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General GM's are you bored of your combat and is it because you made it boring?

I think this is too hasty. If you remove the setting and locations from Lord of the Rings, does the story remain unchanged? I don't think so. Setting is a character all it's own in stories, and you can't just separate the stage from the play -- it has it's own very important role in the story. I think you might be meaning plot when you say story, which I think might be more defensible, but I'm not quite willing to concede there without a lot more thinking on the matter.
While I do think that LotR can be and has been told in other settings and locations, I think you're spot on in just about everything you wrote. My post was a reply to a specific poster that defined exploration as story (not as an aspect of the story) and social as character creation.
 

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Coroc

Hero
One thing I’ve observed as a DM is that encounters feel less tense from our side of the screen because we have more information than the players do. I’ve had many encounters that I knew the players would win, but that the players thought they were losing and felt relieved that they managed to survive. The first few times I thought maybe they weren’t as good at assessing encounter difficulty (many of my regular players are fairly new to D&D), but after seeing it happen so consistently I realized it was because I knew how much HP all the monsters had, so I could tell fairly easily how close the players were to winning, while all they saw was “oh my god, I’m bloodied and this guy still isn’t dead yet!”
Like it should always be.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
While I do think that LotR can be and has been told in other settings and locations, I think you're spot on in just about everything you wrote. My post was a reply to a specific poster that defined exploration as story (not as an aspect of the story) and social as character creation.
Is that what you took from that post? I read that exploration was part of storytelling, and it is. I also don't recall anything that said creating characters was social pillar. I wonder if we're talking about different posts?
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I think we differ there too.

Exploration is the act of characters interacting with and thereby learning about the world. When organizing the events of a night's gaming session into a story, much of the exploration pillar is emitted from for brevity, as is the case when reading the Lord of the Rings or every other fantasy novel. That is because stories are rarely about exploration; instead, they are about the conflict and resolution of completing priorities. I therefore differentiate exploration from story.

As far as the Social pillar is concerned, I agree that characters are used - both by the players and the DM. Nevertheless, I still believe character creation and character sheet maintenance happens before or between periods of gameplay. I see leveling up (character sheet maintenance) as a consequence of gameplay, not part of the gameplay itself. Football is the same, points are awarded for skillful gameplay and have an affect on the gameplay, but updating the scoreboard isn't really part of playing the game.

Instead, I would define the social pillar as negotiation, whether between player characters or between player characters and NPCs. Just as the combat pillar resolves conflict by force, the social pillar resolves conflict through trade-offs.
Sure but at this points its not a matter of "I think you got the three pillar mixed up." meaning I or you don't understand the games. Its completely a matter of semantics. We actually agree on what makes up the game be we divide it differently. That actually makes since it that no too tables play exactly the same. The Flexibility of the system to become what you need it to be is why it works for so many people.

To the original point "Combat" is not the end all be all. Neither is social. Neither is exploration. If you remove any pillar it becomes something else. But the size of pillars at your table need to meet your comfort levels.

This thread is about having a problem with one of those pillars and considering reshaping instead of making it smaller because from my experience there are many GMs who find it more and more annoying but shirking it does seem to help. If any thing it makes it worse. If you are one of those GMs and this is helpful...great. If not rest assured we are not saying the other two are some how less important or less problematic. We are just focusing on this one at this time on this thread. So... if you have a similar idea for the other two I would be interested to know if there is something I need to watch out for on them and if you have any suggestons for avoiding or fixing it. For This thread lets focus on helping identify those who are having problems with combat and solutions to help them make their game more enjoyable. Please.
 

Sure but at this points its not a matter of "I think you got the three pillar mixed up." meaning I or you don't understand the games. Its completely a matter of semantics. We actually agree on what makes up the game be we divide it differently. That actually makes since it that no too tables play exactly the same. The Flexibility of the system to become what you need it to be is why it works for so many people.

To the original point "Combat" is not the end all be all. Neither is social. Neither is exploration. If you remove any pillar it becomes something else. But the size of pillars at your table need to meet your comfort levels.

This thread is about having a problem with one of those pillars and considering reshaping instead of making it smaller because from my experience there are many GMs who find it more and more annoying but shirking it does seem to help. If any thing it makes it worse. If you are one of those GMs and this is helpful...great. If not rest assured we are not saying the other two are some how less important or less problematic. We are just focusing on this one at this time on this thread. So... if you have a similar idea for the other two I would be interested to know if there is something I need to watch out for on them and if you have any suggestons for avoiding or fixing it. For This thread lets focus on helping identify those who are having problems with combat and solutions to help them make their game more enjoyable. Please.
To quote you from before.

Its not worshipped or a sacred cow. All joking aside. Its one of the three pillars that make D&D meaning its esactly 1/3 of the game. It always has been if your play theater of the mind or using your using battle mats. D&D was actually originally created from a War game adding role play elements. At its heart, mechanics and combat were first front and center. Role play was the add on and the dream to make combat more. Character creation being the third pillar ties players into the role play through the mechanics.

The GM's story is 1/3 of a D&D game. Author's and story tellers have been around as long as poeple could speak.
The Tactical Combat is 1/3 of D&D game. War games have always existed without characters or story... Chess is 1500 year old game of two armies.
The Creation of Characters is 1/3 of D&D. Players are not showing up to watch a play or be themselves. The characters represent who they want to be in world of imagination.
Combat = Tactical combat
Exploration = You allways create a setting and explore it for some cause this is storytelling at is most basic.
Social =Your bring others to the table and they interface with the other two the GM creates using characters.

I am saying the same thing. I just did not use the official terms.
I'm not seeing how you equate exploration with story and social with character creation. Maybe I'm interpreting your posts incorrectly.

Similarly, I stand by what I said before. 1) A story is not simply what happens. It's an organized sequence of events designed by an author to produce a reaction and/or a message. Exploration is something entirely different. 2) Character creation is not part of the game, but something that happens in preparation for or between games.

Therefore I cannot see them as pillars of the game.

As for helping DM create better combat, I think all three pillars of the game (combat, exploration, and social) support each other. Without a firm foundation in the other two pillars, I think combat will, inevitably, become meaningless - which is why this conversation and the semantics matter.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Is that what you took from that post? I read that exploration was part of storytelling, and it is. I also don't recall anything that said creating characters was social pillar. I wonder if we're talking about different posts?
So for Character Creation I do consider it part of the social pillar, but I don't mean just filling out a character sheet. I mean the evolution of the character in the GMs world, with party members, and NPCs.
  • This includes sitting down on session zero and picking a class that fits their world (talking through what is allowed and what is not) tying your back story into the same world and other party members.
  • This includes finding your characters rolls in the party and building the quirks of the party social structure.
  • This includes your characters talking to shop keepers and having NPC friends allies and enemies
  • This includes leveling and the changes your character goes though with them and how these changes effect the work the GM makes
  • This includes the hooks your character makes based on the parties characters and the parts of their world the players hooked on to.
  • This includes sitting with your fellow players after the game and talking about what feet your planing to take next level
  • this includes working with another player so that party characters have a cool battle strategy next session.
  • this includes hours of alt discussions, theory crafting discussions, and requests for advice on the forums.

So me Character creation is not just having a character sheet filled out on session one of a campaign. Its the interface for players to access the game, interface with it, its what players talk to each other about, talk to the GM about, talk on forums about, and its how players effect the game directly or indirectly. I think calling characters, even NPC characters which do all these things for GMs, the social part of the game is fair. I do also think no pillar stands alone. So characters are in combat and do the exploration (which I call story) but with all the threads about classes, subclass, skills, feats, power gaming, min/maxing, munchkins, multi-classing, bad designs, good designs, broken designs, and requests for help Its hard for to imagine characters not being part of the social structure in or out of the game. Who is taking in game if no one has a character?
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
This certainly describes my approach as someone who does consider myself to be “a story DM.” But in my experience I’m something of an odd duck as story DMs go. I love game mechanics and see them as greatly enhancing the story rather than being at odds with it; I strongly favor emergent storytelling over scripted narratives and to that end generally prefer location-based adventures over event-based adventures; I think most games have a tendency to focus way too much on interacting with NPCs and not enough on adventuring. In my experience most self-described story DMs would disagree with me on those points.
I agree. Different experiences bring different views. In your world, you are the odd duck story GM. In mine, you are the norm. I really like the focus on adventuring. Very cool.
There's a bit of hasty generalization here. I don't think that the categories of GM that runs combats as deadly (leaving aside the assertion that this is the correct way to run combats) are contained inside the category of GM that is a "story" GM. The idea that having a heavily pre-plotted game also means that you run only deadly serious, combat-as-war is not well supported (or even just supported), and I've seen plenty of GMs that definitely don't fit this mold (including earlier versions of me that were "story" GMs). I think these categories are, at best, orthogonal, and honestly it's more likely that a "story" GM is less likely to be one that strongly favors deadly combats. The end goals don't align. The end goal of a "story" GM would be the realization of their story in play, while the end goal of the deadly combat running GM would be to have deadly combats that can and reasonably do result in dead PCs. These do not often align, so I'm not sure your stance here is well supported.

That said, I don't think that running combats as deadly serious affairs is in any way bad. I do this, because my job as a GM is to be a fan of the PCs but also to represent the NPCs authentically. And that means NPCs in fights are trying to win, or at least survive, so it's often a deadly affair. I have no concern with killing a PC in my games (these days, it used to be a worry of mine) because I don't have a pre-plotted story.
Of course there is hasty generalization. I didn't make that generalization, Charlaquin did. I even stated it was not an absolute truth, but just drawn from my experiences.
If I had to sit back and fully analyze, I would say DM's shift, both in the campaign and in their stage of life. Some DM's start out as combat encounter DM's, and then ten years down the road, after experiencing or seeing something new, shift to more of a hybrid. Some shift from the beginning of the campaign to the end because the players pushed it more in that direction. And others shift session by session. These too, are generalizations. But, if you need to try and define something, we can say there are DM's out there that are more story oriented and others that are more combat driven. I think that is a fair generalization.
I have not experienced that story GM's are less likely to favor deadly combats. In my experience, they are much more often to favor deadly encounters. They play the villain as a villain, not as someone who is there to "test" the PC's powers. They even do things that are unfair. Most combat DM's I know would never do that because they want things to be even - level against level. Story DM's don't care about level. They care about story. And if their PC's insist on sneaking into the adult dragon lair at first level, they are allowed to do so. But the consequences might be grave. The combat DM would set it up that they can't get in until they are the appropriate level.
The end goal of a story DM is not to complete their story. It is to complete the character's story And if their story ends in a dramatic attempt to let the others escape while being burnt alive by that dragon, that is a great character arc! The others just experienced a great story; "We entered a dragon's lair and escaped with this (fill in the blank)." Or they might all die, leaving their story as more lore for the player's new characters. A statue erected in their honor for being so brave, a children's book written about them. A local pie named after one of the character's, it has blueberries on top to resemble their blue eyes. And a copy of the map that the PC's are able to find. All this adds to the story. Every descent story DM I know would do something like this. Your experiences might differ.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I'm not seeing how you equate exploration with story and social with character creation. Maybe I'm interpreting your posts incorrectly.
Its completely a matter of semantics. What you consider to exploring and what you consider to be character creation are much much smaller than I want I include.

Similarly, I stand by what I said before. 1) A story is not simply what happens. It's an organized sequence of events designed by an author to produce a reaction and/or a message. Exploration is something entirely different.
You have to define exploration before you can contrast it to story. You can explore a topic, you can explore a new place, you can explore an idea. I think D&D using explore as an official pillar name is too small a word for the pillar it represents. A Story can be an exploration. 2000 Leagues under the see for example was 90% a story about exploration and discovering new places and creatures. Any exploration done in D&D is expressed within a story but some of story is not exploration. Which is why I say "Story is one of the three pillars of D&D".

2) Character creation is not part of the game, but something that happens in preparation for or between games.
Your looking at Character Creation as a one and done act. Every time I play my character creates changes to the world, the world creates changes to the character, and the characters create changes in each other. There is a social aspect to it both in game and between player/the GM outside the game. On forums and posts. I rarely show up with character that has all their backstory on sesson one or having any real idea of the identity of my characters. Every session I play something happens which helps me define and learn who my character is. The GM sees I add some backstory based on him asking why I did or chose X last time and creates story hooks based on the growth of my character and new background details created in response to me learning more about my character. Most of the time one or two players will have talked about their characters and said... hay wouldn't it be cool if when your character meet my character after that thing happened to your but before this happened to mine and thats how we know each other. Then one character invited the other to the party when they relised they needed x skill set.

Therefore I cannot see them as pillars of the game.
Its completely a matter of semantics. What you define as a character creation or chracters in D&D is a sliver of what I include. My post right after the one in which this is reply lists out the vast number of ways that "character creation" effects a campaign and grows with it and that "character creation" includes alot of social D&D beyond the gaming sessions as well.

As for helping DM create better combat, I think all three pillars of the game (combat, exploration, and social) support each other. Without a firm foundation in the other two pillars, I think combat will, inevitably, become meaningless - which is why this conversation and the semantics matter.
The existence and long history of war games says thats not true. Combat has and always will exist on its own with meaning simply because people like completion. All sports are perfect examples of this. HOWEVER... removing any of these pillars makes it no longer D&D. If you remove story and characters (or expiration and social if you prefer) leaving only armies on grid, its basically another chess variant. Poeple love chess but chess is not D&D. Poeple love stories and/or exploring, but without combat and characters/social elements joining together, your just some people sitting in circle listening to a story teller. Chracters are fun to make and talk about as a social thing, but without the story and combat to give them meaning they are uninteresting and meaningless. D&D is what you get when you combine those pillars but its also doesn't stand the same on those pillars at any two tables.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Of course there is hasty generalization. I didn't make that generalization, Charlaquin did. I even stated it was not an absolute truth, but just drawn from my experiences.
Hasty generalizations aren't good things, though, they're a mistake in supporting an argument. I went back and read the section of the thread, and I don't see @Charlaquin making the same claim you did, or at least my best effort in understanding the claim you made, which appears to be off due to other things.

If I had to sit back and fully analyze, I would say DM's shift, both in the campaign and in their stage of life. Some DM's start out as combat encounter DM's, and then ten years down the road, after experiencing or seeing something new, shift to more of a hybrid. Some shift from the beginning of the campaign to the end because the players pushed it more in that direction. And others shift session by session. These too, are generalizations. But, if you need to try and define something, we can say there are DM's out there that are more story oriented and others that are more combat driven. I think that is a fair generalization.
I have not experienced that story GM's are less likely to favor deadly combats. In my experience, they are much more often to favor deadly encounters. They play the villain as a villain, not as someone who is there to "test" the PC's powers. They even do things that are unfair. Most combat DM's I know would never do that because they want things to be even - level against level. Story DM's don't care about level. They care about story. And if their PC's insist on sneaking into the adult dragon lair at first level, they are allowed to do so. But the consequences might be grave. The combat DM would set it up that they can't get in until they are the appropriate level.
The end goal of a story DM is not to complete their story. It is to complete the character's story And if their story ends in a dramatic attempt to let the others escape while being burnt alive by that dragon, that is a great character arc! The others just experienced a great story; "We entered a dragon's lair and escaped with this (fill in the blank)." Or they might all die, leaving their story as more lore for the player's new characters. A statue erected in their honor for being so brave, a children's book written about them. A local pie named after one of the character's, it has blueberries on top to resemble their blue eyes. And a copy of the map that the PC's are able to find. All this adds to the story. Every descent story DM I know would do something like this. Your experiences might differ.
[/QUOTE]


So, yes, the reason I put "story" in quotations marks was because I wasn't sure what definition for it was being used. The one you use wasn't at all what I use, nor do I think it really falls inside the general thinking of that term. If a "story" GM is really only concerned about the players achieving their character's story, then there's a large reversal between trends in how traditional gaming approaches work and the indie/OSR rebellion against those trends. Focusing on the character's story isn't at all what I consider a "story" GM. The quintessential example of a "story" GM is the Adventure Path -- it has a prescripted story that the players navigate through, perhaps having side stories of their own, but the overall story is already largely written. This is "story" GMing, and it's goal is to see that prescripted story unfold to completion, with or without PC stories alongside. Given your beliefs in the other thread about A to B to C plotting being quite common in traditional play, I'm a bit surprised to see you advocating for unscripted character driven play here as being "story" GMing. I still strongly think your definition of "story" GMing is misplaced.

However, in that regard, there's little daylight between our opinions of how a GM focused on character driven play will usually approach combat or other play.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So for Character Creation I do consider it part of the social pillar, but I don't mean just filling out a character sheet. I mean the evolution of the character in the GMs world, with party members, and NPCs.
  • This includes sitting down on session zero and picking a class that fits their world (talking through what is allowed and what is not) tying your back story into the same world and other party members.
  • This includes finding your characters rolls in the party and building the quirks of the party social structure.
  • This includes your characters talking to shop keepers and having NPC friends allies and enemies
  • This includes leveling and the changes your character goes though with them and how these changes effect the work the GM makes
  • This includes the hooks your character makes based on the parties characters and the parts of their world the players hooked on to.
  • This includes sitting with your fellow players after the game and talking about what feet your planing to take next level
  • this includes working with another player so that party characters have a cool battle strategy next session.
  • this includes hours of alt discussions, theory crafting discussions, and requests for advice on the forums.

So me Character creation is not just having a character sheet filled out on session one of a campaign. Its the interface for players to access the game, interface with it, its what players talk to each other about, talk to the GM about, talk on forums about, and its how players effect the game directly or indirectly. I think calling characters, even NPC characters which do all these things for GMs, the social part of the game is fair. I do also think no pillar stands alone. So characters are in combat and do the exploration (which I call story) but with all the threads about classes, subclass, skills, feats, power gaming, min/maxing, munchkins, multi-classing, bad designs, good designs, broken designs, and requests for help Its hard for to imagine characters not being part of the social structure in or out of the game. Who is taking in game if no one has a character?
Ah, okay, I see what you're saying here, and it's not a bad way of looking at it. With the exception of your third bullet, and possibly your second, I'd put all of this in the metagame, not the social pillar. By metagame, I mean the game about the game and not the usual reference of "metagaming" to using player knowledge as PC knowledge (I disagree about that being an issue as well, but it's multiple other threads, not this one). The interaction between players to determine what to do with characters isn't a part of the game rules, but rather something we do to make the game work better for us -- hence it's a discussion outside of the game about the game and about what choices we're going to make in the game in that outside framework. Aligning character builds, making character personality decisions, working out tactics, etc, all of this is players looking at how the game will play and making choices about that play from outside the actual play. It's meta. As such, it can't belong to the in game pillar of play that is social. Now, it is a social thing to do, in that it's a social interaction between real people, but it's not a social interaction between the characters. This latter is the important distinction for me -- unless it involves the character's actions, it's not really part of the social pillar. It's either part of the background structure of the game (like leveling or character creation, which are in the game but not part of any pillar of play) or it's a metagame exercise where you're deciding things in the game from outside the game, like if your character likes another character or not.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Rules don't force predictable outcomes. Players and GMs make choices, dice make the out comes variable, and rule/mechanics temper the level of variability. Sure a crit fail in combat means you miss but it only means a Banana peel if the GM chooses to make it so. The rules do not allow for"talking your way into someone's bed when they despised your guts and everything you've represented 5 seconds ago (rolls to charm)" because by the rule players don't get to roll unless the GM calls for it. If the GM says it can't happen. It doesn't. If the GM allows for the role he is surrendering to variability not being forced into predictability. If the GM is telling a rogue with expertise in thieves tools, gloves of thievery, and reliable talent he needs to role to see it it unlocks its not because the outcome is assured, its because the GM has decided the lock is not impossible for the rogue and its not guaranteed based on the DC the GM set that the rogue will succeed. The role means near the GM nor the player knows what is next. Your never going to be free of individuals having disagreements and misunderstandings because our differences will create them however rules helping to have everyone on the same page is about the best starting point for conflict resolution you can have. The problems you stated are not caused by the rules but your table. Rolling a 1 in combat is simply to allow some change of failure the problems your adding to it are not from the rules.
When I'm talking about these rules, I'm thinking of a hypothetical where the rules may be deeper than even the spellcasting or regular combat rules.

I'm talking about rules where the DM doesn't decide. Maybe the designers added a table, so it's no longer the DM's choice about crit fails. Maybe there's now a step-by-step procedure to bring someone anyone into your bed with a set DC and a set number of rolls, like a skill challenge.

These rules take away DM adjudication in favor for a more algorithmic process.
Players can be jerks too. More to the point disagreements and misunderstandings don't have to come from jerks. It is most often just the conflict created by two individual points of view. Get any two poeple to gether and they will disagree on something eventually. The rules helping to have everyone on the same page is about the best starting point for conflict resolution you can have. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Nothing good ol' fashion communication can't fix. Ultimately, communication errors exist with rules as-well. A DM might believe you're casting the "friends" cantrip when you say you want to make an NPC your friend. It's easy to say "Oh, that wasn't my intention, my intention was this..."

The DM is the final arbiter, though. If you disagree with the DM, know that it just might be because the DM has other things in motion that you can't see, assuming they're a good DM.

The rules say you let them do it or decide they can't without a roll. The rules are only there to moderate uncertain out comes. This adds variably in place of possible or perceived bias. It sounds like your allowing players to force rolls on you that the rules don't allow them to do. GMs call for rolles not players. Your creating your own problems then blaming it on the rules your not following. No where is there or has there ever been a rule that says if your GM says you can't do something role anyway and if you succeed tell him YES I CAN! ....or that you have to roll when your passive skill is above the DC of the test. Passive skill exist to the GM can hand wave unnecessary rolls. .... if you want you you can use 10 + attack bonus to say that a player automaticly hits a target with their sword... I don't recomend it because it makes combat more predictabel and boring... which is your complaint.

True, but D&D was orginally created a rule expansion for a war game adding Roleplay. Combat is one of the three pillars of D&D. If you don't want to play with combat... maybe D&D is not the right game for you.



True. But it is one of three pillars of D&D. If you invite people over to play D&D it is expected and a lot of what the game is built around. You can minimize it and try to turn it into something else if you want but make sure your players know because even if you don't like combat that does mean they don't. The point of this thread is not to make players happy with combat or to turn D&D into a wargame. Its intended as a list of suggestions to make combat less painful for GMs who have started to feel like its the worst part of D&D while there players are loving it. If your players don't mind having little or no combat and you don't want combat...than have little or no combat. If your players do want combat and your feel required to run some but hate it, I hope these suggestions can make it less painful for you.



Good for them. ? D&D does. Do your players want to remove D20s or combat? It don't know, but guessing bu your complaints they love them both and also push you around by calling their own rolls you did not call for as GM. I would maybe fix that at the table before worrying about combat. They can request a roll and you should consider it based on merit, but if you decide no.. no means no roll that character can make will effect the out come.
Let me be clear: I'm not complaining about anything. I personally find combat extremely fun and don't feel the need to change it one way or the other. I'm enjoying 5e for what it is and so are my players.

I'm talking about in-general if you aren't feeling combat, it isn't the holy grail of a good campaign in a game. If combat is painful for a DM, maybe adjust the rules to be easier to track. Use tokens for spells areas, reduce HP, reduce AC, increase damage, etc.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So, yes, the reason I put "story" in quotations marks was because I wasn't sure what definition for it was being used. The one you use wasn't at all what I use, nor do I think it really falls inside the general thinking of that term. If a "story" GM is really only concerned about the players achieving their character's story, then there's a large reversal between trends in how traditional gaming approaches work and the indie/OSR rebellion against those trends. Focusing on the character's story isn't at all what I consider a "story" GM. The quintessential example of a "story" GM is the Adventure Path -- it has a prescripted story that the players navigate through, perhaps having side stories of their own, but the overall story is already largely written. This is "story" GMing, and it's goal is to see that prescripted story unfold to completion, with or without PC stories alongside. Given your beliefs in the other thread about A to B to C plotting being quite common in traditional play, I'm a bit surprised to see you advocating for unscripted character driven play here as being "story" GMing. I still strongly think your definition of "story" GMing is misplaced
To be fair, I definitely wouldn’t be a “story DM” by that definition, yet I would consider myself a “story DM.” But it’s an identity I wear with some trepidation (much as I do the identity of “gamer”) because this is the connotation I think it usually carries.

To me, “story DM” just literally means a DM who prioritizes story in their games. Creating fun, memorable stories is the primary goal of play for me, so I consider myself a story DM. I think, however, that a lot of people who consider themselves story DMs go about trying to create fun memorable stories in a way that negatively impacts the player experience - Planning out the story ahead of time, or fudging dice rolls because they think it will make for a better story.
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
Hasty generalizations aren't good things, though, they're a mistake in supporting an argument. I went back and read the section of the thread, and I don't see @Charlaquin making the same claim you did, or at least my best effort in understanding the claim you made, which appears to be off due to other things.

If I had to sit back and fully analyze, I would say DM's shift, both in the campaign and in their stage of life. Some DM's start out as combat encounter DM's, and then ten years down the road, after experiencing or seeing something new, shift to more of a hybrid. Some shift from the beginning of the campaign to the end because the players pushed it more in that direction. And others shift session by session. These too, are generalizations. But, if you need to try and define something, we can say there are DM's out there that are more story oriented and others that are more combat driven. I think that is a fair generalization.
I have not experienced that story GM's are less likely to favor deadly combats. In my experience, they are much more often to favor deadly encounters. They play the villain as a villain, not as someone who is there to "test" the PC's powers. They even do things that are unfair. Most combat DM's I know would never do that because they want things to be even - level against level. Story DM's don't care about level. They care about story. And if their PC's insist on sneaking into the adult dragon lair at first level, they are allowed to do so. But the consequences might be grave. The combat DM would set it up that they can't get in until they are the appropriate level.
The end goal of a story DM is not to complete their story. It is to complete the character's story And if their story ends in a dramatic attempt to let the others escape while being burnt alive by that dragon, that is a great character arc! The others just experienced a great story; "We entered a dragon's lair and escaped with this (fill in the blank)." Or they might all die, leaving their story as more lore for the player's new characters. A statue erected in their honor for being so brave, a children's book written about them. A local pie named after one of the character's, it has blueberries on top to resemble their blue eyes. And a copy of the map that the PC's are able to find. All this adds to the story. Every descent story DM I know would do something like this. Your experiences might differ.

So, yes, the reason I put "story" in quotations marks was because I wasn't sure what definition for it was being used. The one you use wasn't at all what I use, nor do I think it really falls inside the general thinking of that term. If a "story" GM is really only concerned about the players achieving their character's story, then there's a large reversal between trends in how traditional gaming approaches work and the indie/OSR rebellion against those trends. Focusing on the character's story isn't at all what I consider a "story" GM. The quintessential example of a "story" GM is the Adventure Path -- it has a prescripted story that the players navigate through, perhaps having side stories of their own, but the overall story is already largely written. This is "story" GMing, and it's goal is to see that prescripted story unfold to completion, with or without PC stories alongside. Given your beliefs in the other thread about A to B to C plotting being quite common in traditional play, I'm a bit surprised to see you advocating for unscripted character driven play here as being "story" GMing. I still strongly think your definition of "story" GMing is misplaced.

However, in that regard, there's little daylight between our opinions of how a GM focused on character driven play will usually approach combat or other play.
[/QUOTE]
My bad. Sorry Charlaquin. My apologies. Iserith was the reference:
I have noticed that DMs who focus too much on "story" don't like combats. You can see this a lot in so-called "heavy RP" games where combat is very rare. I think this is because of the stakes. If it's a life-or-death struggle, that could mean the "story" outcome the DM desires won't come to fruition if one or more PCs die. All those subplots they wrote based on the PCs' ponderous backstories would go away. What a waste, right?

The solution is fairly easy: Stop predetermining and then caring about particular story outcomes. Offer hooks and put challenges in the way of the PCs. "Story" emerges all on its own. Just play the game and story will follow. If the players are making fun and memorable choices during play, the resulting story will be exciting and memorable which is the goal of play.
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
So, yes, the reason I put "story" in quotations marks was because I wasn't sure what definition for it was being used. The one you use wasn't at all what I use, nor do I think it really falls inside the general thinking of that term. If a "story" GM is really only concerned about the players achieving their character's story, then there's a large reversal between trends in how traditional gaming approaches work and the indie/OSR rebellion against those trends. Focusing on the character's story isn't at all what I consider a "story" GM. The quintessential example of a "story" GM is the Adventure Path -- it has a prescripted story that the players navigate through, perhaps having side stories of their own, but the overall story is already largely written. This is "story" GMing, and it's goal is to see that prescripted story unfold to completion, with or without PC stories alongside. Given your beliefs in the other thread about A to B to C plotting being quite common in traditional play, I'm a bit surprised to see you advocating for unscripted character driven play here as being "story" GMing. I still strongly think your definition of "story" GMing is misplaced.

However, in that regard, there's little daylight between our opinions of how a GM focused on character driven play will usually approach combat or other play.
I understand that we play AP's differently. I have played in an AP where each player on average had to make three characters just to finish it. That was from a "story" DM. I have played in an AP from a "combat" DM where we went off the beaten path only to be railroaded back because it was above our level. These are my experiences. They both have pre-scripted stories, but do not feel the same.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
To be fair, I definitely wouldn’t be a “story DM” by that definition, yet I would consider myself a “story DM.” But it’s an identity I wear with some trepidation (much as I do the identity of “gamer”) because this is the connotation I think it usually carries.

To me, “story DM” just literally means a DM who prioritizes story in their games. Creating fun, memorable stories is the primary goal of play for me, so I consider myself a story DM. I think, however, that a lot of people who consider themselves story DMs go about trying to create fun memorable stories in a way that negatively impacts the player experience - Planning out the story ahead of time, or fudging dice rolls because they think it will make for a better story.
I also have a goal of fun, memorable stories as an outcome of play. I think this is so general a statement as to not be very useful in defining play, though. To me, a "story" GM will consider story during adjudication. I do not, and think you don't either, given many of your posts. I instead make sure the structure of my play is maximally condusive to story emerging, but I only consider the established fiction and the action declaration in my adjudication. While a fun story is a goal, I don't consider that in adjudication.

Perhaps this makes my distinction more clear.
 



Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I also have a goal of fun, memorable stories as an outcome of play. I think this is so general a statement as to not be very useful in defining play, though. To me, a "story" GM will consider story during adjudication. I do not, and think you don't either, given many of your posts. I instead make sure the structure of my play is maximally condusive to story emerging, but I only consider the established fiction and the action declaration in my adjudication. While a fun story is a goal, I don't consider that in adjudication.

Perhaps this makes my distinction more clear.
Yeah, that’s definitely clearer, and you’re correct that “what would make for a good story” is not one of the things I consider when adjudicating actions. I agree that structuring play to be maximally conducive to emergent storytelling is a great description of my approach. It’s just that because of that, if a player interested in joining my game asked what kind of DM I consider myself... I’d probably say I’m “a story DM,” with the caveat that I’m more interested in facilitating emergent story than in playing out a preplanned story,
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
--snip-- unless it involves the character's actions, it's not really part of the social pillar. It's either part of the background structure of the game (like leveling or character creation, which are in the game but not part of any pillar of play) or it's a metagame exercise where you're deciding things in the game from outside the game, like if your character likes another character or not.
I disagree with the division, which is why social doesn't seem right to me and I prefer character creation to include the use of in games stats and out of game Meta mechanical discussion. Your still forming your character and how its interacts with the world by discussing meta tactics because of how it impacts play when you use it. Even the theory craft is done to better understand and use in game mechanics that effect the game.

Talking about the cool thinkngs you did last session and meta party goals to me is also part of the story. When you sit down and try to steer the story with characters and character selection options you are using those discussions to form the story. So its on pillar of character and one pillar of story. If your including combat to your adding that pillar. I feel this way because we have been doing session 0s and even though we are not "playing the game" our planning and meta discussions are as much a part of the experience and have just as much impact on the game as if we said them while we are playing.

That's how I see it though I do understand other have a more narrow view of what is actually D&D separating all these discussions on forums as something else that is tangent.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I disagree with the division, which is why social doesn't seem right to me and I prefer character creation to include the use of in games stats and out of game Meta mechanical discussion. Your still forming your character and how its interacts with the world by discussing meta tactics because of how it impacts play when you use it. Even the theory craft is done to better understand and use in game mechanics that effect the game.

Talking about the cool thinkngs you did last session and meta party goals to me is also part of the story. When you sit down and try to steer the story with characters and character selection options you are using those discussions to form the story. So its on pillar of character and one pillar of story. If your including combat to your adding that pillar. I feel this way because we have been doing session 0s and even though we are not "playing the game" our planning and meta discussions are as much a part of the experience and have just as much impact on the game as if we said them while we are playing.

That's how I see it though I do understand other have a more narrow view of what is actually D&D separating all these discussions on forums as something else that is tangent.
I just look at it as the things the characters do belong to the pillars and the things the players do belong to the meta or the maintenance structures of the game. I fully agree that meta discussions impact that game -- that's usually the point of the meta. I don't think it belongs in a pillar of the game because those are governed by the rules of the game and the meta is about the rules of the game. When I talk about how I'm going to GM and talk about how the pillars of play are used, that's entirely about what the characters are doing -- I'm not going to GM the meta because I don't have any authorities there. So, if I'm talking about GMing a game, and how social pillar structures work in game, I'm not going to include anything the players do (outside of declare actions for their PCs, of course).

I wouldn't call this narrow so much as specific as to which things go where. Ultimately, it really only matters in how you're going to think about your games -- if you think that letting the players talk about their PCs out-of-game satisfies your table's social pillar needs, cool. I will focus on how to put the PCs in a social challenge to satisfy that pillar regardless of how much my player discuss at the meta level. To me, challenging the PCs is where the game is, and I'm not going to count the meta as part of that. Keeps me focused on play techniques.
 

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