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

howandwhy99

Adventurer
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".

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).
The whole discussion is wearing on me. Yes, it sounds like a nice explanation of what was going on back then. Sounds good. The Big Model puts it forth that rules are social contracts and nothing else. It's someone else being prejudicial and me batting against it reactively. I'm not saying others don't use words in our hobby except in the popularized variety of one group. It's just the lack of so many other understandings of our game and the aforementioned opinions presented as the only viewpoint gets tiresome after awhile.
 

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Starfox

Hero
I agree Forge had a VERY strong bias for what they themselves termed "narrative" games, and some very big bland spots in other areas. Actually, their biggest blind spot was the "Impossible Thing Before Breakfast" - which I'd call Storytelling games. As usual, purists are harshest against those closest to themselves - heresy requires that you have only a few points of disagreement after all.

I don't think Forge tried to invalidate a more tactical "wargamey" approach to role-playing, without story. No matter, if this is your preferred game style and you feel Forge disdained it, by all means feel free to dislike them for it, just as I dislike what they say about storytelling.

What Forge did was attempt to define a few terms, something I still find useful, but also problematic for the rest of us. If you check my sig, you'll see I am trying to find replacement terms for some of the words I feel Forge appropriated. However, Forge "social contract" and common English "social contract" seems pretty close to me. Unlike, for example, Forge "simulationism" and the general English meaning of that word. Or actually almost any other Forge term - the social contract is at the very top of the "big model" and thus not as deeply buried in Forge meaning. But I could be wrong - English is not my native language.
 
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howandwhy99

Adventurer
I agree Forge had a VERY strong bias for what they themselves termed "narrative" games, and some very big bland spots in other areas. Actually, their biggest blind spot was the "Impossible Thing Before Breakfast" - which I'd call Storytelling games. As usual, purists are harshest against those closest to themselves - heresy requires that you have only a few points of disagreement after all.

I don't think Forge tried to invalidate a more tactical "wargamey" approach to role-playing, without story. No matter, if this is your preferred game style and you feel Forge disdained it, by all means feel free to dislike them for it, just as I dislike what they say about storytelling.

What Forge did was attempt to define a few terms, something I still find useful, but also problematic for the rest of us. If you check my sig, you'll see I am trying to find replacement terms for some of the words I feel Forge appropriated. However, Forge "social contract" and common English "social contract" seems pretty close to me. Unlike, for example, Forge "simulationism" and the general English meaning of that word. Or actually almost any other Forge term - the social contract is at the very top of the "big model" and thus not as deeply buried in Forge meaning. But I could be wrong - English is not my native language.
No, you got it.

It sounds like you like Storytelling games like Adventure Path games. I'm running Age of Worms at the moment in 3.5, the system the guys I'm currently with seem to prefer. I've run other, older D&D varieties and they jumped on it. But there are years invested and $1000s of dollars by them in 3.5. Several shelving units to that one game at the gaming office compared to the others. So... this September I went to running what they most want and enjoy and I try and get something out of it by practicing my gaming design in its prep where I can.

But if I am right on where you're coming from, any suggestions on running it?
 

Starfox

Hero
Yes, I do love those long story campaigns. To me, that is the right mix of story and (war)game, with some room left for player-introduced plots - if you will, my sweet spot on the Forge tripod (that they vehemently deny is a tripod btw).

I've not run Age of Worms, as a Greyhawk fan I kind of envy you guys!

Suggestions on running it? Focus on the part of it you enjoy the most. If that is set piece battles (or whatever it is), that's completely cool. Your players will each pull in the direction they want it, and if you give a little the group should be able to settle on something in the middle. Pandering to what they want before you even begin will probably make you lose interest and you might have not read them right anyway.

But running Age of Worms as a narrative game in the Forge sense? I doubt it would last 3 sessions. Narrative games can't have scrips running a dozen or more stories ahead.
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
But running Age of Worms as a narrative game in the Forge sense? I doubt it would last 3 sessions. Narrative games can't have scrips running a dozen or more stories ahead.
Yeah? Well neither can the games I run. It's like plotting how the players are going to manipulate a Rubik's cube and their end state for it, when the goal of the game is simply to demonstrate enough mastery at each class level to gain the next.

Beyond keeping it largely sandbox for the first 6 adventures and the last 5, (the 7th is a transition), I was hoping for how to deal with the smaller transitions. The hardest part is the authors didn't think beyond linear presentation of it. So it goes all over the place to give the appearance of a deceptive mystery plot. Giving the players free rein is semi-possible, but it's the "stay on target" keys I could advise them of that are hard to find. Too many big ticket set pieces give the appearance of being what they plot is about, but then require me to step in and transition everyone to somewhere else for completely different goals. It's a bit jarring if I did that, but I'm allowing them to discern where to go next. The Ebon Triad (3 Greyhawk Gods) and Rod of 7 Parts play a big role, but if you know the adventure than you know some of the problem with those two.

The guys want to use their powers and are accustomed to XP advancement about every 1 or 2 sessions. That's another potential problem. A LOT of sessions are non-combat, no XP affairs. And if they leveled even every 3-4 sessions they quickly advance out of the adventure path. Plus, individual XP is looking to be a detriment what with the system built for group leveling. But that makes it difficult to assign anything in game as a something which earns XP - other than besting stuff in combat that is. So another common means of pointing players where to go isn't available.

It's hard for me to simply tell players where to go and what to do as it goes against why I pretty much run or play games. It's like saying they can't figure out what to do on their own.
 
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Vyvyan Basterd

Adventurer
But if I am right on where you're coming from, any suggestions on running it?

Yes. Envision the plots of the opposition as the gameboard that the players are trying to maneuver through in place of a location gameboard. Antagonists in a dungeon setting react when the players invade their home, extrapolate that vision to what happens when the players cross paths with their plans. There is less of a difference between location-based adventures and plot-based adventures than some people realize.
 

Starfox

Hero
If the group tends top split up and go their own way, and are also accustomed to hardcore action (this is the impression I get), I propose making the villains more active, proactive even. Make it at least slightly dangerous to split up. If the players feel endangered, they usually focus on whatever is threatening them. Sure, this is a bit of a railroad, but you are goading them rather than leading them. They are reacting to a direct threat so it kind of makes sense. [At the same time, I know certain groups - like most of mine - would hate such "stressful" play, so only do it if you feel it is right] And if the role-play scenes (or any other kind of scene) are not to taste, just gloss them over. It is generally much easier to skip things than to flesh them out.

But unless you do very long sessions, a level every second session seems tight, even with a focused group that plows through adventures fast. How many sessions do you all want it to take in total? How many sessions does that leave for each adventure? If the figure seems unrealistically low, cut either scenes/sequences or whole adventures. The point is after all to have fun, not to do it "right", whatever that means.

I don't bother with xp any more, especially now that xp are out of magic item making. I just level the players either at the appropriate points in the plot or when I feel they are in danger of getting overwhelmed. Creates a different reward mechanic - plow through the plot if you want to level fast. Actually sort of 1E, only based on plot points rather than gold - the incentive to avoid trouble rather than face it down is still there.
 

pemerton

Legend
I apologize if you don't hold the opinions I thought you did.
I disagree with your assessment of The Forge - I don't think they are trying to destroy traditional or classic RPGing (who is more sympathetic contemporary exponent of Tunnels & Trolls than Ron Edwards?); they are trying to save (as they see it) RPGing from White Wolf and 2nd ed AD&D.

I don't disagree with all of your presentation of classic D&D play, but I think your account of how it plays is somewhat idiosyncratic; I think a lot of groups played it differently, even back then.

The Big Model puts it forth that rules are social contracts and nothing else.
That's not correct. Edwards makes the point that rules are an alternative to social contract. Part of his objection to "storyteller" play is that it dispenses with rules and puts everything back into social contract, which creates intolerable conflicts of interest which in turn undermine the play experience. Whether he is right or wrong in his claims here, he is pretty clear that social contract is not a substitute for rules.

If you as a referee are in the position of deciding what a player is going go do: STOP
Why would the referee be deciding what a player is going to (have his/her PC) do? I was talking about a referee deciding what Lareth the Beautiful, an NPC, is going to do.

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.
And my direct point is that you are conflating "fiction" and "narrative". It's obvious that RPGing does not require a narrative (I give you Keep on the Borderlands). Though it may have one (I give you Dragonlance). Or it may have as a goal the emergence of one out of play (I give you Burning Wheel).

But they all need a fiction: an imaginary world in which the imagined action of various imagined beings takes place.

D&D is a "fantasy game of your imagination". It's right there, all three words.
That is not in dispute. But imagined things do not exist. They are not real. Which is to say that they are fictional.

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.
I am not sure what aspect of physicsts' methodology you have in mind, but I have in mind thought experiments, of which the most famous are the ones around special relativity, involving infinitely long mirrors, trains moving close to the speed of light with lanterns and mirrors at each end and running past stations with clocks on them, etc.

When Einstein, or anyone else, invites us to engage with these thought experiments, they are inviting us to imagine a fiction. But of course they are not inviting us to construct a narrative.

Here is another example: I now invite you to imagine us having this same conversation in French, and to consider that there would be even more occurences of the letter "e", and definitely more occurences of the letter "q". The state of affairs - that were are having this conversation in French - from whic I infer my conclusion - that there would be more occurences of certain letters - is not real. It is a fiction. That doesn't mean inferences can't made from it. But it does mean that those assertions, detached from the supposition, are not true. (The best treatment of the semantics of supposition that I am familiar with is found in S J Barker, Renewing Meaning (OUP 2004).)

There is a game construct termed a "door" within the game that is.

<snip>

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.

<snip>

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.
This is the bit where I think the real point of discussion about the nature of RPG play is. And despite your many posts over many years I have not realised before that this is what you are saying.

I think that the approach you describe is not the only way that D&D was played, even back in the 70s, and certainly not the only way it can be played, even if one wants to play in a classic style. For instance, on your account one of the players being a carpenter, and therefore having a reasonable sense of how hard a door might be to break down, would have no relevance to gameplay. Because they are trying to break the GM's "door" code, and that code might have only the slightest of connections to the reality of how doors really work in the real world.

I have never played like that. For example, if someone wants to know how heavy a boulder is, I've always taken it for granted that we would work out it's volume from the GM's description via standard geometry, and then calculate its mass by looking up the density of the material in question in an encyclopedia. Sometimes the table might agree to fudge it for the sake of expedience (eg I think 150 lb per cubic foot is within the ballpark for a reasonable range of rocks). But we would assume that in these respects the game is simply following reality.

This once came up in a Traveller (or similar sci-fi) game that my group played at a convention. We got stuck in a burning building, and the GM declared that we were all out from lack of oxygen within seconds. When we suggested that it would take more than a few seconds for the fire to consume all the oxygen in the building, the GM was not interested in hearing it.

There's no doubt that we figured out the referee's code for "how long does a fire in a building take to suck up all the oxygen", but we didn't much enjoy the experience.

EDIT: On your definition I'm not sure that Runequest comes out as an RPG, nor perhaps Traveller.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Is Dungeons and Dragons a RPG?

<snip>

Is Sorcerer, of Forge fame?

<snip>

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
The boundaries may not be clear, but I don't think there's much ambiguity as to which side of it Sorcerer falls on. It is written and sold as an RPG. The only people who have ever heard of it, much less played it, describe themselves as RPGers. It won an RPG design award, I think. And it involves each of the players taking on the person of an imagined character in an imagined world confronting adversity that is managed and introduced into play by a distinct participant, the GM/referee.

I'm not sure that it gets much more RPGy than that!
 

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