D&D 5E Combat as war, sport, or ??


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I have a whole thread about that very thing...
Yep.

It's quite stupid to change things for bad reasons, though you have the physical capacity to do so. I do consider myself constrained by the fiction, but that is because I wish to be, because I believe it important to produce good gaming. It's not because it is logically impossible for me to do otherwise.

But if, for some reason, I genuinely believed it was vital to the game to do something without having the kinds of justification I usually demand of myself...what would stop me?
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I think you're engaging in some kind of straw man argument? Sorry, I have flu, can't really engage.
Mod Note:

That’s a bit provocative. If you genuinely can’t understand someone’s intentions because of illness-related diminished capacity, it‘s probably best to ask for clarification or not engage until you can, instead of making that kind of judgment call and begging off.
 
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pemerton

Legend
This argument seems like it would benefit from a re-focus.

There are (at least) two broad approaches to the fiction-mechanics relationship in RPGing.

One is to treat the mechanics as a model, in some loose sense, of the fiction, such that the fiction is largely read off the workings of the mechanics. In one version of this, the mechanics are (at least in principle) tightly tuned so that the fiction that gets read off their workings is coherent, verisimilitudinous, etc. The classic exemplars of this are RuneQuest and Role Master.

The second version of this first approach is to set the mechanics more or-less-arbitrarily, or perhaps with an eye on mechanical game balance, and then to suck up whatever fiction results, no matter how absurd. I regard 3E D&D and its variants as exemplars of this.

The second approach is to have a notion of the fiction prior to the mechanics, and to use the mechanics to mediate and perhaps develop this notion. 4e is a clear example: we have a notion that a giant is tough compared to a 6th level PC, and so stat it as a level 6 solo; and we have a notion that the same giant is not tough compared to an epic-tier PC, and so we stat it as a 21st level minion.

Marvel Heroic RP is another example: we don't need the mechanics to tell us that the Hulk is stronger than Aunt May; we know this, and this constrains action declarations and resolutions involving an arm wrestle between the two of them. Only when we're not sure and want to leave the matter open - eg if the Hulk confronts the Thing - do we need to invoke the mechanics.

The second approach is obviously "fiction first" in a way that the first is not: the mechanics can't be invoked or applied, to frame a situation, without some prior conception of how it fits into the fiction (eg what tier is the challenge supposed to be?). This will produce a different play experience from the first approach, in which situations can be framed purely mechanically without forming any view about their relationship to the fiction. What can't be done, using the second approach, is to leave it an open question, to be discovered in play, whether or not a framed situation is relevant in some or other fashion to the PCs. Decisions of that sort have to be made as part of the mechanical framing process.

The idea that one approach is more meritorious than the other, or that the second approach produces shallow fiction, seems obviously false.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
So, if a table generated a response that you were absolutely, 100% certain would harm the enjoyment of your players, you would proceed without reservation?
Are you trying to trick me?

I said I had a preference, but if an absolutely abominable result appeared, I would probably try to steer that into something that would work. The fact that I can compromise my preference if needed does not make it not my preference.
 

pemerton

Legend
I'm currently using a system with lots of random tables, mostly for various categories of "downtime" events: Torchbearer 2e.

They're not at odds with an approach to the fiction that prioritises character and "story" over a "mechanical" understanding of how the world unfolds. In this way they are different from, say, classic D&D random encounter tables; I see them as closer to Classic Traveller, though not the same, which has not only D&D-style tables, for animal encounters, but also tables intended to produce events more closely integrated with the unfolding scenario.

I make this point to try and emphasise that some nuance in thinking about various techniques, and how they bear upon the fiction-mechanics relationship, is helpful.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There is no fact about the fictional world which exists independently of you having made it so, and no fact about the fictional world or its contents which remains true other than because you will it to be so. The instant you actually desire it any such fact to be false, it is false.
And once that fact has been established in the fiction, turning around and declaring it false just on a whim is bad-faith DMing; and that's a whole different conversation.

Let's assume good-faith DMing, shall we, and continue.
 

Are you trying to trick me?
Not strictly. It's Socratic questioning.

I said I had a preference, but if an absolutely abominable result appeared, I would probably try to steer that into something that would work. The fact that I can compromise my preference if needed does not make it not my preference.
Okay, but the point is, it's still truly, ultimately your choice.

And once that fact has been established in the fiction, turning around and declaring it false just on a whim is bad-faith DMing; and that's a whole different conversation.

Let's assume good-faith DMing, shall we, and continue.
Then let us assume good-faith playing as well, yes?
 

S'mon

Legend
The idea that one approach is more meritorious than the other, or that the second approach produces shallow fiction, seems obviously false.

Yes, it depends on what you're trying to achieve. The different approaches work best for different goals. The goals of eg Runequest are not illegitimate.
 

pemerton

Legend
The goals of eg Runequest are not illegitimate.
No. Nor those of 4e D&D.

As you probably recall from some of our conversations over the years, I've got significant doubts about how the relatively complicated and meta-game-y PC build approach of 5e D&D fits well with the mechanics => fiction approach. Bounded accuracy clearly makes it a better fit in this respect than 3E; but for someone who cultivated their sensibilities for that sort of approach using Rolemaster (with RQ/BRP as a back-up), it is a bit hard to look at 5e through a purits-for-system simulationist lens.
 

S'mon

Legend
No. Nor those of 4e D&D.

As you probably recall from some of our conversations over the years, I've got significant doubts about how the relatively complicated and meta-game-y PC build approach of 5e D&D fits well with the mechanics => fiction approach. Bounded accuracy clearly makes it a better fit in this respect than 3E; but for someone who cultivated their sensibilities for that sort of approach using Rolemaster (with RQ/BRP as a back-up), it is a bit hard to look at 5e through a purits-for-system simulationist lens.

1. Yup, you know I like 4e too. It feels like EzekielRadien is saying there's something wrong/not right about the world sim approach to mechanics, he keeps bringing up extreme cases (my flu is a bit better now) :)

2. I think 5e was intended to be driftable to a variety of approaches, basically they took everything The Forge said about 'correct' system design, and did the opposite. :) I think 5e tries to be amenable to supporting a wide variety of Gamist, Dramatist, & Simulationist play styles. It deliberately avoids focus. So you can get a group of people at the same table with differing play agendas, and they can all more or less have a good time IME.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
1. Yup, you know I like 4e too. It feels like EzekielRadien is saying there's something wrong/not right about the world sim approach to mechanics, he keeps bringing up extreme cases (my flu is a bit better now) :)

2. I think 5e was intended to be driftable to a variety of approaches, basically they took everything The Forge said about 'correct' system design, and did the opposite. :) I think 5e tries to be amenable to supporting a wide variety of Gamist, Dramatist, & Simulationist play styles. It deliberately avoids focus. So you can get a group of people at the same table with differing play agendas, and they can all more or less have a good time IME.
Trouble is that d&d is still expected to be gsmist in various ways & by avoiding it so hard it just dumps the burden of being so on someone. With the distribution of responsibilities present in d&d that someone is pretty much exclusively the gm & there is nothing to push keep the players towards cooperating with the way that burden is being carried. Without mechanical pressure or even guidance on tha you can wind up with the load being increased deliberately & outrage if the person trying to carry it pushes back.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So you can get a group of people at the same table with differing play agendas, and they can all more or less have a good time IME.
Except every time those agendas run in opposing directions. Which is basically always. It’s on the referee to try to hold these together and point them in the same general direction despite naturally going in opposite directions.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Except every time those agendas run in opposing directions. Which is basically always. It’s on the referee to try to hold these together and point them in the same general direction despite naturally going in opposite directions.

This assumes people have no give in their agendas at all, even when its a minor element to them in a situation and a major element in someone else's. I realize your stated experiences have taught you this is not the case, but you're really at some point going to have to accept that those experiences are not universal or just assume everyone who describes different ones is lying or deluded and stop bothering to talk to anyone else. Because, honestly, and this is from someone who has played with power gamers and other people with some game-negative issues for decades, your experiences come across as phoned in from another world in how extreme and universal you present them as.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
This assumes people have no give in their agendas at all, even when its a minor element to them in a situation and a major element in someone else's. I realize your stated experiences have taught you this is not the case, but you're really at some point going to have to accept that those experiences are not universal or just assume everyone who describes different ones is lying or deluded and stop bothering to talk to anyone else. Because, honestly, and this is from someone who has played with power gamers and other people with some game-negative issues for decades, your experiences come across as phoned in from another world in how extreme and universal you present them as.
The system offers the gm few if any tools for accomplishing that meeting of the minds & stripped away ones present in past editions. The various books provide no text the gm can point to while trying to gather consensus in order to deflect criticism that the gm even attempt it rather than just accepting whatever The Protagonist wants.

It's one thing to say that experience not universal but you also are not making any effort to describe how the system or rulebooks provide support in reaching the problem free state of perfection you are alluding to others finding under that nonuniversal experience
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
The system offers the gm few if any tools for accomplishing that meeting of the minds & stripped away ones present in past editions.

This assumes you need tools beyond talking to people. That's not a premise I accept from personal experience, and I'm willing to bet there are other people in just this thread who feel the same.

Again, the expectations that players will always be self-centered and incapable of looking at the big picture is not a given. Yes, that can occur. No, its not a situation anyone is required to assume as a default.


It's one thing to say that experience not universal but you also are not making any effort to describe how the system or rulebooks provide support in reaching the problem free state of perfection you are alluding to others finding under that nonuniversal experience

Because I don't think any rules whatsoever are required to do that. Mechanical tools are what you use when the more straightforward methods don't work.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
This assumes you need tools beyond talking to people. That's not a premise I accept from personal experience, and I'm willing to bet there are other people in just this thread who feel the same.

Again, the expectations that players will always be self-centered and incapable of looking at the big picture is not a given. Yes, that can occur. No, its not a situation anyone is required to assume as a default.




Because I don't think any rules whatsoever are required to do that. Mechanical tools are what you use when the more straightforward methods don't work.
Please cite book, page number, section, and preferably some section of player facing text that conveys to players that they should expect to participate in this "talking to" in a fashion other than tyrrany of the loudest most inflexible player plus sidekicks.

If the 5e books fail to provide player facing text that supports the solution that you seem to be calling for please provide the gm facing equivalent that a gm can point at to justify their need to engage in this behavior when one or more players disagree on what is proper or feel outrage over the gm trying to force them into some form of consensus.

5e utterly fails to support this. Some of those missing tools acted to facilitate that & other forms of discussion.
 
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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Please cite book, page number, section, and preferably some section of player facing text that conveys to players that they should expect to participate in this "talking to" in a fashion other than tyrrany of the loudest most inflexible player plus sidekicks.

If the 5e books fail to provide player facing text that supports the solution that you seem to be calling for please provide the gm facing equivalent that a gm can point at to justify their need to engage in this behavior when one or more players disagree on what is proper or feel outrage over the gm trying to force them into some form of consensus.

5e utterly fails to support this. Some of those missing tools acted to facilitate that & other forms of discussion.
No, I reject the view that such text is necessary. Furthermore, I submit that the kind of people that would not accept a simple agreement as to how to play outside of designer rules would not feel too compelled by the rules either. I will not play with "barracks room lawyers".
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Please cite book, page number, section, and preferably some section of player facing text that conveys to players that they should expect to participate in this "talking to" in a fashion other than tyrrany of the loudest most inflexible player plus sidekicks.

Please tell me why I should care whether the book says anything about this or not. I don't need a game book to tell me to do this, nor do I believe most players do.

If the 5e books fail to provide player facing text that supports the solution that you seem to be calling for please provide the gm facing equivalent that a gm can point at to justify their need to engage in this behavior when one or more players disagree on what is proper or feel outrage over the gm trying to force them into some form of consensus.

5e utterly fails to support this. Some of those missing tools acted to facilitate that & other forms of discussion.

Again, I don't see the game needing to do things that should be part of basic human cooperation. Even accounting for the basic truth of "communicating is hard" this seems absolutely unnecessary, and not fundamentally reasonable as an expectation for a rules book to do. The fact some do so--and I can state there are any number that do that provide no carrots at all, even when they do--is a bonus, not a necessity.

The idea that you can only get players to work together if you have game carrots to make them is frankly ludicrous; there are whole classes of games that have no such thing and still manage. Its occasionally a useful supplemental tool in some classes of game, but even then its just that--supplemental.

So, again, your whole argument is based on a premise I'm not buying.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
No, I reject the view that such text is necessary. Furthermore, I submit that the kind of people that would not accept a simple agreement as to how to play outside of designer rules would not feel too compelled by the rules either. I will not play with "barracks room lawyers".

Eh. There are people who, in some context, can be helped along to stay with their better angels by such things. I absolutely play with rules lawyers--but most of them are capable of understanding when you get right to the point, and I have no evidence they're some great exception to the general gaming populace.
 

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