log in or register to remove this ad

 

What is the point of GM's notes?

Emerikol

Adventurer
But none of that tells me why do I need to evolve Nightmarket, The Wraiths, or The Inspectors beyond their initial conditions in the game text when none of that stuff has come "on-line" yet?

That bolded is the question and what I'm asserting is the evolution of that off-line stuff is Setting Solitaire.
And we believe those things make the world have greater verisimilitude and thus ultimately is more satisfying to us. Our game play goals are "become a fantasy character" so we want to see things the best we can through our characters eyes. The character is not a playing piece such as a pawn in chess that we move around. We are achieving the greatest success when we fuse with our character and feel what our character feels.

I think since you don't really even play our style with similar goals that you don't value the same things we value.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Emerikol

Adventurer
I think a point should be made here. I've made it in snippets at various places.

1. I am not hating these other styles. I'm just equating them with the sort of satisfaction I'd get from playing a decent board game. I am not saying these other styles ARE a board game. I'm saying that the satisfaction I'd get would be similar. Kind of like saying you like apple or cherry pie. It's not like they taste the same but they may just be equal options for you at the local diner.

2. I really really love roleplaying and consider it far more satisfying than a lot of other forms of entertainment. Thus I am willing to commit a major time investment to play what I view as my favorite style of gaming.


Secondly,

I believe there are many out there playing what would appear to be my style of gaming. They have dungeon maps and skilled play is necessary. They have a world and sometimes even a sandbox. Yet their games would satisfy me no better than those in #1 above. Why? Because the engagement with the world would be perfunctory.

In my games, there are no random dungeon maps. I don't "stock" my dungeons using the wandering monster tables. There is a lot of world engagement in terms of NPC relations and alliances/enemies. I really try when bringing in a dungeon to make it fit the world and to provide some background. There was an article in Best of Dragon about building dungeons that I've always thought was a really good one. It was about dialing up the verisimilitude. When it works it's really great in my opinion. Players as their characters genuinely begin to care about not only their fellow party members but various NPCs in the game. It feels real to them. For a brief moment each Saturday, they step into another world.
 

Here I'm with @Manbearcat and @hawkeyefan - everything else being equal, once the GM has decided what the Society of the Silver Sword is doing when the PCs first encounter them, does it need to be changed before the Society comes "online"?
As I said to Manbearcat, it is up to you. The point of sandbox (edit: living world) is so things don't feel like they are sitting their waiting for the party to come get them, like they are active characters and beings in the setting, like organizations are active and responsive. The point of living sandbox isn't to get hung up on whether something needs to be in motion and alive prior to the players encountering it in play (this is more a philosophical question I suppose: and ultimately what matters if you are trying to run a living world is whether doing so is worth your time in this instance and whether it makes a difference----or whether it matters to you).
 
Last edited:

The "freeze frame" room is a classic in dungeon design. But I think it's pretty apparent that you don't use the same freeze frame if the PCs come back again; you present something new that makes sense.

Sure and the living adventure/living world way of managing this is to focus on the goals of the characters who inhabit (perhaps the major ones, but also the minor ones if you want), allow not just the overall situation to adjust if the players come back, but making decisions based on the NPCs as if they are characters (which could allow for example for an intelligent resident of the dungeon to leave, and even go after the PCs). Nothing is preventing you from doing this is you begin with the freeze approach, but a lot of GMs do treat it as static, and living world/living adventure is a reminder for the GM to make things more active and responsive (and to treat them more like objective entities in the setting). If it doesn't answer an issue you want to solve, if it runs up against some other playstyle or system thing you are interested in, then you don't have to do it. All I can say is this principle has made a night and day difference in my sessions.
 


You have a tendency to post as if this is not common in other posters' games. But in fact it is.

He isn't saying anything about your campaign or anyone else's he is responding to the bolded test in @Manbearcat's post asking why he should use this technique and calling it setting solitaire. @Emerikol's response is about the reason why you would use a living world approach here and pointing to it not being a solitary activity by the GM.
 

pemerton

Legend
He isn't saying anything about your campaign or anyone else's he is responding to the bolded test in @Manbearcat's post asking why he should use this technique and calling it setting solitaire. @Emerikol's response is about the reason why you would use a living world approach here and pointing to it not being a solitary activity by the GM.
I can read Emerikol's posts. The post I quoted in my post that you replied to was not a reply to @Manbearcat (or anyone else).

It was a post about "his style" vs boardgaming.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
If it's something I've prepped, and they're getting to it well after I prepped it, then I'm changing things mostly because the PCs have different needs than they did when I originally prepped [place]. If this is a place they're returning to (not included in your original question, but still feels vaguely applicable) there are helpings of verisimilitude and not-stagnation, too.

EDIT: And I prepped it the first time because I thought the chances the PCs would go there made it worth doing.
I think this is really due to the fundamental difference in how these games do PCs and mechanics. In D&D, PC capabilities vary wildly as they progress -- the easiest to demonstrate is spellcasters, who gain massive changes in what's possible and not just in power. This is true of other classes as well, it's just most obvious in the spell lists. A character can switch from having to walk across a continent to doing so instantaneously in the blink of an eye at the table -- the player just levels up the PC to get teleport. This radical shift in capability (again, present in all classes), means that unused prep needs to be updated, if only to account for new abilities. Elsewise, prep must be discarded as not something that's relevant to these PCs anymore (a chasm, for instance, goes from a dangerous obstacle to a triviality very suddenly). In Blades, though, this doesn't happen -- PCs do not have sudden shifts in capability, they just improve at doing what they already could do.

The upshot of this is that, in D&D, prep is absolutely necessary, if only to account for the difference in capability. This applies to sandbox prep as well, as different areas/locations are prepped with different capabilities in mind (this is a challenging area with powerful opponents, this is a less challenging area with weaker opponents). With Blades, though, this isn't necessary -- threats are more about what's happening rather than quality of the opposition/accounting for increased abilities. PCs get more competent, but don't add entire new categories of capability.

I think this difference -- how you account for PC capabilities -- is a critical difference in how these games can and are prepped. Blades is fine with a thumbnail and an opening situation, because that's all that's needed to engage with play. When the PCs start interacting with the Billhooks, for instance, then what the Billhooks are doing will necessarily be an impediment to the PC's plans (elsewise, the GM will not invoke them in framing or consequence). They don't need to adapt, in any way, to the PCs, nor do they need to advance on their own because whatever they were doing is of little consequence to play, it's only what they're doing when the PCs encounter them. Now, that said, I'm not at all adverse to making a Fortune roll and advancing their clock as I introduce them, especially if that puts more pressure on what the PCs are trying to do (and this is a consequence framing). In D&D, prep absolutely has to account for the PC abilities -- either in adjusting previous prep to remain useful (which seems your approach), or by tiering threats in a sandbox so the PCs have a variety of challenges for whatever their current abilities are.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
None of the above changes the reality of what occurred i.e. much of the focus, directly or indirectly, being on the thread's title with several posters addressing this exact issue.
Ah, more cryptic statements, where one is left to assume your intent. And, nice sidestep, there! You neatly avoided refuting that you're questioning @pemerton's honesty while continuing to suggest it. I'd ask again if you intend to question pem's honesty, but I figure, at this point, you'll just deflect while insinuating more. Surprise me, maybe?
Your disagreement with this has been noted.

I'm not sure what I disagreed with, at this point, as you've not actually said anything, just implied a bunch of stuff.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
@Ovinomancer That's probably about right. I think I'm including the idea that revising prep might be about story stuff at least as much as character capability stuff; and I think some of the difference in prep between D&D 5E and BitD is about division of authority (in 5E the DM has authority over the setting unless he specifically shares it--and I mostly don't--whereas it's my understanding the DM in BitD has much less authority over the setting) but that's not so much disagreement as something you just didn't mention, I think.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Ovinomancer That's probably about right. I think I'm including the idea that revising prep might be about story stuff at least as much as character capability stuff; and I think some of the difference in prep between D&D 5E and BitD is about division of authority (in 5E the DM has authority over the setting unless he specifically shares it--and I mostly don't--whereas it's my understanding the DM in BitD has much less authority over the setting) but that's not so much disagreement as something you just didn't mention, I think.
I meant to, but it was a long(ish) post. I think the reason you're invoking story has to do with the same things above -- you have to prep an area for the current PCs in case they follow that lead you just dropped. If, later, the reason they're going to this area has changed (or even if it is the same), the prep needs to be adjusted because PC abilities have changed.

If you're advancing the story in the area because you think it needs advancing from where it was when you first prepped it but the PCs didn't engage it, well, I think we're back to @Manbearcat's solitare play. And, I don't think this is a bad thing at all -- it's very enjoyable for the GM. I don't think the point is to say that this solitaire play (meaning, for me, that it's just the GM playing) is bad or should be avoided. I think his point, at least the one I'm picking up on, is that it is unnecessary to present a vibrant world, a "living world." It' really entirely for the GM. And, that's fine!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think it would more correct to say that in Blades the mechanics and process of play mitigate for more player input into the setting. The GM is still 'in charge' of the setting insofar as she makes the final call on stuff.
 

darkbard

Adventurer
I think this is really due to the fundamental difference in how these games do PCs and mechanics. In D&D, PC capabilities vary wildly as they progress -- the easiest to demonstrate is spellcasters, who gain massive changes in what's possible and not just in power. This is true of other classes as well, it's just most obvious in the spell lists. A character can switch from having to walk across a continent to doing so instantaneously in the blink of an eye at the table -- the player just levels up the PC to get teleport. This radical shift in capability (again, present in all classes), means that unused prep needs to be updated, if only to account for new abilities. Elsewise, prep must be discarded as not something that's relevant to these PCs anymore (a chasm, for instance, goes from a dangerous obstacle to a triviality very suddenly). In Blades, though, this doesn't happen -- PCs do not have sudden shifts in capability, they just improve at doing what they already could do.

The upshot of this is that, in D&D, prep is absolutely necessary, if only to account for the difference in capability. This applies to sandbox prep as well, as different areas/locations are prepped with different capabilities in mind (this is a challenging area with powerful opponents, this is a less challenging area with weaker opponents). With Blades, though, this isn't necessary -- threats are more about what's happening rather than quality of the opposition/accounting for increased abilities. PCs get more competent, but don't add entire new categories of capability.

I think this difference -- how you account for PC capabilities -- is a critical difference in how these games can and are prepped. Blades is fine with a thumbnail and an opening situation, because that's all that's needed to engage with play. When the PCs start interacting with the Billhooks, for instance, then what the Billhooks are doing will necessarily be an impediment to the PC's plans (elsewise, the GM will not invoke them in framing or consequence). They don't need to adapt, in any way, to the PCs, nor do they need to advance on their own because whatever they were doing is of little consequence to play, it's only what they're doing when the PCs encounter them. Now, that said, I'm not at all adverse to making a Fortune roll and advancing their clock as I introduce them, especially if that puts more pressure on what the PCs are trying to do (and this is a consequence framing). In D&D, prep absolutely has to account for the PC abilities -- either in adjusting previous prep to remain useful (which seems your approach), or by tiering threats in a sandbox so the PCs have a variety of challenges for whatever their current abilities are.

I see where you're going with this, but I'm not sure you've identified something that can expand beyond the two games in your example. DW does have the kind of ability scale up of D&D through spells and advanced moves that radically alters what PCs can do, and @pemerton has amply demonstrated over the years that his 4E game, despite similar growth in PC power is structured around PC interactions with setting elements; neither requires any Setting Solitaire prep.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I think it would more correct to say that in Blades the mechanics and process of play mitigate for more player input into the setting. The GM is still 'in charge' of the setting insofar as she makes the final call on stuff.
Um... The GM has authority and final call on framing and consequence narration, yes, but that's very tightly constrained by player inputs, so I don't think that saying the GM is "in charge" is quit right.

We use something in our processes called a RACI chart. There are variations, but the thrust is the same. It details who, in a process, has what duties/privileges. It stands for (R)esponsible, (A)ccountable, (C)onsulted, (I)nformed. These are tiered, in that each letter also has everything to the right -- someone (R)esponsible, is also ACI. Someone (C)onsulted is also (I)nformed, and so on. Since it's a process tool, it works pretty well to help describe the process of RPG play.

With regards to setting, we can look at D&D and Blades with regards to RACI. In D&D, the GM is R. They are responsible for the settting, accountable for it, they must be consulted for any changes to the setting (think character backgrounds), and must be informed of things that may impact the setting (like character build choices). The players in D&D are... well, maybe occasionally (C)onsulted and often (I)nformed, but neither of these is always true.

With Blades, the GM is still R, but the player side changes greatly. They are always (C)onsulted, always. They may even be (A)ccountable, depending on the situation, because they do have some authorities that allow them to unilaterally introduce setting material.

So, yes, while it's not incorrect to say that the GM is "in charge" even in Blades, the nature of that is pretty different.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I think the reason you're invoking story has to do with the same things above -- you have to prep an area for the current PCs in case they follow that lead you just dropped. If, later, the reason they're going to this area has changed (or even if it is the same), the prep needs to be adjusted because PC abilities have changed.
This isn't exactly wrong, but what I'm trying to account for is that the PCs may be in a different story-arc than when I originally prepped. For instance, the PCs in one of the campaigns I'm DMing pretty much finished a story arc in a city, and then later came back for (mostly) unrelated reasons. Since months had passed in-world, the city needed to be a little different; the previous time they'd been in the city something had happened they hadn't done much with/about, so I took that and used it to change the city some (and let the PCs find ways to make trouble, because PCs). The city was still recognizably the same place, but it was not exactly as they'd left it.

I think that's the only way I'm likely to need to revise prep, simply because I don't prep more than a session or two ahead (and the most-recent sessions in both the campaigns I'm running had no prep at all, because reasons).
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I see where you're going with this, but I'm not sure you've identified something that can expand beyond the two games in your example. DW does have the kind of ability scale up of D&D through spells and advanced moves that radically alters what PCs can do, and @pemerton has amply demonstrated over the years that his 4E game, despite similar growth in PC power is structured around PC interactions with setting elements; neither requires any Setting Solitaire prep.
Right, I wasn't postulating hard poles, but rather using hard poles to illustrate. There's space between. And, yes, PbtA games do feature new moves that do change capability, not just competence, but the mechanics of resolution are still starkly different from D&D. Using that new ability to do something you could not before still works pretty much like everything else in the mechanics, and will cause complication without the GM taking/prepping things to cause it. A chasm is still a challenge, even if you recently got Polymorph as a Wizard, because Polymorph has inbuilt consequences and you still have to make the Cast a Spell move, which can cause similar issues. The gain in ability does mean you have new capabilities, but not nearly in the same way as in D&D -- the mechanics mean that using them isn't a done deal.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I don't disagree, generally, but the fact remains that the GM has final say over framing and content use. That still sounds like in charge to me, even if the accidents are different. shrug
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't want to get derailed into an alternate discussion but this here is my proof text that you don't know what you are talking about and that is why both sides struggle. I realize that again you are likely (but by now you really have no excuse) treating the words as pure english language words and not for a technical game mechanic term.
Hitpoints are absolutely dissociated. They have no defined meaning in the game rules, they just abalate with no fiction attached to them. You can describe hitpoint loss in 100's of different ways, and they all are equally valid. I've even described them as completely dissociated in a plot coupon manner, and they still work exactly the same way. You are confusing your habitual gloss on hitpoints with how they actually function.

Armor class is the same way. If I fail to roll a success on my attack, what happened? Doesn't matter to the game, it can be anything the players want to describe. You can even do the same treatment I do with hitpoints and invoke armor class as plot coupon to force a miss.

And spells, oh, those lovely spells. These are exactly what you claim to hate. Take the secret door example, where you're absolutely against any concept where players searching for a door causes a door to exist. Totally bogus, right? You're even against the players spending a plot coupon to say a secret door is here -- dissociative! Do not like! But, you're absolutely perfectly fine with a player spending a plot coupon to open a door on command, so long as that plot coupon is a "spell slot" and it's used on "passwall" (I believe you're an older edition player, so this is still a spell for you). This does exactly, exactly, the thing you dislike, but it's okay, because it's lampshaded behind magic and you're used to plot coupons as spells.

And, to get in before the inevitable, this isn't dismissive, it's stripped -- stripped of the patina of long familiarity and cast in a stark light where these things can't hide in the shadows of what we're used to.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't disagree, generally, but the fact remains that the GM has final say over framing and content use. That still sounds like in charge to me, even if the accidents are different. shrug
Again, eh. The "say" the GM has is different in Blades than the say they have in D&D. So, when we say that the GM has final say in Blades, we're still talking about a different thing than when we say the GM has final say in D&D. I'm looking for clarity here, and I think that this statement is introducing a lot of hidden information in the words "final say." Does the GM in Blades have the final authority? Sure, but it's very tightly constrained, and not at all the same authority the GM has in D&D.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top