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D&D 5E 5e consequence-resolution

That's....not changing the situation. Like, at all. "X didn't work" is not, in and of itself, a change of situation. "X didn't work, so now we have to fight our way through the guards" is a change of situation. "You literally just fail and absolutely nothing happens" doesn't include that.
I mean you don't have to fight trough the guards. You can just give up. But the players probably won't. Their choice though.

So....you'd never write an adventure where the players get trapped somewhere and have to escape somehow? That's an adventure where a specific event--escape--HAS to happen in order to proceed.

That's obviously a neat, simple example. But there are TONS of stories where the only sensible path forward requires certain events to occur. E.g. there's a problem far away that needs to be resolved, that means the party needs to do one specific thing...get there. Or there's a location that needs to be found before someone else finds it, which means the party needs to do one specific thing...find it.
I mean, there usually is a a lot of different way to achieve the outcome, many of which are such that the GM hasn't even though about them. Also, the PC not reaching "the goal" should be a valid outcome. Otherwise how is this just not a railroad?

Like I said: it's actually a lot harder than people give credit for to absolutely avoid ever possibly giving situations where some particular thing needs to happen.
Well, if you don't use system which lets you just "fail forward" onwards on the rails, then you have to think in terms of avoiding such dead ends and you get better at it. Do such situations still sometimes crop up? Perhaps. And sometimes the characters just fail to achieve their goal. That's thing that can happen on a game.
 

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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I mean you don't have to fight trough the guards. You can just give up. But the players probably won't. Their choice though.


I mean, there usually is a a lot of different way to achieve the outcome, many of which are such that the GM hasn't even though about them. Also, the PC not reaching "the goal" should be a valid outcome. Otherwise how is this just not a railroad?
I would never write an adventure where, in order to escape, a lock must be picked.
Again: so you're saying that literally every adventure that has "you have to escape" is a railroad? You'd never, ever write an escape as part of an adventure?

Because that seems pretty limiting. There's a lot of good stories that can't be told if "escape from a place" is completely verboten.

Well, if you don't use system which lets you just "fail forward" onwards on the rails,
Stop. "Fail forward" does not mean railroad. That's an assumption you ported in.

then you have to think in terms of avoiding such dead ends and you get better at it. Do such situations still sometimes crop up? Perhaps. And sometimes the characters just fail to achieve their goal. That's thing that can happen on a game.
"Think in terms of avoiding such dead ends" is what fail forward is for.
 

Again: so you're saying that literally every adventure that has "you have to escape" is a railroad? You'd never, ever write an escape as part of an adventure?
No. But if you have just one linear path which allows the escape, then it pretty much is.

Because that seems pretty limiting. There's a lot of good stories that can't be told if "escape from a place" is completely verboten.
It's not verboten. There just isn't one correct way to escape. And in an extreme case, the PC might fail to escape, just like in some other extreme case a TPK might happen.

Stop. "Fail forward" does not mean railroad. That's an assumption you ported in.
No. But how you want to use it comes close. You have determined there is just one way to accomplish the goal, and regardless of whether the players roll well or badly, they progress on that path, the roll merely determines how bumpy the ride is.

"Think in terms of avoiding such dead ends" is what fail forward is for.
Right. And I say it is fine for such dead ends sometimes to occur. Sometimes you just don't succeed.
 

Oofta

Legend
That's....not changing the situation. Like, at all. "X didn't work" is not, in and of itself, a change of situation. "X didn't work, so now we have to fight our way through the guards" is a change of situation. "You literally just fail and absolutely nothing happens" doesn't include that.
Sometimes X just doesn't work and there is no alternative. It's not going to be rocks fall everyone dies in my game, but it may mean they didn't get loot or something shiny. Failure can just mean you fail.
So....you'd never write an adventure where the players get trapped somewhere and have to escape somehow? That's an adventure where a specific event--escape--HAS to happen in order to proceed.

That's obviously a neat, simple example. But there are TONS of stories where the only sensible path forward requires certain events to occur. E.g. there's a problem far away that needs to be resolved, that means the party needs to do one specific thing...get there. Or there's a location that needs to be found before someone else finds it, which means the party needs to do one specific thing...find it.

Like I said: it's actually a lot harder than people give credit for to absolutely avoid ever possibly giving situations where some particular thing needs to happen.
As a DM I can always adjust plans. They fail to achieve any of the options I thought of? Then I figure out what the consequences are, or I'll get creative and come up with some other alternative. There won't be a single option, but the PCs don't have to always win, sometimes the heroes don't escape. 🤷‍♂️
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
There won't be a single option, but the PCs don't have to always win, sometimes the heroes don't escape. 🤷‍♂️
So...they rot in jail for the rest of their lives?

And, again, please for the love of God, stop characterizing this as "the PCs always win if you don't do things Oofta's way." It's extremely grating. I gave my reasons why I thought you were saying failure had to take one and only one form. Why do you keep saying this, when I have repeatedly and explicitly rejected it?
 

Oofta

Legend
So...they rot in jail for the rest of their lives?
Worst case scenario? Maybe. I rarely have TPKs or TPPs (total party prisoners?) but it can and has happened.
And, again, please for the love of God, stop characterizing this as "the PCs always win if you don't do things Oofta's way." It's extremely grating. I gave my reasons why I thought you were saying failure had to take one and only one form. Why do you keep saying this, when I have repeatedly and explicitly rejected it?
I'm honestly not sure what you're saying. You say there will always be an alternative, I point out that it's not always the case. Somehow that turns into "PCs always win" ... but there are always alternatives ... but they don't win ... I don't understand what you're trying to say.

It rarely ends a campaign for those PCs although it can. More likely is they just fail to achieve some goal and have to pursue other completely unrelated goals.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Did you mean to type "following the rational people don’t succeed at anything" or "following the rational people don’t succeed at everything"? Big difference. I'm going to assume the latter.
Sorry, I didn’t express myself properly. Let me try again.

correct me if I’m wrong but from what I gather, you prefer to keep the narrative that people don’t always succeed at everything among other reasons, to remain immersed in the gaming world.

To me, this looks like keeping the mystery, loss of opportunity, and failure in general as part of the reality of adventurers, are worthwhile consequences for you and your group.

[edit] fixed autocorrect typo.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I see where @Crimson Longinus is coming from. If the OP is being described as "fail forwards", then it's fairly evident that this use is going to be in service of what the GM wants. I've described it as appending "rocks fall" to standard task resolution, and I mean that. It's a justification for the GM to arbitrarily introduce GM desired content on any failure, regardless of what the players understand is at risk. In this summation, the risks are not clear to the players, and the consequence space considered steps far outside the task itself, and become just another injection point for the GM to direct play that has some form of thin justification. And, in this case, if it's being characterized as "fail forwards" then this use is being inserted there as well. I think that calling it "fail forward" is incorrect.

To explain, I'm going to restate a few things. "Task resolution" is when you are resolving a specific action and only considering that action space. Climbing a wall, where resolution is about if you do so, or can't find a start, or fall partway up, is task resolution. The task is climbing, and the resolution only concerns itself with resolving that task.

"Conflict resolution" is where there's something larger than a task at stake. Getting access to the Archduke's private library which is heavily guarded is a conflict -- I want something, there's something in the way, we're resolving a conflict. If the system is taking the resolution process as resolving this conflict, and not a specific task along the way, you have conflict resolution. If a player declares an action to address this, we're not resolving that task, but the conflict. So, here, if the player declares sneaking in, we're resolving that action in a sense that will determine if you get the goal or not. We don't really care how well you slip past the guards or whatever.

To bring this to the OP example, the problem in that example is that the proposed action "open the safe" is a task -- it's already seated directly in the task space because we're examining what happens if the attempt to open the safe succeeds or fails. The suggestion is adding non-task related consequence to the failure of the task, but the resolution is still very task oriented (and 5e is very task oriented in general, so this makes sense). If it was a conflict, then the question would be different. We wouldn't really care how well you do picking the lock, because that's up in the air until we resolve the conflict, and that conflict is going to have to be "what we want is inside the safe." Then you resolve, and find out if that is true or not (or is true with complication, etc.). Here, opening or not opening the safe is going to be color used to describe how the conflict resolved. If successful, you clearly opened the safe. If not, maybe the safe is unopenable, or the OP's idea of nothing in the safe.

And so now we're back to "fail forwards." All fail forwards means is don't dead end the game where there's nothing more to do. This comes from having a single roll or event be necessary to play, and the GM has nothing to present if this isn't accomplished. Fail forward just means that you don't do this -- a failure doesn't stop the game or leave it in a weird limbo where players have no idea what to do next. This often happens with scripted play (again, linear, railroad, whatever's du jour) where you have to pass through the next wicket for play to continue. In this sense, fail forward can be a tool to keep things moving along the rails. You see this quite often in task resolution games, like 5e, where you're accidentally hinging a conflict on a task and having realized that you dead end the failure. Plenty of advice has been given to avoid this (no one path, etc.) and all of that is really incorporating fail forwards. Fail forwards is super simple -- don't dead end.

Now, if you're actually using conflict resolution and not task resolution, this gets easier because you're not hinging conflict on task. You're being open on the conflict, and everyone is aware of the stakes and the results and how you got where you got, and it's very easy to redefine the conflict with the consequence or to move to a different conflict since this one doesn't work. However, conflict resolution isn't something you can just drop into a game -- games orient their systems quite differently and 5e is not well suited to conflict resolution. Which is why the OP's idea of marrying the front end of 5e's task resolution to the back end of conflict resolution is really nothing more than justifying another GM story injection point while keeping players in the dark about how things work.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Again: so you're saying that literally every adventure that has "you have to escape" is a railroad? You'd never, ever write an escape as part of an adventure?

I don’t think you are reading the actual words I wrote.

I would never have a challenge with a (single) prescribed solution.
 
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Oofta

Legend
Sorry, I didn’t express myself properly. Let me try again.

correct me if I’m wrong but what I gather, you prefer to keep the narrative that people don’t always succeed at everything among other reasons, to remain immersed in the gaming world.

To me, this looks like keeping the mystery, loss of opportunity, and failure in general as part of the reality of adventurers, are worthwhile conveniences for you and your group.
Yes. It doesn't happen all that often but it can happen. Other times I'll have a plan B in mind or the players come up with something I didn't think of.

I tend to run very flexible campaigns. Unlike published mods which generally have to have at least some outline of adventure paths, I don't have set ideas of what will happen. I create NPCs and organizations, decide conflict points and potential story hooks. Then if the PCs decide to investigate the residence of X, I'll decide what type of residence makes sense for X and set the residence up appropriately. That can be anything from a cave because X is an ogre to a trap filled kobold lair to a mansion on the hill protected by powerful magic because X is a vampire with a wizard thrall.

How the PCs try to achieve their goals is up to them, I just try to set reasonable and interesting obstacles in the way. The obstacles frequently aren't planned ahead of time other than a broad outline. Big successes or failures will rarely hinge on a single roll but they can.
 

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