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

Numidius

Explorer
I'm afraid that you are underestimating the pervasive power of Rule -1: Gamemasters will read and play assuming Rule 0 even when the rule is entirely absent.
As far as my understanding of the game goes, it is not possible with Torchbearer.
 

Numidius

Explorer
You people speaking of in-game time management, made me realize that maybe: in the notorious Thermal Bath sequence, the Gm found himself stuck in aligning Three different time frames: the party in the hot pools (just wanting to relax in the shared imagined fiction without complications as long as possible), my Pc in a different location, that Also sent an 'important' mail via horse rider to another town (the Gm actually made me write it phisically in character, in first person), taking a few days to come back with an answer.
So (I now think) we were supposed to just play day by day "waiting" for the mail to be responded and passing time in the meanwhile, without nothing much happening, because Simulation of Reality (His words: "I am the Casual Link of the game world; nothing less, nothing more")
 
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Sadras

Adventurer
I really think Torchbearer is enormously instructive to this conversation. I would encourage everyone to buy the game and read it through (if not play it).

As a mash-up of (a much more punishing) Moldvay Basic and Burning Wheel, it combines classic dungeon crawl procedures with an indie ethos.
Ok, you've convinced me. ;) That, and I read half a dozen or so reviews and comments and I like what I'm hearing, it seems like it is something I could run and I feel perhaps some of the material might be easy enough to port into our D&D table. Buying it right after this post.

For player-facing games I have a player who when he does DM is excellent and more suited, I believe, for those style of games. The only short-coming he has is that I have had disappointment with campaigns not ending (not always his fault, but he doesn't push enough as DM I feel). So he is great for one-shots and 3-8 session storylines.
 
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Manbearcat

Adventurer
[MENTION=6688277]Sadras[/MENTION]

Awesome! Enjoy.

If you’re going to most likely just port things to your 5e game, focus on Failure handling (Fail Forward with either a Twist or a Condition + you get what you want), Exploration Turns + Condition/Light Clock, gear handling, CampPhase/Rest handling, and the mapbuilding procedures (similar to Travellers Lifepaths but for adventure sites). That’s easily enough ported (but you’re going to have to hack magic Light effects in 5e).
[MENTION=6972053]Numidius[/MENTION] I’ll link here when I post it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Works great in the context of multiple PC groups within the same campaign - the context he assumed.
This is the very context in which my games run - multiple parties within the same campaign and setting - and I still don't like the idea.

And I'll freely admit this leads to more work for me as DM in trying to keep things straight in terms of who might bump into who at what time and in what place, but to me that's just an accepted and necessary part of the job.

Looked at another way: when party A goes out on a mission to the far south for a month, leaving party B and a bunch of spare PCs back in town, there's no built-in assumption of any kind that party B and the spares will just sit in town awaiting A's return. If something comes up for B (and-or the spares) to do in the meantime then they'll go out and do it while A is still away. (sometimes the collective group end up with [or self-generate] several missions at once, and literally decide in-character who's going on which trip)

At the table this would go, on the macro level, like this:

Step 1: we play through party A's adventure until they get back to town, at which point I make it clear that I-as-DM don't know which if any of their friends and associates are here. We sort out A's bookkeeping and put them on hold.
Step 2: we play through party B's adventure until they get back to town, at which point I'll already know whether A is back yet or not but won't know about the spares. We sort out B's bookkeeping and put them on hold.
Step 3: we update the spares and see if they've got up to anything meaningful (usually not, but sometimes yes); and if anything needs to be played through we do so.
Step 4: open-ended. If A and B's time in town doesn't overlap then they probably remain separate, each might cycle in-out some spares and head back out, or the earlier might wait for the later to return to town, or whatever.

[side note - this is a large part of the reason why game time progresses so much slower than real time: we're playing through the same in-game dates more than once, with different parties]

Now if A and B are running side-along on different nights of the week it gets even messier, in that when one gets too far out of synch in game-time with the other I have to somehow slow down the faster group. The simplest answer there is to make up a party C out of the spare PCs and run them on something short while the slower main party catches up in time.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In the context of fiction I think that realism overlaps with, but isn't the same as, verisimilitude and naturalism.

* Verisimilitude is the property of having an intuitive/experiential plausibility - so it depends on the expectations/experiences of the audience. I would say that variable weapon damage in D&D is a manifestation of verisimilitude. Likewise healing rates in Rolemaster (which factor in the nature and location of the injury). Presumably for martial artists, variabe weapon damage is more likely to lack verisimilitude (or at least in more danger of doing so); and presumably for doctors the same is true of the RM healing rules.

* Naturalism is a particular way of presenting a fictional world, as characterised by a certain sort of "ordinariness" or "groundedness". If you've ever read Jack the Giant Killer (I think the version I've read is in the Blue Fairy Book) it is wildly non-naturalistic: giants just pop up, with their treasure, with no rhyme or reason. Whereas I see one of JRRT's major achievements as a writer being to present fairy tale and Arthurian romance-type tropes in the form of a naturalistic novel (eg his treatment of Lorien presents the faerie woods with a faerie queen in the mode of being a real, imaginable and in some sense measurable place). Naturalism can support verisimilitude but isn't necessary for it - the Hobbit is less naturalilstic than LotR (eg Rivendell in the Hobbit really isn't treated naturalistically at all) but I'm not sure it's any less verisimilitudinous. And sometimes the attempt at naturalism can undermine verisimilitude - the naturalistic presentation of the Shire in LotR to me ultimately undercuts verisimilitude because the material standard of living seems utterly implausible to me given the economic geography.

* Realism I would think of as meaning resemblance to or imitation of reality. Lorien is naturaistically presented, but not realistic - what do all those elves eat? and who is making their wine? Likewise the Shire, for the reasons I gave earlier. Conversely, a fiction might be relatively realistic but not very naturalistically presented - some Hal Hartley films are like this, for instance. Realism can support verisimilitude, but not necessarily - it can be quite realistic, for instance, for people's moods or allegiances to swing in volatile ways, but this may undermine verisimilitude or cause the audience to have to question their understanding of or intuitions about the work because they have to reframe it to re-establish plausibility.
Well put.

So the question then becomes this: are verisimilitude, naturalism, and realism (and I'll toss in believability here too) worthy goals a DM should strive for when designing a setting and-or running a RPG?

If no, then fair enough; and our conversation mostly ends there.

But if yes, then the next questions are by what means can one steer one's games closer to these goals; and how far is one willing to go and-or how hard is one willing to push in order to get [closer to] there?

Concepts applied to RPGing
With RPGing, I would think of the above features as properties of the play experience and the fiction it produces, not of systems. (Eg tracking encumbrance may produce a realistic play experience, or not, depending on how the application of the rules plays out in the context of the shared fiction at the table. In 4e I found the outcome unrealistic - even ordinary people seem (to me) inordinately strong; in Traveller the lack of realism feels the same but for the opposite reason - ordinary people seem to be penalised by quite light loads.)
System has a lot to say here, though, and can't be ignored. Consider something as basic as 5' squares vs. fluid spacing for movement and-or combat - and even ignoring the specific mechanics involved in either, consider the tone these things set for the game as a whole.

The reason I point to this example is that one is quite clearly 'gamist', and gamism is frequently the enemy of realism-naturalism-verisimilitude.

(back up a step further even and consider the tone set by the game's rulebook : does it read like a math text [extremely gamist] or a fantasy novel [extremely naturalist], or - as nearly all rulebooks fall somewhere between these - which way does it lean and how obvious are said leanings?)

I think an RPG game/fiction is realistic if the characters who figure in it have plausible and recognisable motivations; if the social contexts and institutions are likewise able to be made sense of (this can be tricky, because human cultures are incredibly diverse and if not familiar can seem quite alien - but I rarely see this done well in RPGs); if the unfolding of events appears to be explicable in its own terms.
I completely agree.

I'll lob in also that having a plausible (within itself) and consistent setting behind it all helps greatly too.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
@Sadras

Awesome! Enjoy.

If you’re going to most likely just port things to your 5e game, focus on Failure handling (Fail Forward with either a Twist or a Condition + you get what you want), Exploration Turns + Condition/Light Clock, gear handling, CampPhase/Rest handling, and the mapbuilding procedures (similar to Travellers Lifepaths but for adventure sites). That’s easily enough ported (but you’re going to have to hack magic Light effects in 5e).
Busy skimming the book. I like it, the system seems tight. It is an easy read, very direct, and everything is well-laid out. The artwork reminiscent of early days roleplaying games. Love some of the ideas.

The weapon list seems to have more properties/qualities than the 5e counterpart which is great and places more weight when choosing one's weapon in a particular conflict. Definitely one of the areas I think 5e could have expanded on.

Selecting a conflict captain is interesting - kind of like a player referee/administrator of sorts.

There are a number of tables, although they are quick and easy to understand, but still intimidating to a newbie as you might feel overwhelmed.

The below caught my eye and thought it was funny to include it. Perhaps they deal with things like this in the town law's section.

To the Dogs
Your remaining fresh rations spoil or go stale. You can discard them at the gates for the beggars and dogs.
I noticed there are quite a few add-ons for Torchbearer - new classes and setting specific rules and the like (including being aboard a sea vessel).

EDIT: I wouldn't hack the game's magic/spells or change 5e, that is more work than I'm prepared to do. There was a time in my teens and 20's where that were possible, not now though. I'd rather play the game as is to experience the magic.

They do recommend one gets the player and GM cards.

Your equipment resources are more important and better tested in this system than 5e due to a number of factors but predominantly because the system demands it and not because of homebrew rules and DM fiat. I definitely recommend this for hardcore, low-magic campaign POL settings.
I read somewhere becoming an adventurer was your first mistake. :lol:

Gaining rewards is interesting: Fight for your Belief, accomplish your Goal, help out with your Instinct.
 
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pemerton

Legend
I think that some dismiss the MMI phenomenon entirely by saying simply "that's just how the game is played." In other words, it's a complete denial that the problem described exists or could exist, which I also find unhelpful.
I just wanted to respond to the fact that your first quoted sentence refers to a phenomenon, but in the second sentence it has transmuted into a problem.

I think "Mother may I", as a term, is a bit like "railroading". That is, everyone largely can grasp what is being conveyed - ie just as everyone knows that a railroad is a game with problematic GM domination (often via pre-authorship) of plot/outcomes, so everyone knows that Mother may I is a game with problematic GM gate-keeping of resolution outcomes - but there is often disagree on what counts as an intance of the phenomenon.

Now let's unpack that disagreement. It seems obvious to me that it's quite possible to acknowledge the existence of either GM role in a given instance of play, while disagreeing that the GM role is a problem. And so when surprised by a description of something as a railroad or Mother may I, a sensible response may be to ask why is the degree of GM authority in this instance regarded as a problem by this person? And if what they are criticsing strikes the surprised person as "just how the game is played", then it also will make sense to ask what different approach to play is the critic using?

In this thread, I've posted several times that those who are surprised by the description of some play as "Mother may I" seem not to be able to step outside a "GM decides" paradigm - and so they envisage "saying no" being replaced with "saying yes". But that's still GM gatekeeeping. I think the key to understanding where the critics of GM decides are coming from is to recognise the possibility of resolution systems that are able to distribute authority across different participants without one participant as gatekeeper. That's why "say 'yes' or roll the dice" and PbtA-type "moves" - both of which are ways of doing this distribution - have figured so prominently as topics in this thread.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
In this thread, I've posted several times that those who are surprised by the description of some play as "Mother may I" seem not to be able to step outside a "GM decides" paradigm - and so they envisage "saying no" being replaced with "saying yes". But that's still GM gatekeeeping. I think the key to understanding where the critics of GM decides are coming from is to recognise the possibility of resolution systems that are able to distribute authority across different participants without one participant as gatekeeper. That's why "say 'yes' or roll the dice" and PbtA-type "moves" - both of which are ways of doing this distribution - have figured so prominently as topics in this thread.
This isn't what is going on Pemerton. This was clarified many times in the thread. And this is part of what I am talking about. I tried to explain my use of language to you, apologized for where it was unclear, but you persist in very uncharitable readings of people posting casual responses. I and the others are fully able to step outside the GM decides paradigm. What it feels like to me is you can't step out of the paradigm that views GM decides as a problem. I can definitely see how it might be a problem for you, and how SYORTD or Moves could be a solution. That is why I have said these are perfectly valid tools. But it feels like you are only looking at GM decides from your point of view, imposing assumptions about it on us, that just don't feel like they match what we experience at the table. The conversation feels like I am reporting to you what I experience and your response is something like "Oh so you mean [insert thing I absolutely didn't say or try to imply]." Perhaps I've misunderstood you. But this is my impression of your position over the course of this thread.
 

Numidius

Explorer
resolution systems that are able to distribute authority across different participants without one participant as gatekeeper.
Paradoxically, an effect of such a distribution of authority, would allow the Gm to go full-on adversarial against the players during the resolution phase, if so wishes, without the need to muffle the blows, fudge, or generally being concerned about fairness of outcomes etc
 
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Numidius

Explorer
This isn't what is going on Pemerton. This was clarified many times in the thread. And this is part of what I am talking about. I tried to explain my use of language to you, apologized for where it was unclear, but you persist in very uncharitable readings of people posting casual responses. I and the others are fully able to step outside the GM decides paradigm. What it feels like to me is you can't step out of the paradigm that views GM decides as a problem. I can definitely see how it might be a problem for you, and how SYORTD or Moves could be a solution. That is why I have said these are perfectly valid tools. But it feels like you are only looking at GM decides from your point of view, imposing assumptions about it on us, that just don't feel like they match what we experience at the table. The conversation feels like I am reporting to you what I experience and your response is something like "Oh so you mean [insert thing I absolutely didn't say or try to imply]." Perhaps I've misunderstood you. But this is my impression of your position over the course of this thread.
Would you agree that 'Gm Decides' only works if the Gm is good? Good in the broadest meaning of capable, fair, careful, equanimous, aware etc.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Would you agree that 'Gm Decides' only works if the Gm is good? Good in the broadest meaning of capable, fair, careful, equanimous, aware etc.
No. I wouldn't agree with that. It is going to be better if the GM is good. But it can still work in the hands of less skilled GMs. I think it won't work well in the hands of a jerk, but that is another matter.

Edit: But if you have an argument flowing from that premise, by all means, share it.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
nd while Mother-May-I has pejorative undertones, it is also an expression that is fairly easy to conceptualize in terms of the underlying issues being evoked: some form of play entailing players asking persmission from a single authority figure, who may then grant them permission. It asks you to apply your general knowledge of a fairly ubiquitous children's game to a more niche hobby game. So it unquestionably has some descriptive utility. How and where it applies, however, will be the points of contention. Also, I would note that it is not a pejorative that dehumanizes anyone, as it applies to a playstyle. (Playstyles aren't people.)

If the term is inaccurate, then usually it becomes incumbent on critics of the term to find a more accurate term for the problem described. No one has really offered one so MMI remains the default term in play and with people's default assumptions of its meaning and scope. Unfortunately, when asked about MMI, I think that some dismiss the MMI phenomenon entirely by saying simply "that's just how the game is played." In other words, it's a complete denial that the problem described exists or could exist, which I also find unhelpful.
There are other terms readily available. DM Facing Game and Traditional Playstyle/Game work just fine. There may even be some others, but those are the two that jumped out with a second of thought.
 
Though all of them could well be things that can help generate pressure later when looking at something other than the immediate or short term.
Sure, but as I've stated, why do they then need mechanics? Its only when you reach some stage where you will 'generate pressure' (IE where there will be conflict) that you need a mechanical game system. You see this quite often in movies, where the travel, or the training, or the research, or whatever, is just basically a montage. Only when the plot actually travels forward, where there are changes in the fictional state (or as [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] would call it, the fictional positioning or scene) that there is a resumption of story.

Yes, and it's a) only about two hours long and b) has a pre-set amount of story that has to be fit within that time.

RPGs are open-ended in length, thus there's no need whatsoever to cram story in (whether player or GM generated, doesn't matter for this point) in a rush to make it fit within a real-world timeframe.
This is an assumption and doesn't stand up to even casual examination. We could spend thousands of hours on RPGs or on movies, and in fact people probably overall spend at least as much time on the later (and on TV) as the former. It is drama-filled because that's what is truly entertaining in most cases. Not to say that slow pacing cannot be good, but it isn't somehow magically always the best way.

Except that when everything's dramatic, nothing is.
I would point to movies again. They are mostly pretty dramatic, and those are the most popular. People watch one after another and show no such thing as this hypothesized 'drama fatigue'.

Please define MEAT. I'm assuming that because it's all-caps here it means something other than what comes from a butchered animal, but I don't know what.
I used the term, in the sense of the phrase 'get to the meat of it'. The vital part, that which contains the essence of the thing. In terms of a story in an RPG it would mean the part in which the story is actually told, where things happen, where characters endure conflict and undergo growth and change.

This points to what I mention above: that things done now can set up pressure application later.

Of course there's (quite likely) not much risk involved in doing the library research...which might be exactly why the player/PC chose to take that angle - low risk but potentially decent reward, where the reward is useful information that might help reduce or mitigate the risks later when he puts this research to practical use and actually tries to take over the kingdom. So, low-to-no pressure now could lead to reduced pressure later.
But where is the conflict in library research? There's no pressure happening in a scenario where I am just going to the library to 'learn stuff' even if it is with a certain goal in mind. It can be simply summarized in a sentence and requires no dice or other mechanics. If it is going to 'mitigate risks later' that's fine, but again there's nothing to dwell on. Going on about the library, the details of the various books, etc. is just color. Its OK, where that color has some narrative function. Its fine if there's real information obtained, plans made, and resources expended in preparations. These are all still basically non-dramatic and don't need to take up useful table time to any great degree.

Why take great risks until and unless you have to? And why not do whatever you can to turn those great risks into moderate risks?

Sure it might be less dramatic, but - wait for it! - it's what a rational character would do.
OK, so the rational character goes to the library, the GM says "you go to the library and X, Y, Z" and then you go on to the next scene. Guess what? Something dramatic will happen in that next scene. Sure, the character may trot out X and use it to overcome some problem, but if you are following any sort of narrative driven game then X will have been somehow keyed to something the player signaled before. So X might be a revelation that your great grandfather really was a vampire, on to the crypt scene! Guess who you meet? Lucky you brought that holy symbol along! Now how do you resolve your pride in your ancestry with the fact that your ancestor is an undead monster? THAT IS MEAT!
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I would point to movies again. They are mostly pretty dramatic, and those are the most popular. People watch one after another and show no such thing as this hypothesized 'drama fatigue'.
I once watched Godfather I and II before going to see III in the theater. It was 15 years before I would watch another gangster movie and I reaaaaaally wanted to leave number III early. Not because it was a bad movie. But because it was just too......much......drama.

T.V. shows take longer for me, since they are shorter and once per week. Even so, as the seasons get more and more ridiculous trying to top the last, I eventually stop watching them as well. The dramas anyway. The comedies take me longer.

I know from speaking with my friends that I am far from alone in this.
 

pemerton

Legend
Paradoxically, an effect of such a distribution of authority, would allow the Gm to go full-on adversarial against the players during the resolution phase, if so wishes, without the need to muffle the blows, fudge, or generally being concerned about fairness of outcomes etc
Right - and I'm sure that you're familiar with Vincent Baker's discussion of this in his designer notes for DitV.
 

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