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Players choose what their PCs do . . .

Sadras

Hero
The mechanics of not having any roleplay mechanics assists with roleplaying. I've went on about the benefits of such a system for most of this thread.
That is true you have and you are right, BUT I also see that as a weakness of the system as without such mechanics in place, that same roleplaying aspect may be forgotten or ignored.
 

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pemerton

Legend
one of my players has a character with the Bond: Those who fight beside me are those worth dying for.
My intention is to challenge this character concept - to place the character in a position where if he
(a) chooses to save a former ally, this may result in a loss of influence (mechanical) for the party; or
(b) does not choose to save a former ally, which may result in the player having to amend his character's Bond.

<snip>

Of course my intention is for the player to know the stakes of (a) and (b) beforehand and for me to be completely transparent with how it will play out.

<snip>

Out of curiosity, do you consider the above an example of fundamental pressure on the player's concept of the character?
It's a bit hard to express a view on this without more context, but I don't think it is such a thing.

I'm not seeing that there is a situation suggesting to the PC (and his/her player) that, in fact, those who fight beside me are not worth dying for.

But maybe I've missed something or otherwise misunderstood what you are describing.
 

Campbell

Legend
I'm going to start with some personal background. Before I ever touched any dice I got my start role playing in online free form communities associated with various fandoms. I also am a lifelong theater geek with a deep appreciation for the craft of acting. I have a group of friends who gets together every couple months to do read throughs of some of our favorite plays. Right now I'm currently working through The Warner Loughlin Technique which is a set of acting techniques used to attempt to feel the emotions your character is directly in the moment. I'm not involved in community theater right now, but hope to do so at some point in the future. Right now my career and athletics are my focus.

My primary focus on stage and when I play role playing games (other than B/X D&D which I approach as a tactical exercise) has always been authentically experiencing what my character is with a focus on relationships and emotional driving forces. This is a pretty big ask. Authentically feeling the weight of the moment as someone who has dramatically different life experiences, people they care about, and ways they process emotions is like hard. Add on top of it the real world social dynamics that exist between players playing a game and at times it can feel damn near impossible. I need all the help I can get.

In my experience there are certain issues you run into in completely free form play. The first is that the real world rather than fictional social dynamics can often take over. This is problematic enough on stage, but becomes a much larger problem when we are authoring what our characters actually do. I find it helpful to have mechanics which help us play with more integrity. Sometimes this comes in reward mechanisms. Sometimes in social influence mechanics. Sometimes like in Blades in the Dark or Dogs in the Vineyard the core mechanic helps us think like these characters should think.

Another more pernicious problem is that we grow to care for these characters. From a player side it may come down to developing an idealized image of their character that they do not want to see tarnished. In GM mediated play this might express itself in making sure a given character shines in their specialty or forcing the story down certain roads or not providing meaningful antagonism. We become way to focused on outcomes rather than authentically seeing what happens. This is why I favor a set of GMing techniques which limit mediation and favor playing to find out. I also favor mechanics which have something to say so the GM can focus on providing meaningful antagonism. I also feel like intent based adjudication can cause issues here.

There is a downside here. We are providing a focused lens towards the sorts of characters in play. We also want to preserve player choice as much as possible. I feel the games I play do that by constraining or affecting outcomes, but still leaving players firmly in the driver seat. I'm willing to dive deeper here, but only if we are going to talk about design trade offs and not try to argue why one set of techniques is always strictly superior.
 

Sadras

Hero
It's a bit hard to express a view on this without more context, but I don't think it is such a thing.

I'm not seeing that there is a situation suggesting to the PC (and his/her player) that, in fact, those who fight beside me are not worth dying for.
I think I understand, will have to ponder on this more.

The situation I had envisioned is thus (and I haven't as yet ironed out all the details):
A former party member (PC turned NPC) is accused of working for the opposition with strong circumstantial evidence that such accusation is true. The PC will be aware of a mission to have said NPC assassinated. He will have the option to foil such assassination attempt.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
That is true you have and you are right, BUT I also see that as a weakness of the system as without such mechanics in place, that same roleplaying aspect may be forgotten or ignored.
Sure. But I think the same can be said of any system - that whatever you want to say is the benefit of the system also can be turned around as a weakness under the right circumstances.
 

I wouldn't say any of those things help roleplaying (well maybe they help put new players in the right mindset)

I can't think of the last character where I really sit down and mapped those out.

Just to give some context. In my current campaign I've played a number of different characters. I want to hone in on my first and my current.

My first was a super intelligent Fighter whose curiosity led him to becoming a wizard. That curiosity coupled with his lower wisdom was so profound the character played like a mad scientist. He had a thirst for knowledge and experimentation that outweighed his desire for personal safety. This often forced the party into dangerous situations they either would have bypassed or otherwise been better prepared for.

In hindsight I suppose I could have codified this character with bonds and flaws but I doubt it would have led to a character who played and developed as organically. For example, when first seeing something he mistook for an undead, he became fascinated with bringing living creatures back from the dead in the hopes of obtaining immortality and started pursing necromancy. That wasn't the path I had originally planned for him (nor was it one he could have envisioned for himself). It developed seamlessly and organically due to his reactions to the world around him.

Or take my current character. A Barbarian / Rogue with an Int of 6. He is dumb as a brick, but strong and fast and very hardy. He has the personality of a gentle giant for the most part. However, he will fiercely defend his friends. He doesn't care for much in the world except having someone that will provide him a meal everyday. For example, just this last campaign he agreed to have a magical ritual performed on him by a powerful cult member that had the potential to flat out kill him if it failed and would take his soul if it succeeded. He agreed to this because the cult member agreed to feed him and the party didn't overly try to persuade me not to go through with it. The ritual was successful. So I'm still alive and now with no soul. The cult member afterwards even volunteered to help us out of our current predicament. It's uncertain how much his helpfulness was influenced by me volunteering, but I imagine it had some effect.

I'm not sure I would say they pertain to roleplaying. They pertain to your characters identity in the world. I mean there are limitless Dwarf Sailors that can be roleplayed.

Which helps me as strong mechanical implications would be a bigger hindrance than a help to me.

Thank the gods!

Which you speak of almost as if that's a bad thing. For me it's the greatest thing ever!

In my current campaign race and possibly even class isn't guaranteed to stay the same. Background is pretty immutable though - though we often find background details being added by the DM, such as you meet this guy you know from your time as a blacksmith etc.

And the creative freedom that provides me is wonderful! Just because you have a flaw or a general moral compass doesn't mean you always abide by it. My characters behave the same way.

Sure. It can be hard to break out of the cycle of always doing what's most expedient. Especially since you always have that option.

It becomes glorious. What you call incentivizing roleplay, I call shoehorning me into roleplaying something a specific way whether it's the way I envision my character or not - Or more likely, I just wouldn't play a character concept in such a system that said mechanics could invalidate.

I think most experienced players and groups largely do this.

Sure - but I don't think that characterization does my experiences with the system justice.
So all that is fine, really. But all it says is that at best D&D is neutral as far as roleplaying goes. True Neutral.

There’s not a game I can think of where you can’t come up with characters like those you’ve offered.

I do think it’s interesting that the main area of 5E that even approaches the issue...Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws...is one you don’t even bother to detail. Why not? It’s clearly meant to be a part of character creation...and besides class, race, and alignment those elements are the only roleplaying focused items in the whole process. Why skip them?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Let's suppose your claim about human physiology was true, which I don't think it is.

In 4e hp are not a model of that physiology. They are part of an action resolution framework.
Thus, a completely 'gamist' (real-world term use, not forge-world) construct rather than an attempt to model anything; which seems silly when the original idea behind hit points was to reflect - and yes, to some extent model - the amount of trauma one could withstand...along with, as you point out below, how much luck one might have going at the time, be it for or against.

The primary mechanical marker of the power of a 4e creature, including the degree of physical trauma it can endure, is its level. By setting the level of a being, the GM is using a mechanical device to signal its toughness in the fiction. Secondarily this is reflected in its defences and any special abilities it might have. Thirdly, this is reflected in its hit points.
So far this is more or less true of all editions of D&D. However, in non-4e editions these things remain constant no matter what situation the creature finds itself in or who/what it finds itself fighting.

A minion's hp are simply a toggle: is it up or is it down? This tells us that, when it engages activities of its levels toughness, it is highly vulnerable. This is related to probabilities of not enduring trauma.

I have bolded the probability markers you have used. In everyday life we call this luck. In 4e D&D hp do not model only physiology. Among other things they model luck.
Quite right; although for my example I was ignoring this aspect for the moment.

Giving a minion 1 hp is indicating that this being has little luck - if it is successfully hit by an opponent of the appropriate degree of toughness, it goes down.
Yet a PC, if faced with an immensely superior foe, doesn't suddenly find itself with only 1 h.p. to its name where a moment ago it had 35; the immensely-superior foe still has to get through all 35 of them, and so it should. But then internal consistency rears its ugly head: what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and so any creature that has X hit points should always have X hit points.

We can see all this in the account of the tiers of play (4e DMG, pp 146-47; very similar text can be found in the PHB, pp 28-29):

Heroic characters navigate dangerous terrain and explore haunted crypts, where they can expect to fight savage orcs, ferocious wolves, giant spiders, evil cultists, bloodthirsty ghouls, and shadar-kai assassins. If they face a dragon, it’s a young one that might still be searching for a lair and has not yet found its place in the world . . .

Paragon-level adventurers explore uncharted regions and delve long-forgotten dungeons, where they confront savage giants, ferocious hydras, fearless golems, evil yuan-ti, bloodthirsty vampires, crafty mind flayers, and drow assassins. They might face a powerful adult dragon that has established a lair and a role in the world. . . .

Epic characters traverse otherworldly realms and explore never-before-seen caverns of wonder, where they fight savage balor demons, abominations such as the ferocious tarrasque, mind flayer masterminds, terrible archdevils, bloodthirsty lich archmages, and even the gods themselves. The dragons they encounter are ancient wyrms of truly earth-shaking power, whose sleep troubles kingdoms and whose waking threatens existence.​

When (for instance) paragon tier PCs confront a ghoul - which is of typical toughness for heroic tier PCs - that ghouls is not terribly tough. One well-placed blow (ie in mechanical terms, an attack that hits) will drop it.
None of the indented bits tell me that one hit from a paragon will always drop a ghoul, even though it does tell me that paragons should have a very good expectation of winning a fight with them. Further, even though ghouls might not be all that tough against a paragon-level party even paragons can hit for less hit points than the typical ghoul might have if they roll poorly on the damage die, which gives the ghoul another chance to hit and hurt the paragon. (ghouls are an interesting example, in fact, as at least in earlier editions their paralyzation ability makes every attack they get a serious threat, so leaving one up for an extra round can be problematic)

And no PC is going to give out enough damage in a single blow to kill a non-minion giant or dragon or anything else big, no matter what level said PC might be.

Gygax gives advice in his DMG: "Always give a monster an even break". Taking away all their hit points save one doesn't really accomplish this.

Your apparent lack of appreciation of these facts about 4e is why I have repeatedly asserted that you don't seem to understand how the 4e combat meahcics work.
I well enough understand how they work, but I don't think you understand (or can't accept) my objections to their butchering of internal setting consistency (a.k.a. game-world realism).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Your PC's actions have put your family at risk. When you decide to do have your PC do X rather than Y, how do you - as a player - know whether your are jeopardiding your relationship with your family? Who decides whether they stick with you or abandon you? And how?
Er...are you referring here to the specific example I gave* or asking an in-general question?

* - in my example my actions had nothing to do with putting them at risk; the challenge came later when I learned they were at risk and had to choose between family and duty.

Is this is all just GM decides?
Givan as a) my PC's family are in theory all NPCs, and b) NPCs are completely under the control of the GM, then obviously it's going to be up to the GM to determine (in whatever ways and means he might use) how my family reacts to any of this, and-or to me should I ever find and-or rescue them.

This seems to rest on a premise that there is a finite amount of "challenge" which, if the PCs avoid it, means the players win and everyone goes home.
There is a fininte amount of challenge in each individual challenge, if that makes sense; and avoiding one often just means getting to the next that much faster...but yes, at some point in the larger scheme of things avoiding or blowing through enough challenges will mean the players 'win' that mission rather cheaply (e.g. the princess is rescued in half a day without anyone taking a scratch; or (extreme example) the BBEG takes one look at the party and bends the knee before a word is spoken or a sword drawn). What everyone hoped would be a 3-session adventure just got blown away in a real-time hour...now what?

That is not how any system I'm familiar with works. If the PCs are successful in sneaking into the castle and doing whatever they hoped to do, then the game keeps going. The GM makes up more stuff. The players declare more actions.
Exactly...provided that either the GM or the players or both still have ideas left.

When everyone is happy that the story of these particular PCs has come to an end, then they can start a new game.
What about the story of the story? Sure those particular PCs might have run their course (for now) but if there's still some story left what's stopping the players from bringing in new PCs with new characterizations etc. and carrying on - kinda like a sequel.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
30 years ago I GMed an AD&D game in which one of the PCs, in order to be returned to life, had to be treated by a sage. The result of the sage's herbal treatment was that the PC permanently turned blue. That's a cute enough result, but it's not a challenge to the player's characterisation of the character.
Depending on context, it sure could be: if blue-skinned people are shunned by society in that setting the player now has to figure out how to play this character as an outcast, which may or may not be a huge departure from how it was played before.

FrogReaver said:
In 5e having a soul has no mechanical effect.

I've not yet decided how to portray a character that has no soul. There is going to be some difference for sure. Whatever that difference is, that is what was put at stake.
side note

In my own game I ruled quite some years ago that having no soul has no real mechanical implications while you're alive (other than that certain types of undead are far less likely to bother you) as your body just keeps on chugging along as before, but should you die there's a very serious mechanical consequence: you can't be revived.

EDIT: and then I read on and see [MENTION=6779310]aramis erak[/MENTION] found that the same is true in 5e RAW.

Revival in part consists of reconnecting the spirit to the body in order to reboot it, and that's really hard to do when the spirit doesn't exist.

/side note
 

pemerton

Legend
My primary focus on stage and when I play role playing games (other than B/X D&D which I approach as a tactical exercise) has always been authentically experiencing what my character is with a focus on relationships and emotional driving forces.
I GM much more than I play a PC. When I play a PC this is what I am looking for - but more below on my personality weakness in this respect!

As a GM I like to see what drives the PCs. I also enjoy the big moments of conflict, some of which are internal - or intra-group - and some of which are external.

Authentically feeling the weight of the moment as someone who has dramatically different life experiences, people they care about, and ways they process emotions is like hard.

<snip>

I need all the help I can get.
The first time I really played a character in this way was actually in a freeform Cthulhu game at a convention in the mid-90s. There was a broad character outline as part of the scenario - I was playing a woman whose son had been taken to hell by his father, my estranged husband. The other PCs were friends of my son. To play the character I drew heavily on my knowledge and experiences of the mother of a high school friend who had been left by her husband not too many years earlier. My memories of the experience are a bit faded now, but I have a recollection of kneeling on a floor in the play area reciting The Lord's Prayer with tears on my face.

That play experience also introduced me to a GMing technique that I had not deliberately and self-consciously adopted before: of talking to the players as "the devil on their shoulder", chiding them for weak decisions or encouraging them to push their PCs in some way. Not with a goal towards railroading, but not letting anyone get away with a squib unnoticed!

Another more pernicious problem is that we grow to care for these characters. From a player side it may come down to developing an idealized image of their character that they do not want to see tarnished.

<snip>

I also feel like intent based adjudication can cause issues here.
I rely fairly heavily on intent-based adjudication in most of my GMing. I'm certainly happy to hear more about what you see as the issues (I can guess a bit, but would rather hear firsthand).

My biggest weakness as a GM, I think - certainly relative to your preferences - is sentimentality. I can find it hard to truly hose the PCs.

And as a player I hang on fairly tight to my PC. So a GM is going to have to push me hard, because I'm not going to easily let go of my own accord!
 

pemerton

Legend
at some point in the larger scheme of things avoiding or blowing through enough challenges will mean the players 'win' that mission rather cheaply

<snip>

What everyone hoped would be a 3-session adventure just got blown away in a real-time hour...now what?
Go onto the next thing. Perhaps don't work with such a tight notion of "the adventure" or "that mission".

if there's still some story left what's stopping the players from bringing in new PCs with new characterizations etc. and carrying on - kinda like a sequel.
Nothing. That's my whole point. There's not an end to possible RPGing because the PCs made their way easily through a castle.

pemerton said:
30 years ago I GMed an AD&D game in which one of the PCs, in order to be returned to life, had to be treated by a sage. The result of the sage's herbal treatment was that the PC permanently turned blue. That's a cute enough result, but it's not a challenge to the player's characterisation of the character.
Depending on context, it sure could be: if blue-skinned people are shunned by society in that setting the player now has to figure out how to play this character as an outcast, which may or may not be a huge departure from how it was played before.
But this is purely external adversity: people used to like you but now they don't.

It doesn't involve any sort of reevaluation or reconceptualisation.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Yet a PC, if faced with an immensely superior foe, doesn't suddenly find itself with only 1 h.p. to its name where a moment ago it had 35
What system are you talking about? 4e? 4e has no mechanic for turning the PCs into "minions" to fight much higher level antagonists. Rather, it has a mechanic for turning those higher level antagonists into solos and the like.

This is because a game in which PCs are toggled either up or down would not make for very good play.

the immensely-superior foe still has to get through all 35 of them, and so it should.

<snip>

even though ghouls might not be all that tough against a paragon-level party even paragons can hit for less hit points than the typical ghoul might have if they roll poorly on the damage die, which gives the ghoul another chance to hit and hurt the paragon. (ghouls are an interesting example, in fact, as at least in earlier editions their paralyzation ability makes every attack they get a serious threat, so leaving one up for an extra round can be problematic)

And no PC is going to give out enough damage in a single blow to kill a non-minion giant or dragon or anything else big, no matter what level said PC might be.

<snip>

I well enough understand how they work, but I don't think you understand (or can't accept) my objections to their butchering of internal setting consistency (a.k.a. game-world realism).
I've bolded a few bits which demonstrate that you don't understand how 4e's combat mechanics work. Because you talk about resolution processes as if they are part of the fiction. Whereas an obvious feature of 4e combat is that the resolution mechanics are not part of the fiction, and are not models of fictional processes, but are devices for establishing what occurs in the fiction.

This is actually true of Gygax's AD&D as well - Gygax makes the point that a single attack roll doesn't model one single bodily motion - but 4e takes this idea and develops it further.

In Runequest a PC's hit points do not change significantly over time; but s/he typically improves his/her skill at parrying and/or dodging blows. It would be ridiculous to say that RQ is unrealistic because hp don't grow with experience and hence experienced adventurers are just as vulnerable to blows as inexperienced ones. Such a comment displays complete ignorance of the mechanical device that RQ uses to model increased fighting skill, which is not extra hp but rather is improved parry/dodge skill.

Likewise and mutatis mutandis for 4e D&D. A paragon PC can kill a ghoul in 6 seconds. At the table the question of whether or not this take place is determined by making a single d20 roll and filtering that through the attack rules. If you narrate the fiction of that in a way which creates setting inconsistency then that's on you. It's not on the mechanics.
 

pemerton

Legend
Given that there's been some discussion about roleplaying, what it means to play a character, and what it means to find one's character challenged in a certain way, I thought I would post some quotes from Burning Wheel Gold. This spells out how I think about it pretty well. I'm quoting from the Revised edition that came out a few months ago.

First, Jake Norwood's Foreword at p 6 (Norwood designed and wrote The Riddle of Steel RPG):

So how do you play Burning Wheel? Fight for what you believe. Or, since it's a roleplaying game: Fight for what your character believes. Everything else in the rules tells either how to craft that character's beliefs or how to fight for them. . . .

The decision to solve a problem with cold steel or silken words isn't just one of better numerical values - it's a question of who you, the player, want your character to become. Every action - pass or fail - is growth. Every decision affects how your character matures, shifts, changes. Even little decisions impact the character in permanent, subtle ways.​

And then from the opening page of the rules proper, at p 9:

The Burning Wheel is a roleplaying game. Its mood and feel are reminiscent of the lands created by Ursula K Le Guin, Stephen R Donaldson and JRR Tokien in their works of fantasy fiction. It is also heavily influenced by the brilliant medieval historical accounts of Barbara Tuchman and Desmond Seward . . .

In the game, players take on the roles of characters inspired by history and works of fantasy ficiton. These characters are a list of abilities rated with numbers and a list of player-determined priorities. The synergy of inspiration, imagination, numbers and priorities is the most fundamental element of Burning Wheel. Expressing these numbers and priorities within situations presented by the game master (GM) is what the game is all about. . . .

[T]he rules do contain a philosophy that implies a certain type of place. There are consequences to your choices in this game. They range from the very black and white, "If I engage in this duel, my character might die," to the more complex, "If my character undertakes this task, he'll be changed, and I don't know exactly how." Recognizing that the system enforces these choices will help you navigate play. I always encourage players to think before they test their characters. Are you prepared to accept the consequences of your actions?​

Those last two sentences express this system's version of playing to find out what happens.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
What system are you talking about? 4e? 4e has no mechanic for turning the PCs into "minions" to fight much higher level antagonists. Rather, it has a mechanic for turning those higher level antagonists into solos and the like.

This is because a game in which PCs are toggled either up or down would not make for very good play.
Well, yeah, but then a game in which NPCs are togged either up or down doesn't make for very good play either if you assume that NPCs have as much existence (in the campaign) as the PCs. What this whole debate over minions is about is about the PC-centricness of 4e and how that's alien to Lanefan's view of the PC's role in RPG setting.



I've bolded a few bits which demonstrate that you don't understand how 4e's combat mechanics work. Because you talk about resolution processes as if they are part of the fiction. Whereas an obvious feature of 4e combat is that the resolution mechanics are not part of the fiction, and are not models of fictional processes, but are devices for establishing what occurs in the fiction.

This is actually true of Gygax's AD&D as well - Gygax makes the point that a single attack roll doesn't model one single bodily motion - but 4e takes this idea and develops it further.
I don't think it's a question of him not understanding it. I think it's a question of his view of it not conforming to yours - but then I think you choose to see the 4e combat mechanics as not part of the fiction rather than it being obvious that's the case and can only be the case. Gygax may have seen making an attack as an abstraction over a 1 minute round of feints, parries, and other gambits, but the 4e powers aren't generally written that way. Powers like Piercing Strike aren't described with the same level of abstraction Gygax describes in the 1 minute combat round. They are written as cinematic moves in and of themselves that would amenable to being part of the fiction.
 

I've read this a number of times. I don't understand your questions. I'll be happy to answer if you can make them more clear for me.
I assume you understood the rest of the post and these two questions (I'll quote) are what don't make sense?

You don't think this will change your cognitive workspace? It won't resemble the mental arithmetic that real humans do in a moment of desperate choice (run to or shrink from danger and possible extreme cost)? You don't think the other participants at the table wouldn't have their heart-rates uptick as this decision looms?
1) Do you think if those mechanics were in play, would they affect (a) the sensation of play overall, (b) your navigation of your thoughts, (c) your perceptions of what is happening (the gravity, the momentum), (d) your immediate meta reflections (which I don't know about you...but I have personally about myself as a consequential moment is upon me) upon "who is this guy really?"

2) Do you think those mechanics being player-facing (to all participants) would or would not create more anxiety, anticipation, excitement, exaltation for the other participants who are beholding your actions (and are aware of the consequences)?


Whatever your answer to that stuff, could you break it down in a little detail, please and thank you?
 

What system are you talking about? 4e? 4e has no mechanic for turning the PCs into "minions" to fight much higher level antagonists. Rather, it has a mechanic for turning those higher level antagonists into solos and the like.
Nod. It's not rocket science. But, it does have limits. Changing a creature from standard to solo - while, for the sake of "simulationism" (in the Forge Sense), holding its XP value constant to maintain that it is, in fact(actually, fiction), 'the same creature' - only brings it down 9 levels. So, 4th level party vs Type V Demons, for instance, not going to cut it.
...I think the conventional solution is to shift the encounter with the overwhelming foe to a Skill Challenge, to avoid it's notice, escape it, appease it, or the like, instead.

This is because a game in which PCs are toggled either up or down would not make for very good play.
IDK, it might not be completely unworkable. Dialing up, for instance, could be a hypothetical way to run a solo PC, or to illustrate how the PCs have risen above their old league of foes in a more entertaining way than just squishing things that can't hit you on a natural 19.

Whereas an obvious feature of 4e combat is that the resolution mechanics are not part of the fiction, and are not models of fictional processes, but are devices for establishing what occurs in the fiction.
IDK why you'd limit that to "of 4e combat" - resolution mechanics in general would only be part of the fiction in some sort of high-fidelity LARP, or randomized challenge ("I'll let you live if you throw a Venus" - which'd be 4d4 coming up all different). And, the line between modeling a process and determining the fiction is pretty scant - any level of abstraction, at all, probably crosses that line.

If you narrate the fiction of that in a way which creates setting inconsistency then that's on you. It's not on the mechanics.
If the topic had drifted another direction, Lan might've written that same sentence, I think. ;)

Well, yeah, but then a game in which NPCs are togged either up or down doesn't make for very good play either if you assume that NPCs have as much existence (in the campaign) as the PCs. ... PC-centricness is alien to Lanefan's view of the PC's role in RPG setting.
I mean, there's only players (playing their PCs), and a DM (playing the NPCs &c) at the table. So if it's not PC-centric...?

Gygax may have seen making an attack as an abstraction over a 1 minute round of feints, parries, and other gambits, but the 4e powers aren't generally written that way.
Gygax wrote the game with 1 minute rounds, and only 1 attack/round, and explained it as just that, so no 'may' about it. And, long before 4e, those rounds had been changed from 1 minute, to six seconds. Bows RoF 2 in 1 min went from unrealistically slow, to Bow's iterative attacks in 6 sec being unrealistically fast.

Powers like Piercing Strike aren't described with the same level of abstraction Gygax describes in the 1 minute combat round. They are written as cinematic moves in and of themselves that would amenable to being part of the fiction.
It would have been odd if flavor text meant for a 6-second round were written as if the round were still one minute. Though, if, for whatever reason, you'd wanted to go back to a 1-minute round, the players already had the option of describing their powers however worked for them, anyway.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I assume you understood the rest of the post and these two questions (I'll quote) are what don't make sense?



1) Do you think if those mechanics were in play, would they affect (a) the sensation of play overall, (b) your navigation of your thoughts, (c) your perceptions of what is happening (the gravity, the momentum), (d) your immediate meta reflections (which I don't know about you...but I have personally about myself as a consequential moment is upon me) upon "who is this guy really?"

2) Do you think those mechanics being player-facing (to all participants) would or would not create more anxiety, anticipation, excitement, exaltation for the other participants who are beholding your actions (and are aware of the consequences)?


Whatever your answer to that stuff, could you break it down in a little detail, please and thank you?
I don't think this will make it ckearer because I think this discussion is mired a lot further back on the trail.

I think [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION]'s definition of roleplaying is for a player to imagine a character and then imagine how that character will act and declare actions accordingly. This being fully under the control of the player is a hard requirement, so anything that interferes with a player doing the above is a hinderence to roleplaying. This is why he doesn't consider acting to be roleplaying because that character wasn't imagined by the actor and the actor doesn't make choices for actions.

Meanwhile, you (and me and others) see roleplaying in games as protraying the character however it comes to be. There's a presumption that the player will be making most choices, but external changes are ok as well. We see acting as roleplaying because the portrayal of tge character is up to the actor even if many/most choices are not.

So, with this fundamental difference in definition, there's no way your questions make sense within [MENTION=6795602]FrogReaver[/MENTION]'s framework. What I find interesting, though, is that he doesn't appear to see the genre/system limits that D&D imposes.

I, of course, stand ready to be corrected on this by a functional definition of what frogreaver thinks roleplaying is that differs from the above.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What system are you talking about? 4e? 4e has no mechanic for turning the PCs into "minions" to fight much higher level antagonists.
Exactly.

Rather, it has a mechanic for turning those higher level antagonists into solos and the like.
4e thus gives formal terms to previously-informal variances within a group of monsters - you might have the 6 ordinary ogres with 40 h.p. each, the shaman ogre with 45 h.p. and spell use, and the chieftain with 80 h.p. that fought as a higher HD/higher level foe.

My argument is that any mechanic that turns the 40 h.p. ogres into 1 h.p. ogres is intentionally not being true to what's established in the fiction, and is thus very flawed.

This is because a game in which PCs are toggled either up or down would not make for very good play.
Agreed.

But as the PCs are a part of an internally-consistent (I hope!) setting, what applies to the PCs must then by extension apply to the rest of the game-world inhabitants; meaning that toggling them up and down is every bit as bad.

I've bolded a few bits which demonstrate that you don't understand how 4e's combat mechanics work. Because you talk about resolution processes as if they are part of the fiction. Whereas an obvious feature of 4e combat is that the resolution mechanics are not part of the fiction, and are not models of fictional processes, but are devices for establishing what occurs in the fiction.
I forget the exact term for it - dissociated something-or-other, it's been a while - but if the resolution processes and the fiction don't at least vaguely try to match up then the problem is with the processes, not the fiction.

This is actually true of Gygax's AD&D as well - Gygax makes the point that a single attack roll doesn't model one single bodily motion
Indeed; and here Gygax is in fact trying to match up the resolution process (one attack per round) to the fiction (1-minute-long rounds) by saying that the attack roll represents the best of many attempts over that one-minute span. In other words, he's taking a good approach.

but 4e takes this idea and develops it further.
Which, given that 4e rounds are but 6 seconds long, seems counterintuitive.

In Runequest a PC's hit points do not change significantly over time; but s/he typically improves his/her skill at parrying and/or dodging blows. It would be ridiculous to say that RQ is unrealistic because hp don't grow with experience and hence experienced adventurers are just as vulnerable to blows as inexperienced ones. Such a comment displays complete ignorance of the mechanical device that RQ uses to model increased fighting skill, which is not extra hp but rather is improved parry/dodge skill.
Actually I'd say that's every bit as realistic - and maybe even more so - than the non-4e D&D model.

Likewise and mutatis mutandis for 4e D&D. A paragon PC can kill a ghoul in 6 seconds. At the table the question of whether or not this take place is determined by making a single d20 roll and filtering that through the attack rules. If you narrate the fiction of that in a way which creates setting inconsistency then that's on you. It's not on the mechanics.
There's a word missing in the above which, if inserted, makes all the difference: A paragon PC can maybe kill a ghoul in 6 seconds.

Look at it another way: unless you're fighting something that really only does have one hit point or less, such as a kitten or a small rat, there are three possible outcomes of any attack roll or sequence:

1. You do no damage at all (typically in D&D this means you miss outright unless some sort of DoaM mechanics are in play)
2. You cause damage to the foe but do not cause enough damage to kill* it
3. You cause enough damage to kill* the foe

* - or defeat, or subdue, or otherwise achieve your desired win condition.

Minion rules disallow #2 as an option, which is not only unrealistic but - again unless you're fighting a kitten - doesn't give the monster an even break.

A ghoul might normally have 30 h.p. and a paragon character might normally hit it for 4d6+20. Most of the time the paragon is going to one-shot it but there'll be the occasional time when she rolls really badly on those 4d6 and the ghoul survives with 1or 2 h.p. left - highly relevant if the ghoul then gets a good attack in and paralyses the paragon.

And a side note: this brings up another mechanic I've personally come to detest in all versions of D&D - all RPGs where it exists, come to that - and that's that, using the same example above, a hit can't do less than 24 points damage. There's a huge gulf between 0 damage (miss) and 24 or more (hit); and the greatest warrior in the world should still be capable of hitting for only 1 point damage on an unlucky shot no matter what bonuses she has going for her. To its credit 4e kinda waved at this problem a bit with some damage-on-a-miss mechanics, but to me a miss is a miss and thus 4e was coming at it from the wrong direction.

The far-from-perfect-but-better-than-nothing solution I use is that on any 'minimum' damage roll - here this would be 4 on the 4d6 - you add the bonuses to that roll (here giving 24) and then roll a die of that size to determine what damage you actually did. This means there's a small (sometimes very small, but never zero) chance that anything with more than 1 h.p. can survive a hit from pretty much anything - and the minion model again defeats this.
 

pemerton

Legend
Well, yeah, but then a game in which NPCs are togged either up or down doesn't make for very good play either
There's actually little evidence for this in the history of D&D. Most kobolds, goblins and 0-level humans will be either up or down if hit by a AD&D fighter with weapon specialisationm 18 STR and a magic weapon (damage die +1 for magic +2 for spec +3 for 18/01 STR = minimum 7 damage on a hit and typically quite a bit more). But I've never seen it suggested that this does not make for good play.

A 7th level specialised AD&D fighter with a +2 longsword fighting an ogre averages 2d12 + 14 = 27 average with a 16 minimum multiplied by the chance to hit. AD&D ogres have 4+1 HD or an average of 19 hp and a maximum of 33. That 7th level fighter therefore is going to take down many ogres in a single round. I've never seen it suggested that this does not make for good play.

if you assume that NPCs have as much existence (in the campaign) as the PCs.
I don't really know what this means. In the fiction those kobolds, goblins, 0-level men-at-arms and ogres all exist. So does the PC fighter. I don't see how this issue of existince in the fiction bears on whether or not some opponents are liable to being swiftly dispatched by a PC.

What this whole debate over minions is about is about the PC-centricness of 4e and how that's alien to Lanefan's view of the PC's role in RPG setting.

<snip>

I don't think it's a question of him not understanding it. I think it's a question of his view of it not conforming to yours
I don't give a toss whether or not [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] wants to play 4e. That has zero effect or significance for me.

I'm responding to other claims, such as that 4e's minion rules lead to inconsistent fiction, are an incoherent frameworld for hp, etc. Those claims are false, and the only reasons being put in favour of them betray a failure to understand the 4e combat mechanics.

There is nothing inconsistent about a fiction in which (for instance) mid-heroic tier PCs find dealing with ghouls a matter of life-and-death, and in which mid-paragon tier PCs can cut through those ghouls with relative ease.

The notion that a ghoul or an ogre is "entitled" to its hp, or that it is "inconsisent" to resolve a fight with one by any means other than a series of to hit and damage rolls, simply betrays a lack of understanding of the 4e combat rules. The 4e DMG even spells this out (pp 54-55):

A fight against thirty orcs is a grand cinematic battle. The players get to enjoy carving through the mob like a knife through butter, feeling confident and powerful. Unfortunately, the mechanics of standard monsters make that difficult. If you use a large number of monsters of a level similar to the PCs, you overwhelm them. If you use a large
number of monsters of much lower level, you bore them with creatures that have little chance of hurting the PCs but take a lot of time to take down. On top of that, keeping track of the actions of so many monsters is a headache.

Minions are designed to help fill out an encounter, but they go down quickly.​

In the fiction, an orc is an orc is an orc. Minions are a mechanical technique intended to facilitate a certain sort of action occurring in the fiction. It's not inconsistent to change the mechanical parameters of an orc encounter - level, defences, hp, to hit and damage numbers, etc - because of the level of the PCs who are facing those orcs.

And the whole suggestion is even more absurd coming from an AD&D player. From the mechanical point of view, there is no difference other than the technical and mathematical between using the attacks-per-round mechanic to reflect relativites of prowess (as AD&D does for fighters vs 0-level men-at-arms and the like) and using the defence-by-level, attack-and-damage-by-level and hp mechanics to reflect the same thing (as 4e does more generally via its minion rules).

Gygax may have seen making an attack as an abstraction over a 1 minute round of feints, parries, and other gambits, but the 4e powers aren't generally written that way. Powers like Piercing Strike aren't described with the same level of abstraction Gygax describes in the 1 minute combat round. They are written as cinematic moves in and of themselves that would amenable to being part of the fiction.
So if you envisage a 4e fighter standing there for 6 seconds doing nothing for 5-and-a-half of them, then moving instantaneously and metronomically on his/her turn, I guess that's your prerogative.

That's not what the art suggests to me. Nor is it what the flavour text suggests to me. The flavour text for Piercing Strike (PHB p 118) is "A needle-sharp point slips past armor and into tender flesh." Mechanically this is expressed as an attack vs Reflex defence rather than AC. There is nothing there that suggests to me that it is inconsistent or incoherent for a mid-paragon rogue to use this particular combat skill to take down an ogre in 6 seconds. Whether such a feat is conceived of as a series of strikes or a single one seems to me a matter for the table.
 

pemerton

Legend
My argument is that any mechanic that turns the 40 h.p. ogres into 1 h.p. ogres is intentionally not being true to what's established in the fiction, and is thus very flawed.
But it is true to the fiction. The ogre that is tough for mid-heroic PCs is not tough for mid-paragon PCs.

That's it.

I mean, speaking purely about the fiction, what is inconsistent?

as the PCs are a part of an internally-consistent (I hope!) setting, what applies to the PCs must then by extension apply to the rest of the game-world inhabitants; meaning that toggling them up and down is every bit as bad.
This is not a statement about the setting or the gameworld inhabitants. It is a statement about mechanics.

Changing the numbers used to resolve declared actions, and find out what happens in the ficiton, isn't something that happens in the fiction.

Some 5e D&D GMs do not resolve all combats using the 5e combat rules. I know this because I read their posts about it. Some, for instance, simply declare fights over with a bit of narration once it is clear to the table that the PCs have the better of the situation. That is an example of changing the resolution method for that combat. It doesn't mean that the fiction is inconsistent.

The attack-defence-damage-hp system - in 4e, at least - is just a mathematical framework for resolving declared actions. Changing the maths - eg by stepping up defences and stepping down hp; by stepping up attack numbers and stepping down damage; etc - doesn't mean that the fiction is inconsistent.

I'll reiterate: referring only to the fiction, rather than the resolution system, explain what is incoherent about a mid-paragon PC being able to defeat an ogre or a ghoul or whatever in 6 seconds, perhaps with a single blow.

A paragon PC can maybe kill a ghoul in 6 seconds.
Yes. This is determined by making an attack roll.

there are three possible outcomes of any attack roll or sequence:

1. You do no damage at all (typically in D&D this means you miss outright unless some sort of DoaM mechanics are in play)
2. You cause damage to the foe but do not cause enough damage to kill* it
3. You cause enough damage to kill* the foe

* - or defeat, or subdue, or otherwise achieve your desired win condition.

Minion rules disallow #2 as an option
This is all just mechanics. It tells us nothing about the fiction. And it's not as if someone has ordained that you 1, 2 and 3 are mandatory mechanical options for RPGing as such. AD&D, for instance, has many mechanical systems for hurting a creature that do not involve 1, 2 and 3 as options (eg the assassination rules; the rule that magically slept creatures can be killed one per round with no check required; the rule that a paralysed being can be hit automatically for max damage (ie no to hit or damage roll required) at twice the normal attack rate; etc).

Turning from mechanics to fiction: in the fiction, a minion can be hurt but not die. Just like the 1 hp kobold in KotB can be hurt and not die. The minion can be hurt by a paragon level fighter and not die. That would be one possible narration of a missed attack roll. Just as one might narrate a missed attack roll against that 1 hp kobold as scratching but not killing it.

This is why I say that you don't understand 4e combat mechanics. Because you are not able to appreciate the parameters they establish on the fiction, the narration that they do and don't permit, etc.
 
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