Tyr Hawk
 member, 307 posts
 You know that one guy?
 Yeah, that's me.
Sun 6 Aug 2017
at 20:46
Re: Theme-playing games
So, there was a lot in your post to unpack, some of which I agree with, and some of which I don't, but I wanted to hit upon one particular point while I have some time.

DarkLightHitomi:
A particular quote that can't be said enough "The GM defines the game." I always consider the GM to be the single most important part of the game because they control the experience. If it's bad, it because the GM was bad. If it was great, it is because the GM was great. The fact that the DMG specifically states this means the authors recognized this. Strangely enough, I have met more than a handful of players who don't know this yet, surprising as that may be.

I am one of those folks who "doesn't know this yet" because, and forgive me for stepping out of line but, it's not one person's job to make certain everyone at the table is having fun. I've had GMs of every sort, from bad to good and back again, and I've had bad GMs bring down a good game, and good GMs brought down by bad players, and all other options one might imagine. Everyone at the table is responsible for making the game enjoyable. The GM might stand out as the one people point their fingers at (It's her game. She has control over what happens), but that doesn't make her the sole arbiter of what happens in the game.

As you yourself said, there are a lot of games about a lot of different things. Whether the game is munchkiny or story-based, or whatever, players are the majority of the people at the table and are going to be taking over half of the actions in most types of games. The GM might react to everyone, determine the world and the situations, but if the players are given agency (in this case defined as the ability to choose their own actions) then they are going to be holding up the game as much as the GM in most cases.

Moreso than the basics though, social psychology would suggest that the balance of personalities and playstyles will have a lot more effect on the individual impressions of the game than any single person can bring to the table. You can have a "That Guy" as one of your fellow players, but be more annoyed that no one at the table says anything than you are about the That Guy's presence. You can have an amazing GM, but because the dice and the story aren't playing your way, you still have a bad time.

On that note, you can decide how you react to any particular situation. Maybe the GM is a bad one, but you find your own enjoyment and make a memorable (in the good way) game thanks to a friend who was there with you, hamming it up and playing your characters excellently. Maybe the GM is awesome, but you have a fellow player who is getting you down, and you choose not to do or say anything so no one knows how you feel. Are either of these situations the GM's fault? You can argue so, but I (and several branches of psychology) would argue that your decisions and your feelings are your own, and so are your interpretations of your external circumstances.

In the end, the factors that go into what makes a good game or a bad one can hardly be assigned to one person at the table, and if it were going to be any one person at the table it would be the individual person, not the GM, or a fellow player. You.

So, I guess I "don't know this yet" because, well, all of the evidence I've seen (including multiple pieces of your own reply here) would suggest that it's not actually that way. ^_^ But, who knows, I've been wrong before. But I just... would never put my whole experience (or even my general impression) on the GM of the game, unless they were truly the center of the game, which they don't have to be and often aren't... for me.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1174 posts
Mon 7 Aug 2017
at 07:13
Re: Theme-playing games
That is not what I meant.

Think of it like this, metaphorically speaking, a particular system is like a video game genre, say FPSs, and GMs are each different games of that genre, so one GM is Halo, another is Medal of Honor, a third is Call of Duty, a fourth is Borderlands.

Each GM controls how the game plays in their own way, and the effect if this us that each GM is effectively a different one man game studio.

Some players prefer Call of Duty over Medal of Honor, while others refuse to play either.

The experience of the game is, or at least for some, separate from the experience of the group.

I like Halo. I play multiplayer on occasion. Sometimes I end up playing with others I don't like playing with, but that doesn't change how I feel about playing Halo, it just affects how I feel about playing with that particular group.

RPGs are the same. Each GM has a way of GMing that is basically a unique game unto itself. My enjoyment of that GM's style is not dependent on the group. Likewise my enjoyment of the group us not dependent on the GM.

And indeed, there have been times I've played games I didn't like because of the group, and vice versa.

I've also played with GMs, that I;m very thankful were not my first GMs, because if they had been, I'd never have bothered playing an RPG again. And that was never bevause of the group, it was because their style was just a really bad fit for me, and as a first time player, I'd never have known the true scope of how vastly different the same system can play out.

So when I say, "The GM defines the game," I'm not saying that the GM is the end all and be all of the experience, rather just the RPG part of the experience. The social/group part of the experience is something entirely different, even if does also affect the enjoyment of the session.
Tyr Hawk
 member, 308 posts
 You know that one guy?
 Yeah, that's me.
Mon 7 Aug 2017
at 15:17
Re: Theme-playing games
My bad on the assumption there. You've cleared up your point quite well and I'll try to respond in kind.

I still can't say as I agree with your point, since I find that the social/group aspect is inextricably linked with the RPG aspect in this medium. In Halo the GM isn't a person, and can't mess with its own settings if it realizes you're not having fun, or that (just as importantly) they aren't having fun. Sure, you can change your difficulty or whether you're doing single/multiplayer, but here the GM is another person at the table and, well, that changes the nature of things. A GM might start off as Halo, but adapt to become Call of Duty or Borderlands based on the players or the individual campaign. A GM might find themselves against players with a force of personality that, through whatever means, challenges the system and setting in ways that the rules can't handle, forcing something more out of everyone at the table. And some GMs, god-willing, allow players an extensive amount of control over the narrative, and even the rules at times. And some GMs cycle through stages and phases of things based on any number of other factors, each of which affect the social contract of the table, which is a part of the RPG experience (in this medium).

As a matter of course, I'd argue that it's really the system on the one side of the spectrum/coin, and then the group (GM included) on the other side. The system (D&D, Scion, etc.) is Halo, while the GM is the one who picks the map, the playmode, and the cheat codes. The players, however, have input on whether or not those rules and settings are working for them, and can (at times) change them one way or another, sometimes without the GM's express permission if they're following the rules laid out by the GM and the GM sticks to her guns. To me, the group makes the system each time, in all but the games where the GM feels they deserve and have the sole rights to mechanics and other RPG aspects.

I guess that's my problem here. Your argument seems to be (when boiled away from other language) that the GM should act as a god of one aspect of the game which, in my eyes, is inextricably linked to the other core aspect. So, while I can better see your point (and apologize if I somehow morphed it again, stupid linguistic ambiguity), I'm afraid I'm still going to fall into the category of folks who don't quite "know" it yet. ^_^
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1176 posts
Mon 7 Aug 2017
at 15:49
Re: Theme-playing games
A GM has to be willing to bend in various ways, and that willingness to bend, and the ways they bend are part of the GM's style, much like how Halo gives players several ways to change the rules and make new playmodes, while Medal of Honor was far less versatile.

In any case, the way I see it, you have to deal with the social contract in playing Halo or Call of Duty, but that will never truly change the game you are playing, even when you have made major modifications to Halo and created griffball, there is still something distinctly Halo about it.

With a GM, the same is true, but it is expressed differently, and much more subtly. For example, how well does the GM play secondary NPCs, or how good are they at improve, or their creativity in handling scenerios, do they ignore crimes the PCs commit or have the locals react violently, etc. These are things that are subtle and often go unnoticed but still have a massive impact on the gaming experience.
engine
 member, 381 posts
Mon 7 Aug 2017
at 18:07
Re: Theme-playing games
I wanted to add that some modern games do sort of have a GM, or at least try to. Some games have an adaptive difficulty setting, though I've never noticed the effect of one. Presumably it can only make the game so much harder or easier.

There's one game that I'm almost certain has an active "GM" analysis running that adjusts things based on circumstances. That game is XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I haven't crunched any numbers, but I have noticed that the game seems to "fudge" when it starts doing "too well." If one's loses a couple of squad members in an engagement, suddenly the enemies seem to suffer repeated misses, and not press clear advantages, and low-chance shots by player agents seems to hit more often. This abeyance isn't limitless, of course, but it seems to be enough for a player to get the remaining squad into a better position and reload, or get to the dropship, if that's what they want to do.

That's just to do with combat, but the game also has other bones it can throw. Allied nations usually leave if they're "red" at the end of a month, but sometimes they won't. I could be missing something, but I think it's the game's decision. The game also controls what opportunities are offered as rewards: if one has few agents without a lot of power, experienced new recruits can be offered as mission rewards. The game can also offer perks as "requests" from allied nations, to help shore up gaps. I haven't noticed any particular pattern with those, but there could be.

I'm pretty sure it also fudges in the opposite direction too. If a player is doing well and has kept their best agents alive and advanced, I believe the game will start putting its thumb on outcomes, including attacks (more player misses, more enemy hits) and when and how far toward the red allied nations move.

I may be imagining things, of course. But the game is "about" a desperate struggle by a small organization and one way to serve that theme would be for the game to rebalance itself on the fly to keep things consistent.

Speaking of Halo: I love me some Halo, though mostly now only in book form. But the last time I played the original, I told myself that I would challenge myself by restricting myself as much as possible to the assault rifle and the needler. That gave me a fun extra "load" to lift while I played, without bumping myself up to the next higher difficulty, which I had found I didn't enjoy.

Along those lines, I read an interesting article about a guy who played Far Cry 3 in a self-designed "survival mode": http://lookrobot.co.uk/2014/06...g-farcry-3-survivor/

This guy felt like the game got too easy. I'm sure it has difficulty settings, but they apparently didn't do what this guy wanted, so he invented his own restrictions on the game. The key line in there is, "by the time you 'win' the game, by the time you upgrade everything, it's barely fun anymore. You got what you wanted and you ruined the game."

That's not necessarily the same as sticking to a "theme." "Feel" might be more like it, a "feel" of degree of challenge, imposed not by any outside agency, like a GM or a program, but by the player themselves. I think that's really the main thing I'm thinking of when I think of focusing on "theme": everyone at the table thinking in terms of what should happen to keep things challenging.

I also wanted to touch on this:
DarkLightHitomi:
On the other side, random character stats provide unknown talents and weaknesses to a character, promoting character exploration and providing interesting obstacles to overcome and interesting talents to take advantage of.

Are you saying that any random set of stats is worth playing? I can live with random character stats, as long as they aren't the key decider of my ability to participate meaningfully in the game and also if my participation isn't reduced to trying to improvise stuff in order to keep up.

I definitely see the appeal to random stats, especially if the alternative is min-maxed characters, but not every set of random stats will provide interesting or unknown talents (or any talents at all) and not all of the obstacles they provide will be equally interesting to the player who has to deal with them, even if that same player could find some other set of random stats interesting.

My overall preference is to have every player use the same set of ability scores, arranged how they want. One can still min-max within that, but can't dump everything into oblivion to bulk up something else.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1177 posts
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 03:05
Re: Theme-playing games
Random stats isn't just about avoiding minmaxing.

Truthfully, those who are minmaxing, do so because they are playing a munchkin style, or at least strongly leaning that way. In narrative style, the stats being representative of the character in more ways than simple combat stats counters minmaxing, and in agency style, minmaxing is generally pointless and goes unrewarded. Sure you might get rewarded for being the best fighter in the land, but whether you have +2 or +6 becomes a distinction with far less meaning than in a munchkin style game.

I've played games where I was several levels behind others and never felt outclassed or out of place, something most minmaxers would have trouble with.

In an agency game, balance falls by the wayside as it literally loses any importance to the game, precisely because the focus is not on winning rolls, but is on what choices the characters make.

For example, during my first game, dnd 3.0, the party was given enchanted clothes so we didn't look out of place wandering the city in armor. My character specifically asked for black because it would be harder to see in the shadows. As a player I didn't expect any mechanical benefit, but I asked because that is what my character would ask for. The GM thought it was great and gave a +5 to hide. No one felt jealous or thought it was unfair or called it unbalanced, even though my sorcerer's cougar familiar was getting levels of ranger (no it wasn't, and still isn't, against raw, not even in pathfinder, though some stats do get wonky). And it worked out fine. It was something everyone thought was neat, it rewarded thinking in-character, and wasn't in the least bit disruptive to the game.

I mention this power issue, because random stats being an issue is usually an issue of power. The number one complaint I see is either directly or indirectly an issue about the lack of balance between players. Of course, in a style where balance us required, it is important, but in a style where balance is meaningless, the making stats all be equal is also meaningless.

A minority of the time, someone complains about random stats taking away control of the character (in concept design sense), but usually that is someone who wants to minmax their character to some degree. The remainder are if course just wanting perfect control of their character design. Yet the point of randomness is to provide something about the character that is out of the player's hands and yet affects much of the character without having too strong an effect.
horus
 member, 212 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 03:31
Re: Theme-playing games
I run two games here I won't mention by name:

One of them uses a build-point character creation model, skills-based classless/level-less overall structure, and a task-based general and combat mechanic.

The other uses dice rolls for the basic stats, with choices by the player to flesh out the basic structure set in place by the character's class and level.

Both sets of players seem to be having fun up to this point, so I'm evidently doing something right in both places.

One thing I try really hard to do regardless of which system I'm using is set forth clearly how things work, and make resources available for all players to use in the game.  Game Links is one of the best features RPoL has included in the GM's toolkit in this respect, and I make use of it extensively.
engine
 member, 382 posts
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 04:13
Re: Theme-playing games
DarkLightHitomi:
Random stats isn't just about avoiding minmaxing.
I'm sorry if I implied that I thought it was. I just meant that it strikes me as generous to describe random stats as providing "interesting" weaknesses and strengths. It might, but without mechanics or with only vague descriptions of what ability scores mean, there's every chance that those weaknesses and strengths will be minor, unclear (or at least difficult to agree upon or be consistent about), and not very interesting.

DarkLightHitomi:
Truthfully, those who are minmaxing, do so because they are playing a munchkin style, or at least strongly leaning that way. In narrative style, the stats being representative of the character in more ways than simple combat stats counters minmaxing,
Which style is it when someone doesn't min-max in the sense of making one score as high as possible, but selects a set of numbers more like what might come out of a pleasant but not hugely spiked set of rolls? Which style is it when the stats are allowed to be completely decoupled from anything that doesn't depend on a roll or a number (i.e. the low Intelligence character being allowed to plan and speak complete sentences, the high Strength character being allowed to be a weakling who understand leverage and is highly motivated, etc.)?

DarkLightHitomi:
I've played games where I was several levels behind others and never felt outclassed or out of place, something most minmaxers would have trouble with.
Would you agree that just because someone would have trouble with that doesn't make them a minmaxer?

DarkLightHitomi:
In an agency game, balance falls by the wayside as it literally loses any importance to the game, precisely because the focus is not on winning rolls, but is on what choices the characters make.

For example, during my first game, dnd 3.0, the party was given enchanted clothes so we didn't look out of place wandering the city in armor. My character specifically asked for black because it would be harder to see in the shadows. As a player I didn't expect any mechanical benefit, but I asked because that is what my character would ask for. The GM thought it was great and gave a +5 to hide. No one felt jealous or thought it was unfair or called it unbalanced

I didn't understand the interlude about the cougar.

DarkLightHitomi:
And it worked out fine. It was something everyone thought was neat, it rewarded thinking in-character, and wasn't in the least bit disruptive to the game.

This may seem like an odd question why is thinking in character something to be rewarded in that way? You didn't expect a benefit from it, and I assume you could have declined it. If a character elected to choose, in character, to have bright, voluminous, spangly clothing with bells on it and subsequently try to hide (again in character), presumably they wouldn't expect a mechanical penalty but also would think it was neat, non-disruptive - and a punishment for thinking in character.

You got a bonus in that case. Someone else with the appropriate ability score might also have a natural +5 to hide. Until the rewards for in-character choices (minus the penalties for in-character choices) exceed the ability bonuses, the ability bonuses would be relevant, right?

Perhaps one would argue that a character dressed like that would not think to try to hide, and therefore hiding would actually be out of character, but let's say the character is adequately foolish.

I don't know if "disruptive" is the right word, but I can imagine my stress level increasing in such a situation if I were a player. I would feel the need to focus on choices, even if they didn't interest me and wouldn't interest my character. If I were trying to play a character who was good at a certain skill set and another player started making choices that made their character better than mine at that thing.

I'm not sure if this is what you mean about "power" or "balance." I think of it in terms of "being able to contribute meaningfully." An uncharitable term for that is "niche protection," but I do like it when my character can reliably do something useful that other characters can't do reliably or at all. It doesn't necessarily make my character "powerful," but it makes them "relevant."

DarkLightHitomi:
Yet the point of randomness is to provide something about the character that is out of the player's hands and yet affects much of the character without having too strong an effect.
It can affect the character in a way the player may not enjoy having them be affected, to any degree, even if that player is not a minmaxer.

It is possible to have fun with and gain inspiration from randomized ability scores, but I would never assume that to be possible in any given game. I'd definitely need to know more about the game and the players. I've had too much bad experience with them.

When I require players to use the same set of numbers to make up their ability scores, it is a thematic choice for me, just as it can be when GMs limit the number of points (or other units) players can build with. Generally, I think of the theme as "a bunch of talented but not necessarily stellar people, who each can cope with a fairly broad range of situations, allowing them to operate as a team, rather than as specialized individuals." The thief can get into a fist fight and last just long enough to buy some time. The hitter can tell just good enough a story to bluff past some distracted guards. But when everything comes together, everyone gets to shine at their thing.

Any given theme won't interest everyone, of course, and I figure that people who are worried that they will fail when it's their time to shine, and aren't worried about being asked to step outside of that, decline to join my games. I think I should be more specific about my reason for the choice, so that players can have a chance to make choices that continue to build off of it, rather than just trying to get back to being spiky and brittle through other choices.

(These days, I am trying to allow freedom of ability score choice, but set a limit on skill modifiers and attack bonuses which, since in D&D it's all tied together, can have a chance of getting a similar result. Again, I should probably be more explicit and say "Characters should be excited to shine with some of their skills, but prepared to roll any of the others. Efforts to extrapolate top skills to stand in for other skills is allowed, but the intent is that this rarely, if ever, feel necessary to enjoy the game.")
Tyr Hawk
 member, 309 posts
 You know that one guy?
 Yeah, that's me.
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 04:45
Re: Theme-playing games
@engine: I know some games do adjust difficulty curves and such. I was referring more to the fun curve and player enjoyment, which isn't always about difficulty or random perks. Still, point taken. Some games do adjust to make certain their theme comes through, not matter how much it kills some folks. My bad for not being as specific as I meant to be. ^_^

DarkLightHitomi:
Truthfully, those who are minmaxing, do so because they are playing a munchkin style, or at least strongly leaning that way. In narrative style, the stats being representative of the character in more ways than simple combat stats counters minmaxing, and in agency style, minmaxing is generally pointless and goes unrewarded. Sure you might get rewarded for being the best fighter in the land, but whether you have +2 or +6 becomes a distinction with far less meaning than in a munchkin style game.

*le sigh* Tendency does not mean it's the universal truth. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't plenty of people who min-max because they're munchkining, but it's not the only reason, and it doesn't have to be the main reason either. Building towards min-maxing can be just as much about story as it is about powergaming. It might just be that character concept you mentioned, which is as much (if not more) part of the agency idea than the story. Mechanics are not, as many have pointed out, in opposition to story. They can and do, for many, help to shape it and give their character truth. The +2 or +6 might not mean much sometimes, but there are games and systems and campaigns and players to which it does mean the difference between actually having their character be what they want him/her to be, and not. You're not playing Superman if you can't fly, and if the mechanics say you can't because you don't have that +6 to your ability which lets you fly, then that's not cool.

As to "wanting perfect control" and "not having too strong an effect," I don't know if we're playing the same systems but, again, if your character concept calls for it and then you mechanically don't have it, that's a really strong effect. You can say randomness invites interesting times and such, but there's a reason a lot of people (not everyone) play games: escape. Maybe you're okay with losing and the story trumping your personal goals, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least get to go through that as the character you want to play. Again, if I want to be... let's say Neil Patrick Harris, and my random rolls say that my Style score is 2 instead of 18, then that's not cool. Yes, I'm repeating myself for effect.

And whether or not a game is about munchkining, mechanical balance can be important to a player, or a group. Your black shirt example giving a bonus is fine, but when it becomes shoes, and sword, and skunk, and, and, and... it can get to be that it doesn't feel like you matter as much as the other player just because they ask for things that 'happen' to give them bonuses, while the things you ask for give you nothing mechanically. Much like getting paid less for the same job, it doesn't have to be about wanting more money or 'winning,' it can be about the inequality. Mechanics are an aspect of the game that people can use to define how their agency works, and to enhance the meaning of their agency in play. If your decisions are mechanically supported and balanced with others, sometimes that's better to folks than just "Oh, yeah, I got the thing because I wanted it."

I think I may be rambling insanely at this point. It was a long day. So I'mma go to bed.

tl;dr: Min-maxing isn't always about munchkining. Agency and mechanical balance are not opposite ends of a spectrum.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1178 posts
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 05:02
Re: Theme-playing games
Niche
negatives

First, you must understand that what it means for a player to shine is different in different playstyles, and so "niche" protection also changes. Munchkin style generally sees niche protection as ensuring mechanical protection to give players higher success rates in their niche than any other player, but in agency style a player's niche isn't something mechanical at all, it is what they do.

For example, in an agency game, the party face is the guy who automatically steps forward in social situations, regardless of mechanics. Generally, a group will start out chaotic in this manner and as they come together will sort themselves out without even really noticing (people are interestingly unaware of themselves in certain ways. It took Alexandrian years to truly develop an understanding of disassociated mechanics, and most players still are unable to truly articulate the issues they have as being disassociated mechanics instead claiming issues to be from mechanics that are unrealistic or other arguements that just don't hold up because while they see a problem, they don't fully understand where the problem is coming from, this difficulty is a difficulty of self-analysis, and it applies in other places as well, such as noticing how they integrate themselves into a group over time), thus niche protection in an agency game isn't mechanical at all, it is a social manipulation to get everyone in a group sorted out more easily and quickly and to direct the spitlight to avoid stepping on toes.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1179 posts
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 05:16
Re: Theme-playing games
In reply to Tyr Hawk (msg # 41):

Agency and mechanical balance are inverse perspectives.

An agency player has a focus on a character's character, a perspective originating in-character. Munchkins, minmaxers, etc, have a focus on the stats and a perspective originating in the metagame mechanics.

It is like looking at a house, you can only look at it from one direction at a time, though that one thing may be seen from many angles at different times.

Someone who worries about mechanical balance, or in particular feels good or bad about how their stats stack up against the other players, has their focus and perspective originating in the mechanics, even as they try to integrate story (and indeed, integrating story is the way to put it, because they are using a mechanical foundation upon which to drape that story), but an agency player is truly unworried about the mechanics because for them mechanics are truly secondary. Such a player may find mechanics useful and try to integrate mechanics, but story is still their foundation and the framework through which they judge everything.
horus
 member, 213 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 14:39
Re: Theme-playing games
DarkLightHitomi:
In reply to Tyr Hawk (msg # 41):

Agency and mechanical balance are inverse perspectives.

An agency player has a focus on a character's character, a perspective originating in-character. Munchkins, minmaxers, etc, have a focus on the stats and a perspective originating in the metagame mechanics.


Despite any minor disagreement over terminology*,  the idea that Agency and Mechanical are inverse perspectives could still be a valid one.  I'm nowhere certain of exactly what that might mean in terms of game theory, though.

(*For any interested:  "Munchkin" and "minmaxer" have negative connotations I feel may not be warranted in all cases, and "metagame" doesn't seem appropriate to game mechanics, as those mechanics are part and parcel of the game, and are only meta- where the story is concerned.)

Ideas expressed earlier about players with a more mechanical style being more focused on "winning" (or achieving a set of personally held victory conditions) while those playing more in tune with personal agency tend to focus more on advancing the story?  I'm not so sure.

I've seen players in an agency-focused setting pursue selfish ends and individual agendas, too.  I've also seen them seek to "min-max" characters created for such a setting, seeking out that magickal combination of skills, spells, abilities, aspects, etc. that make their character the mythical ne plus ultra.  Is that an example of a mechanically rooted player trying to play in an agency-rooted setting?  Seems more like advancing the fine art of rules exploitation to its absurd extreme.

quote:
It is like looking at a house, you can only look at it from one direction at a time, though that one thing may be seen from many angles at different times.

Someone who worries about mechanical balance, or in particular feels good or bad about how their stats stack up against the other players, has their focus and perspective originating in the mechanics, even as they try to integrate story (and indeed, integrating story is the way to put it, because they are using a mechanical foundation upon which to drape that story), but an agency player is truly unworried about the mechanics because for them mechanics are truly secondary. Such a player may find mechanics useful and try to integrate mechanics, but story is still their foundation and the framework through which they judge everything.


Hmm... the house analogy applies well, but I draw slightly different conclusions:

Firstly, the player who worries about mechanical balance, or who, in particular, allows their stats to make them feel somehow inadequate in comparison to other players probably has the same issues and worries about inadequacy in reality.  There's not much a GM can do about such a worrisome player except help them see that playing is supposed to be fun, not something to become worried about.

Note: I don't believe such players are necessarily troublesome, but can become so if they come to believe the game is not meeting their emotional/psychological needs.

A more appropriate thing for the player to be concerned with is how this character (who is not an abstraction of the player unless one is playing Villians & Vigilantes) can make meaningful contributions to the game and thereby transcend their own emotional or physical limitations.  A shrewd GM will lead the player to this conclusion gently.  (I wonder if experience as a bartender might improve a GM?)

Secondly, I find it interesting to turn the idea of draping the story over a mechanical foundation on its head.  When a GM creates a setting, do they let the rules dominate that setting, causing changes in that setting to arise out of logical extrapolations of the rules, or does that worthy take the rules by the horns, so to speak, and alter them to suit their grand vision?

The first leads to less than satisfying settings for a GM only if carried to extremes, while the second leads to the mother of all home-brews (not necessarily a bad thing, but, like all human endeavors, it strongly depends on the human.)

Both approaches can be useful during setting development to uncover "hidden" aspects of the setting that can potentially make it richer, so a push-pull development cycle might be a good model. (I sometimes employ this method, and it has not always failed, so maybe so?)
engine
 member, 384 posts
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 15:02
Re: Theme-playing games
DarkLightHitomi:
Such a player may find mechanics useful and try to integrate mechanics, but story is still their foundation and the framework through which they judge everything.
Are you using "story" to mean the same thing as "in-character choices"? I ask because I see them as somewhat separate, as "story" might mean something that the character doesn't actually have a choice in, like Ripley's inability to follow through on her choice of tactics. "Story" might mean that a given character might plausibly request black clothing, but not plausibly ever have any opportunity to benefit from it.

I did also want to hear your thoughts about penalties vs. rewards for in-character choices. For me, I think that if someone is intentionally going for a penalty (say, because they don't have enough narrative control or preference to just have the character fail something outright) then it would be seen as a good thing, as the player influencing the game/theme in a way that makes sense to them. That's sort of the basis of "theme-playing," as I imagine it. If someone makes a choice because that's "what the character would do," without expecting downsides and then takes (or is informed that they will take) nothing but downsides for that, then some disappointment might ensue. Not always, though; there are those who would suck up something like that. If those downsides affected the party to a substantial degree, then even in a strongly themed game it wouldn't be surprising for other players to groan and ask the player to just make a less bad choice.

Regardless of one's opinion of 4th Edition D&D, the podcasts made of Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik, Scott Kurtz and Wil Wheaton playing it offer both kinds of situations and interesting reactions to them.

Scott is playing a dwarf who learns that a family enemy is behind the current threat. Mike's wizard is not sure the reward is worth it, but the dwarf fighter convinces him that it's not just about personal revenge and honor, but a significant artifact. They embark on the raid, and the dwarf has an opportunity to play host to a restless spirit, killed by the antagonist, who can mentally convey inside information. The dwarf uses this to find the enemy he wants revenge on, while telling the party that they're headed for the treasure. This is all done openly. Jerry, one of the more veteran players, appears to be really into this double-dealing. Everyone plays along, and no one (at least on audio) asks Scott to knock it off. They make the "correct" in-character choice to trust their ally.

They reach the dwarf's intended target, who alerts the household and runs off. The dwarf exhorts Wil's character to chase him down, which is a very in-character (as well as mechanically good) thing for that character to do. Wil's character avoids one major threat, but then triggers a trap and, being separated, is unable to do much but die.

All in all, the characters suffered from in-character choices that were made. The players find this trouble somewhat enjoyable and at least one player seems to find it thematically "right" (one character on a mission screwing it up out of personal concerns), but it's clear to me that the character death and the more-or-less failure of the mission is shocking and somewhat frustrating to them, and that Wil is actually quite bothered by the character death, and is trying to put a brave face on the outcome by claiming that "properly" roleplaying and losing a character is better than "metagaming" and surviving.

Now, the character death leads to a pretty good subsequent session, but it might not have, particularly if the players didn't have any input into the course of the story. As a standalone session, I'm not sure what could have made it more enjoyable for them. I think my personal ideal, and the "theme-playing" view of it would say "The characters got into cool, thematic situations and everyone should have an unalloyed sense of pride at what was generated" and that any negative feelings about the death of the character could have been avoided with a greater degree of detachment, along the lines of the detachment demonstrated in not halting the dwarf's actions. This view of things is probably due in part to my own detachment as an audience member, rather than a player; I enjoyed the "performance," so I feel like the performer should have too.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that's also what people playing in an "agency" mode would or should feel. They didn't "win" but they generated a good story
Tyr Hawk
 member, 310 posts
 You know that one guy?
 Yeah, that's me.
Wed 9 Aug 2017
at 04:08
Re: Theme-playing games
I think the problem I'm having is this idea that somehow people can only focus on one or the other. Mechanics or story. As horus said, focusing on only one seems to lead to one of two (I would call them) fairly irregular campaigns. Either you bash the world against the rules, or the rules against the world, and... well, I've honestly never been in a game that hasn't done both to fit whatever needed to be done to fit whichever bit seemed most important at the time. I've only very rarely met a player/character that only did one or the other, because those people usually get dropped from the games really fast.

On that note, there are lots of games in which the story and the mechanics are meant to be tied together. Mechanics of the game influence the story that can be told, and the world thaat the creators made, because if the rules get changed every time they conflict with the story then... well, not to be that guy but that's Pure Freeform. Not just Freeform, because those can have rules and whatnot, but pure, unadulterated, straight-up Freeform, since the rules don't matter, only the story. In that case you can't roll dice to introduce randomness because that's mechanics that might get in the way of decisions and story. When you roll and when you don't become the major mechanical decisions and that's, well, huge. Dice are mechanics, they're meta, and if it's about making decisions for the character then there's always going to be a moment when you think, maybe even pause, because you know the odds of the roll, or that you have to roll instead of getting the story to happen. And you didn't care about numbers or anything else as far as a sheet goes, so... what? It doesn't have to be conscious. Doesn't have to be anything more than a moment, but you're always gonna be reminded by something that you're in a game, a game where mechanics happen. And even if you remove the dice then you've still got something like turn order, language, everything that's not purely story, that can be used by individual players differently to their advantage or benefit, can be considered a mechanic if that's all you've got.

In fact, just to clear the air, here are the definitions I'm working with.

Mechanics: Any part of a system for gaming agreed upon to facilitate the way a player/GM can interact with the world/story. This includes rules that affect them both in and out of character.
Example: A system I like only lets three layers of Armor actually stack. My character might think (a bit correctly) that wearing five layers of armor will offer better protection than three, but if I know it doesn't and it actually doesn't in-game, that's probably going to affect how my character's decision to wear five armors actually influences the game both IC and OOC.

In-Character Agency: A player's ability to make decisions in a game based on what their character would do.
Example: Can I choose to wear five armor layers? Sure, so long as the GM doesn't say no for whatever reason (many of which might be mechanical like character size, availability of different sizes of armor, etc.).

So, take the latter example. Does it have to have anything to do with mechanics? No. Might I expect it to? Well, yeah. My character has a certain mechanical expectation of it too (that it will provide more protection), much like Hitomi's character picked black (I'm assuming) because they didn't want to wear pink when sneaking around because they thought it'd get them caught. If there were no rule about how layers stacked, why couldn't I make the decision on both levels (OOC and IC) that it would be something my character does while also doing something for me mechanically?

I guess what I'm saying is that, to me, Mechanics shape story and world. They are the Laws and Theories we follow in the real world (e.g. Gravity), especially in a good system, and so I just don't believe that you have to choose between them. If there's not a system for magic, but the setting has it, you wouldn't maybe pause and think up rules around how you deal with that? You make the two work together, whichever way that happens to be, and that's fine. Every person, character, campaign, everything. They're not opposite sides, they're just different things that are part of a larger whole. They don't necessarily get in the way of each other unless you point them at each other and ram them together, which is, you know, I think more the problem than anything else. This idea that story and mechanics have to be separate, or are in the first place, just... it seems weird to me.

Maybe I'm overthinking it though.
engine
 member, 386 posts
Wed 9 Aug 2017
at 15:23
Re: Theme-playing games
Tyr Hawk:
I think the problem I'm having is this idea that somehow people can only focus on one or the other. Mechanics or story. As horus said, focusing on only one seems to lead to one of two (I would call them) fairly irregular campaigns. Either you bash the world against the rules, or the rules against the world, and... well, I've honestly never been in a game that hasn't done both to fit whatever needed to be done to fit whichever bit seemed most important at the time. I've only very rarely met a player/character that only did one or the other, because those people usually get dropped from the games really fast.

I think that describes where I am, a bit. I like rules, but I try to be judicious about where I assume they're needed to apply. I used to treat game rules as the laws of physics, because that's what I thought I saw the rules doing. When a things hit points are zero, it dies or breaks, so hit points are like... structural integrity! So, if I want to have the players on a ship or in a building or even on a planet, that thing must have some number of hit points. Let's see, a wood/stone door has X hit points, so... carry the 1....

These days, I try to apply rules only to resolve something that could develop in multiple interesting ways, and also a little bit for pacing. Not every action needs a skill check, not every inflicted condition needs an attack roll.

Mostly when I play, I try to let everyone set their own level in terms of how much to engage the rules. I try not to use maps (also partly because they're a pain to set up, both in real life and online) and I try to be flexible with what character abilities are able to accomplish of be narratively exchanged for. But the rules are still in there, because not everyone knows what the outcome of every given situation could be or should be, and plus everyone has characters made with the rules that they like to mesh with those rules sometimes (if not other times).
GreyGriffin
 member, 131 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Wed 9 Aug 2017
at 15:31
Re: Theme-playing games
Rules mastery also plays a part in how effectively you can blend story and mechanics.  Keeping focus on the narrative in a game you can effortlessly play because of your familiarity with it is much easier than trying to weave a narrative out of the turning gears of a system you struggle with.
engine
 member, 387 posts
Wed 9 Aug 2017
at 16:22
Re: Theme-playing games
In reply to GreyGriffin (msg # 48):

Good point. It does take some mastery of a game and of gaming in general to know if and when the rules can be set aside.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1180 posts
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 02:13
Re: Theme-playing games
I think my point has been missed. To say that mechanics or story focus are exclusive does not mean that they won't both be present, rather that you see one through the lens of the other. A mechanics focus sees the story through the lens of the mechanics. A story focus sees the mechanics through the lens of the story.

Another way to put it is the answer to what comes first?

Given the following quotes,

A)
quote:
Elrond knew all about runes of every kind. That day he looked at the swords they had brought from the trolls' lair, and he said, "These are not troll-make. They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the west, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon horde or goblin plunder, for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongues of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore. Keep them well!" -- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


B)
quote:
Player: We search the trolls' lair.
DM: You find a +1 goblin-bane longsword and a +3 longsword." -- The Alexandrian


Which are you first concerned about hearing when you loot the troll cave? A or B?


If given the choice between a sword and an axe, do you ask about the stats before or after you pick one?

If the choice is between another generic +10 sword and an amazing beautiful double headed war axe with precious metal inlays depicting scenes of a demigod's legendary triumphs but that has only a +1, which do you pick, and what do you think while picking it? Do you pick the sword thinking "Wow, plus ten! That is high epic bonus. Only gods can make that powerful of a sword!" or do you pick the sword thinking "Darn, I want that axe, but this sword is just too good to pass up." or do you pick the axe thinking "What an awesome axe! Let the those guys pick the boring sword, this axe is coming with me!"

If everyone is running on a mindset that would pick the axe thinking that last quoted thought, particularly the gm, then game balance isn't really important because the game won't be about defeating obstacles, it'll be about the choices the characters make.

Another example is a discussion that once came up about traps.

Someone said that they removed traps from their game because it was boring. They players would simply roll their disable device and move on and therefore they thought the traps added nothing to the game.

This is a mechanics style view on traps though.

In a mechanics focused game, the players don't see a hallway with a pressure plate on the floor. Not at all. Sure they accept that as the description. They have their characters reference the hallway with a pressure plate. But truthfully, when the players consider getting past the trap, all they see is the DC. Nothing else, just the DC. They roll their dice automatically because it never occurs to them that there an infinite number of ways to move on, and most of them don't require a disable device.

I have a simple trick for my games. I call it "Earning your dice roll." Quite simply, the players have to earn their rolls by describing what their characters do in-world.

I also describe only what the characters see. They don't spot a poison dart trap. They spot a trip wire. They search around and find a few small holes in the wall, and shining a light they can glimpse pointed tips inside. Whether they are poisoned or not is anyone's guess at that point.

But since the roll must be earned, the players need to think about the trap as a trip wire that presumably fires little darts. Thus they can start thinking beyond stupid DC numbers, and start thinking of things like grabbing that bench from the previous room and holding it in front of the holes then triggering the tripwire, letting the darts get stuck harmlessly on the bench. Guess what, no roll required. Not even disable device skill is required. Or maybe they just step over the wire and hope they remember it if they need to come running back this way in a hurry.

But this what an agency game goes for. In-world thinking, in-world ideas, in-world solutions, in-world strategy and tactics.

Not all gamers like that though. Some gamers actually find it tedious and just want to get to rolling high numbers again.

A fair number of gamers though, haven't ever experienced playing an agency game, and therefore do not include it in their idea of what an rpg is.

This message was last edited by the user at 02:17, Sun 13 Aug.

GreyGriffin
 member, 133 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 09:36
Re: Theme-playing games
I see two flaws in your reasoning.

First, you discount the possibility that a player could care about both, and that the integration of both elements enriches both elements.

For instance, a GM could say you find Glamdring and Orcrist, famous and renowned swords carried by heroes of old, and worthy of your adoration.

However, if that GM says they are both masterwork longswords, then the impact of that history and color is completely defused. Despite being cool and interesting, those swords are not only mostly worthless to a well-equipped character, but they also don't have anything to distinguish themselves in play.

Meanwhile, if the DM offers the history of the blades up front, and then codas with their statistics, the narrative and the mechanics mesh together. ("Elrond identifies this war-bloodied, rune-crusted blade is Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver! It's a +1 goblin-bane longsword.") You have a weapon with history, description, and purpose, and a little mystery if you don't have an elven sage to consult. Furthermore, its name, history, and description meshes with its mechanics in a meaningful and significant way.  This thing's purpose affects how the player uses it, when he interfaces with the system.  Its narrative flavor seeps into its mechanics and affects the medium of interaction in a visceral way.  This thing wants goblin blood and bad.

It's also differentiated meaningfully from Glamdring, the +3 Longsword, because they are different weapons with different purpose and different character.  The character using Glamdring and the character using Orcrist will feel that their weapons are different in combat, because of the impact that they have on their characters. And that feeling of history and purpose feeds into the story of the weapons as much as the made-up names and places and the lineage of wielders and makers.

The difference between a +1 Goblin Bane sword and a +3 Sword is also much, much different from the difference between a +10 Sword and a +1 Axe.  Of course you're going to take the +10 Sword.  Unless you're sword-a-phobic, the difference between them mechanically is too vast to justify shooting yourself in the foot.  Heck, you might take both.

A +5 Sword of Genericness and a +3 Axe of Backstory is a much better comparison, and a much harder choice to make.  Even then your character's aesthetic preferences might also be reflected mechanically.  Do you have Weapon Focus because you like axes, stats aside?

I also am very leery of your concept of "earning your roll."  You are pushing the burden of competence on the player. If a rogue checks for traps, for instance, he knows to check for false floors, magical runes, tripwires, obvious and hidden weapon ports, deadfalls, snares, mines, fresh plaster, and oddly placed chandeliers.  But, as a human being, I am sure there are a million things that I didn't think of in that list.

But I am also not a rogue, and I wouldn't expect my players to think of even half of those things on the spot.  When they check for traps, they check for all of those things.  If they succeed, they spot the trap (which you absolutely should describe like any other important dungeon feature).  And if they roll Disable Device successfully, they should be able to bypass the device, even if they, as a player, don't know how they would do such a thing.  Just like we don't make our Wizards actually cast spells or our rangers shoot arrows at targets, our rogues should not be penalized for their OOC lack of knowledge of dungeon engineering.

As a DM, it's easy to fall into the trap of blaming the players for their own incompetence. When the players check around the room for monsters, roll gangbusters on Perception, and still get ambushed by cloakers hanging in the rafters, they are absolutely right to call shennanigans when the GM says "But you didn't say you looked up."

I totally agree that I like a little more from my PCs in terms of describing "mundane" skill checks.  But it's overly punitive to punish them for lack of knowledge OOC, for imperfect expression, or for a lack of a full understanding of their environment.  We're all playing with imaginay characters, usually almost entirely in the theater of the mind.  We have to cut each other some slack.
horus
 member, 217 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 09:53
Re: Theme-playing games
DarkLightHitomi:
I think my point has been missed. To say that mechanics or story focus are exclusive does not mean that they won't both be present, rather that you see one through the lens of the other. A mechanics focus sees the story through the lens of the mechanics. A story focus sees the mechanics through the lens of the story.


I have a bad habit of examining the extremes to force myself to consider how to find that optimal balance.  Perhaps my previous comments incited some of this mutual exclusivity?  I didn't mean for that to happen.

quote:
Given the following quotes,

A)
quote:
Elrond knew all about runes of every kind. That day he looked at the swords they had brought from the trolls' lair, and he said, "These are not troll-make. They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the west, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon horde or goblin plunder, for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongues of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore. Keep them well!" -- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


B)
quote:
Player: We search the trolls' lair.
DM: You find a +1 goblin-bane longsword and a +3 longsword." -- The Alexandrian


Which are you first concerned about hearing when you loot the troll cave? A or B?


One of the things I seldom do is describe a scene or an artifact in mechanical terms.  Someone spotting, say, a golden naginata with red silk tsuka-ito and a teakwood staff would not be told that it was a +3 cursed blade.  Rather, I would describe it as the character sees it.  If the character had some expertise in Japanese mythology, history, or in the craft of making such weapons, they might recognize more about it (which might occasion a skill check throw), but the description would still steer clear of the mechanical aspects (which would be applied secretly until the character caught on that it was more than your average naginata...), and would concentrate on what the player can see and understand about the weapon.

Conversely, a character more versed in Onmyo-do or priestly magicks might be able to recognize from the weapon's sakki that it is cursed, but not to what exact extent, nor do more than guess at the exact nature of the curse without doing significant research.

Falling back to the mechanical description is reserved for adding the weapon to a character's possessions.  Even then, I try not to allow the weapon's stats to become the focus.

quote:
If given the choice between a sword and an axe, do you ask about the stats before or after you pick one?


The point you are making here is well taken.

quote:
Another example is a discussion that once came up about traps.

Someone said that they removed traps from their game because it was boring. They players would simply roll their disable device and move on and therefore they thought the traps added nothing to the game.


This seems a simplistic point of view.  Traps can add spice to an adventure if used judiciously.  I've been on a "trap-o-matic" dungeon crawl before, and, yeah, that can get tedious.

I've also been on Egyptian adventures where the traps were thoroughly researched by the GM and were representative of traps used historically by ancient tomb builders.  That was just way cool. It made the adventure come alive for all of us.

quote:
I have a simple trick for my games. I call it "Earning your dice roll." Quite simply, the players have to earn their rolls by describing what their characters do in-world.


I really like this notion.  I usually move the action forward by asking questions such as, "What are you doing now?" or by providing a description of what the players are seeing or experiencing (with the level of detail determined "in the background" by the character's skill set).

A twist on this I've seen used with varying success in some games is that players are required to describe how they have failed/fumbled, etc. also.

quote:
I also describe only what the characters see. They don't spot a poison dart trap. They spot a trip wire. They search around and find a few small holes in the wall, and shining a light they can glimpse pointed tips inside. Whether they are poisoned or not is anyone's guess at that point.


Yes, indeed.  We think much alike in this respect.

quote:
But since the roll must be earned, the players need to think about the trap as a trip wire that presumably fires little darts. Thus they can start thinking beyond stupid DC numbers, and start thinking of things like grabbing that bench from the previous room and holding it in front of the holes then triggering the tripwire, letting the darts get stuck harmlessly on the bench. Guess what, no roll required. Not even disable device skill is required. Or maybe they just step over the wire and hope they remember it if they need to come running back this way in a hurry.


When it works for a group, this kind of play is a thing of beauty.  Not everyone wants to play that way, though.

quote:
Not all gamers like that though. Some gamers actually find it tedious and just want to get to rolling high numbers again.


True enough, and there comes a time when the level of detail in a setting or adventure can bog things down (especially when playing online) and a hard cut or a streamlining of the action can move things forward.  That's a somewhat slippery slope, though.

quote:
A fair number of gamers though, haven't ever experienced playing an agency game, and therefore do not include it in their idea of what an rpg is.


Would a game like Night Witches qualify as an agency game?  There are mechanics designed into the game to pull the characters in different directions, to leave them emotionally torn between two or more conflicting motivations in their character.

Is that question wrong-headed, even?  Is what makes an agency game more a matter of GM style and less a matter of rule mechanics, or does one figurative hand wash the other here?
nuric
 member, 2945 posts
 Love D&D,superhero games
 Not very computer savvy
Mon 14 Aug 2017
at 09:45
Re: Theme-playing games
While I agree that it all depends on the players, and what they want, I try to encourage role playing by occasionally giving bonuses (many times secret ones) to players who are very descriptive in what they do or say.

Talking about a past mentor or a previous bad experience can, on  occasion, earn a +2 or something similar, and a well written speech can get bonuses to Diplomacy.
If players have excusable problems with this, like posting from a phone or not being totally fluent in English, I don't press the matter, and can balance things in other ways.   But I still try to reward effort.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1182 posts
Tue 15 Aug 2017
at 03:03
Re: Theme-playing games
In reply to GreyGriffin (msg # 51):

quote:
First, you discount the possibility that a player could care about both, and that the integration of both elements enriches both elements.


I'm not discounting this, I'm saying that including both still has one as the foundation with the other built on top.


quote:
However, if that GM says they are both masterwork longswords, then the impact of that history and color is completely defused. Despite being cool and interesting, those swords are not only mostly worthless to a well-equipped character, but they also don't have anything to distinguish themselves in play.


What makes these swords worthless? You call them worthless because you are measuring their worth by your expectations of what players should have mechanically. A story based gm would measure their worth by their role as symbols and thus worth in terms of morale and prestige in-world, and more importantly, their ability to draw the players into the story.

You need to ask why a gm might get shch a mismatch between story and mechanics. This sort of issue almost always comes from mechanics focused gms that try to mesh story into the game, or newbies that lack significant experience in handling such things appropriately (though newbs are more likely to go the opposite direction).

See, this mismatch between mechanics and story happens because the gm sees that two masterwork weapons are "mechanically" appropriate, and that a +1 goblin-bane and a +3 are too powerful. Thus they feel they have to limit things to only masterwork weapons. They then try to spice things up by at least giving them flavor. Or they already decided on flavor, but the party is mechanically too low for the original power level the gm or module had in mind, so the gm tones down the mechanics while leaving the story untouched.

But, part of my point is that, in certain playstyles, this fiddling with making things mechanically appropriate to other mechanics, such as character level, can be worthless, or even detrimental, because in those playstyles, getting Orcrist and Glamdring is more important than getting mechanically appropriate weapons.

quote:
You are pushing the burden of competence on the player. If a rogue checks for traps, for instance, he knows to check for false floors, magical runes, tripwires, obvious and hidden weapon ports, deadfalls, snares, mines, fresh plaster, and oddly placed chandeliers.


On the contrary, I don't require the players to think of everything, I just require them to actually interact in-world.

After all, the point behind the trap is not for the mechanics of depleting party resources, nor for the existance of another job for a player to specialize in without stepping on toes. No. The purpose of the trap is to be a different type of encounter, and an encounter is there to be interacted with.

It isn't the destination, it's the journey. Thag holds true here. The isn't there fof the players to defeat, it us there for thd players to deal with, to interact with, to have somethinb to do in the game. The trap is there for the journey of getting past it. It provides a situation for the players to have some fun with.

An rpg is an interactive medium, but it can be a game, or it can be the ultimate interactive story. When it is the latter, becoming attached to the characters and events of the game world in a similar fashion to when reading a book, is the goal.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1183 posts
Tue 15 Aug 2017
at 03:46
Re: Theme-playing games
In reply to horus (msg # 52):

Gotta game with you and nuric one of these days.
horus
 member, 220 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Tue 15 Aug 2017
at 17:44
Re: Theme-playing games
DarkLightHitomi:
In reply to horus (msg # 52):

Gotta game with you and nuric one of these days.


Why, thank you!  I may only hope I don't eventually disappoint.
nuric
 member, 2946 posts
 Love D&D,superhero games
 Not very computer savvy
Wed 16 Aug 2017
at 11:18
Re: Theme-playing games
In reply to DarkLightHitomi (msg # 55):

*smiles*  Always glad to entertain.