Space and time in RPG setting and situation

This entire topic feels like im trying to understand rocket surgery, and I say that as someone who actually knows an inordinate amount about such things.

That being said, I will note about the earlier example of the Wand of Such and Such that its apparent failure to work is being presented as an arbitrary happenstance, dictated by the GM or some other unspoken of force.

Thats a pretty important distinction that seems glossed over in a topic that seems to be talking about consistency and verisimilitude (in very esoteric language, i might add).

Normally, or rather ideally, the Wand of Such and Such should only fail because theres something mechanically causing it to do so. The Wand itself has an imperfect mechanism, giving it a chance for failure. Something in the world has mechanics that work against the Wand. Etc.

Ie, the Player rolled too low on their MacGuffin skill, so the Wand sputters and no door is found. Or the Door has been enchanted by Dr. Evil and it overpowers the magic of the wand, maintaining its concealment, that then gets circumvented by Jimmy the Rogue who rolled really high on his Find the Door Enchanted by Dr. Evil skill.

Perhaps both happened, and why the Player failed was because the Door imposed a penalty on their MacGuffin check.

I think getting caught up in an esoteric quagmire trying to upend how the fiction manifests isn't a great use of time.
 

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pemerton

Legend
Normally, or rather ideally, the Wand of Such and Such should only fail because theres something mechanically causing it to do so. The Wand itself has an imperfect mechanism, giving it a chance for failure. Something in the world has mechanics that work against the Wand. Etc.
Why?

Why can't it fail, or misfire in some fashion, because the wielder fails to properly deploy and control its pwer?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Why?

Why can't it fail, or misfire in some fashion, because the wielder fails to properly deploy and control its pwer?
It can, but (unless using the wand on spec. without having tested/identified/attuned to it first) surely the wielder would somehow already know about this inherent unreliability and account for it in the fiction:

"Yeah, I'm not getting any pulls with the Wand but it's been wrong before, better give the place a manual search just in case".

If however the Wand already has a track record of being reliable (or is otherwise known to be so) then its results have to be honoured: if it doesn't find anything here now, there'll be nothing here to find later.
 

Why?

Why can't it fail, or misfire in some fashion, because the wielder fails to properly deploy and control its pwer?

Thats what I mean about it not being a perfect mechanism, ie, always works. This could translate into a Skill check mechanic.

Its an issue where what works in a book doesn't actually translate to good gameplay.

In a book, you can get away with something like this effectively always working, because typically the give and take of success and failure may not be important to the story being told.

But in a game, theres more than one proverbial master that has to be served, not just story but gameplay. And the gameplay, fundamentally, must always be the chicken that gives birth to the egg that is story. If the gameplay is superflous, then why bother?

You could still do such mechanics in a game, but the question then becomes what are you doing to fill the void in the gameplay you leave in doing so?

Take, for instance, Hogwarts Legacy. The Spell Revelio is an example of this kind of mechanic. It always works and always does what it says it does, without fail.

This is counterbalanced by the fact that what you can reveal with that spell has further gameplay to engage with. Solving puzzles, fighting baddies, etc. The combination ultimately works.

But now lets look at where this utterly fails. In 5e, the 2014 Ranger has two such mechanics, at least if you interpret the abilities and mechanics in such a way that it breaks the game, anyway.

The first is the "Never gets lost except by magic", and the second "You get double food and water when foraging".

Most people that try to interpret these abilities and their relevant mechanics find them wanting, calling the abilities a "skip". This is because, from their POV, there is no gameplay that makes up for the always on, always worke mechanics here.

However, if you interpret the game more favorably, in a way that makes the game work, you can restore that gameplay void.

The Lost ability works in a Hex Crawl because you fundamentally always have to actively navigate a hex crawl; thats the entire point. Not being able to get lost only saves you the time penalty to right yourself when, in the course of navigating a hex crawl, a "Got lost" roll deposits you in an unintended hex. You still have to spend the time to navigate out of that hex, and so there is no gameplay void because the Rangers ability doesn't stop you from navigating into the wrong hex, but it does save you the 1d6 hours to figure out you're in the wrong hex.

With foraging, you still need to be able to forage in wherever you are, and you still need to make the foraging checks in order to benefit, and you still have a potential to roll low on what you get.

Getting double if you succeed simply doesn't induce a true gameplay void at all, but people assert it does because theres voids all over travel and survival rules, which makes it difficult for them to justify running the mechanics properly.
 

Thats what I mean about it not being a perfect mechanism, ie, always works. This could translate into a Skill check mechanic.

Its an issue where what works in a book doesn't actually translate to good gameplay.

In a book, you can get away with something like this effectively always working, because typically the give and take of success and failure may not be important to the story being told.

But in a game, theres more than one proverbial master that has to be served, not just story but gameplay. And the gameplay, fundamentally, must always be the chicken that gives birth to the egg that is story. If the gameplay is superflous, then why bother?

You could still do such mechanics in a game, but the question then becomes what are you doing to fill the void in the gameplay you leave in doing so?

Take, for instance, Hogwarts Legacy. The Spell Revelio is an example of this kind of mechanic. It always works and always does what it says it does, without fail.

This is counterbalanced by the fact that what you can reveal with that spell has further gameplay to engage with. Solving puzzles, fighting baddies, etc. The combination ultimately works.

But now lets look at where this utterly fails. In 5e, the 2014 Ranger has two such mechanics, at least if you interpret the abilities and mechanics in such a way that it breaks the game, anyway.

The first is the "Never gets lost except by magic", and the second "You get double food and water when foraging".

Most people that try to interpret these abilities and their relevant mechanics find them wanting, calling the abilities a "skip". This is because, from their POV, there is no gameplay that makes up for the always on, always worke mechanics here.

However, if you interpret the game more favorably, in a way that makes the game work, you can restore that gameplay void.

The Lost ability works in a Hex Crawl because you fundamentally always have to actively navigate a hex crawl; thats the entire point. Not being able to get lost only saves you the time penalty to right yourself when, in the course of navigating a hex crawl, a "Got lost" roll deposits you in an unintended hex. You still have to spend the time to navigate out of that hex, and so there is no gameplay void because the Rangers ability doesn't stop you from navigating into the wrong hex, but it does save you the 1d6 hours to figure out you're in the wrong hex.

With foraging, you still need to be able to forage in wherever you are, and you still need to make the foraging checks in order to benefit, and you still have a potential to roll low on what you get.

Getting double if you succeed simply doesn't induce a true gameplay void at all, but people assert it does because theres voids all over travel and survival rules, which makes it difficult for them to justify running the mechanics properly.
5e simply doesn't have those rules in place, that's the issue. We don't even know what 'getting lost' might look like, except we know it will never happen! Anyway, I wouldn't assume a hex crawl.

So, in any case, you are showing a bit of the whole possible range of 'uses of time and space' here. You could use space as a kind of puzzle, or obstacle, so presumably when you talk about the 'right' and 'wrong' hexes you are implying there is some goal that lurks out there in some unknown hex. That would be a way of using a hex map. Time will naturally come into play here too, if it is in short supply, or if something like reprovisioning is a significant factor (and note here that the 'double gathering' ranger ability definitely impacts this).

I think what people are objecting to with these ranger abilities is the way in which they obviate entire classes of potential situation. For instance there is no "you get lost and accidentally turn south, ending up in the Great Swamp" and there is statistically little likelihood of the situation "you are low on provisions, you can probably make it back to base before you completely run out" situation. As these are common types of scenario that might arise in wilderness play, it seems a shame to have them entirely obviated by a basic class feature that every ranger has from the get-go. Lets imagine a similar feature, suppose rogues have one that says "never surprised, nothing can sneak up on you." This is an ability of basically the same sort as 'never get lost', yet I think it is a bit more clear how it removes a lot of possible space from play.

But carrying it back to the wand thing, IMHO a wand with lots of charges, or unlimited charges, that detects secret doors with perfect reliability doesn't seem like a very clever bit of game design. Even if the thing works perfectly, it should at least have a real resource cost. However I think its much better if there's a check involved. This is one of the sorts of design decisions 4e often made in its "we really thought about how this works as a game" style of design.
 

pemerton

Legend
It can, but (unless using the wand on spec. without having tested/identified/attuned to it first) surely the wielder would somehow already know about this inherent unreliability and account for it in the fiction:

"Yeah, I'm not getting any pulls with the Wand but it's been wrong before, better give the place a manual search just in case".
Thats what I mean about it not being a perfect mechanism, ie, always works. This could translate into a Skill check mechanic.

Its an issue where what works in a book doesn't actually translate to good gameplay.
In LotR, it's clear that the Ring of Power can confer many abilities on its wielder, with turning invisible being in some sense the least of them. But only someone of appropriate lineage and stature can master those abilities.

In Dr Strange, much the same is true of artefacts like the Eye of Agomotto.

In neither case is the artefact an imperfect mechanism. It's the wielder who is imperfect, and who has to bring their spiritual and/or moral strength to bear to properly enliven the magical power.

There's no reason this can't be something that is relevant in a FRPG. Although, as @AbdulAlhazred notes, D&D typically has not embraced it.
 

We don't even know what 'getting lost' might look like, except we know it will never happen!
Except we do. Getting Lost in 5e results from a failed Survival Check, and you have to spend 1d6 hours to get back on the path. This is an explicit rule.

Anyway, I wouldn't assume a hex crawl.

WOTC did.

For instance there is no "you get lost and accidentally turn south, ending up in the Great Swamp"

But there is.

there is statistically little likelihood of the situation "you are low on provisions, you can probably make it back to base before you completely run out" situation.

Thats not true.

seems a shame to have them entirely obviated
They aren't unless you you deliberately allow them to be.

In neither case is the artefact an imperfect mechanism. It's the wielder who is imperfect, and who has to bring their spiritual and/or moral strength to bear to properly enliven the magical power.

There isn't a real difference between what we're talking about; I think you're getting hung up on the phrasing I used and missing that the point is that in a game its preferable to avoid always-works mechanics period, no matter how it manifests.

This is like, the whole problem with 5es magic system, as it happens.
 

In LotR, it's clear that the Ring of Power can confer many abilities on its wielder, with turning invisible being in some sense the least of them. But only someone of appropriate lineage and stature can master those abilities.

In Dr Strange, much the same is true of artefacts like the Eye of Agomotto.

In neither case is the artefact an imperfect mechanism. It's the wielder who is imperfect, and who has to bring their spiritual and/or moral strength to bear to properly enliven the magical power.

There's no reason this can't be something that is relevant in a FRPG. Although, as @AbdulAlhazred notes, D&D typically has not embraced it.
Again, 4e is a great game for this. You are 11th level, congratulations! You are now in the realm of people who might master the Torc of Power! Heroic tier individuals need not apply. I mean, you could also base it purely on DCs, which will make it considerably less clear cut, but I think you had mentioned this idea of 'stature' being a possible way to gate stuff like that. Certainly the tier boundaries are clear markers, though there's no reason others (half tier for instance) couldn't work too.
 

Except we do. Getting Lost in 5e results from a failed Survival Check, and you have to spend 1d6 hours to get back on the path. This is an explicit rule.



WOTC did.



But there is.



Thats not true.


They aren't unless you you deliberately allow them to be.



There isn't a real difference between what we're talking about; I think you're getting hung up on the phrasing I used and missing that the point is that in a game its preferable to avoid always-works mechanics period, no matter how it manifests.

This is like, the whole problem with 5es magic system, as it happens.
Well, I don't think we're disagreeing on that point, though I'm not sure about the magic system for various reasons. However, we seem to have pretty different interpretations of what 5e says about getting lost. Really you have to go back to 1e for good rules related to this, no edition since then has really had thorough hexcrawl rules, though they may exist in some 3.x supplements (I rarely played D&D in that era).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In LotR, it's clear that the Ring of Power can confer many abilities on its wielder, with turning invisible being in some sense the least of them. But only someone of appropriate lineage and stature can master those abilities.

In Dr Strange, much the same is true of artefacts like the Eye of Agomotto.

In neither case is the artefact an imperfect mechanism. It's the wielder who is imperfect, and who has to bring their spiritual and/or moral strength to bear to properly enliven the magical power.
I think both of the items you use as examples are of a significantly different pay grade than a simple Wand of Secret Door Detection. :)

I mean, hell, one is the single most powerful item on its planet and the other is one of the six most powerful items in the whole universe; thus yes, a mere mortal trying to attune to one of them is probably in for a challenge and had better be mighty resilient going in.
There's no reason this can't be something that is relevant in a FRPG. Although, as @AbdulAlhazred notes, D&D typically has not embraced it.
To some extent I agree with you. 4e and 5e both made magic item attunement and-or identification far too easy IMO; but the one consistent thing throughout all the editions (and through most fiction I can think of quickly) is that for relatively basic items (of which the WoSDD would be one) once you know what they do, that's it - you know what they do.

Which means, the owner/user of a WoSDD is highly likely to know - or easily be able to learn - its general degree of reliability; and then be able to reasonably expect that to reflect in the fiction going forward.
 

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