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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Draconi Redfir's Avatar

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    Default Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    Hey, so i'm in this Discord-based play-by-post game, and the DM is insisting on something that i and probably at least some of the other players are finding a bit... weird.

    If a player character damages a monster, it's the player's responsibility to depict how the monster reacts to this pain, or how it reacts to dying if they manage to kill it.

    if the DM damages the player, it's the DM's responsibility to depict how the PC reacts to damage, or how it dies (still allowing for things like final words etc).

    in his own words:
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    Quote Originally Posted by DM
    “Everything” includes enemy reactions; the effects of your attacks, spells, actions, interactions and otherwise on the environment and creatures around you; and the involuntary movements and motions of your targets, such as the monster flinching when you intimidate it, falling prone when you knock it prone, running away when you cause an effect that does that; etc.

    The only parts that I still write the story for are the Legendary Actions and Lair Actions that some creatures have. And, of course, the actual turns of all NPCs. This also means that if a monster intimidates you, knocks you prone, or makes you run away, you have no control or say in how I make you do it. Now, I’ll still try to make the reactions fit with the character, but otherwise if you take damage, I write how your character initially reacts to that damage. Gasps, flinches, stumbling, clutching, stuff like that. Now, for your benefit, I also try to help you understand just how much of an effect your own attacks and stuff should have on the monsters. After all, your measly 4 damage shouldn’t make a Tarrasque howl in pain and fall down to the ground, crying rivers of tears for days to come. Likewise, if a monster I control deals 3 damage to one of you when you have, like, 50 hit points, I won’t be having your character begging for mercy. I’ll more likely have the attack not even make physical contact with you, and instead the loss of hit points is a representation of your luck slowly running out.

    I have literal hundreds more minions stashed away in my mind that can be replaced like the soda cans in a vending machine. Have fun, go wild, enjoy your bloody victory! - If your character dies, YOU get to have your final words. In the monster’s turn, I’m still describing how your guts are spilling out and how your face is contorted into a tight scowl from the horrible pain, and how you’re having to gasp for the last breaths you’ll take, but like I said, INITIAL reactions to the damage. Anything beyond that, like your final words to a nearby friend, spiteful retorts to the inflictor of the fatal wound, prayers to the divine for mercy upon your sinful soul, all that is bounced to you as an interruption in the turn order, exactly like Legendary Actions and Lair Actions. - But a worthless fodder monster being used spice up a lone character’s foray into the wilderness? I don’t CARE! Like I said earlier, have fun describing your glorious victory!


    is this... strange to anyone else? Maybe i'm used to other games, but for me at least it makes more sense for the individual actually controlling the PC / NPC to be the one to determine how they react, because otherwise whoever is typing wouldn't be able to know how the PC/NPC thinks or what they'd do, including minor mook NPC's that don't really matter in the long run. It just doesn't feel right for me to describe the monster howling in pain when i'm not the one playing the monster, and it doesn't feel right for the DM to depict my character wincing and clutching their arm when he's not the one controlling my character. it just seems... kinda backwards you know?

    Am i alone in this? has anyone else ever worked under a system like this?
    Last edited by Draconi Redfir; 2020-11-23 at 07:56 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    GrayDeath's Avatar

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    Outside of very "Gamy" Games, like Fate or similar, I never encountered Games where large amounts of "the background" are described by players. Normally thats the DM`s shtick.

    However, to the actual Spoiler: For me the DM there sounds kind of...off.

    What did precede this post? Cause I am detecting more than a little bit passive aggressivenes.

    That said, I can see why one would do it this way IN GENERAL.
    It saves 1 Post between "Attack XY hits" and "Hit PC or Mosnter reacts in Way Y".

    In Play by Post games, this reduces the wait between posts, and can streamline the game...if all players are "in" that is. :)


    If that is the only reason to use it, I would not mind, if (and thats a BIG if) all the players and the DM are fully on the same page regarding both the tone of the game(world) and how deadly they want the game to be.


    To sum it up:

    Generally that sounds unusual but not bad.

    Specifically that sounds as if the DM wants to vent/is reacting "fed up" to something.

    Hence: talk to him. Ask him why he wants to do it that way, and if you ahve specific fears/problems with doing it like that, tell him!

    THE one msot important thing in any game is communication!
    Last edited by GrayDeath; 2020-11-23 at 08:01 PM.
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    Later: An atom walks into a bar an asks the bartender “Have you seen an electron? I left it in here last night.” The bartender says, “Are you sure?” The atom says, “I’m positive.”

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Draconi Redfir's Avatar

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    the first two paragraphs were in response to a player ending their combat post having fired a shot against the monster and ending it there, even after the DM states that the attack both hit and killed the monster. also possibly related to how the player ended one post by climbing a tree, waiting for the DM to respond, then made a follow-up action to actually attack. the third paragraph was after i questioned him on this, saying
    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    to be fair, if it's your own character (or in this case NPC) that's dying, it really only makes sense for you to be the one describing how it happens. We don't know what the monsters are thinking, we don't know how they'll react. Will they try to run from their own death? not even notice it for a second before collapsing? Let out a roar of defiance? explode? We don't know, you're the one in control of them, not us. it makes the most sense for the one dictating their actions to be the one dictating how the re-act as well.

    Like, what's stopping me from having the creature violently explode from a crossbow bolt? What's stopping me from describing the monster as doing a perfect cycle of the Macarena before collapsing to the ground? it just really doesn't make sense to me on why i can't make and describe my attack, end my post, and then the DM describes how the creature responds to it followed by the creature's action in the same post. It's the same amount of information in the same number of posts, it just keeps control of everyone's characters in the own hands, right?

    Been picking up a couple red flags from this DM, nothing super major though, and it's definitely a case of "the campaign and seeing are so good i don't want to abruptly leave" i think. I'm just... slightly confused and mildly concerned is all.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    Even just skimming the post i am noticing large amounts of toxicity. What you describe is outside the norm but that isn't a problem (to me). There is no good advice i can give. If i say 'go nuts' he might disapprove of how outlandish it gets. If i say 'play it safe' he might think you bored or uninterested.


    I see Red Flags in one post without truly reading it.



    If being toxic is the only thing you can say against him i say try and be as pleasant as possible. Life, or even just the game, might be kicking him hard or has kicked him recently. A good experience/memory will lessen toxicity.

    The one game that truly crashed and burned on me really burned; i still can't pick up that system without a flash of PTSD...


    ...


    parts of his post go back and forth; "Now, for your benefit, I also try to help you understand just how much of an effect your own attacks and stuff should have on the monsters" and "Have fun, go wild, enjoy your bloody victory!"

    That last reminds me of the time a player one shot an ice elemental with a crit; it exploded. I did that. They loved it...

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    I think a "describe the kill" moment can be cool and rewarding if done at the right time. In a PbP this sounds like it should mostly serve to speed up the game without costing any narrative bits, so I guess I see the point?
    I also see the point in stipulating rules and guidelines for narration- being on the same page is a must for collaborative storytelling.

    I've never seen anything like this though, but I also don't play PbP. I don't think it's weird, but it is unusual.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

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    Draconi Redfir's Avatar

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    situations lie critical hits or the final kill of the fight i can understand. just random everyday hit reactions though... i can't grasp that.


    if i hit -but don't kill- the monster, why am i responsible for describing the monster's reaction to being hit? it's just going to go again anyways, it'd make more sense for the DM to describe it before taking the creature's turn.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    if i hit -but don't kill- the monster, why am i responsible for describing the monster's reaction to being hit? it's just going to go again anyways, it'd make more sense for the DM to describe it before taking the creature's turn.
    Because it is not necessarily the creature's turn next? If you are responsible for describing the reaction, you can integrate it in your description of the attack and make the narration smoother.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    Like, what's stopping me from having the creature violently explode from a crossbow bolt? What's stopping me from describing the monster as doing a perfect cycle of the Macarena before collapsing to the ground?
    Your own sense of tone of the game? If you think that would be cool to happen, let it happen, great. If you don't think that would be cool, don't let it happen. Or do you have a compulsion to make the game worse just because you are allowed to?


    Wanting the GM to control monster reaction is a fine preference to have, but it's just a preference and not a universal truth. Changing it up for PbP sounds reasonable, but using 5E for it a little ill-advised...

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    Batcathat's Avatar

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    I can only agree with the general sentiment that it seems odd, if not necessarily bad. While I generally prefer rules light, story focused gaming (especially in play-by-post), one rule that feels pretty much universal is that every player gets to decide how their own character is portrayed (and the same goes for the GM with their NPCs).

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    is this... strange to anyone else? Maybe i'm used to other games, but for me at least it makes more sense for the individual actually controlling the PC / NPC to be the one to determine how they react, because otherwise whoever is typing wouldn't be able to know how the PC/NPC thinks or what they'd do, including minor mook NPC's that don't really matter in the long run. It just doesn't feel right for me to describe the monster howling in pain when i'm not the one playing the monster, and it doesn't feel right for the DM to depict my character wincing and clutching their arm when he's not the one controlling my character.
    It's a different mindset. You're thinking with "who owns each PC/NPC" while the DM is thinking "who owns each time frame".

    I will put an emphase on one of your sentence: whoever is typing wouldn't be able to know how the PC/NPC thinks or what they'd do. PC/NPCs don't think or do anything by themselves. You are the one to choose what they think and do, you can do it for your PC, but you can do it for the NPCs to. And your decision is never "right" or "wrong".

    Having everyone be responsible of "their" PC/NPC makes it easier for the behaviour of single characters to remain consistent as time advance (rather than changing from one scene to another). However, this can be quite unpractical in play-by-post games as a single person cannot narrate a scene alone, and need the input from the other players regularly.

    Having one person responsible for every character actions and thinking makes it much easier to narrate epic scenes "as if you were writing a book". This is what happen in "collaborative storytelling". The cost is inconsistency of character behaviours, as multiple peoples might have multiples opinions on how the same character should behave. It becomes everyone's responsibility to ensure consistency and logic of every character. The second cost is that some peoples have very strong sense of ownership of "their" character, and won't accept letting another person meddle with their vision of how their character should behave.

    I believe your DM choose an intermediary position where while everybody choses how their own character act, when you chose how your character act you get to chose how all the other characters react. The DM trusts you to not make them react in ways that are in the interest of your character specifically, but make them react in ways that are in the interest of fun for every player.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    It's unusual, but it makes some sense for PbP. To keep a PbP going at any reasonable pace, the key thing you want is less back and forth. At a table, it's ok to go back and forth every sentence, but in a PbP where there's minutes/hours/days between those sentences that kind of thing kills the pace and usually kills the game.

    So ideally, the player should be able to take their entire turn without any replies from anyone else, and so should the GM. In fact I'd even adjust the mechanics to support this - no off-turn stuff like immediate actions unless you set the trigger conditions in advance, outright tell people the target numbers (enemy AC and such) at the start of the fight, and make sure if someone is making decisions it happens on their own turn. Because if it takes multiple posts to accomplish one turn, things are going to slow to a crawl.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2020-11-24 at 05:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    It's a reversal of how things are usually done, but it's workable. I've done a similar thing with skill checks in play-by-post before: that is, players rolled dice, checked and narrated the results on their own. Because when you know 19 doesn't open the door, there isn't a point to waiting for the GM to chime in just to say "19 doesn't open the door, what do you do?", before writing down what you do as a result of the door not opening.

    If it feels weird, it's probably because you're focusing too much on the subjective experience of the reacting NPC, instead of the physical action and reaction. Think less "creature howls in pain" and more "creature gags as impact forces air out of its lungs". Alternatively, your authorial position as a player in a game is making you think some subjective feelings are more voluntary than they really are. What I mean is, if someone hit you with a sword in real life, you'd feel pain and likely even scream in pain purely as a mechanical result of that event. And that's what you're primarily concerned with describing, when you're writing reactions of others.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    Strikes me as a fair enough trade off.

    The attacker narrates the victim's injury, and it splits both ways.

    It relies pretty heavy on honorably representing the opponent. I can see how for some people, this could heighten the sense of stakes in the fight. I agree it may speed things up in PBP.

    But in general, I would feel more comfortable leaving all reactions under the sole jurisdiction of the character's player.

    I wouldn't fear trying it out, but I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't pan out well.
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    I've seen this before, mostly in online games. Though it's uncommon.

    The first basic idea that this attempts to do is get the players to do more descriptions of actions. Most games let the player just say a game word or two like "I cast grease", then the player is free to goof off or get back on their phone. All while the GM describes a paragraph of the spellcasting and what happens. Having the player describe things helps keep the players in the game.

    The second is a lot of players refuse to have their character react much to anything, other then things like winning a fight or getting loot. Anything else the GM says and the player won't have their character react at all. And many will just say the action with no description :"my character falls down". Worse many players have a character react with game mechanics: "my character failed his save so he acts afraid and stuff". Having the GM do it, insures that all character actions are well described.

    It also saves tons of time online. All too often a player will take an action that effects an NPC or creature just to get the GM to post a reaction. And online, this wastes huge amounts of time. When the gnome PC makes a charisma check to tell a joke to a room full of people, the GM must stop and send the reply "everyone in the room laughs at the gnome joke". But it takes time and distracts the GM, and really the player simply could have typed that. So: some GMs have the players do it.

    And also, specifically online with a text story to read it is much better to have a paragraph or mini paragraph description of things to read.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    It's really weird. It's the most efficient way of doing things. It's no longer an RPG, in the traditional sense.

    It depends on people's underlying motives, and how well everyone can write for those whom their abilities affect. And how much people were looking forward to the "describe my character's actions" / how much they loathe (or find that they love) the "describe other people's actions" minigame.

    Personally, I would hate it.

    For one, I use those subtle details to communicate about my character. Armus actively manipulates the battlefield with such subtleties. Quertus' eyes go wide with even a saying and miss.

    Second, not all of us are gifted with the "gift of gab". Monsters I stab will always sound less impressive than those a skilled Wordsmith. Although I don't particularly *like* when GMs waste game time with flowery descriptions of Combat, it's better than just having one PC steal the spotlight with such prose.

    There was one exception, a player who would give the flowery descriptions that sounded really cool, and would then monotone the game mechanics. Otherwise, it usually feels like the player trying to munchkin the description minigame, IME.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Play-by-post : Players describing monster's reaction to damage / death?

    Whenever I have played by post, the only thing like this has been dms asking “how do you want to do this?” When you kill something to describe the final blow.
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