Players choose what their PCs do . . .

pemerton

Legend
I think the best way to address that is to ask, what character from such a system can't be played identically in a D&D type system (assuming same overall setting etc).

<snip>

Since D&D largely leaves personality free form, then all the personalities allowable in exalted are available in D&D and all the ones not allowable in it are as well.
This is missing the point.

One may as well ask, What story can't D&D produce? Well, if the players and the GM all get together and agree on it then you can play out Casablanca in D&D, can't you? (That was [MENTION=16586]Campbell[/MENTION]'s point about consensus.) But the current topic of discussion is how that might be done, and what sort of play experience might be involved.

The example of Exalted, for instance, was not about what personalities can be played. It was about how personality might put under pressure, and perhaps change. And the play experience that results from that.

Anyways, one potential challenge for the player is determining if that is a persuasive argument to their PC.
When the choice is between two opposed goals/personality traits/etc then you are most certainly being confronted with something new or unexpected about your PC. You are learning which goal/personality trait/etc is more defining (or at least more defining in this moment).

<snip>

If the player is playing in character then the only reason the determination of what his character would do would be difficult for him is if the attempt framed the situation to the PC such that it put two motivations/traits/etc in opposition. That then becomes a defining moment of the PC's character.
You're not learning it. You're deciding it - as seems evident in your use of the verb determining in the first quote.

Maybe it's a hard decision, but it's a decision, not a discovery. As I said, I can't see how this puts the least bit of pressure on the player's conception of his/her PC's character. (I guess it could if the player had said of his PC both I am chaste and I will do whatever it takes to preserve the kingdome. But the conflict there is so obvious and so shallow that I think we can discount it as a working example.)

Contrast that with the example I posted of the paladin: he learns he is a killer. Or the examples of Duel of Wits, or Exalted social conflict: the PC (and player) learn that the character is capable of being persuaded in such-and-such a fashion.

Those are not choices made by the player; they're the results of putting things at risk, and then losing them. (This is, roughly, [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION]'s definition of a challenge.)

For the PC, the persuasion attempt is a challenge only if it makes the PC stop a moment and debate back and forth on what the right course of action is.

Often times, when the player is struggling to determine whether the NPC persuaded their PC, it's because the PC is having an internal struggle as well over what they should do.
But in the examples you provide this "internal struggle" is all just colour - like in D&D combat if the GM narrates the hp loss as a blow to the arm or a blow to the leg. It doesn't actually matter to resolution, or to the unfolding of the fiction.

It's epiphenomenal.

Contrast the paladin example: the killing isn't epiphenomenal. It's an actual thing that has occurred in the fiction, which refutes the paladin's self-conception (I'm not a killer) which has been held up until that point. Similarly for the outcome of a Duel of Wits.

Which goes back to the point about play experience. Thinking really hard about what you want your character to do, and then choosing it, is not the same play experience as being forced to recognise that your character is not who you thought they were. And this is where the issue of familiarity with other systems and other techniques comes in. Your posts in this thread give the impression that your RPG experience does not extend far beyond AD&D 2nd ed and similar sorts of systems (eg a fairly common approach to 3E and 5e D&D; maybe a bit of GURPS or HERO or even DragonQuest played in a similar style; but not a lot else).

If that impression is a mistaken one than I apologise - but I certainly don't get the feel that you've played (say) HeroWars/Quest, or DitV, or Burning Wheel, or any PbtA game, or even AD&D Oriental Adventures with the GM pushing hard on the honour and family systems that are part of that.
 

Aebir-Toril

Scion of Ceres
It's epiphenomenal.

Contrast the paladin example: the killing isn't epiphenomenal. It's an actual thing that has occurred in the fiction, which refutes the paladin's self-conception (I'm not a killer) which has been held up until that point. Similarly for the outcome of a Duel of Wits.

Which goes back to the point about play experience. Thinking really hard about what you want your character to do, and then choosing it, is not the same play experience as being forced to recognise that your character is not who you thought they were. And this is where the issue of familiarity with other systems and other techniques comes in. Your posts in this thread give the impression that your RPG experience does not extend far beyond AD&D 2nd ed and similar sorts of systems (eg a fairly common approach to 3E and 5e D&D; maybe a bit of GURPS or HERO or even DragonQuest played in a similar style; but not a lot else).

If that impression is a mistaken one than I apologise - but I certainly don't get the feel that you've played (say) HeroWars/Quest, or DitV, or Burning Wheel, or any PbtA game, or even AD&D Oriental Adventures with the GM pushing hard on the honour and family systems that are part of that.
Yes, this seems to be true for [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION], but I wouldn't know, and it doesn't really matter.

After all, I believe that we're talking about the fundamental qualities of what a character is and how character challenges should be resolved in general, not in systems like Burning Wheel, which, to be honest, while fun, are far from as common as D&D.

As is always true in these discussions, about half of the participants assume D&D as a baseline, because D&D defines the RPG market.

Are you saying that players should not have total control over their characters in every system?

To me, both your argument and [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION] 's seem hollow and grasping, maybe it's time we agree to disagree after 59 pages.
 

pemerton

Legend
One example works wonders. If it's that easy to disprove me then provide an example that does so.
You posted this not too far upthread:

So then what happens when that persuasion is resolved mechanically
-The player sits out of the loop and has no input on how their character would react (which also means they have no conflict of interest in how their character is reacting)
Before you posted that, [MENTION=16586]Campbell[/MENTION] already posted on outline of mechanics from Exalted which contradict what you said: the player in Exalted (i) does not sit out of the loop, and (ii) does have input on how his/her PC would react.

Further upthread I posted the Apocalypse World mechanics for PvP seduction/maipulation. In that system the player gets to decide exacty how his/her PC reacts, but is also subject to mechanical effects depending upon the persuading player's degree of success on the check.

And I've also mentioned (several times) the MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic mechanics, which allow the placing of a complication, or emotional or mental stress, on a PC - and when the player has his/her PC attempt an action which would be hindered by that stress or complication then the relevant die is added to the opposing pool. (Before you ask, what if it's an unopposed check, all checks in that sysemt are opposed.) The player is never "out of the loop" because s/he builds his/her own pull to resist any attempt to impose such stress/complication, and until s/he is "stressed out" - the stress or complication reaches 12+ in size - then s/he gets to choose what s/he does (but obviously has an incentive to choose one way rather than another).

These systems produce different play experiences on from the other, but all are different from the player always chooses that you are advocating for. And none has the characteristics that you have said such different systems must have.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer


Maybe it's a hard decision, but it's a decision, not a discovery. As I said, I can't see how this puts the least bit of pressure on the player's conception of his/her PC's character. (I guess it could if the player had said of his PC both
I am chaste and I will do whatever it takes to preserve the kingdome...

I find it amazing how that when you really dig in deep that you agree with me
 

Aebir-Toril

Scion of Ceres
Before you posted that, @Campbell already posted on outline of mechanics from Exalted which contradict what you said: the player in Exalted (i) does not sit out of the loop, and (ii) does have input on how his/her PC would react.

Further upthread I posted the Apocalypse World mechanics for PvP seduction/maipulation. In that system the player gets to decide exacty how his/her PC reacts, but is also subject to mechanical effects depending upon the persuading player's degree of success on the check.

And I've also mentioned (several times) the MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic mechanics, which allow the placing of a complication, or emotional or mental stress, on a PC - and when the player has his/her PC attempt an action which would be hindered by that stress or complication then the relevant die is added to the opposing pool. (Before you ask, what if it's an unopposed check, all checks in that sysemt are opposed.) The player is never "out of the loop" because s/he builds his/her own pull to resist any attempt to impose such stress/complication, and until s/he is "stressed out" - the stress or complication reaches 12+ in size - then s/he gets to choose what s/he does (but obviously has an incentive to choose one way rather than another).

These systems produce different play experiences on from the other, but all are different from the player always chooses that you are advocating for. And none has the characteristics that you have said such different systems must have.
No offense, but Exalted is a terrible system. In terms of dice pools, character control, and such, it's not at all either standard or well-designed.

To each his or her own, buy Exalted isn't everyone's cup of Healing Potion, and shouldn't be used to make a point.
 

pemerton

Legend
I believe that we're talking about the fundamental qualities of what a character is and how character challenges should be resolved in general, not in systems like Burning Wheel, which, to be honest, while fun, are far from as common as D&D.

As is always true in these discussions, about half of the participants assume D&D as a baseline, because D&D defines the RPG market.

Are you saying that players should not have total control over their characters in every system?
(1) This thread is in general RPG. Not D&D. There's a reason for that.

(2) I'm not saying that players should or shouldn't do anything in every system. The OP invites discussion about various ways in which true descriptions of PC actions might be established. The current discussion has moved on a bit from that, to also talk about how true descriptions of PC choices, PC emotional states, etc might be established.

(3) If someone's answer to the questions posed in the OP is the way D&D does it, end of story then they're welcome not to participat in the thread. If they're going to make ungrounded assertions that nothing else is really possible, well that's not very helpful either and is fair game for clarification or correction.

(4) The most interesting thing for me at the moment - obviously I can't speak for others - is what are the necessary conditions for a genuine challenge to character concept? This is what [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] and I have disagreed about - I believe without undue acrimony! I would be very interested to hear what [MENTION=16586]Campbell[/MENTION], [MENTION=99817]chaochou[/MENTION] and/or [MENTION=5142]Aldarc[/MENTION] thinks about it, should they care to weigh in. (Of course it's their prerogatibe not to.) My own views on this are heavily influenced by a certain conception of GM role in terms of framing scenes that put players under pressure by putting things that matter to the PC at stake. I don't know Exalted at all except from Campbell's accounts in this and other threads; and my experience with PbtA games is fairly limited, although I know the rulesets for DW and AW fairly well.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You're not learning it. You're deciding it - as seems evident in your use of the verb determining in the first quote.

Maybe it's a hard decision, but it's a decision, not a discovery. As I said, I can't see how this puts the least bit of pressure on the player's conception of his/her PC's character. (I guess it could if the player had said of his PC both I am chaste and I will do whatever it takes to preserve the kingdome. But the conflict there is so obvious and so shallow that I think we can discount it as a working example.)
This is where you go very wrong. Before the hard decision, I did not know X about my character. Until I made the decision, X was still unknown to me. After the decision, X is now known to me. That's a discovery about the character, which makes it something I learned.

How many times over the years after someone ends up in a unique situation and makes a hard decision, have we heard, "So and so really learned something about himself."?

The idea that decisions cannot result in discovery is absurd. If decisions prevent discovery, then we shouldn't make any decisions at all. Let the dice randomly determine everything and make tons of discoveries.
 
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chaochou

Adventurer
Not ignorance to know a general truth.
But you don't know anything. You just blithely assert factless, empty garbage.

You even accept, when challenged, total ignorance of the subject matter. As such, the key point in this exhange has been to demonstrate that your opinions are worthless.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
No offense, but Exalted is a terrible system. In terms of dice pools, character control, and such, it's not at all either standard or well-designed.

To each his or her own, buy Exalted isn't everyone's cup of Healing Potion, and shouldn't be used to make a point.
I would be more than willing to discuss the merits of Exalted 3e elsewhere. It is a fundamentally different game that I feel delivers on the promise of previous versions of the game.

Here I would like to focus on social mechanics, their effects, and implications.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
Right, but it did have to do with what @chaochou said. In fact he didn't even defend it after I called him out on it.


That was his rebuttal to the player choosing. There's nothing else that can be referring to except players that always make the most expedient decision (aka cheating)
In the absence of rules, how do you determine what’s cheating?

If the rules state that a character decision is entirely up to the player, then how can there be a preferred choice?

I mean, in most situations, I’d expect a player to pick whatever he wanted and then justify that choice in any way he felt was suitable. If he’s the sole authority on what his character thinks or feels, then how can a GM or any other participant decide that a choice he’s made is cheating?

It all seems very self-contradictory, no?
 

Aebir-Toril

Scion of Ceres
(1) This thread is in general RPG. Not D&D. There's a reason for that.

(2) I'm not saying that players should or shouldn't do anything in every system. The OP invites discussion about various ways in which true descriptions of PC actions might be established. The current discussion has moved on a bit from that, to also talk about how true descriptions of PC choices, PC emotional states, etc might be established.

(3) If someone's answer to the questions posed in the OP is the way D&D does it, end of story then they're welcome not to participat in the thread. If they're going to make ungrounded assertions that nothing else is really possible, well that's not very helpful either and is fair game for clarification or correction.

(4) The most interesting thing for me at the moment - obviously I can't speak for others - is what are the necessary conditions for a genuine challenge to character concept? This is what @Ovinomancer and I have disagreed about - I believe without undue acrimony! I would be very interested to hear what @Campbell, @chaochou and/or @Aldarc thinks about it, should they care to weigh in. (Of course it's their prerogatibe not to.) My own views on this are heavily influenced by a certain conception of GM role in terms of framing scenes that put players under pressure by putting things that matter to the PC at stake. I don't know Exalted at all except from Campbell's accounts in this and other threads; and my experience with PbtA games is fairly limited, although I know the rulesets for DW and AW fairly well.
Yes...

But I'm not making ungrounded assertions. I specifically said that Burning Wheel is fun, but not the average experience. This is not ungrounded, it is, in fact, grounded by any statistical study on RPGs you can find.

My point was not that you are a wrongfunnotmywaydonogooder, but that D&D is (though not necessarily should be) the baseline assumption. If we can't argue from a base of some sort, then there is no argument.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
In the absence of rules, how do you determine what’s cheating?

If the rules state that a character decision is entirely up to the player, then how can there be a preferred choice?

I mean, in most situations, I’d expect a player to pick whatever he wanted and then justify that choice in any way he felt was suitable. If he’s the sole authority on what his character thinks or feels, then how can a GM or any other participant decide that a choice he’s made is cheating?

It all seems very self-contradictory, no?
@chaochou obviously feels always choosing what's expedient is not a good way to play. I happen to agree with him on that as I believe you do as well. The overall point is that the playstyle I suggest doesn't lead to that unless a player ignores their character conceptualization.

You are way to hung up on my definition of always choosing what's expedient as cheating.
 
The most interesting thing for me at the moment - is what are the necessary conditions for a genuine challenge to character concept?
Brief side observation/perspective: Even just being able to model a valid genre character concept is still a challenge RPGs aren't exactly all up to, even though some have been doing it for a long time.

I think the best way to address that is to ask, what character from such a system can't be played identically in a D&D type system (assuming same overall setting etc).
...
Anyways, Since D&D largely leaves personality free form, then all the personalities allowable in exalted are available in D&D and all the ones not allowable in it are as well.
Even if that were true (D&D class & alignment, among other things, do put constraints on PC personality), it wouldn't be comparing Exalted to D&D, but Exalted to freestyle RP.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
@chaochou obviously feels always choosing what's expedient is not a good way to play. I happen to agree with him on that as I believe you do as well. The overall point is that the playstyle I suggest doesn't lead to that unless a player ignores their character conceptualization.

You are way to hung up on my definition of always choosing what's expedient as cheating.
I’m questioning your definition because I don’t know how it works. I can’t comment on what [MENTION=99817]chaochou[/MENTION] thinks, but I expect that it would likely depend on the system in place. He probably views things one way for Burning Wheel, and another for Blades in the Dark, and yet another for D&D.

It sounds to me like you want players to play true to their character, right? So if someone’s playing a paladin whose vows include a vow of chastity, you’d expect the player to roleplay the character accordingly. Now, he could be devoutly chaste or it could be something he struggles with...really, it’s up to the player how he decides to play it. Right?

If the above is all true, then how can you ever say a player is “cheating” in what they decide? So yeah, if the player always takes the most expedient route, always makes the easiest choice...how is this a negative?

It is simply what the player decided for their character and they are the sole authority of that character’s thoughts and feelings and decisions. How can the player ever ignore their character conceptualization when they alone can make decisions about it?

In the absence of rules of some sort, how can any decision the player makes be cheating? There are literally no rules to break.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member

I see several signs of people getting snippy, personal, and being far more interested in being right than exploring ideas. Folks are looking dug in, defending positions rather than thinking about whether the other guy has a point.

That's a good sign that the thread's about done.

Keep it respectful, keep it constructive, or find another topic, folks.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
To save quoting a bunch of recent posts and replying line by line, I'll just sum up with this:

The title of the thread - "Players choose what their PCs do" - almost sums the whole thing up before we start.

Put it instead as "Barring external pressures e.g. magic or game mechanics, players always choose what their PCs (attempt to) do and always choose what/how their PC thinks and-or feels" and we probably could have all agreed, stopped right there, and saved an awful lot of electrons from an untimely demise.

And sometimes those choices do represent challenges, be it to the PC or player or both; and sometimes choices force a challenge onto a player or PC or both. But the player still gets to choose, unless mechanics or magic get in the way, and I can't see anything even mildly controversial about that.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
:yawn: Your Ad Hominems bore me. Either respond to the arguments I make or don't respond to me or talk about me.
Ad Hominem? I don't care about your argument. It was a dry comment that it would not be a pemerton megathread without your usual appeal to the lexicon at some point in this discussion. ;)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Yes...

But I'm not making ungrounded assertions. I specifically said that Burning Wheel is fun, but not the average experience. This is not ungrounded, it is, in fact, grounded by any statistical study on RPGs you can find.

My point was not that you are a wrongfunnotmywaydonogooder, but that D&D is (though not necessarily should be) the baseline assumption. If we can't argue from a base of some sort, then there is no argument.
Why, when discussing the ways that you can do something in RPGs, should D&D be the baseline assumption? Because it's popular? That seems a silly assertion to make, that you have to assume the popular way to do something in order to talk about ways you can do something.

The base here is RPGs. D&D is a big contender -- how it does things should definitely be in-bounds. But, D&D being in-bounds doesn't mean everything else is out-of-bounds. Or that just understanding how D&D does things means you have an understanding of how it can be done. D&D does social pillar stuff very poorly. So poorly that it's either been broken (3.x diplomancers) or almost non-existent (every other edition except, maybe, 4e, and then only if you squinted and imported some non-D&D ideas). Locking the discussion into having to baseline with D&D's bad performance seems like a tremendous way to handicap any useful discussion. Let's not.

I'm happy to talk about how D&D works. I'm happy to talk about where I find it does okay, where it shines, and where I avoid because it's terrible. I'm running my weekly 5e game right now (on dinner break), and enjoying it. So, I'm obviously not hostile to D&D. I just don't believe it's the best thing since sliced bread, either -- I look at it a lot more honestly these days.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
I’m questioning your definition because I don’t know how it works. I can’t comment on what @chaochou thinks, but I expect that it would likely depend on the system in place. He probably views things one way for Burning Wheel, and another for Blades in the Dark, and yet another for D&D.

It sounds to me like you want players to play true to their character, right? So if someone’s playing a paladin whose vows include a vow of chastity, you’d expect the player to roleplay the character accordingly. Now, he could be devoutly chaste or it could be something he struggles with...really, it’s up to the player how he decides to play it. Right?

If the above is all true, then how can you ever say a player is “cheating” in what they decide? So yeah, if the player always takes the most expedient route, always makes the easiest choice...how is this a negative?

It is simply what the player decided for their character and they are the sole authority of that character’s thoughts and feelings and decisions. How can the player ever ignore their character conceptualization when they alone can make decisions about it?

In the absence of rules of some sort, how can any decision the player makes be cheating? There are literally no rules to break.
How about you ask the guy that suggested it was a problem to begin with... your buddy [MENTION=99817]chaochou[/MENTION]
 

Aebir-Toril

Scion of Ceres
Why, when discussing the ways that you can do something in RPGs, should D&D be the baseline assumption? Because it's popular? That seems a silly assertion to make, that you have to assume the popular way to do something in order to talk about ways you can do something.

The base here is RPGs. D&D is a big contender -- how it does things should definitely be in-bounds. But, D&D being in-bounds doesn't mean everything else is out-of-bounds. Or that just understanding how D&D does things means you have an understanding of how it can be done. D&D does social pillar stuff very poorly. So poorly that it's either been broken (3.x diplomancers) or almost non-existent (every other edition except, maybe, 4e, and then only if you squinted and imported some non-D&D ideas). Locking the discussion into having to baseline with D&D's bad performance seems like a tremendous way to handicap any useful discussion. Let's not.

I'm happy to talk about how D&D works. I'm happy to talk about where I find it does okay, where it shines, and where I avoid because it's terrible. I'm running my weekly 5e game right now (on dinner break), and enjoying it. So, I'm obviously not hostile to D&D. I just don't believe it's the best thing since sliced bread, either -- I look at it a lot more honestly these days.
Yes, all true, but can we not have a baseline?

D&D is that baseline, and yes, because it is the most popular. Thus, the largest number of people will be able to engage in the conversation.

Other systems are great, and D&D might not be everyone's favorite system. Furthermore, it's not like I'm saying that other RPGs are doing things incorrectly, I'm merely stating that D&D should be our baseline in these discussions. I don't think D&D is perfect. In fact, it's far from it, but it is the baseline, whether you want to admit it or not.

If we attempt to address every system , there will be no place for conversation.
 

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