D&D 5E Wandering Monsters: You Got Science in My Fantasy!

howandwhy99

Adventurer
[MENTION=3192]howandwhy99[/MENTION], you are imputing to me a a range of views I don't hold. I also think you do not have a full grasp of mainstream contemporary philosophy of mind and language.
Some fools gave me a degree in it, go figure. I apologize if you don't hold the opinions I thought you did. I went back and reread the first of those two posts and thought it assumed too much in the "you" usage.

Given that you are the only person on this thread talking about story games, I guess you're entitled to put forward a stipulative definition.
Snip
Let's just skip it then and stick to RPGs.

I am not suffering from any such notion. The construction of the shared fiction is not fundamentally separate from the rules. It is fundamentally conditioned by the rules (this is Vincent Baker's well known "clouds, boxes and arrows"). For instance, in 4e, why does a fireball spell set things on fire? Because it has the rules property of doing [fire] damage. Or why can Icy Terrain be used to freeze a puddle or part of a stream? Because it has the rules property of doing [cold] damage.
There is no shared fiction being constructed or utilized during game play or in reference with the rules. Rules addressing a shared fiction don't have a place in an RPG. That's my direct point. Games reference a game construct, they require a field of play, but not a narrative. Try playing the text of Moby Dick as a game. Treating a game like a narrative is losing the purpose of why it was written, like hanging a tuba in an art gallery.

My claim is simply that there is no code that tells you...
There are.

I don't know where religion comes into it. The idea that thoughts are higher order properties that supervene on their realising brain states; and that multiple realising physical states are possible; is pretty standard in modern functionalist philosophy of mind (most of whose proponents are atheists, I would imagine)
Yes, and those same atheist proponents suggest these properties are existent, but fictional when treated as references to other parts of existence. For the sake of treating them as a code it is their existence which matters, not any reference.

in D&D, people reason about bashing down doors, they are not reasoning about those mental states. This can be easily seen by considering the following examples: someone in the real world encounters a door and wonders how they might break it down. The things they have to think about are properties of doors like their construction, their density, their hardness etc. None of that requires reflecting on mental states. Now, in a game of D&D the adventurers come acorrs a door and wonder how they might break it down. The things that the participants in the game have to thik about are exactly the same properties of doors: their construction, their density, their hardness etc. They are not thinking about, and do not have to think about, mental states.
The players are determining how to break down a "door" as constructed by game mechanics and existent in the DMs imagination. This is why they keep asking him or her questions about it in the form of perceptions and actions by their PCs (also existent in the DMs imagination). They do this as that's where the thing they are inspecting exists.

The point can also be put in terms of propositional content. If I tell you "I am knocking down the door", the content of that assertion is settled by the meaning of the word "door" and the phrase "knocking down", as well as the reference rule for the subject pronoun "I". If a player, playing a game of D&D, tells me as GM "My character is knocking down the door", the content of that proposition is settled by the meaning of the word "door" and the phrase "knocking down", as well as the reference rule for the phrase "my character". The word "door", when used by a D&D player to talk about an imaginary door, does not change it's meaning and suddenly start talking about mental states. It has the same meaning as when used to talk about a real door.
No. Game definitions refer to game content, not common language understandings of the world outside our heads. As a code, each DM uses whatever shared language he has with the players to refer to it. But everyone understands the terms themselves are game specific. The GM refers to a door like any Chess player talks about a King.

The point can also be put in terms of expertise. A D&D player who knows a lot about doors in the real world can be an excellent D&D player even if s/he knows nothing about the subtleties of mental states. Whereas a D&D player who knows a lot about the subtleties of mental states but nothing about doors is likely to be disadvantaged in classic dungeon play. And the reason for this is obvious: the subject matter of D&D is principally dungeons, doors, walls, stone, wood, orcs, dragons,etc. It is not first and foremost mental states, and certainly not the mental states of the participants.
Dealing with people is dealing with mental states. A person is running the game. The DM has no reason whatsoever to create their code according to common use definitions for constructions of it. My "door" may be a zebra-striped, 8-legged giraffe-like creature I draw so the players understand its configuration.

The gameboard is a piece of cardboard or timber that is a really existing physical object, tyically located between the participants.
This gameboard is a manifestation of the code, mapped, hidden behind a DM screen, and used by DM whose imprint of it is the actual code to be deciphered.

But there is no door in the GM's head.
There is a game construct termed a "door" within the game that is.

It is like the objects in a physicist's thought experiment - a posit or stipulation. Assertions about it can be true or false relative to that stipulation (which is what anlaytic philosophers mean when they talk about "truth relative to a fiction").
Yet neither of those two are denying the existence of the object. They are treating the object as a reference to a fiction and labeling the referent "fiction". Like I could call anything a fiction by claiming I don't see it anywhere except for my imagining of it.

The assertion "The dungeon and the doors within it exist" is true relative to that stipulation. But they are not real. They are imaginary.
And D&D is a "fantasy game of your imagination". It's right there, all three words.

A player wondering whether or not a hand axe can break down a door isn't "making things up". S/he is extrapolating from a posit via projection rules - in this case, ones that aren't and can't be codified. In both cases, though, the posit is not true - it is a fiction - and in both cases the person doing the thinking is going to end up asserting things which are true relative to the fiction, but not true of any reality. (Eg "The light beams bouncing of the mirrors at the ends of the moving train will meet at this point;" or, "The door is too hard to be broken down by a hand axe.")
The physicist is positing based upon his experiences in the actual world. His posits are called fictional by you (rather than speculative, which is what they are called as fiction an assertion of falseness) because he isn't sure that what he posited is actually what will happen. However, no one is denying the world is actual. You agree with that, right? The D&D player engaged in deciphering the DM's code never quite gets there, but she has actual interaction with the DM telling her the results of her attempt via the construct of her PC. To do this the DM running D&D must actually have a code in mind, so it can be played. You personally may call the Players' suppositions about the construct of the game "fictions", but the procedures of the game aren't designed for creating one. They are to enable the players to engage in game play (think Tic phase).

I don't understand what you mean by "improvising" here. But if you are telling me that there is a codified decision procedure for every permissible player "move" in a game of D&D then I flat out disagree. Given that the possibilities of fictional positioning are limitless, so are the possibilities of reasoning required.
Yes, there is a codified action procedure for the DM to follow, though not for the players to make decisions within as they do not know it. This code covers everything a Player could express to them. (btw, "Say Yes" does too). The code I use is like our universe. At any given moment in time it is finite, but it has the potential to go on without end. We are neither everywhere in it or every when. As actual reasoning (and people) are not infinite, the openness of this design is to enable players to stretch out from their current ways of thinking and get creative. However, there is a highly complex game code is to insure an extraordinary array of attempted actions have unique consequences in the game which will cascade out into its future states, never being written off or hand waved away. It's just like the consequences of previous moves are retained throughout any instance of play with a board game.

The additional game material will still not supply anything in the neighbourhood of a code. There is no code, for instance, that tell's you how INT 0 creatures behave - because ants behave very differently from wasps which behave very differently from spiders. And even if you just confine yourself to spiders, there is no code that tells you how they will behave in all situations.
There can be if there are wasps, ants and spiders in your game (which D&D includes). This is an old argument which doesn't hold up. It's thinking my in-game samurai sword should behave like I understand real samurai swords do rather than 1d8 hit points damage.

My point is that any knowledge at all about how the world works can be brought to bear by a player of D&D.
SNIP
There is no code for this.
Yeah, they shouldn't be making presumptions like that though, should they? And yes, there should be code for that stuff.

Whether or not you want to call it improvising, if the players shatter the walls and try and drown all the creatures in the resulting flood, the GM is going to have to make a decision about how long it takes a giant scorpion to drown. There is no code for the game that I have ever seen that answers that question. The GM will have to project from what is known, and may - in this case - even have to make it up, given that we are talking about a biologically impossible entity.
A game construct's real world possibility isn't relevant. The DM relates the changing game board moved per the rules. And breaking and drowning things are hardly uncommon in most RPGs. They have rules for both in 3.x.

Also, just because a publisher offers you suggestions for creating a code behind a screen doesn't mean those are all you are limited to.

It's obvious to me that Lawrence Schick didn't play D&D this way - because the most famous environment he wrote for the game, White Plume Mountain, is not limited in this way. I don't think Gygax played this way either, whether as GM or player - because as GM the most famous environemtns he wrote are Tomb of Horrors, Keep on the Borderlands and The Village of Hommlet, and none of them is a limited envrionment. Each permits "moves" to be made by the players which cannot be resolved via any code, and require projection by reference to non-code-like principles.
By your interpretation, yeah. I think the old guard kind of kicked in after awhile and started simply improvising stuff behind the screen. And that might have led to others seeing it as a authorized mode of play. I have no desire to try and emulate them, but I not ashamed to say I like their adventures and convert them for my games.

A Fighting Fantasy Gamebook is like what you describe - a game with an imagined state of affairs within a limited environment and with limited moves that are capable of codification - but precisely for this reason it would generally be regarded as a form of boardgame or wargame rather than an RPG.
Role playing is learning to perform the pattern of a social role. They require a hidden board to play.

This does not cover the bulk of a referees job even in an austere game of D&D. The referee has to decide which PC a monster attacks. There are no rules for that. Even if the GM has written down that "Lareth the Beautiful hates good clerics, and will always attack them first", it is open to the GM to have Lareth change targets if, after attacking the cleric, he finds himself in danger of dying from the assault by the fighter.

And if a player decides to drown the giant scorpions in the White Plume Mountain ziggurat room, there is no predetermined code for that.
If you as a referee are in the position of deciding what a player is going go do: STOP. Ask them. Here is the positioning of the creatures you can see. Or, you hear breathing to your left, right, and front. Or, your blind and deaf, but what direction given your facing are your attacking with the sword? I have a map with the pieces on it behind the screen. I can adjudicate from well enough.
Lareth flees due to morale rules. Fights according to predetermined combat strategies given quite a number of factors.
How pragmatic solids, liquids, and gases operate in relation to gravity is pretty standard magic system rules. Drowning for air breathing submerged creatures is pretty common too.

I think these sentences are pretty consistent with what I'm saying. The board is "imaginary" ie a fiction, a posit, a stipulation. And the board is not finite, and hence not limited.
The board is imaginary (no quotes as it's not under contention that it is imaginary), but it is actual, not a fiction. It is what the players are referencing, not something outside the referee. It's best to begin with the board small and generate it larger as play progresses to when PCs can explore it faster and further. It's limited in potential, like players are limited to their own finiteness in what they can express to attempt.
 

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howandwhy99

Adventurer
So yeah, "Clouds, Boxes, Arrows".

Everything in the first 25 years of our hobby doesn't have anything to do with what he's talking about. Look at the date: 1-18-05, this is the time of "The Forge murders the RPG hobby".

To make it simple, there is no Cloud aspect to role playing, the cloud is the fiction you create in a story game. It's about improvisational story creation, not game play.

Notice that non-RPG games' rules are all entirely like this one. Monopoly, Chess, Die Siedler - they have no fictional in-game, just people interacting and real-world tokens.
He doing the mind screw here too by swapping RPG for storygame. Non-story games don't include a fictional in-game. Nor do RPGs. Only story games have this component.
 

Starfox

Hero
He doing the mind screw here too by swapping RPG for storygame. Non-story games don't include a fictional in-game. Nor do RPGs. Only story games have this component.

Well, I'd not be so strict about it, as the terminology is shaky. Purism is rarely conductive to good results. Most RPGs have story elements in actual play, by social contract if nothing else. What a RPG is depends most of all on what you mean when you say the word, which is hugely subjective.

That said, it is certainly possible to err on the other side and say that all RPGs narrative or story-driven.

Some play one way, some another way. To me it is all a continuum - there is no clear border where you can say "This is a RPG, this is not".
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
Well, I'd not be so strict about it, as the terminology is shaky. Purism is rarely conductive to good results. Most RPGs have story elements in actual play, by social contract if nothing else. What a RPG is depends most of all on what you mean when you say the word, which is hugely subjective.
Social Contract is a Big Model term. Games didn't have them prior to 1999 at best. What you are doing is a retrograde assignment.

Within a certain field of philosophy we might call some instances of game rules social contracts, but it removes all the game rules when they are not manifested in our heads. Like those encoded on computers for instance. Or inscribed in a book.

That said, it is certainly possible to err on the other side and say that all RPGs narrative or story-driven.
Given the extreme prejudices of the people at the community, yeah. I could certainly chalk up what he's saying to ignorance.

Some play one way, some another way. To me it is all a continuum - there is no clear border where you can say "This is a RPG, this is not".
EDIT: These are too different things. One is a game, the other a story telling enterprise. I mean, you're strongly trying to hold a memory in your head for one. And strongly trying to make change with the other. D&D asks for both, but was designed to support both. Storygames don't require game play, and in that they don't include any objectives to do so.
 
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Nagol

Unimportant
Social Contract is a Big Model term. Games didn't have them prior to 1999 at best. What you are doing is a retrograde assignment.

<snip>

Errm, we had social contracts in or gaming back in 1979; they are nothing new. Heck, bridge games have social contracts.

-- this game we brought our own snacks, player vs. player was encouraged, the DM tracked hit point damage and only descriptions issued to the player, but the players rolled dice for effects generated by them.

-- that game started promptly and being late was poor form. Snacks were shared. PvP play was forbidden and risked ejection, players tracked consumables for themselves.
 

Starfox

Hero
Having no clear border does not mean that there are no clear-cut cases.

Is Dungeons and Dragons a RPG? Is the computer game Neverwinter Nights? Is Finaql Fantasy a RPG? Is the old TSR game Dungeon a RPG? Warhammer quest says RPG on the box. Is that a RPG? If it is, is WHFB an RPG - it does represents characters and deals with their fate. Is Squad Leader an PRG? Nuclear war (Flying Buffalo)?

Is Everway a RPG? Is Sorcerer, of Forge fame? Is "Time and Again" the card game a RPG? Is Just a Minute a rpg? The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen?

The line here is not clear at all, that's why I say there is a continuum from just storytelling on one side to wargaming on the other, and PRGs occupy a vaguely defined space in the middle. And you could create an arbitrary number of such distinctions where RPGs (or basically, the meaning of any term) is a vaguely defined space in the middle.

Of course, there is an infinite number of such pairs of concepts that do not include rpgs anywhere in their range - such as a range of stellar objects arranged by density from black holes to interstellar vacuum - with stars being a rather well-defined are in between. But if you ask a specialist I'm sure there are examples along that line that are not clear at all. Still, rpgs are not on that continuum until the first role-playing supplement is launched into a stable orbit.

Coming back to my hand, it is certainly on a continuum that includes "things you use in role-play". If it is inside or outside that area depends on what we mean when we say "use".
 
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howandwhy99

Adventurer
Errm, we had social contracts in or gaming back in 1979; they are nothing new. Heck, bridge games have social contracts.

-- this game we brought our own snacks, player vs. player was encouraged, the DM tracked hit point damage and only descriptions issued to the player, but the players rolled dice for effects generated by them.

-- that game started promptly and being late was poor form. Snacks were shared. PvP play was forbidden and risked ejection, players tracked consumables for themselves.
yeah, retrograde assignment. When you go back and redefine what you were doing then to place it under a different understanding you hold today. ...except you likely didn't have a social contract. Did you write it out? Agree on the wording? No? Even reference it in passing? No? Then you didn't have one. This is New-Speak claiming all speech has been New-Speak, we simply didn't receive the "revelation of understanding" until now.

Plus, you're still forgetting all the rules not known to another player for games like computer games. Are ALL computer games NOT games because we're unwilling to accept rules as anything other than "Social Contracts"? Please tell me this one person's philosophy isn't an absolutist certitude for everyone but me? Don't we question things anymore? Don't we hold them in contention, at least partly?
 

Starfox

Hero
howandwhy99, you are using "social contract" as a Forge term. It is also a common language expression, and has been since long before Forge, or RPGs, or any of us here. YThis is the sense I am using it in, and I suspect others with me.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
yeah, retrograde assignment. When you go back and redefine what you were doing then to place it under a different understanding you hold today. ...except you likely didn't have a social contract. Did you write it out? Agree on the wording? No? Even reference it in passing? No? Then you didn't have one. This is New-Speak claiming all speech has been New-Speak, we simply didn't receive the "revelation of understanding" until now.

Some were written -- generally in a section of house-rules -- such as the DM controlling hp totals, PvP being forbidden, lateness being unacceptable. Some was discussed like snacks being common property and the expectation everyone will kick in for pizza. Did we use the words "social contract"? No. We used the words "Game expectations and appropriate play".

Plus, you're still forgetting all the rules not known to another player for games like computer games. Are ALL computer games NOT games because we're unwilling to accept rules as anything other than "Social Contracts"? Please tell me this one person's philosophy isn't an absolutist certitude for everyone but me? Don't we question things anymore? Don't we hold them in contention, at least partly?

Where did I say only the social contract existed? Social contracts exist to control participant behaviour above and beyond the basic rules of whatever past time the group is prepared to engage with. In one bridge club a social contract was developed and eventually written into the club rules that one will say "Pass" or "No-bid" during an auction; "Knock" was unacceptable (and led to an expulsion of a member who wouldn't conform).
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
Having no clear border does not mean that there are no clear-cut cases.

Is Dungeons and Dragons a RPG? Is the computer game Neverwinter Nights? Is Finaql Fantasy a RPG? Is the old TSR game Dungeon a RPG? Warhammer quest says RPG on the box. Is that a RPG? If it is, is WHFB an RPG - it does represents characters and deals with their fate. Is Squad Leader an PRG? Nuclear war (Flying Buffalo)?

Is Everway a RPG? Is Sorcerer, of Forge fame? Is "Time and Again" the card game a RPG? Is Just a Minute a rpg? The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen?

The line here is not clear at all, that's why I say there is a continuum from just storytelling on one side to wargaming on the other, and PRGs occupy a vaguely defined space in the middle. And you could create an arbitrary number of such distinctions where RPGs (or basically, the meaning of any term) is a vaguely defined space in the middle.

Of course, there is an infinite number of such pairs of concepts that do not include rpgs anywhere in their range - such as a range of stellar objects arranged by density from black holes to interstellar vacuum - with stars being a rather well-defined are in between. But if you ask a specialist I'm sure there are examples along that line that are not clear at all. Still, rpgs are not on that continuum until the first role-playing supplement is launched into a stable orbit.

Coming back to my hand, it is certainly on a continuum that includes "things you use in role-play". If it is inside or outside that area depends on what we mean when we say "use".
PRGs meaning Puzzle Reality Games like I run? I understand that as a community labels are used in all crazy kinds of ways. We can be clear cut, but the next moment things change. That's life.

The Forge was an agenda-driven community to wipe out all understanding of RPGs for its own highly prejudicial philosophy that relegated all games to narrative, not just role playing games. [The Big Model purported to be a model for every game ever]. I have to believe the zealous behavior was due to good will. That they wanted their one plot of land for the style they preferred. But they burned the entire forest down for it and killed every creature in their "purist" rampage.

That when D&D began it was specifically a termed a "Role Playing Game" so as to mark it as in line with the army's wargame simulations in the 1970s and not a theater game speaks volumes to how impossibly different our hobby has become. The strange fish that still sells billions in the computer game industry has been all but environmentally eradicated into extinction. It cannot live in the imaginations of those who can no longer even conceive of it. D&D is a game, not a story. Can't tell the difference? I'm sorry for you. Blurring of the lines is also a kind of "one-true-wayism" and it serves certain strategies which all end in certainty. I simply refuse to pretend true believer-hood for some one opinion which refuses any and all alternatives.

howandwhy99, you are using "social contract" as a Forge term. It is also a common language expression, and has been since long before Forge, or RPGs, or any of us here. YThis is the sense I am using it in, and I suspect others with me.
Good to know. I suspect we'll be using sociology's definition of Agenda next.
 

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