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Samurai Jill
2009-08-30, 09:29 AM
...Consider the behavioral parameters of a samurai player-character in Sorcerer and in GURPS. On paper the sheets look pretty similar: bushido all over the place, honorable, blah blah. But what does this mean in terms of player decisions and events during play? I suggest that in Sorcerer (Narrativist), the expectation is that the character will encounter functional limits of his or her behavioral profile, and eventually, will necessarily break one or more of the formal tenets as an expression of who he or she "is," or suffer for failing to do so. No one knows how, or which one, or in relation to which other characters; that's what play is for. I suggest that in GURPS (Simulationist), the expectation is that the behavioral profile sets the parameters within which the character reliably acts, especially in the crunch - in other words, it formalizes the role the character will play in the upcoming events. Breaking that role in a Sorcerer-esque fashion would, in this case, constitute something very like a breach of contract.

...I may be a little biased about this issue, but it seems to me that a character in Narrativist play is by definition a thematic time-bomb...

-Simulationism: The Right To Dream (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/15/)

In most RPGs with religious content, the GM arbitrates the characters' morality. The GM plays God (or the gods) as an NPC, giving and withholding moral standing- whatever form it takes in the particular game: Faith points, Alignment Bonuses, whatever- based on the characters' actions. Not in Dogs.
...Which is good! Which is, in fact, essential. If you, the GM, can judge my character's actions, then I won't tell you what I think. I'll play to whatever morality you impose on me via your rulings. Instead of posing your players an interesting ethical question and then hearing their answers, you'd be posing the question and then answering it yourself.
How dull would that be?
-Dogs in the Vineyard (http://www.lumpley.com/dogsources.html)

People feel strongly about paladins - they either love them or hate them, with few occupying the middle ground. Personally, while there is always a place for the shining knight in fantasy roleplaying, I believe that the class as written actually encourages a type of dysfunction within roleplaying groups. I think of it as the Police Syndrome, wherein one player feels entitled by the rules to actively police the other members of his or her group.
-No Cure for the Paladin Blues (http://apegames.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=OOTS02&Category_Code=OOTSB)

Let's face it, a lot of people really aren't comfortable with villainy more pernicious than the antagonists in a Saturday morning cartoon. Other people have a different and equally valid hang-up: they aren't comfortable having their characters stab enemies in the face repeatedly until they bleed to death unless those enemies are extremely bad people. As so frequently happens, the rules for Dungeons and Dragons are written to accommodate both play styles, which in reality ends up including nothing.

...Every action has motivations, expectable results, and actual results. In addition, every action can be described with a verb. In the history of moral theory (a history substantively longer than human history) it has at times been contested by otherwise bright individuals that any of those (singly or collectively) could be used as a rubric to determine the rightness of an action. D&D authors agreed. With all of those extremely incompatible ideas. And the result has been an unmitigated catastrophe. Noone knows what makes an action Good in D&D, so your group is ultimately going to have to decide for yourselves. Is your action Good because your intentions are Good? Is your action Good because the most likely result of your action is Good? Is your action Good because the actual end result of that action is Good? Is your action Good because the verb that bests describes your action is in general Good? There are actually some very good arguments for all of these written by people like Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant, and David Wasserman – but there are many other essays that are so astoundingly contradictory and ill-reasoned that they are of less help than reading nothing. Unfortunately for the hobby, some of the essays of the second type were written by Gary Gygax.
This is not an easy question to answer. The rulebooks, for example, are no help at all. D&D at its heart is about breaking into other peoples' homes, stabbing them in the face, and taking all their money. That's very hard to rationalize as a Good thing to do, and the authors of D&D have historically not tried terribly hard.

...Paladins have no reason to be Lawful. Paladins are only encouraged to follow the laws of the country they live in if those laws are Good. They are actually forbidden by their code of conduct from following the precepts of Evil nations. The Paladin shtick works equally well as a loner or a leader, and it is by definition distinctly disloyal. A Paladin must abandon compatriots.
-The Tome of Fiends (http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Tome_of_Fiends_(DnD_Other))


I think the fundamental problem with the Paladin class is that they are, in essence, prime examples of GNS battlegrounds. Because each GNS mode makes different uses of the concepts of Good and Evil, a character concept that explicitly revolves around confrontations between the two will be an early casualty of incoherence in play. I'll be tarring with a broad brush here, but as I see them, it basically breaks down as follows:

The Gamist Approach
Here, Good and Evil serve a very straightforward function- they serve as labels for who you are, and aren't, allowed to beat the crap out of- and that's about it. D&D leans heavily toward this mode of play, and Paladins who regularly smite whatever detects as Evil under those circumstances are not being Lawful-Stupid slashbots- well technically they are, but the point is that the player in question has simply adapted their character to the needs of the campaign as presented- and there is nothing dysfunctional about that. The alignment system is adequate here, and Falling is unlikely unless the player genuinely wants it to happen.

The obvious problem with this approach is that 'Good' and 'Evil' could essentially be labelled the 'kill me' and 'don't kill me' alignments- perfectly functional, but disingenuous. The purpose of Gamist play is to provide the players with a steadily escalating series of tactical challenges and well-defined win/loss conditions, so Paladins in this approach just avoid the problems associated with policing morality by ignoring moral complexity entirely.

The Simulationist Approach
Here, the minutiae of precisely what constitutes an acceptable action for the Paladin within a wide range of circumstances are laid out in advance and detail before play ever begins, and cordon off a safe 'moral sandbox' within which Paladin players can explore the world, secure in the knowledge that any hypothetical Fall will be voluntary and made with full knowledge. Complex antagonists and interlocking power struggles between diverse political factions can be introduced without the risks of thematic brinkmanship normally cause by moral ambiguity neccessitating GM fiat.

This approach is functional, and fair, but again, strips the players of meaningful moral input during play-

In Simulationist play, morality cannot be imposed by the player or, except as the representative of the imagined world, by the GM. Theme is already part of the cosmos; it's not produced by metagame decisions. Morality, when it's involved, is "how it is" in the game-world, and even its shifts occur along defined, engine-driven parameters. The GM and players buy into this framework in order to play at all.
...when you-as-player get proactive about an emotional thematic issue, poof, you're out of Sim.

The other problem, of course, with D&D historically and the Paladin class as written, is that defining Good and Evil in mechanical terms is maddeningly dificult, and the various ethical warts attached to the Paladin code don't make that any easier. The Paladin class explicitly revolves around policing morality in the most brutal and judgemental way possible, so when the rules that arbitrate morality are themselves vague and contradictory, it's no wonder that inter-player conflicts arise over perceived transgressions. A Paladin cannot avoid policing the behaviour of other PCs without showing showing either blatant favouritism or a colossal moral blind spot, and the Phylactery of Faithfulness (http://www.imarvintpa.com/dndlive/items.php?ID=1488) is no solution at all- it simply transfers policing duties from the Paladin player to the GM, with the former abdicating moral reponsibility in favour of the latter's interpretations of divine will- in essence, the GM gets to police the players' behaviour through the Gods' puppet proxy on earth.

The Narrativist Approach
Here, morality is neither a series of black-and-white labels or predefined scripture- it is the subject of active exploration by the players. Narrativist play, in many ways, consists of players investigating and judging exactly what constitutes right and wrong in various extreme situations, as embodied by their characters and their respective reactions to stress and emotional conflict. Their prior judgements are then probed and tested further, until they either break those beliefs and evolve as a character, or make some significant personal sacrifice to affirm the sincerity of those convictions.

The problem with this last option is that it really screws over the Paladin, no matter what they do- the whole point of Narrativist play is to drive the character to the brink, but the Paladin is explicitly punished for acts that violate their code- and personal sacrifice is required to demonstrate the sincerity of beliefs they do adhere to. No good deed goes unpunished. They're damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

The Paladin as a character concept is drawn to Narrativist play in much the same way as a moth to a flame- it's natural place is in the exploration of moral conflict, but going there will, sooner or later, either destroy or heavily penalise the character. Everything you do to make play for the Paladin more interesting makes it more dangerous- not just in the physical, but in the spiritual sense. And the outcome of that tight-wire act is rarely pleasant.



And that's mostly what I have to say about that.

AstralFire
2009-08-30, 09:44 AM
I think you're falling into a trap here when you try to put this issue into three neat little boxes since the three different types tend to interbreed to some extent. I find the categories are most useful for expressing which one of the three you're not, than which one of the three you are.

You even suggest a solution to the problem within Simulationist - when grey areas occur, the GM and the player talk about them. Don't set all of the lines out beforehand. This gives the 'player input to the world' that you seek. This tends to be how groups run, in my experience; we see a ton of threads about Paladin alignment for this very reason.

Moreover, generally speaking, players not having strong input to the world at the metaphysical level is usually accepted as a consequence of the DM/GM style game, not as a failing, but a feature.

PinkysBrain
2009-08-30, 09:49 AM
Here, Good and Evil serve a very straightforward function- they serve as labels for who you are, and aren't, allowed to beat the crap out of- and that's about it.
Bull.

The other problem, of course, with D&D historically and the Paladin class as written, is that defining Good and Evil in mechanical terms is maddeningly dificult, and the various ethical warts attached to the Paladin code don't make that any easier.
BoED nails down a lot of things.

The problem with this last option is that it really screws over the Paladin, no matter what they do- the whole point of Narrativist play is to drive the character to the brink, but the Paladin is explicitly punished for acts that violate their code- and personal sacrifice is required to demonstrate the sincerity of beliefs they do adhere to. No good deed goes unpunished. They're damned if they do, and damned if they don't.
That's what character retraining rules are for ... the underlying raison d'etre for the Paladin's code is that the universe is moral, the cause never justifies the means ... in the end the repercussions of breaking the code are always worse than not breaking it, no matter how counter to intuition that runs knowing the short term consequences of your choices.

If your character can no longer believe that it's time to retrain.

shadow_archmagi
2009-08-30, 09:49 AM
Morality, like Paladins, are something everyone has to solve for themselves and no amount of essays will change that.

kamikasei
2009-08-30, 09:56 AM
BoED nails down a lot of things.

Not in a way that is consistently followed by other sourcebooks, or that jibes very well with the basic format of the game.

Samurai Jill
2009-08-30, 09:58 AM
You even suggest a solution to the problem within Simulationist - when grey areas occur, the GM and the player talk about them. Don't set all of the lines out beforehand. This gives the 'player input to the world' that you seek. This tends to be how groups run, in my experience; we see a ton of threads about Paladin alignment for this very reason.
Actually, that's what I see as a potential problem- by the time those 'Grey Areas' crop up, players are likely to be emotionally invested in their characters and the situation to the point that serious disagreements can crop up- it's doable, but risky. I feel it's safest to hash out a comprehensive code of conduct for Paladins in play before its immediately important- which, again, is fine and dandy and perfectly functional, but you have to resign yourself to lacking independant moral agency thereafter.

The 3 GNS modes can functionally hybridise in certain cases, but this doesn't really avoid the inherent problems I present here- the more Narrativist play becomes, the more the Paladin is likely to be screwed over.

Yora
2009-08-30, 10:01 AM
I think you're falling into a trap here when you try to put this issue into three neat little boxes since the three different types tend to interbreed to some extent.
And here you have the very reason why GNS theory never really got a true hold.

AstralFire
2009-08-30, 10:03 AM
AThe 3 GNS modes can functionally hybridise in certain cases, but this doesn't really avoid the inherent problems I present here- the more Narrativist play becomes, the more the Paladin is likely to be screwed over.

I really can't agree. That's only the case the more that Narrativist play centers around the Paladin's morality rather than being an occasional feature. When you present something as the centerpiece of any story - or game (combat for D&D, for example), there must be a source of conflict for that centerpiece or it becomes boring. If you don't want to screw the Paladin, you don't make all of her RP focused around the morals of being a Paladin.

Regarding the issue with bringing Narrativism into Simulationism, the whole point of hybridization is customizing to your comfort levels.

Yora
2009-08-30, 10:07 AM
Well, I quess you can say that in a game that cares about narrative things, the paladin actually starts to have to deal with the limitations of his profession. If you don't care too much about these things, it's just a rule what actions a paladin player can do and which not.
Which I think kind of defeats the purpose of having any morality in the game rules at all.

woodenbandman
2009-08-30, 10:15 AM
My solution: You say you're a paladin. You act paladin-like.

I can trust a player to act as a holy warrior without a written out code. They didn't look at the paladin code and think "hm this sounds cool as hell I'll give it a whirl." They said "hm I want to be a warrior that embodies all that is good" and they then saw the paladin class.

Some times a player will do something that is bad, and I'd say: "you know that's bad right?" and they will either say "oh yeah" or "no, my rationale is this..." and then I'll go "no I'm pretty sure it's bad" or "yeah I can see that" and boom.

There's no problem with the Narrativist approach to paladins, just problems with douches who do stuff like "you were hired by an evil man. You auto-fall."

If I had a paladin in my campaign, that's not to say I wouldn't toss moral choices at them. Sometimes you have to make a choice, even if it is hard, because it's right. Or sometimes there are no right choices. If you get put into a situation like that, and then you get punished afterwards, that's just counter-intuitive. Instead, they get a message from their god saying "it's okay, you did your best, it wasn't your fault." Still probably have to atone a little, but no harm done. It's only if they commit murder in cold blood or create a plague of undead that they fall.

The people who play paladins correctly (yes there is a correct way to be a paladin) don't require the DM telling them that they've made a bad decision, or if they do, just a little note once in a while. The best paladin players (very much like O-chul) know if they've done wrong, and play that out, in-character, with no prompting whatsoever. And they really do feel bad about it.

This reminds me of one guy who played a paladin of freedom (much closer to what an actual paladin should be, IMO). Every time we were in a bad situation, he would always be the first one to go in, the last one to leave. He strived for good and justice. There was one part where his faith was tested when we had to interrogate someone (paladin of freedom and all), but most of the time, he just did his paladin thing with no prompting at all. He was everyone's favorite character in that game.

AstralFire
2009-08-30, 10:23 AM
It might be because my natural tendencies are to CG so I get to use my full personality, but my CG characters and NPCs tend to be the ones that get the best responses from my players. :D

Zincorium
2009-08-30, 10:57 AM
Honestly, my entire acceptance of Paladins as a class only came after reading the Deed of Paksennarion series by Elizabeth Moon. The following is all opinion, none of it is justified by any reading of any rules.

In essence, a paladin's actions should never focus on what will cause them to fall, because they should never consider the personal costs for their actions, only the possible good that those actions can create.

A fall will only occurr when a player of a paladin ceases to care about being a guy who does good, which I am told happens, but have never seen myself. It seems tantamount to a player of a wizard deciding they are tired of being someone who casts spells out of books, and the only real solution to either is to play a different character.


You know what I think the main problem is? Detect Evil (or Smite with a nonlethal weapon for the clever ones). It ends the debate for the character- if someone is evil, by definition they're premeditating evil acts. They wouldn't be evil if they wouldn't do something harmful for personal gain if the opportunity arises- and it's pretty clear that the opportunity for such will always arise eventually.

You either stop them for good (and for Good) or you're admitting that the rules you live by are more like guidelines, and thus can't be used to justify stabbing other people in the face. It also blindsides the player in terms of neutral or good characters who are about to make an exception to their normal moral compass.

UserClone
2009-08-30, 11:52 AM
"Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace." - Oscar Wilde

PinkysBrain
2009-08-30, 12:10 PM
Not in a way that is consistently followed by other sourcebooks
For example?

or that jibes very well with the basic format of the game.
I disagree, with absolute non context dependent morality the D&D alignment system makes a whole lot more sense.

Starbuck_II
2009-08-30, 12:14 PM
Honestly, my entire acceptance of Paladins as a class only came after reading the Deed of Paksennarion series by Elizabeth Moon. The following is all opinion, none of it is justified by any reading of any rules.

In essence, a paladin's actions should never focus on what will cause them to fall, because they should never consider the personal costs for their actions, only the possible good that those actions can create.

A fall will only occurr when a player of a paladin ceases to care about being a guy who does good, which I am told happens, but have never seen myself. It seems tantamount to a player of a wizard deciding they are tired of being someone who casts spells out of books, and the only real solution to either is to play a different character.

No, one would hope that a Player will not fall until he ceases to care about being a guy who does good.
But the DM might say, "you fall" and no arbitary saying "like but I still want to do good," will save you.




You either stop them for good (and for Good) or you're admitting that the rules you live by are more like guidelines, and thus can't be used to justify stabbing other people in the face. It also blindsides the player in terms of neutral or good characters who are about to make an exception to their normal moral compass.

No, people (DMs) care little about non-Pallly good character. They only act up over Pallys.

kamikasei
2009-08-30, 12:27 PM
For example?

An obvious and extreme example is ye olde Succubus Paladin, who should fall simply for existing as destroying a fiend is always a good act and allowing one to live is always evil (hmmm, is that BoED or BoVD?). More generally, there's the fact that the Blood War should be an ever-escalating spiral of goodness as fiends kill fiends killing fiends killing fiends...


I disagree, with absolute non context dependent morality the D&D alignment system makes a whole lot more sense.

Er, I didn't say otherwise. I meant that by the BoED's standards almost all characters in any adventure or setting should be evil.

In general, the book establishes absolute standards that aren't held to anywhere else.

SurlySeraph
2009-08-30, 12:38 PM
That's what character retraining rules are for ... the underlying raison d'etre for the Paladin's code is that the universe is moral, the cause never justifies the means ... in the end the repercussions of breaking the code are always worse than not breaking it, no matter how counter to intuition that runs knowing the short term consequences of your choices.

And yet, the Gray Guard and Shadowbane Inquisitor are predicated on the idea that acts that make a paladin fall can work out for the greater good - their class features are all about on allowing them to maintain their divine blessings even if they act more morally grey than paladins normally do.

There is no one right way to handle morality in DnD. Personally, I like a world where Exalted characters who wouldn't swat a mosquito without first using Detect Evil on it and Shadowbane Inquisitors who break their code to avoid breaking their cover and get to keep smiting evil anyway coexist. WotC has provided support for lots of options, and it's the DM's choice which he wants to emphasis.

Foryn Gilnith
2009-08-30, 12:43 PM
In theory, it's all well and nice to talk about a Paladin that falls, sucks it up, and keeps on questing for holiness and good anyway. In fact, that doesn't happen; because as soon as a Paladin loses all of its class features, the chance of failure in his quest to destroy evil jumps monumentally. The paladin then dies, and his quest fails and evil triumphs because of the paladin's god (who is being played by the DM with a level of intelligence the diplomatic would do well not to comment on).

I did, once, play a Paladin who fell, soldiered on with his quest anyway, and in the process redeemed himself enough that his church would have given him a free Atonement. The thing is, this was in Neverwinter Nights (2); where falling did not diminish my ability to fight evil in any notable way.

Mike_G
2009-08-30, 12:53 PM
I disagree, with absolute non context dependent morality the D&D alignment system makes a whole lot more sense.

And if you ignore gravity or air resistance, rocket science is easy. So long as it stays on a whiteboard.

Non context dependent morality is crap. It may make the Alignment system work, but when you need to rewrite Good and Evil to make a nine-category shorthand for a character's worldview work, you are going about things the wrong way.

Of all the supplements I've read, BoED is the one I hate most, and the worst offender of promoting the Shirts vs Skins paradigm for morality.

Zincorium
2009-08-30, 02:19 PM
No, one would hope that a Player will not fall until he ceases to care about being a guy who does good.
But the DM might say, "you fall" and no arbitary saying "like but I still want to do good," will save you.

But your DM might stab you! Or throw a brick through your window! And no amount of 'I like my organs/windows the way they are" will save you.

Or the DM could help people have fun, and not just say 'you fall'. It is an option.


No, people (DMs) care little about non-Pallly good character. They only act up over Pallys.

Paladins are the only ones that it matters with, and I said I don't like that.

I do, for the record, hold good characters to certain standards (the same one I hold players to, actually), but there's no real penalty if they fail to live up for them, I just tell them their character isn't actually good anymore after it keeps up long enough.

Drakevarg
2009-08-30, 03:14 PM
Goddamn computer exploded my first post mid-lecture...

Anyways, I for one consider running morality as a mechanical function an idiotic idea. Especially in the "Good = Don't Kill, Evil = Kill" mindset. For this reason, the vast majority of my NPCs (with the noteable exception of fiends and celestials) are neutral.

In regards to the central topic of discussion, Paladins, well it's somewhat hard to really speak honestly towards this since I don't HAVE Paladins in my game world (I do have a Paladin-esque PrC, so I suppose that works.) But when running a campaign containing them, I play a mix of "lenient" and "very strict."

For maintaining one's alignment, I'm satisfied with people simply acting good IN GENERAL. You don't need to give to charity or help old ladies cross the street or go smite evil all the time, you just have to be in general an honest, helpful person willing to help others without powerful alterior motives. (For example, helping the local Chuch of Happyology in a Xanatos Gambit to fuel your doomsday machine isn't being good. Helping said church because it's simply "the right thing to do" would be. Doing it because they'd give you some sort of reward is simply being neutral.

Of course, regardless of what you do with the Church of Happyology, it won't cause you to change alignments in its lonesome. What would is if you did so CONSISTANTLY.

Basically I think of it this way; (in a vague sort of way, NOT in a mathematical formula)

Say you place before a character a dozen moral crossroads. None of them will, by themselves, alter your alignment. It would depend on the net value of their deeds. So say, for the sake of simplicity, they take the "good" path every single time. Obviously, they'd be good. Not even worth energy debating it.

Now, what if they took the Good path seven times, and the Neutral path the rest of the times? They'd be good, since for the most part they were doing the right thing.

Now, what if they took the Evil path the rest of the times, instead of Neutral? They'd be Neutral, since they habitually flip-flopped between Good and Evil.

Of course, it isn't an arbitrary twelve step rule or anything. For example, if they made 7 Good decisions and 5 Evil decisons IN THAT ORDER, they'd be evil, since they've been acting consistantly evil for the last 5 moral decisions. If they did it Good Evil Good Good Evil Good Evil, etc, they'd be neutral since they weren't acting consistant one way or the other.

Where does the "very strict and arbitrary" part come in? Well, it really only counts for my Paladin PrC, but it's really quite simple: Atonement isn't an option. Paladins become Paladins because their god was impressed by their devotion to good. If they aren't wholly devoted to good, then they can't be Paladins. Of course, they can still be a cleric in service of their god if they manage to repent enough to meet the god's standards, but the high seat of Paladinhood is forever lost to them.

Skorj
2009-08-30, 03:52 PM
The Gamist Approach[/b]
Here, Good and Evil serve a very straightforward function- they serve as labels for who you are, and aren't, allowed to beat the crap out of- and that's about it. D&D leans heavily toward this mode of play, and Paladins who regularly smite whatever detects as Evil under those circumstances are not being Lawful-Stupid slashbots- well technically they are, but the point is that the player in question has simply adapted their character to the needs of the campaign as presented- and there is nothing dysfunctional about that. The alignment system is adequate here, and Falling is unlikely unless the player genuinely wants it to happen.

The obvious problem with this approach is that 'Good' and 'Evil' could essentially be labelled the 'kill me' and 'don't kill me' alignments- perfectly functional, but disingenuous. The purpose of Gamist play is to provide the players with a steadily escalating series of tactical challenges and well-defined win/loss conditions, so Paladins in this approach just avoid the problems associated with policing morality by ignoring moral complexity entirely.


This whole OP is well written, but this exactly captures the OD&D alignment system. As D&D was being cobbled together as an extension to fantasy minatures combat, the players needed a way to tell which side was which. In a typical tabletop miniatures battle, there's no moral ambiguity and no need of any: forces are friendly, neutral, or enemy - done. You can tell by their uniforms.

OD&D started with alignment serviving this same purpose: good, neutral, evil - done. You can tell by what color hats they wear. The D&D alignment system makes a lot of sense, and is very clear, from this tabletop wargaming perspective. But of course this is a bit inadequate for any role-playing depth at all. D&D has moved progressively away from this idea over time, until seemingly 4.0, where I hear they returned to these roots (but then, I've never played, and could be full of it). Certainly some gamers enjoy the Gamist Aproach for its simplicity, myself included.

If, as some would argue, Paladins are actually weaker than fighters in 3.5, then significant moral restrictions on a paladin's behavior as a "trade off" for being weaker is a bit of a head-scratcher to begin with.

Aik
2009-08-30, 10:00 PM
Honestly, I think the best approach here is 'Don't try and use D&D for Story Now play'. If you want to explore the morality of being a paladin - D&D just isn't the right system - you'll be mechanically punished for going there.

(do you still lose XP for changing alignments? My knowledge of D&D's rules is more than a little outdated...)

elliott20
2009-08-30, 10:29 PM
The thing is though, how can the paladin's moral quandary be interesting if there was never a hard choice to make, that every so often, you NEED to let that character fall from grace in order for them to grow? So yeah, Jill's got it right on the narrativist paladin. They pretty much exist to lose their faith so they can climb back out of it.

But that means mechanically, you're looking at punishing a player for doing precisely what you were hoping he would do with his character: play out an interesting internal struggle.

Mechanically, this means the system needs to accommodate a player who makes the choice of letting their character fall for the sake of character development.

quick_comment
2009-08-30, 11:44 PM
I think the solution is to recognize that the alignment system is a mechanical system, just like saves. No character should ever say "Im Lawful Good", just as no character should ever say "I have a +7 fortitude save"

Being lawful good, just like being a swashbuckler or rogue, is an OOC term. A rogue might describe himself as a thief, or assassin, or whatever. A LG character wont describe himself as LG, he would say that he is an upstanding citizen and crusader for Pelor.

Gan The Grey
2009-08-30, 11:58 PM
Assuming that they have a good, wise DM, a player who chooses to play a paladin and willfully falls is:

A) Preparing their character for Blackguard status
B) Setting themselves up for some sort of epic storyline atonement
C) Mistaken about the character they wanted to play

You don't make a rogue and always run around with a weapon that can't be used for sneak attack damage. You shouldn't play a paladin if you can't accept and fulfill the moral obligations (Unless see A or B above).

As for the Narrative Approach, I disagree with the whole 'punishing' aspect of a paladin playing their character correctly. That's like saying a DM punishes players by making them have random encounters. Or hard quests. Or getting hit by swords. A game is made memorable and enjoyable BECAUSE of conflict. Without conflict, DnD may as well just be a freakin Martha Stewart show.

A good paladin looks at the sacrifice he will have to make and say, "Look how cool I am. I took one for the team. And things are better because of it. I'm proud of the fact that I looked evil in the face and made it choke on a pound of my own flesh." THAT'S what makes games memorable. THAT'S what makes games fun. Not so much the outcome, but what you went through to achieve it. No player wants to save the world by pushing a button. They want to hurt so they know its real.

And yes, this is specifically harder on the paladin because he can lose his class features. Few other characters/classes have any reason to STRICTLY adhere to their chosen alignment. This is one of the things that, in my opinion, makes the paladin cool. His uncompromising belief structure. What does a lawful good fighter lose if he does something morally questionable? Nothing. What does a paladin lose? The respect and support of a god. If a god had MY back, I'd do whatever I needed to do to keep that support.

elliott20
2009-08-31, 12:05 AM
Assuming that they have a good, wise DM, a player who chooses to play a paladin and willfully falls is:

A) Preparing their character for Blackguard status
B) Setting themselves up for some sort of epic storyline atonement
C) Mistaken about the character they wanted to play

You don't make a rogue and always run around with a weapon that can't be used for sneak attack damage. You shouldn't play a paladin if you can't accept and fulfill the moral obligations (Unless see A or B above).

As for the Narrative Approach, I disagree with the whole 'punishing' aspect of a paladin playing their character correctly. That's like saying a DM punishes players by making them have random encounters. Or hard quests. Or getting hit by swords. A game is made memorable and enjoyable BECAUSE of conflict. Without conflict, DnD may as well just be a freakin Martha Stewart show.

A good paladin looks at the sacrifice he will have to make and say, "Look how cool I am. I took one for the team. And things are better because of it. I'm proud of the fact that I looked evil in the face and made it choke on a pound of my own flesh." THAT'S what makes games memorable. THAT'S what makes games fun. Not so much the outcome, but what you went through to achieve it. No player wants to save the world by pushing a button. They want to hurt so they know its real.
I actually totally agree with this, despite my post. the thing is though, I feel that while this should be able to stand on it's own, having some incentive for A or B can't hurt either.

this is why I like story XP so much.

Ravens_cry
2009-08-31, 12:31 AM
I hate random encounters. They don't add to the story, and they don't add to the idea you are in a consistent world. Having 3 lizard men and a gelatinous cube (it was going to be an angel) suddenly appear out of thin air and attack the party makes no sense from either the simulationest or narrativest perspective. And all they do is use up resources. Here's an idea, take some time and plan an encounter that matters, one that is part of the world and advances the story, even if it's just some mooks of Baron Badness.

I can see how the rules help one plan fair normal encounters. I can see planned random encounters, such as running into patrols when being behind enemy lines, making sense. But why are a *roll* kobold, *roll* troll and a *roll* unicorn, working together? There is no reason, the dice just said so. Where did they come from? Why are they here? No reason, the dice just said so! That may have worked when orcs guarded 10 foot rooms with chests inside, but we have come along way since then. If you want to play like that fine, there's no wrong way, technically. I just know it wouldn't satisfy my gaming needs.

As for paladins, I like them personally. Despite the reputation for having a mast up the rectum stereotype, they don't have to be played like that. My last paladin was a half orc, and she was very emotional, prone to anger and even a little vengeance. She spat on the corpses of her enemies, and felt very deeply for those she cared about, many of whom were dead by said enemies.
Skip a character and game or two and I have a very different fellow. A human. Courteous to his elders and betters, gentle spoken, willing to trust those he has deemed worthy, even when others don't, he believes deeply in his chosen faith. What anger he shows is reserved for those who disrespect his faith, and even more so to those who attempt to hurt his allies.
A paladin can be like any other character, however you darn well want. Yes, there is restrictions, but this is table top role playing, there is infinity within those boundaries.

Draz74
2009-08-31, 12:40 AM
But why are a *roll* kobold, *roll* troll and a *roll* unicorn, working together? There is no reason, the dice just said so. Where did they come from? Why are they here? No reason, the dice just said so! That may have worked when orcs guarded 10 foot rooms with chests inside, but we have come along way since then.

:belkar: I once fought 1d3 dire camels in a swamp. No joke. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0564.html)

:biggrin:

Ravens_cry
2009-08-31, 12:44 AM
:belkar: I once fought 1d3 dire camels in a swamp. No joke. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0564.html)

:biggrin:
Like I said, ridiculous.

PinkysBrain
2009-08-31, 01:19 AM
And yet, the Gray Guard and Shadowbane Inquisitor are predicated on the idea that acts that make a paladin fall can work out for the greater good
That doesn't preclude them from being wrong, regardless it doesn't affect the demarcation of evil deeds ... the gray guard can recover easier from justifying the means with the cause, but he still falls.

Even if the cost is lower the universe seems to know something he doesn't :)

Shadowbane Inquisitors who break their code to avoid breaking their cover and get to keep smiting evil anyway coexist.
They get to keep their own smite, but those don't even stack with Smite Evil ... where does it say that his Paladin code is relaxed if he has Paladin class levels?

Samurai Jill
2009-08-31, 06:23 AM
I really can't agree. That's only the case the more that Narrativist play centers around the Paladin's morality rather than being an occasional feature. When you present something as the centerpiece of any story - or game (combat for D&D, for example), there must be a source of conflict for that centerpiece or it becomes boring. If you don't want to screw the Paladin, you don't make all of her RP focused around the morals of being a Paladin.
Naturally you don't want the entire course of play to centre around any single PC- that would just be Prima Donna syndrome- but to the extent that the Paladin gets 'show time' at all, those conflicts need to centre around the emotional issues most important to the character- which typically includes their code of conduct. In Narrativist play, describing your character's beliefs and goals is literally the player's way of saying "I want to get in trouble over this."


Regarding the issue with bringing Narrativism into Simulationism, the whole point of hybridization is customizing to your comfort levels.
In practice, relatively few groups seem comfortable with a primarily-simulationist-secondarily-narrativist hybrid, because for most folks Narrativism tends to have greater psychological 'pull' than Simulationism (and Gamism more so than either,) which is one of the key arguments for avoiding incoherent design in the first place. It can happen, but it's not the safe bet.

http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/9763/gnsgraph.gif

Yora
2009-08-31, 06:38 AM
The cultural studies student in me getting highly agitated. :smallbiggrin:

We very rarely use diagrams and "hard" classifications. These are the domain of natural and economic science, but you see them very rarely in social sciences. Because frankly, human behaviour is more like a big constant continuum than sets of different "classes".
Classifications work only on a very very general and almost detail-free scale. If you want to apply it to individual cases, it's practically guaranteed to fail.

Samurai Jill
2009-08-31, 06:38 AM
My solution: You say you're a paladin. You act paladin-like...

If I had a paladin in my campaign, that's not to say I wouldn't toss moral choices at them. Sometimes you have to make a choice, even if it is hard, because it's right...

The people who play paladins correctly (yes there is a correct way to be a paladin)...
The problem here from a Narrativist perspective is that you've already settled on a single interpretation of 'what the right thing to do is.' The degree of sacrifice demanded is incidental- that's simply part of the definition of altruism. If your Paladin declined, he'd be a coward, but there wouldn't be significant disagreement about it.

What you're describing here is essentially Simulationist play, where you have been fortunate enough to play with a group that falls into a natural concensus on the interpretation of alignment and a correct code of conduct. Such play can be perfectly functional- but it isn't Narrativist. Why? -because you've already settled on a single consensual interpretation of moral agency as it applies to the game world.

If you're not putting your characters into situations where they could legitimately differ about 'what is the right thing to do?', then you are not playing in a Narrativist fashion. (This is not to say that the players will, should, or have to differ, but that they could- the potential for varying reactions must exist.) Moral or emotional questions with obviously correct solutions- even when sacrifice is involved- are, thematically speaking, dead. The dilemma needn't be strictly philosophical in nature- an invasion of ravening zombies will work just fine, provided that how the players can best deal with it is subject to varying interpretations. Maybe some want to go back to find loved ones, others want to hole up in the local supermarket, and others think making a break for some isolated island is the trick- even if they arrive at a concensus in time, the premise works insofar as it can provoke legitimate emotional conflict. If it doesn't, you don't have a story, and you can't have Narrativist play.
I'll give a few examples.

Destroy Sauron's Ring, the Ultimate Manifestation of Evil
OR
Don't

Is not an interesting ethical question- yet. You destroy the ring. -Obviously.

Destroy Sauron's Ring, the Ultimate Manifestation of Evil, even though it's really inconvenient
OR
Don't

Is STILL not an interesting ethical question. It's the ultimate manifestation of Evil- by definition, there is no valid argument you could make in it's favour of it's continued existence. It's sheer Evil outweighs any possible inconvenience involved in destroying it. Period.

Destroy Sauron's Ring, the Ultimate Manifestation of Evil
OR
Use that Evil as a temporary weapon against Itself, given that you're vastly outnumbered and the fate of the world is at stake,

IS an interesting ethical question! Now we're getting somewhere.

Voyage to Mordor alone, hoping that you have the resources to make it, and can resist the Ring's call
OR
Stay with the party, hoping that they can be trusted, and that you don't call down further danger upon them,

IS an interesting ethical question! And it splits the party, right down the middle! This is why the Lord of the Rings works as a story- the characters may be paper-thin, the dialogue wooden, and the writing dry or long-winded, but the essential premise is strong and stuck to consistently. It isn't, contrary to appearances, about Good vs Evil- this simply provides a steady supply of dispensable mooks and helps raise the stakes of other conflicts- it's about Pragmatism vs. Idealism, Loyalty to the Group vs. Loyalty to the Cause, etc. etc. etc- things that the characters involved can understandably disagree over. (Now, as the sole author of the story, Tolkien does come down in favour of one side of the issue or another, but that's not actually essential- Watchmen, for example, makes no such clear-cut indictments or endorsements of it's characters, and works equally well in dramatic terms. In either case, in Narrativist role-play, such judgements would and must be left to the individual players, as mediated through their characters.)

The other thing to bear in mind here when I say 'make personal sacrifices' is that I don't mean just 'physical endanger yourself for the duration of this combat,' 'lose half your accumulated gold' or even 'you are drained of 20,000 XP'- In the Narrativist scheme of things, those count as minor inconveniences at best, because they don't represent something of primary emotional importance to the character- they might suffice early on in play, when conflicts are just warming up, but by the time the character's story is reacing it's climax, 'sacrifice' comes to mean 'something that will genuinely scar you for life'.

A final point about Narrativist play- you can't have a preconceived storyline in mind, not without deprotagonising the characters. Force techniques are pure poison for Narrativist play, and vice versa-


Don't play "the story." The choices you present to the PCs have to be real choices, which means that you can't possibly know already which way they'll choose. You can't have plot points in mind beforehand, things like "gotta get the PCs up to that old cabin so they can witness Brother Ezekiel murder Sister Abigail..." No. What if the PCs reconcile Brother Ezekiel and Sister Abigail? You've wasted your time. Worse, what if, because you've invested your time, you don't let the PCs reconcile them?
You've robbed your players of the game.
You can't have a hero and a villain among your NPCs. It's the PCs' choices that make them so.

Remember how, at the end of character creation, you went "mmhmmm" like the good doctor? Here's where you angle the game to hit those issues. In the town just past, what were the characters about? What positions did they take? Which sinners did they judge harshly, and which did they show mercy? What did they say, I mean really say, about themselves and others?
Your goal in the next town is to take the characters' judgements and push them a little bit further. Say that in this past town, one of the characters came down clearly on the side of "every sinner deserves another chance." In the next town, you'll want to reply with "even this one? Even this sinner?" Or say that another character demonstrated the position that "love is worth breaking the rules for." You can reply with "is this love worth breaking the rules for too? Is love worth breaking this rule for?"
But Dogs isn't abstract or academic! This love, this sinner, this law- those are real people, real characters- I mean in real, concrete situations. Create the people and the situations, don't just pose the question in some sort of theoretical way.
Most importantly, don't have an answer already in mind.
-Dogs in the Vineyard (http://www.lumpley.com/dogsources.html)

Yora
2009-08-31, 06:47 AM
Assuming that they have a good, wise DM, a player who chooses to play a paladin and willfully falls is:

A) Preparing their character for Blackguard status
B) Setting themselves up for some sort of epic storyline atonement
C) Mistaken about the character they wanted to play
D) Enjoying to subvert stereotypes and characters that don't abide to the ideal type to add depth to the game world.

You can start as a paladin who likes and respects the way of the paladin. But because of the things the character sees and that happen to him, he can realize that sometime breaking his oaths and turning to another way, may be in the interest of a greater good. After all, their oaths are set by a higher, but not the surpreme power. Sometimes a lawful good church, a deity, or even the cosmic principle of Law and Good could be mistaken.

Of course, this probably happens mostly to players, who usually prefer to play chaotic characters. :smallbiggrin:

Samurai Jill
2009-08-31, 07:17 AM
Now, what if they took the Good path seven times, and the Neutral path the rest of the times? They'd be good, since for the most part they were doing the right thing.

In essence, a paladin's actions should never focus on what will cause them to fall, because they should never consider the personal costs for their actions, only the possible good that those actions can create.
Again, I think the fundamental problem here is that you're assuming that discerning 'good' outcomes in advance is a trivial undertaking. Being able to do that reliably is absolutely fine for Simulationist play, but directly undercuts Narrativist play.

You know what I think the main problem is? Detect Evil (or Smite with a nonlethal weapon for the clever ones). It ends the debate for the character- if someone is evil, by definition they're premeditating evil acts. They wouldn't be evil if they wouldn't do something harmful for personal gain if the opportunity arises- and it's pretty clear that the opportunity for such will always arise eventually.
Again, there's no problem with this approach provided you're playing in a straightforwardly Gamist fashion. But I agree, it raises significant problems outside of that context.


In theory, it's all well and nice to talk about a Paladin that falls, sucks it up, and keeps on questing for holiness and good anyway. In fact, that doesn't happen; because as soon as a Paladin loses all of its class features, the chance of failure in his quest to destroy evil jumps monumentally.
In essence, yes. From a dramatic perspective, the purpose of the Paladin is really, if I might paraphrase, "either die a hero or live long enough to see themselves become the villain". -and therein lies the whole problem. Sooner or later, in Narrativist play, you run out of middle ground.

The thing is though, how can the paladin's moral quandary be interesting if there was never a hard choice to make, that every so often, you NEED to let that character fall from grace in order for them to grow? So yeah, Jill's got it right on the narrativist paladin. They pretty much exist to lose their faith so they can climb back out of it...
Mechanically, this means the system needs to accommodate a player who makes the choice of letting their character fall for the sake of character development.
Yeah, I guess there's always that option. Metagame-heavy Narrativist play could allow for this sort of rebound, because metagame resources earned through role-play (i.e, Artha, Spiritual Attributes,) could compensate substantially for penalties to the character's mechanical effectiveness... I'm not sure, though.

This whole OP is well written, but this exactly captures the OD&D alignment system. As D&D was being cobbled together as an extension to fantasy minatures combat, the players needed a way to tell which side was which. In a typical tabletop miniatures battle, there's no moral ambiguity and no need of any: forces are friendly, neutral, or enemy - done. You can tell by their uniforms...
If, as some would argue, Paladins are actually weaker than fighters in 3.5, then significant moral restrictions on a paladin's behavior as a "trade off" for being weaker is a bit of a head-scratcher to begin with.
4E is essentially a very well-done Gamist RPG design, and has accordingly de-emphasised the importance of the alignment system (don't play Evil PCs, looser restrictions on Paladin conduct, etc.) Give it a shot. :)

Kaiyanwang
2009-08-31, 07:18 AM
This reminds me of one guy who played a paladin of freedom (much closer to what an actual paladin should be, IMO).

Maybe because you are CG, W. :smalltongue:

Foryn Gilnith
2009-08-31, 07:24 AM
In essence, yes. From a dramatic perspective, the purpose of the Paladin is really, if I might paraphrase, "either die a hero or live long enough to see themselves become the villain". -and therein lies the whole problem. Sooner or later, in Narrativist play, you run out of middle ground.

Ah. Good point. I suppose I need to think like a paladin more. Charging ahead to martyrdom would be a reasonable response.

4E muddled the whole law-chaos axis in a way I am very, very uncomfortable with. I'd rather they just knocked off the alignment system altogether (and I'm a fan of D&D alignment as a mechanical construct) If they're not basing rules like Holy Word or Smite Evil off of alignment, there's not really much need for it.

Starbuck_II
2009-08-31, 08:01 AM
You don't make a rogue and always run around with a weapon that can't be used for sneak attack damage. You shouldn't play a paladin if you can't accept and fulfill the moral obligations (Unless see A or B above).

Wait, what edition are we 2nd or 4th?
Because in 3rd any weapon works. Even a Balista :smallbiggrin:


A good paladin looks at the sacrifice he will have to make and say, "Look how cool I am. I took one for the team. And things are better because of it. I'm proud of the fact that I looked evil in the face and made it choke on a pound of my own flesh." THAT'S what makes games memorable. THAT'S what makes games fun. Not so much the outcome, but what you went through to achieve it. No player wants to save the world by pushing a button. They want to hurt so they know its real.

I do want to save the world by pushing as button. But then of us some Paladins don't like to fall.

elliott20
2009-08-31, 08:35 AM
Yeah, I guess there's always that option. Metagame-heavy Narrativist play could allow for this sort of rebound, because metagame resources earned through role-play (i.e, Artha, Spiritual Attributes,) could compensate substantially for penalties to the character's mechanical effectiveness... I'm not sure, though.

Well, I was thinking more of the lines of saying, if your actions speak towards developing that particular plot point, bonuses all around. So yeah, in essence, Artha for playing a fallen paladin, and more artha for finally redeeming yourself.

I think that would be one of the better solutions, or else you'll end just mechanically gimping the character. Now, some players will go for that, especially players who have a high emphasis on narrativism. But gamist players will cry foul if they have to gimp themselves for the sake of a story.

Zombimode
2009-08-31, 08:41 AM
D) Enjoying to subvert stereotypes and characters that don't abide to the ideal type to add depth to the game world.

You can start as a paladin who likes and respects the way of the paladin. But because of the things the character sees and that happen to him, he can realize that sometime breaking his oaths and turning to another way, may be in the interest of a greater good. After all, their oaths are set by a higher, but not the surpreme power. Sometimes a lawful good church, a deity, or even the cosmic principle of Law and Good could be mistaken.

Of course, this probably happens mostly to players, who usually prefer to play chaotic characters. :smallbiggrin:

Sorry, to me this doesnt make a lick of sense.

What I read is:
Sometimes, a Paladin has to break its oaths to fullfill its oaths.

This contradicts itself and is therefore not possible.

Tangent: if the cosmic principle of Law and Good is mistaken about Law and Good, it wasnt the cosmic principle of Law (btw. Law is construction of the human society to help embracing Good, not a virtue by itself) and Good in the first place.


To one of the OPs points:

The conflict a Paladins player has to face does not necessarily lead to his charakters fall.
Because, as outlined, a choice between Doing the Right Thing & Fall and Refrain from Doing the Right Thing & not Fall is not conceivable.
Instead the conflict the player can face is, that Doing the Right Thing is in some cases the hardest (read most uncomfortable) thing to do. For this, the Paladin needs courage and bravery, willingness for sacrifice and selflessness, and other virtues.
The mistake some players make seem to be assuming that a paladin is morally perfect, in the sense that they dont have to work to gain these virtues and qualities. I deem this untrue.
They are primarily humans (or whatever race they pretend to be), and as physical beings the self concern has a primat over ethics. Ethics enter the picture with the realization the one is not alone in the world.
Now, one can choose to be concerned with ethics on regular basis. They try to overcome there selfish nature and evalueate their actions on their effects on society, the world at large, or what you have. We call this people in D&D treminology "Good" (I wont bother with the Law-Chaos axis, thats another topic).
Two of Rich charakters are very good models of the two kinds of Good people, namely the Paladins and the non-Paladins.
The first being O-Chul, the later being Roy. Both are good, so now what is the difference between those two?
Roy gives himself a break from time to time. Fate isnt exactly generous with his life and sometimes hes just fed up with this sh*t, gets angry and just want to break stuff (when he looks forward to beat the crap out of Nale, because he looks like Elan), or an oportunity arises that seem to improve his own comfort he gives in (like when Elan got captured and he didnt care). That doesnt make him un-good. But those are exaclty the types of challanges and conflicts a believable Paladin would and should face.
O-Chul on the other hand doesnt give himself a break (in most cases; there shouldnt be any absolutes). In all those cases where Roy abondened his moral standarts, O-Chuls sucked it up and kept going. But not without struggle, as he insnt exactly happy (in the "fun" and "comfortable" senses of the word). Both Roy and O-Chul are variations of one charakter type ("the good guy"), and both present great storytelling and roleplay oportunities, with no "fall" whatsoever occuring.

Of course, that doesnt mean, there arent possiblities of challange for a Paladin player which entails a Fall. I think both are on equal footing.

potatocubed
2009-08-31, 08:52 AM
I think the problem with paladins in D&D is that they have to follow a deontological moral code in a morally utilitarian world.

And that never works.

SurlySeraph
2009-08-31, 11:47 AM
That doesn't preclude them from being wrong, regardless it doesn't affect the demarcation of evil deeds ... the gray guard can recover easier from justifying the means with the cause, but he still falls.

Even if the cost is lower the universe seems to know something he doesn't :)


Oh, absolutely. A Gray Guard or Shadowbane Inquisitor who breaks his code falls just like any other paladin does, and any DM who doesn't have him fall is doing it wrong. The point of the classes is that since they were doing evil for the greater good, they can either return to the truly pure path with little effort (GG) or keep using holy abilities even though they've strayed from absolute good (SI). Evil is evil, but it can be done to further good.


They get to keep their own smite, but those don't even stack with Smite Evil ... where does it say that his Paladin code is relaxed if he has Paladin class levels?

I've generally seen the SI's "keeps its abilities even if it changes from Lawful Good" clause interpreted as meaning the SI keeps its paladin or cleric abilities even if it changes alignment - though even if that's incorrect, its own abilities are obviously very paladin-ish.


Wait, what edition are we 2nd or 4th?
Because in 3rd any weapon works. Even a Balista :smallbiggrin:

Things I'm no longer allowed to do while gaming #296: I cannot make called shots with a crew served weapon. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=29508)

woodenbandman
2009-08-31, 12:23 PM
I think also one of the things that many DMs fail to accept is that the entity that grants a paladin his powers is generally a reasonable guy. Who can probably see the future, and knows that the paladin can't. It starts with a warning, a "consider the consequences of your actions, such and such might happen" and if the paladin does it anyway, he still probably wouldn't auto-fall (after all, if the deity has to tell you about this, it's probably morally ambiguous to begin with).

PinkysBrain
2009-08-31, 12:27 PM
Paladins only get their spellcasting from gods (in settings which have them) everything else though is from a higher power than the gods.

Kalirren
2009-08-31, 07:24 PM
How does the Paladin thing fit into GNS at all? The key concept of GNS theory is that there are different playing modes which don't mesh well together. But even within each GNS mode, assuming these exist in a meaningful manner at all, the paladin class has problems.

From what Edwards would call a Gamist perspective, the paladin class is alternatively a problem or a non-issue, because it is weak. The set of party niches that could be filled by a paladin pales in comparison to the set that could be filled by a fighter-cleric mutliclass, (or even just a straight cleric,) which makes it a problem. An uncompromising Gamist would say that the paladin class isn't worth bothering with - after all, why would anyone want to make one, if it's just going to be weaker than something else they could have made? And if no one ever makes one, then why would it ever come up in an actual game? Hence it might even become a non-issue.

From what Edwards would call a Narrativist perspective, the paladin class fails because the class mechanics actively discourage exploration of the class premise. I agree with you completely here.

There's nothing really Simulationist about the Paladin class over and above what there is for any class, so Simulationism isn't really an issue. What would there be for the class to simulate, anyway? The extremely well-spelled-out "falling guidelines" you suggest would share the existing problem from a Simulationist angle; they would both be equivalent to reducing the favors of deities in a typical high-fantasy setting to automata. I think that's absurd. If there's anything to simulate, it's the different abilities and powers that different gods grant to their faithful, which makes it obvious that the Paladin as written is merely one instance of a more general class (so a Simulationist like me would say.) I would then go on to design paladins of other faiths and ethoi, and then roll them all up into one uber-class from which one could never really "fall," but which instead has many different interconvertible archetypes.

My point here is, given that pure Gamists, pure Narrativists, and pure Simulationists would all say that the Paladin class has problems anyway, I fail to see how it can be shown that the Paladin class's problems are rooted in GNS mode incompatibility.

Starbuck_II
2009-08-31, 07:30 PM
That was pretty well argued.

You get a cookie! Or at least a roach!
:roach:

Kalirren
2009-08-31, 07:35 PM
Ooh! A roach? For me? Yay! :smallredface:

*eats the roach*

yum! :smallbiggrin:

elliott20
2009-08-31, 09:43 PM
the roach's name is Freddy... he was a good friend.

Frosty
2009-08-31, 10:09 PM
This is one of the things that, in my opinion, makes the paladin cool. His uncompromising belief structure. What does a lawful good fighter lose if he does something morally questionable? Nothing. What does a paladin lose? The respect and support of a god. If a god had MY back, I'd do whatever I needed to do to keep that support.

Yeah, this would be good and all...if the support of the god actually meant something, but the class abilities of a Paladin suck. I am sucking AND I have a straight-jacket? No thanks.

Oslecamo
2009-09-01, 03:41 AM
More generally, there's the fact that the Blood War should be an ever-escalating spiral of goodness as fiends kill fiends killing fiends killing fiends...


What fact? Perhaps the actual fact that the Blood War is nothing more than a pastime for fiends, and they actually spend most of their time fighting the forces of good while corrupting mortals, eating babies and stuff.

The devils themselves have limited numbers, yet they only apply a tiny weenie fraction of those numbers on the Blood War. They see it as nothing more than a training ground at best or pest(demon) control at worst.

Fiends kill fiends now and then yes, but most of the time they're killing/torturing/raping other stuff, so they end up as evil.

Really, doing a good deed now and then isn't gonna make you good if you're eating babies at all your meals while killing puppies at worktime.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-01, 07:23 AM
What fact? Perhaps the actual fact that the Blood War is nothing more than a pastime for fiends, and they actually spend most of their time fighting the forces of good while corrupting mortals, eating babies and stuff.
Morality-based-on-consequences might support that viewpoint, but morality-based-on-motives or morality-based-on-ideals would render the issue moot: the fiends aren't killing eachother out of self-defence or in order to protect innocents, so the amount of moral credit they get for destroying another sentient being is exactly zero, if not negative (particularly if they're adding gratuitous torture or brutality into the mix.) The rules never state what moral framework is being used here, so it's impossible to tell.


There's nothing really Simulationist about the Paladin class over and above what there is for any class, so Simulationism isn't really an issue.
It is an issue, insofar as the Simulationist player of a Paladin character is probably going to feel obliged to police the other PCs' morality, and the rules don't support that very well. 'Good' and 'Evil' are simply not meaningfully defined under current D&D rules, so when an entire class, in RP terms, revolves around extirpating the latter, you are practically begging for interplayer conflict.

...The extremely well-spelled-out "falling guidelines" you suggest would share the existing problem from a Simulationist angle; they would both be equivalent to reducing the favors of deities in a typical high-fantasy setting to automata. I think that's absurd.
Perhaps, but certainly no more absurd than the paladin's code of conduct at present- which includes lying, the use of poison, association with Evil characters, etc. etc. as unqualified grounds for loss of powers. Really, the whole 'the ends don't justify the means' ethos pervades the Paladin as a character concept so thoroughly that any more nuanced discussion of moral agency is unsuitable to begin with- the moral automaton approach is pretty-well mandatory.

My point here is, given that pure Gamists, pure Narrativists, and pure Simulationists would all say that the Paladin class has problems anyway, I fail to see how it can be shown that the Paladin class's problems are rooted in GNS mode incompatibility.
Basically, because these problems arose from a collision between the demands of players from each group- falling mechanics were neccesitated by Simulationists' demand that the class aproximate the 'shining knight' of arthurian myth, Gamists demanded a clear demarcation of friend and foe via the alignment system, and Narrativists in play demanded an active exploration of ethical conflict ultimately inimicable to both (as glimpsed in the BoED vis-a-vis the aforementioned succubus tryst.)

I'm otherwise fully in agreement with your post, but I would just point out that fixing the Gamist concern- raw stopping power in combat- is relatively easily fixed through homebrew and play-testing, and if that were the only problem, the Paladin would be an example of Abashed design, rather than outright Incoherence. It's the Nar/Sim conflict mixed in with all that which really murders the concept.

Saph
2009-09-01, 07:31 AM
I think the fundamental problem with the Paladin class is that they are, in essence, prime examples of GNS battlegrounds.

I think the fundamental problem with GNS theory is what you've demonstrated here: it produces vast walls of text of very little relevance to actual gameplay. There are issues with how one brings morals and ethics into gaming, but GNS theory doesn't really have anything useful to say about them.

Yora
2009-09-01, 07:34 AM
In my oppinion, it does not say anything relevant at all. Even supposed it does have some actual relation with reality.

Zombimode
2009-09-01, 12:52 PM
Perhaps, but certainly no more absurd than the paladin's code of conduct at present- which includes lying, the use of poison, association with Evil characters, etc. etc. as unqualified grounds for loss of powers. Really, the whole 'the ends don't justify the means' ethos pervades the Paladin as a character concept so thoroughly that any more nuanced discussion of moral agency is unsuitable to begin with- the moral automaton approach is pretty-well mandatory.


Just to point out: a code of conduct isnt a feature of the paladin in genral.
2e Paladins did explicity NOT have a code of conduct. So its just a thing 3e messed up and is easily ignored.

UserClone
2009-09-01, 12:58 PM
The fundamental problem with GNS theory is GNS theory doesn't really have anything useful to say.

Fixed that for you.

Yora
2009-09-01, 01:14 PM
Fixed that for you.

Ninja'd by five and a half hours. :smallconfused:

Foryn Gilnith
2009-09-01, 01:18 PM
You can say something useful without being relevant, and vice-versa.

No offense to the hard work Samurai jill has put in, but I have to join the sheep-chorus and say that GNS theory isn't particularly sound, nor does it offer many insights with practical application.

Yora
2009-09-01, 01:30 PM
In the end most of us do very well with saying there are Powergamers and Elf-chic-roleplayers, and a lot of things inbetween them. :smallbiggrin:

Samurai Jill
2009-09-01, 07:31 PM
We very rarely use diagrams and "hard" classifications. These are the domain of natural and economic science, but you see them very rarely in social sciences. Because frankly, human behaviour is more like a big constant continuum than sets of different "classes".
Classifications work only on a very very general and almost detail-free scale. If you want to apply it to individual cases, it's practically guaranteed to fail.
I agree, but the thing to bear in mind here is that, although individual human beings can have preferences/aptitudes for one or more of the GNS modes to varying degrees- and in that respect individuals do fall along a continuum of preferences- that (A) role-playing is not a solo activity, and (B) even if you only had one person to please, the demands of one GNS mode can actively interfere with those of another.

The key recommendation of GNS theory is to pick one mode and make it at least dominant during design, so that everyone playing can either 'get on the same page', or play a different RPG more suited to their tastes, and to ensure that you don't get friction in play as a result of the rules encouraging/demanding/emphasising contradictory things.

You can say something useful without being relevant, and vice-versa.
Actually, you can't.

No offense to the hard work Samurai jill has put in, but I have to join the sheep-chorus and say that GNS theory isn't particularly sound, nor does it offer many insights with practical application.
What are you going to do when your Simulationist/Narrativist-leaning player latches on to the alignment system and/or code of conduct and says- "that thief needs to stop looting bodies, or I will leave the party"? This is a direct result of GNS conflict stemming from incoherent design, and can be avoided by jettisoning aspects of the rules which don't accord with a given mode of play- How is this not an insight with practical implications?

I really don't know how to answer 'critiques' like this. We've been doing nothing but discuss practical implications throughout this thread. If you want the Paladin to function as a Narrativist character, you must avoid severe penalties in terms of character-effectiveness when/if their code of conduct is broken. You aren't even disagreeing on this point! ...I simply don't know how to answer this kind of non-sequitur.

The Neoclassic
2009-09-01, 07:40 PM
What are you going to do when your Simulationist/Narrativist-leaning player latches on to the alignment system and/or code of conduct and says- "that thief needs to stop looting bodies, or I will leave the party"? This is a direct result of GNS conflict stemming from incoherent design, and can be avoided by jettisoning aspects of the rules which don't accord with a given mode of play- How is this not an insight with practical implications?

Then you have them try to work out an IC solution, and if that doesn't work, discuss it OOC? The thief might do it behind the paladin's back in the future, or agree to give some of it to charity (if the paladin is the sort who'll compromise, which I realise many won't). Perhaps somehow the taint of death/evil can be removed from the looted items at a temple if the paladin is somehow concerned about taint. If both players enjoy roleplaying, the thief might even make an impassioned speech explaining how his behavior in no way contradicts the paladin's moral code, but in fact is the righteous use of items once used to spread evil. Now these items are being given to those who need them, those who rightfully earned them, and are turned towards good purposes, perhaps even helping fix some of the damage which their owner caused! If this remains a big issue, have more encounters with monsters or individuals who don't give much treasure, and make up for the thief and the party's losses in other areas, such as bounties, rewards from rulers or religious institutions, etc. If this STILL remains a problem with both players (or either player) unwilling to compromise at all ("I will never, ever allow anyone in the party to take an item from a dead creature" without a DAMN good explanation), then you need new players. Unless you like difficult ones that much. :smallamused:

I guess I don't see how knowing GNS theory helps one come up with such resolutions, or somehow resolves it (especially since its point is that different playing styles can't mesh or something like that? maybe?). Knowing your player's motivations and approaches is important, but I guess I've never needed three categories to plop them into to help me figure that out.

EDIT: If you're saying this is an issue of game design, I guess I've never run into the paladin's code where they state you can't allow your party members to loot the dead. Only thing I recall like that was Oriental Adventures mentioning that wasn't culturally acceptable for most Asian-flavored games.

Saph
2009-09-01, 07:55 PM
What are you going to do when your Simulationist/Narrativist-leaning player latches on to the alignment system and/or code of conduct and says- "that thief needs to stop looting bodies, or I will leave the party"? This is a direct result of GNS conflict stemming from incoherent design, and can be avoided by jettisoning aspects of the rules which don't accord with a given mode of play- How is this not an insight with practical implications?

It's not an insight because you don't need to buy into GNS theory to see the problem and you don't need to buy into GNS theory to solve the problem.

The problem is one of conflicting characters, which can be resolved in various ways, none of which require you to accept GNS theory as a model.

Milskidasith
2009-09-01, 07:58 PM
Simple solution to that problem: The local laws say that anybody who brings somebody to justice gets first dibs on their items.

But in all seriousness, I'm joining the choir. You don't need to use GNS theory to explain why a paladin wouldn't like the actions of the party.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-01, 07:58 PM
The problem is one of conflicting characters, which can be resolved in various ways, none of which require you to accept GNS theory as a model.

Then you have them try to work out an IC solution, and if that doesn't work, discuss it OOC?
By the time that becomes necessary, the damage is most likely already done- the players have already become emotionally involved in their characters-as-defined and the situation at hand to the point where they won't back down without serious fallout. Negotations like this are- at best- a waste of time, and at worst they can ruin friendships.
It's like the GM requiring a bored Gamist-inclined player to supply an IC rationale for all their decisions during play- if you have to resort to fiat, railroading or bribery at all, you really have bigger underlying defects to address.
The smart solution is to head off these problems before they start- during design.

Skorj
2009-09-01, 08:00 PM
You can say something useful without being relevant, and vice-versa.

No offense to the hard work Samurai jill has put in, but I have to join the sheep-chorus and say that GNS theory isn't particularly sound, nor does it offer many insights with practical application.

I just want to say that I've found it a profound model for the meta-game, and new to me. Good campaign design and fun play follows from understanding how your players will react to what you present them. As a DM, if my players surprise me in a way that makes the story worse, I have failed (the players surprising me in a way that makes the story better is what RPGs are for, as opposed to novels or table-top wargames).

This is a helpful model for understanding how players who game for reasons different from mine are going to react to my game, and how I can make my game more appealing and immersive.


More on-topic, I think that the ability to hybridize Narritive and Gamist play is not only possible, it's a very important part of DMing. Creating a story with interesting decisions for the players to make (ethical, or simply practical), while preserving an interesting and level-appropriate sequence of challanges regardless of the path the players take is hard, but not unreasonably so in a sandbox world. Also, it's a lot of what good DMing is about.

Saph
2009-09-01, 08:06 PM
The smart solution is to head off these problems before they start- during design.

Or you, y'know, have the players talk to each other during character creation.

"Don't have a party of incompatible characters" is not a difficult concept and does not require several pages of theory to explain.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-01, 08:13 PM
Or you, y'know, have the players talk to each other during character creation.

"Don't have a party of incompatible characters" is not a difficult concept and does not require several pages of theory to explain.
Then why would you include an alignment system whose sole purpose is to foster inter-faction conflict between players of different alignments, then mandate that different classes maintain specific alignment choices or face mechanical penalties to their effectiveness in conflict? The sole purpose of the alignment system, from a Narrativist perspective, is to foster incompatibility!

Saph
2009-09-01, 08:59 PM
Then why would you include an alignment system whose sole purpose is to foster inter-faction conflict between players of different alignments

Please find me the sentence in the D&D Players' Handbook where it says "The sole purpose of the alignment system is to foster inter-faction conflict between players of different alignments." When you've found it, give me the page reference.


The sole purpose of the alignment system, from a Narrativist perspective, is to foster incompatibility!

Then maybe you should stop using a Narrativist perspective. It doesn't seem to be producing very accurate conclusions.

The New Bruceski
2009-09-01, 09:08 PM
I prefer the XDM style of classifying players:
--Kill it. (Hack N Slash)
--Talk to it. (RP)
--Solve it. (Puzzles and "winning" through system mastery)

ANY class can be used by any of those roles (though each tends towards certain ones in a given system.) The problem isn't matching the wrong style of game-play to the class, but matching the wrong style to the player. An Xtreme DM knows the styles of his players, and keeps everyone involved, watching whose attention is wandering and bringing in their strengths to get their brain on the game.

--A Solver Paladin falls when he stretches the rules too far, a boundary he knows. Atonement is clear, and part of the game.
--A Talker Paladin probably falls by her own design, as part of the character. She'll atone for it and come back to the class in her own time.
--A Killer Paladin probably doesn't fall unless he gets too caught up in things and needs to be snapped out of it. It should be temporary, because turning into a sub-par fighter is a downer for the Killer.

FeAnPi
2009-09-02, 01:35 AM
If we belive that a model depicts reality, for us that model will became the final answer and solution to all our matters regarding the situations treated by the model.

However, this does not mean:

1) that our model is true;

2) that our model is the best one;

3) that our model proposes the best solutions.


Rather, we should respect the others, and don't call "not smart" the others' solutions and "smart" your ones.
Because this is called integralism, and it does not produce the horrible effect of political and religious integralisms just because games are not as important as politics and religion in our society. But the forma mentis is the same.

UserClone
2009-09-02, 01:52 AM
I prefer the XDM style of classifying players:
--Kill it. (Hack N Slash)
--Talk to it. (RP)
--Solve it. (Puzzles and "winning" through system mastery)

ANY class can be used by any of those roles (though each tends towards certain ones in a given system.) The problem isn't matching the wrong style of game-play to the class, but matching the wrong style to the player. An Xtreme DM knows the styles of his players, and keeps everyone involved, watching whose attention is wandering and bringing in their strengths to get their brain on the game.

--A Solver Paladin falls when he stretches the rules too far, a boundary he knows. Atonement is clear, and part of the game.
--A Talker Paladin probably falls by her own design, as part of the character. She'll atone for it and come back to the class in her own time.
--A Killer Paladin probably doesn't fall unless he gets too caught up in things and needs to be snapped out of it. It should be temporary, because turning into a sub-par fighter is a downer for the Killer.

Which reminds me, I seriously need to get a move on buying that book.

Xenogears
2009-09-02, 02:08 AM
You can say something useful without being relevant, and vice-versa.


Actually, you can't.

Yes yes you can. Drinking expired milk is bad. That is something useful but not at all relevant. Paladin is spelled P-A-L-A-D-I-N is relevant but not useful to the discussion.

Aik
2009-09-02, 05:55 AM
This thread was going quite well until the let's-poop-on-theory crowd got heavily involved. If you're not here to discuss the topic and just want to dismiss its foundations without any thought ... go away?

The Neoclassic
2009-09-02, 07:37 AM
Please find me the sentence in the D&D Players' Handbook where it says "The sole purpose of the alignment system is to foster inter-faction conflict between players of different alignments." When you've found it, give me the page reference.

Yeah...


By the time that becomes necessary, the damage is most likely already done- the players have already become emotionally involved in their characters-as-defined and the situation at hand to the point where they won't back down without serious fallout. Negotations like this are- at best- a waste of time, and at worst they can ruin friendships.
It's like the GM requiring a bored Gamist-inclined player to supply an IC rationale for all their decisions during play- if you have to resort to fiat, railroading or bribery at all, you really have bigger underlying defects to address.
The smart solution is to head off these problems before they start- during design.

Actually, I don't tend to play with people who get so emotionally involved in the game that they can't handle any attempts at compromise. Maybe that makes me unusual or something, but from my experience, such negotiations are absolutely not a waste of time. Like I said, any player who is so offended that I dare ask them to work to make things work with another because it might slightly affect exactly how they want to play their character... isn't someone I want to play with or DM for at all.

Yes, it would be better to address this during character development. But sometimes it won't work that way (you act like only someone with a total lack of foresight would ever have interplayer/character conflicts arise during the game, which simply isn't true). That's why you need to be aware of what your players want out of the game and each other. Again, putting sticky labels on them... What would that help? "Oh, well, you are a narrativist and so want to cause confict with different alignments, but you are a gamist so you don't want to think about it that much... I guess we can't play together!" Or is the idea to force everyone to follow a certain way of playing? I personally think that recognizing what each player wants and coming up with a reasonable compromise would work quite well for most mature groups of players, who realize that not everything can be their way all the time. Maybe a few groups of players prefer not being able to play with certain friends or groups because they have the wrong sticky note label on them and hence must be incompatible, since compromise would hurt someone's feelings too much, but I guess I haven't run into any such people yet.

Raum
2009-09-02, 07:40 AM
If you're not here to discuss the topic and just want to dismiss its foundations without any thought ... go away?Wow. In the interests of attempting to understand, you're saying you only want to talk to people who agree with you?

The Neoclassic
2009-09-02, 07:44 AM
This thread was going quite well until the let's-complain-about-the-theory crowd got heavily involved. If you're not here to discuss the topic and just want to dismiss its foundations without any thought ... go away?

"Without any thought" is extremely inaccurate, as I think some (though not all) of the detractors have been attempting to explain why it isn't a good example in this situation. Or why it doesn't work in general. If it was just snarky comments, you'd have a point, but that is simply not the case so... nope. Not going to be shoo'd off. Thanks though.

That said, if any of the rest of you non-GNS folks have much interest, I think I'll start a thread looking at similar issues and how to resolve it from a non-GNS standpoint. The opening post will probably focus on compromise and understanding one's players as opposed to fundamental incompatibilities, still talking about paladins and views of the alignment system. That would allow the pro-GNS people to allow their praise to continue uninterrupted and allow us to be more productive as we'll spend less time nay-saying and more time coming up with (far more awesome) solutions. :smallwink:

Samurai Jill
2009-09-02, 08:44 AM
Please find me the sentence in the D&D Players' Handbook where it says...
Of course the authors didn't say it explicitly, because they didn't realise it themselves. That's what incoherent design is- not realising that the features you've inserted either don't complement or actively contradict eachother. Law and Chaos, leave alone Good and Evil, are defined as being diametrically opposed in the most fundamental way- if they don't find themselves in serious disagreement, you are by definition not role-playing correctly. (Yes, there are also in-text descriptions of each alignment, but a strict interpretation of those allows characters to be simultaneously Lawful AND Chaotic.)

I mean, honestly- if you don't want players to jump to the conclusion that Law means 'abides by standards of legal convention and honourable conduct and therefore frowns upon, e.g, everything rogues typically do'- then maybe you should call it something other than, I don't know- LAW!

This isn't to say that emotional conflict between PCs can't be an enjoyable and even central aspect of play, when the rules are honed for the purpose- why, there's even a term (http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/glossary/alphabetical/B.html) for it: Blood Opera. -Guess what that's about?

But you can't combine interplayer conflict with a purported emphasis on efficient teamwork against well-defined external foes. That is, plain and simple, a disaster in the making (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Descent).

Besides, the idea of 'don't make incompatible characters' assumes that you can easily forsee how characters will come into conflict. It also assumes that characters don't change. If you're really challenging those characters on an emotional level, if you're presenting your players with genuine choices- in short, if you are playing in a Narrativist fashion- then there is no way to guarantee that. The alignment system, for practical intents and purposes, encourages this, but all the rest of the rules either don't complement or are actively incompatible with such play. That's incoherent design.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-02, 08:52 AM
Like I said, any player who is so offended that I dare ask them to work to make things work with another because it might slightly affect exactly how they want to play their character... isn't someone I want to play with or DM for at all.
Because you have fundamentally different goals in mind! You're dealing with Simulationist or Narrativist players who are stuck in a Gamist campaign! OF COURSE they won't be compatible! -That's the whole point! But that's not the players' fault. They simply latched on to whatever aspects of an incoherent RPG design appealed to them, and quietly assumed that 'playing your characters without compromise' was what role-playing was "really about". They're just as much the victims here as everyone else.

"Oh, well, you are a narrativist and so want to cause confict with different alignments, but you are a gamist so you don't want to think about it that much... I guess we can't play together!"
EXACTLY!

Yora
2009-09-02, 09:12 AM
But in all seriousness, I'm joining the choir. You don't need to use GNS theory to explain why a paladin wouldn't like the actions of the party.

What does GNS theory claim to contribute anyway? That some people play RPGs as games of numbers and maths, others focus on acting out an entertaining story, and others like to play out how people would realistically act in a world with different laws of nature?
That much I can follow, but is there any more to it? And if, what is it good for to have such a model?

Kris Strife
2009-09-02, 09:17 AM
I mean, honestly- if you don't want players to jump to the conclusion that Law means 'abides by standards of legal convention and honourable conduct and therefore frowns upon, e.g, everything rogues typically do'- then maybe you should call it something other than, I don't know- LAW!

Wow... So you play all paladins as having a stick and all rouges as seedy criminals? Let me guess, all your fighters have velcro armor cause lacing was too hard, your wizards are old men with beards to their toes, clerics do nothing but 'Preach the Gospel' while spamming heals and turn undeads, you have hippie druids and your monks all look like cheesy kung fu action flick extras with bad lip synch?

Samurai Jill
2009-09-02, 09:27 AM
Wow... So you play all paladins as having a stick and all rouges as seedy criminals?..
Me, personally? No. But it's ridiculous to claim that the rules don't encourage this kind of dysfunction. Any rules which plant the idea that 'you will come up with well-defined characters whose goals and beliefs are essentially in conflict' is going to lead to problems of this sort. I mean, look what it took to get Bud White and Ed Exley to work together in L.A. Confidential (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.A._Confidential_(film))- and those are both Lawful Good characters.

That much I can follow, but is there any more to it? And if, what is it good for to have such a model?
Basically, to a first approximation, don't mix-and-match rules which complement more than one such mode of play. You'll either send mixed messages to players within a given group, leading to disagreements, and/or the rules will actively interfere with eachother. System Does Matter (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/system_does_matter.html).

Yora
2009-09-02, 09:33 AM
Well, I can see how I want to keep gamist tendencies low in my games, that's the reason behind my conscious descision to not use the Complete books in D&D.

But I wouldn't want to miss either narativistic or simulationist aspects in my game. One without the other seems rather pointless to me.

Kris Strife
2009-09-02, 09:36 AM
Me, personally? No. But it's ridiculous to claim that the rules don't encourage this kind of dysfunction. Any rules which plant the idea that 'you will come up with well-defined characters whose goals and beliefs are essentially in conflict' is going to lead to problems of this sort. I mean, look what it took to get Bud White and Ed Exley to work together in L.A. Confidential (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.A._Confidential_(film))- and those are both Lawful Good characters.

Basically, to a first approximation, don't mix-and-match rules which complement more than one such mode of play. You'll either send mixed messages to players within a given group, leading to disagreements, and/or the rules will actively interfere with eachother. System Does Matter (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/system_does_matter.html).

And where does it say Rouges have to break the law or be anything but lawful good? You could easily play a lawful good rouge. Rather than picking locks to steal stuff, he could be the town lock smith, and learned sneak attack because, lets face it, if you're the person who built the locks, people will come after you to force you to open them. He could infiltrate the meetings of underground cults and such to find out what they're up to an alert the church, or free POWs.

A paladin can be a bitter, battle weary warrior, who complains about having to save the same group of people from the exact same group of bandits for the 3rd time this week (on a wednesday no less) because they keep letting them off with warnings, or fighting off vampire spawn because 'Dear old granddad's not evil, he's just... eccentric!' He could be te one who trails the scouting party of orcs back to their camp to take out the lot of them or tell his party where they are. (detect evil would come in handy in the woods)

You can play a rouge like your stereotypical theif, or you can play him like Batman. You can play you paladin with a sequoia up the back side, or play him like O-chul or any of the OotS paladins that aren't Miko.

Yora
2009-09-02, 09:44 AM
True, but it's also a truth that in D&D, Paladins are given a set of certain rules of behaviour to follow.
Of course, you can ignore that part of the class and make of it whatever you want. But the designers wrote it, as if they wanted you to not make use of this possible freedom.

The problem here is not, that the character is a paladin, but that D&D as written has a game-rule that restricts what a paladin can be.

Saph
2009-09-02, 09:54 AM
Of course the authors didn't say it explicitly, because they didn't realise it themselves

Or maybe they didn't say it because it isn't true.


That's incoherent design.

*shrug* I'm getting the strong impression that what you call "incoherent design" is probably something I quite enjoy. The whole reason I like D&D is because it has a lot of "incoherent" elements all together. Actually, I suspect that's one of the reasons it's successful - to different people it can be different things.

And stop with the massive exaggeration of problems. Oh no, characters with different moral codes can disagree with each other! Clearly, the whole campaign is going to collapse! You take something that would take under five minutes to sort out and blow it into some sort of apocalypse.

The Neoclassic
2009-09-02, 09:54 AM
Because you have fundamentally different goals in mind! You're dealing with Simulationist or Narrativist players who are stuck in a Gamist campaign! OF COURSE they won't be compatible! -That's the whole point! But that's not the players' fault. They simply latched on to whatever aspects of an incoherent RPG design appealed to them, and quietly assumed that 'playing your characters without compromise' was what role-playing was "really about". They're just as much the victims here as everyone else.

EXACTLY!

So, the essence of GNS theory is that people should not and cannot compromise, and that not wanting to compromise isn't someone's fault? :smallconfused: All right then, I'm off to start a pro-compromise thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=123602), because I absolutely have no interest in a system which says players must get stuck in a rut and any attempt to compromise is wrong. Different goals are not necessarily incompatible unless they involve directly interfering with another player's fun. I've had very roleplaying-oriented players, and players who fall into all three categories, and none of them have ever allowed their personal preference to destroy any hopes of playing together. If the point of the theory is "You cannot and should not ever play or work together," then it doesn't seem to have much use beyond that statement, now does it? :smallannoyed:

EDIT: Compromise thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=123602)link added. I encourage those of you who disagree with the foundational, anti-compromise assumption of GNS theory to come join it and leave the people who want to discuss the intricacies of GNS to go about with fewer interruptions. Likewise, perhaps don't clog up the compromise thread with "You can never play together! Compromise is bad!". Or else we'll end up with two threads dedicated to argument rather than two which are productive. Or is this hopeless because different people will have different approaches to how threads and arguments should be handled? :smallwink:

Kyeudo
2009-09-02, 12:11 PM
While I don't agree that it is impossible to compromise and make things work, Samurai Jill has done a good job of pointing out the gaping flaws in the paladin's design.

I mean, look at it: It has flaws from all three perspectives. It does a poor job of simulating the variety of possible holy warriors out there (at least until you add in Unearthed Arcana, and then it does a somewhat better job), it doesn't have any particular apeal to gamists because a fighter is just as good at killing evil (paldin is a 2-5 level dip for optimizers, and only for charisma maxing builds), and it screws over the narativist because if they go too far and fall (ending up a NPC warrior in essence) they have to make their way to atonement without any class features. "Fallen holy warrior" is not a concept that can mechanically work in D&D, at least not with an actual paladin.

If the paladin had been designed with a better eye for gamists, it would be able to stand toe to toe with a fighter (at the least) when dealing with something not evil. If it had been better made for simulationists, the paladin of good only or law only would exist, as well as variant paladins for individual gods (why should warriors dedicated to Pelor work anything like the warleaders devoted to Heironious, after all?) And if a better eye had been given to narativists, there would be options for what to do after a fall other than "attone" or "become a blackguard."

The Neoclassic
2009-09-02, 12:35 PM
I mean, look at it: It has flaws from all three perspectives. It does a poor job of simulating the variety of possible holy warriors out there (at least until you add in Unearthed Arcana, and then it does a somewhat better job), it doesn't have any particular apeal to gamists because a fighter is just as good at killing evil (paldin is a 2-5 level dip for optimizers, and only for charisma maxing builds), and it screws over the narativist because if they go too far and fall (ending up a NPC warrior in essence) they have to make their way to atonement without any class features. "Fallen holy warrior" is not a concept that can mechanically work in D&D, at least not with an actual paladin.

If the paladin had been designed with a better eye for gamists, it would be able to stand toe to toe with a fighter (at the least) when dealing with something not evil. If it had been better made for simulationists, the paladin of good only or law only would exist, as well as variant paladins for individual gods (why should warriors dedicated to Pelor work anything like the warleaders devoted to Heironious, after all?) And if a better eye had been given to narativists, there would be options for what to do after a fall other than "attone" or "become a blackguard."

This I can actually appreciate. I only really appreciate the perspectives here in how they help look at flaws from different angles, but you do point out some very true problems. Of course, one could stick with the usual paladin (assuming a player who wasn't an extreme of any of these three views- and I think most people are a bit of a combination) and then tweak it based on the player's needs and wants, still keeping balance and acceptable flavor in mind. :smallsmile:

Samurai Jill
2009-09-03, 07:55 AM
And where does it say Rogues have to break the law or be anything but lawful good?
I imagine terms like, say, Rogue, plus Sneak Attack, Pick Locks, Hide, Move Silently, Bluff, Evasion, etc. etc. etc- all tend to give a cumulative impression of a furtive, ethically dubious character operating outside the bounds of legality, so-very-easily confused with Law. Especially given the fact that the class was expressly created to replicate the abilities of archetypal fantasy thieves. It's absurd to claim that a typical player is going to simply walk past all that and not get the wrong- or, depending on how you look at it- the right impression.

Yes, I imagine that an experienced player with no particular interest in Narrativist play could manage to bend the class into whatever pretzel-configuration would be required to sidestep potential frictions with classes and characters that revolve around enforcing truth and justice, but that doesn't mean the work is trivial, and the rules-as-presented do nothing to warn you that such measures would be required- and that means these frictions are going to arise among many, many groups. Don't blame the victim.

You're also avoiding my basic point- if Law and Chaos have any meaning within this setting, characters who embody those alignments are virtually guaranteed to find points of serious ideological disagreement. And if they don't have any meaning?... why are you using them?

Samurai Jill
2009-09-03, 08:07 AM
And stop with the massive exaggeration of problems. Oh no, characters with different moral codes can disagree with each other! Clearly, the whole campaign is going to collapse! You take something that would take under five minutes to sort out and blow it into some sort of apocalypse.
It can take five minutes to sort out provided the players don't really care about it in the fist place. If they DO care about it, it is both unlikely and profoundly unfair that they should distort their character's agenda to fit with the ideal of cooperative teamwork.

If you have been lucky enough to play with a group that never ran into these problems, great for you- but anecdotes like this are absolutely rife throughout the hobby.

Please consider comparing a few systems yourself before reacting too strongly to this essay. I do respect your opinion, but it's fair to consider how many role-playing games you have actually, truly played. That is, real stories and sessions with characters the players created and cared about, not demos at a tournament or running a quick combat. I suspect that those of us who've played more than five or ten RPGs in a committed fashion will agree that "system doesn't matter" is a myth.


Different goals are not necessarily incompatible unless they involve directly interfering with another player's fun.
But they DO! Asking a Simulationist player to behave in a way that is simply unnatural from their characters' perspective- because that would spoil the Gamist's ideal of efficient teamwork- IS directly interfering with the former's fun! That's the whole point!

The rules also include no mechanism for adjudicating disputes like this- there's no equivalent to the Duel of Wits (http://www.burningwheel.org/wiki/images/e/e5/Dow_95_108.pdf) or other binding mechanisms for IC debate- so the real players have to hash it out using their real-world agendas. "Oh, just decide and have fun" simply makes the rules crappy and prone to bullying.

And some of these potential frictions are simply not possible to reconcile.

I suggest that in Sorcerer (Narrativist), the expectation is that the character will encounter functional limits of his or her behavioral profile, and eventually, will necessarily break one or more of the formal tenets as an expression of who he or she "is," or suffer for failing to do so... Breaking that role in a Sorcerer-esque fashion would, in [Simulationism], constitute something very like a breach of contract.
These demands are flatly impossible to reconcile. You cannot productively compromise on problems like this any more than you can compromise on "2 + 2" and "= 5".

If the point of the theory is "You cannot and should not ever play or work together," then it doesn't seem to have much use beyond that statement, now does it?
...What?

There are plenty of other Simulationists out there, and plenty of fellow Narrativists, and certainly no shortage of like-minded Gamists. Where the hell are you getting this 'role-play is impossible' idea from?

It's even possible to have Simulationist-inclined or Narrativist-inclined folks play quite happily within mixed groups, as long as the rules make clear that the basic, dominant agenda of play is a specific GNS mode- that way, even players that would naturally lean the other way can at least get on the same page. In this case, if you don't want to mislead players about D&D's basic operating premise, chuck out the alignment system (or at least, stick to the reliable 'ol formula of 'kill me' and 'don't kill me' alignments.)

Saph
2009-09-03, 08:16 AM
It can take five minutes to sort out provided the players don't really care about it in the fist place.

Oh, rubbish. It doesn't require the players "not to care about it", it just requires them to have a bit of maturity. There are dozens of ways to resolve these sort of problems - you just need to be willing to compromise a little.


If you have been lucky enough to play with a group that never ran into these problems, great for you- but anecdotes like this are absolutely rife throughout the hobby.

I've played with a vast number of different groups. I've seen more inter-group arguments, fights, and disagreements than I can count. In every case that I can remember off the top of my head, serious frictions only arose when there were real-life issues between the players.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-03, 08:24 AM
More on-topic, I think that the ability to hybridize Narritive and Gamist play is not only possible, it's a very important part of DMing. Creating a story with interesting decisions for the players to make (ethical, or simply practical), while preserving an interesting and level-appropriate sequence of challanges regardless of the path the players take is hard, but not unreasonably so in a sandbox world. Also, it's a lot of what good DMing is about.
That's an interesting point you make, actually, since I've heard other players report something similar. The 'official position' is that Narrativism and Gamism don't exactly mix, but they don't actively conflict either, so most groups tend to drift toward one extreme or the other, (and within those, Gamist drift seems more common.)

On the one hand, what you describe seems entirely plausible, in that even heavily-Narrativist play has to involve some sort of adversity, and that adversity needs to be reasonably-surmountable. But, to my understanding, Gamist play also requires diversity in the tactics that could be used to deal with it.

The other point I'd be curious about is 'ethical vs. practical'- 'Ethical' implies you already have a morally correct solution in mind, and 'practical' suggests choosing it will negatively impact tactical efficiency in some fashion, which a Gamist player could be understandably averse to. I'm not certain that's really Narrativist play. I don't know, though- it's possible I'm missing out on the relevant specifics.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-03, 08:26 AM
I've played with a vast number of different groups. I've seen more inter-group arguments, fights, and disagreements than I can count. In every case that I can remember off the top of my head, serious frictions only arose when there were real-life issues between the players.
Then maybe they shouldn't have been (A) playing RPGs primed to bring those real-life issues to a head, because they (B) actively invite conflict between their characters and (C) offer no method of resolving that conflict short of real-world debate. Stop blaming the victims.

Kris Strife
2009-09-03, 08:54 AM
These demands are flatly impossible to reconcile. You cannot productively compromise on problems like this any more than you can compromise on "2 + 2" and "= 5".

Does anyone have the money to hire Stephan Hawking? :smallamused:

Saph
2009-09-03, 08:59 AM
Then maybe they shouldn't have been playing RPGs prime to bring those real-life issues to a head, because they (A) actively invite conflict between their characters and (B) leave no method of resolving that conflict short of real-world debate. Stop blaming the victims.

So now game systems that aren't approved of by GNS theory aren't only responsible for bad games, they're responsible for aggravating real-world social problems, too. And anyone who suggests otherwise is "blaming the victims". Uh huh.

I'm sorry, Jill, but I just can't take you seriously anymore.

kamikasei
2009-09-03, 09:07 AM
Then maybe they shouldn't have been (A) playing RPGs primed to bring those real-life issues to a head, because they (B) actively invite conflict between their characters and (C) offer no method of resolving that conflict short of real-world debate. Stop blaming the victims.

This seems unfair. If the only serious conflict is rooted in existing out-of-game conflict, then it doesn't seem like the game can be blamed. You seem to be saying that the game should be designed so that people sitting down to it with an existing beef with one another cannot find any pretext within it to give one another a hard time. That doesn't seem realistic to me.

Or to put it another way, if the problem is that the game "actively invites conflict" and "offers no [in-game] method of resolving that conflict", you wouldn't expect these factors to only become an issue if the players themselves are already in conflict.

UserClone
2009-09-03, 10:55 AM
I find it incredible that you say that Roy ever agreeing with Belkar (or heck, even Haley!) is poor role-playing. The alignment system is a guideline for how your character will generally behave. The game designer has never, and will never, dictate to me in any fashion, my character's every action. THAT would be poor role-playing.

Fax Celestis
2009-09-03, 11:01 AM
This just in: "GNS theory" is garbage. Can we talk about something that doesn't devolve into flame wars now?

Starbuck_II
2009-09-03, 11:17 AM
Don't get crazy rational, Fax.

There would be less threads if we followed that advice.

UserClone
2009-09-03, 11:19 AM
Don't get crazy rational, Fax.

There would be less almost no threads if we followed that advice.

Fixed for you. :smalltongue:

Thane of Fife
2009-09-03, 11:22 AM
I find it incredible that you say that Roy ever agreeing with Belkar (or heck, even Haley!) is poor role-playing. The alignment system is a guideline for how your character will generally behave. The game designer has never, and will never, dictate to me in any fashion, my character's every action. THAT would be poor role-playing.

Nobody has said that.

UserClone
2009-09-03, 11:26 AM
Nobody has said that.

Really?:smallconfused:


Law and Chaos, leave alone Good and Evil, are defined as being diametrically opposed in the most fundamental way- if they don't find themselves in serious disagreement, you are by definition not role-playing correctly.

Could've sworn I read that somewhere...:smallamused:

Thane of Fife
2009-09-03, 11:32 AM
Really?:smallconfused:



Could've sworn I read that somewhere...:smallamused:

That doesn't mean that they have to disagree with each other all the time.


if Law and Chaos have any meaning within this setting, characters who embody those alignments are virtually guaranteed to find points of serious ideological disagreement

You will note that needing to find points of disagreement pretty much requires that they not disagree on everything.

Diamondeye
2009-09-03, 11:37 AM
I'm realy not seeing how GNS theory really helps us resolve the problems of dealing with Paladins, or alignment in general.

This just seems like a really, really complicated way to point out that there may be problems. It strikes me as the sort of way Commander Data might have gone about explaining it.

UserClone
2009-09-03, 11:51 AM
Well, my point stands. She's still saying that Roy can't work together with Belkar, because even if they are part of a team together, they can't co-exist for long enough to get anything done.

However, as anyone who has read the comic knows, they do just fine, because of compromise (mostly on Roy's part, but ever since Belkar's vision, on his part too).

Also, the way the statement I quoted is worded, the two must be in conflict at all times, or the statement doesn't work. Just saying, if you're going to bother with a wall of text, make sure you still manage to say what you are trying to say.

Kyeudo
2009-09-03, 02:43 PM
I'm sorry, Jill, but I just can't take you seriously anymore.

I'd have to agree. Saying that people shouldn't compromise in a roleplaying game is like saying there shouldn't be tires in NASCAR. The whole "quit blaming the victims" thing doesn't work. Yes, if you are playing D&D, you will have to decide how alignment works in your game and problems could occur if you don't lay them out up front and it becomes an issue. That the system is vague means that part of the problem lays with the system.

But that the 'victims' want to be a bunch of jerks and not hash out why their characters are having problems with each other is not acceptable and is a failure on the part of the players.

If the paladin and the rogue disagree on looting corpses, then the paladin first needs to establish why the rogue should not be looting corpses. The rogue, then, needs to either make an argument as to why the paladin is full of it or else stop looting corpses (when the paladin is looking). The DM should adjust however is necessary to take whatever solution the two work out into account. The game then continues as normal.

Starbuck_II
2009-09-03, 03:02 PM
Well, my point stands. She's still saying that Roy can't work together with Belkar, because even if they are part of a team together, they can't co-exist for long enough to get anything done.

However, as anyone who has read the comic knows, they do just fine, because of compromise (mostly on Roy's part, but ever since Belkar's vision, on his part too).

Also, the way the statement I quoted is worded, the two must be in conflict at all times, or the statement doesn't work. Just saying, if you're going to bother with a wall of text, make sure you still manage to say what you are trying to say.

I don't think Roy should count.
Miko is a Paladin: Roy is just a Fighter.

kamikasei
2009-09-03, 03:06 PM
I don't think Roy should count.
Miko is a Paladin: Roy is just a Fighter.

But the contention seems to be that it's not the paladin's code, but the existence of alignment at all, that causes the perceived problem.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-03, 03:59 PM
Pallys suck...sure, I can buy that. I don't particularily need GNS for that either. They are the most limited standard class in terms of allowed roleplaying, and mechanically, they don't really get rewarded for that.

Oddly enough, I've never seen a paladin actually become a blackguard. I've only ever seen blackguard characters created as is. IMO, there just isn't much range for what to do with a paladin.

I don't hate the alignment system in general, just paladins. But...more interestingly, how could we fix the pally?

Skorj
2009-09-03, 04:43 PM
The other point I'd be curious about is 'ethical vs. practical'- 'Ethical' implies you already have a morally correct solution in mind, and 'practical' suggests choosing it will negatively impact tactical efficiency in some fashion, which a Gamist player could be understandably averse to. I'm not certain that's really Narrativist play. I don't know, though- it's possible I'm missing out on the relevant specifics.

Players can be faced with interesting questions that significantly affect the story that will be told, but aren't ethical questions (merely practical ones). The trivial example is deciding which quest hook to grab. I guess anything practical could be seen as "tactical" to a devoted Gamist, of course, but I was thinking of choices that would decide the style of the story being told, or less profound choices like "do we give him the treasue before or after we negotiate with him" or "which of these two factions in a city do we work with, when the difference is style, not alignment".

I've seen far more heated player arguments over the "what adventure sub-genre are we in here" type stuff than the alignment type stuff.

Gan The Grey
2009-09-03, 05:14 PM
Yes, the paladin is limited. Yes, combat-wise, a paladin is a subpar fighter. yes, magic-wise, a paladin is a subpar cleric. Yes, roleplay-wise, the paladin is more limited than most other classes. Period.

So? I believe limitations help make the game fun. I don't know about you, but I have never really enjoyed playing a wizard-type class past about 10th level. It gets too easy to win. I literally have to dumb my character down so I don't dominate the game.

A paladin, though, has enforced limitations. I know, I know, people don't like limitations. But limits inspire creativity. You take what you have, and make it work. You find new ways to do things that other characters don't need to. This keep you from always resorting to the 'best' way to do something with every character. If you always solve a hostage situation by rushing in without regard to the hostage lives (because in your DM's games that's the best way), then play a paladin. You are quite literally forced to find a new way to do it.

The last character I played had no means of airborn transportation. It was something I could have easily overcome at an earlier point in the game, but as another of my companions had a flying mount (pally with variant mount), I didn't worry about it. He could carry me if he had to. Well, we came to a situation where that wasn't possible. He already had another passenger, so his mount couldn't carry any more weight.

So I swapped out my Periapt of Wisdom for my Necklace of Adaptation, crawled into my Bag of Holding, and away we went. Never would have thought of that had I had a 'Fly' spell memorized. Limits inspire creativity.

To those players who want that 'I Winz' button, yes, the paladin sucks. But I think he's cool.

Asheram
2009-09-03, 05:17 PM
But the contention seems to be that it's not the paladin's code, but the existence of alignment at all, that causes the perceived problem.

What exactly is Roy's alignment, by the way?

Gan The Grey
2009-09-03, 05:20 PM
Lawful Annoying Good.

UserClone
2009-09-03, 09:01 PM
Lawful Annoying Good Annoyed.

Nah, just kidding, he's Lawful Good.

The Neoclassic
2009-09-03, 09:06 PM
But that the 'victims' want to be a bunch of jerks and not hash out why their characters are having problems with each other is not acceptable and is a failure on the part of the players.

If the paladin and the rogue disagree on looting corpses, then the paladin first needs to establish why the rogue should not be looting corpses. The rogue, then, needs to either make an argument as to why the paladin is full of it or else stop looting corpses (when the paladin is looking). The DM should adjust however is necessary to take whatever solution the two work out into account. The game then continues as normal.

Exactly my point all along and with my compromise thread. :smallwink: The idea that compromise is bad or unfair is just utter nonsense. No one will find a group where all of them agree on everything- and if BOTH alignment choices and gaming style lead to situations where people allegedly CAN NOT work together... Then how do any of us manage to find people to play with? :smalltongue:

Nerdanel
2009-09-04, 04:35 AM
- Let's play house!
- Let's play cops and robbers!
- Let's play chess!

Trying to play some incoherent house/cops and robbers/chess combination to please everyone is not a good compromise in that situation.

Roog
2009-09-04, 05:37 AM
- Let's play house!
- Let's play cops and robbers!
- Let's play chess!

Trying to play some incoherent house/cops and robbers/chess combination to please everyone is not a good compromise in that situation.

How about this...
- Let's play craps!
- Let's play go!
- Let's play chess!

Trying to play some incoherent craps/go/chess combination to please everyone is not a good compromise in that situation.

Yora
2009-09-04, 05:57 AM
One night we were playing Risk and Settlers and at one point a friend and I got the briliant idea to play both Risk and Settlers at the same time!
Though a single session would probably take close to six hours, but still... :smallbiggrin:

Asheram
2009-09-04, 06:50 AM
I must actually disagree with the most of you here about the Paladin.
The Paladin can be a fun and working class to play, as long as the rest of the group can accept that sometimes he will be counterproductive to certain kinds of gameplay, say "Kick in the door" style.

And for a Lawful good character to compromise with, say, a caothic neutral character is completely alright as long as the disputed actions fall into a sort of gray area.
I'm not saying that a paladin will accept that a rogue will murder half an orphanage in order to find the spawn of satan that dwells within. But it's alright for him to accept that the rogue will infiltrate, disguise himself, lie, steal and do 'not so exalted things' in order to figure out which brat is going to bring trouble about.

It's not really chosing between two evils, but chosing between an evil and a 'bit naughty thing', that will pass under the radar of the "fall hammer", as long as the paladin is honestly sorry that he is forced to rely on such.

Paladin: Oh, Lord... forgive me for I have sinned... I have employed unethical means to find the target of my quest, but the need is great and I do hope You will forgive me.
God: ... Alright, my son. I don't really like this, but you have done well.

Not even gods are without compromise.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 07:34 AM
I'm sorry, Jill, but I just can't take you seriously anymore.
If this means 'not talking', sure, go ahead.

This seems unfair. If the only serious conflict is rooted in existing out-of-game conflict, then it doesn't seem like the game can be blamed. You seem to be saying that the game should be designed so that people sitting down to it with an existing beef with one another cannot find any pretext within it to give one another a hard time. That doesn't seem realistic to me.
If by 'within it', you mean, 'within the rules', then it's quite realistic. That's what coherent design, in essence, amounts to- minimising the degree to which real players can find in-game pretexts to give eachother a hard time. Real-life disagreements are unavoidable, but if the players weren't actively at eachother's throats before play began, it logically follows that actual play was more aggravating than fun- which sort of defeats the purpose. Ideally, RP is something those involved can enjoy- it should be reinforcing relationships, not straining them.

I find it incredible that you say that Roy ever agreeing with Belkar (or heck, even Haley!) is poor role-playing.
Law and Chaos in the OOTS world are a bit vaguely-defined, but you can certainly make a plausible argument for both Roy and Haley being Neutral on the L/C axis (the Deva says as much.) And Roy and Belkar DO have some serious ideological disagreements which are not exactly resolved in the most elegant fashion- given the Mark of Justice, and all that. In essence, the GM stepped in and squelched one player's freedom of action. If Belkar were a genuine PC, I'd imagine the player would be fairly pissed (quite possibly also a jerk- but a jerk with a pretext.) You're proving my point.

Morty
2009-09-04, 07:58 AM
If by 'within it', you mean, 'within the rules', then it's quite realistic. That's what coherent design, in essence, amounts to- minimising the degree to which real players can find in-game pretexts to give eachother a hard time. Real-life disagreements are unavoidable, but if the players weren't actively at eachother's throats before play began, it logically follows that actual play was more aggravating than fun- which sort of defeats the purpose. Ideally, RP is something those involved can enjoy- it should be reinforcing relationships, not straining them.

This "coherent design" sounds quite boring. Some character concepts simply won't work together, and there's little the designers can do about it without arbitrarily limiting a player's options. And you don't need a Paladin in a group for that to happen.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 07:59 AM
- Let's play house!
- Let's play cops and robbers!
- Let's play chess!

Trying to play some incoherent house/cops and robbers/chess combination to please everyone is not a good compromise in that situation.
Pretty well, yeah...


If the paladin and the rogue disagree on looting corpses, then the paladin first needs to establish why the rogue should not be looting corpses.
Because it's against the law, which a frightening percentage of players assume is equivalent- or at least closely related- to Law, because they called it LAW! The rogue is looting corpses because it gives him money, equipment, and magic items- the things you need, directly or indirectly, to win in combat. The motivations here are easy to discern, but they stem from different GNS agendas.

The Paladin's Simulationist player has at this point already decided- on the basis of his prior conception of the character's background, training, ethical mindset, and other 'fixed' environmental factors- that looting corpses is something the character would be automatically opposed to. You can't contradict that without spoiling his fun, because for him, it doesn't come from beating up monsters- he's not a Gamist! Any 'compromise' on this point automatically makes the game less enjoyable for that player, because for him, playing the character without external agenda is the whole point. Obstructions or diversions based on OOC needs- by definition a form of metagame- is anathema to Simulationist play. It betrays the ideal that 'internal cause is King'- if you have to hash things out in person, you have already failed that player.

(This is why, in Simulationist play, you need precise, functional definitions of standards of conduct, so that conflicts like this can be spotted early and averted before they start- ideally, during character creation. A Narrativist player, on the other hand, might be actively inviting conflict between PCs for the sake of it's dramatic potential- but again, a typical Gamist player won't be interested in this, and that's another discussion.)

Diamondeye
2009-09-04, 08:03 AM
ILaw and Chaos in the OOTS world are a bit vaguely-defined, but you can certainly make a plausible argument for both Roy and Haley being Neutral on the L/C axis (the Deva says as much.)

This is because there's varying degrees of lawful while still remaining within what's generally defined as lawful. This is actually represented mathematically in NWN2 with a score you can see for your character. There's a range from 0 to 100 on each axis. IIRC, on the Law-chaos axis 0 is completely chaotic and 100 is completely lawful. However, if you have a score of, say, 75, you're still lawful even though you're much closer to the neutral ange than a 100. That's why there's a "plausible argument" for Roy being NG. He's in the range of lawful, but closer to the neutral "line" on the spectrum. Since non-computer D&D generally doesn't represent it mathematically, it becomes a grey area.


If by 'within it', you mean, 'within the rules', then it's quite realistic. That's what coherent design, in essence, amounts to- minimising the degree to which real players can find in-game pretexts to give eachother a hard time. Real-life disagreements are unavoidable, but if the players weren't actively at eachother's throats before play began, it logically follows that actual play was more aggravating than fun- which sort of defeats the purpose. Ideally, RP is something those involved can enjoy- it should be reinforcing relationships, not straining them.

"Coherent Design" doesn't have much to do with antagonism between players. If players are antagonizing each other through their characters, that's a problem of either one or both being jerks, and/or the DM being weak. If, for example, a player is taking his real life issues with religious authority and using the game as a pretext to take those issues out on the Paladin player because he finds the concept of obedience to religious precepts personally offensive, the DM needs to square that attitude away. When in charge, take charge and then be in charge.



And Roy and Belkar DO have some serious ideological disagreements which are not exactly resolved in the most elegant fashion- given the Mark of Justice, and all that. In essence, the GM stepped in and squelched one player's freedom of action. If Belkar were a genuine PC, I'd imagine the player would be fairly pissed (quite possibly also a jerk- but a jerk with a pretext.) You're proving my point.

Actually, that was an extremely elegent way to resolve it, given Belkar's actions towards others. It was placed on him by non-player characters. There's no reason PCs should be inexplicably immune to behavioral-compulsion effects that exist for everyone else in the world simply so the DM can avoid the appearance of "infringing their freedom of action." A player who got pissed if he was playing Belkar is really acting in a pretty immature way. It isn't like the mark just appeared out of the blue with no apparent cause.

Tiki Snakes
2009-09-04, 08:07 AM
Having been both confused and intruiged by this thread, I took the time to look up GNS theory on wikipedia. I was amused to note that the originator of the theory himself abandoned it for another theory; The Big Model.

And that both articles have pretty extensive critiscisms listed.

Generally, the whole thing comes across as a very self-important, almost entirely irrelevant waste of time. Pseudo-intallectualism and all that jazz.

As for the OP and the topic itself, all I can say is that the alignment system IS iffy, and frankly irrelevant to me. I'd always been unhappy with it in 3.5, but having tried several alignment-less systems and moved to 4e, I can conclusively say that it's something that I don't miss.
The 4e Paladin works much better to my mind, now that such ridiculous concepts have been for the greater part, shed.

[edit]Also worth noting, apparently the GNS theory is built on the Threefold Model...which came from, so Wiki tells me, an extensive online flame-war-debate. I think that about sums it up for me, really.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 08:07 AM
Players can be faced with interesting questions that significantly affect the story that will be told, but aren't ethical questions (merely practical ones). The trivial example is deciding which quest hook to grab. I guess anything practical could be seen as "tactical" to a devoted Gamist, of course, but I was thinking of choices that would decide the style of the story being told, or less profound choices like "do we give him the treasue before or after we negotiate with him" or "which of these two factions in a city do we work with, when the difference is style, not alignment".
To be honest, unless you're deliberately angling conflicts to hit the PC's specific emotional agendas, and are actively striving to produce some kind of collective theme in play, that sounds more like primary Gamism with a Simulationist undercarriage, and-no-Force-techniques. There's nothing wrong with that, but Narrativism does has criteria aside from 'not herding the players where I want them to go.'

I've seen far more heated player arguments over the "what adventure sub-genre are we in here" type stuff than the alignment type stuff.
Yup- Simulationism.

Diamondeye
2009-09-04, 08:13 AM
Because it's against the law, which a frightening percentage of players assume is equivalent- or at least closely related- to Law, because they called it LAW! The rogue is looting corpses because it gives him money, equipment, and magic items- the things you need, directly or indirectly, to win in combat. The motivations here are easy to discern, but they stem from different GNS agendas.

The Paladin's Simulationist player has at this point already decided- on the basis of his prior conception of the character's background, training, ethical mindset, and other 'fixed' environmental factors- that looting corpses is something the character would be automatically opposed to. You can't contradict that without spoiling his fun, because for him, it doesn't come from beating up monsters- he's not a Gamist! Any 'compromise' on this point automatically makes the game less enjoyable for that player, because for him, playing the character without external agenda is the whole point. Obstructions or diversions based on OOC needs- by definition a form of metagame- is anathema to Simulationist play. It betrays the ideal that 'internal cause is King'- if you have to hash things out in person, you have already failed that player.

That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. While the rogue is probably going to loot corpses regardless of playstyle becuase that's what rogues do regardless of player motivation, there's no reason a "simulationist" paladin player couldn't do so also. The paladin knows perfectly well that he needs more powerful and better gear to defeat greater evils. Really, the paladin player is just inventing a reason for conflict here for no good reason within the game rules, or even fluff. I'm sure there could be a diety in some campaign somewhere that prohibits looting fallen foes, but I've never seen one.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 08:14 AM
That doesn't mean that they have to disagree with each other all the time.
Well, no, insofar as there are aspects to their personality unrelated to Law and Chaos, but insofar as Law and Chaos are significant to determining personality, that's still a lot of potential for serious disagreement. And if Law/Chaos aren't significant to determining personality... again, why are you using them?

I don't hate the alignment system in general, just paladins. But...more interestingly, how could we fix the pally?

I'm realy not seeing how GNS theory really helps us resolve the problems of dealing with Paladins, or alignment in general.
I explained how it helps in the initial post. If the players are mostly Gamist, stick to the kill-me/don't-kill-me alignments framework and stop grousing when they smite anyone wearing the wrong colour hat (you may also have some rebalancing to do.) If the players are mostly Simulationist, you need to clarify EXACTLY what is meant by Law and Chaos, Good and Evil, and the specifics of the Paladin's code before you can play safely. If the players are mostly Narrativist, then anyone picking a Paladin needs to know that they are either going to die a hero, or live long enough to see themselves become the villain. If that's not cool for them... shun the Paladin like the plague.

kamikasei
2009-09-04, 08:18 AM
If the players are mostly Narrativist, then anyone picking a Paladin needs to know that they are either going to die a hero, or live long enough to see themselves become the villain. If that's not cool for them... shun the Paladin like the plague.

It seems to me this assumes some rather self-centred players. They can't tell a story starring their character that isn't about that character's moral code being tested to destruction, one way or the other? They can't, perhaps, be one of several characters in a larger story that is not focused on them alone, and both survive and adhere to their code? That seems less like Narrativism and more like spotlight-hogging drama.

edit: And I see this has already been said, much earlier in the thread:

I really can't agree. That's only the case the more that Narrativist play centers around the Paladin's morality rather than being an occasional feature. When you present something as the centerpiece of any story - or game (combat for D&D, for example), there must be a source of conflict for that centerpiece or it becomes boring. If you don't want to screw the Paladin, you don't make all of her RP focused around the morals of being a Paladin.

Diamondeye
2009-09-04, 08:22 AM
I explained how it helps in the initial post. If the players are mostly Gamist, stick to the kill-me/don't-kill-me alignments framework and stop grousing when they smite anyone wearing the wrong colour hat (you may also have some rebalancing to do.) If the players are mostly Simulationist, you need to clarify EXACTLY what is meant by Law and Chaos, Good and Evil, and the specifics of the Paladin's code before you can play safely. If the players are mostly Narrativist, then anyone picking a Paladin needs to know that they are either going to die a hero, or live long enough to see themselves become the villain. If that's not cool for them... shun the Paladin like the plague.

All that really doesn't help at all. None of that addresses the issue of players and the DM having different views on how the game ought to be played.

Even assuming each player falls fairly neatly into one of these little categories, you're still going to have problems if one player is one thing and everyone else is another. Since most gaming groups are small, the characters are in short supply, and being adult enough to accomadate everyone is generally a good thing, you're almost certainly going to have to compromise between these approaches.

Moreover, defining exactly what each axis means at each end is exactly what the DM should be doing anyhow regardless of playstyle. If the DM isn't taking charge, and making it clear to the players that it can't be all one way all the time, you're already hosed because the DM is not in charge of the game.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 08:24 AM
It seems to me this assumes some rather self-centred players. They can't tell a story starring their character that isn't about that character's moral code being tested to destruction, one way or the other?
In essence, yes! Insofar as their uncompromising moral code is of primary emotional importance to that character, then this is the destiny of every Paladin in dramatic terms- (with the possible exception of a punishing redemption arc, which, again, carries it's own problems.) Insofar as the paladin gets screen-time at all, conflicts involving the character will test and probe and push those beliefs in a steadily escalating fashion- in many ways, that's what Narrativism is.

Naturally, other characters will have their own role in the story, but that doesn't change things from the Paladin's POV.

That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. While the rogue is probably going to loot corpses regardless of playstyle becuase that's what rogues do regardless of player motivation, there's no reason a "simulationist" paladin player couldn't do so also....
If you'd pointed that out during character creation, fine. But you didn't. The Simulationist player really isn't deliberately looking for trouble here, but neither is he going to willingly compromise- both imply some form of real-world, OOC agenda, and that's not what Simulationist players willingly tolerate. By the time you've had to point out this conflict to the Simulationist, his internal conception of the character is like a hundred-tonne freight-train barrelling down the tracks- you can't derail it without a major pile-up. In essence, it requires that the Simulationist reconstruct his own conception of the character, from the ground up, in order to conform with peer pressure. For him, that's definitionally un-fun.

Archpaladin Zousha
2009-09-04, 08:30 AM
All this theoretical talk is going over my head to be honest. What's the core of the discussion here for those that just walked in? :smallconfused:

kamikasei
2009-09-04, 08:35 AM
And again, that just makes Narrativism sound ill-named. You can play a game that's all about the story without any need for each character to be the star of his own mini-show in which he undergoes radical change. Sometimes a character is allowed to start out one way and finish up much the same way, and it's what he goes through through the course of the story that's interesting, not how it breaks him. I would also point out that the "great personal sacrifice" you talk about is not necessarily death. I can think of at least one character often referenced as an example of an Exalted character, paladinish though chaotic, and he a) suffers pain and loss for the sake of his ideals, but b) survives and c) holds to his ideals the whole way through. Identity/discussion under the spoiler.

Vash the Stampede (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vash_the_Stampede#Vash_the_Stampede). I suppose you could argue that the point where he shoots Legato and Heroic BSODs is a fall/atone moment, and maybe you'd class that as "living long enough to become the villain" - but he does "atone", and is not crippled for the rest of the story.

And that's a case where he was the central character - you're effectively saying that every noble, heroic character in an ensemble story has to either die heroically or become ignoble before the end, which is just false.

edit: Let me put it another way. I don't see why being "Narrativist" means that you have to latch on to this one aspect of the character - "has a code of conduct" - and say that "this, this is his story. This is what my character's about. His narrative will be how he fails to live up to his code or dies trying." This doesn't seem to follow from being "Narrativist". What prevents anyone from looking at the character and saying "so, my character has a code of conduct. That is one fact about him that I will bear in mind while telling his story, which is the story of <a brave knight and his companions saving the land from an evil dragon>, <a cynical crusader trying to save a rag-tag band of refugees from an undead plague>, <any number of other plots that don't require in-depth exploration of that single aspect of the character>."?

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 08:57 AM
So? I believe limitations help make the game fun. I don't know about you, but I have never really enjoyed playing a wizard-type class past about 10th level. It gets too easy to win. I literally have to dumb my character down so I don't dominate the game.

A paladin, though, has enforced limitations. I know, I know, people don't like limitations. But limits inspire creativity. You take what you have, and make it work.
This a 100% Gamist concern resulting solely from a collossal failure to balance the classes- which has now been fixed in 4E.


And again, that just makes Narrativism sound ill-named. You can play a game that's all about the story without any need for each character to be the star of his own mini-show in which he undergoes radical change.
In Narrativism-
1. Each character IS the star of their own mini-show.
2. There is no "the story". It's the product of play, not an accessory to it, and not the product of any single player's imagination.
3. Characters either undergo radical change, OR make make increasingly significant sacrifices to prove their convictions. That's what protagonism demands.

And that's a case where he was the central character - you're effectively saying that every noble, heroic character in an ensemble story has to either die heroically or become ignoble before the end, which is just false.
Every other noble character can have other things in their emotional life more important to them than their ethics- friends, family, nations, even the basic imperative of survival- and can also validly reassess their conception of what nobility is in response to changing circumstances. But the Paladin is not allowed to reassess morality, not allowed to have a goal greater than their code- Even Lancelot brought down Camelot. When they break, they strongly tend to break completely, because the basic concept leaves no room for meaningful compromise- they are, quite simply, moral automata.

kamikasei
2009-09-04, 09:03 AM
In Narrativism-
1. Each character IS the star of his own mini-show.
2. There is no "the story". It's the product of play, not an accessory to it, and not the product of any single player's imagination.
3. Characters either undergo radical change, OR make make increasingly significant sacrifices to prove their convictions. That's what protagonism demands.

Then to be honest I don't think it belongs as one third of a model. It's much more restricted than just "cares about story and drama more than overcoming challenges or verisimilitude".

But if that's the model, then I can't argue your application of it is incorrect, only that I don't see its worth. Yes, if a player derives his enjoyment from having his character undergo radical transformation, then a class built on the assumption that you've got one set of ideals you hold to won't be for them. This is not much of a revelation.


Every other noble character can have other things in their emotional life more important to them than their ethics- friends, family, nations, etc- and can also validly reassess their conception of what nobility is in response to changing circumstances. But the Paladin is not allowed to compromise, not allowed to have a goal greater than their code- Even Lancelot brought down Camelot. When they break, they strongly tend to break completely, because the basic concept leaves no room for meaningful compromise- they are, quite simply, moral automata.

I'm afraid I don't see what this has to do with what I said.

My point was that a) a character can make great personal sacrifice for the sake of their ideals without having to die, and b) a character can have the potential for such a sacrifice but not realize it, yet still be a worthwhile character in a worthwhile story.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 09:15 AM
Then to be honest I don't think it belongs as one third of a model. It's much more restricted than just "cares about story and drama more than overcoming challenges or verisimilitude".
If the players themselves are not actively engaged in creating the story using the methods described, then they are not participants to the process. It's that simple.

My point was that a) a character can make great personal sacrifice for the sake of their ideals without having to die, and b) a character can have the potential for such a sacrifice but not realize it, yet still be a worthwhile character in a worthwhile story.
Well, I suppose that if the story just 'wrapped up' at a certain point, then yes, the Paladin might manage to get out of it alive and morally unscathed. I'm not sure that would really satisfy the player, though.

kamikasei
2009-09-04, 09:26 AM
If the players themselves are not actively engaged in creating the story using the methods described, then they are not participants to the process. It's that simple.

Well, I suppose that if the story just 'wrapped up' at a certain point, then yes, the Paladin might manage to get out of it alive and morally unscathed. I'm not sure that would really satisfy the player, though.

I honestly don't understand you. Of course players can be a part of creating the story without having to make it into an exploration of the insides of their characters' heads. Of course a story can satisfyingly conclude without every character in the "core cast" having to be tested to destruction.

Really, again, it sounds like where I'd thought "Narrativism" meant caring about story and dramatic necessity above other factors, it's actually code for a very specific and - I hope - niche approach to play that to my ears sounds like it is the source of its own problems. It sounds like Narrativist players as you describe it don't just have friction with other types, but would inevitably conflict with each other as each vies for attention and dominance within the story.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 09:32 AM
All that really doesn't help at all. None of that addresses the issue of players and the DM having different views on how the game ought to be played.
Put simply, the minority are simply going to have suck it up and play in accordance with the given style of play, or find another group. Doing otherwise is asking for trouble. The former option really isn't that difficult provided that the rules don't mislead the player about the game's core focus- I'm a Simulationist myself, but I can get along fine in 'Lite' Gamist groups that don't wholly abandon the pretence of exploration, or even largely-abstract Gamist play like M:TG or Monopoly.

Moreover, defining exactly what each axis means at each end is exactly what the DM should be doing anyhow regardless of playstyle. If the DM isn't taking charge, and making it clear to the players that it can't be all one way all the time, you're already hosed because the DM is not in charge of the game.
Having the GM 'in charge of the game' is itself a very narrow preconception of how role-playing should work. 'The GM' consists of a number of different roles- scene-setting, rule-arbitration, presentation of adversity, etc. etc.- that might not be individually necessary for a particular game, and might not need to be concentrated in one person, either for one session or across sessions. I would suggest checking out (http://www.atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/rune_jumpstart.pdf) Rune (http://www.runegame.com/runerpg.php) at some point:

The problem you face as a hack & slash player in a conventional roleplaying game is that your Game Master will eventually get bored with the style before you do. Rune solves that problem for you by distributing the GMing duties to multiple runners throughout the course of an evening.

Meek
2009-09-04, 09:45 AM
Oh lord, GNS.

I'd like everyone who isn't aware of what that is, to take some time to read Brian Gleichman's excellent history of the subject here (http://whitehall-paraindustries.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-rpg-theory-has-bad-rep-part-v.html). This is a link to the last part – go back to the beginning using the links there. It's an interesting and sad story, and if you think you're not getting anywhere debating this cornflabbin' GNS thingy, you will understand why. If after reading that, you still want to keep arguing...well, you're braver than this civil servant here.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 09:53 AM
I honestly don't understand you. Of course players can be a part of creating the story without having to make it into an exploration of the insides of their characters' heads.
No, you can't. Unless the players themselves are making thematic decisions, they are not involved in creating the story. They could be occupied with any number of other enjoyable things- overcoming tactical challenges or maintaining consistent role-play- but that's Gamist or Simulationist play respectively. The key thing to bear in mind is that most of the players are engaged with things other than story.

Stories- in the sense of transcripts of events that reveal an underlying theme- do not happen by accident. If the GM alone is creating that (because the players aren't actively engaged with that agenda,) the other players are either relegated to providing small-scale colour within particular encounters (by railroading, either obvious or through Illusionism,) or you have ouija-board role-play: a meandering transcript of events without development or resolution. Both, I reckon, can be potentially enjoyable, but neither is Narrativist play.

Of course a story can satisfyingly conclude without every character in the "core cast" having to be tested to destruction.
Tested to the point of serious, lasting, personal sacrifice, or to the point of evolving/changing/developing. If you don't have that, you simply don't have protagonism.


Really, again, it sounds like where I'd thought "Narrativism" meant caring about story and dramatic necessity above other factors, it's actually code for a very specific and - I hope - niche approach to play that to my ears sounds like it is the source of its own problems. It sounds like Narrativist players as you describe it don't just have friction with other types, but would inevitably conflict with each other as each vies for attention and dominance within the story.
That's not a problem, provided the rules mediate effectively how 'screen time' is allotted for each character- and Narrativist RPGs, very often, expressly do. The GMs job, in many ways- and this is expressly stated in games like DitV and Burning Wheel: Mouse Guard- is to ensure that each character's primary emotional needs are thematically challenged, thus ensuring that each player gets equal input to the story.

Nor is inter-character conflict the same thing as inter-player conflict- as long as both sides are reflecting on the emotional needs of their respective characters, this can actually be mutually satisfying- even if one or more wind up dead. Again, there's a term for this- Blood Opera. The key thing is for the rules to stress the circumstances where such conflict is appropriate, and when it isn't- which coherent design, again, would do.

The other thing to bear in mind is that emotional conflict need not stem from the PCs themselves, but from challenging them to 'take sides' with respect to diverse NPCs that are soon discarded, in an episodic fashion- which is expressly what Dogs in the Vineyard revolves around.

Now, to some extent, even the best of these techniques only provides a 'scaffolding' of sorts around which players can construct a story, because there is an active expectation that players will 'fill in the blanks'. It is possible to create a story that sucks this way. But good rules will make good stories easier, and bad stories harder.

Story Now has a great deal in common with Step On Up, particularly in the social expectation to contribute, but in this case the real people's attention is directed toward one another's insights toward the issue, rather than toward strategy and guts.

Diamondeye
2009-09-04, 10:13 AM
If you'd pointed that out during character creation, fine. But you didn't. The Simulationist player really isn't deliberately looking for trouble here, but neither is he going to willingly compromise- both imply some form of real-world, OOC agenda, and that's not what Simulationist players willingly tolerate. By the time you've had to point out this conflict to the Simulationist, his internal conception of the character is like a hundred-tonne freight-train barrelling down the tracks- you can't derail it without a major pile-up. In essence, it requires that the Simulationist reconstruct his own conception of the character, from the ground up, in order to conform with peer pressure. For him, that's definitionally un-fun.

First of all, I think it's unbelievably presumptuous to assume that all players who would fall into the "simulationist" category are completely unwilling to tolerate compromise of any kind, or that their character concepts are "hundred-ton freight trains". The idea that they are asked to compromise a bit on their ideas of how to play a bit for the benefit of their friends at the table only at dire peril to their own enjoyment of the game to be sheer nonsense. The person you're describing is so unbelievably self-absorbed with their idea of how they want things to be as to be a caricature. Such a person probably would demonstrate similar intractable selfishness in real life and be unwelcome in the first place. Either "simulationsit" players represent only a tiny, extremely difficult to handle, minority of players or you are intentionally choosing the most extreme version of the player in order to make the paladin problem seem more severe than it actually is.

Second, "you didn't point it out during character creation" is a cop-out. No DM can possibly forsee every conceivable idea a player may come up with. If the player didn't mention this idiosyncracy during creation, then no, at the first fight where someone loots the enemy, getting rid of this quirk in the name of party harmony does not require a complete remake of his character concept, since anything not worthy of mention during background creation is clearly a minor matter. (And no, he didn't mention it during creation. See? I can declare what happens in hypotheticals by fiat too.)

Diamondeye
2009-09-04, 10:21 AM
Put simply, the minority are simply going to have suck it up and play in accordance with the given style of play, or find another group. Doing otherwise is asking for trouble. The former option really isn't that difficult provided that the rules don't mislead the player about the game's core focus- I'm a Simulationist myself, but I can get along fine in 'Lite' Gamist groups that don't wholly abandon the pretence of exploration, or even largely-abstract Gamist play like M:TG or Monopoly.

Actually no, it isn't asking for trouble. The DM just needs to balance the playstyles of the players and himself in rough proportion to the prevalence of each in the group. I have found very few players who are so married to their own preferances that they can't stand any mixing, and contrary to the pompous proclamations of this GNS theory, the senter of the little triangle is not "incoherent"; it's what we call "compromise"; something reasonably intelligent adults and even adolescents are quite capable of.


Having the GM 'in charge of the game' is itself a very narrow preconception of how role-playing should work. 'The GM' consists of a number of different roles- scene-setting, rule-arbitration, presentation of adversity, etc. etc.- that might not be individually necessary for a particular game, and might not need to be concentrated in one person, either for one session or across sessions. I would suggest checking out (http://www.atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/rune_jumpstart.pdf) Rune (http://www.runegame.com/runerpg.php) at some point:

Actually, no, it's pretty much the default for how roleplaying works, so it is not narrow at all. Systems not using some sort of DM in whatever title are not commonly utilized. The DM should be in charge of the game, and since we're talking about the paladin-alignment thing, that's a D&D issue, and that IS how D&D works, and the DM SHOULD be in charge in D&D. The degree of "narrowness" or the existance of other game systems is not relevant to the issue at hand.

Thanks for pointing out Rune, but really the little quote you provided demonstrtes amply that I don't need to waste my time checking it out. Playing without one DM responsible for running the game is not something I have any interest in.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-04, 10:24 AM
First of all, I think it's unbelievably presumptuous to assume that all players who would fall into the "simulationist" category are completely unwilling to tolerate compromise of any kind, or that their character concepts are "hundred-ton freight trains".
They might be willing to accept compromise, but they won't enjoy it. It will inherently make play less fun for them. There's nothing else you can bribe them with- 'this is what my character would do' is what they came along to experience in the first place.
And to a degree, yes, hard-core Simulationist play is in a distinct minority, and doesn't mix well with other agendas (this is why functional hybrids need to establish either N or G as clearly dominant.)

Second, "you didn't point it out during character creation" is a cop-out. No DM can possibly forsee every conceivable idea a player may come up with.
Again, this is why Simulationist play often benefits greatly from clearly defining expected codes of conduct in advance. We've been over this before.


Actually no, it isn't asking for trouble. The DM just needs to balance the playstyles of the players and himself in rough proportion to the prevalence of each in the group.
Right. You just need to make 2+2 equal to 5.

Actually, no, it's pretty much the default for how roleplaying works, so it is not narrow at all. Systems not using some sort of DM in whatever title are not commonly utilized.
Maybe that's a bad thing. Maybe what's accepted isn't what's good. One of the major observations you can make here is that common RPG designs are popular for the same reason they lead to dysfunctional play- they try to be all things to all people, which in reality winds up accommodating no-one.

If Rune isn't your thing, fine- but the point is that hard-core hack'n'slash powergamers that don't care about story aren't fundamentally doing anything wrong- they just got lumped in with people that had very different goals.

WalkingTarget
2009-09-04, 10:53 AM
I honestly don't understand you. Of course players can be a part of creating the story without having to make it into an exploration of the insides of their characters' heads. Of course a story can satisfyingly conclude without every character in the "core cast" having to be tested to destruction.

Really, again, it sounds like where I'd thought "Narrativism" meant caring about story and dramatic necessity above other factors, it's actually code for a very specific and - I hope - niche approach to play that to my ears sounds like it is the source of its own problems. It sounds like Narrativist players as you describe it don't just have friction with other types, but would inevitably conflict with each other as each vies for attention and dominance within the story.

Not sure if this is really a response to this post in particular, but it just got me thinking. I had a fairly large role-playing set of friends in college (we had about a dozen of us with different play preferences and styles) that mixed and matched depending on what game was being played on any particular evening and we all got a feel for what each of us looks for in a game.

One of these friends got into indie game design (and has in turn become good friends with Ron Edwards, whom I've hung out with occasionally at parties thrown by/for this mutual friend). Discussing/playing things with them, I've come to the opinion that yes, Narrativism is a somewhat niche approach to roleplaying and games that are designed with that play style in mind tend to have mechanics that accentuate a character's personal journey (as opposed to D&D which has a ruleset that, in my opinion, promotes gamist play; at least that's how the few D&D games I've played in have turned out even though I tend to prefer simulationist games if I have to put a label on things).

Take for example, my friend's game Hero's Banner. Part of the core concept of the game is that your character has conflicting, mutually exclusive, personal goals and the mechanics pushes you towards a choice and once that choice is made that character is effectively "done", not necessarily dead, but it expects you to begin a new character (preferably one that has at least a thematic link with the previous one). The character exploration/motivation/internal conflict is the entire point.

Narrativist games can be fun, but I think that it's hard to integrate into a game where other players are looking for simulationist/gamist play.

Diamondeye
2009-09-04, 11:01 AM
They might be willing to accept compromise, but they won't enjoy it. It will inherently make play less fun for them. There's nothing else you can bribe them with- 'this is what my character would do' is what they came along to experience in the first place.
And to a degree, yes, hard-core Simulationist play is in a distinct minority, and doesn't mix well with other agendas (this is why functional hybrids need to establish either N or G as clearly dominant.)

You're making a shift from simulationist to hard-core simulationist. Hybrids, assuming we accept this rather silly theory as valid, do not need to establish anything as dominant at all. Any "hard-core" players need to simply have to have the law laid down for them by everyone else.

In any case, they may just have to accept that play is less fun for them in order to make it fun for everyone. Less fun is not necessarily no fun at all, and as I said before if they are that insistent on playing thier way at everyone else's expense they may not get to make the choice whether to continue or not. They'll have to assess the availability of other game groups; depending on where they live they may have to choose between compromising a bit and not playing at all. If they're NOT willing to, please explain why I would want such a jerk at my table.


Again, this is why Simulationist play often benefits greatly from clearly defining expected codes of conduct in advance. We've been over this before.

Which is what the DM is supposed to be doing regardless. It has nothing to do with "simulationism".


Right. You just need to make 2+2 equal to 5.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with what we are talking about. Analogies are illustrative, not probative, so unless you can demonstrate how this relates to anything I'll ignore it as nothing more than rhetoric.


Maybe that's a bad thing. Maybe what's accepted isn't what's good.

Maybe, but maybe the space shuttle will make an emergency landing on the Ohio Turnpike. I don't see any reason to think so. While appeal to tradition is fallacious, it is equally fallacious to call tradition bad without any evidence that is the case. In this case, however, that method of doing things is not tradition, it is the accepted method because it works quite well, so the burden would be on one wishing to demonstrate the superiority of other methods.

One of the major observations you can make here is that common RPG designs are popular for the same reason they lead to dysfunctional play- they try to be all things to all people, which in reality winds up accommodating no-one.[/quote]

You can make no such observation. This is simply vgue assertion. What "dysfunctional" play are you referring to? Do you have solid evidence that it's significant beyond the boundaries of the games it occurs in? Where is the causal relationship between RPG design and dysfunctional play? I find it far easier to believe that games are dysfunctional for the same reason many other organizations are - inability of the members to relate to each other in a reasonable way, not the nature of the activity they engage in.


If Rune isn't your thing, fine- but the point is that hard-core hack'n'slash powergamers that don't care about story aren't fundamentally doing anything wrong- they just got lumped in with people that had very different goals.

I don't recall saying anyone was doing anything wrong. The only thing I see people doing wrong in anything you've described is being so arrogant and selfish as to think their idea of what's fun takes some priority over everyone else's.

kamikasei
2009-09-04, 11:01 AM
WalkingTarget, I just think it's misleadingly named and given more weight than it deserves. From the name, you'd think the model was about balancing a) fun and challenging encounters in terms of obstacles to overcome with your cool powers, b) verisimilitude and consistency within the game world, and c) dramatic necessity and a compelling story. In fact, it seems that c) is actually a very different, much more specific, much less commonly valued thing. It comes off as if the model is designed by people who value C) and want to artificially inflate its importance.

WalkingTarget
2009-09-04, 11:21 AM
WalkingTarget, I just think it's misleadingly named and given more weight than it deserves. From the name, you'd think the model was about balancing a) fun and challenging encounters in terms of obstacles to overcome with your cool powers, b) verisimilitude and consistency within the game world, and c) dramatic necessity and a compelling story. In fact, it seems that c) is actually a very different, much more specific, much less commonly valued thing. It comes off as if the model is designed by people who value C) and want to artificially inflate its importance.

Ah, yeah, I agree that the name is not the best (in my opinion, the point of any roleplaying is to tell a story, which is what "narrativism" implies to me, which is a much broader meaning than what they mean). I'm not a proponent of GNS theory/categories anyway, personally. I just hear about it by being on the fringe of a group who are.

Ravens_cry
2009-09-04, 11:22 AM
GNS theory is like taking apart a molecule and looking at the component atoms. Each is very different from the combined whole.
Despite all the 'problems' paladins have, they can still be fun to play, both for the player, and the group. I like paladins. A righteous warrior who both fights and smites evil, while healing and aiding their comrades? Count me in! It's as mythical as a wizard, but that's part of the fun of RPG, fantasy or otherwise, your doing things and being people you could never be in real life. But being a paladin doesn't give you a licence to be a member of the Order of the Little Richard's, nor does it mean your DM should treat making you fall as a goal. Just remember though, just like Clerics and Druids, your character is put to a higher standard.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-04, 11:26 AM
They might be willing to accept compromise, but they won't enjoy it. It will inherently make play less fun for them. There's nothing else you can bribe them with- 'this is what my character would do' is what they came along to experience in the first place.
And to a degree, yes, hard-core Simulationist play is in a distinct minority, and doesn't mix well with other agendas (this is why functional hybrids need to establish either N or G as clearly dominant.)

I disagree. I consider myself relatively simulationist, and, when I DM, invariably build a sandbox. The players may not be interested in that, simply skipping from plot hook to plot hook, but if they opt to explore it, it's there.

You see, someone who likes playing a simulation type game enjoys having options...lots of things to try, lots of things to possibly do. If your character has any complexity to him at all, he has more decisions and actions he could possibly take than the one that will invariably lead directly into conflict with his party. If he opts to take that route...he is deliberately ignoring all those other paths for the sake of those results.

Why? You can't tell me that either the player or character are so stupid as to not realize that telling a thief not to steal will result in conflict.

The sort of simulationist you describe...one who intentionally tries to make his party self-destruct, and who will accept no compromise, is not really playing with everyone else. If you had an entire party of such players, it would make no difference, the party would disintigrate almost immediately, and very little gaming would ever take place. In other words, the sort of simulationist you describe is a self-centered jerk, and none of us really want to play with that sort of person unless he mends his ways.

Where we disagree is your appropriation of the word "simulationist" to describe him.

Kyeudo
2009-09-04, 01:38 PM
Oh lord, GNS.

I'd like everyone who isn't aware of what that is, to take some time to read Brian Gleichman's excellent history of the subject here (http://whitehall-paraindustries.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-rpg-theory-has-bad-rep-part-v.html). This is a link to the last part – go back to the beginning using the links there. It's an interesting and sad story, and if you think you're not getting anywhere debating this cornflabbin' GNS thingy, you will understand why. If after reading that, you still want to keep arguing...well, you're braver than this civil servant here.

Wow. Here I was thinking that GNS theory was some design philosophy about why each particular player plays and how to fit those elements together into a whole.

The whole "One and none of the others" is anathema to the concept of roleplaying. If you don't have a believable world, how do you get in character? If you don't have character goals, what drives the story forward? And if you don't have appropriate challenges along the way, where is the sense of accomplishment when you reach those goals?

Look at Exalted. It has a world that is believable, if ridiculous to tell people about (most people start laughing after you tell them Heaven pays people in candy and that there are dinosaurs that piss heroin). Play is driven forward solely by character goals, both short and long term. And as for challenges, you can find everything, from fighting an entire army single handed to taking over the world to making the world's best fruitcake. Players will take what they like and run with it and fudge the rest.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-04, 02:39 PM
I think the best possible example of GNS's relevance is that game systems based on it couldn't really get or keep a playerbase, while all these "dysfunctional" system remain popular.

In the end, players play systems they enjoy. If your system of determining what they enjoy leads you to create systems nobody plays...clearly, the system has gone awry somewhere.

I agree with Kyeudo that it's probably that synthesizing these elements is quite common, and that the vast majority of players don't fall completely into only one of those categories.

Starbuck_II
2009-09-04, 03:39 PM
Right. You just need to make 2+2 equal to 5.


Physics does that alot. I mean, alot.
We had to learn how in that class. So, you know, pretty easy.

quick_comment
2009-09-04, 03:54 PM
Physics does that alot. I mean, alot.
We had to learn how in that class. So, you know, pretty easy.

What. placeholder

Skorj
2009-09-04, 04:10 PM
If the players are mostly Simulationist, you need to clarify EXACTLY what is meant by Law and Chaos, Good and Evil, and the specifics of the Paladin's code before you can play safely. If the players are mostly Narrativist, then anyone picking a Paladin needs to know that they are either going to die a hero, or live long enough to see themselves become the villain. If that's not cool for them... shun the Paladin like the plague.

Well, regardless of the merits of GNS theory, or the motivation of the player, this is important advice to a DM faced with a Paladin. Before the game begins, the DM and the Player must explain and agree on what the paladin is and isnt allowed to do (whether you call it code of conduct or alignment). Each will be making assumptions different from the other, so talk it through. The DM may be privvy to details about the other PCs that the player isn't, and may be able to spot undesired conflict before it begins.

When I was young, I just banned paladins, because i didn't want to deal with this. Now I just explain to the player that in my world, paladins follow this specific set of rules (or one of two sets, in the world I'm building now). If you want to be a paladin, that's the deal: you're not going to win an argument with your deity over right and wrong, but the deity (being lawful) has spelled it out clearly for the followers.

There's a lot of room for player choice in any interesting character concept, even for the simulationist. Paladin or not, I insist that everyone roleplay in such a way that, within the limits of your character concept, you actively look for ways to cooperate with the party and reasons to grab quest hooks. Anyone actively looking for reasons to create party conflict is getting the boot. Again, explaining this before the game begins is quite important.

Saph
2009-09-04, 07:05 PM
Oh lord, GNS.

I'd like everyone who isn't aware of what that is, to take some time to read Brian Gleichman's excellent history of the subject here (http://whitehall-paraindustries.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-rpg-theory-has-bad-rep-part-v.html). This is a link to the last part – go back to the beginning using the links there. It's an interesting and sad story, and if you think you're not getting anywhere debating this cornflabbin' GNS thingy, you will understand why. If after reading that, you still want to keep arguing...well, you're braver than this civil servant here.

Very interesting link, thanks for that. It does explain a lot.

Starbuck_II
2009-09-04, 07:26 PM
What. placeholder

Yes, that is what happened.

The teacher asked what does 2 +2 equal. And the answer was 5. Same for 1 +1 =3. Vector math changes everything about adding.


Another weird thing: Hot water can freeze faster than cold water. This is called the Mpemba effect (doesn't happen very often I'll note). No one can prove why this can work.

quick_comment
2009-09-04, 09:28 PM
Yes, that is what happened.

The teacher asked what does 2 +2 equal. And the answer was 5. Same for 1 +1 =3. Vector math changes everything about adding.



No, it does not. (2,0)+(2,0)=(4,0). In a similar manner, no addition of two unit vectors will equal a vector with a norm of 3. (1,0)+(1,0)=(2,0), which has norm 2, not 3.



Another weird thing: Hot water can freeze faster than cold water. This is called the Mpemba effect (doesn't happen very often I'll note). No one can prove why this can work.

Plenty of people have proven why it works. The hot water has more convection than the cold water, and develops a temperature profile that results in faster cooling.

Yora
2009-09-05, 04:38 AM
People here are faling to a falacity of some kind.

The examples given are are natural science. NSG theory claims to be social science. And though both use the word science, the word only means that you do research by making theories you can prove be data.
Natural science has laws, sociel science does not. Sociel science only has effects that appear quite often at best.
And GNS theory fails to convince most people that there's enough evidence to make the model relevant.

Oh lord, GNS.

Brian Gleichman's excellent history of the subject (http://whitehall-paraindustries.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-rpg-theory-has-bad-rep-part-v.html)
Great article, gets pretty much to the point.

Set
2009-09-05, 03:53 PM
The thing is though, how can the paladin's moral quandary be interesting if there was never a hard choice to make, that every so often, you NEED to let that character fall from grace in order for them to grow? So yeah, Jill's got it right on the narrativist paladin. They pretty much exist to lose their faith so they can climb back out of it.

There was a saying I saw once that a samurai wasn't a 'real samurai' until he'd been ronin at least three times. (Finding some reason to disobey his lord, and getting suspended for it.)

Most of our modern day entertainment is about people who go outside of the rules to get things done. Superheroes who function as vigilantes, crime-scene investigators who 'buck the system' or hack systems or go around their superiors to 'get things done,' cops who game the system and interrogate people before their lawyers show up or set 'traps' for suspects to fall into that lead to confessions, etc. Jack Bauer's career is punctuated by off-reservation anctics up to and including shooting (non-fatally) a boss that annoyed him. Our 'heroes' include figures like John McClaine of Die Hard, who break dozens of laws in the course of saving the day.

So the idea of an *effective* champion of good who not only never breaks the rules, but is actively punished by divine forces for doing so rings increasingly false to the modern viewer.

Morally flexible tenets such as 'might is right' and 'rules are for suckers' and 'it's not illegal if the lawman does it' are built into our modern-day culture.

Kris Strife
2009-09-05, 04:23 PM
There was a saying I saw once that a samurai wasn't a 'real samurai' until he'd been ronin at least three times. (Finding some reason to disobey his lord, and getting suspended for it.)

Most of our modern day entertainment is about people who go outside of the rules to get things done. Superheroes who function as vigilantes, crime-scene investigators who 'buck the system' or hack systems or go around their superiors to 'get things done,' cops who game the system and interrogate people before their lawyers show up or set 'traps' for suspects to fall into that lead to confessions, etc. Jack Bauer's career is punctuated by off-reservation anctics up to and including shooting (non-fatally) a boss that annoyed him. Our 'heroes' include figures like John McClaine of Die Hard, who break dozens of laws in the course of saving the day.

So the idea of an *effective* champion of good who not only never breaks the rules, but is actively punished by divine forces for doing so rings increasingly false to the modern viewer.

Morally flexible tenets such as 'might is right' and 'rules are for suckers' and 'it's not illegal if the lawman does it' are built into our modern-day culture.

Eh, some of the 'vigilante superheros', not all mind you, became vigilantes because the system was corrupt and didn't work. Batman, to name one, in most of his translations chose that because he felt that the system wasn't protecting individual people. Daredevil is another one. Others typically encounter things that normal humans aren't physically, mentally or emotionally able to handle. Fate and Doctor Strange. And there are a few who do work with in the laws of the land as much as possible, though they feel that sometimes doing what they feel is the right thing is more important than doing what the law says is the right thing, Superman and Captain America are among those.

I feel a Paladin should be played as a mixture of these three. Work within the law as much as possible, remember that you are uniquely suited for handling certain tasks and act on them, and remember that innocent people and doing the right thing mean more than what ever came out the other end of the tush sitting on the throne.

If a corrupt king or mayor passes a law legalizing murder, I'd still expect a paladin to punish those who commit murder, even if he has to bring the wrath of heaven itself down upon those who made the laws in the first place, and would not make him fall for doing so. Though admittedly, any DM who sets that up is asking for a Smite Idiot, and if he actually makes you fall for that, well, the books are hardcover for a reason.

Arakune
2009-09-05, 04:28 PM
No, it does not. (2,0)+(2,0)=(4,0). In a similar manner, no addition of two unit vectors will equal a vector with a norm of 3. (1,0)+(1,0)=(2,0), which has norm 2, not 3.

Maybe they redefined vetorial additon to be that '+' with an circle instead of the usual +? Either way, you can do a lot of strange stuff once you go abstract. As much as wanting to hit in the face someone that says math is an 'exact' discipline.

Yes people, it's that bad.

Mike_G
2009-09-05, 04:28 PM
Well, regardless of the merits of GNS theory, or the motivation of the player, this is important advice to a DM faced with a Paladin. Before the game begins, the DM and the Player must explain and agree on what the paladin is and isnt allowed to do (whether you call it code of conduct or alignment). Each will be making assumptions different from the other, so talk it through. The DM may be privvy to details about the other PCs that the player isn't, and may be able to spot undesired conflict before it begins.

When I was young, I just banned paladins, because i didn't want to deal with this. Now I just explain to the player that in my world, paladins follow this specific set of rules (or one of two sets, in the world I'm building now). If you want to be a paladin, that's the deal: you're not going to win an argument with your deity over right and wrong, but the deity (being lawful) has spelled it out clearly for the followers.

There's a lot of room for player choice in any interesting character concept, even for the simulationist. Paladin or not, I insist that everyone roleplay in such a way that, within the limits of your character concept, you actively look for ways to cooperate with the party and reasons to grab quest hooks. Anyone actively looking for reasons to create party conflict is getting the boot. Again, explaining this before the game begins is quite important.

This. Exactly.

I tell people, the only PCs I ban are those who don't want to get along as a member of a party. If you can't find a way to be a team player and a paladin, play something else.

Tiki Snakes
2009-09-05, 04:30 PM
As I understand it, 2+2=5. For particularly high values of 2? :)

Arakune
2009-09-05, 04:32 PM
As I understand it, 2+2=5. For particularly high values of 2? :)

Yep. It just get's worse from there.

HamHam
2009-09-05, 11:33 PM
In essence, yes. From a dramatic perspective, the purpose of the Paladin is really, if I might paraphrase, "either die a hero or live long enough to see themselves become the villain". -and therein lies the whole problem. Sooner or later, in Narrativist play, you run out of middle ground.

I'm just gonna jump in here and say that this is not at all true. The Paladin can also be the one who says "Oh look, that town is being destroyed by a monster. Wait one second while I slay it. Done. Oh, now the villain is throwing my love interest and a random bunch of people off a bridge? What a conundrum! What shall I do? Oh right, save them all. Because that's what I do. And then I'm going to say 'No!' 'Cause this is what I'm going to do: I'm going to rescue her! I'm going to save Rose Tyler from... wait sorry, wrong show. What I mean is, my greatsword is the greatsword which will pierce the heavens. Wait, that's not quite right either. What was I even talking about? Regardless, the point is that if you're evil I'm going to beat in your face until my sheer awesomeness convinces you to make a faceheelturn and become good."

The problem of course is that 3.5 paladins don't have the mechanical strength to back this up but that seems to me would be a gamist concern.

horseboy
2009-09-06, 04:22 AM
Being lawful good, just like being a swashbuckler or rogue, is an OOC term. A rogue might describe himself as a thief, or assassin, or whatever. A LG character wont describe himself as LG, he would say that he is an upstanding citizen and crusader for Pelor.
Except for all the spells and abilities that provide such information. Remove them and you've got an argument
Because it's against the law, which a frightening percentage of players assume is equivalent- or at least closely related- to Law, because they called it LAW! The rogue is looting corpses because it gives him money, equipment, and magic items- the things you need, directly or indirectly, to win in combat. The motivations here are easy to discern, but they stem from different GNS agendas.

The Paladin's Simulationist player has at this point already decided- on the basis of his prior conception of the character's background, training, ethical mindset, and other 'fixed' environmental factors- that looting corpses is something the character would be automatically opposed to. You can't contradict that without spoiling his fun, because for him, it doesn't come from beating up monsters- he's not a Gamist! Any 'compromise' on this point automatically makes the game less enjoyable for that player, because for him, playing the character without external agenda is the whole point. Obstructions or diversions based on OOC needs- by definition a form of metagame- is anathema to Simulationist play. It betrays the ideal that 'internal cause is King'- if you have to hash things out in person, you have already failed that player.
Actually, it's only against the law in 21 century post modern western world. In other times and places it constituted a fair chunk of a soldier's wages, much like tips for a waitress. It has nothing to do with "simulationism", especially given the only coherent definition of "simulationism" is "Games Ron doesn't like."


And that's a case where he was the central character - you're effectively saying that every noble, heroic character in an ensemble story has to either die heroically or become ignoble before the end, which is just false.

edit: Let me put it another way. I don't see why being "Narrativist" means that you have to latch on to this one aspect of the character - "has a code of conduct" - and say that "this, this is his story. This is what my character's about. His narrative will be how he fails to live up to his code or dies trying." This doesn't seem to follow from being "Narrativist". What prevents anyone from looking at the character and saying "so, my character has a code of conduct. That is one fact about him that I will bear in mind while telling his story, which is the story of <a brave knight and his companions saving the land from an evil dragon>, <a cynical crusader trying to save a rag-tag band of refugees from an undead plague>, <any number of other plots that don't require in-depth exploration of that single aspect of the character>."?
This, a whole lot of this. Paladins, when actually roleplayed and not wargamed are full of manyu other potentials. Yes, they have a code of honour, but that doesn't have to be the central motive of the character's story. Indeed just looking at some of the ramifications contain multiple stories worth of content.
If you truly live up to your code of honour you in essence can easily sacrifice your humanity for the sake of humanity. Not in the "bad I fall way". Yay, you're the right hand of God. Does that keep you warm on those cold winter nights? People become afraid of themselves when around you. None can look you in the eyes for fear that you'll see some dark sin on their soul. Your brother took over the family farm, got married and now has 7 kids. You get to see the unconditional love a child has for their parent when they all run to him when he comes home and they hug him, what does the paladin have? A winged horse, a talking sword that thinks your too soft on sinners and really shinny armour. Who loves him? Their parent dies, as is the natural order of things, what good is all that divine power going to be? What have they truly gained? What use at the end of the day is ultimate power?

Paladins are French nobility. It's entirely feasible for them to be "Lawful" because what they say is literally Law. If a paladin is in his fief and decrees that the sky is to be referred to as green, then that's the law. This becomes more interesting given their divine authority. What if in his fief the sky really did become green? Granted I was not a big fan of Bruce Almighty, but the potential is readily there.

Then there's man vs society with the twist that the man represents society. If the thief is stealing then the paladin has a moral obligation to society to chop is hand off for theft. Yes, he is policing the other players, but that's because he really is The Man. It's a perfectly fine character concept. It's a fun concept. It's a concept found in almost every RPG with a defined church organization. If it really was as bad as what you're trying so desperately to make it out to be "Old Testament Paladin/Inquisitor" wouldn't be so common a concept in so many systems.

Yet another problem I have with GNS, it promotes stereotypes and narrow minded thinking.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-07, 11:55 AM
Well, regardless of the merits of GNS theory, or the motivation of the player, this is important advice to a DM faced with a Paladin. Before the game begins, the DM and the Player must explain and agree on what the paladin is and isnt allowed to do (whether you call it code of conduct or alignment). Each will be making assumptions different from the other, so talk it through. The DM may be privvy to details about the other PCs that the player isn't, and may be able to spot undesired conflict before it begins.
Sure, absolutely.

Shadowbane
2009-09-07, 12:08 PM
This, a whole lot of this. Paladins, when actually roleplayed and not wargamed are full of manyu other potentials. Yes, they have a code of honour, but that doesn't have to be the central motive of the character's story. Indeed just looking at some of the ramifications contain multiple stories worth of content.
If you truly live up to your code of honour you in essence can easily sacrifice your humanity for the sake of humanity. Not in the "bad I fall way". Yay, you're the right hand of God. Does that keep you warm on those cold winter nights? People become afraid of themselves when around you. None can look you in the eyes for fear that you'll see some dark sin on their soul. Your brother took over the family farm, got married and now has 7 kids. You get to see the unconditional love a child has for their parent when they all run to him when he comes home and they hug him, what does the paladin have? A winged horse, a talking sword that thinks your too soft on sinners and really shinny armour. Who loves him? Their parent dies, as is the natural order of things, what good is all that divine power going to be? What have they truly gained? What use at the end of the day is ultimate power?

Paladins are French nobility. It's entirely feasible for them to be "Lawful" because what they say is literally Law. If a paladin is in his fief and decrees that the sky is to be referred to as green, then that's the law. This becomes more interesting given their divine authority. What if in his fief the sky really did become green? Granted I was not a big fan of Bruce Almighty, but the potential is readily there.

Then there's man vs society with the twist that the man represents society. If the thief is stealing then the paladin has a moral obligation to society to chop is hand off for theft. Yes, he is policing the other players, but that's because he really is The Man. It's a perfectly fine character concept. It's a fun concept. It's a concept found in almost every RPG with a defined church organization. If it really was as bad as what you're trying so desperately to make it out to be "Old Testament Paladin/Inquisitor" wouldn't be so common a concept in so many systems.

Yet another problem I have with GNS, it promotes stereotypes and narrow minded thinking.

Please tell me you play paladins often. Please. I mean, you nailed it. You nailed it so much.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-07, 12:17 PM
Indeed. That concept just suddenly became an NPC in my campaign. It's a great idea.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-07, 01:35 PM
This, a whole lot of this. Paladins, when actually roleplayed and not wargamed are full of manyu other potentials. Yes, they have a code of honour, but that doesn't have to be the central motive of the character's story. Indeed just looking at some of the ramifications contain multiple stories worth of content.
If you truly live up to your code of honour you in essence can easily sacrifice your humanity for the sake of humanity. Not in the "bad I fall way". Yay, you're the right hand of God. Does that keep you warm on those cold winter nights? People become afraid of themselves when around you. None can look you in the eyes for fear that you'll see some dark sin on their soul. Your brother took over the family farm, got married and now has 7 kids. You get to see the unconditional love a child has for their parent when they all run to him when he comes home and they hug him, what does the paladin have? A winged horse, a talking sword that thinks your too soft on sinners and really shinny armour. Who loves him? Their parent dies, as is the natural order of things, what good is all that divine power going to be? What have they truly gained? What use at the end of the day is ultimate power?...

Then there's man vs society with the twist that the man represents society. If the thief is stealing then the paladin has a moral obligation to society to chop is hand off for theft. Yes, he is policing the other players, but that's because he really is The Man. It's a perfectly fine character concept. It's a fun concept. It's a concept found in almost every RPG with a defined church organization. If it really was as bad as what you're trying so desperately to make it out to be "Old Testament Paladin/Inquisitor" wouldn't be so common a concept in so many systems.
But you're exactly proving my point here! For the sake of dramatic potential, you are placing the Paladin in situations that actively challenge his most central beliefs! "I will defend the innocent and uphold the Law"- is the belief. Now you're saying, "Can you still believe this if it makes you bitter and lonely and loveless"? "Can you still believe this if the law-breaker is a starving ten-year old"? And if the character answers in the affirmative, you're now going to have to push that even further. In even more stressful situations. It's a game of thematic brinkmanship which the Paladin cannot possibly win- you either suffer for your sins, or suffer for your virtues.

Paladins are French nobility. It's entirely feasible for them to be "Lawful" because what they say is literally Law...
A law you can make up on a whim is not a Law worth speaking of. This is essentially the Dogs in the Vineyard approach, where the players can literally do no wrong- but they also have no formal code of conduct!

Drakevarg
2009-09-07, 01:38 PM
{scrubbed}

Samurai Jill
2009-09-07, 01:49 PM
Enforcing alignments as rigid, arbitrary moral viewpoints that cause opposites to automatically hate each other is not only stupid, it seems fundementally incompatible with Narrativist gameplay. Does this mean that alignments are worthless in a Narrativist setting? Hell, no. They wouldn't be obvious amongst non-zealots, but primarily they should function as vague guidelines towards character viewpoints, but that doesn't mean that a Republican and a Democrat would automatically be required to start a knife fight.
There is absolutely nothing 'stupid' about applying rigid behavioural definitions to each alignment, it's simply that this approach mainly complements Simulationism- and you're right, it's completely incompatible with Narrativist play. But at the same time, it's silly to suggest that defining alignments as diametrically opposed, and then saying that anywhere outside the bottom quadrants is kosher (or sometimes even those,) isn't going to encourage interplayer conflict. The diametric opposition is the only thing about them that isn't left hopelessly vague.

Drakevarg
2009-09-07, 02:06 PM
{Scrubbed}

Fhaolan
2009-09-07, 05:24 PM
But you're exactly proving my point here! For the sake of dramatic potential, you are placing the Paladin in situations that actively challenge his most central beliefs! "I will defend the innocent and uphold the Law"- is the belief. Now you're saying, "Can you still believe this if it makes you bitter and lonely and loveless"? "Can you still believe this if the law-breaker is a starving ten-year old"? And if the character answers in the affirmative, you're now going to have to push that even further. In even more stressful situations. It's a game of thematic brinkmanship which the Paladin cannot possibly win- you either suffer for your sins, or suffer for your virtues.

Of course the Paladin cannot possibly win. Nor can any other character, when put through this Narrativist wringer. That's the point of this incarnation of Narrativism, to find the breaking point of *all* characters. It's just far more obvious for Paladins because they wear their morals and ethics openly, and therefore it's easier to find the breaking point than most.

Which is why a lot of people really don't like Narrativism as GNS defines it. It's like playing Call of Cthulhu. The character is going to lose. It's guarenteed. It takes a certain type of person to play a game where there's no chance of success.

Kylarra
2009-09-07, 05:34 PM
Which is why a lot of people really don't like Narrativism as GNS defines it. It's like playing Call of Cthulhu. The character is going to lose. It's guarenteed. It takes a certain type of person to play a game where there's no chance of success.well there is Paranoia... but that seems like it's at odds with the "srs" narrative that's supposed to be taking place...

Kalirren
2009-09-07, 06:25 PM
But at the same time, it's silly to suggest that defining alignments as diametrically opposed, and then saying that anywhere outside the bottom quadrants is kosher (or sometimes even those,) isn't going to encourage interplayer conflict.

In practice, many DMs say, "Well, since we have a very strong paladin character concept in the works, I'm accepting that application and requesting that all players modify their character concepts if necessary so as to avoid conflict with it. Intraparty conflict is not part of my creative agenda."

And that would be that. Just like everyone can agree to play the same system, everyone can agree to wear the same color hats. What, in your opinion, is the relevance of GNS to this solution? Does the model explain its efficacy? Is it incompatible with any of the three supposed modes of play?

I don't think you'll be able to come up with good answers to those questions because I think none exist, but give me your best.

Kris Strife
2009-09-07, 07:27 PM
{Scrubbed}

Roland St. Jude
2009-09-07, 08:18 PM
Sheriff of Moddingham: This is the one and only warning this thread is going to get. Please don't attack, insult, or belittle others. Also, please stop calling each others ideas and posts names (whether that's "silly" or "pointless" or whatever) and don't drag politics in this thread. If people can't disagree civilly, this thread's going to be locked.

horseboy
2009-09-08, 02:49 AM
Please tell me you play paladins often. Please. I mean, you nailed it. You nailed it so much.Oh yeah. I play paladins even in systems and genres that don't have paladins.
But you're exactly proving my point here! For the sake of dramatic potential, you are placing the Paladin in situations that actively challenge his most central beliefs! "I will defend the innocent and uphold the Law"- is the belief. Now you're saying, "Can you still believe this if it makes you bitter and lonely and loveless"? "Can you still believe this if the law-breaker is a starving ten-year old"? And if the character answers in the affirmative, you're now going to have to push that even further. In even more stressful situations. It's a game of thematic brinkmanship which the Paladin cannot possibly win- you either suffer for your sins, or suffer for your virtues.
1) I'm not a fan of melodrama. For every low you HAVE to have a high, or else the low has no meaning and the whole thing just becomes farce.
2) It only works in theorycraft. In practical application, you know where GNS falls flat on it's face EVERY TIME, there's 5 other players. For my "central theme" to come up even twice as the central event of the night, you're looking at 12 nights. That's almost 6 months for us, 3 if you're meeting once a week. And that wouldn't count the nights where our characters decide to just take the day off, like normal people, and hang out at the pub all night and kibitz, engage in bar sports, and other friendly rivalries that inevitably wind up with the bar burned down. How long do you expect campaigns to last? Even if you've got a GM that has the time management skills that he can weave two into to session, you're still looking at two happy, two sad (not a fan of the melodrama, remember?) I'm still going to spend more time showing the rogue who's done nothing but drift aimlessly through his whole life the strength one gains when you've got something worth staying for; ironically being the emotional anchor for the mage, because she's in much the same boat as me; arguing politics with the hippy druid; and trying to get the munchkin to roleplay. A paladin's fall is as "inevitable" as a mage hitting 20. It'll happen only if you set it up to happen, or if you play to the point of you've run out of ideas.
Even then there's so many other, frankly better, ways to end the character. He learns solace through duty, dies a martyr or winds up happily ever after with the mage. There's plenty out there other than bad 70's cinema break the cutie influence.

A law you can make up on a whim is not a Law worth speaking of. This is essentially the Dogs in the Vineyard approach, where the players can literally do no wrong- but they also have no formal code of conduct!And yet that's how monarchy law worked. Provided your edict does not violate your obligations to your liege or Lord, what you said went. A paladin's code of conduct really doesn't change that.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-08, 10:33 AM
Of course the Paladin cannot possibly win. Nor can any other character, when put through this Narrativist wringer.
You're missing the point. Only the paladin is explicitly punished for this kind of moral exploration, because they have explicit Falling mechanics. Other characters have a choice- evolve, develop, grow, and change their beliefs, without making the final sacrifice. Sure, there's an emotional cost there, but not a mechanical cost that makes the character unplayable.

Let me try to give you an example, from Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari states that he'd rather die than kill a human being when Toji's Eva is possessed. But in the third-final epsiode, Kowaru, the Final Angel, the harbinger of Armageddon, who takes human form, is literally begging Shinji to kill him. Does he, or doesn't he? Here's the remarkable thing- either outcome would be dramatically satisfying!
Option A (which, incidentally happens-) Shinji kills Kowaru, realises the limits of moral idealism, and saves the world. He proves his humanity- the limits of his knowledge, his humility.
Option B- Shinji releases Kowaru, and the Angels inherit the earth. The screen whites-out, and we reflect that Shinji sided with the one person who showed him unconditional love, ('even in the face of Armageddon', as Rorschach might put it.)


...And that would be that. Just like everyone can agree to play the same system, everyone can agree to wear the same color hats.
Well, sure- but in that case, you've effectively chucked out the alignment system as given in favour of well-defined character concepts that don't invite conflict. Which I think is what I recommended?

Fax Celestis
2009-09-08, 10:45 AM
You're missing the point. Only the paladin is explicitly punished for this kind of moral exploration, because they have explicit Falling mechanics. FALSE. Clerics, Healers, Holy Liberators, Druids, Bards, Barbarians, Monks, anything out of the Book of Exalted Deeds or Book of Vile Darkness (though the latter is much less a "fall" as it is an "ascent"), Grey Guards, Blackguards, Divine Crusaders, Knights, and Favored Souls all have "falling" mechanics ranging from 'incompatible alignment renders you essentially a commoner' to 'you may never take this class again.'

To quote what's in the SRD:

Ex-Barbarians

A barbarian who becomes lawful loses the ability to rage and cannot gain more levels as a barbarian. He retains all the other benefits of the class (damage reduction, fast movement, trap sense, and uncanny dodge).

Ex-Bards

A bard who becomes lawful in alignment cannot progress in levels as a bard, though he retains all his bard abilities.

Ex-Clerics

A cleric who grossly violates the code of conduct required by his god loses all spells and class features, except for armor and shield proficiencies and proficiency with simple weapons. He cannot thereafter gain levels as a cleric of that god until he atones (see the atonement spell description).

Ex-Druids

A druid who ceases to revere nature, changes to a prohibited alignment, or teaches the Druidic language to a nondruid loses all spells and druid abilities (including her animal companion, but not including weapon, armor, and shield proficiencies). She cannot thereafter gain levels as a druid until she atones (see the atonement spell description).

Ex-Monks

A monk who becomes nonlawful cannot gain new levels as a monk but retains all monk abilities.

Like a member of any other class, a monk may be a multiclass character, but multiclass monks face a special restriction. A monk who gains a new class or (if already multiclass) raises another class by a level may never again raise her monk level, though she retains all her monk abilities.

When you make a statement like "Paladins are the only ones who have X", please make sure what you're saying is actually the case.

Kris Strife
2009-09-08, 10:47 AM
FALSE. Clerics, Healers, Holy Liberators, Druids, Bards, Barbarians, Monks, anything out of the Book of Exalted Deeds or Book of Vile Darkness (though the latter is much less a "fall" as it is an "ascent"), Grey Guards, Blackguards, Divine Crusaders, Knights, and Favored Souls all have "falling" mechanics ranging from 'incompatible alignment renders you essentially a commoner' to 'you may never take this class again.'

To quote what's in the SRD:






When you make a statement like "Paladins are the only ones who have X", please make sure what you're saying is actually the case.

Yeah, but when was the last time you played (or even heard of) a game where any of this actually happened?

Fax Celestis
2009-09-08, 10:50 AM
Yeah, but when was the last time you played (or even heard of) a game where any of this actually happened?

When's the last time you played in a game wherein the DM forced a paladin to fall? Because if you have, and he let someone else slide on their falling mechanic, you've got a pretty shoddy DM. Those restrictions are there for a reason--whether or not I agree with them as a game mechanic aside--and as such letting one player slide by his (admittedly more vaguely defined) falling mechanic while forcing another to fall is favoritism, a house rule, or merely poor DMing.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-08, 10:53 AM
Oh yeah. I play paladins even in systems and genres that don't have paladins.
1) I'm not a fan of melodrama. For every low you HAVE to have a high, or else the low has no meaning and the whole thing just becomes farce.
Bear in mind that the 'escalation' I'm talking about here is relatively gradual- it would happen fairly slowly over the course of unfolding events, and reach it's climax only as the story as a whole approached it's conclusion (at least for that character.)

2) It only works in theorycraft. In practical application, you know where GNS falls flat on it's face EVERY TIME, there's 5 other players. For my "central theme" to come up even twice as the central event of the night, you're looking at 12 nights.
You're assuming that multiple players can't be involved in the address of premise within a single session. In Dogs in the Vineyard, for example, you, the GM, are expected to hit up on at least one of every PCs' key emotional issues in every session. It's not particularly hard- the choice just has to be present situationally in such a fashion that the player can't walk away from it. It needn't take 30 minutes of back-and-forth kibbitzing each, or be particularly lengthy to resolve. How long does it take to decide to kill, or not kill someone? -A split-second, maybe a few tense moments. How long does it take to accept a marriage proposal, or deny it? ...30 seconds?

You're acting like these games don't even exist, when they very clearly do- there are entire rule-sets that revolve around nothing else, and have a real base of devoted players. You just don't blow time on things that don't aid the address of premise.

And that wouldn't count the nights where our characters decide to just take the day off, like normal people, and hang out at the pub all night and kibitz, engage in bar sports, and other friendly rivalries that inevitably wind up with the bar burned down.
In stories, you basically skip over those with a minimum of description- because they're boring. I mean, do you really have entire sessions that revolve around bar sports? Really? ...Really?

...arguing politics with the hippy druid; and trying to get the munchkin to roleplay.
If you're playing Narrativist, it's not a great idea to have the Munchkin present in the first place. This is one of the benefits of coherent design- he or she'll either shape up, or move on.

And yet that's how monarchy law worked...
Historically speaking, the European Monarchy were, as often as not, a bunch of inbred, squabbling, egomaniacal tyrants. This is not the prototype for Paladin behaviour you really want to gravitate to.

Kris Strife
2009-09-08, 10:54 AM
When's the last time you played in a game wherein the DM forced a paladin to fall? Because if you have, and he let someone else slide on their falling mechanic, you've got a pretty shoddy DM. Those restrictions are there for a reason--whether or not I agree with them as a game mechanic aside--and as such letting one player slide by his (admittedly more vaguely defined) falling mechanic while forcing another to fall is favoritism, a house rule, or merely poor DMing.

I got threatened with a fall for contemplating punching out the NG Druid who swiped the chest piece of my armor (it got pulled off in battle by some mooks) and refused to give it back.

And no, the druid was not threatened with penalties from having metal armor.

Fax Celestis
2009-09-08, 10:59 AM
I got threatened with a fall for contemplating punching out the NG Druid who swiped the chest piece of my armor (it got pulled off in battle by some mooks) and refused to give it back.

And that doesn't strike you as poor DMing at all?

Kris Strife
2009-09-08, 11:03 AM
And that doesn't strike you as poor DMing at all?

Lil bit, but as I was in Med Hold and he was the only DM in my barracks, and was aside from that particular incident a very good DM, good plot, blanced encounters for a mixed EC group (people dropping in and out as they were RRTed, ELSed or MedBoarded out, or brought in) and he was very good at playing the NPCs, I was willing to over look that. Wound up getting my armor back by paying the Druid some cash. I still think a Lay on Hands (expletive deleted)-slap would have been more satisfying though.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-08, 11:04 AM
When you make a statement like "Paladins are the only ones who have X", please make sure what you're saying is actually the case.
I stand corrected, but as you mentioned, the 'falling penalties' here are much milder, and the 'code of conduct' allows much more room to maneuvre in thematic terms, so it's much less likely that such characters would fall into the same trap.

Fax Celestis
2009-09-08, 11:14 AM
I stand corrected, but as you mentioned, the 'falling penalties' here are much milder, and the 'code of conduct' allows much more room to maneuvre in thematic terms, so it's much less likely that such characters would fall into the same trap.

The only difference is that a paladin has a strict code of conduct (that is, one that is explicitly defined), whereas other classes have a code of conduct that is either not defined (as it is unique to the deity they follow) or is generally tied to an alignment.

Theoretically, having a strict code should make it easier to follow for a paladin, rather than more difficult: he knows what his bounds are. In the case of a Neutral Good cleric of a Lawful Good deity who does a couple acts that could be construed as "chaotic" could, dependent on the DM, shift to Chaotic Good and render himself without god, magic, and class features--and getting back to his alignment could be a hassle as really there's no way to go about it without invoking the "metagaming" clause.

Alignment restrictions are a poor choice of game mechanic--and honestly, mechanical alignment in general is pretty poor too. They directly cause metagame behavior and cause argument after useless argument.

While alignment should be part of a character's definition, it should not be the only definition. There are too many definitions of "Lawful Good" to pidgeonhole every paladin into the same anal-retentive control freak.

Starbuck_II
2009-09-08, 11:24 AM
Lil bit, but as I was in Med Hold and he was the only DM in my barracks, and was aside from that particular incident a very good DM, good plot, blanced encounters for a mixed EC group (people dropping in and out as they were RRTed, ELSed or MedBoarded out, or brought in) and he was very good at playing the NPCs, I was willing to over look that. Wound up getting my armor back by paying the Druid some cash. I still think a Lay on Hands (expletive deleted)-slap would have been more satisfying though.

Wait...you paid a guy who stole from you for your own stuff?! :smallconfused:

Kalirren
2009-09-08, 11:24 AM
Well, sure- but in that case, you've effectively chucked out the alignment system as given in favour of well-defined character concepts that don't invite conflict. Which I think is what I recommended?


Why do you say I've effectively chucked out the alignment system? I haven't chucked out the alignment system at all! Just because every player character is on Team Good and wearing that color hat doesn't mean that your average Vampire isn't on Team Evil anymore. NPCs can still wear the other color hat, and I expect that will make for good conflict.

The alignment system with the paladin code doesn't necessarily foster inter-player conflict. What it does is post up a big warning sign, saying, "If you have a paladin in your group and also have an evil person in your group, be prepared for pain." And that problem can be averted during the process of character creation/group formation, if it is decided that since there is a paladin in the group, all characters created will be created so as to not give him trouble.

And do you have any answers for the questions I actually asked, in relation to how or if GNS theory explains the efficacy of this measure? I'm very interested in the responses you might have, because I really am at the bounds of my imagination. I do not believe it does. I believe that this is a case that the Big Model can handle (well, could handle if it were correct,) which GNS cannot because it includes the idea of Social Contract.

Kris Strife
2009-09-08, 11:28 AM
Wait...you paid a guy who stole from you for your own stuff?! :smallconfused:

We were in the middle of a necropolis and I happened to like that particular piece of my Breast Plate of Invulnerability... Also, we didn't have a rouge to steal it back for me.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-08, 11:46 AM
When's the last time you played in a game wherein the DM forced a paladin to fall? Because if you have, and he let someone else slide on their falling mechanic, you've got a pretty shoddy DM. Those restrictions are there for a reason--whether or not I agree with them as a game mechanic aside--and as such letting one player slide by his (admittedly more vaguely defined) falling mechanic while forcing another to fall is favoritism, a house rule, or merely poor DMing.

The point is, no DM should ever force a paladin to fall. If a paladin falls, he does so because of his own actions, knowingly violating his code. If your DM is forcing it on you, he's DMing poorly. The same is true of other classes with a code. Thus, falling should actually be pretty rare.

Yes, it's possible to design a party that will inevitibly have interparty conflict. Alignment need not even be part of this. Races may not get along. Kender is an obvious example.




As for "Dogs in a Vineyard" and similar games...sure, we can ignore them. Because those types of games are rare, not terribly popular, and not very representative of the RPG genre. That particular game was published online/cheap paperback format. Im unable to find any expansions for it. In terms of RPGs, it's pretty obscure, it seems. If they are the solution, and most players are not terribly fond of them...doesn't that seem odd?

Fhaolan
2009-09-08, 12:29 PM
You're missing the point.

I see the point. I simply disagree with the conclusion you've drawn. :smallsmile:

Here's my version of the conflict:

The problem with Paladins and narrativists, as I see it, is that the Paladin is a class that comes with a conflict designed into it. It is the most restrictive of classes, narrative-wise, as that's the nature of working with a very fixed archetype. The Narrativist can choose to add additional conflicts to the character, but they cannot ignore the one built-in to the archetype without altering the game rules. Some Narrativists seem to find this unreasonably restricting.

The Paladin does appear to be an example of incoherent design. It is an highly fixed archetype mixed into a list of highly flexible archetypes (such as Fighter, Rogue, etc.). As such, it doesn't really fit in. 2nd Ed. kits and 3rd Ed. PRCs are more similar to the Paladin in their more restrictive and fixed archetypal designs. In Original D&D this is exactly how this was handled, and there are optional rules that have been published for 3rd edition for this as well.

The problem with this is that this is a Gamist resolution, and has nothing to do with the Narrativist perspective. In effect all it does for the Narrativist is hide the class deeper into the ruleset, in the hopes that they will simply ignore it as unnecessary optional rules that do not apply to their playstyle.

UserClone
2009-09-08, 12:31 PM
This is why I like Paladins. http://goblins.keenspot.com/d/20061223.html It gives the character a sense of nobility of purpose and a sense of a greater responsibility to those around him. I LIKE that.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-08, 12:47 PM
Um...if you like the paladin, play a paladin....if you hate the concept, don't?

I mean, it's not as if it's the only way to play a lawful good warrior or something.

Starbuck_II
2009-09-08, 02:18 PM
This is why I like Paladins. http://goblins.keenspot.com/d/20061223.html It gives the character a sense of nobility of purpose and a sense of a greater responsibility to those around him. I LIKE that.

Doesn't Goblins have a Paladin who smites without using detect evil and never falls: He even kills those who knew the evil because "taint" worries?

Korr something I think is his name.

Kylarra
2009-09-08, 02:26 PM
Doesn't Goblins have a Paladin who smites without using detect evil and never falls: He even kills those who knew the evil because "taint" worries?

Korr something I think is his name.I believe he's a "paladin" much in the same way that Miko was a 'samurai'.

horseboy
2009-09-08, 03:01 PM
You're assuming that multiple players can't be involved in the address of premise within a single session. In Dogs in the Vineyard, for example, you, the GM, are expected to hit up on at least one of every PCs' key emotional issues in every session. It's not particularly hard- the choice just has to be present situationally in such a fashion that the player can't walk away from it. It needn't take 30 minutes of back-and-forth kibbitzing each, or be particularly lengthy to resolve. How long does it take to decide to kill, or not kill someone? -A split-second, maybe a few tense moments. How long does it take to accept a marriage proposal, or deny it? ...30 seconds? A year and a half. At least if you want it to mean something emotionally. You have to build something up for it to have an emotional content. That takes time. If I just drop someone in for them to kill or kiss, why would they be conflicted without a reason? Where's the emotional attachment to the decision.


You're acting like these games don't even exist, when they very clearly do- there are entire rule-sets that revolve around nothing else, and have a real base of devoted players. You just don't blow time on things that don't aid the address of premise.Yes, and FATAL clearly does exist and has a real base of devoted players. I fail to see why rape should be something every system must now have rules for.


In stories, you basically skip over those with a minimum of description- because they're boring. I mean, do you really have entire sessions that revolve around bar sports? Really? ...Really?It's why I never start a campaign in an inn. If I do, the players will steadfastly refuse to do anything else. It's also good for after the BBEG fight. It humanizes the characters and reminds the players of why they just saved the world. I find the emotional bond works a lot better than the reasonings of "That's where I keep all my stuff" and "Because we're the only PC's here."


If you're playing Narrativist, it's not a great idea to have the Munchkin present in the first place. This is one of the benefits of coherent design- he or she'll either shape up, or move on.Gee, and here I was thinking he was there because he's the mage's fiance IRL. Good to know coherent design can determine who my players date. :smallamused:

Ravens_cry
2009-09-08, 03:04 PM
I believe he's a "paladin" much in the same way that Miko was a 'samurai'.
Yes, he was the most shuddersum creature I have ever read about in a webcomic. I wonder when we will be getting back to him.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-08, 04:44 PM
A year and a half. At least if you want it to mean something emotionally. You have to build something up for it to have an emotional content.
Perhaps, but it might also reflect on something that the character had on their sheet to begin with, e.g, "I will seek wealth and influence as the best means of attaining my goals." Then you hit them with a wealthy, politically-connected suitor that they've had some interaction with during the previous session or two.

If you're not playing off 'character hooks', then you would need to build up a bit first, but this is what I'm talking about when I say escalation- you'd start of with some relatively minor conflict where that person is placed in danger, and see how the character reacts when protecting them is inconvenient. If they come down in favour of 'this person is important to me', you'd then follow up, later on, with essentially the same choice- but bigger.

I mean, look at the first bumper episode of Firefly, which takes, all told, what- two hours? Admittedly, Whedon is a genius, but there's no better demonstration of Narrativist principles in action. The first double-episode manages to touch on the key emotional priorities of every single character in the crew-

Shepherd Book- "I saw a man shot whom I swore to protect- and I'm not even sure it was wrong."

Inara Sera- "Mal, if you throw them out, I'm leaving too."

Jayne Cobb-
"You're not killing this man."
"Not right away."
"I ain't jokin' with you preacher. Move."
"Not gonna happen."

Mal Reynolds-
"What is it that makes you so afraid of the Alliance?"
"-You don't wanna go down this road with me boy."
"Oh- are you not afraid of them? I already know you'd sell me out to them for a pat on the head. Maybe you should be working for them, you certainly fit the profile-"

Kaylee-
"He wasn't gonna let me die. It's nobody's fault. You just gotta have faith in people."

Wash-
"Whitefall isn't exactly civilisation in the strictest sense."
"You don't have to worry about us."
"When Zoe's out on a job, I always worry. So, it's not out of my way."

Zoe-
"Zoe, you were right about this bein' a bad idea."
"Thanks for sayin' so sir."

Simon Tam-
"You let her die, you'll never make it to the feds."
"-She'll still be dead."

River Tam-
Uh... Actually... I'm sort of drawing a blank here- but hey- that's still EIGHT PCs! Count 'em! Eight!

And this is all in the early stages, when the characters are just being defined! Look at this show. It's all about emotional conflicts, between and within characters, episode after episode after episode after gripping episode. -None of which takes more than an hour. If you want that, the key is to shave away anything which doesn't directly aid that kind of back-and-forth interpersonal drama (something which DitV, incidentally, emulates very well.)

Yes, and FATAL clearly does exist and has a real base of devoted players. I fail to see why rape should be something every system must now have rules for.
I won't dignify that comparison with commentary.

Gee, and here I was thinking he was there because he's the mage's fiance IRL. Good to know coherent design can determine who my players date. :smallamused:
No, but it can send them a clearer message about what play's really going to be about. If they don't like it, they won't play, and if they think they could 'get used to it,' they'll adapt accordingly.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-08, 04:57 PM
I see the point. I simply disagree with the conclusion you've drawn. :smallsmile:

Here's my version of the conflict:
Actually, I'm 100% in agreement with you on this description. I don't see taking the Gamist (or Simulationist) approach as inherently a problem, though- it all depends on the overall preferences of your group. But yes, I don't think the Paladin concept is really compatible with dedicated Narrativist play.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-08, 05:03 PM
As for "Dogs in a Vineyard" and similar games...sure, we can ignore them. Because those types of games are rare, not terribly popular, and not very representative of the RPG genre. That particular game was published online/cheap paperback format. Im unable to find any expansions for it. In terms of RPGs, it's pretty obscure, it seems. If they are the solution, and most players are not terribly fond of them...doesn't that seem odd?
Most players are 'not terribly fond of them' because they've never heard of, let alone had the chane to play them- and given how you've dismissed DitV without a second thought or any experience of actual play on that basis alone, I'd incline to the view there's some circular reasoning at work.

Why do you say I've effectively chucked out the alignment system? I haven't chucked out the alignment system at all! Just because every player character is on Team Good and wearing that color hat doesn't mean that your average Vampire isn't on Team Evil anymore. NPCs can still wear the other color hat, and I expect that will make for good conflict.
Yes, but this is the 'kill me' and 'don't kill me' alignment-framework I recommended for Gamist play- which is perfectly functional, but also substantially simpler than the current alignment system.

The alignment system with the paladin code doesn't necessarily foster inter-player conflict. What it does is post up a big warning sign, saying, "If you have a paladin in your group and also have an evil person in your group, be prepared for pain."...
...And do you have any answers for the questions I actually asked, in relation to how or if GNS theory explains the efficacy of this measure?
I think that I explained the potential dysfunctions at some length during the original post, and their relation to GNS theory in particular. If I'm mistaken on that point, I'd appreciate knowing where.

Fhaolan
2009-09-08, 08:38 PM
Actually, I'm 100% in agreement with you on this description. I don't see taking the Gamist (or Simulationist) approach as inherently a problem, though- it all depends on the overall preferences of your group. But yes, I don't think the Paladin concept is really compatible with dedicated Narrativist play.

Actually, I'm not sure we really are 100% in agreement, as I use a lot of 'some' and 'seems' statements whereas yours appear to be a bit more absolutist, although I'm easily wrong on that. I believe Paladins *are* compatible with Narrativist play, providing the Narrativist is willing to work with the very narrow archetype that the Paladin represents. I just find that there are some very vocal Narrativists who don't like the *existance* of such narrow archetypes, and to make them happy (read: stop their whining :smalltongue:) I propose using the Gamist approach of hiding the archetype by moving into a slightly different area of the ruleset.

But then, that's because I personally don't fall very well into the GNS definitions. Anyone who's participated in the RPG games I run tend to describe them in Narrativist terms because I use a looser, more freeform concept, to the point that I've had players ask me half-way through a campaign to remind them what ruleset or edition we were using. However, I also enjoy playing (and mostly losing) highly complex historical wargames (Simulationist), as well as spending an inordinate amount of time messing around with character building and optimization in various systems that I am unlikely to ever actually play (Gamist).

You see, I'm *old*. I've been playing RPGs, wargames, and the like, for over thirty years. I've seen all the theories, all the 'stages of a gamer', all that dreck, and while I can spew the buzzwords as well as the next person, I'm just not really convinced that GNS really helps beyond the superficial.

In my opinion, if there is a conflict in playstyles in a gaming group, it does fall into either a two node or a three node conflict. Mainly because less than two nodes there is no conflict, and with more than three it's beyond the point of being a simple conflict and into a full blown psychotic event that will defy any normal game design theory (Google ThatLankyBugger's 'The Worst Game Session Ever' as the ultimate example). :smallsmile: What those nodes are depends on the psychology of the individuals involved. While some possible nodes could be described as Gamist, Simulationist, and Narrativist, there are others rarely talked about in GNS/Big Model as they are considered 'out of scope' and therefore irrelevant. Nodes such as 'Conflict of Interest' (the classic example being the 'GM's girlfriend/fiancee/wife/stalkee/etc.'), 'Obsessive' (an example being 'Yet another Drizzt/Cloud/whatever Clone'), 'Distracted' (the guy who wanders off to play a console game half-way through a combat, for an extreme example)... and I swear I had several others but they're skipping my mind right now. It's even possible to create games specifically for these playstyles... well okay, the 'Conflict of Interest' RPG that just sprung to mind now that I've typed this out needs forcibly erased from my memory. *shudder*

I've got to stop typing now and go find some bleach for my brain. Sorry.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-08, 08:55 PM
Most players are 'not terribly fond of them' because they've never heard of, let alone had the chane to play them- and given how you've dismissed DitV without a second thought or any experience of actual play on that basis alone, I'd incline to the view there's some circular reasoning at work.

Some RPGs do manage to become wildly popular. Gurps wasn't published by a mainstream publisher, and yet it gained a very solid following. I, personally, dislike it, but it pleases quite a few people. Popularity is, in the end, determined by gamers, and even those that start out in obscurity can rise if they are sufficiently well liked. RPG fans are notorious for pushing their favorite system on their friends.

However, if you never make it past the "obscure rpg printed on cheap stock consisting entirely of one book" level, then no, you are not in any way representative of the field of role playing, and can be happily ignored in an analysis of such.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-09, 12:15 AM
I believe Paladins *are* compatible with Narrativist play, providing the Narrativist is willing to work with the very narrow archetype that the Paladin represents.
That... would be a little like expecting a Gamist to be happy playing a wizard who only learnt one spell per level.

Anyone who's participated in the RPG games I run tend to describe them in Narrativist terms because I use a looser, more freeform concept, to the point that I've had players ask me half-way through a campaign to remind them what ruleset or edition we were using.
That may or may not be Narrativist in the strictest sense, depending on what you're overarching agenda is, but anyways...

While some possible nodes could be described as Gamist, Simulationist, and Narrativist, there are others rarely talked about in GNS/Big Model as they are considered 'out of scope' and therefore irrelevant.....
It's just that there's extremely little that you could do to design a rule-set that would appeal to such a... 'narrow demographic' and still be useful to anyone outside it. A given GNS mode is wide enough to be usable in groups, but narrow enough to avoid large categories of typical dysfunctions.

However, if you never make it past the "obscure rpg printed on cheap stock consisting entirely of one book" level, then no, you are not in any way representative of the field of role playing, and can be happily ignored in an analysis of such.
Gee, this 'Firefly' series got cancelled by the network and never ran for another series- what a pile of crap it must be. Windows must be the most secure and powerful operating system, C++ the most concise and expressive programming language, and English the simplest foreign tongue to master.

If you're going to inveigh against a thing, do so based on it's actual content and the experiences of people who might have actually played it. And it's hardly as if DitV is the only title to fall under the Nar umbrella (though, again, it's not likely you've heard of the others, let alone have any idea what they're like.) And again, lack of prevalance of rule-sets =/= lack of existence of predisposed players. This is actually one of the major sources of RP dysfunction- Narrativist players stuck using rule-sets that don't actually complement their agenda.

Fax Celestis
2009-09-09, 12:24 AM
That... would be a little like expecting a Gamist to be happy playing a wizard who only learnt one spell per level.

Well, depending on the spell...

Yukitsu
2009-09-09, 12:26 AM
Played fourth. While it was an interesting game experience wise, it was incapable of creating a compelling story because it was incapable of maintaining versimiliatude, or rather, it failed to simulate a world that could contain a compelling story. Some individuals are able to avoid this complaint by forcibly shattering suspension of disbelief and going about without any, but that's altering an expectation of the system such that a strong narrative unrelated to combat can emerge, and a rich setting devoid of mechanical implications.

Played call of Cthulhu d20. The mechanics were largely sound, from a gamers perspective, though largely futile when one thought using normal victory conditions. When you reconfigure it to "survival=success" rather than "beating the enemy=success" the mechanics become sound. The game revels in a degree of detail, and forgetting those can hoist the petard of even a well built character. On the other hand, the viceral atmosphere, and the constant tension between madness and sanity can lead to an interesting story, so long as individuals are willing to admit that some stories cycle through characters. It's accused of being purely "simulationist" but that rarely is the case in practice, with an often rich story being built as the campaign progresses.

The first is a case of how pure "gamist" may make a superior game, but in my opinion has failed to make a better RPG, and the latter why a supposedly simulationist game fails to fall into its category. Perhaps someone can explain why one of the "narrativist" games mentioned is either inferior, or fails to fall singularly (or even mostly) into its own category.

Fhaolan
2009-09-09, 01:29 AM
That... would be a little like expecting a Gamist to be happy playing a wizard who only learnt one spell per level.

Yep. And I've met several Gamists who can do that. Mainly by viewing the limitation as a challenge for them personally. Unfortunately, I have found that while most people who play RPGs are willing to challenge characters with limitations to overcome, challenging *themselves* with a limitation to overcome... not so willing. :smallsmile:

In one writing group I belong to, we regularlly set challenges for each other to stretch our creative muscles. Can we, as writers, actually do something, despite the restrictions set by the terms of the challenge? Can we make sense of it, when at first glance the requirements are nonsensical and in many cases contradictory. It's tricky, but once you get into the mindset of challenging *yourself* rather than just the characters, it opens up lots of possibilities.


That may or may not be Narrativist in the strictest sense, depending on what you're overarching agenda is, but anyways...

Nominally the overarching agenda is usually the exploration of the moral and ethical implications of the careers and associates the characters have chosen for themselves, and how those implications change the nature of the characters themselves over time. For example, one current group has to keep moving from place to place, not because they're evil but because they are weirdness magnets and they, as a group, want to protect the innocent from this. However, the fact that they need to travel is constantly wearing on them, driving them to dispair. They think they know where this 'curse' is coming from, and they are striving to discover how to shut it off. However, they're not absolutely sure, and this uncertainty is a source of conflict for the characters.

The level of player input into the agenda is a lot higher in my games than would be considered normal, with the 'big story' being subsumed into the what the players wish to work through with their characters. My GM agenda becomes more a default setting where if a character is 'idle' in the story, there's at least *something* for them to be doing. I've tried various Narritivist game systems for these games, such as Theatrix, Primetime Adventures, etc., and usually my players just look at me funny and say, why? We're doing all this stuff without a bizarre resolution system to force the issue. Why fix what isn't broken?


It's just that there's extremely little that you could do to design a rule-set that would appeal to such a... 'narrow demographic' and still be useful to anyone outside it. A given GNS mode is wide enough to be usable in groups, but narrow enough to avoid large categories of typical dysfunctions.

Possibly, unfortunately the typical dysfunctions I have run into over the years are less conflict between Narrativist, Simulationist, and Gamist, and more 'you're neurotic, you know that right?'. In most cases I've found the conflict in playstyles that could be described as Narrativist, Simulationist and Gamist actually drive creativity as the players strive to find some way to overcome those conflicts and work together to have fun. The only exceptions to this are people who are so dedicated to one single way of thinking that they fall into the 'Obsessive' category I mentioned previously. It really doesn't matter what they're obsessing over, be it Game, Sim, or Narritive, it's the fact they've focused so hard on this one single thing that it drives everything else out. In my experience that's something that causes real dysfunction in a group, and it's almost impossible to overcome.

The New Bruceski
2009-09-09, 05:55 AM
Played fourth. While it was an interesting game experience wise, it was incapable of creating a compelling story because it was incapable of maintaining versimiliatude, or rather, it failed to simulate a world that could contain a compelling story. Some individuals are able to avoid this complaint by forcibly shattering suspension of disbelief and going about without any, but that's altering an expectation of the system such that a strong narrative unrelated to combat can emerge, and a rich setting devoid of mechanical implications.


It failed, or you failed? I realize that's treading close to an attack on you, so let my try to clarify. When creating a story, how much of it is the responsibility of the game system? There are a bajillion different kinds of stories, and while you were unable to fit the one you wanted to the system, I feel you are taking it to too much of an absolute to say it is unable to fit any story without breaking the story structure. If you try to use a system like Shadowrun to tell a story of Jane Austen-style romance, it's going to fall apart, but that doesn't mean that Shadowrun doesn't support other styles of storytelling very well.

(Actually, I'm now thinking of that mashup. "Oh Mister Darcy, thank you so much for this courtship gift of Renraku's financial records. If not for the watchful eye of the Lone Star cameras on this street, I fear I would be unable to keep from doing something improper!")

Starbuck_II
2009-09-09, 06:40 AM
Gee, this 'Firefly' series got cancelled by the network and never ran for another series- what a pile of crap it must be. Windows must be the most secure and powerful operating system, C++ the most concise and expressive programming language, and English the simplest foreign tongue to master.

If you're going to inveigh against a thing, do so based on it's actual content and the experiences of people who might have actually played it. And it's hardly as if DitV is the only title to fall under the Nar umbrella (though, again, it's not likely you've heard of the others, let alone have any idea what they're like.) And again, lack of prevalance of rule-sets =/= lack of existence of predisposed players. This is actually one of the major sources of RP dysfunction- Narrativist players stuck using rule-sets that don't actually complement their agenda.

Don't remind me. I can't believe they did that to Firefly: Fox (done in Khan style)!!!

Tyndmyr
2009-09-09, 09:33 AM
That... would be a little like expecting a Gamist to be happy playing a wizard who only learnt one spell per level.

That may or may not be Narrativist in the strictest sense, depending on what you're overarching agenda is, but anyways...

It's just that there's extremely little that you could do to design a rule-set that would appeal to such a... 'narrow demographic' and still be useful to anyone outside it. A given GNS mode is wide enough to be usable in groups, but narrow enough to avoid large categories of typical dysfunctions.

Gee, this 'Firefly' series got cancelled by the network and never ran for another series- what a pile of crap it must be. Windows must be the most secure and powerful operating system, C++ the most concise and expressive programming language, and English the simplest foreign tongue to master.

If you're going to inveigh against a thing, do so based on it's actual content and the experiences of people who might have actually played it. And it's hardly as if DitV is the only title to fall under the Nar umbrella (though, again, it's not likely you've heard of the others, let alone have any idea what they're like.) And again, lack of prevalance of rule-sets =/= lack of existence of predisposed players. This is actually one of the major sources of RP dysfunction- Narrativist players stuck using rule-sets that don't actually complement their agenda.

Canceled /= popularity.

Secure and Powerful /= popularity.

Concise and Expressive /= popularity.

Simple /= popularity.

All of those examples are of popular things. Im criticizing a genre because it's not popular despite many attempts. My conclusion is that the unpopularity stems from a basic lack of desire for the genre as a whole.

So, you have a bunch of unheard of titles in the narrative-specific category. No significant number of people play ANY of them. Obviously, the entire category is unpopular by definition. And yet somehow, you consider the popular cross-category games and their players dysfunctional. Why? They appear to be enjoying them, at least enough to not bother seeking out these alternative games you propose. The function of a RPG is, in the end, to entertain. So long as that function is being fulfilled, the game is not dysfunctional.

Fhaolan
2009-09-09, 10:02 AM
(Actually, I'm now thinking of that mashup. "Oh Mister Darcy, thank you so much for this courtship gift of Renraku's financial records. If not for the watchful eye of the Lone Star cameras on this street, I fear I would be unable to keep from doing something improper!")

Blast you. Now I have to try to convince my gaming group to do this. It's all your fault. :smallsmile:

Samurai Jill
2009-09-09, 11:12 AM
Yep. And I've met several Gamists who can do that. Mainly by viewing the limitation as a challenge for them personally. Unfortunately, I have found that while most people who play RPGs are willing to challenge characters with limitations to overcome, challenging *themselves* with a limitation to overcome... not so willing. :smallsmile:
I won't say it's impossible, but that strikes me as a degree of privation that borders on the masochistic.

Nominally the overarching agenda is usually the exploration of the moral and ethical implications of the careers and associates the characters have chosen for themselves, and how those implications change the nature of the characters themselves over time.
...We're doing all this stuff without a bizarre resolution system to force the issue. Why fix what isn't broken?
Yeah, but bear in mind that you do have 30 years' experience of culling the mechanics behind you. Sure- if the current system is serving your needs, there's no compelling reason to change. And the reason why players with, initially, differing tastes can cooperate as you describe is because you've established a very clear creative agenda.

The only exceptions to this are people who are so dedicated to one single way of thinking that they fall into the 'Obsessive' category I mentioned previously. It really doesn't matter what they're obsessing over, be it Game, Sim, or Narritive, it's the fact they've focused so hard on this one single thing that it drives everything else out.
Well... yeah! But in that case, why not just skip the arduous step of trying to reconcile them with the group, and just present them with a rule-set specifically designed to appeal to just one (still reasonably broad) group of players? They'll either take the hint and not play, or try to adapt themselves. The idea is to send clear message about what play is primarily about.

I mean, there's an example here of two players, respectively a habitual Simulationist and a habitual Gamist, both 'converted' to Narrativists because the game mechanics- although intended to model rich characters and tough conflicts- made it so clear that Narrativism was really the primary focus of play.
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20695.0

...Any two of us got along just fine, more or less: Niklas let Lukas have some of that acting, and Lukas was happy to roll some mean ol´dice, once he got "his guy" to a point where that would make sense. Neither of them could fathom what the heck I was all about with that "thematic" stuff and what in heaven was wrong for me with the way the game ran. I could get into an acting contest with Lukas (while Niklas was rolling another cigarette) or throw dice with Niklas (while having to keep some acting up for Lukas - which is difficult, you know), and of course feeling that I was catering to their needs but got very little out of the game in terms of my thematic preferences.

I tried to adress these problems, we tried some changes to the game (stronger scene framing, some player empowerment, some meta - game currency, a more explicit social contract, heck, just some talking about what everybody wants out of our gaming). Dind´t work too well. I got the feeling that the other two tried to be nice and help me out, but, come on, why did they have to talk about gaming such an awful lot all of a sudden? 'Why not, you know, just ...game? The problem being, of course, that "just gaming" was a lot of work for ME. After a while, we kind of agreed to disagree and switched to board games. Fine.

Played fourth. While it was an interesting game experience wise, it was incapable of creating a compelling story because it was incapable of maintaining verisimilitude...
Brothers, behold the bereft Simulationist. It's true- you have been shafted. But there's nothing strictly preventing the presentation of story in 4E by standard Illusionist techniques. Look at the recent Star Trek film- is it logical, consistent, or believable? Hell, no. Is it fun? Yes! Is it dramatic? Yes! At least, that seems to be most people's reception to it.

I can understand your frustration to a large degree, but there are other Simulationist RPGs (either pure or hybrid) that could suit your needs so much better than D&D in the first place.

...It's accused of being purely "simulationist" but that rarely is the case in practice, with an often rich story being built as the campaign progresses.
That's not neccesarily a violation of Sim, depending on the methods by which story was produced or imposed upon events. The GM might be gently herding the players in thematically-satisfying directions using Illusionism. You might also be looking at a case of Stealth Narrativism, which doesn't violate GNS predictions at all.

Talya
2009-09-09, 11:30 AM
Considering Ron Edwards himself thought his GNS theory ended up being problematic and flawed at best (and complete bullfeces at worst), abandoning it in favor of his "big model", perhaps using it to categorize gamers is a bad idea.

Yukitsu
2009-09-09, 11:54 AM
It failed, or you failed? I realize that's treading close to an attack on you, so let my try to clarify. When creating a story, how much of it is the responsibility of the game system? There are a bajillion different kinds of stories, and while you were unable to fit the one you wanted to the system, I feel you are taking it to too much of an absolute to say it is unable to fit any story without breaking the story structure. If you try to use a system like Shadowrun to tell a story of Jane Austen-style romance, it's going to fall apart, but that doesn't mean that Shadowrun doesn't support other styles of storytelling very well.

It degenerated into missions comprising either of very odd diplomacy checks, or combat of people within about 80 feet. The system didn't handle the party doing highly intelligent things, so if the "story" called for a big brawl in X kind of terrain, it could handle it, but when the players met an insurmountable challenge, the solution was generally "light brigade" as opposed to any tactical accumen that would have helped, or they left and leveled up so that encounters would be easier. We use villains as people with class levels, and in the case of 4.0, it's much harder letting the BBEG escape due to a contingent teleport (activated when on the verge of defeat.) and so on and so forth.

The story type, as always should be a simple to epic tale about a band of illfitting or thematically coherent adventurers and their exploits, such as how they saved the world, or how they robbed an evil overlord's pantry.

Our standard 3.5 games have players doing things that are off the wall, inventive and unexpected. It's harder to either do this in 4.0 because magic is so limited, or it's drastically more difficult to adjudicate. Please read the "favourite familiar" thread for an example of something I did in 3.5 that makes a good story that is mechanically impossible in 4.0 without a great deal of difficult to balance house rules (like bringing back the polymorph chain)

Diamondeye
2009-09-09, 12:05 PM
I really can't see how a game that is primarily about enforcing the moral purity of a fictitious mormon society in the American West is ever going to be anything more than a niche market.

Yukitsu
2009-09-09, 12:05 PM
Brothers, behold the bereft Simulationist. It's true- you have been shafted. But there's nothing strictly preventing the presentation of story in 4E by standard Illusionist techniques. Look at the recent Star Trek film- is it logical, consistent, or believable? Hell, no. Is it fun? Yes! Is it dramatic? Yes! At least, that seems to be most people's reception to it.

I don't watch those movies, mostly for that reason. Plot holes and fake technojargon that fails to be consistent in their own setting irritates me. At any rate. Then again, I can play devil may cry's Dante without cheating or house rules in 3.5 so I probably simply don't understand why I would need illusionist techniques to play something dramatic or fun.


I can understand your frustration to a large degree, but there are other Simulationist RPGs (either pure or hybrid) that could suit your needs so much better than D&D in the first place.

Yeah, and I don't play them. I play 3.5, which sits happily in the middle when played properly. Pure simulationist games, if there are any, would be boring due to a lack of input to the plot, and there are limits even to my willingness to track things, like bullets spent.


That's not neccesarily a violation of Sim, depending on the methods by which story was produced or imposed upon events. The GM might be gently herding the players in thematically-satisfying directions using Illusionism. You might also be looking at a case of Stealth Narrativism, which doesn't violate GNS predictions at all.

And yet there is literaly no backing for those accusations, other than that that's what is required to fit your theory. No. The players and the DM went through our actions to create a fun and compelling story, and combat was a technical, gamist thing, with survival as our main goal.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-09, 12:11 PM
Don't remind me. I can't believe they did that to Firefly: Fox (done in Khan style)!!!
*sighs*.

All of those examples are of popular things. Im criticizing a genre because it's not popular despite many attempts. My conclusion is that the unpopularity stems from a basic lack of desire for the genre as a whole.
My conclusion is that popularity has exactly nothing to do with quality. Indie RPGs have generally sold badly becuse they (A) have no money to spend on advertising, (B) had no existing player-base to draw on, and (C) were, as a rule, terribly and sparsely illustrated. (This is why Luke Crane's alliance with indie comic illustrators strikes me as stroke of genius.) You don't need much more of an explanation than that.

I also seem to recall that the 3E DMG contained guidelines for two different styles of play: One where characters regularly break down the door, loot treasure, and engage in regular pitched battles against clearly Evil opponents (Gamism), and one where characters get involved in rich storylines, meet complex NPCs, and role-play extensively- in which case the DMG expressly mentions culling a lot of the mechanics. Isn't this a pretty frank concession that D&D simply did not cater well to Narrativist play, and that these demands have always existed? (For another example, the Introduction section of The Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game also makes mention of two styles of play: "Power and Responsibility" and "Clobberin' Time". Guess what those are?)

Fhaolan
2009-09-09, 12:22 PM
I won't say it's impossible, but that strikes me as a degree of privation that borders on the masochistic.

Hey, creative types are all about Masochism. Starving artists and the like, right? :smallbiggrin:


Yeah, but bear in mind that you do have 30 years' experience of culling the mechanics behind you. Sure- if the current system is serving your needs, there's no compelling reason to change. And the reason why players with, initially, differing tastes can cooperate as you describe is because you've established a very clear creative agenda.

Probably true. :)


Well... yeah! But in that case, why not just skip the arduous step of trying to reconcile them with the group, and just present them with a rule-set specifically designed to appeal to just one (still reasonably broad) group of players? They'll either take the hint and not play, or try to adapt themselves. The idea is to send clear message about what play is primarily about.

The difficulty is that my experiments with single-node systems within the groups I run with now have shown that the systems written from the GNS perspective do not have that reasonably broad appeal. The ones I've tried appear to be so narrow in design that they alienate players that otherwise are very functional within the existing group, while at the same time appealling to those single-minded players who *didn't* fit into the mixed-mode group. Oddly enough (according to GNS), it's the incoherent systems that the mixed-mode group enjoy at the same time as doing that 'hint' to the single-mode players that this isn't the group for them.

As a more detailed explanation. Our group professes to use D&D 3.0. Not 3.5, or 4th, or 2nd, but the rather odd 3.0 complete with all it's incoherent glitches. The pure Simulationists, the pure Gamists, and the pure Narrativists all dislike this system for completely different reasons, leaving behind the players that enjoy playing together.

However, this is just my experience, and as anecdotal evidence it really isn't worth much. :smallsmile:

Samurai Jill
2009-09-09, 12:22 PM
I really can't see how a game that is primarily about enforcing the moral purity of a fictitious mormon society in the American West is ever going to be anything more than a niche market.
That's a reasonable description, but slightly misleading, since the game doesn't actually require the players to adhere to a particular definition of morality. They are literally empowered to turn blasphemy into gospel if that's their call. And it does make suggestions for adapting the mechanics to widely different settings- anything western, mafia hitmen or LA cops- plus, there's always Firefly in the 'Verse (http://www.fusionofthought.com/fitv/Firefly-in-the-Verse.pdf).

Tyndmyr
2009-09-09, 01:33 PM
I really can't see how a game that is primarily about enforcing the moral purity of a fictitious mormon society in the American West is ever going to be anything more than a niche market.

Exactly. You can spend all the advertising money you want, but the reaction of the vast majority of players will be :smallconfused:. No location has a limitless number of players, and most RPGs are aimed at group play. Unless you can find groups of people willing to play an RPG, it won't be successful.

Any single node design, by definition, will appeal to less players than a broad inclusive design will be. Even if all people fell neatly into one extreme category, you have a third of the market share, tops. Realistically, a great many people here have expressed an explicit desire for a hybrid system. So...you're looking at a few percent of the market. 10-15% at most. You need a group of players that are all interested in something that specific. That's just not going to be a common occurance, and it's highly unlikely that players will consider trying out some highly specific game system that's "coherent" to be more important than gaming with their group of friends.

The fact that you're picking at his definition of enforcing morality(something he didnt bother to define, because its not relevant to the point) shows that you've entirely missed the message. No matter what those specific beliefs are, enforcing morality in a fictional mormon society in the old west is STILL highly specific.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-09, 02:19 PM
We use villains as people with class levels, and in the case of 4.0, it's much harder letting the BBEG escape due to a contingent teleport (activated when on the verge of defeat.) and so on and so forth.
I'm sorry- this is not player participation in story. This is Illusionism- scripting significant events in advance to give the impression of creative input when none exists.

Pure simulationist games, if there are any, would be boring due to a lack of input to the plot...
You're not giving players input to the plot. Just the illusion of it.

...mechanically impossible in 4.0 without a great deal of difficult to balance house rules (like bringing back the polymorph chain)
Oh, yes, because Polymorph was clearly a wonderful addition (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/dC21fDHZ4tK8n5OjUm9.html) to Gamist play.

...there are limits even to my willingness to track things, like bullets spent.
And yet, I'll bet your players happily count every gold piece spent.

Going by description, you're not talking about anything that 'sits in the middle'- you're talking about Simulationist play. If you were interested in balanced tactical competition, you would shun polymorph like the plague. If you were interested in inviting narrative input from players, you wouldn't be scripting the villain's dramatic retreat. You evidently facilitate neither mode of play and then somehow lay claim to both.

Considering Ron Edwards himself thought his GNS theory ended up being problematic and flawed at best (and complete bullfeces at worst), abandoning it in favor of his "big model", perhaps using it to categorize gamers is a bad idea.
The Big Model is an expansion and extension of GNS theory, not it's repudiation. Everything within the latter is integral to the former.

Yukitsu
2009-09-09, 02:25 PM
I'm sorry- this is not player participation in story. This is Illusionism- scripting significant events in advance to give the impression of creative input when none exists.

I disagree, considering how many tools there are in the game to prevent it. When we, as players, want to deal with the BBEG, we can dimensional lock him, and then go about our business. But that makes for a lame story.

That we understand how to mechanically ruin the story doesn't mean we will. We want an interesting story, and as such do not do so.


You're not giving players input to the plot. Just the illusion of it.

While a convenient accusation, that is not at all true.


Oh, yes, because Polymorph was clearly a wonderful addition (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/dC21fDHZ4tK8n5OjUm9.html) to Gamist play.

And yet it makes wonderful stories and simulations.

I'd argue that it's fairly workable in games when compared to other shenanigans that I know how to pull anyway, so it's not like it's that horrible


And yet, I'll bet your players happily count every gold piece spent.

No. I round to the hundreds, using real rounding. We aren't there for accounting. DM doesn't even charge for items under a thousand anymore.


Going by description, you're not talking about anything that 'sits in the middle'- you're talking about Simulationist play. If you were interested in balanced tactical competition, you would shun polymorph like the plague. If you were interested in inviting narrative input from players, you wouldn't be scripting the villain's dramatic retreat. You evidently facilitate neither mode of play and then somehow lay claim to both.

I don't have to shun polymorph for balanced tactical play, as all sides have it. So long as both the players and DM know the strengths and limitations of it, it is a perfectly viable set of spells. That you seem to assume the villains escape is unpreventable should the players want it prevented seems again to be an oversight into how the game is actually played.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-09, 02:27 PM
...Oddly enough (according to GNS), it's the incoherent systems that the mixed-mode group enjoy at the same time as doing that 'hint' to the single-mode players that this isn't the group for them.
Strictly speaking, they're enjoying your heavily-edited version of such systems, which is a credit to you. And it's certainly true that various Indie Nar games have had a very narrow focus (probably more narrow than they strictly need to be.)

However, this is just my experience, and as anecdotal evidence it really isn't worth much. :smallsmile:
No, no. Until such time as the Indie press gets enough cash together to do a more systematic survey, we need all the data we can get...

Tyndmyr
2009-09-09, 02:33 PM
I'm sorry- this is not player participation in story. This is Illusionism- scripting significant events in advance to give the impression of creative input when none exists.

You're not giving players input to the plot. Just the illusion of it.

Oh, yes, because Polymorph was clearly a wonderful addition (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/dC21fDHZ4tK8n5OjUm9.html) to Gamist play.

And yet, I'll bet your players happily count every gold piece spent.

Going by description, you're not talking about anything that 'sits in the middle'- you're talking about Simulationist play. If you were interested in balanced tactical competition, you would shun polymorph like the plague. If you were interested in inviting narrative input from players, you wouldn't be scripting the villain's dramatic retreat. You evidently facilitate neither mode of play and then somehow lay claim to both.


His entire point was that a system that was more focused on one aspect(You yourself claimed D&D 4.0 was, just a few posts ago) made it harder to satisfy a wide number of desires from all gaming perspectives.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-09, 02:34 PM
That we understand how to mechanically ruin the story doesn't mean we will. We want an interesting story, and as such do not do so...
Then why on earth was this a problem under 4E? There's nothing in 4E actively preventing players from refraining from zapping the BBEG. But you've explicitly said that this was an undesirable outcome that you wanted to minimise the risk of! You clearly don't to offer players choice here!

While a convenient accusation, that is not at all true... it makes wonderful stories and simulations.
It can do, it's just not Narrativist play, because the players' primary attention is not on story. How can it be? They can't affect it! It would be like trying to play 'house' with an obelisk.

No. I round to the hundreds, using real rounding. We aren't there for accounting. DM doesn't even charge for items under a thousand anymore.
That's good to know.

I don't have to shun polymorph for balanced tactical play, as all sides have it...
Right, they both have automatic press-X-or-die-horribly buttons. This is another non-choice masquerading as 'game.'


His entire point was that a system that was more focused on one aspect(You yourself claimed D&D 4.0 was, just a few posts ago) made it harder to satisfy a wide number of desires from all gaming perspectives.
Yukitsu's not playing 4E, as mentioned. And getting 3E to work from a Sim perspective requires an active effort to ignore large chunks of the game-as-presented. They are effectively playing by unwritten house rules.

Yukitsu
2009-09-09, 02:41 PM
Then why on earth was this a problem under 4E? There's nothing in 4E actively preventing players from refraining from zapping the BBEG. But you've explicitly said that this was an undesirable outcome that you wanted to minimise the risk of! You clearly don't to offer players choice here!

What are you talking about? I said 4th ed does not give the option of letting the BBEG flee, which makes the story interesting. Players have the option of letting the story be interesting, or expeditiously eliminating certain enemies that were supposed to escape. Either branch is open, and I've taken both. I know the story is better when we let enemies escape, so I don't use the mechanics at hand to kill them prematurely. In 4.0, only the kill option is viable without breaking character.


It can do, it's just not Narrativist play, because the players' primary attention is not on story. How can it be? They can't affect it! It would be like trying to play 'house' with an obelisk.

We can affect the story, by choosing how it goes. We pick our plot hooks, the sides in the world, we decide who we will view as the villain, we work with the DM to have personal rivals, we even develop the world along with the DM by making world altering political decisions. That we work with the DM to affect it in specific ways as opposed to others is pretty damn story focused by your definition.


Right, they both have automatic press-X-or-die-horribly buttons. This is another non-choice masquerading as 'game.'

That's a gross exageration and you know it. While powerful, the polymorph line does not automatically bring victory just because you use it.

Yukitsu
2009-09-09, 02:43 PM
Yukitsu's not playing 4E, as mentioned. And getting 3E to work from a Sim perspective requires an active effort to ignore large chunks of the game-as-presented. They are effectively playing by unwritten house rules.

I explicitly said I did play 4.0, actually. About 13 posts or so back. I stated that the lack of versimiliatude and tactical options limited the ability to work with the DM to create a fun, realistic, interesting story.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-09, 02:43 PM
Yukitsu's not playing 4E, as mentioned. And getting 3E to work from a Sim perspective requires an active effort to ignore large chunks of the game-as-presented. They are effectively playing by unwritten house rules.

He's discussing the problems with 4.0, as he has specifically stated repeatedly.

Heh, ninjaed.

Diamondeye
2009-09-09, 03:48 PM
I'm sorry- this is not player participation in story. This is Illusionism- scripting significant events in advance to give the impression of creative input when none exists.

I hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as illusionism. If the primary emphasis of the game is the story, it makes no difference who creates how much of it.

This entire "narritivism" aspect of this theory is heavily encumbered with this sort of unnecessary baggage, which is one of the primary reasons the theory is nonsense: It piles unnecessary qualifiers onto one of the three arms of the theory in order to get parts Edwards doesn't like into other areas.

This is a violation of Occam's Razor. In order for a game to be primarily about the story, (a story is a narrative) it doesn't need to be about Protagonism, about Premise, nor does it require equal participation by all involved in creation of the plot. There's no good reason for these qualifiers other than to shove some story-based games into "simulationism" which is The Area Edwards Doesn't Like. They actually inhibit the workability of the theory, and have no justification other than "that's the way the theory works".

To the degree that this theory makes sense, it can be boiled down to three things

Gamism: elements that are about mechanicall challanging the tactical abilities of the players
Simulationism: Elemensts that are about simulating a fictitious person in the environment he's presented with
Narritivism: Elements that are about the overall story described by the roleplay aspects of the game from beginning to end.

All that other stuff you're describing is unnecessary to make the theory work, about conflict, etc. It's nothing more than trying to artificially make story-oriented elements fit somewhere else based on one guy's personal preference.

Tiki Snakes
2009-09-09, 05:54 PM
What are you talking about? I said 4th ed does not give the option of letting the BBEG flee, which makes the story interesting. Players have the option of letting the story be interesting, or expeditiously eliminating certain enemies that were supposed to escape. Either branch is open, and I've taken both. I know the story is better when we let enemies escape, so I don't use the mechanics at hand to kill them prematurely. In 4.0, only the kill option is viable without breaking character.

I'd be interested in knowing what exactly you mean, because I don't follow your logic here.

In what way does 4th ed not give the option of letting the BBEG flee?

Kalirren
2009-09-09, 08:54 PM
I thought it was in the 4E rules that when you knocked the enemy's HP to 0 in 4E you won the right to describe how you defeat them. Edit: never mind. RAW, you can knock them out or kill them. I like my rule better. :p

Fhaolan
2009-09-10, 01:44 AM
I thought it was in the 4E rules that when you knocked the enemy's HP to 0 in 4E you won the right to describe how you defeat them. Edit: never mind. RAW, you can knock them out or kill them. I like my rule better. :p

I've not really delved into 4E myself yet to know what it might disrupt, but I *like* your rule. :smallsmile:

horseboy
2009-09-10, 06:45 AM
...Well, given that I have never seen a single episode of Firefly I have no idea what any of your message attempted to convey, as I don't have a common point of reference.

Instead I'd like to get to bare points:

Things we likely agree on:
1) D&D is a craptastic for roleplaying. (Though we disagree on why.)
2) Trying to employ an extremely narrow niche of a roleplaying style inside of a wargame like D&D doesn't work well. (Strikes me as much like complaining the local country radio station doesn't play enough pirate rap)

Tangential arguements:
1)GNS Theory, you claim it's a Rosetta Stone to good gaming, I contend it's a relevant as the Flat Earth Society.
2) Captain Dan really does need to hurry up and release a fourth album.

What you're conveying in this thread:
1) There's only one story (Man vs. Self) you can roleplay through with a paladin
2) It can only end with him disgraced or at least emotionally scared forever.

My rebuttal was:
1) There are four other plots out there. The first one I though of was Man vs Society, I then gave two examples of how this plot could be used with a paladin. There was also a Man vs. The Supernatural one wedged into the middle. You still can have Man vs. Man a schism in the order over doctrine or dogma would do well. Man vs. Nature might be a bit difficult to pull off as an individual plot within a collective as they traditionally are about survival, and survival in a collective would generally have to be a main plot and not a subplot. hmmm, well, his personal nemesis could be a druid and the two's fights could mirror the struggles between civilization vs wilderness.
2) This is obvious (to me) not the case. Indeed he can indeed learn to accept his sacrifice. He can realize how to balance that though he has the power of the divine, he is a mortal. He can come to grips with though his brother is wrong, he has to be, if he's to be free.

Okay, so what have I missed?


I really can't see how a game that is primarily about enforcing the moral purity of a fictitious mormon society in the American West is ever going to be anything more than a niche market.
And yet Deadlands did so well. Came from a little nobody company, made a great product. It impressed people so well that even the big boys took note and allowed a Weird West/ Werewolf the Apocalypse cross over and Mark Hager-Steiner-Davion-WTFEver to admit in the forward of the book that they had a superior game. For someone of that magnitude of an ego to admit something like that, you know it's good. What does this tell us about Dogs in the Vineyard? Well other than apparently it needs more zombies and Kevin Bacon references?

Diamondeye
2009-09-10, 07:31 AM
And yet Deadlands did so well. Came from a little nobody company, made a great product. It impressed people so well that even the big boys took note and allowed a Weird West/ Werewolf the Apocalypse cross over and Mark Hager-Steiner-Davion-WTFEver to admit in the forward of the book that they had a superior game. For someone of that magnitude of an ego to admit something like that, you know it's good. What does this tell us about Dogs in the Vineyard? Well other than apparently it needs more zombies and Kevin Bacon references?

It tells us absolutely nothing whatsoever about Dogs in the Vineyard. I have not tried Deadlands but to my understanding it covers the Wild West much more generally, and throws in lots of supernatural stuff as well. This broadens the scope and gives it broader appeal. I don't see any comparison to DitV other than the general historical location and period.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-10, 08:57 AM
I explicitly said I did play 4.0, actually.

Yeah, and I don't play them. I play 3.5, which sits happily in the middle when played properly...
I'm confused. -Which is it?

I know the story is better when we let enemies escape, so I don't use the mechanics at hand to kill them prematurely... We pick our plot hooks, the sides in the world, we decide who we will view as the villain, we work with the DM to have personal rivals, we even develop the world along with the DM by making world altering political decisions. That we work with the DM to affect it in specific ways as opposed to others is pretty damn story focused by your definition.

...In 4.0, only the kill option is viable without breaking character.
The metagame agenda of 'don't kill the villain' is sort of 'breaking character' in the first place...
What you're describing could be Narrativism, but if you don't want to kill the villain, why are you trying to in the first place? All you're doing is delaying thematic resolution- if that's all you want, interpose some more mooks and have done with it! (You might also want to look into Burning Wheel, as the Artha mechanics can assist with last-minute comebacks of this kind.)

While powerful, the polymorph line does not automatically bring victory just because you use it.
But you automatically use it or suffer major disadvantage. There are no tradeoffs to make. It's a complete no-brainer. It's a non-choice.


I hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as illusionism. If the primary emphasis of the game is the story, it makes no difference who creates how much of it.
If the players are not involved in it's creation, then it obviously isn't the primary agenda of play. You may have convinced yourself that it is, but it ain't. The players' main attention is on Something Else.

In order for a game to be primarily about the story...
...it has to be the primary focus of the players' attentions. This is not compatible with fixed plot, end of story, pun not intended.

Kalirren
2009-09-10, 09:14 AM
I'm confused. -Which is it?

What, one person can't play two systems? You really like the false dilemma fallacy, don't you? :smalltongue:


In order for a game to be primarily about the story...
...it has to be the primary focus of the players' attentions. This is not compatible with fixed plot, end of story, pun not intended.

I disagree. In the group I played with before my current one, we had the social contract that the story -belonged- to the DM, and we as players were acting out our characters' reactions inside it and to it. As far as we the players were concerned, it was fixed plot. We presumed DM authorship of story and plot, and when he opened up a door for us to walk through, we walked through it on the presumption that it was part of his plan.

In many ways this form of play ended up actually being -more- fascinating than a more player-driven campaign might have been, because we didn't have to do the work of stoking our own character motivation engines, leaving more energy for us to act in character and be swept up in the story. Fixed plot is compatible with Premise.


I think that I explained the potential dysfunctions at some length during the original post, and their relation to GNS theory in particular. If I'm mistaken on that point, I'd appreciate knowing where.

I know you explained the potential GNS dysfunctions that arise from expectations surrounding the paladin class. But that wasn't what I was asking about. I don't think you ever answered the question I was interested in hearing an answer for. Let me spell it out for you a third time.

We know that the interplayer conflicts that arise from the restriction in the paladin's code that forbids adventuring with evil companions can be resolved through an amendment to the social contract that avoids this problem prophylactically. Is this, or is this not, something that can be explained inside the framework of GNS mode conflict? If yes, how? and if not, why not?

Tyndmyr
2009-09-10, 09:15 AM
It tells us absolutely nothing whatsoever about Dogs in the Vineyard. I have not tried Deadlands but to my understanding it covers the Wild West much more generally, and throws in lots of supernatural stuff as well. This broadens the scope and gives it broader appeal. I don't see any comparison to DitV other than the general historical location and period.

It shows us that indie publishers can be successful. The fact that he found a thematically appropriate example definitely highlights this.

Obviously, as you say, the more general scope does give it much broader appeal. This is the general point...GNS theory pushes for highly specific games, while the games that actually get sold and played in large numbers are those with broad appeal.

This means there is a basic conflict with GNS and the actual reality of roleplaying.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-10, 11:04 AM
...Indeed he can indeed learn to accept his sacrifice.
Indeed he can. And that establishes something about the character- but you're only just warming up here. This is only a mild sacrifice.
I mean, what are you going to do afterwards? Hit him with the same choice, but requiring the same or lesser degree of sacrifice? That's not telling you anything you new about the character. It's not sending any message we hadn't heard before, no fresh data. In Narrativist terms, it is nothing but a protracted lull in the conversation.

No- You've gotta hit 'em with the same choice, but bigger. Demanding even bigger commitment. And it never stops. The Paladin is not allowed to evolve- and sooner or later, it really is a case of 'evolve or die.'

He can come to grips with though his brother is wrong, he has to be, if he's to be free.
No, he can't. The Paladin is contractually obliged to fight Evil in all it's forms. If his brother is wrong- in the capital-W, "Wrong" wrong, perversion-of-nature sense of the word- then he has no option but to smite with extreme prejudice. And if his brother clearly isn't wrong- at least, to any serious degree- then there's no real emotional conflict here. There's no drama worth speaking of.

If it's sort of a grey area- y'know, it could be wrong: maybe it isn't, or maybe it is, but not clearly wrong enough to call for smiting, or maybe only mild smiting, I dunno, hell, these things are complicated- the GM is essentially going to wind up stepping in and saying "okay, this is the point where you would Fall for going too far", and that's the end of it. If the player is lucky, the GM'll have the courtesy to inform the player ahead of time, rather than the moment they Fall- but either way, you've quashed Narrativist play. You stopped the discussion when it was getting interesting (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=117309).


What does this tell us about Dogs in the Vineyard? Well other than apparently it needs more zombies and Kevin Bacon references?
Actually, DitV can include very strong supernatural elements- exorcising 'Demonic influence' is a fundamental aspect of the setting, (though depending on the players preferences, this can be either playing on superstition or genuine battles between gunslinger exorcists and the the legions of Hell.)

But there's nothing further to discuss here until you play the damn thing. Or Mouse Guard. Or Sorceror. Etc.

...we as players were acting out our characters' reactions inside it and to it.
...we didn't have to do the work of stoking our own character motivation engines, leaving more energy for us to act in character and be swept up in the story.
What you are describing is Sim play. This is what I'm talking about- your primary creative focus was on 'acting in character'. You were, in thematic terms, passive spectators to the unfolding of events. It's perfectly possible to get 'swept up in the story' when you're watching a film or reading a book, but that doesn't turn books or films into meaningful interaction.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-10, 11:29 AM
The claim is that those games are not popular. We do not need to play them to know that they are unpopular. You've been given a thematically similar, also independant example of a much more popular game that was much less niche-focused. Our contention is that more inclusive game design is more popular, and you haven't said anything to refute that.


Roleplaying is inherently interactive. If you are caught up in roleplaying with each other, you are interacting. It doesn't get any simpler than that. Just because you are acting in character doesn't mean you have no choices.

Kalirren
2009-09-10, 12:02 PM
What you are describing is Sim play. This is what I'm talking about- your primary creative focus was on 'acting in character'. You were, in thematic terms, passive spectators to the unfolding of events. It's perfectly possible to get 'swept up in the story' when you're watching a film or reading a book, but that doesn't turn books or films into meaningful interaction.


Just because events were unfolding without our OOC control of them doesn't mean that we weren't actively involved IC. We were at the center of the action all the time, almost contrivedly so. It was us, the party, versus the antagonists who were being run by the DM, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

You somehow assume that a primary focus of acting in character precludes becoming engaged with the story that the DM wrote. That's just plain false. We spent a lot of time internalizing our character's needs, wants, desires, dreams. We used acting as a vehicle for narrative delivery. It allowed a story that was not fundamentally ours in authorship to become our odyssey, the story of our characters in spirit. We were banished from our home plane, and the DM opened doors one by one to allow us to return home and achieve victory there, literally save the world.

What is the problem you have with this? Do you just not believe it was engaging? Do you just not believe that it was crushing to see our home plane devastated when our initial defensive efforts failed, when my cleric's god was slain? Do you just not believe that the adrenaline was rushing when we're rolling the dice against the BBEG and screaming, "We can't have come this far for nothing!"

Have you never had an experience that you could relate to this? Any way will do.

UserClone
2009-09-10, 12:06 PM
Wow.:smalleek: Can I play in that game?:smallbiggrin:

Diamondeye
2009-09-10, 12:20 PM
If the players are not involved in it's creation, then it obviously isn't the primary agenda of play. You may have convinced yourself that it is, but it ain't. The players' main attention is on Something Else.

Sorry, but that just isn't the case. This is what we call a Leap in Logic. Just because the players aren't "co-authoring" the story with the DM does not mean the overall story isn't a major concern for them.


...it has to be the primary focus of the players' attentions. This is not compatible with fixed plot, end of story, pun not intended.


No it doesn't. This is completely unnecessary for the game to be heavily or even primarily about the story. This is why the theory doesn't work. It adds baggage like this in order to narrow down "narritivism" unnecessarily, in violation of Parsimony/Occam's Razor, and observable evidence.

Yukitsu
2009-09-10, 02:44 PM
I'm confused. -Which is it?

Out of sheer curiosity, do you only play one card game at the exclusion of all others?


The metagame agenda of 'don't kill the villain' is sort of 'breaking character' in the first place...

Only if you can't make a scenario where the enemy can realistically escape without acting out of character. Most often, it's the BBEG that's terrifying, and the PCs should be more concerned with staying alive than keeping the BBEG dead.


What you're describing could be Narrativism, but if you don't want to kill the villain, why are you trying to in the first place? All you're doing is delaying thematic resolution- if that's all you want, interpose some more mooks and have done with it! (You might also want to look into Burning Wheel, as the Artha mechanics can assist with last-minute comebacks of this kind.)

Meeting the bad guy once before you kill him in a good story, or even multiple times generally serves the purpose of protraying the enemy as a specific type of person, where you, the reader or the player can learn more about his character, his motivations. Maybe even empathize with the guy a bit, or learn to utterly despise him. Meeting mooks doesn't portray this, and meeting him then killing him doesn't give much of a chance for dramatic revelations. The Illiad would have been far less interesting had we not seen Hectare multiple times, and learned to see the world from his point of view, for instance, and it's poor story writing had he simply dumped everything on the audience at once then croaked.


But you automatically use it or suffer major disadvantage. There are no tradeoffs to make. It's a complete no-brainer. It's a non-choice.

Other than its relatively short duration, that the trade off is a polymorph now, without one later, that the exact same reasoning applies to countless other spells. Polymorph may be broken, but it's not exactly essential, and to be honest, if a caster in a caster duel took his time casting that instead of something like disjunction, I'd think him mad.

Tyndmyr
2009-09-10, 03:20 PM
Or overconfident, and wanting your sweet, sweet loot.

Which, incidentally, works great as both a player and character motivation.

Serenity
2009-09-10, 03:29 PM
I run the Pathfinder Adventure Paths. You can hardly get more predetermined story than that. But I guarantee you, if I ran the same Adventure Path for two different groups, though the enemies, traps, and so on that they faced would be the same, the story would be fundamentally different between the two groups, because the two sets of players would interact and engage with their environment in different ways. In one game, a PC might form a fast friendship with an NPC ignored in the other game, or one PC might succumb to seduction where his counterpart in the other game resists it. One party might overthrow the usurping queen out of dedication and patriotism; another would confront her out of their own self-interest. They may seem minor, but all represent explorations of character that can go very deep if the group is engaged. They may not have created the Big Premise of the campaign, but they are no less engaged in exploring it, and need be no less engaged in exploring the specific premises of their character in terms of how the scripted events effect them.

horseboy
2009-09-10, 04:34 PM
Indeed he can. And that establishes something about the character- but you're only just warming up here. This is only a mild sacrifice.
I mean, what are you going to do afterwords? Hit him with the same choice, but requiring the same or lesser degree of sacrifice? That's not telling you anything you new about the character. It's not sending any message we hadn't heard before, no fresh data. In Narrativist terms, it is nothing but a protracted lull in the conversation.No, you go on to a different faucet of his personality. Surely DitV would encourage multifaceted characters, right? Whispering Vault characters would have 5. Great, his loyalty key as been tested and found resolute, now it's time to switch to one of the other 4. (Okay, humanity plus 3).


No- You've gotta hit 'em with the same choice, but bigger. Demanding even bigger commitment. And it never stops. The Paladin is not allowed to evolve- and sooner or later, it really is a case of 'evolve or die.'A paladin has all the allowance to evolve that the group gives him. If you only allow a character to grow in one dimension, all characters will eventually hit a limit. But if you're looking to explore a character, only a one dimensional character is going to have one dimension to explore.


No, he can't. The Paladin is contractually obliged to fight Evil in all it's forms. If his brother is wrong- in the capital-W, "Wrong" wrong, perversion-of-nature sense of the word- then he has no option but to smite with extreme prejudice. And if his brother clearly isn't wrong- at least, to any serious degree- then there's no real emotional conflict here. There's no drama worth speaking of.Despite what political pundits may say, your opponent can be wrong without being evil. Have you heard of the Church of the Navelites? An entire church splintered over whether or not Adam and Eve had a bellybutton. The fighting and bickering got so bad they had to splinter because they couldn't be in the same room as each other anymore. Don't think there wasn't tension and drama there?
How best to aid the poor and down trodden is another fine example. Short of baking them in a pie, you're both looking to help people, you're just arguing over the best way to do it. Neither side is "evil".


If it's sort of a grey area- y'know, it could be wrong: maybe it isn't, or maybe it is, but not clearly wrong enough to call for smiting, or maybe only mild smiting, I dunno, hell, these things are complicated- the GM is essentially going to wind up stepping in and saying "okay, this is the point where you would Fall for going too far", and that's the end of it. If the player is lucky, the GM'll have the courtesy to inform the player ahead of time, rather than the moment they Fall- but either way, you've quashed Narrativist play. You stopped the discussion when it was getting interesting (http://).Well, for starters my answer to that question would be "yes". The only way for a paladin to "Go too far" would be for him to go postal and kill anyone who disagreed with him. There's no need for "GM courtesy" to tell you you've gone too far.