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

pemerton

Legend
Suppose a group is playing Moldvay Basic. The PCs enter a room in a dungeon with some bandits in it. The GM makes a reaction roll, and it is reasonably extreme - either hostility, or friendship.

Why do the bandits react to the PCs that way? The GM has to make something up - the PCs remind the bandits of an old enemy or friend, are wearing something taken from/lost by the bandits, etc.

I don't see how narrating consequences in a flashback is, at its core, different from this. The "past" of the fiction is always up for grabs in a RPG, and new things are being established about it all the time in play.
 

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Micah Sweet

Legend
Suppose a group is playing Moldvay Basic. The PCs enter a room in a dungeon with some bandits in it. The GM makes a reaction roll, and it is reasonably extreme - either hostility, or friendship.

Why do the bandits react to the PCs that way? The GM has to make something up - the PCs remind the bandits of an old enemy or friend, are wearing something taken from/lost by the bandits, etc.

I don't see how narrating consequences in a flashback is, at its core, different from this. The "past" of the fiction is always up for grabs in a RPG, and new things are being established about it all the time in play.
See, the issue as I see it is you're assuming that since the "core" of the concept is similar, nobody should have a problem with any given expression of that core unless they have a problem with all of it. That's just not how most humans think.
 

pemerton

Legend
See, the issue as I see it is you're assuming that since the "core" of the concept is similar, nobody should have a problem with any given expression of that core unless they have a problem with all of it. That's just not how most humans think.
But if someone tells me their reason is X, and X entails rejection of the "core", then it can't be right that the reason is X. Either there is no reason, or the reason is something other than X.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Sometimes.

For someone complaining that my posts are unproductive, this doesn't really do much to help improve that.

Do you care to elaborate at all? You said you don't go as far as some with their dislike of these kinds of elements.... so what are the meaningful elements to you? Where do you draw the line? Why?


Because the alternative is to potentially put words in someone's mouth.

No, I said there was one who'd made it clear that he held this sort of thing strongly enough he'd avoid genres where it was necessary to have things like this. I'm suggesting that someone who feels strongly enough to do that isn't liable to change perspective because you think his POV is flawed.

Given the number of people who have liked the posts I've made who were, for the most part, some of the specific people I think I'm fairly representing, no. I'm sure if they disagreed with my characterization of the general view they have, they wouldn't have liked the posts.

And I'm sure they can disagree with my posts if they'd like.

My only issue with your responses to me is that I don't think I've done the thing you're saying I have. I've repeatedly said I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. My initial post on this was not directed at anyone in particular, and my subsequent posts have all been in response to only a few people, and other than our little tiff, have all been perfectly fine.

So it comes across to me as you saying to me "Your ideas are counter to others', so you shouldn't say them".

Because I think its a counterproductive mistake. That doesn't mean I think there's some "danger" from it.

Yes, actually, that's what counterproductive means. That it actively harms the outcome. That we don't move forward, but backward.

Which is exactly what I've been doing. You just don't happen to like it.

It's not just that I don't like it, though you are right on that. It's that I don't think I've done what you say I'm doing. Your point is that my posts won't change certain peoples' minds. That's fine.... I'm not attempting to do so.

I'm not trying to produce the result that you seem to think I am. So saying I'm being counterproductive in that regard seems misguided.

But if someone tells me their reason is X, and X entails rejection of the "core", then it can't be right that the reason is X. Either there is no reason, or the reason is something other than X.

That's how it seems to me. I think there are likely some gray areas that make it harder to say for certain, but I also think that very often with these things, there's more to it. I know there was for me. I know other GMs and players I've talked to have had different issues with game elements like Flashbacks and the sort. In those cases, there has always been some other element that was the actual issue, even when the initial reason cited was the "retroactive" nature.
 

That's how it seems to me. I think there are likely some gray areas that make it harder to say for certain, but I also think that very often with these things, there's more to it. I know there was for me. I know other GMs and players I've talked to have had different issues with game elements like Flashbacks and the sort. In those cases, there has always been some other element that was the actual issue, even when the initial reason cited was the "retroactive" nature.
Yeah, my feeling is that people have a very fixed idea of what an RPG experience is and what it is not. Anything which strays outside of that mental model is 'wrong', and most of the explanations of that wrongness are post hoc attempts to explain something that isn't necessarily explainable in any systematic or logical way.

I think, in the case of flashbacks there's a fixed idea that the play of a character is only to happen in linear fictional time. That also probably can be generalized into a principle that covers some other objections too. So, @pemerton for instance points out that knowledge checks have a similar structure. This is rejected because there (generally) isn't a 'playing out', even implicitly, of the acquisition of such knowledge. Because it can be assumed to have simply been carried around in the character's head all this time and have some vague origin that need not necessarily be examined, there isn't a feeling that it has a NARRATIVE to it. Buying a piece of rope has to have played out somehow, even implicitly, as a narrative, somewhere definite in time. It must have happened since I lost my backpack in that horrible boat incident, etc.

Where do these fixed ideas about play come from? What purpose do they serve? These are interesting questions, but don't appear to be within the scope of this thread (and I have a bad feeling that if a thread was created in which to examine them it would probably get ugly fast...).
 

Yeah, my feeling is that people have a very fixed idea of what an RPG experience is and what it is not. Anything which strays outside of that mental model is 'wrong', and most of the explanations of that wrongness are post hoc attempts to explain something that isn't necessarily explainable in any systematic or logical way.

I think, in the case of flashbacks there's a fixed idea that the play of a character is only to happen in linear fictional time. That also probably can be generalized into a principle that covers some other objections too. So, @pemerton for instance points out that knowledge checks have a similar structure. This is rejected because there (generally) isn't a 'playing out', even implicitly, of the acquisition of such knowledge. Because it can be assumed to have simply been carried around in the character's head all this time and have some vague origin that need not necessarily be examined, there isn't a feeling that it has a NARRATIVE to it. Buying a piece of rope has to have played out somehow, even implicitly, as a narrative, somewhere definite in time. It must have happened since I lost my backpack in that horrible boat incident, etc.

Where do these fixed ideas about play come from? What purpose do they serve? These are interesting questions, but don't appear to be within the scope of this thread (and I have a bad feeling that if a thread was created in which to examine them it would probably get ugly fast...).
I don’t know that knowledge checks function similarly to flashbacks. Knowledge checks seem like an acknowledgement that the character knows more about the world they live in than the player, because that world was created by the gm. Whereas with flashbacks, neither player nor gm knows how it is going to play out. That’s part of the fun of flashbacks—playing it out and figuring out together how it’s going to affect the story/score. I don’t know if it originated in blades, but its an innovative aspect of the game because it works differently than things like dnd knowledge checks.

In terms of what purposes having or not having rope serves, for me it is part of the risk/reward structure of classic dnd (not 5e). In that, you have to make choices of what you can carry, and those choices should be strategic, and you are rewarded if they come into play meaningfully or if you are able to use the equipment you brought in a novel and unexpected way to solve the problem at hand. It’s similar to picking out your spells at the beginning of the day.

Basically, classic dnd is interested in planning ahead, and Blades in the Dark is a rejection such gameplay.
 

For someone complaining that my posts are unproductive, this doesn't really do much to help improve that.

I didn't find your question particularly relevant, so I saw no reason to give it more than that. You're not really confronting my position, because I'm not contextually averse to the things you've been talking about; others are. So how I feel about it is only borderline relevant at best.

Do you care to elaborate at all? You said you don't go as far as some with their dislike of these kinds of elements.... so what are the meaningful elements to you? Where do you draw the line? Why?

Frankly, it would require going sufficiently into the weeds that its not worth it to me. As I said, I'm not intrinsically hostile to things like flashbacks and the like, so when I am isn't particularly significant to the discussion of people who more generically are. Its look-and-feel and I won't claim to be able to make a general policy about it.

And I'm sure they can disagree with my posts if they'd like.

Just because not everyone has the wherewithal to argue with you about it does not mean they're agreeing with you. I'll freely admit I'm quite a bit more willing to be confrontational at need than a lot of people. As such, when I think someone is essentially missing the point of someone else's position, I don't hesitate to say so even if its a position I don't agree with in whole or part.

My only issue with your responses to me is that I don't think I've done the thing you're saying I have. I've repeatedly said I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. My initial post on this was not directed at anyone in particular, and my subsequent posts have all been in response to only a few people, and other than our little tiff, have all been perfectly fine.

So it comes across to me as you saying to me "Your ideas are counter to others', so you shouldn't say them".

Its more "If you actually think this is particular productive, I think you're going about it absolutely the wrong way." That can be read as telling you to stop (as I think its counterproductive), but I don't have any control over what you chose to say. But like the saying goes, I have the same right to criticize it as you do to say it in the first place.


Yes, actually, that's what counterproductive means. That it actively harms the outcome. That we don't move forward, but backward.

Replace it with "unproductive" if you like.

It's not just that I don't like it, though you are right on that. It's that I don't think I've done what you say I'm doing. Your point is that my posts won't change certain peoples' minds. That's fine.... I'm not attempting to do so.

I'm not trying to produce the result that you seem to think I am. So saying I'm being counterproductive in that regard seems misguided.

Then I have to say its remarkably unclear what you are trying to do here.

That's how it seems to me. I think there are likely some gray areas that make it harder to say for certain, but I also think that very often with these things, there's more to it. I know there was for me. I know other GMs and players I've talked to have had different issues with game elements like Flashbacks and the sort. In those cases, there has always been some other element that was the actual issue, even when the initial reason cited was the "retroactive" nature.

Since I won't speak for others directly here, I'll say in the cases where I'd have an issue with it I'd find it outright jarring. That'd likely be because I was, as much as possible, avoiding playing from Author stance at the time (which again, I'm not intrinsically hostile to). Past that I don't think there's any other element present that I can suggest.
 

I don’t know that knowledge checks function similarly to flashbacks. Knowledge checks seem like an acknowledgement that the character knows more about the world they live in than the player, because that world was created by the gm. Whereas with flashbacks, neither player nor gm knows how it is going to play out. That’s part of the fun of flashbacks—playing it out and figuring out together how it’s going to affect the story/score. I don’t know if it originated in blades, but its an innovative aspect of the game because it works differently than things like dnd knowledge checks.

In terms of what purposes having or not having rope serves, for me it is part of the risk/reward structure of classic dnd (not 5e). In that, you have to make choices of what you can carry, and those choices should be strategic, and you are rewarded if they come into play meaningfully or if you are able to use the equipment you brought in a novel and unexpected way to solve the problem at hand. It’s similar to picking out your spells at the beginning of the day.

Basically, classic dnd is interested in planning ahead, and Blades in the Dark is a rejection such gameplay.
Well, I don't want to relitigate the whole of what @pemerton said about it, you can read his posts. There's no ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE, when you go to make a 'knowledge check' you are retroactively acquiring knowledge about something. This acquisition must logically have occurred at some earlier point in time (usually undefined). This is really EXACTLY LIKE the retroactive acquisition of the rope! I agree that people don't SEE it that way, but that was the whole point of my post!

As for the whole risk/reward thing. Yes, we all do understand that. I won't go through THAT whole discussion on the pros/cons of it either. All I'm really saying is that the preference for making players define their character's physical inventory in a linear fashion is not a LOGICAL preference. Its a preference that is rooted in something else. IME it is largely rooted in having been introduced to, and played their formative games, under an assumption that linear time is the only allowable narrative format. It is after all a pretty easy assumption to make, perhaps a naive one, but its no leap to expect it is kind of a default that people will start with in most cases. Tellingly, in no instance that I am aware of has someone new to RPG play objected to non-linear approaches to time or found it unacceptable. I mean, that's hardly a good test, but my feeling is, in absence of a preexisting assumption its mostly not an issue.
 

Well, I don't want to relitigate the whole of what @pemerton said about it, you can read his posts. There's no ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE, when you go to make a 'knowledge check' you are retroactively acquiring knowledge about something. This acquisition must logically have occurred at some earlier point in time (usually undefined). This is really EXACTLY LIKE the retroactive acquisition of the rope! I agree that people don't SEE it that way, but that was the whole point of my post!

While I don't think this is completely unfounded, I think there's some practical differences being ignored though; in practice its impossible to know everything a character knows about their subjects of expertise, where its not impossible to know everything that exists in your pack. As such, there's no real alternative to the first, but there is to the second.
 

While I don't think this is completely unfounded, I think there's some practical differences being ignored though; in practice its impossible to know everything a character knows about their subjects of expertise, where its not impossible to know everything that exists in your pack. As such, there's no real alternative to the first, but there is to the second.
Oh, I agree that the two 'inventories' are not precisely the same. I think the main distinguishing feature is just that there's no real cognitive equivalent of 'encumbrance'. It may, realistically, be true that one person can likely only know a finite amount of stuff, but RPGs are unlikely to come up against any such limit, practically speaking. That does beg the question though of why a system like BitD's is rejected, as it has sufficient plausibility (and certainly seems like it also invokes player creativity and skill). I still think the most significant factor here is just that people like what they are already comfortable with. I mean, if I never played an RPG, then sure I'll glom onto the concept of such a game, as it isn't challenging something else. OTOH when you tell me there's a heterodox way to do something, well, most people will approach it with skepticism, at best. lol.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Oh, I agree that the two 'inventories' are not precisely the same. I think the main distinguishing feature is just that there's no real cognitive equivalent of 'encumbrance'. It may, realistically, be true that one person can likely only know a finite amount of stuff, but RPGs are unlikely to come up against any such limit, practically speaking. That does beg the question though of why a system like BitD's is rejected, as it has sufficient plausibility (and certainly seems like it also invokes player creativity and skill). I still think the most significant factor here is just that people like what they are already comfortable with. I mean, if I never played an RPG, then sure I'll glom onto the concept of such a game, as it isn't challenging something else. OTOH when you tell me there's a heterodox way to do something, well, most people will approach it with skepticism, at best. lol.
I certainly don't reject it, I just don't care for the concept outside of a game with that specific sensibility and intention. Good in BtiD and similar games. Less good elsewhere.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don’t know that knowledge checks function similarly to flashbacks. Knowledge checks seem like an acknowledgement that the character knows more about the world they live in than the player, because that world was created by the gm.
But if you were to start a thread that explained that the function of knowledge checks, perception checks, "I speak to the guard" checks, etc is for the players to learn what the GM has decided about the fiction, you will have any number of posters telling you that you are wrong, you are derisive of their approach to RPGing etc.

I know because I've tried it!

in practice its impossible to know everything a character knows about their subjects of expertise, where its not impossible to know everything that exists in your pack.
Whether or not the first claim is true I'll pass over.

But the second claim is not plausible to me. I'm not sure that I can tell you everything that is in my backpack that I take back and forth to work every day. I definitely can't tell you everything that is on my desk, either at work or at home. I can't tell you everything that is in my cupboards, or on my bookshelves. (Not all the books, let alone the pamphlets and maps, let alone the knick-knacks).

The way that classic D&D creates the illusion of a total inventory is by (i) being incredibly, implausibly sparse, and (ii) glossing over details (eg you have "iron rations" but we don't say anything about what they are, what sort of container they might be in, etc). And (ii) is just what BitD does, only more systematically and with a different rule for who gets to fill in the details when.
 

Oh, I agree that the two 'inventories' are not precisely the same. I think the main distinguishing feature is just that there's no real cognitive equivalent of 'encumbrance'. It may, realistically, be true that one person can likely only know a finite amount of stuff, but RPGs are unlikely to come up against any such limit, practically speaking. That does beg the question though of why a system like BitD's is rejected, as it has sufficient plausibility (and certainly seems like it also invokes player creativity and skill). I still think the most significant factor here is just that people like what they are already comfortable with. I mean, if I never played an RPG, then sure I'll glom onto the concept of such a game, as it isn't challenging something else. OTOH when you tell me there's a heterodox way to do something, well, most people will approach it with skepticism, at best. lol.

Its not just that, though. As I averred elsewhere, there's a difference between plausibility of outcome and dissonance of process. When it comes to character knowledge, people often don't even know what they know in real life until its time to retrieve it in many cases. The way our "encumbrance" works in that area is complex and our retrieval of same is a linear process. Basically, the very question of whether you Know X is what let's you know if you Know X in some cases, and in some cases you have to "look" for it. This becomes very obvious to some of us as you get older and things get put "in the back of the closet" as it were. And that's with actual possession of the information, not just the emulation of it that is what's going on in an RPG.

(There are some other issues there that come up; I think that to represent fields of knowledge properly you could really use a better model than a pure die roll in many cases but it'd probably get stupid complex really quick).

On the other hand, its not only possible to know what you have on your person when traveling, people wh do so frequently usually do (especially when likely to be away from resupply). So there's a dissonance for that not being true for some people with one that simply doesn't exist with the other.
 

I certainly don't reject it, I just don't care for the concept outside of a game with that specific sensibility and intention. Good in BtiD and similar games. Less good elsewhere.


To be fair to some other participants, that doesn't really explain why you don't care for it though. Its entirely possible for it be a purely packed matter of taste, but that doesn't leave much to talk about.
 

Whether or not the first claim is true I'll pass over.

Its not a trivial part of my point, you know.

But the second claim is not plausible to me. I'm not sure that I can tell you everything that is in my backpack that I take back and forth to work every day. I definitely can't tell you everything that is on my desk, either at work or at home. I can't tell you everything that is in my cupboards, or on my bookshelves. (Not all the books, let alone the pamphlets and maps, let alone the knick-knacks).

You are not, however, someone who is dependent on the contents of your backpack being necessary to your survival, and being away from immediate resupply in a potentially hostile situation. I can promise you if you talk to people who do find themselves in that situation regularly, they'll have a very good idea what they have with them, and in fact check it quite regularly when setting out. This parallels what PCs in most games where inventory is relevant do quite well.

The way that classic D&D creates the illusion of a total inventory is by (i) being incredibly, implausibly sparse, and (ii) glossing over details (eg you have "iron rations" but we don't say anything about what they are, what sort of container they might be in, etc). And (ii) is just what BitD does, only more systematically and with a different rule for who gets to fill in the details when.

I'll again argue that often that's because it again doesn't matter. Similarly in the above, if you asked a backpacker what his freeze dried food was in he'd probably say "Uh, some kind of plastic?" because he doesn't need to know; its not relevant to the functional issues unless something really unusual happens. As I've mentioned before in regard to "kits" it only comes up when someone is trying to use something "off label" as it were.
 

But if you were to start a thread that explained that the function of knowledge checks, perception checks, "I speak to the guard" checks, etc is for the players to learn what the GM has decided about the fiction, you will have any number of posters telling you that you are wrong, you are derisive of their approach to RPGing etc.

I know because I've tried it!

Whether or not the first claim is true I'll pass over.

But the second claim is not plausible to me. I'm not sure that I can tell you everything that is in my backpack that I take back and forth to work every day. I definitely can't tell you everything that is on my desk, either at work or at home. I can't tell you everything that is in my cupboards, or on my bookshelves. (Not all the books, let alone the pamphlets and maps, let alone the knick-knacks).

The way that classic D&D creates the illusion of a total inventory is by (i) being incredibly, implausibly sparse, and (ii) glossing over details (eg you have "iron rations" but we don't say anything about what they are, what sort of container they might be in, etc). And (ii) is just what BitD does, only more systematically and with a different rule for who gets to fill in the details when.
Yeah, here we circle back to my, ever unpopular, point about the GENERAL sparseness of fiction in RPGs. I mean, it may also be the case in other sorts of fiction, like novels, that much is not just unsaid but actually unknown to anyone including the author. But uniquely in RPGs this matters a lot more since it is a SHARED incomplete fiction. The GM doesn't know what the players might engage with, and the players don't know what things the GM has or has not filled in beforehand, or is simply 'coloring in' at play time.

For example, rummaging in my laptop bag that I take to work every few days there are a whole bunch of pieces of paper, some cabling, a fork, a plastic table knife, 3 napkins, a pencil, and a pad of postit notes. None of this stuff takes up enough space for me to care about, so it just stays there, and the other day when I needed a fork, it was there! What if my D&D character needed a fork? Why not have a way to see if I've inadvertently left one in the 'pack trash' in his satchel? Seems perfectly reasonable to me, and that fork could save your life! Heck, I could probably tie someone up with the cables, draw a small map on one postit, and leave a message for someone on another. Sounds kinda useful, in the right situation.

It always seems odd to me that there should be any real resistance to the idea of having mechanics that simulate that kind of thing.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
To be fair to some other participants, that doesn't really explain why you don't care for it though. Its entirely possible for it be a purely packed matter of taste, but that doesn't leave much to talk about.
I don't like the idea of deciding something in the physical world of the game to have always been true as an effort of player will when it would be advantageous. I know knowledge checks are conceptually similar, but they feel quite different. To expound further I feel would just lead to other posters explaining how my opinion is wrong, and I really don't need that today.
 

Its not just that, though. As I averred elsewhere, there's a difference between plausibility of outcome and dissonance of process. When it comes to character knowledge, people often don't even know what they know in real life until its time to retrieve it in many cases. The way our "encumbrance" works in that area is complex and our retrieval of same is a linear process. Basically, the very question of whether you Know X is what let's you know if you Know X in some cases, and in some cases you have to "look" for it. This becomes very obvious to some of us as you get older and things get put "in the back of the closet" as it were. And that's with actual possession of the information, not just the emulation of it that is what's going on in an RPG.

(There are some other issues there that come up; I think that to represent fields of knowledge properly you could really use a better model than a pure die roll in many cases but it'd probably get stupid complex really quick).

On the other hand, its not only possible to know what you have on your person when traveling, people wh do so frequently usually do (especially when likely to be away from resupply). So there's a dissonance for that not being true for some people with one that simply doesn't exist with the other.
Well, as I demonstrated in my last post, it wasn't even possible for me to know what was in my own carrying bag, lol. So I'm a bit dubious that simplistic sparse inventories with things like "Iron Rations" really tells us the whole story. The real world is just much more 'textured' than our descriptions of imagined worlds, and that has real consequence.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Well, as I demonstrated in my last post, it wasn't even possible for me to know what was in my own carrying bag, lol. So I'm a bit dubious that simplistic sparse inventories with things like "Iron Rations" really tells us the whole story. The real world is just much more 'textured' than our descriptions of imagined worlds, and that has real consequence.
The answer to that, to me, is not to decide what is actually in your carry bag based on what you want to be there at the time.
 

I don't like the idea of deciding something in the physical world of the game to have always been true as an effort of player will when it would be advantageous. I know knowledge checks are conceptually similar, but they feel quite different. To expound further I feel would just lead to other posters explaining how my opinion is wrong, and I really don't need that today.
To be perfectly clear, I think the use of inventory at least was established as an element of play from very early in the development of D&D, along with the convention of depicting the action in a 'stream of consciousness' kind of style where things always take place (mostly) in a chronological order, at least in terms of any specific character. Maybe this is actually part of the 'Braunstein' legacy. Since Dave's D&D play arose directly out of a LARP-like kind of RP where it would be impossible to mess with time (impractical at the very least) that just naturally carried over into D&D. Nor was it, IME since I played back in the mid-70s, particularly noted by most of us. We just did it that way because 'that is how it is done'. Nobody even thought to try anything different (well, not in my crowd anyway, undoubtedly those crazy people on the West Coast subverted this sometime around Jan 1 1975...).

So, no, nothing about it is wrong at all! Neither is it 'right', it is just what it is. I do think, particularly back maybe 10 years ago or so, when a lot of us started talking here about different ways of playing there was a pretty strong backlash of people saying literally "THAT IS WRONG!" It seems like the leaf has turned largely at this point though. Many prefer older ways, which is cool though. Maybe even some newer types of play rely on linear time too, I'm not sure.
 

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