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"Illusionism" and "GM force" in RPGing

pemerton

Legend
Hahahahaha! I didn't realise we were keeping score!

<snip>

I don't agree that subterfuge is a required element
At least here we're in agreement and so the score remains unchanged! - I think force doesn't need to be illusionistic, though often it is.

(Seriously, not keeping score, just knowing myself.)

Anyway, the point I was trying to draw out was that for something to be force it must be deployed at a moment of resolution of something which had hitherto been unresolved through play.

I agree that the GM can plan to deploy force (in all kinds of ways) and adventures can contain all kinds of assumptions and instructions to generate it, but in my view the actual appearance of force is during resolution at a decision point within the gameplay.

The lack of agreed resolution systems (for example, for evading onrushing armies) is how many games help GMs disguise force
On this one, though, I'm still struggling.

In the dragon army case, the moment of resolution doesn't come until after the framing - which itself, as you note, exploits the lack of resolution rules beyond we go that way (ie away form them). So the force seems to be a consequence of the framing, intended to manipulate the players into making a certain sort of input rather than negating or modifying their prior input.
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Ovinomancer

can you give me an example of something a GM does that does not modify player input? That's where I'm stuck at.
It appears that you're still looking forward and trying to make the case that any introduction will impact a future player input. This is trivially obvious, though, so any good faith reading of the definition should not assume a trivially obvious result is intended. Indeed, we've already spoken on this matter, and I thought agreed that the definition applied at the moment of manipulation. If we have not, then let us do so now.

In that case, if the players reach a trigger for a wandering monster check, and that indicates one apoears, then this is clearly not a Forceful introduction. There are countless others.

So take a step back and suppose for a moment that I'm right in general that there is no way to define forcing that can include "good" forcing without being overly broad. If that's the case then the only useful definition of forcing is the one based on fairness - wouldn't you agree?
If I, arguendo, accept your premise, then I say we don't need a definition of Force, we already have fair and unfair play. I don't see usefulness in defining specific instances of unfair play.
 

Numidius

Adventurer
As in, similar to a GM saying upfront there'll be no Elf PCs in this setting?

OK, I can kinda see that on the marco scale. On the micro scale, however, the no-Elf thing is done once and that's it: it never really affects the run of play at the table. The wife example, however, does affect the run of play whenever she's brought into it, as she sooner or later must be by the sound of it.

Similar to the wife example, then - the GM is system-forced into bringing these things into play at some point.

One risk I see with this is that unless the players share lots of common interests (outside of gaming) it's almost inevitable that sooner or later one player's story-affecting character aspect (that the GM eventually has to play to) is going to bore the hell out of the others, and vice-versa: "Must we hear about your family history again? I think we know it all of by heart..."

When the GM has more input into the story s/he can read the players and try to find something that'll be more likely to engage them all.
Sounds reasonable, but I think the premise is misplaced.
The wife affair is not something to ritually hear about once in a while to make the husband player happy at the expense of the party's ears; it something to be challenged, put up in play, that should promote action, decisions, eventually hard choice and resolution.
I see your PoV as a neutral d&d Dm, and you already wrote about finding hooks in Pcs backstory in order to foster the adventures you are planning to play.

"Husband Pc, you went adventuring for almost a year. When you come back, you find home empty: the wife has joined a cult and went on pilgrimage to the (JG's) Dark Tower".
See? No boring the hell out of anyone...
But the party decides otherwise, and leave the Dark Tower for later.
Time passes...
"Dear Party, your investigation on necromancy stuff, leads you to this spreading cult of The Dark Tower. They built a Temple in the capital and, hear, hear, the Wife is in charge!"
Is anyone bored?

I guess the above is ok with you, from what I have read you posting, but Gms I have met they won't concede anything to the players desires or backstory. Not even when they ask for detailed backgrounds rooted in the setting. They "kinda forget" during play. And I don't play D&D at all.

I have personally spoke with Gms that wanted to try Fate/PbtA only to be forced to resist their bad habits of railroading everything they run. They managed to also screw those games, btw.

My point is: building on Player investment is not a bad thing. The opposite, actually. If that might bore the table: frame a compelling scene for the Husband to foster a hard choice and, once resolved, move on.

Speaking of which, say the Husband wants now to "save" the Wife from the lure of the Dark tower, bringing her back home to attend domestic business. The party has finished the Dark tower adventure and are about to see if she reconsider, or stays fealty to the dark powers and thus be killed by the Husband.

Who decides the outcome?

Will she erupts in tears asking mercy, or die with a grin? Or just pretend to feel guilty, only to save her life?

(This reminds me of the climatic scene in Legend the movie by Ridley Scott)

Gm decides? Players decide? A D100 is rolled as per OD&D sidebar rule? Maybe a reaction table with modifiers is rolled upon?
 

Nagol

Unimportant
@Ovinomancer

can you give me an example of something a GM does that does not modify player input? That's where I'm stuck at.

Any time the GM applies the rules as negotiated he isn't modifying player input. Any time the GM replaces the expected rule set with his own desire, he is modifying the input the players receive and thus potentially their output.

In the criminal background case, this is obvious at the table and is specifically designed to modify the player output. The DM is trying to force the players to become more personally involved by negating abilities purchased by the player through fiat.

.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Alright, so I'm going to throw out some examples of GM Force, all using the same ruleset; 5e D&D (as everyone here is at least passingly familiar with it).

I'm going to start with (imo), the best part of the ruleset; The Social Interaction conflict mechanics.

I'm going to use a Ranger trying to entreat a domesticated, traumatized, starving, old dog to come back with her to camp where she hopes to use Speak With Animals to communicate with the creature in the morning (to learn about a situation that the dog witnessed); @Nagol . In this case, the GM just doesn't want this dog to be befriended because they want to keep the mystery of the situation in play for awhile longer. They're enacting a classic "Block" against a gather information/divination player move.

  • While this dog is in bad shape, it isn't feral. Its domesticated.
  • The dog was saved by the PCs from certain death and then ran off into the night when things got dangerous. This is a dog; it knows the PCs helped it.

The players are expecting the creature's Starting Attitude to be Friendly because of the above (as most dogs start friendly to strangers even without the stranger aiding them!).

1) The Ranger successfully tracks down the dog due to Natural Explorer and a high Survival Check so this can't possibly be blocked (or the Force will be so overt that it will cause a problem at the table).

2) Through a series of canine-esque social exchanges, the GM tells the Ranger player that the starving dog is fixated on its pouch where she keeps her dried jerky. This is a cinch. The Ranger player bends down, opens the pouch while reaching in and eyes the dog carefully (makes an Animal Handling check to uncover the I/B/F related to the food). The Ranger gets a 12 on the AH check. The player figures its got to be good enough to uncover the I/B/F and that the dog just wants some food. The GM says the dog just looks on warily, making no move to come forth (confirming nothing and not moving the social engagement forward).
The Ranger player is incredulous. How can a 12 not do the trick here? They were expecting success and to be able to deploy the I/B/F for advantage in the coming Charisma check or to increase the Attitude one level before the Charisma check.

3) A blizzard is coming in, its a freezing night, and predators lurk on the tundra. This is going nowhere and its getting dangerous (with the risk of the Exhaustion Track coming in play).

The Ranger player says, "enough of this, I open my pouch, brandish the jerky and move forward to the dog to give it to it manually." This forces the Charisma check to determine the dog's reaction.

The GM then says that the dog flattens its ears and growls as the Ranger approaches. Again, the player is incredulous. "Wait, what? This dog is Hostile? How?"

The GM explains his case for a Hostile Starting Attitude (starving, trauma, and the dog appears extremely paranoid by the Ranger...maybe something in its recent past).

The Ranger player is incredulous. Even if they buy the Starting Attitude of Hostile, it should have been moved to Indifferent from the prior actions of saving the dog...but...sure.

A Charisma check is virtually pointless here as the Ranger would need a 20 in order to get it.

4) Alright, Animal Friendship it is!

GM rolls in secret behind the screen and gets only a 2, but comes back with "the dog furrows its brow and emits a low growl; its clearly not ensorcelled".

In reality:

The GM made 3 separate moves of Force to enact this block (fudged Animal Handling DC > adversarial, but skillfully justified, Starting Attitude shuts down Charisma check > fudged Wisdom Saving Throw.

For 5e, I see two clear cases of force. Obviously, the two fudged results.
The adversarial starting position is less clear in 5e. To my memory (please correct me if I'm wrong), 5e doesn't offer a initial reaction chart, suggest a starting Charisma check, or frankly have any other mechanism other than GM fiat for deciding initial social position.

Now, the players may roll their eyes at how unnaturally the DM is running a creature (and that would be nothing new!), but setting that initial position is directly in the realm of fiat to begin with.
 

Just in terms of definitions here are mine:

GM Force
Unnecessary control of the fiction during a moment of resolution

Railroading
Application of force to ensure pre-determined events arise within the fiction


On this one, though, I'm still struggling.

In the dragon army case, the moment of resolution doesn't come until after the framing - which itself, as you note, exploits the lack of resolution rules beyond we go that way (ie away form them). So the force seems to be a consequence of the framing, intended to manipulate the players into making a certain sort of input rather than negating or modifying their prior input.

Yes, I can see where you're coming from. I thought about this too, and one thing that arose in my mind was - what if we were playing Burning Wheel and one of the players had 'Underground Tunnels-wise'? Would this framing not simply be an opportunity for them to showcase their ability to find a way past the approaching army?

In other words, the supposed force within the framing is actually a result of the unsuitability of the resolution system to cope, and the GM is then expected to exploit that gap in the system (as well as a broader assumption of GM authority in all aspects of setting, situation, plot etc) to herd the players.

But if the players have the resource of a robust action resolution system (in Apoc World, Blades, Burning Wheel, maybe Cortex +. potentially even a skill challenge in 4e) then it could be brilliantly dramatic framing which illuminates important elements of characterisation in keeping with the play priorities of those games.

I think this lead towards a discussion about the idea of 'unnecessary' - which will be dependent on the play priorities of the system and group.
 

For 5e, I see two clear cases of force. Obviously, the two fudged results.
The adversarial starting position is less clear in 5e. To my memory (please correct me if I'm wrong), 5e doesn't offer a initial reaction chart, suggest a starting Charisma check, or frankly have any other mechanism other than GM fiat for deciding initial social position.

Now, the players may roll their eyes at how unnaturally the DM is running a creature (and that would be nothing new!), but setting that initial position is directly in the realm of fiat to begin with.

I definitely agree that framing (which is the issue with the dog’s Starting Attitude) and introducing consequences of action resolution (re-framing) are the murkiest areas of Force.

If a GM fakes setting a DC (because the entire process is GM-Facing unless the GM announces the DC before the roll) in order to block a move when a player gets a middling result, that is Force. Same goes for a Saving Throw.

However, here are my thoughts on framing of the Starting Attitude and why it’s Force:

1) The GM wants the move to fail. The players can’t know that for sure but they can only suspect that. We can know though (because we’re making this up so we can look under the hood).

2) The GM knows the Ranger has a +0 Charisma check here, so if he goes with Hostile, he nearly ensures a failed move (the Ranger would need a 20, DC 20 for Hostile, to get the dog to accompany her back to camp).


This also gets back to “lead storyteller”, “entertainer”, the action resolution being beholden to GM-facing meditation, and absolute GM authority over framing (and with lead storyteller and entertainer as their hat to wear).

With those 4 things, framing becomes a very powerful tool for Force.

Contrast it with Blades. The GMing ethos is hugely different, setting Position and Effect are transparent, table-facing procedures where conversation is encouraged, and the players are rolling all of the dice.

You literally could_not have the above scenario happen in Blades (and the game’s ethos actively pushes back against it).

The Position would never be Desperate (Hostile dog) given all of the factors involved. At most it would be Risky (Indifferent dog) but probably Controlled after all of the factors are collated.

Finally, a tangent.

I think the above is also a very strong example of how this arrangement can make for a difficult go for mundane characters in non-combat conflict resolution (particularly social conflict with characters who aren’t entirely built for it).

Consider that this should be an absolute archetypal shtick for a Ranger without Animal Friendship. This should be their wheelhouse.

However, they have to overcome 4 things to achieve the win condition of the conflict:

1) Interact with the dog in a way that is sufficient to the GM to allow for an Animal Handling check (which should give them advantage over a PC who just has Insight).

2) Achieve the AH DC to gain access to an IBF to leverage for Advantage on CHA check or change the dogs Attitude for the CHA check.

3) Deal with the GM’s authority over framing (which will dictate the ease or impossibility of the CHA check).

4) Make the CHA check.

Personally, I would think that a level 2 Ranger should succeed at this social conflict with the dog at a VERY high rate. But due to mismatch of expectations of rules and/or framing handling (even without actual Force), the % chance of success can decrease significantly and/or be turned impossible.

It gets worse if you’re just a Survivalist/Outdoorsmen Fighter without Animal Handling.

But a spellcaster needs just one failed Saving Throw (and possibly has the means to create Disadvantage on it).

@Sadras , I’ll digest your example afterwhile and give my thoughts.

@chaochou How about “during a moment of framing and/or action resolution”?
 

One quick thing.

You could easily reverse the Ranger > Dog social conflict:

The framing is Indifferent > the Ranger fails the AH for the IBF but the GM exerts Force, turning it into success, and lets her parley that to changing the dog’s Starting Attitude to Friendly which is DC 0 for the CHA check (no risks involved).

They’ve got the dog. Good story, everyone is entertained (though the Ranger’s fair chance to reach the loss condition was subordinated by Force). That’s a job well done in terms of play ethos.
 
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How about “during a moment of framing and/or action resolution”?

Hi @Manbearcat - you'll have to forgive me, I've not had a chance to keep up with every example and strand of the thread.

I think like you and @pemerton the thoughts and options are still coalescing. Right now I think framing includes an option to plan force into the ensuing action. But the enactment of it still comes at the point of resolution.

I'm open to other possibilities though... :)
 
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Nagol

Unimportant
I definitely agree that framing (which is the issue with the dog’s Starting Attitude) and introducing consequences of action resolution (re-framing) are the murkiest areas of Force.

If a GM fakes setting a DC (because the entire process is GM-Facing unless the GM announces the DC before the roll) in order to block a move when a player gets a middling result, that is Force. Same goes for a Saving Throw.

However, here are my thoughts on framing of the Starting Attitude and why it’s Force:

1) The GM wants the move to fail. The players can’t know that for sure but they can only suspect that. We can know though (because we’re making this up so we can look under the hood).

2) The GM knows the Ranger has a +0 Charisma check here, so if he goes with Hostile, he nearly ensures a failed move (the Ranger would need a 20, DC 20 for Hostile, to get the dog to accompany her back to camp).


This also gets back to “lead storyteller”, “entertainer”, the action resolution being beholden to GM-facing meditation, and absolute GM authority over framing (and with lead storyteller and entertainer as their hat to wear).

With those 4 things, framing becomes a very powerful tool for Force.

Contrast it with Blades. The GMing ethos is hugely different, setting Position and Effect are transparent, table-facing procedures where conversation is encouraged, and the players are rolling all of the dice.

You literally could_not have the above scenario happen in Blades (and the game’s ethos actively pushes back against it).

The Position would never be Desperate (Hostile dog) given all of the factors involved. At most it would be Risky (Indifferent dog) but probably Controlled after all of the factors are collated.

Finally, a tangent.

I think the above is also a very strong example of how this arrangement can make for a difficult go for mundane characters in non-combat conflict resolution (particularly social conflict with characters who aren’t entirely built for it).

Consider that this should be an absolute archetypal shtick for a Ranger without Animal Friendship. This should be their wheelhouse.

However, they have to overcome 4 things to achieve the win condition of the conflict:

1) Interact with the dog in a way that is sufficient to the GM to allow for an Animal Handling check (which should give them advantage over a PC who just has Insight).

2) Achieve the AH DC to gain access to an IBF to leverage for Advantage on CHA check or change the dogs Attitude for the CHA check.

3) Deal with the GM’s authority over framing (which will dictate the ease or impossibility of the CHA check).

4) Make the CHA check.

Personally, I would think that a level 2 Ranger should succeed at this social conflict with the dog at a VERY high rate. But due to mismatch of expectations of rules and/or framing handling (even without actual Force), the % chance of success can decrease significantly and/or be turned impossible.

It gets worse if you’re just a Survivalist/Outdoorsmen Fighter without Animal Handling.

But a spellcaster needs just one failed Saving Throw (and possibly has the means to create Disadvantage on it).

@Sadras , I’ll digest your example afterwhile and give my thoughts.

@chaochou How about “during a moment of framing and/or action resolution”?

I agree the DM is being a Richard. But one can be a Richard without using force. I see force as a table technique. If we extend the hypothetical back a bit and make the dog's appearance part of a pre-written adventure with the designer assigning the hostile attitude to the dog then the DM was just portraying it as provided and I wouldn't see it as force. Dumb, probably. Possibly worth an application of force (by having the dog act more believably than the designer mandated) to correct an unnoticed flaw in the adventure design that should have been caught on an initial scan. A designer can't force though a designer can ask force be used to achieve a specific result.

For example, I don't think an adventure having an army march towards the adventurers is force. That's just part of the scenario parameters. I think having instructions to counter and nullify any attempt other than rush to the target city to avoid the army as calling for the use of force at the table.

There is a published VtM scenario that has always stuck with me that illustrates this well, I think. The PC vampires are to be ambushed by a powerful rival at a entertainment venue. The GM is supposed to arrange the opponent manages to grapple a PC near a column that coincidently has a piece of wood sticking out of it. The designer's goal is the PC will extract the wood and use it to injure/fend off their grappler. The reason is the wood is the remnants of a stake that forced an ancient vampire buried in the column into dormancy and its removal will start the actual adventure.

The adventure designer is calling for absolutely HUGE amounts of force to be used. The GM needs to negate any other (much more tactically sound) combat options: guns, claws, retreat, what-have-you. Simultaneously he needs to choreograph the fight positions and arrange the grapple to occur at one particular place on the map. AND he needs to fudge all the combat rolls to ensure the combat continues until the grapple can happen, the grapple succeeds but not too well, and the player succeeds in using the wood as a weapon.

He also needs to make sure the player sees the wood as an opportunity worth pursuing as opposed to a trap choice. This final one isn't force. It is social engineering which is another technique I strongly dislike GMs using.

As to your tangent: I agree. It was one of the let-downs I felt when I first reviewed 5e.
 

pemerton

Legend
If (i) that provision is explicated in either the rules or as a table hack, and (ii) the actualization of it is manifestly transparent during play ("guys, this wing of the dungeon is completed; Wandering Monsters turned off"), then its not Force.

b) If (i) and (ii) aren't both true in a game where strategic decision-making is a focal point of player input...then turning Wandering Monsters off is almost surely a momentary application of Force
You're putting very hard demands on the system here - completely abandoning the "ecology simulation" aspect you identified upthread.

Also, turning off as a blanket rule then gives licence to the players to play carelessly on their trek through the defeated wing of the dungeon. It's only a party that is "doing everything possible to travel quickly and quietly to their planned destination" (DMG p 9) that is entitled to relief from excessive wandering monsters.

One feature of the DMG is that p 9 promises a section on wandering monsters that will explain two reasons why they are a part of the game; but I'm pretty sure there is no such section. And the only other discussion of relief from wandering monsters I found is this, on p 38:

On occasion, a party may wish to cease movement and "hole up" for a long period, perhaps overnight, resting and recuperating or recovering spells. This does not exempt them from occasional checks for wandering monsters, though the frequency may be moderated somewhat, depending on conditions.​

A similar approach might help for the party travelling quickly and quietly through a known area - reduced frequency at least reduces the likelihood of breakdown between system purpose and system consequence, though can't eliminate it in all cases.

This is never going to be a practical issue for me - the likelihood of me ever running a dungeoneering game where this issue might come up is near enough to zero to be rounded down to that. What I think is interesting is how Gygax struggles to make his design fully coherent, even though - on the face of things - it looks OK (I mean, how often in other threads here and elsewhere do we see discussion of the importance of wandering monsters as clock? It comes up all the time.)

The issue might be solved by substituting a completely different resolution system - eg a DW-style "move" for travelling through known-and-cleared dungeon precincts which is modified by precautions taken and so preserves the roll of skill while protecting against the slim chance of brutal hosing. But that would be so far away from the rest of the wargaming mechanics of the system that it would create a different sort of coherence problem. Zoinks unless one were to adapt the wilderness evasion rules to this end. Though they're a bit half-baked as they stand (eg having a ranger doesn't help though it obviously should).

It's probably not a surprise that thinking about one weakness in the classic D&D design turns up another.
 

I think we all have a pretty good (and consensus) feeling on how Force applies to action resolution.

I think it would probably be good to discuss how Force applies to framing and and content introduction introduction as a result of action resolution (eg consequences and whether they honor the player’s goal and what was at stake), because it appears that is where there is the most daylight between the participants of the conversation.
 

pemerton

Legend
Introducing content is always done to form a narrative
I know you've posted more but it's well past midnight here and so I'm only responding to this bit before sleeping.

I don't think you're right here. There can be cases where content is introduced to form a narrative: eg the dragon armies (to drive the PCs to the ruined city); perhaps the secret door case, gently guiding the PCs that way.

But content can be introduced without it being to form any particular narrative. I think I mentioned upthread that, in my Burning Wheel game, I (ie my PC) found letters from my mother in Evard's tower, apparently implying that she is Evard's daughter. That's content, but it's not introduced to form any particular narrative. I don't know what's going to flow from this; nor does my GM.
 

pemerton

Legend
I can see where you're coming from. I thought about this too, and one thing that arose in my mind was - what if we were playing Burning Wheel and one of the players had 'Underground Tunnels-wise'? Would this framing not simply be an opportunity for them to showcase their ability to find a way past the approaching army?

In other words, the supposed force within the framing is actually a result of the unsuitability of the resolution system to cope, and the GM is then expected to exploit that gap in the system (as well as a broader assumption of GM authority in all aspects of setting, situation, plot etc) to herd the players.

But if the players have the resource of a robust action resolution system (in Apoc World, Blades, Burning Wheel, maybe Cortex +. potentially even a skill challenge in 4e) then it could be brilliantly dramatic framing which illuminates important elements of characterisation in keeping with the play priorities of those games.
I agree with everything you say here about systems. (In Cortex+ the approach armies would be a Scene Distinction, and the players would have their PCs escape by wearing down the distinction - in my LotR game a couple of weeks ago this was the method used to undertake journeys (eg wear down the Long Journey scene distinction) and also to overcome Uncertainty About What to Do.)

I agree that the force in the framing is caused by the inadequate resolution vis-a-vis that framing. I'm not persuaded that that makes it at the moment of resolution - either logically or temporally. But I'm not entirely sure what's at stake with some of these finer points of distinction.

GM Force
Unnecessary control of the fiction during a moment of resolution

Railroading
Application of force to ensure pre-determined events arise within the fiction
You're prising apart here what I've run together with my guiding or manipulating to a fore-ordained goal.

How do you see force (in your sense) taking place other than in railroading (in your sense) cases? I'm not thinking of anything at the moment, but that's probably because I'm tired and need to sleep!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
But content can be introduced without it being to form any particular narrative. I think I mentioned upthread that, in my Burning Wheel game, I (ie my PC) found letters from my mother in Evard's tower, apparently implying that she is Evard's daughter. That's content, but it's not introduced to form any particular narrative. I don't know what's going to flow from this; nor does my GM.
I agree with you. Some games do a much better job creating space and motivation for this kind of introduction though. The notion of "to find out what happens" isn't native to D&D for the most part, at least not the same way it is to some other games. Especially not in regards to character related stuff.
 

Sadras

Hero
One quick thing.

You could easily reverse the Ranger > Dog social conflict:

The framing is Indifferent > the Ranger fails the AH for the IBF but the GM exerts Force, turning it into success, and lets her parley that to changing the dog’s Starting Attitude to Friendly which is DC 0 for the CHA check (no risks involved).

They’ve got the dog. Good story, everyone is entertained (though the Ranger’s fair chance to reach the loss condition was subordinated by Force). That’s a job well done in terms of play ethos.

In this example, as DM, I could see myself just as easily give away the IBF without a need for a roll if we are talking about a rescue, a ranger and proficiency with the AH skill. That is a clear success to me - if anything I might only use the AH check to determine the degree of trust/bond that may now start existing between the ranger and the animal.

Interestingly, I think it was @Imaro or @Maxperson, I forget which, who some time back on one of these types of threads suggested the same thing you're suggesting, that setting a DC is essentially playing to the GM's bias and thus many if not all games have this GM force however much it is*. He was somewhat contested on this (because mechanics were used) and now here you are saying the same thing, but no one has raised issue with it. I bring this up not as to make some sort of jab at you or anyone else, only that I feel we (me inclusive) need to be a little more considerate of everyone's views and not immediately dismissive because the other side mentioned it. ;)

Otherwise great example!

* @Ovinomancer upthread mentioned that (to him) the degree of GM force matters little or is irrelevant (paraphrasing somewhat) only in that it exists.
 

You're prising apart here what I've run together with my guiding or manipulating to a fore-ordained goal.

How do you see force (in your sense) taking place other than in railroading (in your sense) cases? I'm not thinking of anything at the moment, but that's probably because I'm tired and need to sleep!

GM Force
Unnecessary control of the fiction during a moment of resolution

I think there's the possibility of force being inadvertent especially when one is learning a system and trying to make Apocalypse World or Blades or Burning Wheel work without quite getting it, but still without the intent to lead players down a pre-defined path.

And so I prefer the split in the acknowledgement that one doesn't automatically lead to another - there is a question of intent there.

Again, probably finer distinction than this discussion requires - I'm just adding my personal conceptions in case they are helpful.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
In this example, as DM, I could see myself just as easily give away the IBF without a need for a roll if we are talking about a rescue, a ranger and proficiency with the AH skill. That is a clear success to me - if anything I might only use the AH check to determine the degree of trust/bond that may now start existing between the ranger and the animal.

Interestingly, I think it was @Imaro or @Maxperson, I forget which, who some time back on one of these types of threads suggested the same thing you're suggesting, that setting a DC is essentially playing to the GM's bias and thus many if not all games have this GM force however much it is*. He was somewhat contested on this (because mechanics were used) and now here you are saying the same thing, but no one has raised issue with it. I bring this up not as to make some sort of jab at you or anyone else, only that I feel we (me inclusive) need to be a little more considerate of everyone's views and not immediately dismissive because the other side mentioned it. ;)

Otherwise great example!

* @Ovinomancer upthread mentioned that (to him) the degree of GM force matters little or is irrelevant (paraphrasing somewhat) only in that it exists.
Not quite. When classifying Force, I don't think degree matters. It very much does if I consider if I'm good with an application.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Sounds reasonable, but I think the premise is misplaced.
The wife affair is not something to ritually hear about once in a while to make the husband player happy at the expense of the party's ears; it something to be challenged, put up in play, that should promote action, decisions, eventually hard choice and resolution.
I see your PoV as a neutral d&d Dm, and you already wrote about finding hooks in Pcs backstory in order to foster the adventures you are planning to play.
I wrote about it in the spirit of the discussion; in actuality I generally try to avoid mining character backgrounds for adventure hooks unless the player somehow initiates it.

Part of my reasoning for this is that while some players delve into character backgrounds, others just don't care and would rather play in the moment; and I don't want to end up focusing on some specific characters more than others over the long term.

"Husband Pc, you went adventuring for almost a year. When you come back, you find home empty: the wife has joined a cult and went on pilgrimage to the (JG's) Dark Tower".
See? No boring the hell out of anyone...
But the party decides otherwise, and leave the Dark Tower for later.
Time passes...
"Dear Party, your investigation on necromancy stuff, leads you to this spreading cult of The Dark Tower. They built a Temple in the capital and, hear, hear, the Wife is in charge!"
Is anyone bored?
In this case, likely not.

My at-the-moment example is in the game I play in, in one party two of the PCs (mine is one) have well-laid-out backgrounds including family etc. Add to this, that party's most recent adventures involved rescuing said families, and my bet would be that the other players at the table are sick and bloody tired of hearing about our families - and I can't say I blame them! :)

I guess the above is ok with you, from what I have read you posting, but Gms I have met they won't concede anything to the players desires or backstory. Not even when they ask for detailed backgrounds rooted in the setting. They "kinda forget" during play. And I don't play D&D at all.
Yeah, I get this. My workaround is to not ask for detailed backgrounds. :)

My point is: building on Player investment is not a bad thing. The opposite, actually. If that might bore the table: frame a compelling scene for the Husband to foster a hard choice and, once resolved, move on.

Speaking of which, say the Husband wants now to "save" the Wife from the lure of the Dark tower, bringing her back home to attend domestic business. The party has finished the Dark tower adventure and are about to see if she reconsider, or stays fealty to the dark powers and thus be killed by the Husband.

Who decides the outcome?

Will she erupts in tears asking mercy, or die with a grin? Or just pretend to feel guilty, only to save her life?

(This reminds me of the climatic scene in Legend the movie by Ridley Scott)

Gm decides? Players decide? A D100 is rolled as per OD&D sidebar rule? Maybe a reaction table with modifiers is rolled upon?
IME, chances are none of the above would happen. :)

The players/PCs would most likely come up with a third option, probably involving neutralizing and capturing (but not killing!) the wife, taking her back to town, and getting her sorted out there via high-powered spellcraft.

As for her reaction, that'd be the GM's call if she's an NPC and her player's call if she's a PC.
 

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