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Matthew
2008-08-27, 01:26 PM
I always enjoy reading through Robert Fisher's (http://web.fisher.cx/robert/infogami/Classic_D&D) thoughts on adventure roleplaying games, and I have long found this idea intriguing:



On Rules Light

Some role playing games (e.g. 1981 classic D&D) clearly have fewer rules than other games (e.g. 2000 D&D). Sometimes the former category are called ďrules lightĒ games. As Iíve come to discover thatóat this point in my lifeóI prefer rules light games, there was one important thing that took me some time to realize.

Rules light does not mean rules heavy but with only a few rules being written & the judge making up the rest ad hoc. Yes, the judge in a rules light game may make up ad hoc rules for a situation. The crucial difference of right light play versus rules heavy, however, is that there are fewer rules! The point is that there are many situations that simply do not need rules. [Note to self: This could use some expanding upon.]

The line between what needs rules & what doesnít is somewhat arbitrary. Indeed, the rules of some games create a unique feel by the particular area they focus on.
__________________________________________

Also, it is tempting to think that the rules light judge should be collecting all his ad hoc rules in order to maintain consistency. To me, however, this looks merely like a road back to a rules heavy system. Creating rules that are simple enough to be playable yet flexible enough to handle a wide range of situations & able to give results with verisimilitude is tough.

The wonderful thing about role playing games is that we donít have to create those rules. We have a judge who can consider more factors than any set of written rules. A judge who can ensure a level of verisimilitude that no set of written rules can approach.

A judge who can learn from experience. I donít want consistency in a judge. I donít want a judge is forever bound by past mistakes. I want a judge who is continually improving.


I think there are limits within which this sort of thing can operate successfully, and that those limits are defined by the dynamics of a given group, but I think I agree with it in principle. I often mess with the rules of BD&D, AD&D or C&C to make some aspect of the game more suited to the tastes of our group.

Tormsskull
2008-08-27, 01:36 PM
I always enjoy reading through Robert Fisher's (http://web.fisher.cx/robert/infogami/Classic_D&D) thoughts on adventure roleplaying games, and I have long found this idea intriguing:

It is intriguing. I think that rules for specific occurences that need to be ad hoc'ed should in deed be written down for consistency. This doesn't mean that that rule is set in stone, it is just the precedent.

You utilize the precedent to make further rulings, sometimes overruling the precedent and thus setting a new precedent.

So, yes, a flexible constantly evolving DM is definitely a good thing, IMO.

Breaw
2008-08-27, 01:36 PM
I whole heartedly agree with the sentiment of the article. I am quite surprised by the arguments currently flaring about rule lawyering in game, it simply isn't an issue in my games. We trust our DM. He knows the rules, and if he says that I didn't make a jump or didn't manage to hit a thing then that's how it went down.

I guess you end up trusting a DM more when they are very knowledgeable about the rules, but homebrew many things on the fly. He doesn't want us to be able to beat every encounter we meet. Some of them are specifically designed to show us that we are still mortal in this setting, and although this encounter isn't particularly deadly we will likely never be able to 'kill' this homebrewed specter of a monster that we really aren't all that sure about. I guess the one thing that has been universal about the discussion is that everyone agrees it's all about respect. The players need to respect the DM enough to simply trust in what he says, and the DM needs to the respect that trust and not screw them over for no good reason. No game system is perfect, not all situations are described accurately and reasonably by any one ruleset. That's why there is a DM, to make these sorts of calls when he doesn't think the standard rule in question fits the bill.

AKA_Bait
2008-08-27, 02:12 PM
Perhaps because I am a DM more than I am a player, I don't really share the sentiment here. As a DM, I like having a heavy ruleset to fall back on the case that there is a dispute about the resolution of a particular action. It allows me to seem more fair and less capricious when I make a decsion that goes against what a player wanted.

I think this to some extent falls into the various levels of control and responsibiltiy for the game that seem to exist bettween different players, groups and editions. Even when I DM, I tend to view the game as player, just one with different responsibilites and a little more leeway to bend the rules. It helps me to feel like myself and my players are all playing the same game, rather than my players playing one game and myself another. This is one of the reasons I suspect I've preferred 3.x to the other RP systems I've tried over the years, including totally free form ones.

Swordguy
2008-08-27, 02:25 PM
Perhaps because I am a DM more than I am a player, I don't really share the sentiment here. As a DM, I like having a heavy ruleset to fall back on the case that there is a dispute about the resolution of a particular action. It allows me to seem more fair and less capricious when I make a decsion that goes against what a player wanted.


Hmm...interestingly, I'm a DM far more often than I'm a player as well, and find myself with completely the opposite view. I feel that it's my responsibility (one of many) to keep the shared narrative going, above concerns such as making sure every single rule gets followed every time. My players generally trust me to make the decision that's best for the story as a whole, and when I explain that they're willing to look past the momentary inconvenience that occurs when the player doesn't always get their way, rulings-wise.

Further, I feel that a lighter ruleset gives me a freer hand to tailor the situation to fit the group, an easier method of pulling the groups collective ass out of the fire if necessary, and an easier time coming up with stuff off-the-cuff. Since I'm a highly improvisational GM in the first place...



This is one of the reasons I suspect I've preferred 3.x to the other RP systems I've tried over the years, including totally free form ones.

Heh - and I hate 3.x over most games I've ever played, for precisely the same reasons that you enjoy it. Different strokes, I suppose.

AKA_Bait
2008-08-27, 02:33 PM
Hmm...interestingly, I'm a DM far more often than I'm a player as well, and find myself with completely the opposite view. I feel that it's my responsibility (one of many) to keep the shared narrative going, above concerns such as making sure every single rule gets followed every time. My players generally trust me to make the decision that's best for the story as a whole, and when I explain that they're willing to look past the momentary inconvenience that occurs when the player doesn't always get their way, rulings-wise.

I think this is probably also a playstyle difference. I'm not much in the way of a narrative DM. I tend to be as much sand-box as I can. I create a world and a bunch of NPCs (good and bad) that have goals they want to pursue and then the PC's run around in it messing up or furthering those plans. The "story" pretty much evolves out of that and I, as DM, generally haven't more than the slightest clue how it's all going to turn out.

Oddly, this is similar to how I cook...

Raum
2008-08-27, 03:01 PM
I think there are limits within which this sort of thing can operate successfully, and that those limits are defined by the dynamics of a given group, but I think I agree with it in principle. I often mess with the rules of BD&D, AD&D or C&C to make some aspect of the game more suited to the tastes of our group.I agree with many of the points made in the quote. Not so sure I agree with all of his reasoning.

Consistency for it's own sake isn't a goal I'd recommend to all GMs. Consistency is a tool to facilitate immersion and verisimilitude. It also helps maintain meet player expectations. But when the tool doesn't fit, use a different one. I also agree GMs will make mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them. It may not even be a mistake, play styles evolve and change as players do. My play style has certainly changed over the years. Whether it's correcting a mistake or style evolution changes should support your goals and not simply be arbitrary.

However I think it's overly simplistic to equate consistency with "a road back to a heavy rules system" or even a lack of flexibility. All the GM really needs to do is use the same decision process. He shouldn't need to write individual decisions down as a new rule. In fact I'll say if you won't come to the same conclusion in similar situations during a game without writing them down, your decision process may be overly arbitrary.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-08-27, 03:05 PM
I would like to say more on this, but I simply do not have the time. (Yes I hear you all sighing in relief...)

However, I will say that this is a matter of personality/playstyle/group dynamics and I am not the least bit surprised about Matthew's position either.

I value consistency structure and form highly (D&D speak: I am lawful), and for me to truly enjoy a rules light game or restructured rules heavy game with ad hoc application of DM judgment calls I would be better of not knowing about the game rules beforehand or be facing a DM with extraordinary storytelling abilities so it would overshadow my discomfort of the inconsistencies.

Ohh, and being consistent does not necessarily mean that you need to make systematic errors by continuing to apply the rules in a way that is detrimental to everyone's enjoyment simply because you have made an error once.

Charity
2008-08-27, 03:55 PM
I so rarely see you post your opinions rather than factual and/or logical interpretations i was rather looking forward to it.

As a player i prefer as little interferance with rules as possible. Rules light shines so bright... it burns, but as a DM i find the added security and detachment a more rules intense system provides helps take some of the pain from the game.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-08-27, 04:06 PM
I think the key to this article is the line "The point is that there are many situations that simply do not need rules." One reason I like 4e is that many things which just really don't need rules in a Fantasy RPG (like Appraise or Use Rope) have been removed from the scope of the system - it's not important to most stories how good a knot you tied in that rope. If it is, you can make an ad hoc ruling.

But, on consistency. Rules exist in an RPG to give the players a way to judge how their character should react to situations. I do not mean in a RP sense, but more in the physical sense. Bob isn't going to know whether he should run, fight, or negotiate with the guard unless he knows how good he is at those three options. The DM only needs to know the rules in order to know how the players will try to resolve problems.

In a system with mostly ad hoc rulings, the players are going to be uncertain as to what their characters can do. Sure, last time they were able to tip the wagon over for cover, but can they do it this time? Bob was pretty good at climbing walls yesterday, but what about today? This, IMHO, makes it more difficult for the players to really get to know their characters, and what they're capable of.

Of course the DMs should make changes to the rules is they are not working well. But such changes should be made well in advance, and the should be clearly stated. Errors should not be repeated, but changes should not be made lightly, either.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-08-27, 04:07 PM
I so rarely see you post your opinions rather than factual and/or logical interpretations i was rather looking forward to it.

It is because my opinions are fact. :smalltongue:
(Or not very interesting or well articulated)

Although, I think I mentioned that all your Popcorn are belong to me. :smallwink:


As a player i prefer as little interferance with rules as possible.

I am hardly surprised here either. :smallamused:

Charity
2008-08-27, 04:11 PM
:tongue:

If there were a bigger tonguey icon I'd be using it... damn my transparant character flaws.

bosssmiley
2008-08-27, 04:12 PM
Also, it is tempting to think that the rules light judge should be collecting all his ad hoc rules in order to maintain consistency. To me, however, this looks merely like a road back to a rules heavy system. Creating rules that are simple enough to be playable yet flexible enough to handle a wide range of situations & able to give results with verisimilitude is tough.

The wonderful thing about role playing games is that we donít have to create those rules. We have a judge who can consider more factors than any set of written rules. A judge who can ensure a level of verisimilitude that no set of written rules can approach.

A judge who can learn from experience. I donít want consistency in a judge. I donít want a judge is forever bound by past mistakes. I want a judge who is continually improving.

Yes. This. 100%

One thing that concerns me. Why are we even having this conversation in 2008? I mean, were the rules light, narrative-driven, rule-of-cool games of the '90s (Over the Edge, Feng Shui, KHAT, etc.) written out of history at some point? Did WEG d6 and the like never happen? :smallconfused:

Sometimes it worries me that, for all our love of tradition, heritage and golden ages, the role-playing community has the collective memory of a concussed amnesiac goldfish. Either that, or we elect to collectively collude with the periodic Orwellian destruction of the attainments of our own subculture in favour of the latest shiny new toy. :smallsigh:

(note: that is not a thinly-disguised edition wars troll. I've seen similar repudiations of the past happen more than once)

"Those who forget the past..." (are doomed to be ambushed and dropped down open lift shafts by gangs of feral vigilante historians)

@v: I know mate. I know. I just worry sometimes that the lack of a continual cultural memory (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/08/old-school-culture.html) - of a sense of heritage in our hobby - runs the risk of turning it into some sort of GW/WOTC-style perpetual re-hash of stale IP and (known) unworkable game mechanics by people who ought to know better.

Charity
2008-08-27, 04:17 PM
This is a pretty 'mainstream' RPG site, a large number of the posters will never have heard of these, remember also the average age on this site is considerably lower than mine... or yours
http://blog.rifftrax.com/wp-content/photos/egg.jpg

Swordguy
2008-08-27, 04:28 PM
I mean, were the rules light, narrative-driven, rule-of-cool games of the '90s (Over the Edge, Feng Shui, KHAT, etc.) written out of history at some point?


Yes, by court order from WoTC when they determined that d20 was The One True Gaming System.

EDIT:


...the role-playing community has the collective memory of a concussed amnesiac goldfish.

Also, I LOL'd.

Prometheus
2008-08-27, 04:35 PM
It seems to be a trade off between roleplaying verisimilitude (ad-hoc rules from a judge) and portable strategy gaming (heavy consistent rules). If power-gaming and min-maxing is what these boards are 2nd most known for, its encouraging roleplaying above power-gaming that it is most known for. But one is forced to admit that D&D seems to generally fall in the heavy category despite its popularity, and also, at a certain point of roleplaying over power-gaming, character advancement and player ingenuity is meaningless.

My answer is to attempt a balance.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-08-27, 04:37 PM
This is a pretty 'mainstream' RPG site, a large number of the posters will never have heard of these, remember also the average age on this site is considerably lower than mine... or yours


Well, so far this thread has been for old* grognards only. :smalltongue:


*: People over 25. (Although there could be one (Prometheus) or two under, but in that case they are mature for their age)

Charity
2008-08-27, 04:40 PM
We huddle together for warmth...

Totally Guy
2008-08-27, 04:52 PM
My players paladin in 4E wanted to Lay on Hands a swarm of undead bees (reflavoured drake swarm) and I created an ad-hoc ruling on auto hit (as it was a swarm) and it deals damage based on healing surge plus vunerability. Now in the mean time I've found out that this is totally wrong and I've got to retract it but in a way that doesn't harm the verisimilitude.

I could say that lay on hands activated their suicide stingers.

And I'll be 25 in a fortnight. But on the other hand I didn't discover D&D until last year. I used to be cooler but I'm still the coolest in the group.

Raum
2008-08-27, 05:26 PM
One thing that concerns me. Why are we even having this conversation in 2008? I mean, were the rules light, narrative-driven, rule-of-cool games of the '90s (Over the Edge, Feng Shui, KHAT, etc.) written out of history at some point? Did WEG d6 and the like never happen? :smallconfused:I'm willing to bet similar conversations have happened in the past and will again in the future. That's a good thing if you're serious about the "continual cultural memory" you mention. How will it get passed on without repeated conversations?

Though I do agree with you about the culture having changed over the years. Or perhaps the culture has simply balkanized. Perhaps it's even the traditionalists' fault. Too many of us have become comfortable with one system and are only willing to play "the one true RPG" - whatever that may be for you.

My questions for consideration: What facets of the old gaming culture did you like most? How would you foster similar facets in today's gaming culture?

Ulzgoroth
2008-08-27, 05:34 PM
I've been aware of some of the rules-light stuff via RPG.net. It doesn't really seem to bear that much similarity to what the OP quote is going for, though. It seems more like 'we have one, simple mechanic that doesn't much care about details', as opposed to in rules-heavy, which tries to account for the details.

The statement 'there are many situations that simply do not need rules' leaves me scratching my head. It seems like anything is going to be resolved either by rules, or by a de facto ad-hoc ruling. And I would also say that any time you have to make an ad-hoc ruling, it means you might as well not have whatever system you're supposedly using.

(Incidentally, the people at RPG.net routinely reference a bewilderingly huge set of games. I don't think anything bosssmiley mentioned is in danger of being forgotten just now. Though I don't recall seeing KHAT.)

Matthew
2008-08-27, 06:37 PM
No game system is perfect, not all situations are described accurately and reasonably by any one ruleset. That's why there is a DM, to make these sorts of calls when he doesn't think the standard rule in question fits the bill.

Indeed, or at least it's one of the reasons.



As a DM, I like having a heavy ruleset to fall back on the case that there is a dispute about the resolution of a particular action. It allows me to seem more fair and less capricious when I make a decsion that goes against what a player wanted.

Understandable.



I think this to some extent falls into the various levels of control and responsibiltiy for the game that seem to exist bettween different players, groups and editions. Even when I DM, I tend to view the game as player, just one with different responsibilites and a little more leeway to bend the rules.
I think this is a noteworthy difference in approach to adventure games.



Consistency for it's own sake isn't a goal I'd recommend to all GMs. Consistency is a tool to facilitate immersion and verisimilitude. It also helps maintain meet player expectations. But when the tool doesn't fit, use a different one.

I think, in general, I view the rules of the game as being subordinate to a consistent game world or reality. The numbers seem meaningless to me. If a character has a 25% chance to jump over a pit one day and a 45% chance another day, but succeeds both times it makes absolutely no difference to the "reality" of the story, if you see what I mean. The numbers are meaningless unless they occur enough times for a pattern to be discerned.



However I think it's overly simplistic to equate consistency with "a road back to a heavy rules system" or even a lack of flexibility. All the GM really needs to do is use the same decision process. He shouldn't need to write individual decisions down as a new rule. In fact I'll say if you won't come to the same conclusion in similar situations during a game without writing them down, your decision process may be overly arbitrary.

No doubt. This is where my difficulty lies with this approach as well. I wonder if its codification versus consistency?



I would like to say more on this, but I simply do not have the time. (Yes I hear you all sighing in relief...)

Aw.



I value consistency structure and form highly (D&D speak: I am lawful), and for me to truly enjoy a rules light game or restructured rules heavy game with ad hoc application of DM judgment calls I would be better of not knowing about the game rules beforehand or be facing a DM with extraordinary storytelling abilities so it would overshadow my discomfort of the inconsistencies.

Indeed. I know "casual" players with no interest in the rules, who might play and perceive the game very differently if they were interested.



Ohh, and being consistent does not necessarily mean that you need to make systematic errors by continuing to apply the rules in a way that is detrimental to everyone's enjoyment simply because you have made an error once.

Quite so.



I think the key to this article is the line "The point is that there are many situations that simply do not need rules." One reason I like 4e is that many things which just really don't need rules in a Fantasy RPG (like Appraise or Use Rope) have been removed from the scope of the system - it's not important to most stories how good a knot you tied in that rope. If it is, you can make an ad hoc ruling.

Yep, one of the good things that 4e has done (and yet, a subjective good).



But, on consistency. Rules exist in an RPG to give the players a way to judge how their character should react to situations. I do not mean in a RP sense, but more in the physical sense. Bob isn't going to know whether he should run, fight, or negotiate with the guard unless he knows how good he is at those three options. The DM only needs to know the rules in order to know how the players will try to resolve problems.

I don't think the rules exist for that. I think they are certainly one way of communicating such things, but not the only way, or even the best way. Some of the complaints about the 4e skill system were built on the very premise that the player's lacked sufficient numerical data to make decisions or properly represent their character.



In a system with mostly ad hoc rulings, the players are going to be uncertain as to what their characters can do. Sure, last time they were able to tip the wagon over for cover, but can they do it this time? Bob was pretty good at climbing walls yesterday, but what about today? This, IMHO, makes it more difficult for the players to really get to know their characters, and what they're capable of.

There is some degree of uncertainty (not necessarily a bad thing), but it always comes down to the relationship between game master and players, rather than their mutual relationship with the rulebooks. That requires that the game master and players be on the same page as regards "what is possible".



One thing that concerns me. Why are we even having this conversation in 2008? I mean, were the rules light, narrative-driven, rule-of-cool games of the '90s (Over the Edge, Feng Shui, KHAT, etc.) written out of history at some point? Did WEG d6 and the like never happen? :smallconfused:

Answering your own question there, I reckon. WEG is up for sale at this very moment. A ceratin movie line may sum it up "It is the doom of men that they forget."



This is a pretty 'mainstream' RPG site, a large number of the posters will never have heard of these, remember also the average age on this site is considerably lower than mine... or yours

Indeedy.

Raum
2008-08-27, 11:18 PM
I think this is a noteworthy difference in approach to adventure games.I think it's more unusual and noteworthy among D&D players than in other games. Some (particularly many of the independent games) tear down the line between player and GM even more. D&D just has a long history of drawing a hard line between GM and players.


I think, in general, I view the rules of the game as being subordinate to a consistent game world or reality. The numbers seem meaningless to me. If a character has a 25% chance to jump over a pit one day and a 45% chance another day, but succeeds both times it makes absolutely no difference to the "reality" of the story, if you see what I mean. The numbers are meaningless unless they occur enough times for a pattern to be discerned.I prefer the numbers to support the game world. If the chance of succeeding changed by 20%, there should be a reason - bigger pit, environmental factors, practiced jumping, etc. I don't really care what the numbers are I just don't want them to be arbitrary. I suspect I'd detest Calvinball if only one player could make up the rules. But when the game is about making up rules and all players participate, Calvinball becomes fun. I digress. To put it more succinctly, I prefer rules follow logically from the game world. A change in the game world causes a corresponding change in the mechanics.


No doubt. This is where my difficulty lies with this approach as well. I wonder if its codification versus consistency?Codification is needed when your process isn't repeatable. I strive for consistent process in my decision making. It helps make up for my poor memory of exactly what I may have ruled last time.

These days I prefer relatively light systems (keeps from stressing my memory :smallsmile:) which often leave wide areas open to interpretation. That doesn't (or shouldn't) prevent consistency or transparency. Take Over the Edge as an example...traits are minimal and potentially very creative. Rules are simple and consistent, mostly roll at a target number based on difficulty. Playing in Al Amarja, my default interpretation is probably going to be that things tend towards the surreal. It's not complex but it gives a consistent framework for interpreting game world events.

Sometimes I think it's easier to be consistent with lighter rule sets. Fewer special rules to get in the way of a consistent process.

OneFamiliarFace
2008-08-27, 11:37 PM
I prefer the numbers to support the game world. If the chance of succeeding changed by 20%, there should be a reason - bigger pit, environmental factors, practiced jumping, etc. I don't really care what the numbers are I just don't want them to be arbitrary. I suspect I'd detest Calvinball if only one player could make up the rules. But when the game is about making up rules and all players participate, Calvinball becomes fun. I digress. To put it more succinctly, I prefer rules follow logically from the game world. A change in the game world causes a corresponding change in the mechanics.

Actually, Calvinball is not only my favorite sport, but one of the reasons I am okay with having a set rules system. When I play Calvinball with my brother or friends, we can have a blast. When I play it with a new player, he either doesn't get it or plays to win, which is odd. Both of these sentiments can be common upon introducing a new member to your roleplaying group, and cause problems without a rules system able to be referenced.

I myself don't view a strict adherance to the overheard God of Law as a good thing in games with friends. Rules can often be restrictive and exclusive. I do like to have them when I am meeting new people. For example, I don't need to sign a contract to room with my best friend, but I would want to sign a contract with a person I don't know. It's not that I don't trust this new person, but that we might not operate under the same 'system' if you will.

This is probably why I play DnD. Since more people play it, it is more likely that I will come upon someone who has an understanding of this arbitrary rules system over another one. Once we know each other, we can start throwing out all the rules we want, and/or consistent rulings are no longer needed or even always desired.

nagora
2008-08-28, 04:36 AM
One thing that concerns me. Why are we even having this conversation in 2008? I mean, were the rules light, narrative-driven, rule-of-cool games of the '90s (Over the Edge, Feng Shui, KHAT, etc.) written out of history at some point?
No, they were just ****.

Narrative-driven, rule-of-cool games can kiss my shiny metal ass.

Thrawn183
2008-08-28, 08:05 AM
And here I thought that was what you liked, Nagora.

I guess this just goes to show that things have changed so much I can't even figure out what you're saying you actually do like.

AKA_Bait
2008-08-28, 08:36 AM
My questions for consideration: What facets of the old gaming culture did you like most? How would you foster similar facets in today's gaming culture?

Forvige me if this comes across wrong, but I'm 27 now and have never really felt any desire to define myself as part of a gaming subculture. I'm not even sure what that would mean. I've always enjoyed RPG's, but at least during my formative years (teen) whenever I played with or hung around folks who probably would have styled themselves such I was either bored, thought them silly, or creeped out (in the case of some of the 30+ year olds that hung around the gaming store a few of my friends worked at). Even among the people I liked, who were not already my friends or friends of friends, I found the negative connotations of being a gamer (poor social skills, tempermental, absorbed to an unhealty degree in their characters, comic-book guy syndrome, etc.) to be pretty common if not the norm. The 'gaming subculture', at least to an outsider who played the games but wasn't part of it, seemed to be more about elitism (as goes to playing the game 'right' and having memorized the varios canon histories/characters) and cheetos than anything else.

As I've aged, the crop of gamers I know, who are not from that same group from grade school, seems to have shed many of those negative connotations and been willing to welcome and play with people outside the 'subculture' as well. Most of those, however, are new players (meaning started since 3.x), or players who were at best casual players of older editions. I doubt many of them would define themselves, other than very loosley, as being part of a gaming subculture. So, at this point, other than enjoying the games themselves, I have a hard time knowing what exactly the subculture is, and who is in it. If it simply compromises the interactions of people who play the games, I'm happier with it now than before.

I'm curious to see what other people have to say on this. I'm just drawing off my own quite limited experience with the subculture, speaking plainly, and don't mean to offend.


I think it's more unusual and noteworthy among D&D players than in other games. Some (particularly many of the independent games) tear down the line between player and GM even more. D&D just has a long history of drawing a hard line between GM and players.

I suppose so. I've always disliked playing in groups with that hard division and I suspect at least part of the reason I find myself in the DM chair so often is because of that dislike. That said, D&D is the system I have always preferred and played by far the most of. Of course, I long ago realized I'm an unusual player and DM (which my group at least seems to like).

Matthew
2008-08-28, 10:22 AM
I think it's more unusual and noteworthy among D&D players than in other games. Some (particularly many of the independent games) tear down the line between player and GM even more. D&D just has a long history of drawing a hard line between GM and players.

I think there was a movement towards "equalising" the game master, but I am not particularly convinced that the game system has much to do with it. I think it is much more likely a "personality type" issue. However, it is true that certain personality types gravitate towards certain games. Then you get into the issue of which game best helps which play style, blah, blah.



I prefer the numbers to support the game world. If the chance of succeeding changed by 20%, there should be a reason - bigger pit, environmental factors, practiced jumping, etc. I don't really care what the numbers are I just don't want them to be arbitrary. I suspect I'd detest Calvinball if only one player could make up the rules. But when the game is about making up rules and all players participate, Calvinball becomes fun. I digress. To put it more succinctly, I prefer rules follow logically from the game world. A change in the game world causes a corresponding change in the mechanics.

I think this may be an issue between me and the rest of the world... If I try to jump over a ten foot pit, I don't have a percentage chance of success, I either will or I won't. This brings up the question of what the dice actually represent in the game. To me, they represent unknown and unaccounted for factors. They are essentially a variable circumstance bonus. Therefore, whether my character has a 60% or 45% chance of jumping a pit at a given moment in the game is only a function of how many of those factors are unaccounted for.

The numbers never really support the game world, they just fill in the blanks.



Codification is needed when your process isn't repeatable. I strive for consistent process in my decision making. It helps make up for my poor memory of exactly what I may have ruled last time.

Indeed, which I think makes the point about unnecessary versus necessary codification as a subjective perception. Should a long sword always do 1d8 damage? Should a level one fighter with strength 10 always have a 60% chance of hitting armour class 10? We know they don't, they depend on various other factors that have been codified.



These days I prefer relatively light systems (keeps from stressing my memory :smallsmile:) which often leave wide areas open to interpretation. That doesn't (or shouldn't) prevent consistency or transparency. Take Over the Edge as an example...traits are minimal and potentially very creative. Rules are simple and consistent, mostly roll at a target number based on difficulty. Playing in Al Amarja, my default interpretation is probably going to be that things tend towards the surreal. It's not complex but it gives a consistent framework for interpreting game world events.

Sometimes I think it's easier to be consistent with lighter rule sets. Fewer special rules to get in the way of a consistent process.

I think rules light systems do have greater potential to support consistent game worlds, but it all depends how you treat a rules heavy system and your perception of a consistant reality. I just find rules light(er) systems less work for the same rewards. :smallwink:



I'm curious to see what other people have to say on this. I'm just drawing off my own quite limited experience with the subculture, speaking plainly, and don't mean to offend.

The gamer subculture is a kind of fiction. Defining it is perilous to say the least. It's based on shared experiences, perceptions and preferences. Depending on how many of those match up to your definition, you may or may not be part of gamer sub culture. :smallbiggrin:

AKA_Bait
2008-08-28, 10:28 AM
I think this may be an issue between me and the rest of the world... If I try to jump over a ten foot pit, I don't have a percentage chance of success, I either will or I won't. This brings up the question of what the dice actually represent in the game. To me, they represent unknown and unaccounted for factors. They are essentially a variable circumstance bonus. Therefore, whether my character has a 60% or 45% chance of jumping a pit at a given moment in the game is only a function of how many of those factors are unaccounted for.

Yeah, I think you have a totally different understanding of what die rolling is for than I do. The percentage chance to sucessfully leap over the pit I view as a statistical percentage chance of doing it. i.e. if you jumped over a ten foot pit at your current ability level 100 times, you'd fall into the pit 40. Thus, any given time you try to jump the pit the odds are 6 in 10 (or 60%) that you will make it over that time.

If it's just a you will or you won't thing, then statistics in the real world too wouldn't have any value. In any given thing you do in real life, you will or you won't do it (there is no try). Still, batting averages in baseball are helpful for a manager to decide who to play that day.

nagora
2008-08-28, 10:35 AM
And here I thought that was what you liked, Nagora.

I guess this just goes to show that things have changed so much I can't even figure out what you're saying you actually do like.
This might help:


Narrative = railroad. I'm much more simulationist; story grows in retrospect not by fiat.
Rule-of-cool = nannying. Tried something wild and failed? Tough. It's only cool if you pulled it off without fudging, otherwise you've got the training wheels on and it doesn't count. Most games that try to break down the barrier between DM and players do so with the aim of never letting the players fail. I assume that the worry is that they may cry.

On topic: I think consistancy is important but should play a slight second fiddle to fairness. Good players will know when they've gotten away with murder and won't complain (much) if the DM changes things to stop them doing it again.

As to skills, which seem to have reared their ugly head, I'm much more of a binary DM - the window between "Sure, you can do that without a roll" and "There's no point in rolling" is much smaller for me than I think most people see it. I personally think that the real world is like that too.

Matthew
2008-08-28, 10:39 AM
If it's just a you will or you won't thing, then statistics in the real world too wouldn't have any value. In any given thing you do in real life, you will or you won't do it (there is no try). Still, batting averages in baseball are helpful for a manager to decide who to play that day.

Well, statistics give an indication of the unknown factors (or unquantifiable factors). Batting averages tell us how likely the factors we don't know about (or cannot know about) are in play. whether "Bob the batter" is going to knock one out of the park is already pre determined, we just cannot see that outcome.

Of course, I think chaos theory and quantum mechanics (or sub quantum mechanics?) may disagree with me, but that's another story... something to do with electrons (or some sub unit of matter/energy) being everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-08-28, 10:47 AM
I think this may be an issue between me and the rest of the world... If I try to jump over a ten foot pit, I don't have a percentage chance of success, I either will or I won't. This brings up the question of what the dice actually represent in the game. To me, they represent unknown and unaccounted for factors. They are essentially a variable circumstance bonus. Therefore, whether my character has a 60% or 45% chance of jumping a pit at a given moment in the game is only a function of how many of those factors are unaccounted for.


The fighter speaking from the bottom of the pit I see. :smallamused:

I know understand your question about ranks in jump and speed much better. You are essentially saying that rules heavy games account for too much information to the detriment of the game.
(You provided some more nuances of course.)

AKA_Bait
2008-08-28, 10:50 AM
"Bob the batter" is going to knock one out of the park is already pre determined, we just cannot see that outcome.


Right, what we see when planning are possible outcomes and how likley based upon previous experience each of those outcomes is. From our limited perspective, each of the outcomes we consider is 'possible' despite being predetermined since we cannot possibly know in which way it is determined. The best we can do is make a guess based upon our previous experience with similar situations and the outcomes there. The die roll serves to, without getting into what the other innumerable factors are, take their place in determining which of the 'possible' outcomes it actually is. It is a random determination IC (meaning unknown factors play a role in the outcome) expressed IC as an unknown future only guessed at becoming a known present, and random OOC by rolling a D20 (or whatever).

QM does pose problems for that view, and actually helps mine a little, but the percentage chances on that stuff are so small as to not matter to D20.

nagora
2008-08-28, 11:07 AM
This is a idea for a task-resolution system I thought off in bed last night after the "Taking the DMG off the players" debate:

Roll 1d6+class level+any apllicable ability (ie, Str, Con etc). The target needed is whatever ability score the DM thinks would be an auto-success. The DM is free to decide whether a roll is possible at all, based on your background, or whether you get the level bonus or not.

Competative rolls are simply a case of rolling higher than the opponent.

It's a rough idea but embodies some of the issues I have with the d20 system: big variablility and lack of confidence at all levels (obviously both related).

I've also toyed with 3d6 systems in the past for similar reasons.

Matthew
2008-08-28, 01:21 PM
The fighter speaking from the bottom of the pit I see. :smallamused:

Hee, hee. That was actually a theoretical question that sprouted from another take I was considering for this thread, but it trod too far into "calibrating your expectations" territory.



I know understand your question about ranks in jump and speed much better. You are essentially saying that rules heavy games account for too much information to the detriment of the game.
(You provided some more nuances of course.)

Indeedy. It's the old Elf to Skill Rank puzzle (Level Limits in another form actually). You'd expect a two hundred year old Elf to be 'more skilled' than a 19 year old human, but D20 tells you where you can shove that expectation and then tries to explain the illogic of it (sometimes quite convincingly, sometimes not so much).



Right, what we see when planning are possible outcomes and how likley based upon previous experience each of those outcomes is. From our limited perspective, each of the outcomes we consider is 'possible' despite being predetermined since we cannot possibly know in which way it is determined. The best we can do is make a guess based upon our previous experience with similar situations and the outcomes there. The die roll serves to, without getting into what the other innumerable factors are, take their place in determining which of the 'possible' outcomes it actually is. It is a random determination IC (meaning unknown factors play a role in the outcome) expressed IC as an unknown future only guessed at becoming a known present, and random OOC by rolling a D20 (or whatever).

Right, but what if the circumstances haven't changed? Let's say the fighter jumps the pit the first time no problem, and then tries to jump the pit a second time, but fails even though nothing actually changed. What's the difference (in terms of world consistancy) if the game master just hand waves it, as alters the chance, as determines the probability? The game master can account for the circumstances the die roll is supposed to model (in D20 via circumstance modifiers), effectively removing the die from the equation. The choice is his, the only question is whether he excercises it (and I think that comes down to good versus bad experience of play, and expectations of "fairness").

To put it another way, should a character who makes a check to recall a fact via a knowledge check have to reroll to recall the same fact the next day? At what point should he have to reroll to recall that fact? The pit seems like a similar situation to me. Unless something happens to alter the circumstances, a character who successfully jumps a pit should arguably be able to repeat that action 100% successfully.

I suspect we're probably more in agreement than not, just the reasons for altering or not altering are different.



QM does pose problems for that view, and actually helps mine a little, but the percentage chances on that stuff are so small as to not matter to D20.
Right you are.

Raum
2008-08-28, 06:27 PM
Forvige me if this comes across wrong, but I'm 27 now and have never really felt any desire to define myself as part of a gaming subculture.
- - snip - -
I'm curious to see what other people have to say on this. I'm just drawing off my own quite limited experience with the subculture, speaking plainly, and don't mean to offend. The differences in perception of a gamer subculture are why I asked "what facets did you like?" As you pointed out it won't mean the same thing to everyone.

I've skipped years between RPG games on occasion, to some that may disqualify me from membership in a gaming subculture. On the other hand gaming is always something I fall back into and enjoy sooner or later. But whether considered a subculture or a simple activity, gaming has always been a social activity. I know some who see the social aspect as more important than the gaming aspect. So, as a social activity, what facets of gaming would you like to see flourish?


I think there was a movement towards "equalising" the game master, but I am not particularly convinced that the game system has much to do with it.Some games explicitly enshrine the division in the text, others explicitly tear it down in the text. Of course neither stops you from playing it in a different style.


I think this may be an issue between me and the rest of the world... If I try to jump over a ten foot pit, I don't have a percentage chance of success, I either will or I won't. This brings up the question of what the dice actually represent in the game. To me, they represent unknown and unaccounted for factors. They are essentially a variable circumstance bonus. Therefore, whether my character has a 60% or 45% chance of jumping a pit at a given moment in the game is only a function of how many of those factors are unaccounted for.It probably is a matter of personality, training, and interest. I was an engineer for a long time, problem solving is enjoyable. I see the pit and associated environmental factors as a problem waiting to be solved...will a running start solve it or should I build a bridge? The attempt at resolving the problem is at least as important as the result to me. Possibly more important.


The numbers never really support the game world, they just fill in the blanks. Ah, but they can support the world! :)

As you said earlier, a matter of preference.


Indeed, which I think makes the point about unnecessary versus necessary codification as a subjective perception. Should a long sword always do 1d8 damage? Should a level one fighter with strength 10 always have a 60% chance of hitting armour class 10? We know they don't, they depend on various other factors that have been codified.And the differences between game systems make that even more obvious. Consistency is more important than the mechanic itself. It really doesn't matter whether character X rolls a d20 at a TN for a skill or rolls several d6s at a target number needing a number of successes. The game will work with either...but would be much more difficult if you tried to use both methods.


I think rules light systems do have greater potential to support consistent game worlds, but it all depends how you treat a rules heavy system and your perception of a consistant reality. I just find rules light(er) systems less work for the same rewards. :smallwink:Agreed!


The gamer subculture is a kind of fiction. Defining it is perilous to say the least. It's based on shared experiences, perceptions and preferences. Depending on how many of those match up to your definition, you may or may not be part of gamer sub culture. :smallbiggrin:Is it fiction or perception? Humans have a tendency to classify everything...whether you fit the stereotype may matter less than whether casual acquaintances stick you with the label.


whether "Bob the batter" is going to knock one out of the park is already pre determined, we just cannot see that outcome.Now we're talking philosophy! I've never like determinism though. If everything is determined why try? Yes I know...because trying has been determined also. :smallannoyed:

It's something philosophers have argued for centuries but I find myself siding with Libertarianism far more than Determinism.

Matthew
2008-08-28, 06:45 PM
Some games explicitly enshrine the division in the text, others explicitly tear it down in the text. Of course neither stops you from playing it in a different style.

Indeed. Bit of a grey area really, I am never really sure where to draw the line between the rules of the game and the text of the rulebook.



It probably is a matter of personality, training, and interest. I was an engineer for a long time, problem solving is enjoyable. I see the pit and associated environmental factors as a problem waiting to be solved...will a running start solve it or should I build a bridge? The attempt at resolving the problem is at least as important as the result to me. Possibly more important.

I can appreciate that.



And the differences between game systems make that even more obvious. Consistency is more important than the mechanic itself. It really doesn't matter whether character X rolls a d20 at a TN for a skill or rolls several d6s at a target number needing a number of successes. The game will work with either...but would be much more difficult if you tried to use both methods.

Indeed, and whatever resolution system you use can eventually be expressed as a percentage chance of success.



Is it fiction or perception? Humans have a tendency to classify everything...whether you fit the stereotype may matter less than whether casual acquaintances stick you with the label.

The fiction of perception, I suspect, which is fact for some. A kind of fiction, but also a kind of fact.



Now we're talking philosophy! I've never like determinism though. If everything is determined why try? Yes I know...because trying has been determined also. :smallannoyed:

It's something philosophers have argued for centuries but I find myself siding with Libertarianism far more than Determinism.

Yep. Personally, I like Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, but when I look at the world I see mainly events determined by previous events. No doubt a result of my education.

However, how one sees the universe is key to accepting methods of task resolution in fictional universes as logical and rational. If task resolution fails to accord with your perception of reality in the fictional universe (and given that you expect it to conform), you end up with questions like mine. :smallbiggrin:

Knaight
2008-08-28, 06:54 PM
This is a pretty 'mainstream' RPG site, a large number of the posters will never have heard of these, remember also the average age on this site is considerably lower than mine... or yours

I don't know. I mean, I'm 15, and started gaming with actual rules after 3rd edition. Which still didn't stop me from finding Fudge, which is now my favorite game. Although it came out when I was 1, which is kind of weird to think about.


No, they were just ****.

Narrative-driven, rule-of-cool games can kiss my shiny metal ass.
Said games are typically narrative driven insomuch as there is a mechanic in place that allows players slight modifications, to the point of lucky coincidences. It basically models luck. As for rule of cool, all that means is that your not going to get some answer along the lines of "no you don't have the feat/power for that", not automatically succeed at cool stuff. The risk of failure is still there, and in those games, a lot of the time your going to take something a bit more severe than losing a few hit points. This a knee jerk reaction against a phrase, that isn't even that accurate.

Charity
2008-08-28, 07:59 PM
Exceptions... rules... 'large number' =/= all ... etc.
Fudge is an interesting system.

... Actually interestingly, I played a boardgame tonight that had role playing elements... most entertaining.
I'm not sure if this is the thread for it, but it just makes me smile. also Matt, we didn't get round to playing 4e, they were too busy framing poor Shadey McGuilty (me) for a murder he never commited... where's the A team when you need em?

Knaight
2008-08-28, 08:44 PM
Exceptions... rules... 'large number' =/= all ... etc.
Fudge is an interesting system.

Huh? Seriously that first part makes almost no sense, although that large number bit may have something to do with the word scale. Does it?

And it really is an interesting system, in the awesome, incredibly versatile, effortless to use and wing way.

Charity
2008-08-28, 09:12 PM
This is a pretty 'mainstream' RPG site, a large number of the posters will never have heard of these...


I don't know. I mean, I'm 15, and started gaming with actual rules after 3rd edition. Which still didn't stop me from finding Fudge, which is now my favorite game. Although it came out when I was 1, which is kind of weird to think about.


You might be the exception that proves the rule. I said a large number I certainly did not extend that to all as that would have been a daft statement for me to have made, knowing quite well that is false from my own encounters here and elsewhere.

This-

Exceptions... rules... 'large number' =/= all ... etc.
Is shorthand for the above statement.

Knaight
2008-08-28, 09:17 PM
I've also brought 15 people to the game. Most of which are younger than it. That and from what I've seen several of the smaller RPGs are fairly well known. Also can you really expect anyone to read that short hand? It makes sense in retrospect, but still.

nagora
2008-08-29, 05:18 AM
Said games are typically narrative driven insomuch as there is a mechanic in place that allows players slight modifications, to the point of lucky coincidences. It basically models luck.
The dice model luck; what you are talking about is modelling author's fiat which is the opposite of luck. It's a polite term for railroading, whether it's done by the GM or the players.


As for rule of cool, all that means is that your not going to get some answer along the lines of "no you don't have the feat/power for that", not automatically succeed at cool stuff. The risk of failure is still there, and in those games, a lot of the time your going to take something a bit more severe than losing a few hit points.
Again, the common usage seem to me that the "rule of cool" is letting anything happen - no matter how unlikely - if it's "cool" enough to carry the players' (or viewers, since this is also a TV term) disbelief over the hump. In practice, this is used as an excuse to fudge dice rolls or simply allow characters to get away with things that they really shouldn't. I regard that as training wheels.


This a knee jerk reaction against a phrase, that isn't even that accurate.
In my defense, my reaction was probably pre-determined :smallwink:

Knaight
2008-08-29, 07:42 AM
The dice model some luck, those points model characters that are luckier than normal, without doing something like having luck apply to all dice rolls. D&D has been doing this with re rolls for a while now with a few classes, in a class based system, everybody gets it. They are typically used for rerolls, or before rolling for maximum rolls, a lucky coincidence(ie, guard comes in drunk one day, doesn't store keys properly) is extremely expensive. That and railroading is when the GM forces the players along one path, players can't railroad(its veto-able anyways most of the time), and the lucky coincidences are going to depend on whether it makes sense in the world. For instance if the captain of the guard is a lazy oaf who doesn't really care, and just sits in his desk all day reading reports while waiting for his shift to end, a guard may come in drunk. If the captain is a former drill seargent, who is convinced that he needs to whip the guards into shape, thats not going to happen. Again, they help players take advantage of lucky coincidences that make sense within the world,

As for rule of cool, you might be able to pull of something impressive if you roll extremely well, using a high skill. These are rules light games, the risk of failure is higher. In 3.5, for instance if you try something(without the feat for it), the worst that usually happens is falling, and losing some hit points. Maybe you'll end up prone. In rules light games, you try for example running up a wall, kicking off another wall, and grabbing a birds foot, and fail you run part way up, jump, hit the other wall, get their foot stuck, twist down breaking their ankle, fall again, slam the floor, breaking an arm, and getting a concussion, and then taking massive penalties between blurry vision, blood and sweat in your eyes, snapped ankle, pain, and using your bad arm. Granted, something this bad should probably be reserved for a severe failure, but when they happen, your probably going to get something like this. If you fail as bad trying something even more ridiculous (for instance throwing the sword when jumping to wall 2 for the wall kick, so it bounces, hits the other wall, and then both talons are grabbed at which point the GM is practically obligated to leave their sword stuck in the wall. Out of reach, unless they actually pull off the maneuver, or somebody else without a broken ankle does. Or they lasso the handle or something.

nagora
2008-08-29, 10:54 AM
That and railroading is when the GM forces the players along one path, players can't railroad
A lot of storytelling games I've looked at are based on the idea of letting the players railroad the plot.

BRC
2008-08-29, 11:06 AM
In terms of Rule of Cool, I generally prefer the "No Mechanical Effect" rule in terms of that, provided it dosn't stretch disbelief too much .

For example, let's say an 8th level monk is fighting a hobgoblin wizard, he flurries and hits twice, dealing 18 damage. Now, rather than simply saying "You throw three punches, the first two hit and the third misses", I might say "You grab the wizard's head and slam it into the wall dealing 18 damage, then let go."
Though technically, slamming his head into the wall should have required a grapple check or somthing, because it has no mechanical benefit I'd go with it for the purpose of looking cool and mixing things up a little.

Now, if the monk's player said "Can I grab his head and smash it into the wall", I would probably let him do it provided he took no mechanical benefit from it (EG having let go afterwards), if he wanted a mechanical benefit from it, I would have made him do a grapple check.


Now in other cases, you DO want to require a skill check or somthing, even if it's only for cinematic purposes, but that should be more over-the-top stuff.

AKA_Bait
2008-08-29, 11:23 AM
Now we're talking philosophy! I've never like determinism though. If everything is determined why try? Yes I know...because trying has been determined also. :smallannoyed:


Actually, I'm a determinist and have always hated that answer too. Better than saying 'because you are predetermined to try' a better answer (put best IMO by Hawking in his Free Will or Determinism Essay in Black Holes and Baby Universes) is that the fact that we are determined doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter because it is impossible for us to ever figure out just how we are determined. Given that, we might just as well say we have free will for all practical concerns. The only benifit of accepting physical determinism is that it's a pretty good place to stand if you think that there is an absolute set of physical laws. Absolute free will doesn't reall mesh with that on the scientific, rather than moral, level.

/tangent

Matthew
2008-08-29, 12:16 PM
...a better answer (put best IMO by Hawking in his Free Will or Determinism Essay in Black Holes and Baby Universes) is that the fact that we are determined doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter because it is impossible for us to ever figure out just how we are determined. Given that, we might just as well say we have free will for all practical concerns. The only benifit of accepting physical determinism is that it's a pretty good place to stand if you think that there is an absolute set of physical laws. Absolute free will doesn't reall mesh with that on the scientific, rather than moral, level.

That's how I have always thought of it.

Ulzgoroth
2008-08-29, 12:43 PM
Well, to jump aboard the philosophical tangent, does your physical determinism stand up in a world with quantum effects and chaotic systems?

I've got a good understanding of what the latter mean but only a very loose grasp of the former, so I can't really tell whether combined they leave a hole in determinism.

Which I'm not very fond of, even if it makes no practical difference.

AKA_Bait
2008-08-29, 12:57 PM
Well, to jump aboard the philosophical tangent, does your physical determinism stand up in a world with quantum effects and chaotic systems?

I've got a good understanding of what the latter mean but only a very loose grasp of the former, so I can't really tell whether combined they leave a hole in determinism.

Which I'm not very fond of, even if it makes no practical difference.

Well, to the best of my knowlege (I'm a philosopher and not a physicist) these are still open questions. It's an open question if chaotic and quantam systems follow no laws or are merely impossible to predict based on other factors. If there are universal laws, even ones we can't use to predict reliably, then determinism holds regardless. If those systems are at core random, meaning no physical laws govern them absolutley, not even supremely complex ones that are beyond our current (or possibly eventual) kenn, then determinism fails, kinda.

Honestly, I prefer determinism. Personally, I prefer to think of the universe as ultimatley understandable and support the 'figure out how everything works' project that is science. That project, so understood, is pointless if we don't live in a deterministic universe.

nagora
2008-08-29, 01:05 PM
Actually, I'm a determinist and have always hated that answer too. Better than saying 'because you are predetermined to try' a better answer (put best IMO by Hawking in his Free Will or Determinism Essay in Black Holes and Baby Universes) is that the fact that we are determined doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter because it is impossible for us to ever figure out just how we are determined.
I feel that until we understand consciousness, debates on this subject are built on quicksand. But then, I'm a free-willer and am therefore bound to say that :smallbiggrin:

Ulzgoroth
2008-08-29, 01:14 PM
Errr...there may be a glitch in your understanding of chaos, specifically.

A chaotic system is one that, over time, diverges based on small variations in conditions/perturbations. That is, if you give it long enough, two arbitrarily similar non-identical starting points will wind up in apparently unrelated states. They are still entirely deterministic, but to make long-term predictions about their behavior requires an absolutely perfect understanding of the starting point. (That is to say literally infinite information.)

(The math is cool.)

The bit where I start swinging blindfolded is mixing in quantum. Which I think makes the absolutely perfect measurement that would be needed for infinite-range prediction of a chaotic system not only functionally impossible but conceptually invalid. Which would (maybe) make a real chaotic system fundamentally non-deterministic, but practically predictable over the short term and guidable by regular intervention.

...on the other hand, maybe this is what you meant. If you want to be able to model absolutely everything, this would give you a problem. The problem is entirely with the quantum part, not the chaotic, I think.

Matthew
2008-08-29, 01:20 PM
Well, to the best of my knowlege (I'm a philosopher and not a physicist) these are still open questions.

Hard to tell the difference at that level of thought. :smallbiggrin:

Indeed, these are open questions and always have been. The universe appears to be deterministic, but it could be an illusion. I got into a very long and boring thread a while back when I floated the idea of a universe with truly inconsistant or absent rules [i.e. magic].

I rather like the reconciliation of free will to determinism whereby both can exist simultaneously, but how may be beyond our understanding.

However, to bring this back to the subject at hand, Amber Diceless is a game that eliminated random die rolls as event resolvers. Problem is that it's a bit boring if you consider unpredictability (outside the group) to be fun. Which brings us back to fighters jumping over pits... it seems to me that the problem is both the thing that makes it fun, and the thing that makes it unfun.

Rolling 7 D20 and trying to get four successes is more fun than rolling one D100 with a set probability. However, jumping over pits isn't important enough to merit rolling 7D20, in my opinion...

nagora
2008-08-29, 01:31 PM
Errr...there may be a glitch in your understanding of chaos, specifically.

A chaotic system is one that, over time, diverges based on small variations in conditions/perturbations. That is, if you give it long enough, two arbitrarily similar non-identical starting points will wind up in apparently unrelated states. They are still entirely deterministic,
The issue is the pairing of the two things: QM and chaos. As long as QM is down at the bottom supplying small variations in conditions then chaos - and everything else - must be non-deterministic.

AKA_Bait
2008-08-29, 01:32 PM
Errr...there may be a glitch in your understanding of chaos, specifically.

A chaotic system is one that, over time, diverges based on small variations in conditions/perturbations. That is, if you give it long enough, two arbitrarily similar non-identical starting points will wind up in apparently unrelated states. They are still entirely deterministic, but to make long-term predictions about their behavior requires an absolutely perfect understanding of the starting point. (That is to say literally infinite information.)

That's what I thought, but the last time I read a book on it was in just about years ago and that one was not aimed at the expert audience. I wasn't sure if something new had come along that you were referring to so I decided just to play it cautious with my reply there.


The bit where I start swinging blindfolded is mixing in quantum. Which I think makes the absolutely perfect measurement that would be needed for infinite-range prediction of a chaotic system not only functionally impossible but conceptually invalid.

This, as I understand it, is where one of the central ongoing debates about uncertianty currently happens. Is the inability to take precise measurements an impossiblity because to make the measurement we must mess with the system or is it because the states themeselves are essentially uncertian. It's an important difference, but not one I'm sure that it is even possible to get a decisive answer to.


...on the other hand, maybe this is what you meant. If you want to be able to model absolutely everything, this would give you a problem. The problem is entirely with the quantum part, not the chaotic, I think.

That, and my lack of current knowledge in Chaos Theory, is why I lumped them together in my response.


I feel that until we understand consciousness, debates on this subject are built on quicksand. But then, I'm a free-willer and am therefore bound to say that :smallbiggrin:

Heh. There is a fair question to be had as relates to consciousness. Essentially, if it is an emergent property of the physical/chemical proccesses going on in the brain, if it is just an expression there of, or if it merely correlates to those properties but is not determined by them. Another thing, I suspect, we will never have a clear answer to.


Hard to tell the difference at that level of thought. :smallbiggrin:

Oh, I wholly agree. Many of the other people I know who style themselves as philosophers wouln't though. One of the many reasons I didn't really fit in at academic philosophy departments. Suggesting that Newton was as much a philosopher as Descartes is... unpopular.


Indeed, these are open questions and always have been. The universe appears to be deterministic, but it could be an illusion. I got into a very long and boring thread a while back when I floated the idea of a universe with truly inconsistant rules [i.e. magic].

I quite liked that thread...


However, to bring this back to the subject at hand, Amber Diceless is a game that eliminated random die rolls as event resolvers. Problem is that it's a bit boring if you consider unpredictability (outside the group) to be fun. which brings us back to fighters jumping over pits... it seems to me that the problem is both the thing that makes it fun, and the thing that makes it unfun.

Indeed, my group would be most distressed if they didn't get to roll anymore. They friggin love their dice.


Rolling 7 D20 and trying to get four successes is more fun than rolling one D100 with a set probability. However, jumping over pits isn't important enough to merit rolling 7D20, in my opinion...

I agree. It's difficult to find a happy medium with these kind of problems. I don't think d20's attempt was really that bad at core. They overcomplicated it, in my view, and some of the 4e skill rolling back helped to alleviate the problem.

The change from invested points to level based points also made things simpler but at the expense of some ability to 'personalize' the PC. The jury living in my brain is still out on that.

nagora
2008-08-29, 01:35 PM
This, as I understand it, is where one of the central ongoing debates about uncertianty currently happens. Is the inability to take precise measurements an impossiblity because to make the measurement we must mess with the system or is it because the states themeselves are essentially uncertian.
As far as I know, there is no connection between these questions - both could be true or only the first. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is essentially an observation about the nature of very small things and applies no matter whether the model is classical or quantum.

AKA_Bait
2008-08-29, 01:44 PM
As far as I know, there is no connection between these questions - both could be true or only the first. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is essentially an observation about the nature of very small things and applies no matter whether the model is classical or quantum.

As I understand it, some people take uncertianty to mean that both are true. Personally, I'm of your view, that it doesn't say anything on the latter one way or the other.

JackShandy
2008-08-29, 02:41 PM
A lot of storytelling games I've looked at are based on the idea of letting the players railroad the plot.

A lot of storytelling games are based on the idea of letting the players directly determine the plot if they win conflicts, rather than just determining whether the individual actions by their characters succeed or fail. Is this what you mean by 'railroading'?

Based on some other posts from you, you seem to favor a very "sandbox" style of play, where any plot happens incidently as a result of the characters interacting with the world and the inhabitants the DM has created. If I've judged that correctly, I'm not surprised you dislike storytelling games, they are nearly antithecal play styles.

Matthew
2008-08-29, 04:47 PM
Darn computer ate my post.



Oh, I wholly agree. Many of the other people I know who style themselves as philosophers wouln't though. One of the many reasons I didn't really fit in at academic philosophy departments. Suggesting that Newton was as much a philosopher as Descartes is... unpopular.

Yes, I can imagine. For all its modern liberal trappings, academia is quite a conservative place.



I quite liked that thread...

The subject matter was quite interesting, but most people only seemed interested in demonstrating that impossible universes are in fact impossible.



Indeed, my group would be most distressed if they didn't get to roll anymore. They friggin love their dice.

Yup, mine too.



I agree. It's difficult to find a happy medium with these kind of problems. I don't think d20's attempt was really that bad at core. They overcomplicated it, in my view, and some of the 4e skill rolling back helped to alleviate the problem.

The change from invested points to level based points also made things simpler but at the expense of some ability to 'personalize' the PC. The jury living in my brain is still out on that.

A difficult subject. And the criticism of 4e is the same one made of games like Castles & Crusades. Quantifying the capabilities of a character in absolute numeric terms is very popular and even seen as necessary for a game to be "good".

Sometimes I rather like the idea of very structured rule sets, but the very idea of resource allocation in building a character can make it hard to realise a concept [an average fighter with some decent skills in D20, for instance]. This was a major problem with the AD&D proficiency system, and the problems were perpetuated (perhaps even emphasised) in D20. The structure may also fall short of expectations when representing the game world reality, and that can be annoying. The usual response is to patch these immediate problems, but that doesn't really address the broader issues.

A less structured or "rules light" system often relies heavily on the game master for rulings that maintain immersion or verisimilitude. That can be a tall order, and the very openness can be overwhelming, but it can also be very rewarding in terms of world consistency, believability, and entertainment derived from the game.

Structured play is often fun, and designing or modifying systems are entertaining passtimes in and of themselves. Their absence may well be missed in a "rules light" system, but it is a heck of a lot less work when designing adventures or actually playing, but running games with less structure is a skill that needs to be practiced like any other. Moreover, heavily structured games can be played lightly and enjoy a safety net effect for when problems of adjudication arise.

At the minute I am quite into the idea of "traits" or "descriptors" where background information translates into game mechanics, such as "former mercenary in the service of a religious order." Doesn't tell me much about howe skilled a climber or swimmer he is, but I think it tells me more than "Knowledge (Religion) +2".

JaxGaret
2008-08-29, 05:26 PM
I support the 'figure out how everything works' project that is science. That project, so understood, is pointless if we don't live in a deterministic universe.

I disagree that science is pointless in a non-deterministic universe.

Raum
2008-08-29, 06:22 PM
Absolute free will doesn't reall mesh with that on the scientific, rather than moral, level.Neither does absolute determinism...that's a major issue with absolutes.


I rather like the reconciliation of free will to determinism whereby both can exist simultaneously, but how may be beyond our understanding.Brings up the soft determinists camp...

Maybe we need a thread on philosophy. :smallamused:


However, to bring this back to the subject at hand, Amber Diceless is a game that eliminated random die rolls as event resolvers. Problem is that it's a bit boring if you consider unpredictability (outside the group) to be fun. Which brings us back to fighters jumping over pits... it seems to me that the problem is both the thing that makes it fun, and the thing that makes it unfun.Some prefer an element of chance in games. A bit of a gambler mentality perhaps.

But consistent rulings doesn't necessarily have anything to do with chance. One I tend to see questions on is AoOs and when you get them. Doesn't have any direct connection with chance or rolling dice but it will play a part in a player's tactical decision making. It should. After all, the character would generally avoid taking that extra hit.


Rolling 7 D20 and trying to get four successes is more fun than rolling one D100 with a set probability. However, jumping over pits isn't important enough to merit rolling 7D20, in my opinion...Do the number of dice rolled really affect the amount of fun? In my experience a lot of the fun stems from the suspense and tension of waiting for a resolution. Rolling in Shadowrun wasn't more or less fun than rolling in Savage Worlds or D&D. All created the same sense of suspense and expectation.

Indeed, my group would be most distressed if they didn't get to roll anymore. They friggin love their dice.Hmm, my experience may be an exception...


Sometimes I rather like the idea of very structured rule sets, but the very idea of resource allocation in building a character can make it hard to realise a concept [an average fighter with some decent skills in D20, for instance]. This was a major problem with the AD&D proficiency system, and the problems were perpetuated (perhaps even emphasised) in D20. The structure may also fall short of expectations when representing the game world reality, and that can be annoying. The usual response is to patch these immediate problems, but that doesn't really address the broader issues.How are you defining "structured rule sets"? Do you mean rule sets with specific, detailed, and potentially complex mechanics?


A less structured or "rules light" system often relies heavily on the game master for rulings that maintain immersion or verisimilitude. That can be a tall order, and the very openness can be overwhelming, but it can also be very rewarding in terms of world consistency, believability, and entertainment derived from the game.The reliance may not be on the GM alone. Wushu, for example, encourages a lot of player input.


Structured play is often fun, and designing or modifying systems are entertaining passtimes in and of themselves. Their absence may well be missed in a "rules light" system, but it is a heck of a lot less work when designing adventures or actually playing, but running games with less structure is a skill that needs to be practiced like any other. Moreover, heavily structured games can be played lightly and enjoy a safety net effect for when problems of adjudication arise.

At the minute I am quite into the idea of "traits" or "descriptors" where background information translates into game mechanics, such as "former mercenary in the service of a religious order." Doesn't tell me much about howe skilled a climber or swimmer he is, but I think it tells me more than "Knowledge (Religion) +2".Agreed. I like systems which give mechanical benefits to fleshing out character backgrounds. Out of curiosity, have you tried the Fate system? I haven't been able to play it yet but it looks interesting. I do wonder whether they went too far with the descriptors (Aspects) - they appear to bring metagaming to the foreground of the game. One of these days I need to find someone running it and try... :)

Knaight
2008-08-29, 06:40 PM
A lot of storytelling games I've looked at are based on the idea of letting the players railroad the plot.

Seeing as the plot typically comes from the world reacting to the players antics anyways, I fail to see the problem. That and allowing description by the players when they win conflicts, which again isn't all that bad. Irritating, and not what I would want to GM, but not bad.

Matthew
2008-08-29, 06:44 PM
Brings up the soft determinists camp...

Maybe we need a thread on philosophy. :smallamused:

Heh, heh.



Some prefer an element of chance in games. A bit of a gambler mentality perhaps.

But consistent rulings doesn't necessarily have anything to do with chance. One I tend to see questions on is AoOs and when you get them. Doesn't have any direct connection with chance or rolling dice but it will play a part in a player's tactical decision making. It should. After all, the character would generally avoid taking that extra hit.

An interesting point. AD&D 2e leaves it completely up to the game master whether a moving character is caught in an AoE, and AoOs only appear in later heavily defined turn by turn movement phases. The exception is fleeing, which emulates the wargame and grants a "free hack".

Actually, you may disagree with the "hidden mechanic" part of this, but it might be worth your while checking out this Dragonsfoot thread that touches on verbal descriptors as tactical choices: Caveman Combat (http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=31150&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=38)



Do the number of dice rolled really affect the amount of fun? In my experience a lot of the fun stems from the suspense and tension of waiting for a resolution. Rolling in Shadowrun wasn't more or less fun than rolling in Savage Worlds or D&D. All created the same sense of suspense and expectation.
Hmm, my experience may be an exception...

Hmmn. I don't mean rolling all at the same time, I was really referring to the 4e Skill Challenge, which may or may not build tension, depending on the group. On the other hand, there is something about "lots of dice" that is quite fun...



How are you defining "structured rule sets"? Do you mean rule sets with specific, detailed, and potentially complex mechanics?

Good question, and I know I am being quite ambiguous with my terms here. That is probably partly because I am not narrowing things down to a true definition. The definition you provide seems reasonable; "highly structured" might be a better term.



The reliance may not be on the GM alone. Wushu, for example, encourages a lot of player input.

Very true, and an interesting point. Even games that rely heavily on the game master require complicity and input from the players (or at the very least their tacit approval).



Agreed. I like systems which give mechanical benefits to fleshing out character backgrounds. Out of curiosity, have you tried the Fate system? I haven't been able to play it yet but it looks interesting. I do wonder whether they went too far with the descriptors (Aspects) - they appear to bring metagaming to the foreground of the game. One of these days I need to find someone running it and try... :)

Ah yes, "Aspects". I haven't given Fate a whirl yet, though I have read bits and pieces about it. They probably do go a bit far for my liking, but I will have to experience it in play before I can really judge.

Raum
2008-08-29, 08:17 PM
Actually, you may disagree with the "hidden mechanic" part of this, but it might be worth your while checking out this Dragonsfoot thread that touches on verbal descriptors as tactical choices: Caveman Combat (http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=31150&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=38)Interesting. Skipping any philosophical differences around transparency of the mechanics, why not simplify it further? Keep the rules short even though the potential applications are endless. Savage Worlds' "Tricks" mechanic is an example.


Hmmn. I don't mean rolling all at the same time, I was really referring to the 4e Skill Challenge, which may or may not build tension, depending on the group. On the other hand, there is something about "lots of dice" that is quite fun...Ah, haven't played 4e yet so I missed the reference.


Ah yes, "Aspects". I haven't given Fate a whirl yet, though I have read bits and pieces about it. They probably do go a bit far for my liking, but I will have to experience it in play before I can really judge.Agreed. I like the use of descriptors as traits it's the mechanics of tagging aspects during play which I'm uncertain about.

RobertFisher
2008-08-29, 10:50 PM
I wrote a post and it got lost because my login timed out. >.< Here it goes again...

I apologize for not having time to read the whole thread, but I wanted to add some context to my original quote.

As judge, I encourage the players to advise me how to rule, remind me of how I handled similar situations in the past, and list factors in their favor that I should consider.

The players know that I wonít try to trick them (other than within the game world itself). They can ask me what their PC thinks the chance of success at an action is, and they know Iíll give them an honest response. In fact, Iíll usually volunteer such information. I have to serve as all five senses for their PCs using descriptions alone, so I have to be as fair as possible. I also donít expect the players to have mastered the rules; itís my job to act as their rules-expert as well.

e.g. If Iím running D&D3e and a PC does something that the PC knows would make him vulnerable, Iíll be sure to inform the player that the action would draw as AoO and give them a chance to change their mind.

For every ruling, I strive to know that the consensus at the table is that it is a good ruling. When I do ďpull rankĒ, the players give me the benefit of the doubt. And I know that when I do make a poor ruling, they wonít hold it against me.

If the consensus at the table is that this is a good enough ruling for this situation, then it doesnít matter whether it is consistent with any previous ruling. (If it did matter, somebody wouldíve spoken up.)

Matthew
2008-08-30, 11:41 AM
Interesting. Skipping any philosophical differences around transparency of the mechanics, why not simplify it further? Keep the rules short even though the potential applications are endless. Savage Worlds' "Tricks" mechanic is an example.

Well, I think part of the charm of this sort of thing in AD&D 2e is its ad hoc natures, and a further simplification may appear too codified. You will have to remind me on about how SW handles this. If I recall correctly, the player describes a trick, then tests a trait to see if the trick is successful, the result being something like +2 to resolving a current action. Is that right?

I actually do use a fairly standard formulae when approaching this in AD&D 2e; usually the penalty is proportional to the percentage chance of success. So, in the Axe Hook example, the character would suffer a -4 penalty to hit and have a 25% chance of success, but this would all be subsumed in the attack roll, meaning that 16+ on 1d20 would result in an effect (in this case a knock down) in addition to normal damage. However, I would want to be able to modify that percentage, depending on the fighting skill of the opponent.

Another idea is the "critical/fumble" approach where the player chooses whether to risk the consequences of rolling a "1" in exchange for some benefit from rolling a "20".

All depends on what a group considers fun, I think.



As judge, I encourage the players to advise me how to rule, remind me of how I handled similar situations in the past, and list factors in their favor that I should consider.

The players know that I wonít try to trick them (other than within the game world itself). They can ask me what their PC thinks the chance of success at an action is, and they know Iíll give them an honest response. In fact, Iíll usually volunteer such information. I have to serve as all five senses for their PCs using descriptions alone, so I have to be as fair as possible. I also donít expect the players to have mastered the rules; itís my job to act as their rules-expert as well.

For every ruling, I strive to know that the consensus at the table is that it is a good ruling. When I do ďpull rankĒ, the players give me the benefit of the doubt. And I know that when I do make a poor ruling, they wonít hold it against me.

If the consensus at the table is that this is a good enough ruling for this situation, then it doesnít matter whether it is consistent with any previous ruling. (If it did matter, somebody wouldíve spoken up.)

Indeed, good points all, and this plays into the "player complicity/approval" aspect of being a "good" games master that Raum mentioned.

Part of this is a stable versus an unstable rule set, though. With something like D20 (or another "highly structured" game), the players and game master have effectively agreed in advance as to how to handle many situations in the game, and there is little potential for over ruling those agreements during play unless it is understood that rules can change, and that it can actually be beneficial for them to do so.

The D20 fighter with 13 Strength, armoured in mail, and with 0 Ranks in Jump is a great example. The guy literally cannot jump even 1 foot by 'taking 10'. I was recently reading a Goodman Games D20 adventure for level one characters that called for DC 10 jump check over a 7 foot gap. The above mentioned character would need to roll a 20 to succeed. That's just not right.

Raum
2008-08-30, 08:09 PM
Well, I think part of the charm of this sort of thing in AD&D 2e is its ad hoc natures, and a further simplification may appear too codified. You will have to remind me on about how SW handles this. If I recall correctly, the player describes a trick, then tests a trait to see if the trick is successful, the result being something like +2 to resolving a current action. Is that right?Close - it's actually a -2 to the target's parry with the potential of stunning him if the success is good enough. The action is entirely improvisational while the mechanic is set. Only reason I mention it is it seems to do what you intended with your list of maneuvers while not requiring said list.


The D20 fighter with 13 Strength, armoured in mail, and with 0 Ranks in Jump is a great example. The guy literally cannot jump even 1 foot by 'taking 10'. I was recently reading a Goodman Games D20 adventure for level one characters that called for DC 10 jump check over a 7 foot gap. The above mentioned character would need to roll a 20 to succeed. That's just not right.D&D (and many other games) always did have problems simulating armor. Many of the issues stem from modern myths and misconceptions, others get propagated for game scaling reasons.

Krrth
2008-08-30, 08:27 PM
To answer the OP, I do like consistent rulings. I've run into trouble a few times when something worked once, but the next time it didn't because the GM either forgot the original ruling or changed their mind about it. Consistency allows the players to plan ahead. Otherwise, be prepared for a lot of "If I do this...."

RobertFisher
2008-08-31, 07:14 AM
To answer the OP, I do like consistent rulings. I've run into trouble a few times when something worked once, but the next time it didn't because the GM either forgot the original ruling or changed their mind about it. Consistency allows the players to plan ahead. Otherwise, be prepared for a lot of "If I do this...."

Did the players remind the DM that he handled it differently before? Did anyone say why they thought it would be a problem if it was handled differently this time? Did the DM have no reason for doing it differently when asked?

Matthew
2008-08-31, 12:31 PM
Close - it's actually a -2 to the target's parry with the potential of stunning him if the success is good enough. The action is entirely improvisational while the mechanic is set. Only reason I mention it is it seems to do what you intended with your list of maneuvers while not requiring said list.

Right you are. Yeah, I actually think that testing attributes to create an effect has more precedent in AD&D 2e than my approach. On the other hand, the probability curve is very different. It's definitely workable. I should say that there are not lists of manoeuvres in my games, though those serve as examples of what is possible (within my game) for other game masters.

I take your point that a simpler default may be more attractive, though.



D&D (and many other games) always did have problems simulating armor. Many of the issues stem from modern myths and misconceptions, others get propagated for game scaling reasons.

True, though really that was just an example of rules being "wrong" or failing to model an imagined reality (arguably being perhaps even contrary to the expectations of the author of the adventure).

Xenogears
2008-08-31, 08:51 PM
D&D (and many other games) always did have problems simulating armor. Many of the issues stem from modern myths and misconceptions, others get propagated for game scaling reasons.

Well perhaps it does have some problems (people especially like to point out the jump skill) but on the other hand mideval knights had to have six men and a pulley to lift them onto their horses when they wore full plate so maybe they couldn't jump more than 1 foot.

Matthew
2008-08-31, 08:53 PM
Well perhaps it does have some problems (people especially like to point out the jump skill) but on the other hand mideval knights had to have six men and a pulley to lift them onto their horses when they wore full plate so maybe they couldn't jump more than 1 foot.

Actually, they did not; that is a widespread (though amusing) myth. Very heavy late sixteenth century tourney armour seems to have been handled in this way, but that's a far cry from medieval battle armour. Even full harness is actually very mobile, but it can be exhausting to wear.

Raum
2008-08-31, 09:19 PM
Well perhaps it does have some problems (people especially like to point out the jump skill) but on the other hand mideval knights had to have six men and a pulley to lift them onto their horses when they wore full plate so maybe they couldn't jump more than 1 foot.As Matthew said, that's one more myth. Check out this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMuNXWFPewg&feature=related). Armored knights would never have survived on the battlefield if taking down a relatively fragile horse was all enemies needed to do. A well made suit of armor could be as light as 45 pounds...about half what fully equipped infantry carry today.

According to Wikipedia, Mark Twain originated the pulley myth in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Xenogears
2008-08-31, 09:25 PM
As Matthew said, that's one more myth. Check out this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMuNXWFPewg&feature=related). Armored knights would never have survived on the battlefield if taking down a relatively fragile horse was all enemies needed to do. A well made suit of armor could be as light as 45 pounds...about half what fully equipped infantry carry today.

According to Wikipedia, Mark Twain originated the pulley myth in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.


Well someone should've told that to the History Channel. Atleast I think thats where I saw it....

Matthew
2008-08-31, 09:34 PM
Well someone should've told that to the History Channel. Atleast I think thats where I saw it....

Heh, heh. I wouldn't be surprised in the least. Some of their programmes are excellent, and some are beyond wrong.

Raum
2008-08-31, 09:56 PM
Yeah, the History Channel can be good...and can be horribly inaccurate. It's entertainment in a pseudo historical format all too often. As with many things, I recommend checking multiple sources. When they all agree you're probably pretty good...when they don't you have to figure out which sources are more reliable.

Krrth
2008-08-31, 10:18 PM
Did the players remind the DM that he handled it differently before? Did anyone say why they thought it would be a problem if it was handled differently this time? Did the DM have no reason for doing it differently when asked?
Yes, we reminded the DM. Since the character was built using the previous ruling, ruling a different way almost killed the character, and did kill the concept. The GM had forgotten about the first ruling completely, and even when we reminded him of it, he either didn't believe us or didn't care. Thus my statement that house rules should be written down.

Xenogears
2008-08-31, 10:35 PM
Personally I like a mix of both rules heavy and rules light. Rules heavy can be great because that means that no matter what the DM wanted to happen a natural 20 still killed the villain. Rules light allows for the DM to bend the rules when it will improve the game for everyone (which does not mean the DM should try and force the plot to unfold the way he wanted it to). One such great example was my friend's druid character. He wasn't a very good druid. In fact he wasn't even a big fan of nature. Well my friend (who was also the DM since it was just the two of us playing) decided that everytime his character did something to offend nature it would send one of it's loyal servents to punish him. The loyal servent was a massive dragon named S**thock who would fly by and release his bowels when he was directly over the druid. Depending on how badly he offended nature once he had worms and another time it was the runs.

That was one of the single funniest running gag I have ever encountered. I still laugh at it to this day.

icefractal
2008-09-01, 03:34 PM
In a system with mostly ad hoc rulings, the players are going to be uncertain as to what their characters can do. Sure, last time they were able to tip the wagon over for cover, but can they do it this time? Bob was pretty good at climbing walls yesterday, but what about today? This, IMHO, makes it more difficult for the players to really get to know their characters, and what they're capable of.
Agreed on this. Rules-light can work fine, but it should still be consistent, because otherwise you lose the ability for players to make plans or really be anything more than a reactive participant.


For instance, let's say that the players are on the run from something and they come to a cliff. If there's a rule or at least precedent for how tough a cliff is to climb, they can decide whether to climb it or look for another way up. And if they do climb it, then what if their pursuers try the same thing? They may want to pour water/oil down to make it slippery, or start running, or stand and fight - and the only way that's going to be meaningful choice instead of a crapshoot is if they know what the actual effects will be.

If you make cliffs sometimes easy to climb because it looks cool, and sometimes impossible to climb because there needs to be a climactic showdown, and sometimes very risky when wet to make things dramatic, and sometimes no different when wet to make the defense of a town harder - then the players might as well be pulling their decisions from a hat, because they have no way of making a meaningful plan.

Knaight
2008-09-01, 07:01 PM
Well rules light doesn't mean lack of skills and attributes. So with the wagon, if it makes sense for it to be tipped over, the guy can tip it. If its in deep, thick mud, brushing up against a fallen log, good luck. And sometimes some walls are harder to climb than others.

RobertFisher
2008-09-02, 09:46 AM
For instance, let's say that the players are on the run from something and they come to a cliff. If there's a rule or at least precedent for how tough a cliff is to climb, they can decide whether to climb it or look for another way up. And if they do climb it, then what if their pursuers try the same thing? They may want to pour water/oil down to make it slippery, or start running, or stand and fight - and the only way that's going to be meaningful choice instead of a crapshoot is if they know what the actual effects will be.

So, every cliff encountered must be exactly the same? The question is whether they can climb this cliff in this situation.

Any decision starts with collecting information. So you ask the DM how difficult it will be to climb this cliff in this situation. If he says it looks impossible, you ask what makes this cliff impossible while the last wasnít, and he tells you. Or, possibly, recognizes enough similarities between the situations to change his mind. Once youíve assessed this situation, then you use that information you gathered to make the best decision in this situation.

If youíre making too many assumptions that each situation is going to be exactly like a superficially similar previous one, if you assume that the DM is going to be perfectly consistent even if the situations are exactly the same, that is the crap-shoot.

Likewise, as DM, knowing that you are all the senses of the PCs, you give the players all the information you think they need up-front. You do your best to answer their questions because you canít be sure that your volunteered description was adequate for them. Because they may (indeed, you hope) will have ideas about how to deal with the situation you didnít predict and thus will need information you didnít anticipate that they needed. If they question things, youíll consider it and may indeed change your mind, because you recognize you arenít perfect and your players are smart and a resource you should leverage.

Let me try to put it this way: It isnít that Iím anti-consistency. Itís that I found that focusing on consistency didnít make the game more fun. Rather, shifting my approach meant that consistency was no longer an issue.

YMMV.

RobertFisher
2008-09-02, 09:55 AM
Yes, we reminded the DM. Since the character was built using the previous ruling, ruling a different way almost killed the character, and did kill the concept. The GM had forgotten about the first ruling completely, and even when we reminded him of it, he either didn't believe us or didn't care. Thus my statement that house rules should be written down.

And you really think having written it down would have solved the problem? If he didnít care, why would having it written down make him care?

Whether he believed you or not, he should have listened to your concerns and tried to work things out. That he didnít was a mistake. Writing things down or making more rules wonít keep him from making these kinds of mistakes. It will just add unneeded complexity. At best, it will mask mistakes.

Unfortunately, the only way to fix this is to let him make such mistakes and see the consequences of them. Which may include discussing it with him. Only two things make us better DMs: experience and maturity. Any attempts at short-cuts just means the problems will show up in other ways.

At least, thatís my opinion based on my experience.

Iím still learning, though.

Edit: My experience with this kind of thing and writing things down is that you just end up with a disagreement over what was written means.

valadil
2008-09-02, 11:26 AM
Back to the topic...

I like lots of rules so I have some resource to use when creating my own rules. I don't need predefined rules for any circumstance, but I need enough of a background that I can come up with rules that work consistently with the existing rules.

I hadn't thought of on the fly rulings becoming a hurdle before and I'm still not sure what to make of it. What I think makes sense is keeping the rules as consistent as possible, without setting them in stone. Players know that rules improvisations may not be the most well thought out. I'm in favor of sticking with rules until it becomes apparent that they don't quite work, and then adjusting them. This goes for house rules and core book rules.

Matthew
2008-09-03, 02:20 PM
I like lots of rules so I have some resource to use when creating my own rules. I don't need predefined rules for any circumstance, but I need enough of a background that I can come up with rules that work consistently with the existing rules.

Aye, that's the "tool box" approach that AD&D 2e took. Here is a basic rule set and a ton of possibile ways to customise your rules.



I hadn't thought of on the fly rulings becoming a hurdle before and I'm still not sure what to make of it. What I think makes sense is keeping the rules as consistent as possible, without setting them in stone. Players know that rules improvisations may not be the most well thought out. I'm in favor of sticking with rules until it becomes apparent that they don't quite work, and then adjusting them. This goes for house rules and core book rules.

Generally speaking, I agree.