbor no illusions, though, that my preference is the GoodRightFun of roleplaying, and try to pay attention for those places where acting out decreases fidelity.

  7. #287
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    This not at all my experience. ''Ease" or "difficulty" is entirely a matter of the DM. I can make a killer dungeon in any edition. I can run through a stack of photocopied character sheets in any edition. It's not particularly hard in any edition to make the game difficult. So I'm having a hard time understanding how you can judge which edition was easier.
    Well, starting with 3e there were explicit encounter guidelines. They may not have always delivered a consistent level of difficulty, but they could be said to tend one way or the other?

    Prior to that you could go off tone, advice, and some vague sense of HD ~= level, sorta.


    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    Even the very definition of role-playing suggests a strong and natural connection between acting and the act of role-playing: "the acting out of the part of a particular person or character, for example as a technique in training or psychotherapy"
    Is that a dictionary definition? Because, if so, it's more likely alluding to Therapy and er.. 'games' that don't involve dice... OK, probably, I've seen some dice that... nevermind.

    However, in the context of a TTRPG, the 'role' may be as prosaic as 'meat shield,' and playing it may just be declaring your character interposing himself between the monsters and his allies.

    When you go back to the roots of TTRPGs, you find wargaming, not improv.

  8. #288
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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.
    So the more a GM does to try and portray the NPC, the better off the game is. I mean, I get the idea in general. But what if he's so bad at doing character voices that it actively undermines his goal?

    This is my point. I understand yours and would agree with a general "do what you can to enhance immersion" kind of approach. But I think what will increase immersion is very different from table to table, as these discussions always display.

    So for me, a more suitable approach is to tailor how you try to enhance immersion to the specific participants.

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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.
    I think I was a bit unclear....I didn't mean immersion wasn't essential to roleplaying. I meant speaking in character dialogue wasn't essential to it. People can indeed roleplay just fine by describing what their character does. Can speaking in character dialogue help add to that? Sure, for many people. For others, it's a distraction, or it's something they struggle with and so their immersion is lessened because their enjoyment is lessened. And so on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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.
    I don't think you can objectively show this. Even with your specific definition of cinematic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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.
    So those action declarations are all a bit more than simply "I attack" and that's great....that's very much in line with how my group tends to handle that stuff. However, they do all basically boil down to "I attack". If someone were transcribing the game, they'd likely say "and then Sir Smite attacked the orc chief" rather than saying "Pressed by the brute, Sir Smite deftly sidestepped, and brought his longsword to bear".

    I don't know if it's essential that everyone at the table be picturing exactly the same thing in their heads when they picture the action of the game. Hopefully, it's fairly similar. But even with your examples, there's still plenty of room for people to picture things differently. And why shouldn't there be?

    I don't know if immersion requires everyone to be picturing exactly the same thing. I think there is plenty of fiction that we can point to where descriptions are sparse, and yet engaging and immersive. I don't agree that it's different for gaming in this regard.


    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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.
    I actually find that sometimes, speaking as a player can be far more enlightening than speaking in character. As a player, I can actually say much more about my character's motivations and desires in that moment than the character would actually say. So while the character may be limited in what he can say....he's going to ask the Duke for help....but the player can elaborate on that in the way narration does in fiction. Narration and dialogue are both important in that sense. THe character isn't going to point out how the Duke reminds him of his father, and so he's struggling not to just yell at the guy....but the player can.

    And for certain a player could speak both in character and then also speak out of character....i expect this is probably how most games function. But given the depth to which a player can really go to out of character....and can even involve other players and their opinions on the subject....I don't see how in character dialogue is essential to immersion. It can certainly help, and I'm all for it. But its absence does not necessarily diminish immersion or roleplaying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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?"
    Sure, but getting a general consensus on an opinion is still an opinion. It's just the prevailing opinion, not objective fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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.
    I don't think it's irrelevant at all. The mechanics of a game and how they attempt to push the game in specific ways is vitally important. If the players are able to have input on the fictional elements involving the Duke, then they're likely very engaged and immersed. Others may find that to lessen immersion because it gives them too much influence as a player....and that's a valid view, as well.

    But to dismiss the mechanics and the procedure and their impact on play as irrelevant seems to me a pretty odd contention.

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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.
    I'm not sure I follow what you mean here....do you mean relying on generation of NPC goals of some kind? Rather than a GM determining the goals, or them being stated in a game book?

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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)
    Sure, I just don't accept the distinction as all that meaningful. I think the similarities are more meaningful than the differences. I think that when descibing a physical action, it will produce an image in another person's mind that can still signifcantly differ from another's mental image despite the amount of detail provided. They'll be picturing something close enough for the purposes of a game. If someone describes a non-physical action, and instead summarizes what they want, I the shared imagining will be sufficient for the purpose of a RPG.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Well, starting with 3e there were explicit encounter guidelines.
    Sure. But they were guidelines, and even if I was inclined to rigidly follow someone else's guidelines, it's trivial matter to show that two groups of 13 encounters with the same encounter levels have vastly different difficulties. Likewise, not even published modules rigidly adhered to those guidelines.

    More to t he point, if you read the 1e DMG, while Gygax doesn't give as detailed of accounting of the math underlying the system, he does give guidelines regarding finding a balance between challenge and the ability to achieve success, and disparages DMing that veers to far to either side. He also gives what amounts to dungeon construction guidelines in the appendixes, regarding what level of monsters are to be encountered by players of a particular level and in what proportions. So all the basic ideas in 3e encounter guidelines are still there, he's just not as forward with his math.

    Is that a dictionary definition?
    Yes, the first one I found. I could look for more, but they'd likely be of the same character.

    Because, if so, it's more likely alluding to Therapy and er.. 'games' that don't involve dice... OK, probably, I've seen some dice that... nevermind.
    Role-playing is role-playing whether it is done as a leisure activity or for some other more serious purpose.

    When you go back to the roots of TTRPGs, you find wargaming, not improv.
    The two things aren't mutually exclusive. The direct ancestor of Blackmoor, the first RPG in the modern sense, was a Braunstein - which was an entirely improvisational wargame. And a Braunstein is directly the descendent of professional war games which were used for occupational training, and which - importantly to this conversation - would have featured participants required to give and write orders as if the situation they were in was actually occurring for real. And while you are trying to explain to me what the ancestors of an RPG are, I think it would be instructional to think about why they represented something new and not just another sort of wargame. While I don't think there was a conscious decision to marry a wargame with theater games, almost everything about an RPG can be found one or the other in games that preexisted the modern RPG.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    Role-playing is role-playing whether it is done as a leisure activity or for some other more serious purpose.
    I can't agree. Both the 'role' and the 'playing' refer to quite different things depending on whether you're roleplaying with a therapist, a friend-with-benefits, or a GM...
    ...or a director.

    The two things aren't mutually exclusive.
    You can improv all you want in the context of a TT wargame - or not at all - it'll have no effect on play, and at worst might annoy your fellow player & the judge, if any.
    I don't think there's a lot of wargaming at improv theatre groups, nor that they'd be impressed with the thespianism of the guy in the bicorn hat, commanding his tin soldiers.


    The direct ancestor of Blackmoor, the first RPG in the modern sense, was a Braunstein - which was an entirely improvisational wargame.
    From the little I've heard of it, sounds more like a spiritual predecessor of LARPs and quasi-RPGs like Fiasco.
    And, D&D is generally accepted as the first TTRPG or FRPG, in the modern sense.

    I think it would be instructional to think about why they represented something new and not just another sort of wargame
    OT1H, they /are/ just another sort of wargame: small scale, generally cooperative on some level, with more players, and the judge's role sucked in & subverted. OTOH, some of those difference are notable. The judge becoming the GM, for instance, and the closely related (but not exactly fast or even) move towards being less competitive & more cooperative, for instance.

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