Illusionism: Where Do You Stand?

This isn't illusionism. When the player decides their character uses a glaive and the umpire doesn't "sure check" them, they're both deciding that glaive-wielders and magical glaives are going to be a little more common in the campaign world.
I feel that's jumping the gun. The @Sword said the weapon of choice is unusual in the campaign world.
By the PC selecting to use that weapon doesn't change the fact that the weapon is still unusual in the campaign world.
Same way as choosing to play a wizard doesn't somehow make wizards a little more common in any measurable sort of way or choosing to play a gnome doesn't somehow make gnome adventurers a little more common in any measurable sort of way.

Replacing magic items to suit the needs and desires of the PCs is absolutely a form of illusionism. It is the same way as ignoring the effects of a die roll, whether it be during combat or out of combat such as treasure, weather effects or wandering monsters...etc
 

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On whom is the illusion being perpetrated?
Everyone at the table.
What resolution process is being subvertd.
Rolling for Treasure.
I'm not seeing it.
The way I see it is - you're meant to be playing a living world and you're trying to be all objective on your rulings but then you go and reflect obvious bias by just injecting items the players desire. That to me, reflects the entire game is a facade, it is all illusionism.

EDIT: Think of it this way the replace the quantum ogre with the quantum glaive+2
 
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pemerton

Legend
Everyone at the table.

Rolling for Treasure.

The way I see it is - you're meant to be playing a living world and you're trying to be all objective on your rulings but then you go and reflect obvious bias by just injecting items the players desire. That to me, reflects the entire game is a facade, it is all illusionism.
Even if it's Force, I don't really see the Illusion!

But I don't think rolling for treasure is a part of the resolution system for many RPGs. Even classic D&D allowed for GM-placed items; and Torchbearer (a contemporary game intended to support dungeon crawling, with reasonably extensive random treasure tables) says the following (Scholar's Guide, pp 141-2):

Once you’ve finished seeding the adventure with loot, flip through the pages of magical items in this book, but also recall the fantasy adventure stories you love. What type of material reward really stirs your soul? A wondrous lantern? A bed made of gold? A dragonslaying sword?

Succumb to your impish impulses and drop that puppy in this adventure - but bury it, hide it or make it extremely dangerous to acquire.​

Placing items because they will be interesting to the players is like preparing situations so they will be interesting to the players. That's not illusionism, it's just GMing. (Of course not the only possible approach to GMing.)
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Everyone at the table.

Rolling for Treasure.

The way I see it is - you're meant to be playing a living world and you're trying to be all objective on your rulings but then you go and reflect obvious bias by just injecting items the players desire. That to me, reflects the entire game is a facade, it is all illusionism.

EDIT: Think of it this way the replace the quantum ogre with the quantum glaive+2
Treasure table make the world objective? That too is an illusion.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Placing items because they will be interesting to the players is like preparing situations so they will be interesting to the players. That's not illusionism, it's just GMing. (Of course not the only possible approach to GMing.)
I agree it's not really illusionism as per the quantum ogres example, but it is IMO a contrivance; and comes across as a contrivance when done.

For example, if you're fifteen adventures into a campaign and an enchanted glaive has never crossed the PCs' path and then someone brings in a glaive-spec. Fighter, having an enchanted glaive just happen to show up in the next adventure is a bit too contrived, and comes across as such to the players - including the one that benefits. Same thing if Illusionist spellbooks suddenly start appearing in treasure right after someone brings in an Illusionist. It's obviously contrived, and annoying because it's so obviously contrived.

I prep situations, adventures, etc. as they are, and it's up to the players as to whether they find interest in them. I place treasure without regard to whether any one character (or player) will find it interesting, though occasionally I'll think "I wonder what they'll think of this if they find it" regarding some unusual item.

=======
I should note, to partly counter something I said upthread, that while I've never used random treasure tables to assign treasure in a dungeon or adventure, I do use a random item generator (a.k.a. a whacking big Excel spreadsheet) for generating "shopping lists" of what happens to be available to purchase in town this week/month/season.
 

Even if it's Force, I don't really see the Illusion!
I think you have the right of this.

The last few years I have been trying to understand this rolepaying crisis I've had where I've viewed every decision I've made as a form of illusionism. So I'd been trying excise much of my own bias from the game in the effort to reduce this perceived illusionism. Whether I used x opponents or x+5 opponents in the combat everything felt fake (an illusion).
Quantum ogres, quantum opponents in an encounter or inserting quantum treasure - it was all my own bias, there was nothing I felt that was indeed true in a sense. It shattered my idea of a "living world."

In another thread, a post by @innerdude seemed to touch on this internal dilemma I had. In a reply to a post I had @Manbearcat advised that I need to foreground the mechanics of the game which I took to heart and which would reduce effectively my force (although I interpreted it as my bias, hence illusion).

It appears I have conflated Force with Illusionism but there is a strong relationship between the two right?
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I think you have the right of this.

The last few years I have been trying to understand this rolepaying crisis I've had where I've viewed every decision I've made as a form of illusionism. So I'd been trying excise much of my own bias from the game in the effort to reduce this perceived illusionism. Whether I used x opponents or x+5 opponents in the combat everything felt fake (an illusion).
Quantum ogres, quantum opponents in an encounter or inserting quantum treasure - it was all my own bias, there was nothing I felt that was indeed true in a sense. It shattered my idea of a "living world."

In another thread, a post by @innerdude seemed to touch on this internal dilemma I had. In a reply to a post I had @Manbearcat advised that I need to foreground the mechanics of the game which I took to heart and which would reduce effectively my force (although I interpreted it as my bias, hence illusion).

It appears I have conflated Force with Illusion but there is a strong relationship between the two right?
I would say not. There is a core of illusionism in the game. In that, like any fiction one has to don one's suspenders of disbelief in order to engage. Force as I understand it is negating player agency or negating the resolution system to bring about a state desired by the GM.
 

I think you have the right of this.

The last few years I have been trying to understand this rolepaying crisis I've had where I've viewed every decision I've made as a form of illusionism. So I'd been trying excise much of my own bias from the game in the effort to reduce this perceived illusionism. Whether I used x opponents or x+5 opponents in the combat everything felt fake (an illusion).
Quantum ogres, quantum opponents in an encounter or inserting quantum treasure - it was all my own bias, there was nothing I felt that was indeed true in a sense. It shattered my idea of a "living world."

In another thread, a post by @innerdude seemed to touch on this internal dilemma I had. In a reply to a post I had @Manbearcat advised that I need to foreground the mechanics of the game which I took to heart and which would reduce effectively my force (although I interpreted it as my bias, hence illusion).

It appears I have conflated Force with Illusionism but there is a strong relationship between the two right?

No, you've got it.

A singular moment of Illusionism is a subset of GM Force. Its the covert deployment of Force; so you're talking about secretly changing outcomes via manipulation of action resolution mechanics/results and the like (maybe fudging dice behind a screen or concealing a target number to ensure one or the other of "pass/fail"). Not all Force is covert. A lot of it is in your face where GMs will "rug pull" like when the game is supposed to be about x premise/setting and then they flip the script to y premise/setting halfway through play. Another "rug pull" example might be when they just straight up take over an NPC/Faction/Trait that is effectively a PC asset and assert an outcome upon play that suborns player expectations of authority over that thing. Do you remember @hawkeyefan 's GM in his 5e game shutting down his Folk Hero Trait? That is a good example of overt Force via "rug pull." Then you've got stuff like the rampant "Deus Ex Machina" you see in metaplot-heavy games (there are big examples of this in APs) where the PCs slay a metaplot-relevant NPC or throw off the metaplot's timing via some kind of monkeywrench and the GM/AP subverts the outcome with a "haha, here is NPC002 that does the exact same thing" or they just artificially un-monkeywrench the situation and bring the metaplot's timing back online like nothing ever happened. That kind of stuff is overt GM Force (which subverts player input via build or action & resolution and puts play "back online" toward the GM's preferred sequence/outcome).

Illusionism is also referred to as a type of game that is governed by covert GM Force to a sufficient degree that the GM effectively has claimed control over the trajectory of play. Its about frequency, magnitude, scale of deployment but, for some folks, any instance of covert GM Force is enough to call a game Illusionism.
 
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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
If I put a magical glaive in the hands of a minor villain for the player to covet and plunder, that's just encounter design. If the player decides to avoid fighting that villain, they don't get that magical glaive, until they run into that villain again or another minor villain that I've armed with a different magical glaive.

Admittedly, I run a heavy improv style where I don't establish a lot of facts until the PCs request evidence that confirms them. But illusionism isn't designing encounters and adventure scenarios around player interests and character goals; illusionism is changing the established facts of the game world in order to have the players' choices inevitably end up where the umpire wants them.
This is one of those situations in which I have to ask "Is there a real difference here?" Swapping out the NPC's magical sword for a magical glaive to match the PCs preferred weapon is encounter design, but swapping the quantum ogres on the road ahead is illusionism? Particularly when you run an heavy improv game style where facts are established by PCs encountering them (either as encounters or as establishing evidence)? The way I see it, and based on your own comments, the fact of the road encounter isn't established until the PCs have evidence about it/have encountered it. So, what's the difference?
 

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