5E Oops, Players Accidentally See Solution to Exploration Challenge

pemerton

Legend
I did understand your bolded line as part of your current argument, but that you had previously (or your argument was) less nuanced.
That bolded line appeared in my first post in this thread. Perhaps you misunderstood or misread that first post - it happens. But my argument hasn't changed, nor become more nuanced.

In @Mistwell's argument, you're choosing a resolution mechanic to arbitrarily decide what action declarations the players make because of the knowledge you have.
Mistwell is positing that the decision procedure is already in use, and hence can just continue to be applied.

I find this statement interesting. I've previously understood you to not like to play heavily GM directed games because you enjoy having a say in the resulting fiction. Yet, here, you claim that you would not be bothered by the GM directing you into an arbitrary decision mechanic just to support the GM's preferred version of the fiction. I find it hard to reconcile these two statements, and I wonder which one I've misinterpreted.
My preference as a hypothetical player would be to resolve the whole "chasing Capt Whiskers" scenario via intent-and-task resolution, as @Tony Vargas (I think?) suggested upthread. Which would make the map issue redundant.

But if I found myself in a game in which the way situations are established is being resolved by tracking tokens on a map and seeing which "scene triggers" they hit then I'm not going to be super-fussed if it turns out that that is determined by application of a standard decision-procedure rather than vaa nuanced player decision-making seeking some optimal set or sequence of situation triggers. This is a reflection of (i) my general lack of interest in and skill at classic Gygaxian "skilled play", and (ii) my general preference for GM control over scene-framing.

By way of contrast, the troll scenario is not about scene-framing at all. It's about action resolution in the context of an established situation.

And also by way of contrast, the intent-and-task resolution of the hunt for the Capt - which as I said would be my own preferred approach, everything else being equal - would convert the overland travel from a series of scene-triggers into action resolution within a particular scene.

And for purposes of full disclosure: if you want to see how I recently ran a map-based scenario, here is a session report of my Traveller game from Sunday. The map itself wan't secret, and the scene-framing was purely GM-driven but (i) having regard to the fiction established by the players' descriptions of what their PCs were doing and (ii) using the system's surprise rules as a constraint on action economy at the opening of a framed scene. I don't think this is how the original author of that scenario, Marc Miller, intended it to be refereed. It worked because, as I explain in my actual play report, I added additional content to the scenario to create an active opposition (ie antagonistic game elements to include in my framing) rather than having it be simply "passive" exploration.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
That bolded line appeared in my first post in this thread. Perhaps you misunderstood or misread that first post - it happens. But my argument hasn't changed, nor become more nuanced.
Indeed. There was a middle point, though, where we began to discuss it, when such language was missing, hence my missing the context.

Mistwell is positing that the decision procedure is already in use, and hence can just continue to be applied.
Actually, @Mistwell's initial post was much fuzzier than this, using a metric of, "You simply ask what direction your character would go based on what they do know." This doesn't posit a standard operating procedure, but rather suggests that you should chose the same method you would have used absent any information at all. That's not possible to do. I suppose you could assume that he meant players should have a defined decision process to use when the DM doesn't provide any information useful in determining how to advance, but that appears to be reading into is statements rather than an accurate paraphrasing of them.

While Mistwell does later describe a SOP as if playing in a form of skilled Gygaxian play, such methods are still vulnerable to information known (hence the 'skilled' part) and choosing to use a naive decision tree while ignoring pertinent information is making a decision with the knowledge. It's unavoidable even in Mistwell's conjecture.

The only way that this method would work is if decisions are routinely made without information so a naive use of the SOP actually replicates the usual mode of play. That, however, assumes that the DM is only presenting informationless decision points, though, which seems to be such an outlier that it's not worth discussing.

My preference as a hypothetical player would be to resolve the whole "chasing Capt Whiskers" scenario via intent-and-task resolution, as @Tony Vargas (I think?) suggested upthread. Which would make the map issue redundant.

But if I found myself in a game in which the way situations are established is being resolved by tracking tokens on a map and seeing which "scene triggers" they hit then I'm not going to be super-fussed if it turns out that that is determined by application of a standard decision-procedure rather than vaa nuanced player decision-making seeking some optimal set or sequence of situation triggers. This is a reflection of (i) my general lack of interest in and skill at classic Gygaxian "skilled play", and (ii) my general preference for GM control over scene-framing.
So, then, this is entirely academic for you and the hill you've chosen is to champion, but not advocate, that you can make a decision as if you don't have information if you use a naive decision-making mechanic like a random die roll. But, only if this is the usual way you make decisions? Okay, fun talk, not sure it did anything useful. It certainly didn't illuminate the topic, just postulated a situation where you usually use a naive decision-making mechanic for most gameplay. Never actually seen a game like that.
By way of contrast, the troll scenario is not about scene-framing at all. It's about action resolution in the context of an established situation.
Action resolution requires iterative framing. You receive feedback on action outcomes that leads back into scene reframing which leads to action resolution et cetera. You're doing a weird divorce of an iterative process to frame how you deal with a troll differently from any other action resolution cycle, like exploring dunes to find a pirate captain. These are the same thing, in different scale loops, functionally speaking.

And also by way of contrast, the intent-and-task resolution of the hunt for the Capt - which as I said would be my own preferred approach, everything else being equal - would convert the overland travel from a series of scene-triggers into action resolution within a particular scene.
Firstly, I'm very aware of your preferences in play from other threads, hence the point of my question above. Secondly, intent-and-task seems like very confusing terminology. I understand intent based resolution as what I would describe as your play -- the mechanics adjudicate the success or failure of the intent of the player's action declaration. I understand task based resolution as well -- the mechanics adjudicate the success or failure of a specific action. The general difference being, "I jump over the chasm (intent)" vs "I jump, how far do I jump? (task)" The former would resolve the intent of the attempt to jump the chasm, the latter the specific action of how well you jump, which would then be checked against notes to see if the chasm was crossed.

I'm left confused about what intent-and-task would be.

I've also seen intent resolution called stakes resolution methods. And I've personally called task resolution atomic action resolution, as you're resolving individual actions independent of intent.
 

Todd Roybark

Explorer
Proclaiming "Knowledge cannot be Un-Know-ed" is reminiscent of a six year olds explanation for why they ate the cake: " I knew the cake was there and I could not stop thinking about it".

Respectfully, for all the ingenuity behind the epistemological arguments re: the underpinnings of Metagaming and the Pronouncement that "The DM is always responsible for Metagaming", these arguments read to my eyes as the aforementioned six year old as blaming their parents for having desert in the house, as the reason for why said six year old ate the desert.

If the reptlian power gamer area of your brain forbids you the player from only considering what information your character has, then politeness and decorum would dictacte you either refrain from the decision or let chance decide.

Respectfully
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Proclaiming "Knowledge cannot be Un-Know-ed" is reminiscent of a six year olds explanation for why they ate the cake: " I knew the cake was there and I could not stop thinking about it".

Respectfully, for all the ingenuity behind the epistemological arguments re: the underpinnings of Metagaming and the Pronouncement that "The DM is always responsible for Metagaming", these arguments read to my eyes as the aforementioned six year old as blaming their parents for having desert in the house, as the reason for why said six year old ate the desert.
That analogy might make sense, if the “metagaming is the DM’s fault” claim was coming from a player who was trying to justify their metagaming. But context is important. The argument came from a DM who doesn’t think metagaming is actually a problem, arguing that if you think it’s a problem, it’s one of your own making. A better analogy might be if one parent was expressing frustration at her child eating dessert, and the other parent saying that he doesn’t think it’s a bad thing that the child ate dessert, but that if she does, maybe she shouldn’t keep it in the house.

If the reptlian power gamer area of your brain forbids you the player from only considering what information your character has, then politeness and decorum would dictacte you either refrain from the decision or let chance decide.

Respectfully
You say that like people can just switch off part of their brain. That’s just not how brains work. Again, you can choose to act differently than information you have and your character doesn’t might suggest is optimal, but that choice is still being influenced by that information. If you didn’t have the information, you wouldn’t be able to make that decision.
 
I think it’s an attempt to rebrand the resolution style we've occasionally referred to as “goal-and-approach.”
Or just, y'know, not remembering the exact term and filling in they idea of "whatchya try'n to do and how are ya try'n to do it?" with synonyms? Goal//Objective/Intent/Purpose/Ends/etc and Approach/Means/Task/Steps/Method/etc.

Or, maybe, it's like GNS, and means something completely at odds with it's English-language definitions, connotations, and/or intuitive interpretation?
 
I believe intent and task was coined by Burning Wheel author Luke Crane, and most likely predates the similar usage of goal and approach.
And Permerton had brought it, here, prior to 5e & it's play loop inspiring G&A:

Burning Wheel probably gives the clearest statement of this sort of action resolution mechanic, in its "intent and task" rules.
That's 2012, and it was far from the only hit, there was one from 2005, even.

Mystery solv-ed.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Proclaiming "Knowledge cannot be Un-Know-ed" is reminiscent of a six year olds explanation for why they ate the cake: " I knew the cake was there and I could not stop thinking about it".

Respectfully, for all the ingenuity behind the epistemological arguments re: the underpinnings of Metagaming and the Pronouncement that "The DM is always responsible for Metagaming", these arguments read to my eyes as the aforementioned six year old as blaming their parents for having desert in the house, as the reason for why said six year old ate the desert.

If the reptlian power gamer area of your brain forbids you the player from only considering what information your character has, then politeness and decorum would dictacte you either refrain from the decision or let chance decide.

Respectfully
Was there an actual argument in this, or was it just a (not so) clever way to call people that disagree with you children beholden to their lizard brain?

I'm happy if your players are content to take a few lumps from a troll while they fumble for an approved way for their PCs to use fire, but I'm not going to put players through that exercise. I have way too many easier routes to provide an interesting game that doesn't require the pantomiming. Further, a player has no option to avoid a DM's crafted 'Don't Metagame!' scenario, whereas the DM has lots of easy to use tools to just not push such a case on the players.
 

pemerton

Legend
@Tony Vargas - cool find! Here's a bit more self-indulgent self-quote:

There are a number of options for non-combat resolution systems that prioritise player input and still involve dice rolling. The most generic way of describing those structures is probably this: the GM describes the situation/context, the player then describes what his/her PC is doing or saying (this may be first or third person, depending on individual preferences and table expectations), dice are then rolled, and the GM then narrates the consequences of the PC's action using the result of the roll(s) to establish the parameters of that narration (eg if the check is a failure, the GM's narration has to give some account, in the fiction, of the PC not getting what the player wanted him/her to get).
This is why I've always been puzzled by the agony of more recent thread about (so-called) goal and approach. I've always taken it to be a pretty well-established piece of RPG tech.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think the experience of players seeing what is meant to be a secret map is not that uncommon. I've had it happen back when I used to run somewhat map-heavy Rolemaster.

I don't think I've ever changed a map in response. (I could be wrong - I'm recalling play from over two decades ago - but the recollections are stated sincerely.) Sometimes I haven't worried - I've never run a game, as best I can recall, where the map is everything. But I'm pretty sure there must have been occasions when I have asked players to politely ignore what they've inadvertently seen. Of course it's not ideal to metagame reveal a secret map (or any other secret) if part of the goal of play is for the players to discover it via play. But it can happen, and if it does I don't really see the point of debating whose "fault" it is.

Often players - at least those I play with - will engage in the sort of decision-making process I've just described themselves, without any GM request to that effect. They will consider what other information - ie information that was not just a metagame reveal - that they as their PCs had that would have influenced their decision about where to go, and will act on that My players will self-enforce "no metagaming" in other situations, too - eg declare actions that they believe make sense from their PCs' perspectives which are less total than the players' perspectives. In non-gamist play I don't see this as a big deal, because there is no "self-hindering" involved (given that the play is not gamist and so not aimed at beating the dungeon/whatever). If a player wants to do this it's no skin off my nose as GM.

This is part of why I'm so relaxed about having maps on open display, such as in my most recent session - because we're not playing a very gamist game, and to the extent that there are "victory conditions" they're not really map-based, and so the players have no real incentive to study the map for metagame clues like unique vs repeated numbers. The action will be brought via GM control over scene-framing, and the point of the map is to provide an expository aid and a constraint on/context for action declaration within a framed scene.

Robin Laws wrote about this sort of thing in an essay that is part of the Over the Edge rulebook (p 193 of my 20th anniversary edition):

When viewing role-playing as an art-form [ie analogous to improvised theatre, as per earlier material in Laws' essay), rather than a game [ie aimed primarily at achieving victory conditions], it ecomes less important to keep from the players things their characters wouldn't know. When characters separate, you can "cut" back and forth between scenes involving different characters. . . .

The price of this is allowing players access to information known to PCs other than their own. But it's simple enough to rule out of play any actions they attempt based on forbidden knowledge.​

If a player wants to self-enforce such a rule then it's even simpler!
 

pemerton

Legend
A coda: when my players really don't trust me to not metagame as GM they will plan via email (between session) or very occasionally I seem to recall having been asked to leave the table. This was mostly an issue when our main game was 4e, as 4e combat resolution is highly sensitive to clever sequences of action declaration and player-side resource use.

Burning Wheel uses blind declaration for some of its conflict resolution systems, and I have had players seek advice from one another over what they should declare in low voices so that I can't overhear.

It doesn't really come up in Traveller, Prince Valiant or MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic - the systems we've been playing most recently - because these don't tend to involve the sort of complex sequences and interactions that are part of 4e and BW. But if the players wanted to plot in secret that would be fine with me, though of course fully public plotting is more fun!
 

uzirath

Adventurer
Often players - at least those I play with - will engage in the sort of decision-making process I've just described themselves, without any GM request to that effect. They will consider what other information - ie information that was not just a metagame reveal - that they as their PCs had that would have influenced their decision about where to go, and will act on that My players will self-enforce "no metagaming" in other situations, too - eg declare actions that they believe make sense from their PCs' perspectives which are less total than the players' perspectives. In non-gamist play I don't see this as a big deal, because there is no "self-hindering" involved (given that the play is not gamist and so not aimed at beating the dungeon/whatever). If a player wants to do this it's no skin off my nose as GM.
This is fairly normal at my tables too. In this style of play, instead of asking the question, "What is an optimal solution to this situation?," you might ask, "What would my character do here?" For the latter question, it doesn't matter if you have a bunch of metagame knowledge. I concede that maybe, theoretically, that knowledge is informing your decision (in the sense that it's there bouncing around in your brain), but it's not relevant to the question.

I've always felt that this was a fairly intuitive way of roleplaying and it certainly comes easily to new players. In my most recent game (Saltmarsh for a group of mostly kids who are new to RPGs), one of our ten-year-old players came up with a cool idea and turned to his seven-year-old sister, "I have an idea, but I think it makes more sense for your character to think of it." Then he proceeded to share his idea. She was very excited, and presented it in character as if it were hers. Nobody cried foul.

This is not to say that I routinely put the map on the table. That's partly because I also appreciate that many players enjoy exploring, discovering secrets, getting snagged in traps, and things like that. But if somethings is inadvertently revealed, it's not a big deal.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
This is fairly normal at my tables too. In this style of play, instead of asking the question, "What is an optimal solution to this situation?," you might ask, "What would my character do here?" For the latter question, it doesn't matter if you have a bunch of metagame knowledge. I concede that maybe, theoretically, that knowledge is informing your decision (in the sense that it's there bouncing around in your brain), but it's not relevant to the question.

I've always felt that this was a fairly intuitive way of roleplaying and it certainly comes easily to new players. In my most recent game (Saltmarsh for a group of mostly kids who are new to RPGs), one of our ten-year-old players came up with a cool idea and turned to his seven-year-old sister, "I have an idea, but I think it makes more sense for your character to think of it." Then he proceeded to share his idea. She was very excited, and presented it in character as if it were hers. Nobody cried foul.

This is not to say that I routinely put the map on the table. That's partly because I also appreciate that many players enjoy exploring, discovering secrets, getting snagged in traps, and things like that. But if somethings is inadvertently revealed, it's not a big deal.
I do this all the time -- make choices from the standpoint of the character. It is, however, always a strain when you're asked to do so while ignoring information. I keep bringing up trolls and fire because this is a prime example of where it's not interesting or fun to pretend to ignorance. I have absolutely no problem, and often enjoy, pretending to ignorance for character action declarations in many situations, but that's not because I'm expected to ignore knowledge I have but because, armed with that knowledge, I think that choice would be the proper way to advocate for my PC.

The point isn't that you should make 'optimal' decisions armed with 'metagame' knowledge, but that the existence of situations where you're expected to do so is solely due to the DM creating that scene that way. It can be avoided, but not by the players, only the DM. Hence, if there's a fault to be had in a situation where people are complaining about metagame knowledge in play, that fault lies with the DM. If not one cares, it doesn't matter. People in this thread, though, appear to care, and seem to think it's a player-side issue -- they are not playing correctly. But, as I note, players don't have the choice to be put into this situation; that's the sole domain of the DM and so any blame for players not playing right falls on the DM's shoulders. Bad faith play exempted. I'm just pointing out that this "problem" of "metagaming" is easily solved on one side of the screen and unavoidable on the other.
 

pemerton

Legend
"Fault"
I think the idea that it's always on the GM is not true. Suppose, for instance, that the GM is sitting at one end of the tale with his/her maps close about, and the players are sitting at the other end where they can't easily see the maps. But then one of the players brings the GM a drink, and in the process of walking to and around the GM's end of the table inadvertently notices something striking on a map.

The resulting issue is the GM's "fault" only in the sense that s/he wants to continue with the map because that's the scenario s/he is ready to run.

The more general proposition is that there are multiple ways that information which everyone at the table wants kept secret from the players can nevertheless come to be known by them. The GM's not always an active participant, and a fortiori the GM's not always solely responsible.

Trolls
Choosing what action to declare in order to resolve an established situation - I attack the troll with . . . is, at least in most RPGs I'm familiar with, different from contributing to the framing of a situation - which is often, even typically in my experience, what is going on when the players choose which way their PCs go in the context of a map and key that the GM has already prepared and is not going to change in the course of play.

It's therefore no surprise that secrets, and processes of decision-making that put metagame knowledge to one side, are able to work quite differently in these different contexts.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Ah, subtweeting.
"Fault"
I think the idea that it's always on the GM is not true. Suppose, for instance, that the GM is sitting at one end of the tale with his/her maps close about, and the players are sitting at the other end where they can't easily see the maps. But then one of the players brings the GM a drink, and in the process of walking to and around the GM's end of the table inadvertently notices something striking on a map.

The resulting issue is the GM's "fault" only in the sense that s/he wants to continue with the map because that's the scenario s/he is ready to run.
Can the player remove the accidental spillage? No, only the DM can render the spillage of info moot.

So, if having this accudental knowledge becomes a problem due to action declarations, then "fault" lies with who has control over the information. IE, this is the DM's problem to fix.
The more general proposition is that there are multiple ways that information which everyone at the table wants kept secret from the players can nevertheless come to be known by them. The GM's not always an active participant, and a fortiori the GM's not always solely responsible.
Can't really comment on vague assertions that something could happen that somehow eliminates the fact that the DM retains the sole ability to fix the problem.
Trolls
Choosing what action to declare in order to resolve an established situation - I attack the troll with . . . is, at least in most RPGs I'm familiar with, different from contributing to the framing of a situation - which is often, even typically in my experience, what is going on when the players choose which way their PCs go in the context of a map and key that the GM has already prepared and is not going to change in the course of play.

It's therefore no surprise that secrets, and processes of decision-making that put metagame knowledge to one side, are able to work quite differently in these different contexts.
Ah, I detected the hidden assumption, which I've bolded.

The DM retains the sole ability to decide if the map changes. Just as the DM decides to employ trolls. If the problem emereges that knowledge if the map (or trolls) is causing "metagaming," then responsibility fir this can only lie with the DM, as they retain sole power over it's content. If the DM decides that their notes are immutable and this causes metagaming, it's then the DM's problem.

And, you keep trying to suggest that avoiding the known "secret" of trolls and fire until a DM acceptable number of options has been tried is somehow different from avoiding a known "secret" of a map until a DM acceptable number of options has been tried.
 

pemerton

Legend
you keep trying to suggest that avoiding the known "secret" of trolls and fire until a DM acceptable number of options has been tried is somehow different from avoiding a known "secret" of a map until a DM acceptable number of options has been tried.
This assertion is incorrect. I haven't said anything about "avoiding a known 'secret' of a map". I don't even really know what that means.

Choosing where one's PC goes on a map by reference to non-"metagame" considerations, and/or by reference to a decision procedure that can be applied independently of "metagame" considerations, may or may not result in going to place X which may or may not have some associated "secret".

The concern, in avoiding metagaming, is with decision-making process, not with the outcome.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
This assertion is incorrect. I haven't said anything about "avoiding a known 'secret' of a map". I don't even really know what that means.

Choosing where one's PC goes on a map by reference to non-"metagame" considerations, and/or by reference to a decision procedure that can be applied independently of "metagame" considerations, may or may not result in going to place X which may or may not have some associated "secret".

The concern, in avoiding metagaming, is with decision-making process, not with the outcome.
I don't see how you can make that claim as the point of using the process is to ensure the same outcome with knowledge as without. That makes the choice of process dependent on what outcome ot creates rather than escalating how you choose a process.

Further, unless you compare to an absolutely information free situation, using a naive process that doesn't take information into account never happens. You always take information provided by the gaming, you're character's attributes, conditions, and goals, and knowledge of genre into account in decision making. There isn't a naive process that actually exists unless your game is based on blind choices routinely. You're always synthesizing information into decisions.

Which, in the instant discussion, means you're synthesizing the "metagame" information as well in your decision making. The process is inextricable from this. So, I don't see how you can say the decision process and not the outcome is what you're arguing, as you're selecting you're decision process based on what outcome it provides. And, sure, you can do that -- you can pick a naive method like rolling a die or "always left," but it's impossible to say you made that choice without consideration of metagame information.
 

Todd Roybark

Explorer
if all RPG decisions include metagame considerations, as you state, which presumably also includes the design portion, somehow the referee is responsible for this?

Unless the referee takes the extraordinary steps to re-write the rules, create ‘metagameless’ scenario, ( which is impossible in your formulation as all decisions have metagame considerations), and replace natural language with a Wittengstein approved logical vessel....then the referee is ‘at fault’.

For folks advocating this position, do you pay your DM’s and offer health and retirement benefits, as this is more of a workload than full time employment.

Blinded is a condition in 5e. If PC1 creates an effect that blinds PC2, politeness dictates PC2 acknowledges this turn of events in the shared narrative. So the DM is responsible for allowing the Blinded condition?

I don’t expect Blinded PCs to play with their eyes closed, but as anyone who has ever ran a battle in magic darkness or against Invisible foes, PCs even with disadvantage, still hit more often, target the correct square, more often than if you did require the players to play with their eyes closed.

Inherent in Ovin’s position, is the idea that the point of the game is to make the optimal choice.
I disagree with this. Just like playing chess with your 5 year old niece is probably not about making the optimal move, but more about fun....I think D&D falls more into a category like playing chess with a child.
 

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