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 Post subject: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:23 pm 
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Whoa, you found this post? Welcome to the backwoods of the Goodman Games Forum. *passes the Deet*

At the risk of going unnoticed (a wish fulfilled for many), I'm posting here to discuss something that has only come to my attention as a fully-formed idea fairly recently.

For some folks, the game system is the story.

For myself, I think I'm fairly adept at thinking of the PCs and what happens to them as a narrative which is pretty much completely separate (though naturally parallel to) the game system being played. But it has become clear to me, that I'm not simply observing people construe a narrative differently, the way one might parse a bit of poetry differently from someone else. No, some gamers think of the mechanics of the game as being how the characters themselves understand their world. And this is not simply a 'narrative-light' style of play, I'm talking about.

Here's one example that should make what I'm talking about clear: Spell slots. Any of us playing D&D or it's variants have had to deal with these in some degree. A spell-slinging character only has so many spells to sling in a day. For me, translating the action at the table into a narrative in my head, the wizard is not thinking about spell slots ("I only know so much -- today!"), but probably is thinking about something more like 'spell-fatigue' ("Whew! This has been a lot of arcane energy to wield!"). The mechanics inform the narrative, but the mechanics aren't the narrative. But for others, their wizard might be out-and-out saying things like "I only have two spells left, guys!".

Another example I just observed: Here in the forum in the DCC Playtest Magic section, in the "Limiting" Corruption thread, one member said they'd gladly dabble in magic while another countered with a query of "With a 5% corruption chance, you'd have to be crazy". Which points at the same Game-vs.-Story question: In the narrative of a DCC RPG game, do the characters know they have a 5% chance of corruption, or do they just vaguely know that, long-term, using magic will eat you up? If the former, then yes, getting involved in magic is crazy; if the latter, getting involved with magic is rolling the dice...

I'm not saying one style is right and the other wrong. And I certainly suppose there are all the possible shadings of these Game-vs.-Story elements. I just thought it might be interesting to discuss...

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:21 am 
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GnomeBoy wrote:
Another example I just observed: Here in the forum in the DCC Playtest Magic section, in the "Limiting" Corruption thread, one member said they'd gladly dabble in magic while another countered with a query of "With a 5% corruption chance, you'd have to be crazy". Which points at the same Game-vs.-Story question: In the narrative of a DCC RPG game, do the characters know they have a 5% chance of corruption, or do they just vaguely know that, long-term, using magic will eat you up? If the former, then yes, getting involved in magic is crazy; if the latter, getting involved with magic is rolling the dice...


Lol, that'd be me :mrgreen:

You got what I meant.. I think that the rules are there to serve the narrative and to make it consistent within itself. But narrative aspects should always overcome rules. Otherwise, in 3E, everyone capable of using a greatsword would do so, just because for PCs a 2d6 weapon is by far the best choice (if compared to a bastard sword, 1d10, or a Greataxe, 1d12): but PCs don't know that, so maybe

° Olfar the dwarf uses a GreatAxe because he got it from his father,
° Arwilus the paladin uses a bastard sword because he found it in the first dungeon he explored, and got used to it.
° Heck, maybe Lagur the barbarian uses a Hevy Flail because he likes the sound it makes against the enemies.

Rules are there to help make the game seem a little more impartial and making sure everyone at the table (DM and players) has fun.

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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:54 am 
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abk108 wrote:
Otherwise, in 3E, everyone capable of using a greatsword would do so, just because for PCs a 2d6 weapon is by far the best choice (if compared to a bastard sword, 1d10, or a Greataxe, 1d12)


That defines one, maybe two, of my good friends. Every character has the weapon their class that does the most damage. Same goes for armor. All fighters wind up with plate mail and carry two-handed swords, unless another weapon is magical. All wizards use a staff since it does better damage than a dagger. You get my point. Players like this have no concept of each PC can be different because of the choices the player makes. Instead, the only differences from this perspective must come from the skills and feat selections, i.e. mechanical differences. I find this view disappointing, especially as the DM. I like players to have their fighter to use a short sword BECAUSE that is the custom of that fighter, while another fighter owned by the same player may only use scale armor and a long blade due to the fact the blade and armor came from a tomb of a noble woodsman that they looted at first level.


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:34 am 
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abk108 wrote:
Lol, that'd be me :mrgreen:

:) Well, I know who the parties are, but I wanted to use the example to point out the issue, without naming names and without suggesting that either party was on one side or the other of the Game/Story concept. "The other guy" might well not expect that the in-world characters are thinking about that 5% chance, and I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth.


abk108 wrote:
Rules are there to help make the game seem a little more impartial and making sure everyone at the table (DM and players) has fun.

I think we're on the same page, or at least within two or three pages of each other. But there are players out there who are 200 pages away, and who imagine their characters themselves thinking about wanting to be a bit stronger to do a bit more damage as if they knew they had a 15 Strength (instead of being a vague-ish "very strong") and knew for a fact that there's magic out there that would bump their Strength. If the player has read it in a rulebook, the character knows it as a fact in his world. There is no vagueness or mystery or dreaming...


JediOre wrote:
Every character has the weapon [for] their class that does the most damage. Same goes for armor. All fighters wind up with plate mail and carry two-handed swords...

Not to change the subject I started with, but this puts me in mind of another phenomenon: The Impeccable Character. The character that has no faults, or has as few faults as the system will allow. It's a different thing from powergaming, since I've certainly seen it not involve an arms war of damage dealing and defensive powers. It has more to do with never being tricked or made to look foolish, never getting close to death, never facing something that you don't have a trick up your sleeve for, and being the best there is at what you do. The character is a superman, a paragon -- and the player is unhappy (sometimes very unhappy) when the character gets captured or pick-pocketed or hits negative hit points, even when those serve the narrative to their advantage in the long run. It's like a character that nothing is supposed to happen to... they're made of marble and shouldn't be chipped.

Meanwhile, many of the characters I've loved playing have been flawed, either in mechanical ways, narrative ways, or both.

I'll leave the psychology of those two viewpoints as an exercise for the reader...

_________________
Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:28 am 
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*grabs can of deet and sprays self*
I prefer to play my characters with story in mind which seemed to annoy some of the party to no end. I played a mad scientist once in Deadlands that improved a gatlin pistol to raise the ROF. I kept shootin this thing into combat from a distance and missing the target. However I would end up hitting bad guys in the background and missing good guys because of cover. After about the third lucky spray of bullets one player yelled, Are you trying to kill us! I told him that my character was convinced that he was a good shot and that he wouldn't stop until something bad happened. After that I got a rules lecture on why it was a bad idea to shoot a gatlin pistol with my guys abilities. :roll: I had this image of him that I didn't want to change just because of the numbers. I kept thinking how I really wanted to play a mad scientist who longed to be the fastest gun in the west.

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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:15 pm 
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That's a great example of what I'm talking about. The characters don't know the rules, only the results.

Something occurred to me this morning, about hit points and making a monster extra-creepy. Imagine a humanoid crawling up out of a pit that has noxious vapors streaming out of it. It looks like a man covered in motor oil and it looks like all his veins and arteries are on the outside of his skin. You think, "ah ha, slashing this guy is going to cause him to bleed out extra fast!" or something similar. But no attack directed at him severs any of those veins, nor does any other sort of harm, regardless of the damage rolled. Some degree of panic ensues, with folks trying to figure out how to damage the guy. Finally, someone just keeps wailing away at him and manages to run him through with a sword, fireplace poker, BBQ tool or whatever it is, and he drops like a stone, dead.

Meanwhile, 'behind the screen', every attack that hit him had done damage as normal. The attack that killed him, merely took away his last remaining hit points. But narratively, this infernal-infused man was nigh impervious, with one or two unknown weak spots. It was a 'lucky shot' that took him down (even though it was 'just another attack' on the part of the players).

If the "game is the story" for you, you may be crying foul, upset that all that hit point damage didn't show up -- as if you were tricked into thinking he had DR or immunities to figure out or regeneration or something else going on. But I think this is a pretty cool application of the fact that hit points are an abstraction, in this case abstractly representing the fact that the creature only has one or two non-obvious small weak spots that are vulnerable to attack.

I think I may use such a creature with my players. I'll let you know how it goes... :)

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:50 am 
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I think that if I were a player I'd stop attacking it after the third or fourth hit that apparently did nothing and try some other strategy. If you have a game where players are usually expected to think about what is happening and devise new solutions, having things 'not be what they seem' can be problematic.


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:41 am 
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meinvt wrote:
I think that if I were a player I'd stop attacking it after the third or fourth hit that apparently did nothing and try some other strategy. If you have a game where players are usually expected to think about what is happening and devise new solutions, having things 'not be what they seem' can be problematic.


+d7

I'd think "hmm maybe we're not supposed to beat the crap out of that guy! Maybe there is something else we didn't try!" Then start throwing everything in my rucksack to see if it works...

Maybe your idea could work better if you allow a Will Save so that those who fail, see the guy as invicible, while maybe the only PC who passed the Save sees the cuts and bruises of any attack. They'd all be shouting "he's invincible! omg!! not even my +3 Greatsword" while the guy would be shouting "Don't give up he's going down! Can't you see?!"

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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:38 pm 
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abk108 wrote:
meinvt wrote:
I think that if I were a player I'd stop attacking it after the third or fourth hit that apparently did nothing and try some other strategy. If you have a game where players are usually expected to think about what is happening and devise new solutions, having things 'not be what they seem' can be problematic.


+d7

I'd think "hmm maybe we're not supposed to beat the crap out of that guy! Maybe there is something else we didn't try!" Then start throwing everything in my rucksack to see if it works...

Maybe your idea could work better if you allow a Will Save so that those who fail, see the guy as invicible, while maybe the only PC who passed the Save sees the cuts and bruises of any attack. They'd all be shouting "he's invincible! omg!! not even my +3 Greatsword" while the guy would be shouting "Don't give up he's going down! Can't you see?!"

Hmm. I see trying to "empty the rucksack at him" as a good thing -- it beats that same-old toe-to-toe hack-and-slash. So you decide to burn him, throw acid at him, attack with a cold iron weapon, etc. etc. Still damages him and might take him down. I'm certainly not saying I'd be throwing things like this at a group often. But I think things that re-cast the nature of a fight a good thing. I don't know about you, but I've been playing or GMing one game or another fairly steadily since 1988 -- variety is crucial. We've reached an age where we can fall asleep at the table (and occasionally do! :oops: )

Now, the Will Save thing feels like the beginnings of another way to mix things up... Like maybe a creature that exudes illusion to hide the fact that it is losing...

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:41 pm 
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I should also have said as preface to the idea, that we have tended to describe an 'injured' foe in some way to indicate their level of injury without just saying "he's at 1/3 hp". The idea of not doing that and describing a thing as 'uninjured' would seem to give it an unearthly quality that is missing from things like demons (once you realize they have a hit point total that you can reduce...).

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:00 am 
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That is a great point. Back when I was a kid I read the MM cover to cover and without realizing it turned the monsters into a HP/XP/treasure total. I exchanged that sense of dread and wonder of meeting a new monster for a sense of confidence and mastery over the game. I would and do recommend that all new players of the DCC RPG read as little as you can about the monsters in the game. Keep that sense of wonder alive!

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"When creating your character,choose an ethical system that can justify nearly any fit of temper, greed, cowardice, or vindictiveness, for example, Chaotic Violent..."

THE PROTOCOLS, ADVANCED PROTOCOL #10


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:41 am 
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DCCfan wrote:
That is a great point. Back when I was a kid I read the MM cover to cover and without realizing it turned the monsters into a HP/XP/treasure total. I exchanged that sense of dread and wonder of meeting a new monster for a sense of confidence and mastery over the game. I would and do recommend that all new players of the DCC RPG read as little as you can about the monsters in the game. Keep that sense of wonder alive!


nice post :wink:
I agree, but a simple way is for DMs to create their own monsters, using those in the manual only as an example. I wouldn't like to see more than 40-50 monsters in the manual. Besides, creating a monster for DCC is as easy as it can get..

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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:01 pm 
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"Game vs. Story", or should it read "Game instead of Story"
IMO story has suffered because of rules bloat. A lot of players now roll play and don't ROLE PLAY, especially the younger ones. Maybe video games should take some of the blame too.
Stonebreaker

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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:00 pm 
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I don't think it can be laid at the feet of rules bloat exclusively. I certainly saw "roll play" happening more than two decades ago, when rules were less than half their present size*. Then again, I would not ever consider the full output of wotc's 3.5 to all be "canon" at the same time, which I know is not how most players used it.

But video games can soak up some blame, too. IME, they tend to have a story happening *around* the player's characters, and the characters just smash stuff as the opportunity arises. I tend to think the feedback-loop of RPG>video games>RPG is less than good.






* Name the reference, get a cookie (first correct answer only).

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:10 pm 
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I don't think video games are really the culprit. I do think that organized play across a large audience tends to lead to rules bloat. There is a desire to have the experience be positive no matter what table you sit and and who runs the game. One thing that is negative is when a tactic that succeeds awesomely in one session is arbitrarily penalized in another just because you get a different DM. So, there becomes a movement to promote some consistency. This requires rulings on common issues. These rulings eventually become rules. The cycle repeats. The rules get big.

WotC tried to build around this with 4E, as they have vast experience with the challenge. I think this desire for consistency regardless of game group led to the "video game" feel as much as anything.


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:43 pm 
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meinvt wrote:
There is a desire to have the experience be positive no matter what table you sit and and who runs the game. ... So, there becomes a movement to promote some consistency. This requires rulings on common issues. These rulings eventually become rules. The cycle repeats. The rules get big.

Consistency is my perspective on the issue.

I have an additional compounding factor in that I am very good at remembering what I read (semi-photographic memory), therefore I have always had a firmer grasp on rules-as-written than others (my gaming group calls me The Codex and even the DM refers to me whenever a question arises). As such, I find it difficult to accept on-the-fly rulings because I actually do remember what the rules say should happen and I play the game assuming that the rules govern the game. Allowing narrative to run a game over and against the rules creates problems because narrative is subjective; rules provide objectivity and they exist before the game even starts.

This is also not to say that changing the rules is verboten. I love rules changes. I just like them to happen before the rule ever comes into play, so I know ahead of time how the world works.


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:18 am 
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Eldric IV wrote:
meinvt wrote:
There is a desire to have the experience be positive no matter what table you sit and and who runs the game. ... So, there becomes a movement to promote some consistency. This requires rulings on common issues. These rulings eventually become rules. The cycle repeats. The rules get big.

Consistency is my perspective on the issue.

I have an additional compounding factor in that I am very good at remembering what I read (semi-photographic memory), therefore I have always had a firmer grasp on rules-as-written than others (my gaming group calls me The Codex and even the DM refers to me whenever a question arises). As such, I find it difficult to accept on-the-fly rulings because I actually do remember what the rules say should happen and I play the game assuming that the rules govern the game. Allowing narrative to run a game over and against the rules creates problems because narrative is subjective; rules provide objectivity and they exist before the game even starts.

This is also not to say that changing the rules is verboten. I love rules changes. I just like them to happen before the rule ever comes into play, so I know ahead of time how the world works.


Holy cow, bless you!!! I thought i was ALONE!!!
:mrgreen:
I have THE SAME problem when playing, and not running, a game. I know basically any rule in 3.5 core books. Heck i used to remember page index. The problem is when you expect the world to react in a certain way, and in your head you value risks and rewards... only to discover IT'S ALL WRONG because the DM said so.

I played for a year with one group that basically never bothered reading the rules thoroughly;

examples:

" i shoot him with my bow, you said he's at around 300', that's a -3 penalty, right?"
"no, if you shoot people that far you have at least a -8"
"what the hell did i buy a composite longbow for, then!?"

*enemy barbarian readying an attack with sharkteeth weapon near a door*
"ok, i (atypical cleric) am more nimble than the paladin and have enough HP to survive one blow. I move in using the retreat action, *indicate which squares i step on*, take one hit and then the others quickly follow once he's discharged his attack"
"He attacks you twice for his "full attack" and once for his Attack of opportunity."
"but he can't ready a full round action! and i've used the retreat movement to avoid AoO when exiting his threat range."
"it doesn't work like that. 59 dmg and you're grappled."
"no, 59 damage, i'm not grappled, i'm dead. I'm at -7. :shock: "

We soon understood that AC in that game was purely optional, because having 24 or having 14 you'd get hit by "behind the screen"-rolls all the same; using spells that allowed Saves was useless since they'd always fail; using spells that allowed SR were absolutely useless against bosses, even at level 3; every enemy that has Darkness automatically gains Ultravision to see through its own Darkness spell; the only thing we could do was stock up on HP and cures, use buffing spells on ourselves (because we roll our own dice.. not behind the screen!) and know that it really doesn't matter what we did: we could kill the enemy only when and if the DM wanted so. That's lame.

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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:37 am 
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Deft-Handed Cutpurse

Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:05 pm
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Location: Central Vermont
Exactly. Rules are really there to allow players a way to impact the world. Otherwise everything is just DM fiat. With a great DM and storyteller that can be awesome, but it can also be horrible. I actually think this is something 4E did right. The rules were both broad enough to cover most of the critical situations, while also understandable enough that a majority of players would still learn a majority of the rules. The flip side is that in order to do this everything works in a sort of plug-and-socket system that can feel very 'samey', with all the negative effects on immersion, uniqueness and spontaneity this implies.

I'm glad DCC isn't going down that route.


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:55 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:01 pm
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Trust is a big issue when it comes to DM fiat.

When I ran our group's games, my players trusted me and so I was free to make changes on the fly to enhance the game (the party dealt enough damage to kill a black dragon twice over due to a few lucky rolls but I allowed it to stay alive to make the group's first ever dragon fight more epic).

I have also experienced games like abk. My brother once played a paladin and, upon obtaining his paladin mount, took Mounted Combat. The first time it came into use, the DM decided he did not like it and changed how it worked so the mount would get hit (and the feat became essentially useless).

Foreknowledge and fair warning are excellent courtesies to extend as a DM to a new group when one wants to deviate from the rules. Simply telling players up-front that monsters do not work the same in your game as they do in the rules, so don't expect trolls to be vulnerable to fire, is enough to open the world back up to discovery and uncertainty for the players. I would just caution that it should not create free license to thwart the PCs by changing the rules in play; maintain consistency.


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:46 pm 
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Cold-Hearted Immortal
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Location: Left Coast, USA
Eldric IV wrote:
Trust is a big issue when it comes to DM fiat. ...My brother once played a paladin and, upon obtaining his paladin mount, took Mounted Combat. The first time it came into use, the DM decided he did not like it and changed how it worked so the mount would get hit (and the feat became essentially useless)...

Oh, man! That is horrible. If it had been on a list of feats that were 'off the table' sure, fine, okay. But to nerf it after it'd been taken, because you don't like it? Bad form.

I'd never advocate secretly changing the rules -- but I think there is plenty of room to define effects (for the sake of mystery or novelty) in ways other than the same repetitious way some of them seem to turn up in the rules:

I recently had a group of 'goblins' go against my players. The locals called them 'goblins' most of the time, but I made it clear these weren't MM goblins. During the fight, which was at night, they exuded 'clouds' of shadowy-ness that helped them blend into shadows and made them harder to hit while it was in effect. Part way though the fight, one of my players says, "Hey! They need to roll a miss chance against us, if they are in shadow -- and come to think of it, we need to roll it against them, too!" I was perturbed that he was interrupting the game like that -- I'm not known as a walking rules encyclopedia, but I think I do okay -- but instead of responding to descriptions and events, he was thinking about concealment and how it works game mechanically, and he came to the wrong conclusion. These 'goblin's' shadow effect was 1) invisible to them owing to their affinity with Shadow, and 2) merely added a bit to their AC -- which was much easier to run than almost every attack in the fight needing a percentile roll to go with it to see if it hit or not, on top of the d20 result. It was a fairly fast flowing fight, and hopefully came across as a bit chaotic as well -- which mirrored the style I had in mind for these monsters.

I guess I'd rather my players focus on the immersive angle more, because if I am hazy on a rule, I'm not shy about saying so...

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Game vs. Story
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:24 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver
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Quote:
so don't expect trolls to be vulnerable to fire, is enough to open the world back up to discovery and uncertainty for the players. I would just caution that it should not create free license to thwart the PCs by changing the rules in play; maintain consistency.


if the DM would tell us , when we're about to go troll hunting, "look, guys, these trolls are not D&D classic trolls. Don't expect them to be vulnerable to fire or acid. They are more like LoTR trolls, think of them as big bad orcs that can withstand terrible wounds." that's perfect.
But letting us buy a +1 flaming longsword for the paladin (because knowing that fire works against trolls is not metagaming anymore, i expect even most commoners to know that at least from myth or legend), stock up on alchemist's fire and fireball scrolls, then having us discover that they don't really work on *his* trolls, it's terrible. Be honest, don't trick players!

I remember, always in THAT game i referred to above, we were up against (at level 4-7) invincible undeads, that had insane 10/- damage reduction, Spell Resistance around 18, they could make a full round attack after having moved (this was probably an error at first that became a rule instead of admitting it was a mistake....). They did not die, no matter how much damage they were dealt, they had some Regeneration effect. It was impossible (???) to dismember them, so we couldn't just fell them and then cut them apart, burn them or whatnot.
I was a cleric so i decided i would look in every single manual i could to find some useful spell - being a cleric i knew all spells i could cast (i opted for the cleric when i saw that the wizard wasn't allowed to buy/find/research any spell like Melf's Acid Arrow or Nauseating Cloud that bypass SR to go against a mindflayer).
I found some useful spells, i managed to kill the 4 zombies we were up against. Then another 4 appeared from nowhere.
:?

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