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Players choose what their PCs do . . .

aramis erak

Explorer
The character is really just a sheet of paper. It's the player inhabiting the idea of the character that gives it life. That's why I don't understand this idea that you can challenge the character socially, without challenging the player. When [MENTION=177]Umbran[/MENTION] said that I was switching the challenge from the character to the player, I had a vision of Leslie Nielson in an interrogation room with a character sheet sitting on a chair, demanding that it confess. After a few minutes he turns to Nordberg and says, "I never thought it would be so hard to challenge a character."

You cannot challenge a character without simultaneously challenging the player. A challenge where the DM takes control and informs the player that his PC's heart warms is no less a challenge to the player than what we are describing. It's just a different sort of challenge.
There are a great many challenges for the character that are not for the player, and best resolved with simple mechanical considerations.

Some are just not things that players need to know, but the appropriate skill provides needed praxis the character needs.
EG:
  • which fork to use for dinner in the duke's hall.
  • which of the swords in the blacksmith's are suitable for the character
Some are things that are not possible due to the mode of play being aural, rather than visual:
  • Identifying which of the maidens lying dead and naked is the duke's daughter
  • deciding which dress looks better when prepping to attend court.
Some things are simply too boring, gory, or technical to narrate out in detail:
  • The making of the sword.
  • searching 100 volumes in the library for clues
  • the repair of the warp drive
The only way these test the player is whether or not the character has the needed skills, and that is a challenge already made and in the "done deal" category... but the rolls involved are in the present.

Actually, I think save or be charmed isn't much of a challenge, either. My argument has been that making a choice isn't a challenge if you can chose between all the choices. Even the unknown repercussions don't make it a challenge, just a guessing game. A challenge requires that something be staked and that you have a risk of losing your stakes. There's lots and lots of ways to do this, even without dice. In an RPG, though, it pretty much requires some kind of mechanic to determine the uncertainty, even if that mechanic is "DM chooses." I think that's a lousy mechanic, but there you go.
Given that one can always choose to fail the saves in D&D... it's part of the larger challenge, which may require a bevy of tests... The hostile person is the challenge, usually not the individual attacks, tho' those may also be both mechanical and player-creativity-challenges.

I treat the term challenge as referring to a situation with at least two clear mutually exclusive outcomes, and the possibility of not attaining the desired one if it is chosen for the attempt.

Saving throws technically meet this some of the time...
  • Undesired: hit by the spell for full damage
  • Desired: damage reduced
  • highly desired: damage negated
Given the D&D premise that saves may always be intentionally failed...
  • Undesired is, in this case, the default - do nothing, and take the damage
  • Desired is a passed save. Chance of failure. Choosing it is the usual choice, because the default is also the undesired effect.
  • Highly desired is only possible if one uses a reaction ability. Not every character has such, but let's assume the character does. The challenge to the player is "do I use my 1 reaction?" The answer has many conditionals to consider, but most important is, "will I need to react to someone else?" coupled with, "will I lose my character if I don't?" The challenge to the character is the dive to cover or whatnot - resolved by the abstraction of the saving throw.

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.
Except that some of us genuinely disagree with that premise, even caveated as it is...

In a game with a strong GM role, and a Gygaxian rule 0 (either The GM can change the rules on a whim or The GM is always right), the player never has the surety that the GM won't impose conditions on the character's mental state. The character also has no surety that any action, even walking, won't require a roll or even outright fail.

The best the player can assuredly pick what they attempt - everything else is subject to GM approval.

I've chased away players in the past by using conditions upon their characters that reduced the player's choice drastically. 1 unintended, 2 others much intended. A fourth attempted, but the player enjoyed the challenge. ≤Sigh≥...

The thing is, if a GM wants to keep players, they don't take away agency (control over the character) too easily nor too often, but the social contract of rules implies (at least in most Traditional table top RPGs) that there are 3 portions of control over a character - the player's, the GM, and the mechanics.


The same is true in videogames - the player determines the attempt (by triggering the action); the program determines the success/failure. I spent hours trying to climb certain peaks in Breath of the Wild... but, due to the mechanics and the setting choices of the designer, I could keep trying, but never succeed.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
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.
How do you have a baseline of doing something one way so that you can talk about doing it another way? Take cooking, for instance. If the baseline is using the oven, because that's the most popular, is it worthwhile to have to refer to using an oven every time you want to talk about microwaving? No, you just talk about microwaving and skip referencing everything to the oven because how you do things in the oven is utterly useless when talking about the microwave.

Same here. D&D does things one way, with one set of assumptions. If I want to talk about a different way to do things, I'll talk about how that works and what assumptions are in place there. Having to point out every deviation from D&D disrupts this because it's just a long list of what we're not doing to talk about what we are doing.

And, frankly, D&D is a lousy baseline. For social challenges, it's literally just "however your DM does it." There's not enough in the rules to do much else, and what's there is endlessly argued over -- just pay attention to the D&D pages here and you'll see argument after argument erupt over how the social mechanics work or even just how the the play loop is adjudicated. D&D is a terrible baseline to use to talk intelligently about how your can do a thing in RPGs. It's the 800-lb gorilla, to be sure, and it's going to be discussed, as it has been, but there's no basis to put it as the baseline except to be comfortable and familiar and not need to engage in how it actually does a pretty bad job at most of what it tries to do.

Again, I love D&D, and just finished a great session (almost all social interaction, one 5 minute fight). Now, I used a skill challenge backend to manage the social interactions, and didn't have a predetermined outcome (I surprised myself at one point) for play. I attacked things my players have put up as pressure points for their characters to see how they'd react, but, this being D&D, they had the full freedom to choose their reactions. There were a number of points, though, that I noticed a distinct difference how D&D, that doesn't have a fair way to put characterization at stake, worked vice other games. In one scene, a player that has a backstory as a mind-flayer thrall and has staked his lack of recollection of his past as at risk met with a mind flayer. The mind flayer proposed that what the player thought their memories were are false memories, and that, instead, there's something about the character that caused him to be recruited rather than enslaved. That the character was a dangerous tool that the elder brain thought it could control. Is this true? I don't know, maybe. That really depends on how the player chooses to interact with it. So far, the player has chosen to enter into a temporary agreement for mutual benefit (the mind flayer wishes to disrupt some plans of the player's former masters -- different mind flayer factions at play here), but not to trust the mind flayer. Meanwhile, I've planted seeds of doubt, as what the mind flayer has said may come true. But, again, because D&D, it's the player that will decide if his character is swayed or not.

If I were playing a different game, then the stakes of the player's background would have been directly challenged, and, if the player lost, I'd have been able to establish alternate truths that the player would then have to engage with. If the player won, they'd have been able to get their goals, which, in this case, would have been some concessions from the mind flayer for other information, which would have been both useful and beneficial to the player (because you honor successes and don't walk them back with negative outcomes). But, that would have been the player putting things at stake and choosing to risk them on an action declaration, so it would be fair. D&D lacks this ability to use your character itself as a stake to try to win a victory -- in D&D, if it was the baseline, then there'd be no challenge here -- the player couldn't force a concession from the mind flayer by risking their characteriztion.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
Given that one can always choose to fail the saves in D&D... it's part of the larger challenge, which may require a bevy of tests... The hostile person is the challenge, usually not the individual attacks, tho' those may also be both mechanical and player-creativity-challenges.
Let me clarify, I find saving throws against charm to be "not much of a challenge" because they're boring and are heavy with force. The GM decides to have an NPC with charm, and the GM decides when to use it an on whom, and then the player gets one roll to see if they can prevent this GM chain from continuing to putting limits on their character. In other words, the only thing the player stakes is playing in the game at all.

As such, it's technically a challenge, but it's a weak example of a good challenge and full of the things I'm not happy about. That said, I did use a dominate monster on a player tonight, and I felt bad about it. But, they had set some stakes in the character development that the character has enmity with creatures that do this, and the player had not taken action against repeated sightings and foreshadowings of such creatures making an appearance, and, then, the player not only failed his save, but his party, who detected he was whammied, didn't follow up on it (it's an odd dynamic, but full of playing their characters to the hilt). Even so, the result was to take a challenge that was to be for the party and limit it to the player, but that was my choice at that point, not the player's. So, yeah, when I play D&D I'll use these mechanics, but I don't like them much.

I treat the term challenge as referring to a situation with at least two clear mutually exclusive outcomes, and the possibility of not attaining the desired one if it is chosen for the attempt.

Saving throws technically meet this some of the time...
  • Undesired: hit by the spell for full damage
  • Desired: damage reduced
  • highly desired: damage negated
Given the D&D premise that saves may always be intentionally failed...
  • Undesired is, in this case, the default - do nothing, and take the damage
  • Desired is a passed save. Chance of failure. Choosing it is the usual choice, because the default is also the undesired effect.
  • Highly desired is only possible if one uses a reaction ability. Not every character has such, but let's assume the character does. The challenge to the player is "do I use my 1 reaction?" The answer has many conditionals to consider, but most important is, "will I need to react to someone else?" coupled with, "will I lose my character if I don't?" The challenge to the character is the dive to cover or whatnot - resolved by the abstraction of the saving throw.
[/quote]

A reasonable definition, but unless there's a chance to fail to get what you want, it's just a choice, even if the options are mutually exclusive. The player maintains full control -- nothing is risked. Again, situations that come up where there are mutually exclusive options are usually put there by the GM, not the players. So, this is really just front loading the GM making changes to the PC characterization. If the choice really is something like maintain your chastity or get Excalibur, this is a thinly-veiled use of GM force to cause a situation where the player has to make a hard choice -- and change their characterization in doing so. The GM may not pick which avenue is selected, but he drew the map. And, if the GM foreshadows that one path has worse consequences, then the force gets even stronger.

So, I like my definition of a challenge to be where the player has something at stake and can fail to achieve it.

Oddly, this pairs okay with my usual positions re: how to run D&D. The core play loop alongside the Middle Path for dice use leads to never asking for a roll unless there's a clear approach, clear goal, and a chance and consequence for failure. Maybe it's not so odd. If I know that many in this thread that are arguing against my position here also argue against that one. Even though I can give page numbers for the rule references. But, this method says that it's not worth even going to mechanics unless there's a chance and consequence for failure -- that, unless it's a challenge as I've defined it, don't roll, just narrate.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
By one limited definition of challenge, sure. By other definitions of challenge that's simply wrong. You can in fact be challenged without a win/lose scenario happening.

verb
verb: challenge; 3rd person present: challenges; past tense: challenged; past participle: challenged; gerund or present participle: challenging


  • 1.
    invite (someone) to engage in a contest.
    "he challenged one of my men to a duel"
    • enter into competition with or opposition against.
      "incumbent Democrats are being challenged in the 29th district"
    • make a rival claim to or threaten someone's hold on (a position).
      "they were challenging his leadership"
    • invite (someone) to do something that one thinks will be difficult or impossible; dare.
      "I challenged them to make up their own minds"




As you can see, all it takes is a difficult situation. Without some serious brain damage going on, everyone is capable of making up their mind on something, so the bolded example is not one that is a success/failure situation, as no failure is actually possible. When I have a social challenge to my PC that results in a difficult decision to the core of the character, it is in fact a challenge even though there is no win/loss condition.
Dang it. I had yesterday in the dictionary pool. :(

But, to address your bolded part above, the invitation is to do something. Can you fail to do something? Yes, especially if it's difficult or impossible. So, yeah, you, um, supported my argument with the dictionary. Even in the example, one can fail to make up one's mind. I'm keenly aware of this every time I have the marital "what do you want for dinner" argument.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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. ;)
At was an attack and uncalled for. If you don't have a constructive response to my arguments, don't mention or respond to me.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
There are a great many challenges for the character that are not for the player, and best resolved with simple mechanical considerations.

Some are just not things that players need to know, but the appropriate skill provides needed praxis the character needs.
EG:
  • which fork to use for dinner in the duke's hall.
  • which of the swords in the blacksmith's are suitable for the character
Some are things that are not possible due to the mode of play being aural, rather than visual:
  • Identifying which of the maidens lying dead and naked is the duke's daughter
  • deciding which dress looks better when prepping to attend court.
Some things are simply too boring, gory, or technical to narrate out in detail:
  • The making of the sword.
  • searching 100 volumes in the library for clues
  • the repair of the warp drive
The only way these test the player is whether or not the character has the needed skills, and that is a challenge already made and in the "done deal" category... but the rolls involved are in the present.
Okay. Again, I was talking in the context social interactions, since that's what pretty much the entire thread has been about. None of those examples is a social interaction. The social aspect of a PC is inextricably intertwined with the player. You can't separate the two in order to challenge the PC, but not the player.

Given that one can always choose to fail the saves in D&D... it's part of the larger challenge, which may require a bevy of tests... The hostile person is the challenge, usually not the individual attacks, tho' those may also be both mechanical and player-creativity-challenges.
It used to be the case that you could choose to fail saves. 5e doesn't have that rule. I would personally allow it, but it's a house rule now.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
So, I like my definition of a challenge to be where the player has something at stake and can fail to achieve it.

Oddly, this pairs okay with my usual positions re: how to run D&D. The core play loop alongside the Middle Path for dice use leads to never asking for a roll unless there's a clear approach, clear goal, and a chance and consequence for failure. Maybe it's not so odd. If I know that many in this thread that are arguing against my position here also argue against that one. Even though I can give page numbers for the rule references. But, this method says that it's not worth even going to mechanics unless there's a chance and consequence for failure -- that, unless it's a challenge as I've defined it, don't roll, just narrate.
Yours is a little too Burning Wheel for general adoption, as it will result in not rolling a great many things that the D&D rules require.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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. ;)
At was an attack and uncalled for. If you don't have a constructive response to my arguments, don't mention or respond to me.

Both of you decided to continue a personal dispute despite the warning. Time for both of you to take a walk - find another thread where you're not going to engage in personal sniping. Don't post in this one any further.

Despite how clear this case is, one or both of you will likely disagree and want to argue with me. Take it to PM, please, and leave the thread alone.

Anyone else?
 
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aramis erak

Explorer
It used to be the case that you could choose to fail saves. 5e doesn't have that rule. I would personally allow it, but it's a house rule now.
Actually, the text is ambiguously worded.

PBR v3.4 said:
Saving Throws
Many spells specify that a target can make a saving throw to avoid some or all of a spell’s effects.
Generally, can is a choice word. If the save was obligatory, it should say "must," "shall," "will," or "neets to"...

Noting that the PBR text is an exact subset of the PHB... and is electronically searchable...

it can be interpreted either direction.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
So I've skimmed the recent bits of the thread. In a follow-up post, I'm going to relay a recent PC:pC social conflict in Strike (!) and invite folks to chime in on how they perceive this anecdote (a) contrasts with gameplay where social conflict isn't formalized and (b) there are neither mechanical feedbacks nor PC build components involved.

But first, I want to post some text from Strike (!) and Dogs in the Vineyard as I think it relates to the conversation. What do people think about the below as they pertain to Decide vs/and Discovery and how systematized incentive and constraints can hook into that (augmenting or delineating):

On Strike (!) Twists and related (and a bit of Dogs):

Twists

A Twist means that something threw off your plans. Your task may or may not have been successful, but something somewhere has gone wrong. It may or may not be your fault. It might not even be a bad thing, though it often is.


When you get a Twist, the GM gets to narrate how you came to the Twist—in the course of their narration they might say something your character does. This is part of the game. If the GM oversteps their bounds, speak up and talk to them like an adult, but in general your job as a player is to roll with it and make it real. Maybe your character screwed up. People do that. You don’t get to say “no, my character would never make a mistake like that!” Sorry, the dice disagree. That’s part of life and part of the game. Remember, you don’t know everything there is to know about your character and part of the fun of playing a character is finding out new things about them. Twists are a vital part of that process.

Quick note on Action Points - you can deploy one of your Complications against you to net a Twist, which will, in turn, earn you an Action Point. Action Points can be deployed to help your character (a) succeed in the future and simultaneously (b) earn the system's analogue to xp toward advancement.

2nd note - Dogs in the Vineyard has a similar schema, though there are distinguishing subtleties based on the system...but, principally, its the same.
On sin and worse (Dogs):

Either way, the characters will uproot it, judge it, and enact upon it the will of God. God's mercy? God's justice? God's vengeance? That's theirs to decide.
On revealing (Dogs):

The game's rules job is to help you, the GM, reveal the pride, sin, and corruption in the towns you create, and provoke the characters' judgement...

Over time, the players (through the playing of the game and the system) will reveal their characters in depth.

They'll choose where to stand, where to give way, and whats worth killing or dying for (this is a the narrative created by the Poker-derived dice mechanics of the game which involves Seeing, Raising, <effectively> Folding, or Escalating...and the attendant Fallout for the characters, which is both setback and advancement).

Reflection (after any/all situations in a Town have been resolved and we're travelling to the next Town - this is a component of the advancement scheme where players pick 2 things that will help them or hinder them or both)

What did the events of the town reveal about your characters (especially regarding duty, obedience, responsibility, sin, love)?

What are you saying about people through the actions of your characters?
 
the playstyle I suggest doesn't lead to that unless a player ignores their character conceptualization.
If the player is avoiding expedience by sticking to conceptualisation, how is that conceptualisation going to be challenged? Or changed?

If the player is at liberty to change conceptuatlisation in response to choices, what governs those choices? Self-evidently it can't be conceptualisation. You don't want it to be expedience. Is it whim?

Do you have actual play examples to post that illustrate the point you are trying to make?

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."?
As [MENTION=177]Umbran[/MENTION] pointed out way upthread, we are not talking here about actual people living actual lives. We're talking about actual people authoring imagined lives. When an author chooses to have his/her protagonist do X rather than Y, perhaps s/he learns something about him-/herself. (Eg I empathise more with an X-er than a Y-er.) But s/he doesn't learn anything about the protagonist. S/he makes a decision that the protagonist is an X-er rather than a Y-er.

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.[/quote]Discovery implies externality. That's why, for instance, philosophers once spoke about our knowledge of the external world, and why one of my teachers once glossed idealist theories of knowledge in this way: you can't get more out of knowledge than you put in.

To discover something about my character requires something external to take place. I've given examples in this thread. So have others.

It doesn't have to be done through random number generation. There are other resolution systems possible. But it does require some way of establishing salient elements of the fiction other than via decision-making by the player of the PC.

To my mind this is actually not a radical thesis about RPGing, given that this type of game has relied on resolution mechanics, including random number generation, to establish external constraints on player choices and interpretation of the fiction from the outset.

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.
By my count, there are only three recurrent posters in this thread who make D&D the baseline assumption: [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION], [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION] and [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION].

I'm not interested in talking primarily about D&D. It's not a system I'm playing at the moment, and I doubt think that focusing on it is going to shed any particular light on the questions raised in the OP or subsequently in the thread. If you think that there is some aspect of D&D mechanics or play that will help address those questions, then by all means post it.
 
a player that has a backstory as a mind-flayer thrall and has staked his lack of recollection of his past as at risk met with a mind flayer. The mind flayer proposed that what the player thought their memories were are false memories, and that, instead, there's something about the character that caused him to be recruited rather than enslaved. That the character was a dangerous tool that the elder brain thought it could control. Is this true? I don't know, maybe. That really depends on how the player chooses to interact with it. So far, the player has chosen to enter into a temporary agreement for mutual benefit (the mind flayer wishes to disrupt some plans of the player's former masters -- different mind flayer factions at play here), but not to trust the mind flayer. Meanwhile, I've planted seeds of doubt, as what the mind flayer has said may come true. But, again, because D&D, it's the player that will decide if his character is swayed or not.

If I were playing a different game, then the stakes of the player's background would have been directly challenged, and, if the player lost, I'd have been able to establish alternate truths that the player would then have to engage with.
This is an interesting question - in general, and about D&D play: To what extent is the GM permitted to rewrite player-authored PC backstory by drawing upon a combination of (i) situation and stakes and (ii) failed checks.

In BW (for instance) I think this is fair game. The only version of D&D I can think of able to handle this is 4e. I don't really see how it would be done in AD&D. And from what your saying it's not really feasible in 5e.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
[MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION]

Many authors describe the process of authoring as letting the character speak to them, or even through them; dissociated from their own personality to some degree.

So, while they are just making the choices, the choices don't always feel like choices to the authors.
 
I want to post some text from Strike (!) and Dogs in the Vineyard as I think it relates to the conversation. What do people think about the below as they pertain to Decide vs/and Discovery and how systematized incentive and constraints can hook into that (augmenting or delineating)
I'm not sure about incentives.

When I read the Strike(!) I think of "intent and task" and failure narration in BW. Or the example from AW that I posted upthread. If the check fails, the GM is entitled to narrate the failure by imposing a new and unwanted description of the PC's action. But I don't think in any of the systems this could go as far as you've fallen in love with the maiden unless that was the mere capstone to already-established fiction. More like your eye is caught by the maiden's wink, and you fail to notice . . .

When I read the DitV I think of the examples I've posted upthread about the paladin and Nightcrawler. At least as I recall it, there is no mechanic in DitV for making it true that (say) a PC loves another PC or an NPC. But it is quite possible to produce outcomes that the player didn't choose and that reveal the character as falling under a new unexpected description (eg I'm a killer). And these then provoke choice, reflection, crisis etc on the part of the PC as mediated through the player.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
This is an interesting question - in general, and about D&D play: To what extent is the GM permitted to rewrite player-authored PC backstory by drawing upon a combination of (i) situation and stakes and (ii) failed checks.

In BW (for instance) I think this is fair game. The only version of D&D I can think of able to handle this is 4e. I don't really see how it would be done in AD&D. And from what your saying it's not really feasible in 5e.
I think, in D&D, it would be a serious overstep to do so. In the scene above, the player threw me for a loop. Previously, the player had established that the character had no recollection of their time before being a thrall. But, in the scene, the player revealed that they dud recall. I had been planning to offer a way to recover memory in exchange for helping this mindflayer, but that went right out the window (hold on lightly!). Instead, I had the mindflayer insinuate that these memories may well be false and dangled a deeper mystery as maybe existing (refering to the character as a dangerous tool). At the same time, i introduced that the mindflayer isn't trustworthy. So, now, the player can engage on "do I have false memories?" or assume the mindflayer is lying and keep ahold of their idyllic memories. It will, however, be the player's choice. I have no tools in D&D to bring this into a challenge for characterization nor to resolve such a challenge.

In another system the player could have challenged the mind flayer's assertions, but would be risking finding out they might be true. I don't see how that could work in D&D without crossing the one bright line of authority in the game.

EDIT: So, to sum up the above, in D&D, the way this works is the the GM can ask for a change, but it's the player's authority to accept or refuse.

As an aside, I had sketched up this scene a few weeks ago, but we've been unable to play for awhile due to life. So, when I had a bunch of cranium rats deliver the PC to a mindflayer in the basement of an abandoned wharehouse, it wasn't until I was doing it I realized the uncanny simularity to a recent Netflix show. I had to laugh.
 
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Sadras

Explorer
In another system the player could have challenged the mind flayer's assertions, but would be risking finding out they might be true. I don't see how that could work in D&D without crossing the one bright line of authority in the game.

EDIT: So, to sum up the above, in D&D, the way this works is the the GM can ask for a change, but it's the player's authority to accept or refuse.
I have been leveraging the characters Ideals/Bond/Flaws in D&D, essentially I as DM bribe them with an Inspiration Point if they do or not-do a course of action which is supported by their Ideal/Bond/Flaw. To be clear my bribe is an incentive to complicate matters in game. And as you say it is the players' right to choose.

But I'm wondering if I could then also offer a player their character an auto success in an intricate Social Encounter with minimal to no risk to the PCs at the cost of a change in a character's Ideal/Blond/Flaw (Of course this change would need make sense storywise). Player could always choose to roll ofcourse, but then something in-game would be stake.
 
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Aebir-Toril

Explorer
This is an interesting question - in general, and about D&D play: To what extent is the GM permitted to rewrite player-authored PC backstory by drawing upon a combination of (i) situation and stakes and (ii) failed checks.

In BW (for instance) I think this is fair game. The only version of D&D I can think of able to handle this is 4e. I don't really see how it would be done in AD&D. And from what your saying it's not really feasible in 5e.
If we cannot agree to argue from some base point, then you cannot assume that everyone will know every system. Realistically, almost every RPG player knows D&D, not because it's the best, but because it is the definitive RPG. Thus, D&D is not the only thing we should discuss, but you have to remember that it is what many people assume as the base. If you would like to have a different base, please say so.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
If we cannot agree to argue from some base point, then you cannot assume that everyone will know every system. Realistically, almost every RPG player knows D&D, not because it's the best, but because it is the definitive RPG. Thus, D&D is not the only thing we should discuss, but you have to remember that it is what many people assume as the base. If you would like to have a different base, please say so.
Using D&D as tge baseline, how can I, as GM, have an NPC mauden wink at a PC and melt the PC's heart without it being an ask of the player?

This is why the baseline argument fails -- D&D is a specific model, not a general one. You can't logically argue from the specific to the general. This is amplified in cases where the model is of poor skill, such as D&D and social skills. As I said before, the D&D way is akready endlessly argued from within the ruleset, so hiw can it be an effective model for general discussion.

This, frankly, smells of "but if you just agree with me upfront, you'll see that you agree with me."
 

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