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

pemerton

Legend
Role playing is learning to perform the pattern of a social role.
Also, I don't see how this fits with your account of the GM's hidden code.

For instance, if various objects of social interaction have no meaning or content other than what the GM imputes to them (via his/her code), and if the players cannot impute to them any principles of operation other than those that they have discovered by engaging with the GM's code, then in what sense is anyone learning to perform a social role? For instance, when law students do roleplaying to learn how to interview clients or cross-examine witnesses or present arguments to a court, the person playing the clinet/witness/judge (who is the analogue to the referee in these scenarios, "playing" an NPC) does not simply get to stipulate a code that governs his/her response and which the students have to figure out. That person is under all sorts of constraint, of trying to emulate the known patters of behaviour that such persons - clients, witnesses and judges - exhibit in reality.
 

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wedgeski

Adventurer
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.
I think you figured out that the referee needed you all to fall unconscious to fit his narrative, and he subverted his own code, let alone yours, to make that happen. That's part and parcel of the roleplaying equation, and means you can never model what a "door" is because at one moment it might be as resilient as a block of granite and the next fall apart like balsa wood depending on the needs of the DM.
 

pemerton

Legend
the referee needed you all to fall unconscious to fit his narrative, and he subverted his own code, let alone yours, to make that happen. That's part and parcel of the roleplaying equation, and means you can never model what a "door" is because at one moment it might be as resilient as a block of granite and the next fall apart like balsa wood depending on the needs of the DM.
I think I'm with [MENTION=3192]howandwhy99[/MENTION] in thinking that if this is what is going on - ie the GM has no code, and is not open to player contributions on what is reasonable given the fictional positioning of the PCs, and is just making stuff up to take the "story" where s/he wants it to go - then it's not the sort of RPGing I'm very keen on.
 

wedgeski

Adventurer
I think I'm with [MENTION=3192]howandwhy99[/MENTION] in thinking that if this is what is going on - ie the GM has no code, and is not open to player contributions on what is reasonable given the fictional positioning of the PCs, and is just making stuff up to take the "story" where s/he wants it to go - then it's not the sort of RPGing I'm very keen on.
And rightly so, but I don't think the kind of discussions going on here have the luxury of applying to only one type of DM.
 

Starfox

Hero
The boundaries may not be clear, but I don't think there's much ambiguity as to which side of it Sorcerer falls on.

I wasn't trying to say anything about Sorcerer ´(or about any of my examples), I was just looking for examples to show the breadth of samples and how each of us might label them differently - Sorcerer was a convenient example on the "Forge narrative" end of the scale.

I think you figured out that the referee needed you all to fall unconscious to fit his narrative, and he subverted his own code, let alone yours, to make that happen. That's part and parcel of the roleplaying equation, and means you can never model what a "door" is because at one moment it might be as resilient as a block of granite and the next fall apart like balsa wood depending on the needs of the DM.

I think that if you did the check, you'd find that fire eats oxygen something fierce - if you are in the same enclosed room as an open fire, you're in trouble right quick. It is smoke and carbon monoxide that kills, the fire just destroys the evidence.

As a story teller GM, I completely understand what this Traveler GM was doing (unless he was really trying to kill you all). I suppose he was trying to force you into some situation by having you rendered unconscious like that? If so, he probably thought it was best to get over that part so the story could continue without a fuss.

In this respect, Forge is right about storytelling, it is part illusionism - you need to make your plot contrivances believable, even if they are there to serve the plot. A story needs verisimilitude and player impact, or it is just a poor novella read aloud. It is a very delicate balance, and since you remember this as a bad example, I suppose it failed there. Part of art of storytelling/illusionist mode is how much the GM is prepared to bend to let the players view of reality prevail. A good story is also a fairly good simulation, because anything less realistic is jarring and breaks immersion.

A trick I have grown into here is to make the players the ones who have to fight for the story. By making the story a "gamist" challenge, by forcing the characters to fight for clues and making a sport of it, you can lead them on to follow the plot, because that's where the challenge lies. Call it consensual illusionism, if you will. In this example, it would be more satisfying for the players to hold their breath and escape the burning house, only to confront the villain all out-of-breath and vulnerable in the next incident. Then it is the players that instigate the next event, not the GM. At least not overtly. The trick for the GM is to avoid the lash and insert the carrots discreetly.

This is completely different form the "players set the agenda" of narrative play, but to me it is a valid and fun playstyle, one suitable for long campaigns that run regularly over several years. Adventure paths fit this model, and considering how those are selling, I can't be alone in thinking this.
 
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howandwhy99

Adventurer
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.
It's not at all unique to me, but almost lost in our time.

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.
Edwards is playing with Social Contract as sociologist's typically stipulate then. Unspoken agreements of "I won't hit you, if you don't hit me" are strategies in D&D and not ones you must keep. Make them rules and you lose the cooperation element of D&D for collaboration - a rule the players must follow to play. They have no choice, so those games aren't about cooperating at all, unlike D&D.

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.
"The referee has to decide which PC a monster attacks." was what I was responding to. Add a hard return before Lareth.

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.
And I say you are using fiction (like the illusion of some "shared" cloud space) to refer to fantasy, what comprises my imagination, but are claiming it is not in the world. Your thoughts are in the world. You can say they belong in some special "beyond reality" second reality, but I don't accept that. Fiction and non-fiction are actually labels about referential status, not the actuality of the referent. (Books are called fiction, but don't exist in a "higher order" state.) I'm talking about an actual imagined fantasy world. Narrative and fiction don't apply, though those terms for forms of expression often for sharing fantasy world.

That is not in dispute. But imagined things do not exist. They are not real. Which is to say that they are fictional.
The game of D&D requires all participants to have an imagination. If someone doesn't have one, then they won't be able to play. No one is referring to an unimagined state of affairs. At best you might be meaning a fictive.

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).)
Yeah, Einstein was an Eternalist. People called him a follower of Parmenides. I think he was more on my side than I am. (BTW, I'm not actually arguing for sides, just against absolutist certitudes like those put forth by the Forge, especially when it harms our hobby).

Searle's speech-act theory, added to by Barker, is considered quite radical actually. Though I like of what I read of Searle's, I don't see him as conclusively as you might (especially with how he treats A.I.). Also, considering you were talking about how truth in roleplaying is propositional a couple of days ago, I don't think you are fully on board with Barker either. ...But I admit I haven't read his book. So his understanding of propositions in regards to speech acts might be in line with your own. I don't know.

But here's the thing, D&D isn't about speech. Or storytelling. Those are necessary evils to get to the good stuff: Game Play. D&D is about playing the actual, imaginary game board in the DM's head by the players. Speech is used like any game players might need to if they didn't have hands to move their pieces and needed to tell another to do so. Their references are to an imagined fantasy world, but not a fiction, as the reference of those imagined items to our non-imaginary world never comes into play.

So, in my very real imagination I receive the image of your word from my computer screen. I attempt to comprehend them using the code of language called English I've also attempted to puzzle out throughout my life (even as it is changing). If we were conversing textually in French, I believe you that I would receive more "E" & "Q" symbols into my imagination. But by your supposition... we never do. Neither in or out of our imaginations does a French conversation occur. So your supposition is referring to a fictional (i.e. non-existent) state of affairs. My actual and not pretended questioning of you about what exists in your interior world is not me asking about fiction. For example, "How do you feel?" "What are you thinking about?" "If I say 'white elephant', what image comes to mind?" These are not ironic questions as I accept you have an interior -reality- as you are a living, breathing person.

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.
Yes, but like any code where it isn't the language, syntax, or common use semantics, those communicating still need to have a shared language to address it. Because of that, like any simulated reality game, a good code designer begins with pieces of a believed actually pre-existing shared reality with his or her players. So we get dogs as well as lizard scales, fire, talons, and such made into dragons in D&D.

In any RPG, we can speak, gesture, draw, maneuver miniatures on a spatial map, even sculpt, and paint to better understand each other. There aren't many limits here. Of course, in my experience players are more likely to go the formal arts direction when demonstrating to me how their character is comprised. But those avenues are not closed off to me as DM when attempting to convey, say, the intricacies of Ravenloft Castle or how Marduk grasps his magical 3-handled, triple-bladed sword.

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.
That's clearly a high level challenge you had no capacity to deal with, especially in cruddy one-shots like that. Con games were long considered the worst, but the fan base's lack of a shared proficiency in a single code is what I believe led Gygax to assert the (hit and miss rules of) AD&D to be "Official" for all conventions and the only "real" D&D. Not the way I would of gone, but he got his share of flack for it.

What your GM should have done is create a player-level appropriate challenge where failure didn't end in "game over", or at least have extra PCs on hand and a word of warning about the adventure's deadliness.

Games requiring game experience in my book are actually asking for level of player proficiency. Like you might sign up for Intermediate at a Chess convention. But RPGs are not well designed for convention play, at least not traditionally. They are way, way too long, but that's what is good about them. They are this awesome, long sustained build with repeated pay offs.

EDIT: On your definition I'm not sure that Runequest comes out as an RPG, nor perhaps Traveller.
Little made after D&D in the 70's or early 80's was anything other than a different set of possible system or code suggestions for D&D put out as its own game. And none were all that clear on why they were designed as such (just like OD&D assumed a lot and had its share of designer uncertainty). It took a few years for adult, hard core gamers, the engineers and math-heads of the community to really figure out what this new game was. And by the time they did post-modern denial of pattern recognition hit hard and many dropped out of the hobby or went back to wargames. Once the game became "for kids" it popped out from behind the screen (in the mid-80's?) and those games following in D&D's footsteps were widely out of sorts and at best innovative code suggestions if implemented by a DM who knew what he or she was doing.

Let me know why you think that about Runequest and Traveller.

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!
For the definition of Role Playing until the mid to late 1980s it isn't at all an RPG. It might be a game, but Ron Edwards worked very hard to redefine the community at large's understanding of what RPGs are (and therefore were) using the new and inaccurate for D&D definition of role playing to his advantage. Role playing means story telling a character dontchaknow? Not playing a role.
 

Starfox

Hero
And I say you are using fiction (like the illusion of some "shared" cloud space) to refer to fantasy, what comprises my imagination, but are claiming it is not in the world. Your thoughts are in the world. You can say they belong in some special "beyond reality" second reality, but I don't accept that. Fiction and non-fiction are actually labels about referential status, not the actuality of the referent. (Books are called fiction, but don't exist in a "higher order" state.) I'm talking about an actual imagined fantasy world. Narrative and fiction don't apply, though those terms for forms of expression often for sharing fantasy world.

I find this highly interesting, and I am largely with howandwhy99 here. I see imaginary worlds and abstract thought in general as emergent qualities of matter - along with life and most anything more complex than inorganic chemistry. Plato's "shadows on the wall" are just a way to illustrate abstract though - something which was not nearly as universally understood then as it is now, and we still have a long way to go to really understand it.

Still, we can talk about these things as if they had independent existence, especially when we have communicated them to others and are talking about a consensual illusory reality - like in a game. So the terms associated with independent abstract ideas can still be usable - as long as we keep it in the back of your head that this is all really just patterns of neutrons firing in our brains (or ink on paper, or patterns in computer memory, whatever).
 

pemerton

Legend
I find this highly interesting, and I am largely with howandwhy99 here. I see imaginary worlds and abstract thought in general as emergent qualities of matter
I agree with this: as I said to @howandwy99 upthread, the standard view in contemporary English-speaking philosophy of mind is that thoughts are higher-order properties of function-realising systems like a brain (and another standard view is that there are multiple realisations possibe - eg because (I think) Swedish is your first language, whereas English is my first and only real language, it is likely that our brains realise (=instantiate) the capability of speaking English in quite different ways).

But there is a difference between a thought and its content. The content of your thought "There is a door" is the same whether you are looking at a door (and so engaging the perceptual component of your overall cognitive system) or are imagining a door (and so engaging the imaginative component of your overall cognitive system). In the first case, assuming that there is a door, the word "door" in your thought "There is a door" refers to it. In the second case, in at least one sense of "refers" the word "door" in your (imaginative) though "There is a door" refers to nothing.

In particular, while the occurence of the word "door" in your imaginative thought is itself a consequence of the state of your brain, the word does not itself refer to any part of your brain.

Fictionalism is the theory of the semantics of these non-referring terms - although they are not really referring, we can treat them as if they were referring, by way of stipulation or supposition. This then underpins what is described as "truth relative to a fiction". For instance, if you imagine a door, and start telling someone (say the players you are GMing) "There is an oaken door" it is now true in the fiction that there is a door, made of wood, and not made of beech.

Analysing the semantics of such utterances is technically challenging - as I said, my preferred account is Barker's - but for the purposes of this thread we don't need to go into that. All we need to do is to distinguish between the thought as a psychological entity - this is supervenient upon the state of the thinker's brain - and the content of the thought which yields its semantic properties. The drawing of this distinction goes back to Frege and Bolzano, and although I am not a thorough-going Fregean (in light of Barker's powerful criticisms) I still think we need to draw this distinction between psychological event and content. Otherwise we end up committed to absurdities such as that the word "door" sometimes refers to doors (when you use it to describe a real door) and sometimes refers to parts of people's brains, or at least to states of affairs that supervene upon such parts (when you use it to describe an imaginary door). And that is obviously wrong - apart from anything else, it would entail that we could never truly imagine a real state of affairs because as soon as we tried to imagine it the meaning of our words would change to refer to something else (namely, a part of our head or something supervening thereupon).
 

pemerton

Legend
Let me know why you think that about Runequest and Traveller.
Because the "code", to the extent that there is a code, is known to the players - the action resolution rules are all out in the open, for instance, unlike early D&D - and the GM in adjudicating non-codified aspects of the system is clearly meant to adhere to the real world as a guide for much of it.

In Traveller (prior to High Guard) this is taken to the extreme of laying out vectors to calculate starship manoeuvres during combat.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
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.

Not really. Use of the term social contract in theorizing about RPGs may have been relatively novel but it mainly serves as a rhetorical device to describe what we used to call "table etiquette" back in the day - the, often but not always unwritten, rules that a particular group followed at their own game table that weren't explicitly part of the gameplay rules themselves and served to set expectations and limitations for how the game played, style, focus, (in)appropriate subject matter, and so on.
 

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