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D&D 5E Respect Mah Authoritah: Thoughts on DM and Player Authority in 5e

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
If the factions etc are situation but not quest-givers, then maybe we have neither "story before" nor "story after" but "story now". The reason I've been assuming we don't is because @FrogReaver and @Malmuria seem to be contrasting their RPGing with story now, rather than presenting it as an instance of it.
I repeatedly brought up the point that what is happening in story now play seems fairly similar to what is happening in living sandbox play. I've got shot down on that point every time I've brought it up.

I don't see how you conclude that it's me contrasting those playstyles as something different instead of very similar in many ways. If anything, IMO it was you insisting on some large and important differences between the styles.
 

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Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Question for you:


If you're that Ranger on that boat and you want to protect that little girl and you have the suite of following two abilities (I'm not going to put any numbers to it, just theme), you don't know anything about the HP/abilities of the little girl and the tentacles, how do you make an informed decision:

COVERING FIRE - You buy time for your target to move nearby. Any mook that approaches the target you protect or attacks them in melee is slain.

KILL THE THING - Do a bunch of damage to the big thing!


If you don't know any of following:

(a) the tentacles are classified as mooks

(b) the mook tentacles don't share the monster's HP pool

(c) the little girl's father is actually capable of protecting here (mechanically capable...not just I'm a dad with an oar capable)

(d) how cover rules work at all (if you do COVERING FIRE, she's either moving to her father for protection or taking cover behind the fishing gear)

(e) that the girl is also a mook (therefore guaranteed 1 hit 1 kill vs perhaps having 4 hp and dealing with a tentacle that does 1d6+1 damage so she survives on a 2 or less)


If you know none of that stuff...how are you acting as an informed agent? How are you navigating that decision-point? In the menu of possible moves you can make based on inferences or meta-inferences (eg how HPs work or how genre tropes should impact play), there are plenty of ways this could go wrong.

A very simple one is "I'm shooting the tentacles nearby with my bow so I can protect the girl....OH THEY SHARE THE 80 HP POOL OF THE MONSTER YOU SAY (after action resolution is done and the gamestate has changed not an inch...the little girl is in the exact same perilous threat she was in prior to your move but you were hoping that you would take out the 2 tentacles threatening her)...WELL EFF ME...and the little girl I guess..."

If you don't have those crucial mechanical inputs (tentacles are mooks and as long as you hit they're donezo and you've bought time for the father/little girl/you to get to the raft), how are you not mostly flying blind? The agency-arresting prospects become significant and many/most decision-point become fraught with potential EFF ME AND THE LITTLE GIRL outcomes.
Interestingly, this is a great illustration of the reasons I prefer game mechanics that consistently and predictably model the fiction. :) I dislike mechanics like Covering Fire whose utility directly depends on the GM's choices for how to mechanically model the fiction precisely for the reasons you list--it makes it much harder for the PCs to understand how their abilities can be applied if given only an IC description.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Sure. But sometimes player input might result the game stalling and nothing interesting happening. Or something happening that the players actually didn't want to happen. And I don't think it is wrong for GM to nudge things into more interesting or preferable directions on such occasions.
I've excerpted this one bit because I think this is absolutely emblematic of the disconnect between posters, here.

If you said this about a Blades in the Dark game, it would not make a bit of sense. Like, totally, absolutely, just wouldn't make sense. It's so far outside the concept space that the idea that player input could stall the game or nothing interesting happen would be contemplating a complete failure of the game. It would be like saying that having the GM present a plot hook in D&D would result in no one knowing what to do and the whole game just stopping entirely (because the GM presented a plot hook). That's the kind of doesn't make sense I'm talking about. This statement just stopped me hard in my tracks.

So, why is that? Well, because it's true and absolutely wrong at the same time, and the way you read it is going to be very much how you approach the play of the game. If you're very much centered in the received wisdom of RPGs as handed down through D&D, then the statement makes sense. If the players are declaring actions that aren't progressing what the GM has prepared, or that are prompting the GM to make up stuff the GM doesn't care about, then absolutely play will stall. And, equally absolutely, the GM should prod the game to move it a bit and hopefully get to play that isn't stalled (well, I think @Lanefan would say the GM shouldn't prod it and just let the players stall out if that's what they choose to do). And, this makes perfect sense. Like, 100% agree that from this framework (which is, by far, the most common one in RPGs and perfectly cromulent) this statement makes sense!

But, from a different framework, it's nonsense. And it's nonsense because you can play RPGs where the player's declarations are what's at stake - they literally cannot stall the game because that's what the game is about. You can't have a game otherwise. And, if you're not familiar with this approach, if you have no experience with it, then this is making no sense to you -- you're imagining a lot of play exactly like you know and are instead imagining the GM doing things that don't make a lot of sense and seem frankly horrible to you if they happen to make this thing I just said make sense. It's cool, I was there once, too. But, here's the thing -- it does work, and it does make for awesome games (not better games, just awesome, like the other way can have awesome games, too). And, in that sense, the statement I quoted is absolutely nonsensical.

So, if you're a person that cannot imagine a game that operates in a way that the quoted sentence makes no sense without going to horrible examples of play, then this is the reason for the disconnect in this thread. I 100% understand and recognize the play being defended in this thread (although why the need to defend it exists I am a tad baffled by). I was taught to play that way and played that way for decades. There's nothing to "living sandboxes" that is surprising or unique to me -- if anything, this exactly describes the first AD&D game I joined, and the 2e and 3e games I ran. Why? Because that's how I was taught to play. But, I've since spread out, and play games that don't follow this paradigm, that are different, and that do very different things. And so, the statement I quoted is one of those things that makes total sense to me but also is nonsense. Just depends on which way I approach it.

An odd aside:
Imagine a person that has only ever known and eaten lima beans. They love lima beans, and they've prepared them in a number of ways and with different spices and seasonings. This person thinks they have the culinary world on lockdown -- they are the master of the lima bean! And then they meet someone that's talking about this weird food called steak. So they ask questions. How do you prepare steak? They hear you can grill it or roast it, even eat it raw, there are all kinds of ways to make steak. And they think, that is like lima beans, I can make lima beans in all of those ways. Steak is not different from lima beans. Then they ask, how can you season steak? And they hear about salt, and pepper, and sauces, and they think, lima beans can be eaten with these. Some, maybe, do not sound appetizing, but indeed, there cannot actually be any difference between steak and lima beans! And so, they declare they know all the things there is to know about steak, and that they need not sample this steak, because there's not any real difference between steak and lima beans. They are, after all, the master of lima beans!

ETA: This is different from a person that tries steak and decides to stick with lima beans, btw. There's nothing saying steak or lima beans are better.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I repeatedly brought up the point that what is happening in story now play seems fairly similar to what is happening in living sandbox play. I've got shot down on that point every time I've brought it up.

I don't see how you conclude that it's me contrasting those playstyles as something different instead of very similar in many ways. If anything, IMO it was you insisting on some large and important differences between the styles.
Lima beans.

EDIT: to expand, you're taking a sample of play, and then imagining how you could create that exact sample of play with the way you know how to play. You're totally ignoring that the play is different and looking only at "can I make that outcome?" So, what does this mean? If you take your idea of how that play could occur, and run it multiple times with different people, you'll get a lot of the results that pretty much create that play. How could you not, you've prepped this set of outcomes to be likely! But, if you run the story now play multiple times with different people, you're going to get wildly different outcomes. Because each moment of play follows from the one before and not from a set of notes.
 

I've excerpted this one bit because I think this is absolutely emblematic of the disconnect between posters, here.

If you said this about a Blades in the Dark game, it would not make a bit of sense. Like, totally, absolutely, just wouldn't make sense. It's so far outside the concept space that the idea that player input could stall the game or nothing interesting happen would be contemplating a complete failure of the game. It would be like saying that having the GM present a plot hook in D&D would result in no one knowing what to do and the whole game just stopping entirely (because the GM presented a plot hook). That's the kind of doesn't make sense I'm talking about. This statement just stopped me hard in my tracks.

So, why is that? Well, because it's true and absolutely wrong at the same time, and the way you read it is going to be very much how you approach the play of the game. If you're very much centered in the received wisdom of RPGs as handed down through D&D, then the statement makes sense. If the players are declaring actions that aren't progressing what the GM has prepared, or that are prompting the GM to make up stuff the GM doesn't care about, then absolutely play will stall. And, equally absolutely, the GM should prod the game to move it a bit and hopefully get to play that isn't stalled (well, I think @Lanefan would say the GM shouldn't prod it and just let the players stall out if that's what they choose to do). And, this makes perfect sense. Like, 100% agree that from this framework (which is, by far, the most common one in RPGs and perfectly cromulent) this statement makes sense!

But, from a different framework, it's nonsense. And it's nonsense because you can play RPGs where the player's declarations are what's at stake - they literally cannot stall the game because that's what the game is about. You can't have a game otherwise. And, if you're not familiar with this approach, if you have no experience with it, then this is making no sense to you -- you're imagining a lot of play exactly like you know and are instead imagining the GM doing things that don't make a lot of sense and seem frankly horrible to you if they happen to make this thing I just said make sense. It's cool, I was there once, too. But, here's the thing -- it does work, and it does make for awesome games (not better games, just awesome, like the other way can have awesome games, too). And, in that sense, the statement I quoted is absolutely nonsensical.

So, if you're a person that cannot imagine a game that operates in a way that the quoted sentence makes no sense without going to horrible examples of play, then this is the reason for the disconnect in this thread. I 100% understand and recognize the play being defended in this thread (although why the need to defend it exists I am a tad baffled by). I was taught to play that way and played that way for decades. There's nothing to "living sandboxes" that is surprising or unique to me -- if anything, this exactly describes the first AD&D game I joined, and the 2e and 3e games I ran. Why? Because that's how I was taught to play. But, I've since spread out, and play games that don't follow this paradigm, that are different, and that do very different things. And so, the statement I quoted is one of those things that makes total sense to me but also is nonsense. Just depends on which way I approach it.

An odd aside:
Imagine a person that has only ever known and eaten lima beans. They love lima beans, and they've prepared them in a number of ways and with different spices and seasonings. This person thinks they have the culinary world on lockdown -- they are the master of the lima bean! And then they meet someone that's talking about this weird food called steak. So they ask questions. How do you prepare steak? They hear you can grill it or roast it, even eat it raw, there are all kinds of ways to make steak. And they think, that is like lima beans, I can make lima beans in all of those ways. Steak is not different from lima beans. Then they ask, how can you season steak? And they hear about salt, and pepper, and sauces, and they think, lima beans can be eaten with these. Some, maybe, do not sound appetizing, but indeed, there cannot actually be any difference between steak and lima beans! And so, they declare they know all the things there is to know about steak, and that they need not sample this steak, because there's not any real difference between steak and lima beans. They are, after all, the master of lima beans!

What you are describing here is a revelation. As if, you try a story-game, and the clouds part, and a whole new way of understanding the world is suddenly available to you. Now you truly see (or, per your example, taste), as if for the very first time. It's grandiose and hyperbolic, and tbh does not do the games in question any favors.

Now, as indicated earlier, I have some experience with what I reckon are "story-now" type games: Blades in the Dark, Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, and, Lasers and Feelings if that counts. I've read a bunch of other ones, and listened to podcasts or watched actual plays, and read some of the theory. And there are aspects of those games that are really exciting, and fun! Reading and running BitD, in particular, has been great fun, and expanded my understanding of what I can do as a GM and how I can empower players in creating narrative stakes. But to say that a game that stalls is "nonsense" is a total exaggeration of what the game offers, and really suggests that a game--any game--can do things for your table that it really can't, not by itself. And honestly, the text of these games don't themselves make those kind of claims, so I don't understand why fans of them need to turn themselves into pious acolytes.

Finally, something that is, no, not very fair. Because they pertain to a very old set of statements, posted on some forums, and have taken to be metonymic of an entire approach to game design. But they still have resonance because of the type of hyperbole you demonstrate above, that seems to reappear online in any discussion of Forge-era theory (and no, I wasn't there, I just read these discussions like an internet archeologist, and see patterns).

Vincent, I'll say this: that protagonism was so badly injured during the history of role-playing (1970-ish through the present, with the height of the effect being the early 1990s), that participants in that hobby are perhaps the very last people on earth who could be expected to produce all the components of a functional story. No, the most functional among them can only be counted on to seize protagonism in their stump-fingered hands and scream protectively. You can tag Sorcerer with this diagnosis, instantly.
 


soviet

Explorer
An odd aside:
Imagine a person that has only ever known and eaten lima beans. They love lima beans, and they've prepared them in a number of ways and with different spices and seasonings. This person thinks they have the culinary world on lockdown -- they are the master of the lima bean! And then they meet someone that's talking about this weird food called steak. So they ask questions. How do you prepare steak? They hear you can grill it or roast it, even eat it raw, there are all kinds of ways to make steak. And they think, that is like lima beans, I can make lima beans in all of those ways. Steak is not different from lima beans. Then they ask, how can you season steak? And they hear about salt, and pepper, and sauces, and they think, lima beans can be eaten with these. Some, maybe, do not sound appetizing, but indeed, there cannot actually be any difference between steak and lima beans! And so, they declare they know all the things there is to know about steak, and that they need not sample this steak, because there's not any real difference between steak and lima beans. They are, after all, the master of lima beans!
This is an incredible metaphor, bravo!
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
But to say that a game that stalls is "nonsense" is a total exaggeration of what the game offers, and really suggests that a game--any game--can do things for your table that it really can't, not by itself.
I think that @Ovinomancer was saying that a BitD game stalling because of what the players have their characters do is nonsense, not that the idea of it stalling at all for any reason was. There seems to be an important difference, there.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Lima beans.

EDIT: to expand, you're taking a sample of play, and then imagining how you could create that exact sample of play with the way you know how to play. You're totally ignoring that the play is different and looking only at "can I make that outcome?" So, what does this mean? If you take your idea of how that play could occur, and run it multiple times with different people, you'll get a lot of the results that pretty much create that play. How could you not, you've prepped this set of outcomes to be likely! But, if you run the story now play multiple times with different people, you're going to get wildly different outcomes. Because each moment of play follows from the one before and not from a set of notes.
I didn't just talk about the fiction being the same, I also talked about where the process and mechanics were similar and different as well. Examples incoming.


When it comes to whether the Iron Tower Order has fallen the GM would have some notes regarding them and their enemies. He would then proceed to use a non-player facing mechanic to determine what happened to them. The players wouldn't necessarily learn of this happening unless they went out of their way to explore it.

Here the mechanical process that would take place to create similar fiction was identified.


D&D Sandbox players wouldn't necessarily declare their own checks, but instead would say something like I investigate the area for clues about what caused this homestead to be abandoned. I also check the obvious spots for where there might be gold. Drawers, underneath mattresses, chests, etc.

Nearly everything so far fits nicely into a D&D sandbox campaign.

Mechanical process again talked about

And now we have our first major difference with typical D&D sandbox play and story now. Your check for gold determined the presence of the orcs. In a living world sandbox the most likely reason for encountering the orcs might be the PC's lingering to long triggering a behind the scenes GM check to see if the orcs arrived. Most likely the orcs engage the PC's in combat.

1 major difference in mechanical process noted

Very possible in sandbox play (probably based on triggering event) instead of however the Elves were generated in the Story now fiction.

Yet another sandbox process outlined

For the same action a D&D GM would probably call for a history check and the playthrough afterwards could be very similar.

Similar process to sandbox and story now being described

Seems very possible for sandbox play (though sandbox play doesn't require such in dep

Similar process to sandbox and story now being described
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I didn't just talk about the fiction being the same, I also talked about where the mechanics were similar. Examples incoming.
No, you really didn't. I get that you think you did, but... no.

ETA: For clarity, the post was just this when I quoted it, it was edited to add the additional content after this post was made.
 
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gorice

Explorer
That is fair concern, and it is indeed quite true about D&D. Then again, I don't think it is unsurmountable problem. If it indeed is true in the world that trolls are more dangerous than ogres then that is diegetically knowable in the same way than in real world it is knowable that tiger is way more dangerous than a tapir even though they're roughly the same size.

Though with things that have levels it gets weirder. If humans can get to past level ten, then then a thing that looks like human can be way more dangerous than an average troll! But I try to treat levels as 'true' in the fiction too. You don't just randomly encounter high level people, they would be legendary mythic heroes known far and wide. So when introducing NPCs I try to communicate their 'epicness.'
These are good points. Personally, I still struggle, especially once characters reach high levels, but as you say, it's not an insurmountable challenge. Ultimately, though, I think I prefer it if physical attributes map more directly to mechanical attributes (so, a tiger-sized apex predator is obviously trouble and probably has attributes within a certain range).
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I didn't just talk about the fiction being the same, I also talked about where the process and mechanics were similar and different as well. Examples incoming.




Here the mechanical process that would take place to create similar fiction was identified.
This is very different. In the example @pemerton provides, no one knows if the tower has fallen or not. This is something that will be resolved (or not) in play, via the action resolution mechanics if the state of the tower is called into question. Knowing what I do about Burning Wheel, this will be a contest where, if the player wins their desire for the state of the tower will be true and if the GM wins some other situation may occur (the tower may stand, but be corrupted, or it has fallen, or some other thing).

What you have is the GM determining the state of the tower either by fiat or solo play (ie, the GM playing the game with themselves) and then maybe the players can find out if they ask/do the right thing to trigger the GM to reveal this information.

The differences here mechanically are vastly different, not just in form but also in function.
Mechanical process again talked about



1 major difference in mechanical process noted



Yet another sandbox process outlined



Similar process to sandbox and story now being described



Similar process to sandbox and story now being described
These are similarly off base. Again, you're looking at this from trying to recreate the end state of play in the example from the principles of play you understand. This is backwards. That you can force this outcome with traditional means doesn't at all mean that the methods to get there were the same. They weren't. If you iterated these over and over, a majority would result in the same outcomes you've hard coded into the prep. If you iterated the BW game over and over, it would wildly diverge and would not have the same outcomes.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
On second thought, there's little point in engaging someone that starts by labeling you someone engaged in quasi-religious revelation.
I sometimes get a strong sense of being preached at, or evangelized to, by some of the story-now crew around here; so it's interesting you'd say this.

The evangelizing is part of why I push back against it; as I push back whenever someone tries to preach at me even if I might otherwise agree with their viewpoint.
 

pemerton

Legend
I didn't just talk about the fiction being the same, I also talked about where the process and mechanics were similar and different as well.
No, you really didn't. I get that you think you did, but... no.
Well, here are some of the things I took away from the comparison:

* In my Burning Wheel, game, I the player established the dramatic context for my PC as a (the last, seemingly) Knight of the Iron Tower. This then informed subsequent events: I used Circles to meet a former knight of my (ie Thurgon's) order (Frederick) who was able to ferry Thurgon and Aramina along the river. It also informed the GM's framing of the episode with the knight in the crypt (described in spoilered part of the OP of this thread). The difference between this being player-authored and a premise for framing, and something GM-authored that has to be learned by way of "exploration"-oriented action declarations is profound. We can see just one way the difference can manifest in @Crimson Longinus's example of the accidentally fireballed sister.

* The difference between adjudicating a search by way of map-and-key resolution (the sandbox process described by @FrogReaver upthread) and by way of a Scavenging check is also pretty big. The former depends on the GM's pre-authorship: if there is nothing to find then we either have a moment of play that falls flat ("We search - what do we find?" "Nothing" or even runs the risk of stalling, if the players won't accept that "Nothing" is the truth and think they have to declare further actions (eg it's not enough to search the mattress and the fireplace - we have to pull out the stuffing, and stick our heads up the chimney). This can't happen with the Scavenging check, because either is succeeds and Thurgon finds what he was looking for, or it fails and some other consequence ensues - in this case, the Orcs have arrived.

* I've already posted upthread that I would love to see an actual play example, from "living sandbox" play, in which a social resolution unfolds in which it is the PC's dramatic need, rather than the NPC's, that is at the forefront of things. (In Thurgon's case, this was the need to restore Auxol, his ancestral estate, to its former glory.)

I think both of these would be perfectly normal things that could occur in typical D&D. My of solution would definitely just have the sister be a quantum cultist until revealed, so accidentally killing her is impossible. However, that is something some people feel is objectionable.

<snip>

again a situation that I feel could realistically easily occur.

<snip>

And at least in context of D&D some people feel that doing so is objectionable illusionism. Immutable backstory must exist. I don't agree wit this, but it is commonly expressed sentiment.

<snip>

Sometimes it might appear as blatant softballing.
I don't know where you are inviting me to go with this.

If someone thinks that anything other than fixed backstory is objectionable; and if they think that any sort of "soft move" is softballing; then they have to suck up the fact that the sister might get fireballed unknowingly, producing what might seem an anticlimactic outcome.

Conversely, if someone wants "no failure offscreen" (in this case, the key offscreen and unrevealed moment is the sister joining the cultists) - certainly a preference of mine - then they have to vary one or more of the above parameters.

I don't see the point of pretending that backstory is immutable, and of seemingly avoiding soft moves, and then having the GM secretly fudge the identity/location of the sister. That seems like an ad hoc solution to a mismatched set of resolution systems and preferences - roughly speaking, the use of Gygax's mechanics to play out a DL-type story - and not an approach that stands on its own merits.
 

pemerton

Legend
On the issue of "stalled play".

In a RPG which is "backstory first", and situations/scenes are framed by extrapolation from the backstory when the players declare the appropriate actions to "activate" what is latent, then the game can stall in virtue of player action declarations: because the players fail to declare actions that activate new scenes (eg they search the wrong place, they speak to the wrong NPC, whatever it might be).

In a RPG which is "situation first", then player action declarations can't stall play. Rather, the main risk to play is what Ron Edward said here, in reply to a poster having trouble with scene-framing and resolution:

If, for example, we are playing a game in which I, alone, have full situational authority, and if everyone is confident that I will use that authority to get to stuff they want (for example, taking suggestions), then all is well. Or if we are playing a game in which we do "next person to the left frames each scene," and if that confidence is just as shared, around the table, that each of us will get to the stuff that others want (again, suggestions are accepted), then all is well.

It's not the distributed or not-distributed aspect of situational authority you're concerned with, it's your trust at the table, as a group, that your situations in the SIS [= shared fiction] are worth anyone's time. Bluntly, you guys ought to work on that.​

What will stall a situation-first game is if the situations aren't interesting. That's why games like Marvel Heroic RP, HeroWars, Burning Wheel, Apocalypse World etc place such a high priority on establishing player priorities for their PCs, and making those clear. An alternative approach, found in The Dying Earth and Prince Valiant, is to rely on genre to do that work.

This also relates to the discussion about how to convey a situation to the players. The basic idea is that you - the GM - want them to have a sense of what is at stake, so they can understand why they should engage the scene, and how they might do so.

(In "backstory" first play, this sense of what is at stake isn't needed in the same way, because the players are expecting to acquire relevant information, including about what is at stake, from their action declarations - like searching, talking to NPCs, etc.)
 

pemerton

Legend
I repeatedly brought up the point that what is happening in story now play seems fairly similar to what is happening in living sandbox play. I've got shot down on that point every time I've brought it up.

I don't see how you conclude that it's me contrasting those playstyles as something different instead of very similar in many ways. If anything, IMO it was you insisting on some large and important differences between the styles.
I can only go on what I glean from your posts. Upthread you said that you can't post excerpts of actual play in part because it doesn't involve the sort of process you take to be characteristic of "story now" play. More generally, you often seem to respond to my accounts of play as if it is foreign to you.

If I've got the wrong impression I apologise. I am just trying to make sense of your posts.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
By Improvwith a Capital-I I am referring to the principles of Improv Comedy/Theater. Stuff like don't block, add information, don't ask questions, yes/and. Basically where we are all trying to work towards a common direction together basically in cahoots. These sorts of techniques are not really congruent with play that's focused on exploration of character or challenge oriented play in my experience where blocking, asking questions, and attempting to draw hard lines are all things I consider essential features of play.

On play stalling : If you run Blades or Apocalypse World according to instructions / best practices play will not stall. It has other failure states that don't generally apply to curated traditional play or living sandbox play. Namely things can get silly pretty quickly if players take it in those directions. This a pretty common thing that happens when players first encounter indie games before they settle in. Also some players do not like being addressed directly or put under pressure. Other players might not like the spotlight player being able to make decisions that affect them without hashing things out. Creative differences between players can be a really big deal here.

The reason for it not stalling is procedural rather than mechanical though. You are telegraphing and then making good on those threats if players do not respond so something will always be happening. If you apply the same techniques in more traditional games the same will also be also be true. Depending on the game some mechanics might rear their ugly head in ugly ways. The big ones here tend to be attrition models, win buttons, and special abilities that reframe the situation without risking anything.

The games are not magic and they do not do stuff on their own. You need to do what they tell you to. Playing them as instructed to will result in a different play experience because you are doing different things then you would do running a curated traditional game or a living sandbox. I don't think any sort of play is perfect. The failure points of different technique sets tends to be different though.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The main difference between a platonic living sandbox and a platonic Story Now game is that in a platonic Story Now game literally everything you do as a GM is centered on creating and resolving an on screen situation that is directly relevant to the narrative trajectory of the player characters based on their dramatic needs. The fallout to the setting is based entirely on the narrative logic of what has just occurred rather than causal reasoning of its attendant ramifications on the setting. You are trying to make the fallout of what happens in each scene as meaningful as possible.

In a platonic living sandbox pretty much the inverse is true. What the player characters seek out to do is just one small piece of the living sandbox. One of many inputs. Causal rather than narrative logic wins the day. We base fallout not on reflecting the narrative weight of player decisions and conflicts, but on reasoning based on the fiction what the fallout should be.

No game is really going to fit either platonic ideal though. The specific arrangement of priorities, techniques and the tradeoffs that entail are going to differ from game to game. Blades in the Dark in particular while not being a living sandbox game does utilize a number of techniques that make it closer to living sandbox play than say Sorcerer would be. It still utilizes those techniques in ways that are fundamentally different than say Stars Without Number.
 

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