D&D 5E [+] Explain RPG theory without using jargon

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
In another thread, when I posted that Edwards is the most insightful author on purist-for-system simulationist RPGing (of the RM, RQ etc variety) you assumed that I must hate that sort of RPGing.

When I pointed out that in fact I played RM as my main game for 19 years, and that reading Edwards improved my RM game, you didn't respond. I now invite you to, should you wish to do so.
I don’t recall the exchange, I don’t know what RM and RQ stand for, and I don’t see how this line of questioning is likely to lead to a productive discussion. I probably didn’t really understand what you meant by purist-for-system simulationism or something.
 

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pemerton

Legend
I think if you draw the implication of the brain damage quote out, it suggests that if you play Rolemaster (or another game), read Edwards, and your game doesn’t improve, it’s because you aren’t accepting of the new and correct ideas. Your mind is not open, either because you have a bias against new ideas, or because your brain is literally damaged.
So just to be clear: you're doubling down on the sneering at people who play Rolemaster, Burning Wheel and Prince Valiant?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don’t recall the exchange, I don’t know what RM and RQ stand for, and I don’t see how this line of questioning is likely to lead to a productive discussion. I probably didn’t really understand what you meant by purist-for-system simulationism or something.
Trade you.

RoleMaster and RuneQuest.

What is high concept sim and Trad and the rest of the jargon used in the last few pages.
 

soviet

Adventurer
I think if you draw the implication of the brain damage quote out, it suggests that if you play Rolemaster (or another game), read Edwards, and your game doesn’t improve, it’s because you aren’t accepting of the new and correct ideas. Your mind is not open, either because you have a bias against new ideas, or because your brain is literally damaged.
The brain damage thing is about trying to achieve proto-narrativist play with tools that actively push against that mode of play.

If you instead want to play Rolemaster (or any other trad game) for the things it does support, then all will be well.

Rolemaster is great.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
So just to be clear: you're doubling down on the sneering at people who play Rolemaster, Burning Wheel and Prince Valiant?
Maybe I misread. It felt like the "I think if you draw the implication of the brain damage quote out," was key. Someone who doesn't think that doesn't particularly have a reason to think anything in particular about folks based on what game they play.
 

pemerton

Legend
But, again, it’s not just that he said something problematic, therefore his ideas aren’t worth listening to. It’s that his ideas seem to be a Trojan horse for the same elitism that he put on full display when he said the problematic thing. It all expresses the same sentiment, it’s just that in the one case he didn’t bother hiding it.
Again, this is a bad take, intentionally assuming ill intent and malevolence and assigning it to someone you don't know as if he actually did terribly things. Edwards is "deplorable" now because he used some words you don't like. I don't like them either, but you know what, what he's saying with those words is really good stuff. This is more attacking the speaker to dismiss the ideas. Edwards isn't saying your game sucks, he's not acting in an elitist way about games (fair cop to discussing his attitude towards people's engagement with criticism). He likes a lot of the games that people are saying he's trashing. @pemerton has said that Edwards' essay on Simulationism described his play exactly and he continued to do it and got better at it for the description. That's not actually possible to do if the intent and extent of the essay is trashing a game or idea.
Right.

Rolemaster is one of the most hardcore purist-for-system RPGs ever produced on a commercial scale. It has 10 stats, dozens if not 100s of skills (depending which supplements are in use), dozens of attack tables, dozens of crit tables (again depending on supplements), hundreds of spell lists, fumble and failure tables, etc. Edwards, in The Right to Dream essay, gets it. He explains why there are so many variant initiative systems (doing a quick count in my head I can think of half-a-dozen). He explains why certain recurring pressures in play recur.

I didn't find his essay insightful because I hated RM. I found it insightful because I loved it! And by taking advice from that essay, and also thinking about other things I read that Edwards lead me to (especially some of Paul Czege) I was able to gracefully land an 11 year campaign, whereas its predecessor had fizzled out in the end because I didn't have the skill or knowledge to resolve it.

The idea that this paints me, or Edwards, in a bad light is just utterly bizarre. Why would the world be a better place if I hadn't got insight from Edwards and my second long-running RM campaign had also had a failed ending?
 

So just to be clear: you're doubling down on the sneering at people who play Rolemaster, Burning Wheel and Prince Valiant?
??
I have no opinion of people who play those games in general. Of the three, I’d like to try Burning Wheel. In fact I’ve watched Burning Wheel actual plays but found them confusing.

I just think it’s possible to read rpg theory, understand it, and then…not find it useful. I don’t think I have a cognitive bias against understanding the theory, but then, I guess I wouldn’t know if I did. 🤷🏽‍♂️

As long as we’re talking about games we’re currently into…
Last three games purchased: Wanderhome, Fiasco, Brindlewood Bay
Current fave rpg podcast: Fear of a Black Dragon, hosted by Jason Cordova, author of Brindlewood Bay.
So hopefully I’ll get a chance to play one of those this summer, pending scheduling

Though this thread has me wanting to return to WoD games, especially Vampire, hence why I started the other thread!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Fundamentally the underlying message of the brain damage comment is a cultural criticism. That "storytelling" based roleplaying games were conditioning players to value stories where the perspective characters do not fundamentally drive the action - they are not protagonists as we understand them in the study of literature. That stories should be fundamentally about the main characters and how they come to know themselves through adversity.

I don't agree that all stories are structured that way. Most of those I personally value are. I do not care for the sort of fiction where the main character are mostly static and mostly react instead of act.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Trade you.

RoleMaster and RuneQuest.

What is high concept sim and Trad and the rest of the jargon used in the last few pages.
High concept sim is a Forge term. It describes one of the two forms simulationism can take, the other being… I think purist-for-system sim or process sim? I’m probably not the best person to try and explain them because my own understanding of the terms is quite shaky. But to the best of my understanding, simulationism in general is one of the three player motivations Edwards identifies in his essays, which he describes as being primarily interested in the exploration of a simulated world. The purist-for-sustem variety, I think, is the rules-as-physics-engine style of play, whereas the high concept variety is more about rules-as-genre-emulation. Instead of using the rules to simulate realistic processes, you use them to simulate the conventions and tropes that the “high concept” demands. Most typical D&D 5e play falls under this description.

“Trad” is being used in two different ways in this thread, and you kind of need to rely on context to sus out which way it’s being used in a given instance, though there is some overlap. In both cases, it’s short for “traditional.” Sometimes it’s being used to describe “traditional RPGs” in contrast to “Narrativist RPGs” or “storygames” (those two terms are pretty much interchangeable and refer to games like Apocalypse World, the development of which GNS theory served as the springboard for). Other times it’s being used to describe the type of play identified in the Six Cultures of Play typology (a pretty short read if you’re interested, and resonates much better with me than GNS). In brief, the “Trad” culture is typified by play wherein the players are there to experience a story, over which the GM has primary control. The kind of play that started gaining a lot of popularity with AD&D 2e and Vampire, which GNS developed largely as a response to.

Hope that helps.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Fundamentally the underlying message of the brain damage comment is a cultural criticism. That "storytelling" based roleplaying games were conditioning players to value stories where the perspective characters do not fundamentally drive the action - they are not protagonists as we understand them in the study of literature.
There was an additional offshoot of it, in which Edwards engaged in rather scathing self-criticism. He thought that the whole idea of trying to dramatic storytelling via the RPG form - protagonism with these participants, antagonism with these other participants - was flawed. And that narrativist RPGing was an attempt to respond to the flaw that didn't realise it was working within an irrevocably flawed paradigm.

I don't know where those thoughts ended up, or if Edwards ever came up with a game that he felt was more satisfactory. (Would it look anything like A Penny For My Thoughts? I don't know.)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Right.

Rolemaster is one of the most hardcore purist-for-system RPGs ever produced on a commercial scale. It has 10 stats, dozens if not 100s of skills (depending which supplements are in use), dozens of attack tables, dozens of crit tables (again depending on supplements), hundreds of spell lists, fumble and failure tables, etc. Edwards, in The Right to Dream essay, gets it. He explains why there are so many variant initiative systems (doing a quick count in my head I can think of half-a-dozen). He explains why certain recurring pressures in play recur.

I didn't find his essay insightful because I hated RM. I found it insightful because I loved it! And by taking advice from that essay, and also thinking about other things I read that Edwards lead me to (especially some of Paul Czege) I was able to gracefully land an 11 year campaign, whereas its predecessor had fizzled out in the end because I didn't have the skill or knowledge to resolve it.

The idea that this paints me, or Edwards, in a bad light is just utterly bizarre. Why would the world be a better place if I hadn't got insight from Edwards and my second long-running RM campaign had also had a failed ending?
It’s great that you gleaned something of value from that essay, and that it improved your game. Let it not be said that I don’t think there’s any value to be found in Edwards’ work.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
VtM didn't realize that the examples of play in the original book were all personal rather than social, and as such it was describing in it's examples of play a deeply personal introspective game for two players (a character and a Storyteller) and not a social game for a group. The political conspiracy game of Gothy superheroes was invented as a way to play the game in a functional way for groups.
Which is again about how the sort of game you can run depends on the number of players in it because the number of players in a game very much determines where you can put the spotlight. Lots of Indy games are written as if the spotlight isn't actually social and have the same problem of examples of play in an ostensibly social game always showing one GM and one player, which proves that the attempts to improve on the VtM "incoherence" never figured out exactly where the problem was.
Never noticed a problem, but then I wouldn't run many of the games for more than 4 players. I won't run D&D for more than 5, though.
 

niklinna

Legend
I think if you draw the implication of the brain damage quote out, it suggests that if you play Rolemaster (or another game), read Edwards, and your game doesn’t improve, it’s because you aren’t accepting of the new and correct ideas. Your mind is not open, either because you have a bias against new ideas, or because your brain is literally damaged.
Given as a direct response to @pemerton's simple relation of how his game improved after reading Edwards, this sure requires some mental effort not to take it as saying @pemerton himself implied that that.
 

niklinna

Legend
But just for those who are following along, Edwards did apologise and posted about his conversations with John Nephew (and maybe others) in which he conveyed those apologies.
Is that on the Forge archive? I'm curious about this but I don't think I have enough info to find it quickly.
 

Rolemaster is one of the most hardcore purist-for-system RPGs ever produced on a commercial scale. It has 10 stats, dozens if not 100s of skills (depending which supplements are in use), dozens of attack tables, dozens of crit tables (again depending on supplements), hundreds of spell lists, fumble and failure tables, etc.
I have played it quite a bit. Never again. Literally one of the few games I would outright refuse to play purely based on the system.

Edwards, in The Right to Dream essay, gets it. He explains why there are so many variant initiative systems (doing a quick count in my head I can think of half-a-dozen). He explains why certain recurring pressures in play recur.

I didn't find his essay insightful because I hated RM. I found it insightful because I loved it! And by taking advice from that essay, and also thinking about other things I read that Edwards lead me to (especially some of Paul Czege) I was able to gracefully land an 11 year campaign, whereas its predecessor had fizzled out in the end because I didn't have the skill or knowledge to resolve it.

I totally believe that both you and Edwards get and like Rolemaster. It is in GNS terms super 'pure' game. But even as person who often wishes D&D had a tad more process sim in it, the purity of RM is exactly what makes it an utterly miserable experience to me. It goes so overboard in certain direction that it becomes unpalatable.

And that's the thing. From GNS perspective majority of play happens in some muddy 'incoherent' middle ground. And most of the time it is not because the people don't understand better and would be happier if they could max their gamism or simulationism or whatever. It is by choice, it is because that's what they actually like. And it seems to me that GNS doesn't have much anything useful to say about that.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Snarf Zagyg put this article in the other threat which you might also find useful:

There's a strong argument that the kinds of storygames identified in that thread are not narrativist. They're more simulationism, with the internal cause being telling the best story. These games prioritize taking actions that tell a better story rather than pushing for character, and character wants are often subsumed into this. This defeats one of the core ideas of narrtivism. It does support Simulationism.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I have played it quite a bit. Never again. Literally one of the few games I would outright refuse to play purely based on the system.



I totally believe that both you and Edwards get and like Rolemaster. It is in GNS terms super 'pure' game. But even as person who often wishes D&D had a tad more process sim in it, the purity of RM is exactly what makes it an utterly miserable experience to me. It goes so overboard in certain direction that it becomes unpalatable.

And that's the thing. From GNS perspective majority of play happens in some muddy 'incoherent' middle ground. And most of the time it is not because the people don't understand better and would be happier if they could max their gamism or simulationism or whatever. It is by choice, it is because that's what they actually like. And it seems to me that GNS doesn't have much anything useful to say about that.
That you prefer a range of Simulationism that's not on the far end of purist for system and is more in line with High Concept doesn't, for a moment, pull you out of simulationism. And that doesn't imply that GNS is some pure ideology where real play is in the murky middle.

You could make a murky middle argument, but this isn't it.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
And that's the thing. From GNS perspective majority of play happens in some muddy 'incoherent' middle ground. And most of the time it is not because the people don't understand better and would be happier if they could max their gamism or simulationism or whatever. It is by choice, it is because that's what they actually like. And it seems to me that GNS doesn't have much anything useful to say about that.

I do not believe this nearly as true as most Trad only gamers believe. It's fundamentally something I think we were wrong about on The Forge. We did not see the underlying focus on that feeling of being there in the fantasy world and GM Storytelling nearly as much as it was there. I think we looked too closely at mechanics that were default gamist supporting and did not look closely enough at play techniques and actual play.
 

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