D&D General The Power of Creation

kenada

Legend
A lot of times it's an indication of poor system mastery by the GM, in that they don't know the system well enough to know how to prepare appropriate challenges for players in that system, with the result that they find they have to fudge to make the encounter more or less challenging.
I’m not limiting myself to combat encounters in my hypothetical. What I’m talking about is when the group wants one experience, and the game is giving them a different one (prompting the GM to fudge). For example, if a group decides to play Moldvay Basic, but they’re not interested in its take on dungeon delving and would rather explore their characters’ arcs, then that might not be the best system for them. It’s going to fight them on several levels (from encounter difficulty to how progression works).

I suppose what you suggest is one way to go about fixing things, but it doesn’t seem like a very good one to me. I really dislike the idea of needing to “git gud” to run a game. That should never need be the case. I would rather my group recognize when the game isn’t working and make conscious changes. For example, if we care more about dramatic moments than combat challenges, decide up front that certain enemies will have flexible amounts of hp. Such a change may have started as fudging, but it ceases to be once it goes from reactive to intentional.
 

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Celebrim

Legend
I’m not limiting myself to combat encounters in my hypothetical.

I'm not really either, as a hypothetical social encounter that a GM wants to adjudicate with dice might create the same difficulties as he realizes the rules make something too easy or too hard for the characters to accomplish. But in most systems I think combat is where fudging in the sense of misreporting rolls comes up the most often.

What I’m talking about is when the group wants one experience, and the game is giving them a different one (prompting the GM to fudge). For example, if a group decides to play Moldvay Basic, but they’re not interested in its take on dungeon delving and would rather explore their characters’ arcs, then that might not be the best system for them. It’s going to fight them on several levels (from encounter difficulty to how progression works).

I confess I don't really know what you are thinking here as exploring character arcs can occur equally well in any system, including a systemless theater game or game of child's make believe. I can think of very few systems that would get in the way of exploration of character, and most of them that do are in my opinion the ones that tried to hang a system or minigame around that idea in a misguided attempt to support exploration of character in a highly mechanized manner. (That said, there are some pretty good systems I do admire that do that, such as Pendragon and I suppose you could have fudging trait and passion rolls in Pendragon but again that would strike me was poor system mastery and not necessarily that you were in the wrong system.)

When I think about being "in the wrong system" I usually think about wanting to play minigames in the system that the system doesn't out of the box support well, such as dominion building and dynastic play in D&D - which you can do - but which will require a ton of fiat or rulesmithing if you want to do it well.

I suppose what you suggest is one way to go about fixing things, but it doesn’t seem like a very good one to me. I really dislike the idea of needing to “git gud” to run a game. That should never need be the case.

Ok, I'm totally lost now because as much as you dislike the notion I really feel you are now in open rebellion to reality. Yes, it does suck that it takes a lot of skill, experience, and knowledge to GM well, but it does. You do need to "git gud" to run a game as a simple matter of fact, whether or not that fact is inconvenient or troublesome.

I would rather my group recognize when the game isn’t working and make conscious changes. For example, if we care more about dramatic moments than combat challenges, decide up front that certain enemies will have flexible amounts of hp. Such a change may have started as fudging, but it ceases to be once it goes from reactive to intentional.

I mean even that strongly undermines your assertion, because you are talking about not only a learning process ("gitting gud") but a learning process that can go wrong and will often be one step back before two steps forwards especially in a new group that when they encounter problems may not know the source of the problem and even if they figure out the source of the problem may not hit on solutions that accomplish what they want to accomplish. Like the whole "everyone understand that bad guys have flexible amounts of hit points", that might not be the best path to accomplish dramatic moments in combat. Like I'd pretty advice against that regardless of the system you are using.
 
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kenada

Legend
I'm not really either, as a hypothetical social encounter that a GM wants to adjudicate with dice might create the same difficulties as he realizes the rules make something too easy or too hard for the characters to accomplish. But in most systems I think combat is where fudging in the sense of misreporting rolls comes up the most often.
Not even social encounters. The examples you offered above included fudging for other reasons such as random encounters. I’m talking about more broadly: the game generated a result (encounter, task roll, whatever) that I did not like, so I felt compelled to throw it out. I’m saying that’s an indicator that there’s a problem, and my inclination is to treat it as such.

I confess I don't really know what you are thinking here as exploring character arcs can occur equally well in any system, including a systemless theater game or game of child's make believe. I can think of very few systems that would get in the way of exploration of character, and most of them that do are in my opinion the ones that tried to hang a system or minigame around that idea in a misguided attempt to support exploration of character in a highly mechanized manner. (That said, there are some pretty good systems I do admire that do that, such as Pendragon and I suppose you could have fudging trait and passion rolls in Pendragon but again that would strike me was poor system mastery and not necessarily that you were in the wrong system.)
Sorry, I was trying to avoid slinging around jargon needlessly. I’m suggesting that a group wanting to do neo-trad as described in that Six Cultures of Play essay would have problems if they tried to do it in Moldvay Basic as written. I expect it would end in tears when people’s OCs get killed — because what that group wants is at odds with the experience the system is designed to provide.

When I think about being "in the wrong system" I usually think about wanting to play minigames in the system that the system doesn't out of the box support well, such as dominion building and dynastic play in D&D - which you can do - but which will require a ton of fiat or rulesmithing if you want to do it well.
I’m looking at it from the perspective that system matters. Different games are designed around different themes and support different styles of play. It’s possible to do whatever in most games, but they’re going to fight you. I’m citing fudging as one indicator the game is fighting you.

Ok, I'm totally lost now because as much as you dislike the notion I really feel you are now in open rebellion to reality. Yes, it does suck that it takes a lot of skill, experience, and knowledge to GM well, but it does. You do need to "git gud" to run a game as a simple matter of fact, whether or not that fact is inconvenient or troublesome.
Some games do a better job onboarding new GMs than others. They provide principles and procedures that help guide their decision-making, or they provide tools that actually work. I admit my comment was aspirational, but I don’t think we should accept the status quo as the way things have to be.

I mean even that strongly undermines your assertion, because you are talking about not only a learning process ("gitting gud") but a learning process that can go wrong and will often be one step back before two steps forwards especially in a new group that when they encounter problems may not know the source of the problem and even if they figure out the source of the problem may not hit on solutions that accomplish what they want to accomplish.
I was casting shade at the idea that “a lot of times (fudging is) an indication of poor system mastery by the GM”. It just reads too much like stating those who fudge are bad GMs. That may not be the intent, but I don’t find it very constructive. I also think there are options other than just improving what you do on the system’s terms. That’s where I was going with suggesting changing elements (or systems) or making the fudging intentional rather than reactionary.

Like the whole "everyone understand that bad guys have flexible amounts of hit points", that might not be the best path to accomplish dramatic moments in combat. Like I'd pretty advice against that regardless of the system you are using.
It may not be, but if one doesn’t care about the challenge of the conflict as much as you do the drama of the moment, it seems like a pretty reasonable one. In that case, the mechanics have a different relationship to play. The effect is more performative: do your cool thing while beating the bad guy.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Sorry, I was trying to avoid slinging around jargon needlessly. I’m suggesting that a group wanting to do neo-trad as described in that Six Cultures of Play essay would have problems if they tried to do it in Moldvay Basic as written. I expect it would end in tears when people’s OCs get killed — because what that group wants is at odds with the experience the system is designed to provide.

Which sounds very FORGE-y, and I at least partially disagree. Despite the coolness and utility of talking about styles of play, the truth is that real table circa 1982 were in no way cleanly divisible into classical and trad. As late as 1996, I was still playing at tables that managed to do Trad with AD&D rulesets simply by managing the challenge levels so that death was low risk and character continuity existed over years of real time play. And as a clear proof that Trad wasn't as clear cut of a thing as claimed, defining Trad modules like I6 Ravenloft are arguably in practice more lethal than S1 Tomb of Horrors, because as I've pointed out elsewhere I6 is for characters level 5-6 and Stradh is a highly proactive Level X monster - a monster they are forced to deal with in the worst possible circumstances 2-3 levels before the 8th level that is the lowest recommended level for meeting such a formidable foe. I6 is a meat grinder of a module played as written.

I’m looking at it from the perspective that system matters.

Which again, sounds real FORGE-y. So I'm going to counter with Celebrim's second law of RPGs: how you think about playing and how you prepare to play a game has a bigger influence over the process of play than the rules do.

I'm very skeptical of claims that a game system can prep you to run games particularly well except by providing very good examples of play, and I've noted in the past that there is this big disconnect in modern games that think that they are rendering GM duties low skill in that they often don't in fact provide really good examples of play (the way a 1st edition AD&D published module arguably does, or the way Gygax's examples of play in the 1e DMG really hone in on the game that he expects to see, rules or not) and as such I am really skeptical of those claims. I'm not saying that for example everything FATE or PbtA games present is bad, but I am not sure that it accomplishes what they think it does.

I was casting shade at the idea that “a lot of times (fudging is) an indication of poor system mastery by the GM”. It just reads too much like stating those who fudge are bad GMs. That may not be the intent, but I don’t find it very constructive.

No, no, it's the intent and it is I think constructive. While I was quibbling with the OP that said fudging is proof of a bad GM by suggesting that good GMs will find good reasons to fudge on occasion, I don't disagree that fudging is a sign of poor skill and I do equate poor skill with being a bad GM. That is to say that I think playing RPGs is a hobby like dancing, running, skydiving, painting or whatever and that some people are good at it and some people are not, and that you have to work and ought to want to work at getting good at your hobby. And I think overcoming the idea that you don't need to put in that effort is a very constructive thing.

I also think there are options other than just improving what you do on the system’s terms. That’s where I was going with suggesting changing elements (or systems) or making the fudging intentional rather than reactionary.

The thing is that rule smithing is itself a very high skill endeavor and there are plenty of even very good GMs that don't have a high degree of rules smithing in their tool box. Not everyone can successfully fix a system with rules.

It may not be, but if one doesn’t care about the challenge of the conflict as much as you do the drama of the moment, it seems like a pretty reasonable one. In that case, the mechanics have a different relationship to play. The effect is more performative: do your cool thing while beating the bad guy.

So again, I'm really skeptical of this as a solution to the problem you are trying to solve. Do you remember the pilot to Deep Space 9, where they discovered these extra-dimensional beings that existed outside of time and they were trying to explain human existence to them. And the extra-dimensional beings couldn't understand baseball. And Captain Sisko uses baseball to prove that human life is like he says it is, because he says baseball is fun because it is linear, and because humans live in linear time they don't know what will happen. Humans then find themselves in a space where they are exploring the possibilities linear time, and it's because you are always discovering new things. Sports are fun and exciting because they create these interesting narratives for the audience to follow and experience along with the players. Almost all sports are watched live precisely because of this. If you know what's going to happen, the narrative isn't powerful and isn't dramatic. And I think that's the heart of your misunderstanding of how to create dramatic moments. Because if you effectively tell the group, "On round 5 you are going to beat the BBEG" it totally changes the dynamic. Not only are you going to create metagaming issues in that you are now rewarded for prioritizing defence over offense, but you've also lost the opportunity from drama. There are GMs that do this thing, but critically they hide from the PCs that they are doing it as if it was a secret of the greatest importance, because it is. Once the secret is revealed, the joy is lost.

So many well intentioned games are too busy trying to create the transcript of drama rather than the experience of drama.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Which sounds very FORGE-y
What does this even mean? Is there some secret handshake that I missed that says "if someone says Forge-y, that's the super-duper batsignal to just ignore whatever was said because reasons?"

Address the arguments, please, and let's drop the genetic arguments. The Six Cultures of play is very recent, and from someone that wasn't at all close to the Forge. It's not at all "Forge-y."
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
As much as I liked 3/3.5E, it did try to sell itself as insulating the players from bad DMs. The rules construct was very much a "show your work" edition where the DM was expected to essentially follow the same constraints as the players - a rule for everything and for everything a rule. This is really evident in monster design, where many things were derived from formulas, tables or outright by using player rules, and the idea of not building this out beforehand was anathema to designer expectations. I mean, I remember taking a test on minute rules knowledge to DM RPGA events - that's pretty bad. 5E has a lot more cases of "it works this way, because" and few constraints that it has to follow the same rules as the players.
See, I must have had a different experience, because from the very beginning of my 3e experience, I had a DM who had no problems changing the rules to suit his expectations, and I almost never took part in a "generic 3e campaign"- it was almost always some homebrew game with six pages or more of houserules. Now what I saw from players, like I said, was a lot of people tired of DM's abusing their control over the rules and the narrative, and demanding the DM "plays fair" or they'll GFTO. Almost all my 2e friends were pretty much done with that sort of thing as well.

To be fair, if I had to point to one thing about 3e that did change the game, it's monster knowledge checks. Suddenly there was a way you could know what a monster was capable of, know it's lore in game, and not necessarily fall for "gotcha" monsters. By the time 4e rolled around, DM/Player transparency was pretty common, and most accepted that, though I knew a few who felt that somehow it "made the game less fun/challenging".

I didn't have much sympathy for them, since just about every monster in 4e had it's own unique abilities, and making players learn first hand what they could do didn't mean much, since they were unlikely to encounter them too many more times. "Oh yes, ha ha, the dracolich tail swiped me and stunned me for having the nerve to walk into melee range with it. Jolly good fun, that. So I'll just skip my next turn watching the Ranger obliterate it with his bow shots."
 

kenada

Legend
Which sounds very FORGE-y, and I at least partially disagree. Despite the coolness and utility of talking about styles of play, the truth is that real table circa 1982 were in no way cleanly divisible into classical and trad. As late as 1996, I was still playing at tables that managed to do Trad with AD&D rulesets simply by managing the challenge levels so that death was low risk and character continuity existed over years of real time play. And as a clear proof that Trad wasn't as clear cut of a thing as claimed, defining Trad modules like I6 Ravenloft are arguably in practice more lethal than S1 Tomb of Horrors, because as I've pointed out elsewhere I6 is for characters level 5-6 and Stradh is a highly proactive Level X monster - a monster they are forced to deal with in the worst possible circumstances 2-3 levels before the 8th level that is the lowest recommended level for meeting such a formidable foe. I6 is a meat grinder of a module played as written.
Let’s not get hung up on jargon. I referenced that article because it got a positive response here and provides a set of definitions that I could use to clarify my point. I’ve run into those players, and I’m sure others here have as well. In my case, the player had very different expectations for what the game was about and how the GM should operate. I thought he would have fun anyway, but I was proven wrong when he rage quit after his character died. He claimed he’d done nothing wrong (and presumably his character should not have died), but it happens in my game, and it did.

Which again, sounds real FORGE-y. So I'm going to counter with Celebrim's second law of RPGs: how you think about playing and how you prepare to play a game has a bigger influence over the process of play than the rules do.
How I play is going to vary highly depending on the game. I’m not going to approach Pathfinder 2e the same way I would Call of Cthluhu or Scum and Villainy or Torchbearer or even Konosuba TRPG (just running down various games I’ve played in the last few years). They all do different things, and their rules all specify who gets to say what and what they can say in different ways. Konosuba has the GM get XP! If you want to do a game with rotating GMs, it sets you up better than other ones I listed which have no rules for that. Anyway, while I did have Edwards’s article in mind, I also meant the plain meaning of the phrase “system matters”.

I'm very skeptical of claims that a game system can prep you to run games particularly well except by providing very good examples of play, and I've noted in the past that there is this big disconnect in modern games that think that they are rendering GM duties low skill in that they often don't in fact provide really good examples of play (the way a 1st edition AD&D published module arguably does, or the way Gygax's examples of play in the 1e DMG really hone in on the game that he expects to see, rules or not) and as such I am really skeptical of those claims. I'm not saying that for example everything FATE or PbtA games present is bad, but I am not sure that it accomplishes what they think it does.
I think a newer player would have an easier time running a system that says, “follow these rules and do X, Y, and Z,” then one where it gives them a ton of flexibility without a lot of guidelines on using it. It may not be great, but I expect there will be fewer pathologies than if they were left on their own. If they happen to pick a game where the GM doesn’t even get to roll dice, then they can’t even fudge! 😂

With that said, I agree regarding examples. The only thing worse than no examples are bad ones. I was really disappointed when I first tried to run Worlds Without Number to find that not only did its surprise rules make no sense but that there were no examples of how to make sense of them. (You make a group check, but group checks are only implied by other parts of the system.)

No, no, it's the intent and it is I think constructive. While I was quibbling with the OP that said fudging is proof of a bad GM by suggesting that good GMs will find good reasons to fudge on occasion, I don't disagree that fudging is a sign of poor skill and I do equate poor skill with being a bad GM. That is to say that I think playing RPGs is a hobby like dancing, running, skydiving, painting or whatever and that some people are good at it and some people are not, and that you have to work and ought to want to work at getting good at your hobby. And I think overcoming the idea that you don't need to put in that effort is a very constructive thing.
Ah, well then. What you say makes sense, but I don’t think we agree when it comes to intentionality. Would it be fair to say that you don’t see a place for intentionally fudging at the table?

The thing is that rule smithing is itself a very high skill endeavor and there are plenty of even very good GMs that don't have a high degree of rules smithing in their tool box. Not everyone can successfully fix a system with rules.
I don’t think that really stops people from creating house rules anyway, but I only mentioned it as an option because I figured it would be too contentious only to suggest playing a different game instead.

So again, I'm really skeptical of this as a solution to the problem you are trying to solve. Do you remember the pilot to Deep Space 9, where they discovered these extra-dimensional beings that existed outside of time and they were trying to explain human existence to them. And the extra-dimensional beings couldn't understand baseball. And Captain Sisko uses baseball to prove that human life is like he says it is, because he says baseball is fun because it is linear, and because humans live in linear time they don't know what will happen. Humans then find themselves in a space where they are exploring the possibilities linear time, and it's because you are always discovering new things. Sports are fun and exciting because they create these interesting narratives for the audience to follow and experience along with the players. Almost all sports are watched live precisely because of this. If you know what's going to happen, the narrative isn't powerful and isn't dramatic. And I think that's the heart of your misunderstanding of how to create dramatic moments. Because if you effectively tell the group, "On round 5 you are going to beat the BBEG" it totally changes the dynamic. Not only are you going to create metagaming issues in that you are now rewarded for prioritizing defence over offense, but you've also lost the opportunity from drama. There are GMs that do this thing, but critically they hide from the PCs that they are doing it as if it was a secret of the greatest importance, because it is. Once the secret is revealed, the joy is lost.

So many well intentioned games are too busy trying to create the transcript of drama rather than the experience of drama.
It’s not a style of game I like to do, but I mention it because I’ve seen it suggested by those who dod. Another one is requiring player permission to kill a PC. I’ve seen that one too. Again, not my thing either.

The kind of game I run is an exploration-focused sandbox game using a homebrew system based on Moldvay Basic. There are a number of changes. One thing in particular is I never get to roll the dice (outside of combat and event rolls). We only roll when the players establish stakes that matter. Like I said above, if you don’t roll dice, you can’t fudge (not that I’m particularly inclined anyway). 😂
 

Celebrim

Legend
What does this even mean? Is there some secret handshake that I missed that says "if someone says Forge-y, that's the super-duper batsignal to just ignore whatever was said because reasons?"

Address the arguments, please, and let's drop the genetic arguments. The Six Cultures of play is very recent, and from someone that wasn't at all close to the Forge. It's not at all "Forge-y."

Just say Forge and...

What I mean specifically is I reject the fundamental GNS premise that styles of play are mutually incompatible and further that those systems only can support one style of play. This assertion gets dropped a lot but it doesn't conform to my actual experience. And it's not even like I didn't explain myself. I go on to explain at length what my problem with claiming a clean division between classic and trad is and attack the assumption that in 1984 tables were playing one way or the other. I was there. We weren't. How we played depended on the goals and style of the adventure and the session and we didn't see that as incoherent. Sometimes we'd spend hours in trad play. Sometimes we'd spend hours in classic play - with the very same character and rules set.

I find several GNS assumptions like 'system matters' are thrown around axiomatically as if they were some sort of established truths. They aren't an argument in and of themselves, and at this point I think very few people except them entirely on face value. I do believe 'system matters', but not in the actual technical sense that GNS claims that it does.

Six Cultures is recent and cool and provides an interesting framework, but I disagree with making GNS assumption about the Six Cultures particularly with respect to games played before GNS theory existed and people attempted to put it into practice.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Let’s not get hung up on jargon.

My preference as well.

I thought he would have fun anyway, but I was proven wrong when he rage quit after his character died. He claimed he’d done nothing wrong (and presumably his character should not have died), but it happens in my game, and it did.

Yeah, but that sort of thing could happen in any system where you had permanent negative consequences as a potential outcome to the character's story. Even in games without explicit permadeath, it's very hard for me to see how you get around having outcomes the player does not want unless the player is the sole storyteller. Even Indy games are typically rigged to put characters in negative outcome "death spirals" wear the math tends to favor the narrative ultimately being tragic. I don't know that your story proves that the problem is anything other than a dysfunctional player, as there is a class of player going back as long as the game has been around whose aesthetic of play is self-affirmation and what they really only want from the game is the GM repeatedly telling them, "Yes, you win. You are so cool." That isn't necessarily functional play in any system.

How I play is going to vary highly depending on the game.

Yes, that's true, but that's not literally what "system matters" means in Forge Speak so maybe let's just avoid jargon. The plain meaning of "system matters" tends to be "rules matter", and so that's why I countered with Celebrim's Second Law which in essence says that no matter the game system, if you prepare and think about playing it as if it were D&D it will play much like D&D. That is if you prepare a keyed map filled with monsters and traps and treasure and expect the focus of play to be skilled and potent adventurers exploring that, you can fully play D&D using CoC rules. Conversely, you can play CoC using D&D rules. I think people tend to underestimate how completely flexible game systems are. I'm not a particular person and I have certain sensibilities as a GM, and the one time I tried to run Paranoia it came out as a highly disturbing Horror RPG.

With that said, I agree regarding examples. The only thing worse than no examples are bad ones. I was really disappointed when I first tried to run Worlds Without Number to find that not only did its surprise rules make no sense but that there were no examples of how to make sense of them. (You make a group check, but group checks are only implied by other parts of the system.)

The classic bad examples for me are in VtM first edition (and really all 1st Edition White Wolf games), where all the examples of play involve interactions between a single player and single GM and as such don't actually describe the game that is in all likelihood going to be played with the rules. It's very unlikely that the game described by VtM rulebook was ever played on a wide basis. (Ironically, the frustration with that spawns Ron Edwards and his school of thought about what was wrong.) I had the exact same problem with Mousegaurd, and I have this problem in spades with Monsters and Other Childish Things. And to a large extent I see similar disconnects showing up in FATE and PbtA games.

Would it be fair to say that you don’t see a place for intentionally fudging at the table?

If you go back to my first post on the subject in this thread you'll see that's the opposite of what I argued.

Another one is requiring player permission to kill a PC. I’ve seen that one too. Again, not my thing either.

It wouldn't be a terrible idea, and certainly you should set out the standard that the game is intended to be cooperative. PC vs. PC violence is 99% of the time player dysfunction and it should be strongly discouraged. The only reason I don't ban it is that protection from retribution only tends to encourage the dysfunctional troublemakers who would otherwise be afraid the rest of the players would band against them.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Just say Forge and...

What I mean specifically is I reject the fundamental GNS premise that styles of play are mutually incompatible and further that those systems only can support one style of play. This assertion gets dropped a lot but it doesn't conform to my actual experience. And it's not even like I didn't explain myself. I go on to explain at length what my problem with claiming a clean division between classic and trad is and attack the assumption that in 1984 tables were playing one way or the other. I was there. We weren't. How we played depended on the goals and style of the adventure and the session and we didn't see that as incoherent. Sometimes we'd spend hours in trad play. Sometimes we'd spend hours in classic play - with the very same character and rules set.

I find several GNS assumptions like 'system matters' are thrown around axiomatically as if they were some sort of established truths. They aren't an argument in and of themselves, and at this point I think very few people except them entirely on face value. I do believe 'system matters', but not in the actual technical sense that GNS claims that it does.
None of this really excuses making genetic arguments about other things. That you seem to have some critical misunderstandings about GNS theory doesn't help, but it also doesn't really matter -- ypu can reject it however you want. I object to that being used a shorthand to dismiss anything you feel can be labeled as "forge-y."
Six Cultures is recent and cool and provides an interesting framework, but I disagree with making GNS assumption about the Six Cultures particularly with respect to games played before GNS theory existed and people attempted to put it into practice.
Well, no one did that, so...
 

bloodtide

Adventurer
The DM can do whatever he wants, as long as its in good faith.

There's only 1 thing that is a big no for me: Fudging. You do it, you a bad DM. Respect the dice, if you dont want a probability of success, don't ask for a roll.
I agree here: Let the Dice Roll Where they May. Though I hold this to the players too...a couple bad rolls and your character dies. If I want or don't want something to happen...it just does or does not, no roll needed.

I get lost in all the Forgey Jargon...

But I HATE monster knowledge checks, and don't use them in my game. But, sure, I always let players waste their time making them. No monster in D&D has some special "win button", so the players knowing the monster is immune to fire is very much pointless as the monster kills the characters. And does the monster have a template, magic item, spell, special ability that your "know everything" roll does not know....well, too bad for you.
 

kenada

Legend
Yeah, but that sort of thing could happen in any system where you had permanent negative consequences as a potential outcome to the character's story. Even in games without explicit permadeath, it's very hard for me to see how you get around having outcomes the player does not want unless the player is the sole storyteller. Even Indy games are typically rigged to put characters in negative outcome "death spirals" wear the math tends to favor the narrative ultimately being tragic. I don't know that your story proves that the problem is anything other than a dysfunctional player, as there is a class of player going back as long as the game has been around whose aesthetic of play is self-affirmation and what they really only want from the game is the GM repeatedly telling them, "Yes, you win. You are so cool." That isn't necessarily functional play in any system.
I would call that player dysfunctional only in the sense he was in a group that wanted to play differently than how he did. But a whole group like that? It seems like it would be perfectly functionality even if what they are likely to be doing is nothing like how I’d want to play the game.

Yes, that's true, but that's not literally what "system matters" means in Forge Speak so maybe let's just avoid jargon. The plain meaning of "system matters" tends to be "rules matter", and so that's why I countered with Celebrim's Second Law which in essence says that no matter the game system, if you prepare and think about playing it as if it were D&D it will play much like D&D. That is if you prepare a keyed map filled with monsters and traps and treasure and expect the focus of play to be skilled and potent adventurers exploring that, you can fully play D&D using CoC rules. Conversely, you can play CoC using D&D rules. I think people tend to underestimate how completely flexible game systems are. I'm not a particular person and I have certain sensibilities as a GM, and the one time I tried to run Paranoia it came out as a highly disturbing Horror RPG.
Does it have to be good play? We had one session of Scum and Villainy where the GM ran us through prep before a mission. Because the facts of what happened were locked in place, there were no good places to use flashbacks. The result was a boring session in spite of a cool premise (terraforming a planet to commit insurance fraud). I’d expect map and key play would go about as well.

It wouldn't be a terrible idea, and certainly you should set out the standard that the game is intended to be cooperative. PC vs. PC violence is 99% of the time player dysfunction and it should be strongly discouraged. The only reason I don't ban it is that protection from retribution only tends to encourage the dysfunctional troublemakers who would otherwise be afraid the rest of the players would band against them.
I actually meant the GM would need permission from the player to kill their PC in an encounter. That’s not how I’d want to do things, but it’s something I’ve seen expressed by those who have a preference for what that Six Cultures essay would call OC/neo-trad.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I actually meant the GM would need permission from the player to kill their PC in an encounter. That’s not how I’d want to do things, but it’s something I’ve seen expressed by those who have a preference for what that Six Cultures essay would call OC/neo-trad.
It's also a super useful tool to keep characters around who feature in the GM's plot plans, so it suits Trad as well.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I would call that player dysfunctional only in the sense he was in a group that wanted to play differently than how he did. But a whole group like that? It seems like it would be perfectly functionality even if what they are likely to be doing is nothing like how I’d want to play the game.

Well, maybe. I've been around the block a lot and I've played in full consensus games where no one really had the authority to impose a negative outcome on a player without their consent. But nothing like that stops those games from being dysfunctional. Typically, players that are dysfunctional in other sorts of play end up being dysfunctional when you change the premise as well. For example, the motive of the extreme self-affirmation types tends to make them spotlight hogs who always want to be cooler than all the other characters, and so even in situations where the GM is actually willing to run a game where the players triumph over every obstacle with ease (and I have seen that even in systems that in theory do have random death) the table isn't necessarily enjoying it because one or more players aren't just about winning but being seen to win more than everyone else. What I'm trying to say is that there is no guarantee at all this guy would be happy at another table with a different style of play. The more demanding the player is that everyone accommodate to him, the less likely I think that anything will really make him happy.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I agree here: Let the Dice Roll Where they May. Though I hold this to the players too...a couple bad rolls and your character dies. If I want or don't want something to happen...it just does or does not, no roll needed.

I get lost in all the Forgey Jargon...

But I HATE monster knowledge checks, and don't use them in my game. But, sure, I always let players waste their time making them. No monster in D&D has some special "win button", so the players knowing the monster is immune to fire is very much pointless as the monster kills the characters. And does the monster have a template, magic item, spell, special ability that your "know everything" roll does not know....well, too bad for you.
What, lots of monsters have "win" buttons. Medusas, Mind Flayers, and Bodaks come to mind right off the top of my head.
 

kenada

Legend
Well, maybe. I've been around the block a lot and I've played in full consensus games where no one really had the authority to impose a negative outcome on a player without their consent. But nothing like that stops those games from being dysfunctional. Typically, players that are dysfunctional in other sorts of play end up being dysfunctional when you change the premise as well. For example, the motive of the extreme self-affirmation types tends to make them spotlight hogs who always want to be cooler than all the other characters, and so even in situations where the GM is actually willing to run a game where the players triumph over every obstacle with ease (and I have seen that even in systems that in theory do have random death) the table isn't necessarily enjoying it because one or more players aren't just about winning but being seen to win more than everyone else. What I'm trying to say is that there is no guarantee at all this guy would be happy at another table with a different style of play. The more demanding the player is that everyone accommodate to him, the less likely I think that anything will really make him happy.
Maybe he would be, or maybe wouldn’t. I don’t know, but I do know he had another longtime group, and they seem to get along fine. I played with them a few times, but it was just so-so. We did L5R 4e and Shadowrun 4e. The L5R game was fun but didn’t last more than a few sessions. Shadowrun was run way too seriously. I’m used to its being a bit silly and chaotic, but this wasn’t that.

Anyway, the point was the thought exercise, but I don’t think we’re going to agree regarding different types of players, so maybe it’s best just to drop it. Compared to another player I had who was dysfunctional (if not toxic), he was just a guy who wanted something other than what I was doing. That doesn’t make him (or players like him) bad or dysfunctional. Just different.
 

Celebrim

Legend
@kenada I can imagine myself enjoying all sorts of different games with all sorts of different aesthetics of play.

What I can't imagine is playing at someone else's table and being upset that their aesthetic of play was slightly different than mine and then quitting in some fashion that could be called "rage quitting". Once or twice I've been invited to a game that wasn't for me for various reasons, and I thanked them for the game at the end and then politely declined further invitations as best as I could. To me seeing different ways to play the game is a lot of the fun. The game grinds through a stack of xeroxed PCs. Could be fun. The game is mostly low melodrama as we deeply explore character using thespian techniques. That could be fun too.
 

kenada

Legend
What I can't imagine is playing at someone else's table and being upset that their aesthetic of play was slightly different than mine and then quitting in some fashion that could be called "rage quitting". Once or twice I've been invited to a game that wasn't for me for various reasons, and I thanked them for the game at the end and then politely declined further invitations as best as I could. To me seeing different ways to play the game is a lot of the fun. The game grinds through a stack of xeroxed PCs. Could be fun. The game is mostly low melodrama as we deeply explore character using thespian techniques. That could be fun too.
Like I said, it happened when his character died. We had our disagreements (I like randomization way more than he did, and I was much less concerned about build viability per se), but that was the thing that pushed him over the edge. In particular, he was particularly upset about my policy for new characters, which Pathfinder leaves unspecified, and I had clarified prior to that session. He felt that sort of thing had to be approved by the players, which was not how I did things at the time.

With a decade of hindsight, there are things I wish I had done differently in that situation. I don’t know how much of a difference it would have made. Maybe the separation would have been less acrimonious. 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

Celebrim

Legend
With a decade of hindsight, there are things I wish I had done differently in that situation. I don’t know how much of a difference it would have made. Maybe the separation would have been less acrimonious. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Maybe so, but as a GM, I can't imagine going to another GM's table and telling him how to run his game. I don't get a chance to play very often, and I am always grateful when anyone runs a game for me. I understand just how challenging running a game is, and how much effort it takes. I do not in any fashion want to be a difficult player. Maybe the GM doesn't run a game I really enjoy, but I would never want to disrespect another GM like that.
 


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