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D&D 5E Roleplaying in D&D 5E: It’s How You Play the Game

pemerton

Legend
The first process I looked at was the stochastic method. My framing is that the function of the stochastic method is to choose between possible subsequent worlds. When we're about to roll, multiple worlds are possible. Once the dice have fallen, we'll agree on one world. RNG is the die. P captures the modifiers player has assembled. World captures the game world parameters (AC, DC etc.)

RNG + P + W
RNG + P
Just looking at this: players assemble modifiers in all sorts of way.

In MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic, all rolls made by the players are opposed, either by another acting character or by the Doom Pool. All outcomes are rated by size. One outcome can be stepping back a trait on one's own sheet (eg injury) or on another's sheet (eg ripping off bits of Iron Man's armour).

Suppose that player A's PC rips bits of Iron Man's armour (say with a successful check against Iron Man that draws on a combination of Strength and Technical expertise (maybe Bill Foster is doing this in his Goliath form); and the player B's PC has an easier time beating up Iron Man as a result. Is that P, or W?

A parallel thing in D&D might be one PC grabbing a character and a second PC taking advantage of the immobilisation to beat the character up.

A game in which augments/bonuses are gated behind successful actions (be they helping actions from others, or one's own "auxiliary" actions) will have a different feel from one in which a player can accrue them without having to perform an action (especially when, as in MHRP, there is an action economy).

The same is true for one where augments/bonuses are available by spending currency (eg in Fate, paying a fate point and then narrating post facto the W) vs one where the fiction serves as a constraint, because it is already established prior to the check being made.

I also don't understand what clarity is gained by replacing Baker's notion of negotiated imagination, which requires decisions (perhaps mediated by dice rolls) as to whose preferred imaginative content is introduced into the shared fiction, with a notion of "possible worlds".
 

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5e already has text to that effect. I think of - say something meaningful - as the least-extensive interpretation (one word) that can still evoke the wider principles. Leaving it up to each group is a feature, not a bug.
Well, I think that the ambiguity of 'meaningful' would prevent it from having any wide impact. And sure, 5e must someplace mention that the world is 'fantastical', etc. and no doubt there is much fantastical color, but CLEARLY this is kind of 'skin deep', you don't really gain much by following that advice in a game process kind of sense. It does a lot more work in a game like DW, where everything is rooted in a fiction that is rooted in something the players voiced as a concern/interest/focus of play. So when Joe says he wants to go visit his hometown, Dwarfville, because he's got a contract to figure out who murdered the Magical Bridge Engineer Madge the Magnificent, we're going to find out that Dwarfville is a fantastical community built on the wall of a bottomless crack in the Earth, and Madge was engineering a bridge to the other side, which is 3 miles away. See what I mean? You could do this in 5e, of course, but it sort of NATURALLY ARISES in a game where "portray the world as fantastic" is one of a few named principles of play. Principles that are a lot more than DM advice, they are the engine of the game!
Fundamentally, the PbtA design is more concerned to guarantee play of its best version. I believe the designers of 5e didn't want to commit to a best version. For good reasons.
Yeah, you know what they say about those who are afraid to commit...
Breaking it down, I can see the following elements:
  • Timing of world establishing fiction (e.g. prepared, or in the moment)
  • Ownership of world establishing fiction (e.g. DM, or shared)
  • [Ownership of what characters say, feel and do (are there RPGs where players don't own their characters?)]
Well, Paranoia comes pretty close, lol.
  • Method for sorting between subsequent worlds (e.g. RNG, and/or player inclination, and/or game world parameters, etc.)
  • Ownership of results (e.g. DM, or shared)
  • Direction for results (e.g. expert judgement, or explicative rules)
With those elements, one might assemble a diversity of games. For example, can you see a reason why one cannot (as opposed to, does not wish to) site ownership and direction of consequences with DM, while using a method of sorting between subsequent worlds that excludes game world parameters?
OK, I certainly am not disputing that those are a way to parse things. In terms of what new 5e material available in the last 3 years or so, or which is now upcoming, might provide: New resource models that get away from the limiting and unbalanced ones that classic 5e has. Things that tie into and reinforce characterization in a more concrete way (IE mechanics that leverage BIFTs or provide some mechanics and meta-currency perhaps). Alternate rules sets that actually lay out some different process of play. Something to increase the player leverage on mechanics and outcomes and guarantee their stakes. I would think re-adding a Skill Challenge system or similar would be low-hanging fruit here. A bit more reach might be something like increasing the differentiations between the tiers of play so they are more distinct.
 

I don't think they split hairs at all! I don't think they chose "describe", "decide", "determine", "narrate" at those different parts of their text on any more principled basis than the basic one of not wanting to repeat the same word too much.
LOL, little wishy-washy was I? ;)
I think these are very informally written and presented rules - the stuff on page 2 is pretty close to page 3, but someone who wanted to quibble could no doubt find differences, even though I think they're both meant to describe the same process of play. This stuff isn't drafted with the same sort of technical precision found in a statute, or the M:tG official rules. Obviously a significant part of its purpose is to describe something that many long-time D&D players will find familiar, but that doesn't turn on the precise choice of verb as opposed to conveying the sense of who has what authority, who is expected to be saying what sort of thing when, etc.
Well, less generously, perhaps, if the GM is just totally in charge of everything, then what do you need to say? lol. I mean, not that they ARE in practice totally in charge, but philosophically if the rules take that position as its starting point, then whatever you say from there has to work against that, so why say anything definitive at all? Cast it all in an 'advice voice' and then you're not committed to any of it. I honestly sometimes despise 5e's voice. Gary at least stood clearly for something, his money and his mouth were in the same place. I always respected that.
I recently got my Torchbearer 2nd ed books. The Scholar's Guide says this (p 213), under the heading 'The Game Master's Role':

The game master is the arbiter of when the rules are invoked in Torchbearer. Play proceeds as the game master describes the scene and the action occurring in it, to which the players respond by describing their characters’ actions as they interact with the scene. The game master then replies with how the environment and the supporting cast react to the characters’ actions. Play goes back and forth like this until the game master decides a player’s description requires a test of a skill or ability.​
When a player asks you, “Can I test this?” as the game master, your response should be, “What is your character doing? Tell me where you put your feet or how far you go or where you look.”​
Yes, there is a certain poster in this thread who would like that! I don't have a problem with it either. I've skimmed through the TB2 rules. Drawing up a character, etc. I'm hesitant about running it, BW is a bit too fiddly a system for me to GM with my ancient brain, but it should be fun, and it definitely illustrates a certain set of concepts.
If all I knew about Torchbearer was that passage, and all I knew about 5e D&D was the stuff I've quoted from pp 2 and 3 of the Basic PDF, they would look like pretty much the same game, except that one calls its GMs DMs and the other calls checks tests.

But in fact Torchbearer and 5e D&D are pretty different RPGs, in far more than their favoured terminology. But you can't get those differences from these relatively abstract, high-level descriptions of participants' roles in the basic dynamics of play.
Well, TB, as a BW-based game (nobody has yet coined "Powered by the Burning Wheel", eh?) achieves its ends through specific detailed mechanics and process. PbtA games OTOH do it through a simpler mechanical architecture tied to a very specific set of agenda and principles. I think they're aiming for similar things, but in a bit different way. So with Dungeon World for instance I think the high level description would tell you what you needed to know, mostly, but it would also be a bit less easy to summarize, although "start and end with the fiction, say what follows, ask the players, and be a fan of the characters" gets a lot of it. Still, you kind of need the full principles list to really know...
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Just looking at this: players assemble modifiers in all sorts of way.

In MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic, all rolls made by the players are opposed, either by another acting character or by the Doom Pool. All outcomes are rated by size. One outcome can be stepping back a trait on one's own sheet (eg injury) or on another's sheet (eg ripping off bits of Iron Man's armour).

Suppose that player A's PC rips bits of Iron Man's armour (say with a successful check against Iron Man that draws on a combination of Strength and Technical expertise (maybe Bill Foster is doing this in his Goliath form); and the player B's PC has an easier time beating up Iron Man as a result. Is that P, or W?

A parallel thing in D&D might be one PC grabbing a character and a second PC taking advantage of the immobilisation to beat the character up.

A game in which augments/bonuses are gated behind successful actions (be they helping actions from others, or one's own "auxiliary" actions) will have a different feel from one in which a player can accrue them without having to perform an action (especially when, as in MHRP, there is an action economy).

The same is true for one where augments/bonuses are available by spending currency (eg in Fate, paying a fate point and then narrating post facto the W) vs one where the fiction serves as a constraint, because it is already established prior to the check being made.
It's good to analyse systems at multiple levels, for sure. One game designer's blog argues that a top-down approach is the most efficient way to resolve a TTRPG design. That can manage the complexity well, but as you say we must also consider the detail. Strangely, I sense a note of disagreement in your post, where I see these explorations as collaborative. The detail perspective adds to the processes perspective.

I also don't understand what clarity is gained by replacing Baker's notion of negotiated imagination, which requires decisions (perhaps mediated by dice rolls) as to whose preferred imaginative content is introduced into the shared fiction, with a notion of "possible worlds".
What comes next isn't arbitrary, right?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
the time frame that I (and the groups I played with) thought like you... it is a completely different mentality one that changed for me over the years. Viewing your thoughts as if I had said them at 14 or even 22 makes me understand where you are coming from. Thinking of you as I am now in my 40's I can't understand you at all.
I'm in my 50's and this isn't some sort of "young" mindset. If you don't understand it, it's for different reasons than age or maturity.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Just looking at this: players assemble modifiers in all sorts of way.

In MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic, all rolls made by the players are opposed, either by another acting character or by the Doom Pool. All outcomes are rated by size. One outcome can be stepping back a trait on one's own sheet (eg injury) or on another's sheet (eg ripping off bits of Iron Man's armour).

Suppose that player A's PC rips bits of Iron Man's armour (say with a successful check against Iron Man that draws on a combination of Strength and Technical expertise (maybe Bill Foster is doing this in his Goliath form); and the player B's PC has an easier time beating up Iron Man as a result. Is that P, or W?

A parallel thing in D&D might be one PC grabbing a character and a second PC taking advantage of the immobilisation to beat the character up.

A game in which augments/bonuses are gated behind successful actions (be they helping actions from others, or one's own "auxiliary" actions) will have a different feel from one in which a player can accrue them without having to perform an action (especially when, as in MHRP, there is an action economy).

The same is true for one where augments/bonuses are available by spending currency (eg in Fate, paying a fate point and then narrating post facto the W) vs one where the fiction serves as a constraint, because it is already established prior to the check being made.
Or perhaps you mean more to introduce discussion of what some systems do (other than the ones I was analysing) to illustrate that it's not as simple as my abstraction. Sure, I absolutely agree that it is not. The simplified abstraction is done to get a handle on it.

In 5e a grapple wouldn't do what you suggest. You might be thinking of some kind of restraining move or spell. My feeling is that once it's in the world, it's a W. On the grounds that suppose we came into the room at that exact moment, and joined the game. What we see is a W - our foe is restrained.

[P starts with what player puts on their character sheet. The parts of the fiction they signal they are committed to engaging with.]
 
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It's good to analyse systems at multiple levels, for sure. One game designer's blog argues that a top-down approach is the most efficient way to resolve a TTRPG design. That can manage the complexity well, but as you say we must also consider the detail. Strangely, I sense a note of disagreement in your post, where I see these explorations as collaborative. The detail perspective adds to the processes perspective.


What comes next isn't arbitrary, right?
IMHO the key question when looking at stochastic methods, or even non-stochastic ones, is what exactly is the basis of a decision, that is actually WHAT is decided? In D&D a 'check' is a test of character ability which decides if the character can overcome the fiction and achieve a positive task outcome. Relevant factors are the character's 'ability', the 'difficulty' of the task, and any situational adjustments could represent better planning or assistance, or better tactics.

Now, in Dungeon World, for example, the 'check' is simply an arbitrary decision of fate. There is no such thing as 'difficulty', something is either fictionally possible, or not. Admittedly, 'tactics' can apply, you do get an ability bonus on some checks, so it pays to play to your strengths, and then there IS 'hold' and 'Forward', which can be obtained in various ways. Still, mostly its the Fickle Finger of Fate, but the outcomes don't necessarily decide 'success' and 'failure', but more 'fortune' or 'misfortune'.

There are of course other options too. The PACE system uses no dice, and you get 'points' which are based on whatever character attribute you invoked (So, a character with "Brave Warrior: 4" would get 4 points), and then you can spend 'tokens' to increase that using a bidding format. In that system EVERY check is 'opposed' by SOMETHING, the points on the other side do represent a sort of 'strength of the opposition', but more in a dramatic sense, not really on the basis of 'physics'. Failing to match the opposing point total represents a narrative 'setback', which may include a 'wound' (some sort of persistent fictional disadvantage).

These are just a sampling. One needs a bit of sophistication in terms of analysis to understand all of them. Obviously within just the umbrella of what might work in 5e the possibilities are a lot narrower than in RPGs generally. 'What comes next' is not 'arbitrary', but what it consists of is generally a significant concern, particularly in story game play. 5e relegates it to basically 'whatever the GM decides', the only principle being the general idea that a passed check represents some sort of 'success' and thus further narrative is loosely obligated to reflect that (more so in combat).
 

HammerMan

Legend
I'm in my 50's and this isn't some sort of "young" mindset. If you don't understand it, it's for different reasons than age or maturity.
again I went out of my way (and even called out that I did) to not say maturity. It is a different mindset (one I used to have and do not anymore). I don't know what lived experiences you had at 50 that gives you a play style that I stopped using 20ish years ago. I would have before resent conversations assumed it was 'out growing' but I even said I was NOT assigning value or maturity to it. It is just that I have not played that was since late 90's early 2000's
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
again I went out of my way (and even called out that I did) to not say maturity. It is a different mindset (one I used to have and do not anymore). I don't know what lived experiences you had at 50 that gives you a play style that I stopped using 20ish years ago. I would have before resent conversations assumed it was 'out growing' but I even said I was NOT assigning value or maturity to it. It is just that I have not played that was since late 90's early 2000's
I'm not sure what style of play you are referring to? I mean, taking reasonable precautions is not really a style of play.
 

HammerMan

Legend
I'm not sure what style of play you are referring to? I mean, taking reasonable precautions is not really a style of play.
the style where you can leave no door unopened, no treasure unfound, and no monster undeafeated.

for years we have cleared SOME dungeons totally, but we have somewhere around as many (maybe slightly less) where we reached an objective, or found ourselves too low on resources and left. Very rarely in 20 years (and I don't think at all in the last 5) has an objective of any adventure been to kill all enemies or collect all the treasure.
and
My PCs will always have at least a dagger on them. Too many times something has happened at parties to make it worth the risk to attend one without the ability to defend myself.

came from a time when EVERY PC we played HAD to have a weapon just in case. As we grew up and most of us walk around with weapons so we realised neither would most our characters...
 

HammerMan

Legend
When I was playing 2e walking around town (even if we had a month of downtime) my fighter would everyday walk in chain and have his longsword at his side and shield (or second weapon) because you never know when the evil DM would spring a surprise attack... as time went on we realized that we not only didn't WANT our characters to be that paranoid, but since most times it didn't come up it was dumb anyway...

what we found since was on the occasion that something happened and we were not equipped it made for better stories as we got to said equipment.

Now that isn't to say no one EVER has a weapon... sometimes 1 character or another (I would say spread between all of us for 20 years it is most likely like 5-10% of the time at most) made the story better because it made sense we would have the knife or the armor.

We also have wizards and clerics that have 'downtime prep' lists and 'travel prep lists' and 'going to pick a fight prep lists' and if a fight breaks out they may not have all of there combat spells ready.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
the style where you can leave no door unopened, no treasure unfound, and no monster undeafeated.
I don't play like that and what you responded really couldn't be construed as such. No idea where you are getting that from.
My PCs will always have at least a dagger on them. Too many times something has happened at parties to make it worth the risk to attend one without the ability to defend myself.
Yep. Reasonable precautions are reasonable. Has nothing at all to do with what you are talking about above.
came from a time when EVERY PC we played HAD to have a weapon just in case. As we grew up and most of us walk around with weapons so we realised neither would most our characters...
You and I don't walk around in that kind of world. You guys are basing your reasoning on apples instead of oranges.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Yep. Reasonable precautions are reasonable. Has nothing at all to do with what you are talking about above.
I'm sorry I disagree. If you have no reason to expect a party to be a trap, I see no reason for most characters to carry weapons or armor
You and I don't walk around in that kind of world. You guys are basing your reasoning on apples instead of oranges.
maybe I just play in different types of worlds. Most worlds we play in parties DONT turn into combat encounters (not never but by far the minority) and going back to teenage years when we walked around town with weapons and armor, it was ALSO a minority of the time we needed them.

How often are you in a social situation/encounter in a town that turns into combat?
 


clearstream

(He, Him)
Now, in Dungeon World, for example, the 'check' is simply an arbitrary decision of fate. There is no such thing as 'difficulty', something is either fictionally possible, or not. Admittedly, 'tactics' can apply, you do get an ability bonus on some checks, so it pays to play to your strengths, and then there IS 'hold' and 'Forward', which can be obtained in various ways. Still, mostly its the Fickle Finger of Fate, but the outcomes don't necessarily decide 'success' and 'failure', but more 'fortune' or 'misfortune'.
Exactly! That's one motive for moving to the framing of sorting between worlds. A world in which things are most fortunate. Another in which they are somewhat or mixed. A third in which misfortune prevails.

There are of course other options too. The PACE system uses no dice, and you get 'points' which are based on whatever character attribute you invoked (So, a character with "Brave Warrior: 4" would get 4 points), and then you can spend 'tokens' to increase that using a bidding format. In that system EVERY check is 'opposed' by SOMETHING, the points on the other side do represent a sort of 'strength of the opposition', but more in a dramatic sense, not really on the basis of 'physics'. Failing to match the opposing point total represents a narrative 'setback', which may include a 'wound' (some sort of persistent fictional disadvantage).
There are many other options. My thought is that the sorting between worlds framing speaks to an underlying and intention-neutral unity of function. They can be a tool for negotiating imagination, where a group couldn't otherwise agree. They're always sorting between next worlds.

These are just a sampling. One needs a bit of sophistication in terms of analysis to understand all of them. Obviously within just the umbrella of what might work in 5e the possibilities are a lot narrower than in RPGs generally. 'What comes next' is not 'arbitrary', but what it consists of is generally a significant concern, particularly in story game play. 5e relegates it to basically 'whatever the GM decides', the only principle being the general idea that a passed check represents some sort of 'success' and thus further narrative is loosely obligated to reflect that (more so in combat).
5e relegates to DM as you say, albeit I believe the intent is not that DM should be arbitrary. Really, nothing in the 5e core suggests that. (As you know, my wider committments argue strongly against it.)
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
and again I disagree with your idea of reasonable being "carrying weapons to every social gathering"


but is it often enough that it warrants bringing weapons and preping for it every time?
Why do you keep trying to twist dagger, which hardly even counts as a weapon, into weapons.................and armor(though you didn't say armor in this post)?
 



HammerMan

Legend
Because you live in this world where it is a weapon, not in the D&D world where it is basically a swiss army knife.
Okay, I give up... you can argue what every you want (and again arguing that a dagger from the weapon table isn't a weapon is ALSO what me and the guys were like in HS). This is just dumb at this point. You want to have guards armed (and maybe armored for a fight) when off duity, you want PCs to always be armed 'just in case' it is not a way of playing I am interested in
 

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