RPGing and imagination: a fundamental point

Bagpuss

Legend
Only to a point: if those hallways etc. are being drawn out on a board (or, even more so, built with Dwarven Forge terrain pieces) and the players are placing minis to show where their characters are positioned and which way they're facing etc., then the degree of imagination required drops significantly.

That said, the use of such things also greatly helps unify the imagination among the participants.
I will say I find the more the game moves from Theatre of the Mind, to sketch on a battlemat, to Dwarven Forge 3D scenery, the less likely the players are to embellish details.

You describe a room as say "a 15ft by 20ft kitchen", if it is just Theatre of the Mind, they might jump up on the table (which you haven't mentioned but can assume to be there), if you put Dwarven Forge stuff down, but don't include a table, they tend to assume one isn't there.

It also seems to be related to the rules, the more the rules detail the things you can do, the more players feel tied to doing just those things. I know from experience players use to improvise all sorts of actions in 2nd Ed when there rules weren't there for them, but now they seem limited to using feats or class abilities.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Some of those negotiations seemed to me just be clarifying facts. I guess one could call it negotiation if one wants. 🤷
I rather lost the track why it matters what word is used.

IMO. The train of thought seems to be going. We have to imagine in a ttrpg, therefore we have to agree on what’s imagined, therefore in order to reach that agreement we have to always be negotiating in the moment to moment, therefore…

I don’t think we’ve got to the next link yet. Presumably it’s going to matter somewhere downstream.

It’s not particularly important whether the word negotiation is used to me (as long as I understand what is meant), but it does matter to me when the word or phrase being used doesn’t seem to match up with the definition the one using the word has given. The end result of that is incorrect, incomplete and/or confusing analysis.

If you look at @clearstream and I’s focus on the initial agreement, as opposed to the moment to moment agreements, that probably doesn’t seem to matter much either, but it should set the foundation for more robust observations, where that difference gets amplified, that is if we ever stop debating why it’s important to call the ability to withdraw consent to a previous agreement a moment to moment negotiation.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
IMO. The train of thought seems to be going. We have to imagine in a ttrpg, therefore we have to agree on what’s imagined, therefore in order to reach that agreement we have to always be negotiating in the moment to moment, therefore…

I don’t think we’ve got to the next link yet. Presumably it’s going to matter somewhere downstream.

It’s not particularly important whether the word negotiation is used to me (as long as I understand what is meant), but it does matter to me when the word or phrase being used doesn’t seem to match up with the definition the one using the word has given. The end result of that is incorrect, incomplete and/or confusing analysis.

If you look at @clearstream and I’s focus on the initial agreement, as opposed to the moment to moment agreements, that probably doesn’t seem to matter much either, but it should set the foundation for more robust observations, where that difference gets amplified, that is if we ever stop debating why it’s important to call the ability to withdraw consent to a previous agreement a moment to moment negotiation.
I suppose a problem is the connotation that negotiation and agreement are active - involving dissent, debate and reconciliation - rather than ongoing tacit behaviours. What I observe in functional play is a group with sufficiently strong up-front commitments - which themselves may be tacit, or the no-longer-in-need-of-voicing outcomes of past dissent, debate and reconciliations - can play for decent stretches without hitting any moment in which there is any detectable negotiation or suspension and resumption of consent. That said, I'm not sure Baker is really thinking of any moment of lost and resumed consent, but rather observing what must be in place at any moment for play to proceed, which is very often a continuation of consent.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I will say I find the more the game moves from Theatre of the Mind, to sketch on a battlemat, to Dwarven Forge 3D scenery, the less likely the players are to embellish details.

You describe a room as say "a 15ft by 20ft kitchen", if it is just Theatre of the Mind, they might jump up on the table (which you haven't mentioned but can assume to be there), if you put Dwarven Forge stuff down, but don't include a table, they tend to assume one isn't there.

It also seems to be related to the rules, the more the rules detail the things you can do, the more players feel tied to doing just those things. I know from experience players use to improvise all sorts of actions in 2nd Ed when there rules weren't there for them, but now they seem limited to using feats or class abilities.

I'll just say I saw plenty of the flip side of that back in the OD&D days, when people wouldn't try things without written rules because they thought it was just as likely the GM decision on resolving it would make it worthless or actively counterproductive, and it wasn't worth their time to find out.
 

Pedantic

Legend
I suppose a problem is the connotation that negotiation and agreement are active - involving dissent, debate and reconciliation - rather than ongoing tacit behaviours. What I observe in functional play is a group with sufficiently strong up-front commitments - which themselves may be tacit, or the no-longer-in-need-of-voicing outcomes of past dissent, debate and reconciliations - can play for decent stretches without hitting any moment in which there is any detectable negotiation or suspension and resumption of consent. That said, I'm not sure Baker is really thinking of any moment of lost and resumed consent, but rather observing what must be in place at any moment for play to proceed, which is very often a continuation of consent.
Also, negotiation is an established game mechanic or sometimes genre in competitive games, and has connotations carried from there. Competitive negotiation games rely on players trading resources in exchanges both players must agree to, with the intent of structuring those agreements for ultimate profit. They tend to be divisive, in a love them or hate them kind of way, as they rely on information problems to work and tend to break down the less restrictive the rules around dealmaking are.

I personally find them unpleasant, and am reliably (and understandably) told I am unpleasant to play them with. I adopt a strict position that any deal must privilege my position more than or obviously equally that of my opponent to be considered, which is effective, but tends to slow down play.

I think Baker's analysis of the fictional state as a constant product of negotiation between the players and a system is not incorrect, but I'm less persuaded that such negotiation should therefore be foregrounded by the mechanics. If anything, I'd argue the mechanics should strive to eliminate any need for active negotiation, precisely by relying on the ongoing consent established by agreeing to play the game in the first place.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I suppose a problem is the connotation that negotiation and agreement are active - involving dissent, debate and reconciliation - rather than ongoing tacit behaviours. What I observe in functional play is a group with sufficiently strong up-front commitments - which themselves may be tacit, or the no-longer-in-need-of-voicing outcomes of past dissent, debate and reconciliations - can play for decent stretches without hitting any moment in which there is any detectable negotiation or suspension and resumption of consent. That said, I'm not sure Baker is really thinking of any moment of lost and resumed consent, but rather observing what must be in place at any moment for play to proceed, which is very often a continuation of consent.
Possibly. I’m on board with the concept you call continuation of consent. And if that’s all Baker means and all those that oft agree with Baker mean then great! Though I fear the connotation you referred to above does/will get subtlety implied in other areas built upon this foundation even though it’s not part of this idea of negotiation as ‘continuation of consent’. Maybe that fear is unfounded, but it’s not like that kind of thing is an uncommon occurrence in any discipline.
 

pemerton

Legend
Consider -

During an ordinary shopping expedition in New Pavis a player asks [RQ7] "How much for a bison-hair cloak" and their GM consults a table and says "Three lunars" so the player deducts three lunars from the total on their character sheet and writes there "bison-hair cloak".​

Why don't they - every time - get into a discussion about the availability and costs of bison-hair cloaks in New Pavis? If they have to agree in every moment, don't they need to have that discussion?
We don't "negotiate" that a bison-hair cloak costs 3 lunars in New Pavis (unless we diegetically haggle!)
This seems like an example of rules eas[ing] and constrain[ing] real-world social negotiation between the players at the table and thereby performing their sole and crucial function.

So I don't quite see how it is supposed to be a counter-example to Vincent Baker's observation.
 

pemerton

Legend
IMO. The train of thought seems to be going. We have to imagine in a ttrpg, therefore we have to agree on what’s imagined, therefore in order to reach that agreement we have to always be negotiating in the moment to moment
Who (other than you) has asserted that final clause?

Here is what I assert (or, rather, what Vincent Baker asserted, and what I agree with):

Roleplaying is negotiated imagination. In order for any thing to be true in game, all the participants in the game (players and GMs, if you've even got such things) have to understand and assent to it. When you're roleplaying, what you're doing is a) suggesting things that might be true in the game and then b) negotiating with the other participants to determine whether they're actually true or not. . . .

(Plenty of suggestions at the game table don't get picked up by the group, or get revised and modified by the group before being accepted, all with the same range of time and attention spent negotiating.)

So look, you! Mechanics might model the stuff of the game world, that's another topic, but they don't exist to do so. They exist to ease and constrain real-world social negotiation between the players at the table. That's their sole and crucial function.​

You seem to think that by pointing out examples of mechanics easing and/or constraining the social negotiation over what to imagine, you are contradicting this passage. But I don't know why you think that.

I suppose a problem is the connotation that negotiation and agreement are active - involving dissent, debate and reconciliation - rather than ongoing tacit behaviours. What I observe in functional play is a group with sufficiently strong up-front commitments - which themselves may be tacit, or the no-longer-in-need-of-voicing outcomes of past dissent, debate and reconciliations - can play for decent stretches without hitting any moment in which there is any detectable negotiation or suspension and resumption of consent. That said, I'm not sure Baker is really thinking of any moment of lost and resumed consent, but rather observing what must be in place at any moment for play to proceed, which is very often a continuation of consent.
I’m on board with the concept you call continuation of consent. And if that’s all Baker means and all those that oft agree with Baker mean then great! Though I fear the connotation you referred to above does/will get subtlety implied in other areas built upon this foundation even though it’s not part of this idea of negotiation as ‘continuation of consent’.
I don't see why you think pointing to circumstances where negotiation has been eased and/or constrained by the application and following of system (including mechanics) is a counter-example to a point which, as quoted just above, stats that such easing and/or constraining is the purpose of having a system.

I also think that you are not taking seriously the idea that much of play involves putting forward suggestions.

Consider:

GM: "The Orcs rush towards you, attacking with their spears!

Player: "I use my special reaction <refers to relevant rule> to cast a Wall of Force directly in front of the Orcs."

GM: "Cool! They try to rush towards you, but run abruptly into your Wall. The wave their spears and curse at you from the other side of it."​

The above sort of thing is very common in D&D-ish FRPGing. And look at it's structure: the GM proposes something as the object of shared imagination - the Orcs rushing forward and attacking with their spears - and then the player counter-proposes - actually, the fiction includes the Orcs wanting to rush forward and attack with their spears, but being unable to because they were thwarted by the PC's rapid casting of a Wall of Force.

This is also an example of mechanics easing and constraining negotiation over what to imagine together.

And of course Baker gives his own example:

So you're sitting at the table and one player says, "[let's imagine that] an orc jumps out of the underbrush!"

What has to happen before the group agrees that, indeed, an orc jumps out of the underbrush? . . .

sometimes, lots of mechanics and negotiation. Debate the likelihood of a lone orc in the underbrush way out here, make a having-an-orc-show-up roll, a having-an-orc-hide-in-the-underbrush roll, a having-the-orc-jump-out roll, argue about the modifiers for each of the rolls, get into a philosophical thing about the rules' modeling of orc-jump-out likelihood... all to establish one little thing. Wave a stick in a game store and every game you knock of the shelves will have a combat system that works like this.​

It's not all that common to have such structured and mechanically-mediated negotiation for having Orcs jump out of the underbrush, but it's extremely common (as Baker notes) to have combat in a FPRG work like this.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
This seems like an example of rules eas[ing] and constrain[ing] real-world social negotiation between the players at the table and thereby performing their sole and crucial function.

So I don't quite see how it is supposed to be a counter-example to Vincent Baker's observation.
I could just as easily say rules don’t constrain or ease anything - it’s that first order agreement to play the game by the rules (or by our house rules) that does the easing and constraining.
 

niklinna

učim hrvatski
Well, if it's the agreement that's doing all the work, then I guess we don't need the rules!

(For some meaning of "agreement" and "rules", and possibly "constrain" and "ease".)
 

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