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System matters and free kriegsspiel

It probably is similar to some degree. Hence some DMs getting the "killer dm" reputation. But maybe it's like the relationship between a pitcher and the umpire

I just think the presentation that its interacting with the world without letting mechanics get in the way, when instead it intrinsically involves having to one degree or another, knowing the GM rather than the world is either hypocritical or kind of un-self-aware. If someone said "Yeah, it only works if you and the players are well onto the same page" I'd at least respect that.
 

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pemerton

Legend
this is not my understanding at all of what, for example, OSR/AD&D people mean when they say "skilled play." I understand "skilled play" not to be about leveraging mechanics, but rather leveraging the fiction of the world. This often this means using in-fiction elements to stack things in your favor--taking along hirlings, making elaborate traps, using subterfuge or out of the box thinking.

<snip>

I imagine people who are trying to play a pre-OD&D "Arnesonian" game (where the rules were not player facing) would describe skilled play as manipulating the fiction as described by the DM, not thinking through any particular set of rules or mechanics. But maybe I'm misunderstanding what you are saying.
I think it would help this discussion to provide examples.

Here are two, both taken from AD&D module S2 White Plume Mountain.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

In WPM, there is a frictionless corridor with pits in it. The pits are spiked with blades that cause anyone landing on them to be infected with near-intantly fatal super-tetanus. The frictionless surface means that PCs will slide into the pits. The module says (p 11):

The trick here is to get a rope strung through this room and fastened securely at both ends. Once this is done, a party can pull themselves across, regardless of the surface. A clever party may even be able to come up with other methods. Ingenuity is required.​

The most famous example of ingenuity I know of, here, is taking doors from elsewhere of the dungeon and surfing them down the frictionless corridor (they are too long to fall into the pits).

That is skilled play. It depends upon the fiction being (1) clearly established, and (2) being amenable to transparent and consensual reasoning. If in doubt, the GM probably needs to say "yes" - eg notice that no checks are required for PCs to traverse the rope, even though we could imagine in "real life" that a tired PC might slip and fall from the rope down onto the frictionless surface.

We could also imagine doors that are long enough to slide over a pit nevertheless tumbling down into one, rather than sliding across it, if there is too much weight on its front compared to its back when being used as a "surfboard". But the game is not really meant to be an exercise in calculating rotational forces operating on sliding doors. If anyone thinks to ask the question, it surely should be enough for the players to say "we sit at the back of the surfing doors".

Now, a second example. The magic sword Blackrazor is guarded by the ogre mag Qesnef, who - when the PCs encounter him - is polymorphed into a halfling. We are told (p 12) that Qesnef "lost a bet with Keraptis and as a result must guard his treasure for 1001 years". What happens if the players decide to try and persuade Qesnef to abandon his commitment to Keraptis? To begin with, what exactly is the force of the must? Does it mean Qesnef is Geased? Or otherwise magically bound? Can the PCs lift this binding with a Remove Curse spell? Or some other magic-negating effect? And if so, which one? (AD&D has many such effects, and for reasons of character level apart from anything else the players won't have access to all or even any of them.) Or does the must just mean that Qesnef is bound by his promise and prefers not to break it?

In this context, what would skilled play - manipulating the fiction as described by the GM - look like? There is no established fiction that the players can leverage. The GM's scope for decision-making in response to any particular action declaration is close to unlimited, given that the GM will have to author additional explanatory backstory in the moment, and the AD&D system puts basically no limit on what that might be.

I think that @Manbearcat's point about the example of the fight on the plane is that it is much more like the Qesnef example than the frictionless corridor example. The player is not "manpulating fiction" that is clearly established and supports transparent consensual reasoning. The player is making things up, and the GM is making things up in reply.
 

A couple things

- this is not my understanding at all of what, for example, OSR/AD&D people mean when they say "skilled play." I understand "skilled play" not to be about leveraging mechanics, but rather leveraging the fiction of the world. This often this means using in-fiction elements to stack things in your favor--taking along hirlings, making elaborate traps, using subterfuge or out of the box thinking.
for example:

Of course both examples there require different kinds of "skill." My point is that I imagine people who are trying to play a pre-OD&D "Arnesonian" game (where the rules were not player facing) would describe skilled play as manipulating the fiction as described by the DM, not thinking through any particular set of rules or mechanics. But maybe I'm misunderstanding what you are saying.

- the other thought/question I had was this: what about players who don't know, to one extent or another, what the rules are? Are they playing a game where they are just saying arbitrary things seeing what will work? I'm actually thinking here of 5e: adult players who don't read the rules and don't really care, or, perhaps especially, child players who can't yet read all the rules? As described upthread I play with my nephew; he rolls the dice and I do all the math and tell him what happens. He knows that it's better to roll high, that's about it. Everything else is just him responding to what I describe in the game world. And he probably comes up with more creative solutions to things than any of my adult players!

@pemerton answered this sufficiently, but I just want to throw some words at this.

"Skilled Play" (in the D&D sense) would mean both. You need to leverage mechanics (eg exploration turns + rest + wandering monsters (clock), loadout if you're a spellcaster, HP pool and attack matrix + chokepoints to ensure engagement if you're a fighter, potions, carpets of flying, etc) but you also need to be a good Pictionary and Wheel of Fortune player. You've got an emerging picture as you delve/engage with denizens and you need to draw inferences from the stocked/mapped/keyed/themed setting and come up with a solve for each problem as you poke and prod and probe and extrapolate via guts and guile.

Both of those are Skilled Play when it comes to D&D dungeoneering.
 

Numidius

Adventurer
@Manbearcat Here we go. I understand it's not exactly what you asked for, but there's that?

---I tend to approach most sessions, regardless of system or rules, with a big handful of d6 tosses. I interpret the results as seems appropriate. It is entirely arbitrary given the approach.

(Re: random circumstances, like bad weather)
Usually a d6 roll. High = good for the party. Low = bad for the party.

I'd frame the scene with anything anyone could reasonably know, whether that's overall general information or something a specialist in the party (say, Ranger, or Botanist, or Quartermaster) might know.

Bad consequences, for me, are more often established and adjudicated by description and context than rolls.---

-----------

Another poster, not a blogger I believe, offered a point of view (@Manbearcat won't be happy, I know ;) ), that I find interesting from a "Play worlds..." perspective:

--Depends how much prep I did. I don’t roll much at the table.
If there is consequence. You can plan it, or make a roll that is weighted…if it is just window dressing, just keep it in mind I guess.

By weighing I mean that most days are foggy mornings, followed by overcast, clearing up in the afternoon as the wind picks up at 3 and fog rolls back in by late supper time.
So on the roll, it about the changes to that typical day. So on a D8 you might have 1 clear sunny, but 6 types of rainy weather.

Makes hiding easy, but miserable.
Makes searching miserable…specially knowing you have a nice warm house waiting for you. Most animals hunker down during a rain…so foraging is a pain.
You need to stay away from rivers and streams during a storm, so oddly you have make a plan to gather water.
Keeping a fire is a pain. Unless you build a shelter. And starting a fire is harder.
So consequences…if searching…sucks to be you. If hiding, a lot of choices, but big consequences.
If hiding and keeping on the move, dangerous terrain, not much to forage, sickness and injury is likely.
If hunkering down….comforts might get you discovered. And local foraging is still bad.---

(Now, before unleashing the indomitable fury of caps-lock, please consider these are persons answering to me, not engaged in this thread, expressing personal playstyles in a relaxed manner)
 



@Manbearcat Here we go. I understand it's not exactly what you asked for, but there's that?

---I tend to approach most sessions, regardless of system or rules, with a big handful of d6 tosses. I interpret the results as seems appropriate. It is entirely arbitrary given the approach.

(Re: random circumstances, like bad weather)
Usually a d6 roll. High = good for the party. Low = bad for the party.

I'd frame the scene with anything anyone could reasonably know, whether that's overall general information or something a specialist in the party (say, Ranger, or Botanist, or Quartermaster) might know.

Bad consequences, for me, are more often established and adjudicated by description and context than rolls.---

-----------

Another poster, not a blogger I believe, offered a point of view (@Manbearcat won't be happy, I know ;) ), that I find interesting from a "Play worlds..." perspective:

--Depends how much prep I did. I don’t roll much at the table.
If there is consequence. You can plan it, or make a roll that is weighted…if it is just window dressing, just keep it in mind I guess.

By weighing I mean that most days are foggy mornings, followed by overcast, clearing up in the afternoon as the wind picks up at 3 and fog rolls back in by late supper time.
So on the roll, it about the changes to that typical day. So on a D8 you might have 1 clear sunny, but 6 types of rainy weather.

Makes hiding easy, but miserable.
Makes searching miserable…specially knowing you have a nice warm house waiting for you. Most animals hunker down during a rain…so foraging is a pain.
You need to stay away from rivers and streams during a storm, so oddly you have make a plan to gather water.
Keeping a fire is a pain. Unless you build a shelter. And starting a fire is harder.
So consequences…if searching…sucks to be you. If hiding, a lot of choices, but big consequences.
If hiding and keeping on the move, dangerous terrain, not much to forage, sickness and injury is likely.
If hunkering down….comforts might get you discovered. And local foraging is still bad.---

(Now, before unleashing the indomitable fury of caps-lock, please consider these are persons answering to me, not engaged in this thread, expressing personal playstyles in a relaxed manner)

@Numidius I do that too, but I think it's closer to procedural content generation, not the examples of action resolution Manbearcat was looking for.

Yeah, I very much appreciate the effort Numidius, but S’mon has the right of it here.

This is basically just a rumination on procedural content generation (rather than an actual excerpt of play). An actual excerpt of play may indeed include an instance of procedural content generation though. What I’m looking for is an instance of actual play:

procedural content generation (method + why) >

player orients themselves to situation via conversation and whatever mechanical means at their disposal >

action declared >

action resolution (method and why) >

derived consequences/gamestate change (what and why)
 
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S'mon

Legend
Yeah, I very much appreciate the effort Numidius, but S’mon has the right of it here.

This is basically just a rumination of procedural content generation (rather than an actual excerpt of play). An actual excerpt of play may indeed include an instance of procedural content generation though. What I’m looking for is an stance of actual play:

procedural content generation (method + why) >

player orients themselves to situation via conversation and whatever mechanical means at their disposal >

action declared >

action resolution (method and why) >

derived consequences/gamestate change (what and why)

I've been thinking about this, but all the 'free play' action resolution examples I can think of from my own games are social interaction - PC talks to NPC. They have a goal such as persuasion, investigation, intimidation, occasionally deception, and we roleplay it out. I think most of us intuitively understand how conversation works, so it's rarely an arena for disputes.

Edit: Oh, I remember a few secret door & puzzle door type things in OSR games where the player has to work out how to activate the door. Those have clearly set success conditions.
 

S'mon

Legend
I remember when my son was very young (3?), playing FK style with him. He encountered a dragon and I remember how he used the cave wall to avoid the dragon's breath, it sounded reasonable so I gave him a success. :)
 





Numidius

Adventurer
Here is almost midnight, these are my thoughts, let' see how it goes.

Tl;dr fast, flowing, combat heavy, hard choices driven session, influenced by, and actually more cinematic than, PbtA, IME.

procedural content generation (method + why) > Gm via prep and via improv after players action declarations or lack thereof and instead dramatic needs perceived at the table + because table prefers Gm consistency and Gm likes to be surprised by players.

player orients themselves to situation via conversation and whatever mechanical means at their disposal > mec. means are general usage of abilities/stats/spells from char gen and possessions. Conversation is Queen, broad strokes or fine details.

action declared >
action resolution (method and why) > Players declare what their character DO, Gm declares what NPCs/anything else DO, or viceversa. If/when opposing forces reach a point of indecision about outcome: opposed 2D6 are rolled possibly with dis/advantage advocated then voted by table + because we want diegetic declarations, fiction rolling and indulge in cinematic, dramatic details, not in procedures, difficulty ratings and numbers in general.

derived consequences/gamestate change (what and why) > These are generally discussed, or implied, during declarations/dice resolution and thus organically flow thereafter. Gm uses conversation to offer success with complications to players when feels fit.
Gm is expected to frame new scenes accordingly, players to take those changes into account as well.
 



Aldarc

Legend
I don’t recall anyone answering a question that I had earlier. If they did, maybe it got lost in the shuffle, but…

What elements of OSR are dissatisfying to some prior OSR adherents such that FKR is seen as an improvement? Why migrate?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Model United Nations is probably the most popular Free Kriegsspiel game, in that it's very much similar to the conception and play of FK rather than the loose "make it random" ethos that I pull from FKR. Primarily, the adjudication in MUN is based on selected, impartial referees that have significant subject matter experience with the issues in the scenario. The scenarios are based on the real world, with real world limitations. And the scenarios are limited and finite.

FKR, meanwhile, is trying to establish subject matter expertise over fantastical things that you cannot actually have SMEs for, and instead of a SME referee, it's just what Bob thinks should happen (Trust In Bob!). The scenarios aren't real world events, nor are they generally limited or finite. Claiming that an FKR game like the Napoleon one cited above has much-all in actual common to MUN because there's roleplaying and a team of referees is a real stretch of the paradigm, and says to me that FKR is far too undefined as a concept because it's attempting to smear itself across lots of area and claim it all.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
What elements of OSR are dissatisfying to some prior OSR adherents such that FKR is seen as an improvement? Why migrate?
I’m not part of the OSR, so can’t really answer the question. What’s the attraction of the OSR? If you can tell me what improvement OSR makes over other kinds of gaming, maybe I can answer.
 

I don’t recall anyone answering a question that I had earlier. If they did, maybe it got lost in the shuffle, but…

What elements of OSR are dissatisfying to some prior OSR adherents such that FKR is seen as an improvement? Why migrate?
Not sure, though I get the sense that it's more an extension of certain aspects of the osr than a rejection of the osr. For example, extending "rulings not rules" such that that principle is the entire game.

Also, as I mentioned as some point, part of the OSR focuses a lot on rules and systems, even in the context of rules-lite games. Hence the endless number of retroclones that are house-ruled versions of b/x, or modern rules-lite games that have slightly different ways of handling inventory. This can inadvertently lead to a situation where players are looking to their character sheet for answers or GMs who spend time converting stat blocks, whereas the impulse of the osr was for players to focus on being in the world and for gms to present the world. Hence, play worlds not rules. That's my speculation. And for a lot of people (myself included) it's at the level of 'interesting thought experiment' at the moment.
 

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