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Is Pathfinder 2 Paizo's 4E?

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I am honestly baffled someone can think 4E is anywhere near the experience of playing AD&D/d20/5E... but since that seems to be the case, I guess there's nothing else for me to do but take my hat off as well...
 

GrahamWills

Registered User
Returning to the central theme, I'll give my answer not from the "success in the market" point of view as much from the core feel of the game. D&D 3/3.5/PF stressed the simulation side of the game. Things were supposed to Work A Certain Way That Made Sense, and the rules would support that. People would argue about whether things were realistic (hit points anyone?) and we had some overly complex rules in an attempt to make things work "right" (I'm looking at you, grappling).

4E had a different goal; it put the game element up front. It said things like "To be a fun game, all team members should be able to contribute substantially in all scenes", contrasting with previous versions where magic wins because in the world of fantasy, that is what is "realistic". Whereas previous editions were simulations first (from the wargaming roots), with rules supporting it, 4E went all-in on being a game first.

Some people liked that. They said "OK, a fireball burst is a square. That makes it easy". Others went "that is totally stupid. How can a spell with a radius be a freaking square?". And because most roleplaying game enthusiasts are not actually rules-first people, 4E irritated more people than those who loved it.

5E's success is partly attributable to the general rise in nerd appreciation; it's cool to be into D&D, way more so than it was around 4E's time, so that, for me, is a big factor. But so is the fact that they did a bang-up job of mashing together AD&D's "rules? it's about the story, about cool ways of doing things, about player inventiveness"; 3.5's "this is a simulation of a fantasy world -- if you think it should work a certain way it probably will"; 4e's "this is a game where the rules are fair and well designed". Its telling that no matter which version of D&D you prefer, you see your favorite version in 5E. That's a stellar accomplishment.

So, back to PF2. If PF2 was Paizo's 4E, they would have gone for a strongly one-dimensional way of playing; they would have gone all-in for rules (as 4E did), or simulation, or story. But they haven't. They have looked at what 5E did -- making a deliberately unopinionated game; one that takes classical GNS theory and says "screw this; I can so make a system that does it all". Fantasy is the most successful RPG genre because it is a malleable mix of anything goes in a way that sci-fi or other genres cannot hope to be. 5E doubled down on being that loose, even-handed system that all types of players see good in.

As far as I can tell, PF2 is trying for the exact same kind of thing, but since that would directly compete with Wizards, they have edged to the simulation side a bit more. 13th Age sits just off to the more narrative side of the same spot, so that seems a good decision on their part.

If you want a fantasy game exactly at the middle of al gamers' preferences: 5E. If you want one edging towards narrative elements: 13th Age. If you want one edging towards simulation: PF2. If you want one zooming out to the horizon of gamism -- there's 4E!
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Returning to the central theme, I'll give my answer not from the "success in the market" point of view as much from the core feel of the game. D&D 3/3.5/PF stressed the simulation side of the game. Things were supposed to Work A Certain Way That Made Sense, and the rules would support that. People would argue about whether things were realistic (hit points anyone?)
The "simulation" angle got reversed at some point, I think. It stopped being about simulating something that was out there that you could check against for accuracy (like checking your combat rules against SCA re-enactment, or checking your magic rules against RL beliefs in the supernatural or how magic worked in myth/legend/fiction), but, rather, became a matter of treating the game /as/ a simulation of something, /defined wholly & only by how the game simulated it/.

So, hps weren't unrealistic, high level fighters could just take an axe to the face and it'd barely break their skin, /because they had a lotta hps/. You could perform experiments (I mean, a Dr. Mengele type could) in the fantasy world and derive the existence of hit points, the damage dice of weapons, and so forth, scientifically, from the results.

4E had a different goal; it put the game element up front
That was a method more than a goal. The goals were probably varied. But, one thing 4e did was model fiction, fantasy, yes, but even the broader, cinematic 'action' genres. It was really rather pervasive. Thus, surges, 'powers' that recharged with each scene (short rest/encounter), genre bits - like all the mooks surrounding the Big Damn Hero charging him one at a time to be cut down in an entertainingly-choreographed manner - were given the force of rules, and 'off camera' stuff being hand waved and glossed over instead of meticulously accounted for.

"To be a fun game, all team members should be able to contribute substantially in all scenes", contrasting with previous versions where magic wins because in the world of fantasy, that is what is "realistic". Whereas previous editions were simulations first (from the wargaming roots), with rules supporting it, 4E went all-in on being a game first.
Early wargames really were simulations, they were training tools for or hypothetical alternatives to actual war. But the wargaming hobby were people playing games, so they were already a compromise between the concerns of a game - fairness, fun, playability, etc - and the concerns of a simulation - accuracy, completeness, fidelity. D&D, 'simulating' the un-real, naturally slid more towards game...

5E's success is partly attributable to the general rise in nerd appreciation; it's cool to be into D&D, way more so than it was around 4E's time, so that, for me, is a big factor. But so is the fact that they did a bang-up job of mashing together <past editions>
And, TT gaming, in general has been in a renaissance of sorts since oh, 2012 or 14 or so.
I see it a little differently, though I still see 5e as a great accomplishment: 5e balanced acceptability to it's most vocal old guard, with accessibility to new players. Thus, new players, drawn to it by nerd-chic, history of the 80s fad, and the TT renaissance weren't put off by violent nerdraging & book burning all over the internet (unlike 4e); and, having tried it, found it something they could actually play and comprehend without too steep learning curve (unlike 3e) or deciphering & fixing up the rules (unlike 1e), so long as the DM was up to the challenge (very much like 1e).

The other major thing 5e did was return to the classic game's faith in the DM: the DM /is/ the game, he has total control, final responsibility, ultimate authority. DM Empowerment, in 5e is intentional, in the classic game, it was a necessity.

So, back to PF2. If PF2 was Paizo's 4E
It would have to be launched into the teeth of the worst recession since the Great Depression, with sales goals double the total of the entire industry, intimately linked to vaporware, and attacked with rabid, unceasing nerdrage by it's most ardent fans, even to the point of burning books on youtube and accosting customers at game stores.

There is just no way PF2 could live down to the 4e legacy of horror.

But, if it fails commercially?
Could be a fair metaphor.
 

S'mon

Hero
OT, I think recessions are usually good for RPGs because they are a cheap hobby. D&D did very well in the early 1980s recession.
 
If you want a fantasy game exactly at the middle of al gamers' preferences: 5E. If you want one edging towards narrative elements: 13th Age. If you want one edging towards simulation: PF2. If you want one zooming out to the horizon of gamism -- there's 4E!
Assuming you're using GNS more-or-less as The Forge does, then there's no interesting difference between 4e and 13th Age. And as best I can tell typical 3E/PF and typical 5e play is either what The Forge would call "high concept simulationionism" or what it would call "gamism".

That's not to say that there may not be interesting differences in these systems. Just that they don't really speak to GNS distinctions as those terms were used by The Forge.

EDITed to add:

I think
If you want a fantasy game exactly at the middle of al gamers' preferences: 5E. If you want one edging towards narrative elements: 13th Age. If you want one edging towards simulation: PF2. If you want one zooming out to the horizon of gamism -- there's 4E!
Assuming you're using GNS more-or-less as The Forge does, then there's no interesting difference between 4e and 13th Age. And as best I can tell typical 3E/PF and typical 5e play is either what The Forge would call "high concept simulationionism" or what it would call "gamism".

That's not to say that there may not be interesting differences in these systems. Just that they don't really speak to GNS distinctions as those terms were used by The Forge.

EDITed to add:

I think there are some systems which produce player characters which have a "concept", an easily-discernible fictional nature or schtick, independently of how the character is played. AD&D aspires to this, even with at least some of its class names - we have paladins, rangers, thieves, assassins, druids, martial arts monks, etc - although in play they can sometimes fail to deliver what they promise (qv thieves, monks).

My sense is that 5e not only aspires to this but generally achieves it.

Whereas in 4e, at least as I've experienced, it's often the case that you don't really know what a character can do - what his/her "concept" is - until you see the character in play. That's not to deny that someone with enough experience (of 4e, and of RPGs in general) to have a good mechanical imagination won't be able to imaginatively project from reading a stat block - but I don't think a newbie can easily do that.

I think this difference between 4e and 5e is not a trivial one. Eg it makes 4e pretty hopeless for "high concept simulationism" RPGing, which - by my estimate - is the single most popular approach to RPGing, and maybe by quite a big margin.

(There's oversimplification here - 4e non-combat works very differently from 4e combat and is closer to "archetype-driven" - but the rules aren't good at explaining how and I think there are many RPGers fro whom the ways in which they're different, and the reasons why, are not terribly intuitive. And because of skill challenges it's still pretty terrible for high concept simulationism)
 
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GrahamWills

Registered User
Assuming you're using GNS more-or-less as The Forge does, then there's no interesting difference between 4e and 13th Age
No. I like the terms because they help describe play styles, but the theory is way off. If you re-read my point, you'll see that I explicitly reject classic GNS theory since I state that 5E does what classic GNS theory says is impossible.

And as best I can tell typical 3E/PF and typical 5e play is either what The Forge would call "high concept simulationionism" or what it would call "gamism"
I'm not big into arguing semantics or naming conventions, which is why I alternate terms like "story", "narrative" etc. to make that clear. I've played enough PF and 5E to know that they feel very different, so I'm not compelled by an argument that says they are the same. The forge style "A game must fall into one of these three buckets" is something I reject. I just use GNS as a continuum to say things like "5E is more narrative than PF; PF is more about simulation than 5E" which few people would disagree with (except those who want to argue exact meanings of words).

I think there are some systems which produce player characters which have a "concept", an easily-discernible fictional nature or schtick, independently of how the character is played. AD&D aspires to this, even with at least some of its class names - we have paladins, rangers, thieves, assassins, druids, martial arts monks, etc - although in play they can sometimes fail to deliver what they promise (qv thieves, monks).

My sense is that 5e not only aspires to this but generally achieves it. Whereas in 4e, at least as I've experienced, it's often the case that you don't really know what a character can do - what his/her "concept" is - until you see the character in play.
This is kind of a weird statement paired with your position of not seeing much of a difference between 4E and 13th Age, since a core strength of 13A is that it uses a slew of narrative features that jump-start the character concept immediately; One Unique Things, Icon Relationships and Aspect-style backgrounds instead of skills. My 13th Age Monk started off

Suiauthon ("Soo-ee") Half-Elf Monk; Unique Thing: Avoids Water, and Water avoids Him. Positive relationships with the Crusader, Priestess and The Three. Backgrounds: +2 Serene Student of Priestly Lore; +3 Viper Assassin of the Black; +1 Legendary Carousing.

Even given you just mis-spoke about 13A and 4E being similar GNS-wise, I'm not sure that your (following) statement is a universal way of getting the concept of a character:

That's not to deny that someone with enough experience (of 4e, and of RPGs in general) to have a good mechanical imagination won't be able to imaginatively project from reading a stat block - but I don't think a newbie can easily do that.
Maybe it's that I started playing D&D with AD&D, where if you read a stat block for one fighter, you read them for all of them -- but I have never tried to make a concept from a character based on stats, powers and the like. That feels much more like a simulationist approach -- the rules should define what my character is, based purely on what he can do -- and that's not me. 13A encourages that approach, and games such as Fate make it explicit, but for any form of classic D&D/PF, I need more that a stat block to make that happen.

If you believe that you need stat blocks, powers and other quantified items to define a "high concept" for a character, then clearly early D&D, and the whole OSR community are a failure, which I find hard to believe. It also argues you need a very rich system, with tons of feats, talents, classes and optional powers, so you can choose the best concept. Again this is hard to square with your dislike of 4E (maybe you think the overabundance make sit too hard for a novice? But even then surely it is better to have too many than too few?)

I might be helpful for you to define what you understand by "high concept" and "high concept simulationism". Is an example of the former "A street-born fighter and liar for justice?" and would the simulationism by embodied by taking powers and skills to support that concept? If so then I guess I'd be curious how you reconcile the complete inability of early D&D and most OSR games to model that concept with their popularity?
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Assuming you're using GNS more-or-less as The Forge does, then there's no interesting difference between 4e and 13th Age. And as best I can tell typical 3E/PF and typical 5e play is either what The Forge would call "high concept simulationionism" or what it would call "gamism".
Which, if nothing else, illustrates the value (far worse than useless) and intuitiveness (downright deceptive) of Forge labels.

(And don't say "tell us how you really feel," none of us have that kinda time.)

That's not to say that there may not be interesting differences in these systems.
Interesting? Fundamental. 3.5 vs 5e, for instance, is like night and day in certain, extremely critical ways. Like the role of the DM. In 3.x, the DM is the custodian of the sacred RaW, picking & choosing from amongst it, & adding to or modifying it if he dares, and the crafter of challenges, using all the system mastery at his command. In 5e, the DM /is/ the game, the rules are mere guidelines, providing structure for the players, but no impediments to the DM (if, indeed, he ever feels the need to consult them). Both ask a lot of the DM, but in very different ways.

I think there are some systems which produce player characters which have a "concept", an easily-discernible fictional nature or schtick, independently of how the character is played. AD&D aspires to this, even with at least some of its class names - we have paladins, rangers, thieves, assassins, druids, martial arts monks, etc
I'm not sure I'd call it aspirational. It's a restriction on player options. Later versions of D&D slowly softened those restrictions, both by adding customization options - Kits, NWPs, Feats, Skills, Backgrounds, Themes/PPs/EDs - and by broadening the ability of the player to define his character descriptively - initially some flexibility describing PC appearance, then more complete descriptive freedom extended to gear as well, finally virtually everything being 'skinnable.'

5e's only backed off from a bit from those highs, it retains skills & backgrounds, feats are optional, and, AFAIK, players are still free to describe the physical appearance of characters & their gear how they like. So, while choice of class might be more a straightjacket than in 3e or 4e, it still leaves more room for customization than in the classic game, even 2e.
 
3.5 vs 5e, for instance, is like night and day in certain, extremely critical ways. Like the role of the DM. In 3.x, the DM is the custodian of the sacred RaW, picking & choosing from amongst it, & adding to or modifying it if he dares, and the crafter of challenges, using all the system mastery at his command. In 5e, the DM /is/ the game, the rules are mere guidelines, providing structure for the players, but no impediments to the DM (if, indeed, he ever feels the need to consult them). Both ask a lot of the DM, but in very different ways.
I suspect there are many tables where this contrast doesn't hold. I mean, even on these boards I see lots of thread asking what the rules for XYZ are in 5e. And back in the day I saw plenty of 3E-playing posters decrying obsessive adherence to "RAW" and advocating for "rules of cool" and the like.

I'm not sure I'd call it aspirational. It's a restriction on player options.

<snip>

5e's only backed off from a bit from those highs, it retains skills & backgrounds, feats are optional, and, AFAIK, players are still free to describe the physical appearance of characters & their gear how they like. So, while choice of class might be more a straightjacket than in 3e or 4e, it still leaves more room for customization than in the classic game, even 2e.
I'm not talking about customisation. I'm talking about the degree to which the PC build process yields high level, easily accessible "descriptors" that can be taken to tell us what the PC is/does.

AD&D aims to have this in many of the classes. 5e aims to have this across all game elements (it's what Mearls meant when he talked about merging "mechanics" and "story" in PC build elements). 4e doesn't have this - the "story"/descriptor of a 4e PC is an output of action declaration and resolution and isn't intutively accesible independently of that (unless you have a strongly internallised understanding of the mechanics and how they play, so you can read the "story" off a stat block).

Notions of "customisation" of flexibiity of PC build are only tangentially related to the phenomenon I'm describing.
 
I might be helpful for you to define what you understand by "high concept" and "high concept simulationism".
By "high concept simulationism" I mean what The Forge means - as eg per this essay by Ron Edwards. Game systems that are generally oriented towards such play include DL-ish AD&D, CoC, Vampire: the Masquerade, and a fair bit of PF-ish/5e-ish Adventure Path play.

When I talk about PC with a concept I'm meaning PCs that are easily graspable as falling under some genre-salient description. Han Solo as the "rogue with a heart of gold" would be a pretty well-known example.

If you believe that you need stat blocks, powers and other quantified items to define a "high concept" for a character, then clearly early D&D, and the whole OSR community are a failure

<snip>

I guess I'd be curious how you reconcile the complete inability of early D&D and most OSR games to model that concept with their popularity?
I don't really follow this. It's imputing things to me that I didn't say.

Moldvay Basic makes it incredibly easy to (at least aspire to) play a rogue with a heart of gold - you write Thief on your PC sheet and tell everyone, or maybe show them through play, that your thief is well-meaning and ultimately loyal even if a bit of a rascal. In AD&D you can reinforce this by writing CG in your alignment box.

I use the language of aspiration because in Moldvay Basic and AD&D if the GM is following the rules then your thief might find it hard to succeed in roguish things due to the well-known mechanical suckitude of low-level thieves. In 5e this issue, as best I can tell, largely goes away for reason to do with (i) better success numbers on the PC sheet, and (ii) a slightly different approach to framing and adjudication of checks which [MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION] has posted about just upthread.

This is kind of a weird statement paired with your position of not seeing much of a difference between 4E and 13th Age
I didn't say that. I said that - and you quoted me as saying that - "Assuming you're using GNS more-or-less as The Forge does, then there's no interesting difference between 4e and 13th Age." You suggested that 13th Age is "narrativist" and 4e is "gamist", but in The Forge sense the two systems exhibit no such contrast. And in fact, if anything, I would say that the existence of skill challenges in 4e and their absence from 13th Age makes 4e more suited for mainstream scene-framing narrativist play, while the presence of Icon rolls in 13th Age makes it easier to push that game in the direction of high-concept simulationism (whereas, as I posted, I think that's almost hopeless for 4e because too many of the system elements, including the skill challenge mechanic, will push against it).

I've played enough PF and 5E to know that they feel very different, so I'm not compelled by an argument that says they are the same.
Again, I didn't say they're the same. Just that I don't think there is any significant GNS difference in respect of them.

To give a parallel exampel: In Forge terms Burning Wheel, Prince Valiant and The Dying Earth are all narrativist systems. But they all feel different in play - I suspect more different than 5e and PF. That doesn't stop them all being narrrativist. GNS isn't the only classification used by The Forge to describe games, and it's not intended at all to describe the "feel" of play, as opposed to something like the "goal" of play at a certain abstract level of description.

But if you're using GNS is some other fashion then The Forge's use, well I'm not famiilar with what that is but presumalby you're using those terms as you mean to.

this is hard to square with your dislike of 4E
This is another point where I have no idea what you're talking about. 4e is the only version of D&D I've payed regularly in the past 20 years and the only one I would play again (except perhaps for one or two sessions of AD&D a year for nostalgia's sake).

I didn't express any dislike of it and didn't make any criticisms of it. I observed a feature of it that I think - based on pretty extensive play experience and discusion - is pretty significant in understanding how it can be played. And my claim that it is not suitable for high concept play is - in my view - reinforced by the fact that nearly every poster on these boards who (as best I can interpret their preferences) likes high concept D&D play either dislikes or hates 4e.

(There are a few exceptions but that's nearly always the case in human affairs.)
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Game systems that are generally oriented towards such play include AD&D, CoC, Vampire: the Masquerade...
Three radically dissimilar games.

I didn't say that. I said that - and you quoted me as saying that - "Assuming you're using GNS more-or-less as The Forge does,
So, if you use it to "confuse, inveigle and obfuscate..."*

I'm not talking about customisation. I'm talking about the degree to which the PC build process yields high level, easily accessible "descriptors" that can be taken to tell us what the PC is/does.
So if you take all those various customization options, and pick one possible set of them, they yield exactly one possible concept? Still sounds restrictive vs being able to stand in for multiple concepts that accomplish the same things, but in different ways.

So is that the point, that is/does is tightly coupled?

You /are/ this, so you can only /do/ that.
You do /this/, so you can only /be/ that.
 
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Manbearcat

Adventurer
Originally Posted by pemertonGame systems that are generally oriented towards such play include AD&D, CoC, Vampire: the Masquerade...



Three radically dissimilar games.
Only very, very tacitly following this thread, but this caught my eye in a "what in the world...?" sort of way.

I think this may in fact be a source of dissonance that you and I have in some of these conversations, particularly where it pertains to The Forge and, more specifically, "system matters."

The most fundamental core mechanic of VtM and White Wolf games is "The Golden Rule" or "there are no rules" or, apropos, "system doesn't matter."

@pemerton is referring to AD&D 2e above (surely), not 1e. AD&D 2e went all-in on this ethos (unlike OD&D, 1e, and B/X). CoC does as well. The lifeblood of those three gaming systems are overwhelmingly GM Force and opacity, inadequacy, incoherency, or impotency of action resolutions mechanics (which, not coincidentally force multiplies the "heavy GM mediation/Force is required to make this game work" angle), where GM latitude is at its utter apex (in all the history of TTRPGs) and subordination or outright ignoring action resolution mechanics/outcomes so the GM can curate the play experience at their discretion is the most fundamental aspect and energy of play.

Quite literally, those 3 systems probably have more to do with why The Forge was created than anything else.

If you look at a modern indie game like Blades in the Dark, you see, the utter antithesis of the GMing and design ethos of games like AD&D 2e, CoC, and VtM.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I think this may in fact be a source of dissonance that you and I have in some of these conversations, particularly where it pertains to The Forge and, more specifically, "system matters."
I get plenty of dissonance from The Forge. I mean, if the Forge were trying to tell you "roll a d20, you want high," it would take 12000 words, and /none/ of those words would in any way refer to dice, the number of faces on them, nor the target for success - but, they'd sum it up in a completely nonsensical label at the end, so Forgites could say, IDK, "Confirm Brisance" when they mean "roll d20 you want high," and then link you to the 12k word Ron Edwards opus that fails to explain that's what it means.

(And, no, I'm not going to tell you how I really feel, I'm going to enjoy my 4-day weekend.)

The most fundamental core mechanic of VtM and White Wolf games is "The Golden Rule" or "there are no rules" or, apropos, "system doesn't matter."
The Wolfie no-rule is hardly a /mechanic/, but sure, more or less. They also famously said "Bad rules make good games!" so it's not that system doesn't matter, it's that systems should suck, to /force/ the GMs to override them and the players to angle for that as much as possible.


pemerton is referring to AD&D 2e above (surely), not 1e.
While 1e wasn't /trying/ to be a system so bad that playing it would train everyone to accept and rely on the DM's judgement & ultimate authority, it still prettymuch got there.
AD&D 2e went all-in on this ethos. CoC does as well.
It's the height of irony that anyone would conclude that AD&D 2e and Storyteller have anything in common. They fought their own bitter precursor to the edition war, the ROLL v ROLE debate, through much of the 90s, on the basis that they were absolute polar opposites, with D&D the deformed poster child for all-rules-all-the-time ROLLplaying and Storyteller the glorious paragon of ROLEplaying, GHoD* Complex notwithstanding.

Not that D&D and Storyteller don't both throw everything at the feet of the DM and demand he fix it, but just that's it's the freak'n Height of Irony.

CoC (and BRP in general), though, not see'n it s'much. % skills, not so weird nor requiring of constant intervention as all that. And, as questionable as much of 2e was, it was less incoherent (in the English meaning of the word, not the Forgelish) than 1e.

The lifeblood of those three gaming systems are overwhelmingly GM Force and opacity, inadequacy, incoherency, or impotency of action resolutions mechanics (which, not coincidentally force multiplies the "heavy GM mediation/Force is required to make this game work" angle), where GM latitude is at its utter apex (in all the history of TTRPGs) and subordination or outright ignoring action resolution mechanics/outcomes so the GM can curate the play experience at their discretion is the most fundamental aspect and energy of play.
With the exception of articles and conjunctions, I'm guessing not one word of that actually means what it sounds like it means. Because Forge.

Quite literally, those 3 systems probably have more to do with why The Forge was created than anything else.
I'll /try/ not to hold it against them.
















* Great Handfuls of Dice. In some storyteller games you could get really large dice pools together, and if you could twink** out a low difficulty somehow, an egregious number of successes. But, apparently, the GM was supposed to ignore the 17 HL you just did to the 8-HL target who only soaked 5, and just narrate it the same as if you'd hit him with a feather duster.

** Yeah, I wondered about that, too, first time I heard it but, no, different meaning: for some unknowable reason the Storyteller community in the 90s used 'twinky' or 'twink' as either verb or now when talking about muchnkins, powergaming and what would come to be known more politely as system mastery.
 
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[MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION] - just adding to what [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] posted, which I fully agree with (except to add that 1st ed AD&D also started heading in the same direction in the post-DL era).

The Forge isn't trying to explain your experience with CoC vs V:tM, and why you found them similar or different. It's offering an analytic vocabulary for talking about RPG design, and some features of RPG play. It's no more "confusing, inveigling or obfuscating" than is a chemist who tells you that coal and diamond are the same stuff, or Newton who tells you that an object falling to earth and a planet orbiting the sun is the same physical phenomenon, or an anthropologist who tells you that reigious practices among neolithic people and grief counselling in its contemporary Californian manifestation play the same social function.

If you're not interested in that sort of analysis then that's fine, but as far as I can see it doesn't give any reason to complain about it. It's not like Ron Edwards dropped by your house and told you that yuo had to read his essays or else he'd steal your dice!

For my money, it's sufficient evidence that The Forge's analysis is largely sound that Ron Edwards, in an essay published c 2003 predicted, almost down to the last full stop and comma, the features of 4e that generate visceral hostillity from simulationist-inclined players (again I'm using "simulationism" in The Forge sense), which is the majority of RPGers, more-or-less from the moment it was published.

In any event, the sorts of differences in the feel of play that I tend to see discussed on these boards - like degree of "search-and-handling" required (compare, say, grappling in 3E to searching for a secret door in AD&D); or whether players have authorial power over aspects of the fiction that doesn't correlate to their PC's exercise of causal power in the fiction (what The Forge calls "director stance"); or whether metagame mechanics are prominent or minimal more generally; or whether PC build is a column A, column B approach (eg race and class) or something else, or is stat+skill based or something else, or is level-based or something else - have no bearing on whether a game facilitiates narrativist, simulationist or gamist play in The Forge sense. Againm that's typically because the discussion on these boards nearly always assumes a broadly simulationist goal of play. (Sometimes you see openly gamist goals advocated, but those posters often get dogpiled for being "power gamers" and even the gamist posters on these boards tend to have a healthy simulationist aesthetic often inspired by the similar combination of S with G found in Gygaxian AD&D.)

Now the previous paragraph isn't saying that such matters are unimportant. Nor that The Forge has nothing to say about them. But if you want to learn about a chemist's account of the difference between coal and diamond you wouldn't look in the index under "Elements" or "Periodic Table". You'd look for their account of allotropes, of the relationship between molecular and bonding structure one the one hand, and reflectivity and hardness on the other, etc.

So if you want to talk about the difference in feel between (say) CoC and V:tM, look to The Forge's account of IIEE, or of colour and setting and situation, or various forms of participationism. Not to its account of GNS.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
The Forge is no more "confusing, inveigling or obfuscating" than is a chemist who tells you that coal and diamond are the same stuff
Seems more like an alchemist trying to explain it by alluding to Greek mythology.

"Just a beautious Aphrodite from her shell, to twisted Hephaestus by his Forge is we'd, so flammable coal to the infammable diamond."
"But, flammable and infammable are synonyms."
"Not in the Forge sense. "

(again I'm using "simulationism" in The Forge sense),
That you need that parenthetical is indicative of the problem.
 
That you need that parenthetical is indicative of the problem.
The reason for the parenthetical is that most posters on ENworld who use the terms GNS don't use them as The Forge does. (Similarly they don't use the term "fail forward" in the way those who coined it did. In both cases its because discussion on ENworld doesn't typically incorporate an appreciation of the approaches to RPGing that underpinned the coinage of these various terms.)

In typical ENworld usage, "S" means something like what The Forge calls "Purist for system simulationism", "N" means something like what The Forge calls "High concept simulationism" but can also be used to describe a game with player-side metagame mechanics, and "G" means something like "has resolution processes with high search-and-handling time" or "has lots of metagame resolution" or "doesn't straightforwardly allow the GM to decide outcomes by narrative fiat".

Maybe you find the usage in the previous paragraph helpful. Personally I don't, but that's because I want an analytic vocabulary that can do more then tell me that 5e is mechanically crunchier and has more player-side metagame than does CoC (notice how I can make that point without needing to use any GNS terminology at all). For my part I have learned a lot from The Forge. It explained more to me about Rolemaster, a game that I played for nearly 20 years, then anything on the official ICE forums. And as I already posted, it anticipated of all the criticisms that 4e faced from its critics - anyone who'd read the relevant material on The Forge, and saw what was being announced in the lead up to 4e and the response on these boards, could see what was going exactly what was going on and write the script for the next 4 years.

Why does 5e not receive the same criticisms as 4e? In my view, primarily because it is packaged as a high concept simulationist game, which remains the most popular approach among RPGers.

I get that you are very opposed to analysis of RPGing. That doesn't make analysis wicked or wrong.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
The reason for the parenthetical is that most posters on ENworld who use the terms GNS don't use them as The Forge does. .
I don't blame ENWorlders for that. The Forge should've picked labels that made an iota of sense. Then the meaning might not have drifted so far.
In typical ENworld usage, "S" means something like what The Forge calls "Purist for system
Doesn't help.
How I've seen it used aground here seems something like "compromises desirable qualities of a game the way a simulation would."
"N" means a game with player-side metagame mechanics, and "G" means "doesn't straightforwardly allow the GM to decide outcomes by fiat".
Better.
Try explaining the Forge senses so concisely.

I get that you are very opposed to analysis of RPGing. That doesn't make analysis wicked or wrong.
I'm just opposed to bad analysis, applied prejudicially.
 
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Aldarc

Explorer
I don't blame ENWorlders for that. The Forge should've picked labels that made an iota of sense. Then the meaning might not have drifted so far.
They likely did make more sense then in their community, but (1) a lot of this was getting hammered out because it weren't terms, and (2) a lot of the waters were muddied by people - typically critics - who took those terms and ran with them in different directions, often as if they were monolithic preferences: "That game is gamist - and gamism is bad - but I prefer simulationist games, which is good."

So what alternative labels do you offer that would be more suitable? :confused:

I'm just opposed to bad analysis, applied prejudicially.
It's a miracle then that you haven't deleted your own account. ;)

But let's approach this from another angle. You don't like GNS or find it inadequate for the analysis of TTRPGs. That's fair. What's your better alternative? This is largely the problem we are collectively facing. There are a lot of people who badmouth GNS, the Forge, or Ron Edwards' ideas, but I haven't really encountered too many offering alternative terms, concepts, or approaches for the discourse. Even a lot of the OSR community that sometimes speaks about Forge with disdain, also will find themselves engaging in discourse about games using the Forge's own framing.

More importantly, WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT does any of this actually have to do about whether "Pathfinder 2 is Paizo's 4e"?! :erm:
 

Jer

Explorer
More importantly, WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT does any of this actually have to do about whether "Pathfinder 2 is Paizo's 4e"?! :erm:
That question was answered when the OP titled the thread. Because on the Internet "if the headline of an article is a question, then the answer to that question is 'No'". :)
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
as if they were monolithic preferences: "That game is gamist - and gamism is bad - but I prefer simulationist games, which is good."
That's certainly one of the things that soured me on the Forge.
But, it seems built into the Forge paradigm, that division of the hobby into monolithic preferences, since they label a game that's not sufficiently committed to perching on one monolith "incoherent."
So what alternative labels do you offer that would be more suitable?
"WARNING: The Forge contains elitist psuedo-intellectual circumlocutions known by the state of CA to cause cancer or reproductive harm." Or, whatever the UK or EU equivalent would be...

What's your better alternative?
TTRPGs are a relatively new sub-set of gaming, as are videogames, but, the latter industry is orders of magnitude larger, and has attracted far more of the available intellectual as well as financial capital.
At least some of the answers we're groping about for like late-medieval alchemists, may have already been found by the well-funded metaphorical chemists, over there.

Heresy, I know.


does any of this actually have to do about whether "Pathfinder 2 is Paizo's 4e"?! :erm:
Well, apparently Ron was the Cassandra who predicted word-for-word the spurious edition war complaints that would be leveled at 4e - not just someone who compiled a lot of erudite-sounding-complaints that edition warriors later dug up and hurled randomly - so maybe examination of his texts could divine the fate of PF2, as well.
 
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Try explaining the Forge senses so concisely.
Gamism = RPGing with win conditions. Gygaxian dungeoneering is an example. Supers-type RPGing where the Hulk has to beat up on the Thing to save the day is probably another. And I susspect a fair bit of Rifts play is like this also. Stuff that matters in design includes GM fairness and, in crunch-heavy systems, broken builds.

Simulationism = RPGing in which the players' goals is to "be there" - either in the world as it plays out through the mechanics (eg a lot of RM, Runequest and Classic Traveller), or in the world as it plays out through the GMs story/scenario (eg CoC, much post-DL D&D play, V:tM, and basically anything that follows The Alexandrian's advice around "node-based design" or "the three clue rule").

Narrativism (once called Dramatism in some discussion, but Jonathan Tweet had already coined that term for a different purpose in his game Everway and so Ron Edwards out of deference to Tween coined a new term) = RPGing where the goal, in play, is to create story experiences that are recognisably stories in the sense in which novels and films are stories, and an account of what I had for lunch yesterday probably isnt. So sequences of events that exhibit pacing, theme, rising action and climax, etc - where this is not pre-established by a GM or module writer but is done collectively at the table using the classic RPGing devices of players playing characters through the GM's world/situation. An early example is Prince Valiant. The best-known contemporary examples are probably Dogs in the Vineyard and Apocalypse World and many of its offshoots. My favourite version of such a system is Burning Wheel.

A group of us on these boards - me, [MENTION=1282]darkbard[/MENTION], [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] and some others - think that of all versions of D&D, 4e is the best suited for narrativist play; and that independently of comparisons to other versions of D&D, it's well-suited to narrativist play. The features of the system that underpin that are the same features that make it poorly-suited for simulationist play, and that therefore make it unpopular with many RPGers.

Whatever the commercial fate of Paizo's PF2, I've seen no evidence that PF2 is intended to be, or will be, a good game for narrativist purposes. But I haven't been following that closely; maybe [MENTION=5142]Aldarc[/MENTION] has a different view or can shed more light.
 

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