D&D General Supposing D&D is gamist, what does that mean?

I think it’s just because you’ve not peeled back the assumptions in your example.

What’s determined the NPC has the information in the first place? Isn’t your ‘hot’ skill what’s doing the work there? And if so isn’t whether the NPC has the information unrelated to your hot skill and the most important aspect and Yet the hot skill check resolves that as well.

Or take a slightly different example. Say it was established the NPC had the info. At that point it becomes process/sim because your characters fictional ability to seduce is fictionally and substantially related to why you were able to get the info.

This seems to be why I stay so confused in these discussions, because I’ve always easily picked up on sim elements but while conflict resolution play can sometimes momentarily become task/sim play it doesn’t have to be.
I personally take this in the same way as I take the whole "Its all gamist because the goal of any RPG must be to enjoy the act of playing it" argument. Sure, there's an element of "in the fictional sense X follows from Y" in ANY RPG (except maybe a few way out ones like Toon where the action is all literally nonsense). However, if the discussion is about AGENDA, then it is quite possible for the plausibility/accuracy/verisimilitude/whatever of the action in the game's fiction to be unimportant to the players except to the degree that it establishes a thought structure, fictional position, which the participants in the game can use to make the game 'go' and not fall apart.

So, sure, hotness attribute 'explains' why I can 'seduce'. This need not be any more plausible or accurate than is needed to get buy in from the participants so that they can all imagine the hot character doing his thing.

I think how you are reasoning is what lead people in the late '70s and early '80s to imagine that some 'perfectly accurate simulation' would magically make every story 'work'. They confused the imaginary causality of events with what makes games 'go'. They seem to have believed that the troubles with doing that stemmed from lack of verisimilitude. That is, the "you plot to assassinate the king" story couldn't work in a D&D game because the rules are not an accurate enough simulation of reality to reproduce an assassination. Obviously this conception was deeply flawed! It did lead to much mental horsepower being expended on ideas around how to construct a 'game engine' that would be both playable and highly realistic. This was the impetus for the endless exploration of different skill systems, dice pools, and various other things like 'skill trees', etc. etc. etc. None of it ever really bore any fruit.
 

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clearstream

(He, Him)
I think that my general response to the 'chain of decisions' argument is that there's still one proximate decision which established that fact. I don't think it does us much good to talk about a whole series of decisions (establishments of facts within the fiction) as being determinative, because that is subject to infinite expansion to the point where everything we have ever determined about the fiction since session 0 has some significance. It is like the the Buddhist view of causality, it may be very true in some sense, but it is not valuable to us in terms of explicating the play at any one moment at the table, and is in another sense false. I mean, our legal system clearly operates on a similar basis, mothers are not held to be culpable because they gave birth to murderers, for example.
I would point to something of a leap in your doubts, which is that it's unjustified to say that it is subject to infinite expansion.

To get from first suggestions of a chain to some crucial moment will occur within one session, or a couple of sessions, or be a long arc. In the last case, the count of events that tick toward it will typically be low on a per session basis. In the other cases, decisions (of the sort we've been dicussing) bearing on a chain while many in number, will be vastly fewer than infinite.

You would hopefully agree that the RPG "conversation" at any point is informed by what came before it: the fiction, secured by the continual cycle of validation against fictional positioning, the system, secured by maintenance of state. Remember that I am not talking about events that might have happened outside our window during play, I am speaking specifically of those events that formed part of our play.

It is possible to picture disjunctions, such as we end a session, take a long break, and resume with no idea of what came before. However, we also maintain ephemera of play that helps remind what we'd agreed to that point was true. So we might well resume with vague memories, but still with a shared fiction and system state and still able to go forward together from there. It doesn't matter that what we go forward with is not faithful to all that preceded it. It only matters that as a group we say what it is and accept it as such. Thus, in the end, it is the process that you would need to have doubts over, because it is tolerant of disjunctions.

However, you obviously can have the doubts you do - I do not have such doubts, but then our experiences are not identical - and that does not leave us with any obvious way forward. It's been a really interesting thread and I've been able to understand some things a lot better (and some of those things are things about myself - I've been able to understand some of my own experiences better). So thank you all!

I'm officially on holiday shortly, so I won't say more for a few weeks. I won't be able to stop myself from reading the thread, even so! So any new examples or ideas you have I will surely see. If the thread is still going when I'm back I might well rejoin at post 5000 or so!!
 
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Yeah, well, it isn't one of the major points of discussion in this thread really, but my point comes close to saying 'setting doesn't matter'. That is, any sort of story can manufactured out of appeals to 'setting logic', hidden backstory, etc. at any given point in the play of an RPG. The idea that only certain things follow, that fiction itself is in any way binding to those with authority over it, doesn't fly. I think the fiction SIGNALS things from those in authority over it, and the "adhere to criteria which espouse..." in my previous comment is meant to convey that there are, presumably, criteria which are important to other participants which a GM in such a position would likely factor into their description of what happens next. Fiction by itself is just a very weak kind of constraint.

I think that's very much dependent on the practioner(s) involved; for some its a strong one because there's a great degree of dissonance in moving outside what feels like a naturalistic extension of what's been already established, and for others its just the frame whatever story one is interested in writing has. The latter is, of course, what you're talking about but I don't think it does the discussion any good to not accept people in the first category exist.
 

I personally take this in the same way as I take the whole "Its all gamist because the goal of any RPG must be to enjoy the act of playing it" argument.

I think if you're addressing my argument in this, the reason you're having an issue with it is you're using "playing it" much more expansively than I am.
 

I would point to something of a leap in your doubts, which is that it's unjustified to say that it is subject to infinite expansion.

To get from first suggestions of a chain to some crucial moment will occur within one session, or a couple of sessions, or be a long arc. In the last case, the count of events that tick toward it will typically be low on a per session basis. In the other cases, decisions (of the sort we've been dicussing) bearing on a chain while many in number, will be vastly fewer than infinite.

You would hopefully agree that the RPG "conversation" at any point is informed by what came before it: the fiction, secured by the continual cycle of validation against fictional positioning, the system, secured by maintenance of state. Remember that I am not talking about events that might have happened outside our window during play, I am speaking specifically of those events that formed part of our play.
Well, I'm talking about play as well, but I also include all the POSSIBLE elements of fiction. I mean, it may be in Story Now that's nothing, but in a typical 5e D&D campaign its really pretty much infinity, the GM can simply generate such fictional causes as and when desired!
It is possible to picture disjunctions, such as we end a session, take a long break, and resume with no idea of what came before. However, we also maintain ephemera of play that helps remind what we'd agreed to that point was true. So we might well resume with vague memories, but still with a shared fiction and system state and still able to go forward together from there. It doesn't matter that what we go forward with is not faithful to all that preceded it. It only matters that as a group we say what it is and accept it as such. Thus, in the end, it is the process that you would need to have doubts over, because it is tolerant of disjunctions.
Again, assuming that there is a strict limitation to shared fiction. I think this is an interesting point WRT any 'Zero Myth' play, that it removes a lot of this sort of thing from consideration. That is, the GM may be framing scenes (in say Dungeon World) and thus invent 'reasons' as-needed for stuff, but the ONLY reason for them to do so is to address things right there at the table. This does have an effect on the character of the sorts of fictional causality that are likely to be invoked in play.
However, you obviously can have the doubts you do - I do not have such doubts, but then our experiences are not identical - and that does not leave us with any obvious way forward. It's been a really interesting thread and I've been able to understand some things a lot better (and some of those things are things about myself - I've been able to understand some of my own experiences better). So thank you all!

I'm officially on holiday shortly, so I won't say more for a few weeks. I won't be able to stop myself from reading the thread, even so! So any new examples or ideas you have I will surely see. If the thread is still going when I'm back I might well rejoin at post 5000 or so!!
;) have a good one!
 

I think that's very much dependent on the practioner(s) involved; for some its a strong one because there's a great degree of dissonance in moving outside what feels like a naturalistic extension of what's been already established, and for others its just the frame whatever story one is interested in writing has. The latter is, of course, what you're talking about but I don't think it does the discussion any good to not accept people in the first category exist.
I'm not at all denying they exist, in fact THEY ARE what I would call 'people with a simulationist agenda' in all probability. However, I do think that even a GM that wants the utmost verisimilitude is also bound to consider other things. I mean, suppose you devised a 'living sandbox', you will STILL need to arrange it such that the PCs don't encounter some level 10 monstrosity the minute they exit the gates of the keep to hexplore, right? You may provide an explanation like "the nasty monsters were all driven off by the Holy Knights of Decorative Shrubbery" but the object is still playability. That kind of consideration is simply unavoidable in real working games. And notice that said GM came up with an in-fiction reason for the dearth of nasty monsters in the keep's vicinity, it wasn't exactly hard to do that!
 

niklinna

Legend
Subject to @Campbell's point that I've quoted, if the player has their PC do something that triggers a move then they're making that move.
[...]
So the player's intent isn't really a factor (again, subject to the go aggro vs seduce/manipulate distinction). It's what their PC does.
It may not be a factor in the mechanics, but there's a fiction being spun too, which usually involves character motivations. I'm not going to show up to the table and roll a die to decide every action my character takes. I don't have to reel off my rationale, either as player or character, for my actions, but I do have some fictional position in terms of the situation. That's all I'm saying.

This is why the design of moves is so fundamental in a PbtA game: by choosing to make things moves, you're making those the fulcrum on which stakes turn. Because otherwise, if no move is triggered by an action declaration, here's how it works (from pp 116-7):
Perhaps it has appeared that am I talking from the perspective of a GM?
 

niklinna

Legend
This is really bizarre 'no true Scotsman' wriggling. If you are drawing the difficulty of the safe opening from the quality of the chest in the fictional world, then that mechanic absolutely is modelling, simulating, that fictional world. Mechanics that "create a sense of space and logic in the game world" are absolutely simulationistic mechanics.
It's all a matter of degree. Any mechanic that references real-world considerations is simulationist, of course. Without some amount of that, you don't have a role-playing game. But for this case, for this game, it's not a priority, and rules around it will be minimal in number and detail.
 

niklinna

Legend
It would be a crap GM who in any SN game who would simply hand the PC the object of their ultimate aim on a silver platter for the cost of risking one move. Also, remember, the whole point is really to confront what the character IS, or some other premise potentially, not to just run around giving out good and bad outcomes for checks. This is why the GM frames scenes instead of the players! They can't generate tension, and IT IS THE PLAY WE ARE AFTER, not the results of the play. This is identical to its Gygaxian parallel, the GM doesn't make one room dungeons with a pile of treasure and one tough monster and call it a day.
I have been in games where the GM had a player other than the one spotlighted in the scene do the framing. It could go wrong, but I haven't seen it do so yet. Players in this particular type of game are usually happy to turn the screws on fellow players!
 

niklinna

Legend
I'm not at all denying they exist, in fact THEY ARE what I would call 'people with a simulationist agenda' in all probability. However, I do think that even a GM that wants the utmost verisimilitude is also bound to consider other things. I mean, suppose you devised a 'living sandbox', you will STILL need to arrange it such that the PCs don't encounter some level 10 monstrosity the minute they exit the gates of the keep to hexplore, right? You may provide an explanation like "the nasty monsters were all driven off by the Holy Knights of Decorative Shrubbery" but the object is still playability. That kind of consideration is simply unavoidable in real working games. And notice that said GM came up with an in-fiction reason for the dearth of nasty monsters in the keep's vicinity, it wasn't exactly hard to do that!
If the GM and players are concerned with utmost verisimilitude (and for their sake I would hope they share priorities), then that GM definitely need not prioritize arranging things such that a level 10 monstrosity isn't right outside the gates...depending on what we mean by "arranging", since the state of the game world at the beginning of the play does need to be determined somehow. Even, then, whether the GM deliberately places the monster or a die roll against a table does it, the GM is also going to figure out some reason for the monster being there too. And the mere presense of a monster right outside the gates doesn't mean they're just going to sit there blocking the only exit: It might get hungry and go hunting, it likely has to sleep, the PCs might figure another way out of the keep, and so on.

Dialing back on that for playability is of course a sensible option, and doing so would reflect a healthy understanding of modulating and balancing priorities rather then extreme agenda purism (which is a reflection of reifying modes of play in each moment to rigid typologies of gamers and games into singular monolithic buckets, which, sadly, happens all too often).
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I think what a fair number of us want to see is acknowledgement that we all have cognitive limitations and only so much mental energy we can give. That when we focus that mental energy in a given direction, we cannot also focus it on a different direction. That there is no perfect play experience where we can get everything everyone could ever wish for me. At the end of the day, we have to choose how we direct and allocate our mental energy. How we do so matters.
 

I'm not at all denying they exist, in fact THEY ARE what I would call 'people with a simulationist agenda' in all probability.

While they'd land in that category, they're not alone. You can have people who really deeply care about story, but only in context (in other words, the deep roots of the kinds of stories they see as emerging are based in the setting information (including any genre conceits in strong-genre settings, but not only limited to those). Which doesn't mean you can't get stories that port over to vastly different settings (I've mentioned The Magnificent Seven and The Seven Samurai before) but some stories only make sense in some settings, and some people care a great deal about that who aren't simulationists in really either of the usages.


However, I do think that even a GM that wants the utmost verisimilitude is also bound to consider other things. I mean, suppose you devised a 'living sandbox', you will STILL need to arrange it such that the PCs don't encounter some level 10 monstrosity the minute they exit the gates of the keep to hexplore, right? You may provide an explanation like "the nasty monsters were all driven off by the Holy Knights of Decorative Shrubbery" but the object is still playability. That kind of consideration is simply unavoidable in real working games. And notice that said GM came up with an in-fiction reason for the dearth of nasty monsters in the keep's vicinity, it wasn't exactly hard to do that!

I'm not sure that has to be done late in the day or reactively though. Honestly, if you're going to use D&D monsters in an a setting you're going to have to do some sort of considerations anyway, and that's still going to be dependent, in part, on setting integrity (if there's a level ten monster outside the gate, how is the gate even there? Or the town). The arrow of cause-and-effect can point either way there.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
It's not the story part that conflicts with exploration of setting. It's the now part. It's not wanting to jump through hoops to get those high-tension moments where important things are at stake when those moments are what is most important to us.
I think that's one of Story Now's biggest appeals.

That said, actual stories don't just go straight from one high tension moment to the next. If a film or book did that I think it would cheapen the experience. It would cheapen those high-tension moments.

I do find D&D play can tend to meander and never really reach those high-tension moments very often. But I wonder if Story Now perhaps races to them too quickly. At least for me.

A personal goal of mine would be to find ways to hasten D&D play toward those high-tension moments, which probably requires some better scene transition techniques. It's also going to require the creation of some scenes that really test character/player goals (which is hard because many players only play D&D to be a badass, a hero that saves people or a hero that ends villains with little more that they care about). But even those types of players can be tested. You can stop the bad guy or save the innocent. You can stop the bad guy but only after going through the innocent. Do you charge into battle against a creature you don't expect you can defeat. Etc.

I think I may have found some ways to improve my D&D game!
 

niklinna

Legend
That said, actual stories don't just go straight from one high tension moment to the next. If a film or book did that I think it would cheapen the experience. It would cheapen those high-tension moments.

I do find D&D play can tend to meander and never really reach those high-tension moments very often. But I wonder if Story Now perhaps races to them too quickly. At least for me.
I do find Apocalypse World a bit exhausting in that way.

Blades in the Dark has different phases of play that front different modes (free play, engagement, score, downtime), which varies the pacing very nicely.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I do find Apocalypse World a bit exhausting in that way.

Blades in the Dark has different phases of play that front different modes (free play, engagement, score, downtime), which varies the pacing very nicely.

It's definitely not for everyone. It's not for me all the time. After running a session of Apocalypse World I'm more exhausted than I am after leg day.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I do find Apocalypse World a bit exhausting in that way.

Blades in the Dark has different phases of play that front different modes (free play, engagement, score, downtime), which varies the pacing very nicely.
Yea, I think I could get my group to try blades in the dark, but i don't think any of us could DM it having never played a game of it.
 

pemerton

Legend
Seems right to me.

I would say, think about where a character's stats and abilities are. What are they written down on?

<snip>

In a narrativist game we might imagine they are written on a board in the writers' room. This season the character Seeks Revenge, Has a Secret, and is Learning How to Be a Better Husband.
I think your last line is apt for "free descriptor" PC builds - I'm thinking MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic (and maybe other Cortex variants?), Hero Wars, and probably plenty of other games I'm ignorant of.

But I don't think it's right for (say) Burning Wheel. When Thurgon has Power 6 and Mortal Wound 11, compared to Aramina's Power 4 and Mortal Wound 10, that is meaningful within the fiction. Thurgon is physically tougher. This is something both Thurgon and Aramina are aware of. The "Seeks Revenge" aspect in BW is encoded in a Belief, and can be expressed via the expenditure of artha (which allows a player to lean into success), but that's not the whole of the PC build.

And in Apocalypse World, I think in the fiction people know that the Skinner is hot, the Battlebabe is cool, the Driver is sharp, and the Chopper is hard.

In Cthulhu Dark, the "free descriptor" is an occupation - in the sessions I've run there have been reporters (twice), a legal secretary, a longshoreman and a butler. It was up to each player to work out the details of what that meant, but it certainly corresponded to something in the fiction.

What I find is that the names of such ‘skills’ evoke a rather task/sim oriented approach. My character is ‘hot’ in the fictional world, therefore He is good at seduction. But the skill checks aren’t resolving whether the PC was seductive enough, they are resolving whether the PC achieved some goal
Here is the move description for Seduce/Manipuate:

When you try to seduce or manipulate someone, tell them what you want and roll+hot.

For NPCs: on a hit, they ask you to promise something first, and do it if you promise. On a 10+, whether you keep your promise is up to you, later. On a 7–9, they need some concrete assurance right now.

For PCs: on a 10+, both. On a 7–9, choose 1:
• if they do it, they mark experience
• if they refuse, it’s acting under fire
What they do then is up to them.​

If the check is a success, we learn that the PC was seductive enough. (If it fails is another matter. Within the soft/hard move structure, and the guiding principles and agenda, the GM has quite a degree of leeway to narrate failure.)

I could lean harder on your distinction, too: seductive enough for what? The most natural answer is to achieve what they wanted!

I think my analysis is spot on as it brings to light details I find important. It’s possible it’s only over analysis to you because you don’t value the differentiations it brings out.
Have you played Apocalypse World, or read the rulebook? I think you are looking for differences in the least promising place, namely, PC build. Whereas the differentiation that - as best I can tell from your posts - you are interested in is found in the principles that engage the action resolution mechanics ("if you do it, you do it") and the rules for when the GM makes a soft or a hard move, which include a conspicuous lack of appeal to pre-established or unrevealed backstory.

What’s determined the NPC has the information in the first place? Isn’t your ‘hot’ skill what’s doing the work there? And if so isn’t whether the NPC has the information unrelated to your hot skill and the most important aspect and Yet the hot skill check resolves that as well.
The seduce/manipulate skill doesn't establish that any NPC has any information. I've posted it for you above: it obliges the NPC to give you what you want in exchange for a promise.

From the AW rulebook, p 109:

Apocalypse World divvies the conversation up in a strict and pretty traditional way. The players’ job is to say what their characters say and undertake to do, first and exclusively; to say
what their characters think, feel and remember, also exclusively; and to answer your questions about their characters’ lives and surroundings. Your job as MC is to say everything else: everything
about the world, and what everyone in the whole damned world says and does except the players’ characters.​

What ensures conflict resolution in AW is not the distribution of authority, but the principles that tell the GM ("MC") what to say. These include being obliged, via the mechanics, to provide answers. For instance, Read a Person:

When you read a person in a charged interaction, roll+sharp.

On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7–9, hold 1. While you’re interacting with them, spend your hold to ask their player questions, 1 for 1:

• is your character telling the truth?
• what’s your character really feeling?
• what does your character intend to do?
• what does your character wish I’d do?
• how could I get your character to . . .?​

That's how a player, via their PC, might learn whether or not a NPC knows where the dirt is. It doesn't give the player any content authority, though. It obliges the GM to use their content authority in a particular way.

Or take a slightly different example. Say it was established the NPC had the info. At that point it becomes process/sim because your characters fictional ability to seduce is fictionally and substantially related to why you were able to get the info.
You seem to be using "process/sim" to describe a technique, not a creative agenda.

Even on that interpretation of the phrase, seduce/manipulate is not process/sim because if it fails, the narration of failure need not follow the in-fiction causal logic of the attempt to seduce or manipulate. From p 116 - "Whenever someone turns and looks to you [the GM] to say something, always say what the principles demand." And the principles don't demand you to track in-fiction causality; rather, they require you to author in-fiction causality. This is addressed on pp 110-11:

Make your move, but misdirect. Of course the real reason why you choose a move exists in the real world. Somebody has her character go someplace new, somebody misses a roll, somebody hits a roll that calls for you to answer, everybody’s looking to you to say something, so you choose a move to make. Real-world reasons. However, misdirect: pretend that you’re making your move for reasons entirely within the game’s fiction instead. Maybe your move is to separate them, for instance; never say “you missed your roll, so you two get separated.” Instead, maybe say “you try to grab his gun” — this was the PC’s move — “but he kicks you down. While they’re stomping on you, they drag Damson away.” The effect’s the same, they’re separated, but you’ve cannily misrepresented the cause. Make like it’s the game’s fiction that chooses your move for you, and so correspondingly always choose a move that the game’s fiction makes possible.

Make your move, but never speak its name. Maybe your move is to separate them, but you should never just say that. Instead, say how Foster’s thugs drags one of them off, and Foster invites the other to eat lunch with her. Maybe your move is to announce future badness, but for god sake never say the words “future badness.” Instead, say how this morning, filthy, stinking black smoke is rising from somewhere in the car yard, and I wonder what’s brewing over there?

These two principles are cause and effect. The truth is that you’ve chosen a move and made it. Pretend, though, that there’s a fictional cause; pretend that it has a fictional effect.

Together, the purpose of these two principles is to create an illusion for the players, not to hide your intentions from them. Certainly never to hide your NPCs’ actions, or developments in the characters’ world, from the players’ characters! No; always say what honesty demands. When it comes to what’s happening to and around the players’ characters, always be as honest as you
can be.​

Suppose I'm interacting with one of Dremmer's underlings, and I read them - How could I get you to spill the beans on Dremmer? - and so I learn their price, and then that's what I offer when I manipulate them, and so they do what I ask: they tell me where I can find the dirt on Dremmer. It's in a safe in such-and-such a place in the hardhold. So I sneak in, acting under fire, and I hit my roll and open the safe. And I look to the GM, and the GM has to make a move, in accordance with the principles. I haven't failed my roll to act under fire, and I haven't handed the GM an opportunity on a silver platter, so they're not allowed to make a hard move and tell me the dirt's not there!

But I'm looking at them, so they have to make a soft move. There are a lot of options there, from the sound of voices approach, to a dog barking, to there being something else with the dirt I didn't expect (say, a photo - Where did Dremmer - or whoever took it - get a polaroid from?! - of Dremmer in bed with my partner). The GM will be acting on the principles and making a move that they think follows honesty from the established fiction.

But to reiterate: they can't make a hard move if I make my check and don't hand them an opportunity on a silver platter, so they can't say the dirt's not there.

That's how Apocalypse World does conflict resolution: not via funky PC building, and not via funky allocations of authority, but via very careful rules about what the GM is allowed, or required, to say and when.
 

It's not the story part that conflicts with exploration of setting. It's the now part. It's not wanting to jump through hoops to get those high-tension moments where important things are at stake when those moments are what is most important to us.

Yeah. As I've noted I'm a mix of gamist/dramatist these days, and can absolutely support the second in exploration of setting. I just have the advantage there that the "Now" is a sometimes useful technique to me, not a primary requirement.
 

niklinna

Legend
But I don't think it's right for (say) Burning Wheel. When Thurgon has Power 6 and Mortal Wound 11, compared to Aramina's Power 4 and Mortal Wound 10, that is meaningful within the fiction. Thurgon is physically tougher. This is something both Thurgon and Aramina are aware of. The "Seeks Revenge" aspect in BW is encoded in a Belief, and can be expressed via the expenditure of artha (which allows a player to lean into success), but that's not the whole of the PC build.
I figured "artha" was incidental to my understanding when you've used it before, but now it seems important. Could you explain what that is?
 

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