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Consequences of Failure

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But can you see how that method leads to then needing to implement table rules like "no metagaming" to avoid players acting as if there is something in the room to find when they roll poorly?
This assumes they know why they're rolling. Sometimes, I'll just say "Could someone - anyone - roll me a d20 please?" and if the roll comes up a dud I'll then just say "Carry on."
Or rolling that check in secret for them?
This is also an option.
Or saying that retries are impossible when there's nothing about the situation that makes that true?
Well, nothing except that the original roll represents the best you'll do no matter how long you spend trying (given no time pressure, this means you've tried and retried until you give up)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yeah, this is pretty typical of games where checks are made with the specifics of the action left abstract and/or determined retroactively based on the result. I am not a fan of this style of action resolution at all, as it gives the dice too much power and often leads to the DM dictating actions taken by the PCs, which is a big nope for me.
If nobody's stated they're keeping an active eye on the skies then rolling to see if they notice incoming airborne makes sense to me, as does whatever reasonable narration is required to explain failure.

I don’t know what you think it’s “lacking.” Maybe lacking in slapstick antics where the characters fail at tasks that should be trivial for them for silly reasons. If you ask me, the game is much better off for the lack of that.
Where i'd see the game as being much poorer for its absence, but that's a whole other topic. Here, the DM could have chosen any number of narrations as to why the PCs didn't notice the incoming gargoyles...interfering smoke from the campfire (if one was present) would do nicely.

Yeah, this technique where the roll is made to determine the state of things - not “does your character see the gargoyles?” but “can the gargoyles be seen by your character under present circumstances?” is pretty common. I get it, but I’m not a fan.
One could argue that the DM is being nice here; rather than jumping straight to surprise-equivalent rolls to see if the incoming gargoyles get the drop on the PCs, the PCs are getting a chance to notice the gargoyles far enough ahead of time to carry out some brief preparations for battle.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This assumes they know why they're rolling. Sometimes, I'll just say "Could someone - anyone - roll me a d20 please?" and if the roll comes up a dud I'll then just say "Carry on."
And this is also a common solution to an issue that the method you prefer. That, no metagaming, secret rolls, no retries even if the situation may suggest otherwise - all fixes for a problem created in the adjudication process. Why do any of them if you can just make an adjustment to how you adjudicate?
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Honestly this back and forth exchange makes no sense. You are coming from a place of phenomenally different play priorities. The techniques utilized need to match the experience you are trying to cultivate. Unless you are hoping to convince the other person to actually change their goals I don't see the point.
 

Ovinomancer

Flip Nazi
I'm not sure if this fits in with the "exploratory play" format being discussed, but this feels like the roll is in fact quantum, as Elfcrusher describes. The roll isn't to determine success or failure, and the requirement that there be consequences for failure in order to require a die roll don't make sense. Instead, the roll is to establish the state of the universe itself.

For example, when you search a room, the roll isn't to determine whether or not you found the doodad, but whether or not there is anything to be found in the first place. There's an implicit two-step process, though most ignore the non-roll related step when discussing these matters.

1) Is there something to be found? Using approach A, this is decided beforehand, and no roll is needed to establish this. Using approach B, this is unknown, and only becomes 'real' after a roll.

2) Did the player find it? Using approach A, this is what's being rolled for, if there's a likelihood of not finding it, or consequences for not finding it. Using approach B, this is not rolled for (basically using the auto-find aspect of approach A), as the act of making it real in step 1 makes no sense if you can't discover the new truth.

Now, approach A might be the "exploratory play" system (based on further clarifying posts in the thread), and approach B is "something else". I'm not clear on how people are drawing the lines there, or what the "something else" would be formally called. Nor do I know what the various "drama" terms are really referring to.

I'd probably use the terms "exploratory play" and "revelatory play". Exploratory play explores what does exist; the truth is predefined. Revelatory play explores what could exist, revealing and defining the truth in the course of play.
Welcome to the beginning stages of some actually different playstyles. There are many games where players can make truth propositions that the mechanics then test rather than leaving it up to the DM. There are even others where players can just assert things about the fiction without any adjudication, or win the right after a table challenge.

In the case of the standing stone example, the roll might be for whether the character remembers anything important, or the roll might be to determine whether a connection exists at all. It's not a matter of "consequences for failure"; it's a matter of "determining truth". The roll result isn't necessarily binary; it can result in an entire range of changes to the world. For example:

  • A friendly druid taught your younger self some details that are of consequence to maintaining the circles and keeping the forest from being corrupted.
  • You had a bad encounter with an angry druid when you got too close to their group, and examining the stones causes a flashback that leaves you Frightened just as something starts appearing in the circle.
  • The druids were actually a secret cult attempting to summon an evil deity (though you never realized that), and they taught you the proper ritual to use if you ever encountered another stone circle. You're convinced you need to perform this ritual to help protect the forest.
  • Etc.

In this case, rolling low doesn't mean, "You don't remember anything", such as might be the case in the Exploratory style. Rather, it results in something potentially problematic — having the wrong knowledge.
And, many find this outcome very problem causing. For one, the player likely knows they rolled poorly, so they know the information is bad but have to act otherwise. This puts a strain on authentic portrayal of the character. In effect, you've now tasked the player to play in a way that's best for the story rather than be the strongest advocate for their character possible. Also, this method involve you, the DM, providing false information to the players. This can (and usually does) erode player trust in the DM.
The GM often leaves plot hooks for the players to follow. This type of roll is the GM allowing the players to create plot hooks for himself.


In some systems you can do this deliberately, by spending some resource (eg: fate points, hero points, dark/light side points, etc). However it's always available as just an implicit part of GMing, and is often "accidental" — the player tries to do something the GM didn't expect, and the GM finds the possibility of this new truth interesting enough to let the player make the roll, and possibly change the "truth" of the world.

Note: While @Ovinomancer makes good points about the negative aspects that this approach can have, I think he's missing the point in treating it as purely negative. D&D may not have an explicit mechanic for introducing new world truths, but it's trivial to treat most skill checks as a means of engaging in that style of play.
Yes, you can do it, but the system is bad at it and you will get poor results. If I, as a player, can assert fiction in play by leveraging my best scores and playing to gain advantage, then I'll start directing play in ways the GM has little control over. Since I'm then creating my own problems and then their solutions, we're now in a degenerate situation for game play. This isn't good. The only factor the GM would control here is setting DCs, which the temptation is to set high for control, but, again, this leads to players stacking powers for high rolls and also erodes player trust in the GM. It sets up a bad adversarial position in play. As such, I say that 5e has no mechanical means to enable this kind of play because just doing it leads to degenerate play situations.

However, I agree that GMs will often incorporate new fiction based on player action declarations (or out-loud thinking) because that sounds fun. The point I was making is that this kind of thing is based on the GM's approval, not any mechanical functions in 5e. The GM decides is the only means of new fiction, and the system is built to enable and work with this. The resolution tools in 5e are, after all, only engaged after the GM considers the situation and the action and determines there's uncertainty and a consequence for failure. Note that this only happens if the GM decides.

Even if you go with players asking for rolls, it's still the GM deciding what happens for any outcome, not the player. Again, GM decides in the controlling mechanical structure.

What I'm discussing here is player initiated fiction introduction in a direct manner. 5e is not built to support this.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Specificity is soul of narrative.

I'm having trouble following you here- can you give an example of combining these elements and getting something completely different?
Sure. Blades in the Dark is a game that broadly combines elements of old school Dungeons and Dragons and Apocalypse World. You play a crew of scoundrels trying to work their way up the underworld of the fictional city of Duskwall. The city is populated by a variety of different factions with their own individual aims and different relationships to each other. Basically the scenario the game comes with is designed like an old school dungeon with a well devised ecosystem. The city is the dungeon and the game sets the players loose on it to try to achieve their goals.

The game is divided into three phases: down time, scores, and free play. These are meant to be relatively free flowing. Down time is deeply strategic. Players work to acquire assets, reduce the heat bearing down on them, relieve stress through their vices, cast rituals, and work on long term projects which can include things like securing a new alliance or reducing hostilities with an enemy faction. Scores are where you are actually doing stuff like heists or assassinations or bloody street fights. Free play is just stuff that happens in between scores that isn't downtime like gathering information to plan the next score, deciding what to do, or dealing with the fallout of a score.

In terms of GMing principles during scores it is much like Apocalypse World with the GM ramping up tension, telegraphing danger before it strikes, and delivering it based on the results of the dice. Action resolution is pretty free form. When a player says what their character does the GM says how risky it is and what the likely impact is if successful. Players can revise the declaration if they want. When the dice hit the table it uses a pool of d6s. Only highest die matters. On 6 they get what they want with no consequences. On 4 or 5 they get what they want with a consequence depending on how risky their move was. On a 3 or less they just deal with the consequences. It's pretty close to Apocalypse World, but more subtleties. Consequences can be more long term like acquiring heat or moving a countdown clock that represents ties with a given faction eroding.

During down time and free play the GM takes a more exploratory take on things, letting things kind of cool down. The GM presents the crew with various opportunities to do different kind of jobs that they can choose to take or not. Sometimes players will take things from a side angle and turn the tables or decide they want a particular relic for themselves. Everything they do impacts the relationships they hold with a variety of factions.

There's more to it, but in my experience while it has some similarities to Moldvay and Apocalypse World it is definitely its own thing.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
Ugh. There is so much of the DM telling the players what their characters are doing in that example, that would drive me up the wall as a player.
It's an informed response (ie: how the characters have acted, what sort of behavior they are likely to be engaged in, what sort of conditions they're under, etc), and partly supported by the players at the table to shape it into the final result. It was a cooperative effort between the GM and the players, not just the GM telling the players how they acted.

I did try to simplify the description of events for the sake of posting here. I didn't expect to have to explain that.
You know that the sound of flapping wings indicates an incoming attack? That sounds like quite a conclusion to jump to. Or is it that you know that a Perception check means an incoming attack?
Meta-wise, I knew because of the situation and events that have happened in the game. It was specific to that particular situation. It's not a conclusion that I would always reach. And as I said, I didn't act on that directly because I wanted to remain IC.

I don’t know what you think it’s “lacking.” Maybe lacking in slapstick antics where the characters fail at tasks that should be trivial for them for silly reasons. If you ask me, the game is much better off for the lack of that. What you describe here seems immeasurably preferable to the initial example to me.
You're conflating two separate aspects of the argument. It's "lacking" because all it is is, "Enemies attack; roll initiative". It's pure game, almost no story. And as I noted, "Only in hindsight". I'm not saying it's lacking in "slapstick"; that's entirely on you. It's lacking in ways to explore and expound on characters as real living beings in serendipitous ways — chance events that allow characters to develop or express themselves outside of the rigid structure of pure Exploratory play, or fixed modules that have absolutely no concept of who the characters are.

And even if it is slapstick, that doesn't make it bad. If that's what makes a game fun for a group, they should certainly be allowed opportunities to expand on that.
 

ClaytonCross

Explorer
So I think a key feature is that the player has to actively / knowingly undertake a task with risk. If the party hears something coming and they say, "Let's all hide!" my instinct would be to say "Ok, let's have stealth checks." But in this case the failure state IS the same as not doing anything.

Maybe take an (approximate) average of "passive Stealth" in the party, and then compare to the monster's passive perception? (Or you could have the monster roll Perception...which raises the whole question of whether the "consequence of failure" principle applies to NPCs.)

Alternatively, does this need to be resolved by comparing die rolls or passives at all? What about simply choosing an outcome based on the story. E.g.:
  • The monster comes close enough to give a scare, but sees nothing, however the party gains some clue/information relevant to the adventure.
  • Make it clear the monster is ABOUT to discover them because there isn't really anything to hide behind, and give them a chance to think of a plan. E.g. trying to distract/mislead it. That plan might involve risk.
What would YOU do in this case?
For clarification, does "meaningful consequence of failure" include or not include "gaining advantage on success"? I ask because it seems like risk and reward swings both ways. Its possible I don't completely understand the intent here.

My understanding of "meaningful consequence of failure" would also include lose of possible reward. A failure in disarming a trip for example results in a consequence of damage where a success is often an avoidance of damage. I a scenario where a trap is not lethal, the trap represents a raise in tension, a lose of resources and the possibility of alerting the enemy lose hope of surprise. Success results in maintaining the possibility of surprise, keeping resources, and maintaining a lower though possibly still raised tension because know there are traps adds trepidation relays that an enemy is prepared to deal with intruders. Having by passed that may reduce the momentary tension, but does the party feel less alert because they assume they have bypassed opposition and can now scout with impunity or do they feel their opponents are taking precautions against intruders and they need to be careful of further efforts to keep them out such as more traps, patrols, and guards on watch at specific locations.

Focusing on your stealth example. Failing to hide might have no consequence to not hiding at all but success offers a benefit they might not otherwise have in applying the surprised condition to enemies and having advantage on their first attack for being unseen. This means failing also has meaningful consequences of denying the value of success, doesn't it? … to me this adds consequence in failure as a denial of success. But I am not sure "consequence of failure" trade of thought includes "benefit for success" by your definition. If it does than the question needs to be "Does failure have meaningful consequences and/or success have meaningful benefit over not attempting the action?" If the answer is yes, it seems reasonable to call for a roll since, failure to gain a benefit is also a consequence. Though, I can defiantly see scenarios of "and" being more interesting than ether/or. For example, if players make no attempt to hide, they are spotted, surrounded, and questioned to there intent. If players choose to hide however success gains them surprise and hidden from sight while failure causes the opposition to assume hostel intent, attacking first and asking questions later. Like, seeing a police officer and immediately starting into a run in the opposite direction. The police might chase under the assumption of guilt, hold the suspect, then question them and those around as to why they ran. Assuming the run was a reaction of guilt. (I had this happen to me in real life, though In my case I just like to run and I was too young and naive to realize how this action would be viewed by police.)

… So do you include the lose of value of success as consequence of failure?
 
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Elfcrusher

Adventurer
For clarification, does "meaningful consequence of failure" include or not include "gaining advantage on success"? I ask because it seems like risk and reward swings both ways. Its possible I don't completely understand the intent here.

My understanding of "meaningful consequence of failure" would also include lose of possible reward. A failure in disarming a trip for example results in a consequence of damage where a success is often an avoidance of damage. I a scenario where a trap is not lethal, the trap represents a raise in tension, a lose of resources and the possibility of alerting the enemy lose hope of surprise. Success results in maintaining the possibility of surprise, keeping resources, and maintaining a lower though possibly still raised tension because know there are traps adds trepidation relays that an enemy is prepared to deal with intruders. Having by passed that may reduce the momentary tension, but does the party feel less alert because they assume they have bypassed opposition and can now scout with impunity or do they feel their opponents are taking precautions against intruders and they need to be careful of further efforts to keep them out such as more traps, patrols, and guards on watch at specific locations.

Focusing on your stealth example. Failing to hide might have no consequence to not hiding at all but success offers a benefit they might not otherwise have in applying the surprised condition to enemies and having advantage on their first attack for being unseen. This means failing also has meaningful consequences of denying the value of success, doesn't it? … to me this adds consequence in failure as a denial of success. But I am not sure "consequence of failure" trade of thought includes "benefit for success" by your definition. If it does than the question needs to be "Does failure have meaningful consequences and/or success have meaningful benefit over not attempting the action?" If the answer is yes, it seems reasonable to call for a roll since, failure to gain a benefit is also a consequence. Though, I can defiantly see scenarios of "and" being more interesting than ether/or. For example, if players make no attempt to hide, they are spotted, surrounded, and questioned to there intent. If players choose to hide however success gains them surprise and hidden from sight while failure causes the opposition to assume hostel intent, attacking first and asking questions later. Like, seeing a police officer and immediately starting into a run in the opposite direction. The police might chase under the assumption of guilt, hold the suspect, then question them and those around as to why they ran. Assuming the run was a reaction of guilt. (I had this happen to me in real life, though In my case I just like to run and I was too young and naive to realize how this action would be viewed by police.)

… So do you include the lose of value of success as consequence of failure?
My definition is that there must be sufficient risk that a player has to weigh it against the benefit. Failure should come with at least a twinge of regret for having rolled.

“Failure to earn a reward” wouldn’t seem to qualify.
 

Ovinomancer

Flip Nazi
For clarification, does "meaningful consequence of failure" include or not include "gaining advantage on success"? I ask because it seems like risk and reward swings both ways. Its possible I don't completely understand the intent here.

My understanding of "meaningful consequence of failure" would also include lose of possible reward. A failure in disarming a trip for example results in a consequence of damage where a success is often an avoidance of damage. I a scenario where a trap is not lethal, the trap represents a raise in tension, a lose of resources and the possibility of alerting the enemy lose hope of surprise. Success results in maintaining the possibility of surprise, keeping resources, and maintaining a lower though possibly still raised tension because know there are traps adds trepidation relays that an enemy is prepared to deal with intruders. Having by passed that may reduce the momentary tension, but does the party feel less alert because they assume they have bypassed opposition and can now scout with impunity or do they feel their opponents are taking precautions against intruders and they need to be careful of further efforts to keep them out such as more traps, patrols, and guards on watch at specific locations.

Focusing on your stealth example. Failing to hide might have no consequence to not hiding at all but success offers a benefit they might not otherwise have in applying the surprised condition to enemies and having advantage on their first attack for being unseen. This means failing also has meaningful consequences of denying the value of success, doesn't it? … to me this adds consequence in failure as a denial of success. But I am not sure "consequence of failure" trade of thought includes "benefit for success" by your definition. If it does than the question needs to be "Does failure have meaningful consequences and/or success have meaningful benefit over not attempting the action?" If the answer is yes, it seems reasonable to call for a roll since, failure to gain a benefit is also a consequence. Though, I can defiantly see scenarios of "and" being more interesting than ether/or. For example, if players make no attempt to hide, they are spotted, surrounded, and questioned to there intent. If players choose to hide however success gains them surprise and hidden from sight while failure causes the opposition to assume hostel intent, attacking first and asking questions later. Like, seeing a police officer and immediately starting into a run in the opposite direction. The police might chase under the assumption of guilt, hold the suspect, then question them and those around as to why they ran. Assuming the run was a reaction of guilt. (I had this happen to me in real life, though In my case I just like to run and I was too young and naive to realize how this action would be viewed by police.)

… So do you include the lose of value of success as consequence of failure?
Interestingly, in your example of stealth, you move failure from just not being able to get surprise to the opposition becoming hostile. This isn't just denial of a reward, it's a change in fiction away from the intent of the action.

Personally, I think that evaluation of the goal in goal and approach is important for failure consequences. A success moves towards the goal, a failure away. This simple framework does a good job of removing questions and firmly rooting decisions in the fiction of the moment. It's what you've done with your stealth example, assuming the goal of the sneaking is to get the drop on the opposition. You succeed, you get the drop. You fail, they not only notice you, but immediately move into hostilities without you having the drop. Towards, away.

If you can't think of how to move away from the goal of the action, then don't call for a roll. I think it's okay to involve meta-goals, here, though. Moving away from a meta-goal can be sufficient punishment, like, say, losing time in a race against the clock, or having a fight when you're trying to conserve resources. Goals can be layers, but a failure should move away from a player stated goal.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Interestingly, in your example of stealth, you move failure from just not being able to get surprise to the opposition becoming hostile. This isn't just denial of a reward, it's a change in fiction away from the intent of the action.

Personally, I think that evaluation of the goal in goal and approach is important for failure consequences. A success moves towards the goal, a failure away. This simple framework does a good job of removing questions and firmly rooting decisions in the fiction of the moment. It's what you've done with your stealth example, assuming the goal of the sneaking is to get the drop on the opposition. You succeed, you get the drop. You fail, they not only notice you, but immediately move into hostilities without you having the drop. Towards, away.

If you can't think of how to move away from the goal of the action, then don't call for a roll. I think it's okay to involve meta-goals, here, though. Moving away from a meta-goal can be sufficient punishment, like, say, losing time in a race against the clock, or having a fight when you're trying to conserve resources. Goals can be layers, but a failure should move away from a player stated goal.
That is (once again) stated more eloquently than I seem to manage.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Welcome to the beginning stages of some actually different playstyles. There are many games where players can make truth propositions that the mechanics then test rather than leaving it up to the DM. There are even others where players can just assert things about the fiction without any adjudication, or win the right after a table challenge.



And, many find this outcome very problem causing. For one, the player likely knows they rolled poorly, so they know the information is bad but have to act otherwise. This puts a strain on authentic portrayal of the character. In effect, you've now tasked the player to play in a way that's best for the story rather than be the strongest advocate for their character possible. Also, this method involve you, the DM, providing false information to the players. This can (and usually does) erode player trust in the DM.

Yes, you can do it, but the system is bad at it and you will get poor results. If I, as a player, can assert fiction in play by leveraging my best scores and playing to gain advantage, then I'll start directing play in ways the GM has little control over. Since I'm then creating my own problems and then their solutions, we're now in a degenerate situation for game play. This isn't good. The only factor the GM would control here is setting DCs, which the temptation is to set high for control, but, again, this leads to players stacking powers for high rolls and also erodes player trust in the GM. It sets up a bad adversarial position in play. As such, I say that 5e has no mechanical means to enable this kind of play because just doing it leads to degenerate play situations.

However, I agree that GMs will often incorporate new fiction based on player action declarations (or out-loud thinking) because that sounds fun. The point I was making is that this kind of thing is based on the GM's approval, not any mechanical functions in 5e. The GM decides is the only means of new fiction, and the system is built to enable and work with this. The resolution tools in 5e are, after all, only engaged after the GM considers the situation and the action and determines there's uncertainty and a consequence for failure. Note that this only happens if the GM decides.

Even if you go with players asking for rolls, it's still the GM deciding what happens for any outcome, not the player. Again, GM decides in the controlling mechanical structure.

What I'm discussing here is player initiated fiction introduction in a direct manner. 5e is not built to support this.
I want to disagree with this part about the possibility of getting false or wrong info in poor checks for PC knowledge...

"And, many find this outcome very problem causing. For one, the player likely knows they rolled poorly, so they know the information is bad but have to act otherwise. This puts a strain on authentic portrayal of the character. In effect, you've now tasked the player to play in a way that's best for the story rather than be the strongest advocate for their character possible. Also, this method involve you, the DM, providing false information to the players. This can (and usually does) erode player trust in the DM."

Your "for one..." presumes the player having to act with knowledge different from the character which is faulty. The GM can choose to reflect the roll in the narrative, presenting low rolls with info described as partial recollections or that was one among many ideas and so on... its ridiculously easy to describe bits of knowledge to reflect the roll in the narrative so that the character and the player operate from the same place of understanding. As for the latter claim that the GM providing false info in this kind of case "can (and usually does) erode player trust in the DM." well, I would say that in my experience - most notably including games with long standing and enduring trust in the GM, it is by no means "usually" the case that this hits the GM trust at all. The GM is accurately representing the results of the check in a way fitting the rules. That is the kind of thing that drives the trust.

When I present my PCs with a failed knowledge check narrative thst gives them a number of incomplete bits, a number of reasons to doubt the results and some might false but some might be true - rather than them start wondering if the GM can be trusted, they start considering how the characters can verify the bits they have that might help them.

Frankly, if players have thrircttusr eroded when the GM gives them false info on a failed check... my suspicion would be that "usuully" that trust was already on life support or at least under the weather for other reasons. Seems more like a group that sees way too much overlap between success and trust.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Your "for one..." presumes the player having to act with knowledge different from the character which is faulty. The GM can choose to reflect the roll in the narrative, presenting low rolls with info described as partial recollections or that was one among many ideas and so on... its ridiculously easy to describe bits of knowledge to reflect the roll in the narrative so that the character and the player operate from the same place of understanding.
Help me understand what you're saying here. @Ovinomancer's point I think is pretty clear: if the player says, "Do I know this creature's vulnerabilities?" and rolls a 1, and the GM says, "Yes, you recall that it's vulnerable to fire...." isn't the player pretty darned sure that the creature is NOT vulnerable to fire? But, given that this is metagame knowledge, is the player expected to try a fire spell and learn his mistake or is it ok to avoid fire spells, because you know that the roll failed, and thus you were given bad information? Because both of those results are pretty unsatisfying.

Is there an alternative result I'm missing?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Help me understand what you're saying here. @Ovinomancer's point I think is pretty clear: if the player says, "Do I know this creature's vulnerabilities?" and rolls a 1, and the GM says, "Yes, you recall that it's vulnerable to fire...." isn't the player pretty darned sure that the creature is NOT vulnerable to fire? But, given that this is metagame knowledge, is the player expected to try a fire spell and learn his mistake or is it ok to avoid fire spells, because you know that the roll failed, and thus you were given bad information? Because both of those results are pretty unsatisfying.

Is there an alternative result I'm missing?
It's something like progress combined with a setback. The player wants to know fact A. The check fails. The DM gives the player fact B. It's not what the player wanted, but it's TRUE. The character now has the onus to try to make fact B useful, if he or she can.

But, of course, the response you're quoting was not the kind of narrated result that @Ovinomancer was talking about in the first place.
 

Ovinomancer

Flip Nazi
Help me understand what you're saying here. @Ovinomancer's point I think is pretty clear: if the player says, "Do I know this creature's vulnerabilities?" and rolls a 1, and the GM says, "Yes, you recall that it's vulnerable to fire...." isn't the player pretty darned sure that the creature is NOT vulnerable to fire? But, given that this is metagame knowledge, is the player expected to try a fire spell and learn his mistake or is it ok to avoid fire spells, because you know that the roll failed, and thus you were given bad information? Because both of those results are pretty unsatisfying.

Is there an alternative result I'm missing?
I can't see the post you're responding to, but, yes, this was my point. I was responding to a statement that the DM can provide false information on a failure, and discussed how this can cause problems as you've summarized above.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I'll say this:

If your Apocalypse World games play like your Dungeons and Dragons game it is likely because you are ignoring a vast swathe of the game. The majority of what makes Apocalypse World Apocalypse World is GM facing. It does not have GM advice. It has GM instructions.

It tells you what your goals are. It tells you what your principles are. It tells you how to live up to those principles and goals.

When it tells you not to preplan a story, it reiterates with language not fit for this board. This is not unlike when other players are instructed to play their characters with integrity. Vincent Baker means it.

Tom Moldvay also makes no suggestions. He tells you how to be a referee.

These form a set of expectations that GMs are expected to uphold.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I can't see the post you're responding to, but, yes, this was my point. I was responding to a statement that the DM can provide false information on a failure, and discussed how this can cause problems as you've summarized above.
I don't think false information works well outside of the context of secret rolls. Secret rolls and false information also require a significant amount of buy in that I do not think are a given for most Fifth Edition players. You absolutely have to do the work to show that you have no agenda for how things turn out before you can really utilize asymmetric information.
 

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