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

Aldarc

Legend
5e hexcrawling reads and plays more like trying to nod or pay lipservice to D&D's legacy rather than creating engaging support for it that works for 5e. Honestly, I think that 5e D&D would be better served and play into its strengths by using a Point Crawl Framework rather than a Hex Crawl Framework. As @Manbearcat suggests, 5e adventure design tends to focus on vignettes around points of interest anyway.
 
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pemerton

Legend
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?
The core of Burning Wheel resolution is a test (check) against a difficulty - either a fixed obstacle grounded in the fiction of the task attempted (and their are pages and pages of obstacles for various skills used to attempt various tasks), or a versus test (opposed check).

But BW introduces a couple of other principles that govern resolution.

(1) Intent and Task means (i) that successful resolution achieves not only the task, but the underlying intent, and (ii) that failure is to be narrated primarily by reference to failure of intent, with failure of task being only one possible way that that might be done - this is the "fail forward" sub-principle of Intent and Task. Taken together, (i) and (ii) generate a focus on what is the intent that is at issue in resolving a particular declared action.

(2) Let it Ride, means that once a test is made, there are "no retries". If the test succeeds, the GM must honour intent being realised. If the test fails, the player must suck up intent not being realised. This generates constraint on both players and GM.

(Torchbearer uses a broadly comparable set of principles: in place of Let it Ride there is Fun Once; sub-principle (i) of Intent and Task applies via Overcoming Obstacles, which is both a mechanical principle but also a principle about what success means; in place of (ii) the GM is allowed to grant that the obstacle is overcome but tax (via a condition) or to "fail forward" via a twist, which is a new obstacle.)

We can observe that the point made by Vincent Baker about task resolution - ie that it is up to the GM to correlate success or failure at the task with win or loss in relation to the underlying stakes for which the task is attempted (such as making it to the ship before it sails) - does not obtain in Burning Wheel. Intent and Task establishes a correlation between success and winning that is independent of the GM, and Let it Ride prevents the GM from introducing more fiction that would break that correlation, thus locking in the win. Intent and task allows the GM to decide, as part of their narration, whether or not losing correlates to failure at the task; but Let it Ride locks in the loss, and precludes the GM from introducing additional fiction that serves up a win or permits another attempt to win. It is this combined operation of (1) and (2) that turn a system that - on the surface - looks like task resolution into a system of conflict resolution.

It's interesting to note that a by-product of this combined operation of (1) and (2) is that the following correlation is never an option in Burning Wheel: failure at the task being correlated with winning in relation to the underlying stakes. This makes the system (including its principles) rather unsuitable for simulationist play, as the exclusion of that option is not due to any in-world causal relationship (the fiction of BW is not a fiction in which people never get lucky despite their failures) but is rather just a consequence of the way the system works. (In Torchbearer, the GM cannot break the correlation between a player rolling a success at the task, and winning in relation to the underlying obstacle - this is the combined operation of Overcoming Obstacles and Fun Once. However, failure at the task can be correlated with winning in relation to the underlying stakes, at the GM's discretion, and at the cost of a condition. These two features reinforce the gamist as opposed to "story now" character of Torchbearer: the GM has more say over how the "story" unfolds, but their exercise of that say increases the "grind and conditions" pressure on the players.)

I imagine that someone could try and run 5e D&D using Intent-and-Task (including "fail forward") and Let-it-Ride. In that case, the system would be one of conflict resolution rather than task resolution. Whether it would work very well I don't know. I think it would require ignoring some rules text, that tends to strongly imply that failure of a check must correlate to failure at the task. There would also be challenges arising from the spell system, which by default doesn't require checks and has no obvious mechanism for preventing retries. (Trying to implement Overcoming Obstacles and Fun Once in 5e would raise an additional question: what is the equivalent of conditions-and-the-grind. Exhaustion levels? Hit point may not cut it.)
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
So here are the random encounter guidelines from Tomb of Annihilation:

ToA p.193 said:
Random encounters can occur in Port Nyanzaru, in the wilds of Chult, and in Omu. Such encounters add mystery and atmosphere to the adventure, even as they increase tension by winnowing away at the party's resources. Random encounters are best used whenever there's a lull in the game session or when your players seem restless. No more than one or two per session is recommended, since overusing random encounters can bog down the adventure and cause the players to lose track of the story.

Here is the guidance on how to handle XP:

ToA p. 7 said:
You can slow the rate of advancement by withholding XP, "banking" it until you're ready for the party to level up. Conversely, you can hasten level advancement by awarding ad hoc XP for making discoveries, completing goals, roleplaying well, and surviving or avoiding deadly traps. Such ad hoc award should be no more than what the characters would earn for defeating a monster with a challenge rating equal to their level. For example, a fair ad hoc award for a party of 2nd-level adventurers would be 450 XP, which is what the characters would earn for defeating a challenge rating 2 monster. As with other XP awards, the amount should be divided evenly among all party members.

As the DM, you can dispense with XP tracking and allow characters to gain levels at whatever pace suits your campaign, using the Suggested Character Levels table
as your guide.

Chult is loaded with fun distractions, alluring locations, and opportunities for characters to explore. Consequently, it can be hard to gauge what level the characters will be when they arrive at adventure locations.

Again, let the Suggested Character Levels table guide you. For example, if the characters are 4th level and about to stumble into Omu (chapter 3), you might want to steer them in a different direction, throw random encounters at them until they've reached 5th level, advance them to 5th level automatically, or adjust encounters in Omu to make the threats easier to overcome.
 

pemerton

Legend
Is it right then to say a player's creative agenda is what they commit to doing, and not what they aim to experience?
I am using "creative agenda" as Edwards does here:

Talk to someone who participates in role-playing, and focus on the precise and actual acts of role-playing themselves. Ask them, "Why do you role-play?" The most common answer is, "To have fun."​
Again, stick to the role-playing itself. (The wholly social issues are real, such as "Wanting to hang out with my friends," but they are not the topic at hand.) Now ask, "What makes fun?" This may not be a verbal question, and it is best answered mainly through role-playing with people rather than listening to them. Time and inference are usually required.​
In my experience, the answer turns out to be a version of one of the following terms. These terms, or modes, describe three distinct types of people's decisions and goals during play.​

Gamism is the mode of RPGing whereby one has fun by stepping on up.

Suppose the former. I feel like that cannot be applied as a binary, but must exist in degree. By asking questions like
  • Is playing chess casually playing chess gamistly? What about craps?
  • Are games necessarily less gamist if they take into account differences in ability?
  • Is there an account of why it must be all or nothing?
  • Is a weaker performance less gamist than a stronger one?
  • Can inept players have gamist agendas?
  • Can a player who misunderstands some rules still have a gamist agenda?
What I am thinking most about is something like this.
  • As a game designer, I decide to craft a game I hope will appeal to those with a gamist creative agenda
  • Surveying my audience, I see they want to engage with performance at risk, but they are not zealots in that regard: they only want to put moderate effort in and yet still value it
  • I design a game that can be approached with a gamist agenda by someone willing to put only moderate effort in
I design for a broad audience, with a range of capabilities and interest in effort. Craps, not chess. So then what I'm identifying is that audience (often called casual, although they can be passionate in their adoption of a game.)

Wargamers might call them lazy or inept. Does that exclude them from being gamist?
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 wasn't expressing a view about how challenging something must be to count as gamist play. I was expressing the view that the "feeling" of gamism, prompted by play that involves characters facing challenges and overcoming them, is not the same thing as actual gamism. The key question is, can the players lose?

There is probably also a threshold here. A challenge where victory requires spelling out a common word of English might be a genuine challenge for many six year olds in Australia or America or Ireland, but is unlikely to be a challenge for the typical adult gamer. At a certain point, it becomes so easy that while there is an "in principle" possibility of loss, there is not really any stepping on up required. It seems to me that it is a design feature of D&D 5e that, played at the difficulty presented as the default in the encounter building guidelines, and at levels above 1st or 2nd (these levels are different for reasons given upthread by @EzekielRaiden), then making the most obvious choices suggested by a particular character build will strongly tend to produce success.

I think this is a deliberate design feature - to have the trappings of gamism, and maybe even produce the "feeling" of gamism - while not really requiring the participants to step on up. It's what permits the game to reliably deliver high concept simulationist play; while also permitting drifting to gamism, most often (as best I can observe) by stepping up the typical encounter difficulty.

(Note the contrast with 4e D&D, which was frequently criticised on the basis that casual players, making obvious choices like basic attacks, tended to not be able to succeed - the system mandated a degree of engagement with its intricacies to avoid failure. Essentials was, in part, designed to change this by making basic attack-oriented builds viable.)

EDITed to elaborate on can the players lose:

Here is Edwards on the above:

Step On Up requires strategizing, guts, and performance from the real people in the real world. This is the inherent "meaning" or agenda of Gamist play (analogous to the Dream in Simulationist play).​
Gamist play, socially speaking, demands performance with risk, conducted and perceived by the people at the table. What's actually at risk can vary - for this level, though, it must be a social, real-people thing, usually a minor amount of recognition or esteem.​

This is what generates the threshold I described above: if the most obvious choices are apt to produce success, then there is no real "performance with risk". There is only the second level that Edwards describes:

The in-game characters, armed with their skills, priorities, and so on, have to face a Challenge, which is to say, a specific Situation in the imaginary game-world. Challenge is about the strategizing, guts, and performance of the characters in this imaginary game-world.

For the characters, it's a risky situation in the game-world; in addition to that all-important risk, it can be as fabulous, elaborate, and thematic as any other sort of role-playing. Challenge is merely plain old Situation . . . Strategizing in and among the Challenge is the material, or arena, for whatever brand of Step On Up is operating​

When you have plain-old Situation, but without the Step on Up because there is no real performance with risk, then we simply have high concept simulationism: this is entirely consistent with Edwards remark that low competition gamism "shares some features with "characters face problem" Simulationist play, with the addition of a performance metric of some kind". Take away the performance metric - that is, the need for "performance with risk" - and you've got characters-face-problems, situation-oriented, simulationism. With the "feel" of gamism.
 
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I agree that it is not easy.

Hence why I adore certain systems that pull it off (the ones I've mentioned) and the particular ways in which they do so.

The other thing is that GMs need to work on their game when it comes to this stuff. You need to understand what the stresses are to trekking and hiking and climbing and hunting and finding/making shelter. I'm lucky that I've been a part of most all of that culture at various points in my life. But you don't have to have engaged with it directly. You can absorb enough information, watch enough consequential documentaries and media to get your brain locked into the OODA Loop of someone who is dealing with all the various hazards and stresses and needs of the untamed wild. Once you've gotten your brain around the profound variety of hardships that are faced (what they look...what it feels like to be there), you can provide a compelling, dynamic gamespace for players (assuming you've got a system that functionally supports that stuff...without it...you're left to just vignette and Force and cosplay your way there...and...well...that ain't it!).

Where I've found the problems lay is that there's not a lot of individual decision-making that's meaningful here in most systems when it comes to such things; you're maybe provides some collective decisions that are meaningful (which one of these three routes do we take? Do we stop for a day to rest and hunt or press on?) but that's not the same thing. And of course, the necessary skills to make the survival/travel play loop work aren't often related to things you do in other parts of play, so having them at competence is in competition.

(An interesting thing I realized some years ago is that from a gamist point of view, most games really don't have enough mechanical structure to engage with things outside of combat (and of course, not always there). You'll sometimes get some specialty support for a couple other things (hacking in a cyberpunk game) but those are often things only a subset of characters will participate in. Consider how fundamentally uninteresting an extended climb is in most systems; climbing is full of failure states, judgment calls, tradeoffs and other things that are potentially interesting to engage with. But I don't think I know of a single that tries to mechanic that in an interesting way, in part because its not perceived as important enough to justify the space and effort. It was a bit of a revelation some years ago when I was using Marco Cachon's JAGS for a campaign, and used the "create a subsystem" tools he had in the back to build some subsystems for construction using it, how much more people found it at least somewhat interesting to engage with).
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
If you want to accuse me of "bad faith takes," then maybe don't make your own bad faith takes about mine, okay? Okay. Now imagine how it must be like on my end to be accused of hostility and "some very bad faith takes on what [you] wrote earlier." I can attest to my own lack of hostility towards you, though these accusations against me certainly put that to the test. It has left me feeling pretty flabbergasted and frustrated by the whole thing.
Seems we both felt slighted: let's get things back on track!

As I responded to @kenada , I believe it will be most productive to compare on a specific concern at a time. I'm in the midst of that at present.
 


clearstream

(He, Him)
Part 1 of 3 Comparing the hexploration process between
  1. Expert (Cook/Marsh) + Isle of Dread (Cook/Moldvay)
  2. 5th Edition (Mearls/Crawford) + Tomb of Annihilation (Perkins/Doyle/Winter)
The process rules in Expert are in the core book, while the process rules in 5th are spread across three books. In both, the process has a bulleted sequence to follow, with calls out to other rules (bolded). Both also have other rules that apply, but that are not referenced in the bulleted sequence. Here are the sequences -

Expert
Order of Events in One Game Day

1. The party decides their direction of travel. Miles/day is based on character moves per turn, modified for terrain type. Forced marches increase distance covered at cost of a forced rest the following day.

2. The DM checks to see if the party becomes lost (1d6, see p.X56). There are five terrrain types. Chance is fixed per type, e.g. 1-2 for Woods. Direction is rolled randomly. Don't roll if following road, trail, river, or reliable guide.

3. The DM rolls for wandering monsters (1d6, see p. X55). Encounter on a 1. Three tables dividing monsters by level-appropriateness. 20 monsters per table. Isle of Dread supplements those with three more, longer tables. (About a dozen new creatures.)

4. If monsters are not encountered, the day ends. If monsters are encountered, the DM must determine the type of monsters and for the Number Appearing. Some hexes have fixed encounters.

5. The DM rolls to check the distance between the monsters and the party (4d6).

6. The DM rolls to check surprise (1d6). It is possible to evade the encounter at this point. 10-90% chance based on party size cross-referenced with number of creatures. It is easiest for small parties to evade large numbers of creatures. DM judgement call to adjust for circumstances by a recommended up to 25%.

7. The DM and the party roll for initiative (1d6).

8. The DM rolls for Monster Reaction (2d6, see Monster Reactions). Rolled only if DM hasn't planned reactions inadvance. Five possible reactions, from attack to friendship.

9. The party and the monsters react. (If Combat occurs, see p.X23).

10. End of turn. When necessary, the DM should check the character's remaining hit points, changes in the party's marching order, and the duration of any spells in progress


Tomb of Annihilation
For each day that the party travels through the wilderness, follow these steps:

- Using the poster map, identify the hex in which the party is currently located. Don't share this information with the players if the party is lost; otherwise, show the players the party's location by pointing to the appropriate hex on their map of Chult.

- Let the players determine what direction the party wants to go, and whether the party plans to move at a normal pace, a fast pace, or a slow pace (see "Travel Distances" below). Players choose a pace that is adjusted for terrain type and converted to hexes. Mounts and vehicles adjust distance covered. Forced marches increase distance covered at the possible cost of exhaustion.

- Let the players choose a navigator, then make a Wisdom (Survival) check on the navigator's behalf to determine if the party becomes lost (see "Navigation" below). Becoming lost is an ability check against terrain difficulty, with a modifier for pace. Navigating is one of several defined activities travellers can turn their attention to. If lost, direction is rolled randomly.

- Check for random encounters throughout the day (see appendix B). Threats may be noticed depending on pace. Weather modifies visibility. Creature reactions are based on starting attitudes and character abilities.

- At the end of the day, check to see if any party members are dehydrated (see "Dehydration" below). Food and water require management (water in jungle is poisonous). That can be obviated by Ranger class or Outlander background. Dehydration is modified by pace and armor, and causes exhaustion.

I'll write part 2 tomorrow, to bring in the referenced and other relevant rules in each edition.

EDIT Didn't have much time today (Monday). Made some updates. To be continued...
 
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Just going to drop in the relevant Rules Cyclopedia Checklists for your little project @kenada and for your compare/contrast project @clearstream . Ironically (or probably TOTALLY UNIRONICALLY depending upon your perspective), RC is almost surely the least played D&D but it is 100 % the best form of D&D's exploration rules for Classic play. This is what robust, integrated loops looks like (and there is well more to it than this; the entire Campaigning section which includes the engineering and art and principles of hexmapping, time - round, turn, day - and movement and equipment and encumbrance and classes and action resolution etc).


1. Wandering Monsters: If the wandering monsters check at the end of the previous turn was positive, the monsters arrive now. Under normal dungeon conditions, they appear 2d6 x 10' away in a direction of the DM's choice (see the "Encounter Distance" section, below, for more information). Leave the Game Turn Checklist sequence and go to the Encounter Checklist, below. See "Handling Wandering Monsters," below, for more details on handling wandering monsters.

2. Actions: The caller (or each player) describes party actions (movement, listening, searching, etc.).

3. Results: The DM describes the results of the party's actions as follows:

a. If PC actions result in a discovery (a secret door, trap, etc.), the DM tells them what they found.

b. If the PCs entered a new area, the DM describes it so that the mapper can map it.

c. If an encounter occurs, skip to the Encounter Checklist.

4. Wandering Monsters Check: The DM checks for wandering monsters and random encounters. The DM rolls 1d6 every other turn to check for this. If this is a dungeon and a "1" comes up on the die, the PCs will encounter wandering monsters at the beginning of the next turn
(other types of terrain have different chances as shown on the Chance of Encounter Table, below).

Chance of Encounter Table

Type of Encounter Roll Method
Dungeon and city = Roll 1d6 every two turns when traveling and roll 1d12 once during the night; on a 1, an encounter occurs
Wilderness = Determine the type of terrain the party is in and roll 1d6 once during the day and roll 1d12 once when camped at night; consult the following for encounter occurrences

Type of Terrain Chance

Clear, grasslands, inhabited, or settled = 1
Forest, river, hills, barren lands, desert, ocean*, or aerial** = 1-2
Swamp, jungle, or mountains = 1-3

* Ocean: A roll of 1 indicates a normal ocean encounter. A roll of 2 indicates no encounter unless the ship lands at the end of the day; if so, a land encounter is used.

** Aerial encounters always use the Flyers subtable in the Wilderness Encounter Table, regardless of terrain.




1. Daybreak: Party prepares for travel, studies spells, selects travel direction.

2. Getting Lost: DM rolls 1d6 to see if party becomes lost. If so, see the "Land Travel" section in Chapter 6.

3. Daytime Wandering Monsters: The DM makes a 1d6 roll for wandering monsters for the daytime hours. See the Chance of Encounter Table for determining rolls.

4. Encounter Results: Based on the DM's die roll, the party does the following:

a. If no wandering monsters are encountered, party concludes movement and daylight period ends. Skip to Step 6.

b. If wandering monsters are encountered, the DM goes to the Encounter Checklist, below. If the characters want to evade or pursue encountered monsters, the DM goes to the "Evasion and Pursuit" section later in this chapter.

5. Resume Travel: After the encounter, the party may resume travel. If they are lost, the DM may (at his option) recheck the direction of travel.

6. Nightfall: The party finds a place to stop and rest.

7. Nighttime Wandering Monsters: The DM makes a 1d12 roll for wandering monsters for the nighttime hours. See the Chance of Encounter Table for determining rolls. If an encounter is indicated, the DM chooses the watch during which it occurs; two or three PC guards can be posted during the night, each taking an equal amount of time guarding the party while on watch. Continue with one of the following steps: a. If an encounter occurs, the DM uses the Encounter Checklist, below, b. If no encounter occurs, the DM proceeds to Step 9.

8. Resume Rest: Once any nighttime encounter is over, the party returns to rest.

9. Night's End: Return to Step 1 above.




1. Game Time: Game time switches from 10-minute turns to 10-second rounds. The DM does not have to inform the players of this until he or she informs them that they are having an encounter.

2. Surprise: Both sides make appropriate rolls (1d6), the caller for the PCs and the DM for the monsters. Any side that rolls a 1 or a 2 is surprised. To keep from alerting players than an encounter is imminent, the DM can simply make both rolls him or herself.

3. Initiative: If one side is surprised, it loses initiative automatically. Otherwise, both sides make initiative rolls (1d6) to see who moves, talks, or attacks first. The side that rolls higher goes first.

4. Reactions: If the DM does not know how the monsters will react to the PCs, the DM makes reaction rolls to determine their initial reactions. See the Monster Reactions Table under "Monster Reactions," below.

5. Results: The DM determines the results of the party's actions as follows:

a. If the PCs trigger a trap, the DM applies the consequences.

b. If both sides can speak, role-play the conversation until agreement is reached, one side leaves, or a fight begins.

c. If the PCs run away, make a morale check for the monsters or NPCs to see if they give chase. If so, use the pursuit and evasion rules later this chapter to see if the PCs get away.

d. If one or both sides attack, play proceeds with the Combat Sequence Checklist (see Chapter 8, page 102; start with Step 1 and roll for initiative again).

6. Encounter Ends: After the encounter ends, begin play with a new turn. Always assume that an encounter takes at least one full turn to resolve.

* Monster Reaction Table

Roll 2d6 Monster Reaction
2-3 Monster attacks
4-6 Monster is aggressive (growls, threatens); roll again in one round with a penalty of -4 to the roll
7-9 Monster is cautious; roll again in one round
10-11 Monster is neutral; roll again in one round with a bonus of +4 to the roll
12 Monster is friendly

** Wilderness Encounters

Find the type of terrain on the Wilderness Encounters Table where the encounter is taking place. Roll 1d8 and check the column corresponding to the terrain type. The result tells which subtable to consult. Go to that subtable and roll 1d12 on the column corresponding to the terrain type where the encounter is taking place. The result tells which monster the characters encounter. See Chapter 14 for details about that monster, including how many monsters appear. Play out the encounter as described under "Encounters" on page 91, using the visibility, distance, and surprise factors.




1. Contact: The two parties encounter one another.

2. Decision to Evade: One party decides to evade. If the evading party is not surprised and the other party is surprised, evasion is automatically successful; go to Step 6. If the other party is not surprised, go to Step 2.

3. Decision to Pursue: The other party decides whether to pursue. The PCs decide for themselves; monsters must make a morale check (defined in Chapter 8). On a successful morale check, the monsters give chase (go to Step 4). On an unsuccessful morale check, the monsters do not chase (go to Step 6).

4. Attempt to Evade: The DM rolls on the Evasion Table. If the PCs succeed, they have evaded the pursuers (go to Step 6). If they fail, pursuit continues (Step 5).

5. Pursuit Continues: Movement is measured in rounds and conducted at running speed; both sides roll 1d6 for initiative once per round; the side with the higher roll moves first each round. The chase continues until one of the following happens:

a. The pursuers decide to give up. Monsters must make a new morale check every five rounds and give up the chase if they fail the check. Go to Step 6.

b. The evading party is caught by the pursuers (because of superior speed or terrain obstacles). Combat occurs; go to the Combat Checklist in Chapter 8. c. The evading party escapes (by using magic spells or by finally making a successful evasion roll on the Evasion Table when terrain and circumstances warrant). Go to Step 6.

6. Regain Bearings: Evaders rest and determine where they now are.
 
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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.
Ouch, isn't poor Wittgenstein just rolling in his grave! LOL. I mean, you are correct of course, but shouldn't we just say that the idea that 'rules exist' in any sense except 'they are written in such-and-such a book' is silly? We play what we play, don't we? So, IMHO the actual topic here is "how do the things game designers write down translate into play?" right? ;)
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%.
This seems reasonable, still think what is interesting is the how this plays out.
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.
But even if we are in a 'compliant mood' the question then is what actually does this mean? There is at least a process of interpretation, of 'bringing it to life'.
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 I say, I feel like we should just look at what DOES HAPPEN when we employ a system of rules. There could be a LOT of ways to achieve 'these purposes'.

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.

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.
I would add that since rules have to be 'taken up' and that cannot be accomplished directly by any fiat, how can a 'rule 0' function, then? I mean, again, we should look at what DOES happen, and if rule 0 is interesting in that context, it is simply another feature of a game.
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.
I think the relevant thing here is that SCs are pretty much bound to be 'intent adjudication' mechanisms. They must move the plot forward in a meaningful way. No GM would ever say that the party passed the SC and then say "Oh, but you'll still have to do this other thing to succeed." AT WORST the 'other thing' might be "Oh, some bad guys are at the hatch, RUMBLE!"
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.
Right, and this is a way that maybe a system like that has an advantage over, say, 4e, where the analog would be embedding a fight in an SC (or vice versa perhaps).
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.

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.
It is just the easiest technique for the GM to implement, some checks happen, but mostly they don't actually decide anything, and the difference between illusionism and a character focused play is not even visible at the player side.
 

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)?
Oh, there's a range of approaches which shades between 1 and 3. You will have some people who may have been around long enough to know about things like B/X or 1e hexcrawl techniques, and maybe actually use them, but I'd be surprised if there's more than a tiny number of people that actually systematically use a system like that, besides it has to be heavily adapted to work with 5e. More likely you get people who do a few sporadic checks here and there and basically what happens is based on some mix of expediency, setting tour, and mild challenge coupled with participationist concerns (3 basically but maybe with some traces of 1). I doubt that 2 is even contemplated except possibly by one or two posters, at most. It just doesn't fit with the model of play that D&D proposes. Certainly WotC LONG AGO seems to have decided that supporting people who want to play that way is not something 5e is going to do. I'd even say it is systematically discouraged!
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
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.
I go a bit further than that, I think. One might read a rule like Rule 0 and think something like this

"Aha! I grasp that rule, and I see its consequences, and thus if another upholds it I will be able speak to that with accuracy."

That runs into a conflict when one is using that grasping to make arguments as to the undesirability of following that rule. One may come to think something like this

"Why are these fools following Rule 0, when it is so patently unappealing?!"

Do those fools understand Rule 0 to be unappealing but follow it anyway!? Or do they follow it out of plain ignorance of its consequences? Perhaps they find the unappealing, appealing in some way - a matter of taste? All of these are possible, but they are also problematic. They skirt reliance on a challengeable assumption that one's own position is one of holding the high-ground (hence I call them "fools" so that we are clear what ignorant persons of questionable taste they must be.)

Alternatively, their grasping of the rule - and this is what I believe @Thomas Shey and I have been essentially saying - is one that has appealing consequences. The choice of following and the manner of following (the rule that is followed) are not neatly divided. [This is a narrow claim, specific to game rules.]

Those fools are grasping and upholding an appealing version of Rule 0 that is not identical to the unappealing version grasped and upheld by those up there on the high ground. (Note that there is no reason to suppose those fools are insensitive to possibilities such as accepting that the sting of loss adds pleasure to future victories: they need not be unsophisticated fools.)


EDIT Just to note that I wrote that way in attempted humour, and not mockingly. I hoped to get some ideas across, but with some levity. Less heavily and sternly in opposition. More to build upon.

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.
Wtih that all in mind, would you say that a group that chooses to not accept/enact Rule 0 for themselves (which is more common in neo-trad 5th edition play) therefore evades these problems? Or at least, is not committed to them.
 
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niklinna

Legend
Right, and this is a way that maybe a system like that has an advantage over, say, 4e, where the analog would be embedding a fight in an SC (or vice versa perhaps).
Torg Eternity pretty much does that by default. Dramatic Skill Challenges (as they call them) nearly always happen in the context of a fight.

Torg Eternity is a mess. Not only does it mash together genres, but players have "possibilites" they can spend to gain extra die rolls (similar to inspiration), and a hand of cards that can similarly affect die rolls, or introduce (little-n) narrative things like a romance with an NPC, not being seen by guards, being mistaken for a significant NPC (shenanigans!), a wandering-monster encounter, or finding a clue....

It's actually kinda fun to toss a card out and have the GM go, "Well! I wasn't counting on that!" and see how they turn it into a good time anyhow.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
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.
As a total aside, I have been wondering if Carroll might have been thinking about pragmatic a-priori? Drawing attention in the fable to a necessary locating of agreement in a principle held prior to or external to the regress (that principle, in fact.)
 
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We did a good bit of 'Wilderness Exploration' in the first 5e campaign I was in. My character's avowed ambition was to carve out a realm and build a way for travelers to go between various areas. So, this was a significant plot point, but in terms of rules, there isn't anything that is super workable. The load/encumbrance/travel/economy kind of rules combination doesn't exist which in 'classic' D&D forced you to make hard decisions between trying to get pack animals vs porters, guards, or just lug all your stuff yourself, and what it would all cost in terms of scarce gold pieces that would then become risky assets (IE its a real bummer when Rocs fly over and decide all your mules are good eating). There was never any question of our PCs SURVIVING either, even at low levels the cleric and wizard together were more than capable of magically dealing with ordinary logistical issues (besides, we were like 4th or 5th level by the time we really got going, its not like advancement is slow in 5e...).

Even when we blundered into some nasty tactical situation, which happened a couple times, it was something the GM came up with, and we just regrouped and headed back to base. It is quite possible in something like a 1e hexcrawl to wander off the end of the point of no return, helped by some friendly orcs who nabbed half your stuff! Nothing even close to that kind of thing will happen in 5e, not by RAW. There isn't even really a set of rules that would mediate that. I don't know about ToA or whatever, but IMHO the issue is less about what is NOT there than it is about what IS there. Spell casting is WAY more flexible in 5e than in 1e!

Honestly, I don't even think you can actually produce a narrative of 5e wilderness exploration as-written, there are some individual rules for certain specific things, but no overarching framework. To contrast, 1e DMG provides EVERY minute detail of how such an exploration works! Literally every factor is covered, and the general rules dovetail pretty well with it! Lower level spell casters are quite helpful, but have built-in limiters, the economics and other systems clearly got tested together as a whole, etc. You can hexcrawl, and it could be fun, but most of all it is pretty darn close to its own mini-wargame where all the basic procedures and things are covered quite well. Nothing like that is true of 5e IME. Even if it incorporated every added rule that 1e has which it is missing, you'd not have a system that would actually do what you want!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
When I speak to rules or system, I'm speaking to the one actually used at the table. Not what's written in the text. When I speak rules being binding or having teeth I am speaking to clarity of permissions, expectations and a means to hold each other accountable. I am speaking to the actual structure of play based on both experience of the culture of play as well as the instructions provided by the text.

I am also deeply uninterested in what counts as what game from a technical perspective. We can all do whatever we want. I can't speak to any individual game of D&D just as I can't speak to any individual game of Monopoly. I can only speak to my observations, experience and interpretation of what the text says about typical play.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
To contrast, 1e DMG provides EVERY minute detail of how such an exploration works! Literally every factor is covered, and the general rules dovetail pretty well with it! Lower level spell casters are quite helpful, but have built-in limiters, the economics and other systems clearly got tested together as a whole, etc. You can hexcrawl, and it could be fun, but most of all it is pretty darn close to its own mini-wargame where all the basic procedures and things are covered quite well. Nothing like that is true of 5e IME. Even if it incorporated every added rule that 1e has which it is missing, you'd not have a system that would actually do what you want!
Can you cite the rules that make 1e better than 5e for running hexcrawls? What are the procedures and loops that aren't found in 5e and make it better? Or if they are found in both, can you give examples explaining how the 1e version is better?

I've grown curious to understand how D&D hexploration has been designed in the past, compared with now. What has been carried forward. What altered and abandoned (with the hope also of understanding why)?
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
When I speak to rules or system, I'm speaking to the one actually used at the table. Not what's written in the text. When I speak rules being binding or having teeth I am speaking to clarity of permissions, expectations and a means to hold each other accountable. I am speaking to the actual structure of play based on both experience of the culture of play as well as the instructions provided by the text.
I agree that is a worthwhile position. I'm thinking of my experience of play, also.

I am also deeply uninterested in what counts as what game from a technical perspective. We can all do whatever we want. I can't speak to any individual game of D&D just as I can't speak to any individual game of Monopoly. I can only speak to my observations, experience and interpretation of what the text says about typical play.
I suppose here, when I identify that a game text includes X, and there is a statement to the effect that it does not, it can end up coming down to technicalities. Are the words actually there in the text? The interest in technicalities doesn't (for me at least) smother an interest in the emergent whole.

It's really true that we can't speak to individual games. And is typical play really all that important, either? I mean, if we want to play a typical RPG - the most typical - we'd be playing only 5e! It's the atypical play that (again, for me at least) is captivating. Minds work in many different ways though, don't they.
 


pemerton

Legend
As a total aside, I have been wondering if Carroll might have been thinking about pragmatic a-priori? Drawing attention in the fable to a necessary locating of agreement in a principle held prior to or external to the regress (that principle, in fact.)
A principle would constitute a further premise. Unless by principle you mean rule of inference.

To put it in somewhat Wittgensteinian terms, any "agreement" is in respect of inferential practices, not propositions held to be true.
 

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