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"Illusionism" and "GM force" in RPGing

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't know that I agree with the definition of forcing on this thread. That said i'm not here to argue definitions and I step into this knowing full well that i'm at a disadvantage due to the terms being yours. That said,

It seems to me that the only way for a DM to not use forcing as described above is to create a fully procedural world where the dice dictate every thing. How is anything else not forcing?
I think the point in the quote, which isn't terribly clear on it's own, is that there's a difference between building out, say, a dungeon, and then letting the players wander it how they wish and building the same dungeon, but shepherding the players to the final climactic battle in the last room with the cool NPC you built. This is a gross example, but works. In the former state, the PCs will live or die according to how they act. In the latter, they'll find ways blocked or opened as needed to get to the end goal of the GM.

You could also achieve the no-force by using many of the systems designed to create content as you play -- building on the outcomes of the last action. This style of play means that content is created on the fly, and often according to player inputs, and that can rub people the wrong way. A good example is the secret door. A PC meets a blank wall. They announce they're searching for a secret door, which is put to the mechanics. If they succeed, there's a secret door there. If they fail, there may be a secret door, but it's trapped/has monsters behind it/goes to a bad place and seals behind them/doesn't exist and guards show up/etc. As you might have surmised, no one knows if there's a secret door in that wall until the mechanics resolve and then either the player gets their intent or the GM thwarts it (or you get some of both, depending on if the mechanics has a range of outcome). This style of play really prevents all Force, mostly by making any application immediately obvious. "I search for a secret door, success!" "You don't find a secret door, but a closet with the Boogeyman!" "Bob, darn it, we talked about this, you have to stop making everything about the Boogeyman, besides, I succeeded so there has to be a secret door here. Play right, Bob."
 

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TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Apparently framing is not forcing as long as you do not change anything related to the PC (i.e. backstory)
It's only force, at least in my understanding, when the GM is introducing material with the expectation of steering the game towards a specific later state. It's the GM framing gamestate B after A, because they've already thought of a cool gamestate C.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
It's only force, at least in my understanding, when the GM is introducing material with the expectation of steering the game towards a specific later state. It's the GM framing gamestate B after A, because they've already thought of a cool gamestate C.
That force is only a bad thing if that specific later state and/or the mechanics of steering contravene the social contract of the table.
 



Nagol

Unimportant
I think the point in the quote, which isn't terribly clear on it's own, is that there's a difference between building out, say, a dungeon, and then letting the players wander it how they wish and building the same dungeon, but shepherding the players to the final climactic battle in the last room with the cool NPC you built. This is a gross example, but works. In the former state, the PCs will live or die according to how they act. In the latter, they'll find ways blocked or opened as needed to get to the end goal of the GM.

You could also achieve the no-force by using many of the systems designed to create content as you play -- building on the outcomes of the last action. This style of play means that content is created on the fly, and often according to player inputs, and that can rub people the wrong way. A good example is the secret door. A PC meets a blank wall. They announce they're searching for a secret door, which is put to the mechanics. If they succeed, there's a secret door there. If they fail, there may be a secret door, but it's trapped/has monsters behind it/goes to a bad place and seals behind them/doesn't exist and guards show up/etc. As you might have surmised, no one knows if there's a secret door in that wall until the mechanics resolve and then either the player gets their intent or the GM thwarts it (or you get some of both, depending on if the mechanics has a range of outcome). This style of play really prevents all Force, mostly by making any application immediately obvious. "I search for a secret door, success!" "You don't find a secret door, but a closet with the Boogeyman!" "Bob, darn it, we talked about this, you have to stop making everything about the Boogeyman, besides, I succeeded so there has to be a secret door here. Play right, Bob."

I agree with everything save that the content-now styles preclude force. A GM can still use force techniques by altering which outcomes deserve 'hard' or 'soft' results (for those unfamiliar 'hard' means with mechanical consequence; 'soft' means with foreshadowing/scene alteration without mechanical consequence) and scene framing.

Consider the case where the GM had a bad dream the night before and really wants to emulate a scene where a dog turns into a tentacled horror and attacks the PCs. The first problem is the group doesn't have a dog. The GM introduces the dog and a player obliging attempts to befriend the animal but rolls abysmally earing a 'hard' outcome. The GM narrates a soft outcome with looming dangers instead giving the player a second chance to befriend the dog. The player still fails and the GM narrates a 'hard' outcome that somehow maintains the dog's presence so further attempts can be made. Should these fail, he can always decide to introduce a different dog in another scene frame...

Note, I'm not saying all GMs do this. I'm not even saying this is appropriate in the mechanics presented in those systems. Illusionism and GM force are hard to stymie should the GM be determined to use them.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I agree with everything save that the content-now styles preclude force. A GM can still use force techniques by altering which outcomes deserve 'hard' or 'soft' results (for those unfamiliar 'hard' means with mechanical consequence; 'soft' means with foreshadowing/scene alteration without mechanical consequence) and scene framing.
Well, no, because doing so does not alter or block player inputs but rather feeds on them. This is an example of the GM using their judgement and having authority to introduce content, not Force.
Consider the case where the GM had a bad dream the night before and really wants to emulate a scene where a dog turns into a tentacled horror and attacks the PCs. The first problem is the group doesn't have a dog. The GM introduces the dog and a player obliging attempts to befriend the animal but rolls abysmally earing a 'hard' outcome. The GM narrates a soft outcome with looming dangers instead giving the player a second chance to befriend the dog. The player still fails and the GM narrates a 'hard' outcome that somehow maintains the dog's presence so further attempts can be made. Should these fail, he can always decide to introduce a different dog in another scene frame...

Note, I'm not saying all GMs do this. I'm not even saying this is appropriate in the mechanics presented in those systems. Illusionism and GM force are hard to stymie should the GM be determined to use them.
This may be Force, but not for the reasons that the GM used a hard move to introduce new fiction. Instead, this may be Force if the introduction of the dog is outside the genre/assumptions of the game. In these games, the GM isn't fully free to introduce scene framing elements but rather constrained to introduce elements that align with the player's intended action. So, if introducing a dog is within genre and not against player established constraints, then this is fine. If it is, there's a problem already, and it will be immediately apparent. Similarly, if dogs turning into tentacled horrors is in genre and within the constraints of the player action failing, then it's fine. If it's not, there's a problem and it will be immediately apparent.

For example, your above would be perfectly fine in a Cthulhu themed game as it fits all of the genre points and introducing of tentacled beast is well within expectations of player action failures. It's not cool in a game about high school drama surrounding who's popular (there's a game like this). If you introduce things outside of the genre and player established constraints, then there's a problem AND it's apparent. If you do it inside, then this isn't Force, it's acceptable content introduction by the GM.

Notably, Force isn't adding things the GM likes, it's subverting player input to cause things the GM likes. If the GM couldn't add things, ever, we'd be in a world of boring.
 


prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
But if the Gm continues to add content to delay, or prevent, Players from reaching their destination, that is annoying, too.

That sounds as though it could be Force. The party has figured out where they need to be, and even how to get there, but they have to do fifteen thousand other things first, because they need to level up (or whatever).
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Well, no, because doing so does not alter or block player inputs but rather feeds on them. This is an example of the GM using their judgement and having authority to introduce content, not Force.

This may be Force, but not for the reasons that the GM used a hard move to introduce new fiction. Instead, this may be Force if the introduction of the dog is outside the genre/assumptions of the game. In these games, the GM isn't fully free to introduce scene framing elements but rather constrained to introduce elements that align with the player's intended action. So, if introducing a dog is within genre and not against player established constraints, then this is fine. If it is, there's a problem already, and it will be immediately apparent. Similarly, if dogs turning into tentacled horrors is in genre and within the constraints of the player action failing, then it's fine. If it's not, there's a problem and it will be immediately apparent.

For example, your above would be perfectly fine in a Cthulhu themed game as it fits all of the genre points and introducing of tentacled beast is well within expectations of player action failures. It's not cool in a game about high school drama surrounding who's popular (there's a game like this). If you introduce things outside of the genre and player established constraints, then there's a problem AND it's apparent. If you do it inside, then this isn't Force, it's acceptable content introduction by the GM.

Notably, Force isn't adding things the GM likes, it's subverting player input to cause things the GM likes. If the GM couldn't add things, ever, we'd be in a world of boring.

Adding the dog initially isn't Force. Refusing to accept the mechanical outcome (outright failures should fail at what they're attempting) is Force. Continually adding/updating an element until the game state hits the DM preference is illusionism/force.
 

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