What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Since we're actually in pretty close agreement, we are going around in a pretty tight little circle. ;) The way you're putting it that keeps making me want to push back is just too reminiscent of that 3.x era "..but it'll be a house rule." Dismissal.
Another poster who stated that he or she deviated from the rules told me to call what he or she does "house rules" before. I refused. So I'm afraid you'll have to find someone else to push back on in this regard. This isn't me advocating slavish devotion to RAW for its own sake.

As an exercise, it could be interesting. And it is fair to try to judge a game's merits in a vacuum like that.
In a practical sense, designers of each edition have been decidedly familiar with the ones that came before, and, clearly, motivate to address issues past eds had, be that with their mechanics, or their fanbase. IMHO, much of 5e makes a lot more sense if you come at it from past experience with the TSR era, for instance - I suppose, in part, because Mr Mearls was intentionally going back to that era looking for inspiration, as part of that elusive quest to re-capture the peak popularity the game enjoyed in the 80s.
Miraculously, he succeeded.
Hard to argue with that.
The endless polling probably didn't hurt.

They're a much higher-level part of the ruleset, sure. If you follow them faithfully, you /will/ end up ignoring some lower level rules much of the time. Not that the rules contradict, just that the higher level rules spell out the precedence of the DM. For instance, a group could run into much the same issue with "the skill system" if the DM's style tended towards calling for checks in virtually all circumstances. He's still playing by the high-level rules, following the process, but by focusing on the less functional details of the system, he gets into trouble. Hypothetically, that can be solved by changing his style and exercising more judgment, or by overhauling the skill system. Neither is better - though one is certainly more work.
There you go again parsing the rules and organizing them in some sort of level of relative importance. Pointless and problematic in my view.
 

Chaosmancer

Villager
Per the DMG, after the DM settles on what the campaign is about, the players work with the DM on how their characters' backgrounds and histories tie into the campaign. The DM is encouraged to say yes - if he or she can. If he or she can't, the DM is told to suggest alterations to the character's story so it better fits the world or figure out a way to weave the first threads of the campaign into the character's story.

So, essentially, a collaborative effort with the DM's override prior to the game kicking off is how the game envisions the establishment of NPCs like Frances, not during play. Therefore, a player trying to establish Frances' existence during play is going against the game's expectations in this regard. And, as already established, the DM is under no obligation to accept the player's offer either before play or during. I make no judgment as to whether should or shouldn't accept the offer - that will depend on the DM's or group's preferences.
Well, a non-answer is a type of answer too. That's fine, we can drop it.


I find that players that don't make backstories aren't interested in backstories and generally don't have literary goals for their character - that is to say, they don't really care if the character is involved in any sort of narrative arc except supporting the "plot" and meta-plot of the campaign. The characters growth as a person is not interesting to them compared to the characters growth as a playing piece. And that's OK.
See, I would agree with you, except that my last table had three players who had never played DnD before. Table before that had one. I'm not going to judge that those players aren't interested in their own narrative plots just because they didn't have a backstory after character creation.

I've got players with a few years under their belts, and they sometimes want a few sessions to get a feel for things before they add details to their backstories. "Sure, I think I was a soldier, but I'm not sure why I left the army or how I got with these people". Again, that doesn't preclude them from making a narrative arc that they embrace and enjoy.

I know this for a fact, because people at both those tables had exactly those issues, and ended up with full character arcs that they were ecstatic about. Now, a guy whose played for thirty years and shows up saying "I'm playing Bob the Fighter and that's all you need to know". Yeah, that guy probably doesn't care about backstories, but I'll still leave the door open, in case he wants to try something different this time.

You probably aren't doing this on purpose, and I've certainly used the terms inappropriately a ton of times, but for this passage the difference between the player and the character really matters and I can't be absolutely sure which you mean. Does the character believe that the guard is Francis, or does the player believe that the guard is Francis?
For some of the people I've been discussing with? There is no difference.

For the purpose of the discussion with you, the character believes it, because the player says so.

Heck, I'm not even aware of that argument or all the agendas that lie behind this thread. For my part, you can assert that someone told your character how to slay various monsters when you were a child, and I consider that a perfectly fine thing for you to assert. Trouble is, it doesn't change the fact that you will get no special treatment from me unless your character also has spent CharGen resources on whatever lore skills are necessary to actually learn facts about monsters. If you, as a player of a character that has no lore skill regarding monsters, assert that your character was told a lot of stuff, the very fact that your character does not have a bunch of points spent on monster lore proves that what you were told was probably incomplete, or common knowledge, or just plain wrong. The facts on your character sheet disprove your claim of special knowledge - or else they don't. That call out to your background may perfectly explain why you do have all that lore on your character sheet. Or it may just explain that natural 20 you rolled to identify this particular monster.
Again, according to some of the people I've been discussing this with, you are completely wrong. In fact, [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] went so far as to state in the insight thread that a player never has to justify why their character knows something. There is no roll, there is no story, the player says their character knows earth elemental are vulnerable to thunder damage, so their character knows that.

Now, iserith was also very quick to state that assuming what you know is accurate is a dangerous thing, because the DM could have changed anything and your assumptions might be woefully inaccurate, but I disagree with the premise, not the exception.

It was why I disagreed with the Elder telling you all the monster secrets, that everyone seemed to agree was perfectly okay. No CharGen resources needed, no lore rolls required, you know what your character thinks, therefore you know those facts about those monsters. However, when it turned to a social event where a roll could be bypassed, the player was outside the rules of the game, as everyone has stated repeatedly.

That was why I brought this up, because one way was okay, but the other was not, and I was curious where those individuals saw that line in the sand.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
But you haven't answered the underlying question. Does Francis the Guard exist? Can the player track them down in that town, now that they have pulled that from their backstory?
I'll try to answer that, and maybe this will help [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION], too, who keeps trying to get me to define this boundary.

Francis the Guard exists if that suits my purpose. He exists only in the player's imagination otherwise. Or he died. Or maybe he does exist, but this isn't Francis. As [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] points out, the player has absolute control over the character's thoughts and beliefs, and the DM has absolute control over the environment. Both may cede some of that authority if they want, but that is going outside the rules.

Now, I think your question (and maybe pemerton's...I may be wrong) is really asking the question of how you define a clear boundary, to prevent players from trying to grab too much of the DM's authority. That what's needed is some kind of clear rule, that can't be debated or refuted, right?

No. Wrong. This isn't a problem of unclear rules. This is a problem of players sometimes being jerkwads, and I don't need rules to protect my games against jerkwads. I have a door for that.

I also don't need rules to protect me from jerkwad DMs. This door is a magical door, and it also works, albeit in a slightly different manner, as protection against jerkwad DMs.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Well, a non-answer is a type of answer too. That's fine, we can drop it.
What answer are you looking for? I stated what the rules have to say on the matter and have addressed the specific example in a reply to Elfcrusher upthread. You're welcome to read it.

For some of the people I've been discussing with? There is no difference.
I hope you don't count me among them. If you do, then you've misunderstood (and now misstated) my position.

Again, according to some of the people I've been discussing this with, you are completely wrong. In fact, [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] went so far as to state in the insight thread that a player never has to justify why their character knows something. There is no roll, there is no story, the player says their character knows earth elemental are vulnerable to thunder damage, so their character knows that.
Yes, the player determines what the character thinks and does, and particular knowledge is not necessarily a prerequisite to act. My character doesn't need to know a thing about the vulnerabilities of earth elementals to hit it with a thunderwave spell. But I can choose to say my character thinks that earth elementals are vulnerable to thunder. My character might be right. Or the character might be wrong.

Now, iserith was also very quick to state that assuming what you know is accurate is a dangerous thing, because the DM could have changed anything and your assumptions might be woefully inaccurate, but I disagree with the premise, not the exception.
It's risky to act on assumptions when the character's life is on the line, so don't just assume as a player - have your character act in the context of the setting to verify your assumptions. Or don't and potentially face dire consequences. It's the player's call.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Again, according to some of the people I've been discussing this with, you are completely wrong.
See, again, I think you are trying to draw contrasts that just aren't there, and I wish you'd stop using me as evidence in some argument you are having with someone else..

In fact, [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] went so far as to state in the insight thread that a player never has to justify why their character knows something. There is no roll, there is no story, the player says their character knows earth elemental are vulnerable to thunder damage, so their character knows that.
I wasn't in that discussion, but this seems to be something else entirely. I'm generally of the opinion that there is no such thing as metagaming, so if you the player know that earth elementals are vulnerable to thunder damage, you don't have to justify to me how your character knows that. I'm not going to force you to pretend you don't know that information and try to get you to guess how you would behave if you didn't know that, because that's just impossible. So yes, in that case if you have player knowledge, there is no roll, there is no story. The player simply knows so the character does as well. If you want to justify your in game knowledge through some sort of backstory, eh, I don't care. If you don't, I still don't care. The thing with metagaming is that the player's mind is inherently part of the game universe and can't be removed from it. So even if in theory I'd like to stop metagaming, it's not possible to do it in a way that doesn't amount to telling the player how to play their character. As long as the player isn't snooping at the session notes or buying copies of the module we are playing, I'm OK with player knowledge.

What I was talking about was something else entirely. Suppose a player does not know that Earth elementals are vulnerable to thunder damage, and the player encounters some monster for the first time. That player is allowed in my games to make a skill check versus a DC that depends on the monster (in my game, based on commonality and reputation) and if they are successful, I will tell them a number of facts about the monster that depends on how well they succeeded on their check.

What I was saying was that if you declare, "I used to sweep floors for the village hedge mage, and he once told me all about earth elementals.", that gets you no advantage on your lore check to identify the monster.

No CharGen resources needed, no lore rolls required, you know what your character thinks, therefore you know those facts about those monsters. However, when it turned to a social event where a roll could be bypassed, the player was outside the rules of the game, as everyone has stated repeatedly.
The same for me would generally hold true, although it's much harder to metagame social encounters with NPCs that it is monster entries in a monster manual. But conceivably, if I ever run the same group on multiple campaigns in my homebrew world (and considering I've played 7 years on the current one and have years more to go, that's unlikely), all the stuff that they learned about the campaign world would be stuff they are carrying around that I couldn't stop them from using. Granted, I'd probably set the campaign in a different part of the campaign world to minimize the cross over of knowledge, but now they'd have built up considerable lore about the cosmology, personality of various royal persons, religion, ways of magic, thieves guilds and secrets societies, secrets of the universe and so forth. I can't ask the players to forget all that and there is no way to know how they'd act without it, so if they act on that knowledge, we can only assume that the character heard about it somehow.
 

pemerton

Legend
Thus seems like you're trying to smear one thing into another. On one hand, there's the limited authority of the player to use ingame resources to acquire equipment that is persistent until expended. On the other, there's a suggestion that a player can freely add to the environment new fictional elements that modify the GM's narration of scene.

Your argument seems to be a smearing of the limited authority allowed to the accumlation of equipment to wholesale ability to propose new fiction into the scene. You do this be claiming that a character pulling rope from a backpack is also a proposal of new fiction into the scene, but this fails because the rope, as equipment, was established a priori and is a persistent piece of fiction. No contemporary authoring has occurred. This categorically seperates it ftom the proposal that the guard is an old friend.
I'm not "smearing" anything - I'm enquiring about a particular aspect of the environment (namely, equipment) and who has principal authority over it.

Again, you example of iii) isn't the "rekaxation" you suppose. Further, just because you find it difficult to concueve doesn't mean much, as per your contemporary example of biases in thinking about social sciences. Another example of this is your claim that the 5e rules require ii) to be false.

Come on, man, look past your personal biases. I know these games (like 5e) absolutely frustrate you as a player, but that doesn't mean that having rope must be an usurpation of GM authority or that the rules require adventure only with strangers or that it's impossible to have play including PC friends and family without telling player what their characters think and feel.
I don't think that having rope is a usurpation of GM authority. Because I think it's a clear exception to the GM's authority over establishing the environment.

As for how play is going to involve friends and family consistently with the player having primary authority over the feelings of the PC: I'm waiting for the examples to illustrate. You see a person in front of you - she looks about fifty and has the bearing of a typical villager is narrating the environment. You see a person in front of you - she looks about fifty and has the bearing of a typical villager - in fact, she's your mum!, in a context where the player has a loving mum as part of his/her background, seems to be engendering and indeed coming close to dictating a particular feeling on the part of the PC.

I didn't see exactly that sort of thing very often in AD&D play, but similar stuff using alignment rather than personal background as the lever was very common.

there's no way any such pre-game establishment of backstory could cover every detail of the character & his connection to the world.
Right. To me, that's what establishes the tension between GM establishes environment and player establishes character. Because if we take the backstory seriously, and take the GM's authority over environment seriously, then from time-to-time the GM will establish elements of the environment which, given the backstory, trigger a response from the character.

************************

Anyway, having made these posts about equipment and friends/family I found myself reading the intro pages to Burning Wheel Gold and noticed that the connection is made there too. (And maybe my drawing of the connection was triggered by having read an earlier edition of those pages sometime in the past decade.) From p 17:

Let’s take a look at what comprises a character in this system: He has stats, attributes and skills; Beliefs, Instincts and traits; Resources, relationships, reputations, affiliations and Circles; and of course, he’s got his gear and stuff that he totes around with him.​

That's very close to the corresponding passage on p 4 of the 5e Basic PDF:

Each character brings particular capabilities to the adventure in the form of ability scores and skills, class features, racial traits, equipment, and magic items.​

We have, in both, abilities and skills; features/traits; resources and gear. The BW character has Beliefs and Instincts - the closest analogue in 5e D&D is Ideals, Bonds and Flaws, which aren't mentioned on p 4. And then the BW character has relationships, reputations, affiliations and Circles.

I don't think that the difference between objects that I bring into the game as extensions of me and persons that I bring into the game as extensions of me is self-evident. And I think that D&D itself has had features, over multiple editions, that illustrate the point: is a henchman a NPC (the official rule) or a second-tier PC (the frequent default in play which even the official rules give a pretty good nod to); what about a MU's familiar or a druid's animal friend/companion? Or even a charmed person or monster?

Obviously there are ways of handling all this, and of formally or informally allocating the requisite authorities. It's been done, both at the system level and at the table level, again and again over decades of RPG design and RPG play. What I am asserting is that the GM has authority over the environment, the player authority over the character isn't enough to do this job. And if that's all a game gives you, then you're going to have to supplement it with intuitions or understandings drawn from elsewhere.

It seems weird to me to press the idea of players establishing the environment by citing rules related to equipment though.
That's not what I'm doing. I'm saying that you can't work out what is or isn't permitted, in the contrast between objects and people, simply by reiterating GM controls environment, player controls character. More specification - be that express or implicit - is needed. I've pointed to bits of the Basic PDF that I think do some of this, but frankly I also think it relies on some received understandings about how many RPGs, especially D&D, work.

part of what drew me into this example was how close it was to the Elder telling the character how to slay various monsters when they were a child, which everyone on one side accepted this was perfectly fine
Yes, that was part of what led me to wonder about the example.

It is one way to play, but I think it has some major flaws since it really cuts players off and makes caring about things other than themselves far more difficult.

Also, it seems to go against a lot of background traits and flaws. How are you supposed to deal with being the black sheep of a noble family, or contend with figures in your church as an acolyte, if you are so far away you never meet family members or people you knew growing up.
I understand what you're saying here. But as I've said earlier in this post, I find it hard to see how that sort of play can (i) give all the authority around establishing those NPCs, who they are, what they're doing, etc to the GM and yet (ii) give the player all the authority to decide his/her PC's feelings.

In bits of your post that I didn't quote, you talk about solving some of these issues by letting the GM override the player's account of what his/her PC believes. I assume you'd be prepared to do the same to make the sort of scenario you've described here work.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
I'm not "smearing" anything - I'm enquiring about a particular aspect of the environment (namely, equipment) and who has principal authority over it.

I don't think that having rope is a usurpation of GM authority. Because I think it's a clear exception to the GM's authority over establishing the environment.

As for how play is going to involve friends and family consistently with the player having primary authority over the feelings of the PC: I'm waiting for the examples to illustrate. You see a person in front of you - she looks about fifty and has the bearing of a typical villager is narrating the environment. You see a person in front of you - she looks about fifty and has the bearing of a typical villager - in fact, she's your mum!, in a context where the player has a loving mum as part of his/her background, seems to be engendering and indeed coming close to dictating a particular feeling on the part of the PC.

I didn't see exactly that sort of thing very often in AD&D play, but similar stuff using alignment rather than personal background as the lever was very common.

Right. To me, that's what establishes the tension between GM establishes environment and player establishes character. Because if we take the backstory seriously, and take the GM's authority over environment seriously, then from time-to-time the GM will establish elements of the environment which, given the backstory, trigger a response from the character.

************************

Anyway, having made these posts about equipment and friends/family I found myself reading the intro pages to Burning Wheel Gold and noticed that the connection is made there too. (And maybe my drawing of the connection was triggered by having read an earlier edition of those pages sometime in the past decade.) From p 17:
Let’s take a look at what comprises a character in this system: He has stats, attributes and skills; Beliefs, Instincts and traits; Resources, relationships, reputations, affiliations and Circles; and of course, he’s got his gear and stuff that he totes around with him.​

That's very close to the corresponding passage on p 4 of the 5e Basic PDF:
Each character brings particular capabilities to the adventure in the form of ability scores and skills, class features, racial traits, equipment, and magic items.​

We have, in both, abilities and skills; features/traits; resources and gear. The BW character has Beliefs and Instincts - the closest analogue in 5e D&D is Ideals, Bonds and Flaws, which aren't mentioned on p 4. And then the BW character has relationships, reputations, affiliations and Circles.

I don't think that the difference between objects that I bring into the game as extensions of me and persons that I bring into the game as extensions of me is self-evident. And I think that D&D itself has had features, over multiple editions, that illustrate the point: is a henchman a NPC (the official rule) or a second-tier PC (the frequent default in play which even the official rules give a pretty good nod to); what about a MU's familiar or a druid's animal friend/companion? Or even a charmed person or monster?

Obviously there are ways of handling all this, and of formally or informally allocating the requisite authorities. It's been done, both at the system level and at the table level, again and again over decades of RPG design and RPG play. What I am asserting is that the GM has authority over the environment, the player authority over the character isn't enough to do this job. And if that's all a game gives you, then you're going to have to supplement it with intuitions or understandings drawn from elsewhere.

That's not what I'm doing. I'm saying that you can't work out what is or isn't permitted, in the contrast between objects and people, simply by reiterating GM controls environment, player controls character. More specification - be that express or implicit - is needed. I've pointed to bits of the Basic PDF that I think do some of this, but frankly I also think it relies on some received understandings about how many RPGs, especially D&D, work.

Yes, that was part of what led me to wonder about the example.

I understand what you're saying here. But as I've said earlier in this post, I find it hard to see how that sort of play can (i) give all the authority around establishing those NPCs, who they are, what they're doing, etc to the GM and yet (ii) give the player all the authority to decide his/her PC's feelings.

In bits of your post that I didn't quote, you talk about solving some of these issues by letting the GM override the player's account of what his/her PC believes. I assume you'd be prepared to do the same to make the sort of scenario you've described here work.
If all this stuff of serious concern to you? Or is it just philosophical debate for the point of...well, philosophical debate? Because if disagreements about these things are actually causing problems at your table(s), I would suggest it's an issue with the attitudes of the participants, not game/house rules.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That's not what I'm doing. I'm saying that you can't work out what is or isn't permitted, in the contrast between objects and people, simply by reiterating GM controls environment, player controls character. More specification - be that express or implicit - is needed. I've pointed to bits of the Basic PDF that I think do some of this, but frankly I also think it relies on some received understandings about how many RPGs, especially D&D, work.
And I'm saying it's absolutely true that you can work out what is or isn't permitted with the existing rules. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions, always. If the player says he or she wants to have the character reach into the backpack and grab a rope, by the rules, the DM gets to say how that works out. As I said before, the DM may decide the character lacks the remaining actions to do it right now or that the character doesn't have the item due to previous circumstances or because the rope is actually strapped to the side of the backpack and is not inside it as is the case with certain equipment packs. Or the DM can say "Yep, the rope is in your hand - now what do you do?"

As a matter of practicality, I doubt anyone is going to bat an eye when the player describes the character grabbing the rope out of the backpack, even if the location of the rope has not been previously established. It's probably not that important to establish except in very specific circumstances. But I don't think the claim that the rules don't cover this aspect of things is accurate or that the passage you cite is an exception to the process of play. The players describe what they want to do; the DM mediates between the player and the rules, sets limits, and narrates the result of the adventurers' actions.

This has the look of you trying to weaken the argument that you can learn to play D&D 5e without reference to other games. It's unclear why you'd want to do that in the first place, but I think you have thus far not succeeded.
 
Another poster who stated that he or she deviated from the rules told me to call what he or she does "house rules" before. I refused. So I'm afraid you'll have to find someone else to push back on in this regard. This isn't me advocating slavish devotion to RAW for its own sake.
If you want to label others' interpretations as 'deviated from the rules,' you are advocating devotion to the RaW. If not for its own sake, then for the sake of buttressing a position you fear can't stand on its own merits without the imprimatur of RaW.

Or, rather, that's an impression that you're creating which I'm pushing back against, because I hold a very similar interpretation, that's I'd like to see stand on its merits, as such, rather than defending it as dogma.

There you go again parsing the rules and organizing them in some sort of level of relative importance. Pointless and problematic in my view.
"High level" in that context is a matter of scope and detail, not importance.

Sorry if that's getting a trifle strident, but we have spun in this circle for a while now. It gets frustrating.

And I'm saying it's absolutely true that you can work out what is or isn't permitted with the existing rules.
Not in an absolute sense, as in 3.x RaW (which, even then, was more an ideal than a reality). Rather, by convention (both ancient D&D tradition and explicit 5e intent) the DM's interpretation of what is or isn't 'permitted' within the existing rules is the final word.

This has the look of you trying to weaken the argument that you can learn to play D&D 5e without reference to other games.
That'd be a strange argument to undertake. 5e is /meant/ to be accessible to new players. It's also very much meant for long-time and returning players, who will necessarily learn it in the context of their past experiences.

That's really 5e's great accomplishment: working for both. It's why it's accepted by the existing fans rather than warred against, in spite of being accessible to potential new ones.


My feel for it is that, while you certainly can learn any edition without reference to any other, or learn it primarily in terms of what it changes from a prior edition, another manifestation of this acceptable/accessible feat of 5e, is that probably the /best/ way to learn it is at a mixed table of new, long-time, & returning players, each contributing their own perspective to the D&D experience.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If you want to label others' interpretations as 'deviated from the rules,' you are advocating devotion to the RaW. If not for its own sake, then for the sake of buttressing a position you fear can't stand on its own merits without the imprimatur of RaW.

Or, rather, that's an impression that you're creating which I'm pushing back against, because I hold a very similar interpretation, that's I'd like to see stand on its merits, as such, rather than defending it as dogma.
I would say your impression is mistaken and perhaps, based on your previous posts in this and other threads, greatly influenced by your experience in the edition wars and related discussions of the past. My position is that the rules are like the directions of a recipe. If you don't follow them, you may get a different result than the recipe intended. Whether that's good or bad is a matter of taste. That's all. I follow the recipe and the result is something I find enjoyable enough to keep doing. Others may not.

Not in an absolute sense, as in 3.x RaW (which, even then, was more an ideal than a reality). Rather, by convention (both ancient D&D tradition and explicit 5e intent) the DM's interpretation of what is or isn't 'permitted' within the existing rules is the final word.
I don't see how "The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions" is anything other than absolutely clear. Then add to that the scope of the DM's role as fleshed out by the DMG and we have everything we need to determine who gets to say what.

That'd be a strange argument to undertake.
I agree. But I also think that pemerton has asserted as much upthread, if I remember correctly. I can go look for the post if my recollection is disputed.
 
My position is that the rules are like the directions of a recipe.
Every seen a recipe that says "add ______ to taste?" Sure, 5e is like a recipe - one where every ingredient is "to taste."

If you don't follow them, you may get a different result than the recipe intended. Whether that's good or bad is a matter of taste. That's all. I follow the recipe and the result is something I find enjoyable enough to keep doing. Others may not.
You follow your interpretation of the recipe, to your taste. Unless it blows up on you, it'd be unfair of someone else to say that you're doing it wrong. Grant others the same courtesy, rather than claiming you have a lock on the One True RaW.

I don't see how "The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions" is anything other than absolutely clear.
You're seeing it in pemerton's posts, among others.

Describing the results of an action can include narrating what a character thinks, decides, does or feels - or not, depending on your interpretation.

I agree. But I also think that [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] has asserted as much upthread, if I remember correctly. I can go look for the post if my recollection is disputed.
I suspect it may have been more along the lines of experience with past editions can't be entirely set aside or compartmentalized when learning a new edition. I went so far as to say it'd be very helpful. I doubt anyone really claimed that 5e is impossible for new players to learn.

If all this stuff of serious concern to you? Or is it just philosophical debate for the point of...well, philosophical debate?
IIRC, [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] is an actual philosopher, like IRL.

Or am I miss-remembering?

I'm not "smearing" anything - I'm enquiring about a particular aspect of the environment (namely, equipment) and who has principal authority over it.
Players typically pick equipment from a list in the rule book, and are privileged (a privilege first formalized in 3.0) to describe what their that gear looks like. Adding to or banning from those lists, though, is presumably the DM's prerogative.

I don't think that having rope is a usurpation of GM authority. Because I think it's a clear exception to the GM's authority over establishing the environment.
The DM's authority could include ruling that the player doesn't (or does) have rope if it's found not to be on his character sheet, or narrating that the player doesn't find said rope where he left it (it may have been stolen, or lost, say).

I don't think that the difference between objects that I bring into the game as extensions of me and persons that I bring into the game as extensions of me is self-evident. And I think that D&D itself has had features, over multiple editions, that illustrate the point: is a henchman a NPC (the official rule) or a second-tier PC (the frequent default in play which even the official rules give a pretty good nod to); what about a MU's familiar or a druid's animal friend/companion? Or even a charmed person or monster?
OK, I have to acknowledge those are good points, and not even all exclusively from past editions. 4e & 5e did get /very/ careful about 'pet' mechanics, though, which seems consistent with the intent for them being player-controlled (and that was clearly spelled out in 4e, of course, since it was way more precise & jargony).

Obviously there are ways of handling all this, and of formally or informally allocating the requisite authorities. It's been done, both at the system level and at the table level, again and again over decades of RPG design and RPG play. What I am asserting is that the GM has authority over the environment, the player authority over the character isn't enough to do this job. And if that's all a game gives you, then you're going to have to supplement it with intuitions or understandings drawn from elsewhere.
I question that the D&D player actually has /final/ authority over his character. Rather, the process of play is that he generally makes decisions for his character. In 'narrating results' the DM could essentially take control of the character (something that freaks some players out, admittedly, but arguably within the scope of the DM's 'power,' that scope being essentially unlimited).

I understand what you're saying here. But as I've said earlier in this post, I find it hard to see how that sort of play can (i) give all the authority around establishing those NPCs, who they are, what they're doing, etc to the GM and yet (ii) give the player all the authority to decide his/her PC's feelings.
I don't see an inherent contradiction. People can have one sort of relationship, each as far as the other knows (understands/experiences), yet the interior life of either or both my not be in synch with that.

In bits of your post that I didn't quote, you talk about solving some of these issues by letting the GM override the player's account of what his/her PC believes. I assume you'd be prepared to do the same to make the sort of scenario you've described here work.
The DM would seem to have that authority, both traditionally through most of the game's history, and specifically in 5e. But, like all rules, it's open to interpretation - DM interpretation.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Every seen a recipe that says "add ______ to taste?" Sure, 5e is like a recipe - one where every ingredient is "to taste."

You follow your interpretation of the recipe, to your taste. Unless it blows up on you, it'd be unfair of someone else to say that you're doing it wrong. Grant others the same courtesy, rather than claiming you have a lock on the One True RaW.
Please do not ascribe to me claims I am not making. As for showing where others are not following the rules and perhaps not achieving a desirable result, that's fair game as far as I am concerned. It's advice for correcting a problem the poster reports. They can take it or leave it. Further, me saying what I do is because I'm just following what the books say is not a judgment on what other people choose to do. I frankly don't care what they do. It doesn't affect me.

I would also like to leave off on discussing how to discuss or argue about how to argue. It's not productive in my view.

You're seeing it in pemerton's posts, among others.

Describing the results of an action can include narrating what a character thinks, decides, does or feels - or not, depending on your interpretation.
Only if you are ignoring the rule that states it's the player who determines what the character does, thinks, and says.
 
BTW: I guess iserith & I must have similar schedules, that's probably why we've got this crazy reply velocity going, not because of the intensity of the subject matter or anything. I also hope are posting styles aren't clashing too badly. I tend to be flippant and to poke fun at myself (and my generation or any other identity group that hasn't successfully expelled me yet - see, I just did it again) and that can bleed over onto posters I agree with too vehemently.

Please do not ascribe to me claims I am not making. As for showing where others are not following the rules and perhaps not achieving a desirable result, that's fair game as far as I am concerned. It's advice for correcting a problem the poster reports. They can take it or leave it. Further, me saying what I do is because I'm just following what the books say is not a judgment on what other people choose to do. I frankly don't care what they do. It doesn't affect me.
If you didn't care, you wouldn't be claiming & defending the mantle of "following the rules" so zealously. ;)
(nb: caring can be good.)

Only if you are ignoring the rule that states it's the player who determines what the character does, thinks, and says.
The rule (from the set we're talking about, anyway) says the player declares actions. That's a very high-level rule and not unambiguous.

The rules are open to interpretation. Even in editions that tried to make them as clear, precise, and unambiguous (and, sometimes even balanced) as possible.

That's /not/ open to interpretation! ;P
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If you didn't care, you wouldn't be claiming & defending the mantle of "following the rules" so zealously.
Sorry, dude, I'm the only authority here on what I care about. Please kindly leave off on this track.

The rule (from the set we're talking about, anyway) says the player declares actions. That's a very high-level rule and not unambiguous.

The rules are open to interpretation. Even in editions that tried to make them as clear, precise, and unambiguous (and, sometimes even balanced) as possible.

That's /not/ open to interpretation! ;P
"Roleplaying is, literally, the act of playing out a role. In this case, it's you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks." (PHB, p. 185)

Taken together with "How to Play," we see very clearly who gets to say what according to the rules. The DM's authority does not extend to how the character thinks, acts, and talks, even when narrating the outcome of the adventurer's actions. (Some kind of magical compulsion might be an exception.) Whether someone chooses not to heed these rules is up to them. What the books says about it is, however, is not disputable.
 
"Roleplaying is, literally, the act of playing out a role. In this case, it's you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks." (PHB, p. 185)
That's a definition of RP, we all know how uncontroversial those are.

Taken together with "How to Play," we see very clearly who gets to say what according to the rules. The DM's authority does not extend to how the character thinks, acts, and talks, even when narrating the outcome of the adventurer's actions.
That's one valid interpretation.
It's not the only one. That's the sticking point that's got us spinning like this. I'm insistent that a game written in natural, even conversational language, that encourages the DM to interpret the rules and make judgements is, in fact, open to multiple interpretations.

I'm not inclined to die on hills, but I feel like I could heavily fortify this one and leave a lot of mines on it.

(Some kind of magical compulsion might be an exception.) Whether someone chooses not to heed these rules is up to them. What the books says about it is, however, is not disputable.
What the book says, literally, is in black & white - how to interpret it is up to the DM.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That's a definition of RP, we all know how uncontroversial those are.
As far as D&D 5e is concerned, that's the definition. Other games might have other definitions.

That's one valid interpretation.
It's not the only one. That's the sticking point that's got us spinning like this. I'm insistent that a game written in natural, even conversational language, that encourages the DM to interpret the rules and make judgements is, in fact, open to multiple interpretations.

I'm not inclined to die on hills, but I feel like I could heavily fortify this one and leave a lot of mines on it.

What the book says, literally, is in black & white - how to interpret it is up to the DM.
That the game works to varying degrees whether a DM follows the rules or not is something I do not dispute, especially since I've seen that be the case (even if it some cases it wasn't my cup of tea). But that comes at the risk of arriving at a game experience that is not intended or in some cases undesirable. That the books are written in natural language really doesn't have any bearing on anything in my view.
 

Satyrn

Villager
That's a definition of RP, we all know how uncontroversial those are.

. . .

What the book says, literally, is in black & white - how to interpret it is up to the DM.
I like that you started your post dismissing what the book says, then ended it by appealing to what the book says.


Is that chutzpah? Or is it ironic? Should I ask Alanis?
 
I like that you started your post dismissing what the book says, then ended it by appealing to what the book says.
5e /admits/ that what it says is open to DM interpretation and that the DM can change rules as he likes (once he's figured out what they say to his satisfaction - or instead of trying to interpret them, for that matter. The reality is that's true of every RPG, just by the nature of the player-GM dynamic. The GM choose what game to run, that can be a given game 'by the book,' or variation on one (or an original system, though I've rarely - I can't say never because "Storyboard" - seen that go well). 5e calls for DM rulings in leu of presenting more detailed mechanics.

None of that's an appeal to 5e's 'RaW.'
 
That the game works to varying degrees whether a DM follows the rules or not is something I do not dispute, especially since I've seen that be the case (even if it some cases it wasn't my cup of tea). But that comes at the risk of arriving at a game experience that is not intended or in some cases undesirable. That the books are written in natural language really doesn't have any bearing on anything in my view.
Frankly, IMX, the risk of delivering a negative experience is greater for the DM who follows the rules too closely, than for the DM who wings it (or at least, comes up with an interpretation that works well for him & his players, if he must stick to something too closely).

When I read your posts, I see a good DM, who's come up with very good interpretations of 5e that work well for him, and might well be great for a /lot/ of tables. But, I also see you wrapping those interpretations in a mantle of being the /only/ interpretation that's valid, with everything else being 'changing the rules.' That bothers me.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Or is it ironic? Should I ask Alanis?
Alanis had the last laugh on that one. Most people were so busy gleefully pointing out that the anecdotes in the song are (for the most part) not examples of irony that they missed the point that the song itself is ironic.
 

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