Space and time in RPG setting and situation

pemerton

Legend
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.
From the OP:

This objection/complaint rests on assumptions that don't have to be accepted (ie they are not essential for RPGing).

First, it assumes that using the Wand is not itself a type of check that can be resolved in a Character => Situation => Setting fashion. Once we abandon that assumption, we can see that the relationship between using the Wand at time 1, and then making a manual search at time 2, is simply a special instance of the general rules question When are retries allowed?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
From the OP:
This objection/complaint rests on assumptions that don't have to be accepted (ie they are not essential for RPGing).

First, it assumes that using the Wand is not itself a type of check that can be resolved in a Character => Situation => Setting fashion. Once we abandon that assumption, we can see that the relationship between using the Wand at time 1, and then making a manual search at time 2, is simply a special instance of the general rules question When are retries allowed?
Retries are allowed at any time. That's not in question.

What's in question is whether those retries are able to serve any useful purpose (other than wasting time) if all they can accomplish if successful is to confirm fiction that has already been established.

Which means, what's in question one degree above this is when and how setting - and other - elements in the fiction become established (i.e. locked-in to the point that players in-character can usefully plan around them) as opposed to when and how they can still be changed.
 

Retries are allowed at any time. That's not in question.
By you maybe!
What's in question is whether those retries are able to serve any useful purpose (other than wasting time) if all they can accomplish if successful is to confirm fiction that has already been established.

Which means, what's in question one degree above this is when and how setting - and other - elements in the fiction become established (i.e. locked-in to the point that players in-character can usefully plan around them) as opposed to when and how they can still be changed.
These would be questions any decently written game should clarify from the outset.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
By you maybe!
No, in general.

There's nothing ever stopping someone declaring a retry of an action, just like there's nothing ever stopping someone declaring (an attempt at) something impossible as an action. There may be many things, however, that cause those declarations to be useless endeavours and-or wastes of time; but that alone does not prevent those declarations from being made either in jest or as serious things.
 

No, in general.

There's nothing ever stopping someone declaring a retry of an action, just like there's nothing ever stopping someone declaring (an attempt at) something impossible as an action. There may be many things, however, that cause those declarations to be useless endeavours and-or wastes of time; but that alone does not prevent those declarations from being made either in jest or as serious things.
Well, again, this is highly dependent on the kind of process of play and overall structure of the game you are playing. Such a statement won't make much sense in the context of Dungeon World for instance, were the idea of 'retrying' something is very unlikely to come up. I mean, sure, "we failed to climb Mt Doom, so lets try flying in on giant eagles" or something like that at a larger story level could certainly happen. You are not going to pick a lock, fail, and get to try again. The game will move on from there. PERHAPS, possibly, depending on what role said lock plays in the fiction, it might come up again at some point.
 

pemerton

Legend
Well, again, this is highly dependent on the kind of process of play and overall structure of the game you are playing. Such a statement won't make much sense in the context of Dungeon World for instance, were the idea of 'retrying' something is very unlikely to come up. I mean, sure, "we failed to climb Mt Doom, so lets try flying in on giant eagles" or something like that at a larger story level could certainly happen. You are not going to pick a lock, fail, and get to try again. The game will move on from there. PERHAPS, possibly, depending on what role said lock plays in the fiction, it might come up again at some point.
Right. In Torchbearer, this is "fun once".
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, again, this is highly dependent on the kind of process of play and overall structure of the game you are playing. Such a statement won't make much sense in the context of Dungeon World for instance, were the idea of 'retrying' something is very unlikely to come up. I mean, sure, "we failed to climb Mt Doom, so lets try flying in on giant eagles" or something like that at a larger story level could certainly happen. You are not going to pick a lock, fail, and get to try again.
My point is that even there, there's nothing at all stopping the player from declaring "I try again", even if the act is already meta-known to be futile.

I ran a dungeon once where the PCs found what was obviously a vault door in some Dwarven ruins they were exploring for other reasons. Equally as obvious was that this door hadn't been opened in ages, and so in hopes that the riches of a Dwarven kingdom might lie behind that door the party Thief set to work. Rules-wise, I have it that your initial roll is your final answer; and between his odds of opening this very difficult lock being slim-to-none in the first place and his initial roll being...well, let's just say rather sub-par...there weren't no way in hell he was going to pick that lock.

In-character, however, he was bound and determined to get through that thing no matter what. He spent all day at it, and eventually one of his approaches was novel enough that I gave him a second roll - which, if memory serves, came up much the same as the first one. He would have spent the next day there as well (and many more days, I'm sure!) except the party dragged him away under protest.
The game will move on from there. PERHAPS, possibly, depending on what role said lock plays in the fiction, it might come up again at some point.
In this case the vault had nothing to do with anything plot-wise, other than being a distraction for greedy Thieves. :) I don't even remember what if anything was in there.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
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.
Not only is there no reason this can't be relevant, but in most ways it makes far more sense than the idea that every magical item should be perfectly understood and usable by anyone who tries.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
No, in general.

There's nothing ever stopping someone declaring a retry of an action, just like there's nothing ever stopping someone declaring (an attempt at) something impossible as an action. There may be many things, however, that cause those declarations to be useless endeavours and-or wastes of time; but that alone does not prevent those declarations from being made either in jest or as serious things.

In most games I run, whether it’s D&D or something else, I don’t allow second attempts as you’ve described. In D&D, I similarly don't allow multiple players to roll for their characters. The group essentially gets one roll, and if anyone else can help, then they roll with advantage. The result of that roll determines the outcome.

If we’re in a situation where multiple rolls seem like they’d make sense… like being at a locked door for over a day… then I simply grant success without a roll. Or I ask for a roll and use that to determine how much time it takes, rather than success or failure.

Obviously, there are different ways to handle this.

Well, again, this is highly dependent on the kind of process of play and overall structure of the game you are playing. Such a statement won't make much sense in the context of Dungeon World for instance, were the idea of 'retrying' something is very unlikely to come up.

Yup. At least not without something significantly changing in the fiction.

In my home group’s second Stonetop session, our Lightbearer tried to set up a distraction for some crinwin (the setting’s low-level kind of goblin type critter) to allow for a quick getaway past some nests the group had come across in the forest. He tried to use an incantation but rolled poorly, so before he was able to finish, crinwin began pouring from the nests and swarming toward him.

I asked what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to try again. I said there’s a group of eight that are almost to you. Some of them will reach you no matter what, so you’ll take some damage regardless. If the roll goes poorly, then you’ll take more damage and some kind of harm as well. The way damage works in the game, he was facing 1d6+7 hit points at least, and currently had 10 hit points. Death was very likely on the line.

He decided to go for it. Luckily, one of his buddies the Ranger, was able to act and fired a hail of arrows that reduced the number of incoming crinwin, which greatly reduced the damage the Lightbearer faced.

He wound up rolling well, and took only 5 points of damage before his incantation worked and the crinwin were mesmerized by his light.

I almost didn’t allow a second attempt, but given the circumstances and how the danger had been established, I thought this was a good way to handle it.

My point is that even there, there's nothing at all stopping the player from declaring "I try again", even if the act is already meta-known to be futile.

I mean, set the whole notion of meta aside. Just tell the player “it’s futile and the thief knows it is” and then get on with the game.
 
Last edited:

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top