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Realistic Consequences vs Gameplay


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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I really detest PvP and this sort of thing seems likely to lead to it.
Where I see PvP (or more correctly PCvPC) as an occasional natural outgrowth of playing independent-thinking characters whose views, goals, ethics and tolerances don't necessarily agree, be that disagreement sometimes or all the time. And yes, sometimes it gets nasty; even murderous.

Even more relevant is when one or more PCs might not be in the party by their own choice e.g. they've been ordered on to the mission by a higher authority, so there's resentment of that along with resentment of having to hang around with - and put up with - these other schlubs.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Because Blades in the Dark encourages players to lean into their characters' failures and D&D doesn't?
This, I think, depends on one's personal and-or table's playstyle on the D&D side, particularly in pre-3e editions. There, one can lean into a character's failings and strengths in whatever ratio one desires in order to end up with a fun character and a memorable time.

3e and forward really tend to emphasize the strengths in characters and try hard to paper over (or mitigate, or outright remove) any failings. This of course means failings won't be brought out as often, or as willingly, and IMO this is kind of sad.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Just finished a Blades session and it reminded me of this thread. Not because there was any symmetry in play, but because it reminded me of how boldness of action and PCs not being on the same page can lead to absolute memorable calamity but in the best of ways (unlike this play anecdote where apparently everyone was unhappy).

The PCs are at War with their primary rival Gang who is one Tier above the PCs' Crew. War carries several negative mechanical effects and implications on play. The way to get out of War status is to (a) eliminate the enemy Faction or (b) negotiate a "cease fire" and a new Status (Status of -3 means War).

In the course of the last Information Gathering/Free Play, the PC Lurk (Infiltrator/Thief archetype) found the location of the rival Gang's financier/bank where their Stash is kept. Fortunately, its a flat in a tenement building adjacent to the Ironworks (which is a facility where they have a contact so that gives them access to rappel down to the hideout's bay window as point of entrance). Unfortunately, this financier/banker also possesses the holdings of other low Tier Gangs...so the prospect of negative Status with several Gangs and a lot of Heat is high and security will invariably be high.

The hope for the mission was the following:

1) Reduce the Hold of the rival Gang so they "Tier-down" to the same Tier as the PC's Crew.

2) Gain a lot of Stash.

3) Not incur too much collateral damage (best of luck with that) because the odds were high for that here.

The other PC is a Whisper (basically a Warlock archetype who Attunes to the Ghost Field for all kinds of supernatural affects/spiritual summonings). The Lurk and the Whisper have all kinds of issues because of the fallout that has occured because of failed attunements (demonic possessions and bargains that are haunting them, poltergeist "hanger ons", and other similar things).

Well, things were going well early and they absolutely snowballed because of a sequence of poor Action Rolls that yielded some Minor and Major consequences (and one poor decision) by the Whisper which involved dealing with a giant Python that was constricting him in the dark (the vault was accessed via a "zoo" room with all sorts of caged animals and a free-roaming python). A member of the security team came in to feed rats to the python (after hearing the noise), the Lurk knocked him out (pommel to the back of the ear) as he entered the room with a 5 (success with complication) on a Prowl that was Pushed for an extra die. Complication is the candelabra he was holding comes crashing to the floor. The "being constricted" Whisper Attuned to the Ghost Field for another Success with a Complication so ghost hands manifested to catch the candelabra and guide it safely to the floor. However, supernatural complications + further complications (and a poor decision to roll Resistance - Prowess rather than spend 1 Armor to reduce Harm 1 from the Python) = the Whisper incurred 12 total stress. That is the threshold for Trauma (in this case Haunted) and knock him out of the scene.

Complete clustereff ensued and a narrow escape.

Literally nothing they wanted to accomplished happened and they gained all sorts of bad things (Heat, Stress, Haunted Trauma, a loss of a lantern, another supernatural complication, a complication of "a member of the security team 'made' me during the escape" for the Lurk, and a Clock incurred by the Lurk to pay back a boatman driver that gave them egress via a canal that occurred as a result of the Lurk player using a Flashback - and incurring 1 Stress from it).

Again, complete clustereff.

PCs thematically in positions that place them against each other in their portfolio (the Lurk HATES the supernatural baggage and fallout caused by the Whisper) and the Whisper player made a poor decision (chose Resistance roll to reduce Harm 1 rather than spending 1 Armor).

However, this may have been our most fun Blades game to date. It was at least the most hysterical and likely the most memorable with the highest of stakes for sure (this may start a downward spiral for this Crew such that their story will end badly).

Why was this a great time and the game cited in the lead post was regaled as such a bad time?
I would say it's because this arose naturally from the gameplay, rather than from player decisions to undermine each other. The players were all doing their best to succeed at the mission. It wasn't as though the Whisper intentionally sabotaged the Lurk because they thought the mission was dumb.

In D&D terms, it was akin to rolling a fumble and hitting an ally (well, a series of fumbles). Sure, the character might be a bit salty about it, but the player should recognize that the other player had no real control over the misfortune, hence no hard feelings in the real world. Everyone recognizes it was largely down to bad luck. Maybe the player made a less-than-ideal choice by shooting in the other character's direction, but that's a far cry from active sabotage.
 

pemerton

Legend
Because I expect the insulted character to remember that insult, and I probably used all of PC B's good mojo not getting roped into PC A's idiocy? Because I expect goals passed up or missed not to be available again via the same path? It's clear we have pretty wildly different expectations of play in most cases, in terms of the fiction and in terms of the rules of the game and in terms of player behavior around the table.
I don't expect the PCs to be a many-headed hydra. I don't expect NPCs to respond in that vein either.

In genre fiction (comics, movies, books) it is not uncommon for there to be complex dynamics in social interactins. Wolverine insults people and Cyclops calms them down. Gimli threatens to chop of Eomer's head for slurring Galadriel, and by the end of the scene Aragorn has Eomer letting them go free and lending them horses. Sean Bean's character (in Ronin) reveals himself as incompetent around the same time that De Niro's character successfully negotiates for higher pay for all of the team.

Even in real life I have friends who are not friends of one another. And have sometimes been able to calm down disagreements between them.

So your trickster's actions weren't able to derail the warthane's actions that had already happened.
Maybe you misread?

The giant chieftain is trying to eat the trickster in retaliation at the attempt at oxen-fraud. The warthane, meanwhile, reaches out to a shaman. Warthane and shaman then calm down the chieftain and persuade him to aid rather than help.
 
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Probably because 1 PC action didn't immediately take you from step 3 to step 10 where all the bad consequences occurred.

Because Blades in the Dark encourages players to lean into their characters' failures and D&D doesn't?

I would say it's because this arose naturally from the gameplay, rather than from player decisions to undermine each other. The players were all doing their best to succeed at the mission. It wasn't as though the Whisper intentionally sabotaged the Lurk because they thought the mission was dumb.

In D&D terms, it was akin to rolling a fumble and hitting an ally (well, a series of fumbles). Sure, the character might be a bit salty about it, but the player should recognize that the other player had no real control over the misfortune, hence no hard feelings in the real world. Everyone recognizes it was largely down to bad luck. Maybe the player made a less-than-ideal choice by shooting in the other character's direction, but that's a far cry from active sabotage.

These are all 3 thoughtful posts. FrogReaver and prabe are both correct and a part of Fanaelialae's post is certainly correct.

However, there is more. This each of these are parts of the whole. Here are the other areas that hook into this whole thing.

I'll start with a very good post by Lanefan below because it addresses a core, conceptual difference here between Blades and Adventure Path D&D (despite the fact that a lot of D&D is a classic "heist game", like Blades):

Where I see PvP (or more correctly PCvPC) as an occasional natural outgrowth of playing independent-thinking characters whose views, goals, ethics and tolerances don't necessarily agree, be that disagreement sometimes or all the time. And yes, sometimes it gets nasty; even murderous.

1) Like Lanefan is talking in the post above, Blades is an EXTREMELY thematically aggressive game where the PCs are meant to advocate for their interests and the game and GM is meant to follow both the disparate interests of the PCs and the holistic interests of their Crew. Adventure Path D&D reverses the poles on these relationships almost exactly. Overwhelmingly, the game is about the thematics of the setting and the inertia of the metaplot (not the thematic dynamism of the PCs and the game/story emerging from that) and the GM does at least as much leading as s/he does following (if not much, much more leading). The players know this. The GMs know this.

2) Following directly from the above, you're going to have an "AP player archetype" that is deeply acquainted with all of these relationships and likely has an orientation toward "correctly triggering the GM to trigger the metaplot and reveal the codified setting dynamics" with extreme vigor. If you insert another player who has a different orientation (say, aggressively advocating for what they see as the thematic interests of their character or "pushing the candy red button to see what happens"), friction can arise.

3) PCs can marshal many more resources for both success and for the mitigation of consequences (while quantitatively understanding how all of these resources intersect with the resolution mechanics and possibly get them in trouble later) in a game like Blades than in a game like D&D 5e. As such, there is a position of confidence they experience that (nonspellcaster) D&D players do not when confronting noncombat obstacles specifically.

4) Blades is player-facing and GM constraining in the extreme. As such, the order of operations in play and the operations themselves are consistent and deeply understood at all moments of play. 5e D&D resolution of noncombat conflicts is overwhelming the opposite. 5e D&D actual social conflict is akin to a game of "Social Pictionary (SP)" mashed with "Wheel of Fortune (WoF)" with a mediator who may not perform adequately in either/both of the SP or WoF portions of their job from conflict to conflict. Its a very loose game of decryption and puzzle solving. Due to that looseness and the fact that PCs (one or all) could be dealing with a wobbly cipher now and again (or any/all participants could be dealing with various other states such as fatigue or waning attention span), a player in a 5e D&D game may feel very differently from moment to moment in how well they understand the implications/stakes/operational aspects of a social challenge or an exploration challenge.

Its made more difficult when a GM feels that they've done a good job in their SP or WoF roles, when in fact they may not have done as well as they think they have (or, because they carry with them the context of reading the actual module, they may think that pieces of the macro puzzle that they disseminate make senes, while, in fact, they don't and the GM is just dealing with the cognitive bias of having read the module).

There is an inherent vulnerability there that Blades players will fundamentally never experience.

Player: "We're on 4 out of 6 of the Tug-of-War Clock to convince the Mad Baron that the militia doesn't trust him, his people hate him, his captain's allegiance is flagging and that he should leave town before a full-throated revolt ensues. And he's just threatened to call his guard on us because Vildente manifested a Demon that read his mind and forced him to speak his deepest, darkest secrets aloud to his court. Alright. I stand completely relaxed at his threat. He's clearly unsettled from the brief possession. I don't address the Baron. I look directly at the Captain of the Guard and say 'I know you've served this man for a decade and have some conflicted love for him despite his horrible rule...we promise that we're the best smugglers around...we'll get he and his family out of the city without a riot claiming their lives.'

GM: "Sounds like Sway. I'm not sure how the Captain would feel after the summoning of the demon. I'm going to Disclaim this roll. Someone roll a d6. 1-3 and Desperate Position, 4-5 and Risky, 6 and Controlled. 5? Ok, Risky Position and Normal Effect. If you get a 4-5 we'll tick the Tug-of-War Clock 1 with a Complication. On a 6, the Clock will go to 6. 1-3 and back 2."

Quite different orientation in terms of opacity/transparency of mechanics, authority, the malleability of the fiction and its various imagined entities (the demon, the baron, the guard, the court, etc), and the players relationship to all of it.

I think that orientation and those relationships are all very key (along with what was written by the above posters) in unpacking why the different play experience (and the attendent feelings about it by the participants) emerges.
 
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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Where I see PvP (or more correctly PCvPC) as an occasional natural outgrowth of playing independent-thinking characters whose views, goals, ethics and tolerances don't necessarily agree, be that disagreement sometimes or all the time. And yes, sometimes it gets nasty; even murderous.

Even more relevant is when one or more PCs might not be in the party by their own choice e.g. they've been ordered on to the mission by a higher authority, so there's resentment of that along with resentment of having to hang around with - and put up with - these other schlubs.

In my experience, PCvPC has inevitably degraded to PvP. Our experiences of this differ. I don't in principle have a huge problem with characters that have divergent goals, but in practice if the players/characters won't work together the campaign I find the going not worth the ride. Some players--some tables--clear are able to keep character conflict from turning into player conflict, but I've never seen it happen. Obviously, YMMV--and FWIW I don't doubt that your table might be one of those tables that make it work.


This, I think, depends on one's personal and-or table's playstyle on the D&D side, particularly in pre-3e editions. There, one can lean into a character's failings and strengths in whatever ratio one desires in order to end up with a fun character and a memorable time.

3e and forward really tend to emphasize the strengths in characters and try hard to paper over (or mitigate, or outright remove) any failings. This of course means failings won't be brought out as often, or as willingly, and IMO this is kind of sad.

I was thinking particularly of 5E, but I'll agree that more-recent editions do less to encourage players to accept their characters' failures and foibles than older editions did. I'm inclined to think that moving away from roll-in-order was the key difference.

Personally, I've experienced more than my fill of life going badly, and I can empathize with people not wanting to deal with that in a game. Horses for courses, and all-a-that.
 

Both the DM and the player can sometimes make the wrong call. But it's just a game. Just take a step back and discuss if the players want to proceed from the actions that were taken, or if they want to redo the scene. Most importantly, make sure that it doesn't happen again. So find out why the player did what he did, and if he meant to do so.
 

Numidius

Explorer
In my experience, PCvPC has inevitably degraded to PvP. Our experiences of this differ. I don't in principle have a huge problem with characters that have divergent goals, but in practice if the players/characters won't work together the campaign I find the going not worth the ride. Some players--some tables--clear are able to keep character conflict from turning into player conflict, but I've never seen it happen. Obviously, YMMV--and FWIW I don't doubt that your table might be one of those tables that make it work.




I was thinking particularly of 5E, but I'll agree that more-recent editions do less to encourage players to accept their characters' failures and foibles than older editions did. I'm inclined to think that moving away from roll-in-order was the key difference.

Personally, I've experienced more than my fill of life going badly, and I can empathize with people not wanting to deal with that in a game. Horses for courses, and all-a-that.
Quite the opposite here. The memorable moments I have come from PC vs PC situations (when I did not GM). Sometimes a single pivotal confrontation that changed the course of events, some others an ongoing attrition of unconciliable attitudes with the occasional clash, or cross revenge.
I consider myself a kind of dramatist type, but I usually had to confront with impulsive, chaotic, or even too rigid fellow players, I disagreed with, in-game.
I
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Quite the opposite here. The memorable moments I have come from PC vs PC situations (when I did not GM). Sometimes a single pivotal confrontation that changed the course of events, some others an ongoing attrition of unconciliable attitudes with the occasional clash, or cross revenge.
I consider myself a kind of dramatist type, but I usually had to confront with impulsive, chaotic, or even too rigid fellow players, I disagreed with, in-game.
I
I've had great moments of character conflict. But the ones I remember fondly were the ones where both players were on board with it. It didn't descend into player conflict. Anytime it resulted in player conflict, it is something I recall as being entirely negative.

For example, in one campaign I was playing an apathetic, cynical monk in the same party as a Lawful Good paladin. The two characters were constantly butting heads. We had great fun roleplaying arguments the two had in between (and, to a lesser extent, occasionally during) games. Out of character we both knew that I was inevitably going to go along with whatever heroic adventure the paladin had in mind, and that the paladin player would make some reasonable concessions (coming up with a plan rather than rushing in blindly). But we had a lot of fun arguing from our character's point of view nonetheless.

Contrast that with the aforementioned campaign where one of the players was jealous that my character had gained enough points in the reputation system to be group leader (even though I lead the group democratically). He tried to get my character killed and instead caused a TPK and ended the campaign. You better believe there were hard feelings over that, and not just from me. The other players were really angry with him as well. A repeated pattern of behavior along those lines is why we no longer game with that guy.

Conflict can be a lot of fun as long as everyone is on board with it. It can be extremely problematic when not everyone is.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The search function is not turning up the thread for me, but some time in 2018 (I think it was) there was an extensive thread about this very issue in which I believe you participated. Your reading of those rules is not the only one. In particular, some people - including regular 5e players - think that the reference under the Athletics skill entry (Basic PDF p 59) to "try[ing] to jump an unusually long distance" establishes a framework within which attempts to jump further than a PC's STR score might be resolved; and that the statement under the Movement heading (Basic PDF p 64) that "Your Strength determines how far you can jump" should be taken to be qualified with an adverb such as "usually" or "with certainty".

That's not entirely accurate. Strength(Athletics) allows PCs to try and jump an unusually long distance. It doesn't give how far and with what DCs, so one DM might be like for every 5 you get on the check, you go 1 extra foot, and another might be for each number higher than 15 you roll, you go 1 extra foot or a number of other methods.

You get to go your strength distance with no roll(certain). X extra feet possibly, depending on the roll and DM method(uncertain). And no roll if the distance is simply not possible with Strength + max X(certain).

An ability check doesn't allow the character to jump an unusually long distance. An ability check doesn't exist in the fiction. A request to make an ability check is not an action declaration. A task of some kind that is performed by the character (which the rules do not specify and must be described by the player and judged by the DM i.e. the "special circumstance" I mentioned in the post you both quoted) might allow for a character to jump an unusually long distance and a Strength (Athletics) check may be appropriate if the outcome of that task is uncertain and there is a meaningful consequence for failure. As with all other actions the players describe, including whether or not a Charisma check resolves an interaction with a baron, the DM still gets to decide what happens.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
An ability check doesn't allow the character to jump an unusually long distance. An ability check doesn't exist in the fiction. A request to make an ability check is not an action declaration. A task of some kind that is performed by the character (which the rules do not specify and must be described by the player and judged by the DM i.e. the "special circumstance" I mentioned in the post you both quoted) might allow for a character to jump an unusually long distance and a Strength (Athletics) check may be appropriate if the outcome of that task is uncertain and there is a meaningful consequence for failure. As with all other actions the players describe, including whether or not a Charisma check resolves an interaction with a baron, the DM still gets to decide what happens.
Semantics. Whether you try to jump unusually far and get a roll or no roll, an ability check is called for if the result is uncertain. Given what the Athletics skill says, I doubt a DM is going to say yes to all usual(strength or less in distance) checks, and automatically no to even 1 more foot. Aragorn isn't going to be limited to 20 feet or less with a 20 strength is my point. He will be able to go unusually far(more than 20 feet) at least some of the time.
 

cmad1977

Hero
“I want to jump an unusually long distance over this gorge foresty gorge”
“How?”
“By running and jumping”
“Ok, roll athletics”


Or

...
“How?”
“By cutting down one of these trees and setting up a kind of ramp to get elevation and then jump.”
“Ok, you do it. It takes a bit but your plan works”
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Semantics. Whether you try to jump unusually far and get a roll or no roll, an ability check is called for if the result is uncertain. Given what the Athletics skill says, I doubt a DM is going to say yes to all usual(strength or less in distance) checks, and automatically no to even 1 more foot. Aragorn isn't going to be limited to 20 feet or less with a 20 strength is my point. He will be able to go unusually far(more than 20 feet) at least some of the time.

Doubt no more for that's how I rule. Some action declaration meaningfully different than running and jumping (and possible) or running and jumping combined with some special circumstance will be needed to get any further distance. Running at least 10 feet and jumping is just a running long jump which limits the PC to his or her Strength score in feet. Something else needs to be in play for the character to jump a great distance. "I try to jump harder than usual" just isn't going to work. Launching off that springboard might.

Whatever the case, my point was not about the specifics of jumping in D&D 5e, but rather pointing out again that the DM decides and the player is not entitled to make ability checks whether that's jumping or trying to influence the Baron.
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
So - self-censor?

At the least, those who self-censor wil end up frustrated and-or bored.

At the worst, if the change in scene represents a threat to the PCs that those players/PCs have realized while the talkers haven't, their declining to act could leave the PCs - all of 'em - in a world o' hurt.

In neither case is this good.

In the end, I think we can all agree it is about being respectful to other players. Players should allow other players to shine. That is how the entire infrastructure of character building. This guy is good at traps. This guy can take a lot of damage. This gal can deal massive damage. This gal can convince anyone of anything.

The issue is that some of these "shine" moments take longer than another. I always felt like that was one of the reasons for the shift of D&D's thief/rogue. The old rogue's shiny moments, even if plentifully added by the DM, are quick. The social part often takes a long time, as does combat. Sometimes, a player just needs to be patient. That, or find other solutions, such as split the party, involve yourself in the negotiations but as a side player, or add serious or funny commentary out of game. But, to always be the "talk is boring" or "this is taking too long" Leroy Jenkins of the group, is really just not allowing the other players to shine.

I mean, how many of you here have built a character specifically for a skill set? I have a drow arcane trickster/rogue now, who is almost 100% diplomat. All his skills. All his spells. And all his backstory revolve around that. If there was someone constantly ruining my diplomatic moments I would wonder why? It would be the same as if in every fight I tried to get the creature to run away or tried to convince the group not to fight. I am pretty sure the group would wonder why.

In short, it's a give and take style game. Almost all RPG's are.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Doubt no more for that's how I rule. Some action declaration meaningfully different than running and jumping (and possible) or running and jumping combined with some special circumstance will be needed to get any further distance. Running at least 10 feet and jumping is just a running long jump which limits the PC to his or her Strength score in feet. Something else needs to be in play for the character to jump a great distance. "I try to jump harder than usual" just isn't going to work. Launching off that springboard might.

It's not so much "harder than usual," than it's jump without much effort. Running and jumping as all athletes do to go 30 feet in an Olympics. They use no springboard or any other aid. Just run and jump. They don't have 25-30 strengths.

The jump your strength with no roll is just the number used when the PC is making no unusual effort, such as when using athletic ability to go farther.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
“I want to jump an unusually long distance over this gorge foresty gorge”
“How?”
“By running and jumping”
“Ok, roll athletics”


Or

...
“How?”
“By cutting down one of these trees and setting up a kind of ramp to get elevation and then jump.”
“Ok, you do it. It takes a bit but your plan works”
They could use a ramp. Or they could just try harder and go farther like Olympic athletes who just run and jump. The base number of feet with no roll is just the distance they can go with little effort and no real use of their athletic ability.
 



FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
In the end, I think we can all agree it is about being respectful to other players. Players should allow other players to shine. That is how the entire infrastructure of character building. This guy is good at traps. This guy can take a lot of damage. This gal can deal massive damage. This gal can convince anyone of anything.

The issue is that some of these "shine" moments take longer than another. I always felt like that was one of the reasons for the shift of D&D's thief/rogue. The old rogue's shiny moments, even if plentifully added by the DM, are quick. The social part often takes a long time, as does combat. Sometimes, a player just needs to be patient. That, or find other solutions, such as split the party, involve yourself in the negotiations but as a side player, or add serious or funny commentary out of game. But, to always be the "talk is boring" or "this is taking too long" Leroy Jenkins of the group, is really just not allowing the other players to shine.

I mean, how many of you here have built a character specifically for a skill set? I have a drow arcane trickster/rogue now, who is almost 100% diplomat. All his skills. All his spells. And all his backstory revolve around that. If there was someone constantly ruining my diplomatic moments I would wonder why? It would be the same as if in every fight I tried to get the creature to run away or tried to convince the group not to fight. I am pretty sure the group would wonder why.

In short, it's a give and take style game. Almost all RPG's are.

IMO. The problem with Diplomancer players is that they insist that since they are the best at talking that they are the only ones who ever talk. They do this because inevitably social encounters are ran such that PCs not adept in social skills are a detriment when they attempt to do anything. That leads to feelings that anyone else doing anything in a social encounter is sabotaging their time to shine. This is unlike every other pillar of the game.

Combat all characters are better off doing something than nothing.
Exploration, typically every character can find a way to help. Lookout for danger, navigate, scout ahead, look for food, watch for traps, etc.
Social, basically anyone but the character with the highest social skills contributing is detrimental.

So I don't really blame diplomancer players for their sentiments, the entire game tends to get ran in such a way that their feelings are only natural. I think instead maybe we focus on how the game can handle multiple players interacting in a social encounter without being a detriment.
 

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