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5E Character play vs Player play

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
As someone who started RPGing in 1979, I saw, back then, all the things that you claim you never saw.

Are you purposefully misreading my posts? Maybe you are only reading portions of my posts or not all of them in this thread or just not understanding, so I'll try again. I've previously said that I know of folks who use storytelling elements in their RPGs. When it was done prior to the advent of storytelling games, in actual form, I have said that it clearly represents an interest in playing games that were divergent from (trad?) RPGs, and what later became storytelling games. RPGs, however, (in a "trad" sense) are designed in a way that allows players to affect the setting through their characters not through narrative by means of authorial control. Storytelling game elements like players having authorial control over the setting came later.
 
Are you purposefully misreading my posts? Maybe you are only reading portions of my posts or not all of them in this thread or just not understanding, so I'll try again. I've previously said that I know of folks who use storytelling elements in their RPGs. When it was done prior to the advent of storytelling games, in actual form, I have said that it clearly represents an interest in playing games that were divergent from (trad?) RPGs, and what later became storytelling games. RPGs, however, (in a "trad" sense) are designed in a way that allows players to affect the setting through their characters not through narrative by means of authorial control. Storytelling game elements like players having authorial control over the setting came later.

The bottom line is: you're a purist. There's nothing wrong with that, but your very narrow definition of RPGs is not as widespread as you claim it is.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
Two things. Firstly, go back and reread those threads where you claim you saw me write things and read them again. You'll find that I've been pretty consistent. DM's, IMO, should not veto player choices when the only objection is that the DM doesn't like the player's choice. "I don't like Elves" is not a good enough reason to veto elves, again, IMO. You'll find though, that I'm perfectly behind the idea of DM's veto'ing chargen options for a plethora of other reasons. This particular straw man argument is something that I've managed to inherit because I do say that DM's should back down in a very limited circumstance. Somehow that's gotten blown up to this idea that I said that DM's should never say no.
I don't need to go back and re-read them I didnt make a stateent about your reasons but everything equal you favor the player over the DM. You apparently think that that's a good enough reason (because I want/like it) to include something if a player (vs. a DM) suggests it. This example gets to the heart of the matter if we're going to declare everyone equal why should the default be that the DM accommodate a single player? Just like with the details situation we're currently discussing you've now elevated the player and his/her fun above the DM's... Is a single player's like or dislike any more "valid" than the DM's? Especially if the DM now has to deal with, produce hooks and adventures around, and cater to something on a regular basis he doesn't like? How is that fair for the DM? See for me, at this point we've moved into the realm of the DM's enjoyment being less important than the player's.

Anyway. The second thing is, I have zero interest in playing with a DM who is going to worry about only controlling 99.99% of the game world and is going to feel that that other .01%, which comprises the party's character's is something the DM needs direct control over. It's apples and oranges. There's a million ways that a DM can indirectly influence the PC's anyway. He doesn't need direct input. The reason you see players come to the table with Man with No Name characters, orphans who don't know anyone and have no ties to the community because they just arrived a week ago, is a direct result of controlling DM's who want to start futzing about with someone's character. This is a space where a very light tread is a good thing. The DM doesn't need to be able to rewrite minor details on a player's character in order to advance a scenario.
Eh, I have serious doubts about your reasoning behind why players come to a table with not ties, as orphans, etc. A powergamer may just not that weakness... others may simply not be that invested in the game or even want to be. Your broad generalization here is simplistic and biased to support your own views.

As to the DM having control.. you're still not telling me why... player creating minor world details = good but DM creating minor PC details = bad? No one needs to do either of these things, so it's not about the DM or the players needing to do either one. If there is mutual trust and everyone is working towards producing fun for everyone in the group as a whole what inherently makes one a bad thing and the other a good thing?

Are you honestly going to tell me that you think that claiming a beard on an NPC that wasn't described beforehand is the same as declaring the undefined appearance of someone's character? If the player doesn't describe his character's hair, for example, would you, as the DM declare that he has long blond hair? Why? What goal is this furthering? The only reason the player is adding facial hair to the NPC is because it pushes the player's plans forward. It keeps the game going forward. What possible use would the DM doing the same thing to a PC have?
The DM could use it as foreshadowing... Hey Bob, Drugar the Barbarian feels an old scar under his armor begin to ache and throb with a dull pain, just as it does whenever a storm approaches...

The DM could use it to move the game forward after a failure... Okay guys your forged invitations to the ball arouse the suspicion of the guards and as they go to confirm the validity of the invites you quickly make your way towards the streets. However you don't get 10 ft away before Elowyn spot a wealthy one-time suitor of hers that she was arranged to marry... he and his entourage all apparently are headed to the ball and he notices Elowyn as you all cross each others path...

The DM could use it to give hints... Ok, Aeorn, this stone portal door looks familiar to the trapped doors of the gnome jewel smiths of Leth K'orn... they also seem, to be equipped with mechanisms you are at least passingly familiar with...

IMO, the fact that you couldn't think of ways DM's could use narrative and authorial power over characters to enhance a game shows your bias...
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
The bottom line is: you're a purist. There's nothing wrong with that, but your very narrow definition of RPGs is not as widespread as you claim it is.

Not so much. Perhaps that is true insofar as defining (trad?) RPGs and the advent of storytelling game elements. In practice, I have played a wide breadth of games of both kinds, and mix things a bit on occasion. For the purposes of discussion of the design of said games I do understand the differences and point out where they become problematic for such discussions, such as in this discussion which, according to the OP, is about "Character play vs Player play." That is a discussion which gets muddied when one doesn't understand the design differences as pertaining to authorial control and players affecting setting only through their characters.
 

LostSoul

Villager
I think there are (at least) two things going on here.

First, whether the door is open or shut is an element in the resolution of a declared action - where the action is "I flee!"

I think this is different from the beard case, where there is no declared action - if the NPC is bearded, that will at best be a prelude to discussion and planning by the players, followed by the actual declaration of actions to be resolved mechnically as Bluff or Disguise checks, etc.

I think this (first) point is true whatever means one uses for deciding if the door is open or shut.
I still don't think it's part of action resolution, at least in my game. The declared action for the PC would be something like "I run up the stairs at full speed!" Whether or not the trap door is shut isn't part of that action - and can't be, because the PC has no control over its state*. The player declares what the PC is doing and can't make statements about the game world - that's the DM's job.

The player's (and the PC's) intent or goal may be to flee, but in my game we don't worry about that - players declare actions for their PCs and we resolve only the action, not the intent behind it.

* - Other than saying "I open the trap door" or something like that.

Second, I think there are different approaches to action resolution. The door's state can be made an element in fortune-in-the-middle resolution, which is one of the ways I said that I might handle it. Equally, you could do it your way (via randomisation) or another of the ways I mentioned (PC "luck" roll - break 10 on d20 to get lucky, or whatever other odds the GM sets). If you go FitM, then the action declaration doesn't get precisified beyond "I flee" - much as, in classic D&D, melee combat declarations don't get any more precise than "I attack". If you go one of those other ways, of firming up the situation prior to fully processing the action declaration, then the action will get precisified in the sorts of ways that you describe.

I think the way one handles the second issue - about action resolution technique - can vary over the range of approaches that we have canvassed without that affecting the truth of the first point, that the trap door and it's state are intimately bound up in the resolution of an action declaration in a way that the beard is not.

(For a contrasting example with the beard, imagine the PC is in combat with the NPC and wants to declare a dirty fighting action - "I grab his beard and yank on it". At that point the beard is bound up in action resolution in much the same way as the trap door is. Personally I would find it odd to resolve the existence of the beard via FitM - because in the game it doesn't vary between states in the way a door does - but I'm sure there are groups out there who might be happy to handle it that way.)
I think you're right, how you handle action resolution will have an effect on things like this.

I'm interested in these various techniques and why you'd use one over another. I use the random roll to define these undefined elements of the game world because I want to remain impartial as DM; I think that allows the player to more easily engage in the point of my game (overcoming challenges on your way to whatever goal you set for your PC) because they don't have to worry about my subjective rulings on these matters. They can just engage with the game world.

There are a lot of subjective judgement calls in the game, especially around action resolution; I'm not really sure why I want subjective judgement calls in some places and not in others. So that's something for me to think about.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
I think this is widely accepted in relation to action resolution. (Though not universally, given some of the fudging threads I've read.)

But the idea that the GM should be unbiased towards the players in determining backstory - ie the content of the fictional world which forms the context for the players' declarations of action for their PCs - I think is not widely accepted.
You seem to be conflating before-the-game character backstory and world-building with on-the-spot un-defined circumstances.

Anything that happens before the game - be it character relationships, or individual hobbies, or the existence of certain guilds - is all part of the premise. The DM probably should work with the players to incorporate those elements into making a fun setting. That's the sort of thing that's necessary to ensure the existence of the player characters in the first place.

After the game starts, backgrounds and other world elements are more-or-less set in stone. You might have parts that are as-of-yet undetermined, but once you actually sit down and start playing, it's too late for the player to decide that her character was actually raised by a clan of secretive ninjas who conveniently live about a mile from here, or totally knows about a hidden way into the city because she it ties into her backstory in a way that had not previously been established.

Player authorship ends once the PCs all meet in a tavern.
 
As posted above, I am fully aware that some groups have added storytelling game elements to RPGs.
I disagree somepeople took PART OF WHAT WAS ALWAYS IN RPGS and made story telling games from that part...





More apropos to say that storytelling games share some of the elements of RPGs.
yes, and since one came first (rpg) those elements where then inspired by...

I've only picked up the word "trad" based on how others were using it to delineate between RPGs and storytelling games as they have come to be known.
Some
I've never heard it and it seems (I may be wrong) to be boarder line insulting. (What I mean is it seems like a one true way ism, saying well X is Traditional and Y is deviant)

folks like to say that all RPGs are and always have been storytelling games and vice versa, but it is simply not true.
I say that, John who graduated college the year before I was born, who was playing RPGs in said year already, tells me many stories of "old school traditional gameing" where Players do a lot of "story telling"

let me share one with you I just talked to him about over the phone... 197X He and his then girlfriend and 2 of there friends where playing D&D... and I mean D&D where his class was elf... Another player wanted to become a Knight and one weekend showed up with an entire set of family heraldry and 3 family lines (three of his 4 grandparents where knights before him) that had time lines including having slayed special beasts... that night at the game when they ran into this big half orc half ape (I can not imagine how that happened) he mid stride decided that his great grandfather had history with this orc clan... and the DM just ran with it... he says that happened all the time.

Infact John claims the reverse of you that D&D LOST storytelling elements as the edition counter went up (not counting 4th that he hated for other reasons)

Some folks use the expression "trad" as a way to define certain games as World-GM-controlled or lacking in player authorial control, so I picked it up here as a way to keep us all moving the discussion along.
I think a word like trad that sounds like traditional is a little miss leading and insulting


Just deciding the way something is is certainly one way to handle it as GM but in RPG
s back in the day and in some ways of running RPGs that are newer but, ahem, "trad" one would leave that stuff up to the gods of randomness.[/QUOTE]
and again I know of no one over the years that ever considered that "tad" it is just using dice... I mean this word you made up (or someone else did) seems to vary in meaning a lot... it's GM control, it's Dice roll for decision...



We seem to have come to am impasse. On the one hand, there is me saying that people play many ways and that the folks I know from the earliest days, including myself played without players having narrative control over the world but rather having to affect the world through their characters. On the other hand, despite my own experiences, some folks who clearly were not personally there are claiming that the things I have experienced simply aren't true. I'm afraid we will have to agree to disagree.
could you atleast agree that your not the only person with 'earliest days' experience, and some other people that have said experience remember things quite differently....
 
.

After the game starts, backgrounds and other world elements are more-or-less set in stone. You might have parts that are as-of-yet undetermined, but once you actually sit down and start playing, it's too late for the player to decide that her character was actually raised by a clan of secretive ninjas who conveniently live about a mile from here, or totally knows about a hidden way into the city because she it ties into her backstory in a way that had not previously been established.

Player authorship ends once the PCs all meet in a tavern.
I disagree here as well... your example makes me laugh because I think it is the perfect way to run a game...

if a player decided that her character was actually raised by a clan of secretive ninjas, and she had been playing as a secretive ninja up till now, that would be fine. If they conveniently live about a mile from here, or totally knows about a hidden way into the city because she it ties into her backstory in a way that had not previously been established all the better. It is a great way to build the game
 

JamesonCourage

Villager
The second thing is, I have zero interest in playing with a DM who is going to worry about only controlling 99.99% of the game world and is going to feel that that other .01%, which comprises the party's character's is something the DM needs direct control over.
This is me. I get control of the 99.99%, and I get to add details to PC backstory. About that...
The reason you see players come to the table with Man with No Name characters, orphans who don't know anyone and have no ties to the community because they just arrived a week ago, is a direct result of controlling DM's who want to start futzing about with someone's character.
Whereas this doesn't happen with my PCs. In my RPG, my players currently have:
(1) A PC whose parents and family were killed as a toddler... but then he was captured and raised as a different race, who took him in and elevated him to the status of an elder of their clan. Then he was "rescued" by his own race, and he's made strong ties to an organization that took him in.
(2) A PC whose mother (his single parent) died in childbirth... but then he was adopted by nobility (along with his three older siblings) and raised as a noble (given the name, the status, the money, etc.). He was even trained as a knight for his nation.
(3) A PC who was orphaned... but then he was raised by two "siblings" (a young man and woman adopted him), where he was taught by them and their friends. He has the most ties to organizations of all the players, and has put his neck on the line for his adopted parents in the past (as they have for him).
(4) A PC who actually grew up in a pretty normal family until his magical potential was recognized by a major international mage guild. He lived with them while he learned their ways, and has strong ties to the organization and its many members.

These PCs have spent the last three sessions (about 18 hours) playing over a couple days of game time. They've interacted with various organizations, friends, family, nobility, and so on. They've investigated at length because they care about the details (because the details affect these organizations, friends, family, nobility, and so on). They built strong ties during character creation, and they've only doubled down since play began. Moving on to my other campaign...

In the 4e campaign I started just over a year ago, we've had the following PCs as of character-build (mostly copy-pasting for ease):
(1) A Gnome Monk with the Infernal Prince theme, and the "Struck By Lightning - Follower of Kord" background. The character came from a wealthy background, and was essentially framed and sentenced to hard labor for 5 years with the other murderers, where she was fully expected to die. While working, she was struck by lightning and survived, taking it as a sign that she was here for a reason. Taking up the offer of a monk who had been protecting her up to this point (as she was rather meek), she used the five years of hard labor and defending against murderers to perfect her body as much as possible, and was released peacefully when her term was up. She has since been tempted by devils to help her control and grow her powers, but she's refused so far. The character has ambitions to start an illegal organization and take over a city (mostly by stealing from the rich, who can afford it), and to travel back home and take revenge on her brother (who framed her). She has ties to devils, monks, Kord's followers, criminals, gnomes, and her family back home (and, to a lesser extent, the Feywild).
(2) A Mul Cleric (Warpriest) of the Raven Queen. He has the Ordained Priest theme, and the "Pivotal Event - You Die" background. At one point, he died, and the Raven Queen brought him back, telling him that it wasn't his time, or that he was to keep a few others from passing on (the other PCs, for example). He's going to be looking out for those whose time is near an end to help send them along, as well as making sure to keep people alive if it isn't their time yet. The character has ambitions to pursue what he believes is his mission from the Raven Queen wants: ushering some souls into the afterlife, and stopping others from moving on too soon. He has strong ties to followers of The Raven Queen, those marked to live (from any walk of life), and those marked for death.
(3) A Dwarven Fighter (Knight) / multiclass Paladin of Kord. He has the Guardian theme, and the "Dwarf - Outcast" background (his clan exiled him for not having enough loyalty to his clan, and too much for himself). Since being exiled, he's looking for ways to make it on his own, and as a fellow follower of Kord, he has a connection with Amanda's character. The character has ambitions to make a living for himself now that he's separated from his clan, and engage in some battle along the way (while protecting his allies). So, he's got ties to dwarves (he wants to make up for his exile), followers of Kord, his friends, and adventurers.
(4) A Genasi Wizard (Sha'ir... the elemental type). Very fire-themed, and very knowledgeable. The character worships Ioun, and was brought into the mortal world by wizards and studied by them (before they taught her magic and released her). She has ties to Wizards, followers of Ioun, her friends, and elementals.
(5) A Wilden Ranger (Scout) / multi-class Druid (Initiate of the Old Faith). He has the Fey Beast Tamer theme (he has a young owlbear companion), and has the Orphan of the Gibbering Massacre background (his community of Wilden on the Feywild was wiped out by Mind Flayers when he was a young child). To sum up (his copy-paste is longer), he has ties to Wilden, nature, the Far Realm / aberrants, Druids, elves, the Feywild, and his friends.

None of these PCs (including the first four from my RPG campaign) is a Man with No Name character. I think that ties much more strongly to players making PCs in unfamiliar settings and lack of PC generation mechanics (random or not... inspiration helps) than it does in anything else. My players routinely make characters with strong ties to the setting, including friends and enemies. They have goals based off backgrounds established during play, and they use and build on these backgrounds by actions taken during play.

On the other hand, I add stuff to things they left blank. Last session, the noble PC found out that an uncle of his (who had drowned while he was growing up) had actually been assassinated by a spy organization. He is invested in finding out why, and quite like that when it came up. But it was entirely details added by me: (1) his adopted mother had a brother (an uncle), (2) that NPC was dead now, (3) that NPCs personality, and (4) that NPC had been involved in lending the PC books that had helped shape who he had become.

Did the player dislike any of this? No. It makes for a better game for my group. Just like player control here makes for a better game for your group. Which is cool. Play what you like :)

My point, of course, is that even though I get some say over that 0.01% (the PCs), my players still love it, and my players don't make Man with No Name characters, as you asserted. Players may do that, but I believe that's because of other factors, personally.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
I disagree somepeople took PART OF WHAT WAS ALWAYS IN RPGS and made story telling games from that part...

Not originally there by design during gameplay, and what early GMs might have done in allowing players to help create setting through character generation wasn't really there by RPG design either.


yes, and since one came first (rpg) those elements where then inspired by...

As I have said repeatedly, what individual GMs did as part of their games certainly helped influence the development of storytelling games.


Some
I've never heard it and it seems (I may be wrong) to be boarder line insulting. (What I mean is it seems like a one true way ism, saying well X is Traditional and Y is deviant)

(. . .)

I say that, John who graduated college the year before I was born, who was playing RPGs in said year already, tells me many stories of "old school traditional gameing" where Players do a lot of "story telling"

let me share one with you I just talked to him about over the phone... 197X He and his then girlfriend and 2 of there friends where playing D&D... and I mean D&D where his class was elf... Another player wanted to become a Knight and one weekend showed up with an entire set of family heraldry and 3 family lines (three of his 4 grandparents where knights before him) that had time lines including having slayed special beasts... that night at the game when they ran into this big half orc half ape (I can not imagine how that happened) he mid stride decided that his great grandfather had history with this orc clan... and the DM just ran with it... he says that happened all the time.

Infact John claims the reverse of you that D&D LOST storytelling elements as the edition counter went up (not counting 4th that he hated for other reasons)

I think a word like trad that sounds like traditional is a little miss leading and insulting

Agreed, which is why have I put the term "trad" into quotes or used it parenthetically. I am not overly enamored with the term either. It's a word that after some research into its usage I am still uncomfortable assigning as part of my own vernacular, but it's being used by others above so I have semi-adopted it for this thread.


and again I know of no one over the years that ever considered that "tad" it is just using dice... I mean this word you made up (or someone else did) seems to vary in meaning a lot... it's GM control, it's Dice roll for decision...

could you atleast agree that your not the only person with 'earliest days' experience, and some other people that have said experience remember things quite differently....

As said above, I have no doubt some folks were adding storytelling game elements into RPGs early on, and am sure it helped influence the advent of that type of game, but it wasn't really there by early design.
 
If you're claiming storygames axiomatically aren't RPG's, you're using the term RPG in a way I cannot fathom. There are SOME which are not
I'm personally expressing doubt about the utility of the "storygame" label. I mostly see it used (not by you in this thread) to label games they don't play and don't like, typically as part of a "purity of RPGing" agenda.

In D&D, a charm spell never has given PC1 control over what PC2 attempts. It has given the DM authority to override PC2's choices, but not carte blanche for PC1 to dictate and narrate what PC2 does.
I don't agree. The distinction between "charm" and "dominate" is a somewhat recent one. If you look back at materials associated with early D&D play, it was generally taken for granted that a charmed character would follow the instructions of the mage who charmed him/her/it. This is why charming a troll (regeneration!) or charming an ochre jelly (immune to most attacks) was considered a clever move.

But if you didn't, or don't, play charm this way, the point can be made using domination, or rulership, or some comparable ability, as an example.

Many of the edge cases, like Burning Wheel, Fate, and Cortex Plus, in their various derivatives, have elements of both traditional play {strong investment in, and strong control over, the character, only one player plays each character (but can be required to do certain things by others), strong GM authority over the narrative}... but also strong elements of player empowerment {Burning Wheel use of Wises to make things appear in the fiction, Fate and Cortex use of fate/plot points to declare things exist, Fate use of the compel mechanic to force a character to act in a particular accord with their definition, Fate and BW player input into the campaign establishment stages, CortexPlus Firefly collaborative building of the ship, BW allowing resolving entire conflicts with a single roll...}.

<snip>

Trad is strong GM, players control their characters attempts at actions, and no sharing characters as a matter of rules. It also tends to imply dice-based action resolution, and resolving actions, not scenes. once you get to systematic violations of those as regular parts of play, you're really out of the Traditional RPG playspace and into something closer to a Ron Edwards style storygame.

Storygames, as a generality, focus on Vincent's Admonition (Say Yes or Roll the Dice), player narration being as valid as GM narration, and story control being what's covered in the mechanics more than action resolutions.

<snip>

the different styles of games support different styles of play, and that's a good thing. I don't want New Player X dictating to me as a D&D DM where and when their character shows up, nor that Orc #3 is carrying a seax rather than a scimitar. If I were in the mood for that, I'd be running B&H
I've got nothing against distinguishing different approaches and techniques, but I think some care is needed in using them to characterise systems, as opposed to episodes of play and particular players'/group's approaches. To give a low-grade but nevertheless genuine example, I played a lot of "collaborative" Traveller and D&D back in the early-to-mid-80s - rolling random dungeons and encounters, rolling up random patrons and encounters for Traveller characters, etc. Not the most high-brow play of all time, but it's one of the things we were doing with those systems.

And in my AD&D games, players exerted primary control over their henchmen. They also got to decide their own PC backstory, including friends, family etc.

As I've mentioned upthread, I don't think that Circles in BW, or Resource generation in BW, are radically different from certain fairly standard approaches to Streetwise checks. I remember, 20 years ago, players rolling Streetwise checks for their Rolemaster PCs to meet up with drug dealers in the seedier parts of town; or rolling Administration checks to meet up with imperial officials. Circles isn't identical to that, but it's not some wild deviation either. It's a fairly natural extension/development.

In Rolemaster, too, we used social skills as one way of resolving conficts between PCs. It wasn't as systematic as BW's Duel of Wits, and in part because of that relied heavily on a sense of "fairness" between players, but again it was something we were doing with the system. I don't think it means that we weren't RPGing, though.
Some folks like to say that all RPGs are and always have been storytelling games and vice versa, but it is simply not true. Some folks use the expression "trad" as a way to define certain games as World-GM-controlled or lacking in player authorial control, so I picked it up here as a way to keep us all moving the discussion along.

<snip>

Just deciding the way something is is certainly one way to handle it as GM but in RPGs back in the day and in some ways of running RPGs that are newer but, ahem, "trad" one would leave that stuff up to the gods of randomness.

<snip>

On the one hand, there is me saying that people play many ways and that the folks I know from the earliest days, including myself played without players having narrative control over the world but rather having to affect the world through their characters. On the other hand, despite my own experiences, some folks who clearly were not personally there are claiming that the things I have experienced simply aren't true.
I don't think anyone is denying that you played, and play, as you did/do.

I think the point is that your approach isn't, and has not really been, of the essence of RPGing in contrast to something else. When [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION] or someone else says "RPGers have always been doing this" he doesn't mean that all RPGers have always been doing it, but that some RPGers have always been doing it, and aren't any less RPGers for all that.

In other words, if people who describe themselves as RPGers, using rules systems labelled as RPGs, for over 30 years of the 40 years that the hobby has existed, have been doing things like allowing players to specify PC backtory/family/friends etc, allowing Streetwise checks to meet up with desired NPCs, having GM accept player suggestions for backstory input, fetc, then I think that the door has shut on trying to say that those things are antithetical to RPGing.

I think that [MENTION=6779310]aramis erak[/MENTION] is correct that a strong degree of player/PC identification, if not over the long term of the game (eg Ars Magica troupe play) then at least within the confines of a particular episode of play, is pretty central to RPGing. But the sorts of approaches to play being discussed in this thread don't confict with that.
 

Hussar

Hero
Mark CMG said:
Not originally there by design during gameplay, and what early GMs might have done in allowing players to help create setting through character generation wasn't really there by RPG design either.


Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?370391-Character-play-vs-Player-play/page23#ixzz3HrePwgB9
There were a heck of a lot of things not there in early D&D design. Skills being probably the biggest one. Does that mean that skills are not part of traditional RPG's? In 1983, we got Dragonlance, which had things like Kender Pockets, where the Kender player could look into his pockets, and the DM would randomly roll what he found - with the table being modified by the kender's level (the higher numbers were more useful). IOW, back in the early 80's you had on the spot world changes. The contents of a kender's pockets were pretty much undetermined at all times.

So that's official rules adding story game elements way back in 1983. That's not that long after AD&D came out. And I'm pretty sure if you went back into The Dragon or White Dwarf, you would find other, similar things. I'm fairly sure that tables were adding story game elements about fifteen minutes after they started playing D&D in any form. It may not have been there by explicit design, but, it was certainly presumed in a lot of cases.
[MENTION=6668292]JamesonCourage[/MENTION] - and that works for you. Great. So what? I still have zero interest in playing that way. I've seen far, far too many Man With No Name characters come from players to not think that this is exactly the reason why. You probably have a very light touch and the player's have no problems with it. I've seen many DM's with a much more ham fisted approach who drive players to do this.
[MENTION=48965]Imaro[/MENTION] - Of course I'm showing my bias. At what point did I claim otherwise? Yes, I believe that DM's should not start adding details to PC's without asking. I think it causes all sorts of problems and leads to the DM overbearing the players. There are a million ways to achieve the exact same scenarios that you outline above, without ramming your interpretations of that character down the player's throats. Adding in a suitor to a character? Really? Good grief, that's a pretty major character element. Your players would be okay with that? Out of the blue, you have decided that my character was romantically involved in some NPC? And you're going to use that romantic involvement to forward the game? Yeah, no thanks. That's about as rail roady as it gets. We failed to do something, but, the DM's plot revolves on our success, so, the DM sparkles over his blindingly obvious plot by adding in major character elements to my character? No thanks. I'll pass.
 
I still don't think it's part of action resolution, at least in my game.

<snip>

I'm interested in these various techniques and why you'd use one over another. I use the random roll to define these undefined elements of the game world because I want to remain impartial as DM
I'm not sure about the full suite of reasons.

But let's think about what's going on in the situation where the player declares "I flee!", no one is sure whether the door is open or shut, and the GM says "Roll your Athletics".

(1) The player rolls and succeeds - the GM narrates "You spring up, pull the door open, and run clear"; or, the GM narates "You spring up and leap through the open door, running clear." The choice between narrations is simply flavour - either way, the upshot is that the player is running away and the cultists, presumably, can give chase through the door.

(2) The player rolls and suffers a minor failure - the GM narrates "You spring up, but the door is shut! As you pull it open, the cultists surround you." Here, the GM uses the narration of a shut door to explain the failure. It fits with a "no whiffing" style of play.

(3) The player rolls and suffers a major failure - the GM narrates "You spring up, but the door is shut! As you struggle with it, the cultists surround you." The GM uses the narration of a shut door to explain the severity of the failure.

The state of the door, as open or shut, has been determined by means of a random roll. But the random roll was bound up in resolving the player's declared action "I flee!" I think the idea behind it is that the payer's investment in Athletics skill is an investment in having episodes of play in which his/her PC succeeds in virtue of athletic prowess. Being lucky with the door is one way of evincing that prowess.

If the GM resolves the state of the door by a separate random roll, and then factors that into the DC of the Athletics check, there will still be a need to narrate some other reason why the PC succeeds/fails (it's unlikely that such a factor is going to be internal to the PC - most people's athletic performance is relatively constant over repeated trials). Perhaps a low roll by the player reflect that the cultists were faster than the PC thought, or were better positioned to catch him/her. May as well make it Schroedinger's door, as Schroedinger's cultists' atheltic prowess!(? - I'm interested in your thoughts on this.)
 
You seem to be conflating before-the-game character backstory and world-building with on-the-spot un-defined circumstances.

<snip>

After the game starts, backgrounds and other world elements are more-or-less set in stone.
Of course I'm conflating them, because it is not in general true that once the game starts world elements are set in stone. It's a staple of D&D GMing advice, for instance, to start with a village and a single dungeon, and gradually expand the scope of the game as play unfolds. Not to mention that new NPCs, organisations, etc - all of which are elements of the GM-authored backstory - are being created all the time.

Until a player decides to set up a thieves' guild of his/her own, there's a good chance the GM has never thought through the details of any rival guilds. Now s/he is invited to (by the situation, and by Gygax in the form of GMing advice). As I said upthread, I don't recall ever seeing a suggestion that the GM, in developing these new elements of the backstory, should not have regard to what the players are interested in.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
I think the point is that your approach isn't, and has not really been, of the essence of RPGing in contrast to something else.

There is a broad spectrum of GMs and players who have and still do only play RPGs as they were originally crafted, and some games produced in recent times that still reflect that original RPGing sensibility. A few of them have been discussed in this thread, like DCC.


(. . .) I think that the door has shut on trying to say that those things are antithetical to RPGing.

That's not a word I used or would but rather I'd say they are parts of storytelling games which also utilize many of the elements of (so called "trad") RPGs.


I think that [MENTION=6779310]aramis erak[/MENTION] is correct that a strong degree of player/PC identification, if not over the long term of the game (eg Ars Magica troupe play) then at least within the confines of a particular episode of play, is pretty central to RPGing. But the sorts of approaches to play being discussed in this thread don't confict with that.

I would have to agree, as I have all along, that some approaches to using storytelling game elements in RPGs have been around for quite some time and even predate actual storytelling games. The OP subject of the thread "Character play vs Player play" had been devolving for a while before I popped in to pinpoint the divide between ("trad") RPGs and storytelling game elements being used in RPGs as a fundamental difference that gives further rise to confusion on the OP topic. I'd have to contend that without confusion over this divide there might have been less confusion over the OP topic.

You have to remember, there are still a great many GMs who view RPGs mainly as a game and not as a means of crafting a story. The story that comes from any (again, "trad") RPG play is incidental to the actual game. Furthermore, and to bring it back around to the OP, discussion of "Character play vs Player play" is muddied without being aware of and understanding the fundamental difference of playing RPGs with and without storytelling elements.
 
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Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
There were a heck of a lot of things not there in early D&D design.

Yes. Then we are in agreement in regard to original RPG design and there not being storytelling elements. And, as I have already contended, I completely agree that many GMs added these elements along the way and it eventually gave rise to storytelling games. As I think I mentioned in my own first or second post in this thread, I'd have faked the roll behind the screen regarding the beard and just let the players, through their characters, run with their plan if only to see where it might lead. But I have a stage background with some Improv training, so I am more than happy to cleave closer to the axiom, "Let's go somewhere, anywhere, together."
 

Hussar

Hero
I guess my issue with your point [MENTION=5]Mark[/MENTION]CMG is that IMO, it's virtually impossible to play an RPG without invoking some story telling elements. From creating character background, to deciding spell level, all of these are based around creating an interesting story that the players want to play in. The reason you don't find Level IX monsters on Level I of a dungeon is because it would be very bad for the story. The concept of Monty Haul campaigns is based around the idea that characters have to "earn" their rewards and shouldn't be granted before they've earned them. How do they "earn" them? They adventure, thus creating stories. It's the same reason you don't generally give the protagonist powerful items before they've completed the quest for said item. Not much point in a Grail Quest if the Grail is sitting on a shelf in Camelot, after all.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
I guess my issue with your point [MENTION=5]Mark[/MENTION]CMG is that IMO, it's virtually impossible to play an RPG without invoking some story telling elements.

I know some people who cannot imagine playing *any* RPG without them. My own imagination is not as limited. ;)
 

Saelorn

Explorer
I disagree here as well... your example makes me laugh because I think it is the perfect way to run a game...
You don't find it at all contrived or damaging to suspension of disbelief that the PC just happens to have the perfect background contacts and skills that are exactly what is needed to save the day? Really?

Because that's what this sort of free-form narrative control encourages. If you don't have the skills or abilities to solve the situation yourself, just make up something to get you through any obstacle in front of you. Go out of your way to leave yourself with as much undefined history as possible, since that's the currency that you can spend to buy yourself out of dangerous situations in the future. The real loser is anyone who actually wrote out their character backstory in advance, since they have no wiggle room to make up stuff later on!

That's so far beyond what I look for in a game that it hurts my head to even think about it.
 
[MENTION=10479]Mark CMG[/MENTION] and others may be interested in this extract from the skill rules in Traveller, Book 1 Characters and Combat (1977, p15):

Streetwise - The individual is acquainted with the ways of local subcultures . . . The referee should set the throw required [on 2d6] to obtain any item specified by the players (for example, the name of an official wiling to issue licenses without hassle = 5+, the location of high quality guns at a low price = 9+). D[ice]M[odifier]s based on streetwise shoud be allowed at +1 per [skill] level. No experise DM = -5.​

So here we have, in 1977, in a game that Mark CMG has called out upthread as the paradigm of "trad", a mechanic which allows a player to specify some item to be obtained or contact to be made, and then make a skill roll to locate/identify it. How does this differ from BW Circles mechanic? As best I can tell, the only difference is that Circles generalises the idea beyond acquaintance with local subcultures to social connections more generally.
 

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