On "Illusionism" (+)

Argyle King

Legend
Surely there is a spectrum between zero choice and 100% choice that is mutually enjoyable to the players and GM.

I imagine there is.

At the same time, I believe that both a story and gameplay can be emergent. Choice and outcome can be the driving force behind how the story unfolds.

Even if a GM has particular plot points mapped out, the journey in between each one of those points can (and I believe should) be open to multiple paths. The points themselves are capable of not being rigidly fixed.

For example, let's say the players are trying to stop a ritual which summons an evil god into the material world. The GM planned the story to be that the players succeed and ride off into the sunset as heroes. If the players are going to fail, that may not be the story the GM had planned, but there's still an interesting story to be told: let the bad guys win; the story which emerges becomes dealing with the state of a very different world.
 

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That is very passionately argued. But I hope you realize while making that argument that all you are arguing for is the superiority of railroads over other forms of play.
Nope. I'd argue Railroads are a necessary part of dramatic complicated game play.

Your argument is essentially that railroads make better games because GM understand what players want
Well, change that to: A good GM understands what the players want.

and good players don't try to ruin the game by thwarting the GMs plans for them,
Well, change that to: A good player never tries to ruin any game.

and that GMs should take advantage of the fact that no game is a perfect simulation (and indeed in your argument no game should be) to manipulate events such that they come out in the way that the GM desires.
True enough. Though remember the GM desires to have a good/fun/exciting/etc game for everyone. It's really a big part of the GMs job.

And then you reason that GMs should protect the ignorant self-defeating players from themselves.
Yes, very much so.

And I can't help but think that the path you outline has a lot of dangers in it and that is not as likely to result in everyone having fun as you think it does.
Walking a Path of Danger is part of the fun. Any player lost in their character won't notice. And the self insert players are only focused on themselves. That is a good bulk of the players right there. And you can't make anyone "have fun". You can lead them to the fun, but if they want to sit there playing the "vs the GM metagaming mini game" and pout as they "think they saw railroadng" or something an hour ago, then that player won't have fun.
I would personally argue that more games get into trouble when "This is where the GM really needs to toss around some Power and stop the one player("sorry, rocks fell on your character, you can't ruin the adventure")." than are fixed by those sorts of applications of GM power.
Story Time: So new player joins the group, I know they are trouble but they are related to another player or "everyone's best friend". So no chance to get rid of them.

Example 1- the group comes to a small way inn and meets the npc owner with a problem. Joe wastes no time murderhbobing the NPC and looting the inn. The group just shrugs. They stay the night at the inn...and find NPC owner alive and well the next morning. Joe is supper mad. He throws a tantrum, has his character kill the NPC...again. The rest of the group heads off to do the 'problem' anyway. Joe can't do much disruptive in the wild, but he does get three of his characters killed. The group takes care of the problem and heads back to the inn. Of course, NPC owner is alive and well...again. Joe gets really mad has his character kill the NPC, again. Then the same NPC comes in another door. Joe gets even madder, kills the NPC again. It only took five times for Joe to leave the game screaming he would never play with me again.

Example 2- Spoony- The game starts off with dinner at the kings castle...and problem player Mike. All the character sit down for a meal and about a minute into the game Mike tries to steal the kings golden soup spoon. Except the spoon animates and gets away from the character. For the next couple minutes Mikes character runs all through the dinning hall, kitchens, and other nearby rooms trying to catch the spoon. The spoon knocks tapestries down on him, throws knives, knocks over furniture and more endless slapstick. All the while the king pulls out his silver spoon ("I was born with this one") and calmly talks to the other players. I keep the side with the good players nice and clam, as they talk to the king. At first the good players ignore Mikes Mess, even with the king slyly making comments every so often "I thought I hear something break in the kitchen". When Mikes mess moves back into the dining hall and the spoon starts dropping hanging shields on poor Mikes character.....Marcy looses it a bit. She turns to Mike, near screaming, "what are you doing your destroying the castle to get a spoon?". Mike just gets even more crazed. This goes on for a couple more minutes...until the spoon knocks out Mikes character with a halberd. The good players then accept the kings quest, and head off, dragging Mikes unconscious character with them. Once in the Wild, Mike can't do much to disrupt or ruin the game...other then getting his character killed over and over again. Though...best of all....the SPOON kept poping up everywhere to mess with Mikes character when they did try to disrupt something...making noise when he was sneaking around, cutting his rope when he was climbing, and so forth.
 

innerdude

Legend
I .... literally cannot make heads nor tails of this description of play, the reasoning behind it, nor what possible expected end result was satisfactory for the players involved.

If this is your assumed manner of "handling" people as a GM ... and from your comments this is par for the course ... then all I can say is that I respectfully disagree with the situational handling.

One of my top 2 "Things Not To Do When GM-ing" is to handle things that should be handled away from the table through the application of GM force in game to "teach the player a lesson."

Pretty clear you neither see your players as functional adults, nor see them as equals.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
Example 1- the group comes to a small way inn and meets the npc owner with a problem. Joe wastes no time murderhbobing the NPC and looting the inn. The group just shrugs. They stay the night at the inn...and find NPC owner alive and well the next morning. Joe is supper mad. He throws a tantrum, has his character kill the NPC...again. The rest of the group heads off to do the 'problem' anyway. Joe can't do much disruptive in the wild, but he does get three of his characters killed. The group takes care of the problem and heads back to the inn. Of course, NPC owner is alive and well...again. Joe gets really mad has his character kill the NPC, again. Then the same NPC comes in another door. Joe gets even madder, kills the NPC again. It only took five times for Joe to leave the game screaming he would never play with me again.

Example 2- Spoony- The game starts off with dinner at the kings castle...and problem player Mike. All the character sit down for a meal and about a minute into the game Mike tries to steal the kings golden soup spoon. Except the spoon animates and gets away from the character. For the next couple minutes Mikes character runs all through the dinning hall, kitchens, and other nearby rooms trying to catch the spoon. The spoon knocks tapestries down on him, throws knives, knocks over furniture and more endless slapstick. All the while the king pulls out his silver spoon ("I was born with this one") and calmly talks to the other players. I keep the side with the good players nice and clam, as they talk to the king. At first the good players ignore Mikes Mess, even with the king slyly making comments every so often "I thought I hear something break in the kitchen". When Mikes mess moves back into the dining hall and the spoon starts dropping hanging shields on poor Mikes character.....Marcy looses it a bit. She turns to Mike, near screaming, "what are you doing your destroying the castle to get a spoon?". Mike just gets even more crazed. This goes on for a couple more minutes...until the spoon knocks out Mikes character with a halberd. The good players then accept the kings quest, and head off, dragging Mikes unconscious character with them. Once in the Wild, Mike can't do much to disrupt or ruin the game...other then getting his character killed over and over again. Though...best of all....the SPOON kept poping up everywhere to mess with Mikes character when they did try to disrupt something...making noise when he was sneaking around, cutting his rope when he was climbing, and so forth.

Thank you for providing those examples. It really helps simplify any further discussion with you about GMing technique.
 

Argyle King

Legend
Story Time: So new player joins the group, I know they are trouble but they are related to another player or "everyone's best friend". So no chance to get rid of them.

Example 1- the group comes to a small way inn and meets the npc owner with a problem. Joe wastes no time murderhbobing the NPC and looting the inn. The group just shrugs. They stay the night at the inn...and find NPC owner alive and well the next morning. Joe is supper mad. He throws a tantrum, has his character kill the NPC...again. The rest of the group heads off to do the 'problem' anyway. Joe can't do much disruptive in the wild, but he does get three of his characters killed. The group takes care of the problem and heads back to the inn. Of course, NPC owner is alive and well...again. Joe gets really mad has his character kill the NPC, again. Then the same NPC comes in another door. Joe gets even madder, kills the NPC again. It only took five times for Joe to leave the game screaming he would never play with me again.

Example 2- Spoony- The game starts off with dinner at the kings castle...and problem player Mike. All the character sit down for a meal and about a minute into the game Mike tries to steal the kings golden soup spoon. Except the spoon animates and gets away from the character. For the next couple minutes Mikes character runs all through the dinning hall, kitchens, and other nearby rooms trying to catch the spoon. The spoon knocks tapestries down on him, throws knives, knocks over furniture and more endless slapstick. All the while the king pulls out his silver spoon ("I was born with this one") and calmly talks to the other players. I keep the side with the good players nice and clam, as they talk to the king. At first the good players ignore Mikes Mess, even with the king slyly making comments every so often "I thought I hear something break in the kitchen". When Mikes mess moves back into the dining hall and the spoon starts dropping hanging shields on poor Mikes character.....Marcy looses it a bit. She turns to Mike, near screaming, "what are you doing your destroying the castle to get a spoon?". Mike just gets even more crazed. This goes on for a couple more minutes...until the spoon knocks out Mikes character with a halberd. The good players then accept the kings quest, and head off, dragging Mikes unconscious character with them. Once in the Wild, Mike can't do much to disrupt or ruin the game...other then getting his character killed over and over again. Though...best of all....the SPOON kept poping up everywhere to mess with Mikes character when they did try to disrupt something...making noise when he was sneaking around, cutting his rope when he was climbing, and so forth.


As a player, do you provide insight into what actions you allow and which you do not allow?

From my character's perspective, what knowledge can I use to determine whether or not an action will be punished by the GM?
 

innerdude

Legend
Even outside the discussion of illusionism, it's fascinating how often people inevitably live up to our expectations/projections of them.

Go into a game believing and projecting that everyone is capable of sincere, earnest play in adherence to rules and the overall good humor and well being of the group, it's amazing how often it turns out that way.
 

As a player, do you provide insight into what actions you allow and which you do not allow?
No. It's not really worth it to try to explain to players "don't be a jerk". And anyone that plans to be a disruptive jerk won't listen anyway.
From my character's perspective, what knowledge can I use to determine whether or not an action will be punished by the GM?
Trial and Error mostly.
 

aramis erak

Legend
That's my whole point.

Outside the game EVERY player wants to have a demi god like all powerful character they can talk about forever. They would LOVE to endlessly tell the amazing story of how there tefiling ninja assassin killed a a red dragon on the edge of an erupting volcano just before the Red Dawn.
Funny, the characters my players brag about aren't the übermenschen... they're the ones that had things be too hard, that needed to be retreated from... The most common fond memories seem to be from the Alien campaign... which ended in a total party kill worthy of a movie.... with the exception of the last two PCs, one at a time. Same for the other Alien campaign. The one who got out was no superman... and the epilogue on that one: "As you wake from cryo, the first thing to emerge from the blur that is the world is the Weyland-Yutani W-Y logo on the wall..."

And if there aren't disads, half my players play them anyway...

Not everyone is a power-fantasy gamer. Yes, there are many, and I've known a few. One of my best friends for many years was a Rifts fan... but as my tastes matured, and his didn't, we quit gaming together... but still hung out, shared holidays, did board games...

Personally, I dislike übermenschen as a player, and am no fan of them as a GM; this leads my players to more down to earth approaches, and the feedback loop leads to some staying, some going.

And then there are a number of games where characters become less and less capable over time.... WFRP 1E, 2E and 4E, to a lesser extent, Call of Cthulhu. Many post-holocaust games, due to radiation damage and criticals. Certain playstyles of Rolemaster... as pieces go missing...
 

Committed Hero

Adventurer
There is a false assertion in the way that the quantum ogre is presented. Most people who are against railroading state that the choice is "encounter the ogre" vs or "encounter nothing." But it can be just as creatively framed: "fight the ogre" vs "parlay with the ogre" vs "avoid the ogre" (or even "turn around") with gradations among these selections, too. I submit there is more choice available in the second instance.

I also say that the GM, by placing the ogre in play, has implicitly decided that the presence of an ogre will be a chance for the players to have more enjoyment than if the party was marching down a quiet trail. Or at the very least, read the adventure and decided that it's better than changing the adventure to remove it. The GM is a player and their opinion should count for something, given their knowledge of the campaign.

That's what I think when I see bloodtide's mention of dramatic play. I expect more players prefer a dramatic encounter in their session than players who demand a holistic environment. Here's the thing about the latter group - if they suspect illusionism, a GM will never be able to convince them that it's absent unless a random world is being generated in front of everyone's eyes. And even they never describe a good session afterwards with "my autonomy was 100% preserved."
 

Committed Hero

Adventurer
Example 1- the group comes to a small way inn and meets the npc owner with a problem. Joe wastes no time murderhbobing the NPC and looting the inn. The group just shrugs. They stay the night at the inn...and find NPC owner alive and well the next morning. Joe is supper mad. He throws a tantrum, has his character kill the NPC...again. The rest of the group heads off to do the 'problem' anyway. Joe can't do much disruptive in the wild, but he does get three of his characters killed. The group takes care of the problem and heads back to the inn. Of course, NPC owner is alive and well...again. Joe gets really mad has his character kill the NPC, again. Then the same NPC comes in another door. Joe gets even madder, kills the NPC again. It only took five times for Joe to leave the game screaming he would never play with me again.
Of course, there might be reasons why this NPC has such a power ... which I would probably be more interested in than whatever quest was presented.
 

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