log in or register to remove this ad

 

System matters and free kriegsspiel

Campbell

Legend
I think the language of need, of what is essential is not really all that useful in terms of roleplaying game design. It implies there is only one right answer, instead of many depending on what your group is looking for. I think it's a lot more useful to consider what the game is contributing based on the needs of the specific group.

I have played 3 different super hero games - Masks, Marvel Heroic, and Mutants and Masterminds. They have different specificity.

In Masks fictional positioning is every thing. We might know you have elemental control as a power. That's it. No details are given.
Mutants and Masterminds dives in deep (not as deep as HERO obviously).
Marvel Heroic sits in the middle.

Each game provides something different, focuses on different salient details about the fiction. I would gladly play any with the right group. I think there are a lot of cases where specificity is helpful, especially games that are essentially defining a genre of play unto themselves. Games where the source material is the game. Games like Legend of the 5 Rings, Exalted, Vampire - The Masquerade, and Pathfinder Second Edition are specific because they are defining a genre for us all to experience. That has real value. So does something like Dune, Cortex, or World of Dungeons which are more abstract.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think the language of need, of what is essential is not really all that useful in terms of roleplaying game design. It implies there is only one right answer, instead of many depending on what your group is looking for. I think it's a lot more useful to consider what the game is contributing based on the needs of the specific group.
I disagree because one of the explicit goals of FKR is minimalism. So the question of what is needed, what is essential, as opposed to what is wanted or preferences is incredibly useful and relevant. It's not a judgement of games with more rules. But you can't have a conversation about a minimalist design philosophy if you cannot talk about what is the absolute minimum needed to be a roleplaying game. Near as I can tell, you need: 1) one character to play, and; 2) one game mechanic. That's the minimum. Drop either and you drop the word "roleplaying" or "game" from the description. It certainly might not be the best, and it's certainly not everyone's preference, but where the absolute minimum needed to qualify as an RPG is a valid topic.
 

Well, the game books disagree with you. They quite explicitly give the D&D DM exactly that power.

Yes, I realize that. But it's not one that any group expects to be used all the time. It's not meant to be applied willy nilly. The spirit of that rule is that you should alter things to suit the situation or the specific group of players as needed. There's no need to be slavishly loyal to the rules as written.

If a GM used this in the manner you're implying....where he's just usurping the rules and the players' expectations without valid reasons for doing so....that's just bad GMing.

And then again, there are many games that specifically don't allow this.

I disagree. The skill bonus and DC don't really model reality or the fiction very well at all. The character wouldn't know "+8 vs DC15" they'd know "that looks like a fairly difficult climb, but not too difficult." And I see no functional difference between "+8 vs DC15" and "roll the dice, higher is better" except that it telegraphs the number needed first...which is explicitly a level of precision a person in the real world or a character in the fiction would not have.

Except that's not how it works in the real world. We almost never have precise understanding of our chances of any given task succeeding. There are generally too many variables for even the human brain to account for. "It looks like a fairly difficult task, but not too difficult; I can probably do it, but not certainly" is the closest we ever really get. You think you have a 100% chance to remember what you went into the other room to get...only to completely forget what it was you were after. You think you have a 100% chance to walk across the room without issue...only to trip over something you couldn't even see...or your own feet. You think the clever thing you thought of will 100% make a particular person laugh...only for them to be put off by what you said. The world is filled with variables we simply don't know. It's an affect of gaming -- not reality -- that we expect to fully comprehend those variables.

What they would not be doing is having precise measures of skill and comparative difficulty through which to filter their decision making. Accuracy is the crux. As gamers we're used to that kind of accuracy, but it's an affect of gaming, not something that's a model of the real world. At best we have comparative reference points...but never absolutes. So "that wall looks easy to me" not "I have a 75% chance to climb it."

There is no certainty. It's an approximation. The dice are what makes it uncertain. I think you're underestimating peoples' ability to know the odds of success for a given task.

But even still.....the numbers are doing the same job that the GM's verbal description is meant to do, right? The PC wants to climb a wall...that's the stated goal. Whether we use numbers or words to convey this to the player....really, what's the difference?

For me, the numbers are more accurate, and closer to correlating with how the character would feel about the task.

So exactly like most other RPGs. Would you say the DM in D&D is neutral? They have the exact same level of control over the game as the FKR Ref.

I think it depends on the game, and even the edition of D&D. In modern iterations of the game my answer would be no, the DM is not neutral. Not in the sense that the term had been used earlier on.

I think most editions of D&D hew closer to the level of control by the GM that FKR games seem to, but probably not quite as far. FKR seems to take the already authority heavy role of the GM in D&D and increase it. But that's generally speaking; I would expect some variance among specific FKR games.

Exactly like most other RPGs.

That...in D&D...the DM is free to ignore. Less so in other games, granted.

It's not problematic. It's counter to your preference. That's all.

No, it's problematic plain and simple.

Let's say our party of PCs runs into a dragon. Oh no, we're all gonna crap our pants! Oh ho, not me.....I made my save!

If the DM then tells me "You did....but the dragon fear still affects you. You can't take actions other than to flee!" I see that as a problem, and I expect most folks would agree. Yes, he is technically allowed to do this as you've pointed out, but that doesn't change the fact that this is problematic.

It's crappy GMing. And taking this over to FKR, the main difference to me seems to be that the players would simply not be aware that this BS was going on, where as in D&D they very well may. And in many other games, it would be immediately obvious, and at least poor form, if not outright cheating.

Why would a neutral GM feel the need to override the rules? To what purpose? What does hiding the rules really accomplish in these situations?

This conversation is mostly about comparing FKR to D&D as it's the most easily assumed shared reference point, but the FKR isn't necessarily a reaction to just D&D. I actually like the "weird" non-standard way earlier D&D editions handled various things. If I have the option, I'd rather use the various polyhedrons I've collected over the years instead of just the d20 the vast majority of the time. If I have to use one die for everything, I'd rather use at least two that are added together so there's a bell curve to work with.

Maybe. But the FKR designers and Referees have the benefit of hindsight and the 50 odd years of game design to draw from to hopefully avoid making the same mistakes. They can see what stacking rule upon rule upon rule leads to.

Sure, this would be very similar to what I'd say about all game design over the past few decades. They've seen a lot of the mistakes in action and can design with the intent of avoiding them.
 

It's crappy GMing. And taking this over to FKR, the main difference to me seems to be that the players would simply not be aware that this BS was going on, where as in D&D they very well may. And in many other games, it would be immediately obvious, and at least poor form, if not outright cheating.

Why would a neutral GM feel the need to override the rules? To what purpose? What does hiding the rules really accomplish in these situations?
You're thinking of it from a trad view, where they GM is bypassing rules.

From the rules ultralight and the FKR approaches, no roll is ever dictated by rules; the rule exists only to be called upon when the GM feels a roll is appropriate.

This is why high trust is essential for it to work. If the players stop trusting the GM to be fair, FKR and/or ultralight games tend to fall apart, since the lack of clarity generally drive further wedges.
And a GM in D-head mode very quickly becomes evident, and players lose trust.

In other words, a jerk GM usually loses players in FKR or ultralight games because their players feel either persecuted or being Monty-Halled...
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Yes, I realize that. But it's not one that any group expects to be used all the time. It's not meant to be applied willy nilly. The spirit of that rule is that you should alter things to suit the situation or the specific group of players as needed. There's no need to be slavishly loyal to the rules as written.
Right. But it does exist. It is there in black and white. It's not revelatory to point to it. I never said it would or should be used willy-nilly or all the time. Simply pointing out that the exact same level of control for the DM exists in D&D as people are vehemently objecting to when it comes to the Referee in FKR games.
If a GM used this in the manner you're implying....where he's just usurping the rules and the players' expectations without valid reasons for doing so....that's just bad GMing.
I haven't suggested any specific uses for it beyond setting the DC of tasks. Only pointed out that it exists.
There is no certainty. It's an approximation.
If you know that you have a 75% chance to accomplish a task, that's certainty...in your chances to accomplish the task. Not certainty that you will succeed. It's a level of precision in knowledge that simply doesn't exist in the real world for most things that would require a roll in a game.
I think you're underestimating peoples' ability to know the odds of success for a given task.
Depends on the task. If you're suggesting that you can look at a wall and know down to the percentage point how likely you are to climb it, then yeah, I call BS. If you're suggesting that you can look at a car swerving out of its lane and into yours on a rainy night and claim that you'd know down to the percentage point how likely you are to avoid a collision, then yeah, I call BS. Some things are certain. Some things are uncertain. Some things are right out. But for those uncertain things, you're not going to know a percentage chance of success or failure in the real world.
But even still.....the numbers are doing the same job that the GM's verbal description is meant to do, right? The PC wants to climb a wall...that's the stated goal. Whether we use numbers or words to convey this to the player....really, what's the difference? For me, the numbers are more accurate, and closer to correlating with how the character would feel about the task.
No. The numbers provide a level of specificity that's unrealistic for the character to know.
No, it's problematic plain and simple.
No, it's not. It's your preference. Plain and simple.
Let's say our party of PCs runs into a dragon. Oh no, we're all gonna crap our pants! Oh ho, not me.....I made my save!

If the DM then tells me "You did....but the dragon fear still affects you. You can't take actions other than to flee!" I see that as a problem, and I expect most folks would agree. Yes, he is technically allowed to do this as you've pointed out, but that doesn't change the fact that this is problematic.
Ah. Right, so that's your example of what you're talking about and what you're objecting to. But that's not what I'm talking about, at all. I agree, the above example is problematic. But that's still not what I'm talking about.

What I'm talking about, in that example, would be the DM setting the DC for the save. That's it. The DM is free to set the DC, but that includes automatic failure, automatic success, dis/advantage, and any number. The DM does not have to report that DC to the players. So the players make the roll, then the DM reports success or failure. If the DM sets the DC...then changes it so more people fail or pass...that's a jerk move and bad DMing. The DM, and Referee, should be a fair and neutral arbiter. Set the challenge and let it play out. Let the dice fall where they may. But it's beyond ludicrous to assume that if the DM doesn't report the DC ahead of time then ipso facto they're cheating.
Why would a neutral GM feel the need to override the rules?
Why do DMs and GMs the world over use house rules?
To what purpose? What does hiding the rules really accomplish in these situations?
There are no hidden rules in FKR. All the rules are right there. Roll 2d6, higher is better. You mean the "DC" of a given task. Why hide that? Because the character would not have the level of precision of knowledge about their chances of success.
 
Last edited:

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Right. But it does exist. It is there in black and white. It's not revelatory to point to it. I never said it would or should be used willy-nilly or all the time. Simply pointing out that the exact same level of control for the DM exists in D&D as people are vehemently objecting to when it comes to the Referee in FKR games.

I haven't suggested any specific uses for it beyond setting the DC of tasks. Only pointed out that it exists.

If you know that you have a 75% chance to accomplish a task, that's certainty...in your chances to accomplish the task. Not certainty that you will succeed. It's a level of precision in knowledge that simply doesn't exist in the real world for most things that would require a roll in a game.

Depends on the task. If you're suggesting that you can look at a wall and know down to the percentage point how likely you are to climb it, then yeah, I call BS. If you're suggesting that you can look at a car swerving out of its lane and into yours on a rainy night and claim that you'd know down to the percentage point how likely you are to avoid a collision, then yeah, I call BS. Some things are certain. Some things are uncertain. Some things are right out. But for those uncertain things, you're not going to know a percentage chance of success or failure in the real world.

No. The numbers provide a level of specificity that's unrealistic for the character to know.

No, it's not. It's your preference. Plain and simple.

Ah. Right, so that's your example of what you're talking about and what you're objecting to. But that's not what I'm talking about, at all. I agree, the above example is problematic. But that's still not what I'm talking about.

What I'm talking about, in that example, would be the DM setting the DC for the save. That's it. The DM is free to set the DC, but that includes automatic failure, automatic success, dis/advantage, and any number. The DM does not have to report that DC to the players. So the players make the roll, then the DM reports success or failure. If the DM sets the DC...then changes it so more people fail or pass...that's a jerk move and bad DMing. The DM, and Referee, should be a fair and neutral arbiter. Set the challenge and let it play out. Let the dice fall where they may. But it's beyond ludicrous to assume that if the DM doesn't report the DC ahead of time then ipso facto they're cheating.

Why do DMs and GMs the world over use house rules?

There are no hidden rules in FKR. All the rules are right there. Roll 2d6, higher is better. You mean the "DC" of a given task. Why hide that? Because the character would not have the level of precision of knowledge about their chances of success.
I covered this. The human brain, in the moment, doesn't put things into percentage points, but the ability to actually judge and make choices based on that judgement is extremely strong. I am not my character, though, I am not in the same situation, with the history and experience and training my character has. There is nothing you as GM can describe to give me the innate understanding of the chances of success I would have in real life -- this is impossible as you cannot convey that information in a way my brain will able to process into that innate knowing. An approximation of that innate knowing is the skill bonus or % of success. You're arguing that because I don't think in percentages when I'm making a choice -- like when I played goalkeeper in soccer and knew very precisely how my throw distance affected my accuracy (I could throw to midfield from the top of the 18, but my accuracy was poor, I could hit a cone with almost perfect accuracy about 15 yards shy of midfield, and put any spin you'd want on the ball there). It wasn't in percentages, but I knew, very closely, my capabilities. Hit a sprinting midfielder by putting the ball at their feet with topspin so it runs in front of them? I knew where I could do that and where I couldn't and where it was iffy.

Since you cannot impart this knowledge in an innate way, this is what the percentages and mechanics do -- they root me in understand what my character just knows they can do but you couldn't possible explain to me, especially in that iffy area where things are rapidly shifting from all the time to can't do.
 

You're thinking of it from a trad view, where they GM is bypassing rules.

From the rules ultralight and the FKR approaches, no roll is ever dictated by rules; the rule exists only to be called upon when the GM feels a roll is appropriate.

This is why high trust is essential for it to work. If the players stop trusting the GM to be fair, FKR and/or ultralight games tend to fall apart, since the lack of clarity generally drive further wedges.
And a GM in D-head mode very quickly becomes evident, and players lose trust.

In other words, a jerk GM usually loses players in FKR or ultralight games because their players feel either persecuted or being Monty-Halled...

Well, the example I gave was from a trad game, so yes, that's how I explained it. Bypassing the rules to get the outcome you want is lousy GMing.

I don't think that simply removing those rules so that the GM can just decide things makes that significantly different. It just removes the element that makes it obvious that they're calling the shots. It takes the elements of D&D that lean into the GM authority and force and makes them paramount.

How do you know if the GM in a FKR game is adjudicating things per whatever process there may be versus just deciding anything they like at every moment of play? One is the kind of "high-trust" that folks are citing, the other is the absolute subversion of that.....and I am struggling to see how anyone can tell the difference.

Now, maybe the group has been playing together for years, and so trust already exists. But what about a new game? How does a new player in a new group playing such a game know if they're playing with a GM who's doing things as they should be (however that may be) and one who's just making arbitrary decisions?

How can you tell the jerk GMs from the non-jerk GMs under those conditions?
 

Right. But it does exist. It is there in black and white. It's not revelatory to point to it. I never said it would or should be used willy-nilly or all the time. Simply pointing out that the exact same level of control for the DM exists in D&D as people are vehemently objecting to when it comes to the Referee in FKR games.

I haven't suggested any specific uses for it beyond setting the DC of tasks. Only pointed out that it exists.

Right, but it's not used in the way you're saying. Or it's not meant to be used that way, and when it is, most would classify it as bad GMing. And although it may be overlooked or forgiven here and there, the more often it's used, the worse most would say play will be.


If you know that you have a 75% chance to accomplish a task, that's certainty...in your chances to accomplish the task. Not certainty that you will succeed. It's a level of precision in knowledge that simply doesn't exist in the real world for most things that would require a roll in a game.

Depends on the task. If you're suggesting that you can look at a wall and know down to the percentage point how likely you are to climb it, then yeah, I call BS. If you're suggesting that you can look at a car swerving out of its lane and into yours on a rainy night and claim that you'd know down to the percentage point how likely you are to avoid a collision, then yeah, I call BS. Some things are certain. Some things are uncertain. Some things are right out. But for those uncertain things, you're not going to know a percentage chance of success or failure in the real world.

No. The numbers provide a level of specificity that's unrealistic for the character to know.

Let me approach this differently. I don't want to seem like I'm advocating specifically for the DC/Modifier system in and of itself. It does the job, but it's not my favorite or anything. What's important to me is not the specifics of the rule, but more that the rules are known in some way to the player so that they can then make an informed decision.

What is the point of the GM describing the situation to the player? The PC has come to the wall and they need to climb it and there's some risk of failure. What is the point of describing the wall and its features?

The point is to inform the player, right? I would think we can agree on that. I hope we can.

What rules like the DC system can do is make that information clearer. The goal is not so much about giving precise numbers as it is summarizing the situation in a precise manner. So that nothing gets lost in translation when a GM says something like "pretty difficult" or some other phrase that could be interpreted by the player in a significantly different way than the GM intended.

It's about letting the player know about the situation more accurately, to bring their understanding more in line with the character's.

No, it's not. It's your preference. Plain and simple.

Ah. Right, so that's your example of what you're talking about and what you're objecting to. But that's not what I'm talking about, at all. I agree, the above example is problematic. But that's still not what I'm talking about.

What I'm talking about, in that example, would be the DM setting the DC for the save. That's it. The DM is free to set the DC, but that includes automatic failure, automatic success, dis/advantage, and any number. The DM does not have to report that DC to the players. So the players make the roll, then the DM reports success or failure. If the DM sets the DC...then changes it so more people fail or pass...that's a jerk move and bad DMing. The DM, and Referee, should be a fair and neutral arbiter. Set the challenge and let it play out. Let the dice fall where they may. But it's beyond ludicrous to assume that if the DM doesn't report the DC ahead of time then ipso facto they're cheating.

I think the DC is likely set by the monster stat-block. Now, maybe there is some reason to increase or decrease it based on the fiction....this is a unique dragon who's particularly fearsome or has been empowered by magic or some other thing.....and that's fine, but again in my opinion, should be disclosed to the players. This way, they make the roll, and they know the results.

Why not let them know? Why keep it secret?

Why do DMs and GMs the world over use house rules?

House rules are a bit different than overriding the rules in the moment. There's (ideally) some review that has taken place where a house rule was determined to be necessary, or preferred. In my 5E game, if a PC drops to 0 HP they gain a level of exhaustion. This is something we decided as a group, after seeing enough whack-a-mole in combat that it became annoying. So we discussed the situation and added something to incentivize not dropping to 0 HP.

That's quite different thing than changing the rules mid-play.

There are no hidden rules in FKR. All the rules are right there. Roll 2d6, higher is better. You mean the "DC" of a given task. Why hide that? Because the character would not have the level of precision of knowledge about their chances of success.

It doesn't sound like there are DCs at all based on what you're describing. Perhaps there are when it's not an opposed roll, but I don't know. My guess is that most FKR games will handle this differently. But in some of the blog posts I've read, and in some of your posts and others, it seems like the GM may just decide how things go, or may call for a roll to determine it, using some kind of factors and decision making process that players may or may not know. And even if they know the general process, they may or may not be privy to the factors the GM has decided to deem relevant in any specific instance.

But when it is a 2d6 highest wins, does the GM roll in front of the player? If not, why not? If so, why?
 

Well, the example I gave was from a trad game, so yes, that's how I explained it. Bypassing the rules to get the outcome you want is lousy GMing.

I don't think that simply removing those rules so that the GM can just decide things makes that significantly different. It just removes the element that makes it obvious that they're calling the shots. It takes the elements of D&D that lean into the GM authority and force and makes them paramount.

How do you know if the GM in a FKR game is adjudicating things per whatever process there may be versus just deciding anything they like at every moment of play?
You never truly do.
One is the kind of "high-trust" that folks are citing, the other is the absolute subversion of that.....and I am struggling to see how anyone can tell the difference.
It's a matter of feel. If a player's getting shut down more than the others, or the players as a whole are getting frustrated... or, as I noted, if the GM's giving you monty haul level treasures to hide that he's directing the story strongly...
Now, maybe the group has been playing together for years, and so trust already exists. But what about a new game? How does a new player in a new group playing such a game know if they're playing with a GM who's doing things as they should be (however that may be) and one who's just making arbitrary decisions?

How can you tell the jerk GMs from the non-jerk GMs under those conditions?
If they're only mildly so, you probably can't, at least right off. It's the case of asking yourself, "Are the decisions making sense? Are the rolls being called for appropriate? Am I being singled out (for better or worse) more than the others? Am I getting enough screen time? Is the GM spending too much time narrating?

It's all the same stuff that you watch for as a player at a trad game, except for "is that how the rules say to do ___?"

Also, remember, some people don't care about fairness, so for them, the GM being fair is irrelevant; only whether they're enjoying the story.
 

Aldarc

Legend
It doesn't sound like there are DCs at all based on what you're describing. Perhaps there are when it's not an opposed roll, but I don't know. My guess is that most FKR games will handle this differently. But in some of the blog posts I've read, and in some of your posts and others, it seems like the GM may just decide how things go, or may call for a roll to determine it, using some kind of factors and decision making process that players may or may not know. And even if they know the general process, they may or may not be privy to the factors the GM has decided to deem relevant in any specific instance.

But when it is a 2d6 highest wins, does the GM roll in front of the player? If not, why not? If so, why?
As an aside, I'm a big believer in transparency as a GM, especially when it comes to DCs. I don't see the need for the smoke and mirrors to make myself, the GM, out to be the great and terrible Oz.

Many of my games share a similar philosophy. Cortex advocates open rolls. In both the Cypher System and Fate, I generally tell players the difficulty rating. In ICRPG, I follow the creator's practice of placing a d20 in front of the players to establish the base DC of the encounter/room/NPCs.* I have occasionally ported this practice over to other games. Obviously, this isn't really a deal in PbtA or BitD or even Black Hack (roll under attribute).

As counterintuitive as it may seem to FKR assumptions and principles, this practice of rules transparency has led to greater trust between my players and me that has enabled them to focus more on the fiction and make more informed decisions in-character. I think that it's because it removes some of the adversarial conditions between the players and GM. This also fosters the illusion of my neutrality as well. (In truth, I'm pulling hard for the PCs.)

* For example, I could place a d20 with the 13 facing up on the table for the players to see. That means it's a base DC 13 room. The challenges in that room, including monsters, will generally follow that difficulty. The hobgoblins in that room? 13 AC. The DC to open the lock? 13 DC. However, there may be things as part of that encounter that are Easy (-3 DC or 10 DC) or Hard (+3 DC or 16 DC).
 

S'mon

Legend
How do you know if the GM in a FKR game is adjudicating things per whatever process there may be versus just deciding anything they like at every moment of play? One is the kind of "high-trust" that folks are citing, the other is the absolute subversion of that.....and I am struggling to see how anyone can tell the difference.

'High Trust' here means 'players trust GM to run the game, and don't worry about how he/she resolves stuff". You already don't trust the abstract FKR GM, so it'd be no good for you.
 

pemerton

Legend
I' been wondering how the Gumshoe skill points expenditure would fit in there.
Putting aside points spent in order to increase chance on D6 until auto-success.
So, comparing static numbers would be Karma res.
But, actually spending those points? (For various reasons, like finding more clues, content introduction, winning over opposition etc. Like a mix of putting more effort into actions as well as screen time available and also plot armor).
A subset of Karma res, maybe?
Here is Edwards (borrowing from Tweet in Everway):
  • Drama resolution relies on asserted statements without reference to listed attributes or quantitative elements.
  • Karma resolution relies on referring to listed attributes or quantitative elements without a random element.
  • Fortune resolution relies on utilizing a random device of some kind, usually delimited by quantitative scores of some kind.
. . .
Example #1: a certificate in Prince Valiant may be redeemed (lost) for a player to state that the character instantly subdues an opponent. The mechanic replaces the usual resolution system (comparing tossed coins), which is simply ignored. This illustrates a Drama metagame mechanic replacing a Fortune baseline mechanic and relying on an irreplaceable Resource.​

Spending a point to make the GM tell you something is using a player-side resource to resolve a situation via drama, where the GM does the talking. Spending it to establish that a NPC helps you seems to be using a player-side resource to resolve a situation via drama, where the player does the talking.

I'm not crazy about using gaming the system to describe playing a designed game as a game. There is a massive difference between exploits and just like playing the game in front of you.
My response was a bit different.

I feel that a lot of the resolution seems to rest on consensus - similar to the example I've posted of the ice-drilling-by-way-of-triple-laser-turret in my Classic Traveller game. To the extent that it doesn't, because dice are invoked, it seems like either coin-toss or simple simulationist resolution.
 

pemerton

Legend
I'm not sure the GNS taxonomy practically gets me closer to understanding what this theoretical player means by "I want to play this," compared to just asking them. That is, I think I would prefer to proceed organically, from the ground up, rather than programmatically, from the top down. In practice, this is again not talking about fkr in any specific way; one can start with a ruleset and then add and subtract as needed, along the way forgetting about certain parts of the game or playing it "wrong." Incomplete games are appealing to me because, potentially, they allow for some of this organic, figuring-it-out and thus will vary from table to table.
I think you've misunderstood the point of the taxonomy - it's a way of trying to systematically group play preferences to facilitate (primarily) design and (secondarily) play. Its utility derives from the fact that (i) there are a variety of player preferences, and (ii) they can be usefully grouped together.

Even supposing that (ii) is false - personally I think its true - that wouldn't make (i) false.

Let's take the example of pointing at Star Trek or Earthsea and saying I want to play this. What does that convey? It identifies colour and setting. But it tells us nothing about how decisions will be made about the fiction (ie system). It tells us nothing about how characters will be understood. And it doesn't tell us what matters in situations.

In Star Trek, does the fact that Kirk is a charismatic leader increase his chances of success when the fate of his crew is on the line? In Earthsea, is Ged's survival of his transformation into a bird a function of his magical ability, or his relationship with Ogion? There are multiple viable approaches, but we can't take all of them at once - and pointing to the fictional inspiration doesn't, on its own, tell us which one we're adopting.

My fairly strong impression from the FKR blogs/forums I've read is that the default will be to resolution models that reflect "causal" considerations (eg Ged's power over magic; Kirk's physical or technical capabilities) rather than emotional or relational ones (eg Kirk's relationship to his crew; Ged's relationship with Ogion).
 

pemerton

Legend
Yeah. I'm not sure MBC can really grok this, though, since his concept of RPGs is so intimately linked to fiction as story. Pemerton does I think, since he understands you can have World-Sim in a non-real world.
@Manbearcat doesn't have a concept of RPGs that is intimately linked to fiction-as-story. I don't know where you're getting that from. He GMs a lot of Moldvay Basic and Torchbearer.

I think he may be a bit more sceptical than me about resolution by extrapolation from fictional positioning. But I'm fairly sceptical myself, once the fiction gets beyond a pretty thin baseline. I think it very quickly bleeds into creation within parameters, as per my post upthread.
 

pemerton

Legend
that's not how it works in the real world. We almost never have precise understanding of our chances of any given task succeeding. There are generally too many variables for even the human brain to account for.

<snip>

The world is filled with variables we simply don't know. It's an affect of gaming -- not reality -- that we expect to fully comprehend those variables.
I think this is contentious. First, some of those variables are reflected by the dice roll; it's not clear they also need to be reflected in setting a difficulty.

But second, there are a lot of tasks where skilled people do have a reasonable sense of their prospects of success. That's part of what makes a person skilled.

Exactly like most every other game. The DM generally doesn't announce to the player exactly what the DC of a given check is before the player rolls...nor do they announce exactly what and how and why the DC is what it is. The DC in D&D is a black box from the player's perspective.
This isn't my experience.

In some systems, like 4e D&D or Marvel Heroic RP, the difficulty is derived via a transparent process - in the first case, from the DC-by-level chart; in the second by rolling the Doom Pool, which is visible, or by rolling an NPC's abilities which if not already know will tend to fit within a fairly standard range.

In systems where the DC is set based on extrapolation from the fiction, the player will often be able to perform the same extrapolation as the GM performs in setting it. In Burning Wheel or Prince Valiant, if the difficulty is a surprise to the players then I probably haven't done a very good job, as GM, in conveying the fiction.

One of my favorite superhero games is Marvel Heroic. In reading interviews with Cam Banks, the designer, he mentioned that in talking with Marvel writers and editors about the characters and how they gauge things, the folks at Marvel used a simple five step metric for the characters' abilities. Cam mapped this to the d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12 used to measure things in the game.

<snip>

Simple, abstract systems work just as well, if not better, and they have the benefit of fitting in our heads.
I wouldn't describe MHRP as simple! If it counts as FKR, or FKR-adjacent, that would be strange.

You as a player only know what's on your character sheet until the DM informs you.
This isn't true in general. There are even versions of D&D where it's not true - eg the original AD&D OA.

This conversation is mostly about comparing FKR to D&D as it's the most easily assumed shared reference point
Not in my case, or even most of the posts I've read.

The difference between FKR and 3E D&D or Rolemaster is obvious. What I'm less clear on is the difference from Prince Valiant or Apocalypse World or even RuneQuest.

I think the language of need, of what is essential is not really all that useful in terms of roleplaying game design. It implies there is only one right answer, instead of many depending on what your group is looking for. I think it's a lot more useful to consider what the game is contributing based on the needs of the specific group.
Absolutely! This is similar to my point in my reply to @Malmuria not far upthread.
 

pemerton

Legend
you can't have a conversation about a minimalist design philosophy if you cannot talk about what is the absolute minimum needed to be a roleplaying game. Near as I can tell, you need: 1) one character to play, and; 2) one game mechanic. That's the minimum.
A RPG needs a setting - ie a background/place for things to happen in, a character, a situation - ie an immediate context or circumstances that calls/prompts the character to action - and a system. The function of the system is to work out what happens when actions are declared for the character.

The system may or may not include mechanics. The system could be (for instance) that if a player/participant declares an action for a character they control, the person to their left says what happens. That would be a RPG.

From the rules ultralight and the FKR approaches, no roll is ever dictated by rules; the rule exists only to be called upon when the GM feels a roll is appropriate.

This is why high trust is essential for it to work. If the players stop trusting the GM to be fair, FKR and/or ultralight games tend to fall apart,
I still think that trust is a red herring. How is Apocalypse World going to work, if the GM can't be trusted to do their job? Or 4e D&D, in a skill challenge or as soon as a player improvises an action? Or any RPG that requires adjudication of the fiction.

This is why I keep coming back to 3E D&D, and "cubes-to-cubes" adjudication with only leftward-facing arrows (ie reading fiction of objective rules-driven processes, like dice rolls) but no rightward-facing ones.
 

S'mon

Legend
I still think that trust is a red herring. How is Apocalypse World going to work, if the GM can't be trusted to do their job? Or 4e D&D, in a skill challenge or as soon as a player improvises an action? Or any RPG that requires adjudication of the fiction.

But some people apparently trust the process (& thus the abstract GM) in AW or in 4e D&D, but apparently don't trust the process in FK.

"I trust what's going on in AW/4e, so by default I trust the AW/4e GM, unless proven otherwise. I don't trust what's going on in FK, so I don't trust the FK GM".

So trust is not at all a red herring. Plenty of people here make clear they trust the process in some games, but not in FK.

I definitely think some of these FK blogs/GMs are not doing FK any favours. Trust requires effort on both sides, FK GMing requires particular effort to engender trust; I've discussed some techniques up-thread, notably transparency and declare-then-roll.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I still think that trust is a red herring. How is Apocalypse World going to work, if the GM can't be trusted to do their job? Or 4e D&D, in a skill challenge or as soon as a player improvises an action? Or any RPG that requires adjudication of the fiction.
Nigel Tufnel: FKR trust all goes to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...

Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most games' trust goes up to ten?

Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.

Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's higher trust? Is it any higher?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one higher, isn't it. It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know will be playing their games at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your game. Where can your trust go from there? Where?

Marty DiBergi: I don't know.

Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need the extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

Marty DiBergi: Put your trust up to eleven.

Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One higher.

Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten higher and make ten be the top trust number and make that trust a little higher?

Nigel Tufnel: [pause] FKR trust goes to eleven.
 
Last edited:

pemerton

Legend
But some people apparently trust the process (& thus the abstract GM) in AW or in 4e D&D, but apparently don't trust the process in FK.

"I trust what's going on in AW/4e, so by default I trust the AW/4e GM, unless proven otherwise. I don't trust what's going on in FK, so I don't trust the FK GM".

So trust is not at all a red herring. Plenty of people here make clear they trust the process in some games, but not in FK.
I don't think that's the right interpretation.

Of all RPGs ever published, Apocalypse World has to be one of the clearest in telling the GM what the principles are that should govern what they say. And it doesn't require any reasoning about (eg) how hard a climb is, or how easy a person is to persuade. All it requires is building on established narrative trajectories.

I think what is generating some of the controversy around FKR is the (apparent) denial that principles are needed, together with the assertion that the extrapolation is all about the causal logic of the fiction rather than its narrative trajectory. (That's why the comparison to the Prussian officer referee's experience keeps coming back around.)

No matter how much I trust you - S'mon - I just don't have the same reason to think you can resolve my description of how I jumpstart a helicopter as I do to think you can resolve my description of how I draft an insurance contract that favours me over the other party! Yet FKR seems to call upon you to do both those things, whereas AW doesn't need you to do either.

I definitely think some of these FK blogs/GMs are not doing FK any favours.
That I tend to agree with, if they're intended for outreach. (I'm not sure if they are.)

I also think it would be helpful to see some more reflection on possible trajectories in play. For instance, one solution to the helicopter problem is to let me roll two dice rather than one when I try and jumpstart it if my descriptors include mechanic or helicopter pilot. (This is, literally in one case and in effect for the others, how Cthulhu Dark and Over the Edge and Risus handle it.) But to me at least, the boundary between thinking about what I might be good at given my descriptors, and playing "rules" rather than "the world" is not a bright line one. How do FKRers handle these pressures that seem like they might be latent in some of their approaches? Or the pressure to create stable if sometimes baroque subsystems that Gygax and Arneson clearly felt as part of their play-and-design process?

Thinking about these things doesn't seem to me an admission of failure. And I think it would help outsiders orient themselves a bit more towards the implicit principles and systems at work in some of these games.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top