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


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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.

Its whole predecessor group (Torg/Masterbook/Shatterzone) was like that. The important thing to remember about the card usage was it wasn't just "draw a card" it was "acquire a hand you can use to steer elements of the game in a dramatist sort of way". The card-play minigame was something some people just loved and other people found killed their flow like nobody's business.
 

With regard to hexcrawls...it might help to know what one means, specifically, by the term (alternately to provide a more specific term). Technically any situation that has a party navigating around a terrain mapped on a hex grid, by whatever play loop, could count as a hexcrawl.

As generally used, the term usually refers to an at least partially exploration-based outdoor sandbox, where the players choose where to go and what to do when they get there, usually without knowing too much about the locations in advance.
 

pemerton

Legend
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.
This claim is false of rules in general. For instance, I can grasp a rule of eldest male succession to the monarchy, and if another upholds it - eg Australia until fairly recently - I will be able to speak to that with accuracy. There is no conflict between the previous sentence, and grasping arguments as to the undesirability of such a rule. In fact, all the arguments I'm aware of in favour of changes to the succession law depending upon grasping the consequences of upholding the male-succession rule.

Why would rule zero be any different in this respect?

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.)
I could look at America and ask "Why do those fools not have a monarchy?" or "Why do those fools not have a system of parliamentary government?" They might look at Australia and ask "Why does those fools not have a republic?" or "Why do those fools allow for changes to the head of government without the need for a popular vote?"

I might look at people playing T&T - a game I have no interest in playing - and ask "Why to do those fools play such an unappealing game?" Those T&T players might look at me playing (say) Torchbearer and ask the same question? Even someone who is playing Torchbearer might express doubts about its merits - see eg @niklinna and @AbdulAlhazred in the Torchbearer thread expressing some doubts about whether all the crunch in the game (including all its different variations in currency, in sub-systems, etc) is truly necessary.

It's no mystery that preferences are different in various ways, and that there is a high degree of path dependence in any particular person ending up living by any particular set of rules. When I cross streets in America or in Europe or in North Africa I often narrowly avoid getting run over because I look the wrong way. "Those American fools drive on the right hand side of the road! Why?"

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.

<snip>

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.
You seem to be treating appealing and unappealing as if they were inherent properties of games. Whereas they are - self-evidently, I suggest - relational: appealing, or unappealing, to whom?

If someone wants to have a GM-curated RPG experience that will permit exploration of character, setting and/or situation - what the "cultures of play" calls trad or neo-trad - and if one wants very mainstream/typical PC sheets (stats, skills, hp) and resolution systems (roll against stat or skill to resolve the task at issue), then some version of "rule zero" is probably essential. As per John Harper's diagram that @Campbell posted a couple of times upthread, those sorts of techniques need "GM-as-glue" to combine them in order to produce any movement in play at all.

Not far upthread, Campell posted this:
@clearstream

You seem to be making an argument against clarity of expectation. Is that what you are trying to do here? What thesis are you putting forward?
My thoughts and questions about your posts are similar. By treating "appealing" and "unappealing" as non-relational properties of rules, you seem to be implying that all RPGing is more-or-less the same thing; and by framing analysis, criticism and dislike as involve judging others as "fools", you seem to be reinforcing that implication: the "foolish" RPGers really want (say) gamist play, or story now play, but don't know how to achieve it.

From my perspective, those implications are all nonsense. It seems to me obvious that the most popular approach to RPGing is high concept simulationism. This is borne out by how people play RPGs, how they discuss them, which RPGs have been popular since the early-to-mid 1980s, etc.

The second most popular approach is a low-competition gamism that (as Edwards points out in a passage I've now quoted many times in this thread) resembles characters-face-problems simulationism but adds in a performance metric. The addition of the metric is normally achieved by amping up the difficult of combat encounters sufficiently that losing is a real possibility (hence luck and/or somewhat clever gameplay is required to avoid losing), perhaps in combination with the GM disclaiming decision-making at certain key moments (so eg no deus ex machina rescues, no fudging, etc).

As Ovinomancer observes dozens of pages upthread, most discussions on these boards of 3E and 5e D&D play reflect the differences between these two approaches, and the tensions that will arise if you try and satisfy them both at once.

You seem to be introducing fog where none is needed, and to be presenting as obscure a state of affairs that seems reasonably clear to me.

pemerton said:
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.
With 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.
What problems?

I'm pointing to a phenomenon: that a certain approach to the resolution of action declarations - the one that Vincent Baker calls task resolution, which is used quite a bit (not solely) in Classic Traveller, 5e D&D and Rolemaster, and perhaps is the sole approach used in CoC - means that GM decision-making is needed to determine the relationship between resolution of an action declaration and the character achieving what the player hoped they would achieve.

You are the one framing the phenomenon as a problem.

Of the systems I've mentioned where this phenomenon occurs, I've GMed a fair bit of Classic Traveller in recent years. Off the top of my head, I can think of two occasions where the phenomenon manifested itself.

The first was an episode of on-world exploration:
Using a slightly ad hoc mix of the vehicle reliability rules and the animal/event encounter rules, plus some improvised rules for tracking the other ATV, we resolved the journey across Byron. A lot of rolls guarantees some fails, and at one point they got lost and so used Electronics plus Jack-o-T to repurpose a communicator as a satellite uplink so they could get GPS coordinates. After about a week out of the dome, with their rations running low, they were able to find the outpost the other ATV had travelled to (by having Tony put on his vacc suit and climb to the top of a mountain to look around).

I felt this exploration episode suffered a bit from a lack of tight resolution mechanics, with nothing like a skill challenge or similar "closed scene" resolution; but also not the in-fiction structure that gives Traveller interstellar travel a similar de facto character.
Traveller has rules for rolling for encounters, and rules for rolling for mechanical problems with a vehicle, but no rules for working out whether or not the PCs get where they're going, or find what they're looking for, other than GM fiat or classic hex-crawling. The latter is a useless method for a game that involves travelling from world to world (who has a hex-map of the whole of the earth, let alone of the dozens of worlds that might come into play in a Traveller game?). The former method, therefore, is what was used in this case. And since then, I have avoided running any onworld exploration activity. The last time that it became relevant, a different approach was used to work out where the PCs needed to go (a Navigation- and EDU-based check to interpret some diagrams) and then we just deemed that they flew there in their spaceship.

I don't have a neat actual play report for the second, but the PCs were investigating an abandoned starship while an Imperial Navy cutter was bearing down on them. It was possible to calculate a time required for the cutter to arrive, based on stipulating some starting distances that made sense based on world generation information, and then solving the relevant kinematic equations. But how much can characters in Traveller achieve, by way of investigation, during a given time?

There is no answer to that other than GM decision-making. Which means that the pending arrival of the cutter wasn't so much a genuine constraint, as a type of framing device. My recollection is not perfect, but I have memories of the players asking "How much time do we have left?", me giving an answer, and that forming something like a consensus basis for what further actions they could or could not declare.

Unlike the onworld exploration example, this dependence up on GM-as-glue didn't cause any problems. We achieved consensus on what could be done before the cutter arrived, and thus everyone was happy with how the fiction was configured when the cutter eventually turned up. And the interaction with the Imperial Navy personnel was resolved in our standard fashion for that system. Here's an actual play post which explains some of the techniques used, in this repsect, to avoid the need for GM-as-glue:
By secret backstory I mean elements of the fiction that are known only to the GM - and so in at least that sense are not part of a shared fiction - but that nevertheless are used by the GM to inform the outcomes of action resolution.

<snip>

I GMed a session of Classic Traveller today, continuing the Aliens meets Annic Nova scenario. As originally presented (ie in the published module Annic Nova), there is not a great deal more to this scenario than the players moving around the abandoned vessel learning backstory from the GM by performing variouis sorts of "moves" (some of which require checks, some of which are simply gated behind skill levels, and some of which have to be puzzled out by the players).

I call this sort of play learning what it is in the GM's notes., For it to be interesting, I think the notes have to be pretty damn clever and the atmosphere etc well presented also. I've encountered this as a player in CoC one-shots; I don't think the Annic Nova scenario, as published, gets over the line.

So I've adapted it in a couple of ways. There is an external source of pressure, namely, an Imperial Navy cutter investigating the vessel and the PCs' interest in it. That came into play today and was handled in the standard way we resolve social encounters ie a roll on the reaction table, with a +1 DM because the PC in question was a noble like the naval officer he was dealing with, and was being relatively charming in his blather. The modified result was a 12, ie genuine friendship, and so the officer has come on board the PC's ship but has accepted their explanation that things on the abandoned ship (the Annic Nova) aren't yet suitable for inspection by the Navy. No secret backstory was at work here (I'd prepped the NPCs, but it wasn't secret backstory eg the officer announced herself by her title - Lady Commander Askol - and my explanation of the circumstances of the reaction check, including the +1 DM, was all out in the open) .

There's also an internal source of pressure, namely, aliens (or rather Aliens) on board the abandoned vessel. Because of the way Traveller works - eg pretty old-school resolution for combat, based on position on a map or more abstract bands (but in this case we're using floor plans from the module) - there is a lot of scope for secret backstory to affect things. In the session today I handled that by using the surprise mechanics together with the encounter distance mechanics to determine who got the drop on whom, in circumstances where - to use AW terminology - the unwelcome truth of the aliens on board had already been well and truly revealed.

For other aspects of framing and so establishing possible action declarations, there were some INT checks, and a check where a bonus from EDU got the relevant PC over the line. None of this was at the AW-level of elegant narrative pressure, but I was using it to try and have the backstory come out and hence the framing established in ways that followed the established fiction (including the fiction of the relevant PCs) and tried to make the session about more than just learning what's in the GM's notes while not using the content of those notes as a secret determiner of action resolution outcomes.
 
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niklinna

Legend
Its whole predecessor group (Torg/Masterbook/Shatterzone) was like that. The important thing to remember about the card usage was it wasn't just "draw a card" it was "acquire a hand you can use to steer elements of the game in a dramatist sort of way". The card-play minigame was something some people just loved and other people found killed their flow like nobody's business.
Oh yeah, I left out a lot of detail about card usage. Trading between players' hands is a thing, and in combat or other rounds-based activity you must put a card from your hand into your pool each turn, before you can actually trade or play it (and you can get more cards by performing particular actions that change from round to round). Various perks (= feats) let you alter card play, too. It definitely messes with flow in certain ways!
 

pemerton

Legend
Oh yeah, I left out a lot of detail about card usage. Trading between players' hands is a thing, and in combat or other rounds-based activity you must put a card from your hand into your pool each turn, before you can actually trade or play it (and you can get more cards by performing particular actions that change from round to round). Various perks (= feats) let you alter card play, too. It definitely messes with flow in certain ways!
But it seems like it should have amply prepared you for Torchbearer's multiple currencies and resource cycles!
 

Oh yeah, I left out a lot of detail about card usage. Trading between players' hands is a thing, and in combat or other rounds-based activity you must put a card from your hand into your pool each turn, before you can actually trade or play it (and you can get more cards by performing particular actions that change from round to round). Various perks (= feats) let you alter card play, too. It definitely messes with flow in certain ways!

Let's not forget that the primary way to get cards was doing the non-damage attack processes (Trick, Manuever, Taunt and so on) to lean in on people doing things other than straight hit-to-do-damage (some people would argue the benefits of those by themselves weren't enough to encourage that, but I think the habit is ingrained enough they'd have had to been overpowered to still not see enough use without it).
 

niklinna

Legend
Let's not forget that the primary way to get cards was doing the non-damage attack processes (Trick, Manuever, Taunt and so on) to lean in on people doing things other than straight hit-to-do-damage (some people would argue the benefits of those by themselves weren't enough to encourage that, but I think the habit is ingrained enough they'd have had to been overpowered to still not see enough use without it).
I never got to play the original version, but I understand it did have some problems like that. In Torg Eternity we use interaction attacks all the time. We find them very useful, and my character regularly takes out multiple (mundane) foes just using those. The new version's been out for a while and has splatbooks for all the main cosms except Pan-Pacifica, and that kickstarter's about to launch.
 

I never got to play the original version, but I understand it did have some problems like that. In Torg Eternity we use interaction attacks all the time. We find them very useful, and my character regularly takes out multiple (mundane) foes just using those. The new version's been out for a while and has splatbooks for all the main cosms except Pan-Pacifica, and that kickstarter's about to launch.

I'm aware. Even if I had a group that was onboard the card play (and I think the system lacks something without it), let's say doing that over VTT appears--impractical.
 

niklinna

Legend
I'm aware. Even if I had a group that was onboard the card play (and I think the system lacks something without it), let's say doing that over VTT appears--impractical.
My group is managing all right on roll20 (really good character sheet, adequate card support), but it is a fair amount of overhead for the GM.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
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.
That's a helpful distinction. To return to the question, I understand Carroll developed a concept of pragmatic a-priori.

Do you think that could that have been an inferential practice he had in mind (or would have used himself) to head off the regress in the fable?
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
This claim is false of rules in general. For instance, I can grasp a rule of eldest male succession to the monarchy, and if another upholds it - eg Australia until fairly recently - I will be able to speak to that with accuracy. There is no conflict between the previous sentence, and grasping arguments as to the undesirability of such a rule. In fact, all the arguments I'm aware of in favour of changes to the succession law depending upon grasping the consequences of upholding the male-succession rule.

Why would rule zero be any different in this respect?


I could look at America and ask "Why do those fools not have a monarchy?" or "Why do those fools not have a system of parliamentary government?" They might look at Australia and ask "Why does those fools not have a republic?" or "Why do those fools allow for changes to the head of government without the need for a popular vote?"

I might look at people playing T&T - a game I have no interest in playing - and ask "Why to do those fools play such an unappealing game?" Those T&T players might look at me playing (say) Torchbearer and ask the same question? Even someone who is playing Torchbearer might express doubts about its merits - see eg @niklinna and @AbdulAlhazred in the Torchbearer thread expressing some doubts about whether all the crunch in the game (including all its different variations in currency, in sub-systems, etc) is truly necessary.

It's no mystery that preferences are different in various ways, and that there is a high degree of path dependence in any particular person ending up living by any particular set of rules. When I cross streets in America or in Europe or in North Africa I often narrowly avoid getting run over because I look the wrong way. "Those American fools drive on the right hand side of the road! Why?"
Here we're still at cross-purposes, so I'll try to explain another way. Let's call a rule as written R and a rule as applied Z. That's a distinction seen in abundance on enworld and we've terms like RAW and RAI as a result.

In the example immediately above, so far as I can make out, you have two folks with two different Rs. In the example at top, you have an R with a singular Z (which can then be assessed). Neither of these cases are the same as what I am discussing.

The case I am raising is that of an R with multiple Zs. What a rule is judged to be - its virtues - rely on Z. Up thread we discussed that rule following is done in view of social contracts and what it will regulate or constitute (grasped in the first instance through prospective play.) That is not a one-and-done deal: folk can change their mind on the desirability of a rule or even on what the Z is for that R.

As we are discussing separate Zs for an R, some kinds of conclusions we make about that R are actually conclusions about the Z we have in mind for that R. Pointing to a confound between following an R and our Z for that R.

You seem to be treating appealing and unappealing as if they were inherent properties of games. Whereas they are - self-evidently, I suggest - relational: appealing, or unappealing, to whom?
Here I might well have misunderstood you and other posters. I have read words like "GM-fiat" and "force", used in a way that seemed to imply a shortfall. Perhaps that is not what you intend, but I have something else in mind, too.

So far as I can make out from the arguments, GM-fiat and force are thought to apply to some RPGs and not others. Based on the way those concepts are described, it seems to me like the application of GM-fiat and force is "unappealing" and the alternative is "appealing".

When a colleague MCs Monster of the Week or I GM Torchbearer 2, there are many points where we make decisions and author fiction. A player fails an ability test. I decide whether to introduce a twist, or that they accomplish the task but receive a condition. If I introduce a twist, I author that twist. In all cases, I aim to say what follows (from fiction, description, system.)

Saying what follows is what I also adhere to for 5th edition. [This is a narrow claim: it does not say the games are identical.] I'm told 5e uses GM-fiat (and possibly force) and Rule 0. And I am told that those forestall things that I count "appealing". Yet I don't experience that forestalling. I seem able to have those appealing things anyway.

Seeing as we are discussing a common R, I make the suggestion that our non-identical Zs account for differing apprehensions of that R. Under one apprehension, I see a version of 5e I would not like to play (unappealing). Under another apprehension, I see a version of 5e that appeals to me. (Appeal is a motivation for following that R... but it is the appeal of the Z.)
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
Part 2 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.
As a reminder, the sequences
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
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. Encounter distances are given on the DM's screen, which I take to acknowledge a miss in core.

- 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. Exhaustion formalises penalties that are suggested in freeform in Expert.

To @kenada's question, between module and core, the two editions have near identical procedure tying it all together. 5e formalises some resource management that is implied in Expert. In both editions, a weakness (as pointed out by others) is how readily resource management is obviated by player choices for their characters.

There are a number of other mechanics in the game texts, such as Weather, that come into exploration should a group be focusing on it. And there is the evocative detail in both, that I will also compare (to validate or invalidate my claim that "X1 adds a hex map replete with evocative detail, yet ToA is even more replete.")

Weather
For hexploration, weather in Expert is outlined narratively at the level of climate. For example

"The general weather patterns of this part of the continent move from west to east. Hence, much rain falls on the western edge of the Altan Tepe mountains, while little or none falls on the Alasiyan desert. The warm offshore currents near Thyatis and Minrothad modify the weather somewhat in the south, making the climate there similar to the Mediterranean."

It's worth noting that weather at sea is mechanically detailed. With 2d6 rolls for wind, chances of ship loss, and modifiers to movement.
For hexploration, weather in 5th edition is mechanically detailed, with tables for temperature (offset from norms), wind and precipitation, and mechanical consequences for extremes of each.

ToA provides norms for Chult and adds more extreme precipitation with mechanical consequences on travel. The exhaustion rules are again employed as a cost of travel in such extreme weather.

Again, there are additional rules for weather at sea.

Overall, weather receives more detail in 5th edition than in Expert.

Next post I will dig into Mapping, Tracking and Foraging. Hopefully round out the picture with a short comparison of module content. And try to summarise where I feel 5th landed relative to Expert.
 
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kenada

Legend
As a reminder, the sequences
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
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. Encounter distances are given on the DM's screen, which I take to acknowledge a miss in core.

- 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. Exhaustion formalises penalties that are suggested in freeform in Expert.

To @kenada's question, between module and core, the two editions have near identical procedure tying it all together. 5e formalises some resource management that is implied in Expert. In both editions, a weakness (as pointed out by others) is how readily resource management is obviated by player choices for their characters.

There are a number of other mechanics in the game texts, such as Weather, that come into exploration should a group be focusing on it. And there is the evocative detail in both, that I will also compare (to validate or invalidate my claim that "X1 adds a hex map replete with evocative detail, yet ToA is even more replete.")

Weather
For hexploration, weather in Expert is outlined narratively at the level of climate. For example

"The general weather patterns of this part of the continent move from west to east. Hence, much rain falls on the western edge of the Altan Tepe mountains, while little or none falls on the Alasiyan desert. The warm offshore currents near Thyatis and Minrothad modify the weather somewhat in the south, making the climate there similar to the Mediterranean."

It's worth noting that weather at sea is mechanically detailed. With 2d6 rolls for wind, chances of ship loss, and modifiers to movement.
For hexploration, weather in 5th edition is mechanically detailed, with tables for temperature (offset from norms), wind and precipitation, and mechanical consequences for extremes of each.

ToA provides norms for Chult and adds more extreme precipitation with mechanical consequences on travel. The exhaustion rules are again employed as a cost of travel in such extreme weather.

Again, there are additional rules for weather at sea.

Overall, weather receives more detail in 5th edition than in Expert.

Next post I will dig into Mapping, Tracking and Foraging. Hopefully round out the picture with a short comparison of module content. And try to summarise where I feel 5th landed relative to Expert.
Thanks for posting these comparisons. Something I’ve noticed is it seems like the two procedures have different goals. The one from B/X has a very strong, gameplay-focused loop. The 5e one seems more oriented towards providing a hex-crawling experience without risking the story too much. That’s particularly evident in the citations shared by @Campbell regarding random encounters and when the GM should exercise judgement with them.

This isn’t a commentary on whether one is better than the other. I think which rules are more useful is going to depend on the kind of experience the GM is trying to create in play. For me at least, I think the B/X rules would be a much better fit than the 5e ones because the experience of a story (or telling one) isn’t one I’m trying to create. I’m more interested in having a process that supports, e.g., hexcrawling, that we can follow to see what happens.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Thanks for posting these comparisons. Something I’ve noticed is it seems like the two procedures have different goals. The one from B/X has a very strong, gameplay-focused loop. The 5e one seems more oriented towards providing a hex-crawling experience without risking the story too much. That’s particularly evident in the citations shared by @Campbell regarding random encounters and when the GM should exercise judgement with them.

This isn’t a commentary on whether one is better than the other. I think which rules are more useful is going to depend on the kind of experience the GM is trying to create in play. For me at least, I think the B/X rules would be a much better fit than the 5e ones because the experience of a story (or telling one) isn’t one I’m trying to create. I’m more interested in having a process that supports, e.g., hexcrawling, that we can follow to see what happens.
Do you find that even if the procedures - the written mechanics - are closely similar; where there are other words in a game text that guide toward a use of those mechanics (a purpose, such as a story telling one) then the effect of those closely similar procedures in play - changes?

As a thought experiment, if that same guidance that you find telling in ToA were in X1, then the procedure there would be changed in effect? And, conversely, if one erased the guidance from ToA, then the procedure there would, too, be changed in effect. I'm trying to understand the interaction between the guidance, and the bare procedure. Because on surface those bare procedures are near identical (or perhaps you can highlight the dissimilarities that stand out to you?)
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
@clearstream

I think you might misunderstanding what is meant by one conflict directl;y leads to the next. It's very different from the sort of one thing naturally leads to the next by way of reasoning what the potential impact would be on the setting. One conflict directly leads to the next is the equivalent of moves snowball. It's that the fallout of every conflict directly leads to a new related conflict. This is not done through naturalistic exploration of where things naturally lead, but a willful practice by players, GMs and systems to sustain the momentum of play. To embrace tension and keep things constantly in motion.

The GM in a game like Apocalypse World is always making moves that follow but also threaten. Your imperative is to keep everything in constant motion.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
@clearstream

I think you might misunderstanding what is meant by one conflict directl;y leads to the next. It's very different from the sort of one thing naturally leads to the next by way of reasoning what the potential impact would be on the setting. One conflict directly leads to the next is the equivalent of moves snowball. It's that the fallout of every conflict directly leads to a new related conflict. This is not done through naturalistic exploration of where things naturally lead, but a willful practice by players, GMs and systems to sustain the momentum of play. To embrace tension and keep things constantly in motion.

The GM in a game like Apocalypse World is always making moves that follow but also threaten. Your imperative is to keep everything in constant motion.
That's worth clarifying, but no, I do not misunderstand although I am also still learning. (Both absorbing new ideas, and better understanding many preexisting intuitions.) I felt Baker captures it beautifully in these sorts of phrasings

Apocalypse World’s philosophy is: use the real things, the dice and stats and so on, to give momentum to the fictional things.

The principle is: fictional causes have real-world effects. Real-world causes have fictional effects.

Remember the roller coaster? The purpose of the real-world stuff is to keep the fictional stuff in motion. When a real cause has a fictional effect, that’s what holds the roller coaster up. When a fictional cause has a real effect, that’s what keeps the roller coaster from disconnecting, spinning off into insolidity.

Which systems and subsystems act in the moment to moment of play? Which play out over the course of a single session? Which play out over many sessions, maybe even only over the whole course of the game?

They can change the scope and scale of the characters’ actions and concerns

Momentum flowing through fiction and system. The chaining together of the two so that they can gyrate erratically without flying apart. It's really nicely expressed. There are a few narrow points on which I disagree with Baker. They have consequences that I am still figuring out.

What I find counter-intuitive is to have as a goal running a game without momentum running through it. Although I don't put such a high value on immediate escalation. Possibly because I run multi-year long campaigns. Things don't only snowball, sometimes they just lean forward and in the quiet, the other penny drops.


[EDIT @Campbell remember my Tempo - Flow binary. The one that no one else jumped in and described right. Tempo and flow are momentum running through fiction and system. That's what it's about. That intense satisfaction when things are rolling and everyone finds themselves saying what follows, effortlessly.]
 
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pemerton

Legend
What I find counter-intuitive is to have as a goal running a game without momentum running through it.
Here are some actual play examples:
Over the past month or so my group has been able to play two sessions of Classic Traveller.

<snip>

I enjoyed both these sessions, but enjoyed yesterday's more. The pace was fairly relaxed, and it was exploration-heavy, especially for our RPGing. But the fiction that was established was very satisfying - the interaction between the players (as their PCs) and the NPCs helped build up a sense of both cooperation and rivalry, and the scientific institution and archaeological exploration dimension provides a nice change from the military/espionage cloak-and-dagger flavour that the campaign began with. And the development of the psionic aspects of the situation, a joint endeavour between referee and players, is also very interesting.

And there are still matters to be resolved: the nature of the flying creatures (this one I'll largely take from the module); their relationship, if any, to the aliens (Aliens) on the Annic Nova; the vegetable spores; the pyramid and pendulum; and why the aliens built this. The players were speculating that it might have been a construction to focus psionic power, or alternatively a defensive construction to defend the aliens against anti-psionic prejudice 2 billion years ago. And also that it may have succumbed to the Aliens in some way.

I would expect some answers to at least some of these questions to emerge in our next session.
My group played a session of Classic Traveller on Sunday.

<snip>

The previous session had ended with two immediate points of tension: Toru von Taxiwan, the noble patron of the rival team, had observed the PC von Jerrel using psionic power to open a door inside the alien complex, and her roll on the reaction-to-psionics table dictated vigilante execution. (In the world of Traveller the climate of public opinion is extremely hostile to psionics.) The PC Roland had managed to calm her down for the moment, suggesting that they needed to keep working together to explore the pyramid, and so she postponed her action until they returned back to their base at the world's surface.

The other point of tension followed the PC Tony - who is the party's lead mechanic, engineer and jury-rigger (Jack-o-T-4) - opening a concealed panel in one of the rooms in the pyramid. This had revealed a tunnel that had warm air in it, and living creatures - 8 bat-like things about 60 cm long and with 1 metre wingspans - that flew out, bruising Roland in the process but more importantly damaging Alissa's vacc suit integrity (Alissa is a PC whose main skill is fencing with a cutlass, but who is also psionically trained). Zinion has breathable oxygen but the surface temperature at the excavation site is around 100 degrees C below zero, and the air in the pyramid (but for the tunnel) was similarly cold and so she could not last long without restoring her vacc suit.

<snip>

Exploration of the power plant revealed some uninteresting details from the module map (the map and some of the content is from Double Adventure 1, adventure 1, Shadows). But in one of the side corridors Alissa and Vincenzo - the noble PC who owns their starship, pays most of the rest of them as crew, and is to that extent "in charge" of their expedition - were able to have a secret conversation, to discuss and use psionics without being overhead by anyone hostile.

<snip>

In the power plant "wing" the PCs found another large room.

<snip>

A lot of discussion was taking place, among the players, as to what this was all for. I gently encouraged them to finish the exploration, which they did.

<snip>

With the exploration all complete, I wanted to push things a bit more towards some action. So Toru von Taxiwan announced that it was now time to return to the surface.

<snip>

I think this is the end of our exploration-oriented sessions, at least for a little while. I think the next session should be fairly action-focused; I'm not sure quite what it will involve.
I've snipped most of the detail - if you're interested, you can get that by going back to the original posts. What I've tried to show is the contrast between (i) play that is oriented towards exploration which therefore involves a significant degree of GM exposition, and does not involve the generation of momentum; and (ii) play that is oriented towards "moves snowball", and which therefore involves - as @Campbell put it - a willful practice by players, GMs and systems to sustain the momentum of play. To embrace tension and keep things constantly in motion.

In the second of the previous two quotes you can see me engaging in that "wilful practice", by deliberating having the NPC announce a return to the surface from the site being explored, which - given what had taken place during the exploration phase - would yield conflict in the way that Campbell has described.

And it did achieve that, just as I intended - the relationships between the PCs and the NPCs melted down in various ways, reached various crescendos, and ended in the death of Toru and many of her friends. One group of PCs left the world before that climax, but by returning to their spaceship I was also able to introduce another source of conflict, in the form of Alien-style medical experiments carried out by the "mad scientist" NPC who is the romantic partner of the PC Vincenzo. (For various reasons to do with prior fiction, this had to happen on the vessel.)

The overall point of these examples is to explain why my agreement with Campbell is not driven by theoretical commitments, but by the actual experience of my RPGing. The function of the theoretical analysis is simply to permit me to have a better grasp of these dynamics of play, and hence to engage with them more fruitfully and deliberately.
 

kenada

Legend
Do you find that even if the procedures - the written mechanics - are closely similar; where there are other words in a game text that guide toward a use of those mechanics (a purpose, such as a story telling one) then the effect of those closely similar procedures in play - changes?
Yes. I think it speaks to the agenda and principles for running a game — even if they are not enumerated explicitly. I’ve tried going against the grain with several systems (5e, Pathfinder 2e, Worlds Without Number) and found they would always get in my way eventually.

In 5e, one of the players took Outlander, which meant that provisions were never a concern. Even if I wanted to run with a gameplay loop identical to B/X (ignoring any guidance to exercise discretion), the system provided the players with build options to trivially escape the gameplay loop. It’s the same issue one sees with the proliferation of racial options that provide Darkvision, so players can ignore the importance of light in a dungeon. Since 5e doesn’t advertise itself as providing the process I want, I can’t really fault it for providing those things. I’m using it in an unusual way to pursue an agenda different from the one it was designed to do.

Pathfinder 2e is very enumerative of its mechanics. Every skill has a set of actions associated with it. There are feats that players can take to alter how their skills work. Even though it’s ostensibly for AP play, I’d describe PF2 as a system more inclined towards gamist play. Combat in particular is very demanding that players step on up if they want to succeed. I eventually hit a point where it got to be too much. I didn’t feel proficient in the system even after running it for a year, and the amount of work it took to creating monsters and content didn’t feel worth it to me. I also found myself really disliking setting DCs (both ad hoc and especially when creating monsters/traps).

Worlds Without Number positions itself as a sandbox system, but it’s really a high concept sim game pretending to be a sandbox. It has bits and pieces from B/X, but it does not procedures like what you have described or @Manbearcat shared in post #1,769. Many of the procedures it does have undermine themselves (e.g., the game outright tells you to assume that water and firewood can be found automatically while traveling, undermining its privation loop). It has bespoke rules for projects and factions, but they’re incomplete or obtuse to the point of useless. I found myself supplementing its rules (going to the extreme of retrocloning it out of Old-School Essentials) with B/X, but I gave up on the system after the faction rules plain didn’t work.

That leaves Old-School Essentials (and B/X D&D), which does have the procedures and orients them the way I want, but my players bounced off it pretty hard. They wanted more class customization, but I think the more important thing is they didn’t like how weak their characters felt. I only have three players, and they’re not fond of needing retainers to supplement their numbers. That’s what lead me to do a homebrew system, which started from a goal of taking my WWN retroclone and porting mechanics from WWN that worked well from us back to OSE, but it has evolved more into its own thing (while still keeping a goal of compatibility with B/X, so I can use adventures and monsters as needed).

As a thought experiment, if that same guidance that you find telling in ToA were in X1, then the procedure there would be changed in effect? And, conversely, if one erased the guidance from ToA, then the procedure there would, too, be changed in effect. I'm trying to understand the interaction between the guidance, and the bare procedure. Because on surface those bare procedures are near identical (or perhaps you can highlight the dissimilarities that stand out to you?)
The perception of the procedure and its intent would change. The problem I have with this thought experiment is don’t know what ToA says exactly, and the material outside of that is spread across multiple books and chapters. It doesn’t have a step by step checklist like B/X does, and just assuming their roles were switched makes the comparison seem unfair.

If one just looks at the raw mechanics, there’s nothing about 5e that makes it incapable of supporting the kind of procedure and play that B/X does. The details are different, but they’re both still D&D. However, systems aren’t just a compilation of mechanics without any context or intent behind them. If I really wanted to use 5e, I’d have to remain vigilant of every mechanic that could undermine my agenda and devise house rules to address it. Maybe some people are fine with it, but it’s not for me anymore. I also find myself really disliking the way 5e (and PF2 and other modern D&Ds) handle setting DCs for skill checks and saving throws. It’s a good tell for whether a system vests a lot of authority in the GM to decide how things should go.
 

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