Players choose what their PCs do . . .

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.
Seems right up FATE's alley, and something that could be touched upon in systems that model the character's psychology in some way (Hero, would be the one I'm most familiar with: psych lims), that can be tested (EGO roll) and change over time (changed around, or exp to 'buy down/off'). Certainly not with the same detail and play dynamics, of course...

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!
I didn't follow that, probably because I lack the frame of reference... How did 4e Combat Challenge/Superiority map to all that ..er.. sports stuff? ;)
 
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)?
I should hope so, that's potentially some powerful drama there. (I'm picturing WWI, for some reason, not being too into the DitV setting.) Does the character conceive a death wish and get killed? Find a renewed reason to live and survive - or die tragically, or even heroically, in spite of that? Become a stronger person or descend into an emotional spiral - if the latter, how can he pull out of it?

I mean, it makes you "want to play to find out what happens!"


And if you’ve never played in systems that try...why are you sure?
Thought experiment? I mean, it's not terribly hard to imagine that as a /scene/ (in book/play/movie/show/whatever), and from there, "how would you capture that scene in an RPG?"
 
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Manbearcat

Adventurer
I didn't follow that, probably because I lack the frame of reference... How did 4e Combat Challenge/Superiority map to all that ..er.. sports stuff? ;)
If you've never been a grappler, it will be a little bit difficult to attempt to convey things conceptually, but Chess (which I suspect you've played or at least had exposure to) should suffice.

Look at grappling (Brazillian Jiu-jitsu in particular) as a series of decision-trees where your opponent is imposing ever-progressing catch-22s upon you as they control you (takedown > deployment of a progressive series of pulls/hooks/passes/sweeps/transitions to improve position and prevent opponent from doing what they want > gain superior position > tap opponent with whichever submission they choose; again, catch-22) until checkmate (submission or an impossible to recover from position where all you can do is stall) is arrived at.

Basketball may be a little easier.

If you're an on-ball defender in Man defense, you're making personal positioning choices (proximity to offensive player, overplaying which hand, funneling where on the dribble, etc) to control the guy you're covering in order to (a) winnow (or at least impact) his decision-tree to one or two disadvantageous options and (b) limit the exposure of your teammates to having to double team him (thus compromising their own defensive assignment integrity) and (c) maximizing their prospect of making an off-ball deflection/steal/block, all in the effort of (d) generating a "stop" (a Turnover or a missed Field Goal Attempt that results in a Defensive Rebound).

I hope it should be abundantly clear how those map to "you can't do thing (a) or (b) without me punishing you and putting you closer to your loss condition."
 
If you've never been a grappler, it will be a little bit difficult to attempt to convey things conceptually, but Chess (which I suspect you've played or at least had exposure to) should suffice.
Ha! Blatant Nerd Stereotype!

…and true.

I hope it should be abundantly clear how those map to "you can't do thing (a) or (b) without me punishing you and putting you closer to your loss condition."
Thank you, yes.
 

pemerton

Legend
The players control the fiction by what they have their characters (try to) do.
But on your own account this isn't true. Because the GM can always narrate something else. As you're presenting it, all the players get to do is make suggestions that the GM may or may not follow up on.

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.
How is that possiby a success, given the declared action? It's obviously a failure - the PC has not got what s/he wanted (namely, incriminating financial documents).

pemerton said:
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.

<snip>

Isn't a GM allowed to have an occasional cool idea and throw it in? Or supply a twist?

<snip>

what about unintended and-or unexpected results? Are these not allowed?
So when do the players get to override the GM because they might know better than him/her as to what is good for the fiction? When do the players get to throw in their cool ideas and twists and unexpecgted results?

If the answer is never, then I come back to my question - why does the GM get special status here?

Whereas I have an obvious answer to the questions I've posed - when the check succeeds the player decides, when the check fails the GM decides. It's so simple it's elegant! And it doesn't exclude any possibilities - the players are free to declare the full range of possible actions, the GM is free to narrate the full range of possible failures.

What it does exclude is the GM getting to decide whatever s/he wants. Which brings us back to the question - why shouldn't the GM be constrainted? All the other participants are.

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.
Some other posters have already explained how finding a ruby can be a failure. Here's another way: the PC is searching for gold pieces because only gold pieces can lift the curse of the whatever-it-is (I'm imagining some variant of the gem-crushing gargoyle in ToH). Finding a ruby is a, in that circumstance, a failure - although maybe if the PC can make it to a gem market and cash in the ruby s/he can get some or even all of the gold s/he needs.

As to your possibilities:

(1) I don't really see how this can be known in advance unless the GM has already plotted the story out. Which maybe s/he has, but then that brings us back to the question of what the role of the players is in relation to the fiction.

(2) This has been dealt with ad nauseum by [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] and by me. If the action declaration would violate the established ficiotn then that should alreayd have been sorted out. Furthremore, this is not particularly a GM function. I mean, the GM's narration of the ruby could negate some prioer fiction to if the GM is careless (eg maybe the PCs already scanned the area with a gem detection spell and it registed no gems). So all-in-all this particular possibility is a red herring.

(3) I don't understand this at all. If the GM tells the player the PC fails to find 1000 gp then why is the player then making a check? What is the check for? And if this check whose purpose I don't understand is successful, what is the reason for telling the player that the PC finds a 1000 gp instead of the 1000 gp s/he was looking for.

Can a single fantasy author write a story about a character that is legitimately challenged?
Not in the way that I and (I believe) [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] are talking about. An author can write about a character's struggle with identity and responsibility (think eg about JRRT's account of Aragorn's self-doubt after the Fellowship leaves Lorien). But that is not playing a game. The author wasn't challenged except in the sense that authoring can be a difficult thing.

In a RPG we are talking about the player inhabiting the role of the PC and playing through the challenge.

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.
Stating an attempted action is suggesting something to be true in the fiction - namely, that the PC performs the actin as described! That's the whole starting point for the OP of this thread.

Your claim that the GM always decides in D&D is obviously very controversial But even at those tables where it is true, it doesn't follow that the GM never considers what it is that the players have suggested.

Acting is not roleplaying.
Someone upthread used method acting as either an example of, or an analogy to, roleplaying, so I'm not sure what you assert here is uncontroversial.

But if acting is not roleplaying, then where does the roleplaying consist of in a game in which the GM decides all the outcomes? What are the players doing in such a game other than some improv acting?

I am perfectly capable of figuring out who my character is and how he thinks and feels etc.

<snip>

Is it possible that you just find it easier to roleplay in games you like?
To echo [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION], the point is not that people like what they like. The point is that some systems make possible certain experiences that others don't.

I'll give an example from a slightly different field of hobby: I don't believe that it is possible to get the same thrill from swimming laps in a pool as it is to get from catching a wave at a beach. That's not a criticism of lap-swimming or a praise of beaches - taking that extra step would require deciding whether or not we like the thrill (some do, but not everybody does).

Now maybe there's someone out there who finds lap swimming really thrilling.I guess that's conceivable. But I would want pretty good evidence before I contemplated this possibility in a serious way. Because it is very much at odds with my own experiences and obvservations of both lap swimmers and body surfers.

In RPGing, not every system can produce the same experience. In Rolemaster, when the first crit die is rolled, there is a sense of thrill and antiipation that cannot be achieved in an AD&D combat when the first damage die is rolled vs anything much bigger than a gnoll. Becuase in RM everyone knows that if that crit die comes up high, the combat is over; wheres in AD&D that combat can't be finished by the first damage roll.

And turning from combat to other domains of struggle, a typical AD&D game can't produce the sort of experience in relation to charavter that is being discussed here, because the typical AD&D game has neither the formal rules nor the informal practices necessary to bring the right sort of pressure to bear on the player in the play of his/her PC. For instance, there is no way to put family relationships in jeopardy beyond either GM stipulation or consensus roleplaying - unless (as I think I mentioned upthread) one uses the honour and family rules from Oriental Adventures. While there is plenty of fail this check and your PC willl be hurt bad physically there's almost no way, in typical AD&D sans OA, to generate fail this check and your PC will be hurt emotionally - for instance, because his/her family rejects him/her. Unless the GM just stipulates that outcome, which isn't very dramatic in the context of playing a game.

I'm looking at an individual level and saying those mechanics hinder my roleplaying
Do you accept that there is a difference between assertions grounded on experience and assertions grounded in mere conjecture?
 

Sadras

Explorer
If the answer is never, then I come back to my question - why does the GM get special status here?
The obvious answer is that it depends on the type/style of game. In many versions of D&D the DM is granted a special status. In some indie games the dice determine who narrates or how the narrative flows. Both options are good.

Whereas I have an obvious answer to the questions I've posed - when the check succeeds the player decides, when the check fails the GM decides. It's so simple it's elegant!
It is elegant but it doesn't suit all stories or styles of play.
Both yourself and [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] seem to be arguing for a particular style of play - being your specific preferences. Same debate, different thread.
 
Sorry to riff off of just a couple sentences but...
And turning from combat to other domains of struggle, a typical AD&D game can't produce the sort of experience in relation to charavter that is being discussed here, because the typical AD&D game has neither the formal rules nor the informal practices necessary to bring the right sort of pressure to bear on the player in the play of his/her PC.
Seems like "informal practices" could be pretty varied and readily mutable (or set in stone, and violently defended, I suppose).

For instance, there is no way to put family relationships in jeopardy beyond either GM stipulation or consensus roleplaying
If I'm following, that's an example of 'informal practice,' and - I'm really hoping - neither 'informal practice' nor 'GM stipulation' nor 'consensus roleplaying' have any extra-special precise/unintuitive/reverse-ogive*/confuse-inveigle-obfuscate meanings? I'm actually free to go with my understanding as an indifferent native speaker of English?

Proceeding on that unwarranted assumption...

It strikes me that some of the sources of confusion & disagreement we get in these discussion stem from crediting systems with qualities derived from the above sorts of informal practices, GM stipulations, and consensus roleplaying. Or, falling back on freestyle RP, when the system isn't applicable or gives undesirable results, might be another way to put it.

So, back in the 90s, some histrionic wolfie might go on about how D&D is strictly ROLLplaying, and it's impossible to ROLEplay in it, and it's generally the worst game ever. And some bristling, defensive 30-something (because this was 20+ years ago, remember), D&Der would present a transcript of a lavishly-roleplayed scenario that happened in his campaign 10 years previously (or that he just made up or embellished), as proof that oh, yeah, you can totally RP the effn'eck outta D&D. Leaving aside the dysfunctional distinction in that era's divisive false dichotomy of choice, the D&Der was appealing to the informal practice of freestyle RPing (talking in character, mostly) by consensus, the vast universe of potential actions & events not covered by then-D&D's heavily magic-centric and combat-focused system (not that now-D&D is all that different).

Or am I totally off base?
I am aren't I?

It's OK, you won't hurt my feelings.

But...
To echo [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION], the point is not that people like what they like. The point is that some systems make possible certain experiences that others don't.
...I do think the above speaks to responses you may get to this bit.

That is, systems don't make possible things that are /impossible/ in other systems, they cover things that, in other systems, are handled by falling back to Freestyle RP - GM stipulation, table consensus, whatever you want to call it - in certain obvious cases, handled that way by hoary time-honored convention.

Do you accept that there is a difference between assertions grounded on experience and assertions grounded in mere conjecture?
If you mean assertions by a forum avatar, no, no meaningful difference.
















* yeah, I know, that's the point(pi).
 
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Manbearcat

Adventurer
If you mean assertions by a forum avatar, no, no meaningful difference.
Which is why I regularly encourage people to play more and different types of games.

And I also regularly recommend people (at least in my life) be willing to have the self-awareness and humility to say “I don’t know.” I don’t understand this modern phenomena of being unwilling to simply recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know. There are lots of things I don’t know...even in the disciplines/leisure pursuits where I’m learned (you mentioned HERO in our exchange above...don’t know the first thing about it...won't even guess it’s play experience is like...you said it’s fit to reproduce the experience I relayed...I respect your opinion on this so...sure that works for me...if I feel incredulous, I’ll wait until I’ve informed myself before offering any conjecture).

So if you don’t know...that’s fine...and it’s also fine to not take someone’s word for something...but make an effort to know what you don’t know. You’ll often find that your intuitions and extrapolations (from malformed heuristics) weren’t exactly on the mark.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But on your own account this isn't true. Because the GM can always narrate something else. As you're presenting it, all the players get to do is make suggestions that the GM may or may not follow up on.
Ditto the GM, who in presenting the entire setting is merely making suggestions the players may or may not follow up on (in the example, the players/PCs might decide the Southtor seal isn't enough, or if the GM throws in the bit about the love letters, might decide to follow up on that instead...or ignore it; it's their choice).

How is that possiby a success, given the declared action? It's obviously a failure - the PC has not got what s/he wanted (namely, incriminating financial documents).
You're concatenating two goals into one here - a specific one (find some financial papers) and a larger overarching one (incriminate the Duke). Even though both are mentioned in one action, there's nothing stopping you from splitting them out and reacting only to one or the other.

Otherwise, to give a near-ridiculous example, success on an in-combat (vs. a single dying Orc) action declaration of "I swing my axe and kill every Orc in the world!" has just removed Orcs from the setting entirely, given that success on the action declaration has just forced this Orc to be the last one left (or that all the other Orcs elsewhere drop dead along with this one; whichever). If only Genocide: Monster could be so easy. :)

So when do the players get to override the GM because they might know better than him/her as to what is good for the fiction? When do the players get to throw in their cool ideas and twists and unexpecgted results?
They get to throw in their cool ideas every time they put forth an action declaration, should they so desire; and even in a hard-GM-driven game the GM might on the fly decide to go with it; and even if the notes right now unalterably say 'no' there's nothing stopping that GM from filing that cool idea away for future use.

It's called putting the GM into 'react' mode.

Whereas I have an obvious answer to the questions I've posed - when the check succeeds the player decides, when the check fails the GM decides. It's so simple it's elegant! And it doesn't exclude any possibilities - the players are free to declare the full range of possible actions, the GM is free to narrate the full range of possible failures.
Which means a player rolling a hot die can - and IME almost invariably would - have her PC bypass any and all obstacles the setting wants to throw in its way, and sail through the story/adventure/mission/whatever without any delays or frustrations or, dare I say, effort...with the one exception being any combats that are unavoidable.

The setting, and by extension the GM, exist in part to oppose and-or challenge the PCs and by extension the players; meaning that whether you like it or not there's always going to be that element of adversarialness (yeah, new word there) in their relationship. If the players are given free rein to narrate their successes then most if not all players IME would take that as license to run roughshod over the principles of the game.

Some other posters have already explained how finding a ruby can be a failure. Here's another way: the PC is searching for gold pieces because only gold pieces can lift the curse of the whatever-it-is (I'm imagining some variant of the gem-crushing gargoyle in ToH). Finding a ruby is a, in that circumstance, a failure - although maybe if the PC can make it to a gem market and cash in the ruby s/he can get some or even all of the gold s/he needs.
What's not stated in that declaration example is, again, context: why is the PC searching for 1000 g.p.? The reason this is relevant is that the context largely defines what a success represents, and what alternate options might exist:

- Is it just for the sheer wealth acquisition (in which case the ruby is a grand success - way easier to carry and hide than 1000 coin and worth just as much)
- Is it specifically for the gold (e.g. I need 1000 coin-weight of gold to melt down as the heart of my stone golem, in which case finding an equal-weight golden statue would do but a ruby would not)
- Is it to prove someone's on the take (e.g. finding a bag containing exactly 1000 g.p. in that location could be very incriminating but a bag of exactly 200 p.p. would serve the same ends while a ruby would likely not be of much use)
- Etc.

Stating an attempted action is suggesting something to be true in the fiction - namely, that the PC performs the actin as described! That's the whole starting point for the OP of this thread.
And, thus, perhaps why the thread is - yet again - hundreds of posts long: the premise it sits on is faulty.

Stating an attempted action does not suggest "something to be true in the fiction - namely, that the PC performs the actin as described!", instead it suggests only that what's true in the fiction is that the PC attempts to perform the action as described. Mechanics or GM fiat (which includes just saying 'yes') or whatever then go on to sort out what results if any then become true in the fiction.

Your claim that the GM always decides in D&D is obviously very controversial But even at those tables where it is true, it doesn't follow that the GM never considers what it is that the players have suggested.
IME this is almost always the case - even the hardest of railroad GMs still take in ideas and themes from their players, sometimes without really knowing they're doing so.

To echo [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION], the point is not that people like what they like. The point is that some systems make possible certain experiences that others don't.
PI don't think it's quite as cut-and-dried as that. Better perhaps to say that some systems better facilitate or lead toward certain experiences than others, as with a big enough shoehorn and-or the right people involved pretty much anything is possible.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
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).
That fact can also point toward personal investment on the issue that could be clouding your judgement.

I think you’re rather short-shrifting all of that with a single heuristic.
Or point out a more important heuristic that you just so happened to overlook in your zeal dedication to attribute the differences to the system for all this time.

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?
You can systematize nearly anything - but it's always going to be at a cost.

I think the more important question is, do you think it's possible to roleplay that same character in a system without such systemization mechanics?

If not, why not?

And if you’ve never played in systems that try...why are you sure?
What am I sure of what?
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
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.
Maybe you just have a much more romanticized view of acting than I do. Actors stand in front of a green screen all day, Repeating the same scenes over and over till everyone gets it just right. They cry on demand. The recite lines. They know how to portray what appears to be genuine emotion even when they aren't feeling those emotions.

I don't view acting as roleplaying. The two are not mutually exclusive as I think some of the best actors likely do roleplay to some degree. But roleplay isn't a requirement IMO.

I think it's easy to take the final product and read roleplay into it when there wasn't necessarily alot of it there.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Some other posters have already explained how finding a ruby can be a failure. Here's another way: the PC is searching for gold pieces because only gold pieces can lift the curse of the whatever-it-is (I'm imagining some variant of the gem-crushing gargoyle in ToH). Finding a ruby is a, in that circumstance, a failure - although maybe if the PC can make it to a gem market and cash in the ruby s/he can get some or even all of the gold s/he needs.

As to your possibilities:

(1) I don't really see how this can be known in advance unless the GM has already plotted the story out. Which maybe s/he has, but then that brings us back to the question of what the role of the players is in relation to the fiction.

(2) This has been dealt with ad nauseum by @Ovinomancer and by me. If the action declaration would violate the established ficiotn then that should alreayd have been sorted out. Furthremore, this is not particularly a GM function. I mean, the GM's narration of the ruby could negate some prioer fiction to if the GM is careless (eg maybe the PCs already scanned the area with a gem detection spell and it registed no gems). So all-in-all this particular possibility is a red herring.

(3) I don't understand this at all. If the GM tells the player the PC fails to find 1000 gp then why is the player then making a check? What is the check for? And if this check whose purpose I don't understand is successful, what is the reason for telling the player that the PC finds a 1000 gp instead of the 1000 gp s/he was looking for.
I think all they did was define how any apparent success could turn into a failure. Their method was to assert something additional that I didn't claim about the scene. The same can be done with 1000gp to turn it into a failure as well. Basically they aren't arguing that the ruby can't be a success, but rather that giving the player what they want with a major downside isn't necessarily something that should be called a success.

So what actual reasons do you have for asserting that a 1000gp ruby can never be a success? (not that a 1000gp ruby with a major downside is not a success).

On a side note: if you can fail forward... I suppose it's also possible to succeed toward escalating conflict. We could have a whole discussion around that idea.

Not in the way that I and (I believe) @Ovinomancer are talking about. An author can write about a character's struggle with identity and responsibility (think eg about JRRT's account of Aragorn's self-doubt after the Fellowship leaves Lorien). But that is not playing a game. The author wasn't challenged except in the sense that authoring can be a difficult thing.
That's why I've been soo picky about whether you refer to challenging the player or the character. Rolling a dice doesn't challenge a player. The narration of a failure may challenge something the player previously regarded as true. (Of course it seems the narration of a success could also do that). In any case, you don't need dice to challenge the players conception of their character or the fictional world as the same narration that challenges the player can be achieved with no dice being rolled.

Stating an attempted action is suggesting something to be true in the fiction - namely, that the PC performs the actin as described! That's the whole starting point for the OP of this thread.
The only fictional truth declaring an action does is set the truth to be that your character attempted to do X. The player declares with explicitness something which becomes true. The player never once suggested something that might be true.
The DM then determines what happens. Was your attempt successful. Was it uncertain. Did you fail?

Your claim that the GM always decides in D&D is obviously very controversial But even at those tables where it is true, it doesn't follow that the GM never considers what it is that the players have suggested.
I don't think that the GM always decides is controversial in D&D. I mean their is a social contract and all and if the DM fails to honor that then the game will fall apart. But even then it's still the DM deciding whether to abide by that or not. And it's still him ultimately deciding. But that's a side point.

The important thing is: When did the players suggest something? They declare attempted actions. Are you equating an attempted action declaration with a suggestion?

But if acting is not roleplaying, then where does the roleplaying consist of in a game in which the GM decides all the outcomes? What are the players doing in such a game other than some improv acting?
Playing their character and seeing what happens.

To echo @Manbearcat, the point is not that people like what they like. The point is that some systems make possible certain experiences that others don't.
That's your assertion yes. It's interesting to note that all the systems with good to have experiences are not D&D. It's almost as if all of this is just a subtle way to tell everyone that they are having badwrongfun, without actually needing to call it that.

But that aside, on an individual level I full agree that different systems can yield totally different experiences. I'm not sure you can extrapolate that to everyone such that you can generally say this system only allows this experience and that system only allows that experience for everyone.

My repeated theme this whole thread has been that has been that different game systems play differently and appeal to different people, but that most everything you claim my favored system can't handle, that it actually can and does. That it's rules light non-combat system offers greater opportunities in roleplaying than other more codified systems (not saying those other systems aren't fun).

But it seems that anything positive said about D&D is just crapped on here as if the OP suggesting that all RPG's have pros and cons really means all RPG's except D&D have pros and cons.

I'll give an example from a slightly different field of hobby: I don't believe that it is possible to get the same thrill from swimming laps in a pool as it is to get from catching a wave at a beach. That's not a criticism of lap-swimming or a praise of beaches - taking that extra step would require deciding whether or not we like the thrill (some do, but not everybody does).
"Thrill" is a very personal thing. Some people would not find swimming in the ocean a thrill at all. Fear and anxiety may be their response. Whereas getting in the pool at the beach and swimming around may be quite thrilling to them.

Personally I much prefer the ocean and would agree that for me it's more thrilling. I don't think it's objective fact that it's more thrilling though.

Now maybe there's someone out there who finds lap swimming really thrilling.I guess that's conceivable. But I would want pretty good evidence before I contemplated this possibility in a serious way. Because it is very much at odds with my own experiences and obvservations of both lap swimmers and body surfers.
My wife tends to dislike being in the ocean because she is afraid of it. For her the pool is much more thrilling.

In RPGing, not every system can produce the same experience. In Rolemaster, when the first crit die is rolled, there is a sense of thrill and antiipation that cannot be achieved in an AD&D combat when the first damage die is rolled vs anything much bigger than a gnoll. Becuase in RM everyone knows that if that crit die comes up high, the combat is over; wheres in AD&D that combat can't be finished by the first damage roll.
That's a good example. I agree with you that the game part is different in every RPG and can create a different feeling. Constant Danger or relative safety with some danger etc.

What has been asserted for most of this thread is that the roleplaying is superior in these other games. That the roleplaying examples being mentioned aren't possible in D&D etc. That's where the disagreement lies.

If you are just wanting to say X mechanic tends to make the game feel like Y for many people then I agree. But that isn't what appears to be happening to me.

A
nd turning from combat to other domains of struggle, a typical AD&D game can't produce the sort of experience in relation to charavter that is being discussed here, because the typical AD&D game has neither the formal rules nor the informal practices necessary to bring the right sort of pressure to bear on the player in the play of his/her PC.
Which ignores my counterpoint that you don't need rules at all to generate pressure on the player

For instance, there is no way to put family relationships in jeopardy beyond either GM stipulation or consensus roleplaying - unless (as I think I mentioned upthread) one uses the honour and family rules from Oriental Adventures. While there is plenty of fail this check and your PC willl be hurt bad physically there's almost no way, in typical AD&D sans OA, to generate fail this check and your PC will be hurt emotionally - for instance, because his/her family rejects him/her. Unless the GM just stipulates that outcome, which isn't very dramatic in the context of playing a game.
You seem to be stuck between 2 ideas and conflating the 2. It's definitely more dramatic to the player if there's dice being rolled and an observable possibility for success and failure. That's the mechanic part I keep talking about. It's fun for the game but serves to restrict the ways in which a player can roleplay his character (for the fun and drama of the game). There's a tradeoff there - full unrestrictive roleplaying vs greater drama etc.

Do you accept that there is a difference between assertions grounded on experience and assertions grounded in mere conjecture?
Sure. They both can be wrong in very different ways. In your case it's imagining that your experiences must be the same as everyone elses. In mine it's imagining that I'm capable of imaging how a system plays without playing it.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Which is why I regularly encourage people to play more and different types of games.

And I also regularly recommend people (at least in my life) be willing to have the self-awareness and humility to say “I don’t know.” I don’t understand this modern phenomena of being unwilling to simply recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know. There are lots of things I don’t know...even in the disciplines/leisure pursuits where I’m learned (you mentioned HERO in our exchange above...don’t know the first thing about it...won't even guess it’s play experience is like...you said it’s fit to reproduce the experience I relayed...I respect your opinion on this so...sure that works for me...if I feel incredulous, I’ll wait until I’ve informed myself before offering any conjecture).

So if you don’t know...that’s fine...and it’s also fine to not take someone’s word for something...but make an effort to know what you don’t know. You’ll often find that your intuitions and extrapolations (from malformed heuristics) weren’t exactly on the mark.
I think all you have is a few personal experiences that you've spent a lot of time analyzing and trying to extrapolate as general principles for all mankind.

So you first. Tell us that you don't actually know everything you've been discussing and talking about all this time. It's okay to do so after all.
 
That fact can also point toward personal investment on the issue that could be clouding your judgement.
… see, that's not cynical, at all...

(I shouldn't talk, I'm totally cynical.)

Or point out a more important heuristic that you just so happened to overlook in your zeal dedication to attribute the differences to the system for all this time.
TBH (not just cynical), denying that system makes a difference strikes me as pointless. Obviously, systems are different, and those differences can't be quite meaningless.

You can systematize nearly anything - but it's always going to be at a cost.
Now, to turn around the prior cynicism: The "cost" can include no longer being able to abuse or leverage that lack of systematic coverage. Which, to everyone not already doing so, is really more of a benefit.

I think the more important question is, do you think it's possible to roleplay that same character in a system without such systemization mechanics?
Obviously. It's possible to RP the same character in the same scene, having the same reactions, /without any system at all/. When, for instance, you're improvising the scene by yourself, or when everyone else involved is on exactly the same page about how it should play out.

It's possible.

It's also possible you'll be hit by a meteorite before you finish the scene.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I think the more important question is, do you think it's possible to roleplay that same character in a system without such systemization mechanics?

If not, why not?
I'm going with no. Putting aside a theoretical possibility that you could, if everything was perfect, do so, I think that the incentives involved prevent any reasonable or even unreasonable assumption that this is possible.

To explore this, look at how the Powered by the Apocalypse game Blades in the Dark does characters. When you create a character in Blades, you have things you must have that are characterization related. You must have a heritage and background. These are similar to race and background in D&D. You also have to pick a non-PC close friend and a non-PC rival, which don't have a close analog in D&D. Also a vice, which could map to a flaw in 5e. Finally, a Playbook and Crew, which are like a class and a class for the whole party.

Now, to go to the incentives, here's the only ways to earn XP in Blades:

Here's how you earn XP in Blades:

During the game session, mark xp:
  • When you make a desperate action roll. Mark 1 xp in the attribute for the action you rolled. For example, if you roll a desperate Skirmish action, you mark xp in Prowess. When you roll in a group action that’s desperate, you also mark xp.

At the end of the session, review the xp triggers on your character sheet. For each one, mark 1 xp if it happened at all, or mark 2 xp if it happened a lot during the session. The xp triggers are:

  • [*}Your playbook-specific xp trigger. For example “Address a challenge with violence or coercion.” To “address a challenge,” your character should attempt to overcome a tough obstacle or threat. It doesn’t matter if the action is successful or not. You get xp either way.
  • You expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or background. Your character’s beliefs and drives are yours to define, session to session. Feel free to tell the group about them when you mark xp.
  • You struggled with issues from your vice or traumas. Mark xp for this if your vice tempted you to some bad action or if a trauma condition caused you trouble. Simply indulging your vice doesn’t count as struggling with it (unless you overindulge).
From this alone you can see how the things you make your character about are incentivized strongly to show up in play, especially if it causes problems for you and your crew. I submit 5e lacks any of these things at all that are not GM rulings. You traits, bonds, flaws don't matter to play unless your GM is offering XP awards for them or if they offer Inspiration, but that choice is the GM's, not the players'. So, how well you roleplay your character is up to someone not you. This is reversed in Blades. Further, there's very little incentive in 5e to play up negative traits at all, as the rewards are usually paltry compared to the risks. While, in Blades, doing so is strongly incentivized by the XP system. Your choices of Score and the fallout are also very tightly integrated into the feedback mechanisms of Blades via the Faction Status and Crew Turf subsystems, so even there roleplay is tightly integrated into the system. 5e lacks any such incentivization outside of individual GM choices to judge you on your roleplay and offer rewards.

This goes to your larger claim that systemization of roleplay elements causes a loss of roleplay. This couldn't be further from the truth. The Blades character is, by the system, very tightly woven into the fabric of both play and the setting by the player build choices and especially by the player roleplaying choices. Including those choices that find things out about the character, like choosing to involve your close friend (who always has useful abilities) into a risky situation where the friend is at risk. Are you the type of person that would risk/sacrifice your close friend for advantage? If you succeed, then no, maybe you aren't, but if you fail and the friend pays the cost instead of you, then, well, you find out that your character is, indeed, that type of person. This is fundamentally not something that exists in 5e -- this kind of opportunity to roleplay is not available in that system.

Now, my best guess for your idiosyncratic definition of roleplay seems to include that it's only roleplay if the player chooses it -- nothing forced on the player is roleplaying, even if the force occurs after a failure on an action where the player explicitly risks an aspect of their character. This is you defining the term as how you prefer things, and not what the term means. This is adequately shown by your rather controversial claim that acting is not roleplaying.

You've lately been questioning how others can know if they aren't just projecting their preferences into reality. I would say that defining terms so that what you do is included but widely accepted uses are not would be a strong indicator of your question being true. I don't see [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] doing that, but I do see you doing it. You should maybe drop the statements that appear to be more projection than argument.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
TBH (not just cynical), denying that system makes a difference strikes me as pointless. Obviously, systems are different, and those differences can't be quite meaningless.
Sure. There's pros and cons to all - and often times those pros and cons may be more or less of a pro or con when filtered through an individual. Or as you surmised, some cons might become pros and some pros might become cons to some people.


Now, to turn around the prior cynicism: The "cost" can include no longer being able to abuse or leverage that lack of systematic coverage. Which, to everyone not already doing so, is really more of a benefit.
Of course! It depends on your goals, your likes and dislikes etc.

Obviously. It's possible to RP the same character in the same scene, having the same reactions, /without any system at all/. When, for instance, you're improvising the scene by yourself, or when everyone else involved is on exactly the same page about how it should play out.

It's possible.

It's also possible you'll be hit by a meteorite before you finish the scene.
This was hilarious.

Disregarding my contention about having the choice made for you and it's relation to roleplaying
Also disregarding others contentions about that not being possible...

It seems objective enough to note that some systems produce a systemic type of interaction and so can generate certain scenes more often than others. - but at what cost
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Maybe you just have a much more romanticized view of acting than I do. Actors stand in front of a green screen all day, Repeating the same scenes over and over till everyone gets it just right. They cry on demand. The recite lines. They know how to portray what appears to be genuine emotion even when they aren't feeling those emotions.
Ah - you're thinking movie actors where I was thinking live-stage actors; and yes, there is a difference.

But portraying a different emotion than what one really feels at the time? That's common to both stage acting and RPGs. If my PC has reason to be mad at someone about something then I'm going to portray it - through my words, expression, and tone - as being mad, never mind how happy I-as-player might be feeling at that moment because someone just fed me a slice of yummy pizza.

I don't view acting as roleplaying. The two are not mutually exclusive as I think some of the best actors likely do roleplay to some degree. But roleplay isn't a requirement IMO.

I think it's easy to take the final product and read roleplay into it when there wasn't necessarily alot of it there.
"Tonight the role of Julius Caesar will be played by Sir Alec Guinness", a live-theatre MC might have said 40 years ago in the UK. And thus, when we see Sir Alec on the stage there's an expectation that we the audience will see him as Julius Caesar even if for just the one night we happen to see the show; and there's a corollary expectation that says Sir Alec will do his best to make us think he really is Caesar during that same period of time.

The difference in an RPG, of course, is that we see the same people playing the same roles for much longer than just one "show". Add to that it's pretty much all unscripted and that the actors (rather than the writer and-or director) are responsible for defining the personality and traits they're trying to portray, and it's a different breed of animal once one gets past the common root: playing a role and acting are largely synonymous.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
On a side note: if you can fail forward... I suppose it's also possible to succeed toward escalating conflict. We could have a whole discussion around that idea.
At some point there's a very blurry dividing line between 'fail-forward' and what I call 'succeed-backward'.

Depending on context, finding a 1000 g.p. ruby instead of 1000 gold coins could fall into any of: full success, succeed-backward, fail-forward, or outright fail.

That's your assertion yes. It's interesting to note that all the systems with good to have experiences are not D&D. It's almost as if all of this is just a subtle way to tell everyone that they are having badwrongfun, without actually needing to call it that.

<snip>

But it seems that anything positive said about D&D is just crapped on here as if the OP suggesting that all RPG's have pros and cons really means all RPG's except D&D have pros and cons.
In fairness there's certainly been some support from that quarter for D&D 4e over time, and even in this thread, so it's not like D&D has been left completely in the dark.

My wife tends to dislike being in the ocean because she is afraid of it. For her the pool is much more thrilling.
And personally I find neither to be particularly thrilling at all, assuming 'thrilling' carries with it a certain level of fun or enjoyment. (as opposed to the other kind of 'thrill' where one finds oneself in the ocean not by one's own choice because one has just fallen off a boat) :)
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
In fairness there's certainly been some support from that quarter for D&D 4e over time, and even in this thread, so it's not like D&D has been left completely in the dark.
Sure. I would just love once to hear their take on the pros of 5e in relation to roleplaying. What can it do that all these other systems can't?
 

pemerton

Legend
are there never disagreements or difference of opinion about when the rules say to roll?
Here is some rules text from Apocalypse World (which is one of the games [MENTION=16586]Campbell[/MENTION] was referring to), pp 12 and 194.

The rule for moves is to do it, do it. In order for it to be a move and for the player to roll dice, the character has to do something that counts as that move; and whenever the character does something that counts as a move, it’s the move and the player rolls dice.

Usually it’s unambiguous: “dammit, I guess I crawl out there. I try to keep my head down. I’m doing it under fire?” “Yep.” But there are two ways they sometimes don’t line up, and it’s your job as MC to deal with them. . . .

Second is when a player has her character take action that counts as a move, but doesn’t realize it, or doesn’t intend it to be a move. For instance: “I shove him out of my way.” Your answer then should be “cool, you’re going aggro?” “I pout. ‘Well if you really don’t like me…’” “Cool, you’re trying to manipulate him?” “I squeeze way back between the tractor and the wall so they don’t see me.” “Cool, you’re acting under fire?”

You don’t ask in order to give the player a chance to decline to roll, you ask in order to give the player a chance to revise her character’s action if she really didn’t mean to make the move. “Cool, you’re going aggro?” Legit: “oh! No, no, if he’s really blocking the door, whatever, I’ll go the other way.” Not legit: “well no, I’m just shoving him out of my way, I don’t want to roll for it.” The rule for moves is if you do it, you do it, so make with the dice. . . .

An example of a mistake & correction:
Wilson corners Monk. “I scream at him, shove him, call him names. ‘Stay ******** away from Amni, you creepy little ****.’ I’m going aggro on him.” “Cool,” I say. “Do you pull a weapon, or is it just shoving and yelling?” “Oh, yeah, no, it’s just shoving and yelling.” “Well, that’s fine,” I say, “but if he forces your hand, he takes 0-harm. I’m pretty sure that’s what he’s going to do. Do you want to roll for it anyway? Do you want to bring a weapon to bear after all? Oh hold on — I think you’re actually using the threat as leverage, you’re manipulating him, not going aggro. Want to roll+hot for that?” “Oh!” Wilson’s player says. “Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Right on.”​

So if it's not initially clear whether a, or what, roll is required, then everyone clarifies the fiction and the intent until it is clear what move, is any, is being performed.
 

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