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What is the point of GM's notes?

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'm trying to avoid turning this thread into the dissociative mechanics thread. If you want to start a new thread or send me a direct message, we can discuss this in more detail. I am not turning this thread into that thread.

I think FOR ME dissociative mechanics are ruinous to roleplaying and immersion. It is why I quit D&D and did not buy 5e. I realized they'd crossed the rubicon with 4e and they really were not coming back. Which is fine they've obviously done very well with what they did do. But for me it just wasn't what I wanted.

Edit:
quit adopting the new version of D&D is perhaps a clearer understanding of my position.
Ah, so hitpoints, then.

GM: "The kobold points a light crossbow at you."
Player: "I charge the kobold!"

Because, obviously, the player knows their PC has plenty enough hitpoints to shrug off a measly light crossbow from a kobold. I guess the PC is aware that, in this world, crossbow bolts to the face are non-lethal, or that they have enough divine luck, regular luck, skill at dodging that there's no way that that crossbow will land -- they only need be worried about three crossbows.
 

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Good points. Prior to 4e, I am quite sure I was unaware of dissociative mechanics. I didn't like 4e because of the dissociative mechanics but I didn't have a name nor did I use that term. But when dissociative mechanics was explained, it clicked that this was the issue I had with that game. Well one of many. There were also some things I liked as well to be fair.

But this is a problem (and you see this in all kinds of criticism and analysis of things). You enjoy something, someone points out some pattern in it, and then anytime you sense that, you no longer enjoy it. A good example of this is the over-use of 'don't use passive voice'. It sort of becomes people trying to be the smartest person in the room all the time, and reacting per formatively to a thing, rather than just feeling their own genuine reaction to something and reporting it. Suddenly people react negatively when they encounter it, whether it would have added to their enjoyment, been neutral, or taken away. Or like when people complained about lens flair a few years ago in movies. No one noticed, someone mentions it, and suddenly people are actively avoiding it and re-acting negative. This isn't to say the Alexandrian wasn't observing something legitimate. I think he was, and I think his analysis was useful. The problem was more in how his analysis became a bit of a fad among those of us who were critical of 5E and we over-applied it. If there are a bit of dissociative mechanics in something and I don't even notice them, and perhaps they even add to my enjoyment, there isn't a problem: the problem is the lens I am bringing to analyzing the game that is based around active avoidance of dissociative mechanics. The real question to ask is when something like that becomes a problem for you in a game (and that isn't always easy to answer)
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
The problem was more in how his analysis became a bit of a fad among those of us who were critical of 5E and we over-applied it. If there are a bit of dissociative mechanics in something and I don't even notice them, and perhaps they even add to my enjoyment, there isn't a problem: the problem is the lens I am bringing to analyzing the game that is based around active avoidance of dissociative mechanics. The real question to ask is when something like that becomes a problem for you in a game (and that isn't always easy to answer)
I think I care about it more than most. Let's suppose there were multiple classes in 5e where one was dissociative and another was not. Prior to 4e, I might have banned the dissociative class mainly because I just didn't like it. But self-reflection and introspection on preferences is a valuable tool. I agree it might go too far sometimes but there are times you don't like something and you can't put your finger on why. Figuring out why helps you to avoid those things in the future.
 

@Lanefan , @Emerikol, @Bedrockgames , @Maxperson , @prabe (whose, besides @pemerton , answer to the above proposed hypothetical looks to me to have engaged closest with my intent).

I felt like my hypothetical and my clarifications were clear, but it must be true that we still have misunderstanding or I'm just terrible at articulating what I'm getting at here. So I'm going to punt to @hawkeyefan and @Fenris-77 with a more fleshed out hypothetical. Perhaps this more fleshed out hypothetical and their answers to it will better ground what I'm getting at here. Then I'm going to have to step away from responding for the rest of the day.

Alright, @hawkeyefan and @Fenris-77 ...

Let us say that tonight's game somehow finds its way into Ironhook Prison:

Ironhook Prison. A towering metal fortress, where the worst (or most unlucky) criminals are incarcerated. Many are forced into labor in the Southern fields and pit-mines of Dunslough. The condemned are sent to scavenge in the deathlands.

Haight (hawkeyefan's PC) did a nice-sized turn there so its feasible that our game goes there at some point. Let us just pretend that it goes there tonight.

IN THE COURSE OF OUR PLAY, Haight and Stiv (Fenris's PC) have neither been to Ironhook Prison or to the ward that it resides within:

Dunslough: A labor camp served by convicts and a ghetto for the destitute poor.

They have no interacted with either of the below two Factions (who do most of their Duskvol work in Dunslough) or the Dunslough "Crime Boss":

THE LOST - A group of street-toughs and ex-soldiers dedicated to protecting the downtrodden
and the hopeless.
DEATHLANDS SCAVENGERS - Convicts from Ironhook and desperate freelancers who roam the wasteland beyond the lightning barriers
MASTER KROCKET - An unsavory, greasy-haired, scarecrow of a man who runs the snarling pack of vicious dogs used by Ironhook to track down escapees and sniff out contraband and tunnels. His dog-handlers can be found around the labor camp and all about Dunslough, using their status with the prison for favors and bribes. (Cruel, Greedy, Ruthless).

Now, one of the PCs (offscreen as part of backstory) did a turn at Ironhook. He (offscreen) has likely has interactions with all of the above (or at least heard of them). The other PC (offscreen) may have heard of some of the above and may have even been to Dunslough once or twice.

HOWEVER, to reiterate, in the course of play, all of this stuff is effectively offscreen. It has not come up to date in our play. Consequently, it is effectively "off-line" in terms of what is happening with that content.

So, let us just say, hypothetically, you guys do a Score in the Ironhook Prison tonight where you sneak in and then sneak out thing x (which could be a person, a ghost that is using Haight or his trap as a repository, illicit goods, what-have-you).

Let us say you interact with all 5 of the above (obviously the Ward and the prison, but also Master Krocket and the two Factions). Suddenly, ALL 5 ARE ON-LINE AT ONCE.

What value for our play tonight (Skilled Play priority, Story Now priority, Protagonistic Play priority, Living World priority...any priority you wish) would there be if I:

(a) reframed all of those 5 things quote-blocked above FROM (i) the initial framing in the text + (ii) my own subtle, improvised reframing to hook into your evinced dramatic needs for your PCs...

TO

(b) new content that is a downstream effects of 5 resolution segments of 3 Downtime (phase) Clocks (one for both factions and one for Krocket) and made a Fortune roll or two as a downstream consequence of what emerges from the resolution of those 3 Clocks.


So, for instance, instead of what is in the book and what I would improvise in my scene-framing, the following is now true (which wasn't true in the initiating conditions):

* Master Krocket recently quelled a riot and his dogs had quite a feast.

* The Deathland Scavengers have obtained a pardon for a member from Ironhook Prison.

* The Lost are focusing their efforts on Coalridge instead of Dunslough.


Any value you can you imagine (or not imagine...I leave this to you) for the above being true vs all 3 being the opposite during your Score (a viscious riot happens, TDS is in the middle of trying to get that pardon while you're sneaking in, TL are focusing efforts in Dunslough. Or 1 or 2 of them being true vs not being true. Or some slightly different instantiation of the above. Or something very different.

Outside of a value judgement about the provocativeness or excitement of this framing vs that framing, what value would there be on our play tonight if I evolved the starting conditions for all or some of these prior offline (but now online) things from stock Blades to something different (which is an outgrowth of the process of Faction/Setting Clocks and Fortune Rolls)?

Would you know the difference (again, assuming that the evolution from their starting condition x to their new situation y has nothing to do with our play to date...which there is no reason for any of our play to have impacted Dunslough thus far...if the Barrowcleft situation resolves badly and there is food shortages throughout all of Duskvol, then yeah...but that hasn't come to pass yet)?
 
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Emerikol

Adventurer
Outside of a value judgement about the provocativeness or excitement of this framing vs that framing, what value would there be on our play tonight if I evolved the starting conditions for all or some of these prior offline (but now online) things from stock Blades to something different (which is an outgrowth of the process of Faction/Setting Clocks and Fortune Rolls)?

Would you know the difference (again, assuming that the evolution from their starting condition having something to do with our play...which there is no reason for any of our play to have impacted Dunslough thus far...if the Barrowcleft situation resolves badly and there is food shortages throughout all of Duskvol, then yeah...but that hasn't come to pass yet)?
I don't think you are failing as bad as you think. Perhaps I am failing to make my own case clear enough. I absolutely agree that it could not matter at all. I agree that you can come up with instances where it won't matter. The original idea was interesting and the new idea is interesting. So what? No loss no gain.

My point is that practicing the philosophy of an ever changing world even when you don't have to will result in a world that has more verisimilitude when the PCs do interact with it. It probably comes back to skilled play again. If the NPC villain is up to no good and keeps doing things behind the scenes in a consistent way, the PCs if investigating may intersect those events. As DM you just don't know if they will or won't. So the players acting as their characters, can do a real life investigation and not just roll to discover whether their investigation was successful. So over time, I've found that the level of verisimilitude in my games is higher if I keep the world moving behind the scenes. The part the characters interact with is just better. Maybe it's a technique I'm using to make myself more effective. Could be.

I will say though that in my style of play the dice are not the primary drivers of what happens. An influence sure, you can always make a bad roll. But success depends on the decisions of the PCs and the skill they use in carrying out those decisions. It probably comes back to skilled play as an agenda item.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't think you are failing as bad as you think. Perhaps I am failing to make my own case clear enough. I absolutely agree that it could not matter at all. I agree that you can come up with instances where it won't matter. The original idea was interesting and the new idea is interesting. So what? No loss no gain.

My point is that practicing the philosophy of an ever changing world even when you don't have to will result in a world that has more verisimilitude when the PCs do interact with it. It probably comes back to skilled play again. If the NPC villain is up to no good and keeps doing things behind the scenes in a consistent way, the PCs if investigating may intersect those events. As DM you just don't know if they will or won't. So the players acting as their characters, can do a real life investigation and not just roll to discover whether their investigation was successful. So over time, I've found that the level of verisimilitude in my games is higher if I keep the world moving behind the scenes. The part the characters interact with is just better. Maybe it's a technique I'm using to make myself more effective. Could be.

I will say though that in my style of play the dice are not the primary drivers of what happens. An influence sure, you can always make a bad roll. But success depends on the decisions of the PCs and the skill they use in carrying out those decisions. It probably comes back to skilled play as an agenda item.
PCs don't make decisions, players do. You've describe Skilled Play.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Outside of a value judgement about the provocativeness or excitement of this framing vs that framing, what value would there be on our play tonight if I evolved the starting conditions for all or some of these prior offline (but now online) things from stock Blades to something different (which is an outgrowth of the process of Faction/Setting Clocks and Fortune Rolls)?

Would you know the difference (again, assuming that the evolution from their starting condition x to their new situation y has nothing to do with our play to date...which there is no reason for any of our play to have impacted Dunslough thus far...if the Barrowcleft situation resolves badly and there is food shortages throughout all of Duskvol, then yeah...but that hasn't come to pass yet)?
From what I can see, there'd be no difference in the players' experience at the table. I dunno if that'd make it bad GMing in BitD.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You missed a key element of what I said above so I'll clarify:

Everything the PCs have not interacted with effectively doesn't exist. It is entirely off-line/offscreen. In the game above that would be (a) all of the wards of Duskvol that haven't been interacted with (there are 12 total...only 3 have seen play directly, 1 other indirectly, and perhaps another merely through conversation) and (b) about 80 % of the Factions.
To me offscreen/off-line things are those that are never intended to be seen onscreen. That isn't what we are doing when we set things in motion around the world. We do these things fully intending for the PCs to find out about it one way or another. Whether it happens or not depends on how things play out. We don't force the issue, but the creation and time spent isn't for the sake of the DM. It's for the sake of the players and that doesn't happen if they never find out about it.
Why can I not keep all of (a) and (b) effectively in a form of stasis and, when they are interacted with, just deploy them at their starting conditions when the PCs interact with them?

For instance:

They go to Nightmarket (they haven't been there yet) in the Free Play/Information Gathering phase of talk to a psychonaut who is one of their contacts in order to get some intel on The Crows. In the process, they get involved with The Wraiths (a gang of secretive and daring thiefs) and end up in a counteroperation to prevent a theft of a famous painting so they can steal it themselves (by creating a counterfeit and replacing the painting during the night of the art auction). In the process, things go wonky and the Leech's grenade of Ghostmist goes off in the auditorium...catching a huge number of the upper crust of society.

Now I have on-line:

  • Nightmarket
  • The Wraiths
  • Upper Crust Gets Ghostmisted
You absolutely can keep them in stasis and I've played with Sandbox DMs who do just that. It alters the feel of the game, though.

Imagine that during gameplay one of the PCs in your game was accidentally responsible for the death of a man's wife. 12 sessions later due to a roll(or however your game does it), you are allowed to bring in a complication and it makes sense for the circumstances for you to bring back the man's wife who is after revenge on the PCs. That's pretty cool. You bring back something that happened in a great way and everyone has fun.

Now imagine that on of the PCs in our game was accidentally responsible for the death of a man's wife. We would think about the man's reaction, and there could be many different ways it could reasonably go, but due to what we know of the man and the circumstances around the death, we determine that he is out for revenge. We figure out a timeline for him to get training, arm himself and plan out his revenge, and 12 sessions later he shows up for revenge.

In both cases past play informed the DM on how he was going to go about things. Both resulted in a really cool experience. However, in my opinion, only one of those methods makes it feel like the world is still going about things even when the players aren't around. The other way, while still cool, feels different.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
The PCs' dramatic needs are either in the (entirely optional) backstories the players give me, or they emerge during play. I tie those needs into the scenarios I frame.
I recalled I wanted to speak to this, but the thread was moving quickly at the time and I lost it.

I think that if the PCs BIFTs are not evoking these things, then there's a serious disconnect in what players are writing down for BIFTs and what they're actually doing for BIFTs. Because, regardless of whether or not you write these down, the bonds, ideals, and flaws (less so for traits) a character has are defining dramatic needs for that character. If you're not using them, okay, but that shouldn't be moving that what these are describing are core to (at least some) PC dramatic needs. Heck, "bond" is a front and center one -- what do you care about so much that you'll sacrifice for it? This opens up all kinds of interesting dilemmas -- how much will you sacrifice? What will you sacrifice? Will something else happen that becomes more important? These are the kinds of questions that dramatic needs create, not "will we stop the evil overlord and save the world." That doesn't require any dramatic need, just a willingness to buy into a plot hook.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Ok, this is an interesting answer, but I think it doesn't exactly engage with what I'm saying. I know precisely what you're getting at with the above, but I feel like "waiting in a room for team PC to arrive" is just a matter of deftness of GM framing.

For instance:

I have a dungeon with goblins. It is generaically themed (eg its not "Cooking the Caraveners"); "Goblins in the ruin!" Its basically an unthemed, off-line dungeon that is only coming on-line right now because the PCs are interacting with it. I have it mapped, keyed, stocked and ready for play.

I have an opening situation in room 1. I have a situation in 5 of the 20 rooms (every 4 rooms) with the Wandering Monster Clock handling the dynamic content generation. Even if they heard about this dungeon multiple weeks prior Why would I need to change the opening situation in room 1, even if the PCs heard about the Goblin in the Ruins (!) dungeon x days/weeks ago, when the dungeon is only now coming on-line?

Rooms 2 through 20 may have dynamic interaction because the dungeon has come online and perhaps the results of stock encounters or Wandering Monsters changes the situation of subsequent rooms (this would be the Setting/Faction Clocks I posted upthread - these came on-line after PC interaction).

But why do I need to change the opening situation to the prior off-line, now on-line content? Why does the framing need to be evolved (and something like, "well because offscreen/off-line thing y or z occurred" is not responsive to the question...that is just a statement akin to "well, because Setting Solitaire"...which is fine...but then "why Setting Solitaire?").
Without knowing what the opening room 1 situation is, I can't tell you if you would need to change it or not. Probably not. However, imagine that you prep the goblin dungeon before the campaign even starts. The players hear about the goblin dungeon during the second session, but due to other priorities, ignore it for a while. 100 miles away there is a massacre of a prominent family by a party of goblins. This event was prepped by the DM due to "living world." and the PCs heard about during session 8. The PCs, still dealing with the other priorities note the event and continue on. During the 11th session they hear that the king in response to the massacre(and to placate the relatives of the highly placed family) decreed that the country must be clear of goblins. There is a bounty of 5 silver per goblin killed. Finally, in session 14 they head to the goblin dungeon.

Remember, the goblin dungeon was prepped prior to game play. The first room was a guard room with 4 goblins in it playing cards or whatever. Had the PCs gone in to this place early on, they'd have encountered that and then moved in further to clear it out, run away or whatever. However, the massacre happened and in response to the king's decree, adventurers, mercenaries and adventurers have been going after goblins. When the PCs finally arrive in session 14, instead of finding a guard room with 4 goblins in it, they find a guardroom with the rotting corpses of 4 goblins and a mess that clearly indicates that a fight happened.

While the opening room situation might not change, it also might. If the DM is tracking things and having the world respond to them, it can make for a completely different situation when the PCs arrive, and when they do and find the corpses, the players are going to know exactly why. They've heard about the massacre. They've heard about the decree. Both of which happened "offscreen," but without setting solitaire and will put it all together. It's going to make for a very different feel than if the goblin dungeon just stays in stasis.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
From what I can see, there'd be no difference in the players' experience at the table. I dunno if that'd make it bad GMing in BitD.
"Bad" is a hard say, unless the solitaire play violates some other principle of play, like, say, if you're using your solitaire play to suddenly drive story for the PCs instead of being an outgrowth of what the PCs are doing. That's bad, in Blades. As I said earlier, though, advancing a clock as you introduce it isn't bad, so I guess advancing it prior to isn't bad, either. The real issue is how the introduction is framed and what it's doing in the game.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I recalled I wanted to speak to this, but the thread was moving quickly at the time and I lost it.

I think that if the PCs BIFTs are not evoking these things, then there's a serious disconnect in what players are writing down for BIFTs and what they're actually doing for BIFTs. Because, regardless of whether or not you write these down, the bonds, ideals, and flaws (less so for traits) a character has are defining dramatic needs for that character. If you're not using them, okay, but that shouldn't be moving that what these are describing are core to (at least some) PC dramatic needs. Heck, "bond" is a front and center one -- what do you care about so much that you'll sacrifice for it? This opens up all kinds of interesting dilemmas -- how much will you sacrifice? What will you sacrifice? Will something else happen that becomes more important? These are the kinds of questions that dramatic needs create, not "will we stop the evil overlord and save the world." That doesn't require any dramatic need, just a willingness to buy into a plot hook.
I don't particularly disagree with this. The thing is, dramatic needs change with play, so a character's need to exact revenge on the thing (Ildna) that killed his family might turn into a need to diminish the influence of that thing's creator (The Tundra Queen) in the world and/or rid the world of the artifact (The Epiphany Machine) that broke the that thing. I incorporate needs like that into scenarios, without needing to worry about specific things on a character sheet.

My feeling is, put Bond, Flaw, Ideal, and Traits on your character sheet, but use them to remind you how you're playing this character. If you give me a copy of your character's backstory, we can work to tie your character to the setting and the campaign. Regardless, once I get to know the characters, I can work to engage them as they are.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't particularly disagree with this. The thing is, dramatic needs change with play, so a character's need to exact revenge on the thing (Ildna) that killed his family might turn into a need to diminish the influence of that thing's creator (The Tundra Queen) in the world and/or rid the world of the artifact (The Epiphany Machine) that broke the that thing. I incorporate needs like that into scenarios, without needing to worry about specific things on a character sheet.

My feeling is, put Bond, Flaw, Ideal, and Traits on your character sheet, but use them to remind you how you're playing this character. If you give me a copy of your character's backstory, we can work to tie your character to the setting and the campaign. Regardless, once I get to know the characters, I can work to engage them as they are.
Right, this is a complaint that 5e implemented the concept poorly, such that it's easier for many to just do it how they used to. To me, the lack of any structure or reward for paying off a BIFT, like how Burning Wheel does with beliefs, is a massive missed opportunity to add a neat feature to the game. It would have also given a toolset to operationalize the BIFTs. I think they elected not to, to basically float a neutered concept, because they realized that their primary revenue stream in 5e was going to be the sale of adventures, and BIFTs don't work well with the kind of adventures WotC wants to sell (heck, I'm not sure the 5e works well with the kind of adventures WotC wants to sell).
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Right, this is a complaint that 5e implemented the concept poorly, such that it's easier for many to just do it how they used to. To me, the lack of any structure or reward for paying off a BIFT, like how Burning Wheel does with beliefs, is a massive missed opportunity to add a neat feature to the game. It would have also given a toolset to operationalize the BIFTs. I think they elected not to, to basically float a neutered concept, because they realized that their primary revenue stream in 5e was going to be the sale of adventures, and BIFTs don't work well with the kind of adventures WotC wants to sell (heck, I'm not sure the 5e works well with the kind of adventures WotC wants to sell).
Pretty much--both your analysis of the mechanic and your analysis of why WotC didn't write a stronger one (with the possible addition that they wanted it to feel like D&D, especially to people who'd rejected 4E, and arguably a strong mechanic here wouldn't have).

Also, I picked up 5E after gradually-then-abruptly coming to strongly dislike Fate, so I was ... disinclined to embrace anything at all reminiscent of Aspects. Speaks more to my tossing the mechanic out of my games than anything broader.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Sorry, BIFTs frustrate me greatly. I've even tried @iserith's rule where players can, on their own, claim inspiration for invoking a BIFT (once each per session) and my players absolutely ignore it. They have no problems leveraging such things in other games, are even eager to do so, but in D&D? It's strange, sometimes, to watch them play different games, and see how much their approach changes depending on what game it is. I have a player that is absolutely balls-to-the-wall in Blades, reckless and daring, leveraging everything that system offers, but, in D&D, they are as methodical and plodding, trying to play 20 questions, afraid in every seeming moment that there's a gotcha, despite the fact that I just don't do gotchas. When we talk about it, they know there's nothing there, but it feels like that's how they should be playing. I blame prior GMs just being horrible. Amusingly (not really), if my group really wants to see this player turn that dial to 11, we just ask him to run. He's horrible with the gotchas! And, not really allowed to run for us, anymore (which he views with relief, I think).

Anyway, BIFTs are terribly instantiated in 5e, and as such, often deserve to be treated as the appendix of that system.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Sorry, BIFTs frustrate me greatly. I've even tried @iserith's rule where players can, on their own, claim inspiration for invoking a BIFT (once each per session) and my players absolutely ignore it. They have no problems leveraging such things in other games, are even eager to do so, but in D&D? It's strange, sometimes, to watch them play different games, and see how much their approach changes depending on what game it is. I have a player that is absolutely balls-to-the-wall in Blades, reckless and daring, leveraging everything that system offers, but, in D&D, they are as methodical and plodding, trying to play 20 questions, afraid in every seeming moment that there's a gotcha, despite the fact that I just don't do gotchas. When we talk about it, they know there's nothing there, but it feels like that's how they should be playing. I blame prior GMs just being horrible. Amusingly (not really), if my group really wants to see this player turn that dial to 11, we just ask him to run. He's horrible with the gotchas! And, not really allowed to run for us, anymore (which he views with relief, I think).

Anyway, BIFTs are terribly instantiated in 5e, and as such, often deserve to be treated as the appendix of that system.
Does he run other games that way, or just D&D? It sounds like it may not be prior DMs, but rather how he views the way D&D is "supposed" to be run. He may see himself and how we runs D&D in any D&D game he plays in, so he's careful to try and avoid the gotchas that he would put into place.
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
@Lanefan , @Emerikol, @Bedrockgames , @Maxperson , @prabe (whose, besides @pemerton , answer to the above proposed hypothetical looks to me to have engaged closest with my intent).

I felt like my hypothetical and my clarifications were clear, but it must be true that we still have misunderstanding or I'm just terrible at articulating what I'm getting at here. So I'm going to punt to @hawkeyefan and @Fenris-77 with a more fleshed out hypothetical. Perhaps this more fleshed out hypothetical and their answers to it will better ground what I'm getting at here. Then I'm going to have to step away from responding for the rest of the day.

Alright, @hawkeyefan and @Fenris-77 ...

Let us say that tonight's game somehow finds its way into Ironhook Prison:



Haight (hawkeyefan's PC) did a nice-sized turn there so its feasible that our game goes there at some point. Let us just pretend that it goes there tonight.

IN THE COURSE OF OUR PLAY, Haight and Stiv (Fenris's PC) have neither been to Ironhook Prison or to the ward that it resides within:



They have no interacted with either of the below two Factions (who do most of their Duskvol work in Dunslough) or the Dunslough "Crime Boss":





Now, one of the PCs (offscreen as part of backstory) did a turn at Ironhook. He (offscreen) has likely has interactions with all of the above (or at least heard of them). The other PC (offscreen) may have heard of some of the above and may have even been to Dunslough once or twice.

HOWEVER, to reiterate, in the course of play, all of this stuff is effectively offscreen. It has not come up to date in our play. Consequently, it is effectively "off-line" in terms of what is happening with that content.

So, let us just say, hypothetically, you guys do a Score in the Ironhook Prison tonight where you sneak in and then sneak out thing x (which could be a person, a ghost that is using Haight or his trap as a repository, illicit goods, what-have-you).

Let us say you interact with all 5 of the above (obviously the Ward and the prison, but also Master Krocket and the two Factions). Suddenly, ALL 5 ARE ON-LINE AT ONCE.

What value for our play tonight (Skilled Play priority, Story Now priority, Protagonistic Play priority, Living World priority...any priority you wish) would there be if I:

(a) reframed all of those 5 things quote-blocked above FROM (i) the initial framing in the text + (ii) my own subtle, improvised reframing to hook into your evinced dramatic needs for your PCs...

TO

(b) new content that is a downstream effects of 5 resolution segments of 3 Downtime (phase) Clocks (one for both factions and one for Krocket) and made a Fortune roll or two as a downstream consequence of what emerges from the resolution of those 3 Clocks.


So, for instance, instead of what is in the book and what I would improvise in my scene-framing, the following is now true (which wasn't true in the initiating conditions):

* Master Krocket recently quelled a riot and his dogs had quite a feast.

* The Deathland Scavengers have obtained a pardon for a member from Ironhook Prison.

* The Lost are focusing their efforts on Coalridge instead of Dunslough.


Any value you can you imagine (or not imagine...I leave this to you) for the above being true vs all 3 being the opposite during your Score (a viscious riot happens, TDS is in the middle of trying to get that pardon while you're sneaking in, TL are focusing efforts in Dunslough. Or 1 or 2 of them being true vs not being true. Or some slightly different instantiation of the above. Or something very different.

Outside of a value judgement about the provocativeness or excitement of this framing vs that framing, what value would there be on our play tonight if I evolved the starting conditions for all or some of these prior offline (but now online) things from stock Blades to something different (which is an outgrowth of the process of Faction/Setting Clocks and Fortune Rolls)?

Would you know the difference (again, assuming that the evolution from their starting condition x to their new situation y has nothing to do with our play to date...which there is no reason for any of our play to have impacted Dunslough thus far...if the Barrowcleft situation resolves badly and there is food shortages throughout all of Duskvol, then yeah...but that hasn't come to pass yet)?
I'm going to start at the bottom and work my way back up. Would I know the difference? Well, yes and no. If I'm familiar with the Blades setting material I know none of those specifics are included, so yes. That said, could I tell the difference between them being evolved before hand or as a direct result of consequences in play? Perhaps, and mostly in a negative way for the evolved-first material. Let's take the pardon as the specific example. If that came up in play, but for no particular reason, i.e. not linked to any of character decisions or the subsequent consequences in the course of play, or the context in which we encountered the Scavengers, then yes, I could tell. If that change isn't contextualized there's no reason for it to exist and it sticks out like a sore thumb. It would only matter if our interactions with the Scavengers were such that the existence of a recent pardon had a reason to come up. I'll allow the above to stand in for the other examples.

As for value? None in particular. None of that info is useful or important unless it bears directly on our chosen task and evolving plan. In those cases the info would emerge as part of information gathering, or as a discovered fact framed in the course of play, or even as part of a consequence flowing from decisions made in play. None of those require it to be determined before hand, and doing so has no impact on play aside from perhaps shoving you in the direction of that stuff (as it's already prepped) during play, appropriate or not. Once you have those ideas in your pocket the natural tendency is to want to use them. Moreover, as the score progresses, some of those ideas suffer a lot.

Let's say near the end of the score we're making a quick get away and Krocket looses the hounds, at which point you say A-hah, the dogs are well fed and lazy from feasting during the quelling of the riot, take +1d. To which I reply Wait, what riot? We've been though Iron Heights just now and there was no evidence of a riot, where'd that come from? The issue at this point is sequence and context. That same bit of info about Krocket and his dogs might have been a tasty tidbit to learn before we got stuck in, or even as something we quickly discover as we deal with the riot fallout while we're on our score, but the further into the scene we get, the less sense it makes. This kind of game state evolution is very context dependent. Sometimes pre-prepped stuff might fit like a glove, but often it won't, and if you're going to work it on the fly, why do it in advance in the first place?
 



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