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

pemerton

Legend
I haven't read or played Torchbearer, but - obviously given my posts - am a big fan of Burning Wheel.

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.
Maybe [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] or [MENTION=6972053]Numidius[/MENTION] can confirm - is this similar to the BW weapon list?

Selecting a conflict captain is interesting - kind of like a player referee/administrator of sorts.
I am guessing this is related to Luke Crane's love for the caller role in Molday Basic. Is that right?

Fight for your Belief, accomplish your Goal, help out with your Instinct.
That seems similar to BW, though not identical.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
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.
I don't think though that either of these terms really cover the issue, and also this answer incidentally falls in line with what I said about how some seem to deny that MMI exists as an issue. Calling something "traditional" goes a long way to normalize the phenomenon even if it is problematic. The MMI issue may frequently occur in DM Facing Games, as DM Facing Games enable the issue, but I would not necessarily use "DM Facing Game" to label the issue that Mother May I attempts to describe. So if you gave yourself more than a second of thought, what other terms would you suggest for describing the issue? :confused:

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.
But this also brings up another point that went unaddressed or unnoticed. "Railroading" is a pejorative for a play or GMing style, and yet almost no one voices a problem with using the pejorative term "railroading" to describe a playstyle. Many may even unequivocally claim that "railroading" is a sign of a "bad GM" even if the players at the table perhaps enjoy that playstyle.
 

pemerton

Legend
"Railroading" is a pejorative for a play or GMing style, and yet almost no one voices a problem with using the pejorative term "railroading" to describe a playstyle.
Sorry to contradict you, but I've certainly copped heat for my use of that term! (In threads not too different from this one.)
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Sorry to contradict you, but I've certainly copped heat for my use of that term! (In threads not too different from this one.)
And you have been accused of "railroading" with your approaches. So it's a pejorative, but not one that (many of those same) people are above using. :shrug:
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
A lot to dig into here.

First, advancement of story and use of mechanics are not necessarily tied together: either can very easily happen without the other.

Second, the difference between a movie and an RPG is that a movie has to use a montage in order to keep within time limits where in an RPG there's time to play the montage out in greater depth and detail.

Third, a change in the fictional state might have nothing to do with advancing the story. In the game I play in, for example, it looks like we're just starting an arc involving the artifacts of Vecna (again); painting a castle pink during the pre-adventure downtime doesn't advance that story a millimeter but it does change the fictional state: the castle is pink, and some characters have changed their opinions of other characters due to the action and subsequent reactions.

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.

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'.
Most movies - but by no means all - have enough sense of pacing to intentionally include valleys between the peaks.

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.
It probably needs dice on the GM side in order to determine whether you find what you seek (and how much, and how quickly) or whether you find nothing, or whether you find false information that steers you wrong.

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.
Perhaps not, but that's no excuse to skip these things entirely or, worse, deny them as legitimate actions. Who knows - there might not be any useful info obtained at all, but you won't know until-unless you do the research.

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.
Unless X or Y or Z brings up further questions and-or points to more research to do with A, B and-or C; elements or variables discovered during the first round of digging.

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!
If X is a revelation that great-granddad was a vampire then Y, Z, and a bunch of other things are going to come from me digging a lot deeper into his life (and death!) history while putting all of it into a whole new light. With any luck I'll learn he's buried in that crypt before I ever go there, and thus be forewarned and (I hope!) prepared should I meet him there.

Or maybe learning he's buried in that crypt changes my mind about wanting to go there right now (or ever, for that matter), and I instead go off and find something else to do for however long it takes me to become confident that I'm tough enough to deal with a vampire should I meet one.

Or maybe on learning he's buried in that crypt I figure that if he's potentially a vampire I should probably recruit some trained professional vampire hunters (in D&D these would be high level Clerics) to go in there with me, 'cause if there's one potential vampire down there who knows how many others might be in there with him?

Skipping straight from the library to the crypt scene unfairly denies me - both as player and as PC - all these options plus whatever others might arise.
 

Numidius

Explorer
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.
Similar to you in that, but I cant stand sitcoms

I think Drama is not the right term: Action, Things Running, as others have already said, are more appropriate... Drama being a moment, a pinnacle of those ...things
 

Numidius

Explorer
Right - and I'm sure that you're familiar with Vincent Baker's discussion of this in his designer notes for DitV.
I had precisely DitV in mind.

---
Weapon stat in

BW: Power (damage/critical hit bonus), Add (dice added to location/damage), VA (versus armor), WS (weapon speed), Lenght (weapons are compared in a chart for bonus/malus against each other)

In TB weapons are described in terms of how they affect your actions in Kill, Drive Off and Capture conflicts. Each is listed with the bonus or penalty dice for Attack, Defend, Feint and Manouver. Plus Special feature (eg: bypasses shield benefit), and Encumbrance value/location where carried.


In TB ammo is not tracked, it merely takes up an inventory slot and can be lost through a twist. [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION] [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] ;)
 
Last edited:

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
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.
Right, so, the antidite is drama-free stretches of not much happening? Don't sign me up?
 

Sadras

Adventurer
I am guessing this is related to Luke Crane's love for the caller role in Molday Basic. Is that right?
I did a quick skim, but yes I believe so. The game is very much a call-back to those older games, just with a newer take on things and really integrating all those moving parts like encumbrance, carrying capacity, equipment, light, coinage and the like, into the system.

That seems similar to BW, though not identical.
I would not be surprised at this.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
. . . to resolve declared actions.
Yes. The presense or absense of a secret door does not rise to the level of railroading. In the sense of a Story Now game it does, but in "trad" styles it does not. Your favorite Moldovay Basic, for instance, the GM's notes are not railroading, even when used for action declarations.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't think though that either of these terms really cover the issue, and also this answer incidentally falls in line with what I said about how some seem to deny that MMI exists as an issue. Calling something "traditional" goes a long way to normalize the phenomenon even if it is problematic.
There is no problem. As I mentioned earlier, the social contract prevents the DM from having the full control that others are calling "Mother May I." The DM has no ability, barring something in game like mind control, to keep the PC from walking behind the tree as the player wishes, or to go to the local bar for a drink as the player wishes. The player simply does not have to ask permission to do those things, even in a game like D&D.

A DM who does use that authority to do things like that is not only violating the social contract, but also the intent and function of the game which is for everyone to have fun. Only a very few DMs are so horrible at DMing that they would try something like that, and in those very few occasions, it's a problem of personality and not system.

The "problem" is completely fabricated by people trying to disparage a playstyle they don't understand, dislike, or both.

The MMI issue may frequently occur in DM Facing Games, as DM Facing Games enable the issue, but I would not necessarily use "DM Facing Game" to label the issue that Mother May I attempts to describe. So if you gave yourself more than a second of thought, what other terms would you suggest for describing the issue?
How about Jerk DM? It's not a system problem at all. It's purely a DM issue.

But this also brings up another point that went unaddressed or unnoticed. "Railroading" is a pejorative for a play or GMing style, and yet almost no one voices a problem with using the pejorative term "railroading" to describe a playstyle. Many may even unequivocally claim that "railroading" is a sign of a "bad GM" even if the players at the table perhaps enjoy that playstyle.
Perhaps because it's a much more common issue than "Mother May I," which is one that is almost entirely fabricated as I mention above. Unlike the fictional "Mother May I" issue, Railroading does happen to remove player choice, and often happens with new DMs who don't know any better. New DMs won't even think to try and stop a PC from moving behind a tree to see what is on the other side or go to the inn for a drink, but they might try to force the party down a storyline, thinking that it's going to be fun for everyone and move the game along.

In Railroading threads I've noted that if you have player buy-in, then it's fine to Railroad them. One of my players recently(a few years ago) started to DM a bit to give me a break. When he first started he came to us and told us that he was still trying to learn things and wasn't that good at improvising yet, so he wanted us to go down his story rather than break off and maybe go somewhere strange like we sometimes do. We all agreed not to go running off to say Candle Keep for information and just stick to his adventure. That kind of Railroad is fine. The rest are not.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
There is no problem. As I mentioned earlier, the social contract prevents the DM from having the full control that others are calling "Mother May I." The DM has no ability, barring something in game like mind control, to keep the PC from walking behind the tree as the player wishes, or to go to the local bar for a drink as the player wishes. The player simply does not have to ask permission to do those things, even in a game like D&D.

A DM who does use that authority to do things like that is not only violating the social contract, but also the intent and function of the game which is for everyone to have fun. Only a very few DMs are so horrible at DMing that they would try something like that, and in those very few occasions, it's a problem of personality and not system.

The "problem" is completely fabricated by people trying to disparage a playstyle they don't understand, dislike, or both.



How about Jerk DM? It's not a system problem at all. It's purely a DM issue.



Perhaps because it's a much more common issue than "Mother May I," which is one that is almost entirely fabricated as I mention above. Unlike the fictional "Mother May I" issue, Railroading does happen to remove player choice, and often happens with new DMs who don't know any better. New DMs won't even think to try and stop a PC from moving behind a tree to see what is on the other side or go to the inn for a drink, but they might try to force the party down a storyline, thinking that it's going to be fun for everyone and move the game along.

In Railroading threads I've noted that if you have player buy-in, then it's fine to Railroad them. One of my players recently(a few years ago) started to DM a bit to give me a break. When he first started he came to us and told us that he was still trying to learn things and wasn't that good at improvising yet, so he wanted us to go down his story rather than break off and maybe go somewhere strange like we sometimes do. We all agreed not to go running off to say Candle Keep for information and just stick to his adventure. That kind of Railroad is fine. The rest are not.
All I have to do to counter your argument is start a thread on metagaming. Then we'll see plenty of GMs saying that it's appropriate to deny action declarations because it'sassumed as part of their social contract.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
All I have to do to counter your argument is start a thread on metagaming. Then we'll see plenty of GMs saying that it's appropriate to deny action declarations because it'sassumed as part of their social contract.
Metagaming is cheating and cheating is also against the social contract.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Metagaming is cheating and cheating is also against the social contract.
That varies so much from group to group through. I don't personally care if a bit of meta gaming works its way into play (for example, players doing things just so the party can stay together and we can have a smooth session). I think most groups only care when meta gaming starts to disrupt play. But it really does seem to vary a lot. I've been in groups that allowed zero meta gaming, and I've been in groups that didn't care at all about it.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
Y
I haven't read or played Torchbearer, but - obviously given my posts - am a big fan of Burning Wheel.

Maybe @Manbearcat or @Numidius can confirm - is this similar to the BW weapon list?

I am guessing this is related to Luke Crane's love for the caller role in Molday Basic. Is that right?

That seems similar to BW, though not identical.
1) Yup, weapons are similar implementation but relevant differences related to the different zoom of the conflict mechanics.

Unlike Fight! and DoW, the Conflict system is shared with Mouse Guard and very similar to 4e’s SCs (with certain notable differences). All conflicts (from combat to parley to chases to abjures etc) use a unified, abstract framework with effectively HPs for both sides, take actions and contest against each other and the fiction changes until one side has no more HP.

2) That’s exactly right. The Conflict Captain is basically The Caller.

3) Yup, you’ve got Beliefs, Instincts, Wises, Traits, Skills, Abilities, Checks, Goals, Nature, Mentor (Training), Friend, Enemy, Fate points and Persona points, Beginners Luck, and Conditions.

The stuff that looks familiar has similar implementation.
 
Last edited:

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That varies so much from group to group through. I don't personally care if a bit of meta gaming works its way into play (for example, players doing things just so the party can stay together and we can have a smooth session). I think most groups only care when meta gaming starts to disrupt play. But it really does seem to vary a lot. I've been in groups that allowed zero meta gaming, and I've been in groups that didn't care at all about it.
Sure, and you can allow players to just pick whatever number they want to roll after they roll the die, too. Metagaming is one of those things that people tolerate or even enjoy to varying degrees, but if the DM doesn't allow it in part or in whole, it's cheating to engage in it.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
And you have been accused of "railroading" with your approaches. So it's a pejorative, but not one that (many of those same) people are above using. :shrug:
I haven't seen that mentioned, but what Pemerton describes isn't railroading in my opinion. I think railroading and MMI are similar terms. They have utility to describe functional play. But here it is being used to paint traditional play as mother may I (I realize there is dispute over how to characterize this, but doing so for convenience)---or at least to paint a very, very common playstyle as MMI. That is when the utility is lost. Both terms describe dysfunction. Even linear adventures are not railroads for example. It only becomes a railroad when the GM refuses to let the players go off the path of the linear adventure. If I apply railroad to describe half the hobby, I think I will never really understand why those people do what they do. It is a term that is loaded with a sense of bafflement over the type of play that is occurring. No one wants a railroad and no one wants mother may I. I think the only real way these terms make sense is when they describe failed states of play. Otherwise we should probably stick to the terms people themselves use to describe their playstyle. I just think there is too much partisanship in how people conduct analysis in this hobby when it comes to coining terms.
 

Advertisement

Top