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

pemerton

Legend
You can describe virtually any play style in dismissive or negative terms.
It's not dismissive to describe what is going on in that sort of play. You said it yourself - Bill's thoughts about the setting are the setting. Exploring the setting = learning Bill's thoughts about it. What is being dismissed?

this thread, was started as an attack on one of my posts in that thread.
It was started to express disagreement with you saying that a certain playstyle is no more mother may I than real life.

Real life does not involve a world whose content and behaviour is chosen by someone in expression of creative inclinations. Whereas that is central to the playstyle you are describing - it is Bill's creative inclinations that establish the gameworld.

Expressing that opinion isn't an "attack" on anything or anyone.
 
Last edited:

Imaro

Adventurer
I think for [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION], though, the draw isn't to just "see what's around the next corner." There's exploration-for-exploration's sake, and there's exploration-for-the-sake-of-revealing-character-driven-stakes.

And even in spite of my love of exploration in gaming, I can sort of see his point. Exploration-for-exploration's sake in TTRPGs is ultimately a zero sum game. The very open-ended nature of the enterprise basically ensures you'll never run out of un-poked corners. I think for anyone other than a very small subset of gamers who are wholly committed to "The Sandbox" as an end of its own, this kind of exploration-for-exploration's sake gameplay wears thin rather quickly.
See and here I'd strongly disagree. I'd say for the vast majority of players, and especially casual players that don't hangout on rpg forums dissecting roleplaying games and learning forge terminology and so on... exploration is the driver for their fun, whether that is exploration of a setting, the DM's plot or a pre-written module that is what they expect and have fun with. In fact I would say it's a smaller subset that are interested in character-driven-stakes (oe would even know what you are talking about if you said that).

TTRPG play becomes more interesting when there's something of value at stake for the characters within the fiction, and the pursuit of those stakes gets expressed by the players.
If that's your preference then cool but for some/many... maybe most it doesn't necessarily make it more interesting. If it did I doubt inspiration would be forgotten so often in games of D&D and background (outside of mechanical abilities) would be referenced much more. Just saying...
 

Imaro

Adventurer
Exploration is such a weird, interesting thing for me, because I've always LOVED the sense of exploration in every aspect of gaming.

Take two recent video game examples:

I've been playing through the nearly-25-year-old game, Crusader: No Remorse which I picked up on GOG.com a while ago. I played it waaaaay back in the day when it first game out, and from the first time I played it, THE MOST ENGAGING THING about the whole experience was the sense of exploration. How did I get from A to B? Where did that blind hallway actually go? The whole idea was just to poke into every corner I could, because . . . it made me happy.

Reading through some GameFAQs walkthroughs, several of the guides pointed out that you can totally "shortcut" through the levels to get to the end faster. Which is the exact OPPOSITE of the type of experience I was wanting to have with the game.

I'm also a big fan of the Trine game series (Trine 1 and 2). A few days ago I was playing while two of my daughters watched and hung out with me, and there were several moments where they were saying, "Dad, you don't HAVE to get every single flask of XP in the game!" To which I immediately replied, "Yes, I do!" I would spend 15-20 minutes trying to figure out how to capture one small, relatively insignificant item in the game, but just HAD to prove to myself that I could do it.

So I am completely drawn in by the concept of exploration in pen-and-paper RPGs as well.
I just wanted to comment here as well and say perhaps your videogame examples are a little outdated. Grand Theft Auto Online a game where you explore an online virtual world with no character driven stakes has 90 million sales worldwide and over 6 billion in revenue. It is a sandbox and it is one of the most profitable entertainment products of all time... not videogame... products.

Edit: This also ignores the rise in populareity of MMO lites with open worlds such as Destiny & Destiny 2, The Division and the upcoming Division 2 & Anthem. These games are wildly popular and have little if any character driven stakes... just exploration, looting and combat. The fact that these games are so popular always makes me wonder at people who claim D&D is only dominant because it was first... no it basically created this style of play that is the blueprint to making tons of money for a videogame when done right... and D&D has a content generator that can actually keep up with it's players.
 
Last edited:

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
It's not dismissive to describe what is going on in that sort of play. You said it yourself - Bill's thoughts about the setting are the setting. Exploring the setting = learning Bill's thoughts about it. What is being dismissed?
You can't possibly believe this. This is always what you keep claiming. You say you are simply describing things. You are simply stating what is occurring. But you'er are not simply describing, you are describing in a way that consistently paints these styles and approaches in an inferior or undesirable light. Why is this dismissive? Because 'learning Bill's notes' is the most boring way, the least accurate way to describe the style. Learning Bill's notes doesn't exactly sound like fun. And it isn't what is going on. The notes are tools. But they are about 30% or less of what is going on at the table.
 
Last edited:

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
It was started to express disagreement with you saying that a certain playstyle is no more mother may I than real life.

Real life does not involve a world whose content and behaviour is chosen by someone in expression of creative inclinations. Whereas that is central to the playstyle you are describing - it is Bill's creative inclinations that establish the gameworld.

Expressing that opinion isn't an "attack" on anything or anyone.
You highlighted my post in its own thread for the purposes of disagreeing with it, when I said to you I had no interest in that discussion. And you mischaracterized my argument and created the whole straw man about real world processes versus fictional ones.

I get that you want to keep arguing the specifics of this. But You've already made your points, and they've been responded to (and in my view fairly conclusively defeated). You can keep making the same points, but we are just going around in circles at this point. I don't see any purpose in continuing to talk about this with you.
 

pemerton

Legend
you are describing in a way that consistently paints these styles and approaches in an inferior or undesirable light. Why is this dismissive? Because 'learning Bill's notes' is the most boring way, the least accurate way to describe the style. Learning Bill's notes doesn't exactly sound like fun. And it isn't what is going on. The notes are tools. But they are about 30% or less of what is going on at the table.
Given the number of people who buy RPG modules and setting books to read them (this is Paizo's subscriptin business model), it seems that a lot of people think it is fun to learn what someone else made up about an imagined world. I've read the Appendices to LotR more times than I can remember, and most of those are learning what JRRT made up about his imagined world.

As for the rest of what is going on at the table that is not related to Bill telling you the gameworld content - that happens at other tables too, so doesn't seem unique to playing in the Bill-driven style.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Given the number of people who buy RPG modules and setting books to read them (this is Paizo's subscriptin business model), it seems that a lot of people think it is fun to learn what someone else made up about an imagined world. I've read the Appendices to LotR more times than I can remember, and most of those are learning what JRRT made up about his imagined world.

As for the rest of what is going on at the table that is not related to Bill telling you the gameworld content - that happens at other tables too, so doesn't seem unique to playing in the Bill-driven style.
Pemerton. I am done having this conversation with you.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
Let me just say one thing.

This head-on-a-swivel, constantly fretting over shadows of Forge bogeyman framing of this conversation is completely absurd.

There is nothing I've written in here that is Forge inspired or really even relates to any "mainstream" (yeah, I know) Forge essays or posts.

The term "gamestate" isn't Forge jargon and is pretty universal in any game theory analysis (for any games, board, TTRPG, CRPG, sports, etc). "Shared imagined space?" Is that seriously triggering? What in the world would you like me to call it? I could use a hell of a lot more than 3 words if that wouldn't freak some people out because of their Forge hostilities that seem to be so central to analysis on these boards (and work to make analysis impossible).

How about:

"The imaginary stuff that we collectively talk about at our table?"

Just let me know. I'll scribe that monster on a notepad so I can Control C and Control V it every time I want to talk about "shared imagined space."
 

Imaro

Adventurer
Given the number of people who buy RPG modules and setting books to read them (this is Paizo's subscriptin business model), it seems that a lot of people think it is fun to learn what someone else made up about an imagined world. I've read the Appendices to LotR more times than I can remember, and most of those are learning what JRRT made up about his imagined world.

As for the rest of what is going on at the table that is not related to Bill telling you the gameworld content - that happens at other tables too, so doesn't seem unique to playing in the Bill-driven style.
Wait... this example seems to equate playing a traditional style rpg with the act of reading a book... is that the correct takeaway here? I hope not since I would argue they are totally different experiences. If that is the takeaway I would also say perhaps your view/descriptions/definitions of traditional styles of play just aren't nuanced enough to be useful.
 

pemerton

Legend
Wait... this example seems to equate playing a traditional style rpg with the act of reading a book... is that the correct takeaway here?
Or watching a film. Or being told a story. There are many ways to learn someone's ideas about something they made up.

Of coures in RPG it's a series of things that are said to the players by the GM, each triggered by a request (express or implied) that something be said.

I'm sure that many people would say that "I am learning how the sect members behave in Bill's world." Like I can say that, by reading LotR, I learn how elves behave in JRRT's world. But learning how elves behave in JRRT's world' is exactly the same thing as learning what JRRT made up about elves.

I would argue they are totally different experiences.
They clearly have some things in common that neither has in common with (say) changing a washer on a dripping tap. They clearly are different also - for instance, most of what you are calling "traditional" RPGing (I use scare quotes because Traveller is a very old RPG but doesn't tend to exhibit the features you are fastening on as part of the tradition) involves the solving of puzzles, by putting together clues or prompts that are obtained from the GM by performing the right moves to obtain them.

For instance, in the sect example, to learn where their PCs might find sect members the players the players have to obtain background information about the sect, which they obtain by declaring moves for their PCs which will trigger narration from the GM of the appropriate information - this could be anything from interrogating captives to searchingin libraries to casting Commune spells, depending on how the details of play and of system are interacting with the creative decisions that the GM has made and is making.

There is a large amount of evidence that many people enjoy solving puzzles as a pastime (eg newspapers the world over carry crosswords and sudokus in large numbers, but not so much poetry or randomly chosen encyclopedia entries), and I believe that this is what some people enjoy in "traditional" RPGing.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
Or watching a film. Or being told a story. There are many ways to learn someone's ideas about something they made up.
Again these things are fundamentally different from playing in a traditional style rpg... oir any rpg for that matter

Of coures in RPG it's a series of things that are said to the players by the GM, each triggered by a request (express or implied) that something be said.
This defintion is so broad and non-descriptive as to be useless unless one is purposefully trying to make no distinction between a variety of things and it would at a high level include your own playstyle as well.

I'm sure that many people would say that "I am learning how the sect members behave in Bill's world." Like I can say that, by reading LotR, I learn how elves behave in JRRT's world. But learning how elves behave in JRRT's world' is exactly the same thing as learning what JRRT made up about elves.
We've gone down this road before and this is where the distinction always gets fuzzy. You make a statement like the above... but readily admit you yourself use geography, races, etc. from pre-made campaign settings so again, for at least some parts of your game this also applies to your playstyle.


They clearly have some things in common that neither has in common with (say) changing a washer on a dripping tap. They clearly are different also - for instance, most of what you are calling "traditional" RPGing (I use scare quotes because Traveller is a very old RPG but doesn't tend to exhibit the features you are fastening on as part of the tradition) involves the solving of puzzles, by putting together clues or prompts that are obtained from the GM by performing the right moves to obtain them.
Or it could involve negotiation for the answer... or a rolling of the die for an answer...or a known chance for the answer... and I think even your playstyle requires specific "moves" to attain certain results, right? I mean would you allow a player to make an Athletics role to determine what they know about the Red Duke's parentage?

For instance, in the sect example, to learn where their PCs might find sect members the players the players have to obtain background information about the sect, which they obtain by declaring moves for their PCs which will trigger narration from the GM of the appropriate information - this could be anything from interrogating captives to searchingin libraries to casting Commune spells, depending on how the details of play and of system are interacting with the creative decisions that the GM has made and is making.
Yes they interact with the relevant fiction to attain their goals... is it different in your playstyle?

There is a large amount of evidence that many people enjoy solving puzzles as a pastime (eg newspapers the world over carry crosswords and sudokus in large numbers, but not so much poetry or randomly chosen encyclopedia entries), and I believe that this is what some people enjoy in "traditional" RPGing.
I'm sure some people do...and some enjoy acting in character...and some enjoy combat... and some enjoy exploration...and some, well I think you get the point. Puzzles can be a part of traditional play, but it's not a defining feature or even required for play.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Have you considered that "realism" is simply a byproduct of some other game value and not an end value in itself? My contention is that I believe that most proponents of "realism" in TTRPGs mistakenly confuse "realism" as an end value in TTRPGs.
Realism is what allows you to play an RPG.

You are missing the forest for the trees here.
Pot, meet kettle.

Or let's go to the longsword. It does d8 damage. Would it be less realistic if it was changed to d6 damage? How about if a hand ax did d8 damage? How do these mechanics connect to any meaningful notions of valuing realism? Again, I don't really think that realism really pushes, pulls, or drives the mechanics of these games. Usually other things get cited instead, such as the designers' desire to have variable weapon types, playstyles, damages, aesthetics, etc. The presence of these things do not make them realistic, especially since they are largely divorced from their actual use in reality.
So let's look at a game without realism in it. There are no swords, spears, or any other weapon that can resemble an earth weapon. There can be no dragons, plants, unicorns, elves, humanoids, or animals. Hell, there can't even be things with limbs. Nor can you have anything living or dead. No matter, energy or magic. All of those things have their roots in the real world, and therefore have realism.

Realism may not be the primary drive to an RPG, but there isn't an RPG that can exist without tons of realism all over the place. Realism is critical to their existence, so while the mechanics may not use realism as the primary driver, realism is hardly pocket lint.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
So let's look at a game without realism in it. There are no swords, spears, or any other weapon that can resemble an earth weapon. There can be no dragons, plants, unicorns, elves, humanoids, or animals. Hell, there can't even be things with limbs. Nor can you have anything living or dead. No matter, energy or magic. All of those things have their roots in the real world, and therefore have realism.
I have my original 1984 boxset of "Old Ones & Eternities" right here!
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Realism is what allows you to play an RPG.

So let's look at a game without realism in it. There are no swords, spears, or any other weapon that can resemble an earth weapon. There can be no dragons, plants, unicorns, elves, humanoids, or animals. Hell, there can't even be things with limbs. Nor can you have anything living or dead. No matter, energy or magic. All of those things have their roots in the real world, and therefore have realism.

Realism may not be the primary drive to an RPG, but there isn't an RPG that can exist without tons of realism all over the place. Realism is critical to their existence, so while the mechanics may not use realism as the primary driver, realism is hardly pocket lint.
Why are you using the term "realism" in such a meaningless way? :erm:
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
Why are you using the term "realism" in such a meaningless way? :erm:
Max has a habit of making commonly understood terms so broad, that they lose a lot of their discussion-value, and this keeps coming up again and again in lots of discussions on this board. Perhaps it would be more constructive to stick with the convential way in which the term is used, Max?

I think you (Max) know that when we use the word realism, we are referring to a style of play that mimics real life in more detail then conventional modes of play. So maybe it would help, for the sake of discussion, to use this commonly understood definition instead, and continue from there?

For example, when I say my roleplaying game uses a 'realistic approach' to combat-injuries, I think most people on this board would take that to mean that the game mimics certain aspects of how injuries in real life tend to affect a person. That is usually how we use the word 'realism' in regards to a roleplaying game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Max has a habit of making commonly understood terms so broad, that they lose a lot of their discussion-value, and this keeps coming up again and again in lots of discussions on this board. Perhaps it would be more constructive to stick with the convential way in which the term is used, Max?

I think you (Max) know that when we use the word realism, we are referring to a style of play that mimics real life in more detail then conventional modes of play. So maybe it would help, for the sake of discussion, to use this commonly understood definition instead, and continue from there?
I am using it in the way it's commonly used. [MENTION=5142]Aldarc[/MENTION] seems to be intentionally minimizing realism in order to win a point, so I demonstrated the importance of realism in RPGs in the hope that he would at least acknowledge that realism has more meaning than "pocket lint." Alas, he seems to be one of those who would rather stick his head in the sand and sing la la la, than to admit when he is wrong about something.

Realism is present everywhere in an RPG. Once people realize that, then it's pretty easy for them to understand the concept that realism isn't all or nothing and that the only difference between [MENTION=5142]Aldarc[/MENTION] and I is where on the realism line we each prefer things. Let's say that D&D sits at X amount of realism on the line. I prefer to add a bit more realism to the game, making it Y. He may like to keep it the same or perhaps even reduce it.

Realism does have value for him, though, even if he won't admit to us or himself. Something that is necessary to even be able to play the game has value. Period.

For example, when I say my roleplaying game uses a 'realistic approach' to combat-injuries, I think most people on this board would take that to mean that the game mimics certain aspects of how injuries in real life tend to affect a person. That is usually how we use the word 'realism' in regards to a roleplaying game.
Right, you want to increase the amount of realism that is in combat. The thing to remember is that realism isn't binary, i.e. having no tie to reality at all or absolutely mirroring reality. It exists as a line between those two points, which makes what I described to him in my post last night correct and helps understand what those of us who enjoy adding more realism to D&D are about.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
@Maxperson

Do you mean something like “baseline familiarity centered around our own physical systems?” Gravity is a thing, some interactions transfer more energy than others, nonparasitic plants need light for photosynthesis, humans (and animals like them) express themselves based on biological and social imperatives. Stuff like that?

I don’t think (broadly) that anyone would disagree with that (@Aldarc included).

I think the friction arises when we try to sort out the nature of a certain paradox that seems to violate our baselines arbitrarily, what to extrapolate from it, what is the consequence/utility (from a gameplay perspective) of digging too deeply or hewing too closely/granularly (to our baselines). Further still, the more Through the Looking Glass components get ported to our games, the more friction there is (as even our seemingly trivially “true” baselines become challenged).

EDIT - That isn’t even touching on the questions of:

1) Does hewing to x too closely cause gameplay issues (balance, overhead)?

2) Does hewing to x too closely interfere with having interesting inputs to gameplay (framed conflicts, proposed action declarations, exciting obstacles).
 
Last edited:

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
@Maxperson

Do you mean something like “baseline familiarity centered around our own physical systems?” Gravity is a thing, some interactions transfer more energy than others, nonparasitic plants need light for photosynthesis, humans (and animals like them) express themselves based on biological and social imperatives. Stuff like that?

I don’t think (broadly) that anyone would disagree with that (@Aldarc included).

I think the friction arises when we try to sort out the nature of a certain paradox that seems to violate our baselines arbitrarily, what to extrapolate from it, what is the consequence/utility (from a gameplay perspective) of digging too deeply or hewing too closely/granularly (to our baselines). Further still, the more Through the Looking Glass components get potted to our games, the more friction there is (as even our seemingly trivially “true” baselines become challenged).

EDIT - That isn’t even touching on the questions of:

1) Does hewing to x too closely cause gameplay issues (balance, overhead)?

2) Does hewing to x too closely interfere with having interesting inputs to gameplay (framed conflicts, proposed action declarations, exciting obstacles).
Yes. That familiarity ties game correlations to reality. Realism exists everywhere you look inside of RPGs. It's only the level of realism that's at issue, not whether or not it exists. The problems encountered in discussions about realism here on the forum stem from the fact that we all have different baselines of realism that we like on any particular topic. Some may like more realism in weaponry, others in damage, yet others in how gravity works. Others will like less.

I think the other questions you mention in your edit affect where we place our limits. For example, while I enjoy more realism in D&D than is present in the rules, I wouldn't want to have to have my PCs go to the bathroom multiple times a day. That bogs the gameplay down with uninteresting inputs and increases the overhead(time used).
 

Advertisement

Top