A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life

pemerton

Legend
This thread is a spin-off of this thread. Its immediate trigger is the following post:

they take the immediate step toward that goal "I go down the street to Lofty Silkworm Teahouse and look for people who might be part of Bone Breaking Sect".
This is an interesting example.

In B/X or Gygax's AD&D, this is Mother May I - there is no rule for resolving this beyond the GM's decision about whether or not sect members may be found at the Teahouse.

In Oriental Adventures there is a mechanic for this, available through the otherwise rather weak yakuza class. In Classic Traveller, this can be done via the Streetwise skill. Neither offers any guidance for how to establish or handle consequences of failure.

In Burning Wheel there is a mechanic for this (Circles and -Wises checks) and also a clear procedure for establishing and handling consequences.

If a group doesn't want Mother May I, but does want hunting down sect members to be part of play, then it makes sense to choose a system that will facilitate this. (As [MENTION=99817]chaochou[/MENTION] suggested in his post.)
It is no more mother may I than real life is mother may I. The players are going to a specific place looking for something. It isn’t binary. Anything could be there, including other leads. The GM isnt playing mother may I, the GM is serving as the mechanic to determine the outcome.
In real life, people move through a physcially-structured environment where events happen in accordance with causal processes. Notions of request, permission, decision etc have no explanatory work to do in relation to real-life causal processes (except for a rather narrow range of phenomena involving interactions between human beings).

At a RPG table, in the situation being described in the posts above, the players give rise to an idea - our PCs find some sect members at the teahouse - and they suggest that that idea should be an element of the fiction that is being collectively created at the table. The GM then decides whether or not that idea actually does become part of the shared fiction, and communicates that decision to the players by telling them what it is that their PCs find at the teahouse.

That causal process has very little in common with the causal processes that bring it about that, if I go to a teahouse looking for members of a particular sect, I find any of them there. The most obvious difference is that whether or not, in real life, I meet any sect members doesn't depend upon whether anyone takes up a suggestion I make about an interesting idea.

Whether or not the GM making decisions about the gameworld, and then conveying that to the players, makes for good RPGing seems a matter of taste. But whether or not such a process is like real life seems a straightforward matter of fact. It's not.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I am not going to participate in this thread like I told you in the Original, but I will respond here since you quoted me and started a thread with it.

I think we just have a fundamental disagreement about what an RPG is trying to do and how much it can feel like a real world experience. Obviously the GM isn't a going to run a simulation of reality, but a GM can emulate the physics of reality, genre, etc. Different GMs will be using different logic and be emulating different concepts. But there is nothing in the GM fielding players going to a tea house looking for people that needs to be different than me going to a tea house looking for people in real life (or different from characters in a movie going to a tea house looking for people). You are insisting on the primacy of the GM weighing the suggestion. The GM isn't under an obligation to do so. A GM might simply ask him or herself "what is reasonably at the teahouse". It doesn't have to connect to the player's suggested course of action. It can, but it doesn't have to. My issue is you are making a very binary, yes or no, proposition. And you are failing to capture the full nuance and immersion of this style of play, while reducing it to the pejorative label "Mother may I".

And my point wasn't about reality simulation. It was just that the tea house example isn't any more mother may I, than a person going to a teahouse and not finding what they are looking for is mother may I. A good GM is trying to create a world that feels authentic and real, or that feels like it sufficiently emulates the genre that he setting is set in. You are focusing on why the players want to go to the teahouse, but another way to describe what is going on is "Players go to the teahouse and the GM decides what is there". That isn't like a game of mother may I. Especially if the GM populates the teahouse with all kinds of possibilities (which often happens). Framing it as 'request, permission and decision' just doesn't reflect what this style is about. Again, you make good arguments, but nothing you say at all matches what I see at the table.

At a RPG table, in the situation being described in the posts above, the players give rise to an idea - our PCs find some sect members at the teahouse - and they suggest that that idea should be an element of the fiction that is being collectively created at the table. The GM then decides whether or not that idea actually does become part of the shared fiction, and communicates that decision to the players by telling them what it is that their PCs find at the teahouse.
Not really. The GM just decides what is at the Tea House. He isn't necessarily weighing what the players suggest at all. The players are not really suggesting anything either. That is just their reason for going to the tea house. Just like in real life. When I go to the store because I am hoping to run into my friend Marco, doesn't mean I won't bump into something equally engaging that I wasn't expecting, or bump into Marco's wife instead and hear news that he is in the hospital. I think you are assuming I am there to try to meet dramatic expectations that the players have in their minds, and that anytime they suggest something, that is what I am considering. But I am not. I don't shy away from drama. I just don't look to the players for the dramatic suggestions in that way.

Note: not going to respond any further to this one.

EDIT: Also just want to note, while a game world isn't physical like the real world, part of world building is developing the geography, the institutions, etc. So there is still a sense of movement through physical space and a sense of people being connected to various things. In the tea house example one of the first things I am going to consider when I decide what is in the teahouse is what groups and organizations are active nearby. That will give me an idea of who is likely to be present. It might not be someone from Bone Breaker sect like the players want, but there is a reasonable chance someone useful will be there. Again though, the guiding factor is going to be who is in the region. Sometimes I will consider dramatic reasons as well. But I am more sparing with those.
 
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I

Immortal Sun

Guest
This thread needs a big fat "If you assume all RPGs and all tables function in this manner."

They don't.

So, I guess we're done?
 

S'mon

Legend
If the GM already has the tea house detailed, it functions exactly like real life - the PCs find what is already there.

Otherwise the GM can wing it, perhaps by setting a reasonable probability. This can be done with a purely world-simulationist mindset, which emulates real life fairly closely in outcomes though not in process. Or it can be done with a dramatist mindset, considering what would be cool/dramatic. Or a gamist mindset, what would be a good challenge for the players.
 

pemerton

Legend
If the GM already has the tea house detailed, it functions exactly like real life - the PCs find what is already there.
I don't think it's exactly like real life at all! Bracketing complex theological questions, the occupants of a teahouse in real life aren't there because someone thought that was a worthwhile exercise of his/her creative imagination.

Otherwise the GM can wing it, perhaps by setting a reasonable probability. This can be done with a purely world-simulationist mindset, which emulates real life fairly closely in outcomes though not in process. Or it can be done with a dramatist mindset, considering what would be cool/dramatic.
The fact that these aesthetic choices have to be made (whether expressly or implicitly) is a big part of what marks the contrast with real life. Bracketing some complex philosophical questions, real life isn't primarily an aesthetically-governed lesure time activity.
 

S'mon

Legend
I don't think it's exactly like real life at all! Bracketing complex theological questions, the occupants of a teahouse in real life aren't there because someone thought that was a worthwhile exercise of his/her creative imagination.
I said it functions like real life. Whatever the pre-game process that created the teahouse.
 

pemerton

Legend
Walking through a physical space and experiencing it has very little in common with imagining or pretending one is walking through a physical space while actually sitting around with friends and having one of them recite a descritption of what is there.

I'd also like to suggest that this thread is not about what a "good GM" does or doesn't do. It's about analysis of gameplay, not preferences for gameplay.
 

Sadras

Explorer
Pemerton some of us prefer to focus on the ROLEplaying part of the game rather than the rolePLAYING part of the game.

Hence we enjoy the RL sim of it rather than just risks and compliations in terms of x and y.
 

pemerton

Legend
I said it functions like real life. Whatever the pre-game process that created the teahouse.
But in that case it functions like real life if the GM makes it up on the spot based on a sense of what will be fun; or if the occupants of the teahouse are determined by resolving a "Luck at finding foes in teahouses" check. That is, some process or other invovling one or more of the people at the table determines who/what is in the teahouse, and then the PCs encounter that person/thing.

To add a bit more analytical detail: the already there always obtains in the fiction. So for it to be significant in respect of GM prep vs GM improv, it has to be talking about the real-world process of content creation. And none of those processes functions like the real life process of going to a teahouse and checking it out.
 

pemerton

Legend
Pemerton some of us prefer to focus on the ROLEplaying part of the game rather than the rolePLAYING part of the game.

Hence we enjoy the RL sim of it rather than just risks and compliations in terms of x and y.
I have no idea how this bears on the thread topic. It seems to be about what I said, a few posts up, the thread is not about, namely, your RPGing preferences.
 

Sadras

Explorer
Ok, let us go back to your OP.

In real life, people move through a physcially-structured environment where events happen in accordance with causal processes. Notions of request, permission, decision etc have no explanatory work to do in relation to real-life causal processes (except for a rather narrow range of phenomena involving interactions between human beings).
The causal process for which the sect is at the teahouse in RL, is because
x sect members requested each other to be there and meetup;
y sect members decided to go;
z sect members were permitted to go by their respective partners...etc

The DM determines the presence of absence of sect members either at a whim or by roll. So RL is simulated (request, permission, decision) as best he/she can within the gameworld, providing the illusion of RL.

At a RPG table, in the situation being described in the posts above, the players give rise to an idea - our PCs find some sect members at the teahouse - and they suggest that that idea should be an element of the fiction that is being collectively created at the table.
Emphasis mine.
I thought you said this was not about preferences. :erm: The players do not suggest anything. They declare actions. Maybe in your games they suggest but again we would be going down the hole of preferences which is something you state you do not want.

Whether or not the GM making decisions about the gameworld, and then conveying that to the players, makes for good RPGing seems a matter of taste. But whether or not such a process is like real life seems a straightforward matter of fact. It's not.
You have no idea as a character or a RL person if those people are going to be there, so it is exactly like it is in RL.
Which perspective are you debating this from? Because it seems to me like you're jumping all over the place on a topic that for many of us, is a non-issue.

Hence my comment earlier ROLEplaying = the character or rolePLAYING = the gamist (player).
If you are the former, you will see an illusion of RL (if you will), the latter will likely see probabilities, numbers, grids and the DM.

Hope this makes it clearer.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
At a RPG table, in the situation being described in the posts above, the players give rise to an idea - our PCs find some sect members at the teahouse - and they suggest that that idea should be an element of the fiction that is being collectively created at the table.
And already here's the first error: it should read "our PCs TRY TO find some sect members at the teahouse". If the players have already determined out-of-game that there will be sect members at the teahouse then what's the point - much of the mystery is gone, and mystery is why the exploration pillar of the game exists.

The GM then decides whether or not that idea actually does become part of the shared fiction, and communicates that decision to the players by telling them what it is that their PCs find at the teahouse.
Yes.

Walking through a physical space and experiencing it has very little in common with imagining or pretending one is walking through a physical space while actually sitting around with friends and having one of them recite a descritption of what is there.
But it is the same - or close to the same - as imagining myself walking through the James Bay Tea Room, a very real teahouse here in town which, alas, recently closed for good. (or remembering same, memory and imagination sometimes go hand in hand)

The only difference between imagining myself walking through a real-world teahouse that I've seen and a game-world teahouse that I haven't is that someone else has to describe the game-world one to me.

It seems to be about what I said, a few posts up, the thread is not about, namely, your RPGing preferences.
But it does seem to be about yours, I think.
 

pemerton

Legend
But it is the same - or close to the same - as imagining myself walking through the James Bay Tea Room, a very real teahouse here in town which, alas, recently closed for good. (or remembering same, memory and imagination sometimes go hand in hand)

The only difference between imagining myself walking through a real-world teahouse that I've seen and a game-world teahouse that I haven't is that someone else has to describe the game-world one to me.
That's already a difference which can be interesting in many contexts - recollection is not the same thing as pretending, and neither is the same as listening to someone else's story.

But these all have more in common, as processes, than actually going out into the world and exploring a teahouse. For instance, they are all to some extent subject to the will in a way that exploring a teahouse is not.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I am not weighing in on any posts further. But I want to point out my original statement was (paraphrasing) 'it is no more mother may I than real life'. I never, ever, said anything approaching 'it is exactly the same as the real world'. I never argued that the processes underlying reality are the same as the process underlying a game. That is a big fat straw man.
 

pemerton

Legend
You have no idea as a character or a RL person if those people are going to be there, so it is exactly like it is in RL.
Suppose that whether or not a sect member is in the teahouse is determined by making a "Luck at finding foes in teahouses" check. Prior to making the check, I have no idea as a character or a RL person whether or not those people are going to be there, so that would be exactly like RL also.

So if every method of resolution that allows for player-side uncertainty is exactly like RL, then the distinction between eg ROLEplaying and rolePLAYING goes away.

But the point of my OP is this: whether or not I find someone in a teahouse in real life isn't the result of someone exercising their creative decision-making powers in respect of the contents of my life. Whereas whether or not my PC findis someone in a teahouse in a game where that outcome is decided unilaterally by the GM is the result of someone exercising their creative decision-making powers in respect of the contents of the gameworld. Those two states of affairs are very different.

The causal process for which the sect is at the teahouse in RL, is because
x sect members requested each other to be there and meetup;
y sect members decided to go;
z sect members were permitted to go by their respective partners...etc

The DM determines the presence of absence of sect members either at a whim or by roll. So RL is simulated (request, permission, decision) as best he/she can within the gameworld, providing the illusion of RL.
In RL, sect members might be in a teahouse because it started raining and they took shelter; or because one of their mums was having a birthday party at the teahouse; or any myriad reasons that no one has ever thought of yet (because there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of even in my philosophy!).

The sheer causal variety and complexity of the world, and its causal autonomy from human cogniition and expectation, is one of the things that makes RL processes radically different from exercises of narrative power.

Even in your examples: the thing that, in RL or in the imagined fiction, makes a cultist leader grant permission to some cultists to take time off and visit the teahouse is completely different from the thing that, in ROL, makes a GM decide that a cultist leader granted such a permission. Maybe the cultist leader granted permission because of the look of longing in the eyes of the young cultist. But the GM didn't decide to make it part of the fiction that the leader grants permission because s/he was moved by a subordinate's look of longing.

The GM's cognitive and creative processes don't simulate or mirror the imagined ingame causal processes (which are, in most non-surreal games, intended to simulate or mirror RL causal processes).

The players do not suggest anything. They declare actions.
When a player declares "I go to the teahouse to look for cultists", that puts a possibility on the table that wasn't there before - namely, that the PC in question goes to the teahouse and finds some cultists there. An action declaration makes some possible evolution of the fiction salient in a way that, prior to the declaration, it wasn't. If you don't like to call that a suggestion then I'm open to other terminology.

(I'm using the word "suggestion" because Vincent Baker does: "When you're roleplaying, what you're doing is a) suggesting things that might be true in the game and then b) negotiating with the other participants to determine whether they're actually true or not. . . . Mechanics . . . exist to ease and constrain real-world social negotiation between the players at the table.")
 
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Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Guys just want to point out once again, Pemerton is forcing you into a rhetorical position where you are defending that reality and the game are the same. This isn't really addressing the assertion originally made, and is just being used to weaken the position. Saying something is like something, something feels like something, etc, isn't the same as saying they are identical (or subject to the same processes). Also, he is using a lot of buzz terms and jargon to confuse the debate and get people to accept his assumptions. Again, not responding to this thread specifically, but since my post started it, I think it is worth pointing out the kind of tactics being employed. Don't fall for the straw man.
 

S'mon

Legend
Is going to a tea house in a computer game like going to a tea house IRL, or going to a tea house in a TTRPG?

The CRPG tea house was created by the programmer. He didn't create it based on the desires of the player. He decided to make a tea house independent of player preference, just like the IRL creators of a tea house made it without reference to my preference.

Likewise, in some TTRPGs a tea house may be created as in the CRPG - independent of player desire/preference.

Pemerton you seem to see the TTRPG world as something that is always and necessarily created in a manner I recognise from Ron Edwards posts and Nar games, but is not really how simulationist play creates the world. And you seem to want to erase the distinction between the two approaches, or are confused about the difference. Hopefully the videogame example makes it clearer.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
That's already a difference which can be interesting in many contexts - recollection is not the same thing as pretending, and neither is the same as listening to someone else's story.

But these all have more in common, as processes, than actually going out into the world and exploring a teahouse. For instance, they are all to some extent subject to the will in a way that exploring a teahouse is not.
The point you are missing is the GM is trying to emulate the experience of exploring the tea house. It isn't meant to be a full simulation of real life. It is meant to capture the feel and to emulate it in a simplified manner. It may not have all the complexity of the real world (which is vast with too many moving parts and unknowns to quantify for game purposes), but you can reduce it to a pretty simple logical process going on in the GMs brain and accept that that is a good approximation of the experience for game purposes. Obviously you don't. That is fine. But you are telling people something that completely goes against their experience at the game table (and you are doing it in a way that casts their experience as childs play). Innerdude isn't looking for the experience I am advocating, so I am happy to let him have fun however he wants without characterizing his style as something negative. I am just weighing in because in the process of this discussing, a style and approach I enjoy was mischaracterized. And that does matter because these kinds of conversations shape peoples' expectations. Eventually we run into people who get their idea about exploration play from Pemerton and we have to demonstrate that it isn't as bad or silly as he made it out to be.

And again have to emphasize, this tangent was brought on as result of me simply saying something to the effect of "it is no more mother may I than real life".
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't think it's exactly like real life at all! Bracketing complex theological questions, the occupants of a teahouse in real life aren't there because someone thought that was a worthwhile exercise of his/her creative imagination.

The fact that these aesthetic choices have to be made (whether expressly or implicitly) is a big part of what marks the contrast with real life. Bracketing some complex philosophical questions, real life isn't primarily an aesthetically-governed lesure time activity.
While it's not exactly like real life at all, it is similar to real life in that the PCs may or may not find what they are looking for based off of the likelihood that what they seek is there.

In real life if I go to the local tea house looking for members of the mafia, I may or may not find some there. If the mafia runs the tea house, the chances that I will find members there are high. If the mafia does not run the local tea house, then it's still possible that some member of the mafia likes tea and just happens to be there, but the odds are fairly slim that I will just happen to be there at the same time. Similarly, in the game if I am looking for sect members at the local tea house and the sect operates and owns it, the DM will give it a very high likelihood, possibly even auto success. Otherwise, there would be a chance of finding a sect member who happens to be there due to enjoyment of tea, but it will be unlikely that I happen to be there at just the right moment.

Obviously the DM cannot hope to mirror all of the real life factors that go into the possibility if meeting a mafia member at the local tea house, but he can approximate the process through his knowledge of the game world. This is NOT mother may I. Mother may I would require the DM being a gate keeper to the actions of the PCs. A DM whose player has to ask the DM if he can go to the local tea house to look for sect members at all would be playing mother may I. Simply adjudicating the results of the player's declaration based on the DM's knowledge of the game world does not gate keep the action. It's how rules state that the game is played.

Mother May I

Player: DM, may I go to the local tea house to look for some sect members.

DM: Yes/No.

Not Mother May I

Player:I go to the local tea house and see if I can find some of the local sect members.

DM: (thinking to self) the tea house isn't run by the sect, but it's the only leisure food place in town. I'd give it a 15% chance that there happens to be a sect member present. (rolls some dice and determines that none are currently there).

DM: (narrates response to PC action)
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
This can be done with a purely world-simulationist mindset, which emulates real life fairly closely in outcomes though not in process. Or it can be done with a dramatist mindset, considering what would be cool/dramatic. Or a gamist mindset, what would be a good challenge for the players.
These are not even necessarily mutually exclusive. The GM could pick the result that is all three, is two of the three, or mostly one of the three with a little of the other two.
 

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