Beginning to Doubt That RPG Play Can Be Substantively "Character-Driven"

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I'm not one of the people you've been volleying with, about this, but:

I'm willing to agree with your description of GM Force, and I (maybe only now, with an example, because sometimes I am slow) understand your use of "degenerate" in this context.

I think GM Force is a thing that happens. I think some rule sets encourage it more than others, and some (maybe? plausibly?) demand it.

I think it's possible to argue that not having a way in the mechanics to determine the outcome of social interactions, or the timing (I guess) of when character flaws (or Troubles, or Vices, or whatever) come into play can feel like GM Force.

Without getting too hung up on the word, if GM Force feels like cheating at a given table (or even to a given player) there's a reasonable case to be made that in that case it is cheating, regardless of GM intent.

Looking at my previous thought, I'm thinking it's possible for different players at the same table to be in different STATEs (as you call them). I'm also thinking that there may be a continuum of STATE states (heh, heh) at least in the amount of Force that people or groups in the middle expect to be used. There's a difference between not wanting stupid/pointless character deaths and not allowing character deaths at all, but those could both plausibly be in STATE 2.

I'm not feeling particularly coherent about this, so I'll stop now.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
<snip>

You can correct me if I'm wrong here @Ovinomancer , but it seems that your position is that all of the following are true:

* The impact on the trajectory of play (the present and future gamestate) of a GM who uses Force is continuum-based.

* The impact on the psychology of the table (regarding newly defined authority distribution post-Force) is also continuum-based.

Is that correct?
Yes to both. I'll elaborate further, but I wanted to go ahead and break in and answer these questions.

Let me interject here (interject...with...myseeeeeeeeeeeeeelf?).

Like the conversation about about "degenerating into murderhoboing", the conversation about Force has to entail 3 table states when it comes to expectations and psychological ramifications:

STATE 1 - None of these players care about Force. Therefore, there can be no degenerate play with respect to Force. They're just completely casual, hang out and have a good time and GM do whatever the eff they want to entertain them.

STATE 2 - These players EXPECT Force to be used. They want the GM to hit the "Force accelerator" as need be to ensure that the story told at the table is compelling in the way they want it to be compelling.

STATE 3 - These players abhor Force. They expect it to never be used. They want player-facing rules that work sans-Force and clearly delineated authority distribution and transparent GMing.

To be clear, when I'm having these conversations, its STATE 3, that I'm talking about. There is no purpose in talking about STATE 1 or STATE 2. Those tables probably exist in much higher proportion than 3, but when it comes to Force, they're agnostic or supportive...so talking about Force's effect on play for their table psychology is irrelevant (in the same way that play doesn't "degenerate" into murderhobo play when the players are agnostic and/or want/expect it).
I disagree that your states are comprehensive, and, in fact, miss the position I'm staking. There's a position that juxtaposes all three states, in that I may not care about Force in one aspect of a game, expect it in another, and be very upset about it in a third. I honestly think this is a place that D&D occupies: Force is expected due to prep concerns -- ie, the GM is largely expected to Force the prep to the forefront of the game and/or only present prepared items (ie, there's no real game outside of prep, which is a version of Force). Force is aberrant in regards to character, though, as this is the sole proprietorship of the player. And, Force may be not cared about in regards to other aspects of play.

So, no, I don't fully agree that Force is a binary on-or-off thing, as it can be applied to different areas of the game independently.

That said, if the table expectation is no Force, then, yes, it's a binary issue.

To relate my experience, at a high level, I was playing in a 3.x game. The premise of the game was that Force was involved -- it centered around a prophecy. However, there were large chunks of the game that revolved around the characters solely. The GM was experienced in a number of different games and did an excellent job of having a plotted game but having enough "slop" to add in character driven side-arcs. He, in effect, ran a hybrid game -- half plotted and full of force and the other half (outside of the clearly defined plotted elements) open to player direction and focusing on character arcs. It was, as I noted, a perfect storm of events that resulted in finding things out about my character that I didn't know, or initially thought differently. So, in this game, there was clearly Force (the plotted elements aligned with a prophecy), but not in all areas. My tolerance for Force is higher than others (but not infinite by any imagination) so I could accept (and did, in session zero) Force in agreed areas. This ad hoc arrangement worked very well and delivered character arcs not just for me but for most of the other players (we had two players uninterested in arcs, and so did not have one).

Fundamentally, I think the difference here is that I see character arcs existing in a game that isn't entirely focused on delivering that play whereas you're discussion play entirely focused on character. I'll agree with you that, in the latter case, Force in any amount is detrimental to the premise of the game. I'll disagree, though, in that I assert character arcs can exist outside of a game focused on character, and those games may have Force.
 
@Ovinomancer

I don't have a ton of time right now, so if you're able to respond to this, I won't get a look at until afterwhile.

Two things:

1) I think something has gone slightly awry (I don't know where this happened, if I was involved with it or not). We're mashing together two different things:

a) Character Arcs - A journey of a character that involves an inciting incident > conflict/obstacles > victory/setback/fall > resolution and transformation of the character.

b) (Substantively) Character-Driven Play (lead post premise) - The players, through advocating for their characters (both through the machinery of system and their related expression of character ethos/pathos), drive the fiction through a perpetual series of gamestates, until all thematic questions have been answered (and the the game ends).

These are different things.

I absolutely, 100 % agree in all ways that Character Arcs can emerge in games laden with (even fraught with) Force. Force is absolutely zero barrier to Character Arcs. The only thing that matters is that the journey above happens...doesn't matter how agency is distributed.

The question I'm posing is how Force interacts with (b) above.

So I guess my question with respect to your play anecdote above would be:

Through the medium of their character, would a player have the capability (both authority and means to declare actions and not have that input nullified by GM) to challenge the conception of that prophecy and either undo its ability to become manifest and/or undo its revelation ?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Because many of us realize that the agency you claim is in older games is often an illusion in the game as played. If one accepts Gygax Rule 0 (The GM is always right, and can mod rules on a whim), your agency ends wherever the GM decides, including the potential of telling you how your character feels about something!

The GM I had the least agency as a player under was running AD&D 2E. Second worst was AD&D 1E.
Which then - again - places the onus on the GM to get out of the way and give the characters (players) time and space to do what they're doing.

Gygax Rule 0 is, IME, mostly for resolving rules/rulings arguments: ultimately the GM has the hammer.

D&D game rules prior to 3E explicitly give the GM the power to change the rules on the fly for pretty much any reason. Sane DM's don't... they pick a subset, superset, or superset of a subset of the rules, and stick to them, because player agency requires knowing enough to make informed decisions, and a GM willing to let the player have some.
Within any given campaign I largely try to keep the rules consistent, with major changes (mostly) coming between campaigns. That said, if something develops within a campaign that needs attention (usually involving someone finding either a major typo, an outright error, or a game-wrecking loophole) I'll fix it right away.

That said, I have very few rules or guidelines* governing social interaction anyway, which is mostly what we've been discussing.

* - most of what I have are to do with treatment of henches, and possible results/consequences therefrom; but even there if the hench-in-character would for whatever reason react differently than the guidelines suggest then that's what it's gonna do.

The other thing is that most of the more narrativist games do is explicitly deny revision on the fly from GM prerogatives... many Fate flavors are pretty clear that only the group as a whole gets to change rules.
In the right group this is cool. My experience is that, given the chance, players will tend towards favouring changes that help their PCs (individually or collectively) while pushing back against any changes that hamper the PCs, which is only natural.

What a ruleset cannot do is force the GM to follow it, but I know that I'd rather not play if the GM isn't using a cogent and clear set of rules.
Yeah - a GM who generally doesn't follow her own rules doesn't work well for me either.

Which comes back, in a way, to the drum I often bang regarding PCs and NPCs functioning mechanically the same within the setting: it's way easier as a player to extrapolate the mechanics I already know regarding PCs onto the NPCs than it is to have to learn two disparate sets of mechanics - one for PCs and the other for NPCs* - and therefore it's on the GM to ensure consistency here even if the RAW say or suggest otherwise.

* - assuming NPC mechanics are player-side info in that system; otherwise there's no way of knowing what rules the GM is following if any.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Ovinomancer

I don't have a ton of time right now, so if you're able to respond to this, I won't get a look at until afterwhile.

Two things:

1) I think something has gone slightly awry (I don't know where this happened, if I was involved with it or not). We're mashing together two different things:

a) Character Arcs - A journey of a character that involves an inciting incident > conflict/obstacles > victory/setback/fall > resolution and transformation of the character.

b) (Substantively) Character-Driven Play (lead post premise) - The players, through advocating for their characters (both through the machinery of system and their related expression of character ethos/pathos), drive the fiction through a perpetual series of gamestates, until all thematic questions have been answered (and the the game ends).

These are different things.

I absolutely, 100 % agree in all ways that Character Arcs can emerge in games laden with (even fraught with) Force. Force is absolutely zero barrier to Character Arcs. The only thing that matters is that the journey above happens...doesn't matter how agency is distributed.

The question I'm posing is how Force interacts with (b) above.

So I guess my question with respect to your play anecdote above would be:

Through the medium of their character, would a player have the capability (both authority and means to declare actions and not have that input nullified by GM) to challenge the conception of that prophecy and either undo its ability to become manifest and/or undo its revelation ?
No prob, get back when you can.

I don't think we're on the same page about character arcs, though. I'm not prepared to agree with your summation about character arcs being present even if the player has little to no input vice all or almost all of the input. I think you've noted that we're in a terminology/concept ambiguity, and that's making things difficult to discuss.

As for "character-driven" play, as I understand, we're largely in agreement. I think that there can be a small amount of Force and still have good play, though, else GMs could not accidentally put undue pressure on a sitch and Force an outcome through inexperience or inattention. Character-driven play is very intensive in the moment, and if such mistakes are not survivable, then we're in a bad spot! That said, Force should be avoided and play should aim to eliminate it entirely as a matter of principle.

On "character arcs", I'm trying to discuss the means by which a character undergoes change in play that may be surprising to the player -- the character at risk moment. This is what I read the OP as driving for and this is different from how I read your formulation of character arcs above in that it is play that engages the character and allows all involved to find out what that means. This is similar to character-driven, in that the results shouldn't be predetermined but played through, but can exist outside of a character-driven game. I'm not ready to agree that a character arc in the context of the OP can be entirely Forced by the GM and remain what the OP is trying to seek. I also don't think that you must be in a character-driven system/game to find what the OP is trying to seek. I think you can have meaningful, non-Forced character arcs in a game that has Force in other aspects. I don't think reducing character arcs to their fiction counterpart (created by a single author according to their decisions from outside the character) is useful in the context of the thread.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Like the conversation about about "degenerating into murderhoboing", the conversation about Force has to entail 3 table states when it comes to expectations and psychological ramifications:

STATE 1 - None of these players care about Force. Therefore, there can be no degenerate play with respect to Force. They're just completely casual, hang out and have a good time and GM do whatever the eff they want to entertain them.

STATE 2 - These players EXPECT Force to be used. They want the GM to hit the "Force accelerator" as need be to ensure that the story told at the table is compelling in the way they want it to be compelling.

STATE 3 - These players abhor Force. They expect it to never be used. They want player-facing rules that work sans-Force and clearly delineated authority distribution and transparent GMing.

To be clear, when I'm having these conversations, its STATE 3, that I'm talking about. There is no purpose in talking about STATE 1 or STATE 2.
Ah. I'm thinking of all three types as - again - a continuum, while mostly focusing on STATE 1. (good definitions, by the way!)

Why STATE 1? Because it's the most variable, and in some ways most interesting, where STATE 2 and STATE 3 are closer to absolutes.

In STATE 1, even if the players don't care about Force, it's still on the GM to pay at least a little attention to what she's doing Force-wise; as if she overdoes it there may suddenly come a flashpoint where those players find they DO care. Result: arguments all round.

I also think character-driven and-or character-based play is quite possible in STATE 1 provided the GM lets it happen. Personally I think it's a GM mistake to not let it happen, others' views may differ.

Murderhobo play is possible in all three states. :)
 
Manipulation of the gamestate (typically covert) by a GM which nullifies (or in slightly more benign cases; modifies) player input in order to form or maintain a narrative that conforms to the GM's vision.

STATE 1 - None of these players care about Force. Therefore, there can be no degenerate play with respect to Force. They're just completely casual, hang out and have a good time and GM do whatever the eff they want to entertain them.

STATE 2 - These players EXPECT Force to be used. They want the GM to hit the "Force accelerator" as need be to ensure that the story told at the table is compelling in the way they want it to be compelling.

STATE 3 - These players abhor Force. They expect it to never be used. They want player-facing rules that work sans-Force and clearly delineated authority distribution and transparent GMing.
I snipped your post down to what I feel are the essential bits.

I feel that there’s another state, one that has elements of more than one of the others. This is one where the players are accepting of Force applied in certain instances, but not in others.

You mention in the bolded part above that Force can nullify or perhaps just modify player input. This implies that some application of Force is worse than others.

Some players may be okay with more minor usage, or usage in certain areas but not in others. Or perhaps you have a group whose opinion on Force is not shared.
 

pemerton

Legend
Also .... @pemerton - I forgot to ask you how your Dying Earth RPG campaign went.
We haven't come back to it - it was just me and two players, so if we have a session with just the three of us it might be revived.

After you mentioned it, I went ahead and grabbed it and ran it for a little while.
It's nice to hear that I can be a force for good.

It seemed a little more ... comedic ... than the games I normally associate with you.
It's not quite Burning Wheel.
 

pemerton

Legend
Social mechanics in 3e D&D (and 3.5, and PF, and games based on those), the existence of which mechanics in my view make them A-type systems, can and do trample the aspect of player agency that has to do with - absent external control mechanics - playing one's character as one sees fit. The rub here is that the game doesn't really make this clear until you're already into it.
This is an odd example, because there are no GM-to-player or player-to-player social mechanics in those systems.

I haven't dug up my copy of the 3E PHB, but this is from the online 3.5 SRD:

You can change the attitudes of others (nonplayer characters) with a successful Diplomacy check​
 
This is an odd example, because there are no GM-to-player or player-to-player social mechanics in those systems.

I haven't dug up my copy of the 3E PHB, but this is from the online 3.5 SRD:

You can change the attitudes of others (nonplayer characters) with a successful Diplomacy check​
Not that 3.x D&D is the best example of it, but I think the ability for a PC to influence a NPC where the outcome is determined by a roll is a pretty big part of what we’re talking about, as well.

I don't really think that “act it out to the best of your ability and I as GM will decide” is all that great an approach.

I like when the GM is involved in the factors at play...the NPCs starting attitude, for example....and then the resolution is left up to the roll. The roll is what determines how well the PC performed, how diplomatic or persuasive or deceptive they were, and therefore the outcome.

This puts all the GM’s judgment into establishing the situation and the chances before hand, and then leaves the outcome to the roll. I prefer that to a GM interpreting a roll or in the absence of a roll, interpreting the quality of the player’s attempt, and then deciding the outcome.

The GM deciding the outcome is probably the most relevant bit. Many will be fine with that. Others won’t.
 

pemerton

Legend
prep, which is a version of Force
I feel that there’s another state, one that has elements of more than one of the others. This is one where the players are accepting of Force applied in certain instances, but not in others.
I don't know if hawkeyefan had in mind, as one of the certain instances, GM preparation.

I don't think preparation must equate to (to quote @Manbearcat) Manipulation of the gamestate (typically covert) by a GM which nullifies (or in slightly more benign cases; modifies) player input in order to form or maintain a narrative that conforms to the GM's vision.

Apocalypse World, for instance, relies on GM prep. But (provided the GM MC follows the relevant instruction) it doesn't involve GM force in the above sense.

Obviously Manbearcat can speak for himself (when he has a chance to get back to this thread), but mainly when I think of GM force I think of ignoring/overriding the action resolution mechanics and of establishing consequences, and hence future framings, in disregard of what the players took themselves to have staked in action resolution.

The second conjunct there is more subtle than the first. It seems to me a good chunk of the AW instructions to the MC are various ways of avoiding it (eg lead with your soft moves before following up with your hard ones). Burning Wheel makes a very big deal of it. A GM who preps plot is on his/her way to doing it, but prepping plot isn't the only sort of prep.

That said, maybe @Ovinomancer was using "prep" as a shorthand for prepping plot, as per the example in his follow-up post?
 

pemerton

Legend
Not that 3.x D&D is the best example of it, but I think the ability for a PC to influence a NPC where the outcome is determined by a roll is a pretty big part of what we’re talking about, as well.
Sure. I was just querying @Lanefan's suggestion that 3E D&D is a system which has specific rules to determine what the PC does. I don't think that suggestion is correct.

I don't really think that “act it out to the best of your ability and I as GM will decide” is all that great an approach.
I tend to think it's terrible.

I agree with this from upthread:
I think GM Force is a thing that happens. I think some rule sets encourage it more than others, and some (maybe? plausibly?) demand it.

I think it's possible to argue that not having a way in the mechanics to determine the outcome of social interactions, or the timing (I guess) of when character flaws (or Troubles, or Vices, or whatever) come into play can feel like GM Force.

I like when the GM is involved in the factors at play...the NPCs starting attitude, for example....and then the resolution is left up to the roll. The roll is what determines how well the PC performed, how diplomatic or persuasive or deceptive they were, and therefore the outcome.

This puts all the GM’s judgment into establishing the situation and the chances before hand, and then leaves the outcome to the roll.
I tend not to use "starting attitude" as big factor in social resolution, unless there is already some established fiction that so-and-so is friendly to, or hostile to, the PC in question. If such a thing is established, then it becomes a relevant modifier (eg a penalty in Traveller, a DC-adjuster in 4e or Burning Wheel, a mod to the dice pool in Prince Valiant, etc).

The player declares their action, which normally consists in saying (or perhaps paraphrasing) what their PC says. This will establish the parameters for consequences of success or failure. It might also affect the difficulty (eg if it's a big ask) or grant a bonus (Traveller doesn't have so much room for this, but BW, 4e D&D and Prince Valiant all have room for some sort of add resulting from an impassioned performance).

Then the dice are rolled and the outcome determined via the appropriate system method. (Eg in Traveller there's a look-up table for NPC reactions; other systems might be more about GM narration of fiction-appropriate consequences that reflect either success or failure.)

Nothing too radical there I don't think!
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't know if hawkeyefan had in mind, as one of the certain instances, GM preparation.

I don't think preparation must equate to (to quote @Manbearcat) Manipulation of the gamestate (typically covert) by a GM which nullifies (or in slightly more benign cases; modifies) player input in order to form or maintain a narrative that conforms to the GM's vision.

Apocalypse World, for instance, relies on GM prep. But (provided the GM MC follows the relevant instruction) it doesn't involve GM force in the above sense.

Obviously Manbearcat can speak for himself (when he has a chance to get back to this thread), but mainly when I think of GM force I think of ignoring/overriding the action resolution mechanics and of establishing consequences, and hence future framings, in disregard of what the players took themselves to have staked in action resolution.

The second conjunct there is more subtle than the first. It seems to me a good chunk of the AW instructions to the MC are various ways of avoiding it (eg lead with your soft moves before following up with your hard ones). Burning Wheel makes a very big deal of it. A GM who preps plot is on his/her way to doing it, but prepping plot isn't the only sort of prep.

That said, maybe @Ovinomancer was using "prep" as a shorthand for prepping plot, as per the example in his follow-up post?
No, and the fuller context of what I said should help make this clearer. I was talking about the act of pushing prepped material to the fore, ie, making whatever was prepped (a dungeon, an encounter, a plot) enter into play regardless of any other concern, or failing to provide any other material (as in a sandbox outside of the prepped material). That is what I was talking about, the use of prepared material ("prep") in a Forceful way.

You can prepare things and not use Force, but that's less common in D&D, which was the example I was presenting. Yes, I'm aware of old school dungeon crawls -- those are not the current majority of play. I think looking to the material offered for sale is the better way to judge trends in what's popular in play, and those are currently full of Force in regards to D&D.
 
I don't know if hawkeyefan had in mind, as one of the certain instances, GM preparation.

I don't think preparation must equate to (to quote @Manbearcat) Manipulation of the gamestate (typically covert) by a GM which nullifies (or in slightly more benign cases; modifies) player input in order to form or maintain a narrative that conforms to the GM's vision.
I was thinking of prep and similar GM input. My 5E game has a lot of threads, but the primary one is based on the scenarios that I’ve introduced to the game.

My players don’t mind if I craft hooks that largely determine the thrust of the game. Largely because I’ve based it on things that they’ve indicated they enjoy, but still....they accept that.

However, if I resorted to Force to dictate how they engage the hooks, or to change the outcome of something, they’d balk at that for sure.

Sure. I was just querying @Lanefan's suggestion that 3E D&D is a system which has specific rules to determine what the PC does. I don't think that suggestion is correct.
No, not really. Nothing beyond the ones that have always been present such as Charm Person and the like.

I tend to think it's terrible.
I had a feeling you might!

I agree with this from upthread:
Yeah, @prabe made a good point there. The absence of mechanics can definitely feel like GM Force. Hard to say if it just feels that way, though.

I tend not to use "starting attitude" as big factor in social resolution, unless there is already some established fiction that so-and-so is friendly to, or hostile to, the PC in question. If such a thing is established, then it becomes a relevant modifier (eg a penalty in Traveller, a DC-adjuster in 4e or Burning Wheel, a mod to the dice pool in Prince Valiant, etc).
I only used starting attitude as an example because I think that’s the most relevant factor in the 3.x system.

The player declares their action, which normally consists in saying (or perhaps paraphrasing) what their PC says. This will establish the parameters for consequences of success or failure. It might also affect the difficulty (eg if it's a big ask) or grant a bonus (Traveller doesn't have so much room for this, but BW, 4e D&D and Prince Valiant all have room for some sort of add resulting from an impassioned performance).

Then the dice are rolled and the outcome determined via the appropriate system method. (Eg in Traveller there's a look-up table for NPC reactions; other systems might be more about GM narration of fiction-appropriate consequences that reflect either success or failure.)

Nothing too radical there I don't think!
No, not at all.

Blades in the Dark follows this scheme. The player declares their characters goal for the action, the GM determines the Position (difficulty) and the Effect (degree of outcome). the player therefore has a strong sense of the chances for success, the degree of success, and the degree of potential consequences. Then the roll determines success, partial success, or failure.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Blades in the Dark follows this scheme. The player declares their characters goal for the action, the GM determines the Position (difficulty) and the Effect (degree of outcome). the player therefore has a strong sense of the chances for success, the degree of success, and the degree of potential consequences. Then the roll determines success, partial success, or failure.
Is position comparable to starting attitude? Or a more gestalt thing?

(My understanding is that in BitD degree/severity of consequence is a function of position and effect.)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Yeah, @prabeade a good point there. The absence of mechanics can definitely feel like GM Force. Hard to say if it just feels that way, though.
@hawkeyefan I think you were the one who mentioned something about a "principled GM" which seems as though it would correlate to what I talk about when I talk about trusting a GM. I mention this because if you trust your GM, I think maybe the GM's judgment wouldn't feel so much like (might not be) Force.
 
Is position comparable to starting attitude? Or a more gestalt thing?

(My understanding is that in BitD degree/severity of consequence is a function of position and effect.)
More gestalt, really. It probably includes or encompasses starting attitude in a social action of some kind. The GM determines the Position as Controlled, Risky, or Desperate depending on the fictional circumstances.

Without getting too deep into the Blades mechanics, here's a quick summary:

  • Convincing a friend to help you with something would likely be a Controlled roll
  • Convincing someone you just met to help you would likely be a Risky roll
  • Convincing someone who dislikes you to help you would likely be a Desperate roll

There's a little more to it, but I think this gives the gist. Position gives you an idea of how tough an action may be. Effect gives you an idea of the outcome (three options Great, Standard, or Limited) and is similarly determined.

So anytime you're about to make a roll, the GM gives you both Position and Effect, and combined they determine the severity of consequences on a failure, or the strength of benefits on a success.
 
@hawkeyefan I think you were the one who mentioned something about a "principled GM" which seems as though it would correlate to what I talk about when I talk about trusting a GM. I mention this because if you trust your GM, I think maybe the GM's judgment wouldn't feel so much like (might not be) Force.
I think if GM Force is a possibility....which in many games it is....then the question becomes when and how it's used. I think that in such games, trusting the GM to only use it in a principled way is a huge part of what can make such a game work or not for those players.

I don't mind if the GM has a specific idea in mind for how he wants play to go. If he has the idea of "an adventure" in mind. I'm generally as okay with that as I might be with him selecting a setting or rules system when we decide to play a game.

But I want to be able to engage with that adventure however I want to. Within reason, I suppose, but I'd kind of expect a good deal of leeway. Certainly more than most "adventure path" type adventures typically allow.

I recently played in a game that was very much of the adventure path sort, and I had my character ask a question, and the GM said to me "so what you're asking is...." and reframed my question to match one of the "if the players ask this...." tidbits in the book. I really, really hated that.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I think if GM Force is a possibility....which in many games it is....then the question becomes when and how it's used. I think that in such games, trusting the GM to only use it in a principled way is a huge part of what can make such a game work or not for those players.

I don't mind if the GM has a specific idea in mind for how he wants play to go. If he has the idea of "an adventure" in mind. I'm generally as okay with that as I might be with him selecting a setting or rules system when we decide to play a game.

But I want to be able to engage with that adventure however I want to. Within reason, I suppose, but I'd kind of expect a good deal of leeway. Certainly more than most "adventure path" type adventures typically allow.

I recently played in a game that was very much of the adventure path sort, and I had my character ask a question, and the GM said to me "so what you're asking is...." and reframed my question to match one of the "if the players ask this...." tidbits in the book. I really, really hated that.
One of my gaming groups tends to do Adventure Paths, and I hate them (the adventures; I love the people). There's nothing to engage with but the grind toward the Big Climax. I never conceive of the character as anything other than a bundle of mechanics. I don't care if we succeed at the Final Boss Fight. I actually kinda hope we don't, because I don't think the world in the Adventure Path is worth saving.

I believe we are very much on the same page here, possibly the same paragraph.
 

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