An example where granular resolution based on setting => situation didn't work

clearstream

(He, Him)
@clearstream

I'm not a party to your discussion with iserith and others. But I was a party to the discussion about the Diplomacy example. Here is the reply in question (and here's a hyperlink - I'm not using the quote function as a poster from a 10 year old discussion doesn't need to be notified of this particular conversation):


That's not ambiguous. It is exactly as I posted above. It has nothing to do with "legitimacy" given the fiction, and everything to do with a principle about how in fiction causation and fiction introduced as part of consequence narration should be correlated.
Thanks for finding that. For me it clarifies that folk can be concerned for causality* as well as the concern I've noted about principled constraints on consequences.

*Causality isn't a straightforward concept in TTRPG.

Three things:

* It is not retroactive to introduce it starts to rain - that is purely forward looking. It's just that instead of a random weather check, the GM has responded to the failed Diplomacy check.
So what I mean is that GM has looked at the result and narrated something into the fiction that wasn't contained in the fictional positioning up to that point. Cases where that works could include
  • The rain is colour
  • GM has an adversarial agenda and it's part of their job to exacerbate or create problems based on the result of checks, and the rain is trouble of some kind
  • Player says how their character succeeds or fails, and they're not obliged to put performance at issue (I'm interested in strong readings of "player says what their character does" which include how their character succeeds or fails)
  • GM says how characters succeed of fail (which is one way the basic pattern is normally read) authorising them to narrate rain just as much as they are authorised to narrate a goof
In all cases, our fiction is updated to include rain. I called that retroactive because a player could say something like "Oh yes, it felt like rain this morning" and that would have to be true. What happens if another player had cast druidcraft that morning? Rain has to be ruled out... so again we have to look retroactively at our fictional positioning for legitimation.

* In AD&D, and I suspect in 5e D&D, narrating birds on the cliff at the opening of the climb check is an invitation to the players to describe how their PCs chase away the birds or put on bird-proof gear or something similar that engages with the granularity of the situation - and all that stuff is low- or no-stakes. So in effect, every time a possible consequence is flagged it invites the players to deal with it. Narrate clouds and they bring their umbrellas. As a result the space for failure narration is winnowed down more and more. In another recent thread @Manbearcat called this sort of thing, when initiated by the players ("Are there birds?" "Are there clouds?" etc) a "conversation trap" used by players to manipulate obstacle ratings.
That's certainly a risk I see with going too wide. Players could feel forced to query every aspect of their environment. So if rain matters (is not just colour) going forward players might start asking about clouds, and they might with justice feel that rain from a sunny sky wasn't on the table for inclusion in results.

* 4e D&D would permit a "weather watching" attempt as part of a skill challenge to give a successful oration outdoors - a check on Nature, say, to affirm that no rain is expected - and depending on framing it might be a primary or a secondary check. This is different from both the above as a technique, but it locates the attempt within the resolution process, so it just feeds through to the outcome without any disruption or bogging down or "conversation traps".
One concern I have with that is how legitimate it feels to the table that checking for rain should successfully persuade the chancellor!

I could use your insight on a problem I have to hand relating to the Czege principle. What I'm aiming for players to do is include the seeds of adversity in their authoring of bonds and location descriptions (so in the envisioned play, drawing inspiration from The Ground Itself, players have strong world authoring power.) The MC role then controls that adversity. Does that feel like it breaches the Czege principle? If so (or anyway) what might be more successful?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

pemerton

Legend
In all cases, our fiction is updated to include rain. I called that retroactive because a player could say something like "Oh yes, it felt like rain this morning" and that would have to be true. What happens if another player had cast druidcraft that morning? Rain has to be ruled out... so again we have to look retroactively at our fictional positioning for legitimation.
Because any new element of the fiction has to be consistent with established fiction, this seems to entail that all content introduction is "retroactive" in your sense.

To me, that seems an unhelpful use of the phrase "retroactive", which in this context would normally mean establishing, in the present, something quite concrete about the past.

In addition: every time you narrate a new NPC that entails that in the past that very concrete being was born, grew up, etc; that their parents met, had sex, that the mother carried the child to term, etc. Yet introducing a new NPC is not normally described as "retroactive". I don't see why rain is any different.

One concern I have with that is how legitimate it feels to the table that checking for rain should successfully persuade the chancellor!
Why would a player declare an action if they didn't think it would help achieve their goal?

But anyway, in the real world people who want to have successful weddings pay long-term weather forecasters. Why wouldn't someone who wants to give a successful oration check what the weather is going to be?
 

pemerton

Legend
I could use your insight on a problem I have to hand relating to the Czege principle. What I'm aiming for players to do is include the seeds of adversity in their authoring of bonds and location descriptions (so in the envisioned play, drawing inspiration from The Ground Itself, players have strong world authoring power.) The MC role then controls that adversity. Does that feel like it breaches the Czege principle? If so (or anyway) what might be more successful?
Aren't you describing a version of a kicker here?

Or have I misunderstood?
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Aren't you describing a version of a kicker here?

Or have I misunderstood?
As characters journey, they say what is on the map (in turn about following a system of prompts.) Some prompts (and possibly complications) include speaking about trouble (especially in connection with character bonds). They can be beneficial as well as threatening; focusing here here on the latter, one example -

1st player: Folk live under the malignant influence of empty towers, which they propitiate.
2nd player: There are shadow-crossings in the towers.
1st player again: There is geothermal activity, with pink and white terraces stepping down from the mountain.
3rd player: Unwilling sacrifices are being made here.

Established then is a settlement overshadowed by abandoned towers, a dormant or active mountain, and some propitiating sacrifices to (probably) whatever the shadow-crossings lead to. The settlement and terrain go on to matter to general play. The other details are a kind of setup or soft move. The notion is that the players have proposed some directions from trouble, and now it is on the GM-role to control it from there. The game involves essentially zero-prep. The idea is to give momentum to the fiction from what players say about the world their characters live in.

Additionally, players narrate their successes. And I'm wondering if in the long run it will be a problem to say that players narrate their failures (at present, they narrate complications.) Of course this needs proper playtesting - which is planned for May - but what I find is that it's best going in with what you think is a plausible take.
 
Last edited:


clearstream

(He, Him)
OK. Who "owns" the settlement that players 1 to 3 are narrating into being? It sounds like it is the GM. So I'm not sure what problem you're envisaging.
GM says what NPCs do (although I could see that evolving with play, particularly around NPCs that players establish in bonds). So (for now) effectively GM.

My concern is that players setting up trouble and controlling resolution my conflict with the Czege principle. That isn't a guarantee it won't work, just a flag. My assumption is that GM controlling the trouble (once setup) is going to avoid the potentially unfun choices that could otherwise arise.

It seems like safe ground. I wondered if it looked shaky to you?
 

pemerton

Legend
GM says what NPCs do (although I could see that evolving with play, particularly around NPCs that players establish in bonds). So (for now) effectively GM.

My concern is that players setting up trouble and controlling resolution my conflict with the Czege principle. That isn't a guarantee it won't work, just a flag. My assumption is that GM controlling the trouble (once setup) is going to avoid the potentially unfun choices that could otherwise arise.

It seems like safe ground. I wondered if it looked shaky to you?
I just don't see any problem: how do the players control resolution if the GM is controlling things after the players engage in content introduction?

If your focus is on the initial process of content introduction, that looks - as you've described it - like round-robin storytelling rather than RPG play, but I assume that's a deliberate feature and not a bug.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I just don't see any problem: how do the players control resolution if the GM is controlling things after the players engage in content introduction?
I might misunderstand this question. Following the Czege principle a single player doesn't control a character's adversity and the resolution of that adversity. What is being tested is if it is fun for a single player to setup a character's adversity and control the resolution of that adversity. GM controls the adversity once setup in conformance with the CP.

Putting player in position of narrating complications leverages the same premise (i.e. as a setup or soft move, rather than a hard one).

What I hoped to understand better is if setup is the same as control in terms of its impact on the risk of being unfun. If it is separable, then that's useful.

If your focus is on the initial process of content introduction, that looks - as you've described it - like round-robin storytelling rather than RPG play, but I assume that's a deliberate feature and not a bug.
The mechanics of establishing the world are part of the RPG play. It's an interesting point though. Many games have mechanics that on surface don't involve any roleplaying. Reading a number off two dice and adding 3 for example. Players take turns in some cases.

A common need in RPG is something to give momentum to the conversation. In this game, the notion is that describing the world sets things going (connected with another mechanic that sets up an overarching tempo). The Ground Itself plays out as something like a remembering. It's very contemplative. What struck me once we had imagined a place, is that because of the way the game makes that place somewhere we've an emotional connection with, I wanted to be able to RP in that place. Our descriptions had a latent momentum in them.
 

What is being tested is if it is fun for a single player to setup a character's adversity and control the resolution of that adversity. GM controls the adversity once setup in conformance with the CP.

Putting player in position of narrating complications leverages the same premise (i.e. as a setup or soft move, rather than a hard one).

What I hoped to understand better is if setup is the same as control in terms of its impact on the risk of being unfun. If it is separable, then that's useful.
From my experience, it can be enjoyable.

New player to the group, rolls up a cleric. Sits down with an established party of two mages and a thief. The party establishes they're in the town square as they wrapped up their last adventure and are discussing who they know, what they know, &c. "These guys have the obvious adventurer party vibe?" he asks. "Yes we do!" says one of the wizards.

"I [the cleric] walk up to them. 'Friends, I am in great need! A foul rogue has plundered my hometown chapel. Aside from the coin in the poor box and some silver candlesticks, they also stole an important idol. I have been charged to it's recovery. I can offer half the recovered loot in payment. The other half must be returned to the chapel so that it can continue its good work, and, of course, the idol returns with me as well. What say you?'"

The other three were incredibly surprised at that introduction and looked at me. I pointed to the cleric's player, "talk to him, not me." There were some questions about which temple, what town, and the like. I had the cleric describe their town and environs, thought for a moment, "he's from Finefin, a fishing town eastward along the coast from the Clanking City of Jasp." After some discussion about his character's faith, "you've [the party] been along that area- you recall a humble chapel of the Bright Temple there."

And off they went.

So, this one guy grabbed hold of the narrative with both hands and we went with it. As the party traveled about, asking questions and such, the cleric player stated what "little he knew" about the crime and the perpetrator. When they started looking for information, clues, &c. I had the key parts of their adversary and the situation ready. Everyone had a good time, and I was able to supply the surprises beyond what the cleric's player started with.

While setup places constraints, the path from setup to resolution is still unknown to the player and that is the key part, I believe.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Three things:

* It is not retroactive to introduce it starts to rain - that is purely forward looking. It's just that instead of a random weather check, the GM has responded to the failed Diplomacy check.

* If you read the post I quoted, you will see that there is no complaint that (eg) the GM didn't telegraph with cloudy skies.
If it's an outdoor scene and the GM doesn't at least give passing mention to the weather up front while setting/framing said scene, that seems like poor narration to me.
* In AD&D, and I suspect in 5e D&D, narrating birds on the cliff at the opening of the climb check is an invitation to the players to describe how their PCs chase away the birds or put on bird-proof gear or something similar that engages with the granularity of the situation - and all that stuff is low- or no-stakes.
Well, no it isn't. If the birds are a potential hazard to the climb then their presence alters the odds of succeeding on said climb...meaning if the PCs can see tham (perception check or equivalent?) they ought to be considered as part of the overall situation and the stakes around that.
So in effect, every time a possible consequence is flagged it invites the players to deal with it. Narrate clouds and they bring their umbrellas. As a result the space for failure narration is winnowed down more and more. In another recent thread @Manbearcat called this sort of thing, when initiated by the players ("Are there birds?" "Are there clouds?" etc) a "conversation trap" used by players to manipulate obstacle ratings.
I think that's a bit unfair on @Manbearcat 's part, in that from the players' viewpoint they may merely be asking for more clarity in the scene narration. And that's fair - if there's something obvious that the PCs could observe (e.g. the weather, if outdoors) and that might have bearing on or relevance to what happens next then the players really do have a right to be told about it.

The birds are a different matter - topographic variabilities make it easy enough for the PCs not to be able to see them until partway up the cliff; thus I've no real issue with their being introduced as a reason for failure. But if, say, there's a high wind then that's something the PCs would notice long before even getting to the cliff and (one would think) would factor into their thought process once they arrive.

That, and it's only natural for the PCs in-character to want to mitigate obstacles and risk where-when they can, isn't it? You know, self-preservation and all that? :)
* 4e D&D would permit a "weather watching" attempt as part of a skill challenge to give a successful oration outdoors - a check on Nature, say, to affirm that no rain is expected - and depending on framing it might be a primary or a secondary check. This is different from both the above as a technique, but it locates the attempt within the resolution process, so it just feeds through to the outcome without any disruption or bogging down or "conversation traps".
Did 4e drop the Druid spell "Predict Weather"?

Never mind that well over 99% of the time simple observation - as in checking the sky and wind conditions right now - will tell even a commoner what the weather is likely to do in the next hour or so.

But yes, absent the spell or equivalent a Nature check (with big bonuses if the checker is a Ranger, Druid, or Nature Cleric) makes sense for any forecast beyond the next few hours.
 
Last edited:

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top