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What is the point of GM's notes?

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
In my case it's simple: I don't take much of it anywhere nearly as seriously as some of you and can't for the life of me understand why anyone would.

It's a game, for cryin' out loud; and while we can always try to make our games better there comes a point (which has long since been passed) where it goes beyond simple game improvement and becomes little more than theorycrafting of a sort that would never survive first contact with almost any table perhaps excepting those of the people crafting that particular theory in that moment.
I don't know why everyone (or anyone) else takes it so seriously. I know I take it seriously because I don't want to be the one to ruin someone (or everyone) else's fun at the table--and that's very possible as GM.
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
It's a game, for cryin' out loud; and while we can always try to make our games better there comes a point (which has long since been passed) where it goes beyond simple game improvement and becomes little more than theorycrafting of a sort that would never survive first contact with almost any table perhaps excepting those of the people crafting that particular theory in that moment.
Well, since the people in question have stated that they garner significant practical benefit from certain sorts of analysis and deconstruction, who are you to say it's not useful? I find it enormously useful in terms of growing my practical at-the-table skill set. So what? Am I lying? Mistaken? I don't get what you're trying to achieve here.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Doesn't this challenge the very idea of "dissociative mechanics"?

You've just presented the argument that dissociation in mechanics is a matter of perspective, not the inherent character. It is no longer accurate to say that every mechanic is inherently associative or dissociative.
Glad to know I was able to contribute to the chaos. :)
And the serious problem lies exactly there: which "information the PCs should reasonably have access to."

Well, that and instilling a deep and fundamental paranoia into your players isn't necessarily the healthiest or most enjoyable gaming experience.
I disagree. The characters should be somewhat paranoid, thus giving the players a taste of that only makes sense.

Further: if everything really is against you then victories, when they come, are that much more special.
Question: If I write poetry for personal enjoyment, is it totally impossible to make sense of the idea that I want to improve my ability to do so? For example, increasing my vocabulary, reading example poems to see what other authors have done, or writing down interesting phrases I hear from others, would all seem examples of ways to improve my writing abilities, even though I do it purely because I enjoy it.
Great example for me personally, as I do just this and have done for decades.

My question, though, is one of intent: do you do those things - increase vocabulary, write down conversation snippets, etc. - with the specific thought in mind of "Ooh, yes, this will improve my poetic skills"?

Or do you do it with the thought in mind of "Cool line, I'm going to use that sometime!" without regard as to skill improvement?

Me, I'm the latter. I'm not and never really have been specifically trying to improve my skill. Instead I just keep banging them out and let any improvement come naturally through experience. And over time, I dare say, it has.

Intentioally putting effort specifically into skill improvement, above and beyond just doing it, is IMO taking it more seriously than just a hobby. Nothing wrong with that, but it's gone beyond casual hobby and into something else that maybe doesn't have a good term - unpaid work is the closest I can get, but that's not right either.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Intentioally putting effort specifically into skill improvement, above and beyond just doing it, is IMO taking it more seriously than just a hobby. Nothing wrong with that, but it's gone beyond casual hobby and into something else that maybe doesn't have a good term - unpaid work is the closest I can get, but that's not right either.
Ugh. Judgey much? Are there any other parts of the hobby that people are doing wrong based on your perfect balance and comprehension of what's involved? Gimme a break. I suspect I know what you're trying to achieve here, but all you've managed is being bloody rude and dismissive. I feel like avoiding badwrongfun accusations is the way go, rather than leaning into them.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I do not care how anyone plays who is not presently sitting at a table with me. No one should.
I do.

Why? Because, however unlikely, one day we might find we are at the same table. :)
"Most gamers" are irrelevant to me.
Not to me.

Feather-light though each individual one might be, every voice here has an impact on future RPG design. However, not every gamer has a voice here; and thus all of us are (in nearly all cases unintentionally) almost certainly speaking on behalf of many others beyond just our own selves, who share our views but are not represented here.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'll take whatever responsibility here that I can muster.

I totally thought it was going to be an innocuous, nothingburger aside. I was sincerely interested in the two questions I asked that fueled this whole thing. I shouldn't have asked them.
I for one think your questions were perfectly valid.

That they've drawn some answers that don't please everyone isn't your fault. :)
 

pemerton

Legend
Yes but my bigger point was that one side (A) had the power (and used it) to not only enforce their nomenclature on the other side (B) but to summarily dismiss any attempts of side B to establish nomenclature for their playstyle because it wasn't to their liking. In other words there;s 2 points I am trying to make...
1. How can there be a true discussion of equal merit when one side has and wields such an imbalance of power?
I don't understand what you are saying about "power".

I started a post. Various people post in it. Where is this imbalance of power located?

@Bedrockgames entered the thread, as far as I can tell, to contest my use of a particular phrase. No "enforced" any nomenclature. No one "summarily dismissed" anything. I, and @Aldrac, and some other posters too, have explained why we find terminology such as "exploring the world" unhelpful for an actual explanation of the methods of play. You might disagree, but thousands of words of posts are not "summary dismissal".

@Emerikol has described various approaches to play as "shallow", but I assume that is not the summary dismissal that concerns you.
 

pemerton

Legend
I've explained why I think it is important to keep in mind that this discussion isn't for the vast majority of people who play ttrpg's
What's your explanation?

I discuss all sorts of things that the vast majority of people who participate in the institutions, practices etc I discuss aren't interested in discussing. It's called being scholar. Why is it important that scholars keep in mind at all time that most people aren't scholars? Do furniture restorers need to keep in mind at all times that most people buy their furniture at Ikea?
 

pemerton

Legend
The mainstream hobby doesn't discuss stuff like this, I think you agree with that point so how is there an imbalance when the wider hobby as a whole isn't involved in discussions like this? The vast majority of the hobby doesn't care about this stuff
If your point is that more indie-game RPGers engage in analysis than D&D players, that's probably true. For similar reasons more fans of Ingmar Bergman than Michael Bay engage in film criticism. But so what? What is supposed to follow from that? Transformers fans hardly lack the opportunity to enjoy their movies!
 


pemerton

Legend
The issue I had was "playing to discover the GM's notes" - doesn't at the outset paint a particular roleplaying style in good stead
Why not?

This is how crosswords work. This is how escape rooms work. This is how Call of Cthuhlu modules work. This is how Tomb of Horrors work. This is how Christopher Tolkien has made his living. Many of those are regarded as fun pursuits by a non-trivial number of people. The notion that it's pejorative to actually describe how puzzles work in the context of a RPG is strange to me.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, since the people in question have stated that they garner significant practical benefit from certain sorts of analysis and deconstruction, who are you to say it's not useful? I find it enormously useful in terms of growing my practical at-the-table skill set. So what? Am I lying? Mistaken? I don't get what you're trying to achieve here.
I am neither saying nor suggesting that you're either lying or mistaken; and if it came across as such, apologies.

You find this all useful, which is excellent. Personally, though I find some of these threads quite interesting to start with I find they almost inevitably go rather over-the-top; and I'm not above bursting the occasional balloon. :)

I also find I often have to defend my own playstyle and-or try to blunt what can sometimes seem a wave of evangelism from proponents of other styles.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I am neither saying nor suggesting that you're either lying or mistaken; and if it came across as such, apologies.

You find this all useful, which is excellent. Personally, though I find some of these threads quite interesting to start with I find they almost inevitably go rather over-the-top; and I'm not above bursting the occasional balloon. :)

I also find I often have to defend my own playstyle and-or try to blunt what can sometimes seem a wave of evangelism from proponents of other styles.
That's fine and reasonable. I was struggling with what you were trying to achieve, both with this post and the other one I replied to. My apologies if I didn't give you enough leeway, I'm having a bit of a grumpy evening.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Ugh. Judgey much? Are there any other parts of the hobby that people are doing wrong based on your perfect balance and comprehension of what's involved? Gimme a break. I suspect I know what you're trying to achieve here, but all you've managed is being bloody rude and dismissive. I feel like avoiding badwrongfun accusations is the way go, rather than leaning into them.
If what amounts to a broad-based "lighten up" comes across as rude and dismissive there's not much I can say.

That said, if in my opinion someone's doing it wrong I don't mind saying so, just as I expect the same in return if they think the same of me. Otherwise we have an echo chamber, and what's the point of that?
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
If what amounts to a broad-based "lighten up" comes across as rude and dismissive there's not much I can say.

That said, if in my opinion someone's doing it wrong I don't mind saying so, just as I expect the same in return if they think the same of me. Otherwise we have an echo chamber, and what's the point of that?
It was a bit pointy for a "lighten up" comment, which was why I wasn't sure what to make of it. Maybe it reads different than you were hoping? IDK, anyway, I think we've cleared up any confusion.
 

pemerton

Legend
What exactly about your playstyle or goals has changed as a result of that knowledge? I may have missed it but I haven't seen you post about any actual change or influence on how you play...
Look at my actual play posts for my Prince Valiant and Classic Traveller game.

In the latter in particular you'll see me developing both my PbtA-ish techniques (I've never GMed a PbtA game - Classic Traveller is as close as I've come) and also my use of notes and approach to "exploration"-oriented play.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Look at my actual play posts for my Prince Valiant and Classic Traveller game.

In the latter in particular you'll see me developing both my PbtA-ish techniques (I've never GMed a PbtA game - Classic Traveller is as close as I've come) and also my use of notes and approach to "exploration"-oriented play.
Interestingly, while I have GMed PbtA I find myself using some of those techniques in just about any game I GM. I think it's got to do with the clarity with which some of those techniques and precepts there [are presented].
 
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pemerton

Legend
Maybe a somewhat more neutral phrasing would be "playing to discover the GM's world/setting." At least that allows for the possibility that the GM might be discovering (OK, more probably realizing) things about the world about the same time the players are.
See, this is where I get stuck. The world doesn't exist, so how is the GM discovering or realising things about it?

This is possible in mathematics - ie 2+2 = 4 even if someone hasn't noticed yet.

But how is it possible to discover that Elminster is wearing red rather than blue stockings other than by having someone make that up?

One of the reasons we find it insulting as a descriptor is because of how in a curate it seems. So it’s the persistence of using an inaccurate label that provoked the reaction. The reason it is inaccurate is it is not just about notes or just about what is in the GMs mind, it is about being oriented towards and open to all the stuff happening at the table in the setting the notes and GMs mind are meant to model. And there is a focus, even on the part of the GM on acting through characters, driving the game forward through what characters choose to do
Again, this is where I get stuck. There is nothing that is being modelled. Not in any literal sense. When the player says I check out Elminster's legs. What colour are his stockings? the GM isn't deriving an answer from a model in the way that a weather forecaster might try to. The GM is making a decision.

This seems to be a sticking point. As far as I can tell, you seem unwilling to discuss play from the starting point that someone has to make up the imaginary stuff.
 

pemerton

Legend
To me, the "discovering the GM's notes" sounds ... more like reading a book.
I don't see why.

I've often posted that one important aspect of RPGing is that players declare actions for their PCs that oblige the GM to narrate more stuff. What do we see? is a paradigm example but there are many others.

That is very different from reading a book, but it is still playing to discover the GM's conception of the fiction.
 

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