• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

Players choose what their PCs do . . .

Ovinomancer

Explorer
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?
Is that all? You want someone to tell you what 5e does well? Sheesh, you're like that character Warren from Empire Records that holds up the record store because he wants a job there -- your approach is wildly divergent from your goal.

As I have disagreed mightily with you this entire thread but yet also run a weekly 5e game, I should be well qualified to answer this:

5e does exploration well. It's designed on the premise that the PCs will be acting in a GM built world and exploring the fictional contours the GM has in mind. And, it does this well. It's structure of strong GM authority give the GM the needed control to curate the experience. With a skilled GM, the play is exciting and surprising for the players.

5e does zero to hero well. If you want to play a character that goes from nobody to demi-god, it's hard to find a better system to do this in. It strongly caters to these kinds of roleplaying experiences in ways that other systems, including my favorite alternate Blades in the Dark, do not.

5e does character control well. There's a lot to be said for being able to have absolute authority over once characterization -- to decide what it is you want to roleplay and not be challenged on that. This lets you focus on the external-to-character challenges the game presents which ties very nicely into my first point as much of the game will revolve around this kind of play.

5e scratches that tactical itch, the one the system mastery hangs out with, very well -- much better than many other systems that use more generalized mechanics for conflict resolution. The predictability of the system goes a long way towards this, and that ties into the roleplaying by not putting characterization at risk so the players have that stable backdrop to free space for tactical play.

Does this assuage?
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
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?
I play D&D all the time. From a rules standpoint, it doesn’t do a whole lot to help roleplaying. In 5E, you have your class which defines your overall role as part of the party. You have your race and background which give some idea of your role in society. You have your alignment which gives you your overall moral views. There’s a bit of overlap with them, but that’s what these things do.

In addition to that, 5E has Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws. These things give you some more specific facets of your character. This is the kind of thing I think most long time players have always done to some extent, but now it’s formalized as part of character creation.

So these are the elements of the 5E D&D rules that pertain to roleplaying. You certainly can come up with a limitless combination of them to create a unique character.

But none of them have strong mechanical implications. Even alignment has lost its teeth. The idea of switching alignment used to be a kind of scary thing. There could be severe repercussions if it happened. Not any more. Now you can play your character however you want. Other than race and class and background, the other stuff could shift if the player decided. Have a flaw that comes up at a really inconvenient time? Ignore it! Tempted to steal despite your Lawful Good alignment? Shift To Neutral!

With minimal effort, any such change can be justified with fictional reasoning. Without any rules to incentivize roleplay, it becomes uncertain and inconsistent. Sure, a group of players may revel in their characters and “play them true” regardless of how challenging that may make things for them. That’s great! I think my group largely does that.

So while there are things in D&D that help players roleplay, they aren’t all that compelling. Nor are they really unique to D&D. Most games have similar elements to class, race, background, and so on. At best, D&D 5E allows players to decide what they’d like for their character...which can be a good thing. But as you’ve pointed out, there are pros and cons to everything. We could just as easily say that D&D 5E allows players to be totally inconsistent in how they portray their character.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
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?
I'm afraid this will sound like damning with faint praise, but it is the result of an honest evaluation that comes from running and playing 5e. Much like Fate, I consider 5e to be a really well designed game that excels at a style of play I have very little interest in. 5e excels at GM led and mediated storytelling where the emphasis is on resolving the adventure that is put in front of the PCs with carefully managed spotlight balancing. The character generation rules do a good job of generating characters that have some interesting bits of characterization, but few outside entanglements. The resolution system is completely opaque to the players. The systems that encourage role play are about light characterization and not playing with integrity. In my experience from both sides of the screen it is not a good game for diving deep into character. It's not really designed for that. It's like really good at what it does though.

For what it's worth I would not layer in social mechanics with teeth to 5e. Every player's real motivation is assumed to be resolving the adventure. I do not think there really is extra room to give there. Players' hands are already pretty tied.

Please do not think I'm being cute when I talk about GM mediated story telling. That is exactly what a large portion of the audience wants and a lot of the games I play are actively hostile to it. Blades in the Dark and Apocalypse World make it incredibly obvious if a GM is trying to lead play down particular avenues. In general the way information gathering and social skills work in these games betray attempts to be sly and characters have a lot of resources to get the things they want, but it could also go really badly.
 
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.



It is elegant but it doesn't suit all stories or styles of play.
I guess I'm assuming that - or wondering whether - there is more that can be said than just It's my preference. That is, that it's possible to articulate why it's good.

Upthread, [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] asserted that 4e's hp mechanic is flawed because it doesn't conform to his expectations for a hp mechanic. That's a pretty strong claim - that his way of thinking is better. Presumably there's something that can be said to expain the weaker claim that it is good.

EDIT: So I've read on now almost to the end of the thread. Some posters have posted about why this can be good (neither [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION] nor [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION], oddly enough). As I've just posted in response to them, I'm reminded of a certain approach to 2nd ed AD&D.

The good of the GM's "special status" seems to consist in curating the players, via their PCs, through an adventure with a reasonably pre-determined structure/sequence of events, or fictional elements to be encountered. (I think this is what [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] means by "exploration", and what [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] has in mind in expressing worries about challenges/obstacles being "bypassed".)

Now can someone tell me how that sort of play is going to put fundamental pressure on the player's conception of the character? I've not seen that in the real world, and I'm not seeing it in these descriptions either.
 
Last edited:
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.

<snip>

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.
I've highlighted you use of the word things. I think you're using it to refer to certain sorts of events in the fiction. The sorts of things that might be presented on a messageboard in the form of a transcript.

In my post I was talking about experiences had by the players, at the table. The transcript - the in-fiction events - is one component of these. But does not exhaust them.

To give an obvious example: a transcript that reports a PC narrowly avoiding a dragon's breath by diving over the edge of a ravine into the stream below might be a report of GM narration/railroading; or a report of 30 minutes of tactical play where all sorts of possibilities were open and the dynamics of the table-interactions produced this particualr outcome; or a report of the outcomes of some Cortex+ Heroic narration+dice pool action; or who knows what other method of resolution.

The transcript might be the same, but the play experience won't have been.
 
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.
I see this as somewhat similar to what I posted upthread - that in AD&D there's no systematic way to put your connection to family on the line.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
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.
I don’t know what the point of this response was. It doesn’t engage with anything I’ve said. You won’t me to...say that I don’t know what I’m talking about? Huh?

Further, it’s a claim about me that has absolutely no evidence to back it up. What claim from ignorance do you think that I’m making that isn’t backed by evidence and won’t stand up under scrutiny?

If you’re looking for an example of my willingness to claim ignorance on something RPG, look no further than my engagement with Tony (which you read) about Hero. I don’t know it. If I want to engage in a discussion about it I’ll either (a) educate myself with firsthand experience or (b) ask questions of and listen to people who do know it.

There are lots of things I don’t know. Pick 3 topics and you’re sure to find at least 1 with plenty I don’t know about.

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?
Ok.

So this is starting to look like edition war stuff.

Ill answer your question:

1) 5e doesn’t get enough credit for its Social Interaction mechanics. In a system that is about GM-mediated puzzle-solving, they did a great job of exemplifying that with a subsystem that feels like Wheel of Fortune or Pictionary in play...which, coincidentally is similar to trying to get to know a person and influence them.

2) Background Traits, though limited, do a great job of providing the kind of cross-character player fiat that was only available to spellcasters in AD&D and 3.x.

3) Lair and Legendary Actions are quite good for thematic and tactical dynamism. If only they were orthodox across monsters.

4) 5e makes no bones about its emulation of AD&D. I called it AD&D 3e in the play-test because it was utterly obvious that they were surveying, consulting, and designing with intent toward that paradigm. What does it do well:

* The heavy GM mediated experience of 2e where players are touring a setting or being run through a preconceived metaplot (either GM conceived or an AP). The opacity and GM facing resolution machinery and the GMing ethos (spotlight balancing, lead storytelling, et al) allows for GMs to deftly curate the experience, deploying Force and Illusionism where necessary to achieve the desired result of the experience of the setting, metaplot, and fun for casual players who are inclined toward a more passive role (which is a HUGE number of players), heavy on characterization and some GM-curated dice throws to actualize character concept in his/her story medium.

* It’s probably the best hexcrawl game on the market (or at least the ones I’ve run). The exploration mechanics/measurements/PC tools are integrated very well. So it does a good game with a predefined, tightly scaled map with various threats and goings-ons for players to navigate and engage strategic decision-making (where to go, how to go there, what resources to allocate). So 1e but vastly superior.

* If you crib the necessary tech from Moldvay Basic, it can do it well enough...though not as good as the original.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
I don’t know what the point of this response was. It doesn’t engage with anything I’ve said. You won’t me to...say that I don’t know what I’m talking about? Huh?

Further, it’s a claim about me that has absolutely no evidence to back it up. What claim from ignorance do you think that I’m making that isn’t backed by evidence and won’t stand up under scrutiny?

If you’re looking for an example of my willingness to claim ignorance on something RPG, look no further than my engagement with Tony (which you read) about Hero. I don’t know it. If I want to engage in a discussion about it I’ll either (a) educate myself with firsthand experience or (b) ask questions of and listen to people who do know it.

There are lots of things I don’t know. Pick 3 topics and you’re sure to find at least 1 with plenty I don’t know about.
Right you were talking about knowing RPG's from experience (which on a side note I have admitted I don't have experience based knowledge. However I do have cognitive based knowledge in that I'm able to imagine such a game system and how it would play for me)

What I was doing was pointing out the irony that you were going on about people not being able to admit they don't know something when you yourself can't admit you don't really know - that all you actually know is that for you RPG X does Y.



Ok.

So this is starting to look like edition war stuff.
It has sounded that way to me for most of this thread.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
Right you were talking about knowing RPG's from experience (which on a side note I have admitted I don't have experience based knowledge. However I do have cognitive based knowledge in that I'm able to imagine such a game system and how it would play for me)

What I was doing was pointing out the irony that you were going on about people not being able to admit they don't know something when you yourself can't admit you don't really know - that all you actually know is that for you RPG X does Y.

It has sounded that way to me for most of this thread.
I see.

So TTRPG systems and play are not objective things and cannot be analyzed empirically and anyone that attempts to do so is a big jerk?

Is that pretty much the gist?

Following from that, you’ve just wasted my (and others) time with a rhetorical request to evaluate 5e that you obviously had no interest in engaging with. Feels bad. Please don’t make such requests, get sincere replies, and then completely ignore them. If you think TTRPG analysis isn’t useful, or actively harmful, why are engaging in a thread like this?
 
When did the players suggest something? They declare attempted actions. Are you equating an attempted action declaration with a suggestion?
An action declaration is a proposal that the fiction should include a certain content. For instance, I [try and] climb the wall is a proposal as to the content of the shared fiction, namely, that it includes the PC climbing the wall.

I don't think that the GM always decides is controversial in D&D.
pemerton said:
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.
I don't know what playing their character means here other than some improv acting. If the GM is deciding everything that happens, what else are the players contributing to the game?

I've played games of D&D in which the players did more than improv acting, but that's because, in those games, the GM didn't decide everything that happens. This is why I regard it as controversial to assert that, in D&D, the GM always decides. Because that doesn't describe all my D&D experiences.

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).
I didn't say it can never be a success. I said that it's not per se a success ie it can be a failure (which I took you to deny).

If the intent is to find some treasure, then a ruby may well be a success. But the action declaration you described was to find 1000 gp. If you meant an intent to find 1000 gp worth of treasure then of course finding the ruby would be a success.

This is very similar to [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] upthread, who seemed to treat an intent to find incriminating financial documents as equivalent to an intent to find something that might be incrminating. If you're meaning the more general intent then I don't quite get why you're presenting your examples by reference to the narrower more specific intent.

Rolling a dice doesn't challenge a player.
No one asserts that it does. The challenge is putting the consequence of the die roll on the line.

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.
This claim hasn't been demonstrated.

For instance, how in AD&D, or 5e D&D, can a player put his/her PC's connection with a friend or a family member on the line, without this just being an invitation for the GM to make a decision about what that NPC does?

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.

<snip>

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.

<snip>

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.
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?
I'm not sure whether you're agreeing with me that different systems produce different experiences, or are asserting that 5e D&D prodocuse the same experiences as any other system. I'm not sure that both claims can be true.

I don't play 5e D&D, so I can't tell you what its pros are in relation to roleplaying.

Classic D&D (inlcuding Moldvay Basic and Gygax's AD&D) is quite a good system if you want to play a dungeon crawl: it has a range of systems to support that including wandering monster systems, mapping conventions, rules for searching in dungeons, systems for retainer/hireling loyalty, etc.

The only other systems I personally know that aim to support this sort of play are T&T and Torchbearer - I've played a tiny bit of the former and none of the latter. But [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] knows Torchbearer.

4e D&D is a completely different game from classic D&D - it shares some subsystems but almost none of the broader framework of play. It's a game of epic, often gonzo, fantasy/cosmological adventure. It doesn't have the dungeon-crawling subsystems of classic D&D, but it does have systems to help it do what it does, including the skill challenge mechanic.

Someone else will have to post about 5e D&D.
 
pemerton said:
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.
I don't understand. Are you saying that sometimes the GM has to ignore successful checks and treat them as failures because otherwise the players will win the game unfairly or too easily? That's a strange assertion, if it's the one you're making.

I also don't understand what "combats that are unavoidable" has to do with anything. That's just more checks. If the player's dice are "hot" (as you put it) then the player can "bypass" the combat also.

Even within the framework of AD&D I don't really know what you're envisaging here. For instance, nothing in Gygax's AD&D books suggests that a GM can ignore a successful check to find secret doors or to disarm a trap because allowing the success would make things too easy for the players.
 
5e does exploration well. It's designed on the premise that the PCs will be acting in a GM built world and exploring the fictional contours the GM has in mind. And, it does this well. It's structure of strong GM authority give the GM the needed control to curate the experience.

<snip>

5e does character control well. There's a lot to be said for being able to have absolute authority over once characterization -- to decide what it is you want to roleplay and not be challenged on that. This lets you focus on the external-to-character challenges the game presents which ties very nicely into my first point as much of the game will revolve around this kind of play.
5e excels at GM led and mediated storytelling where the emphasis is on resolving the adventure that is put in front of the PCs with carefully managed spotlight balancing. The character generation rules do a good job of generating characters that have some interesting bits of characterization, but few outside entanglements. The resolution system is completely opaque to the players. The systems that encourage role play are about light characterization and not playing with integrity. In my experience from both sides of the screen it is not a good game for diving deep into character. It's not really designed for that.

<snip>

I would not layer in social mechanics with teeth to 5e. Every player's real motivation is assumed to be resolving the adventure. I do not think there really is extra room to give there. Players' hands are already pretty tied.
These two accounts of 5e seem pretty congruent with one another. They remind me of a certain, fairly common, sort of approach to 2nd ed AD&D.

I've also edited a post about half-a-dozen upthread having read these posts.

EDIT: and I also just read this, which seems equally congruent with the other two posts:

5e makes no bones about its emulation of AD&D. I called it AD&D 3e in the play-test because it was utterly obvious that they were surveying, consulting, and designing with intent toward that paradigm. What does it do well:

* The heavy GM mediated experience of 2e where players are touring a setting or being run through a preconceived metaplot (either GM conceived or an AP). The opacity and GM facing resolution machinery and the GMing ethos (spotlight balancing, lead storytelling, et al) allows for GMs to deftly curate the experience, deploying Force and Illusionism where necessary to achieve the desired result of the experience of the setting, metaplot, and fun for casual players who are inclined toward a more passive role (which is a HUGE number of players), heavy on characterization and some GM-curated dice throws to actualize character concept in his/her story medium.

* It’s probably the best hexcrawl game on the market (or at least the ones I’ve run). The exploration mechanics/measurements/PC tools are integrated very well. So it does a good game with a predefined, tightly scaled map with various threats and goings-ons for players to navigate and engage strategic decision-making (where to go, how to go there, what resources to allocate). So 1e but vastly superior.
 
Last edited:

Arilyn

Explorer
I am going to interject with some personal experiences. I have been involved in this hobby for decades and have played a variety of games. I love role playing, and lean more heavily on the narrative end of things. I tend to role play my characters honestly, and will do things which hurt my chances of success because that's what my character would do. I understand the posters on this thread who claim mechanics aren't needed for roleplaying. I get it. It's been my position for many years, and I have fun playing in this more classical mode.

BUT...

I decide in these cases what my character will put on the line, and so there is always that layer of safety, even if it seems my character has losses, and is struggling with angst. ( I have done my share of WOD). When I play in games with role playing mechanics that really puts on the pressure, it is different. It's actually more immersive, despite the initial reaction that role playing mechanics should destroy the player's autonomy. Everything has a more immediate feel, a greater intensity.

There's been skepticism that " story now" games must mean players just trip about getting what they want, and role play mechanics get in the way of me knowing best who my character is. This isn't true. You need to try these games to understand them because just imagining how they work doesn't cut it.

Having said all this, I continue to enjoy traditional play. I don't always want that pressure and intensity, and it can be more more challenging to get right.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I've highlighted you use of the word things. I think you're using it to refer to certain sorts of events in the fiction. The sorts of things that might be presented on a messageboard in the form of a transcript.
I meant it as non-specific and all-inclusive.
In my post I was talking about experiences had by the players, at the table.
I would absolutely include things like those things, in 'things.'

The example was illustrative, not exhaustive.

Now, if you want to get down to the level of experiencing system artifacts, sure, even freestyle, with no system to speak of could be said to have those, and they'd be different from an actual system.

But, my point was not that all systems, are the same because they're the same as no system, just that nothing is outside the scope of a given instance of RP, just because it's outside the scope of what the system in use does, or does well, as the participants can hypothetically fall back on freestyle/make-believe/non-systematic RP.

I see the important takeaway being that such a hypothetical case is not an attribute, let alone strength, of the system, but simply coping with its failings.
 

Lanefan

Hero
Upthread, [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] asserted that 4e's hp mechanic is flawed because it doesn't conform to his expectations for a hp mechanic. That's a pretty strong claim - that his way of thinking is better. Presumably there's something that can be said to expain the weaker claim that it is good.
To save us from yet another hit-points-and-what-they-mean debate, I'll throw in just this: realism.

In real life each of us has a certain threshold of physical damage or trauma we can withstand before our body shuts down and we die. And, though we don't numeritically measure it by hit points, the general concept is the same.

If, for example, I go out this afternoon and get hit by someone riding a bicycle my "hit points" (i.e. my body's natural resistance to externally-inflicted trauma) are good enough to give me a reasonable chance of survival. If instead I get hit by a car going at standard street speed, my "hit points" will be put to a severe test and quite likely won't be enough to save me..though they might. However should I get hit and run over by a freight train my "hit points" don't have a chance of saving me: I'm done.

To the bicycle I'm a significant opponent. To the car I'm enough to do some damage but that's it. To the train I'm a bug to be swatted aside.

But what's the one thing that doesn't change? My actual physical resilience. My "hit points". The actual amount of trauma I can survivably sustain is the same in every instance.

4e minion rules don't reflect this at all.

The good of the GM's "special status" seems to consist in curating the players, via their PCs, through an adventure with a reasonably pre-determined structure/sequence of events, or fictional elements to be encountered. (I think this is what [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] means by "exploration", and what [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] has in mind in expressing worries about challenges/obstacles being "bypassed".)

Now can someone tell me how that sort of play is going to put fundamental pressure on the player's conception of the character? I've not seen that in the real world, and I'm not seeing it in these descriptions either.
It isn't, if what's being bypassed are in fact those very challenges.
 

Lanefan

Hero
I see this as somewhat similar to what I posted upthread - that in AD&D there's no systematic way to put your connection to family on the line.
If you're looking for a fully-game-mechanical means of generating or forcing such conflict then no, you won't find it.

But that in no way means the system doesn't or can't support it. In 1e that connection can be put on the line via story elements introduced by the GM (most often), by the PC's own player (less common), or by another player/PC (rare, but I've seen it happen).

Example. It'd take me all afternoon to fill in the whole backstory, but the here-and-now upshot still in process of being played out is this: up until now my PC has always put duty first: duty to mission, duty to Empire, duty to law, etc. at cost of friendships, potential romances, possessions, and even on at least one occasion her life. Recent events have put her family - who she hasn't had contact with in years and to whom she has never felt any real sense of duty (she rather looks down on them as the peasants they are) - in severe danger, and in the process of choosing between her duty to the party/mission and rescuing her family I've learned something about her: when put to it she'll see to her family first.

Game mechanics had nothing to do with any of this - in effect (and probably unintentionally!) the DM put a story-based challenge to the character.

And I'm sure you'll dismiss this as being a choice rather than a challenge...so in advance I ask, what's the difference?
 

Lanefan

Hero
So TTRPG systems and play are not objective things and cannot be analyzed empirically
Empirically? Perhaps, but I'd posit true empiric analysis can only really ceom from someone outside the hobby. Those inside it have largely lost objectivity (whether we like to admit it or not) in favour of what we know/like/prefer.

Nothing wrong with this, of course, but we - all of us - have to admit it; and further have to admit that down-calling someone else's viewpoint as "subjective" or "just your preference" is almost always a case of pot meeting kettle.

and anyone that attempts to do so is a big jerk?
That's a bit harsh, but anyone inside the hobby who claims objectivity in analysis needs to be taken with a large grain of salt.

If you think TTRPG analysis isn’t useful, or actively harmful, why are engaging in a thread like this?
I don't see it as harmful at all - it's fascinating, sometimes, to see the various analyses put forward by those of different gaming preferences and how said analyses are thus filtered through said preferences.

And then, of course, I add my own...complete with filters! :)
 

Lanefan

Hero
An action declaration is a proposal that the fiction should include a certain content. For instance, I [try and] climb the wall is a proposal as to the content of the shared fiction, namely, that it includes the PC climbing the wall.
Exactly! Hallelujah, we agree! :)

It's a proposal to change the fiction, and the dice will then determine the outcome - pretty binary, in this case - you either climb it or you don't.

The complications arise when other more general goals, or corollary specific goals that may or may not conflict, get thrown in to the same declaration e.g.

I (try to) climb the wall and kill the guard (two goals: climb the wall [specific] and kill the guard [general and unrelated, can be done with a bow from the ground] - should be split out)
I (try to) climb the wall and avoid the guard (two goals: climb the wall [specific] and avoid the guard [specific] - hard to split out but also hard to justify tying into one roll)
I (try to) climb the wall without being seen or heard from the street (two goals: climb the wall [specific] and maintain stealth [general] - these might be mutually incompatible in the fiction)
I (try to) climb the wall and open the third-floor window (two goals: climb the wall and open the window - both are specific but should be split out)

Conclusion: if multiple goals are presented, either split them out into specifics or accept that you're giving the GM more latitude to define what both a success or a failure represents.
 

Lanefan

Hero
I don't understand. Are you saying that sometimes the GM has to ignore successful checks and treat them as failures because otherwise the players will win the game unfairly or too easily? That's a strange assertion, if it's the one you're making.
No, I'm saying just the opposite: that the GM has to abide by the rolls in principle; and then pointing out that doing so carries a risk of making things too easy and thus making the game less enjoyable.

I also don't understand what "combats that are unavoidable" has to do with anything. That's just more checks. If the player's dice are "hot" (as you put it) then the player can "bypass" the combat also.
See below...

Even within the framework of AD&D I don't really know what you're envisaging here. For instance, nothing in Gygax's AD&D books suggests that a GM can ignore a successful check to find secret doors or to disarm a trap because allowing the success would make things too easy for the players.
In 1e or similar systems the presence or absence of a secret door is determined by what's on the GM's map long before anyone searches for it...thus searching where there isn't one isn't going to find you one no matter what you do.

But in on-the-fly games where a player searching for a secret door can (on success) add one to the fiction, bypassing potential obstacles seems to become much easier. Example: party trying to sneak into a castle - scouting has shown a bunch of foes guarding the gates, so time to go to plan B. In 1e or similar, there might not be a viable plan B depending on how the adventure has been structured (the idea is that getting past the gate guards is intended to become either a big set-piece open field fight or a test of the party's diplomacy and-or stealth skills)...but in a system where the players can in effect author their own way in via repeated searches for secret doors (on a different bit of wall each time) then the gate guards can quickly become little more than window dressing.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
To save us from yet another hit-points-and-what-they-mean debate, I'll throw in just this: realism.
Realism? In a discussion of hit points?

In real life each of us has a certain threshold of physical damage or trauma we can withstand before our body shuts down and we die.
Nope, we don't. A very slight trauma involving relatively little injury can kill instantly, profound trauma over much of the body can be survived. The human body is freak'n weird. People fall in the shower and die. People fall out of airplanes without parachutes and live. It's not because some people rolled 1 on their HD. It's not because falls do d1000 damage. It's because reality is far, far more complex than something like hps can even begin to model.

More over, "Realism" was the bludgeon with which critics attacked D&D in it's earliest days - /for having hit points that increased with level/. Because, if hps were, as you just blithely claimed, just a measure of ability to absorb trauma, then 'experience' increasing them would be wildly unrealistic. Your character would have to physically grow, or become denser, or change his material composition or something.

That criticism was answered, and hps were never conceived as simply a measure of capacity to absorb physical trauma.

But, come the edition war, that fallacious strawman criticism of early D&D was held up as /the way D&D had always been/.

It's about the most 1984-worthy bit of double-think in the revisionist history of the game.
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Top