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

That's a good example of what I am discussing. A parking rule is not binding in itself, it is binding because it is enforced. It's easy to see that we can park where we like - the rule doesn't make us park in accord with it - rather it is our concern to avoid a fine that secures our consent to the rule. (Or we may feel a sense of civic duty, etc.)

For RPG we often agree to process rules. Like this
  1. We know that sometimes we have different ideas about what should happen next, in circumstances where that will take what follows down different paths (the antecedent behaviour)
  2. We author a rule "In case of 1., you will roll 1d6. On 6, what you say goes. On 3-5, what you say goes and I get to add something. On 1-2, what I say goes."
  3. We come to a case of 1. You pick up 1d6 and roll it - a 6. What makes me go along with that? It's not the roll. It's my consent to the roll, due in very large part to the player-ethos we share that would make my behaviour that of a spoilsport (see Huizinga et al) should I now disregard this rule that we gave our prior consent to.
Of course, I don't normally think about consenting or not to every roll (as John Harper reminds in a recent video). Our shared ethos is normative. Instead I give my consent as we enter the magic circle, thus adopting a lusory attitude that should (but is not guaranteed every time to) meet the lusory expectations of my fellow players.

Again, we are perhaps in the end just agreeing (by disagreeing). I am absolutely talking about whether a rule is inherently binding or not. I gather from your caveat that you perhaps agree that rules aren't inherently binding. Have I got that right?

We're speaking to a conversation about rule zero versus every other rule in 5e, and I am saying that none of those rules are inherently binding. They are binding because of norms and penalties, anticipated benefits, etc, that bring us to accept/enact them for ourselves. This makes @Thomas Shey's argument exactly right: a GM could wield Rule 0 in an unhelpful way - any participant could wield any rule in an unhelpful way - but they do not because they don't follow the rule just because of the existence of that rule. They follow that rule because of (and in the way that satisfies) the shared-ethos and the benefits the group desire that rule to have.
Look, at the end of the day this entire line of reasoning amounts to "but we can't actually talk about rules authority AT ALL because someone might decide not to follow the rules, and nobody can make them!" or its alternative incarnation as "no matter what the rules say, the players won't play by them, they'll force the GM to do things in a way that is acceptable to them. So we can't really care about rules/system!"

Its a fundamentally discussion ending kind of argument that misses the entire point of the rules. Sure, they're subject to acceptance, but people DO ENTER THE MAGIC CIRCLE. They accept the rules, mostly as written, and they play the game! If they don't, we're not even having an RPG game play/design/theory discussion anymore, because no RPG is happening, or its a totally different one, or Calvinball, etc.

EDIT: Again, I think this was fairly well answered to in post 1627 above, please don't feel like we're beating the horse after it died, lol.
 
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Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I can't agree. The numbers I'm applying are not entirely pulled out of thin air; for the most part my players have a good sense of the range of expected problems they can expect to encounter and deal with, and certainly know the specifics in most cases where any dice are to be rolled. Its entirely within their capability to look at what I've presented and note if something seems outside the expected range and question what I'm doing; it happens with some regularity. I realize there's a tendency in the hobby for GMs to view such things as tantamount to lese majesty, but it isn't intrinsic.

I'm not saying the numbers are pulled out of thin air (always). I am saying that is long as the numbers (or more importantly the setting's impact on the shared fiction) fit within that fairly wide acceptable range there is no way of telling why the fall where they fall. Fiat that comes from a disciplined attention to the GM's conception of the setting is still fiat. It's the sort of fiat that is needed to make exploration work - the GM is our window into the setting in exploratory play. Still fiat though.

There is a world of difference between fits within an acceptable range and the sense of powerful expectation that comes from knowing that if you get that 6 in Blades in the Dark you are going to achieve your intent without a complication or that on a 10+ on go aggro in Apocalypse World the NPC will either give in or face the consequences. Night and day in terms of tension, immediacy and follow through.
 

I'm not saying the numbers are pulled out of thin air (always). I am saying that is long as the numbers (or more importantly the setting's impact on the shared fiction) fit within that fairly wide acceptable range there is no way of telling why the fall where they fall. Fiat that comes from a disciplined attention to the GM's conception of the setting is still fiat. It's the sort of fiat that is needed to make exploration work - the GM is our window into the setting in exploratory play. Still fiat though.

There is a world of difference between fits within an acceptable range and the sense of powerful expectation that comes from knowing that if you get that 6 in Blades in the Dark you are going to achieve your intent without a complication or that on a 10+ on go aggro in Apocalypse World the NPC will either give in or face the consequences. Night and day in terms of tension, immediacy and follow through.
While I agree with both you and @Thomas Shey at one level, I also think it isn't at all that simple. The GM is very much armed with secret backstory, and the ability and often desire to come up with certain specific answers. Those answers quite often can be surprising to the players! I mean, this is where the classic 'dungeon crawl' formula worked its magic. The GM was boxed into a highly restricted space. Sure, he could invent a new trap where none was before or something, but that was clearly demarked as being not within the skilled play agenda of a game like B/X. Once you get outside that sort of 'box' the whole structure Thomas is proposing largely breaks down. In 'town' there can be all sorts of secret plots, unknown NPCs, and just such a wide range of possibilities that there's no real judging. This is exceptionally true when the game opens up into other sorts of challenges like if there is social conflict, etc. I don't care how much common sense you have, etc. the imagined game world is just not filled with all the 1000's of possible details that would even guide use of that. Regardless of what the GM says happens, it can be justified, and the only question then is who decided what the fiction would be and how?
 

I'm not saying the numbers are pulled out of thin air (always). I am saying that is long as the numbers (or more importantly the setting's impact on the shared fiction) fit within that fairly wide acceptable range there is no way of telling why the fall where they fall. Fiat that comes from a disciplined attention to the GM's conception of the setting is still fiat. It's the sort of fiat that is needed to make exploration work - the GM is our window into the setting in exploratory play. Still fiat though.

There is a world of difference between fits within an acceptable range and the sense of powerful expectation that comes from knowing that if you get that 6 in Blades in the Dark you are going to achieve your intent without a complication or that on a 10+ on go aggro in Apocalypse World the NPC will either give in or face the consequences. Night and day in terms of tension, immediacy and follow through.

Keep in mind I'm talking about this in terms of response to the idea that what GM-generated material kills Gamism. It really doesn't, unless the GM is being remarkably opaque (which to be clear, some of them do, sometimes deliberately to kill gamism). I am neither qualified nor particularly interested in trying to discuss how it impacts a Story Now approach.
 

While I agree with both you and @Thomas Shey at one level, I also think it isn't at all that simple. The GM is very much armed with secret backstory, and the ability and often desire to come up with certain specific answers. Those answers quite often can be surprising to the players! I mean, this is where the classic 'dungeon crawl' formula worked its magic. The GM was boxed into a highly restricted space. Sure, he could invent a new trap where none was before or something, but that was clearly demarked as being not within the skilled play agenda of a game like B/X. Once you get outside that sort of 'box' the whole structure Thomas is proposing largely breaks down. In 'town' there can be all sorts of secret plots, unknown NPCs, and just such a wide range of possibilities that there's no real judging. This is exceptionally true when the game opens up into other sorts of challenges like if there is social conflict, etc. I don't care how much common sense you have, etc. the imagined game world is just not filled with all the 1000's of possible details that would even guide use of that. Regardless of what the GM says happens, it can be justified, and the only question then is who decided what the fiction would be and how?

I still maintain, however, that how much the books are being cooked here is less well disguised than many people think it is. Though you're correct that some scales of problem are more open ended than the tactical ones I was discussing, even when looking at a larger scale issue, the investigative part (assuming the characters are set up to do it properly) should not leave you completely in the dark about parts of the problem; they may not give you complete information, but things like conspiracies and the like have to be doing something to be an issue, and those things leave footprints, even if where they go is unclear in some cases without further work. From a gamist point of view, the only time such things should come completely out of the blue is when they involve places or situations the PCs have been giving no attention to at all. Otherwise, I think there is, indeed, an ability to judge that the GM has performed a hat trick.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I still maintain, however, that how much the books are being cooked here is less well disguised than many people think it is. Though you're correct that some scales of problem are more open ended than the tactical ones I was discussing, even when looking at a larger scale issue, the investigative part (assuming the characters are set up to do it properly) should not leave you completely in the dark about parts of the problem; they may not give you complete information, but things like conspiracies and the like have to be doing something to be an issue, and those things leave footprints, even if where they go is unclear in some cases without further work. From a gamist point of view, the only time such things should come completely out of the blue is when they involve places or situations the PCs have been giving no attention to at all. Otherwise, I think there is, indeed, an ability to judge that the GM has performed a hat trick.

I absolutely agree that most GMs who engage in a lot of trickery are not half as clever as they think. Most of the time they simply have players who are willing to go along with the illusion.
 

I still maintain, however, that how much the books are being cooked here is less well disguised than many people think it is. Though you're correct that some scales of problem are more open ended than the tactical ones I was discussing, even when looking at a larger scale issue, the investigative part (assuming the characters are set up to do it properly) should not leave you completely in the dark about parts of the problem; they may not give you complete information, but things like conspiracies and the like have to be doing something to be an issue, and those things leave footprints, even if where they go is unclear in some cases without further work. From a gamist point of view, the only time such things should come completely out of the blue is when they involve places or situations the PCs have been giving no attention to at all. Otherwise, I think there is, indeed, an ability to judge that the GM has performed a hat trick.
Sure, but what is the 'gamist view' here? I mean, I think its possible to construct a 'mystery story' for instance, conceptually, but its going to be hard to do so in a gamist fashion. The basic 'tooling' of classic D&D or 5e doesn't really help you at all. Furthermore the story is wide open, you cannot say there are only certain possible suspects, that the motives are really XYZ, etc. D&D at least also lacks any sort of progress structure, so neither is there some sort of signifier of 'achievement' nor is there even an indicator of progress! In fact progress is a hard thing to even consider, as if it turns out you were wrong at some point, you can end up right back at zero, or even worse off than you started.

I'm not saying it would be impossible to construct gamist RPGs that dealt with the subject of mysteries or conspiracies or such stuff, it is just that they wouldn't look at all like D&D! I do not believe that you can do this sort of stuff in a way I would call gamist in D&D, at least not modern D&D. The problem with going back to really old school techniques, like just having the GM narrate the results of PC actions, is even that doesn't guarantee the adventure will 'work' (IE the PCs may never choose to search the dresser and so never find the vital clue). The other observations about lack of ways to measure achievement or skill also still apply.

It seems vastly likelier that any sort of social conflict adventure of the 'conspiracy', 'mystery', or even just general social conflict, is going to rapidly become some sort of HCS or process simulation kind of affair, and process sim is probably going to break down too! (too many variables to simulate, though there might be ways to mitigate that).
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
This is also exactly why I called 5e's skill system nothing but a prompt.
Take a typical 5e ability check at our table
  1. There's a fictional situation
  2. There's a game state (often partly hidden)
  3. Players ask questions and describe their actions
  4. Players sometimes name mechanics they hope to invoke (Harper's recent video mentions that for Blades) - my take is it forms a ludically extended language
  5. DM (often me, but not always) asks questions (of themselves and players)
    1. How is this possible? (Hopefully, players have described how)
    2. How is this uncertain? (If it's possible and not uncertain, it may just succeed)
    3. What's at stake? (If nothing's at stake so it can be reattempted, it may just succeed)
  6. If its justified by situation, descriptions, and system, DM calls for roll with a mechanic in mind (e.g. if it's a jump, I will have in mind that the upshot of the game text is you can jump Strength with a 10' run up, clearing an obstacle with DC10, and landing safely in difficult terrain likewise.)
  7. Taking into consideration roll and that context, result is narrated, saying what follows. (And you know my thoughts on "narrates" entailing saying something that shall be meaningful)
Supposing that is what you call "nothing but a prompt", then okay!

Look, at the end of the day this entire line of reasoning amounts to "but we can't actually talk about rules authority AT ALL because someone might decide not to follow the rules, and nobody can make them!" or its alternative incarnation as "no matter what the rules say, the players won't play by them, they'll force the GM to do things in a way that is acceptable to them. So we can't really care about rules/system!"

Its a fundamentally discussion ending kind of argument that misses the entire point of the rules. Sure, they're subject to acceptance, but people DO ENTER THE MAGIC CIRCLE. They accept the rules, mostly as written, and they play the game! If they don't, we're not even having an RPG game play/design/theory discussion anymore, because no RPG is happening, or its a totally different one, or Calvinball, etc.

EDIT: Again, I think this was fairly well answered to in post 1627 above, please don't feel like we're beating the horse after it died, lol.
In the interests of principled discussion, I feel you have a decision to make here. We can terminate this line of discussion - agreeing to disagree - without either of us scoring further points. Accepting, for instance, that while you might feel it "was fairly well answered", I do not.

Alternatively, you can continue this line of discussion. If you do, you can hardly expect me to respect @Manbearcat's request. I'm very interested in rules, so I am very happy to carry on, but I am equally glad to accomodate the requests of principled interlocutors. What do you prefer?
 

In the interests of principled discussion, I feel you have a decision to make here. We can terminate this line of discussion - agreeing to disagree - without either of us scoring further points. Accepting, for instance, that while you might feel it "was fairly well answered", I do not.

Alternatively, you can continue this line of discussion. If you do, you can hardly expect me to respect @Manbearcat's request. I'm very interested in rules, so I am very happy to carry on, but I am equally glad to accomodate the requests of principled interlocutors. What do you prefer?

That was just me talking. If what I said doesn't serve the interests of multiple participants here, then you guys all carry on. I don't see how deconstructing the philosophy of rules will lead to anything more than a nearly infinite regression (which I see as a digression). But if you and @AbdulAlhazred and anyone else (possibly @pemerton given his position as an academic philosopher) find it useful and/or at least possibly capable of stimulating the penetration (giggety) of Gamist-related design and experience of play?

Have at it. I appreciate your consideration/courtesy here very much (hence the xp), but I'm just one dude and I don't get to dictate the conversation (particularly if my position doesn't carry a healthy majority). I can just work my way around the philosophy the best I can (which will entail post-skipping and post-skimming which I'm entirely capable of)!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
@clearstream
Do you find this diagram a fair description of the structure of how you play?

trad play.jpg


If not how does the essential structure differ? Assume GM Fiat here may include principled decisions based on your black box knowledge of NPCs and other setting elements.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don't see how deconstructing the philosophy of rules will lead to anything more than a nearly infinite regression (which I see as a digression). But if you and @AbdulAlhazred and anyone else (possibly @pemerton given his position as an academic philosopher) find it useful and/or at least possibly capable of stimulating the penetration (giggety) of Gamist-related design and experience of play?
I'm not too concerned about an infinite regress - Lewis Carroll has an answer to that in a paper from around 130 years ago, and in my view that answer can be applied outside of the formal logical domain Carroll is concerned with to other domains in which rules operate.

But I do agree with you that it is a digression. The Lumpley Principle - ie that it is social contract that establishes the system, and that it is shared imagination that constitutes the setting, characters and situation - is (in my view) uncontroversial, and I haven't noticed anyone in this thread trying to controvert it.

But the Lumpley Principle doesn't tell us anything about what systems are possible and the differences between them. Baker himself - as per my quote upthread - clearly thinks that social contract can support a system of task resolution, in which the resolution of situations is under the control of the GM who (as @Campbell explained with reference to John Harper) must decide what affect (if any) the achieving of a task by a character has on the unfolding and ultimate upshot of the situation; or a system of conflict resolution, in which the resolution of situations is not under the control of the GM in the same way.

Baker (and I think @Campbell too) have mostly made the point that that task-resolution, "GM is the glue" approach is not very suitable for "story now". You (that is, @Manbearcat) have also made the point that such a system is not very suitable for "step on up".

We can posit exceptions. A very disciplined GM, with very transparent fiction (setting, situation, NPCs), might make task resolution work for vanilla narrativism. I don't think it will be trivial. Rolemaster looks superficially like task resolution, but some of the features of its non-combat resolution charts actually push it closer to conflict resolution in some arenas (especially social). Nevertheless, using it for vanilla narrativism still raises some of these GM-as-glue problems. I say that on the basis of nearly 20 years of experience with the system.

On the gamist side, a commitment to rock-solid prep and a tight resolution space (ie the dungeon) can make GM-as-glue gamism possible. Even here, there can be problems, for instance for some social conflicts. And take the same approach into a less confined and spartan (imagined) environment, and as I and @AbdulAlhazred have said, the gamism will break down, because no matter how disciplined the GM is, they will have to make stuff up to preserve the logic and verisimilitude of the fiction.

I therefore don't think the rather modest exceptions refute the general point.
 

Take a typical 5e ability check at our table
  1. There's a fictional situation
  2. There's a game state (often partly hidden)
  3. Players ask questions and describe their actions
  4. Players sometimes name mechanics they hope to invoke (Harper's recent video mentions that for Blades) - my take is it forms a ludically extended language
  5. DM (often me, but not always) asks questions (of themselves and players)
    1. How is this possible? (Hopefully, players have described how)
    2. How is this uncertain? (If it's possible and not uncertain, it may just succeed)
    3. What's at stake? (If nothing's at stake so it can be reattempted, it may just succeed)
  6. If its justified by situation, descriptions, and system, DM calls for roll with a mechanic in mind (e.g. if it's a jump, I will have in mind that the upshot of the game text is you can jump Strength with a 10' run up, clearing an obstacle with DC10, and landing safely in difficult terrain likewise.)
  7. Taking into consideration roll and that context, result is narrated, saying what follows. (And you know my thoughts on "narrates" entailing saying something that shall be meaningful)
Supposing that is what you call "nothing but a prompt", then okay!
Well, it is interesting that at 6 you choose the example of a Jump, which is about the very most nailed down and clear possible case, on a par with a combat check. Even in THAT case suppose a PC has a STR of 15. Is the gap in the bridge they are jumping over exactly 15' or less? We probably don't know, especially in a game where even in combat it is common to have TOTM. Now, the GM could set a DC, but I didn't actually see that as one of the steps, oddly (I'll accept that it would be something like step 5B).

To a large degree though my point isn't really addressed by this breakdown, because part of the issue is that 5e doesn't deal with CONTEXT. Sure, the PC jumps the gap, but often situations don't clearly break down to a single check producing a binary pass/fail. Instead a check produces some as-yet-undetermined increment of success or failure.
In the interests of principled discussion, I feel you have a decision to make here. We can terminate this line of discussion - agreeing to disagree - without either of us scoring further points. Accepting, for instance, that while you might feel it "was fairly well answered", I do not.

Alternatively, you can continue this line of discussion. If you do, you can hardly expect me to respect @Manbearcat's request. I'm very interested in rules, so I am very happy to carry on, but I am equally glad to accomodate the requests of principled interlocutors. What do you prefer?
Yeah, I had read further, and my feeling is you addressed this pretty well at post 1627, but you probably didn't catch my edit to point that out. Again, I'm happy not to beat a dead horse. I personally don't find debates about whether not rules are actually going to be followed or exactly what is a 'rule' vs a 'convention' or etc. to necessarily be super interesting. I mean, possibly they could be in terms of discussing how game authors could inculcate users of their game with an understanding of how they envisage it being used. AW and DW are interesting to me in this respect, as DW at least is very explicit about what it EXPECTS vs just being some rules.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
@clearstream
Do you find this diagram a fair description of the structure of how you play?

View attachment 157317

If not how does the essential structure differ? Assume GM Fiat here may include principled decisions based on your black box knowledge of NPCs and other setting elements.
That's a fair and quite interesting question. When I looked at it before, my intuitive response is that purple GM fiat circle was jarring. Any interpretation which makes it GM fiat - I felt - just makes it fiat all the way down.

I'm not too concerned about an infinite regress - Lewis Carroll has an answer to that in a paper from around 130 years ago, and in my view that answer can be applied outside of the formal logical domain Carroll is concerned with to other domains in which rules operate.
Snap. What the Tortoise Said To Achilles. I was thinking of that paper as I wrote, up-thread. It's not quite apposite in my view, but in any case, I felt that the infinite regress is headed off by social contract. (Situating agreement outside the rules heads off any regress.)

EDIT I was mixing up my turtles and greek heroes :)
SECOND EDIT It strikes me to ask, are you thinking of a different paper? What the Tortoise Said to Achilles points out an infinite regress. I don't think Carroll supplied any answer to it. If he did I would like to read that. I suppose the answer implied is - Carroll's regress is only headed off by situating the answer to it outside of the regress. Was that your thought?
 
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I think, again, this makes some assumptions about perceived usage in the field that I don't think always follows. And I think it turns on an important issue of GM process in those cases that players are usually relatively aware of if they've been playing with a given GM for any length of time.

The question is "Is the GM making a rule 0 style decision to address output or input?"

What I mean here is that, even if they're doing so for the reason you suggest (and I remind you again that I'm not happy with calling this "sim" when it includes a number of to many people unrelated things, but that doesn't directly impact your statement other than to remind you where I'm coming from), it makes a great degree of difference whether it is to control output or to frame input and process. In other words, is it changing the process because it looks too easy/too hard in general, or for that player. In the case of the latter I agree with your assessment; in the former, not so much. And I think transparency on the part of a GM as to why he's doing that (and possible input from the players in it) makes a big difference.

Put simply, from a gamist point of view, if the GM is going to change a set of processes or simply some numbers because he had not realized how poorly they represented the situation as he sees it, as long as I know its the case I can still engage with it on a gamist level in most cases because I can still know whether the thing I'm attempting to do is the most sensible choice given my character's abilities and aims. Its Campbell's "black box" that destroys this, and the black box is not an automatic element that goes with the ability to engage "rule 0". It may, in a few cases be a necessity to engage with process in a way that seems appropriate on both a game and story level (unless one knows at least a bit about the quality of guards one is sneaking past, one should generally commit to doing so or not without knowing exactly what their perceptual ratings will be--but even here there should be a range of possible cases unless in-fiction one is going into the situation very blind). But those are, for the most part, specialty cases outside of some extremely information-tight old school approaches where players having any information of a usable level is considered anathema (as you can tell, I'm not a fan).

So my thoughts here would be the following:

This seems to be calling on a pretty sizable edge case use of Rule 0; deploying it transparently during play to "fix" an eff-up so it can be resolved in such a way that observes Gamist priorities. This absolutely can happen, but it is a very remote usage of Rule 0. But lets talk about that edge case. The change has to be both transparent and deftly deployed AND the GM has to be very self-disciplined and conscientious (they have to be hyper-aware of even the smallest of mental-model-perturbing eff-ups and demand of themselves and the table the time and effort to resolve the mismatch). This is because we're (the participants interested in distilling Skillful play from Unskillful play) reliant upon the players having well-parameterized mental models of the situation such that their OODA Loop can be executed with optimum skill. If we fail at either transparency or deftness, that (lets call it) "software patch" that we're introducing into play doesn't yield the necessary course-correction to the players' mental models.

In my experience, the huge % of in-situ "eff-up fixes" like you seem to be describing above doesn't entail the transparency rider because the GM is simultaneously trying to observe "I'm There" priorities (High Concept Simulation or Purist for System - Process Sim - agenda) and being transparent about the "software patch" to fix the players' mental model will be perceived as harming immersion.

But yeah, if a GM applies the fix with transparency and deftness, Gamist priorities can absolutely be salvaged. Its just that this (IMO) a small subset of a very small use case of deploying Rule 0. Its sufficiently "edge-case-y" enough and demonstrably different enough that it should really be called something different; "system patch" or something.

And finally, this is why I'm a huge believer of systematizing this stuff and structuring play/conversation and having a principle that says to "keep the meta-channel open (to resolve exactly this stuff)." You are (a) no longer become reliant upon GM self-discipline, conscientiousness, and deftness of resolving the software patch. Not just that, but you (b) aren't reliant on the nearly perfect uptake of that software patch in real time by the players (same problem but coming from the other direction). Neither (a) nor (b) manifest as a problem because you have a huge part of this equation offloaded onto or bridged by system (eg Torchbearer or Blades is a great example of what I'm talking about).
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Well, it is interesting that at 6 you choose the example of a Jump, which is about the very most nailed down and clear possible case, on a par with a combat check. Even in THAT case suppose a PC has a STR of 15. Is the gap in the bridge they are jumping over exactly 15' or less? We probably don't know, especially in a game where even in combat it is common to have TOTM. Now, the GM could set a DC, but I didn't actually see that as one of the steps, oddly (I'll accept that it would be something like step 5B).

To a large degree though my point isn't really addressed by this breakdown, because part of the issue is that 5e doesn't deal with CONTEXT. Sure, the PC jumps the gap, but often situations don't clearly break down to a single check producing a binary pass/fail. Instead a check produces some as-yet-undetermined increment of success or failure.
I can give you chapter and verse on a wide range of cases that come up in typical play, but is your concern here more whether 5e has skill challenges? (Incremental success/failure.)
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
So my thoughts here would be the following:

This seems to be calling on a pretty sizable edge case use of Rule 0; deploying it transparently during play to "fix" an eff-up so it can be resolved in such a way that observes Gamist priorities. This absolutely can happen, but it is a very remote usage of Rule 0. But lets talk about that edge case. The change has to be both transparent and deftly deployed AND the GM has to be very self-disciplined and conscientious (they have to be hyper-aware of even the smallest of mental-model-perturbing eff-ups and demand of themselves and the table the time and effort to resolve the mismatch). This is because we're (the participants interested in distilling Skillful play from Unskillful play) reliant upon the players having well-parameterized mental models of the situation such that their OODA Loop can be executed with optimum skill. If we fail at either transparency or deftness, that (lets call it) "software patch" that we're introducing into play doesn't yield the necessary course-correction to the players' mental models.

In my experience, the huge % of in-situ "eff-up fixes" like you seem to be describing above doesn't entail the transparency rider because the GM is simultaneously trying to observe "I'm There" priorities (High Concept Simulation or Purist for System - Process Sim - agenda) and being transparent about the "software patch" to fix the players' mental model will be perceived as harming immersion.

But yeah, if a GM applies the fix with transparency and deftness, Gamist priorities can absolutely be salvaged. Its just that this (IMO) a small subset of a very small use case of deploying Rule 0. Its sufficiently "edge-case-y" enough and demonstrably different enough that it should really be called something different; "system patch" or something.

And finally, this is why I'm a huge believer of systematizing this stuff and structuring play/conversation and having a principle that says to "keep the meta-channel open (to resolve exactly this stuff)." You are (a) no longer become reliant upon GM self-discipline, conscientiousness, and deftness of resolving the software patch. Not just that, but you (b) aren't reliant on the nearly perfect uptake of that software patch in real time by the players (same problem but coming from the other direction). Neither (a) nor (b) manifest as a problem because you have a huge part of this equation offloaded onto or bridged by system (eg Torchbearer or Blades is a great example of what I'm talking about).
Another possibility that I'm not sure we've mooted yet is gamist-fantasy, by which I mean the feeling of gamism, without over-indexing on wargamey crunch and difficulty.

So a casual player can get excited and feel great on an @EzekielRaiden's Score - Achievement axis (with perhaps some of my Construction - Perfection going on too) and that really is satisfying a gamist agenda, just not a rigorous wargamey gamist agenda. They're in it for the gamist-fantasy.
 
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pemerton

Legend
I can give you chapter and verse on a wide range of cases that come up in typical play, but is your concern here more whether 5e has skill challenges? (Incremental success/failure.)
The essence of a skill challenge is not incremental success/failure. It is that resolving the challenge resolves the scene.

Action scenes in MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic are the same in this respect, even though they have the possibility of not being incremental (eg if the first acting hero rolls very well and generates sufficiently many sufficiently large effect dice to bring the scene to its close).

Versus tests in Burnin Wheel are the same in this respect, although manifestly not incremental.

Contrast your steps:

Take a typical 5e ability check at our table
  1. There's a fictional situation
  2. There's a game state (often partly hidden)
  3. Players ask questions and describe their actions
  4. Players sometimes name mechanics they hope to invoke (Harper's recent video mentions that for Blades) - my take is it forms a ludically extended language
  5. DM (often me, but not always) asks questions (of themselves and players)
    1. How is this possible? (Hopefully, players have described how)
    2. How is this uncertain? (If it's possible and not uncertain, it may just succeed)
    3. What's at stake? (If nothing's at stake so it can be reattempted, it may just succeed)
  6. If its justified by situation, descriptions, and system, DM calls for roll with a mechanic in mind (e.g. if it's a jump, I will have in mind that the upshot of the game text is you can jump Strength with a 10' run up, clearing an obstacle with DC10, and landing safely in difficult terrain likewise.)
  7. Taking into consideration roll and that context, result is narrated, saying what follows. (And you know my thoughts on "narrates" entailing saying something that shall be meaningful)
How are the stakes defined? In terms of resolving the situation? Or - in the case of a jump - in the ingame causal terms of possibly falling down a chasm?

And what constrains the narration? You say that it "must follow" and "be meaningful". But how does that relate to the situation? In Baker's example, saying "You disarm the guy and totally kick his butt" follows, and in some sense is meaningful, but leaves it wide open for the GM to declare that while the fight was taking place the ship set sail.

Hence why @AbdulAlhazred says that 5e's task resolution skill checks are prompts: they give the GM additional material (like a disarmed guy whose butt got kicked) that must be woven into the overall fiction; but they don't actually resolve situations.
 

@clearstream
Do you find this diagram a fair description of the structure of how you play?

View attachment 157317

If not how does the essential structure differ? Assume GM Fiat here may include principled decisions based on your black box knowledge of NPCs and other setting elements.
It seems like it captures a lot of the essence of how a game like 5e works. There's some sort of situation, in which a conflict is present (IE some character needs something). Once a player declares a task, 5e, as @clearstream outlined above in This Post the GM is going to assess whether there's some sort of opposition, then whether failure is possible, and what the consequences might be. A check might be invoked at this point, but it addresses only the specific action the character is taking, leaving the question of how many tasks lie between the current state and the end state of conflict resolved. Beyond that the purple balloon also contains all the fictional state that is not known to the players, which can potentially change the valence of a check, or even make one necessary or not necessary. There's a lot that is not really nailed down here.
 

Another possibility that I'm not sure we've mooted yet is gamist-fantasy, by which I mean the feeling of gamism, without over-indexing on wargamey crunch and difficulty.

So a casual player can get excited and feel great on an @EzekielRaiden's Score - Achievement axis (with perhaps some of my Construction - Perfection going on too) and that really is satisfying a gamist agenda, just not a rigorous wargamey gamist agenda. They're in it for the gamist-fantasy.

From where I sit what you’re describing is Power Fantasy/Flex with either a meaningless (in terms of consequence to play trajectory) veneer of Skilled Play or a Skilled-Play-Lite aesthetic whereby the ceiling to floor ratio is truncated dramatically such that the distribution of play really can’t yield pronounced tails (Skill on one side and Unskillful on the other) because that difficulty curve flattening.

Gamism means those pronounced tails are the point of play. Getting rid of them gets rid of Gamism as play priority. The distribution can’t be overwhelmed by “you have to be this talk to ride…which pretty much everyone is” with very little (to none) “Kicked Ass” and “Ass Kicked”…your tails aren’t fat enough.

Power Fantasy/Flex with veneer or lite (“tail-less”) SP is binned in High Concept Simulation under the Forge model and OC/Trad (I believe) in that Cultures of Play model. Either way, very much “Not Gamism.”
 


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