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Players choose what their PCs do . . .

pemerton

Legend
The wink doesn't pose a problem for me as a PC action, although generally there would also be a mechanic involved there but there doesn't have to be. As an NPC action with a dictated result it's ... wacky. Even if you could find a system that supported it I'd still be against it. Obviously the extent of the forced action plays a big role too. If the forced action just consists of telling the player they get swollen love nodes, which is more an invitation to action than forced action anyway, I'm fine with it. But as soon as the DM says something like "she beckons you with a finger and follow her out the door" then I'm firmly against, and will reiterate my earlier contention that this doesn't happen in RPGs generally so is probably a silly example. I don't really feel the need to explain how monster abilities with mechanics are a different class of example.
I'm not sure what monster abilities you've got in mind. In Prince Valiant, for instance, Incite Lust is more likely to be found on a maiden than a monster!

Because the NPC maiden melting a PC's heart with a wink is [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION]'s example he'll have to tell you exactly what he had in mind. I've been thinking about the example as a placeholder for stuff in the same general neighbourhood in RPG systems I'm familiar with. For instance, just to pick one fairly well-known system, Marvel Heroic RP/Cortex+ Heroic doesn't have any problem with a NPC placing a Come Hither complication or a Melted Heart complication on a PC. And when the PC takes action that is at odds with that complication, the complication die figures in the opposed pool. That particular mechanical dynamic isn't wildly different from player-vs-player Seduce/Manipulate in AW, which can result in doing other than the requested thing requiring a successful check to "act under fire".

Prince Valiant says this about the Incite Lust special effect (p 46):

The current Storyteller will have to make a ruling as to how the lustful character behaves. If the lustful character is an Adventurer, the controlling player decides how lust affects his character. A Storyteller may veto the controlling player’s wishes only if the intended behavior is unrealistic.

If this Special Effect is used to permit one character to dominate another, common sense and logic should be used. The character will not jump off a cliff for the object of his lust, nor will he necessarily wish to marry her. This can be a cruel Special Effect to use, especially if the object of lust is unattainable.​

That's no more "intrusive" than a classic D&D charm effect.

In a novel, it's up to one person to determine if Galadriel connects with Gimli and how they do so. In an RPG, it's up to at least 2 people - the person playing Galadriel and the person playing Gimli. They don't have to agree on exactly what should happen and how. And so we need to have some kind of rules and/or etiquette to determine how to proceed when these situations arise.
Yes. I don't think that any of what you say here is unfamiliar or controversial. And it's not particular to winking and melting hearts. I hit you - No you don't, because I dodge is in structural terms exactly the same thing. Or the player saying I climb the cliff while the GM says I don't think so - they're known for being impossible to scale!.

For most RPGs, I'd advocate that the player controls the PC's reactions while the GM controls the NPCs' reactions barring some direct test
I don't quite know what you mean by "direct test".

Here's the full text of the Seduce/Manipulate move in Apocalypse World (p 87), although with some paragraph breaks interpolated:

When you try to seduce or manipulate someone, tell them what you want and roll+hot.

For NPCs: on a hit, they ask you to promise something first, and do it if you promise. On a 10+, whether you keep your promise is up to you, later. On a 7–9, they need some concrete assurance right now.

For PCs: on a 10+, both. On a 7–9, choose 1:
if they do it, they mark experience
if they refuse, it’s acting under fire
What they do then is up to them.​

This is player vs player, not GM vs player, but I would assume that your principle is meant to generalise to that case too. The roll here is all on one side: with a successful check, I can bring it about that your PC is under a mechanical penalty ("acting under fire") if they don't do what I tell them I want them to do.

Does that satisfy your direct test requirement?
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I just don't think that it's a bad thing in any way if a game actually makes rules about this stuff so that it inherently has meaning.

I'm okay with that, but only as long as the DM is not playing my PC at all. The DM can never know my PC as well as I do, and I don't want the frustration of seeing him play my PC wrong time and time again, which is what will happen if he is allowed to play my PC.

I meant an example of how such mechanics force only one outcome. The list you provided doesn't seem any different than what I'd expect to see in a game that included mechanics of the kind we're talking about.

The example being used is a good one. "The woman winks at you and melts your heart" has just dictated exactly how the PC responds to the wink.
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
[MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] - the phrase monster abilities was more shorthand for mechanically supported game actions I guess. Obviously not too many flesh golems are dropping successful come hither winks in any system (although now that I've said that, it is going to come up in my game because it's awesome). I was more railing against impact by fiat rather than mechanic. Players agree to the mechanics in a game when they agree to play, and if the game they agreed to play happens to have seduction mechanics then fine, that's the game. I would propose however that there is a pretty vast gulf between the results you list, such as complication dice, or any other complicating modifier, and straight dictated action. I'm fine with the former but not the latter. My apologies if that wasn't as clear as it could have been.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
What mandatory effect are you referring to?

Melting the PC's heart...

Can you describe a concrete example, with reference to a real or conjectured system, that explains what you've got in mind.

Any and every system that results in something other than the player declaring the maiden's wink melted the PC's heart.

All I'm seeing so far is a conjecture of a system that, in some circumstances, permits a GM to tell a player The maiden's wink softens your heart.

Weird that 2 sentences later that you know exactly what mandantory effect I was referring to. Why even ask your first question?

Until you tell me more about what you have in mind, that's not an example of anything forcing anything beyond a description of a somewhat commonplace cause and an effect.

Strangely if you had read on through my post you'll see that I agree with this assessment and see the reason for why I agree with it.

Rebuttal 2: What is the anticipated counter-argument? that the maiden's wink in the example isn't actually forcing the PC in question to do something, but rather that its a determination of what the PC's response would be and then locking the player into roleplaying for that reality.

Answer 2: I happen to think that's a solid argument. So what is actually wrong with the Maiden winking example? IMO. It attempts to determine what the PC's response would be instead of simply allowing the player to roleplay their response.


I don't really follow the detail of this. My take away - drawing in part on your earlier posts - is that you don't like a system which permits some mechanism to establish a PC's emotion other than player decision, unless that mechanism correlates to or gives expression to an in-fiction thing that bears the label magic.

My take away is that this is explained in this post. Seriously try to take a post as a whole at some point instead of a line by line break down. It's frustrating when most everything you are saying has already been addressed somewhere in the post your single line quote is coming from.

I would therefore expect you to be fine with the 4e Deathlock Wight's ability to cause a PC to recoil in fear from its horrific visage (mechanically, a fear effect that does some psychic damage and a push effect) but not with the 4e Fang Titan Drake's ability to cause PC's to freeze in terror at its furious roar (mechanically, a fear effect that stuns, and then causes a to hit penalty as an aftereffect).

I'm fine with both abilities. Now if you had tried to say, there was a lion and that the lions furious roar frightens you so badly that you are stunned and causes you a penalty to hit even after you've become unstunned….. that example is n par with the maidens winking example.

Apply the test I proposed at the end of this post to both examples and you'll get my exact thoughts on the matter.

Your assertion - that failing a save vs Charm Person doesn't reflect anything about the emotional/mental response of the PC - is contentious.

It could reflect something about the emotional/mental response of the PC, but it need not. As such that aspect is for the player to determine.

Here's Gygax in his DMG (p 81) about the in-fiction meaning of saving throws:
A character under magical attack is in a stress situation, and his or her own will force reacts instinctively to protect the character by slightly altering the effects of the magical assault. This protection takes a slightly different form for each class of character. Magic-users understand spells, even on an unconscious level, and are able to slightly tamper with one so as to render it ineffective. Fighters withstand them through sheer defiance, while clerics create a small island of faith. Thieves find they are able to avoid a spell's full effects by quickness . . .​

Then I'd disagree with Gygax. The in-fiction meaning of a saving through is simply that you were able to avoid an affect. For any PC that could take on a variety of forms. Speed, sheer defiance, faith etc. You need not be a cleric to be shielded by faith. You need not be a fighter to overcome by sheer defiance. You need not be a thief to get out of the way fast enough.

So maybe if the MU fails a save that means s/he didn't really want to render it ineffective! If the cleric fails, perhaps that means his/her faith is not as profound as s/he believed it to be . . .

Sure, I already addressed that idea though...

Rebuttal 2: What is the anticipated counter-argument? that the maiden's wink in the example isn't actually forcing the PC in question to do something, but rather that its a determination of what the PC's response would be and then locking the player into roleplaying for that reality.

Answer 2: I happen to think that's a solid argument. So what is actually wrong with the Maiden winking example? IMO. It attempts to determine what the PC's response would be instead of simply allowing the player to roleplay their response.

Now maybe the standard 5e interpretation is that all characters do what Gygax's fighters do - ie withstand magic through sheer defiance - but that's obviously not the sole approach even within the D&D tradition.

Or maybe it leaves it open for the player to roleplay how he avoided the magical effect...

And if we look to the source material, the notion that being mind-controlled is a sign of secret desire (or at least uncertainty) can be seen in Star Wars, the X-Men, and Lord of the Rings, just to name a few classics of the genre.

I've never seen mind-control in any of those as a sign of secret desire. Take starwars with obi wan and luke telling the guards "these are not the droids you are looking for". No desire or anything else, just pure mind control.

I've bolded the bit that you continue to take for granted but haven't actually articulated or defended. How does this truly set RPGs apart from other games?

Can't defend something from nothing. Someone is going to have to step up and be the champion for "that's not what truly sets RPG's apart".

And if this is so fundamental, why the obsession with a maiden's winking?

I answered that in my previous post...

Why is the last part so important - because what truly sets roleplaying games apart from other games is that in an RPG you the player are taking on the role of a character by making their decisions, declaring their actions, having the character you envision,
etc.

The maidens wink melting your heart takes away those things.

If I envision my PC as a puissant warrior, but I keep being knocked unconscious in every fight, then my PC isn't behaving as I envision.

Sure he is. Presumably you would just be a puissant warrior that keeps getting knocked unconscious every fight. There's lots of explanations for how that can happen.

If what you are trying to get at is, why can't I roleplay a character that never loses at combat then I'd say you can. I would call that roleplaying but it wouldn't be an enjoyable game for me. To elaborate a bit more - such a concept wouldn't be a valid character concept under most game systems out there today, so in that sense you couldn't create that character for any of those games.

Why is that acceptable? (NB: there are games which are able to make this aspect of the player's conception of his/her PC as central and sacrosanct as you want in respect of your PC's disposition to maidens.)

I don't understand this last sentence. It kind of runs together. I think my previous point probably answers the intent though.
 

I'm okay with that, but only as long as the DM is not playing my PC at all. The DM can never know my PC as well as I do, and I don't want the frustration of seeing him play my PC wrong time and time again, which is what will happen if he is allowed to play my PC.

I don’t know if this requires the DM to “play your PC” so much as perhaps restrict some options depending on the mechanics at play.

But either way, your preference is clear. I would expect that if a game with some different mechanics was actually played, perhaps you’d see some of the ways the mechanics empower players and you’d not feel the need to cling so tightly to your PC as the sole bastion of your input on the game.

But that doesn’t seem likely.


The example being used is a good one. "The woman winks at you and melts your heart" has just dictated exactly how the PC responds to the wink.

Ah....I’ll have to look up “Melted Heart” in the list of Conditions.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
One thing that is getting over looked is that addding a special ability to an NPC in D&D is tantamount to saying there is something extremely special about this NPC's ability. That it has effects that other creatures that do similar things don't have when they do those things.

So if there was a special maiden NPC and she was soo good at charming men that she had a nearly supernatural ability to do so then she would have a special ability: "Maiden's Wink" in her NPC description. I would not be opposed to being charmed by her.

But a regular ole maiden using a regular wink - No, just no.
 

One thing that is getting over looked is that addding a special ability to an NPC in D&D is tantamount to saying there is something extremely special about this NPC's ability. That it has effects that other creatures that do similar things don't have when they do those things.

So if there was a special maiden NPC and she was soo good at charming men that she had a nearly supernatural ability to do so then she would have a special ability: "Maiden's Wink" in her NPC description. I would not be opposed to being charmed by her.

But a regular ole maiden using a regular wink - No, just no.

I think it really depends on what the outcome is. Everyone seems to be leaping right to mind control much like the charm person spell. But it doesn’t need to be so invasive.

I would also expect that whatever it is the maiden is hoping to get would play a part as well. If she winks and then asks the PC to help her assassinate the king, I’d expect the wink to have much less impact. But of she winks and asks the PC to buy her a meal and a drink....seems pretty likely.

It really boils down to the fictional situation and the system at play.

I think that the reason this breaks down for those viewing through the lens of D&D is that the only thing there seems to be to compare it to is magical mind control of some kind. Most other similar mechanics are mostly gone, or were largely applicable only to NPCs, and therefore not a problem.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I think it really depends on what the outcome is. Everyone seems to be leaping right to mind control much like the charm person spell. But it doesn’t need to be so invasive.

I would also expect that whatever it is the maiden is hoping to get would play a part as well. If she winks and then asks the PC to help her assassinate the king, I’d expect the wink to have much less impact. But of she winks and asks the PC to buy her a meal and a drink....seems pretty likely.

It really boils down to the fictional situation and the system at play.

I think that the reason this breaks down for those viewing through the lens of D&D is that the only thing there seems to be to compare it to is magical mind control of some kind. Most other similar mechanics are mostly gone, or were largely applicable only to NPCs, and therefore not a problem.

Sigh, there comes the D&D only crap again...
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Sigh, there comes the D&D only crap again...

One thing that is getting over looked is that addding a special ability to an NPC in D&D is tantamount to saying there is something extremely special about this NPC's ability. That it has effects that other creatures that do similar things don't have when they do those things.

So if there was a special maiden NPC and she was soo good at charming men that she had a nearly supernatural ability to do so then she would have a special ability: "Maiden's Wink" in her NPC description. I would not be opposed to being charmed by her.

But a regular ole maiden using a regular wink - No, just no.

You invited it. Hard to complain about it when you just explicitly did it.
 

pemerton

Legend
[MENTION=42582]I was more railing against impact by fiat rather than mechanic.

<snip>

I would propose however that there is a pretty vast gulf between the results you list, such as complication dice, or any other complicating modifier, and straight dictated action. I'm fine with the former but not the latter. My apologies if that wasn't as clear as it could have been.
I think dictated action, or fiat, or what Ron Edwards calls drama resolution, is interesting in this context.

I agree that it's not typical. In adjudicating a skill challenge I once narrated one of the PCs moving across the room - in the fiction, he was influenced by a Pact Hag; mechanically, this was setting up a complication (the Hag was going to pull a rope to open a pit); I can't recall now whether or not it immediately followed a failed check or not.

I do know that when I posted about it on these boards it aroused some controversy; but if a GM holds back from all narration like that in a skill challenge then it's hard to make it very dynamic.

I'm sure there are contexts in which sheer drama/fiat/dictation melting-PC's-heart-by-winking would make sense, even though we're not thinking of one here-and-now.
 

Sigh, there comes the D&D only crap again...

Funny, that’s what I was thinking!

I have no problem with D&D. I love D&D....I play it all the time. But this is an area of play that doesn’t seem to be a focal point for D&D. A PC being influenced by an NPC in some mechanical way....are there any examples that don’t involve magic? I’m trying to come up with some, and the only thing I can think of is Surprise in combat, but nothing else.

Generally speaking, in D&D and similar games, the player always decides how his character feels and how they act and react to the world around them. My understanding is this is your preferred approach to gaming. Am I wrong on either point?

If you have another game in mind about all this, feel free to share. But so far, it seems that your stance is that any game that handles this differently than D&D does is not allowing “true roleplaying”. That any PC action or reaction must only come from the player and nowhere else, and that if it does, it’s not roleplaying.

So....if I’ve misunderstood your stance or if you want to discuss how this pertains to other games, great.
 

pemerton

Legend
One thing that is getting over looked is that addding a special ability to an NPC in D&D is tantamount to saying there is something extremely special about this NPC's ability. That it has effects that other creatures that do similar things don't have when they do those things.

So if there was a special maiden NPC and she was soo good at charming men that she had a nearly supernatural ability to do so then she would have a special ability: "Maiden's Wink" in her NPC description. I would not be opposed to being charmed by her.

But a regular ole maiden using a regular wink - No, just no.
The category of "special ability", like the category of "magic", only makes sense in some games or some contexts. Some systems don't really have "special abilities" at all in the D&D sense. And even where a system does feature special abilities, the fact that some statblock includes such a thing doesn't necessarily mean that the relevant infiction capability is gated behind such a mechanic.

In Prince Valiant one of my players used a Story Teller Certificate that he'd acquired through earlier play to Kill a Foe in Combat. This didn't create an effect that he didn't already have access to. But it did enable him to kill a knight in a joust whom otherwise he had no realistic mathematical chance of defeating. The player narrated it as his PC's lance splintering on the NPC knight's shield and a splinter of wood passing through the knight's visor and into his eye and brain.

Special abilities in 4e D&D are often like this: they don't make new things possible in the fiction, but they do change the mechanical likelihood of those things occurring.

If what you are trying to get at is, why can't I roleplay a character that never loses at combat then I'd say you can. I would call that roleplaying but it wouldn't be an enjoyable game for me. To elaborate a bit more - such a concept wouldn't be a valid character concept under most game systems out there today, so in that sense you couldn't create that character for any of those games.
Hang-on: so a game in which you character concept resolute in the face of the most heart-melting winks is not sacrosanct is a game that threatens RPing; but one in which your character concept puissant warrior who never gets KO-ed by mere orcs is not sacrosanct is not a valid character concept in most game systems?

What's the difference? Not from the point of view of aesthetic preference, but from the point of view of what counts as playing the character I envision?
 
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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think you'll find that you'll get very little opposition to a PC being Held and then Levitated (and then dropped into a pit I guess). People understand the mechanics and there were probably saves or something involved. But when there isn't that comfortable buffer of mechanics to fall back on people treat the whole thing very differently, which I also find very interesting, since the difference in actual effect is minimal to nonexistent (you get dropped in a pit either way and can't do anything about it once it's happening).

Say you did all the rolling behind a screen, all the saves and whatever, and then just narrated the effect. I suspect you'd get a ton of push back about it that you wouldn't get if the players rolled (and failed) the same saves and suffered the same effect. Maybe even as much push back as you'd get if they couldn't see the mechanic behind the curtain at all.

There's something in there that's key to the RPG experience but I can't quite put my finger on it.

As to the wink, I agree, there probably is a scenario where it makes sense, but it's going to be off the beaten track as far as systems go.
 

pemerton

Legend
this is an area of play that doesn’t seem to be a focal point for D&D. A PC being influenced by an NPC in some mechanical way....are there any examples that don’t involve magic? I’m trying to come up with some, and the only thing I can think of is Surprise in combat, but nothing else.
Does D&D encompass non-5e versions?

In that case, I already posted the example of the Fang Tyrant Drake's furious roar (which paralyses with fear). In 4e there's no need to conceive of the fear caused by dragons as magical, either (which brings them closer to the Smaug-ish form of dragon terror).
 

Does D&D encompass non-5e versions?

In that case, I already posted the example of the Fang Tyrant Drake's furious roar (which paralyses with fear). In 4e there's no need to conceive of the fear caused by dragons as magical, either (which brings them closer to the Smaug-ish form of dragon terror).

I was speaking of 5E, but I think it’s largely applicable across editions. There are other ways for PC actions to be dictated by DM or by mechanics in different editions. 4E Probably has the most because it essentially shed the distinction of “because magic” and just had all kinds of abilities that could inflict a status on a character, whether the source was arcane or martial or divine, etc. didn’t matter all that much. So 4E allowed for more examples by basically treating more actions the same as magic.

By comparison, 5E does have similar creature abilities, but without diving too deeply, all would mimic the effects of a spell and grant some kind of condition on the PC; frightened, charmed, paralyzed, blinded, etc. In that sense, they all likely fall safely under the “magic” umbrella.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So would a valid reason never be "my character was able to overcome his urge to give in to the maiden"? I mean, that seems a more likely and potentially valid reason than the crazy example you've provided.

I didn't provide a crazy example, but to answer your question, it would be a valid reason and here's why. Sometimes people who have flaws can just overcome those urges. Now, if the player is doing it all the time and/or only at times when it would be detrimental to the PC/party, then he's abusing the system and would need to be talked to after the game. If it's just once in a while, then it's fine.

If it's possible for the character to not give in, but it's entirely up to the player if they can do so, it seems a bit flawed.

No, it's not flawed. It just requires that the player not play in bad faith.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I think you'll find that you'll get very little opposition to a PC being Held and then Levitated (and then dropped into a pit I guess). People understand the mechanics and there were probably saves or something involved. But when there isn't that comfortable buffer of mechanics to fall back on people treat the whole thing very differently, ...

(emphasis mine)

This is the meat of it, really. We are talking, in the end, about TRUST.

When there are mechanics that the table all agreed to use underlying narrated events, we generally extend trust to the result. We typically see it as "fair", even if we are somewhat surprised by the result.

When we don't have the mechanics, the question of trust comes into play. It also comes into play when there are actually mechanics, but we are not familiar with them - pemerton's story above sits as an example - in the game he was playing, narration of the character moving across the room to introduce a complication was *within mechaical bounds*. Folks who play D&D, however, don't generally play under such mechanics, and they then fail to extend trust.

This is where a lot of conflict ton such issues arises - I've been working with my group for something like a decade. They trust me not to screw them over on a whim. Folks reading about my session on the message boards don't really know me from Adam, don't trust me, and worry that I might be screwing my players over on a whim.
 



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