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Players choose what their PCs do . . .

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.
This is why I say you don't undertand the 4e combat resolution mechanics. This claim isn't true of 4e; hit points aren't a description of anything. The toughness of a creature is described in the fiction - just as (say) JRRT conveys that the cave troll is tough. The hit points are then a device - together with AC, attack rolls, damage dice etc - that are used to determine the outcomes of fights. That is to say, they are a component of a resolution system. And this is all subsequent to the fiction of how tough the creature/NPC is, not an input into it.
 
[MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION], [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION] - you've both made some recent posts which dispute the analysis of action put foward in the OP. Eg you both deny that I melt the maiden's heart with my wink is a true description of a PC's action, and a description of the same action as I wink at the maiden (although obviously a different description).

I'm not that interested in turning this thread into an argument in the philosophy of action, but I think that the objections to your claims are overwhelming. (And there's a reason why Davidson remains, even posthumously, one of the leading figures in contemporary philosophy of action.) Just to give one: if the character in fact melts the maiden's heart with a wink, then it is obviously true to say of him/her S/he melted the maiden's heart with a wink. It's also obviously true to say S/he winked. If you deny that these are the same action (under different descriptions) then you suddenly have the person doing two things although she performed only one bodily movement (the wink) with only one intention (to melt the maiden's heart). This is metaphysically untenable, I think for fairy obvious reasons.

In the context of a RPG, there are also obvioous objections to the sort of distinction the two of you draw between actions and results in the sort of discussion taking place in this thread - namely, that that distinction can't be drawn until we know how some particular RPG system draws it; and so it isn't a distinction we can rely upon to talk about how and why different systems might take different approaches to making descriptions of actions true. Just one example to illustrate the point: is I draw my sword an account of a PC's action, or of a result - the action being I move my hand so as to grip the pommel of my sword and then move my arm in the motion characteristic of drawing a sword from a scabbard?
 

Ovinomancer

Flip Nazi
Re: challenging the character concept

I was using risk earlier, because it's a better framing for the issue. Are you risking your character. Challenging is so vague as to mean anything. Heck, the example of chastity versus a sword is being used, but that doesn't challenge the character at all, it challenges the player to make a choice as to what character they want to play. This isn't anything like risking the characterization. Instead, it's a choice the player is making as to whether or not they value their characterization over the mechanical advantage of a powerful magic item. Even if the example is using Excalibur in it's broader fictional sense and offering a choice between playing a chaste knight that honors their vows versus being the Once and Future King, this is a choice for the player to make -- which characterization do I want to play. Nothing is actually risked here, it's just a choice. And, this is the kind of choice that's confused for characterization risking by those steeped in gaming culture where the DM has loads of authority and the player has little because it represents the limited amount of authority the player has in these games -- choosing what kind of character they want to play.

In games where the character is actually risked, as in the very nature of the character is at risk in play and not in the players sole choice, you have a different concept going on. Here, the character can be changed in the game without the player's choice. The player risks a loss of power over their choices for the character. Like anything, this gets very bad with excess, but most games that do this use explicit tells to show what's at stake and what isn't in a given scene. To return to the maiden's wink example, here's a possible way that it could play out in one of these kinds of games, absent specific mechanics.

Firstly, the character of the knight is set up with what's at stake up front. The quest, for one, is clearly at stake. The vow of chastity is at stake. We know these things because the player has stated them as driving forces and thereby opened them to being at stake.

The GM would frame a scene where one or more of the player's stakes are risked. Let's imagine a courtly ball, being held in honor of the knight as he quests through this noble's land. At this ball, the GM frames a winsome young lady, the maiden, who approaches the knight and invites being courted. The knight has to refuse the courtship without insulting anyone (it's chivalry, after all), and so a challenge begins. Let's say the knight fails the challenge, and so has either managed to insult the maiden or invited another problem. Let's say the GM decides to widen the conflict, and has the noble become involved, accusing the knight of insulting his house with his boorish behavior. The knight now has to negotiate this challenge -- how best to placate his host while maintaining his honor. Let's again say the knight fails. At risk now is his quest -- he's offended a noble who's offered succor and the stain on his reputation will be hard to overcome and significantly increase the difficulty of his quest (again, chivalry as trope is assumed). But, the GM decides to go a different route with the failure, and has the young maiden put up a sudden a spirited defense of the knight's honor, pointing out his vow of chastity, and stating no offense was given or taken. This placates the noble. Then, the lady looks over at the knight an gives a conspiratorial wink and it's this wink that has the knight realize that he's fallen for this maiden. Now the result of the failures here is that the knight has fallen in love and must decide how to deal with this complication to his honor and his quest. Certainly, this will come up again.

So, in this example, the player of the knight chose what aspects of their character where at risk, but has no control of how that risk occurs. The player of the knight has choice regarding what they attempt in a scene, but no choice as to the outcomes if they fail. If a failure condition occurs, then what the player has put at stake is, well, at stake. It's perfectly fine play to actually attack those things.

What I think one side is missing in this discussion is that the character can actually be at stake in more ways than just alive/dead (which is the default in D&D). This works best if there's some mechanics in play to announce what is at stake and how those stakes are resolved. The player is still the authority for what's at stake, even if these choices are made at character creation. What they don't have choice over is what happens to those stakes if they lose a contest. I think one side here is holds on far too tightly to character not being at stake because it has been, traditionally, the one thing the player has authority over. It's hard to overcome this ingrained defensiveness of your one thing. Especially since many bad play examples in D&D operate by reducing or removing that authority (railroading, etc.). So, it's hard to see that there are games and ways of playing where you intentionally risk these things as part of play, and that it can happen without bad play occurring. The focus in these games isn't (often) figuring out the GM's plot, or if you can win this fight, but rather is this character who I think they are. And, it's quite often that they aren't, and this is fun.

Not the only way to have fun, nor am I saying that playing in the traditional way is less fun or less in any way. It's different, that's all, and the point of this thread, and my participation in it, is to hopefully get one more person to open their eyes to more ways to play, even if they then choose to not change. Understanding other ways to play almost always improves how you play however you choose to play, because you're more aware of what's at stake in the game you play and how best to bring those stakes forward. My D&D games got better after I tried some other ways to play, not because I brought things from other games in (although I did), but more because I recognized better what it is that D&D does well and made my games about that rather than about the things it doesn't do well. For games involving those, I use other systems.
 
A long post as I catch up on this thread.

If it's left to a die roll or the DM's decision, there is no real test of character.

<snip>

There's a huge difference between me struggling with a decision for my PC, and clack, clack, clack! Oh, look. This time he's an ass, maybe next time he'll be noble. *yawn*
The second bit here suggest to me that you're not familiar with the play of any of the non-D&D games that [MENTION=5142]Aldarc[/MENTION], [MENTION=177]Umbran[/MENTION], [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] and I have referenced - Fate, Pendrgaon, Prince Valiant, MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic, Bunring Wheel, etc.

And the first bit is odd, because the way you find out whether a D&D character is tough enough to beat Orcus in a fight is (among other things) to roll some dice.

Of course D&D combat is not nothing but die rolls. But nor is a skill challenge, or a Duel of Wits, or whatever other mechanic a system might use to find out whether or not your PC is steely-hearted enough to resist the maiden's wink.

Consulting rules makes zero difference here. It's just a question of whether or not you trust the GM to set up the game to be fun. Adding a veneer of rules on top is just a comfort blanket for gamers who really like rules
I certainly find it interesting that [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION] and [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION] are fine with the maiden melting a PC's heart of the GM has written down (i) that the maiden has such a special ability and (ii) it allows a saving throw. Given that there's no rule in D&D that limits the special abilities a GM can place on a creature or NPC, and no rules that limit the number of saves s/he can call for, this seems like a strange view to take - what you call a comfort blanket or even a fetish.

You're insisting that there can be no consequences for character unless the player agrees. This just means that character is never at risk. I'm asking to you imagine what happens if it is -- what kind of game is that, how does that work, what can be accomplished? There's nothing wrong with not grappling with these questions, or grappling and finding them lacking, but you've straightjacketed yourself into a narrow view of games by insisting it should not be.
This post in particular has some nice accounts of what is involved in putting a character at risk.

In his discussion of this, Ron Edwards characterises different systems in terms of the degree of intensity/pressure they will place on the participants. He correctly notes that Prince Valiant is pretty light in this respect - the tropes are safely within romantic fantasy territory, the characters are not super-deep, the action is chivalric jousts, winking maidens, etc. For a sentimental referee such as me it's a superb game!

He doesn't comment on Burning Wheel (not really a thing when he was writing his stuff) but it's at the other end of the spectrum. Having read but not (yet) played Apocalypse World, I think it too is towards that other end. These games encourage deep characterisation, really hard GM pressure (which for a sentimental referee like me is hard on my as well as the players!) and a serious chance that you might get burned in play. (Not emotinally scarred or traumatised, but cetainly the possibility of experiences that are bruising in the moment.)

I fully agree with you that you can't do this - and especially the more intense stuff - if nothing ever happens that the player doesn't choose for his/her PC.

I also agree with something you said in an earlier post in reply to [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION], about the alleged difference between a character who can't be beaten in a fight, and a character who thinks s/he can't be beaten. In play, if I'm immersed in that character, then there is no difference until - should it come to pass - I'm beaten. And linking this to the point about risk, it follows that the difference only matters from the out-of-game perspective - if, as a player, I don't want my character conception to be at risk, then the difference is crucial. But oddly enough that seems to contradict the notion of roleplaying that was being put forward, which was all about performing the character, not performing the role of an author who doesn't want his/her character conception violated.

I'll finish with a little actual play example that illustrates both points, in the context of a light-hearted MHRP session. One of the players - perhaps unsuprisingly, the one who most enjoys showing off at the table! - was playing Nightcrawler. One of Nightcrawler's character destinctions is Devout Catholic. One of his milestones is Romantic. This particular session started with Nightcrawler, Iceman and War Machine heading out to a Washington, DC bar in their civvies. Naturally the women they met in the bar turned out to be the supervillains Black Mamba, Asp and Diamondback (the B.A.D. girls). The session was a mixture of romancing, fighting and breaking hearts: Bobby took Asp skating on the moat in front of the Washington Monument (I think I'm getting that right - my knowledge of the city is from TV, not real life), and also ended the session by sweeeping into the Smithsonian on an ice slide and carrying off the last B.A.D. girl standing into the sunset, thereby both ending the fisticuffs between her and Nighcrawler and War Machine, and getting the girl. Earlier on, War Machine left one of the women dangling from the top of the monument when he got the alert about the attack on the Smithsonian; and Nightcrawler loved and left one on the roof of the Capitol Dome. In doing this he reached the capstone on his Romantic Milestone ("when you either break off a romantic relationship, or seek to enter into a more permanent partnership and ask your love to marry you") and so he had to write a new Milestone. And in combination with other events, in the session, it became clear that his Catholicism was less devout than previously believed, and so the player spent the requisite XPs to replace that distinction. From memory, the new distinction was The Devil Within while the new milestone was about lapsed faith.

That's not the sort of play that's going to cause flashback or make someone question the meaningfulness of their life! But we got to see an image of Bobby as slightly naive and innocent affirmed; while Nightcrawler definitely emerged as more dark than he sometimes is portrayed, and the PC sheet changed to reflect this - and that happened withint Nightcrawler actually having to fail any checks (that's not to say that he had no failures, but those weren't crucial to the character transformation arc that I outlined).

When it gets interesting is when there's some actual temptation on the part of the player to succumb. Maybe sometimes, for some, just the story value is enough of a temptation. But for others a mechanical temptation might be needed. And I have to admit that I favor genuine trade-offs. (That is, the player of the knight knows that if he/she gives in to the temptation, there's some concrete benefit to be gained, and a concrete penalty to breaking the vow.)
I am somewhat wary of reducing the emotional and thematic aspect of playing a charcter to a cost-benefit analysis. Because then the main thing we learn is how expedient the character is.

There are variations on this that don't push so hard towards expedience: eg in systems with player-side action-boosting currency one way we learn how much the character cares about X is by seeing how much currency the player is prepared to spend to help ensure X. Or we can have the opposite, as per the AW seduce/manipulate PvP mechanic that I posted upthread: we can see how dedicated the character is to avoiding X by seeing if she gives up the possible XP, or is prepared to soak the possible penalty, for not doing X. (MHRP/Cortex+ is similar to this - go against your complication and the opposing dice pool gets to include that complication die.)

Then there are ways of risking one's character (and character concept) that are more like my play example: the character doesn't become more (or less) effective by changing milestones and changing descriptors; rather, the sorts of things s/he is incentivised to do, and the flavour of those actions, changes.

So if we consider the example of the knight who abandons his/her quest for love, to frame the issue as one of succumbing to temptation is already to have taken a god's-eye-view on the matter. Whereas if we take a player-inhabiting-the-character view how do we know that that's what it is? Maybe it's realising that quests are abstract futility whereas real love with a real person is concrete, worthwile reality.

In a game of the sort [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] has described, one key function of the GM is to create these opportunities for the player to decide what/who his/her PC really is. Typically - perhaps almost always - this won't involve narrating the maiden's wink as melting the PC's heart. But it has to meaningfully put into play a possibility of that sort in a way that doesn't make the player think about what is expedience but rather - from the point of view of his/her PC but also knowing as a player that the whole game experience can survive changes in the character - makes the player think what do I really want here?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
You really can't just say, "Nah, this has no impact." or it's not core to the personality of the character. A challenge to the core will have an impact either way it goes
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
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, @Aebir-Toril 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.
I might be wrong, too. Let me break down how I read it:

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.
The phrase in bold was a red flag for me. It suggests that "perfect character" is something that can be discerned or defined.

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.
Same thing. What's a "standard of accuracy"? What is an "appropriate" response? Sounds to me like external judgments.

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"?
In my book, that's something that DMs do only if they are trying to enforce "correct" roleplaying.

Again, maybe I'm mis-reading it all.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This is why I say you don't undertand the 4e combat resolution mechanics. This claim isn't true of 4e; hit points aren't a description of anything. The toughness of a creature is described in the fiction - just as (say) JRRT conveys that the cave troll is tough.
And by that we can reasonably extrapolate that for game purposes a cave troll has lots of hit points and-or a high Con score.

The hit points are then a device - together with AC, attack rolls, damage dice etc - that are used to determine the outcomes of fights. That is to say, they are a component of a resolution system. And this is all subsequent to the fiction of how tough the creature/NPC is, not an input into it.
Each reflects the other. Just as you can't say a creature described as being particularly tough (relative to other creatures) in the fiction doesn't have lots of hit points, you can't say a creature with lots of hit points (relative to other creatures) isn't tough.

Put another way, hit points (relative to the hit points of other creatures) are just one more means of expressing and describing toughness and resilience.

And if 4e wants to (rather oddly) claim that this doesn't apply then that's its problem, not mine.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
[MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION], [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION] - you've both made some recent posts which dispute the analysis of action put foward in the OP. Eg you both deny that I melt the maiden's heart with my wink is a true description of a PC's action, and a description of the same action as I wink at the maiden (although obviously a different description).
Correct: they are not the same. The latter describes an action, the former tries to tie a result to it.

I'm not that interested in turning this thread into an argument in the philosophy of action, but I think that the objections to your claims are overwhelming. (And there's a reason why Davidson remains, even posthumously, one of the leading figures in contemporary philosophy of action.) Just to give one: if the character in fact melts the maiden's heart with a wink, then it is obviously true to say of him/her S/he melted the maiden's heart with a wink.
The key word there is IF, which remains undetermined until-unless game mechanics resolve. After that happens and it's determined that the wink succeeded in melting her heart then yes, you can bundle action and result together.

Which means describing the result before this point is wrong; you're only describing a hoped-for or attempted result.

It's also obviously true to say S/he winked. If you deny that these are the same action (under different descriptions) then you suddenly have the person doing two things although she performed only one bodily movement (the wink) with only one intention (to melt the maiden's heart). This is metaphysically untenable, I think for fairy obvious reasons.
She only winks once, and only has one intention (or so we must assume). It's the tying-in of intention as if it was already result (before confirmation/denial via accepted game mechanics) that's wrong.

In the context of a RPG, there are also obvioous objections to the sort of distinction the two of you draw between actions and results in the sort of discussion taking place in this thread - namely, that that distinction can't be drawn until we know how some particular RPG system draws it; and so it isn't a distinction we can rely upon to talk about how and why different systems might take different approaches to making descriptions of actions true. Just one example to illustrate the point: is I draw my sword an account of a PC's action, or of a result - the action being I move my hand so as to grip the pommel of my sword and then move my arm in the motion characteristic of drawing a sword from a scabbard?
I draw my sword is an action. I draw my sword and try to kill the orc with it is two actions, reasonably enough stitched together, with the second action demanding game mechanics to resolve success or failure (because it's phrased as 'I try to...'). I draw my sword and kill the orc with it, however, presupposes a result that has in fact yet to be determined and thus is (at this pre-resolution point) invalid.

Discussing how various games resolve "I try to..." into "I do" (or "I don't") is fine. But you need to make it clear you're starting from "I try to...", which I think in your mind you might have been but it didn't translate onto the screen in the OP.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
Yes it absolutely can happen if I don't want it do. I can approve all kinds of things I don't want to happen. For instance, even though I really don't want you to try and argue your incorrect position, I approve of your right to that kind of speech.

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.
I've not argued otherwise. If those sorts of games appeal to you, I'm truly glad that they exist for you to play. :)

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.
Again, I've not argued that some people don't prefer games with mechanics for this sort of thing.

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, because the absurd part isn't something I've said, either.

I've not moved goalposts. I'm not trying to "win". The semantic difference between "less risk" and "no risk" is unimportant to me.
It's not semantics. It's literally the difference between less aliens on my lawn waving at me right now and no aliens on my lawn waving at me right now. Less aliens means that there is at least 1 alien out there. That's a pretty significant difference.

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.
Agreed. You can have both risk and challenge when you have full control over your PC's reactions. I know this for a fact, since I have had both full control over my PC and still been challenged.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I certainly find it interesting that @FrogReaver and @Maxperson are fine with the maiden melting a PC's heart of the GM has written down (i) that the maiden has such a special ability and (ii) it allows a saving throw. Given that there's no rule in D&D that limits the special abilities a GM can place on a creature or NPC, and no rules that limit the number of saves s/he can call for, this seems like a strange view to take - what you call a comfort blanket or even a fetish.
Look through the Monster Manual and tell me how many mental/emotion control powers there are that don't give a save. D&D does demonstrate quite clearly that the DM is supposed to make these sorts of things resistible. And the comment on the number of saves is just odd. What does that have to do with anything we've been saying?
 
isn’t combat (besides being fun) really the result of failing to overcome challenges in more interesting, and in many ways less risky, ways?
I don't see how this could be a general truth about RPGing. Maybe it's a truth about a certain sort of approach to D&D, Classic Traveller and maybe RQ.

In Marvel Heroic RP, combat - ie fisticuffs between superheroes and supervillains - isn't a result of failing to overcome challenges in some other fashion. It's how heroes defeat villains!

In Prince Valiant, a joust can be anything from friendly sport to a duel of honour. It's not normally the result of faiur in some other domain of challenge.

Etc.

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?
Just to add to my post half-a-dozen or so upthread, and also [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION]'s post just upthread of that - what you describe here is an offer, not a challenge. It invites the player to make a calculation or choice of some sort.

You could elaborate on the scenario, so that in some way this is the culmination of a series of events in the fiction - a bit like Ovinomancer's story of the knight on a quest, or my actual play example of Nightcrawler discovering he's neither as nice nor as devout as he thought.

Not all character change or development need be the result of failed checks. It can come about from fidelity to the fiction. But that fiction won't have been established solely by the player!
 
pemerton[/quote said:
This is why I say you don't undertand the 4e combat resolution mechanics. This claim isn't true of 4e; hit points aren't a description of anything. The toughness of a creature is described in the fiction - just as (say) JRRT conveys that the cave troll is tough.
And by that we can reasonably extrapolate that for game purposes a cave troll has lots of hit points and-or a high Con score.

<snip>

Just as you can't say a creature described as being particularly tough (relative to other creatures) in the fiction doesn't have lots of hit points, you can't say a creature with lots of hit points (relative to other creatures) isn't tough.

Put another way, hit points (relative to the hit points of other creatures) are just one more means of expressing and describing toughness and resilience.
This is why I keep saying that you don't understand 4e's mechanics and combe resolution system.

Not all tough creatures in 4e have many hp. For instance, the PCs in my game have fought hobgolbins - undoubtedly skilled warriors - who had 1 hp. They have fought devils from the depth of the hells who had 1 hp.

4e uses many mechanical devices to present a creature as tough: hit points; Fortitude defence; various special abilities; and most of all level.

And if 4e wants to (rather oddly) claim that this doesn't apply then that's its problem, not mine.
This is just nuts - you're now saying that 4e is inconsistent and mistaken because it uses a different combat resolution framework from the one that you're used to!

Absolutely bizarre.
 
Look through the Monster Manual and tell me how many mental/emotion control powers there are that don't give a save. D&D does demonstrate quite clearly that the DM is supposed to make these sorts of things resistible. And the comment on the number of saves is just odd. What does that have to do with anything we've been saying?
In D&D there is no limit - neither a hard one, nor even a soft one based on principles - as to how many special abilities a GM can use and how many saves s/he might force.

This is not a universal truth of RPG design: I quoted the principle from Prince Valiant upthread; Marvel Heroic RP/Cortex+ Heroic uses the Doom Pool to modulate the challenges the GM introduces; other systems have other sorts of devices here.

I therefore find the idea that D&D sits on one side of a "player control over PC" line compared to some of those other systems a strange one.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
In D&D there is no limit - neither a hard one, nor even a soft one based on principles - as to how many special abilities a GM can use and how many saves s/he might force.
Sure, and the DM can just say all the PCs are dead, too. Being able to do something doesn't mean that it's playing by the social contract. There is an expectation that the DM is going to be fair and follow the way the game is laid out.

This is not a universal truth of RPG design: I quoted the principle from Prince Valiant upthread; Marvel Heroic RP/Cortex+ Heroic uses the Doom Pool to modulate the challenges the GM introduces; other systems have other sorts of devices here.
Sure. Games can build such things in. I've already said that those games aren't for me. I didn't deny their existence. There are many RPGs were that sort of thing isn't built in.
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
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, @Aebir-Toril 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.
I don't know what [MENTION=6801328]Elfcrusher[/MENTION] thought, but I am in no way crushing my players.

I allow my players do do whatever the Nine Hells they want 99.9% of the time, but if, for instance, the Lawful Good Paladin says, "I torture her with acid to get information", even though her character's bond is to protect others, even those who have strayed from the path of good, I might ask her if that's what she really wants to do. Furthermore, I always allow the players to do what they want to do with their character, but it would frustrate me if their only explanation for their actions was "lol, magic sword duh".
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You really can't just say, "Nah, this has no impact." or it's not core to the personality of the character. A challenge to the core will have an impact either way it goes
I was trying to say that, if you are in complete control, you always have the ability to say, "Nah, this has no impact," and so there is never a challenge to the core. Challenge does not happen in a position of certainty.
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
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.
This isn't at all what I meant [MENTION=6801328]Elfcrusher[/MENTION]. I will ask players why they might want to do something, as in, actually question their motivations, but I always allow them to do what they want to do. If the player decides that their Chaotic Good Rogue has no qualms about torturing innocents in order to find out where the Drow Demon-summoners hide, I won't prevent them from doing it, but I'll ask them why their character has decided this is a thing they want to do.

In fact, I have had players tell me, whilst slaughtering dozens of cultists in their sleep, that they think that their character has fallen into the depths of madness and evil, and is now Chaotic Evil. In this case, I allow them to change their alignment to Chaotic Evil, and play proceeds.

My point about role-playing is not that players should be forced to make their characters feel regret or remorse, but that I like to ask them how their characters feel about what they are doing or what they have done. If the player decides that, "lol, I'm gaming, duh" is their answer, I allow them to do that, but it's not exactly a rewarding role-playing moment.

In my games, players can do whatever they want, but they will be asked how their character justifies an action. If a player wants to change their character's alignment, they can say that their character has become good/evil/neutral or whatever, and I allow them to do so.

Honestly, I don't think this is really a controversial opinion. I don't "thought police" players, I just question their motives.

Did you even read my entire post?
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
I might be wrong, too. Let me break down how I read it:

In my book, that's something that DMs do only if they are trying to enforce "correct" roleplaying.

Again, maybe I'm mis-reading it all.
You were, but it's okay, I see how my verbiage became a little confusing. All I meant by "perfect" and "standard of accuracy" was just that I expect a Lawful Good knight to have to explain himself if he slaughters innocents, causes chaos, and generally makes a mess of things.

I will still let the player do these things, as I can't "police" what they do or what their characters think, but I do ask them what their motivations are.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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?
"interesting" is subjective, so no, this is not generally true. Especially when you call out that combat is "fun" - fun things aren't interesting? I know players who find tactical combat or cinematic combat scenes very interesting. Don't you?

I think most of us use dice-rolling combat not as a "standard" for measure, but as an example/analogy that is ready to hand. If this analogy does not fit, that strongly suggests that "challenge" has multiple meanings in this discussion.
 

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