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Realistic Consequences vs Gameplay

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Can’t involving the players be a year long process too?
Not if they want to explore the setting as a new previously-unknown thing. Helping design it kinda takes away from the new-ness of it.

I know I said a detailed setting is a good tool, but I feel like this may be overkill. Hard to say without knowing why it takes so long.
The time-eating bits mostly revolve around

a) looking at my last campaign, reviewing what rules worked and what didn't along with any ideas I/we have come up with in the meantime, and in effect rewriting those bits of the game system that need it (our system is about 95% homebrew these days, meaning I can't just rely on someone's published rules)
b) mapping - I do fairly detailed colour maps of areas I think might get explored during play, and these take time both in the physical production and in dreaming up what'll go on them; and then making notes of what's what
c) I rebuild the pantheons every time out to suit the new setting, using a universal base I came up with ages ago
d) history and backstory of the setting needs a fair bit of effort if the setting is to have any sense of permanence and continuity
e) all the little stuff not included in the above, or spawning from it.

But I think no matter what is going into this year long prep, player involvement doesn't need to be limited to just the endpoints.
Perhaps, but for me as a player it'd be like watching someone wrap my Yule gift - there's no surprise left when I open it on Yule. Or it's like knowing key plot spoilers before seeing a movie for the first time.

I try to (and want to) give that same sense of discovery to my players that I like to have when myself a player.

Sure. I decided to run Tomb of Annihilation as part of the campaign. I did this because Chult was already a prominent location for things that happened in the game, and I also wanted to use Acererak in some way, and the Death Curse seemed like an interesting threat to use since some PCs had been raised.

All the story stuff worked fine. The issue was the more classic dungeon crawl type approach to the game once we got into the tomb itself. I found myself being far more beholden to what was written than I should have been, and the procedural aspect wasn’t as appealing to my players as I had hoped.

I finally realized what was going on and changed things up and things improved. But we had a few sessions with some dissatisfying parts.

This is why I’m saying prep can lead to the GM forcing things. I mean....that’s exactly what happens in a dungeon, right? It’s all predetermined. This is how you get past this door, this is how you find that trap, and so on.
Ah. For me that probably would have been the fun part. :)
 

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If there is legitimate disagreement as to possibility of success then determining an auto-fail isn't a sensible interaction. Can people do it still? Yeah. But it is on par with someone claiming their PC can "totally" carry their gear, the partner's gear and their partner while running from a bear.
Sure....I think that players should have principles, too, and should not try to finagle things their way. See my “Don’t Be a Weasel” note above.

However, approaching the secret mistress of the duke with an appeal to join the resistance and replace the duchy with a democracy may just be an auto-fail.
Perhaps, yes. I mean, I understand what you’re saying. But....who decides that she is so faithful to the duke?

There are games that would let the roll determine such things. So if the PCs try to influence her and roll poorly, they fail. If they roll close but not quite, they still don’t sway her, but perhaps a PC picks up on her body language and realizes she’s the duke’s mistress.

If it’s a case of the GM already having decided it, then we start to get into some manner of force. The GM wants to preserve what he’s determined ahead of time. Is this acceptable use of force? In many games, absolutely. It’s likely even expected. In other games, it may not be.

Even if we’re talking about a system that allows the GM to determine an auto-failure, why can’t she be swayed? Does she truly love the duke, or is he merely her pawn or a stepping stone? Maybe she changes her mind, or maybe she thinks she’s found another person to latch onto.

Now, don’t get me wrong....I have certain bits of detail that are predetermined like this in my campaign. I don’t think it’s “wrong”....I simply prefer to limit it as much as possible because it is an example of force.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Perhaps, but for me as a player it'd be like watching someone wrap my Yule gift - there's no surprise left when I open it on Yule. Or it's like knowing key plot spoilers before seeing a movie for the first time.

I try to (and want to) give that same sense of discovery to my players that I like to have when myself a player.
I don't think I know of any GMs who don't run games they'd particularly enjoy as players. I know it's one of the things I explicitly keep near the front of my mind, particularly when I'm thinking about stuff between sessions.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Sure....I think that players should have principles, too, and should not try to finagle things their way. See my “Don’t Be a Weasel” note above.



Perhaps, yes. I mean, I understand what you’re saying. But....who decides that she is so faithful to the duke?
The person or group who built/discovered the fiction, obviously.

There are games that would let the roll determine such things. So if the PCs try to influence her and roll poorly, they fail. If they roll close but not quite, they still don’t sway her, but perhaps a PC picks up on her body language and realizes she’s the duke’s mistress.
Of course there are and they might even have been used here with a subset of players present, but I'm discussing the case where that fictional positioning has already been determined by whatever source. For example, 6 sessions ago, the group tried to ferret out a secret at court and accidently discovered the identity of the duke's mistress. Ultimately, the players decided to pursue a different tactic to their goal. Today a different PC decided to approach and recruit her into the plot against her lover.

If it’s a case of the GM already having decided it, then we start to get into some manner of force. The GM wants to preserve what he’s determined ahead of time. Is this acceptable use of force? In many games, absolutely. It’s likely even expected. In other games, it may not be.
It doesn't matter how it was determined. If it was created by the GM as part of the 'riddle' or the scenario, as colour, or as part of a (mostly forgotten) group exercise is immaterial. It isn't force if the GM runs the situation honestly to its potential. If the game includes an exploratory environment then it isn't force to have things that can be found via exploration that might hurt if not discovered. It is as much 'force' as a concealed pit trap is 'force' when the PCs move across it.

Even if we’re talking about a system that allows the GM to determine an auto-failure, why can’t she be swayed? Does she truly love the duke, or is he merely her pawn or a stepping stone? Maybe she changes her mind, or maybe she thinks she’s found another person to latch onto.
Presumably the same prepared fictional positioning determines that. Could some secret mistresses be swayed or even willing to help overthrow their lovers? Of course! This one isn't because <the positioning that's been determined>.

Now, don’t get me wrong....I have certain bits of detail that are predetermined like this in my campaign. I don’t think it’s “wrong”....I simply prefer to limit it as much as possible because it is an example of force.
 

pemerton

Legend
In the case of the dungeon, that sort of play is largely the point of a heavily-keyed dungeon, AFAIK. And the DM (or the adventure writer) saying "this door opens thus" doesn't feel like the GM forcing things the way that a Quantum Ogre (or some other avatar of Illusionism) does. Dungeons are highly channelized adventures, and some players (and some GMs) may not be happy with them for that reason, but I think they can be run honestly and scrupulously, even if one isn't satisfying an OSR-ish jones with them.
I understand the point of OSR/"skilled play" dungeon crawls.

But if the point of the game isn't skilled play (eg instead of mapping and poking and prodding, dungeoneering actions are resolved via skill checks) then if we're still using GM maps-and-notes I think that is going to limit player agency over the shared fiction. Much of what happens will be determined by the GM's decisions, made in preparing those maps and notes.

I can also imagine a hypothetical GM having at least where the PCs are prepped to the door hinges and running so the story belonged to the PCs
Well I'm not 100% sure what it means for the story to belong to the PCs. But if the main action is checking out where the PCs are and if the resolution of all that is in the stuff the GM has prepped to the door-hinges then I think the fiction will "belong" - I would say, will be authored by - the GM for the main part.

If the action isn't checking out where the PCs are but rather is about something else - such that where the PCs are is just a backdrop - then it might be different, but in that case why worry about prepping it? Eg in the episode of Burning Wheel play I described upthread it makes no difference whether I've mapped out the Hardby market or not. If I did that would just be me having fun on my own, but wouldn't be any sort of contribution to play.

There's a whole legacy of associating prep with maps-and-notes that comes out of the histor of D&D but can sometimes seem like it has no clear rationale any more. Apocalypse World is interesting in this respect for showing how prep can look quite different from that.

I can imagine a hypothetical GM running a hypothetical no-prep game where the story ended up being more about the NPCs or some other aspect of the world than about the PCs, where nothing the PCs did changed the direction of the story
I feel there's a difference between a GM in a game where the GM determines impossibility saying "it's not physically possible to jump across this canyon" and a GM in that same game saying "you can't change that NPC's mind." The former action should still be disallowed in "say yes or roll the dice" (and it seems as though there should be a mechanism to disallow it); the latter should be allowed.
Re: "Say yes or roll the dice"

DM: Your detective PCs realize the bad-guy just got in his car and driving away -- he's about half a mile ahead of you. What do you do?
Player: I jump in front of his car!
DM: Err....

The philosophy of 'say yes or roll' relies on sensible interactions with the established fiction. The DM determining auto-fails also only works with sensible interactions with established fiction. In that case however, the players need to be more cautious as there can be layers of fiction that have been established, but not yet shared.
A game where the GM just makes up whatever s/he likes on the spot will likely not be one where the players exercise a lot of agency over the share ficiton. But that's what mechanics are for!

Upthread there has already been quite a bit of discussion about how to resolve questions of fictional positioning. Where it's in doubt it can be made a matter of table consensus.

But we also need to talk about techniques for introducing fiction. Eg, to pick up on the canyon-that-can't-be-jumped: suppose that that has been narrated by the GM as a consequence of failure in the attempt to flee across country, then it may be fair game to establish it as un-jumpable. The effect of the failure is to shift the arena of conflict to something other than jumping prowess. The same thing could be true for the escape car. (See also the quotes upthread from John Harper, about when to make a soft move - He's going for his car - what do you do? - and a hard move - He's in his car and half-a-mile down the road.)

Deciding how hard to make one's moves as a GM, and what arenas of conflict to rule in or out, is part of the skill of GMing. Doing it as a failure consequence generally allows for more hard-ness than framing. If the player has lost the check, they know that their preference for the fiction is not coming to pass.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I understand the point of OSR/"skilled play" dungeon crawls.

But if the point of the game isn't skilled play (eg instead of mapping and poking and prodding, dungeoneering actions are resolved via skill checks) then if we're still using GM maps-and-notes I think that is going to limit player agency over the shared fiction. Much of what happens will be determined by the GM's decisions, made in preparing those maps and notes.
I guess it depends on the scale of the choices you're looking at, and the kinds of choices the PCs are making. I've never really been a big fan of any sort of adventure that has the word "crawl" in it, so I'm almost certainly not going to prep one in any sort of "approved" way. I'll still try to run it honestly, but it'll probably come down to larger-scale choices (which section of the dungeon-esque area they go to next) the PCs make.

Well I'm not 100% sure what it means for the story to belong to the PCs. But if the main action is checking out where the PCs are and if the resolution of all that is in the stuff the GM has prepped to the door-hinges then I think the fiction will "belong" - I would say, will be authored by - the GM for the main part.
In such an instance, the setting might belong to the GM, but what happens--that's the actual story--would belong to the PCs. The only way the GM can retain ownership is not to allow the PCs to change it.

There's a whole legacy of associating prep with maps-and-notes that comes out of the histor of D&D but can sometimes seem like it has no clear rationale any more.
I agree that prep can look very different from a keyed map. My own prep rarely includes anything like any maps. It's concerned far more with what has been going on before the PCs arrive, and what is likely to happen in their absence, and usually the consequences of what seem to me to be the most likely PC courses of actions (which are not of course the only things that can happen, but they do serve as something to base other reactions on).

A game where the GM just makes up whatever s/he likes on the spot will likely not be one where the players exercise a lot of agency over the share ficiton. But that's what mechanics are for!
Eh. Any GM who's gong to make up ... whatever, probably isn't going to be constrained by mechanics.

But we also need to talk about techniques for introducing fiction. Eg, to pick up on the canyon-that-can't-be-jumped: suppose that that has been narrated by the GM as a consequence of failure in the attempt to flee across country, then it may be fair game to establish it as un-jumpable. The effect of the failure is to shift the arena of conflict to something other than jumping prowess.
Or, if it's been mapped, and the PCs have encountered it. If a PC attempts to jump it anyway, it's probably worth making sure the player understands that this isn't some little groove in the ground, but an actual large-scale geographic feature. If that's clear and the PC attempts to jump it anyway, the possibility it's an out-of-game problem starts to rear its head.

Deciding how hard to make one's moves as a GM, and what arenas of conflict to rule in or out, is part of the skill of GMing. Doing it as a failure consequence generally allows for more hard-ness than framing. If the player has lost the check, they know that their preference for the fiction is not coming to pass.
Basing the fiction on the outcome of the roll seems eminently appropriate for the games you've shared play examples for, but I don't think that having the in-fiction reality be more objective necessarily removes player agency--it just adds some burden to the GM that the players know the situation before they act (or at least, they know that's how the game is being run). If I'm running a mystery that I've prepped (where I know at least what the core situation is, if not all the details) and I run it honestly--I answer the PCs' questions forthrightly, skipping between player skill (roleplay) and character skill (Ability Checks, in 5E) as needed--I don't think I'm removing the possibility of player or character agency. It's plausible-shading-to-probable that you disagree.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
It doesn't matter how it was determined. If it was created by the GM as part of the 'riddle' or the scenario, as colour, or as part of a (mostly forgotten) group exercise is immaterial. It isn't force if the GM runs the situation honestly to its potential. If the game includes an exploratory environment then it isn't force to have things that can be found via exploration that might hurt if not discovered. It is as much 'force' as a concealed pit trap is 'force' when the PCs move across it.
I think you're mixing two different things here with the mistress and the pit trap. Assuming we're running a dungeoncrawl, the pit trap is a valid obstacle because the players can, through the PCs, engage in various approaches to discover it. Failing to mount this kind of skilled play results in finding the pit trap in a less than optimal way.

However, the mistress isn't like the pit trap -- there isn't a set of skilled play that can be brought to bear without the GM building the social encounter like a dungeon. Most (all?) don't do this, or anything close to this. Rather, the information about the mistress can be discovered if you guess this is a thing and if you take the appropriate action. The problem is the approach -- either the players, as part of their skilled play, are expected to investigate every NPC for secret lovers (or, at least fictionally important NPCs), or they the players have to guess. Granted, this can be shifted by foreshadowing the issue, but then it's not really the same situation.

Many GM's use their notes to determine things about the fiction that are more fully decided as one way by the GM than even the notes say. The mistress may not be faithful, or may be a mistress against her will, or... lots of possibilities. If the GM writes down that the Duke has a mistress, and that this mistress is a powerful noble that might be attractive to the players as an ally absent the knowledge about being the Duke's mistress, and that the mistress would never betray the Duke, then you're in Force territory and need to be careful about play. Just the GM writing these notes down (or keeping them in their head) does not turn this into a no Force situation. Unless the GM foreshadows these facts well, so that the players can make informed decisions, then this is really just expecting the players to guess at a random thing when they don't even know they need to guess. And, if that directs play, it's Force -- the GM's thumb is on the scale directing a result that the players didn't even know was possible.

Of course, there's lots of ways to avoid that, but 'it's in the notes' in insufficient.
 

The person or group who built/discovered the fiction, obviously.

Of course there are and they might even have been used here with a subset of players present, but I'm discussing the case where that fictional positioning has already been determined by whatever source. For example, 6 sessions ago, the group tried to ferret out a secret at court and accidently discovered the identity of the duke's mistress. Ultimately, the players decided to pursue a different tactic to their goal. Today a different PC decided to approach and recruit her into the plot against her lover.

It doesn't matter how it was determined. If it was created by the GM as part of the 'riddle' or the scenario, as colour, or as part of a (mostly forgotten) group exercise is immaterial. It isn't force if the GM runs the situation honestly to its potential. If the game includes an exploratory environment then it isn't force to have things that can be found via exploration that might hurt if not discovered. It is as much 'force' as a concealed pit trap is 'force' when the PCs move across it.

Presumably the same prepared fictional positioning determines that. Could some secret mistresses be swayed or even willing to help overthrow their lovers? Of course! This one isn't because <the positioning that's been determined>.
Well if it’s already been established that the mistress absolutely will not betray the duke, then a player declaring his PC will try to convince the mistress to betray the duke seems odd. If it happened, the player is either acting on bad faith, or the situation is unclear.

Or it’s entirely possible I could be missing your point.
 

pemerton

Legend
In such an instance, the setting might belong to the GM, but what happens--that's the actual story--would belong to the PCs. The only way the GM can retain ownership is not to allow the PCs to change it.

<snip>

My own prep rarely includes anything like any maps. It's concerned far more with what has been going on before the PCs arrive, and what is likely to happen in their absence, and usually the consequences of what seem to me to be the most likely PC courses of actions (which are not of course the only things that can happen, but they do serve as something to base other reactions on).

<snip>

if it's been mapped, and the PCs have encountered it. If a PC attempts to jump it anyway, it's probably worth making sure the player understands that this isn't some little groove in the ground, but an actual large-scale geographic feature.

<snip>

I don't think that having the in-fiction reality be more objective necessarily removes player agency--it just adds some burden to the GM that the players know the situation before they act
I think there is a bit of tension between the first and last passages, and the middle ones.

The middle ones - where you set out methods in detail - seem to be about the GM establishing the shared fiction, and the consequences of actions.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think I have a fundamental problem with the notion that the story just belongs to the PCs. The story belongs to all the players, and that includes the GM. The setting and the story are not the same thing at all, so notions of 'retaining ownership' really shouldn't apply. Admittedly, I'm coming from a more PtFOWH perspective. I can see how some GMs would struggle with ideas about retaining control of 'their' setting though. I can also see how in a heavily pre-plotted campaign the complexion seems different. However, that inability to let go probably indexes a propensity for GM force, and that's a slippery slope.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think I have a fundamental problem with the notion that the story just belongs to the PCs.
My problem with it is that, taken literally, it seems to imply some sort of breaking of the fourth wall; but when I try for some sensible non-literal meaning all I get is the PCs are at the centre of the action, which tells me nothing about how the fiction is actually being established in play.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
...then you're in Force territory and need to be careful about play. Just the GM writing these notes down (or keeping them in their head) does not turn this into a no Force situation. Unless the GM foreshadows these facts well, so that the players can make informed decisions, then this is really just expecting the players to guess at a random thing when they don't even know they need to guess. And, if that directs play, it's Force -- the GM's thumb is on the scale directing a result that the players didn't even know was possible.
I'm just curious and this isn't just to you. Why is it that posts like these make force sound like something bad that must be avoided (other concepts too) but I'm constantly reminded that no other playstyle is being condemned here and that we are just comparing how different mechanics work in different games?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
It seems to me that there is a great deal of disagreement around what should be labeled an impossible task in RPG terms.

I think to get to the heart of this situation we need to have two terms. 1. Established in the shared fiction. 2. Established in the DM's fiction. Anything in either of these categories can rightfully be called Established in the fiction (based on what those words naturally mean).

I would argue that the DM having things established in the his fiction that have yet to be introduced into the shared fiction is beneficial to play - or at least a certain kind of play. Maybe the discussion should shift to also discuss how that benefits play? I think this discussion will feedback into the impossible task discussion. That is, if it's okay to have established fiction that hasn't yet been shared then some tasks are going to be impossible which the players may think are possible based on the currently shared fiction. The downside to this style is it can feel like a bad puzzle. Let's discuss the upsides for a moment.
 
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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I think I have a fundamental problem with the notion that the story just belongs to the PCs. The story belongs to all the players, and that includes the GM. The setting and the story are not the same thing at all, so notions of 'retaining ownership' really shouldn't apply. Admittedly, I'm coming from a more PtFOWH perspective. I can see how some GMs would struggle with ideas about retaining control of 'their' setting though. I can also see how in a heavily pre-plotted campaign the complexion seems different. However, that inability to let go probably indexes a propensity for GM force, and that's a slippery slope.
I'll answer this, and I'll try to address the problems @pemerton is having, as well.

In my instance, it's specifically about the PCs being the ones whose decisions shape the direction of the story. So in my Saturday campaign, while The Apostate, The Keeper of Secrets, and The Gleaming Dame all have interests in the party's actions, and the party can additionally turn for help to Barnett or the Cracked Shields or maybe the Primal Atoll, the decisions that drive and shape the story come from Mo, Joybell, Taman, Thneed, Orryk, and Fiona. I phrase it the way I do to remind myself of that--it's awfully easy for me to lapse and take possession of the story through any of those NPCs or groups, and that would be (by my lights) bad GMing. I won't argue with any reasonably similar meaning, though I think @pemerton is missing at least some of my inner context with "the PCs are at the center of the action." (Not that anyone outside my head needs to understand my inner context, of course.) While I don't run pre-plotted campaigns (I rarely prep more than a session in advance) I still have and have had issues with letting go of setting elements.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
My problem with it is that, taken literally, it seems to imply some sort of breaking of the fourth wall; but when I try for some sensible non-literal meaning all I get is the PCs are at the centre of the action, which tells me nothing about how the fiction is actually being established in play.
To me it seems fundamentally at odds with some basic concepts of what RPGs are and do. 'Authority' over a story, which I'm reading as doubling for 'ownership' is something that emerges from the back and forth between the players and the GM, regardless of the style employed or table conventions in use. This isn't about agency either IMO, as I think it applies to almost all games, both high and low agency, and from scripted to free play.

The fourth wall feel there might be part and parcel of needing to examine the meta of the rules that produces that story, and I think in this case that meta is being mostly ignored in favor of conflating 'authority' over the story with 'authority' over characters and their actions. The second is pretty standard fare for RPGs, mostly, but the first is highly contentious IMO. This could just be a product of my reading into @prabe 's post things he wasn't intending of course.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
@prabe - I think some of the difficulty here is that 'shaping of' and 'ownership of' are very different things. I think it's pretty non-controversial to say that PC actions should shape the story, set next to GM adjudication and reaction to those actions. I think the idea of 'ownership' is a little more problematic.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I think there is a bit of tension between the first and last passages, and the middle ones.

The middle ones - where you set out methods in detail - seem to be about the GM establishing the shared fiction, and the consequences of actions.
Then I'll try to explain them more fully. This may be another instance where we fail to communicate because our starting points are far enough apart that the same thing looks different to us.


In such an instance, the setting might belong to the GM, but what happens--that's the actual story--would belong to the PCs. The only way the GM can retain ownership is not to allow the PCs to change it.
So, I've been in groups that did dungeon-crawl-ish adventures effectively backward--we found what was supposed to be the exit and went in through it and jumped the Big Boss while we were fresh, then crawled our way out. If the GM had had us go in through the exit and find Room 1A (or however it was keyed) so we had to encounter the elements of the dungeon in the order he wanted (or at least that the writers expected), that would have been along the lines of not allowing the PCs to own the story.


I agree that prep can look very different from a keyed map. My own prep rarely includes anything like any maps. It's concerned far more with what has been going on before the PCs arrive, and what is likely to happen in their absence, and usually the consequences of what seem to me to be the most likely PC courses of actions (which are not of course the only things that can happen, but they do serve as something to base other reactions on).
So, yes, I was talking about my own methods, here. I don't map down to the room very often.


Or, if it's been mapped, and the PCs have encountered it. If a PC attempts to jump it anyway, it's probably worth making sure the player understands that this isn't some little groove in the ground, but an actual large-scale geographic feature. If that's clear and the PC attempts to jump it anyway, the possibility it's an out-of-game problem starts to rear its head.
If you're seeing tension between my talking about "if it's been mapped" here and my comments about my own approach to (barely) mapping, that's probably because I was talking more broadly, to include the possibility that the GM might map in that sort of detail. The mention of the PCs having encountered it previously was intended to convey that it was already an established fact in the fiction.


Basing the fiction on the outcome of the roll seems eminently appropriate for the games you've shared play examples for, but I don't think that having the in-fiction reality be more objective necessarily removes player agency--it just adds some burden to the GM that the players know the situation before they act (or at least, they know that's how the game is being run). If I'm running a mystery that I've prepped (where I know at least what the core situation is, if not all the details) and I run it honestly--I answer the PCs' questions forthrightly, skipping between player skill (roleplay) and character skill (Ability Checks, in 5E) as needed--I don't think I'm removing the possibility of player or character agency. It's plausible-shading-to-probable that you disagree.
So, I'm guessing the tension you see between this and the first thing you quoted comes to this: You think there's a big difference in player agency between (A) the PC's skill check determines whether the player gets to declare [FACT] and (B) the PC's skill check determines whether the GM reveals [FACT]; I don't.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
@prabe - I think some of the difficulty here is that 'shaping of' and 'ownership of' are very different things. I think it's pretty non-controversial to say that PC actions should shape the story, set next to GM adjudication and reaction to those actions. I think the idea of 'ownership' is a little more problematic.
That's reasonable-ish. My thinking, unpacked a little more: The players own the PCs; the GM owns the setting (to include all places and NPCs and history). The PCs own the story; nothing that the GM owns does. Even the PCs' opposition is really part of the PCs' story (note the way the possessives point). I suspect it's probably indicative of my thinking that in my email missives to the players I always describe myself as DMing for them.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'm just curious and this isn't just to you. Why is it that posts like these make force sound like something bad that must be avoided (other concepts too) but I'm constantly reminded that no other playstyle is being condemned here and that we are just comparing how different mechanics work in different games?
Force is just a tool in the box. Some games live by it, some avoid it. It's pretty neutral by itself. However, it's a tool that's easily abused, and, in the worst cases, is the tool than enables very dysfunctional gameplay (like hard railroads). The post I responded to wasn't about bad gaming or a criticism of a playstyle, but instead being very clear that the tool being used in that situation was Force, specifically how it was Force where a pit trap usually isn't.

D&D uses Force, so I can see how you'd think it's a criticism of D&D, or your playstyle, or whatever. It's not. I'm prepping a 5e game for tonight right now, one we haven't played in a few months due to life and the current crazy (I got sick, other people had to take care of ill parents, I game with some police officers who haven't had much free time lately, you know, life). I'm going heavy on Force, at least at the start, because I need to re-establish the current conflicts as they were left and that setting and themes of the game, again. So, I don't have a problem with Force. If anything, my plans for kicking things back off could be considered a railroad -- at least to start. After that, after I've re-established the fictional situation again, then I'll relax back into the much more PC directed play I prefer, but, as it's D&D, Force is always in my toolbox.

On the other hand, if one of my players has to bail due to being on call, then I have Blades in the Dark standing by. We haven't played that in longer, but it kicks off with less.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So, I'm guessing the tension you see between this and the first thing you quoted comes to this: You think there's a big difference in player agency between (A) the PC's skill check determines whether the player gets to declare [FACT] and (B) the PC's skill check determines whether the GM reveals [FACT]; I don't.
This is an excellent summation, but, like all summations, it's hiding a good bit of nuance. Like that the action declarations are different between these two, so there's some room to hide some agency there, and that the FACTs are different between A and B, so there's some room for agency to be hiding there. However, overall, that's a great way to put the functional differences between games like PbtA and D&D.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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