D&D 5E Character play vs Player play

pemerton

Legend
Which on the surface seems utterly self-defeating from any sort of analysis perspective, as decisions taken by the players are - or most certainly should be - based on and driven by the internal logic of the game world.

It's like analysing the motion of a ship at sea without bothering to look at what's generating the waves and-or how waves work at all: sure you can find out how much the ship rolls, the timing, pattern, and so forth; but you still have no idea what is behind said motion.
I don't understand the analogy.

The waves on the sea are real things exercising real causal power. The gameworld is an imaginary thing that exercise no causal power.

The explanation of why a ship rolls requires talking about the forces to which it is subject. These include forces imparted by waves.

The expanation of why a participant in a game made a certain decision requirs talking about the "forces" to which that person is subject. These forces do not include imaginary things. They don't even include beliefs about imaginary things considered on their own. You also need to talk about desires with respect to those imaginary things.

To give a simple example - if confict breaks out at a table because one PC tries to assassinate another PC, it is no good simply saying "Well, I was playing my character!" The relevant factors, rather, are things like that you chose to play a certain character, that you chose not to have your character forgive/repent at the relevant time, etc. The fiction in an RPG isn't spontaneously self-generating. It is authored. And authorship is a species of decision-making. Talking about the gameworld as if it had its own causal potency just obscures this.
 

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The explanation of why a participant in a game made a certain decision requires talking about the "forces" to which that person is subject. These forces do not include imaginary things. They don't even include beliefs about imaginary things considered on their own. You also need to talk about desires with respect to those imaginary things.
That seems backwards, from my perspective.

Within the game world, there are only forces that exist within the game world. Outside of the game world, we have both the forces that exist in real life, and our understanding of things that exist within the game world.

When something happens, in any universe, it can only happen due to things which exist within that universe. Nothing can happen within the game world unless the cause is internal to the game world. (Or you violate causality, but that's not a line which I want to cross.)
 
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Hussar

Legend
Which on the surface seems utterly self-defeating from any sort of analysis perspective, as decisions taken by the players are - or most certainly should be - based on and driven by the internal logic of the game world.

It's like analysing the motion of a ship at sea without bothering to look at what's generating the waves and-or how waves work at all: sure you can find out how much the ship rolls, the timing, pattern, and so forth; but you still have no idea what is behind said motion.

Lan-"it's how I roll"-efan

I'm not sure that's really true though. I choose to attack Orc A and not Orc B, because Orc A is wounded. Is that a decision based on the internal logic of the game world or out of game tactical knowledge? There's a very blurry line there. But, the point is, the character has no independent existence. Trying to base actions solely on the decisions that the character "should" make is a pretty hard target to hit. What "should" the PC decide? Well, the PC should decide whatever the heck I want the PC to decide. This is one of the issues I had with OWoD. The idea that I would choose X and not Y simply because "It's what vampires do" rather than choosing Y because Y is the best thing for the situation doesn't really work for me. Just because I'm a vampire should not mean that I have to disconnect part of my brain.
 

Mallus

Legend
When something happens, inany universe, it can only happen due to things which exist within that universe.
Sophistry doesn't usually lead to compelling stories (or gaming experience). Just sayin'...

What I quoted sounds like a Vulcan proverb, i.e. not really practical gaming advice.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Within the game world, there are only forces that exist within the game world.
But this sentence is not equivalent to a sentence like "Within the solar system, there are only the forces that exist within the solar system". Because the solar system is a really existing (complex) physical entity. The forces within it - of which the sun's gravitational force is perhaps the most salient - are really existing forces.

The gameworld does not exist. It is imaginary. The forces that "exist" within the gameworld don't really exist. They are imaginary. Hence they exercise no causal power - we only imagine that they do. Hence they cannot explain anything that actually happens. If, for instance, a participant in a game declares "My PC just died", the state of the gameworld is not a cause of that declaration. Because the gameworld is not real. The explanation of the declaration will be something that happened in the real world - eg that certain dice were rolled, that the results of those rolls were tabulated and manipulated in certain ways, that the result of that manipulation entails, under some or other rule of the game, that the participants in the game are obliged to treat some or other character as dead.

This isn't an abstract point, either. It tells us that, if we think it is bad for the game that, in these circumstances, a player is obliged to declare "My PC just died" then we can look at how to change the game's procedures to avoid that outcome resulting from them.

Outside of the game world, we have both the forces that exist in real life, and our understanding of things that exist within the game world.
Beliefs about the content of the gameworld are real things, but on their own they can't exercise causal power. There also need to be decisions made on the basis of them - for example, decisions to roll certain dice or manipulate certain numbers on a character sheet.

Those decisions are guided by the game procedures. If we want different decisions, we can change those procedures.
 

The gameworld does not exist. It is imaginary. The forces that "exist" within the gameworld don't really exist. They are imaginary. Hence they exercise no causal power - we only imagine that they do. Hence they cannot explain anything that actually happens.
The game world exists as we imagine it. We can imagine any sort of universe that we want. So we can imagine a world that follows internal causality, where everything which happens in the game world is the result of something else that happens within the game world. (The alternative - a world where things happen with no apparent cause - does not make for a terribly compelling experience; I would not enjoy playing in such a non-sensical world.)

So, in imagining our internally consistent world, we merely need limit those events to ones which have a logical in-game explanation for happening. If your character chooses to attack Orc A instead of Orc B, then the basis for that decision should be something that exists in-game (like Orc A is closer, or it's more injured, or it killed your father).

It doesn't matter if everything within the game world is a product of our imagination in the real world. All that matters is that we maintain internal causality within the game world.
 

pemerton

Legend
The game world exists as we imagine it. We can imagine any sort of universe that we want. So we can imagine a world that follows internal causality
Sure. But this doesn't tell us anything about why real events happen sitting around a kitchen table playing a game of D&D.

It doesn't matter if everything within the game world is a product of our imagination in the real world. All that matters is that we maintain internal causality within the game world.
What do you mean "it doesn't matter"? It's utterly crucial, if you are designing an RPG, to recognise that the play of the game is dictated by events and phenomena in the real world, and not by events and phenomena in the imagined world.

Here's an example that is relevant to this thread: if the GM describes events which are almost certainly interesting to the characters in the gameworld (for instance, events about random arcs of lightning in their immediate vicinity), but which are boring to the players, or which don't fit within their conception of what the game should be about, then a likely outcome of that is those players complaining about the game. If you want to get rid of those complaints, you need to understand what is happening in the real world - namely, the lack of interest your players have in your fiction. Thinking harder about the ingame situation won't help.
 

Hussar

Legend
Ok. I'll bite.

What in game cause allows my paladin to call his warhorse? You may only reference in game elements to explain this. Why can I call it today and not yesterday? And why can I call it when I want to?
 

For me, one of the better features of the Forge - and relevant to this thread - is that they rather ruthlessly refuse to use ingame logic - the logic of the gameworld - to analyse what is happening during the actual play of an RPG. Rather, they focus on the decisions taken by the actual, real people playing the actual, real game.

And now we're getting into critical theory. I prefer the informal fandom approach to the formal one that whitters on about Signifier and Signified and that obfuscates through excessive jargon.

The fandom approach is to call the two camps Watsonian and Doylist (i.e. is this happening because Watson saw it that way whatever is going on, or is it because Doyle thinks it's either true, it makes for a better story, or he just forgot what he'd written?) Both are valid and useful perspectives.

And if the Forge ignored the Watsonian in favour of the Doylist, if they focussed on the experience of the player over the in-game logic this was at the very least a useful correction to analysis that had been almost exclusively the other way.
 

Ok. I'll bite.

What in game cause allows my paladin to call his warhorse? You may only reference in game elements to explain this. Why can I call it today and not yesterday? And why can I call it when I want to?

Your god has deemed you worthy of receiving the benefit of a holy steed. Do you question the generosity and greatness of the deity you serve?
 

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