"Illusionism" and "GM force" in RPGing

You're putting very hard demands on the system here - completely abandoning the "ecology simulation" aspect you identified upthread.
The "ecology simulation" aspect is only relevant insofar as players have a substrate to make inference. If the wing is cleared, (a) we're simply simulating a collapsed ecology and (b) no more inferences should need be made for delving in that wing!

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.
Torchbearer has a very simple, elegant, and well-integrated answer to this:

1) The Light clock and "The Grind" (the Condition clock) are Turn-centered.

2) A Turn is either a Conflict or a Test so they're dynamic time-wise; they can be a 10 minute navigation of an obstacle, a brief skirmish, or a night's watch.

Failure in a Test or Conflict results in either (a) Success but an accrued Condition or (b) a Twist (this is Torchbearer's analogue to Wandering Monsters).

Twists can be Monster, Wilderness, Dungeon, Talking, Personal, Magic, Prayer. Basic and AD&D (if necessary) can easily use this tech in the stead of Wandering Monsters (in the case where "the wing has been cleared"), just take the Monster and Talking tables and the appropriate locale (Wilderness or Dungeon) off of the list and roll like you would a random encounter when an Exploration Turn results in some kind of mishap.

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.​
Torchbearer would just handle this as a Night's Watch conflict with relevant Twist or Success w/ Condition at the end.

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.
In all of these, the answer is like the above. Just make an Exploration Turn a dynamic thing temporally w/ either a Test or a Conflict w/ relevant Twist or Success w/ Condition at the end.

Torchbearer just flat solved all of these problems through well-integrated systemization and extremely clear GMing. D&D (whether its Moldvay Basic, AD&D, or 5e) could just reverse engineer them and integrate them into their system architecture.
 
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@Manbearcat

I didn't get as clear an answer in the other thread about something and I was hoping to get your opinion on the matter. At the outset I'd just like you to know my players enjoy some GM Force (even on their backgrounds), where much of the heavy lifting is done by the GM, they enjoy the surprises. But that shouldn't influence your opinion.

PC input into his background - PC sword-mage was initially trained by a master who was an apothecarist. DM input into his background - Part of the apothecarists clientelle were some well-to-do ladies seeking potions of charisma/seduction...etc. It was known to the PC he fooled around with some of his clientelle. Anyways this master disappeared suddenly and his lab was trashed.

PC made the assumption it was a jealous husband.

Some adventures later. The master makes a return and leaves again. This process continues on for a year or so, while the PCs engage on a series of quests to destroy a lycanthropic organisation.

The master was the werewolf in charge of the lycanthropic organisation. As an apothecarist, he had been creating potions for his kin which would mask their scent amongst animals, allowing them to travel a lot easier within urban areas. He has stolen this formula from the Minrothad Guilds during his short stint there. The theft along with a murder of a colleague had activated a Black Seal Warrant (legal assassination - hence his continued disappearing act). He had, during his returns, explained to the PC that this had been a misunderstanding during his time in Minrothad and that the truth was the Guilds were after some of his formulae. He painted them as corrupt capitalists. The PC bought it and so helped him out from time to time (hiding him and giving him cash).

The revelation of his master came about when the party's actions became too difficult to ignore as they racked up success after success against the organisation. In a final effort, the master revealed himself to his former apprentice, saying he was willing to forgive the PCs past misdeeds against his kin if the PC would but just join him.

By me making the master (using no mechanics) the lycanthrope - does that fall into GM force or is that just generating content?
So, in some games, (Dogs and Cortex+, for example) the relationship that is embedded in the PC background would involve the ability to invoke a Die that helps in conflicts (like a d8) and a Die that complicates your life (a d4 and you get a token in C+ or the likelihood of earning what is tantamount to "xp" in Dogs). This is player-facing tech, however.

If you invoke your relationship as a complication and new obstacle has to be authored as a consequence of action resolution fallout, what might manifest is something like what you're describing above; the GM authors some new fiction surrounding your master that may test your relationship or that may emotionally injure you (weaponizing the relationship).

As far as is "is you making the master the lycanthrope Force" goes, that is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too zoomed out. That scale isn't really a test for "is this Force?" I mean, broadly, authoring backstory preemptively isn't Force. However, you can certainly impose fiction upon play that nullifies player input and controls the gamestate by leveraging that pre-authored backstory during action resolution, during situation-framing, or during situation-reframing (post conflict resolution).

You would need to zoom in a whole lot tighter on singular instances of play for me to have an opinion on the above content and Force.

To repeat, high resolution metaplot and high resolution setting aren't Force as a matter of mere existence. Its just that they can easily just be used for such (and the temptation is often there due to GM investment in (a) their creation broadly, (b) the time and energy poured into it, and (c) the fact that they feel most acquainted with it and therefore perhaps better prepared to deploy it vs something improved on the spot).
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Your Torchbearer sounds very little like the game I was playing the '90s. Is it a (relatively) new game? The one I remember had an abstract encumbrance system (PCs could carry a fixed number of items), a complex magic system involving a "rainbow" of schools (wood, elemental, etc.), physical nodes of magic used to channel for each school and casting got faster the more nodes you channeled through.
 
Your Torchbearer sounds very little like the game I was playing the '90s. Is it a (relatively) new game? The one I remember had an abstract encumbrance system (PCs could carry a fixed number of items), a complex magic system involving a "rainbow" of schools (wood, elemental, etc.), physical nodes of magic used to channel for each school and casting got faster the more nodes you channeled through.
Luke Crane's Torchbearer

Mouse Guard/BW hack in the vein of Moldvay Basic
 
Ah! Very different then. My memory is of a streamlined RQ with an overly complex magic system glued on.
Yeah, definitely not the same! For my mileage, its the best Dungeon Crawl game on the market and its not really close.

Are you familiar with the video game Darkest Dungeon? It was inspired by Torchbearer so you would have a rough approximation if you're familiar with it.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So, in some games, (Dogs and Cortex+, for example) the relationship that is embedded in the PC background would involve the ability to invoke a Die that helps in conflicts (like a d8) and a Die that complicates your life (a d4 and you get a token in C+ or the likelihood of earning what is tantamount to "xp" in Dogs). This is player-facing tech, however.

If you invoke your relationship as a complication and new obstacle has to be authored as a consequence of action resolution fallout, what might manifest is something like what you're describing above; the GM authors some new fiction surrounding your master that may test your relationship or that may emotionally injure you (weaponizing the relationship).

As far as is "is you making the master the lycanthrope Force" goes, that is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too zoomed out. That scale isn't really a test for "is this Force?" I mean, broadly, authoring backstory preemptively isn't Force. However, you can certainly impose fiction upon play that nullifies player input and controls the gamestate by leveraging that pre-authored backstory during action resolution, during situation-framing, or during situation-reframing (post conflict resolution).

You would need to zoom in a whole lot tighter on singular instances of play for me to have an opinion on the above content and Force.

To repeat, high resolution metaplot and high resolution setting aren't Force as a matter of mere existence. Its just that they can easily just be used for such (and the temptation is often there due to GM investment in (a) their creation broadly, (b) the time and energy poured into it, and (c) the fact that they feel most acquainted with it and therefore perhaps better prepared to deploy it vs something improved on the spot).
I dunno. If were talking about 5e, backstory is strongly presumed to be the player's baliwick before being introduced into play. I'm very reluctant to rewrite backstories like the "surprise, you master is a werewolf!" because is does override player input. Now, if that happens during play because the player indicated that was up for grabs, then I'd say rewriting an important element of player introduced fiction to fit a GM's storyline sounds quite a lot like Force.

If were talking other games, where backstory is up for grabs, thise at least require nechanical resolution to see this example bear out.

My 5e game has an instance similar to this because I've invoked a nemisis from a PC's background. The background has this nemisis as someone responsible fir destroying the character's clan, leaving few survivors. As this is a Planescape game, I took the liberty of having this nemisis' plots be at a planar scale, but other than invoking him, I've done little extrapolation. This led to a moment in play of another players saying, "wait, is this <nemisis> guy a dwarf like <character>?" I looked to the player and saud, "well, is he?" The answer was, "you know, I'm not sure." And, bam, now what the nemesis is is up for grabs.

Alternatively, another player is an escaped thrall of mindflayers, but has no memory of before thralldom. I have a rule in this campaign that PCs don't due unless the player says so, but choosing this option means I get creative license to be mean. This PC elected to not die, and so I introduced that when he came to, he recalled that he had volunteered for thralldom, but diesn't remember why. I had that license because he invoked the death rule and I chose that because I knew it would torture the player far worse than PC death eould have.

I'd say the latter was Force, even thoigh I had loose permission, but I'd say that oermission was to engage in Force, not make it not Firce.
 
@Ovinomancer

I think these are my thoughts as it pertains to 5e:

1) A GM has huge latitude when it comes to authorship and authority with the roles of lead storyteller and entertainer.

But...

2) Ideals, Bonds, Flaws and Background Traits give players some domain that is out of bounds because it’s fundamental to a player’s conception of their PC. Further, some classes have some Fiat ability that doesn’t engage with the action resolution mechanics.

If a GM effs with those (either by leveraging negating material during situation-framing that is pre-authored or by introducing that same negating content in the course of mediating action resolution), then that would be Force.

I’m not sure @Sadras did that here. If he did, then yeah, that is Force.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Ovinomancer

I think these are my thoughts as it pertains to 5e:

1) A GM has huge latitude when it comes to authorship and authority with the roles of lead storyteller and entertainer.

But...

2) Ideals, Bonds, Flaws and Background Traits give players some domain that is out of bounds because it’s fundamental to a player’s conception of their PC. Further, some classes have some Fiat ability that doesn’t engage with the action resolution mechanics.

If a GM effs with those (either by leveraging negating material during situation-framing that is pre-authored or by introducing that same negating content in the course of mediating action resolution), then that would be Force.

I’m not sure @Sadras did that here. If he did, then yeah, that is Force.
Yeah, 5e gives zero guidance as to what's open to.GM authority. An offical adventure even has to GM assign flaws to PCs if certain events occur. So, if we cleave to the 5e rules as presented, you're right that there are very few limits to GM authority.

But....

The definition we're using doesn't check authority. In many cases of Force talked about, authority exists over tgat arra of the game but it's still Force because legitimate player input is overridden. In the instant case, I'd say that while the GM has few limits on fictional authority in 5e doesn't mean it's not replacing player input with GM preferred material.
 
I think perhaps we’ve reached the point in the conversation where we need to stipulate what constitutes “input” broadly and both system-specific.

Every wish and aspiration that a player has is certainly not input. However, particular PC build aspects and system-specific widgets, the intent of action declarations and the orientation of decision-points are 100 % “input”.

The line between “input” and “social contract obligations” gets a little fuzzy on the other stuff...and it shifts system by system as the authority distribution of the participants and the game’s priorities/agenda changes.
 

pemerton

Legend
When content is introduced players must either ignore it or interact with it. Part 1 should be obvious - if they interact with the content then introducing that content modified their input by getting them to interact with the new content. Part 2 isn't quite as obvious - if they ignore the content then introducing the content modified their input by getting them to ignore the new content. In either case their input is modified from where it previously was.
I don't want to go too far down this rabbithole - but if player input hasn't occurred yet then it can't be nullified. Nor can it be modified. It can be instigated.

This is what I've been focusing on with @chaochou, and @Manbearcat around the DL dragon armies case - there are some different analyses going on, and probably more posts I haven't read yet, but my take is that this is not a modification or nullification of player input but nevertheless is force because it guides/manipulates towards an outcome.

The "guidance" you speak of is hard to separate from legitimate content introduction. The only this you have here is 'foreordained conclusion'. This is a hard sell, as if I have an idea the night before a game of Blades that I think might be neat, and an opportunity arises in game that fits, if I deploy that using my authority to frame I'm not engaged in guidance to a foreordained conclusion, I'm introducing an idea I may have though earlier.
I agree that it's tricky. That's why (as I may have posted upthread, or maybe in another parallel thread) I think framing is such a key GM skill, especially once the game moves beyond exploration of a pre-mapped-andkeyed site.

So you're correct that the fore-ordained conclusion is carrying a lot of weight. But I think this is right. It's what distinguishes the scripted adventure approach (see eg the quotes posted by me and moreso @Doug McCrae upthread from systems like V:tM, James Bond, etc) from what Paul Czege describes here in a classic Forge post:

Tim asked if scene transitions were delicate. They aren't. Delicacy is a trait I'd attach to "scene extrapolation," the idea being to make scene initiation seem an outgrowth of prior events, objective, unintentional, non-threatening, but not to the way I've come to frame scenes in games I've run recently.. . . I'm having trouble capturing in dispassionate words what it's like, so I'm going to have to dispense with dispassionate words. By god, when I'm framing scenes, and I'm in the zone, I'm turning a freakin' firehose of adversity and situation on the character. It is not an objective outgrowth of prior events. It's intentional as all get out. We've had a group character session, during which it was my job to find out what the player finds interesting about the character. And I know what I find interesting. I frame the character into the middle of conflicts I think will push and pull in ways that are interesting to me and to the player. I keep NPC personalities somewhat unfixed in my mind, allowing me to retroactively justify their behaviors in support of this. And like Scott's "Point A to Point B" model says, the outcome of the scene is not preconceived.​

The fact that you have a cool idea for your BitD game doesn't make it force; likewise, as @Campbell has pointed out in the past, "no myth" doesn't preclude use of prepared material (whether from a Monster Manual, or some GM write-up, or whatever). It's about preconceived outcomes, or the alternative of openness to how the payers engage the scene and letting it unfold out of that interaction and the interplay of narration and mechanics.

I think that Czege's comment about NPCs is also very interesting, and has influenced me a lot. We talk a lot in these threads about "Schroedinger's secret doors" but Czege is pointing out that NPCs can also develop in the same way. (I remember @chaochou causing controversy in one of my Traveller threads by suggesting a similar sort of approach.)

The Gygax secret door example appears to be Force in my opinion because it's subverting the player input in a skilled game to reach a GM desired outcome. The idea in skilled play, as I understand it, is that you deploy character resources in a skilled way and you succeed through how you deploy those resources. In that play concept, subverting the skill input of the players is Force. It's not a framing issue, because finding secret doors is not a matter of framing in this mode of play. You've moved something that should be an outcome of skilled play into framing, and that's what's resulting in Force -- the negation of player input in finding the secret door according to the assumptions of play.
I think the Gygax example is both subtle, and also an (unintended, I assume) illustration of a weak point in classic dungeoncrawling D&D.

So first, recall that Gygax says on p 9 of his DMG that it would be contrary to the precepts of the game to allow PCs to escape unnaturally. So we're not talking here about revealing a secret door to allow an escape (or, for similar reasons, to find a treasure or whatever). As Gygax says (DMG p 110), it's about "a secret door that leads to a complex of monsters and treasures that will be especially entertaining."

This can be handled as a mode of skilled play: eg the PCs hear rumours of a hidden part of the complex, or find a map from a previous (NPC) party's expedition, etc. But it doesn't have to be - most obviously, the 1st level party in the first session don't normally need to learn about the dungeon through skilled play. Or discovery of a dungeon can be a result of a random encounter while travelling through the wilderness.

So using a secret door to open up a dungeoneering opportunity isn't, in respect of the opening up, a violation of skilled play precepts. But the use of a secret door as the device is an adaptation of a device invented for skilled play purposes to a different purposes, driven by the lack of devices for introducing new sites other than action resolution of declarations of movement. Contrast this with, say, MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic, where a secret door in an action scene could be a GM-introduced Scene Distinction or a player-introduced Resource or Asset; but in a Transition Scene could easily just be a piece of GM narration.

So at a table that didn't consider PC death or a TPK to be a loss condition then would the DM introducing the dragon armies content with only 1 escape route be categorized as GM force?

If so then why? If not, then the same action can be both forcing and not forcing - it just depends on the table. That makes a poor starting point for RPG theory IMO.
If the loss conditions of the game change, then of course the role of other elements and techniques might also change. That's not a surprise, it's exactly what one would expect.

EDIT: I saw this while catching up on the thread, and it belongs in this post:

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.

<snip>

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).
Here we have the framing as force issue right in front of us. It's not literally a manipulation or nullifying of player input, because the input hasn't come yet. Its using a mixture of mechanics (including mechanical limitations, which @chaochou talked about upthread) and fiction to pre-empt or sidestep any meaningful player impact on the shared fiction.

In practical, day-to-day RPGing I think this is a big thing.

MORE EDIT:
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.
Consequences are huge. The capacity for nullifying player input, and manipulating towards a fore-ordained goal, is very real. Getting this right is a hugely important GM skill.
 
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pemerton

Legend
I used to do stuff like this back in the day routinely.
Not to turn this into an episode of "true confessions" - but thank you for posting this. This is the actual play correlate of the rules text that I, and moreso @Doug McCrae, have been posting.

Or in other words - the topic of this thread isn't just idle speculation or theory craft. We're talking about actual trends in RPGing here.
 
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pemerton

Legend
The general consensus of this thread was that waving the wandering monster checks was "unfair". @pemerton and @Manbearcat were in agreement on that - unless I misunderstood their positions at that time.
You've misunderstood my position. I don't think the wandering monster thing is force - that's controversial, with the controversy turning (I think) on different understandings of how "clocks", skilled play and conceits of dungeon geography and moving PCs fro place to place interact in classic dungoencrawling.

And I don't think it's unfair either. Nor (I think) does @Ovinomancer. I'm not sure about @Manbearcat, but from his posts I don't think fairness (as opposed to, say, integrity) is the main value he is deploying.
 

pemerton

Legend
Put another way, should all starving, traumatized dogs be Hostile to careful, non-aggressive human interaction with them?

Then add the Ranger aspect of this and revise that to "should all starving, traumatized dogs be Hostile to a person whose life has outfitted them with a skillset that particularly equips them to dealing with such situations?"
I don't know the details of the 5e D&D social system - only your accounts of it.

But if a ranger can't befriend an ordinary dog on a 12 (ie beating 50/50 odds) then something has gone wrong. We're talking a dog here, not a hell-hound.

We're talking about genre fiction here, replete with Rangers who have a preternatural ability to deal with wildlife. In mundane, real life alone, people skilled with animals deal with traumatized, starving dogs regularly...and they aren't hostile at some kind of overwhelming rate that its impossible to envision one being "Indifferent" (in D&D terms). I'm not a Ranger, but I've helped rescue a dog exactly like this...talked to her, soothed her with nonthreatening posture and waited patiently until she trusted me...and fed her right out of my hand. My guess is, if you Youtube this, its not the most uncommon thing in the world.
Clearly you're a chosen of Ehlonna! (Or Melora, for those who prefer 4e to GH).

Other than your newly-revealed animal-handling abilities, nothing here is surprising or shocking. Only in crappy "never give the PCs an even break" D&D is using food to befriend a feral dog going to be a task out of reach of an animal handling-trained ranger.
 
I don't want to go too far down this rabbithole - but if player input hasn't occurred yet then it can't be nullified. Nor can it be modified. It can be instigated.
And if the player input has already occurred then how can that input be nullified or modified other than by fudging checks?

If the loss conditions of the game change, then of course the role of other elements and techniques might also change. That's not a surprise, it's exactly what one would expect.
I find it interesting and very important to note that you are agreeing that whether an act is forcing or is not depends on a tables loss conditions.

Consider, is it possible that loss conditions are subjective? It seems to me that they must be because what one player in a particular game counts as a loss may not be what another counts as one in that very same game.
 
Other than your newly-revealed animal-handling abilities, nothing here is surprising or shocking. Only in crappy "never give the PCs an even break" D&D is using food to befriend a feral dog going to be a task out of reach of an animal handling-trained ranger.
That seems to be assuming that checks should tell whether you succeed or fail and the details of how you attempted to do whatever you were trying are not important. There's another playstyle where the details of how you are trying to do something really matter when it comes to setting the DC.

I find it to be a perfectly reasonable determination by the DM that approaching a starving and traumatized dog would cause it to take a defensive posture. But that's assuming a playtyle like the 2nd that I described. If you are playing by the first then you take into account it's a wilderness guy trained in animal handling and pretty much whatever he tries and however he tries to do it to do outside of attacking the dog he is going to get to roll animal handling with a moderate but not hard dc for success.

Alot of the games you describe that you like seem to have more of the first type of playstyle. So maybe that's some of the disconnect.
 

pemerton

Legend
Torchbearer just flat solved all of these problems through well-integrated systemization and extremely clear GMing. D&D (whether its Moldvay Basic, AD&D, or 5e) could just reverse engineer them and integrate them into their system architecture.
I've got no doubt Torchbearer solves them, because Luke Crane is a brilliant designer.

But reverse-engineering will be tricky. Look at the agony in 5e threads over how to manage 6 to 8 encounter balance in the context of recovery clocks measured by ingame time; the accusations of "contrivance" or "dissociated" against 13th Age's recovery/"campaign loss" system; etc.

Gygax's D&D treats it as pretty much a given that all time and geography are resolved via movement rates applied on maps, with no action scene/transition scene contrast. And D&D has been stuck with this inheritance except for that brief interlude we all know about but don't speak about!
 
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.
Totally unrelated to the conversation.

No one ever comments about how I do this. I go back and read my posts later and I'm seeing this more and more anymore. Its startling. I think I'm experiencing the onset of CTE (I've had probably 30 legitimate concussions in my life, 2 with loss of consciousness before age 7). I'm right at the age (early 40s). My memory is struggling when once my memory was visceral and absolutely freakish in terms of recall. My ability to make new memories is struggling. I've gotten progressively more stupid in the last 4 years (struggling with comprehension and to formulate thoughts in ways that would have never been a problem in the past).

If anyone has any experience with the above (brain tick where you just add the same word multiple times at random), hit me up with a PM. I'd love to hear about it.
 

pemerton

Legend
And if the player input has already occurred then how can that input be nullified or modified other than by fudging checks?
By disregarding it, adding to it in ways that don't honour it, ignoring it's impact on a DC (in systems that have them), etc.

A classic example I have frequently seen advocated in published adventures: if the PCs kill the leader of a gang, a second-in-command takes over so the plot of the module rolls on unabated.

what one player in a particular game counts as a loss may not be what another counts as one in that very same game.
That seems likely to be a cause of dysfunctional play. For instance, if the game is fairly typical D&D and one player thinks a TPK is a loss while another doesn't, I don't see how friction will be avoided for very long.

I find it to be a perfectly reasonable determination by the DM that approaching a starving and traumatized dog would cause it to take a defensive posture. But that's assuming a playtyle like the 2nd that I described. If you are playing by the first then you take into account it's a wilderness guy trained in animal handling and pretty much whatever he tries and however he tries to do it to do outside of attacking the dog he is going to get to roll animal handling with a moderate but not hard dc for success.
And so does the player of the ranger with training in Animal Handling need to make a check so the GM will tell him/her what the best way is to befriend an upset dog? Or is that meant to be built into the skill system already - so that a successful Animal Handling check includes having reached out to it in the right way?

Also, is starting attitude meant to be a baseline, or is it meant to very radically in response? Eg if a NPC is indifferent/neutral and then a player narrates his/her PC's greeting and it's rougher/more colloquial than the NPC would prefer, is that grounds to change the outlook to hostile? Or should it impose a slight penalty? Or neither - perhaps being super-genteel should confer a bonus!

Any system that leaves a trained ranger with only a 10% or 20% chance to connect with a feral dog; or that might allow a silver-tongued bard only a 10% or 20% chance to get the time of day from a frightened waif; has, in my view, obviously failed. And in my experience this sort of thing - resulting from some of the factors I've mentioned in this post - is a common manifestation of poor GMing that, in fantasy gaming, pushes players towards spells over ordinary actions as solutions, subverts genre and generally causes frustration.
 

Sadras

Hero
Alternatively, another player is an escaped thrall of mindflayers, but has no memory of before thralldom. I have a rule in this campaign that PCs don't die unless the player says so, but choosing this option means I get creative license to be mean. This PC elected to not die, and so I introduced that when he came to, he recalled that he had volunteered for thralldom, but diesn't remember why. I had that license because he invoked the death rule and I chose that because I knew it would torture the player far worse than PC death eould have.

I'd say the latter was Force, even thoigh I had loose permission, but I'd say that oermission was to engage in Force, not make it not Force.
I very much like this house-rule but do you feel it is correct to call your example Force. For instance the player invoked it after a failure (combat failure in this instance), which is not very different than using mechanics and rolling poorly. If one rolled poorly using a mechanics system to allow a GM to provide PC background input would you still say it results in Force?
 

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