If an NPC is telling the truth, what's the Insight DC to know they're telling the truth?

pemerton

Legend
Yes, I know. I play Dungeon World.

Honestly I find this conversation a bit surreal. I'm not even sure how to respond. One of us totally doesn't understand what the other is talking about. Or possibly both of us.
Well, I think there are (at least) two alternatives to [MENTION=6801845]Oofta[/MENTION]'s approach. [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] is describing one. I think [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] may be describing something a bit different, but he can clarify that if he wants to. I'm not sure what your overall position is.

Both alternatives equate action declaration with describing something that happens in the fiction. This is a contrast with Oofta, [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION], etc. In [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION]'s approach to 5e, following such an action declaration the GM then adjudicates this to determine whether or not a check is required, and if so how hard it is. As he puts it, the ultimate player goal is to avoid the risks of the dice. I see this as a type of puzzle-solving play, though (obviously) not like solving riddles or chess puzzles.

By way of contrast, in DW, DitV, Burning Wheel, Prince Valiant, HeroWars/Quest, Maelstrom Storytelling, The Dying Earth, etc (just to name some of the games I'm familiar with that adopt this alternative approach), there is no avoiding the risks of the dice, assuming that something is actually at stake. (If nothing is at stake, then the GM should just "say 'yes'" and try to work with the players to progress the fiction to something where there is something at stake.) The point of the player's account of what his/her PC is doing is to provide fiction that is able to be extrapolated either in success or failure. The emphasis of play is not on puzzle-solving but on (i) protagonism and (ii) fiction creation.

Now drawing the distinction between these two alternatives is slightly tangential to the main thrust of the thread. But I think that it is probably worth noting that there can be a reason for RPGing to prioritise dice rolls in action resolution which aren't connected to "distrust" of the GM, and which aren't connected to wanting to avoid the fiction, and which don't require the idea of skill checks as prior givens that cheat-y players might try and "bypass".

This same tangent can also feed into some other stuff that's come up in this thread, like whether DCs are set before or after the player declares an action. Eg in BW, Prince Valiant and Maelstrom Storytelling the DC is established in response to the player's action declaration, and reflecgts that fiction. Whereas in DW, D&D 4e and HeroWars/Quest the DC is established by the system (typically reflecting an inbuilt pacing logic).

I don't think either is "better" or "worse", but they can produce diffrent dynamics in play. And I think it's at least conceivable that someone could approch 5e using some sort of system/pacing logic to the setting of DCs, and using a "say 'yes' or roll the dice" approach, which would obviously be different from what iserith is doing but also would be different (I would say even more different) from what Oofta is doing. (I think the biggest hurdle facing this in a 5ae context is the lack of a die roll required for most spell casting; and obviously it would tend downplay eg the role of equipment in resolution, but 5e is meant to be a big tent!)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Because I like making fun of people who don't know how to cook food? :p

Kidding aside, there's been a lot of replies that I did not find clear. Skills still matter, but if you can describe how your PC is disabling a trap they aren't used.
This is why people are saying you’re mischaracterizing the method. You’re making it sound like if you give any description at all, you can “bypass the check.” When the reality is, a check is called for when the described action would logically have a possibility of success, a possibility of failure, and a consequence for failure. This means checks will commonly be called for in dramatic situations, and rarely be called for otherwise.

Saying "I inspect the door" is somehow better then "I roll investigation and get a 15" when the PCs are standing in front of a door wondering if it's trapped except when it's not.
“I inspect the door” isn’t any better than “I roll Investigation and get a 15” at all, because neither communicates what the player wants to achieve or what the character is doing to try to bring that goal about. In both cases, it can probably be inferred that the player wants to find out if the door is trapped or otherwise hazardous, but it cannot easily be inferred what the character is doing in either case. Are they just looking with their eyes? Are they touching it with their hands? Are they prodding it with a 10-foot poll? I could make a guess, but that’s not my roll as DM.

Now, I don’t need a detailed description. “I inspect the door by looking at it” is sufficient. “I inspect the door with my lens of trueseeing is sufficient. “I inspect the door by jiggling the handle is sufficient.

Players never pick up on the fact that if someone is telling the truth the DM doesn't ask for an insight check. Players can ask to make an insight check unless they can't.
Here your confusion is coming from the fact that you are discussing this matter with different people, who all have slightly different ways of handling social interactions. At Iserith’s table, they (he?) will give you a clue if the NPC is lying to tip you off that the NPC might not be honest, and they are 100% fine with the fact that the players will notice he pattern (Iserith is on record as giving absolutely zero :):):):):) about players making use of out of character knowledge). At my table, I occasionally make rolls behind the screen while you are interacting with NPCs, and will sometimes give you additional details about the NPC’s behavior or demeanor after making such a roll (these rolls are checks the NPCs are making against your passive Insight, which may be to deceive, intimidate, persuade, or any number of other things). At Ovinomancer’s or Elfcrusher’s tables, it might play out differently.

Saying "my eyes glow red" is plenty of information when "I try to intimidate him" is not.
So, personally, I don’t think either of these statements give me enough information to adjudicate the action. From “I try to intimidate him,” I gather that the player wants to get the NPC to do something, and that they think their proficiency in the Intimidation skill will be relevant. But it doesn’t tell me what the character is doing. Saying “my eyes glow red” has the opposite problem - I know exactly what the character is doing*. But I don’t know what they hope to accomplish by doing it. From the context of your example, I think it’s fairly safe to assume that they want to intimidate an NPC, presumably to get them to do something. So, if that was also clear from the context of the game, I might be able to adjudicate that action.

The common thread here is that I (and others who use the “middle path”) need exactly two things to adjudicate an action: what the player wants to do, and how the characters tries to do it. Different DMs have different standards for how much detail they expect in the how, but most of us in this conversation don’t need or expect a great deal of detail. We’re generally pretty comfortable inferring a goal (Iserith less so than many of us), but everyone has a line. Fortunately it’s generally a pretty simple matter to ask the player for clarification. “Ok, so you’re casting Thaumaturgy to make your eyes glow red, hoping to frighten him out of asking you any more questions about ehat’ In the back of your wagon?” etc.


But for the most part I just don't understand why this topic is so touchy. Different people have different styles and different ways of playing.
Well, from my perspective, I have been asked to explain my DMing style more times that I can count. I’ve gone into exhaustive detail about how I would handle a staggering number of absurdly specific situations. Through it all I have endeavored to always extend the questioner the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are acting in good faith and asking earnest questions. And for my patience, all I get is hundreds of pages of whatabouts, accuasations of pixel-bitching, and claims that “I get it, it’s just not my style” from the same people who claim to just be trying to understand my perspective. Why is the subject so controversial? You got me. Seems like a whole lot of people are really invested in trying to understand my play style and really struggle to understand it.

*well, kind of. Not 100% sure how they’re making their eyes glow red. Are they casting Thaumaturgy?
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Well, I think there are (at least) two alternatives to @Oofta's approach. @iserith is describing one. I think @Ovinomancer may be describing something a bit different, but he can clarify that if he wants to. I'm not sure what your overall position is.

Both alternatives equate action declaration with describing something that happens in the fiction. This is a contrast with Oofta, @Hussar, etc. In @iserith's approach to 5e, following such an action declaration the GM then adjudicates this to determine whether or not a check is required, and if so how hard it is. As he puts it, the ultimate player goal is to avoid the risks of the dice. I see this as a type of puzzle-solving play, though (obviously) not like solving riddles or chess puzzles.

By way of contrast, in DW, DitV, Burning Wheel, Prince Valiant, HeroWars/Quest, Maelstrom Storytelling, The Dying Earth, etc (just to name some of the games I'm familiar with that adopt this alternative approach), there is no avoiding the risks of the dice, assuming that something is actually at stake. (If nothing is at stake, then the GM should just "say 'yes'" and try to work with the players to progress the fiction to something where there is something at stake.) The point of the player's account of what his/her PC is doing is to provide fiction that is able to be extrapolated either in success or failure. The emphasis of play is not on puzzle-solving but on (i) protagonism and (ii) fiction creation.

Now drawing the distinction between these two alternatives is slightly tangential to the main thrust of the thread. But I think that it is probably worth noting that there can be a reason for RPGing to prioritise dice rolls in action resolution which aren't connected to "distrust" of the GM, and which aren't connected to wanting to avoid the fiction, and which don't require the idea of skill checks as prior givens that cheat-y players might try and "bypass".

This same tangent can also feed into some other stuff that's come up in this thread, like whether DCs are set before or after the player declares an action. Eg in BW, Prince Valiant and Maelstrom Storytelling the DC is established in response to the player's action declaration, and reflecgts that fiction. Whereas in DW, D&D 4e and HeroWars/Quest the DC is established by the system (typically reflecting an inbuilt pacing logic).

I don't think either is "better" or "worse", but they can produce diffrent dynamics in play. And I think it's at least conceivable that someone could approch 5e using some sort of system/pacing logic to the setting of DCs, and using a "say 'yes' or roll the dice" approach, which would obviously be different from what iserith is doing but also would be different (I would say even more different) from what Oofta is doing. (I think the biggest hurdle facing this in a 5ae context is the lack of a die roll required for most spell casting; and obviously it would tend downplay eg the role of equipment in resolution, but 5e is meant to be a big tent!)
Ah, now I get it. Good explanation.

I was focusing on how DW doesn't predefine a lot of obstacles, with specific actions (or die rolls) required to overcome them. Heck, it doesn't even predefine the map. The DM describes the part of the world the characters experience, the players describe how they want to respond, and it doesn't necessarily require invoking a Move to do so. Furthermore (and the Move you cited is a great example of this) in a lot of cases there is no objective reality to the world until it is described. To me this is very much in the same spirit as 5e, and contrasts to how I think a lot of people (including myself) played earlier editions of D&D.

So I'm not so much focused on the mechanics of the dice, and even the implications of them, but rather on how narration...by both players and DM...determines the reality of the game world.

EDIT: And let me actually amend that to say that the other similarity, for me, is that both DW and 5e rely on the players to determine the course of the narrative, more so than (it seems to me) was encouraged by previous editions of D&D.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Saying "my eyes glow red" is plenty of information when "I try to intimidate him" is not.
That you totally missed that the action was actually a verbal threat to cause harm if the information wasn't provided and have focused on the fact that the player backed this up with an effort to make themselves look more physically intimidating really underscores my continued point of you not getting it despite being repeatedly shown it. Your continued misrepresentation of things so blatantly really looks like you're not engaging earnestly, here.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Your continued misrepresentation of things so blatantly really looks like you're not engaging earnestly, here.
A conclusion I drew months ago and corrected to the benefit of my experience on these forums.

I'm happy to talk about how I play in hopes that it helps someone have a better adventure or campaign. I'm eager to hear honest criticism and debate it because that can only be to my benefit, and perhaps others. But what's going on so far as I can tell is validation-seeking in the guise of pretending not to understand something while plainly misrepresenting it. It's gross.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
A conclusion I drew months ago and corrected to the benefit of my experience on these forums.

I'm happy to talk about how I play in hopes that it helps someone have a better adventure or campaign. I'm eager to hear honest criticism and debate it because that can only be to my benefit, and perhaps others. But what's going on so far as I can tell is validation-seeking in the guise of pretending not to understand something while plainly misrepresenting it. It's gross.
Yeah I'm getting there.
 

Chaosmancer

Villager
So to be clear, the proposed approach is to read the body language or tone of the letter, which fails to achieve the goal of assessing the letter's veracity.
See, I want to say yes here, but I feel like you are trying to lead me somewhere with this question.

So, yeah, that seems to be the case. However, are you thinking of a use of the Insight skill that would work on a letter?

The only thing I could think of is analyzing word choice, which is frankly subtle enough that I generally don't try and pull that as a DM.



I would say in some situations the momentum of the scene is ruined not because of the player's response, but because the DM is stepping outside of his or her role in the game to establish something about the character that is solely in the player's domain to establish. That is so easily avoided it's a wonder why DMs insist on doing this. And it's pretty common in my experience, especially in games where the players are asking to make checks without specifying a goal and/or approach. Because some of the necessary fiction to build the scene is missing, the DM feels the need to fill in the blanks the player left which then sets the stage for potential conflict. I think a better response from the DM is to encourage the player to fill in those blanks him or herself as that is the player's role and responsibility in this game and, eventually, to do that without prompting.
Yeah, except they don't fill it in.

Maybe they do some of the time, but other players just don't seem to have it in them. They know they want to do something, but they have no idea how to go about doing that. They don't know how to narrate a fail state involving the trap they aren't even sure exists.

You say this isn't my role, but it kind of is my role in the game. Narrative truth has been portrayed, the player chose an action, they failed at that action, I need to describe how they failed and the consequences thereof. Which means I need to tell the player what went wrong, even if what went wrong was ostensibly something the character did.



This is why vague statements like, “I check for traps” are a poor strategy. Yes, if I just said I check for traps without saying what I’m doing to check for them, we have little choice but to determine what my character was doing that resulted in that failure retroactively. The dice are generating the story - we didn’t really know what my character was doing until we found out whether it worked or not, and then we came up with a narrative explanation for the result. And if you like to play that way, more power to you! I do not like to play that way, because it puts my successes and failures in the hands of chance. I want my successes and failures to be in my hands. I enjoy the game more when I succeed because I thought of a clever plan or fail because I took a calculated risk and it didn’t pay off.
I'm quoting here for convenience, but I'm looking at both of these middle paragraphs.

I don't disagree about wanting as much control over your success as possible, and I agree with preferring success because of well thought out plans instead of chance. I even agree with starting the entire thing based off player actions.

I just don't see how any of that changes what I described.

We're going to ignore the "wiping the handle" part for now, because that shuts down the conversation. But, let us say the player wants to study the door for traps, looking but not touching in case they trigger something. Player has stated an action, player has a plan "look for signs of traps, don't touch because touching might set it off". But, that does not change the fact that a roll will be asked for, and I will need to narrate the result of that roll.

So, are you trying to say that you don't stop telling me what you are doing as a player, until you hit the stage of success? How do you handle a stealth check passed a guard? You can do a classic "throw thing down the other hallway" maneuver, but that let's them know something is up and I'd probably need a roll for doing that without being observed. Just because a plan is clever does not mean it succeeds, and at some point dice will be rolled and I'll have to narrate the results. So, how am I putting the cart before the horse so to speak?


The best novels don’t tell you how the characters are feeling, save maybe the POV character. They describe only what can be observed from a 3rd person perspective. When DMing, I try to keep in mind that each PC is the POV character of their player’s story. So I never describe what the characters feel. The players provide that description for themelves (and ideally to themselves, in their own heads). I describe only what they can observe. Its the old “show, don’t tell” adage - don’t tell the players that the dragon is frightening, show them what is frightening about it. Be as evocative as you like in describing the power in its muscles, the malicious intellect in its eyes, the deafening timbre of its voice, the blood stains on its spear-like fangs, the heat of its breath that could turn to hellfire in an instant. Let the players decide for themselves how their characters feel about what you are describing.
Yeah, going to disagree on a few points here.

There are many excellent novels that do tell you how the characters feel. Describing, even from the third person, how they feel can be great story telling. Even if it is couched in language that you would say is "show don't tell" we use adjectives that clearly "tell" what is going on. Screaming in terror tells us they are terrified, it is right there.

But also, how lovingly do you want me to describe this thing? You're example has:
1) "the power in its muscles"
2) "the malicious intellect in its eyes"
3) "the deafening timbre of its voice"
4) "the blood stains on its spear-like fangs"
5) "the heat of its breath that could turn to hellfire in an instant"

different categories of description. And a lot of them are kind of redundant if people know what a dragon is. Intelligent eyes, yeah they know it is smart, strong, yep they know that too, deafening voice, if they are going to hear it I might say it roars and then talk loudly so they know.

I'm not saying I skimp on the descriptions, but I'm not writing a novel here and sometimes simplicity works best. Quick language, to the point, so we can get on to the action instead of listening to me try and write without a pencil

I mean think about this, how few oratory arts do we have that follow the same styles as novels. There is a reason for that.




From the perspective of a player in D&D 5e, what are some reasons you might want to roll the dice, assuming success for your character is one of your goals? Outside of a fondness for gambling or liking the sound the dice make when they clatter across the table (and inevitably onto the floor), I mean.

"Use the options chosen during character creation and advancement" is one that is frequently offered, but as has been shown, that's going to happen without asking to roll (sometimes when you desperately don't want to), provided you're the sort of player who is portraying a bold adventurer confronting deadly perils in a world of sword and sorcery.

So what other reasons might there be?

Interesting question.

For me there are at least two. The first is because I just don't know. The DM has set up a scenario, and I feel like there is something there I should be able to do, I can even narrow it down to a type of skill, but I just can't think of what the action is I want to perform. You can say all sorts of things about how that would never happen with a good GM, but it has happened to me and so it gets on the list.

Second big one is meta-knowledge. I'm bad about meta-knowledge sometimes, and there are times when I'll ask to roll to see if my character knows something I know. For example, I have a game in the Forgotten Realms I'm playing in as a Paladin. The DM had a plot involving something with one of the gods, can't remember what, but I knew a lot of lore about that god. So I asked, "Does my character know this or should I roll", because I know but I don't know if my character knows. Happens with monsters a lot too. As a DM, I know a lot of facts about monsters, but I don't know if my character would know those things.





Another thing, having finally caught up on this thread, and seeing a post that had a point I liked but was too long to quote.

When a player describes their approach to a problem in my game, it is more than likely their ideal description of what they want to happen.

If a player describes that they want to climb up to the ceiling and creep along the beams to sneak past the guards, that does not mean that is exactly what happens. If they botch the roll they might slip and fall, or the beam might crack and draw attention, or any number of other things could happen.

They have described what they want to happen, not what is going to happen.

Now, sometimes, there is no difference between what they describe and what happens, but there are unforeseen consequences which happen afterwards. And sometimes what they describe happens without a hitch and they get everything they want.

But, until I am in the scenario and the player tells me what they want, I can't assume anything. I cannot assume if there will or will not be a roll. I cannot assume if I will or will not ask for clarification or more details on what they want.

I do not standardize my resolutions.

I've had moments where the local lord is saying how glad they are adventurers have come to aid them in this terrible time, and a player holds up their dice and just says "Insight". I let them roll. I know what they are asking, they are asking if they can tell if this guy is full of it or if they are on the up and up.

Other times they say "Insight" and I'll ask, "what exactly are you trying to figure out?" because somethings I'll just tell them (Yeah, when the Lord said he was most impressed with all your heroics he was just kissing up) and somethings will need a roll (do they catch that he isn't telling them all he knows of the situation?)

And sometimes my players will give me more description of how they go about their actions, maybe they don't want to insight the Lord, but they want to see how the serving maid is reacting to what he is saying, and that is a clever idea to see what the people think of the Lord's reaction to the crisis.

But I don't standardize it. I just do well enough to get by.
 

pemerton

Legend
Ah, now I get it. Good explanation.

I was focusing on how DW doesn't predefine a lot of obstacles, with specific actions (or die rolls) required to overcome them. Heck, it doesn't even predefine the map. The DM describes the part of the world the characters experience, the players describe how they want to respond, and it doesn't necessarily require invoking a Move to do so. Furthermore (and the Move you cited is a great example of this) in a lot of cases there is no objective reality to the world until it is described. To me this is very much in the same spirit as 5e, and contrasts to how I think a lot of people (including myself) played earlier editions of D&D.
This is interesting.

I don't think there's anything contentious in your description of DW! And I tend to approach most RPGs that way because it's my preferred approach (and I avoid RPGs that probably won't work with it) - at the moment I've got active Classic Traveller, Prince Valiant, BW, Cortex+ Heroic, Dying Earth and 4e campaigns that use some or other variant on this general approach. (And yes, too many active campaigns relative to time available!)

I think that the way you characterise 5e as being similar might be more contentious (not to say it's wrong, but may be not universal), and I'm curious to see what response you might get. For instance, [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION]'s approach seems to require the GM establishing key elements of the fiction (like, to stick with the toy example that's been kicked around a bit, the presence o the door knob of the viscous fluid that's a contact poison). I see his approach as, in many ways, quite close to a classic Gygaxian "skilled play" approach. But if I'm in error here I'll await correction!

(For full disclosure, I'm not a 5e guy but I saw this thread was started by [MENTION=463]S'mon[/MENTION], and I'm always interested in S'mon's ideas about RPGing, which is why I dropped into it.)

EDIT: After replying to your (Elfcrusher's) post I saw this post which I think relates to my point. Quoting it isn't meant to be combative or trying to drive any wedges, but rather to try and identify some of these differences in approach which give each table it's own "flavour" of RPGing.

This is why people are saying you’re mischaracterizing the method. You’re making it sound like if you give any description at all, you can “bypass the check.” When the reality is, a check is called for when the described action would logically have a possibility of success, a possibility of failure, and a consequence for failure. This means checks will commonly be called for in dramatic situations, and rarely be called for otherwise.
The idea of an action logically having a chance of success, or failure, seems to me to require that the in-fiction context already be established at least to some significant degree.

Whereas in DW, say, the chance of failure is imposed by way of a "metagame" logic: at key moments the system demands a check to find out what happens, and "failure" can be anything from literal un-success to some adverse development that (in ingame causal terms) is unrelated to the action actually performed by the PC, depending on context, details and the GM's imagination and inclinations. And in this sort of way (plus narration forced by successes, too) the fiction is built up out of these chances of success and failure.

And another, further thought: I guess a group could try and play DW so as to avoid making moves as much as possible and try to get the GM to "say 'yes'" instead, but I'm not 100% sure how that would work, and to me it would look like a very atypical and perhaps even degenerate instance of DW play. Whereas I don't think that there's anything degenerate about what [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] describes (and thus, for instance, don't agree with those who say it "devalues" PC build choices).
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I'm quoting here for convenience, but I'm looking at both of these middle paragraphs.

I don't disagree about wanting as much control over your success as possible, and I agree with preferring success because of well thought out plans instead of chance. I even agree with starting the entire thing based off player actions.

I just don't see how any of that changes what I described.

We're going to ignore the "wiping the handle" part for now, because that shuts down the conversation. But, let us say the player wants to study the door for traps, looking but not touching in case they trigger something. Player has stated an action, player has a plan "look for signs of traps, don't touch because touching might set it off". But, that does not change the fact that a roll will be asked for, and I will need to narrate the result of that roll.
The bolded segment is where we fundamentally disagree. “I look for signs of traps, but don’t touch because touching might set it off” is what determines whether or not a roll is called for. Depending on the nature of the traps, looking without touching may or may not have a chance of succeeding in detecting signs of traps. It may or may not have a chance of failing to do so. It may or may not have a consequence for failing to do so. Unless it does have all three of those things, a roll will not be called for. So, I would argue that I very well might change the fact that a roll is called for. Now, whether a roll is called for or not, I will need to narrate the result, because that is my roll as the DM. But I will only need to take into account the result of a roll if I called for one, and I will only call for one if “I look for signs of traps, but don’t touch because touching might set it off” meets all three of the afformentioned criteria.

So, are you trying to say that you don't stop telling me what you are doing as a player, until you hit the stage of success?
No.

How do you handle a stealth check passed a guard? You can do a classic "throw thing down the other hallway" maneuver, but that let's them know something is up and I'd probably need a roll for doing that without being observed.
Are you asking how I would adjudicate that action like that as a DM, or for me to describe an approach to sneaking past a guard as a player?

Just because a plan is clever does not mean it succeeds,
Indeed, which is why it is the player’s role to say what they want to accomplish and how, and the DM’s role to narrate the result. The player doesn’t say “I throw something down the hall and sneak past the guard while he is distracted,” they say “I try to distract the guard by throwing something down the hall,” or “I throw something down the hall to sistract the guard,” and the DM describes what happens next, potentially asking for a dice roll if they are not certain.

and at some point dice will be rolled and I'll have to narrate the results. So, how am I putting the cart before the horse so to speak?
You’re putting the cart before the horse by assuming that at some point dice will be rolled, without first taking into account what the PC is doing. Maybe dice will be rolled. But maybe they won’t need to be. Depends on if the approach has a chance of succeeding in the goal, a chance of failing in the goal, and a consequence for failing in the goal.

Yeah, going to disagree on a few points here.

There are many excellent novels that do tell you how the characters feel. Describing, even from the third person, how they feel can be great story telling. Even if it is couched in language that you would say is "show don't tell" we use adjectives that clearly "tell" what is going on. Screaming in terror tells us they are terrified, it is right there.
[/quote]
We’re going to have to agree to disagree here. I think directly stating what characters other than the POV character are feeling is poor writing. I’d prefer a description of the qualities of the scream that might lead me to conclude that the screamer is terrified. Perhaps “a shrill, trembling scream” or “a strangled squeak that might have began as a scream” or “a scream that could wake the dead.”

But also, how lovingly do you want me to describe this thing? You're example has:
1) "the power in its muscles"
2) "the malicious intellect in its eyes"
3) "the deafening timbre of its voice"
4) "the blood stains on its spear-like fangs"
5) "the heat of its breath that could turn to hellfire in an instant"

different categories of description. And a lot of them are kind of redundant if people know what a dragon is. Intelligent eyes, yeah they know it is smart, strong, yep they know that too, deafening voice, if they are going to hear it I might say it roars and then talk loudly so they know.

I'm not saying I skimp on the descriptions, but I'm not writing a novel here and sometimes simplicity works best. Quick language, to the point, so we can get on to the action instead of listening to me try and write without a pencil

I mean think about this, how few oratory arts do we have that follow the same styles as novels. There is a reason for that.
I mean, whatever floats your boat. I don’t tend to go into a ton of detail. I try to limit myself to only narrating a few sentences at once before asking the players what they do, because I find longer than that risks losing their attention. But you can do a lot with a few sentences. Certainly enough to convey “scary Dragon” without saying that the PCs are scared. In fact, you can use the players’ familiatity with dragons to your advantage. They largely know what dragons look like and what about them they find scary or not, so I don’t have to waste any effort painting a picture of it. “The enormous reptilian beast unfurls its batlike wings and lets out a deafening roar; the air feels hot, as if it could ignite at any moment.” It’s not my place to say if your character is afraid of that or not.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The idea of an action logically having a chance of success, or failure, seems to me to require that the in-fiction context already be established at least to some significant degree.
It absolutely does, yes.

Whereas in DW, say, the chance of failure is imposed by way of a "metagame" logic: at key moments the system demands a check to find out what happens, and "failure" can be anything from literal un-success to some adverse development that (in ingame causal terms) is unrelated to the action actually performed by the PC, depending on context, details and the GM's imagination and inclinations. And in this sort of way (plus narration forced by successes, too) the fiction is built up out of these chances of success and failure.
My apologies, I haven’t really been following this particular line of the conversation... why exactly are we talking about Dungeon World, now? Don’t get me wrong, Dungeon World is a pretty cool game, I’d love to DM it some time. But I would t run it the same way I run D&D 5e for exactly this reason - it is not built to work the same way 5e is, its design demands a different approach to DMing (or rather, MCing) than D&D 5e does.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
This is interesting.

I don't think there's anything contentious in your description of DW! And I tend to approach most RPGs that way because it's my preferred approach (and I avoid RPGs that probably won't work with it) - at the moment I've got active Classic Traveller, Prince Valiant, BW, Cortex+ Heroic, Dying Earth and 4e campaigns that use some or other variant on this general approach. (And yes, too many active campaigns relative to time available!)

I think that the way you characterise 5e as being similar might be more contentious (not to say it's wrong, but may be not universal), and I'm curious to see what response you might get. For instance, [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION]'s approach seems to require the GM establishing key elements of the fiction (like, to stick with the toy example that's been kicked around a bit, the presence o the door knob of the viscous fluid that's a contact poison). I see his approach as, in many ways, quite close to a classic Gygaxian "skilled play" approach. But if I'm in error here I'll await correction!

(For full disclosure, I'm not a 5e guy but I saw this thread was started by [MENTION=463]S'mon[/MENTION], and I'm always interested in S'mon's ideas about RPGing, which is why I dropped into it.)

EDIT: After replying to your (Elfcrusher's) post I saw this post which I think relates to my point. Quoting it isn't meant to be combative or trying to drive any wedges, but rather to try and identify some of these differences in approach which give each table it's own "flavour" of RPGing.

The idea of an action logically having a chance of success, or failure, seems to me to require that the in-fiction context already be established at least to some significant degree.

Whereas in DW, say, the chance of failure is imposed by way of a "metagame" logic: at key moments the system demands a check to find out what happens, and "failure" can be anything from literal un-success to some adverse development that (in ingame causal terms) is unrelated to the action actually performed by the PC, depending on context, details and the GM's imagination and inclinations. And in this sort of way (plus narration forced by successes, too) the fiction is built up out of these chances of success and failure.

And another, further thought: I guess a group could try and play DW so as to avoid making moves as much as possible and try to get the GM to "say 'yes'" instead, but I'm not 100% sure how that would work, and to me it would look like a very atypical and perhaps even degenerate instance of DW play. Whereas I don't think that there's anything degenerate about what [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] describes (and thus, for instance, don't agree with those who say it "devalues" PC build choices).
No, I don't disagree with your analysis, either.

Ok, I just deleted a long post because I thought of a better way to say this: I feel that both DW and 5e assume/require "trust" between GM and players...that is, trust to make choices in the best interest of the story...whereas a previous generation of games tried to (or seemed to try to, imo) minimize the need for trust by emphasizing mechanics over judgment.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
The idea of an action logically having a chance of success, or failure, seems to me to require that the in-fiction context already be established at least to some significant degree.
So here's where I differ, and maybe why I find DW and 5e to be more similar than you do. I don't always have all the details worked out, and will (invisibly) alter the game world in reaction to my players' actions and ideas. If a player says, "I look to see if the trap mechanism has a doohickey" I might very well say, "Yes, in fact it DOES have exactly such a doohickey!" even though I hadn't previously considered such a thing. If they have a cool idea for the direction of the story, I want to enable that.

But don't tell my players, ok?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So here's where I differ, and maybe why I find DW and 5e to be more similar than you do. I don't always have all the details worked out, and will (invisibly) alter the game world in reaction to my players' actions and ideas. If a player says, "I look to see if the trap mechanism has a doohickey" I might very well say, "Yes, in fact it DOES have exactly such a doohickey!" even though I hadn't previously considered such a thing. If they have a cool idea for the direction of the story, I want to enable that.

But don't tell my players, ok?
Oh, yeah. I do this too.
 

S'mon

Legend
I think that the way you characterise 5e as being similar might be more contentious (not to say it's wrong, but may be not universal), and I'm curious to see what response you might get. For instance, [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION]'s approach seems to require the GM establishing key elements of the fiction (like, to stick with the toy example that's been kicked around a bit, the presence o the door knob of the viscous fluid that's a contact poison). I see his approach as, in many ways, quite close to a classic Gygaxian "skilled play" approach. But if I'm in error here I'll await correction!

(For full disclosure, I'm not a 5e guy but I saw this thread was started by [MENTION=463]S'mon[/MENTION], and I'm always interested in S'mon's ideas about RPGing, which is why I dropped into it.)
I think 5e was deliberately designed to be 'driftable' to all sorts of different play styles, certainly including 1e Gygaxian skilled play, 2e GM-driven plot/railroad, 3e 'deck builder' character optimisation 'lonely fun', 4e combat-centric SKIP TO THE FUN, and even Pemertonian Scene Framing. :D

Running Primeval Thule adventures currently - they establish an objective environment, some interesting NPCs, and a little bit of sword & sorcery style Dramatic Premise - "How do we deal with this morally ambiguous/fun-but-evil NPC?" or "What is money worth to you?" type stuff. Ran Watchers of Meng recently and it had a ton of this stuff - but ignorable by a GM who didn't notice or care, I guess. Great adventure, highly recommend it.

Before I started Thule in January I was running Stonehell Dungeon in 5e as a Gygaxian skilled-play megadungeon; it worked OK, but I suspect using OD&D or an OD&D-derived clone would ultimately have suited it better.
 

pemerton

Legend
Before I started Thule in January I was running Stonehell Dungeon in 5e as a Gygaxian skilled-play megadungeon; it worked OK, but I suspect using OD&D or an OD&D-derived clone would ultimately have suited it better.
Can you elaborate a bit? Eg is there stuff in 5e that grated a bit? Or is there stuff missing from 5e that classic D&D would bring to the table? Or some other possibility I've missed?
 

pemerton

Legend
why exactly are we talking about Dungeon World, now?
I read a post of [MENTION=6801328]Elfcrusher[/MENTION]s' which it seems I misunderstood, which I took to imply that wanting dice to be central in action resolution is at odds with trusting the GM. And I disagreed and mentioned DW as an example of why I disagreed.

That's then what led me to try to identify two ways of making the fiction of action declaration matter, one which is about (potententially) circumventing checks via skilled play, the other (which I associated, at least in broad terms, with DW) which is about providing material from which downstream fiction (whether success or failure, as determined by the dice rolls) can be extrapolated.

So here's where I differ, and maybe why I find DW and 5e to be more similar than you do. I don't always have all the details worked out, and will (invisibly) alter the game world in reaction to my players' actions and ideas. If a player says, "I look to see if the trap mechanism has a doohickey" I might very well say, "Yes, in fact it DOES have exactly such a doohickey!" even though I hadn't previously considered such a thing. If they have a cool idea for the direction of the story, I want to enable that.

But don't tell my players, ok?
When I do this - and whether it's just "saying 'yes'" or whether it's the result of a roll - I tend to be very overt.

If it's a case of "saying 'yes'", then it will typically happen in a very relaxed way at the table eg a player might explain that "The imperial communication satellite will retain its data until an X-Boat arrives in the system and broadcasts the release/relay signal" and we all just proceed on that premise because it makes sense of what's gone before, and provides a clearer framing for the checks that are coming than existed beforehand. I think everyone at the table can see that it's that player who is establishing that particular bit of fiction.

If it's a case of making the player make a roll to see if it's the case, then likewise that makes it overt because of the framing of the check.
 

S'mon

Legend
Can you elaborate a bit? Eg is there stuff in 5e that grated a bit? Or is there stuff missing from 5e that classic D&D would bring to the table? Or some other possibility I've missed?
Well 5e by default relies a lot on skill checks rather than description of interaction with the dungeon environment.
5e combat is a lot slower than pre-3e combat, which limited the amount of exploration per session.
5e does not really encourage 'logistical' play with OD&D features such as a bunch of retainers (who provide social roleplaying opportunities as well as resources), side-based initiative (allowing group-based battle tactics), need to consult with Sages (rather than knowledge skill checks), etc. It's a lot closer to 3e & 4e with more of a Superhero Team ethos.
Most of my 5e players pretty well refused to map properly, which then limited their knowledge of available exploration routes.
5e does not do attrition as well as pre-3e.

These were not major problems mind you; nothing like trying to run dungeon exploration campaign in 4e!
 

pemerton

Legend
a bunch of retainers (who provide social roleplaying opportunities as well as resources)
I ran a Dying Earth session a week or so ago, and following that have been re-reading the rulebook (which is my window into Vance - I've never read the actual stories). I get the impression that recalcitrant retainers are a key aspect of the Vancian feel!

Back in my classic D&D days the PCs had retainers, but we found the DMG loyalty rules made it fairly easy to maintain loyalty at 100+, so the issue of recalcitrance didn't really come up.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
This is interesting.

I don't think there's anything contentious in your description of DW! And I tend to approach most RPGs that way because it's my preferred approach (and I avoid RPGs that probably won't work with it) - at the moment I've got active Classic Traveller, Prince Valiant, BW, Cortex+ Heroic, Dying Earth and 4e campaigns that use some or other variant on this general approach. (And yes, too many active campaigns relative to time available!)

I think that the way you characterise 5e as being similar might be more contentious (not to say it's wrong, but may be not universal), and I'm curious to see what response you might get. For instance, [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION]'s approach seems to require the GM establishing key elements of the fiction (like, to stick with the toy example that's been kicked around a bit, the presence o the door knob of the viscous fluid that's a contact poison). I see his approach as, in many ways, quite close to a classic Gygaxian "skilled play" approach. But if I'm in error here I'll await correction!

(For full disclosure, I'm not a 5e guy but I saw this thread was started by [MENTION=463]S'mon[/MENTION], and I'm always interested in S'mon's ideas about RPGing, which is why I dropped into it.)

EDIT: After replying to your (Elfcrusher's) post I saw this post which I think relates to my point. Quoting it isn't meant to be combative or trying to drive any wedges, but rather to try and identify some of these differences in approach which give each table it's own "flavour" of RPGing.

The idea of an action logically having a chance of success, or failure, seems to me to require that the in-fiction context already be established at least to some significant degree.

Whereas in DW, say, the chance of failure is imposed by way of a "metagame" logic: at key moments the system demands a check to find out what happens, and "failure" can be anything from literal un-success to some adverse development that (in ingame causal terms) is unrelated to the action actually performed by the PC, depending on context, details and the GM's imagination and inclinations. And in this sort of way (plus narration forced by successes, too) the fiction is built up out of these chances of success and failure.

And another, further thought: I guess a group could try and play DW so as to avoid making moves as much as possible and try to get the GM to "say 'yes'" instead, but I'm not 100% sure how that would work, and to me it would look like a very atypical and perhaps even degenerate instance of DW play. Whereas I don't think that there's anything degenerate about what [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] describes (and thus, for instance, don't agree with those who say it "devalues" PC build choices).
I am curious, and you are raising some interesting points, so how would the following fit into the differences in what a check means between the two systems - in DW in your viewpoint.

In my games, "search checks" are not handled by 5e "standard" or even by others more word-driven approaches.

If a PC searches a room, I assign a DC based on the situation and circumstances and if they get a success they find stuff that is somehow interesting, adding to the fiction. This approach works a lot like say 5e foraging (success equals you did find stuff) as opposed to its "searching" (success equals that only if there is something hidden or hard to find you find it, but if nothing was noted there, nothing is found. )

Obviously, as in my insight and halfling example, failure can always be some success with setbacks) finding stuff but breaking some of it.

As a result of this approach I have a lot of "interesting stuff of interest" that gets into play solely as consequence of successful checks - not as result of "GM puts this here before we start session - room 2a - in the left desk drawer,"

Old school ways of course are rife with "this room, this corner, blah blah" and cases where if you dont say you search the right spot or look the right way then you dont find blah blah.

I think perhaps some of Ooftas perspectives follows a similar vein of "shroedinger's dungeon" - all the minutiae of a scene is not pre-designated, just enough to illustrate the key parts and the degree of understanding the PCs can get. So, "is freezing an auto-success" is not some pre-determined thing, even pre-determined at the moment... The successful check says " the character found a right way."

But I could be wrong.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I think 5e was deliberately designed to be 'driftable' to all sorts of different play styles, certainly including 1e Gygaxian skilled play, 2e GM-driven plot/railroad, 3e 'deck builder' character optimisation 'lonely fun', 4e combat-centric SKIP TO THE FUN, and even Pemertonian Scene Framing. :D

Running Primeval Thule adventures currently - they establish an objective environment, some interesting NPCs, and a little bit of sword & sorcery style Dramatic Premise - "How do we deal with this morally ambiguous/fun-but-evil NPC?" or "What is money worth to you?" type stuff. Ran Watchers of Meng recently and it had a ton of this stuff - but ignorable by a GM who didn't notice or care, I guess. Great adventure, highly recommend it.

Before I started Thule in January I was running Stonehell Dungeon in 5e as a Gygaxian skilled-play megadungeon; it worked OK, but I suspect using OD&D or an OD&D-derived clone would ultimately have suited it better.
"Pemertonian Scene Framing. "

Is this trademarked yet?

:)
 

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