D&D 5E L&L: Monsters and Stories

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
My position is that this effect exists and is significant in D&D players, and that it would be better to take this into account in design than to pretend that a few words in the DMG are all anyone really needs.

That position doesn't entail supernatural powers of prophetic accuracy. It just entails a clear view of reality and an ability to think critically about the problems the game faces.

If it's reality, then you believe people would answer that they don't change fluff text for monster fluff they dislike. That's a critical element to you thinking it's reality. So, why your unwillingness to back up your belief about reality by betting that would be the result of a poll?

The only logical explanation is, you don't believe it's reality. Unless you can propose another logical explanation for you believing reality = X, but being unwilling to bet a test of that reality would result in X.


Yes, they all did this. But this isn't an honest criticism, because there isn't just one variable in play. If 5e can go back in time and be the first RPG ever, or wants to embrace the OGL, or wants to publish the flourish of settings that 2e had, perhaps it can mitigate the default effects as well. Those would all be ways of essentially presenting more options (or, in the first case, removing the desire for them).

It's an honest criticism because we have empirical data to draw on the question. For 0D&D, BECIM, AD&D 1e, AD&D 2e, 3.0e, 3.5e, Pathfinder, 4e, and a playtest of 5e, we have a very large set of data. And all of that data says that when people don't like the fluff text for a monster, they don't simply follow that fluff text by default, they change it. Sometimes they change it with a houserule - and those instances directly refute your claim as your claim is that would almost never happen. Other times they choose the fluff text from a different version of the game, which is no harm unless they actually switch to playing a game made by a competitor. And other times they change the fluff text to that found in an alternate setting book or article that is part of the game as it expands with additional books - which again is no harm. But one thing we know for certain, with all this empirical data, is that PEOPLE DON'T USUALLY JUST FOLLOW FLUFF TEXT THEY DON'T LIKE BY DEFAULT. That is genuine real criticism of your contention. And using empirical data to disprove a claim is....SCIENCE! So you see, I can't be wrong, because I am using science to refute your claim (and now you know how frigging annoying your prior comments about "it's science so it must be true" were, as if psych social science that applies to situation X equally applies to situations Y Z and every other letter of the alphabet, and nobody can challenge it because, "Science!").

The OGL provides options, mitigating the default effect (which is still present, just less aggressive).

Your theory is that, given the option to check a box, or not check a box, people don't default to selecting the option. The whole idea that people would choose another option when presented flies in the face of your theory. You think if people had three check boxes on their drivers license, one for donate organs, one for donate organs AND blood, and one for donate but only to a family member, that people would choose an option? No, they'd still not choose any option by default, because of the nature of the question being passive and not imminent and not a direct impact. If your theory were true, people would still just default to whatever is in the book, even if there was another option somewhere else to choose. But, your theory isn't true for D&D.

People do change it. A significant number of people don't. They either accept it, or reject it.

Rejecting it is changing it. If the theory were true, they'd almost all accept it. That's the default option.

They defaulted to what's in the Pathfinder books. I don't imagine WotC wants to continue this trend.

That's not a default, that's a change. If your theory were true, they'd have accepted what was written in the book. Why are we even debating this, you already know your theory doesn't hold up anymore.

The OGL gives you infinite space. The fan community gives you infinite space. New settings give you infinite space. You've got limited space in those pages, but, again, the strawman of "You can't fit EVERYTHING into this book!" is ignoring my actual advice. Don't fit everything. Fit what you can, and just don't make it the default.

Whatever you put there is, by definition, the default according to your theory. Even if you say "some are like this", your theory says people will almost always go with that anyway. What is the point of saying every single time "this is just an option" when ALL of them are just an option and according to you people take what's written by default anyway?

I say lets do this poll. Lets all see you tell people they're wrong when they say they houserule fluff text for monster descriptions they don't like, because science says they can't be telling the truth.
 

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Tovec

Explorer
PEOPLE DON'T USUALLY JUST FOLLOW FLUFF TEXT THEY DON'T LIKE BY DEFAULT.
Yeah, they kind of do.

If I were running 4e (I wouldn't but let's assume I did for instance) and I were using devils, you would probably see a succubus. Now, I hate that they changed that one monster from a demon to a devil. It bothers me to not end. However, it bothers me not for the simple change of it being a devil, but for the whole structure of the planes that uses that premise. If I were running 4e, I would have succubi devils because in 4e succubi are devils. They follow the structure that devils are X and demons have Y qualities. They follow the structure of how alignments are created, the gods that go with it, the "backstory" of the powers, gods, planes and of the world that I am using for 4e DnD.

However, using all these things as defaults doesn't mean I like them. If I wanted to change them I could not easily do it. Yes I could open the book and say to my players "Succubi are demons now" they would look at me strangely and ask why. That would invariably lead to having to fight with assumptions over the "default" creature, or having to completely rewrite or rework the entire structure of the game. So, I would keep succubi as devils and suck it up. Or more likely (as KM predicted) I would just NOT run 4e.

Rejecting it is changing it. If the theory were true, they'd almost all accept it. That's the default option.
No, rejecting it (and not playing) is NOT changing it. It is simply denying the battle in the first place.

Let's say you want a blue corvette. You go and try to buy one from the dealership. They tell you they don't have any blues in stock. In fact, for some reason, corvette doesn't even produce a blue one - for some reason. Now, you could buy the car anyway, maybe it is red or black or something. A colour you don't like on the car. But if you want a corvette, you can buy it and go find a place that will paint it blue. That is a pain. Now, if there is another car company that DOES sell a blue car - and the blue thing is what you REALLY wanted (for some reason) - then you might go over to that other company and walk away happily driving your blue mustang. You rejected the blue corvette. You did not end up with a corvette at all. You didn't change the corvette to be blue, you rejected it wholesale. Those are not the same thing.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Yeah, they kind of do.

So I will ask you, are you predicting that the answer to a poll question on this topic would overwhelmingly be "Yes I use the fluff text for monsters in the monster manual as-is, even when I don't like the fluff text for my campaign"?

I think it would be instead, "No I tend to change the fluff text I don't like to suit my campaign" or "I ignore most fluff text anyway".
 

Tovec

Explorer
So I will ask you, are you predicting that the answer to a poll question on this topic would overwhelmingly be "Yes I use the fluff text for monsters in the monster manual as-is, even when I don't like the fluff text for my campaign"?

I think it would be instead, "No I tend to change the fluff text I don't like to suit my campaign" or "I ignore most fluff text anyway".

:Sheepishly: Honestly, I don't know what poll you are talking about. Nor was I paying attention to most of the conversation you and KM were having. I just piped in when I read something and it struck me as inaccurate, providing my two cents.

If the question is something like "Do you use fluff text for monsters in the monster manual as-is, even if you don't like the fluff."
Then my response would probably be, yes*

The asterisk ( * ) would be that I do use stuff as-is.. if I use it at all.

If I'm playing 4e and I use succubi - they are devils. If I don't like them I'm less likely to use them, but if they show up I'm probably not going to change them to demons even though it bugs the hell of me that they are devils in 4e. Doing such a change messes up more than it is worth, usually.

But yeah, for my money, I don't ignore the fluff text anyway. I devour it. I crave and use it wherever I can. If I don't like the fluff text I don't usually change it, I usually NOT use it. *shrugs*

Does that answer your question?

EDIT: Fluff text does or does not include medusa turning people to stone vs. having charm effects?
Edit: exchanged "vs." for "or"
 
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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
:Sheepishly: Honestly, I don't know what poll you are talking about. Nor was I paying attention to most of the conversation you and KM were having. I just piped in when I read something and it struck me as inaccurate, providing my two cents.

If the question is something like "Do you use fluff text for monsters in the monster manual as-is, even if you don't like the fluff."
Then my response would probably be, yes*

The asterisk ( * ) would be that I do use stuff as-is.. if I use it at all.

If I'm playing 4e and I use succubi - they are devils. If I don't like them I'm less likely to use them, but if they show up I'm probably not going to change them to demons even though it bugs the hell of me that they are devils in 4e. Doing such a change messes up more than it is worth, usually.

But yeah, for my money, I don't ignore the fluff text anyway. I devour it. I crave and use it wherever I can. If I don't like the fluff text I don't usually change it, I usually NOT use it. *shrugs*

Does that answer your question?

EDIT: Fluff text does or does not include medusa turning people to stone vs. having charm effects?
Edit: exchanged "vs." for "or"

You didn't miss anything, there is no poll yet. In fact, the better question is this: If we were to make a poll asking people if they use the fluff for monsters in the monster manual even if they don't like it for their campaign, what sort of wording would you use for the answers on such a poll?
 

dd.stevenson

Super KY
You didn't miss anything, there is no poll yet. In fact, the better question is this: If we were to make a poll asking people if they use the fluff for monsters in the monster manual even if they don't like it for their campaign, what sort of wording would you use for the answers on such a poll?
Not Tovec, but the obvious solution is concrete wording since Westerners are generally conditioned to see themselves as independent thinkers and thus will automatically answer yes overly abstract "do you think for yourself" type questions.

Depending on the nature of the poll, I would ask like so:

1. Do you like the 4E changes to the succubus? (Yes/No)
2. Do you DM or play 4E games where the changes to the succubus are reversed? (Yes/No/Don't play 4E)
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Mistwell said:
If the theory were true, they'd almost all accept it.

If that's what you think, you're still misunderstanding the thing that I'm talking about. And that's a pretty fundamental misunderstanding. So until you can at least coherently repeat back to me my actual position in a way that shows you've been paying attention and understand what I'm getting at, I think it's safe to say that this is all tilting at windmills. You evidently don't really know what you're standing in staunch opposition to, here.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
If that's what you think, you're still misunderstanding the thing that I'm talking about. And that's a pretty fundamental misunderstanding. So until you can at least coherently repeat back to me my actual position in a way that shows you've been paying attention and understand what I'm getting at, I think it's safe to say that this is all tilting at windmills. You evidently don't really know what you're standing in staunch opposition to, here.

We both read about the same donor experiment, and you're applying that donor experiment to this set of circumstances. Here is the TED talk on it:

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decisions.html

Why don't you repeat to me what your argument is, if I am getting it wrong.

It sure seems to me you're arguing that people will accept the fluff descriptive text of monsters in the monster manual, even if they don't like it and it doesn't fit their campaign well, because it's the default text and they'd have to actively opt-out of that text to not use it. And since people don't actively opt-out but almost always use the default (according to the experiment), they will simply use what's written.

But then you did something outside the experiment. The experiment says people don't know what to do in the situation, and so accept the choice made by the creators of the form. But you changed it - you then said people will select another option in another source, like a Pathfinder description or a description from an older version of the game or a setting for the game.

None of that is covered by this experiment. There is nothing in this experiment that shows that people will seek outside options and then choose one different from the default. The experiment says that the selection process and issue at stake is so complex that people do not know what to do, and we will just pick whatever it was that was chosen for us. That's a direct quote by the way. We select the default option in the form in front of us, almost every time. No looking outside that form, no seeking other options, we just go with the default in front of us.

And there are other options for that donor issue. 'Checking the box/leaving it unchecked' are not the only two options in that experiment. Including documents in your estate planning package to deal with organ donation is a third option, and in fact it's the option most tailored to your particular needs. There are even set forms for such things to include in your estate planning (I know, it's something I do for a living sometimes). But you know what? People don't usually seek out those other options. They still just go with the default option on the driver's license form, almost every time. Even when they bother to have estate planning documents drafted, they usually don't opt for particularized organ donor documents to go with them.

So I am going back to the experiment you argued from, and saying if the experiment is applicable to this situation, then people will use the default text in the monster manual almost every time. It would not matter if there are other things they could seek out in other books - they would not seek them out if the experiment is correct. People would not use the other options.

But the experiment is only correct for the manner of decision-making described in the experiment. There are certain elements present not present in other situations. It's not an experiment that observes ALL nature of human decision-making, the authors of the experiment never implied it was to be used in that manner, and it's not usable in that manner.

And this is one of those circumstances that so differs from the circumstances of the experiment that the experiment isn't applicable here. And you know how you know? Because people don't go with the default option. They houserule it or seek outside things to replace it - which is behavior not exhibited in the donor experiment even though the donor issue includes all those sorts of other options.

I've argued the reason for this is the nature of the decision isn't similar - the issue is not as important, the issue is not as complex, the issue has much more immediacy than the donor, and the issue is more directly impactful (it's about to happen in their game) than the donor issue.

But whatever the reason, we know the opt-in experiment isn't particularly applicable to the fluff text issue - we both agree people choose alternate fluff text if they don't like it. I said they houserule it, you said they choose other text like from Pathfinder, but we both agree they don't just accept it as written if they don't like it. Which wouldn't happen if the donor experiment were applicable to this set of circumstances.

So, tell me where I got this wrong?
 
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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Mistwell said:
Why don't you repeat to me what your argument is, if I am getting it wrong.

I've tried that. For a while now. But you still imagine it includes predicting the future and excludes rejection of the default (and includes a TED talk I've never referenced or actually seen). So it's clear my words aren't doing their job. If you want to understand it, there's plenty of my words, and others' words, that you can read. It looks like other posters (who aren't even following our little internet back-and-forth) pretty much get it. I've got nothing particularly riding on you specifically getting it. If you WANT to, I'm confident you can -- you seem clever and persistent, and there's a LOT of information out there, should you care to look at it. I'm not so special and clever that this insight is unique to me. If you DON'T want to, then there's no point in continuing this back-and-forth where you make continue to make strawmen and then stride forth to do battle with them, because if that's the case, you're not really listening anyway, and I'm just providing you a stage to monologue on.

So, the place to start is this: re-state my argument in a way that I can agree that this is my argument. If you can do that, I can at least continue the dialogue confident that you understand where I'm coming from. If you can't do that, I've clearly failed as an educator and communicator with you, but you can't win 'em all.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I've tried that. For a while now. But you still imagine it includes predicting the future and excludes rejection of the default (and includes a TED talk I've never referenced or actually seen). So it's clear my words aren't doing their job. If you want to understand it, there's plenty of my words, and others' words, that you can read. It looks like other posters (who aren't even following our little internet back-and-forth) pretty much get it. I've got nothing particularly riding on you specifically getting it. If you WANT to, I'm confident you can -- you seem clever and persistent, and there's a LOT of information out there, should you care to look at it.


Wow, I just spent 45 minutes restating what I think was your position, which is what you asked me to do. The TED talk IS the experiment you referenced - click on it if you don't believe me.

It's incredibly rude to ask me to spend the time to restate what I think you're saying, and then when I spend the time to do that (and research), you simply cut the whole of it, quote single sentence, and then dismiss the whole thing.

Tell me - is that the sort of behavior you'd appreciate, if I did it to you?

What was wrong with my re-statement of your position. Have enough courtesy for your peer to actually read the response you asked for and respond to it.

re-state my argument in a way that I can agree that this is my argument. If you can do that, I can at least continue the dialogue confident that you understand where I'm coming from. If you can't do that, I've clearly failed as an educator and communicator with you, but you can't win 'em all.

I did that. I spent a lot of time doing just that. Is this one of those issues where you replied while I was editing or something?
 

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