You mean the line where you suggested I was trivializing play people like, and where I made that useless by pointing out that I do, in fact, like and engage in that exact play? Yes, I can see how that might be frustrating for you when I didn't conform to the box you wanted to put me in.When you make it a line of discussion with you is useless--and you've done it more than once now--you shouldn't be surprised if I consider it useless.
And it seems some pay more attention to the final score while others are more interested in how it gets there.No, it's like taking ANY hockey game and saying that the end score is GOING to be 3-2, and then talking about how it matters which teams actually played because of the details of how they managed to get to the ordained end result of 3-2.
Apropos of nothing else, this is a really cool variant on what is otherwise a pretty bland ability in D&D. I like it!I'd note that DW play sheets (classes) are heavily centered on the characterization provided too. For example the Paladin starts with these moves:
4. Lay On Hands - Heals wounds, but its risky, they could transfer to you instead! Nice way to easily take a risk for another, which is a pretty common theme here.
It might be true of the zoomed out story, but story also includes what individual characters do and how they interact with each other and the NPCs, not just the thrust of overall events.
I get exactly what @hawkeyefan and @Ovinomacer are saying.Can you enlarge on what you mean by "interchangeable" here? Because that seems--off. Even if you end up at the same final destination, the trip is going to feel pretty different depending on the characters in play to me, and that doesn't seem to make them "interchangeable" in any sense other than "they can all fit in this game" which, frankly, describes a lot of game characters.
I agree. When I look at successful scenarios deliberately intended for "story now" play - I'm thinking of some for Prince Valiant, especially but not only Greg Stafford's, and also some Robin Laws ones for HeroWars - they present a single situation. Everything else is part of framing. The framing may be extended - for instance, it may involve action declarations which affect how certain NPCs engage with the PCs at the climax - but it is framing, not a thematically determinative climax.If the GM is bending everything to create a path to Dark Clouds, then they are asserting story authority, authorial control over the direction of the plot and content of the game. It is a moot point if the players have 'autonomy over character action' if the only situations they are presented with are designed to inevitably give them no real option except Dark Clouds! And make no mistake, this is exactly what happens, and its exactly why the whole 'AP' type of setup is almost inevitably going to lead to some measure of GM assertion of authority, because you have only certain finite material in your AP and it needs to be engaged.
So, given that we are hardly going to give up on the idea of pre-written adventures, at least for most people engaging in RPG play, there would seem to be a need for a way to avoid this pitfall!
Honestly, I think it is REALLY not that easy to generate adventures in a Story Now paradigm. At least not complex or extensive ones.
Related to this: a friend and I have started a BW game together where we each have a PC, and each is in charge of framing and consequence generation for the other. So far we're only one session in, but it seemed to work at least for that session.Why does any particular feature of RPG's exist? It is just a way of structuring a game. There is a function, deciding the fiction content of the next scene, which is going to be accomplished in SOME way. One way is to have a designated 'scene content generating person'. There are obvious implications to that, as there would be to say rotating that position on some sort of basis (say after each scene ends). One issue with players taking the role usually assigned to a GM is the Czege Principle. That is, its hard to make a scene that has any tension in it where the author of the scene is also directly involved as one of the participants resolving whatever conflict it represents. Reserving that position for a specially designated participant, and having that participant forego playing a PC, obviates that issue. It brings a different perspective to the table. This is not to say that collective story telling games cannot work, and they could be Story Now (probably would tend to be). That is just clearly a bit different category of game, and one that, so far, has not proven to be popular with game designers, though I guess there have been a few experiments here and there.
I did build a story-now MERP/LotR game, using MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic. The details are here.I would say this, if you were to build a Middle Earth Story Now game, I don't think you would center it on the War of the Ring, or at least on the Fellowship of sketched in areas.
One thing you're being invited to do, I think, is to observe how - given the fact you've pointed out - playing an AP might be different, in certain reasonably specifiable ways, from other well-known approaches to RPGing. And perhaps also that it might be useful to have some terminology to talk about the differences of method, the differences of experience, etc that flow from this.I am not quite sure what I'm supposed to do with this ground-breaking observation that a writer of an adventure path who has never met me or even heard of me, who wrote the module years before I made my character, might not have perfectly incorporated the unique backstory of my character into the adventure.
And you haven't considered that other viable alternative explanations could exist apart from the one explanation that require you to condescendingly cast aspersions at other people's roleplaying or GMing?It's an argument, but since I'm in a AP at the moment where what the poster described is not happening, the question comes down to "Is this a necessity of that style and we're somehow special snowflakes that avoid it, or is it an artifact of that style interacting badly with some people who simply shouldn't be playing in it because they're not motivated enough by themselves to avoid that?" The latter can come across as kind of critical, but I'm really seriously having trouble believing we're such focused roleplayers that we can somehow maintain that sort of thing where others can't (especially since I'm old and frankly off my game a fair bit and I manage).
I think that you are adding some needless leading assumptions in your questions that are skewing your conclusions.Basically, the question I have to ask is "Is it necessary for for the actions of the PCs to really change the results of a campaign for someone to be able to stay in character while participating in it and not just treat it as an extended wargame?" And the answer I have to give in terms of watching a rather lot of people play in games over the years that did not have any longterm thrust at all is "No." At that point I have to conclude that these are a mix of general failure states (people who don't focus on their characterization at all consistently--token play has existed since the start of the hobby) and people who need more engagement with what's going on to be able to do so. But I have no reason to believe the latter is particularly a common case, and to the degree the first is, it doesn't care what kind of game is going on.
It's trivial to do so. DW and AW, for instance, if played in accordance with the principles and agenda that are espoused in their rulebooks, will satisfy @Ovinomancer's criterion. And neither has "narrative level" mechanics except in a few distinct playbook moves which typically (given the variety of playbooks, and of moves-per-playbook) won't be in play.On what are you basing this assessment? Is there a way to satisfy your criteria of character's influencing the content of the game without the players having access to narrative level mechanics?
And are we allowed to talk about what sorts of GM techniques, etc might suit different sorts of groups - including those who are interested more in the "plot" than in the tactical decisions and interactions with other PCs that don't affect that plot?More I'm arguing that the differences aren't small in play. That is to say for the majority of the play experience, they're more pronounced than whatever the final result is.
how important that is turns on what part of the game is more interesting to you. Its not a given that the latter actually provides a more interesting game than the former; that depends on where the focus of the player is. If what a player cares about is individual tactical decisions and interactions with other PCs mostly, the difference between whether the opposition is customized toward them or generalized toward a random D&D party is, effectively, trivial.
4e D&D advocates player-authored quests. Could this be done in 5e?I think there's quite a lot of recommendations in the DMG that follow along here, so you have example and suggestion that this is the predominant mode of play -- the GM crafts and runs a story. That's not going to care about who the characters are, either. Unless you're doing something very, very odd with the 5e engine (and your claims it can be run Story Now, which I vigorously disagree with -- if you are you're actually running some kind of heavy hack of 5e or you have really, really uneven gameplay), the majority of the suggestions are character neutral.
Thank you for your post. I do not necessarily want to jump to disagreeing with you about these points without first sussing out more about what you mean here, particularly in Point 1. (I think that Point 2 is a common enough aesthetic or approach to roleplaying that I certainly understand well enough.) Would you mind expanding your thoughts in Point 1, please?The things I dislike about the Story Now approach:
- Limited tactical and strategic considerations on the fiction level. In a traditional RPG your tactical choices can make an encounter much easier or harder. In a Story Now RPG your success or failure is decided without respect to your specific in fiction tactical choices. (at least as I understand the games).
- The ability to author fiction outside my immediate character (possibly not present in all story now games, but certainly in many).
That's probably not an exhaustive list but it seems like a good springboard.
I see what you are saying here.From my perspective a big part of this is that adventuring is not conducive to having who the characters are really matter. A substantial amount of what makes a character who they are is their personal context. You need goals, responsibilities, relationships, personal reputations. It's hard to have that alongside epic quests, big bads, and world shaking stakes.
For me, this is an illustration of goals, responsibilities and relationships (no reputations in the play I've described) establishing who a character is, and that informing both framing and resolution.I thought I would post about the session I played today, because it seems relevant to some of what has been discussed in this thread.
Thurgon and Aramina travelled north-west along the Ulek side of the Jewel River. The GM wanted to cut through a few days, but I insisted on playing out the first evening - Thurgon and Aramina debated what their destination should be (Aramina - being learned in Great Masters-wise, believes that the abandoned tower of Evard the Black lay somewhere in the forest on the north side of the river, and wants to check it out). Thurgon persuaded her that they could not do such a thing unless (i) she fixed his breastplate, and (ii) they found some information in the abandoned fortresses of his order which would indicate that the tower was, at least, superficially safe to seek out (eg not an orc fortress a la Angmar/Dol Guldur).
We then narrated through a few day's travel until we came to a ruined fortress of Thurgon's order. We boldly entered (Thurgon demonstrating his devotion to the Lord of Battle). The chapel showed signs of fire damage - a failed Fire-wise test, by Aramina aided by Thurgon, suggested that the fire came from a being able to melt granite (so a great dragon, or balrog, or archmage, or similar source of magical fire) - not the news one wants to get, and if/when we encounter this being Thurgon - conscious that it could melt his armour with ease - will also have a penalty to his Steel (= morale) check (a further consequence of the failed check).
Had the check succeeded, I don't know what more benign fact we might have discovered.
In the chapel we also noticed a trapdoor under the altar, which had been moved slightly. Thurgon looked around and attempted - via a History check - to recollect what he could of this fortress, but the check failed, and as he was looking about and wondering a bit of damaged masonry fell on him. The armour check failed, and he took a hard blow that broke ribs and inflicted a penalty that will probably last a couple of months unless he can find a good healer.
Despite the cracked ribs he was able to move the altar and lift up the trapdoor. He and Aramina went down, to find that beneath the chapel was a crypt, where a knight of the order - now reduced to a skeleton, but kept "alive" by his oath - had gone mad, and was insisting that Thurgon must stay with him to protect the dead from desecration. The GM was trying to goad me into attacking this mad skeleton, but Thurgon could not turn on one of his order, even one twisted in this fashion, and so we entered a Duel of Wits - the knight seeking Thurgon's compliance, Thurgon seeking information from the knight about what had happened in the chapel. Unfortunately for Thurgon the skeleton won the duel, with only a minor compromise required (to share knowledge with Thurgon after a year and a day) - and Thurgon's own last ditch effort to win the duel by calling for a Minor Miracle failed, leaving Thurgon swooing as visions of all the dead knights in the crypt impressed themselves upon his mind.
Aramina attempted to telekineses the skeleton's axe from him to her - and if she'd got it would probably then have started a fight with it! - but the attempt failed, and the skeletal knight shut her in the crypt with Thurgon. She roused Thurgon from his swoon, and the two then looked about the crypt as the skeletal knight returned to his seat. We found some books - a standard missal-type book, and a diary kept by the skeleton. From the latter we learned that he was on one side of some sort of schism in Thurgon's order, and that he had been stuck in the crypt with no food or water - hence his skeletal form!
The GM was goading for combat again - ie escalating the social conflict into martial conflict - but Thurgon was still not prepared to do this. So instead he first performed a ritual to honour the dead and lay them to rest (using the missal to help him) and then said a prayer of Purification to drive out the insanity from the skeleton. This was a hard roll, but succeeded - and the skeleton's insanity was driven out, his flesh regrew, and then he died (only a Major Miracle can return the dead to life). But Thurgon was released from the obligation to stay in the crypt.
Aramina made notes of the information about the schism in the order, and then we lay down the body of the dead knight with his diary as a head-rest, took the missal with us and left the crypt - realising when we came out that the altar had, at some earlier time, been moved over the trapdoor to stop this poor knight coming out; and moving it back into that position to ensure that no one, now, would go down and disturb the dead knights.
This session shows how mysteries can be introduced into the game - mysteries about what caused the fire, and the details of the schism in the order - without answers being necessary at this stage. (I'm sure the GM has ideas, but that's to be expected.) I don't know what would have happened if we'd been trapped in the crypt with the knight - the successful prayer could easily have failed! - but again I'm sure the GM had something in mind. But it didn't come into play, because the relevant action declarations ended up being successful.
I'm finding that quite small things, of little consequence for the universe (actual or in-game) as a whole, can take on a high degree of importance for me as a player when they matter to my PC, and I know that my own choices are what is bringing them to the fore and shaping them (eg repairing the armour; laying the dead to rest; not fighting the mad skeleton knight of my order). I'm not going to say that it's Vermeer: the RPG, but the stakes don't have to be cosmologically high in order to be personally high - provided that they really are at stake.
Huh? I referred to RPGs where the players can choose to declare whatever actions they want for their PCs. Then you said that there are no such RPGs, and asked (perhaps rhetorically) what would happen if the players of Prince Valiant PCs chose to be cabbage farmers.But would this actually ever happen? Or would the players in reality restrict their action declarations in those which they imagine being within the assumed premise of the game? I think that the premise of the game, at least implicitly, always in effect limits what things the characters can do. I don't think this should be particularly controversial.
When @AbdulAlhazred, @Campbell and I (and maybe others) talk about a RPG being focused on the characters, and the character mattering, we are not talking about "staying in character" vs playing a wargame.the question I have to ask is "Is it necessary for for the actions of the PCs to really change the results of a campaign for someone to be able to stay in character while participating in it and not just treat it as an extended wargame?" And the answer I have to give in terms of watching a rather lot of people play in games over the years that did not have any longterm thrust at all is "No."
As a player, Burning Wheel. No doubt at all.As an informal poll, which games have you all run or played in which you had PCs that you felt had the most depth and involvement in the story?
They do as I mean it.It's trivial to do so. DW and AW, for instance, if played in accordance with the principles and agenda that are espoused in their rulebooks, will satisfy @Ovinomancer's criterion. And neither has "narrative level" mechanics except in a few distinct playbook moves which typically (given the variety of playbooks, and of moves-per-playbook) won't be in play.
It's this.The ability to author fiction outside my immediate character (possibly not present in all story now games, but certainly in many).
Huh? I referred to RPGs where the players can choose to declare whatever actions they want for their PCs. Then you said that there are no such RPGs, and asked (perhaps rhetorically) what would happen if the players of Prince Valiant PCs chose to be cabbage farmers.
I answered, and your response to that answer is that such declarations would never be made. So if you think they never would be made, why ask me a question that takes as a premise that they are made? And if in fact the game can handle them being made - as I explained - then what is your basis for asserting that any limit here is imposed by the game as opposed to the preferences of the PCs?
I mean, the game includes Farming and Crafting as skills. And discusses playing a Peasant as a PC. It doesn't pretend that a Peasant would be a typical or straightforward example of a PC, but it is clearly within the scope of what the game contemplates.