Kessa
 member, 557 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 31 May 2018
at 23:04
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
donsr:
In  my post above. If you are only  using Die rolls  to  answer the  question, its not a good thing, unless you'er in a Dice  rolling-arena  style  game.

 NPCs  should be able to act on thie r own, regardless of dice rolls. The  GM/DM  should have   enough 'life' in an NPC  to have them act on thier own, which..in the end.. would mean A PC can't  count on a high stat.

While I agree that RP is the way to go, where there is a system that uses dice rolls, there will be people who want to solve things with dice. As a GM, you can restrict how often that happens, but it's a given that some contested something will come up eventually, especially if a player is playing a character outside of their own "archetype," so to speak.
donsr
 member, 1323 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 23:36
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Yep Kessa, I  do most of  my Dice rolls off board  or private, make the players  play, you  you handle  the mechanics..

  "..The Wairtrss, thinks better of your   requests,  and hustles off.. ect "


   the  own system, if  my roll  will be something  'very bad" I will allow  the Player to roll , but ,whatever they roll, it stands...


 It keeps   folks more  bent on building a charcter, then obtaining dice  rolls to try an 'beat the game".
Nintaku
 member, 599 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 23:38
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
My whole point earlier was just that the game rules for most RPGs I've seen have social mechanics intended to "soften up" a target for roleplaying. If a character's never going to do a thing, they just won't. But if an NPC was "Unfriendly" and is now "Helpful", they're likely to do a whole lot more for you than they would have before.

Seriously, though, you're well within your rights to have NPCs be unseducable, just as people in real life are pretty firm about their own bodily autonomy. You said earlier you were concerned that thinking that way ruins the power fantasy, but one perspective is the opposite. If everything is just easier to do than in real life, than the characters aren't really powerful, they're simply living in a world catered to them and their whims.

As for that dragon example you mentioned way back, depending on your particular dragons, it sounds super unreasonable to me to assume Frank the Fighter can run up to a dragon, whack it with a sword, and expect anything but a blunted sword. The classic Tolkeinian dragon we see in most fantasy games is basically a flying tank, and trying to kill a tank with a bowie knife sounds silly. Just shouldn't deal damage, no roll necessary. That isn't short-changing the players, that's presenting them with a challenge they need to think their way through rather than brute force using dice.
engine
 member, 609 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 23:40
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Kessa:
I had not really thought of it in terms of control, but I can remember times in games that would fit very well. There really ought not be that sort of issue in a game, I feel, but it happens anyway.

I've found that it's best to expect it and work with it rather than fight it. Many modern games have adopted this approach quite successfully (which is what made me try it in my own D&D games).

Kessa:
I have to wonder if it's caused by other experiences where players feel their GM or ST is their adversary rather than there to facilitate a good experience for everyone, but regardless would have to be handled individually.

I don't think it has to be related to an adversarial mindset. All it takes is two people with different expectations. The GM is trying to facilitate a good experience for everyone, but has just misunderstood what the player wants out of the game, and the player wants to go along, but feels that if it's left up to the GM and the dice then what they want will never happen (or what they don't want will frequently happen). So, if no one is willing to talk about it, the only thing really left to the player is to find ways to do what they want within the rules. This, at best, is likely to seem to the GM as though the player is not really into the spirit of the thing, but usually it's worse than that and feelings of struggle and conflict arise.

But at it's core it's just a difference in preferences that needs to be talked about. As long as the player isn't deliberately trying to wreck the game or make anyone uncomfortable, odds are that a compromise can be found.

Good luck.
Eur512
 member, 781 posts
Thu 31 May 2018
at 23:45
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Much of "people skills" is the reading of other people.

So, you could make any such diplomacy be at least a two parter, with the first roll being the attempt to successfully read the NPC's stand on the issue, from "Shares your interests" to "Not gonna happen!"

Some people are harder to read than others, you can use modifiers to reflect that.

This is realistic, and does two things.  First, it makes the player realize that there is more in play than the character's abilities.  At least, he is aware that the NPC's thoughts on the subject make a difference.

Second, like a real (successful) human, he will learn to ditch those he realizes are impossible, and concentrate on easier targets.  A good salesperson learns to identify and then ignore people who are simply not going to buy.  Charismatic people are charismatic in part because they learn to choose the right audience, not because they can convince any audience.
Kessa
 member, 558 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 06:01
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
donsr:
Yep Kessa, I  do most of  my Dice rolls off board  or private, make the players  play, you  you handle  the mechanics.. [snip...]
 It keeps   folks more  bent on building a charcter, then obtaining dice  rolls to try an 'beat the game".

Ah! That's a good argument for doing die rolls that way! One of the things I hadn't really considered as an option that heads off this kind of situation to begin with!

Nintaku:
If everything is just easier to do than in real life, than the characters aren't really powerful, they're simply living in a world catered to them and their whims. [snip...]

That isn't short-changing the players, that's presenting them with a challenge they need to think their way through rather than brute force using dice.

I appreciate this perspective a lot. You can't be heroic without conflict. It's not a good story if everything comes easy. What's the point of playing, really, if you know you're going to win at everything from the beginning? You might as well just have everyone narrate their own version of how everything goes their way and skip the interactive part all together. I prefer thoughtful games and I usually will have a way to accomplish something in one way if it can't be accomplished in another, such as aggressively throwing die rolls at it.

That said, I've also seen players who can't comprehend not succeeding at everything, because the story is there to highlight how great their characters are even if the rolls themselves still amount to randomness-- which I will never understand. Or, similarly, players that already have written their characters entire life story, but are just waiting for unknowing GMs to somehow create that story for them in a dynamic game. I prefer to think of these as a type of problem player, however.

engine:
Many modern games have adopted this approach quite successfully (which is what made me try it in my own D&D games).

Are you referencing games like FATE? And other similar systems that are more discussion related? Just curious. ^_^

Eur512:
So, you could make any such diplomacy be at least a two parter, with the first roll being the attempt to successfully read the NPC's stand on the issue, from "Shares your interests" to "Not gonna happen!"

Some people are harder to read than others, you can use modifiers to reflect that.

This is realistic, and does two things.  First, it makes the player realize that there is more in play than the character's abilities.  At least, he is aware that the NPC's thoughts on the subject make a difference.

Second, like a real (successful) human, he will learn to ditch those he realizes are impossible, and concentrate on easier targets.

Now this is something I've never run across before! That's almost a duel-ish style of interaction... seizing up a target before making a move and then the back and forth if the attempt is made. I don't know that it would make sense in every game system, but I do like the appeal of it as well as the logic behind it! I'm definitely going to have to play with this idea more! ^_^
engine
 member, 610 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 06:06
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
For all my talk of "talking," I'll admit that I'm not very good at it myself. Here's what I do:

Skill modifiers are generally capped. I play 4th Edition and with an ability score of 20, a racial bonus, a background bonus, training and one or two other things, it's not hard to have a bonus in at least one skill that blows any reasonable DC out of the water. Arcana and Perception are two of the primary culprits. So, for my games, I tell people that their highest skill modifier must stay at or below the Moderate DC for their level. If some incidental item or class bonuses boost that, then okay, but if you're already at +12 at level one with ability score, racial bonus and training, then you can apply your background bonus to another skill, or take another background, or something.

Now, that still means that they'll succeed automatically on most checks for that skill. Even with a -1 penalty, they'll succeed automatically. But if something can hit them with a -2 penalty, they at least have a chance of failure.

Another thing I do, is that I don't call for skill rolls unless it's a tense, challenging situation. Usually that means that if they want to do something when they're not in the middle of a fight or hanging from a cliff, then they do it. But it also means that their skill modifier doesn't necessarily enter into the situation. And I think that's really pretty reasonable for D&D. Skills are for adventuring, and for risky situations. If they're not adventuring, but are just picking people up, then that's different than what their skills are for, and there needn't be any expectation that the success they had while adventuring will be reflected while not adventuring.

I don't think this cheats the character or player. If they want to do the thing their character is good at, and have the full weight of numbers and rules behind it, then they can put their character out into an adventure. The PC who is good with a sword shouldn't necessarily be able to cut down villagers or the ruler's guards, and the player who is good with words shouldn't necessarily be able to seduce the ruler.

I also try to avoid situations where a PC can just stand there and throw their best skills at a thing, especially if that skill is supremely useful. If a player wants to shine the light of their Diplomacy on someone, then it should be while things are going to hell around them both. Then the use of the skill has a definite trade-off. Stand there talking, or help hold the door back from the goblin horde? Maybe they can do both, but it's going to be reasonable to penalize things heavily and to have the target of the skill be rather preoccupied themselves.

But still: try to talk to the players in cases like this. No need to beat around the bush, and sometimes complicated machinations are just tiring.
engine
 member, 611 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 06:11
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Kessa:
engine:
Many modern games have adopted this approach quite successfully (which is what made me try it in my own D&D games).

Are you referencing games like FATE? And other similar systems that are more discussion related? Just curious. ^_^

Yes, Fate is one example. Dungeon World is another. But the point is not the "discussion" (which isn't even that important in such games), the point is the control. The players don't have to find powerful loopholes in order to have definite control over aspects of the game, because the game freely grants them a lot of control, and advises the GM and other players on how to work with that control, while having control of their own.

As I said, I can give players control in D&D, which I do find dampens their feeling of having to wrest control with their numbers. In D&D, people generally don't expect having control so some talking about it is probably necessary, but I find people are more receptive to an offer of control than of being told (or passively forced) to knock something off.
evileeyore
 member, 93 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 06:17
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
engine:
The PC who is good with a sword shouldn't necessarily be able to cut down villagers or the ruler's guards, and the player who is good with words shouldn't necessarily be able to seduce the ruler.

Of course they can.  If they can cut down an army of orcs without a sweat or sweet talk the secret of cold out of the Deity of Ice, they can easily cut down the King's guards or seduce a ruler.

Should they be though?  That's an entirely different question.




engine:
But the point is not the "discussion" (which isn't even that important in such games), the point is the control. The players don't have to find powerful loopholes in order to have definite control over aspects of the game, because the game freely grants them a lot of control, and advises the GM and other players on how to work with that control, while having control of their own.

Control over what their character attempts.  And that's where it ends and the dice begin.

If the game uses dice.  Some, notably Amber, don't.  But that's another whole separate issue.

This message was last edited by the user at 06:20, Fri 01 June.

engine
 member, 612 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 06:54
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
evileeyore:
Of course they can.  If they can cut down an army of orcs without a sweat or sweet talk the secret of cold out of the Deity of Ice, they can easily cut down the King's guards or seduce a ruler.

That's one way to play it. But nothing requires are group to play it that way. Skills specific to going on adventures aren't required to translate to non-adventuring situations. Boffo the wizard might have a huge Arcana score that he uses to great advantage out on adventures, but that doesn't mean he knows or should expect to know the first thing about the sale and preparation of magical cosmetics.

If a table wants to assume more broadly based applicability of adventurer prowess, they are welcome to, but it leads to oddness such as what the original poster describes.

evileeyore:
engine:
But the point is not the "discussion" (which isn't even that important in such games), the point is the control. The players don't have to find powerful loopholes in order to have definite control over aspects of the game, because the game freely grants them a lot of control, and advises the GM and other players on how to work with that control, while having control of their own.
Control over what their character attempts.  And that's where it ends and the dice begin

That's one way to play it. In some games, and in all of the games I run in any system, players have more control than that, if they want it. And by control, I mean the ability to state certain things in the game as true or not without having to ask permission or role dice.

And the point I'm making about that is that when players have that control, they don't have to make insanely unbeatable characters in order to get it. You say that's where the dice begin, but any maximizer worth their salt has already figured out how to make the dice entirely irrelevant so that they can guarantee themselves the control they want.

If I give them that control, trust them with that control, and work with them instead of against them, then they don't need to fear that I or the dice might take away their control.
evileeyore
 member, 94 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 08:15
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
engine:
Skills specific to going on adventures aren't required to translate to non-adventuring situations.

Sure they will.  Stealth is stealth regardless of whether they are sneaking through a dungeon or sneaking in late after a night out and don't want to wake their S.O.

You can state that a broadly based skill won't cover things it clearly should, but that is between you and the Players at your table.

quote:
If a table wants to assume more broadly based applicability of adventurer prowess, they are welcome to, but it leads to oddness such as what the original poster describes.

What the OP described wasn't odd because a Player wanted to use his character's skills on an NPC, it's 'odd' because social skills in some games aren't well advised, as in there isn't a lot of GM advice given stating "no this isn't mind control, smack any Player who thinks it is".  Because those games assume Rule Zero and presume the GM will either have it in hand, or go asking for advice.

quote:
That's one way to play it.

Everything is 'one way to play it'.  But when you have dice mechanics, that's what they are for.  Deciding how the event falls out when the GM isn't just deciding how it plays out.

This message was last edited by the user at 08:16, Fri 01 June.

icosahedron152
 member, 867 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 09:52
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Often, a seducer will assume that 'no' means 'try harder'.

This happens because they have learned from previous encounters that 'no' can change to 'oh OK then, I'm tired of fighting, do what you want', if they persevere forcefully enough for long enough. Each success then breeds an expectation of further and future success.

Often, that type of player will choose that type of character, and you may find yourself in a situation where the 'persuasion' is taking place on two levels - the PC is attempting Persuasion on the NPC, and the Player is attempting Persuasion on the GM.

I think you need to read the player. Sometimes, a friendly chat about game expectations can resolve the matter, but if you're facing a hard core emotional steamroller, you need to confront them on both levels and tell them that in your game this is not going to happen. On either level.

And don't back down. When you're tired of fighting, instead of giving in, kick them out. A reasonable player who is just struggling with expectations won't push you that far.
donsr
 member, 1324 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 13:08
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
In reply to Kessa (msg # 28):

  Kessa,  I have  had  folks   who  after the RTJ Interview, decide  not to play..because   it  wasn't  their kind of game?... That's fine, my games  aren't meant for everyone?


 but?  its  to the  Point that My Vets, and the newer  folks  who are active, Like the idea of 'not Knowing'... the    rules  are simple, You RP out Your  actions ( not the result).. I will roll the dice   with  'mods' based on  thier    stats..'spheres'..and most important, RP... sometimes I do not even have to roll, they either did  a real good job, or  real bad  job, then I post a reply with the results of the actions.

::chuckles:: It even gets to the point now? they get nervous when I say "..make a roll.."
Briel
 member, 34 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 15:16
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
I will say that if you're going to do all off-site or private rolls that it's important to have the trust of your players. I'm in one of donsr's games and he's always been fair in my experience and I trust him to run it fairly (plus the fact that it's up front that his dice rolls are off-site helps. The focus isn't really on the system at all). However, I was in a different game a year or so ago where the GM was running a purely rolled system and was abusing the ability to make rolls private afterward with their stealth GM PC.

It was a PvP spar from all outward appearances. One player posted to OOC somewhat regularly, one never seemed to. Player A was rolling somewhat well; certainly well enough to win the fight. Player B somehow kept rolling (on a d20 roll) nothing below 19 except for the occasional 18. This seemed somewhat unlikely to me, so I mentioned in OOC how lucky and statistically unlikely Player B's last 8 or 9 rolls were. He instantly responded with a 'Crazy of a streak of luck' or something like that.

I happened to glance at the dice log later that day and noticed literally 25+ rolls from Player B for their latest combat move. A saved screenshot and 2 minutes later only the roll that beat Player A's roll remained. The others had been made private and only GMs can do that, to my knowledge.
bigbadron
 moderator, 15579 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 15:33
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
In reply to Briel (msg # 36):

No, in fact they can't.  Rolls can not be made private after the fact.  They can only be purged from the log (and that is something that only a GM can do).

Rolls can only be made private as the dice are actually being rolled, and that is something that anybody in the game can do.
Briel
 member, 35 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 15:36
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Ah, so he was purging the roll instead. Got it.
donsr
 member, 1325 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 15:51
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
 The main thing as a GM/DM is to run the game  how you would have like a game run?

 For me, its Heavy RP, with Rules as a frame world, stats  to  ...indeed.. progress your  Character, with out  Number   crunching and Min-max..

 My player s   find that there is  a lot of  'fluff, backround'  thrown in, but  any  NPC  could be a  major  backup character, if the PC's  interact... Plots  are  discovered...missed... or  created.

 All of this with out the anchor   of  dice rolls. They should be a tool, not the law!
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1359 posts
Fri 1 Jun 2018
at 16:01
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
A possibly relevant article,
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2v...les-in-Roleplaying#1

The way I see it, the rolls are representative, but what they represent can be results if actions, or they can just represent how good one does.

I.E. rolling high could mean you succeed, or it could mean you just did really well. The difference is in the fact that doing really well doesn't succeed against some things such as women who have higher priorities than sweet talking strangers.
facemaker329
 member, 7019 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Mon 4 Jun 2018
at 07:41
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Late to this discussion, but one option, regardless of system, seems obvious to me.  Consequences...

Is he seducing a palace chamber maid?  Some palace guardsman may have a personal reason to take offense to that...and he'll have buddies.  Persuading a henchman to give him the keys to the dungeon?  After the henchman is presumably killed by the Big Bad for enabling an escape, his buddies are going to be interested in payback...

It doesn't help deal with the actual process...but it will, in short order, give the player reason to stop and consider not only whether his character CAN do this, but also whether he SHOULD do this...and if the player isn't wise enough to exercise that kind of forethought, it gives the rest of the group a good reason to encourage restraint on his part ("Look, we get it, you can seduce the Captain of the Guard...but we're sick of being chased out of town by relatives of your conquests.  Give it a rest, save it for when we really actually NEED you to sleep with someone...")

And I do like the notion of having hard lines that won't be crossed, or that require extensive, repeated efforts...successful rolls meanthat instead of ratting out the character, the seduced says, "I like you...so I won't turn you in to be killed.  But I'm not helping you sneak into the palace," or something of the sort.

But NPCs don't exist in a vaccuum...they have family, friends, lovers, would-be lovers, co-workers, watchers, etc, who should react if the NPC is being taken advantage of.  Yeah, the player can seduce whoever, or persuade anyone, or whatever...but the people around that target aren't always going to passively take it, and THEY can be a whole lot harder to persuade/seduce/whatever, especially since they're not likely to talk long enough for another such effort...
Kioma
 member, 39 posts
Mon 4 Jun 2018
at 08:04
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Also late to the party, but as I see it, there are simple limits to what a character can achieve, no matter how skilled they are, without using unusual leverage (such as magic, excessive threats, etc).  If someone doesn't want to do something and has a reason for that, such as a genuinely monogamous and loyal man refusing to cheat on his wife, or a town guard who doesn't want to let the relative strangers into the town treasury no matter how prettily they talk, then that NPC should have a hard limit.

Can that hard limit be exceeded?  Yes.  Most commonly with the unusual leverage mentioned above.  Mind-controlling magic should be viewed as extremely dangerous for exactly that reason.  Likewise, torture can sometimes get you what you want but it's a dark road with a lot of moral and concrete issues.  On a more mundane note, throwing a ton of coin around might be the leverage the character needs, but they'll run out of that sooner or later.

Think of it as a threshold.  Everyone has their limit, and to get past that limit you need a tool (magic, torture, coin, etc).  This doesn't punish the character or the player, as it's just How People Are.  Those thresholds are going to vary from person to person, too.  If you're playing in a D&Dish system you can think of it as an alignment, too - if you've got a Neutral Good NPC then it might not be that difficult to get them to do something legally grey, but doing something morally dubious is an entirely different matter.

Heroes excel at surpassing normal limits but they aren't - or, at least, shouldn't be - the only ones in the world with powerful convictions.  People generally need a lot of incentive to go against their deeply held views.

Also, bear in mind that after a certain point, someone getting a 'no' and then keeping on asking may well have a profoundly negative impact on how their target views them, no matter how charming they are.  In this case, I'd say running up against that threshold and trying to push past without the use of leverage 'tools' would likely cause the NPC to get annoyed that Mighty Sir Charming isn't getting the hint - and is perhaps too obviously used to getting their own way.

Many people have offered excellent advice in the thread so I'll try not to duplicate too much of it...

But if all of this were tried, all advice taken and all of it failed, I'd take the player aside and say, 'I think we're at cross purposes here.  There are some things that dice alone aren't going to manage.  Is this going to remain a problem?'  And if they got snarky about it I'd probably ramp that up to, 'This has become a pattern, it's disruptive and I'm sorry to have to say it but the game isn't your private spank bank.  Please stop.'

<shrugs>  I guess it varies as to how people are likely to take that.  I've had my fair share of problematic players but luckily this hasn't been an ongoing issue for me.
Kioma
 member, 40 posts
Mon 4 Jun 2018
at 08:16
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Oh, an addendum, to add to facemaker329's point about repercussions: make one (or more) of the PC's 'conquests' pursue them.  Have them resist like crazy, then give in and fall completely, unhealthily in love with the character.  They leave their spouse, quit their job, sell everything and pursue the character over hill and dale to be by their side, chasing away other suitors, getting terribly jealous when the PC shows interest in someone else, perhaps even becoming a heartbroken, vindictive recurring enemy should they be spurned.

Alternatively, you could have someone they power-seduce, with or without magical help, to seduce them right back.  Maybe the unassuming but pretty-faced guard is a lot better at it than the player, and convinces them to do all kinds of things the player doesn't want.  After all, if the character is doing it all with mundane skills, even if they're very highly trained, then there's someone out there who's better at it.

NPC: "I want you to do the thing."
PC: "I'd rather not."
NPC: <rolls dice> "No, I really want you to do the thing."
PC: "But..."
GM: "You want to do the thing."
Player: "I don't want to do the thing!"
GM: "They made the same rolls you did.  You want to do the thing."
Player: "But this is taking away my agency!"
GM: "Think about that.  Real hard."

To put it back into the context of social skill vs martial skill, if you keep swinging your sword at every halfway viable target, eventually you'll hit someone who hits back.
Kessa
 member, 559 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Tue 5 Jun 2018
at 07:37
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
engine:
As I said, I can give players control in D&D, which I do find dampens their feeling of having to wrest control with their numbers. In D&D, people generally don't expect having control so some talking about it is probably necessary, but I find people are more receptive to an offer of control than of being told (or passively forced) to knock something off.

The examples helped put the idea of control into context, I think. If I understand this correctly-- and I might not-- events outside of adventuring can more or less be dictated by players so as to keep them free of the constraints of the game mechanic framework, but yet they are less able to do things they would ordinarily do with the option of die rolling? For example, forced to make a deal with a merchant with a rare and valuable magical cosmetic to obtain a potion to save the kidnapped dignitary, he could use his Arcana to choose the right thing to trade, but walking down the street at home trying to find something for his friend, he'd be inept? It seems an odd way to look at things. But further, if players are spared the need to make rolls on mundane things, why couldn't a player just decide his character naturally knows how to deal with cosmetics and just write it into the game? Or, is that a level of being able to do things that's beyond what you would consider a normal success because it's more nuanced? And if so, where do you draw that line for nuance? And how do you establish that with your players so it doesn't seem arbitrary? Because there's still some GM vs player control at work there, I would think?

icosahedron152:
Often, that type of player will choose that type of character, and you may find yourself in a situation where the 'persuasion' is taking place on two levels - the PC is attempting Persuasion on the NPC, and the Player is attempting Persuasion on the GM.

I actually hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes sense. It's a great bit more troubling to think of it in those terms, especially when you have female GMs and male players. Something worth keeping in mind and being attentive to the possibility of. Certainly, it can happen with any mix of players and GMs, but I do find that depending on at what point players entered the RPG world, gender expectations can be an interesting thing to wrangle-- sometimes just as much so as trying to get an honest mechanic to talk to you about your car. ^_^
Kessa
 member, 560 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Tue 5 Jun 2018
at 07:58
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Briel:
I will say that if you're going to do all off-site or private rolls that it's important to have the trust of your players.

I think this is really the crux of it... to have a good game you need to have players that trust the GM. Whether or not a decision is arbitrary shouldn't be a question. If you have doubt as to the honesty and fairness of the GM, I suppose you really ought not be playing with them to begin with. Though, I imagine at some point it comes up in any game no matter how much trust there is in the group? Every GM makes a mistake at some point anyway.

The way that @donsr runs games is an interesting comparison with @engine's given that they both handle control differently, yet similarly. In both cases, players are free to narrate as makes sense to them and in both cases, they are spared the need to obsess over numbers on character sheets. Yet, I suspect the experience in the games is still quite different.

DarkLightHitomi:
The way I see it, the rolls are representative, but what they represent can be results if actions, or they can just represent how good one does.

This makes the most sense to me. In every instance of a roll, it's still telling you something about the quality of what you are attempting, but it doesn't necessarily have to give you the specific end result. Since what actually happens is narrated by the GM/ST there's never going to be a standard result anyway in a Roll Play sense. The same damage roll will necessarily be narrated differently by different GMs anyway. So, implying that there has to be X result from Y roll just doesn't make any sense.
Kessa
 member, 561 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Tue 5 Jun 2018
at 08:28
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
facemaker329:
But NPCs don't exist in a vaccuum...they have family, friends, lovers, would-be lovers, co-workers, watchers, etc, who should react if the NPC is being taken advantage of.  Yeah, the player can seduce whoever, or persuade anyone, or whatever...but the people around that target aren't always going to passively take it, and THEY can be a whole lot harder to persuade/seduce/whatever, especially since they're not likely to talk long enough for another such effort...

This is absolutely true! I feel like there's a rut that happens sometimes where NPCs are just a person there to give a quest, or just there to pay the PCs and a lot of depth gets lost in a game. Sometimes table-top style games fall into the habit of operating like console/ computer games where the most interaction and depth you're going to get is the three paragraph informational speech, or the 5 minute cut-scene, whereas in this medium, you can do and develop so much more. The medium allows for far more dynamic storytelling and I think that merits being taken advantage of and exploring the possibilities of fully.

Kioma:
Also late to the party, but as I see it, there are simple limits to what a character can achieve, no matter how skilled they are, without using unusual leverage (such as magic, excessive threats, etc).  If someone doesn't want to do something and has a reason for that, such as a genuinely monogamous and loyal man refusing to cheat on his wife, or a town guard who doesn't want to let the relative strangers into the town treasury no matter how prettily they talk, then that NPC should have a hard limit.

Can that hard limit be exceeded?  Yes.  Most commonly with the unusual leverage mentioned above.  Mind-controlling magic should be viewed as extremely dangerous for exactly that reason.  Likewise, torture can sometimes get you what you want but it's a dark road with a lot of moral and concrete issues.  On a more mundane note, throwing a ton of coin around might be the leverage the character needs, but they'll run out of that sooner or later.

I've greatly appreciated the consistent view that enforcing hard limits for NPCs is a reasonable thing to do. I've never been comfortable with the idea that their only purpose is to assist, or oppose PCs in their story, but more than one rule book seems to treat them that way. Social interaction sections seem very thin compared to the rest of rule books and while I understand that the implication of role playing is, well... playing in a social way, it's either so implied that it is never really seriously discussed, or assumed you'll just understand what's meant. I really feel, as in the examples mentioned, that it's reasonable to allow for the realism that accompanies actual human dynamics-- some people are not going to sway short of alternative tactics, some people will sway for a price. Really, it's humanizing NPCs, which I really believe needs to be done to have a really good game that players themselves can emotionally invest in.

Kioma:
Also, bear in mind that after a certain point, someone getting a 'no' and then keeping on asking may well have a profoundly negative impact on how their target views them, no matter how charming they are.  In this case, I'd say running up against that threshold and trying to push past without the use of leverage 'tools' would likely cause the NPC to get annoyed that Mighty Sir Charming isn't getting the hint - and is perhaps too obviously used to getting their own way.

This is a good point. I would not be averse to having a point where the scale that Genghis and Nintaku suggested can begin to reverse. It's also a good que that the GM is not amused anymore. ^_^
engine
 member, 615 posts
Tue 5 Jun 2018
at 16:44
Re: Die Rolls vs Free Will
Kessa:
The examples helped put the idea of control into context, I think. If I understand this correctly-- and I might not-- events outside of adventuring can more or less be dictated by players so as to keep them free of the constraints of the game mechanic framework, but yet they are less able to do things they would ordinarily do with the option of die rolling?

That's close. You're sort of conflating two of the concepts I'm putting forward.

One, I give the players a lot of control. The point of that is that they then don't have to wrest control from me by optimizing beyond my ability to  control them.

Sometimes, what a player isn't enjoying about a game stems from the game world itself, something players traditionally don't have much say in. Some recent games have really tried to make it easier for players and GMs to get on the same page with the world before playing, and some groups do that anyway, without the rules having to say they should. Often that control is meant to end once the game really starts, but I don't see why it has to, if the players have the good of the game in mind.

Kessa:
For example, forced to make a deal with a merchant with a rare and valuable magical cosmetic to obtain a potion to save the kidnapped dignitary, he could use his Arcana to choose the right thing to trade, but walking down the street at home trying to find something for his friend, he'd be inept? It seems an odd way to look at things.

Well, your choice of example contributes to that oddness, by going from the person being adept to them being inept, as well as involving a situation - buying a gift for someone - that I don't think a GM would be likely to interfere with.

But let's work with that example before moving on. The character is reasonably good at using Arcana in a tense and significant adventuring scenario, but in a different situation they're less good at it. I don't think that's odd, because I think those two things can involve much different applications of a skill, or much different criteria. The adventuring situation is plausibly going to involve different emotions, different motivations, different considerations, different tactics. After all, I know that I feel differently when making a trade or exchange with a friend than with a stranger, and I'm never involved in anything particularly dramatic. I don't feel the need to go into what exactly those differences are, I just consider that they could account for overall differences in how we handle the situation in game.

Another example: The character is able to sweet talk the secret of cold out of the Deity of Ice, then walks with that secret into the throneroom of the ruler of the realm who sent the party on that quest. The ruler is suitably grateful and rewarding, but the player wants more and asks to receive a portion of their reward in the form of a private dinner with the ruler. Sure, sounds cool. At the dinner, the PCs puts the moves on, hoping to take things further, to the level appropriate for the maturity level of the game. The GM doesn't ask for a roll and ignores any pre-emptive rolls and describes the ruler as ultimately immune to the PCs' charms, if perhaps flattered or flustered.

How exactly the GM were to handle this could contribute greatly to the player's reaction to this. A scene of heavy flirtation and banter followed by failure could be much more rewarding than the ruler simply falling into the PC's embrace; such scenes are common enough in stories, even if (often particularly if) the seducer is normally really successful. If it were interesting enough, the player themselves might even help come up with reasons why such a result makes sense. But a GM who made no attempt to make the scene interesting or the denial plausible might leave the player feeling cheated out of something they deserved to have.

Either way, though, it's plausible (whether or not the player thinks so in the moment) that one situation should hinge on dice rolls or skill modifiers and another shouldn't. Different stakes, different NPCs, different emotions, different relationships, etc. I'll be the first to admit that none of that makes much difference if the player isn't willing to consider it, but that's why it's important to get on the same page with one's players.

It comes down to a couple of different things for me:

One: the rules laid out for the GM and players are not all there is to the game world, as much as some games want that to be the case. The skills and abilities given to or made available to PCs and their primary opposition are there to enable certain kinds of games, not to be the foundations for a whole, consistent universe. The list of skills for PCs doesn't cover every activity anyone might engage in (because the game isn't designed to simulate every aspect of existence), and the PCs' training is not applicable to every situation that might seem similar (because the game isn't designed to simulate every situation). And it doesn't really matter what game one is talking about.

Two: I generally want my games focused around adventurous challenges, with significant stakes. Failing to talk the Deity of Ice out of the secret of cold might mean that the year long heatwave sweeping the planet might turn into the years long heatwave sweeping the planet, or that the Deity takes umbrage at the audacity of the attempt and sets the ice hounds on them. Failing to seduce the ruler means... what? A ribbing from the PC's pals?

Now, set up the seduction of the ruler as part of some larger crisis or need, with important stakes to win and lose, and I'm interested. Now we can roll some dice and make this a paced-out quest to achieve. Now, it's not just getting the ruler alone, it's neutralizing the other suitors (the vizier with evil designs, the noble knight who the PC respects, the attractive and confident merchant who it's easy to understand falling for), dealing with some pressing distractions (invasion, plague, assassination attempts) and getting the ruler alone on multiple occassions and via different methods. A player might just want to stand there with their huge Diplomacy modifier and just "diplomance" all of those away (except the plague and maybe the assassins) but, even assuming that's allowed by the rules, why would they want to? If they do want to, then just skip to the end of that scenario and ask them what scenario and for what stakes they would be willing to make risky rolls for

Kessa:
But further, if players are spared the need to make rolls on mundane things, why couldn't a player just decide his character naturally knows how to deal with cosmetics and just write it into the game? Or, is that a level of being able to do things that's beyond what you would consider a normal success because it's more nuanced?

Sparing them the need to make rolls on mundane things serves multiple purposes. One is that it's a time saver, especially in play-by-post games. Instead of an hours long exchange to decide whether something can be done and what it involves, the player takes care of it in a single post.

And another purpose is the control I mentioned. The point of that is also manifold. For one thing, it lets the player have their character achieve things they think it makes sense for the character to achieve. That, I hope, makes them feel like their character concept is better realized. For another thing, it allows them to spend time on what they want to spend time on. Anything in an RPG can be zoomed in on to turn it into a very intricate set of actions that takes significant time to resolve, but not everything should be handled that way, and not everyone wants to handle the same things that way. If I'm ready for a haggling scene to be an involved situation, and the player doesn't like haggling, then they should summarize the scene and move us along.

Kessa:
And if so, where do you draw that line for nuance? And how do you establish that with your players so it doesn't seem arbitrary? Because there's still some GM vs player control at work there, I would think?

I'm not entirely sure I know what you mean here, so please correct me if I'm answering the wrong questions.

I try not to draw any lines, but what I'm on the lookout for are wasted effort and disappointment in the players. I try not to put a lot of effort into small sections of my games, because even when the rules are engaged more or less as written, it's easy for a complicated, involved, paced-out situation to never be used or to fall completely flat. I haven't found that the likelihood of that happening decreases if I put in more work, but I'm more likely to take it personally if I put in a lot of work. I know this about myself, so I try not to set myself up for it. However, with the games I play, some amount of effort is required for me to arrange for things to happen.

If I find that my work is repeatedly proving not to be worth it to me because the players are simply deciding that certain things are true regarding their capabilities then I don't draw a line, I just have a talk. Hey, it seems like you're enjoying having your characters succeed quickly on pretty much everything. That's cool. What sorts of things do you think your character would struggle with accomplishing? What sorts of things would you like to see at stake in such struggles? How long would you want to spend on such struggles? Ideally, I talk to them upfront about this kind of thing, but I know I don't always do that.

Then, I work with what they give me. Since they came up with the core ideas, there's a better chance that they're going to be willing to engage with what I come up with, rather than looking for or creating whatever loophole or shortcut will let them win, but if they keep doing that, and I trust that they're not deliberately trying to waste my time, I just talk to them again.

Ideally, I don't want anything to be considered in terms of "player vs. GM," particularly matters of control, because those are tied very closely to player enjoyment and I don't think enjoyment should ever be at stake. I don't always perfectly achieve that, but I practice it.

I hope I answered your questions in there somewhere. I'd be delighted to discuss this further.