Players choose what their PCs do . . .

chaochou

Adventurer
I think, though, that some systems can be more demanding on the players than others, and challenging in that sense. To give examples: Prince Valiant and MHRP tend to be relatively light-hearted in the situations they throw up; whereas Burning Wheel (and I suspect Apocalypse World) can be much "heavier"/"deeper" (I'm not sure what the right word is).

Both are fun, but the latter is more likely to leave a participant feeling drained than is the former.
I think some games can, but I don't know if that's a product of the system or the people. My Apocalypse World and Burning Wheel, FATE, Dogs... they all tend to the gritty and streetwise. It's why I want to run The Veil - cyberpunk is a natural genre for my style, and Gibson one of my favourite authors.

So my Prince Valiant might be a shade or two darker than yours, your Apocalypse World lighter than mine. I may push a character real hard at points where you'd ease off, and vice versa. But these are aesthetic choices.

Within that spectrum I maintain that it is important for players to feel relaxed, entertained, at ease. A creative experience can be a draining one, but it can just as easily be euphoric or invigorating.

Personally, I think these emotional responses are more about the authenticity brought by the players than anything system-specific. [MENTION=16586]Campbell[/MENTION] often talks about this quality of play, the integrity of the characterisation. I tend to assume it, but he's right to highlight the importance of it in character-driven play, which is where the challenge to character concept that you asked about is really located.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Personally, I think these emotional responses are more about the authenticity brought by the players than anything system-specific.
I think that while a system in and of itself cannot produce such authenticity, it can certainly get in the way of it. It can also likely encourage it - setting the players up in a good way to have such, to invite it.

Bluebeard's Bride (from Magpie Games), and Ten Candles (from Calvalry Games) come to mind in that sense - games designed to enable players to "have all the feels" as the young'uns these days would say.
 

pemerton

Legend
I say, slightly in jest, "I search the Duke's desk for a huge ancient red dragon...."
In one of my recent posts I referred to violations of genre, fictional positioning and system logic. In the Burning Wheel rulebooks Luke Crane makes the point by saying (something like) "no roll for beam weaponry in the duke's toilet".

But that is all about vetoing or refusing to entertain certain action declarations. [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] was positing a successful outcome.

what are we more interested in seeing - the players getting exactly what they ask for, or the players getting what they overall want? Because they are not omniscient, and what they ask for may not actually be what they wanted, needed, or could best use.
As [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] has posted, this seems to assume that the fiction has a content that is independent of the players. But why would, or should, that be so?

There is a demonstrable effect in the software industry which generalizes - when you ask someone what their problem is, what they are more likely to tell you is not the problem, but their preferred solution. That solution is generally either 1) the most common solution to similar problems or 2) the first solution that came to them when they had the problem, that's been rattling around in their head, so that their thinking is in a bit of a rut. Neither case is innovative, nor necessarily a *good* solution to the problem at hand.
Why would the GM know any better than the players what is good for the fiction?

For any number of reasons, some that you might like and some you might not:

- to introduce new or unexpected elements to the fiction (whether pre-authored or generated on the fly)
- to give the players (as their PCs) something new or different to think about; or to get them thinking a bit more outside the box
But this can all be done on a failed check, or in framing new situations. Why does a successful check also have to be a vehicle for this? What control are the players entitled to have over the fiction?

- to, in the specific example given, point out there's more than one way to achieve the same ends
Couldn't the GM do this before the action declaration is framed?

And why can the players not make this point to the GM - they declare an action different from what the GM thought they might, thereby pointing out that there's more than one way to achieve the same end! Why does the GM's view of what might be interesting fiction take priority?

It counts as a success if you leave on the rest of the GM's narration which you conveniently snipped off, where incriminating evidence is found only in a different form than the player had in mind.

<snip>

I simply look at the bigger goal (to incriminate the Duke) stated in the original declaration and base the success-fail narraton on that. The specifics - papers vs seal - aren't much more than window dressing.[/qjuote]You yourself concede that it's nt success if one actualy takes seriously the expressed intent - to find financial records that incude certain entries. It's only success if you ignore that, and substitute some other, more generic intent. So what is the point of the action declaration being more detailed than we look for evidence if the GM is going to interpret it as that?

Or to put it another way, what is the point of the players trying to introduce content into the fiction if the system treats it as mere "window-dressing"?

Otherwise the GM is very limited in what she can reply with: either yes, you find papers of the sort you're looking for (on success), or no you don't (on failure). The GM can't introduce the seal or other incriminating evidence here on a failed roll as to do so would turn a failure into a success and thus disrespect the roll.[/

Otherwise the GM is very limited in what she can reply with: either yes, you find papers of the sort you're looking for (on success), or no you don't (on failure). The GM can't introduce the seal or other incriminating evidence here on a failed roll as to do so would turn a failure into a success and thus disrespect the roll.
But this is just begging the question. If the player wants to find financial records, and doesn't, that's a failure. What form the failure takes is a further thing.

You are simply substituting a different intent. On what basis?
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
In one of my recent posts I referred to violations of genre, fictional positioning and system logic. In the Burning Wheel rulebooks Luke Crane makes the point by saying (something like) "no roll for beam weaponry in the duke's toilet".
Jim McGarva has a perfect catch-phrase for this sprinkled throughout the Strike (!) rulebook, which is basically a riposte to all of the stuff we heard about with genre-incoherent drift in 4e:

"DON'T DEMAND NONSENSE!"

One such quip is on fictional positioning and permissible action declarations:

Strike(!) p 9
It seems obvious, but I’d better write it down: you can’t make a declaration that contradicts previously established facts. Don’t demand nonsense!
If I'm running Dogs and the player thinks someone is under the thrall of demonic possession and wants to attempt to exorcise the supernatural force...great! If they invoke Aboleths staring through the eyes of the poor soul from the void or a "Face-hugger" planted Xenomorph eggs in their stomach...then they're being dicks.

DON'T DEMAND NONSENSE
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Broadly, that would depend upon what other parts of the fiction have already been determined. Sometimes what the players ask for can become THE solution, and sometimes that would not be consistent with things already set in place. I am often for not determining details unless/until you need them, specifically so you can flex for such things, but even if you only set any given detail at the moment it comes up, you eventually have a canon in which the past restricts what will plausibly reach the player's desired end.

So, like, you want to incriminate the Duke. You look for evidence of crooked finances. You have forgotten that we have already determined that the Exchequer is in the Duke's pocket. You can find the evidence of crooked finances, but they will not effectively incriminate the Duke! That's a success on a very specific task, but a failure on the general intent.
Well, yes, if you move the goalposts then the declaration violates established fiction. Upthread it was clearly stated in regards to the player decides that prior fiction and genre logic both act as constraints. I'm not sure what pointing out that if prior fiction prevents a declaration that it shouldn't happen like that really helps -- we're in agreement.

Yes. And pemerton *asked* why a GM should have a bit of latitude in narrating results. I am giving one class of reason - because sometimes what the player asks for, and what the player wants to achieve, are not well-aligned.
And sometimes what the player asks for and what the GM gives them are not well-aligned. This is an argument that's equally damaging to either side.

I mean, if you have been working with engineering requests, you should understand the point of over-specifying: "I want a thing that accomplishes X, and I want that thing to be precisely Y," is a requirement that is often very difficult to fulfill. If we aren't in antagonistic stance between player and GM, then the GM is there in large part to help the player realize their cool stuff. Over-specifying limits the GM's ability to help.
Well, yes, because, in the real world, there's schedule and cost to balance against. In fiction, these things don't exist as actual constraints but rather as other elements of the fiction. This argument is trying to say that because we're limited in the real world, how we author fiction should be similarly limited. I mean, I don't follow how the player would proscribe their requirements and then the DM would do a lot of design work to achieve that, under some form of budget and schedule, rather than just say "yup, that's what happens." Very confused by what point you're trying to drive here.

Just as a customer is often well-served to allow an engineer or UX designer to figure out *how* a goal is reached, a player is often well-served to allow the GM to guide the specifics a bit.
Whoa. Okay, you went there. Let's unpack. People go to engineers and designers because they have the expertise in difficult fields to accomplish things. As an engineer, I'm hired because the customer can't do the work and needs my expertise. To carry this forward into the end of your statement, you're saying that the GM is occupying this position of expertise in authoring actions in a fictional setting (likely) about pretend elves that the players lack, and that they should be seeking the more skilled, more adept GM's counsel on what outcomes they should expect from their actions?

I'm going to have to violently disagree with you. The rules of the board are definitely tempering the response I'd like to give to this idea.
 
What is the function of successful checks if the GM also gets to establish what happens there too?
First let's be clear. No one is advocating that a GM turn a successful check into a failure. What is being suggested is that just like there are multiple states of failure there are also multiple states of success.

A simple counter-example to establish this point. Suppose a player says, "I search the room for 1000 gold". He rolls a 1. Do you really consider a possible fail state in this example to be "you find a ruby worth 1000gp"? If you think that's a valid failure narration then you stand alone.

So then with it established that there are multiple success states, why would a DM pick the one that a player didn't specifically request. A few possibilities:
1. His chosen success may move the story further along at some later point in time.
2. His chosen success may not interfere with already established fiction wheras the players precise request could.
3. It saves time. If the player asks to find 1000 gold and you say you don't and then he follows up with what do I find and you make him roll and tell him it was a 1000gp worth ruby anyways, then there was no fictional need for that additional exchange.

There's countless other reasons to still fulfill the players intent but slightly alter their specified outcome.

The PCs in a RPG don't really exist. They are elements in a fiction. That fiction is authored. Therefore whether or not the PCs are challenged is a result of authorship decisions taken in the real world.
So let's start in a simple test case. Can a single fantasy author write a story about a character that is legitimately challenged? Does he need dice to do so?

It's apparent the answer is he can do so without dice. In fact all it takes for him to create a character that is challenged in the fiction is for him to imagine that is the case and to write it down. How can that be?

This is a significant difference from actual people in our actual world, who - subject to some theological speculation that I'll put to one side - are not authored entities "living" within an authored world.
Of course we are different. Do you think anyone is asserting that fictional characters and real people are exactly the same in all the same exact ways? There's a reason we call them fictional characters and real people for crying out loud.

But pointing that out doesn't point out that there is a difference in the requirements of a fictional challenge in a fictional world and a real challenge in the real world (besides the obvious real vs fictional part). So then I come back around, there is no god ordained dice roller in the universe and we have challenges all the same. Why then do you believe that a fictional world requires a god ordained dice roller in order for the fictional character to face challenges in that fictional world?

You see, the basis for my claim is simple, anything that can be in the real world is also possible in a fictional world. Therefore, because the real world doesn't require dice rollers to produce challenges then a fictional world doesn't either. What's the basis for your claim otherwise?

Of course those authorship decisions which give rise to the fiction aren't typically part of the fiction. (Over the Edge is one RPG which is an exception to this - it allows for breaking the 4th wall. Maybe there are others too that I'm not familiar with.) So if we are talking about the imagined in-fiction causation then they don't figure. But if we're talking about what actually causes the fiction to have the content that it does, then we can't do that except by referring to those authorship decisions.
Sure, but a fictional character can only be challenged by fictional things. Dice are not part of the fiction. They by nature can't cause a PC to be challenged. The dice may dictate to the author of said fiction to introduce a challenge to the character, but the dice themselves have no part in the fiction. Only in the authorship of said fiction.

Which brings us to the role of mechanics. I can't do any better on this than to quote Vincent Baker:
Roleplaying is negotiated imagination. In order for any thing to be true in game, all the participants in the game (players and GMs, if you've even got such things) have to understand and assent to it. When you're roleplaying, what you're doing is a) suggesting things that might be true in the game and then b) negotiating with the other participants to determine whether they're actually true or not. . . .​


If that's your definition of roleplaying then I don't think it applies to D&D. Players in D&D simply state attempted actions - they don't suggest things that might be true. They simply state attempted actions. They don't negotiate with the other participants to determine their truth. They have predetermined that the DM will be sole arbitrator of what's true in the game.

Mechanics might model the stuff of the game world, that's another topic, but they don't exist to do so. They exist to ease and constrain real-world social negotiation between the players at the table. That's their sole and crucial function.
But you don't actually need to constrain the real-world social negotiation between players and the table... (unless you refer to appointing a DM to preside over the game as a mechanic - which seems a bit specious IMO, but at least could possibly fit). In short - your stated function of mechanics is redundant.

If the GM suggests that, as a result of the maiden winking, my PC is in love with her; and if I suggest that this is not so; then we have a disagrement as to what is actually true in the fiction. How do we resolve it? Via system.
Going back to your limited, D&D exclusionary, definition of roleplay sure. To a more broad and inclusive definition of roleplaying, doing that would constitute a moment when the DM is removing your ability to roleplay your character - which for a role playing game needs to be treaded lightly. Thus you may see mechanics involved in such situations to make the non-roleplaying aspects be more palatable.

One possible system is the GM is always right.
All other roleplaying systems yield inferior roleplaying to this (although they may make much better games overall)

Another possible system is the player is always right.
If you have multiple players then this system doesn't even work.

A third possible system is they toss for it. Rolling dice (be it a saving throw rolled by the player, a wink test rolled by the GM, or something else) is a more sophisticated version of that third possibility.
Someone always has to determine when to roll dice.

That's all. It neither increases nor reduces the amount of shared imagination taking place, and hence the amount of roleplaying.
That's because you are using a flawed definition of roleplaying.

It does reduce the player's authorship authority compared to the second possible system.
We are in agreement with this statement.

But even if one takes a fairly narrow definition of roleplaying that can hardly be relevant: actors play roles and typically they don't author the characters they are playing.
Acting is not roleplaying.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
In some game no one gets to decide if a mechanic is invoked or not. In Apocalypse World if a character attempts to do something in the fiction that triggers a move the mechanics must be applied. One of the things a GM must always say is Always Say What the Rules Demand.
 
In some game no one gets to decide if a mechanic is invoked or not. In Apocalypse World if a character attempts to do something in the fiction that triggers a move the mechanics must be applied. One of the things a GM must always say is Always Say What the Rules Demand.
are there never disagreements or difference of opinion about when the rules say to roll?
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
[MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION]

I think you are starting from a faulty premise. You are assuming that game mechanics cannot meaningfully contribute to play despite having no direct experience of games where the rules are meant to supplement role play. We play these games because we value what they have to say about human nature and how people interact with each other. They help us form mental models of who our characters really are and how they think and feel. They help us get away from the tactical mindset encouraged by games like D&D and help resolve the barrier between smart play and authentic play. I can tell you that I feel like I have had more authentic and immersive experiences playing games like Blades in the Dark, Masks, Monsterhearts and Apocalypse World than I ever have with Dungeons and Dragons. Part of that was our commitment to the characters. Part of it was the lack of certain D&D cultural features. I think the mechanics contributed a great deal.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
First let's be clear. No one is advocating that a GM turn a successful check into a failure. What is being suggested is that just like there are multiple states of failure there are also multiple states of success.

A simple counter-example to establish this point. Suppose a player says, "I search the room for 1000 gold". He rolls a 1. Do you really consider a possible fail state in this example to be "you find a ruby worth 1000gp"? If you think that's a valid failure narration then you stand alone.
Yes. That you don't see a way is somewhat telling.

The ruby is cursed. The ruby belongs to a powerful entity who now declares enmity. The ruby.... so many ways to make finding exactly what the player wanted into something that the character suffers for.

So then with it established that there are multiple success states, why would a DM pick the one that a player didn't specifically request. A few possibilities:
1. His chosen success may move the story further along at some later point in time.
2. His chosen success may not interfere with already established fiction wheras the players precise request could.
3. It saves time. If the player asks to find 1000 gold and you say you don't and then he follows up with what do I find and you make him roll and tell him it was a 1000gp worth ruby anyways, then there was no fictional need for that additional exchange.

There's countless other reasons to still fulfill the players intent but slightly alter their specified outcome.
1. applies only to stories the GM has already written down.
2. nope, this is already a caveat that player outcomes cannot violate previously establish fiction or genre logic.
3. Huh?

So let's start in a simple test case. Can a single fantasy author write a story about a character that is legitimately challenged? Does he need dice to do so?

It's apparent the answer is he can do so without dice. In fact all it takes for him to create a character that is challenged in the fiction is for him to imagine that is the case and to write it down. How can that be?
You've moved the goalposts from "challenging the player's characterization of the fictional character" to "imagine a fictional challenge the fictional character overcomes in the fiction." The latter is true -- there's a fictional challenge that is overcome if the character fights and defeats an orc. The former is not true in the above because the author retains full control over the story and character throughout.


Of course we are different. Do you think anyone is asserting that fictional characters and real people are exactly the same in all the same exact ways? There's a reason we call them fictional characters and real people for crying out loud.

But pointing that out doesn't point out that there is a difference in the requirements of a fictional challenge in a fictional world and a real challenge in the real world (besides the obvious real vs fictional part). So then I come back around, there is no god ordained dice roller in the universe and we have challenges all the same. Why then do you believe that a fictional world requires a god ordained dice roller in order for the fictional character to face challenges in that fictional world?

You see, the basis for my claim is simple, anything that can be in the real world is also possible in a fictional world. Therefore, because the real world doesn't require dice rollers to produce challenges then a fictional world doesn't either. What's the basis for your claim otherwise?
Oh my. There's no difference in challenges between the real and the fictional except for those dealing with the difference between real and fictional. I'm glad that's out of the way -- imagine the confusion one might have!

And, you're banging on about dice being required when no one's made that argument. The argument has been for a mechanic, which can be a broad spectrum of things which, granted, dice occupy a large chunk of. The big thing here is that the decision is out of the player's hands for it to be a challenge. If the player retains all power and authority, then there's no challenge -- the player is just picking their favorite color at the moment.

Sure, but a fictional character can only be challenged by fictional things. Dice are not part of the fiction. They by nature can't cause a PC to be challenged. The dice may dictate to the author of said fiction to introduce a challenge to the character, but the dice themselves have no part in the fiction. Only in the authorship of said fiction.
This isn't true, though. The fiction does not exist without a real world person making real world choices. If we're talking about challenging the characterization that the real world person is using to roleplay the character, then this must take part, in some measure, in the real world as it involves the real person having to accept a change in character and then roleplay accordingly.


If that's your definition of roleplaying then I don't think it applies to D&D. Players in D&D simply state attempted actions - they don't suggest things that might be true. They simply state attempted actions. They don't negotiate with the other participants to determine their truth. They have predetermined that the DM will be sole arbitrator of what's true in the game.
Really? Let's look at searching for traps. Doesn't this mean the player is advancing that if there are traps here, I will find them? And then the negotiation takes places, usually with a call for a check, the result of which determines if the truth statement is correct or false -- you find the traps or you do not. This is even further advanced by the GM's notes -- there may not be any traps in which case the negotiation is the GM says you don't find traps.

The trick here is that you need to view the play in a new light instead of rejecting it outright. Doing so shouldn't change your opinions or preferences -- it's just a new vantage point on the same stuff. You don't lose if you see it.

But you don't actually need to constrain the real-world social negotiation between players and the table... (unless you refer to appointing a DM to preside over the game as a mechanic - which seems a bit specious IMO, but at least could possibly fit). In short - your stated function of mechanics is redundant.
Oh, absolutely you do. The very concept of a game is a constraint on the players of that game. How you constrain play is the very function of the rules of a game, and leads very much to the nature of play that game entails. Claiming no constraints are needed is going back to saying that everything should be cops-and-robbers, only even more chaotic.



Going back to your limited, D&D exclusionary, definition of roleplay sure. To a more broad and inclusive definition of roleplaying, doing that would constitute a moment when the DM is removing your ability to roleplay your character - which for a role playing game needs to be treaded lightly. Thus you may see mechanics involved in such situations to make the non-roleplaying aspects be more palatable.
Nope, you're incorrect. D&D isn't excluded in this framework. Recall I enjoy running D&D, so there's no animosity or attempt to subvert D&D in saying this. Constraints on play vary by system. Here, you're taking an example of how a constrain might look in some arbitrary system and rejecting the entire concept because the example doesn't fit your narrow experience. Relax.

Here it is in D&D. The GM establishes that there's an unseen threat (truth statement). The player declares an action to find the unseen threat (modifying truth statement). The negotiation goes to the D&D bog standard -- GM says (going to the system). Here, GM says a check is warranted (going to the system). The result will determine if the GM's original truth statement holds (threat is unseen) or the player's truth statement holds (character finds threat).


All other roleplaying systems yield inferior roleplaying to this (although they may make much better games overall)
You've previously admitted your ignorance on the play of other systems, yet you continue to display it by defining superior play as only how you play. It's a bit sad, really.


If you have multiple players then this system doesn't even work.
It does, actually, with the proper constraints.


Someone always has to determine when to roll dice.
Many systems do this in a very structured way. Say Yes or Roll the Dice, for instance, means the player always gets their action (and outcome) until challenged, at which time dice must be rolled. Or, in PbtA, if you do something that looks like a move, it's a move and dice are rolled. Moves are pretty clearly defined.


That's because you are using a flawed definition of roleplaying.
Irony!

We are in agreement with this statement.



Acting is not roleplaying.
Um, yes, yes it is. Definitionally. Roleplaying is broader than this, so acting is sufficient but not necessary to roleplaying (this means that it's definitely roleplaying, but not required for roleplaying).

You've spent so much energy trying to define things so that they describe you rather than trying to figure out what out there already does. You don't lose if there are other, equally valid ways to roleplay, or if other systems do things you don't like, or if other systems do some things better than the system you prefer. It's not zero sum. Yet, here you are, admittedly ignorant of other options and absent critical experiences, trying to make this a zero sum game defined in a way that you win. Maybe, try not trying to win but to understand that there are deeper thoughts about how games work that can, without changing your preference one iota, still help you make your game better?
 
Last edited:

Manbearcat

Adventurer
Yes. That you don't see a way is somewhat telling.

The ruby is cursed. The ruby belongs to a powerful entity who now declares enmity. The ruby.... so many ways to make finding exactly what the player wanted into something that the character suffers for.
I agree.

The GM's primary role in TTRPGing (outside of a few instances) is (a) to know what adversity is relevant to this particular play and (b) bring that adversity to bear against the PCs in the imagined space in the most interesting/compelling/challenging/provocative (and these will be contingent upon the game) way possible.

Above I mentioned a Dogs play excerpt. The adversity I played was the intense shared longing through letters received on the road, provoking the PC toward finding out duty and discipline or desperate distraction?

In a D&D game featuring Fail Forward like 4e, in the fiction, the temple raider PC successfully pulls an Indiana Jones swap of the ruby for the bag of sand...except mechanically, the Skill Challenge was brought to close on that last check with a failed Thievery. The PC has the ruby...but the bag of sand had a rip in it from a narrow escape from a prior trap...now the sand is emptying to the floor and the trap has triggered a temple collapse (and a Healing Surge loss or 1/4 HP).

Now we have a new scene (a new Skill Challenge) that features a mad dash through the collapsing temple to the surface.

That fails (mechanically) right before they reach the surface. However, the complex doesn't collapse on the PC. The ruby is tied to a sleeping primordial. Taking it beyond the seal awakens the primordial, triggering earthquakes and devastation in the area (and eventually, down the line, the primordial itself). Further, the secret order that has sworn generations of oaths to protect the seal confronts the PCs on the crumbling stone balcony outside of the complex, overlooking a terrible fall. Boulders are falling on the balcony from the ridge above them. Lava geyser are erupting in cracks. And the PCs are all well down on Healing Surges from the two failed SCs and possibly going into the fight Bloodied.

Whatever the game's adversity is supposed to be is what you play as GM.

Just bring it.

Relentlessly.
 
@FrogReaver

I think you are starting from a faulty premise. You are assuming that game mechanics cannot meaningfully contribute to play despite having no direct experience of games where the rules are meant to supplement role play.
Incorrect. Next time ask my opinion before broadbrushing me.

Game mechanics are great for play. They are great for the game aspect. They may even enhance roleplay in certain ways. But they also detract from it in certain ways as well. If you want to talk about the pros and cons of certain mechanics in those regards I'm game. If you want to act like there are no roleplay drawbacks to mechanics then you need to revisit your foundation.

We play these games because we value what they have to say about human nature and how people interact with each other.
I play games because they are fun. It doesn't really get any deeper than that.

They help us form mental models of who our characters really are and how they think and feel.
I assume you mean mechanics here. I am perfectly capable of figuring out who my character is and how he thinks and feels etc. I don't need stinkin mechanics to do that.

They help us get away from the tactical mindset encouraged by games like D&D and help resolve the barrier between smart play and authentic play.
Sure. I never claimed D&D turn based tactical combat enhanced roleplaying. It doesn't IMO. It's more of a nice fun break from roleplaying... almost like a mini wargame inside our roleplaying. Though even then there are occasional moments to roleplay even during the combat.

You see - I understand perfectly well the differences between the activities taking place in the games I play.

I can tell you that I feel like I have had more authentic and immersive experiences playing games like Blades in the Dark, Masks, Monsterhearts and Apocalypse World than I ever have with Dungeons and Dragons.
That's great. I would not have such an experience if I was told that my character isn't my own - though I very well could have fun playing games where that was the case - the play for me would not feel very authentic nor immersive though.

A question for you: Is it possible that you just find it easier to roleplay in games you like? Is it possible that I am right and that such mechanics don't actually enhance roleplay any at all other than the simple fact that it's easier to roleplay in a game you like?

Part of that was our commitment to the characters.
That can be done in any system.

Part of it was the lack of certain D&D cultural features.
No doubt there's plenty of D&D that's anti roleplaying - both in certain mechanics and culture.

I think the mechanics contributed a great deal.

Contributed to what aspect?
Immersion?
Roleplaying?

And can you elaborate on how you see them doing that?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The quote tags in the post I'm replying to here are a bit of a hot mess, so if some quoted bits don't quite make sense it ain't my doing. :)
But that is all about vetoing or refusing to entertain certain action declarations. [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] was positing a successful outcome.
Aye, that I was.

As [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] has posted, this seems to assume that the fiction has a content that is independent of the players. But why would, or should, that be so?
Because it's a great big setting out there with lots of stuff in it?

Why would the GM know any better than the players what is good for the fiction?
Why wouldn't she? And sometimes she'll be right, and sometimes she won't; and the same can be said for the players.

But this can all be done on a failed check, or in framing new situations. Why does a successful check also have to be a vehicle for this? What control are the players entitled to have over the fiction?
The players control the fiction by what they have their characters (try to) do.

For example, if on reaching the Duke's study the players/PCs decide not to search it at all but instead try to get to his bedroom (thinking the real incriminating stuff might be there) then off the fiction goes to the Duke's bedroom; and if the players/PCs then decide to charm-kidnap his valet (and succeed in doing so) and leave the castle with him then off the fiction goes to somewhere else.

Couldn't the GM do this before the action declaration is framed?
If the players (and thus PCs) are dead set on finding financial papers it's not for the GM to proactively give them other ideas, is it? It's the GM's place to respond to what the players have their PCs (try to) do...and sometimes that response might open their eyes to some other alternatives that they've stumbled across without really intending to.

And why can the players not make this point to the GM - they declare an action different from what the GM thought they might, thereby pointing out that there's more than one way to achieve the same end!
Of course they can, and it's then the GM's duty to respond accordingly.

Why does the GM's view of what might be interesting fiction take priority?
Isn't a GM allowed to have an occasional cool idea and throw it in? Or supply a twist?

It counts as a success if you leave on the rest of the GM's narration which you conveniently snipped off, where incriminating evidence is found only in a different form than the player had in mind.

<snip>

I simply look at the bigger goal (to incriminate the Duke) stated in the original declaration and base the success-fail narraton on that. The specifics - papers vs seal - aren't much more than window dressing.
You yourself concede that it's nt success if one actualy takes seriously the expressed intent - to find financial records that incude certain entries. It's only success if you ignore that, and substitute some other, more generic intent. So what is the point of the action declaration being more detailed than we look for evidence if the GM is going to interpret it as that?

Or to put it another way, what is the point of the players trying to introduce content into the fiction if the system treats it as mere "window-dressing"?
Well, I suppose another way a GM might have handled a success roll would be to have the PCs find some financial papers in the desk that weren't incriminating at all. The players seem to have two goals at once - find financial papers and incriminate the Duke - and while it might be preferable to somehow break those down into separate declarations that's not what happened here; so the GM gets to make a call: which goal is more relevant - the papers, or the incrimination?

Otherwise the GM is very limited in what she can reply with: either yes, you find papers of the sort you're looking for (on success), or no you don't (on failure). The GM can't introduce the seal or other incriminating evidence here on a failed roll as to do so would turn a failure into a success and thus disrespect the roll.
But this is just begging the question. If the player wants to find financial records, and doesn't, that's a failure. What form the failure takes is a further thing.

You are simply substituting a different intent. On what basis?
On the basis that this "different intent" was stated as part of the action declaration in the first place.

I guess it depends what you consider to be a success. In this case we have two goals at once:

A - find some financial papers
B - incriminate the Duke

B is a broader and, probably, more important goal than A; A is merely a means to achieving B. Given that both goals were stated in the action, there's four possible results:

1. A - Yes, B - Yes
2. A - No, B - Yes
3. A - Yes, B - No
4. A - No, B - No

No denying that 1 is a success and 4's a failure; but what are 2 and 3? As B is the more important goal I'd say 2 is a success and 3 is ultimately a failure as even though some papers were found they didn't help in achieving goal B.

For the same reason, if the roll came up as a failure then 2 is off the table while 3 might be within a GM's purview.

And what about unintended and-or unexpected results? Are these not allowed? On any of the above results is the GM allowed to throw in "Oh, and by the way while searching the desk you also stumbled on some love letters to the Duke from Lady Alisanne; and last you checked Alisanne ain't the Duchess. The letters indicate a lengthy (and lusty!) relationship."
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Acting is not roleplaying.
I was with you all the way to here, but this is where you lose me: acting very much is roleplaying. An actor, pretty much no matter what else might be involved, universally does one thing while on stage or screen: plays a role.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
A question for you: Is it possible that you just find it easier to roleplay in games you like? Is it possible that I am right and that such mechanics don't actually enhance roleplay any at all other than the simple fact that it's easier to roleplay in a game you like?
I’m not Campbell, but I’ll throw some words at this from GMing perspective.

Its definitely true that most people almost surely enjoy the experience of games they like, and through their affinity they develop or have a natural aptitude for better play.

Humans have pretty extreme neurological diversity, so I would say that it’s trivially true that cognitive predispositions and mental frameworks (be they inherent or earned through tenured environmental exposure) can make it less likely that people change significantly over time or pivot from one thing to another, and back, through the course of time.

But that is as far as I’m willing to go.

Different system tech absolutely enables inhabitation of an experience in ways that others can’t. Two easy examples of this:

1) The Dogs excerpt I brought up earlier is just not doable in other formats. Actually playing through emotional warfare of reading a letter (the acuity-ablating, heart-tugging antagonism of a separated lovestruck couple) and finding out it’s actual impacts on the person in the field (who has a dangerous and difficult job that requires total commitment and attention-span), and how those impacts turn into a feedback loop that the character becomes beholden to...well, that is not something that any old resolution mechanics, PC build and reward cycle scheme, and GMing ethos can legitimately pull off.

2) Look at the extreme disparity of how people perceived Fighter’s melee control mechanics in 4e (the catch-22 of Marking and Forced Movement specifically). I’ve been a martial artist and an athlete (ball sports, wrestling, jiujitsu) my whole life. No game tech I’ve ever seen captures the OODA Loop that a physical combatant/competition participant inhabits as they navigate their resident decision trees (be it the catch-22 game of body control/feints/transition progression in jiujitsu or playing halfcourt defense in basketball, both on-ball and off-ball, as you protect your hoop and your teammates).

Yet look at the backlash by certain segments of the D&D community, relentlessly deriding this suite of abilities as boardgaming nonsense!

——————

If you think I have some inherent affection for these games and advocate for them because of some kind of unexamined “like” for them...then you’ve got it inverted. I like them precisely because of their design’s impact on play and have developed further affection because of my scrutiny and reflection of the play experience.
 
I’m not Campbell, but I’ll throw some words at this from GMing perspective.

Its definitely true that most people almost surely enjoy the experience of games they like, and through their affinity they develop or have a natural aptitude for better play.

Humans have pretty extreme neurological diversity, so I would say that it’s trivially true that cognitive predispositions and mental frameworks (be they inherent or earned through tenured environmental exposure) can make it less likely that people change significantly over time or pivot from one thing to another, and back, through the course of time.

But that is as far as I’m willing to go.

Different system tech absolutely enables inhabitation of an experience in ways that others can’t. Two easy examples of this:

1) The Dogs excerpt I brought up earlier is just not doable in other formats. Actually playing through emotional warfare of reading a letter (the acuity-ablating, heart-tugging antagonism of a separated lovestruck couple) and finding out it’s actual impacts on the person in the field (who has a dangerous and difficult job that requires total commitment and attention-span), and how those impacts turn into a feedback loop that the character becomes beholden to...well, that is not something that any old resolution mechanics, PC build and reward cycle scheme, and GMing ethos can legitimately pull off.

2) Look at the extreme disparity of how people perceived Fighter’s melee control mechanics in 4e (the catch-22 of Marking and Forced Movement specifically). I’ve been a martial artist and an athlete (ball sports, wrestling, jiujitsu) my whole life. No game tech I’ve ever seen captures the OODA Loop that a physical combatant/competition participant inhabits as they navigate their resident decision trees (be it the catch-22 game of body control/feints/transition progression in jiujitsu or playing halfcourt defense in basketball, both on-ball and off-ball, as you protect your hoop and your teammates).

Yet look at the backlash by certain segments of the D&D community, relentlessly deriding this suite of abilities as boardgaming nonsense!

——————

If you think I have some inherent affection for these games and advocate for them because of some kind of unexamined “like” for them...then you’ve got it inverted. I like them precisely because of their design’s impact on play and have developed further affection because of my scrutiny and reflection of the play experience.
you mention extreme mental differences in people. How can you say with certainty that it isn’t those mental differences that prompt you to have such experiences with certain game mechanics. Isn’t it possible that my mental differences could cause me to have totally different experiences with those same game mechanics.

If if that’s the case (I think it is) then is it really the mechanics that enable that play or rather your pre-disposition for such mechanics?
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
U
you mention extreme mental differences in people. How can you say with certainty that it isn’t those mental differences that prompt you to have such experiences with certain game mechanics. Isn’t it possible that my mental differences could cause me to have totally different experiences with those same game mechanics.

If if that’s the case (I think it is) then is it really the mechanics that enable that play or rather your pre-disposition for such mechanics?
We’re complicated animals who live complicated lives. And these games, all of them, are complicated, relatively speaking. Nothing is ever one thing.

But I think the line of evidence that I love running something like Dogs, something like 4e, while having many times more experience (and just as much enjoyment) with Moldvay Basic and AD&D1e is a pretty strong one.
 
U

We’re complicated animals who live complicated lives. And these games, all of them, are complicated, relatively speaking. Nothing is ever one thing.

But I think the line of evidence that I love running something like Dogs, something like 4e, while having many times more experience (and just as much enjoyment) with Moldvay Basic and AD&D1e is a pretty strong one.
But you are looking on the individual level and saying those mechanics help you role play. Im looking at an individual level and saying those mechanics hinder my roleplaying

The mechanics are the same but we get two different reports of their effects.

conclusion: it’s nothing to do with the mechanics but our individual differences.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
But you are looking on the individual level and saying those mechanics help you role play. Im looking at an individual level and saying those mechanics hinder my roleplaying

The mechanics are the same but we get two different reports of their effects.

conclusion: it’s nothing to do with the mechanics but our individual differences.
My posts on this subject over the years (and in this thread) involve pretty intensive analysis on why resolution procedure/GMing technique/reward cycle/play ethos/PC build setup (a) objectively provides a different experience than(b) in many different areas (from table handling time to distribution of authority to intraparty balance to party: obstacle balance to cognitive workload and on and on).

I think you’re rather short-shrifting all of that with a single heuristic.

How about this?

Do you think it’s possible to systematize the experience of reading letters from a loved one and the fallout you incur while you’re in the field (a tour of duty of some kind...something dangerous and emotionally/physically demanding)?

If not...why?

And if you’ve never played in systems that try...why are you sure?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In one of my recent posts I referred to violations of genre, fictional positioning and system logic. In the Burning Wheel rulebooks Luke Crane makes the point by saying (something like) "no roll for beam weaponry in the duke's toilet".

But that is all about vetoing or refusing to entertain certain action declarations. [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] was positing a successful outcome.
I did say it was in jest. But, if you want to be a bit more pedantic about it - not all games give the GM a whole lot of space to choose when/what they can veto. And not all GMs are experienced, and know when to veto. And if the GM thinks they always know all implications of things at the time they are decided, and make a good choice on what to veto every time, they are kidding themselves.

As [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] has posted, this seems to assume that the fiction has a content that is independent of the players. But why would, or should, that be so?
There was a time just a few years back, pemerton, when someone would ask, "This seems to assume that the fiction has content that the players create. But, why would, or should, that be so?" Aren't you glad that One True Way didn't hold up?

The reason that this would, or should, be so is that not all GMs are you, and not all groups and games are precisely like yours. People have differing needs. So, if you are talking about your own table, you may choose to be absolute. When speaking about more broad audiences, flexibility is called for. In general, play will not be confined to narrow channels, so our ways of dealing with it ought to be flexible.

Why would the GM know any better than the players what is good for the fiction?
You've already allowed that the GM gets to veto action declarations based on genre and fictional positioning. In this, they have effectively been given oversight of the overall health of the fiction. It is now their job. You gave it to them. The individual players are now freed up to focus more on their individual desires, and weaving and managing those together is the GM's bailiwick.

Which means there will be times when the GM should know what is best for the fiction, as it is their job to know.

Why does a successful check also have to be a vehicle for this? What control are the players entitled to have over the fiction?
Are folks here actually interested in thinking of games as sets of entitlements? Play is collaborative teamwork, not contract negotiation.

In many games, the player is entitled to very little control over the fiction. In other games, there is no GM at all, and all power over fiction is distributed (sometimes in strange ways) to the players.


Couldn't the GM do this before the action declaration is framed?
Could'a, would'a, should'a. As if people don't think of things three seconds too late from time to time?

And why can the players not make this point to the GM - they declare an action different from what the GM thought they might, thereby pointing out that there's more than one way to achieve the same end! Why does the GM's view of what might be interesting fiction take priority?
Why does the player's? I mean, they are both people who are supposed to be having fun, right?

It seems to me that this isn't an absolute, for all cases. Nobody *always* takes priority. So, don't get in a twist over it. This isn't about power, or stepping on entitlements. It is about practical management.
 

Advertisement

Top