Flint_A
 member, 583 posts
Fri 31 Mar 2017
at 06:30
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Just to clarify, I'm perfectly aware you get into arguments in D&D. But those are rule arguments, not theoretical ones. They are less prone to fighting, usually take less time, and are completely avoidable if only one person knows the rules well enough (In my experience usually me, even if I'm not the DM.) and the others roll with it.

I've always thought of systems as methods of travelling. Freeform is walking. You can go anywhere (that you can manage) but it's tiring and confusing. D&D is a public bus. You just get on and trust the driver, who takes you through a more or less set route. Light systems are like bikes, because they make me ask why the hell I'm not just walking if I'm going to do all the work anyway.
Gaffer
 member, 1446 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Fri 31 Mar 2017
at 13:48
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
swordchucks:
The third sheet of paper has a normal coloring book line drawing on it that you can fill in.

And some games are so crunchy that all the sections of the outlined picture have a number indicating what color goes where.
swordchucks
 member, 1362 posts
Fri 31 Mar 2017
at 14:00
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Gaffer:
And some games are so crunchy that all the sections of the outlined picture have a number indicating what color goes where.

That would imply that all of the pictures look pretty much the same.  Which... I actually find is a problem more in the middle-ground games that don't have as many mechanics to pick from.  Crunchy tends to demand characters differentiate.

I suppose you could widen the metaphor to imply that each coloring page is a different class/template within a crunchy game system and imply that every class/template looks about the same, which is fair for several systems.  Within the superhero genre, I'm not sure that's a terrible thing.  How much differentiation do you really see between comic book speedsters, for instance?
Utsukushi
 member, 1407 posts
 I should really stay out
 of this, I know...but...
Fri 31 Mar 2017
at 16:28
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
And I was going to say the second level of Swordchuck's metaphor would be better described by one of those Doodle books, where they give you some random lines to build off of, than a connect-the-dots that sort of tells you exactly where to go... whereas the coloring-book page (or, really, the connect-the-dot idea, since I'd have replaced it) sounds more like a template-based system like D&D or Talislanta, than high-crunch modular games like Champions or GURPS.  Those are more like a "How to draw..." book combined with Drawing Prompts, or something.  They go back to the blank page, but with detailed instructions for what to put on it.

And then, of course, there are those popular coloring books where you have to roll a d64 to randomly determine which crayon to use...

But, um, I suspect that us crunch-leaning-types are calling ourselves out a little here, wanting to build this up into a proper system.
Nerwen
 member, 1871 posts
 seek to understand before
 you seek to be understood
Fri 31 Mar 2017
at 19:50
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
I was in a Pathfinder game once where we had to stop and argue about the rules for 20 minutes in every single session... There was one player who constantly wanted to do something weird and obscure, and it took that long for them to figure out whether he could do it, how the rules would apply to allow him to do it, which rules needed to be combined with which other rules to make it work, etc. It involved a lot of looking things up in multiple books. He wasn't trying to be intentionally disruptive (...that I know of), and the things he wanted to do did fit the situations we were in. They were just more creative than what the rules accounted for.

And so, on the flip side of what everyone else is saying, I prefer rules-lite, where the GM can just decree things and the story can move on. :p
Korentin_Black
 member, 515 posts
 I remember when all
 this was just fields...
Sun 2 Apr 2017
at 05:16
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?

 Don't forget that a DM can do that in Pathfinder too - some of the more arguments-light games I've been in have used the fairly simple meta-rule that no decision arrived at in game is binding thereafter until hashed out or thought about, and that anything not fairly obvious (to the DM) got a die roll, evens or odds.

 Also, I kind of see the systems breaking down more subtly than just crunch and no crunch - the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...forbidden_is_allowed principle kind of applies. Some systems permit you to do most anything not forbidden by invoking aspects or combining spheres or spending bennies, others restrict you to the actions permitted by your skills, stats and abilities. As a rule I personally (and perversely) find the latter leads to greater creativity because I like the idea of being given a small tool box and challenged to find ways to apply those tools to newer and bigger situations but not everyone does and there's nothing particularly wrong with that.

 I've also played with plenty of GM's I don't trust, but I think that's a bad way of describing them - one GM ran fun games but couldn't be trusted to work out distances (The skeletons are out of range? So... we... wandered along this hall for three hundred feet seeing no doors and not thinking it was strange, despite the fact that that's larger than the house we're in..? And we're not under mind control and there's no magic? But they're definitely further away than the insi... Never mind) or numbers (So we're surrounded? And the floating fortresses are too close together to slip past? The whole country? How many of them are th... Never mind) but we still often had a blast. Another would cheerfully roll dice behind a screen and declare critical hits every second blow while his NPC healer kept everyone on their feet but the group was fun. Another was running the campaign mainly to showcase how clever their city and dungeon design was (it wasn't) but we found our fun in the byplay of the group and the odd NPC we more or less adopted...
 ...and sometimes, yeah... There's just only one game in town. ^_^
pdboddy
 member, 510 posts
Sun 2 Apr 2017
at 06:09
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
In reply to Nerwen (msg # 42):

That's more a DM thing than a Pathfinder specific thing, though.

I mean, in all honesty, a GM really ought to know when to say "Go ahead and roll <something>", and when to say, "You know what?  That's awesome.  I'll allow it."  That goes for rules-light and rules-crunchy games.
facemaker329
 member, 6907 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Sun 2 Apr 2017
at 17:11
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Yeah, my favorite GMs (and I've had the good fortune to have played under a lot of really good GMs) were the kind of people that, if you explained what you wanted to do and it sounded logical and plausible, would go ahead and roll with it, regardless of what the specific rules in the game said...they might have you roll once for what should likely have been a combination of five or six rolls, if you got specific about it.  But rolling that many dice at that point in the game would have killed the flow of things...they kind of ran with the 'what would be most interesting right now?' concept.  And it wasn't a system-exclusive thing, it happened over a broad range of different games and different GMs.

I guess that's why I've always been partial to 'lighter' systems...my experience has been, generally, that GMs that run more crunchy systems tend to rely more on the system.  Rather than saying, "Yeah, that sounds reasonable, I'll allow it," they're inclined to say, "Well, there's actually a rule for that, so let's do it that way."  It doesn't always happen that way, and a GM who knows when to set aside the rules for the sake of a good story is a great thing.

Ultimately, the system is secondary or even tertiary, really.  The right GM and group of players can make ANY system fun to play...and the wrong GM can kill the fun of any system.
pdboddy
 member, 511 posts
Sun 2 Apr 2017
at 17:31
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
quote:
GMs that run more crunchy systems tend to rely more on the system


I think that some folks just let themselves get hemmed in, and they don't realize: Hey, the reason why GMs are 'God' in a roleplaying game is that they can choose to ignore what the rules say, and let the game flow as it may.
PCO.Spvnky
 member, 320 posts
Mon 3 Apr 2017
at 09:33
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
It has been my experience that "crunchy" campaigns last much longer than "non-crunchy" games (at least in rl, rpol games die or stay afloat whimsically it seems).
facemaker329
 member, 6908 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Mon 3 Apr 2017
at 15:10
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Funny, the mostly-freeform games that I'm in have been running for several years...one is coming up on 59k posts...
pdboddy
 member, 513 posts
Mon 3 Apr 2017
at 16:11
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Yet I know of a crunchy game closing in on 150k posts.

On RPoL, it's all down to the continued interest of the GM and the players.  In the times I have crashed out, it was external pressures, not the game system.
StarMaster
 member, 263 posts
Mon 3 Apr 2017
at 17:51
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Crunch is a 'thing' because people are fallible. D&D started out with dice rolls for a lot of things because you had players that would think a GM wasn't being fair about making decisions. "All characters are equal." At least, they are supposed to be. If a GM has Bill's paladin succeed all the time (due to really good role-playing rather than any inherent bias), then Mikey may feel that his hardly-ever-successful rogue is being discriminated against (usually from stupid role-playing). The dice were there to ensure that there was no bias, that the GM was fair, and he wasn't playing favorites.

Heck, even in the original DMG, Gygax states that if you don't like a rule, don't use it! That's essentially the basis for every 'house rule' that ever came afterward.

This evolved into the Golden Rule of Gaming (imho): Never let the rules get in the way of having fun!

Remember, too, that there are Rules Lawyers. Normally, this is just a phase we go through as we learn to game, and learn new systems. The rules help us understand the way the game is SUPPOSED to play. However, some are OCD types; rules make it possible for them to game in the first place.

More often than not, we're all a mix of the above.

In every game you join, you have to find a middle ground that you are comfortable with. If a GM doesn't do things to your liking, then you'll find another game.
Utsukushi
 member, 1408 posts
 I should really stay out
 of this, I know...but...
Mon 3 Apr 2017
at 19:41
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
quote:
Crunch is a 'thing' because people are fallible.

Not for me.  It's not a matter at all of not trusting GMs to handle everything perfectly.  I've honestly never seen a game in which common sense didn't still apply, and yes, sometimes people disagree.  That's.. one of the things GMs are for, but it's not something that's ever going to be filled in with some perfect set of rules that actually covers every possibility.

For me, Crunch is just... that's what the game is.  I can make stuff up, sure, but that's not a game.  Games don't just `need structure' - they are structures.  If we take all the crunch out of, let's say, chess... we have a board and a pile of pieces.  Does it matter that the board has alternately colored squares, or that there are two different colors of pieces?  Can the horse-shaped pieces fly?  Can those pointy ones shoot lasers from their eyes?  Do the pointy ones even have eyes?  Why can't the little guys hop off the board and run around on the table?

...Quite frankly, as soon as you decide answers to any of those, even if it's just going to apply for the next half hour -- you're creating crunch, and giving structure to your game.

I can make up stories, yes.  I can even make up a story with somebody else.  And that can be fun sometimes.  But it's a different thing than playing a game.
icosahedron152
 member, 750 posts
Mon 3 Apr 2017
at 21:21
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
I don't believe that crunch is essential to a game. Kids play 'games' of cops and robbers or mums and dads, but there is no real crunch there.

Rules of some type are necessary - agreements between participants about what can and cannot take place (you don't take teacups to a cops and robbers game, nor guns to a mums and dads game). Those are what define a game, but such rules don't need to be crunchy, they can be quite vague and can develop and mutate by mutual agreement.

It depends on your definition of 'crunch' I suppose, but I can accept that mutual storytelling based simply on an agreement of what is an acceptable storyline, could be defined as a game (and is, by many Rpol members), but I would hesitate to say it had 'crunch'.
facemaker329
 member, 6909 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Tue 4 Apr 2017
at 05:07
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
For me, the enjoyment of rolling for stuff in a game is the surprise element...I like not knowing that everything I try to do with my character is going to work the way I expected it to (and sometimes it won't work at all), or trying something that's a ridiculously unlikely thing and having it actually work out remarkably well.  I enjoy that random aspect of the game.

And that's one of the reasons I have to be very selective about the freeform games I play in.  Some games are literally the players saying, "Well, okay, I'm going to do this, and it works, because my character's done it thousands of times in the past so it's no longer even a challenge."  But I'm one of the freeform players that will say, "I line up my sights, take a deep breath...exhale slowly...and pull the trigger..." and wait for the GM to tell me whether or not I hit.  It may not be random to him...but it's an unknown to me and it's part of the lure of gaming.

That's why I like 'lite' systems and guided freeform (or mostly-freeform) games...there's enough unknown out there to be intriguing, but there aren't so many things decided by dice that I feel like the game is revolving around the rolls, or (especially in PbP) the game doesn't bog down because everything's got to be rolled for.

And everyone lands at different points on that spectrum...some people enjoy having all the details come about randomly, and that why there are games that have hit location charts and conversions about what kind of physical damage is appropriate for what number of points of damage taken, etc...some people just want the story aspect of the game and really don't care about the dice, so we have freeform...and, arguably, most of us land somewhere between the two or even bounce back and forth, which is one of the reasons a lot of us play more than a single style of game or enjoy playing more than one system.

I know what works for me...but just because it doesn't work for someone else doesn't make them wrong about what works for them.  My take on it is, if you're having fun, you're doing it right...regardless of how many rules (or lack thereof) have to be involved in your fun.
Mad Mick
 member, 886 posts
 Ain't sayin nothin
 Got nothin to say
Tue 4 Apr 2017
at 07:04
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
You know, this reminds me of the Morrowind vs. Oblivion/Skyrim combat.

I don't play Morrowind because of the combat, although I do find it relatively enjoyable (just not as much as Final Fantasy Tactics or Temple of Elemental Evil, say).  Your chance to hit an enemy in Morrowind is a rather complex equation that factors in weapon skill, agility score, personal fatigue, luck, the opponent's ability to dodge, and their fatigue (among other things).  Combat in Morrowind can be frustrating at low levels if the player isn't aware that they need a decent weapons skill and need to be relatively rested since there's no dodge or miss animation in the game.  It looks like the attack should connect, but it missed.

In Skyrim and Oblivion, all attacks hit unless they're blocked, regardless of skill.  The rules crunch has been taken out of the game, and the result is not a role playing game but an action adventure game.  A player can actually become champion of the arena while still being first level (because the game scales to the character's level, you see).

The same is true for casting spells.  In Morrowind, spell success depends on skill level, stats, and fatigue.  In the other games, if the PC is able to cast a spell, they can, leading to results like becoming Archmage of the mages' guild and only being able to cast one spell.

I prefer things like skill level and granularity, whether it's something like GURPS or FATE/Fudge.  The rules shouldn't get in the way of the action, but I like having something that indicates how good someone is with a weapon, or how well they can talk themselves out of a situation even if the player isn't particularly good at smooth talking.

I've played freeform and rules-based games, and some GURPS games that played more like freeform with occasional rolls.  It's probably the games I chose, but the GURPS games have lasted for tens of thousands of posts.  One game I know has been going for a decade and has amazing stories.  I like swordchucks' breakdown of different systems above, but I'm not sure playing with a system is like a coloring page.  No analogy is ever perfect, but I equate playing with a system like GURPS to being given directions in things like perspective and shading, and then the players and GM work together to create masterpieces.  The difference between completely freeform games and crunchy games is the level of instruction.  Some master painters have no formal education and have created unrivaled works.  Others have gone through formal training and produce other masterpieces.  The end results are similarly amazing.  It's the beginning and processes that are so different, and really, infinite.
tsukoyomi
 member, 78 posts
Wed 5 Apr 2017
at 08:06
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
So.. crunch.

I'm going to approach this from several angles, I find all of them have applied to me at one point or another, so in no particular order:


The GM/group you don't trust: With this, I don't mean "he.they is/are out to get me/us", it can be simply a matter of not knowing the GM or group at all. When you're new to a group or table, or when you got new players, I find it easier to spot problems in groups and GMs on systems with more rules.

On the GM side, I find it easier to be assertive with people I don't know. The less crunchy the system and the more I'm thinking "am I being fair? is this player pushing for too much? am I making this action too difficult? would this monster with this fluff feel like a true challenge for the players or would they feel cheated if I make it hard to beat?". This uncertainty can get too much, turn into anxiety and kill my ability to improvise and do the roleplay thing.

The character creation: Sometimes, I have a great idea for a character and everything fits together, but sometimes, I'm sorta building as I think things, and I have an unfortunate tendency to bloat, and this tendency leads me to be unsure and constantly question myself if piling too much crap or if it's ok.
With a crunchier system, I have limited resources, it allows me to trim down the fat and stick to what background elements I can honestly justify with the crunch, help me figure out what parts are important for me to keep. This leads to a more streamlined, less haphazard background.

One of my favorite characters that I enjoyed the most playing? barely saw combat at all, but the crunchy system I was using allowed me to distill the dozen nebulous background element ideas I had into something that just clicked.

The Random: inserting randomness and uncertainty of results into the story has it's merit, it can make things more exiting... the problem is that the lighter systems can be too random, or perhaps it doesn't make sense that doing X is more likely than Y, and the fridge logic hits you and crashes your immersion to tiny pieces.
Crunchier systems try to provide a better simulation, either of reality or of a genre in particular. By adding rules on top of simply throwing a dice, they try to control how much the random factor influences things. They attempt to make the random factor provide better results.

This message was last edited by the user at 08:17, Wed 05 Apr.

lensman
 member, 170 posts
 Crestline, CA, -8 GMT
Thu 6 Apr 2017
at 02:08
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?

Because crunchy = differentiation.

Can your system bring into clear focus how the Hulk, Thor, Wonder Man, the Thing and Colossus are different, their strength s and weakness'? If not then what good is it?
icosahedron152
 member, 752 posts
Thu 6 Apr 2017
at 06:17
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Crunch does not necessarily equal differentiation. It only relates to physical quantities.

Can your crunchy system bring into clear focus how Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin are different, their varied approaches to life? If not...
Novocrane
 member, 334 posts
Thu 6 Apr 2017
at 06:36
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
@icosahedron152
Crunch doesn't have to mean physical. There are systems that could quantify their individual and varying virtues and vices, mental states, et cetera. I'm thinking Legends Of The Wulin, fwiw.

This message was last edited by the user at 08:54, Thu 06 Apr.

Nintaku
 member, 513 posts
Thu 6 Apr 2017
at 06:53
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
lensman:
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?

Because crunchy = differentiation.

Can your system bring into clear focus how the Hulk, Thor, Wonder Man, the Thing and Colossus are different, their strength s and weakness'? If not then what good is it?


There are a lot of systems that try to focus on "How much can Hulk/Thor/WM/Thing/Colossus lift?" as an important factor, to which many players feel the most sensible answer is "more than Spider-Man, less than Galactus." Several of us prefer game systems that can let us bring into focus the idea that Hulk deals with control of rage, Thor has responsibilities in two worlds, Wonder Man has to determine what it means to be alive in a world where he can't die and there's a robot running around with his brain, Thing has to come to terms with feeling like a monster, and Colossus has issues regarding...something. I don't know much about Colossus outside the old cartoon.

That's why I am not much into Mutants & Masterminds, because the crunch is totally useless to me and violates a lot of what I want out of a supers game, but I do really like Marvel Heroic RPG and Fate Accelerated for Supers. Those give me the things I need and leave out the things I need to not have at all.
lensman
 member, 171 posts
 Crestline, CA, -8 GMT
Thu 6 Apr 2017
at 07:43
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
It can, in the way it offers players a structure to build all aspects of the physical, temporal and psychological.

It builds shy loyal gardeners, dutiful nephews with a streak of curiosity or a pair of mischievous, endlessly cheerful friends.

Whether you want to attach crunchy mechanics to every bit of narrative written for a character bio in preparation of a game, the exist to apply differentiation.

Given not all players are equal in the skilled use of a crunchy system or are equal in imagination, however given the ability to recognize choices, the crunchiness shows the roadways that lead to building the character a user can envision.


#Novocrane:
You are not, crunch in my system applies to more than the physical, it applies to all the building blocks one needs to build the character and even any Meta rules you want to have, depending on the campaign.

@ Nintaku:
I hear you on that, I do not use M & M either.
tsukoyomi
 member, 80 posts
Thu 6 Apr 2017
at 08:43
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Nintaku:
Several of us prefer game systems that can let us bring into focus the idea that Hulk deals with control of rage, Thor has responsibilities in two worlds, Wonder Man has to determine what it means to be alive in a world where he can't die and there's a robot running around with his brain, Thing has to come to terms with feeling like a monster, and Colossus has issues regarding...something. I don't know much about Colossus outside the old cartoon.

That's why I am not much into Mutants & Masterminds, because the crunch is totally useless to me and violates a lot of what I want out of a supers game
Err.. M&M has an entire mechanic dedicated to that? there's certainly several times more words dedicated to complications than to how much you can lift or any other individual ability or power, and just about every single splat book of M&M has a section or more dedicated to it as well.

Yes, it's extremely lightweight compared to the physical crunch and other systems do go to more depth on it, but pretending it's not there is disingenuous.

That a system seeks to better model the physical side and handles the rest in a lightweight matter doesn't mean that those characters can't do all those things, it means the creators saw fit to put more effort in controlling the randomness on one aspect and left the other fuzzier.

This message was last edited by the user at 08:51, Thu 06 Apr.

Nintaku
 member, 514 posts
Thu 6 Apr 2017
at 10:26
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
tsukoyomi:
Err.. M&M has an entire mechanic dedicated to that? there's certainly several times more words dedicated to complications than to how much you can lift or any other individual ability or power, and just about every single splat book of M&M has a section or more dedicated to it as well.

Yes, it's extremely lightweight compared to the physical crunch and other systems do go to more depth on it, but pretending it's not there is disingenuous.

That a system seeks to better model the physical side and handles the rest in a lightweight matter doesn't mean that those characters can't do all those things, it means the creators saw fit to put more effort in controlling the randomness on one aspect and left the other fuzzier.


And that's precisely my point. The more granular/crunchy system models things that my group and I actively want not modeled in my supers games. MnM's mechanic is there just as much as it always has been in D&D since the 70s: if you roleplay your flaws, get 100 XP. Except now it's get 1 HP, which is pretty snazzy as the Hero Point has many valuable uses, but it's still very flat. Instead, the system focuses on the attributes, extremely detailed power descriptions and point costs, conditions (so many conditions), movement speed per turn, etc.

There are groups for whom a system that models those things actively detracts from modeling the genre and instead feels like an attempt at turning supers adventures into miniatures combat simulators. To groups like ours, the answer to "who is stronger, the Hulk or Thor" should be answered with the question "whose name is on the cover?" We like the dramatic feel of systems that are much more vague on things like that, because the source material's answer changes depending on the needs of the story being told. That's the bit we want our games to focus on.