*Deleted by user*
I've mentioned something a lot as of late (when I've actually posted over the last few years...which is in spurts...and not much overall...so I guess you would have to tie the thread together over that incoherent long haul) that I think has a lot of explanatory power as to why these discussions can be difficult.While there's no right answer, a question might narrow down what'd work for the querent: "What do you find to be more of a stumbling-block, rules or the absence or rules?" The question might need re-phrasing, depending.
I can see that. As I mentioned earlier (I think) I'm new here, so I probably wouldn't have been able to assemble anything like this from your posts, anywhere near as coherently-put.I've mentioned something a lot as of late (when I've actually posted over the last few years...which is in spurts...and not much overall...so I guess you would have to tie the thread together over that incoherent long haul) that I think has a lot of explanatory power as to why these discussions can be difficult.
This question you've posed above seems to presuppose something about TTRPGs:
Game systems are discrete tool-kits meant to be deeply curated, to taste, mixed/matched in a modular fashion by x (typically the GM, but sometimes the group).
This zeitgeist seems to be so deeply embedded in the D&D cultural fabric that people just take it for granted that "this is the way, the one truth."
Game systems that are focused or somewhat resistant to hacking become anathema.
There is an alternative:
Game systems are a synthesis of rules, procedures, and principles, the collective of which is holistically bound to an ethos/premise of play.
Your question becomes less/more relevant/fundamentally different with respect to each starting position.
At its core, these two ideas are the yin and yang of the "sum of its parts" concept.
Very good questions. [Edit] Most of the above, in a sense (other than adding more GM force, which I really have no interest in). [/Edit]@innerdude
So I'm curious- what exactly are you looking for with your post?
Suggestions for TTRPGs that would allow you to play a more character-driven game?
Suggestions for how to play your current games in a more character-driven fashion?
Permission to have more GM FORCE (is that like G Force ..... )?
Or something else?
The goal for me is to find more tools, techniques, and opportunities to both generate and sustain character-arc-driven play instilled with the kinds of things @Ovinomancer alludes to.To have character arcs, the character must be at risk.
This doesn't mean that the character might die, or be hurt, or lose things, but instead that the fundamental nature of the character must be at risk. Something the character believes, or feels, or values as a core conceit must be at risk of being shown false, or different, or even validated through hardship. If you do not risk character, there's nothing that can change that isn't an arbitrary choice by the player or GM. And arbitrary change is fine, although it doesn't meet the desire of the OP to have games that involve character driven play.
I think, over time, there's been a growth in the number of systems available, and an improvement in the design of systems, in general, that helps to support the increased emphasis as RAW/RAE, and a bit of a decline in retooling systems.2. The reason I'm not sure I agree with your first construction is two-fold; while I think that there was a big DIY component in D&D, I also think that, especially from 3e on there has been an increasing RAW emphasis in D&D. So I don't think that is fully accurate.
I wonder if some portion of it isn't the aging of what seems as though it at least has to be a large chunk of the market for TRPGs. It's harder to be DIY if you don't have the time, and it's easier to pay for professionalism if you have the money. I'm not sure the people getting into the hobby now have anything like role models for the DIY stuff that won't feel old and grognardy to them.I think that's part of it.
I also think that there's a decline in the "DIY" or "punk" aesthetic to the game. It's less of a purely creative and participatory hobby, in some ways, and more something to be consumed.
The two are probably interrelated; increasing professionalism on the production side tends to lead to less production on the consumer's (hobbyist's) side.
Traditionally, only the GM is in this "punk", and "purely creative and participatory" element of the hobby. Which doesn't sound all that participatory, does it?I also think that there's a decline in the "DIY" or "punk" aesthetic to the game. It's less of a purely creative and participatory hobby, in some ways, and more something to be consumed.
I think Burning Wheel can be very enjoyable to power-gamers who like intricate mechanics. This may cause some deviation from the expected/intended play approach (eg a bit less in-character immersion, a bit more meta-gamey "Belief-mongering") but is still a pretty interesting RPG experience.One in particular (the GURPS-loving powergamer) would be a hard "no."
Because when sitting around the table with the other players and GM we can live-action-roleplay the social interactions.That seems to be how many are advocating for social interaction with D&D. Relying solely on role play. So why not do the same for combat?
In all of these cases it'd almost certainly come down to a series of dice rolls, maybe modified by various factors e.g. track position, skill, willingness to cheat in the race, etc.Here are some prominent RPG systems I know of that have no rules for resolving chases/pursuits in a way that would make for a satisfying chariot race:
* AD&D (the dungeon pursuit rules just compare movement rates,; the outdoor evasion rules are not relevant to chariot races);
* B/X D&D (ditto);
* Classic Traveller (the referee would have to make up some rules based around the vehicle skill);
* Rolemaster (there are rules for resolving vehicular manoeuvres, but not in the context of a race - the GM would have to make up a system for opposed checks);
* I think RQ also has the RM problem, but I'm a bit less confident about that as it's been a while.
Yeah, this is part of why I'm not a huge fan of those rules and rarely use them.I have no idea what you mean by "resolved in finality". I mean something fairly concrete - an outcome to the present fictional situation is established, by application of the resolution mechanics, and is binding on all participants, most saliently in this context the GM.
Gygax's morale rules in his DMG assume this sort of finality, inherited from wargaming: if a unit breaks than the player controlling it can't just arbitrarily (eg in the absence of some sort of "rally" mechanic) decide that it returns to the fight.
If a PC can change its mind (and I'm pretty hard line that, absent controlling mechanics, it can) then an NPC can also change its mind; which is why binding rolls are IMO a very bad idea.Classic Traveller in its rules for NPC reaction rolls expressly provides for finality. From p 23 of the 1977 version:
Reactions are used by the referee and by players as a guide to the probable actions of individuals. . . . Reactions govern the reliability and quality of hirelings and employees. Generally, they would re-roll reactions in the fact of extremely bad treatment or unusually dangerous tasks
The GM can't just decide that a NPC changes his/her mind after the reaction is rolled for. Something significant in the fiction, initiated by the players (eg bad treatment, dangerous task) is required.
If nothing is binding on the GM, then nothing is character driven via the actual mechanical processes of play as described in the OP. There is only the GM deciding what happens.
Had the sorcerer been another PC would this have been handled any differently? If yes, there's a problem.In a different RM campaign a PC met a sorcerer on another plane and helped rescue her. He then set out to woo and marry her. In the end he succeeded in this endeavour, the player having built up the PC's social skills sufficiently to make it possible.
It is, but why did it need any rolling? Sir Lionheart was an NPC, right? If he - in your judgment as SL's player - is impressed enough with this squire (via how the squire's been roleplayed) to knight him on the spot then just do it. If not, don't do it; or have SL say something encouraging to the squire as he passes: "You're brave, squire, I'll give you that. When next we meet I fully expect we will joust."In our Prince Valiant game one of the PCs started play as a squire - the son of a moderately prosperous bourgeois family - and wanted to be knighted. He achieved this by challenging a knight to a joust who was blocking the path and would relent only if defeated in a joust by a fellow knight:
That's a mark made on the gameworld, in virtue of finality of resolution.
Different systems approach this in different ways:
* In Burning Wheel, this can and normally should be resolved via a Duel of Wits;* In MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic it can be resolved via the use of the standard resolution mechanics (this happened in our game on Sunday when the dwarf tried to dress down Gandalf but failed, and Gandalf instead mad him feel ashamed of questioning a wizard's judgement);* In 4e D&D there is no system for player vs player social conflict, which takes this mostly out of the ambit of character-driven arcs;* In Apocalypse World a player can't force another player to have his/her PC do something, but can make doing something difficult and/or create mechanical incentives (ie XP awards) to do something else.
And not for the better. Just as a GM can't* take the right to play a character away from a player, the game shouldn't be allowed to either. If I try to manipulate or persuade another PC to do something (e.g. chip in toward a castle) it's on the player of that PC to respond in character.In those last two games, the rules are different vs NPCs: 4e D&D has pretty robust mechanics for the players to have their PCs force their will upon NPCs; and Apocalypse World does also. Here's the AW move:
Seduce or ManipulateWhen you try to seduce or manipulate someone, tell them what you want and roll+hot. For NPCs: on a hit, they ask you to promise something first, and do it if you promise. On a 10+, whether you keep your promise is up to you, later. On a 7–9, they need some concrete assurance right now. For PCs: on a 10+, both. On a 7–9, choose 1:• if they do it, they mark experience• if they refuse, it’s acting under fire
What they do then is up to them.
All these differences affect the play experience.
And here's exactly what I'm talking about: the GM has to allow however long it takes for these debates to play out. They're still arguing three sessions later? Fine. Put yer feet up and let 'em have at it.Once (and as best I recall only once) in our 4e game, when debate about what to do next had dragged on to a point beyond decency, I called for opposed d20 checks, I think with adds on each side reflecting CHA bonuses.
Twice in our Classic Traveller game I've called for opposed checks to settle a debate between the PCs (being played out at the table) with modifiers reflecting noble status (ie Social Standing B+) and Leadership skill.
Agreed, particularly when the opponents are intelligent.I would make two points in response to this:
1) I think that has more to do with D&D discouraging the players from breaking off combat through its combat mechanical oddities. Even in some of the earlier rules, there were popular "parting shot" or "free swing" variants for disengaging. And that's not to mention opportunity loss of XP/treasure. That is, adventuring parties don't generally retreat from combats. Rarely, if ever, do you see one side "drive off" the other without inflicted devastating casualties. In part, I blame this on the HP system, without a "death spiral" combat really is a winner-take-all affair. The loss of "resources" is so trivial that we constantly see DMs appearing with 5MWD problems. Combat carrying only a singular "finality" leads to all sorts of narrative oddities.
I think this depends on the specific players.2) 'No mechanics' actually is something of a limitation. Players (including the GM) are playing a game, they look to the rules to explain/describe how. I've noted that players are often loathe to engage in things that the rules don't cover. Why risk something that may work, when you can rely on your trusty sword for little risk. You can't "game" non-mechanics like you can all the mechanical fiddly bits of a combat system. And when you only have a hammer, everything is a nail.
I'm going to disagree with you about that part of the game, but suggest you've been looking at the wrong games. A fundamental rule of ... quite a lot of things is "Measure what you value or you end up valuing what you measure".I've been thinking a lot lately about how despite having a tremendous amount of fun with RPGs over the years, I continue have a sense of lack, or dissatisfaction with one particular aspect of my play experiences---namely, I have found it to be nigh impossible to drift into what I would consider a true "character-driven" style of play.
Let me explain what I mean by that.
I know that most new systems these days have specific focuses on character backstory, personality traits, motivations, and desires. Even D&D, the long-time standard bearer for keeping the game more focused on gameplay rather than character driven needs, added new character-oriented traits in 5e, to say nothing of Fate which goes out of its way to purposefully bring these elements to the forefront of play.
And yes, these new character design features are incredibly useful in helping us as players come to "see" our characters as more "real" within the fiction. But in my experience, even the best of these character "hooks" or inputs don't seem to make a difference in driving an in-play narrative of substantive character change---i.e., the experience of watching a character materially change in ways that are fundamental to their place in the fiction.
It's generally agreed that one of the vital, key elements of great literature is a character "arc"---the observed phenomenon of a character or characters fundamentally coming to view the world and their place in it in new ways. It is these character journeys that create some of the most powerful, compelling moments that cause as us reader-participants to feel emotional resonance---to feel as if we are experiencing something meaningful, even if we are only having the experience referentially.
But you’re still pretending. Are all your players professional orators? For your players to replicate skilled court intrigue, all they need to be able to do is speak?Because when sitting around the table with the other players and GM we can live-action-roleplay the social interactions.
We - or I'd hazard a guess well over 99% of us - can't or aren't in position to live-action-roleplay medieval-style combat in character. Nor are we able to or in position to live-action-roleplay a lot of things that fall under exploration. Thus we need game mechanics to simulate those things for us, in whatever means and manner that system provides.
But we don't need game mechanics to simulate that which we can in fact do ourselves: the talky bits.