Dealing with agency and retcon (in semi sandbox)

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
And if there's unforeseen (or more important, unforeseeable) costs, that is an example of minimal agency.

If I may interject, because I see folks getting more and more entrenched quickly here.

Your statement, taken as written, seems to say if there are (ANY) unforseen costs, there is automatically MINIMAL agency. Whether or not it was your intent, it reads as all-or-nothing.

I suggest (and I admit it is a suggestion, not a mod-order or anything like that) that words like "minimal" drive the discussion to extremes and quickly close themselves off. If you don't allow for nuance (like a range of agency, not just high and low), the discussion quickly becomes dueling proclamations butting heads, not exchanges of ideas. Who needs that?
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
If I may interject, because I see folks getting more and more entrenched quickly here.

Your statement, taken as written, seems to say if there are (ANY) unforseen costs, there is automatically MINIMAL agency. Whether or not it was your intent, it reads as all-or-nothing.

"any" is doing some heavy lifting there, but I will say to the degree there are any unforeseeable ones, I do, indeed, think that reduces agency; its only minimal, however, if there's no other relevant outcomes from the decision that can be foreseen. In general, I only consider the broad decision to produce minimal agency if its a black box.

I suggest (and I admit it is a suggestion, not a mod-order or anything like that) that words like "minimal" drive the discussion to extremes and quickly close themselves off. If you don't allow for nuance (like a range of agency, not just high and low), the discussion quickly becomes dueling proclamations butting heads, not exchanges of ideas. Who needs that?

I do allow for a range. That doesn't mean I don't think some things push pretty hard to one edge, however, and decision with completely unforeseeable outcomes is right over there. Just like a decision with a limited range of outcomes with fairly precisely known probabilities would push to the other edge (I'm a bit on the fence about whether there's more or less agency with completely deterministic outcomes without sequelae, but I'm inclined towards "less").
 

I’m not asking for explanations, I have google. I’m just saying when you use this much jargon it doesn’t help to convey meaning. It’s just feedback from me. Take it or leave it.

Immersionist

game layer

premise of play

operationalize

goal-forward

assess > orient > act

communication paradigm

collective onboarding

culture of play

trajectory of play

agenda for play

gaming conversation

"intent/goal" vs "action declaration"

game engine

resolution procedure

metachannel

win cons

loss cons

gamestate

cognitive loop

"bad feels."

These were the things that stood out to me as jargon.

Yeah, I don't know how to respond to this.

But I'll go ahead and assume you're sincere here and just leave us both with "yes, if game engine, gaming conversation, win/loss cons, gamestate (and the like) are impenetrable rather than readily inferable and/or you have little exposure to TTRPG adjacent activities (card games, board games, computer/video games, parlor games), various other competitive games (including ball sports), and general design and discussion on games-at-large (including TTRPGs), then we can defer back to your original response to me; you're not my target audience."

I come to ENWorld to discuss TTRPGs using the language I use and expect the folks I interact with (and choose to interact with me) to readily know or infer "gaming conversation" or "game engine" or deduce "trajectory of play" is a marriage of trajectory (the path followed by a thing after force is exerted upon it) with play (the stuff that happens at the table of an RPG) with the preposition "of" connecting the two. If trajectory of play (and the like) is a problem, then we aren't going to connect.

I'll give you friendly advice as well; you may want to (I suspect go back to) put(ting) me on ignore if this is a problem.
 

TheSword

Legend
"any" is doing some heavy lifting there, but I will say to the degree there are any unforeseeable ones, I do, indeed, think that reduces agency; its only minimal, however, if there's no other relevant outcomes from the decision that can be foreseen. In general, I only consider the broad decision to produce minimal agency if its a black box.

I do allow for a range. That doesn't mean I don't think some things push pretty hard to one edge, however, and decision with completely unforeseeable outcomes is right over there. Just like a decision with a limited range of outcomes with fairly precisely known probabilities would push to the other edge (I'm a bit on the fence about whether there's more or less agency with completely deterministic outcomes without sequelae, but I'm inclined towards "less").
I’m interested in how far ahead the consequences should be made available to players to make the game other than minimal-agency.

If I visit the village shop now and spend all my cash now on a new sword etc does it mean the game has minimal agency if I don’t know that the shop in the next village has something I want more which I can no longer afford.

It’s interesting that the word ‘stakes’ is used to mean the potential cost and potential opportunity of any given choice. In poker you have incomplete information about the hand your playing now so you have to make predictions and estimations. It’s a pretty fun game and the most common use of the word stakes. I think it’s also generally understood that good poker players have agency. Do you feel poker is minimal agency on the basis that the multitude of information players use to make bets is incomplete? You also have no idea when playing what might happen the following round as a result of your actions this round. Even if you could see everyone else’s cards now, would not knowing the impact on the next round also make the game minimal agency.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Your continued reference to anything created by a DM as ‘low agency’ is starting to wear.
I'm sorry, but I'm just calling it how I see it. If the GM decides everything that happens next, the players are not exercising much agency. The fact that the GM treats the players' action declarations as prompts in deciding what happens next doesn't mean that the players are exercising agency, other than the most basic agency of prompting someone else to decide.

Can you give an example to elaborate the point of a mystery in one of your extreme agency games which didn’t come about through GM making decisions. Maybe a murder mystery or a mysterious intrigue? I’m genuinely interested because the posts I’ve seen on the subject seem to say games like dungeon world and burning wheel don’t handle mysteries well at all.
I haven't said anything about the GM not making decisions. I don't know where that comes from. I've talked about the players establishing what is at stake.

Here is a Burning Wheel actual play report:
My PC is Thurgon, a warrior cleric type (heavy armour, Faithful to the Lord of Battle, Last Knight of the Iron Tower, etc). His companion is Aramina, a sorcerer. His ancestral estate, which he has not visited for 5 years, is Auxol.

At the start of the session, Thurgon had the following four Beliefs - The Lord of Battle will lead me to glory; I am a Knight of the Iron Tower, and by devotion and example I will lead the righteous to glorious victory; Harm and infamy will befall Auxol no more!; Aramina will need my protection - and three Instincts - When entering battle, always speak a prayer to the Lord of Battle; If an innocent is threatened, interpose myself; When camping, always ensure that the campfire is burning.

Aramina's had three Beliefs - I'm not going to finish my career with no spellbooks and an empty purse! - next, some coins!; I don't need Thurgon's pity; If in doubt, burn it! and three instincts - Never catch the glance or gaze of a stranger; Always wear my cloak; Always Assess before casting a spell.

The session started with a bit of a recap, as it was over two years since our last session of this particular game. The two of us were in the Pomarj (World of Greyhawk) at the abandoned tower of Evard, where Thurgon had fought a demon in Evard's form (he didn't quite defeat it, but held it off long enough that it's summoning ended), and then they had found some interesting writings - Evard's Book of Fire, a spellbook, and some letters that suggested that Thurgon's mother Xanthippe was a daughter of Evard. Thurgon had destroyed these letters in the campfire. Aramina was unconscious (Forte reduced to zero) from sorcerous Tax, although I can't remember now exactly what spell she was trying to cast that had that effect.

So the appropriate way to start seemed to be by preparing a meal which might also help Aramina recover. I failed an untrained Foraging check for Thurgon to find some healing herbs, which - the GM smilingly told me - meant that I found "herbs" and berries. I then failed my Cooking check to try and prepare a pleasant meal, and the GM narrated sparks from the fire reaching the dry timber of the broken doors, setting them alight. I took the opportunity for Thurgon to empty his skillet onto them, and rolled a Die of Fate for a 1-in-6 chance that this might extinguish the flames. It didn't. I then failed a Power check for Thurgon to pull the broken doors fully away from their hinges and the tower, succeeded on a Forte check so he didn't get burned, had Thurgon pick up his mace and try to bash the doors away that way only to fail that check too, the upshot being that the fire spread into the interior of the tower and gradually burnt away the timber furnishing and floors.

This did have the effect of revealing the tower basement, but I (as Thurgon) wasn't keen to go into a wizard's basement alone. I rolled for Aramina's recovery, which was 1 die of her 5 Taxed Forte per 3 hours rest. We rested for 6 hours and then (the GM told me) it started to rain so no more rest was possible. At that point shelter seemed necessary, and the rain doused the worst of the flames, and the two characters could see an exposed trapdoor. "Does it have an iron ring?" I asked. When told yes by the GM, Aramina used her Call of Iron spell to pull the ring towards her, lifting the trapdoor open (the GM said 'yes' to this, which meant no Tax check was required). She then encouraged Thurgon to go in. Thurgon spoke a prayer (Blessing) to bolster his courage (+1D to Steel while exploring the basement) and - leaving his shield upstairs - went down the ladder. In the basement were crates and boxes, and magical symbols in a circle on the floor. I checked Doctrine (with Ritual as an augment, or FoRK for those who know the system) and Thurgon learned it was a teleport circle. Thurgon then used his Ritual skill to open it, conjecturing that it led to Auxol or the vicinity - how else could his mother have sent letters to Evard when she was young?

The ritual and prayers opened it, but (failed check) it was not anywhere familiar - rather, it led to a cave. And it was flickering, as if it would close any moment. Thurgon called Aramina to come down, and she did - and with her Symbology (and Reading FoRKed in) recognised that the travel to somewhere about 100 miles east. With that success in hand, I decided to try for another: Aramina would draw a symbol to extend the duration of the gate so they could go back up and get their gear to take with them. This was Sorcery with Writing FoRKed in, and failed: Aramina drew a disharmonious magical symbol and closed the gate rather than holding it open.

With that avenue shut behind them, they looked around the basement. In the boxes were metal bars, ingots and simple tools - orc-work, it looked like, as if to build something. Aramina decided to take as much as she could carry, because it would be helpful for mending things and also for Call of Iron. She also decided to join Thurgon in looking around, hoping to find some coin - this was an untrained Scavenging check by Thurgon with help from Aramina. It failed - and the GM explained that "no one would have thought that such an important stone, in terms of holding up the structure, would have been so easily dislodged by moving crates around - perhaps it was weakened, or a crucial support beam burned, by the fire". Speed checks were made, against obstacle 3, and I rolled two successes for both characters. The GM put a choice to Aramina: drop your load of metal, or be injured by falling masonry. But I decided that she had a third option - cast Call of Iron as a single action (stepping up the obstacle by 1) and use the called iron to brace and block the stones just long enough for her and Thurgon to get out. The GM allowed the attempt, and it succeeded, and her Tax test left her still conscious on Forte 1. As the characters made their escape, Aramina made a point of explaining that she had done this not to help Thurgon but to save her scavenged metal.

With the tower now ruined - the upper levels gutted by fire and the basement collapsed - Thurgon decided that they would head east, along the river, looking for the cave - which must be a goblin cave, he thought - the old-fashioned way. He also kept an eye out for an ex-knight, Friedrich, who lives in the area and had helped Thurgon and Aramina when they were on their way to Evard's tower. This Circles check (base 3 dice +1 for Reputation as the Last Knight of the Iron Tower and +1 for an affiliation with the Order of the Iron Tower, vs Ob 2) succeeded, and as the character trudged along Friedrich passed them, poling his skiff along the river. Thurgon told him that the tower was no more, and that a demon had been driven off, and asked for a ride. Aramina mended the dents in Thurgon's breastplate (successful Mending vs Obstacle 1) while Friedrich took them as far as the next tributary's inflow - at that point the river turns north-east, and the two character's wanted to continue more-or-less due east on the other side of both streams. This was heading into the neighbourhood of Auxol, and so Thurgon kept his eye out for friends and family. The Circles check (base 3 dice +1 for an Affiliation with the nobility and another +1 for an Affiliation with his family) succeeded again, and the two characters came upon Thurgon's older brother Rufus driving a horse and cart. (Thurgon has a Rationship with his mother Xanthippe but no other family members; hence the Circles check to meet his brother.)

There was a reunion between Rufus and Thurgon. But (as described by the GM) it was clear to Thurgon that Rufus was not who he had been, but seemed cowed - as Rufus explained when Thurgon asked after Auxol, he (Rufus) was on his way to collect wine for the master. Rufus mentioned that Thurgon's younger son had married not long ago - a bit of lore (like Rufus hmself) taken from the background I'd prepared for Thurgon as part of PC gen - and had headed south in search of glory (that was something new the GM introduced). I mentioned that Aramina was not meeting Rufus's gaze, and the GM picked up on this - Rufus asked Thurgon who this woman was who wouldn't look at him from beneath the hood of her cloak - was she a witch? Thurgon answered that she travelled with him and mended his armour. Then I switched to Aramina, and she looked Rufus directly in the eye and told him what she thought of him - "Thurgon has trained and is now seeking glory on his errantry, and his younger brother has gone too to seek glory, but your, Rufus . . ." I told the GM that I wanted to check Ugly Truth for Aramina, to cause a Steel check on Rufus's part. The GM decided that Rufus has Will 3, and then we quickly calculated his Steel which also came out at 3. My Ugly Truth check was a success, and the Steel check failed. Rufus looked at Aramina, shamed but unable to respond. Switching back to Thurgon, I tried to break Rufus out of it with a Command check: he should pull himself together and join in restoring Auxol to its former glory. But the check failed, and Rufus, broken, explained that he had to go and get the wine. Switching back to Aramina, I had a last go - she tried for untrained Command, saying that if he wasn't going to join with Thurgon he might at least give us some coin so that we might spend the night at an inn rather than camping. This was Will 5, with an advantage die for having cowed him the first time, against a double obstacle penalty for untrained (ie 6) +1 penalty because Rufus was very set in his way. It failed. and so Rufus rode on and now has animosity towards Aramina. As the GM said, she better not have her back to him while he has a knife ready to hand.

The characters continued on, and soon arrived at Auxol,. The GM narrated the estate still being worked, but looking somewhat run-down compared to Thrugon's memories of it. An old, bowed woman greeted us - Xanthippe, looking much more than her 61 years. She welcomed Thurgon back, but chided him for having been away. And asked him not to leave again. The GM was getting ready to force a Duel of Wits on the point - ie that Thurgon should not leave again - when I tried a different approach. I'd already made a point of Thurgon having his arms on clear display as he rode through the countryside and the estate; now he raised his mace and shield to the heavens, and called on the Lord of Battle to bring strength back to his mother so that Auxol might be restored to its former greatness. This was a prayer for a Minor Miracle, obstacle 5. Thurgon has Faith 5 and I burned his last point of Persona to take it to 6 dice (the significance of this being that, without 1 Persona, you can't stop the effect of a mortal wound should one be suffered). With 6s being open-ended (ie auto-rolls), the expected success rate is 3/5, so that's 3.6 successes there. And I had a Fate point to reroll one failure, for an overall expected 4-ish successes. Against an obstacle of 5.

As it turned out, I finished up with 7 successes. So a beam of light shot down from the sky, and Xanthippe straightened up and greeted Thurgon again, but this time with vigour and readiness to restore Auxol. The GM accepted my proposition that this played out Thurgon's Belief that Harm and infamy will befall Auxol no more! (earning a Persona point). His new Belief is Xanthippe and I will liberate Auxol. He picked up a second Persona point for Embodiment ("Your roleplay (a performance or a decision) captures the mood of the table and drives the story onward").

Turning back to Aramina, I decided that this made an impact on her too: up until now she had been cynical and slightly bitter, but now she was genuinely inspired and determined: instead of never meeting the gaze of a stranger, her Instinct is to look strangers in the eyes and Assess. And rather than I don't need Thurgon's pity, her Belief is Thurgon and I will liberate Auxol. This earned a Persona point for Mouldbreaker ("If a situation brings your Beliefs, Instincts and Traits into conflict with a decision your PC must make, you play out your inner turmoil as you dramatically play against a Belief in a believable and engaging manner").

We finished the session there (after two hours of play). As well as the Persona already mentioned, we voted Thurgon for "most valued" and Aramina for "workhorse" - earning another Persona each - and over the course of the session we'd also tracked Fate earned for Beliefs and Instincts: Aramina picked up 4 (for pursuing coins, not needing Thurgon's pity, always assessing before casting a spell, and (most memorably) never meeting the gaze of a stranger) and Thurgon 4 also (for entering the basement blessed by the Lord of Battle looking for glory, for protecting Aramina, for trying to assuage the infamy to Auxol, and for making sure the campfire was burning).
Mysteries:

*Where does the portal in Evard's undertower lead to?
*Is Thurgon really Evard's grandson?
*Who is Rufus's "master"?​

There are other mysteries in this campaign too, that didn't come up in this particular session, around a rift in Thurgon's order, and how this might be linked to some sort of strange artefact - the Sunstone - that also has some connection to Evard.
 

TheSword

Legend
I'm sorry, but I'm just calling it how I see it. If the GM decides everything that happens next, the players are not exercising much agency. The fact that the GM treats the players' action declarations as prompts in deciding what happens next doesn't mean that the players are exercising agency, other than the most basic agency of prompting someone else to decide.

I haven't said anything about the GM not making decisions. I don't know where that comes from. I've talked about the players establishing what is at stake.

Here is a Burning Wheel actual play report:
Mysteries:

*Where does the portal in Evard's undertower lead to?​
*Is Thurgon really Evard's grandson?​
*Who is Rufus's "master"?​

There are other mysteries in this campaign too, that didn't come up in this particular session, around a rift in Thurgon's order, and how this might be linked to some sort of strange artefact - the Sunstone - that also has some connection to Evard.
Thanks for the read through very enjoyable. An interesting example of solo playing characters that reads well and flows nicely.

Looking at the mysteries you mentioned though I can’t see how they’re being resolved by player agency in a way that’s different to normal D&D play. That there was a hidden basement was determined by the DM. What was in the basement was decided by the DM.

Are you saying that if the player had been successful with their ritual check they would have been able to decide where the portal lead, and therefore the mystery could have been solved by the players agency? As it stands it looks like the DM has decided where the portal leads and therefore there is a solvable mystery there as it stands?

It’s a bit difficult to work out how this would work for Rufus’s master or Evard’s lineage because we don’t see those mysteries resolved. Are you saying there would be similar checks to see if the player gets to decide or the DM?
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I’m interested in how far ahead the consequences should be made available to players to make the game other than minimal-agency.

If I visit the village shop now and spend all my cash now on a new sword etc does it mean the game has minimal agency if I don’t know that the shop in the next village has something I want more which I can no longer afford.

It’s interesting that the word ‘stakes’ is used to mean the potential cost and potential opportunity of any given choice. In poker you have incomplete information about the hand your playing now so you have to make predictions and estimations. It’s a pretty fun game and the most common use of the word stakes. I think it’s also generally understood that good poker players have agency. Do you feel poker is minimal agency on the basis that the multitude of information players use to make bets is incomplete? You also have no idea when playing what might happen the following round as a result of your actions this round. Even if you could see everyone else’s cards now, would not knowing the impact on the next round also make the game minimal agency.

There are slight variations on poker, but no matter what, you have information available to you. The game is to take what you know, and use that to help guess the things you don’t know. And the things you don’t know are within a certain range of outcomes. Your opponent is never going to put down a hand of five aces (barring some kind of wild card or similar).

Also, the thing that’s never unknown in poker? The stakes.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I’m interested in how far ahead the consequences should be made available to players to make the game other than minimal-agency.

Unfortunately, this is very much a case of "I know it when I see it." Its going to be next to impossible to define in any hard and fast way.

If I visit the village shop now and spend all my cash now on a new sword etc does it mean the game has minimal agency if I don’t know that the shop in the next village has something I want more which I can no longer afford.

Nope. After all, the possibility that another shop somewhere relatively nearby might have something you want is well into the foreseable. You may not know the precise likelihood, but its something you can reasonably expect. In addition, if you care, you can likely check it out first before you do it. It obviously provides less agency than if you knew all the shops in the area and what they had at any given time, but as I noted in the post you quoted, "less" is not the same as "none".

It’s interesting that the word ‘stakes’ is used to mean the potential cost and potential opportunity of any given choice. In poker you have incomplete information about the hand your playing now so you have to make predictions and estimations. It’s a pretty fun game and the most common use of the word stakes. I think it’s also generally understood that good poker players have agency. Do you feel poker is minimal agency on the basis that the multitude of information players use to make bets is incomplete? You also have no idea when playing what might happen the following round as a result of your actions this round. Even if you could see everyone else’s cards now, would not knowing the impact on the next round also make the game minimal agency.

No, because poker is not a black box. There are a lot of things visible to you that can allow you to make intelligent assessment, and the more skilled you are the more you'll be able to do so. And information becomes more and more visible to you across play.

There are very few gambling games that are entirely lacking in agency, though purely random ones like some dice games come close (especially when the rules obscure the probability sufficiently for the routine players). Card games are actually relatively high in agency as a group, because the play process gives you progressively more information and provides you with a lot of meaningful choice in your play.

Again, here, remember I'm agreeing with Umbran that its a spectrum. Also note my last comment on that post: there's not any real agency if the choice is a forgone conclusion given the extent criteria (and this can occasionally happen in card games; you'll see people refer to bridge hands that pretty much "play themselves" sometimes for a reason).
 

Pedantic

Legend
I didn't find the initial post engaging so I feel like I've showed up late, but the last couple pages have gotten away with a conflation that I really don't think is fair or valid. We're once again conflating ludic and narrative agency. @chaochou put forth several criteria here that I largely agree with except for the final point that leads to that conflation:

It's my view that agency in a game is a product of inviolable rules which players know and can rely on to achieve known goals.

[...]
  • No agreement that the GM / MC / narrator can unilaterally disregard the rules
  • Transparent rules and processes that offer guaranteed outcomes (good and bad)
  • Transparent goals for characters - often through authorship of them by the players
  • Faciliatation of that authorship through group creation of setting and/or situation such that character goals are given meaning and context by player choice, not secret GM backstory
It runs through all of these points, but this last one is the biggest place two things are being conflated. Ludic agency, playing a game with meaningful decision points, requires that more than one strategy be possible and that player choice has an impact ultimate success. Narrative agency requires that the scenario yields to player authorship, and the latter is not necessary for the former, and can easily conflict with it.

Given too much control of the board state, the creation of the setting and/or situation, you cannot have meaningful ludic tension, because players can define victory conditions thus that they cannot fail to meet them. A known (or at least fixed and discoverable) board state that exists separately from the players allows them to suggest goals informed by it, and then push forward actions to achieve their goals. Agency results from there being more than 1 set of actions that might achieve those goals, and players discriminating between them.

Moving one level of agency up, ideally, the game is well enough designed that the choice between those action sets isn't trivial and players have to choose meaningfully between different resource expenditures, potential failure points, overall risk, and in some cases differing degrees of victory.

To touch on a more recent thread, the card game War has no agency because the game has no decision points at all. Go Fish has very limited agency because the decision points are essentially random. Trick-taking games have higher agency because of the frequency of decision points, but can devolve into trivial optimization cases, which can lead to effective low agency play.

You can rate agency a few different ways in the context of games, looking at the actual decision space for actions available to players consisting of all legal moves, the effective decision space of all moves that can possibly advance the player's victory condition, and the reasonable decision space of all moves that a strategic rationale can be put forward for. High randomness in resolution collapses the space between those categories, lower randomness widens the space between them. "Actual" agency is usually pretty meaningless to evaluate in the context of table games (though more interesting for something like an open-world video game) and "reasonable" agency is particularly hard to evaluate in the context of TTRPGs, where player's victory conditions change over the course of the play and may move in unexpected directions.
 

I didn't find the initial post engaging so I feel like I've showed up late, but the last couple pages have gotten away with a conflation that I really don't think is fair or valid. We're once again conflating ludic and narrative agency. @chaochou put forth several criteria here that I largely agree with except for the final point that leads to that conflation:


It runs through all of these points, but this last one is the biggest place two things are being conflated. Ludic agency, playing a game with meaningful decision points, requires that more than one strategy be possible and that player choice has an impact ultimate success. Narrative agency requires that the scenario yields to player authorship, and the latter is not necessary for the former, and can easily conflict with it.

Given too much control of the board state, the creation of the setting and/or situation, you cannot have meaningful ludic tension, because players can define victory conditions thus that they cannot fail to meet them. A known (or at least fixed and discoverable) board state that exists separately from the players allows them to suggest goals informed by it, and then push forward actions to achieve their goals. Agency results from there being more than 1 set of actions that might achieve those goals, and players discriminating between them.

Moving one level of agency up, ideally, the game is well enough designed that the choice between those action sets isn't trivial and players have to choose meaningfully between different resource expenditures, potential failure points, overall risk, and in some cases differing degrees of victory.

To touch on a more recent thread, the card game War has no agency because the game has no decision points at all. Go Fish has very limited agency because the decision points are essentially random. Trick-taking games have higher agency because of the frequency of decision points, but can devolve into trivial optimization cases, which can lead to effective low agency play.

You can rate agency a few different ways in the context of games, looking at the actual decision space for actions available to players consisting of all legal moves, the effective decision space of all moves that can possibly advance the player's victory condition, and the reasonable decision space of all moves that a strategic rationale can be put forward for. High randomness in resolution collapses the space between those categories, lower randomness widens the space between them. "Actual" agency is usually pretty meaningless to evaluate in the context of table games (though more interesting for something like an open-world video game) and "reasonable" agency is particularly hard to evaluate in the context of TTRPGs, where player's victory conditions change over the course of the play and may move in unexpected directions.
I think you should go on to really discuss narrative agency as well. I suspect @chaochou will start to seem a bit more on target. Overall though I think your ludic agency is fairly uncontroversial, war has none, chess has a lot overall but there are board states where it's not manifest. Etc.
 

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