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Players choose what their PCs do . . .

aramis erak

Explorer
That doesn't mean I don't think the GM should ever cross the line: it just needs to be specified in the rules and mechanics. That might range from D&D 5e (where "magic" is required)
5E has strong social effect in the DMG, page 244. It's not intended for vs PC use, but it's definitely there for PCs to non-magically alter the reaction of the NPC, and that alteration can move one from neutral to actively helpful (given a high enough roll)...

Using it vs PC's is off-label, but if part of the social contract of the game as a house rule, can make for some really fun play. It's a higher level of ceding control over the character by the player to the combination of GM and rules.

The transfer of authority is fundamental in rules based roleplay. It is the singularly most fundamental aspect of it being a game.

Let's take and expand this to the absurd level...
Two players, a table, and a chess set.
They can, as they choose, move the pieces about, and play with the chess set. They could even use it to play any of several games... Chess being the intended, but you can play checkers with a chess set (8 pawns, and the 2 rooks and 2 bishops are my favored subset). You can also play tablero, or xiangqi. Or one of several mensa-developed variants upon chess.

Simply moving the bits about generally isn't amusing past about age 10... but one cedes options to turn it from a toy to a game, and in the process, increase the intellectual reward.

RPGs differ only in that the pieces are mental - tho' some have physical items tied to them. It is by limiting choices that those choices restrict outcomes, and in the process, increase the value of the game play.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I have no control over what the DM does that might impact my character's character, though.
If you have absolute control over the personality, what the GM puts up as a challenge is irrelevant.

In a combat challenge, you have your stats, and you get to play - you make choices based on various odds, and maybe you win, and maybe you don't. Maybe you and your character are up to the task, and maybe they aren't.

In a challenge to the core personality of a character, you can just say, "Nah. This has no impact." That's not a challenge, that's merely a choice. It is like saying, "I'll flip a coin, and then choose whatever I want anyway," and calling that a challenge. If you have two teams playing soccer and, whatever happens on the field, one team just gets to just pick the final score of the game, that team isn't challenged.

Now, I am fine if you prefer a game where the character's core isn't challenged. That's a perfectly acceptable way to play. But call it what it is.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
If you have absolute control over the personality, what the GM puts up as a challenge is irrelevant.

In a combat challenge, you have your stats, and you get to play - you make choices based on various odds, and maybe you win, and maybe you don't. Maybe you and your character are up to the task, and maybe they aren't.

In a challenge to the core personality of a character, you can just say, "Nah. This has no impact." That's not a challenge, that's merely a choice. It is like saying, "I'll flip a coin, and then choose whatever I want anyway," and calling that a challenge. If you have two teams playing soccer and, whatever happens on the field, one team just gets to just pick the final score of the game, that team isn't challenged.

Now, I am fine if you prefer a game where the character's core isn't challenged. That's a perfectly acceptable way to play. But call it what it is.
You are defining challenge in a very narrow context - using a mechanical test to determine something about your character. Your concept can be challenged.

As as a quick example - let’s say your the chaste knight. You are promised Excalibur for giving up your chastity. Do you take that offer? Is that not having your character challenges while still maintaining full control of it?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You are defining challenge in a very narrow context - using a mechanical test to determine something about your character. Your concept can be challenged.
No, I don't require a mechanical test. That was merely the easiest example, and the way we typically form challenges in RPGs.

What is required for a challenge is
1) More than one possible end state, in which one is preferable to others.
2) Significant question over whether you can attain a preferable end state.
3) Some ability to influence the course of events.

So, a fight between a 20th level fighter and a base goblin - not a challenge, as there's no real question about being able to reach the preferred state. Similarly, flip a coin, and that's the result you get, no matter what you do? Also not a challenge, as no effort on your part influences results.

If you maintain full control of the choice, there is no challenge, as there no doubt you can reach your preferred end state.

As as a quick example - let’s say your the chaste knight. You are promised Excalibur for giving up your chastity. Do you take that offer? Is that not having your character challenges while still maintaining full control of it?
In this context, no. That isn't a challenge. That is a question. "Who are you? What do you want?" You can have either just as easily. There is no difficulty in attaining either. Angst over not being able to have your cake and eat it too does not constitute a challenge. Questions over what really is your preferred end state, similarly, do not constitute a challenge.

This is something we should note - a difference between the real world and authored fiction. In the real world, resisting temptation may be a challenge for a person. For an authored fiction, there is the *illusion* of a challenge. If we suspend our disbelief, it makes us *feel* like a challenge took place. But, really, the author just decided - there is no person whose will was honestly tested. If someone has full, or zero, control over the result, there is no test.
 
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hawkeyefan

Explorer
It isn't about "want." I may want to remain a paragon of knightly virtue, but if the circumstances warrant a fall, it's going to happen whether I want it to or not. I'm not going to play in bad faith and avoid something that is warranted, just because I don't want it to happen.
No, it can't happen if you don't want it to. You have to approve it since your PC is your domain. That's the whole point.

You're talking about playing in "bad faith" but that's a judgment call, and is going to have a pretty broad gray area. And again, relying on judgment is a fine way to do it if that's what you prefer.

But the addition of mechanics would remove the gray area and the need for as much judgment. And this addition appeals to some players. Really that's all it boils down to.

Relying on judgment is fine.....I play plenty of D&D, and a lot of my game functions this way. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just not focused on challenges to character as much as it is about combat.

There's more risk with the random method.
Thank you. This is the point. People may prefer a game where there is more risk in this area. They want there to be mechanics so that there's consistency in application, and understanding of stakes and risk.

This approach in the social aspect of the fiction is not any less about roleplaying than D&D and similar games are because combat functions that way.

Basically, the stance "I am in control of my character at all times, unless magic or during combat. All other outcomes are for me to decide and any change to this means I'm no longer roleplaying" is pretty absurd.

Cool, but you've moved the goalposts. The debate is between zero risk and risk, not more risk and less risk. That you've acknowledged that there is at least some risk with me deciding the outcomes is enough for me. Some risk is all I've argued.
I've not moved goalposts. I'm not trying to "win". The semantic difference between "less risk" and "no risk" is unimportant to me. What I'm trying to do is explain to you how mechanics that may dictate PC behavior can appeal as an alternate approach to play. The risk to character that is inherent in that play is why it appeals to some folks. You don't dig it...that's fine. But if you can accept that there is more risk to character in that style of play, then I expect you may understand how it may appeal to someone, even if you don't share that preference.

I don' think that there would really be no risk to character in a system like that of D&D 5E. I think a good DM can put a choice to a PC that is not easy and which requires no mechanics to resolve. All that takes is two desires or goals to be put at odds with one another. Tough choices like that seem to me to be possible in just about any system, I'd expect.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Upthread somebody pointed out that in reality we aren't in control of all of our thoughts/reactions/emotions...that the mind is a mysterious black box...and that having the DM step in and make that determination is therefore "realistic". (Or something like that.)

But we are not talking about how the player's mind works, we are talking about the character's mind. So, while the observation about the black box has merit, I believe the player should be in firm control of the black box, except when game mechanics determine otherwise.
I'm a bit perplexed here, as you seem to presume that we haven't been talking about the character's mind. In fact, I don't think that any of us have talked thus far about the player's mind, as we have been focused on the character's mental states. But again, I think that this touches upon my earlier point that your whole "black box" perspective - since you appear to be introducing a novel idea of a black box - essentially approaches this issue from the lens of mind-body duality and tabula rasa-style free-will. Whereas I think that a lot of us who made mention of human irrationality view this through the lens of cognitive science, behavioral psychology, and biolgoical psychosomatic processes. So from our perspective, it largely simulates the human condition and experience (and characters within dramatic stories) while not depriving us of any fundamental agency in roleplay.

Hit points per se aren't a part of the game world but what they describe - a creature's general degree of toughness and resilience - is.
I don't necessarily agree here, Lanefan, which may be part of the problem. I regard hit points foremost as a pacing mechanic rather than some sort of dogmatic truth about the nature of the creature. And part of the DM's responsibility is to manipulate the pacing of encounters, so having the DM alter HP of creatures doesn't bother me at all presuming that it's fair or well. A level one party of four fighting a 100 goblins with 1000 HP each would be unfair by most reasonable metrics in any edition of D&D.

Take a typical ogre. They're usually pretty tough and can take a few solid hits from pretty much any other ogre before going down - this is represented in game mechanics by their usually having a decent amount of h.p. - let's for argument's sake say 60 each. So two of these ogres get into a fight - they whale on each other a while until one goes down bruised and bleeding and the other steals his cake. We're good so far, right?
Well, no. If they whale on each other, then it doesn't matter what their HP are, because the GM controls the entirety of the fiction. They could have them fight non-stop for days or have the other be killed from a bee sting without picking up the dice once and regardless of the listed HP. Most DMs do this all the time. All the time.

But now let's put these same ogres - who for consistency's sake should ALWAYS have toughness represented by 60 h.p. - and make them minions, and put them up against a high-level character who with good rolling can give out maybe 45 h.p. damage per round. If these ogres could keep their normal toughness they'd on average give that PC at least a 3-round workout before going down...but they're minions, meaning with good rolling the PC can wipe them out in a hearbeat. This is where the glaring inconsistency arises with minion rules, particularly when applied to larger and-or (usually) much tougher creatures.
(1) Why is the bold required for consistency's sake? My sense of ogres or their consistency does not hinge on how many HP they have, but on the fact that they are ogres in the fiction. HP is one tool, among many, that the DM can manipulate to control the pacing of the encounter. Some monsters will have more HP than in the MM, and others will have less. Minions have 1 HP and it's shorthand for saying that they take one hit. So yes, ogres are usually tough, or at least they were before, but now you know how to fight them better and make your hits count.

(2) How does applying the minion rules consistently create a "glaring inconsistency"? :confused:

Though I am now imaginging ogres getting upset that PCs don't follow the internal consistency of their humanoid type:
Ogre 1: Karlogg, it just upsets me that the humanoid adventurers we encounter have variable hit points.

Ogre 2: What about it, Uzar?

Ogre 1: Let's take a typical human. They have 4 HP. This means that it should only require one hit to kill them. So for consistency's sake, they should all have 4 HP. And yet, the other day we encountered humans who now have 64 HP! What's up with that? I don't understand how they can work when viewed through any sort of lens of internal consistency.
Anyway...

I don't understand how they can work when viewed through any sort of lens of internal consistency.
But as you know, it does work for many who have used minions. Why do you think that may be the case? And while you genuinely consider your answer to that with actual reflection about other people with differing gaming preferences...

IMHO, I think that opposition to minions is predominately is a DM-side problem and far less of a player-side problem. I don't think that I have ever encountered in my own experience a single player - regardless of which side of the DM screen I was sitting on at the time - who complained about minions ever. I'm not saying that there aren't players who oppose minion rules, but I think all complaints I have encountered have come from the DM side of the equation. I suspect that the issue from the DM-side of things is that minion rules essentially show the DM how the sausage is made, and some DMs don't like anything that makes them aware of that. In contrast, players see and engage the fiction.

Of course, I'm not entirely sure how minions are relevant to the larger discourse on winking maidens and melting hearts.

Why, you ask? Because one expects that a player is going to have some sort of basic idea about what makes a character tick, and will maybe even have some notes to that effect e.g.:
...
And then the maiden winks at him...and those notes suddenly might not mean as much as they did a moment ago.
Or those player notes may mean more now, since the melting of his heart by the maiden's wink may signify that the character has found a lady of noble standing worth fighting for rather than simply the furtive dream of a noble lady. Or maybe the lady that affects them the most is not the one their mind was previously set upon. Of course it's also the player's responsibility to hit curveballs like this when they are encountered in the fiction. Otherwise, it almost seems like the character-side equivalent of railroading.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I'm a bit perplexed here, as you seem to presume that we haven't been talking about the character's mind. In fact, I don't think that any of us have talked thus far about the player's mind, as we have been focused on the character's mental states.
We could say that, even with total player control, within the fiction, we decide that a thing was a challenge for the character. There's no problem with that broadly speaking, though we are then walking the line between role-playing, and straight authorship. That's a significant reason why I describe challenges as being something not fully in the player's control - to stand back from that line, where the player cannot be an outright author of the character's fate.
 
You are defining challenge in a very narrow context - using a mechanical test to determine something about your character....As as a quick example - let’s say your the chaste knight. You are promised Excalibur for giving up your chastity. Do you take that offer? Is that not having your character challenges while still maintaining full control of it?
There's still a significant mechanical /element/ there, in that you'll get a powerful item, which, in some games, will make a huge difference to your experience of play for quite a while. So the fact you have full control over the character can actually be a bit of a conflict of interest. To totally mix systems, if the character is 'chaste' because it's part of the core character concept, that's one thing, if it got you an extra build point as a GURPS-style quirk or something, mainly to get points for said build, well...

Systems like FATE that give character concept mechanical teeth (Aspects) that can bite both ways have their virtues, too.

Of course, the mechanical 'test' doesn't need to be rolling a die or any other sort of randomization, it just has to be a fork with different mechanical consequences depending on why way it goes. The example you give, or offering a FATE point to compel and aspect would both be examples of mechanical tests that aren't randomized.
FWIW.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Though I am now imaginging ogres getting upset that PCs don't follow the internal consistency of their humanoid type:

Ogre 1: Karlogg, it just upsets me that the humanoid adventurers we encounter have variable hit points.


Ogre 2: What about it, Uzar?


Ogre 1: Let's take a typical human. They have 4 HP. This means that it should only require one hit to kill them. So for consistency's sake, they should all have 4 HP. And yet, the other day we encountered humans who now have 64 HP! What's up with that? I don't understand how they can work when viewed through any sort of lens of internal consistency.
.....do you have a kickstarter for this one act play?

Maybe a "Waiting for Godot, the Human Warlock?"

Or would it by more of a "Rosenogre and Guildenogre Are Dead."

.....

Take all of my money.
 

GrahamWills

Explorer
Oh please, no one has asked for rules for everything the GM does. I'm fine with him doing nearly anything. The only thing I ask for is that he don't try to control things about my character for which there aren't mechanics for
Heh. I guess we have fundamentally different ideas about what a GM does. For me if you say "I need mechanics for everything the GM controls which affects my character" that is the same as saying "I need mechanics for everything" -- or at least everything that matters.

I mean, what else does a GM do, but adjudicate what happens to your character? Anything which does not affect anyone's character at all is pretty much irrelevant, so outside of that, everything the GM does is controlling your character's destiny. Does the orc attack you? She's controlling your destiny. Does the city of Fuzit elect a mayor who will outlaw your class? She's controlling your destiny. Does the maiden's wink melt your heart? She's controlling your destiny. Does she roll on the random-monster table when you rest in the 10'x10' room? She's controlling your destiny.

I think what you are arguing is that there are some aspects of your character you would like only you to have control over. Which is fine -- that's certainly true for me and my characters. And I also understand that a very common default set of such aspects is "those aspects which D&D does not have rules for", which is also fine. But it's by no means universal. And it's not even going to be the same for the same people in different games.

D&D has lots of rules for how characters react to physical stimuli and virtually none to how they react to emotional or social stimuli. Even when it has rules, they are asymmetric -- the wandering monster does not get YOU to role on the reaction table, and that's likely because the game is all about the physical and goes freeform for social and emotional issues. But that's the genre, not a universal truth. In a genre about courtly romance, the GM might set the scene by saying "the wink of a maiden melts your heart" setting up a social conflict where you want to win her approval while not alienating your fiancee. She's putting you in emotional danger just as a D&D GM puts characters in physical danger by calling for initiative.
 
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lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
D&D has lots of rules for how characters react to physical stimuli and virtually none to how they react to emotional or social stimuli.
I feel like ... there might be some larger point that could be drawn out here.


I'm just not going to make it.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Although I fought the label at first I have found that I'm fairly immersion focused as a player. Mechanics that help me feel the pressure of social expectations, emotions, and weight of character beliefs only serve to aid in immersion. I'm not a huge fan of mechanics that dictate behavior, but ones that impact success and failure like strings in Monsterhearts or Conditions and Influence in Masks really help me to get inside my characters' hearts and heads. They also provide cover to players to play with integrity in situations where common tabletop rpg culture would put pressure on them to be more of a team player.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
No, I don't require a mechanical test. That was merely the easiest example, and the way we typically form challenges in RPGs.

What is required for a challenge is
1) More than one possible end state, in which one is preferable to others.
2) Significant question over whether you can attain a preferable end state.
3) Some ability to influence the course of events.

So, a fight between a 20th level fighter and a base goblin - not a challenge, as there's no real question about being able to reach the preferred state. Similarly, flip a coin, and that's the result you get, no matter what you do? Also not a challenge, as no effort on your part influences results.

If you maintain full control of the choice, there is no challenge, as there no doubt you can reach your preferred end state.



In this context, no. That isn't a challenge. That is a question. "Who are you? What do you want?" You can have either just as easily. There is no difficulty in attaining either. Angst over not being able to have your cake and eat it too does not constitute a challenge. Questions over what really is your preferred end state, similarly, do not constitute a challenge.

This is something we should note - a difference between the real world and authored fiction. In the real world, resisting temptation may be a challenge for a person. For an authored fiction, there is the *illusion* of a challenge. If we suspend our disbelief, it makes us *feel* like a challenge took place. But, really, the author just decided - there is no person whose will was honestly tested. If someone has full, or zero, control over the result, there is no test.


I have to admit I fully agree with FrogReaver on this one. Maybe chastity vs Excalibur is too binary, too simplistic, but I think it’s a far more interesting sort of personality challenge than some of the other examples thrown around.

Folks keep using the dice rolling of combat as some kind of standard against which other activities are measured, but isn’t combat (besides being fun) really the result of failing to overcome challenges in more interesting, and in many ways less risky, ways?

In some ways this is starting to remind me of the recent mega-thread(s) about challenging the player vs challenging the character, with much of the same underlying philosophy, but (apparently) shifting sides.
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
We could say that, even with total player control, within the fiction, we decide that a thing was a challenge for the character. There's no problem with that broadly speaking, though we are then walking the line between role-playing, and straight authorship. That's a significant reason why I describe challenges as being something not fully in the player's control - to stand back from that line, where the player cannot be an outright author of the character's fate.
I agree, for the most part.

After all, If the player chooses to role=play in perfect character, this would not be an issue. But, if the player disregards the character in order to take a magic sword (Excalibur), the most we, as DMs, can do, under the RAW, is exhibit the consequences to the character from the perspective of outsiders.

For example, the chaste knight who relinquishes his chastity will, if role-played to a standard of accuracy, respond appropriately. Otherwise, the horror of his fellow knights can be one of the only indicators of the consequence that the character experiences. In this case, it is not a good simulation, because the character has experienced no regret or character change.

When moments like this come up in my game, when the player says something that seem entirely out of character, I first ask them why their character has chosen to take this action. With my players, it's not too difficult, but what am I supposed to say if their response is "lol, magic sword duh"?

So, yes, this is a good point.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
There's still a significant mechanical /element/ there, in that you'll get a powerful item, which, in some games, will make a huge difference to your experience of play for quite a while.
If that's what mechanical means to you then that's a good part of the reason we are getting no where in this discussion.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
I agree, for the most part.

After all, If the player chooses to role=play in perfect character, this would not be an issue. But, if the player disregards the character in order to take a magic sword (Excalibur), the most we, as DMs, can do, under the RAW, is exhibit the consequences to the character from the perspective of outsiders.
This is the weirdest turn in the whole conversation.

I'm not sure it can ever be that simple. Regardless of the player's motivation he roleplayed the character as choosing the sword. If that was how he always conceived his character then great. If that choice made him have to rethink who his character is in the world and evolve his conceptualization of the character then that's great too. He broke his character concept but that's okay because it was his choice to do so. There's no wrong answer here. There's no cheating, there's just progress.

And even if you insist on calling it cheating, the only person he can possibly be cheating is himself.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
But, if the player disregards the character in order to take a magic sword (Excalibur), the most we, as DMs, can do, under the RAW, is exhibit the consequences to the character from the perspective of outsiders.

....

When moments like this come up in my game, when the player says something that seem entirely out of character, I first ask them why their character has chosen to take this action. With my players, it's not too difficult, but what am I supposed to say if their response is "lol, magic sword duh"?
Sounds like roleplaying thought police to me.

Ever seen/read a fictional noble character who succumbed to temptation or other base instincts? Like...all of Greek literature? Shakespeare?

Conversely, imagine the opposite: the noble and pure character who *never* does. Like...in moralizing cartoons for small children?

Now, maybe said player is just greedy, and isn’t trying to roleplay a dramatic fall from Grace, but in trying to distinguish between the two you’re falling into the same trap as the anti-metagaming crowd and trying to police their thoughts.

Don’t play with people you don’t want to play with, but expecting (or trying to force) people to roleplay a character the way you think it should be role played just ain’t gonna end well.

Somebody above referred to immersion. Put the player in the situation where he is genuinely agonizing over a moral choice, and he will feel like his character feels. That’s a win before he even makes the decision.
 

Ovinomancer

Flip Nazi
This is the weirdest turn in the whole conversation.

I'm not sure it can ever be that simple. Regardless of the player's motivation he roleplayed the character as choosing the sword. If that was how he always conceived his character then great. If that choice made him have to rethink who his character is in the world and evolve his conceptualization of the character then that's great too. He broke his character concept but that's okay because it was his choice to do so. There's no wrong answer here. There's no cheating, there's just progress.

And even if you insist on calling it cheating, the only person he can possibly be cheating is himself.
Yes, I agree, it is the weirdest turn. No one's mentioned calling the choice cheating, yet here you are arguing as if this was said. It's like before, when you tried to use "roll-playing" to dismiss arguments. I though that had to be the most ridiculous thing in the thread, but, no, I was wrong. This is going a bit further. I'm not sure if you just don't understand what's being said, or if you do and feel the need to do this anyway. I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume the former.
 

Ovinomancer

Flip Nazi
Sounds like roleplaying thought police to me.

Ever seen/read a fictional noble character who succumbed to temptation or other base instincts? Like...all of Greek literature? Shakespeare?

Conversely, imagine the opposite: the noble and pure character who *never* does. Like...in moralizing cartoons for small children?

Now, maybe said player is just greedy, and isn’t trying to roleplay a dramatic fall from Grace, but in trying to distinguish between the two you’re falling into the same trap as the anti-metagaming crowd and trying to police their thoughts.

Don’t play with people you don’t want to play with, but expecting (or trying to force) people to roleplay a character the way you think it should be role played just ain’t gonna end well.

Somebody above referred to immersion. Put the player in the situation where he is genuinely agonizing over a moral choice, and he will feel like his character feels. That’s a win before he even makes the decision.
Huh? Are you taking Frogreaver's meds, too? The ask is to explore the reasoning behind the sudden change, not to refute it if doesn't meet guidelines. Heck, [MENTION=6923088]Aebir-Toril[/MENTION] even says they wouldn't know what to do with "lol, magic sword duh" which strongly suggests that this would just be a confusing answer, not one that's censored.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and AT really is running roughshod over his players, but I haven't gotten that at all, and it requires adding words to what they've posted to get there.
 

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