Is Immersion Important to You as a Player?

pemerton

Legend
To at least some extent, you're having a sematic argument. To some people allowing a player to do some of that is collaborative authorship. You don't have to agree with that, but its absolutely how they see that.
Collaborative tends to imply not unilateral. I'm describing something that is unilateral, and hence is not collaborative.

Like in AD&D I get to decide what race my PC is (subject to ability score requirements). That's not collaborative authorship of the fiction, and I've never heard it described that way. It's just me deciding.
 

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Voadam

Legend
Collaborative tends to imply not unilateral. I'm describing something that is unilateral, and hence is not collaborative.

Like in AD&D I get to decide what race my PC is (subject to ability score requirements). That's not collaborative authorship of the fiction, and I've never heard it described that way. It's just me deciding.

I would say AD&D is a collaborative game even though the players and the DM make unilateral decisions. I would say the emergent game that happens is collaborative authorship of the fiction even though it is composed of unilateral authorship decision elements including the ability for different authors to be working at cross-purposes.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
We see it differently, then; as I see "immersion" as - at its peak - describing the state where I forget I'm a player at a table and am thinking only as the character in the setting.
This. I'm only immersed(and it's not illusionism no matter what @Pedantic says) when I'm inhabiting my character and acting as he would. Sometimes I forget I'm playing a game, usually it's there but in the background. What pulls me out of immersion are rules and dice. If I have to stop to roll dice or use a rule for something, I'm automatically no longer immersed in my character and back out as a player, so rules that simply match what I'm doing as my PC fail to provide immersion if I have to refer to them or roll anything.

The best immersion comes during roleplaying interactions where I'm not rolling much in the way of dice, or exploration where dice aren't used often. Combats, being very dice and rule heavy D&D make immersion impossible.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I would find such a game uninteresting, but not for reasons of immersion. If I don't have any agency as a player to make good decisions (or the agency I do have can only be used to solve trivial optimization problems) then I necessarily won't be at odds with the character I'm playing at any point. Such a design would arguably be very high immersion, but very low on other design goals I'd choose to prioritize.
You don't need to know that success is 78% to make a good, informed decision and have agency, though. You just need to know that it's more likely than not, but with a decent chance for failure. That much should be evident to you by the situation, assuming the DM has described the environment correctly.
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
The approach I'm describing is not "collaborative authorship". It's just the player depicting their character, including the sorts of background details you describe.

This relates to @Manbearcat's description of setting as (sometimes) mere backdrop and colour. If that's the role being played by the setting, the player can just stipulate it as they go (eg who their friends or family are, what their clothes are like, what their ritual practices are like, etc). This stuff won't be contentious, and so doesn't need collaboration: the player stipulates it, and it becomes part of the shared fiction.
Sorry, I definitely misunderstood you. That's largely how I play on both sides of the table, where family, personal flavor, and history is generally the purview of the player, and there's little to no need for the DM to have say in it.

Ritual practices (I'm assuming in the context of magic/religion), that's the sort of thing that I'd personally like to honor the details of the setting material if it exists, and would be grateful for information about in a setting book. If you just mean personal practices, then yes, I agree.

I was thinking of larger, world building style ideas when I read your post, that games like Blades in the Dark actively advocate for players contributing, and that level of contribution takes me out of it a bit, so that why I used the term collaborative authorship in response to you.
 
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To explain the context for these questions: My understanding of GM-world-style immersion is that it is about being swept up in the GM's narration, a bit like reading a novel. So I'm not 100% sure how setting books - with their imaginary geographies, imaginary histories, etc - fit into that. To give a concrete example - I've heard of people getting immersed reading the LotR, but not so much reading its Appendices. Whereas RPG setting books tend to resemble the Appendices to LotR far more than the novel itself.

I may be misunderstanding the term as it is being used here, but when I think of GM world style immersion, I generally think of groups who have very little interest in the GMs narration but rather are focused on exploring the setting and feeling like they are there as characters. There are definitely people who play in a way where the GM's narration is important and colorful, and supposed to pull you in, but where I've encountered immersion focused on world, players are pretty skeptical of GM narration as a tool and tend to want the GM to be as brief with descriptions as possible. The idea being the GM simply narratives outcomes, things around them etc, but always avoids something like narrative past decision points the players might make. I.E. "I walk into the room", "In the room you see x, y and z; what do you want to do?" I would say in these kinds of games, players are generally not looking for something that feels like Lord of the Rings as a book, but allows them explore Middle Earth as characters.
 

Sometimes games aren't about "exploring the setting" though. Sometimes games are about "unearthing character" through a daisy chain of provocative situations. Setting might be integrated with that process of unearthing...or setting might be a (emergent) byproduct of that, or setting might be mostly irrelevant to that (as it just provides background color to anchor or juxtapose provocative situations).

This is definitely the case. I just think it is a question of what kind of knowing what kind of game you are making. And world building isn't the only approach to world immersion. I sound like a broken record but once again a game like Hillfolk, is highly immersive, not just in character but in setting and it takes the opposite of a lore approach (where you might have some basic setting premise to start but most of it unfolds in the course of dialogue between the characters).
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
Let me paint you a picture of one such type of scenario.
First off, let me say thank you for responding with such a detailed example. I hope my lack of experience and familiarity with DitV doesn't hurt my response, and arguably, given the conversation, is hopefully apt.
You're a 14 year old in pre-state Utah in a Wild West That Never Was. You're being initiated as one of "God's Watchdogs." You will go out amongst the Towns, amongst The King of Life's flock. You will perform ceremony. You will deliver mail. You will arbitrate disputes. You will mete out justice.

But that is later. You're here. Now.

Are you hoping that you accomplish something during initiation? Maybe you exorcised a demon? Maybe you showed yourself to be a crack shot? Maybe you exhibited knowledge of scripture and doctrine that set you apart from your peers?
Well, I'll start by assuming that being a part of God's Watchdogs is a given for playing the game, but even so, is this a choice I made? Did my family? Is this rare, or anticipated? Is this a position that is respected? Feared? Tolerated? Hated? How impressive is exorcising a demon? Am I matching the bare minimum and dealing with imposter syndrome, or do I have a full head already as a prodigy? Do I ever think I'm likely to encounter another one? Is scripture something everyone is expected to know, or is a simple basic understanding enough to set me apart? Does the vast majority agree and understand the tenets of The King of Life? Have I ever run into someone who would contradict these teachings, or am I confident due to never learning of anything else?
Great. You're you. I'm the terrible demon. I'm the breech-loading rifle's tendency to recoil violently and the winds tendency to foil. I'm the inscrutable doctrine and your peers' scrutiny.

Or are you looking for growth, learning, a changing of troublesome habits?

Ok. Now you're playing your character's foul temper that you have a tendency to succumb to or the fear of galloping at full speed in your horse's saddle. I play your teacher in their attempt to disabuse you of your worse nature.
Is the player in charge of choosing drawing the conflict to the forefront, or is it inflicted upon them? Because if I'm the one staging it, at what level does a temper become so foul as to draw attention from an elder? Is it swearing in polite company or even rough individuals think twice about crossing my path? Is proficient horse riding a requirement for basic life that I have no choice but to deal with, or am I wrestling with fear because it's holding me back from achieving my own voluntary goals that I could give up should they prove too troublesome?
We determine the pivotal moment of such a situation, and we take up our respective dice pools. You roll your relevant Stats and later (or not) bring in your Traits, Belongings, and Relationships as they become (or not) applicable. I roll 4d6 + 4d10. We launch into conflict that is akin to poker.

We Raise and we See those Raises as we say what we're doing and we select dice to represent that. We Take a Blow (when we can't See with 2 or less dice) or we Reverse a Blow (when we can See with only 1 die).
This is obviously a lot of mechanics talk, and I've not played poker, so it's a bit over my head. However, if I'm saying what I'm doing, that feels like it has to come out of an understanding of my character's position in the world, and what is expected or unusual, safe or risky.
Regardless, what happens in that scene isn't informed by high resolution setting material. Everything is very nascent. We don't need to know the name of your teacher. We don't need to know the name of the Steward of Red River Rock or if Red River Rock is even a Town. We don't need to know if an oil baron or the railroad via the Fed is trying to move in on the territory. We don't need to know your relationship to the Sin of False Doctrine (although maybe we'll learn about it if its related to the coming conflict or the stuff you bring into it via PC build and the conflict resolution mechanics).
Maybe here's the rub. I totally agree that I don't need to know this level of things to make a character driven choice. The name of the town doesn't influence that scenario, sure. If I'm doing a test of character about emotion, then niche details about religion are unlikely to come up. I understand how you've set up a scenario that is almost exclusively about the character's conception of self, and not related to doing something in the world, thus eschewing the need for questions like who is the ruling authority of the town closest to me.

But, whether my teacher is expected as a part of God's Watchdogs, or a separate secular entity that I'm lucky to have would be a salient point. If my decision to join the Watchdogs comes out of the lack of any civilization, so clinging to this one source of authority, or if it's reactionary and holding onto the past in light of the encroaching presence of industry and government.

These, and all the other questions I asked above, are why I can't see the setting as something on the level of "background color". Any answer I get to any of them informs how I approach the situation.
We don't need to know much. What we need to know we know. You have a temper that gets the best of you and an aspiration to defeat it. You've got Stats, Relationships, Traits, Belongings and a situation in front of you. We'll find out more about who you are, maybe more about one or more of those Relationships or Traits if they come into play and what you say about them when you use them. And we'll find out "what's what" in the end (and your character will change as a result).

|That is what I'm talking about. A situation pregnant with aspiration, emotion, immediacy and a character with means and baggage. And a resolution (mechanically and the consequential fiction that accompanies it).
I want to be clear: I'm not trying argue that I couldn't conceive of a character with wants and flaws and problems, and then do my best to confront a situation that puts any of those to the test. Nor do I think that that could not be fully engaging and exciting on its own merits.

But, an understanding of the world gives me so much more confidence to make choices, as I know why I've come to them, and what they mean, and so I'll always be grateful when there's information that will allow me to experience the world through my character's eyes in a more complete way, even if that information isn't necessarily reflective or vital to my character's personal state.


I truly hope I haven't missed your aim with how I have responded.

Edit: And, a caveat, you gave base setting details in your opening paragraph, but I have no clue how much is preset in player facing material, or that the players would be expected to know. I understand if that would resolve a fair amount of questions I'm positing. However, that wouldn't change any of my desire for it in the first place.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The approach I'm describing is not "collaborative authorship". It's just the player depicting their character, including the sorts of background details you describe.

This relates to @Manbearcat's description of setting as (sometimes) mere backdrop and colour. If that's the role being played by the setting, the player can just stipulate it as they go (eg who their friends or family are, what their clothes are like, what their ritual practices are like, etc). This stuff won't be contentious, and so doesn't need collaboration: the player stipulates it, and it becomes part of the shared fiction.
Except what's being cast aside as "mere backdrop and colour" is often directly related to what a character thinks-does-intends in the moment or near future, and can also have a bearing on how those actions play out.

The most obvious example is in-setting weather. When outdoors or when contemplating going outdoors, most characters are going to approach and-or do things differently if the in-setting weather at the time is pouring rain and a cold 30-knot wind than they are if it's pleasant sunshine and a light warm breeze.

Think of your famous 'looking for a feather in the market' example: how differently might that have gone had, say, the wind been high enough or the rain heavy enough to prevent half the merchants from even setting their tents up that day? Never mind that in a high wind there'd likely not have been many feathers out on display. :) And IMO in a situation like this you can't use weather as a post-hoc explanation for a failed roll or check (e.g. why didn't they find the feather), as the weather was there first and thus should have been narrated up-front as it could very well have influenced previous character decision-making: "It's a crap day outside - let's put off the market until tomorrow and do some indoors research today instead".

As for clothing: to me a character's clothing isn't part of the setting, it's part of the character. A character's personal background can be a fuzzier area; as if what the player stipulates conflicts with the stipulations of another player or the GM, something has to give.
 

Pedantic

Adventurer
This. I'm only immersed(and it's not illusionism no matter what @Pedantic says) when I'm inhabiting my character and acting as he would. Sometimes I forget I'm playing a game, usually it's there but in the background. What pulls me out of immersion are rules and dice. If I have to stop to roll dice or use a rule for something, I'm automatically no longer immersed in my character and back out as a player, so rules that simply match what I'm doing as my PC fail to provide immersion if I have to refer to them or roll anything.

The best immersion comes during roleplaying interactions where I'm not rolling much in the way of dice, or exploration where dice aren't used often. Combats, being very dice and rule heaving D&D make immersion impossible.
I'm using illusionism here to criticize the idea players should not know the rules of the game they are playing. It sounds like you're proposing that TTRPGs with less rules provide a greater sense of immersion, which I'm not totally sure interacts with my proposed definition.

It would all come down to how you are resolving conflicts in the shared fiction. If everyone generally agrees about character capabilities then you might never actually need to roll out a resolution mechanic other than the default "collectively decide what happens" and no one will ever encounter dissonance, which I would absolutely agree is an immersive state of affairs. I'm generally skeptical that such a state can be maintained by adults in an open-ended roleplaying situation, especially one that focuses on combat, and especially when you're in a fantasy or sci-fi or other setting that deviates significantly from normally experienced reality.

You don't need to know that success is 78% to make a good, informed decision and have agency, though. You just need to know that it's more likely than not, but with a decent chance for failure. That much should be evident to you by the situation, assuming the DM has described the environment correctly.
I think we're just quibbling over how much information about risk is necessary. I think D&D's 5% increments are about as fine-grained as I'd want software running on my brain to go, and I could probably be comfortably with a 10% standard, but I would side-eye anyone who didn't evaluate a 70% and an 80% chance of success differently. After that, we're just asking about which adjectives should indicate which DCs, and I generally think that's improved by putting them down in manuals.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think we're just quibbling over how much information about risk is necessary. I think D&D's 5% increments are about as fine-grained as I'd want software running on my brain to go, and I could probably be comfortably with a 10% standard, but I would side-eye anyone who didn't evaluate a 70% and an 80% chance of success differently. After that, we're just asking about which adjectives should indicate which DCs, and I generally think that's improved by putting them down in manuals.
Player-side, 5% or 10% steps are OK as that's often about as closely as the character would be able to size up the odds in most situations.

GM-side, however, steps that big are often far too coarse-grained; I want it accurate down to the %. You might correctly think in-character that your success odds are in the 70-80% range, but there can be a big difference if the true odds (known only to the GM) are 71% as opposed to 79%.
 

Pedantic

Adventurer
Player-side, 5% or 10% steps are OK as that's often about as closely as the character would be able to size up the odds in most situations.

GM-side, however, steps that big are often far too coarse-grained; I want it accurate down to the %. You might correctly think in-character that your success odds are in the 70-80% range, but there can be a big difference if the true odds (known only to the GM) are 71% as opposed to 79%.
I'm straight up talking about the sides of dice here. The only systems that will give you that level of precise is a d100 resolution, and those have, I think, generally proven quite clunky to use.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Collaborative tends to imply not unilateral. I'm describing something that is unilateral, and hence is not collaborative.

If all the pieces are put together to make a whole, its still collaborative even if there's no direct back-and-forth.

Like in AD&D I get to decide what race my PC is (subject to ability score requirements). That's not collaborative authorship of the fiction, and I've never heard it described that way. It's just me deciding.

Different people draw lines in different spots, news at 11.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Which could be characterized as the place where the discussion becomes much simpler and much less productive.

Well, that depends on what you are trying to produce. Many folks, knowingly or not, are trying to "win", or prove their position is correct - that means they want to produce opportunities to "score points", and for that, a simplified argument is fine.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Well, that depends on what you are trying to produce. Many folks, knowingly or not, are trying to "win", or prove their position is correct - that means they want to produce opportunities to "score points", and for that, a simplified argument is fine.

I suppose, but that seems at best a definition that even the people who might be working on it would be unlikely to fess up to, so...
 

Well, that depends on what you are trying to produce. Many folks, knowingly or not, are trying to "win", or prove their position is correct - that means they want to produce opportunities to "score points", and for that, a simplified argument is fine.

Even when its a good faith effort, it can be easy to fall into very polarized positions in these discussions, because someone states A and you tend to take up position B. I find it useful to chime in once in a while, but step back and allow my thoughts and experience of play away from online discussions to shape my input into online discussions (rather than the other way around). Ultimately what matters is what works at the table and what works with the players you are gaming with.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Even when its a good faith effort, it can be easy to fall into very polarized positions in these discussions, because someone states A and you tend to take up position B. I find it useful to chime in once in a while, but step back and allow my thoughts and experience of play away from online discussions to shape my input into online discussions (rather than the other way around). Ultimately what matters is what works at the table and what works with the players you are gaming with.

The issue is its not even finding "A" an extremely unattractive position. Its the assumption that everything that isn't B, is A. Now, maybe someone sees anything that isn't B as just some variation on A, but in many cases (such as the one I was reacting to), that looks pretty ludicrous (and I suspect it often looks so even to many proponents of B.)
 

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