D&D General FKR: How Fewer Rules Can Make D&D Better


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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Give or take structured play, that more or less fits the pattern that @clearstream proposed as an activity and the only real reward was doing more of it, or possibly writing it down in a faux non-fiction style.
So, what it sounds like you're saying is, the loop repeats until the players are satisfied there is nothing more to add, and then you just move on, or you produce a setting ("faux non-fiction style") which is then presumably meant to act as a facilitator for a different form of play.

I think what I'm catching on here is, that "and then it just ends" is a mild problem on its own, but it becomes a major problem when the only other alternative is "produce a setting." That is, something "just ending" can be okay, though the lack of continuation or supplemental sharing ("swapping campaign stories" as I referenced above) means there's little reason to form communities and share within them, which is vital for something like this to truly take flight.

But if the only alternative to "just ending" is to create something where the fundamental purpose is to facilitate some other form of play, that's going to incline people to think that this "Tourism" thing is merely prelude for the "real" narrative and/or gamist game experience. It just sounds like there's a big risk that @clearstream's frustration about sim being devalued relative to the other approaches will continue, just in a new form; rather than "oh X can't do that," it becomes "oh, sure, X does that, but only as a prelude to something else." Given previous statements, it sounds like that whole thing of seeing sim as a means to some other end, rather than an end in itself, is a problem they'd like to solve.
 

Pedantic

Legend
So, what it sounds like you're saying is, the loop repeats until the players are satisfied there is nothing more to add, and then you just move on, or you produce a setting ("faux non-fiction style") which is then presumably meant to act as a facilitator for a different form of play.

I think what I'm catching on here is, that "and then it just ends" is a mild problem on its own, but it becomes a major problem when the only other alternative is "produce a setting." That is, something "just ending" can be okay, though the lack of continuation or supplemental sharing ("swapping campaign stories" as I referenced above) means there's little reason to form communities and share within them, which is vital for something like this to truly take flight.

But if the only alternative to "just ending" is to create something where the fundamental purpose is to facilitate some other form of play, that's going to incline people to think that this "Tourism" thing is merely prelude for the "real" narrative and/or gamist game experience. It just sounds like there's a big risk that @clearstream's frustration about sim being devalued relative to the other approaches will continue, just in a new form; rather than "oh X can't do that," it becomes "oh, sure, X does that, but only as a prelude to something else." Given previous statements, it sounds like that whole thing of seeing sim as a means to some other end, rather than an end in itself, is a problem they'd like to solve.
I'm not sure there should exist a secondary "and how is this shared with people outside of the experience?" test that also needs to apply. Unlike the other two mode, you could make a solid case that most instances of sharing the thing are doing the thing, perhaps only limited in that if you've done a lot of it you might have sufficient expertise that whoever you're sharing it with doesn't actually have anything to add and it transforms into pure tourism.

That, or you have "write a campaign setting." There's also a trend in some fantasy/sci-fi that's clearly written setting first; you get novels that have characters and plots but only in a grudging "this is necessary so I can show you the world and/or systems I actually love."
 

Your player says she does something.
You disagree.
You both roll dice.
If your player rolls high, her view of reality prevails.
If you roll high, your view prevails.
If you roll within 3 of each other, you negotiate.

I mean ... why not, right?

The last point is close to the DM Guide's rule about near success/failure.

I sometimes ask my players what they are willing to grant the enemy for making a near success a success.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
So...what is the equivalent in simulationist terms? You have the lived experience, that's something all games give. But that lived experience is in the moment. It's not like the characters that can be fed back in to Trad or Story Now play, and it's not like the story-swapping of Trad and gamist play.
The equivalent, as Eero Tuovinen explains far better than I, is elevated appreciation and understanding. The cognitive ambition of exploration is on par with the emotive ambition of story, and the mastery ambition of game. We take that appreciation onward with us... it has the potential to change us. It does change us.

And we need not give up one completely for the sake of the other. I've outlined elsewhere ways that I have observed groups mixing and moving between them.

An interesting text to look at is The Natural Philosophers by Mike Sands, designer of PbtA game Monster of the Week.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
I'm not sure there should exist a secondary "and how is this shared with people outside of the experience?" test that also needs to apply. Unlike the other two mode, you could make a solid case that most instances of sharing the thing are doing the thing, perhaps only limited in that if you've done a lot of it you might have sufficient expertise that whoever you're sharing it with doesn't actually have anything to add and it transforms into pure tourism.
This is very true. When I think about the audience=author duality, it seems very evident that the author side is in the individual experience - relishing the creative act itself. The audience side is shared experience, which makes the possibility of Critical Role quite explicable. But I cannot say when I watch Critical Role that I have an authorial experience. To my reading, this is at the heart of the urgency Edwards expresses in his groundbreaking essay on narrativism.

I believe that the least condition for experiencing the eureka realisations of succesful exploration is saying what details of subject are investigated, and how. That can't be decided for the simulationist without forcing them into audience mode. It feels increasingly right to accept the value of strategies for making what is revealed objective for the given player... but this does not commit simulationists to GM-authority, nor does it prevent them from embracing GM-authority. Expertise and perspective on subject are qualities that should be sought for.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
But if the only alternative to "just ending" is to create something where the fundamental purpose is to facilitate some other form of play, that's going to incline people to think that this "Tourism" thing is merely prelude for the "real" narrative and/or gamist game experience. It just sounds like there's a big risk that @clearstream's frustration about sim being devalued relative to the other approaches will continue, just in a new form; rather than "oh X can't do that," it becomes "oh, sure, X does that, but only as a prelude to something else." Given previous statements, it sounds like that whole thing of seeing sim as a means to some other end, rather than an end in itself, is a problem they'd like to solve.
You're perhaps unknowingly paraphrasing Edwards' "hard questions" conceit from his series of essays. The one on simulationism essentially asks "but how long will this be fun" (while the one for narrativism asks "are you good enough".)

The answer then and now is that this question can only arise when one somehow sets aside empathy with the simulationist intellectual experience and ambition. Picture someone who just drew a blank at all the emotion-manipulating tricks of dramatic story-telling. They'd wonder what comes next? Why do people bother? If it doesn't thrill you to achieve elevated appreciation and understanding, then - tautologically - it won't thrill you: you'll wonder what comes next. Suppose I enjoy only lardo? I will then see the rest of the charcuterie as mere preamble.
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
The equivalent, as Eero Tuovinen explains far better than I, is elevated appreciation and understanding. The cognitive ambition of exploration is on par with the emotive ambition of story, and the mastery ambition of game. We take that appreciation onward with us... it has the potential to change us. It does change us.
I just...I don't see how that isn't describing the in the moment thing. All experiences we have change us. That's literally what experience does. "Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions." (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.)

And we need not give up one completely for the sake of the other. I've outlined elsewhere ways that I have observed groups mixing and moving between them.
Certainly; my issue is not that they are incompatible, it is that I suspect your goal will never get the advocates in needs and the community support to grow past the situation that frustrates you, where sim is seen as a means to an end and not an end in itself.

I'm not sure there should exist a secondary "and how is this shared with people outside of the experience?" test that also needs to apply. Unlike the other two mode, you could make a solid case that most instances of sharing the thing are doing the thing, perhaps only limited in that if you've done a lot of it you might have sufficient expertise that whoever you're sharing it with doesn't actually have anything to add and it transforms into pure tourism.

That, or you have "write a campaign setting." There's also a trend in some fantasy/sci-fi that's clearly written setting first; you get novels that have characters and plots but only in a grudging "this is necessary so I can show you the world and/or systems I actually love."
As said, less "test" and more...foundation. Thoughts are hard to kill by yourself, but they're also hard to cultivate by yourself. Communities are where both tasks happen. "Story Now" and the major change it brought on TTRPGing could only really happen because there were dedicated communities, who were brought together by how share-able the experience was. If a style has no share-able elements, I'm not sure it will ever get out of the kind of shadow Clearstream sees cast upon it:
What it does however, is put sim on an equal footing with nar and gam. As Tuovinen puts it "The theoretical implications are, of course, vast: a Simulationistic game necessarily has substance, which implies heft and effort."
As for the "write a campaign setting," that just seems to fuel the argument that sim isn't "on an equal footing with nar and gam." If its main purpose (other than "because it's enjoyable") is as an enabler for other things, it's not hard to leap from that to claiming that it's just prep work.
 

Pedantic

Legend
As said, less "test" and more...foundation. Thoughts are hard to kill by yourself, but they're also hard to cultivate by yourself. Communities are where both tasks happen. "Story Now" and the major change it brought on TTRPGing could only really happen because there were dedicated communities, who were brought together by how share-able the experience was. If a style has no share-able elements, I'm not sure it will ever get out of the kind of shadow Clearstream sees cast upon it:

As for the "write a campaign setting," that just seems to fuel the argument that sim isn't "on an equal footing with nar and gam." If its main purpose (other than "because it's enjoyable") is as an enabler for other things, it's not hard to leap from that to claiming that it's just prep work.
I think that's kind of the problem in and of itself though. You can make a quite reasonable case that simulation came first, as a default exercise. "How can I use these games to go to these places instead?" is a perfectly reasonable statement of the foundational difference between the D&D experience and its wargame roots. Sim is so wrapped up in a bunch of the existing tools and roles we've established around TTRPGs, especially in the traditional role of the GM, that there hasn't been a need to organize and also such an established norm that it hasn't really undergone much critique.

Fundamentally, the status quo was more hostile to the Nar-agenda and pretty ambiguous about Gam (plus that agenda is most easily ported to/satisfied by other mediums) before anyone was discussing any of this. It makes sense critique and a push for change was most likely to come from that corner, and maybe it shouldn't be surprising that Sim is still pretty reactionary, instead of sorting out its own principles.

Plus, I think Sim is far and away the easiest agenda to satisfy through solo play. If we were looking for principles to start building game design on, I'd probably start there, looking at tools that people use for the specific purposes of worldbuilding, independent of the planned use of that work.
 

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