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

clearstream

(He, Him)
EDIT - TO ANSWER THIS (cross-post):

I don't agree that (a) this is happening in my post nor (b) that it is reliant upon a weakness or deficiency at the social contract level or poor insight by GM.

What I am expressing is that it is a fundamental shortcoming of system. Like, take for example, the game expressing that Travel is a site of Skilled Play expression, yet it is not entirely (or even entirely not) fit for purpose.

Social contract and great insight by the GM doesn't save Gamist play from the inherent shortcomings of system.
Reflecting, I think my resistance is more to assigning the razor to task-resolution / conflict-resolution.

Or to put that another way,
  • What prevents a task-resolution system from supplying constraints/focus?
  • If what you say us true, why isn't the problem solved simply by a group deciding not to accept/enact rule zero for themselves? (Or is it?)
 
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Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
@clearstream

Let's consider these models again :

Exploration
Exploration.jpg


Immediacy
Immediacy.jpg


I believe over the years one of the fundamental mistakes is seeing the Exploration model as unfocused or without meaningful constraints because it is the default for mainstream games. I would argue that it provides just as much focus, direction and constraints as the Immediacy model. The Exploration model just provides different constraints.

  • Success is determined primarily by your ability to uncover and utilize hidden game state to achieve your objectives. This encourages a slower, more deliberate pace of play. Managing risks instead of embracing them.
  • Meaning tends to be placed either on setting or character relationships to the setting. Theme must already be embedded into the play space.
  • Structure and challenge come from constraining the environment either through constrained geography or linear narratives that constrain the elements we need to consider.
  • Hard scene framing or excessive dynamism is not really a fair GM practice because if hidden state affects success or failure you have to provide players with enough opportunity to uncover that state and direct the pace of play themselves. Placing more direct pressure on players (not characters) or changing that hidden state from underneath players undercuts the challenge involved in navigating that hidden state.
  • Even in moments of high tension (like combat or tense social situations) the imperative is to savor the experience (and allow for puzzle solving) rather than focus on immediacy or dynamism. Players need time to think and consider their next moves.
No matter what we do we have to focus our attention and energy somewhere. All RPG play I have ever experienced is structured. It's just inordinately easy to take the Exploration structure as a given.
 


Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
When it comes to Rule Zero there are three distinct things that seem to be getting conflated here:

1. Step 0 in 3e character creation which just asks players to check to see if the DM has any house rules.
2. Instructions in games like B/X to make rulings to deal with areas where the rules are not adequate to handle the fictional situation.
3. Whitewolf's Golden Rule which allows GMs/Storytellers to ignore and change rules as convenient in order to tell the story they want to tell.

Conflating 2 and 3 is particularly irksome for me.
 

When it comes to Rule Zero there are three distinct things that seem to be getting conflated here:

1. Step 0 in 3e character creation which just asks players to check to see if the DM has any house rules.
2. Instructions in games like B/X to make rulings to deal with areas where the rules are not adequate to handle the fictional situation.
3. Whitewolf's Golden Rule which allows GMs/Storytellers to ignore and change rules as convenient in order to tell the story they want to tell.

Conflating 2 and 3 is particularly irksome for me.

Unfortunately, the conflation was done by Zeb Cook et al in AD&D 2e and done so intentionally. As of that point, on ENWorld (ITS EVERYWHERE...EVERYWHERE...EVERY_WHERE) and in the wild, 2e, 3.x, and 5e has seen liberal use of 3 in order to affect the metaplot of modules and APs and to affect their personal story imperatives.

I would have loved for this conflation never to have happened because (2) is absolutely a thing where you have to rule on edge cases (though in B/X and RC there is a simple, yet elegant solution for those; the 1 or 2 on a 1d6). But Zeb Cook et al went full White Wolf/Dragonlance and the era of Dungeon and Beavers domination of D&D began.

@clearstream

Let's consider these models again :

Exploration
View attachment 248755

Immediacy
View attachment 248756


I believe over the years one of the fundamental mistakes is seeing the Exploration model as unfocused or without meaningful constraints because it is the default for mainstream games. I would argue that it provides just as much focus, direction and constraints as the Immediacy model. The Exploration model just provides different constraints.

  • Success is determined primarily by your ability to uncover and utilize hidden game state to achieve your objectives. This encourages a slower, more deliberate pace of play. Managing risks instead of embracing them.
  • Meaning tends to be placed either on setting or character relationships to the setting. Theme must already be embedded into the play space.
  • Structure and challenge come from constraining the environment either through constrained geography or linear narratives that constrain the elements we need to consider.
  • Hard scene framing or excessive dynamism is not really a fair GM practice because if hidden state affects success or failure you have to provide players with enough opportunity to uncover that state and direct the pace of play themselves. Placing more direct pressure on players (not characters) or changing that hidden state from underneath players undercuts the challenge involved in navigating that hidden state.
  • Even in moments of high tension (like combat or tense social situations) the imperative is to savor the experience (and allow for puzzle solving) rather than focus on immediacy or dynamism. Players need time to think and consider their next moves.
No matter what we do we have to focus our attention and energy somewhere. All RPG play I have ever experienced is structured. It's just inordinately easy to take the Exploration structure as a given.

I would say that the only place you find structured, disciplined wilderness crawls ("in the wild" as @pemerton put it) are with Expert and RC Hexcrawls (as I've done them aplenty). Procedurally, its just like dungeon crawls except mapped with fully prepped (themed and stocked w/ topography/hazards/denizens), high resolution hex-map + encounter tables + exploration turns/rest per 4 turns + wandering monster clock + monster reaction + encumbrance and loadout enforcement + gold/xp.

With skillful mapmaking and strict and disciplined refereeing, its very good play. The problem is, even Expert level spellcasters start to overwhelm the paradigm a little bit.

However, its not clear to me that this is what folks in this thread and in almost any other thread on ENWorld that connotes "wilderness crawls" (even though they don't call it that...they just call it "exploration" or "exploration pillar"). In fact, I'd say the evidence strongly pushes back in the opposite direction. Almost everything I mentioned above is either (a) not in play or (b) has been intentionally excised due to "but muh realism(!)" or "laborious book-keeping and/or handling time." So basically its just zoomed out map and a lot of task resolution as equal parts color and equal parts you climb the tree/don't climb the tree (nothing interesting happens) with maybe a random encounter rolled or not and maybe its results are given primacy or maybe they're ignored. The ENWorld testimonials on this subject over the years look little to nothing like the structured procedures and integrated systemization and strict and disciplined refereeing of a high res hex map that I've depicted above.
 

I would have loved for this conflation never to have happened because (2) is absolutely a thing where you have to rule on edge cases (though in B/X and RC there is a simple, yet elegant solution for those; the 1 or 2 on a 1d6). But Zeb Cook et al went full White Wolf/Dragonlance and the era of Dungeon and Beavers domination of D&D began.

It might have been simple, but I think I'd argue against elegant, because there's too many cases where I don't think it gets the job done properly.

I would say that the only place you find structured, disciplined wilderness crawls ("in the wild" as @pemerton put it) are with Expert and RC Hexcrawls (as I've done them aplenty). Procedurally, its just like dungeon crawls except mapped with fully prepped (themed and stocked w/ topography/hazards/denizens), high resolution hex-map + encounter tables + exploration turns/rest per 4 turns + wandering monster clock + monster reaction + encumbrance and loadout enforcement + gold/xp.

With skillful mapmaking and strict and disciplined refereeing, its very good play. The problem is, even Expert level spellcasters start to overwhelm the paradigm a little bit.

Yup. When I first hit D&D3e, I was running something that was mostly a hexcrawl, but it became obvious by mid-levels that it was progressively more possible for the PCs to sidestep anything that didn't have, from lack of a better term, an air component. Since I'd been running games where the magic was either lower-powered or more limited in other ways for many years at that point (RQ and its kin, mostly) I was quite unprepared for it.
 

Unfortunately, the conflation was done by Zeb Cook et al in AD&D 2e and done so intentionally. As of that point, on ENWorld (ITS EVERYWHERE...EVERYWHERE...EVERY_WHERE) and in the wild, 2e, 3.x, and 5e has seen liberal use of 3 in order to affect the metaplot of modules and APs and to affect their personal story imperatives.

I would have loved for this conflation never to have happened because (2) is absolutely a thing where you have to rule on edge cases (though in B/X and RC there is a simple, yet elegant solution for those; the 1 or 2 on a 1d6). But Zeb Cook et al went full White Wolf/Dragonlance and the era of Dungeon and Beavers domination of D&D began.



I would say that the only place you find structured, disciplined wilderness crawls ("in the wild" as @pemerton put it) are with Expert and RC Hexcrawls (as I've done them aplenty). Procedurally, its just like dungeon crawls except mapped with fully prepped (themed and stocked w/ topography/hazards/denizens), high resolution hex-map + encounter tables + exploration turns/rest per 4 turns + wandering monster clock + monster reaction + encumbrance and loadout enforcement + gold/xp.

With skillful mapmaking and strict and disciplined refereeing, its very good play. The problem is, even Expert level spellcasters start to overwhelm the paradigm a little bit.

However, its not clear to me that this is what folks in this thread and in almost any other thread on ENWorld that connotes "wilderness crawls" (even though they don't call it that...they just call it "exploration" or "exploration pillar"). In fact, I'd say the evidence strongly pushes back in the opposite direction. Almost everything I mentioned above is either (a) not in play or (b) has been intentionally excised due to "but muh realism(!)" or "laborious book-keeping and/or handling time." So basically its just zoomed out map and a lot of task resolution as equal parts color and equal parts you climb the tree/don't climb the tree (nothing interesting happens) with maybe a random encounter rolled or not and maybe its results are given primacy or maybe they're ignored. The ENWorld testimonials on this subject over the years look little to nothing like the structured procedures and integrated systemization and strict and disciplined refereeing of a high res hex map that I've depicted above.
I'm not sure why you exclude 1e here. The DMG has a quite thorough write up of wilderness exploration including all the various rules and charts, explanations of all the procedures, etc. Its not as succinctly presented, and some parts are scattered in a few appendices, etc. but you can run a completely legit hexcrawl with all the resource rules, encounters, etc. all laid out nice and neat. If you stick to the letter of the encounter rules you can determine exactly what happens when there's an encounter too, at least down to the level of determining that some random encounter is 'friendly', at which point the DM will have to decide exactly what that means of course.

And yes, any party containing spell casters of more than about 9th level should be able to bypass most of the resource kind of stuff, although again if you are sticklers for rules there will instead by substituted a game of tracking material spell components, lol. Honestly, if you are a real stickler for 1e's rules, its a fairly tight game that doesn't leave too many loose ends in this regard. Its just a pain in the arse to mill through all the rules you will need to reference.
 

pemerton

Legend
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.)
Normally, in theorising about rules and other normative phenomena, we distinguish is binding from is followed. That's why it is possible to break a rule. Whereas if not followed entailed is not binding then it would follow that no rule can be broken.

As I posted upthread, it may be - in the context of leisure activities like games - that some degree of compliance is necessary to make it true that a rule exists at all. But that degree of compliance is not 100%.

As to why people follow rules, the range of possible answers is as varied as the details of human psychology: fear; a sense of duty; habit; a desire to get the benefits of following the rule; a desire to go along with everyone else who is following the rule; not knowing any better; etc. In the case of games, a desire to participate, with others, in the activity that the rules underpin must be one common explanation for conformity to rules.

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.

<snip>

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.
I think it's widely accepted that Carroll didn't really think that inference is impossible. Rather, his point is that rules of inference do not themselves constitute premises in the argument. Frege made a similar observation, I think.

Hart makes a comparable point in the context of legal rules - ie there must be a rule which grounds the system that is not part of the system. (He called it the rule of recognition.)

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.
I find this hard to follow. But you seem to be positing that because adherence to rule X is motivated by reason Z, it is therefore permissible, or even desirable, to suspend or override rule X whenever someone believes that doing so will better advance reason Z.

The claim I have just stated - which, as I've said, is the best sense I've been able to make of what you're saying - is highly controversial.

First, there's the issue of whose belief.

Second, there are issues of timelines. Few people enjoy losing in the immediate moment of loss - does that mean that we may, or should, suspend the rules that dictate that they have lost, and the consequences of their loss? Question of fairness, the significance of pre-commitment, etc all become relevant here.

A further thing that is relevant, and that feeds into a third way in which the claim above is controversial, is that it often very far from clear that permitting the purposes for which a system of rules exists to be a relevant consideration within the system of rules is the best way to achieve those purposes. To repost:
As far as the relationship between rules and "fun", I would strongly suggest considering Rawls's famous paper "Two concepts of rules".

The point of promising, roughly, is to secure among human beings the benefits of cooperation grounded in reliability. Promising, as a practice, secures that benefit by allowing someone, here-and-now, to oblige themselves to do something for another person in the future.

Once someone has made a promise, they are bound to keep it. The obligation can be defeated, but it is not relevant to the existence or the defeat of the obligation that breaking the promise might better secure the benefits of cooperation grounded in reliability. That is to say, the purpose of the institution does not figure within the permissible moves of the institution.

The same things applies in ball sports: the referee can't confer an extra goal on one side just because they think that will make the match more even, or more exciting, and hence better at achieving the goal of ball sports as a practice.

And the same thing applies at least to gamist RPGing as @Manbearcat has described it. We are engaged in "stepping on up". We do that for fun; but no one can appeal to "fun" as a basis for changing the nature of the "arena' here and now in the middle of the challenge. If I'm playing Moldvay Basic, and I have to roll a save vs poison for my PC, I'll probably have more fun if I make the save than if I fail it: having a character die is disappointing, and rolling up a new one is a chore. That doesn't give anyone a reason to fudge or ignore the die roll!

Rule zero is not an uncontroversial, natural, or inevitable reflection of the fact that rules only take effect by being taken up (in some fashion) by those whom they govern. It is a particular authority structure in respect of the shared fiction of a roleplaying game. There are other candidate authority structures - one can see them in games that are otherwise as different as (say) Fate, Burning Wheel, Marvel Heroic RP and Agon 2nd ed.

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.
So "fiat" in this context is being used to mean an exercise of power, not an arbitrary exercise of power. @Campbell has explained how it need not be arbitrary, and may even be very disciplined. That doesn't stop it being fiat.

Look at Vincent Baker's example of the fight to try and get to the departing ship on time. The player (via the play of their PCs) wins the fight - their PC "kicks the other guys butt". But does the player get to the ship? In Classic Traveller, 5e D&D, Rolemaster and CoC - just to point to a few example systems - that question is answered by a GM decision. The decision may be made in various ways, and typically may have regard to the PC having kicked the other guy's butt, but the GM makes the decision.

Now consider a 4e skill challenge, where the stated goal is to get to the ship before it departs. Winning the fight will count as a success in the challenge. So the connection between winning the fight and getting to the ship before it departs is not hostage to GM decision-making.

Or consider Marvel Heroic RP. There would be a Scene Distinction - The Ship is About to Depart or Get to the Ship! - with an initial rating (from D6 to D12) set by the GM that reflects both the fiction and the drama. Actions declared by the players can, among other things, step down the Scene Distinction, and once it drops below D6 the ship is not departing without the PCs, or the PCs are on the ship. Conversely, if the scene ends with the Distinction still in play then the ship got away! In this case, the presence of an opponent who needs to be fought will introduce extra complications into the scene, making it harder to step down the Distinction. Again, whatever the precise details, the player's intention in fighting - ie so that they can get to the ship - will be reflected in determining whether or not winning the fight lets them get to the ship.

Or consider Burning Wheel. I run to the ship, cutting down whoever gets in my way! There are various ways that can be resolved - the simplest might be PC Speed (I run) vs NPC Pilot (the ship is departing), perhaps with the PC FoRKing in Sword (I cut down whoever gets in my way) and the NPC being helped by Seamanship or Rigging from the crew. It could be more complex - eg maybe the fight is resolved via Bloody Versus, or even Fight!, with success counting as a linked test to the Speed test. (These different choices about how to frame it are driven by concerns of theme and pacing, not concerns about how to best "model" the ingame fiction.) Whatever the details, the player's intention in fighting - ie to make it to the ship in time - will be reflected in determining whether or not winning the fight lets them get to the ship.

These contrasts between systems illustrate the difference that @Campbell, and John Harper's diagrams, are speaking to.

Sometimes an ability check resolves a scene. There's nothing in 5e that I can think of that prevents it.
What is the force of the sometimes. If the GM announces in advance, then the framework is similar to a test in BW. (Sometimes checks in RM resolve a scene, because that is how the chart for that particular skill or activity is set out.)

But that is not the norm in 5e. My evidence for the preceding sentence is (i) how the rules present the function of checks, and (ii) how they are presented in published adventures, and (iii) how I see them discussed among 5e players on these boards.
 

pemerton

Legend
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.
I tend to agree with @Manbearcat that what you're really describing here is a type of simulationism - a type of feel-oriented, exploration-oriented play. That is, you're describing an approach to play where the game aspires to reliably deliver the feel of victory, not one in which the player has to step on up.

This is independent, by the way, of wargame-y crunch. Craps is as much step-on-up as is chess.
 

pemerton

Legend
I noticed some recurring gamist concerns about the interaction of travel legs with resources and objectives.

<snip>

That's not to take away from concerns expressed about immersion, simulation and realism.
Here are some of the posts I had in mind:

I would greatly appreciate some ideas for how to make travel more fun. One of the difficulties I run into, is that my group tends to make a bee line for wherever their destination is. When their characters are traveling, they'll ignore whatever adventure hook I throw at them because "it's not the mission" and this will just delay them. For example, in a Deadlands Hell on Earth game, the PCs came across evidence that two of their rival factions were working together. I expected them to take an interest and find out what was going on, but they skipped over that in its entirety because that's not what their mission was.

Short of having interesting things happen or adventures to go on while traveling, I'm not quite sure how to make it fun.
Ask them what they’re working on, how they pass the time, what they do in the hours between sundown and sleep, etc, and make clear that they can do any downtime stuff that makes sense on the road, or one night at a time in the towns where they stop (when traveling in settled regions).

Remember that people didn’t just go right to bed when the sun went down. Even before widespread candles, folk burned rushes or used oil lanterns burning vegetable oils for light so that they could keep working for several hours after it got dark, usually making things, repairing clothes, etc. In D&D, light is much easier to come by, and PCs can get rather a lot out of regular use of the downtime activities, especially using tools, gambling in taverns, etc.

A lot of this, though, works better when you start a campaign doing this, I reckon. If they’re used to quickly moving past he particulars of travel, they may resist slowing travel down and zooming in. That’s part of why I suggest leveraging downtime. Especially, let them practice with tools or languages and mark off days toward gaining proficiency. Let the alchemist or herbalist gather while walking and make things at night. Use the Xanathar’s rules for cooking tools and cobbler’s tools.
I feel as though this works great in a novel. While traveling, there's plenty of time for dialogue allowing us to get to know the characters, foreshadow events, and even move the plot along. However, the author has control over the characters in a novel whereas the DM really doesn't have control over the characters in a game. There are times when my players engage in dialogue that reveals something about their character, provides exposition, or even moves the plot along, but when that happens is entirely unpredictable and almost always a surprise.
In these posts we see a discussion of approaches to play that will step up exploration of setting and characters, including what techniques might be used to reinforce that as a priority for play.

I was assuming, which might be a bad thing, that the side bits aren't necessarily all tied to the main storyline, but, rather, more a "side quest" sort of thing. Maybe something that only takes a couple of scenes to play out - good for character and/or setting building, but, not really part of the main action.

At least, that's how I took the question. I know that it's a problem I tend to struggle with as well. My group tends to be really laser beam focused on the task at hand and I find it really hard to try to broaden that focus. Laser beam focus is great for episodic campaigns but, I'm looking for a more serial approach and that needs some times where there is a need for pace change.
I think part of the problem is that anything that deviates from the main task tends to be seen as an obstacle. If they take the time to investigate something that isn't linked to whatever they are doing right now, the DM will see that as a fail condition and make things more difficult for them down the road. At the most basic, the whole resource management part of the game is telling them that spending resources on some side bit will only make the main bit more difficult.

And, for a lot of times, they're not entirely wrong. If they spend resources now, they won't have them later. It's fairly understandable.

How to fix it? I don't know. At a guess, I think the DM needs to make it clear that there is no negative cost to exploring stuff that isn't related to the main task. Yeah, I know that might stick in the craw a bit, but, again, we need to get around the hump of resource management. If doing the side task isn't going to make the main task more difficult, then it becomes a more viable option.
I think probably the best solution is an out of game discussion. Just lay it on the table that the DM would like it better if the group was a bit less laser beam focused and a bit more willing to explore. And, make a point that exploring isn't punishment. That exploration won't automatically mean you are at a disadvantage later on down the road. It's okay to stop and smell the flowers, in other words.
This series of posts seems to be premised on an agenda conflict between a GM who wants setting and perhaps character exploration to be a part of play ("smell the flowers"), whereas the players are assuming that the agenda for play is a broadly gamist one (ie succeed at the "main task" without incurring negative costs - hence their adoption of a "laser beam focus"). To me, it seemed that a number of the posts you quoted, about how players might get rewards out of their setting exploration (eg inspiration, practice) are not really advocating gamist play at all, but are rather offering suggestions as to how the "negative costs" of explorative play can be offset, so as to support explorative play as an agenda.

just make an adventure that's all about the journey, rather than the destination. The road that they're following has become impassable, a bridge has been swept away, and now they need to make a detour. Find their way back to the road cross-country, encountering natural challenges, monsters and NPCs along the way. This will need to be set up as a proper adventure, though, with prepared encounters and appropriate rewards, otherwise the players will be justified in thinking it's just a waste of time.
I've been toying around with running a campaign where all the PCs are ogres traveling from their homeland to another part of the world. I hadn't solidified the reason for their travel, I was toying around with the idea of them in search of the ultimate spice for culinary purposes, but because of this thread I'll have them all go on a pigrimage. When I pitch the idea, I think I'll make it clear that it's a long journey and there will be adventure along the way. i.e. You're going to have to stop and smell the flowers.
These posts are straightforward accounts of how a particular high concept game might be set up. They assume that the GM has control over the setting, over what "the adventure" is about, and that the players' main role is to enjoy exploring and discovering what those GM-authored ideas are.
 

pemerton

Legend
I'm not sure why you exclude 1e here. The DMG has a quite thorough write up of wilderness exploration including all the various rules and charts, explanations of all the procedures, etc. Its not as succinctly presented, and some parts are scattered in a few appendices, etc. but you can run a completely legit hexcrawl with all the resource rules, encounters, etc. all laid out nice and neat. If you stick to the letter of the encounter rules you can determine exactly what happens when there's an encounter too, at least down to the level of determining that some random encounter is 'friendly', at which point the DM will have to decide exactly what that means of course.

And yes, any party containing spell casters of more than about 9th level should be able to bypass most of the resource kind of stuff, although again if you are sticklers for rules there will instead by substituted a game of tracking material spell components, lol. Honestly, if you are a real stickler for 1e's rules, its a fairly tight game that doesn't leave too many loose ends in this regard. Its just a pain in the arse to mill through all the rules you will need to reference.
Right. The real issue with hexcrawls in AD&D is that they're not a lot of fun for most people, especially once you adopt the techniques - like spell component tracking - that are necessary to make them work.

In an early foray into BW, I had three journeys.

The first involved the PCs in a vessel piloted and sailed by NPCs. So the travel was merely a backdrop to the scene-framing.

The second occurred after the PCs failed to successfully resolve the various conflicts on the NPC vessel, resulting in it sinking. They were rescued by a NPC ship (Circle-d up by one of the players). A Duel of Wits determined where that vessel dropped them - one the shores of the Bight Desert.

The travel through the Bright Desert was resolved by a series of framed scenes. The final one of these was the PCs' push north from an oasis to the Abor-Alz. This was resolved as an Orienteering check, plus each PC having to make a Forte check to see how much their Forte was taxed by thirst, hunger and heat. The Orienteering check failed, and the consequence was that when they arrived at the pool in the foothills that they were heading towards it had been fouled.

These were all easy to manage (in the various different ways that that was done) and didn't suffer from too much rules lookup or too much minutiae.

The underlying agenda of play was "story now", but Torchbearer shows how the same basic techniques could be used to support "step on up" play.
 

pemerton

Legend
pemerton said:
I'm far from clear how this counts as GM-as-glue play.
I'm afraid I'm unclear how it doesn't. But then, as I noted in that post, I think people draw a lot stronger lines than I think represents things in the field.
You described the play in question like this:

Sometimes making things up as long as you communicate them to the players and are flexible to concerns about temporal concerns (i.e. potential earlier decisions the players made that would have been made differently with the current information, which they should have had) has no meaningful impact on the gamist process; you take in the addition, include it in your decision making, and move on.​

Unless I've misunderstood, you are talking about the GM making a suggestion to the players, and the table working out how to implement it (including any revision of the existing gamestate to reflect temporal aspects) in a transparent fashion.

I've used that approach (in Rolemaster), mostly for rules but occasionally for information about the fiction that ought to have been conveyed but - for whatever reason - was not.

Given that it involves the GM pooling information and decision-making with the whole table, I see it as the opposite of GM-as-glue.
 

I just posted the below quoted text in that "Midieval Europe Travel Thread:"

D&D has done Travel/Trekking/Journeys 3 ways. If you want to do either of the first two in 5e you're going to need to do some heavy-lifting of hacking it in yourself and then stress-testing to make sure its tightly integrated or find a product on the DMs Guild or whatever that has already attempted to do so (successfully or not you'll have to put the work in to figure out!).


* B/X RC hexcrawls w/ high resolution map and integrated rules/procedures. Procedurally, its just like dungeon crawls except mapped with fully prepped and high resolution hex-map (each hex themed and stocked w/ topography/hazards/denizens) + encounter tables + exploration turns/rest per 4 turns + wandering monster clock + monster reaction + encumbrance and loadout enforcement + gold/xp. This struggles when magic starts becoming ubiquitous (particularly powerful, terrain and light obviating magic.

* 4e map + conflict resolution (Skill Challenges) with intent/goal and stakes and Fail Forward. You can do this with each individual Skill Challenge being a leg (therefore likely Complexity 1) or the whole thing (therefore Complexity 3 to 5). Regardless, you've got a constantly changing situation with new topographical/locale-inspired dangers/obstacles to overcome (each with their own inferable consequence-space) > resolution > new obstacle/danger or escalated existing one > Win/Fail-state. Success means you complete the charted course (leg or the whole deal) w/ failure meaning some interesting twist happens that complicates or subverts your intent/goal and now you have to deal with that before you move onto your next leg (if going the leg route) or your next site of conflict if you're doing the entirety of the macro Journey as a singular conflict/Skill Challenge.

* Various other D&D where you're basically just simulating the experiential aspect of journeying/trekking with maps and rules and procedures and loadout and player decisions being faithfully observed or abridged/elided/ignored with the toggle being the GM's discretion at what best promotes the experiential quality of journeying/trekking at the moment. All that stuff is more "GM prompt" than actual consistent ruleset/journey engine with gears and teeth. So you'll go between vignettes with a lot of purple prose/flourishey-discriptions of vistas > maybe onto some moments of meaningful gamestate movers that involve system/player input/map reference > maybe some handouts or cool tokens to amplify "the feel" > maybe pretending that you're spending time on meaningful gamestate-moving decisions but its partly or mostly or wholly just performative theatrics + Force to engender the mood/experiential quality. Some formulation of all of that stuff.

* Which do you (fair readers) think represents the majority or consensus orientation to play of that thread?

* What do you think the "hierarchy of controversial approach" would be given the orientation of the participants in that thread (and 5e at large)?
 

So, I think that one way that GNS breaks down, is not only that people and games can be good at multiple things, but that the different areas can actually support each other directly. So like, in the case of OSR, the gamism and simulation actually support each other-- the whole point is for the game to be a fun, playable, simulation where the act of making the statistically defined elements interact is enjoyable and engaging, even while they're intended to represent things. The act of sitting down and saying 'ok, I am going to represent being an elf with these particular statistics and abilities, because that'll help it feel like an elf' and the enjoyable game play of applying those things to the actual game, your elf being better and worse at certain things and making you play around that-- its the gamism and the simulationism supporting each other, and if you accept that each of those elements is designed to tell a story through its game play and the intentionality of how it interacts with other elements in the simulation, you've brought in narrative too.

Actually, The GNS model does have a name for this type of thing. It's Incoherent, and if you happen to like them you have brain damage

Sorry to potentially bring up this chestnut again, but I'm pretty sure the discussion didn't get here and I don't feel like a discussion about using the GNS model is complete without my uhh... favorite part of it, shall we say.
 



pemerton

Legend
I just posted the below quoted text in that "Midieval Europe Travel Thread:"
D&D has done Travel/Trekking/Journeys 3 ways. If you want to do either of the first two in 5e you're going to need to do some heavy-lifting of hacking it in yourself and then stress-testing to make sure its tightly integrated or find a product on the DMs Guild or whatever that has already attempted to do so (successfully or not you'll have to put the work in to figure out!).

* B/X RC hexcrawls w/ high resolution map and integrated rules/procedures. Procedurally, its just like dungeon crawls except mapped with fully prepped and high resolution hex-map (each hex themed and stocked w/ topography/hazards/denizens) + encounter tables + exploration turns/rest per 4 turns + wandering monster clock + monster reaction + encumbrance and loadout enforcement + gold/xp. This struggles when magic starts becoming ubiquitous (particularly powerful, terrain and light obviating magic.

* 4e map + conflict resolution (Skill Challenges) with intent/goal and stakes and Fail Forward. You can do this with each individual Skill Challenge being a leg (therefore likely Complexity 1) or the whole thing (therefore Complexity 3 to 5). Regardless, you've got a constantly changing situation with new topographical/locale-inspired dangers/obstacles to overcome (each with their own inferable consequence-space) > resolution > new obstacle/danger or escalated existing one > Win/Fail-state. Success means you complete the charted course (leg or the whole deal) w/ failure meaning some interesting twist happens that complicates or subverts your intent/goal and now you have to deal with that before you move onto your next leg (if going the leg route) or your next site of conflict if you're doing the entirety of the macro Journey as a singular conflict/Skill Challenge.

  • Various other D&D where you're basically just simulating the experiential aspect of journeying/trekking with maps and rules and procedures and loadout and player decisions being faithfully observed or abridged/elided/ignored with the toggle being the GM's discretion at what best promotes the experiential quality of journeying/trekking at the moment. All that stuff is more "GM prompt" than actual consistent ruleset/journey engine with gears and teeth. So you'll go between vignettes with a lot of purple prose/flourishey-discriptions of vistas > maybe onto some moments of meaningful gamestate movers that involve system/player input/map reference > maybe some handouts or cool tokens to amplify "the feel" > maybe pretending that you're spending time on meaningful gamestate-moving decisions but its partly or mostly or wholly just performative theatrics + Force to engender the mood/experiential quality. Some formulation of all of that stuff.
  • Which do you (fair readers) think represents the majority or consensus orientation to play of that thread?

* What do you think the "hierarchy of controversial approach" would be given the orientation of the participants in that thread (and 5e at large)?
Q1
I think the majority or consensus approach is the last of your three options. I haven't seen anyone mention the second option. And given that there is only person really emphasising random encounters, but he is also clearly contemplating a high degree of GM control over storyline, I don't think the classic hexcrawl approach is being contemplated.

Q2
I think that the "controversy hierarchy" would more-or-less follow my answer to Q1. That is, the third approach - being widely presumed as the approach - is least controversial. The hexcrawl approach seems to be comprehensible but I would conjecture generally disliked because of its pacing implications (ie its tedious) and also because it's not really conducive to "smelling the flowers" or talking about how you spend each evening before camp, which seems a reasonably high priority for most of the posters in that thread. I assume the 4e approach would be the most controversial, given its history of controversy and its complete absence (and the complete absence of the consideration of any approach that is conflict/"closed scene" resolution) from the thread (other than your post).
 

So, more on topic, I can safely say that D&D is a form of gamist, just as much as it is a form of simulationist and a form of narrative. Anything more than that is above my paygrade.

What I also think is that critical discussions of game design should stay far, far, away from forums of this type, and should stick to game design meetings and academic papers, because when people on the internet get a hold on them, it stops being a useful tool for discussion and design and becomes more a stick to beat people over the head while while saying "Your way of having fun is Objectively Wrong And Bad and my way of having fun is Objectively Right And Good."
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I just posted the below quoted text in that "Midieval Europe Travel Thread:"



* Which do you (fair readers) think represents the majority or consensus orientation to play of that thread?

* What do you think the "hierarchy of controversial approach" would be given the orientation of the participants in that thread (and 5e at large)?
It may be worth noting too, that 5e modules include two with hexcrawls. OotA and ToA. The latter hearks back to X1 Isle of Dread. Hexcrawl furniture for 5e is found in those (and DMG.)

I don't know of any examples of an SC approach for 5e, unless DiA or WBtW has such? Anyone know?

EDIT For DiA I found
Using the map to chart a course from one location to another is unreliable at best… When charting a course through Avernus, ask the player whose character is overseeing navigation to roll two dice:
  • Roll 2d4 if the characters are traveling to an unvisited destination marked on their map.
  • Roll 2d8 if the characters are returning to a destination they’ve visited previously.
  • Roll 2d10 if a native guide is leading the characters to their destination.
If the rolls of both dice don’t match, the characters arrive at their destination as intended. If the dice match, they wind up somewhere else: pick one of the other locations.
The one thing the map does do is magically talk to the PCs: Every time they go somewhere, the map tells them exactly what it is and where they are before they have a chance to explore and find out.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
Quotes about DiA in my previous were from the Alexandrian, who also comments
Let’s take one step back: RPG adventures are built using scenario structures. A dungeoncrawl is one type of scenario structure. A mystery is another. There are many others, including things like heists, hexcrawls, raids, etc.

A significant problem in RPG design is that these scenario structures aren’t really talked about. DMs and even designers just kind of pick them up (often imperfectly) by osmosis. Most of them are limited to just dungeoncrawls, mysteries, and railroading.

Comparing the 5e DMG with the Expert Set, I would say the former has the more complete rules for hexploration. X1 adds a hex map replete with evocative detail, yet ToA is even more replete.

The supporting mechanics are present in multiple versions of D&D (including 5e). What may be missing are some (ideally more than one) frameworks for using them. Leaving it as usual up to DM to manage. (I want to confirm that by reviewing the game texts again in case I missed it, but it would be in line.)
 

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