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4E and RPG Theory (GNS)

marune

First Post
Like some designers' comments hinted to it, D&D is still a confused gamist/simulationist RPG.

In opposition to 3.x, where some of the mechanical parts were confusing on the entailed playstyle, in 4E the confusion comes from the fact that the mechanics is yelling G and the fluff text of both PHB and DMG is yelling S (not everywhere I know).

IMHO, D&D should facilitates a high-exploration gamist play at the challenge level and a vanilla narrativist play at the adventure/campaign level.

The good news is that this is IHMO possible without changing much mechanical rules (maybe the reward system a bit), but only by replacing a lot of the "how D&D should be played" text.

The (very, IMHO) bad news is that simulationism will still be taught by those books as the "official" playstyle to new players.

A first example of what to change :

Original (PHP p.8) : When you play your D&D character, you put yourself into your character’s shoes and make decisions as if you were that character.

i.e. Actor stance is the default.

Changes : Author stance is the default, warn new players agains't pawn stance ->

When you play D&D like in every game, you, as a player, have to make decisions, for example, choosing the best tactics to win a combat. However, because D&D is a role-playing game, you have to share (most of the time) with the other players (DM included) a justification you can imagine that your character had to take this decision. That is different from board games, where you may have to make sure that the others players don't know why you moved your pieces in a certain position.
 
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Kishin

First Post
Charwoman Gene said:
RPG Theory always loses when it plays D&D.

Yet it keeps coming back for more. It needs to be extinguished, tossed in a hole with a depth roughly equivalent to the Marianas Trench, and buried.

G/S/N discussions do nothing but create 20 pages of pointless bickering. They, never, ever provide any sort of clarity or meaningful insight.
 

marune

First Post
Byronic said:
The original sounds more exciting and perhaps more inviting to new players.

I didn't put much effort in the wording, sorry.

The key idea is to prevent nailing down to new players that roleplaying is defined as / limited to actor stance.

I'll come back with other ugly things coming from the DMG later.


BTW, I put RPG theory in the title, if you don't care for it, simply ignore the thread !
 

Fifth Element

First Post
Kishin said:
G/S/N discussions do nothing but create 20 pages of pointless bickering. They, never, ever provide any sort of clarity or meaningful insight.
What he said. 15 of those pages tend to be people arguing over what S even means.
 

marune

First Post
Fifth Element said:
What he said. 15 of those pages tend to be people arguing over what S even means.

This thread is not about the merit/flaws of RPG theory nor about it's definitions. If you don't want to talk about RPG theory in 4E, just ignore the thread.

Please don't fill up this thread with other "RPG suck" posts.
 



Darrin Drader

First Post
I can't imagine any version of D&D that doesn't have gamist and simulationist elements, and also mixes the two from time to time. If you want a game that is very much like D&D but is 100% gamist, try Descent by FFG. It takes all the fun roleplaying stuff out and puts your party on a board against the overlord and the monsters he spawns. With enough house ruling, you might even get something where the overlord doesn't win 9 times out of 10.

I really don't have a problem with 3.5 having gamist and simulationist elements, nor would I care if 4E has both. That's just part of the contradiction of playing an RPG. Most players are just as interested in the tactical challenges as they are shaping the world they are exploring. Both sides of the argument should come together, be happy, and throw a party.
 



marune

First Post
Whisperfoot said:
I can't imagine any version of D&D that doesn't have gamist and simulationist elements, and also mixes the two from time to time.

I said I wasn't gonna talk about the theory itself, but I'm tired of this one.

It's not a gamist vs simulationist elements problem.

100% gamist doesn't translate to a board game.

You can have a pretty high level of Exploration in a gamist RPG, without having a simuliationist gameplay.

A simulationist gameplay is when Exploration is the main goal of play. When exploration is not the main goal, but still there, it is gamist or narrativist play. No Exploration = pawn stance = board game.

------------

Now with the real issue :

The problem with 4E is that 2/3 the text says G and 1/3 the text says S.

2/3 is all the stuff that describe encounters as challenges to beat.

1/3 is all the stuff that stays that winning/loosing encounters isn't really that important because the DM will weave a fun story around it anyway.
 
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Oni

First Post
I'm not sure I see what the problem is?

Why is it bad that new players are told to make decisions as if they were in their character shoes?

And isn't it by virtue of being included in the books the intended thrust of the game. Whats having wrong with having a mix of playstyle tied up in the presentation of the books, isn't part of what makes this game what it is and not something else?
 

marune

First Post
Oni said:
I'm not sure I see what the problem is?

Why is it bad that new players are told to make decisions as if they were in their character shoes?

And isn't it by virtue of being included in the books the intended thrust of the game. Whats having wrong with having a mix of playstyle tied up in the presentation of the books, isn't part of what makes this game what it is and not something else?

Because it creates lose-lose situations for the players.

My character is a elven paladin of Correlon, Lawful Good and with X and Y as personality traits.

If I choose my action using my character definition, I'll do A.

If I choose my action using the best strategy, I'll do B.

If I do A, other players can blame me for loosing the encounter.

If I do B, other players can blame me for not playing my character like he is defined.

Worse, a good part of the text seems to says that the second reasoning is expected and another good part says that it is the first.

That's the first simulationist-driving aspect of 4E.

The other one is in the DMG, in the "how to be a DM" chapter where Illusionism is clearly promoted. (Loosing / winning encounters isn't too important, because the DM will find a way to make it a fun story anyway)
 
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the Jester

Legend
But seriously, if you wanted a rule set that rewrote everything like you did, you would prolly double the size of the PH. Your rewritten passage doesn't really improve the statement you rewrote, and doesn't really convey the same information.

A roleplaying game always has elements of, you know, playing a role. That's why they call it that. A quick statement that sums this up (like "When you play your D&D character, you put yourself into your character’s shoes and make decisions as if you were that character") wins. Your rewrite of the statement is neither clear nor concise, nor does it convey what an rpg is about very well ("share [...] a justification"?).

Have you actually read the 4e books already? I know pirated copies are going around like mad, as are "early" copies. (I'll see some pirate pdfs tonight, as one of my friends was given them by one of his friends.)
 

marune

First Post
the Jester said:
But seriously, if you wanted a rule set that rewrote everything like you did, you would prolly double the size of the PH. Your rewritten passage doesn't really improve the statement you rewrote, and doesn't really convey the same information.

A roleplaying game always has elements of, you know, playing a role. That's why they call it that. A quick statement that sums this up (like "When you play your D&D character, you put yourself into your character’s shoes and make decisions as if you were that character") wins. Your rewrite of the statement is neither clear nor concise, nor does it convey what an rpg is about very well ("share [...] a justification"?).

My rewrite has poor wording, I wrote it in less than a minute and English is my second language.

The key idea is that in D&D, the decision should be made according to the best way to beat the challenge. The roleplay kicks in when you share with the other players at the table, using narration or acting, the rationalization that explains how your character has choose to do this action (In many cases, it's easy because both reasoning lead to the same action).

For example, if the paladin didn't save his injured allies (i.e. what we expect from a paladin) because the best strategy was to take down an opponent some squares away, the player has to come with a "justification" for his character do such a thing, doing so, he is roleplaying.

In few words, a group of PC in D&D should never loose an encounter because the players read too much in the "put your character shoes".
 
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SPoD

First Post
skeptic said:
I didn't put much effort in the wording, sorry.

BTW, I put RPG theory in the title, if you don't care for it, simply ignore the thread !

"RPG Theory" does not equal "G/N/S Theory". One can discuss the theories behind RPGs without subscribing to the G/N/S Theory as particularly valid or useful. Some, such as myself, may have come to this thread not knowing what theory of RPGs you wished to discuss. It's not like it's universally accepted; I doubt all the WOTC designers have even read the entire thing.

In fact, I would argue that any theory of RPGs that fails to properly capture the dynamics of the single most frequently-played game in the history of the hobby is inherently flawed, or at least overly simplistic. It's sort of like teaching high school students about basic physics by ignoring all of the factors that complicate things, like air resistance. Interesting to contemplate, useful for beginners, but ultimately not worth spending too much time discussing.
 

pawsplay

First Post
D&D has always had an essentially immersionist philosophy... G, N, and S are all meta. Trying to adopt an explicitly GNS viewpoint is more likely to produce a pathological game than to actually contribute to the experience.
 

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