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Players choose what their PCs do . . .

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
it is possible (i) for it to be true that the players choose what their PCs do - and (ii) for there to be fudge-free checks and yet (iii) for it also to be the case that the GM decides everything significant that happens
Sounds obvious, now that you've said it.

What do others think about who does, or should, get to establish the truth of descriptions of PC actions, and how?
It seems a TTRPG could consist mostly of a give-and-take, perhaps mediated by resources, like FATE points in that system (or slots in D&D), of establishing "truths" in that sense, and reconciling them to find out what happens.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Sounds obvious, now that you've said it.

It seems a TTRPG could consist mostly of a give-and-take, perhaps mediated by resources, like FATE points in that system (or slots in D&D), of establishing "truths" in that sense, and reconciling them to find out what happens.
There are several games that are "point-pushers"...

The best known I can think of is Marvel Universe (by Marvel Comics Group)... also noted as a pretty big flop.

The Warriors Adventure Game (based upon the Warriors novels and comics) also is a point pusher.

I've 3 or 4 others I've read... I've not enjoyed the two I got to table. Others do enjoy them, and I cannot recall the titles of the others. But there are some out there.

If one wanted to convert D&D 5 to a point pusher...
All weapons/spells use the fixed damages, not rolled. (not popular, but allowed in 5E).
Change advantage from 2d20 to +5, and disadvantage likewise to -5. (as it would be for passives).
Every die you roll on checks gives half its maximum roll in points. You can spend any amount of points desired, within the range of the minimum for the die type(s) and the maximum for the die types.

Such would be quite playable... and for some, better than rolling. For others, and especially so for me, very unfun.
 
it's still describing the attempt, not the outcome.
In PbtA do you think it's acceptable for the GM to establish that the PC didn't actually wink - whether by exercise of authority or, more likely, as the result of a failed check?

My feeling is "no", but I'm no sort of PtbA expert.

In BW I think the answer can be "yes", though I don't think that would be all that common. In The Dying Earth I'm pretty confident the answer can be "yes".
 

Wightbred

Explorer
Which is itself another untennable stance. As stated, it only takes one to falsify. I have met many who not only don't want adversary authority, but their fun is diminished when said authority is shared, because they may have to use it. I have found most of my friends do NOT appreciate being put on the spot to be in the authorial stance.
It's worth noting that I often see (for lack of a better term) disciples of Mr. Baker stating shared GMing as if it is universally good. It isn't. It's good for some, bad for many (perhaps most), and is certainly uncomfortable for most groups I've tried it with.
Hi friend, and thanks for your reply. You might have noticed I’m a lurker not a fighter here. I’m more interested in new ideas than convincing someone on the internet. But given you have prepared such a detailed response to my original quick missive I’m happy to elaborate a little more, but perhaps with a wry smile in the corner of my mouth.

I suspect you perceive me in the mold of ‘damn hipster disciples of Mr Baker’ that unfortunately wounds my sense of being a well-rounded individual. I am a definitely a devoted disciple of Mr Baker, but also Mr Mearls, Mr Ross Watson, Mr Morningstarr, Mr Laws, Masters Livingston and Jackson, and many other excellent designers. I am currently running AiME D&D 5e and the Marvel Superheroes Adventure Game and playing Wrath and Glory rather than any indie nonsense, so I feel I might escape this constrained view.

I have played many an excellent game in the past with close friends who do not enjoy authoring and many of them are not base villains and some didn’t even have two heads. I find myself and the people I play with share more authoring in our current expeditions, Like the vast majority of RPG players I find myself disinclined to point out to anyone playing a different way that they only think they are having fun and to take away and burn their books or perform other clearly justified punishments. The final point in my first post is a sincere and genuine satisfaction that there are a wide range of high quality modern games that allow everyone to play the way they want.

I’m not sure we have the same understanding of the Czege Principle. Rather than debating at length there is a detailed explanation here: http://www.lumpley.com/archive/167.htmlhttp://www.lumpley.com/archive/167.html but I must warn you that it is from Mr Baker’s blog. ;)

None of your examples are GM-less…
How I love a good GM-less / GM-ful game! I foolishly left them out because I was worried they would cloud the issue. But Fiasco and Remember Tomorrow and other gems really do show new ways of sharing authoring, which is a boon for people who like this style. We also (heresy!) play AW without having a single GM / MC at the table on occasion and we don’t just sit silently all night.

Let's address the AWE/PBTA use case...
AWE/PBTA typically presumes several key things:
- Assent may be assumed on any narration unless the authority states otherwise. … the authority … the authority …
I don’t find this a particularly good summary of AW of the MC role therewithin. For me it misses the approach of shared responsibility and key elements of drawing out authoring like ‘draw maps and leave blanks’, ‘ask questions’, ‘build on each other’s ideas’, ‘so it is a charged situation?’, examples where the MC changes their view in response to players and the way many 7-9 results deliberately share authoring around. In play I find that AW draws out the truth that any game is a construct of the situation and conversation, and what happens at the table is really agreed by everyone in a shared way, not enforced by a single authority figure. I feel you may ask me to elaborate here, but this is probably well off topic for the OP and it involves more of Mr Baker’s work which I sense you are not as enamoured with.

This was pretty fun to write up. I hope you take it in the honest but tongue-in-cheek way I intend it and we can enjoy some further positive and fun exchanges on this issue.
 
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Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
How I love a good GM-less / GM-ful game! I foolishly left them out because I was worried they would cloud the issue. But Fiasco and Remember Tomorrow and other gems really do show new ways of sharing authoring, which is a boon for people who like this style. We also (heresy!) play AW without having a single GM / MC at the table on occasion and we don’t just sit silently all night.


Those games function by having players be GMs(even if they don't call them GMs specifically). The players step out of the duties that players have in RPGs and assume the duties that GMs have in RPGS when needed, effectively making people both a GM and a player, depending on what they are doing at the time.

They aren't really games with no GM.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR]Those games function by having players be GMs(even if they don't call them GMs specifically). The players step out of the duties that players have in RPGs and assume the duties that GMs have in RPGS when needed, effectively making people both a GM and a player, depending on what they are doing at the time.

They aren't really games with no GM.
It's probably not wise to resume this past debate, [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION], especially in a thread that has managed fairly well with keeping on topic. It's okay to disagree without comment. ;)
 

Imaro

Adventurer
This example shows how it is possible (i) for it to be true that the players choose what their PCs do - under a certain, fairly thin or confined sort of description - and (ii) for there to be fudge-free checks and yet (iii) for it also to be the case that the GM decides everything significant that happens - ie it is the GM who gets to establish the richer, wider, consequence-laden descriptions of what the PCs do.
Could you better explain what you mean by significant in this case When you say "richer, wider, consequence-laden descriptions of what the PCs do..." are you just speaking to results of an action? Because I don't think establishing the result falls into the same bucket as descriptions of what the PC's do.

In your example about winking and melting the woman's heart the I see it as the action is winking... the intent is to melt the maiden's heart... and whether that happens or not is the result. Now different games will handle resolution differently but in most games since there would be uncertainty in whether the wink melts the woman's heart or not... how is that describing what the PC does until that uncertainty has been resolved? IMO it's describing the (intended/desired) result.

As to your example around the safe again I feel it's not declaring a PC's action... it's declaring an action search the safe...intention to find document X and the result/uncertainty would be whether said documents are in the safe or not. The main difference I am seeing between your example and one for a traditional game is that the GM cannot decide an intention automatically fails or succeeds... is that the main crux?
 
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hawkeyefan

Explorer
That seems to be the player-side equivalent of the GM asking "OK, so what are you hoping to find?"

An RPG needs some way to establish these descriptions of PC actions. Different ways make different sorts of action declarations permissible or impermissible, or affect the resolution of them. Maybe in this particular system there's a random safe contents table that someone is expected to roll on, if no one wants to put a richer description of the action on the table.
That's true. My point was more about how the fictional situation will play a major part. If the PCs are already looking for something specific....let's say they've broken into a place for the specific purpose of finding a map....then that's potentially going to influence how they declare actions. "I want to see if the map is in this safe" is more specific than "Let's see what's in this safe". A given method may or may not work for both these instances. Rolling and consulting a table may not help when something specific is sought, for example.

As others have pointed out, how such an action might be resolved will vary from game to game. Personally, I like the idea of the players having some ability to determine the outcome of their stated action. I like when the players say what they want to achieve, and then we determine how they will try to achieve it.

This is how Blades in the Dark handles it; the player will say something like "I want to convince this cop to ignore what we're doing" and then the GM says, "okay what action do you think that is?", and the player decides how they want to achieve the goal. "Well, I'd say it's a Sway attempt, but I think I'm gonna give him a threatening look and say 'Mind your business, bluecoat' so I think that's more a Command" and then they proceed with the GM determining the Position for the character, and the potential Effect of the attempt. All of this is based on the fictional situation that's been established...what exactly it is that the PCs are up to, how righteous the cop is, etc.

In a way, it's not about "What do you do?" although I ask that question all the time in my game. It's really about "What do you hope to accomplish?" Some games give more ability for the players to determine if they can succeed at what they want the character to do, and others give less. I honestly like both kinds of games, but I'd lean toward giving a bit more toward the players if I had to choose.
 

GrahamWills

Registered User
So what I'm not understanding is if, "I bring a smile to the Queen's lips by playing a tune" would be challenged and possibly fail, why is it phrased that way at all. Why wouldn't the player just say, ""I try to bring a smile to the Queen's lips by playing a tune?" In both cases the intent is the same and there is going to be a challenge that could fail, but only in the latter does the phrase not contradict one of the possible outcomes.
Because I have never played in any roleplaying game, ever, where the GM has not had final say. Yes, I could play D&D and say "I try and swing my sword at the orc" or "I try and walk across the room", or "so long as it makes sense to the GM, I'll drink the ale in front of me" but it's just a waste of words. Everything my character does is subject to challenge from the GM or other players, always. So the "I try to" is just straight assumed. Everything can fail.

I have one player who very much likes to preflight things; they will say "my intention is to try and get the king to agree to fund us, because I think he secretly does want to go to war", but it slows the game down. Because it invites an out-of-character discussion every time you say "I try" it doesn't help with immersion either. I'd much rather have people just say what they do and correct them if it needs challenging.

Maybe this approach is influenced by how I direct plays. I much prefer an actor to try something (assuming it is not going to endanger or embarrass a fellow cast member) and me say "yeah that works" or "umm, like the idea, but not the way it looks" rather than stop the action, ask permission and then, virtually all the time, do it. My players are also pretty competent, so I'd prefer to trust and adjust, rather than stop to get permission.

YMMV; but for me as a GM there is very little difference between "I try to bring a smile to the Queen's lips" and "I bring a smile to the Queen's lips". They are both statements of intent, and both subject to adjustment and resolution.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Could you better explain what you mean by significant in this case When you say "richer, wider, consequence-laden descriptions of what the PCs do..." are you just speaking to results of an action? Because I don't think establishing the result falls into the same bucket as descriptions of what the PC's do.

In your example about winking and melting the woman's heart the I see it as the action is winking... the intent is to melt the maiden's heart... and whether that happens or not is the result. Now different games will handle resolution differently but in most games since there would be uncertainty in whether the wink melts the woman's heart or not... how is that describing what the PC does until that uncertainty has been resolved? IMO it's describing the (intended/desired) result.

As to your example around the safe again I feel it's not declaring a PC's action... it's declaring an action search the safe...intention to find document X and the result/uncertainty would be whether said documents are in the safe or not. The main difference I am seeing between your example and one for a traditional game is that the GM cannot decide an intention automatically fails or succeeds... is that the main crux?
I mostly agree and where I don't it is more semantic quibbling.

A player adding the melting heart of a maiden the PC winked at is assuming facts not in evidence. The player is assuming the maiden is real and not a illusion or construct, has a heart i.e. is not a succubus, disguised lich, or other inhuman monstrosity, and is capable of feeling appropriate emotions i.e. not dominated, controlled, or sociopathic, and has a personality that allows the 'melting' to occur i.e. not specifically anti-PC gender/race, without serious psychological scarring, etc.

Now many games do grant the player the ability to make those statements and have those statements be true so long as they don't contradict previous declarations. Games heavy in exploration and discovery do not. For D&D play, I prefer to play in and run the latter.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There's a problem with the example "I wink at the maiden and soften her heart" that I think has thus far been overlooked here, which is this:

Flip it around. If the GM says to you "The maiden winks at you and softens your heart" without invoking any game mechanics there'd be (justifiable) cries of bloody blue murder: the GM is dictating the PC's reaction to the wink.

So why isn't the GM given the same agency over how her NPCs react to the PCs' actions?
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
So why isn't the GM given the same agency over how her NPCs react to the PCs' actions?
In what someone called a 'point push game,' like FATE, there is. The GM could, assuming the PC had an appropriate aspect, describe the scene that way, and offer a FATE point to 'compel' it.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
In what someone called a 'point push game,' like FATE, there is. The GM could, assuming the PC had an appropriate aspect, describe the scene that way, and offer a FATE point to 'compel' it.
Big differences though. Compels are always voluntary; the player may always refuse. The player also had to signal a general openness to the general situation by buying the aspect to begin with. The PC is known to have a soft heart or susceptible to flirtation, or whatever before the GM can use it. You can't offer a compel to a PC who doesn't have an appropriate aspect.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
There's a problem with the example "I wink at the maiden and soften her heart" that I think has thus far been overlooked here, which is this:

Flip it around. If the GM says to you "The maiden winks at you and softens your heart" without invoking any game mechanics there'd be (justifiable) cries of bloody blue murder: the GM is dictating the PC's reaction to the wink.

So why isn't the GM given the same agency over how her NPCs react to the PCs' actions?
I think it may be so, depending on the game in question. It depends on the mechanics of the game.

Beside that, though, more broadly I think that most games tend to make a distinction between PCs and NPCs. Here you describe the NPC as belonging to the GM, almost like the NPC is the PC for the GM, which I don't think is the common take on NPCs.

I know you hold a very specific "the PCs are no one special" kind of approach, and while I get that from an aesthetic point in the sense that they are no one special in their world, most games have different rules for PCs and NPCs, so in that sense, there are things that make the PCs different. Even most versions of D&D treat NPCs differently than PCs in many ways.
 

GrahamWills

Registered User
There's a problem with the example "I wink at the maiden and soften her heart" that I think has thus far been overlooked here, which is this:

Flip it around. If the GM says to you "The maiden winks at you and softens your heart" without invoking any game mechanics there'd be (justifiable) cries of bloody blue murder: the GM is dictating the PC's reaction to the wink.

So why isn't the GM given the same agency over how her NPCs react to the PCs' actions?
Well, for a start, most games treat PCs differently from NPCs. So there is no more reason why an NPC should have the same agency as a PC does. Second, why should it not be exactly the same?

Player: "I winks at the maiden and soften her heart"
GM: "OK, she smiles at you"

Player: "I winks at the maiden and soften her heart"
GM: "Actually, she's not that into you. You'll need to test Flirting"

GM: "The maiden winks at you and softens your heart"
Player: "OK, I smile at her"

GM: "The maiden winks at you and softens your heart"
Player: "Actually, I'm not into her. I'll resist"

I'm not sure I'd characterize the last one as "(justifiable) cries of bloody blue murder" -- I think I'd call it "pretty normal for a Tuesday game"
 

Wightbred

Explorer
[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR]Those games function by having players be GMs(even if they don't call them GMs specifically). The players step out of the duties that players have in RPGs and assume the duties that GMs have in RPGS when needed, effectively making people both a GM and a player, depending on what they are doing at the time.

They aren't really games with no GM.
i absolutely agree, which is why I used the term GM-full (with a typo!), as in the table is full of GMs. I did also use GM-less as it was the term used by the poster I was responding to.

Contrasting just with GM-full is probably a simplification of a spectrum, from the GM is a god whose word is unquestionable and is solely responsible for all fun at one end, through to the GM is running the game but is open to ideas and discussion, to AW MCing, and finally to equally shared responsibility for authoring at the other end. I doubt many groups are playing at the extremes of this spectrum most of the time.

I forgot to mention a bunch of other great GM-full games like Microscope (great campaign starter) and Kingdom.

Happy gaming.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
There's a problem with the example "I wink at the maiden and soften her heart" that I think has thus far been overlooked here, which is this:

Flip it around. If the GM says to you "The maiden winks at you and softens your heart" without invoking any game mechanics there'd be (justifiable) cries of bloody blue murder: the GM is dictating the PC's reaction to the wink.

So why isn't the GM given the same agency over how her NPCs react to the PCs' actions?
I agree. The most simple rationale is that true RPG play doesn't allow for players to dictate how anyone reacts to them. That's the territory of the GM. Nor for the GM to dictate how the players react. That's the territory of the player.

Now there are many games that introduce story telling elements alongside true roleplaying to allow players to roleplay while also providing them some degree of narrative control. I'm not willing to classify such games as non-roleplaying games, but I think it's important to point out the distinction about what actually is a role playing element and what actually is a collaborative story telling element.
 

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