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What counts as a detailed enough, permissible action declaration?

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
There've been a series of posts in this thread - of which yours is the most recent - suggesting that changing the hunter's mind about hunting and eating meat is a big deal. I've been struck by this: it seems that most posters in this thread would require much more elaborate action declarations, and play, to bring it about that a PC converts the hunter to vegetarianism than to bring it about that a PC kills the hunter.

Yes, fundamentally changing someone's mind in a way that forces them to give up their current occupation, lifestyle, and diet is generally hard. Meanwhile killing someone is not an overly difficult task, especially with the mismatch in power between PCs and a typical NPC. Think about it IRL - it would take a lot more effort to convince someone to abandon their career, diet, and lifestyle than to just take the gun you're already carrying (PCs typically go around armed) and shoot them. Obviously you'd have significantly more consequences after the fact from shooting someone than from convincing someone to adopt a radically different lifestyle (one is highly illegal, one isn't), but this isn't about consequences down the line.
 

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pemerton

Legend
Arguably, it may be easier to end a life than to change a core belief. (A person’s foodways are often quite deeply rooted.) Ending a life merely requires poking enough holes in the meat sack. Changing a core belief may take quite a bit longer.
Maybe - although it might also take more on the agent's side to bring themselves to kill than to bring themselves to persuade (depending on the details of the individual's psychology).

But changes of mind - changing sides, changing beliefs, unexpected demonstrations of new loyalties - are pretty common tropes in action-adventure stories.
 

pemerton

Legend
Yes, fundamentally changing someone's mind in a way that forces them to give up their current occupation, lifestyle, and diet is generally hard. Meanwhile killing someone is not an overly difficult task, especially with the mismatch in power between PCs and a typical NPC. Think about it IRL - it would take a lot more effort to convince someone to abandon their career, diet, and lifestyle than to just take the gun you're already carrying (PCs typically go around armed) and shoot them.
Last night I watched Fast & Furious 6. It was hard for Leti to confront Dom. But not hard for Dom to bring her back from Shaw's team to his.

Changes of loyalty are pretty common in a range of adventure genres.
 

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
Last night I watched Fast & Furious 6. It was hard for Leti to confront Dom. But not hard for Dom to bring her back from Shaw's team to his.

Changes of loyalty are pretty common in a range of adventure genres.

What you wrote looks like a complete non-sequitor to me - changes in loyalty (especially changing to and then back to a particular group) are much smaller than a fundamental restructuring of someone's life. Switching between one of two similar car-stealing teams and back (which is my guess at what you're talking about after looking at the wiki, since I haven't seen the movie) is very different from convincing someone to change their basic moral system, diet, and career overnight by claiming that what the person currently does is immoral.

Just look at the terminology- if you switch teams of car thieves, you're still a car thief. If you are described as "A hunter" but decide that killing and eating animals is immoral, you've ceased to be a hunter altogether.
 

pemerton

Legend
What you wrote looks like a complete non-sequitor to me - changes in loyalty (especially changing to and then back to a particular group) are much smaller than a fundamental restructuring of someone's life. Switching between one of two similar car-stealing teams and back (which is my guess at what you're talking about after looking at the wiki, since I haven't seen the movie) is very different from convincing someone to change their basic moral system, diet, and career overnight by claiming that what the person currently does is immoral.

Just look at the terminology- if you switch teams of car thieves, you're still a car thief. If you are described as "A hunter" but decide that killing and eating animals is immoral, you've ceased to be a hunter altogether.
That's not an accurate account of the film, but I won't spell out the details.

Instead I'll offer another example: in RotJ Darth Vader betrays his Emperor to help his son, who - up until that point - he's been trying to hand over to the Emperor.
 

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
Instead I'll offer another example: in RotJ Darth Vader betrays his Emperor to help his son, who - up until that point - he's been trying to hand over to the Emperor.

This is factually wrong; in ESB Vader says "Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son!" He was ready to betray the Emperor with his son before RotJ was even written. Convincing a Sith to betray a Sith is about as difficult convincing a Catholic to take Communion, their religion/philosophy is based around the idea of 'might makes right' and each of the two is always planning to betray or to be betrayed by the other one.

And AGAIN I don't see what this or the previous example has to do with the difficulty in convincing a hunter to give up his entire career, diet, and moral system on the basis of a conversation.
 

pemerton

Legend
This is factually wrong; in ESB Vader says "Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son!" He was ready to betray the Emperor with his son before RotJ was even written.
But not to betray him as happened in RotJ. It's not a power-play; it's a redemption.
 

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
But not to betray him as happened in RotJ. It's not a power-play; it's a redemption.

Overthrowing the Emperor is betraying him, and Vader was shown planning to do so in the second movie. Since I don't even see what your examples are supposed to show, I'm dropping this line of conversation unless you explain how it's even related to the disucssion.
 

I probably wouldn’t model an incident like Vader’s redemption with a single action declaration in a ttrpg. I would expect some sort of skill challenge requiring a build-up over time.
 

pemerton

Legend
I probably wouldn’t model an incident like Vader’s redemption with a single action declaration in a ttrpg. I would expect some sort of skill challenge requiring a build-up over time.
Do you mean time in the fiction, or at the table?

And is it relevant if we step down the centrality of the character? In The Empire Strikes Back, Lando's move from betrayer to ally happens pretty quickly.

In my Classic Traveller game a good chunk of the "secondary" PCs - characters who are part of the players' positions and who, in classic D&D, might be counted as "henchmen" - were once opponents but changed sides for various reasons (being defeated; tagging along with a boss who changed sides; having a crush on one of the PCs; etc). I don't think anyone in the group would have wanted to give each of those it's own extended treatment as a focus of play.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
OK, but doesn't this shift the burden back onto requires? When does a GM reasonably require more information?
When the DM can clearly understand the declaration and what it is trying to accomplish. I try to escape is not sufficient. It's far too vague. I open the window and dive through it is sufficient. Or I turn around and run away as fast as I can is sufficient.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That's not an accurate account of the film, but I won't spell out the details.

Instead I'll offer another example: in RotJ Darth Vader betrays his Emperor to help his son, who - up until that point - he's been trying to hand over to the Emperor.
Other than in Empire Strikes back when he tries to get Luke to join him in overthrowing the Emperor. ;)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
When the DM can clearly understand the declaration and what it is trying to accomplish.

Given how often misunderstandings come up around here, it seems important to raise the point that this means "action declaration" is often not going to be a simple declarative statement, but a conversation, and that's okay.

"I wanna do X."
"So, you start to do Y... roll the dice."
"No, I meant X-restated."
"So, not Y. But X is going to mean Z."
"That's okay. I wanna do X."
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Given how often misunderstandings come up around here, it seems important to raise the point that this means "action declaration" is often not going to be a simple declarative statement, but a conversation, and that's okay.

"I wanna do X."
"So, you start to do Y... roll the dice."
"No, I meant X-restated."
"So, not Y. But X is going to mean Z."
"That's okay. I wanna do X."
I agree.
 

Do you mean time in the fiction, or at the table?

And is it relevant if we step down the centrality of the character?
Yes, I suppose so. I’ve also had plenty of allegiance shifts in my games. Sometimes a single roll does suffice. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about when it feels appropriate and dramatically satisfying to handle something as a single action versus a series of actions.
 

pemerton

Legend
Yes, I suppose so. I’ve also had plenty of allegiance shifts in my games. Sometimes a single roll does suffice. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about when it feels appropriate and dramatically satisfying to handle something as a single action versus a series of actions.
I agree with your last sentence. But system is also a factor. I remember in a Marvel Heroic RP session Nightcrawler (being played as a PC) teleported one of the B.A.D Girls (I think Diamondback) up to the top of the Capitol Dome to propose to her. She accepted.

First, some context: the session started with NIghtcrawler (under an image inducer), James Rhodes (War Machine) and Bobby Drake (Iceman) going out to a bar in Washington DC (which was where the previous session had ended). Of course the women they ended up hanging out with were the B.A.D. Girls (Black Mamba, Asp and Diamondback) - this was GM sceneframing - and beneath the banter and flirting was an attempt by the villains to get information and assistance - especially from Rhodes - about an exhibition of a Stark Industries vehicle (the M-PORV, or Multi-Purpose Orbital and Re-entry Vehicle) that was on display at the Smithsonian. At a certain point it went from civvies in a bar to costumes in the streets and plazas of DC (I can't remember the details, this was a few years ago now). And somewhere during all that Nightcrawler popped the question to Diamondback.

Second, the system: MHRP uses the same resolution system for fisticuffs, emotional manipulation, trickery, wrapping someone in webs, etc. It is not an attrition system: full victory comes when a condition on a character (be that some sort of stress, or a complication) is stepped up beyond d12. This can happen over multiple rolls (if someone is at d6 stress and suffers another d6 stress, they step up to d8) or a single roll (if the effect achieved is itself 12+, due to the size of the effect die as manipulated in the various ways permitted by the action resolution rules). Now I can't remember if Nightcrawler built up his flirting and proposal over multiple rolls, or if he did it in a single roll (maybe first teleporting to the Dome to generate a Romantic Scenery asset to boost his dice pool, and then including that in the roll to actually pop the question). But a single roll isn't at odds with the system. It means that Diamondback has really fallen head-over-heels in love with Nightcrawler - a notoriously sexy devil!

In the case of the hunter that's been discussed in this thread, the system was The Green Knight, which uses scene-based resolution but not an extended contest system like MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic. Rather, at the top of each initiative count the PCs all suffer a point of Dishonour (narratively, because they are delaying their quest) and then the leader of the party gets to decide whether to continue the encounter or end it. Ending it saves accruing any more Dishonour from starting new action cycles; but keeping it on foot gives the chance to change the fiction that attends the resolution of the encounter, and this feeds into (what the system calls) the Judgement, where the PCs accrue Dishonour or lose Dishonour depending on what they did during the encounter and how things ended up.

So this is not generally a system in which actions are going to be drawn out over multiple rolls, unless that is built in as some sort of particular challenge in the framing - eg <SPOILER ALERT> in the hunter encounter it takes 3 consecutive Vigilance successes to find the magical fox in the woods. But when it comes to the hunter, the key goal of the players - which the scenario author anticipates - is to persuade him from hunting and eating the fox. There are various ways that might be framed as an action declaration, and the jolly bard Jeremiah of Jerusalem approaching it via a scriptural teaching about when it is or isn't proper to eat flesh is as apt as any.

In the MHRP game, when Nightcrawler stands up Diamondback the next day - his proposal was just a ploy, after all, to keep her away from the M-PORV - does she feel betrayed or relieved or a bit of both? That's not a question that needs to be answered until it becomes relevant in the context of framing some time later in the campaign.

In The Green Knight, is the hunter's conversion to vegetarianism sincere and long lasting? Or a momentary idea he adopts under the influence of Jeremiah, that will lapse in due course? We don't know, and don't need to know, and because the game is based around a one-off scenario rather than an ongoing campaign each participant is free to speculate as s/he wishes!

To tie this back to the topic of the thread: there are a lot of different ways of thinking about the outcomes, and finality, of action resolution, which depend on system and play expectations. And these shape what counts as a permissible action declaration - because the approach to declaration feeds into, and needs to fit, the approach to resolution; and the approach to resolution in turn feeds into considerations of consequence and finality.
 

Numidius

Explorer
Yes, I suppose so. I’ve also had plenty of allegiance shifts in my games. Sometimes a single roll does suffice. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about when it feels appropriate and dramatically satisfying to handle something as a single action versus a series of actions.
To me, the old paragon is Trollbabe rpg. "Social" is one of the three stats/pillars. Number of successes needed ranges from 1 to 3; whoever declares Conflict, sets it and the opponent (Gm, or Player) can scale it up/down one notch.

So there is a fast & mechanical negotiation between Gm and Players, rounded up or down.

What the text says about Winning a Social Conflict, is that the losers do not necessarily changed their mind on the issue, but nonetheless, in the end, agree to follow the advice/imposition of the winners, in that particular instance.

Btw that is something easily ported to d20 rolls of d&d, either using a target number, or a roll under stat check, coming from some years before Skill Challenges were a thing.
 

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