D&D (2024) What could One D&D do to bring the game back to the dungeon?


What I mean when I say "force action" is that the rules compel choices.
If it's compelled then it's not chosen, so I'm not sure I follow.

Failed willpower rolls to stop reading an inscription do.
I'm not sure what RPGs you play, and so am not sure why you find this unusual. Saving throws to avoid unhappy consequences are pretty common in many RPGs. In a recent post of yours in another thread you gave the example of failing a Perception check and hence having one's PC fall down a bit. Is that an example of a rule compelling a choice (ie because check was failed, the player is compelled to have their player choose to walk on the bit of floor with a pit)?

What I mean by "manipulate game mechanics" is that there are metagame elements (hero points, scene framing) that allow the player to determine the action rather than relying strictly on in-world factors such as character skill, tools, and the complexity of the lock to be picked. In certain games we use hero points, but it feels your style rely more on metagame elements?
In Torchbearer, the only significant difference in allocation of scene-framing authority from D&D is the Circles check - in town, a player can make a Circles check to see if their character is able to meet a helpful NPC.

The earliest version of this mechanic I know of is the Streetwise skill in 1977 Traveller.

A much bigger difference from D&D is that a Torchbearer GM is expected to have regard to key elements of the PCs -their Beliefs, their friends and enemies, their goals - in framing scenes and in narrating consequences.

The way we play the results of a successful or failed action is outside the scope of the skill test itself. So the result could be (using secret GM resources now revealed) that behind the door the corridor just continues, empty, and nothing further happens. I guess that part of the reason we want to play like this is that it makes the game world more persistent and in a way more "real". The heroes are not progressing through a story, they are exploring an actual place (even if it is just a map the GM sketched on a notepad)
There seems to be some confusion here. The characters explore things in the fiction, and my fiction is as "real" as your fiction. What is different though is that you, the player, explore what the GM has sketched on their notepad. That is not as big a component of Torchbearer play, although it is not absent - the GM is expected to prepare a map and a key for an area to be explored by the PCs.

The place existed before the PCs came here and is only affected by their actions, not story needs.
As I just said, this is equally true of Torchbearer. Duran's prison existed before the PCs arrived at it. The shadow caves where Celedhring carried out his devotions to the Outer Dark existed before the PCs entered them. Etc.

Whatever "story needs" might be, they are not part of the fiction. They seem to be something that might exist in the real world inhabited by the game participants - the players and GM.

If I understand things right, in the type of game you are talking about, what is behind the door is determined by the check to open the door and to a degree on the scene framing done by the player, as well as the GM. In this way, the play is guaranteed to progress, there is no "nothing much" option. Or have I misunderstood?
You seem to have misunderstood, or at least to have not grasped the techniques in play.

Again, speaking for Torchbearer, you can look at my AP thread and see my write-up of Mim's Dell. You will see that it looks very similar to any D&D module map-and-key.

And as I posted, with the exception of Circles players in Torchbearer do not frame scenes.

But when consequences are narrated, and when scenes are framed, the GM is expected to have regard to certain PC elements. I didn't roll on a random table to see whether or not Duran would request the sacrifice of Megloss - as soon as one of the player raised it as an option, I seized on it, because of the way it pushed the buttons of the characters as played by their players: will Fea-bella agree to such an awful thing to rid herself of her enemy? Will Golin try and cultivate his budding friendship with Megloss? Etc.

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Rather than avoid any arguments about when it is or is not "kosher" to resist one's urges, or try to police someone's roleplay, perhaps a die roll to resist is the most fair solution.
I prefer Fate's compel rules over a roll myself, as it puts the choice still in the player's hand. You spend a chip to ignore, you get a chip if you follow through. If Inspiration's impact wasn't so trivial there might be something worth building upon in D&D.

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