RPGing and imagination: a fundamental point

pemerton

Legend
It also doesn't help when people continually interpret established terms with their own personal meanings/connotations/feelings and refuse to accept the meanings already established (often explicitly) in the conversation so far, just because they don't like them.
So I take it by "it doesn't help" you mean is an awesome thing we should have more of?

That's what it means to me, anyway, and I'm not going to let you bully me with your jargon!
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Anyways. I’m reading the room and someone’s got to do it. The time is 11:11 pm and the date 12/8/23. Legitimate Discussion is now deceased. May he rest in peace.

I’m out of this thread to mourn. On the off chance he’s resurrected I’ll be back to rejoice with you all.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
It also doesn't help when people continually interpret established terms with their own personal meanings/connotations/feelings and refuse to accept the meanings already established (often explicitly) in the conversation so far, just because they don't like them.

That's fair, but I've also seen people blow off pretty well known connotations within the hobby and certain sorts of discourse in it ("rollplaying" anyone?), either because they want to keep using it anyway, or (more cynically) because they like the weaponization of that connotation.

In other words, whether there's a genuine connotational loading on something can be argued, but acting like connotation doesn't matter can't come across as anything but disingenuous.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
The "writer's room" piece goes over my head as I'm not even sure what is meant by "writer's room". So, I'll skip that bit. :)

The term comes, I believe, from television - the writer's room is the room full of writers who collaboratively write scripts for a show, as opposed to a show in which each script is written by one author, without much collaboration with others.

There is often a "showrunner" or head writer that has some form that has responsibility for the operation, and may exert power on the operation of the room in a number of ways. I am told writer's rooms tend to either have explicitly set processes, or develop them over time, that they use to aid their collective action.
 

This part seems a little off to me. If game mechanics are modeling the stuff of the game world then there is no real-world social negotiation needed. It's only the times when the game mechanics aren't modeling the stuff of the game world that real-world social negotiation is needed - and even that's a bit of a misnomer because the game rules can designate a referee that handles this aspect - in which case there is a final authority and real-world negotiation isn't required and may not even be preferable (like the basketball player arguing with the ref whether he was fouled).

I mean - we seem to use words differently alot - so maybe real-world social negotiation covers all this stuff for you. In which case, carry-on!

GM: "The DC for that is 18"
PLAYER: "Why? Are you really trying to tell me I have a 20% chance to do (X)?"

You don't have these discussions? Of course you do (tone may vary). Guess what? This is BitD! I mean, that's the heart of it. Negotiating position and effect. This is all happening in every type of RPG. Rules can only help.
 

In order to codify the interpretation of what's imagined such that everyone agrees (or is forced to agree) we have abstractions in the form of rules; and these abstractions can, in practical terms, only go so far. Here, the abstraction doesn't reach the point of codifying these particular bits of the fiction, and thus something else has to take over if things are to proceed. (I'd guess we're in agreement thus far)

And where the disagreements tend to arise is over what method should be used:

--- adding more hard rules to the abstraction model to cover both now and if-when a similar situation occurs again
--- a one-time non-binding ruling or dice roll
--- a hand-wave
--- banning or denying the action because it's not covered in the rules
--- something else e.g. the player has to describe exactly how the character is going about achieving this goal and the GM (or table) decides success-failure based on the detailed description

And over how that method is determined in the first place:

--- player consensus or vote
--- hard-line GM ruling or fiat
--- reference to another game system

Nope.
GM: "You see a bunch of orcs ahead of you."
PLAYER: "We Parley."
(dice are rolled in accordance with the 1e parley rules).
NOW WHAT??! Lets imagine the dice say that the Orcs are agreeable. EVERYTHING FROM HERE ON OUT IS COMPLETELY MADE UP ON THE SPOT. There ARE NO RULES for it. Sure, there may be some expectations and notations about what a good reaction will allow for, but what actually happens is just making stuff up, and it is ABSOLUTELY negotiated by the people at the table.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Did @ichabod or @Emberashh or anyone actually give any examples?

Nope! Not from tabletop games anyway. CRPGs were mentioned, but I don’t know if I would say imagination is core to them… it would seem that the programming of the game and the graphics and so on are all doing to bulk of the imagination for the participant.

On this, however, I'll push back a bit.

Mystification of process - by which I mean largely leaving the nut-and-bolt game mechanics and processes to someone else (usually the GM) - can be a godsend as a player, as it frees one's mind up to do nothing other than inhabit the character and imagine what's going on around it, without having to worry about game mechanics and their potential impacts on what you-as-the-character want to (try to) do.

It’s a fine preference to have, but I don’t think I ever wanted this, even in my earliest days of playing D&D when I was 7 or so. Even then I grasped how the rules help us understand the world that the characters are experiencing. I probably couldn’t have articulated it clearly, or even fully grasped it, but knowing how the game works as a player means knowing how the world works as a character.
 

GM: "The DC for that is 18"
PLAYER: "Why? Are you really trying to tell me I have a 20% chance to do (X)?"

You don't have these discussions? Of course you do (tone may vary). Guess what? This is BitD! I mean, that's the heart of it. Negotiating position and effect. This is all happening in every type of RPG. Rules can only help.
No, I literally don't have these discussions in D&D. During the 31 sessions of my campaign no one has ever questioned a DC I have set. Now it is of course possible that sometimes something needs to be clarified or even "negotiated" but most of the time, not. In the Blades it is the designed default approach for every roll.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
No, I literally don't have these discussions in D&D. During the 31 sessions of my campaign no one has ever questioned a DC I have set. Now it is of course possible that sometimes something needs to be clarified or even "negotiated" but most of the time, not.
IME, it's not so much DCs that are negotiated (at least at tables I have sat at) but people's understanding of the fiction. This is where the negotiation happens. Often, again IME, it's retroactive. Maybe there was a clear miscommunication of the fiction between the GM and the players such that the negative consequences the GM narrates in the fiction feel disconnected from the shared fictional understanding of the players. I don't think that players are often trying to "cheat" here, which is sometimes the accusation. This is to say, some GMs here would be quick to accuse the players of fishing for a do-over, mulligans, or cheating. I think that the more common answer is that the players and GM were not seeing the situation eye-to-eye.

I do see a lot of the process of play as a negotiation. The language of "negotiation" was fairly eye-opening for me because there was a sense that I had that the players and GM were trying to suss out a common ground regarding the fiction and the interaction with the mechanics, including acceptable player action:
  • "Is this something that my character would know? Why or why not?"
  • "Could I do [X, Y, or Z] action? If so, what would I have to roll? I would have to roll that? Okay. So maybe I do something else, like just swing my sword."

I understand and appreciate that you come from a potentially different culture of play where what I and others are describing is foreign to you. However, I have seen a lot of such discussions in D&D all the time at nearly every table at have sat at since I started gaming at the very tail end of 2e D&D, a few months shy of 3e D&D's launch. So the idea of "negotiation" matches pretty well with my own experiences. It's also possible that if I sat down at a table with you to play, you would see no negotiation transpire but I would.
 

IME, it's not so much DCs that are negotiated (at least at tables I have sat at) but people's understanding of the fiction. This is where the negotiation happens. Often, again IME, it's retroactive. Maybe there was a clear miscommunication of the fiction between the GM and the players such that the negative consequences the GM narrates in the fiction feel disconnected from the shared fictional understanding of the players. I don't think that players are often trying to "cheat" here, which is sometimes the accusation. This is to say, some GMs here would be quick to accuse the players of fishing for a do-over, mulligans, or cheating. I think that the more common answer is that the players and GM were not seeing the situation eye-to-eye.

I do see a lot of the process of play as a negotiation. The language of "negotiation" was fairly eye-opening for me because there was a sense that I had that the players and GM were trying to suss out a common ground regarding the fiction and the interaction with the mechanics, including acceptable player action:
  • "Is this something that my character would know? Why or why not?"
  • "Could I do [X, Y, or Z] action? If so, what would I have to roll? I would have to roll that? Okay. So maybe I do something else, like just swing my sword."

I understand and appreciate that you come from a potentially different culture of play where what I and others are describing is foreign to you. However, I have seen a lot of such discussions in D&D all the time at nearly every table at have sat at since I started gaming at the very tail end of 2e D&D, a few months shy of 3e D&D's launch. So the idea of "negotiation" matches pretty well with my own experiences. It's also possible that if I sat down at a table with you to play, you would see no negotiation transpire but I would.
So I'm not saying that something like this never happens, but I don't think it is that common and I definitely do not see it as some sort of defining core feature. Most of the play is the GM describing the situation, and the players saying what their characters do, and the GM describing how that affects the situation. Sometimes we roll some dice to establish what happens. I wouldn't use a word "negotiation" to describe this. I also wouldn't call discussion that is just about clarifying the facts a negotiation.
 

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