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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    I strongly dislike systems and/or GMs that tell me that I can't even attempt something because there are no rules to model it. My best example comes from a D&D game I was in once. It was my regular gaming group; usually we were playing W:tA with me being the storyteller but one of the other players wanted to do a game and I was happy to play for once, so we had a 3.5 game with him as the GM. One of the players had never played outside my group, so was very used to my more permissive style and also the less rigid WoD system.
    We were in combat with an enemy she had a personal grudge against; so she manoevered behind him and said that she would take both her daggers and ram them into his back. She didn't have two-weapons-fighting; we were low level (3rd, I believe) so she certainly didn't have multiple attacks. She didn't even flank him for the sneak attack bonus. So she got to roll damage for a single dagger and rolled low to boot. Cue quite a discussion on how two daggers should deal more damage than one and how the specific maneuver should also be more effective than a regular attack.

    In my opinion, characters should be able to attempt anything they are physically able to do. For example, a human character cannot fly unless they have something specific that allows them to fly (functional wings, a hoverboard, magic...) because humans are physically incapable of flying. But even the most unathletic city dweller can, say, attempt to row a boat, whether their character sheet specifically allows it or not. How successful they will be is of course another thing entirely and should be governed by mechanics.
    I've got another example for that, from another game I was playing in. We were a group of various people who were at a castle during some festivities (I don't remember the exact occasion, might have been a wedding). As these things go, we found ourselves right into the middle of a coup and had to try and get out of there with our hides intact. At one point, two of the characters got themselves into a fight on a staircase, with them having the high ground. One of the players decided that it would be cinematically appropriate to somersault over the enemy. However, her character was an author; she was about as unathletic as they get. The GM pointed that out, but she insisted on that course of action, so she got to roll. It ended with her failing disastrously and injuring herself so she was handicapped for the rest of the escape, but ineptitude didn't prevent her from trying.

    In general, this is the way I want my games and the way I GM them: a game should have mechanics; those mechanics should inform you how to do things, and also how to improvise things that aren't covered by the specific mechanics the game designers decided to include. What mechanics should not do, however, is telling you what you can do. That is part of the fiction layer, and it is part of the GM's job to use what mechanics there are to model whatever idea the players come up with.
    Last edited by Morgaln; 2021-01-05 at 11:03 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    She didn't have two-weapons-fighting.
    Glossing over how you can use TWF without the feat (at -a lot) and how it probably was the movement that precluded the full attack (a hotly debated topic to this day, I personally have come to dislike excessive attack quantities...) this does stand in a certain light as an example of trying to fast talk the GM for favorable treatment.
    By the metric of being wholly dependent on the GM for noncombat interaction Fighter is an NPC class.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I strongly dislike systems and/or GMs that tell me that I can't even attempt something because there are no rules to model it. My best example comes from a D&D game I was in once. It was my regular gaming group; usually we were playing W:tA with me being the storyteller but one of the other players wanted to do a game and I was happy to play for once, so we had a 3.5 game with him as the GM. One of the players had never played outside my group, so was very used to my more permissive style and also the less rigid WoD system.
    We were in combat with an enemy she had a personal grudge against; so she manoevered behind him and said that she would take both her daggers and ram them into his back. She didn't have two-weapons-fighting; we were low level (3rd, I believe) so she certainly didn't have multiple attacks. She didn't even flank him for the sneak attack bonus. So she got to roll damage for a single dagger and rolled low to boot. Cue quite a discussion on how two daggers should deal more damage than one and how the specific maneuver should also be more effective than a regular attack.
    It seems to me that this player decided to describe her character inflicting a fatal blow (or at least a far more damaging usual attack) and then expected this description to somehow have mechanical weight. That's not at all how D&D works.
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  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    Glossing over how you can use TWF without the feat (at -a lot) and how it probably was the movement that precluded the full attack (a hotly debated topic to this day, I personally have come to dislike excessive attack quantities...) this does stand in a certain light as an example of trying to fast talk the GM for favorable treatment.
    I can see how you could interpret it that way, but the player in question didn't have the system knowledge to even realize this would be favorable treatment (and arguably, it's not favorable treatment if everyone is allowed to do it; it's a house rule then). It was more of a disconnect between fiction layer and mechanics layer. From a fictional point of view, if you walk up behind someone, it makes no sense that you could stab them with one hand but not with both, or that stabbing them with both would be considerably more difficult to do unless you had special training. From a mechanical point of view, D&D doesn't even let you walk up to someone from behind since there are no facing rules beyond flanking (that I know of, I admit that my D&D knowledge is limited).
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    In general, this is the way I want my games and the way I GM them: a game should have mechanics; those mechanics should inform you how to do things, and also how to improvise things that aren't covered by the specific mechanics the game designers decided to include. What mechanics should not do, however, is telling you what you can do. That is part of the fiction layer, and it is part of the GM's job to use what mechanics there are to model whatever idea the players come up with.
    This is another issue with strongly-bound mechanics and fiction. When they're bound tightly, there tends to be a "rule for everything," which leads a lot of players to look at the system as permissive (at least in that regard). There are so many rules covering so many things, because the mechanics are driving the fiction-physics down to the last detail. So if there's no mechanic specifically for X, X can't be done. It's a player assumption more than a strict manifestation of the design philosophy behind the rules, but it's just human nature.

    Adding more rule options can seem like it's adding more player choices, but it doesn't really. There needs to be enough mechanical structure to allow the players to extrapolate edge cases, for sure. But no more than is necessary and there should be an effort to keep it from creeping. "Necessary," is, as always, a matter of opinion...

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    From a mechanical point of view, D&D doesn't even let you walk up to someone from behind since there are no facing rules beyond flanking (that I know of, I admit that my D&D knowledge is limited).
    It depends. D&D 5e does not use facing by default, although I believe it's described as an optional rule in the DMG (as is flanking). Regardless, D&D encourages the DM to work out a method of resolving anything the players want to do. If you want to sneak up behind someone, that sounds like some interpretation of stealth rules. I can think of a few ways I'd try to handle that at my table, although probably none with any great likelihood of success.
    Last edited by EggKookoo; 2021-01-05 at 01:02 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I can see how you could interpret it that way, but the player in question didn't have the system knowledge to even realize this would be favorable treatment (and arguably, it's not favorable treatment if everyone is allowed to do it; it's a house rule then). It was more of a disconnect between fiction layer and mechanics layer. From a fictional point of view, if you walk up behind someone, it makes no sense that you could stab them with one hand but not with both, or that stabbing them with both would be considerably more difficult to do unless you had special training. From a mechanical point of view, D&D doesn't even let you walk up to someone from behind since there are no facing rules beyond flanking (that I know of, I admit that my D&D knowledge is limited).
    If this were a storytelling system and the GM narrated the results in a similar manner do you still see a similar protest in this hypothetical? The player announces an intended input to the story, the GM progresses the story and the player dislikes the results so the scenario wheels around to a back and forth of ‘convince the GM’. How does that end?
    By the metric of being wholly dependent on the GM for noncombat interaction Fighter is an NPC class.

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    From the promises and prompts point of view, once you've said you're going off-mechanics, you also lose ground to insist on particular outcomes. So the GM could say 'make a Bluff check. Failed? The enemy turns to follow you as you try to get behind them. They have a sword at guard, facing you. Still want to two-hand the daggers?' or 'Success? Okay, they're flat-footed but it's not an auto crit or anything like that. Take the normal penalties for dual wielding (-2/-6 or whatever)' or even 'As you're focused on the one enemy, you get behind them and automatically hit! But his friend uses an immediate action to take advantage of your hyperfocus to stab you in the back at the same time!' or whatever and I'd say fair.

    If it goes beyond clarification to wheedling or negotiation, the response can be 'you went off mechanics and asked for a ruling; would you like to cancel that action and try something else?'
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-01-05 at 01:20 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I can see how you could interpret it that way, but the player in question didn't have the system knowledge to even realize this would be favorable treatment (and arguably, it's not favorable treatment if everyone is allowed to do it; it's a house rule then). It was more of a disconnect between fiction layer and mechanics layer. From a fictional point of view, if you walk up behind someone, it makes no sense that you could stab them with one hand but not with both, or that stabbing them with both would be considerably more difficult to do unless you had special training. From a mechanical point of view, D&D doesn't even let you walk up to someone from behind since there are no facing rules beyond flanking (that I know of, I admit that my D&D knowledge is limited).
    Yeah but you can't "maneuver behind someone" very well in combat. If she did it out of combat she would get a surprise bonus in most editions, but the assumption that she is going to walk behind someone who is actively fighting her without hiding (the mechanic for doing so) is frankly ludicrous.
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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Yeah but you can't "maneuver behind someone" very well in combat. If she did it out of combat she would get a surprise bonus in most editions, but the assumption that she is going to walk behind someone who is actively fighting her without hiding (the mechanic for doing so) is frankly ludicrous.
    It does bring up the question of what the player was hoping to accomplish, mechanically, by maneuvering around behind her target. Ok, say she does it. Was she expecting some kind of bonus? It seems doubtful if she didn't have enough system knowledge to expect favorable treatment. Two-weapon fighting aside, the DM should have just had her roll for an attack.

    I've seen people get caught up in this a lot. It doesn't matter how you describe your flowery attack. It's still 1d20 + mod + prof. If you hit, it's still 1d8 + mod (or whatever the weapon does for damage). Doesn't matter if you just stab the guy or bring your shining blade around in a bright arc that ends where his shoulder meets his neck, delivering all of your fury in the form of razor-sharp metal. Roll a d20.
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  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Yeah but you can't "maneuver behind someone" very well in combat. If she did it out of combat she would get a surprise bonus in most editions, but the assumption that she is going to walk behind someone who is actively fighting her without hiding (the mechanic for doing so) is frankly ludicrous.
    Having watched a brilliant skirmish Fighter in action IRL¹, I can only say that this is not at all an unrealistic intended course of action².

    ¹ padded weapons, not real ones, thankfully.
    ² assuming that their opponent is using the different moves for fighting half a dozen people³
    ³ fighting gangs for local charities, that kinds of thing.

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    It's weird. I don't even know what people in this thread mean by things like "disconnected mechanics" or "mechanics as physics" because its sounding like different people are talking about different things using the same phrases. Meh. I can't follow this any more, too much like semi-random word splatter.

    Personally,
    Good: system mechanics always work well when used, tells you how to deal with things not covered by rules, encourages players to have fun & try stuff, gives examples.
    Bad: no examples and -> "can I grab his arm to stop him stabbing them?" "No, you can make a grapple roll to stop him from moving", "can i hit his leg to slow him down?" "No, make a regular attack roll", "how does the ranger's pet ID a magic rune my archmage can't?" "It rolled a 19, you rolled a 3, target was 15"
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  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by EggKookoo View Post
    It does bring up the question of what the player was hoping to accomplish, mechanically, by maneuvering around behind her target. Ok, say she does it. Was she expecting some kind of bonus? It seems doubtful if she didn't have enough system knowledge to expect favorable treatment. Two-weapon fighting aside, the DM should have just had her roll for an attack.

    I've seen people get caught up in this a lot. It doesn't matter how you describe your flowery attack. It's still 1d20 + mod + prof. If you hit, it's still 1d8 + mod (or whatever the weapon does for damage). Doesn't matter if you just stab the guy or bring your shining blade around in a bright arc that ends where his shoulder meets his neck, delivering all of your fury in the form of razor-sharp metal. Roll a d20.
    There's nothing keeping every character from doing it on every attack, and every opponent. It's extremely gamey to use flowery language to gain a free attack bonus IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Having watched a brilliant skirmish Fighter in action IRL¹, I can only say that this is not at all an unrealistic intended course of action².

    ¹ padded weapons, not real ones, thankfully.
    ² assuming that their opponent is using the different moves for fighting half a dozen people³
    ³ fighting gangs for local charities, that kinds of thing.
    I did SCA for years, it's not. The ways that it happens in real life are already coded into the game: Flanking, hiding, surprise attacks, Rogue SA. The player here is essentially asking for a free damage boost.
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  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Yeah but you can't "maneuver behind someone" very well in combat. If she did it out of combat she would get a surprise bonus in most editions, but the assumption that she is going to walk behind someone who is actively fighting her without hiding (the mechanic for doing so) is frankly ludicrous.
    The enemy was a spellcaster who currently wasn't in melee with anyone. He was focusing his casting on someone else and she wasn't engaged in direct combat with anyone either, so this was basically moving towards him, then attacking while his attention was on another character. It is possible that she actively attempted to use stealth, this has been at least ten years ago and I don't remember exactly. But the main issue in the discussion was that she intended to stab the enemy with both daggers (again, narratively not an unreasonable action) and was told that this would be mechanically handled no different from using a single dagger.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    If this were a storytelling system and the GM narrated the results in a similar manner do you still see a similar protest in this hypothetical? The player announces an intended input to the story, the GM progresses the story and the player dislikes the results so the scenario wheels around to a back and forth of ‘convince the GM’. How does that end?
    Probably yes. There were multiple reasons why this led to a discussion; the GM didn't really narrate what happened; he just bluntly told her to roll damage for one dagger, so had he handled it with a bit more finesse, he could probably have avoided some of the argument. Part of it is also that the way WoD handles damage and defense very differently from D&D, and a single d6 certainly looks measly if you're used to a handful of d10, even though you have to consider them in the context of the system. Part of it was also that she didn't respect him as a GM the way she would have respected me. And a part certainly was that she was used to my particular style of handling fights. I find fighting purely for the sake of fighting boring; so my fight scense often contain additional objectives or small puzzles that can help with the fight, and I will reward out-of-the-box thinking and choices that make sense narratively with mechanical bonuses. So I certainly can't say that he system was the sole reason for the argument, but I certainly believe that less rigid systems provide better tools to handle that kind of situation to the satisfaction of both sides.
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  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by EggKookoo View Post
    I've seen people get caught up in this a lot. It doesn't matter how you describe your flowery attack. It's still 1d20 + mod + prof. If you hit, it's still 1d8 + mod (or whatever the weapon does for damage). Doesn't matter if you just stab the guy or bring your shining blade around in a bright arc that ends where his shoulder meets his neck, delivering all of your fury in the form of razor-sharp metal. Roll a d20.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    There's nothing keeping every character from doing it on every attack, and every opponent. It's extremely gamey to use flowery language to gain a free attack bonus IMO.
    I don't think that flowery-ness is really the variable here. Consider: In GURPS "I slash at his hand." "I punch at his face." and "I stab at his back." Are all equally brief, pedestrian declarations. All three of them are resolved differently because of how GURPS handles weapon types and armor. One is more likely to hit, another more likely to kill, and a third more likely to bypass armor. It's not exactly about level of detail, it's about how specific the detail you have to provide is to kick in the mechanics. Some people have an intuition that D&D is going to be like GURPS, and when it isn't they get very confused: Don't you have a real life preference between being punched in the bicep and the face? Shouldn't your character?
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  15. - Top - End - #105
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    A mechanics game can go too far with trying to have a rule for everything. Too far is subjective to the user, but a general pattern can emerge. 3E/Pathfinder was notorious for it by "You need a feat for that". Sometimes you can do something but there were so many penalties involved you didn't bother. You needed the feat to get rid of the penalties. Sometimes a feat let you do something no one else could but players thought everyone should be allowed to do it. Some people can get over it. Others can't and move on to other games.

    Pathfinder did this. In one of the last splatbooks of 1E, they made a feat allowing a player to use Diplomacy to get an enemy to surrender in combat. There was such an uproar. Gaming groups have been doing this since forever, and now the game is telling them PCs can never do it again unless they have this feat. The mechanics would have been fine as a suggestion on how to do it as a guide for new DMs, but making it a feat ruined the moment. Everyone yelled and screamed, and the feat was universally ignored.

    I still prefer the mechanics game. It is easier to get rid of rules that ruin the fun than to need rules but have nothing to go on.
    Last edited by Pex; 2021-01-06 at 12:11 AM.
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  16. - Top - End - #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    Some people have an intuition that D&D is going to be like GURPS, and when it isn't they get very confused: Don't you have a real life preference between being punched in the bicep and the face? Shouldn't your character?
    Yeah, D&D doesn't play out like that. It never has. I remember way back when a GM introduced a hit chart to our games. Great, some players thought. Now I can target body parts. Except the monsters could also now target body parts. One amputated PC hand later and we dropped the chart.

    D&D uses specific features to handle targeted attacks, such as Sentinel (which could be used for the "arrow/blade through the foot" maneuver), and leaves things open to narrative description. You stab someone but roll a 1 on damage? The DM narrates it as a glancing blow. You roll max? You feel the brief resistance of muscle and sinew before your blade rends the flesh and penetrates deeply. You're down to 0 HP and make death saving throws. How badly are you hurt? You'll find out. If you make three successes before three failures, you weren't too badly hurt. If you don't, well, looks like you had taken a mortal wound. A lot of players don't like this ambiguity, but I find it takes the focus off the nitty gritty of the mechanics and puts it onto the narrative. Which is fine unless the nitty gritty is a big part of why you play in the first place.
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    These threads are hilarious, because a subset of the mechanics/mechanics-first/rules people always insist that theirs is the only way games can possibly run without completely breaking down, and most everyone else agrees that both sides have their advantages and that you can have successful games either way, and that they've had successful games of both types, and that both preferences are valid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    These threads are hilarious, because a subset of the mechanics/mechanics-first/rules people always insist that theirs is the only way games can possibly run without completely breaking down, and most everyone else agrees that both sides have their advantages and that you can have successful games either way, and that they've had successful games of both types, and that both preferences are valid.
    There is also the implication that somehow playing with bad or mediocre referees is helped by a strong mechanics-based approach; that somehow this will help them be better GMs in some way.

    I have never found this to be the case. If anything I have found that bad GMs almost always prefer to use a detailed mechanics-first based system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorren View Post
    There is also the implication that somehow playing with bad or mediocre referees is helped by a strong mechanics-based approach; that somehow this will help them be better GMs in some way.

    I have never found this to be the case. If anything I have found that bad GMs almost always prefer to use a detailed mechanics-first based system.
    One of the implications is that mechanics-heavy systems are better for bad players and GMs alike.

    I haven't really found this to be true. Bad players tend to be bad players in all systems, and bad GMs can be bad GMs in any system. I think the thing that makes a system better for bad GMs is really strong procedures for GMs, more than anything else.

    Some players will have problems that only show up for some types of games, that's true. But I don't think that's universally a case of mechanics-first games being better for bad players. Someone whose primary "badness" is rules lawyering, for instance, might not be a problem in a rules light game where there's fewer rules to lawyer. Same with people that really get off on looking for rules loopholes and exploiting them - rules light games don't offer as many in most cases.

    Of course, players whose "badness" is "won't accept the opinions of others and argues unless there's an external thing to prove them wrong" will do horribly in rules light games. Most of those people do seem to just shift their annoyances to other things in other games, anyway.

    Also, the "you don't have to ask the DC of the thing" doesn't really track for me, anyway. The only way to avoid that is to have everything on the map anyway, which is just doing the same thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I haven't really found this to be true. Bad players tend to be bad players in all systems, and bad GMs can be bad GMs in any system. I think the thing that makes a system better for bad GMs is really strong procedures for GMs, more than anything else.
    Almost certainly it's that "players who prefer heavy systems don't enjoy lite-system games" and "players who prefer lite systems don't enjoy heavy-system games" and for conventional human nature reasons we tend to blame the system and/or players in an objective sense, rather than just seeing it as a case of not being able to please everyone.
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by EggKookoo View Post
    Almost certainly it's that "players who prefer heavy systems don't enjoy lite-system games" and "players who prefer lite systems don't enjoy heavy-system games" and for conventional human nature reasons we tend to blame the system and/or players in an objective sense, rather than just seeing it as a case of not being able to please everyone.
    That's the case a lot of the time, for sure. And I do think understanding that people have different preferences is critical, especially for cases like players being inattentive or distracted.

    But I've also dead with objectively bad players, that were destructive in literally any game they were in. It didn't matter if it was mechanics heavy or light, or what. They were just always disruptive. And a system not being your preference doesn't excuse actual toxic behavior (throwing dice, yelling, incessant arguing, etc.).
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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    One of the implications is that mechanics-heavy systems are better for bad players and GMs alike.

    A) I haven't really found this to be true. Bad players tend to be bad players in all systems, and bad GMs can be bad GMs in any system. I think the thing that makes a system better for bad GMs is really strong procedures for GMs, more than anything else.

    Some players will have problems that only show up for some types of games, that's true. But I don't think that's universally a case of mechanics-first games being better for bad players. Someone whose primary "badness" is rules lawyering, for instance, might not be a problem in a rules light game where there's fewer rules to lawyer. Same with people that really get off on looking for rules loopholes and exploiting them - rules light games don't offer as many in most cases.

    B) Of course, players whose "badness" is "won't accept the opinions of others and argues unless there's an external thing to prove them wrong" will do horribly in rules light games. Most of those people do seem to just shift their annoyances to other things in other games, anyway.

    C) Also, the "you don't have to ask the DC of the thing" doesn't really track for me, anyway. The only way to avoid that is to have everything on the map anyway, which is just doing the same thing.
    A) I agree. Especially where there are guidelines and the bad DMs just don't even read them or disregard them without thinking. Adding more rules doesn't help that kind of badness--in fact it exacerbates it by making the interactions stronger so more care is needed.

    B) Conservation of annoyance. Some people are just annoying by choice. I've found that those that are really disruptive crave the disruption itself. They'll rule lawyer if rules are detailed, cause arguments if the rules aren't detailed, etc.

    C) Agreed as well. Unless everything you run into is marked and uses only the static values, you will always have to ask. Or, (shocking) you could act like your character would do without having full information about all the possible outcomes. I see it like:

    Player: I want to <X>.
    DM: That's a <difficulty> <check>. If you fail, <failure result> will happen. Is that what you want to do?
    Player: [Yes | I want to do <Y> instead].
    If (Yes) --> go to resolution
    If (<Y>) --> goto top.

    This basic flow is unescapable as long as there's a chokepoint for world access (ie a DM). The rules cannot encode enough information to do anything other than give bounds on what <difficulty> and <check> are. And that doesn't take fixed, per-task DCs--some games do it by saying "The default TN is 4"; 5e D&D does it by saying "Unless something's highly unusual, DCs are in the range of 10-20 and are likely 10, 15, or 20".
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    B) Conservation of annoyance. Some people are just annoying by choice. I've found that those that are really disruptive crave the disruption itself. They'll rule lawyer if rules are detailed, cause arguments if the rules aren't detailed, etc.
    Yeah. Usually it boils down to they're not getting their way. You can't get past that.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    This basic flow is unescapable as long as there's a chokepoint for world access (ie a DM).
    Well, you could theoretically do it by encoding everything into the map/whatever up front, but you're not really removing it, you're just requiring the GM write down everything up front, and implicitly forbidding things outside of what is written down. Even if you're minimizing the ask, all you're really doing is forcing the GM to either write down more of it up front, or removing modifiers.

    Like in PbtA games, there's rarely modifiers on the roll. What can change is the results. But, yeah, realistically unless you have a very limited "model", you're not going to be able to encode enough into it to stop people from having to ask the GM for info. You can reduce it, though, for sure.

    And it's kinda sad, because there are, I think really good reasons to use one or another that have nothing to do with preventing toxic behavior.
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    I played with two people for whom Candyland was too rules-heavy for them to comprehend.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    This basic flow is unescapable as long as there's a chokepoint for world access (ie a DM).

    And that's the point right there: make the rules primary, and the GM secondary, and you've escaped that chokepoint. If the GM introduces a Medusa, or a Leman Russ, or a tree, or Boccob, there are rules for that thing.

    If you force the GM's plot to conform to the same rules everyone else is using, you force them to learn to make a plot that works, that has mechanical depth and can be interacted with reasonably. As opposed to Flamsterd level GM fiat of "assume he is immune to anything the PCs attempt to do". Or 5e level of "eh, pick a number".

    GMs who cannot create a plot that behaves mechanically, who lack the ability to play Candyland, simply aren't capable of creating a plot worth interacting with. Making the rules primary - forcing them to learn this lesson - provides impetus for them to up their skills. Not unlike how a "git gud noob" attitude forces players to up theirs.

    There are lots of different skills that one could improve. But at least with this particular skill, changing the rule set is a clear path towards encouraging that improvement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I played with two people for whom Candyland was too rules-heavy for them to comprehend.


    And that's the point right there: make the rules primary, and the GM secondary, and you've escaped that chokepoint. If the GM introduces a Medusa, or a Leman Russ, or a tree, or Boccob, there are rules for that thing.

    If you force the GM's plot to conform to the same rules everyone else is using, you force them to learn to make a plot that works, that has mechanical depth and can be interacted with reasonably. As opposed to Flamsterd level GM fiat of "assume he is immune to anything the PCs attempt to do". Or 5e level of "eh, pick a number".

    GMs who cannot create a plot that behaves mechanically, who lack the ability to play Candyland, simply aren't capable of creating a plot worth interacting with. Making the rules primary - forcing them to learn this lesson - provides impetus for them to up their skills. Not unlike how a "git gud noob" attitude forces players to up theirs.

    There are lots of different skills that one could improve. But at least with this particular skill, changing the rule set is a clear path towards encouraging that improvement.
    I don't quite get this; how do hard-coded rules that disallow everything that isn't specifically mentioned in the rules turn anyone into a better GM? Someone who doesn't understand the rules for Candyland won't be able to understand the rules for an RPG either; more rules don't convey understanding, they just add to the amount that doesn't get understood. Or in other words: "you don't get the rules? Here are more rules, do you get them now?" will not work.
    You often advocate that GMs shouldn't want anything and should have the lowest possible amount of interaction with the players so as not to spoil the players' fun with their own misguided attempts to participate in and enjoy the game (paraphrasing your arguments with some hyperbole here :P ); a system that forces the GM to give a hard no every time something comes up that isn't modeled in the rules has the complete opposite effect.

    Also, you seem to be using the word plot very differently from how I understand it; to me, plot is the sum of events in a narrative. Mechanics can determine the outcome of an event, but they aren't what makes up the plot; the fiction layer does that. Can you define your usage of plot so I understand how mechanics create the plot in your eyes?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I don't quite get this; how do hard-coded rules that disallow everything that isn't specifically mentioned in the rules turn anyone into a better GM? Someone who doesn't understand the rules for Candyland won't be able to understand the rules for an RPG either; more rules don't convey understanding, they just add to the amount that doesn't get understood
    Take D&D 5e. Combat works well on the basic level as long as the DM follows as the rules, and D&D 5e has lots & lots of fiddly combat rules. But as soon as you get past combat everything gets really hand-wavy and DM-makes-it-up. People don't have much problem with the combat, other than boredom if the DM isn't fairly creative. And the combat rules always apply, it's never the case that an PC assassin makes two rolls & narratively kills a ogre chief with a poison arrow in the eye or gets imprisoned naked in a scorpion pit if they fail one of the rolls. It's also not the case that the DM just skips the rolls and narrates the combat success/fail when it's 8th level characters facing 6 goblins, but that's ok because the combat rules work ok even for below avarage DMs (well maybe some DMs do, I've never seen it happen when I played).

    But there are quite a few posters who have had DMs make serious mistakes outside of the combat rules because they honestly don't know to (or forget in the heat of the moment) not use an ability roll for something, or they don't have a great grasp of probability and use a default DC 15 as their base & call for multiple checks. Having more non-combat rules & examples woudn't solve all the bad decisions, but it would help some DMs make decisions that are more in line with the D&D 5e playstyle assumptions the writers made. Having non-combat rules as robust as the combat rules would work because even a below avarage DM could turn bad decisions into not-great-but-ok results with them. And a good DM can always ignore the non-combat rules that get in the way of fun just as much as they ignore the combat rules that get in the way fun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I don't quite get this;
    Obviously. So let me try to be more clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    how do hard-coded rules that disallow everything that isn't specifically mentioned in the rules
    Huh. Well, here's the first disconnect.

    So, the issue is that there are three states (a "false trinary", perhaps) being discussed. These states are:

    #1 - Hard-coded box; outside the box does not exist / is not allowed. (Candyland, MtG, Battletech)

    #2 - Big box; outside the box is allowed. (3e combat, 3e character creation)

    #3 - Little box; outside the box is allowed (5e skills)

    #4 - Spanish Inquisition special: no box.

    Now, "big" and "little" are subjective as written above; however, I defined "big" as "adequate to play the game entirely within the box, without ever asking for a ruling". (I think. Darn senility)

    #1 describes war games, card games, board games… but not really RPGs. Which is why I claim 4e isn't even an RPG.

    So, afaict, this thread is really discussing the spectrum of games that includes #2 & #3.

    And, what you are referencing here is you mistaking my description of (the effects of) #2 for #1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    turn anyone into a better GM?
    The players having oversight to say, "this works this way" is what allows

    A) the GM the opportunity to learn; and

    B) the game to be run consistently and in accordance with expectations while the GM is learning how to play Candyland.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    You often advocate that GMs shouldn't want anything and should have the lowest possible amount of interaction with the players so as not to spoil the players' fun with their own misguided attempts to participate in and enjoy the game (paraphrasing your arguments with some hyperbole here :P );
    Pretend I didn't know the word "railroad" when I coined the phrase and claimed that "GMs wanting something" was the root of most RPG evil.

    Of course, I still use that phrase to describe the *source* of the scourge known as railroading.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    a system that forces the GM to give a hard no every time something comes up that isn't modeled in the rules has the complete opposite effect.
    Even if that were what I was talking about, I think that this would still be wrong. No, your Rook cannot jump your Knight like in checkers… and that fact should not limit the ability to learn chess, or limit the ability of the game of chess to be coherent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    Also, you seem to be using the word plot very differently from how I understand it; to me, plot is the sum of events in a narrative. Mechanics can determine the outcome of an event, but they aren't what makes up the plot; the fiction layer does that. Can you define your usage of plot so I understand how mechanics create the plot in your eyes?
    So glad you brought up my history of hatred for railroading - it means that you should have the background to understand what I'm saying. Apologies to the folks at home who lack this background, if this doesn't make as much sense.

    First off, the operative phrase isn't "plot", it's "the GM's plot".

    "The GM's plot" is… "the module". It's the campaign notes, including the intended outcome of certain elements. If their campaign notes say, "and then the tree runs 50' to block the door", no, that is not a valid move for a tree, even if the enemy sorceress has cast "Charm Monster" on it (which is itself *also* not a valid move).

    When the rules are layed out, you can teach the GM how to play the game.

    When the rules are not layed out, you are left with whatever nonsense makes sense to the GM… or whatever nonsense they choose to pull to force the encounter to stay on the rails.

    Even rails as light as "but I wanted this to be a challenge".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    When the rules are layed out, you can teach the GM how to play the game.
    Can you really, though? You seem to be assuming that the GM doesn't, or can't, know the rules before starting to play and must be taught over the course of the game by the players. But I don't think that assumption holds up. If the GM can't learn the rules before they started playing, how are the players able to know the rules before they start playing? GMs and players aren't fundamentally different creatures, after all. They're all just people. And if the players also don't know the rules, how can they teach the GM?
    Last edited by InvisibleBison; 2021-01-08 at 05:49 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    Can you really, though? You seem to be assuming that the GM doesn't, or can't, know the rules before starting to play and must be taught over the course of the game by the players. But I don't think that assumption holds up. If the GM can't learn the rules before they started playing, how are the players able to know the rules before they start playing? GMs and players aren't fundamentally different creatures, after all. They're all just people. And if the players also don't know the rules, how can they teach the GM?
    In my experience it's not uncommon for novice gms to only know parts of the rules. Especially in systems that mention critical concepts or details of common player actions once, halfway through the dmg. It also happens a lot in similar, offshoot, and different edition=new game systems.

    Edit: Having thought more, some of us may be conflating "doesn't know any rules" with "doesn't know enough rules to run well" with "doesn't know some rules that come up sometimes".
    Last edited by Telok; 2021-01-08 at 07:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Mechanics vs interpretation based RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Edit: Having thought more, some of us may be conflating "doesn't know any rules" with "doesn't know enough rules to run well" with "doesn't know some rules that come up sometimes".
    It certainly doesn't help my clarity that I am using the same words to refer to any of the above

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    Can you really, though? You seem to be assuming that the GM doesn't, or can't, know the rules before starting to play and must be taught over the course of the game by the players. But I don't think that assumption holds up. If the GM can't learn the rules before they started playing, how are the players able to know the rules before they start playing? GMs and players aren't fundamentally different creatures, after all. They're all just people. And if the players also don't know the rules, how can they teach the GM?
    If the GM doesn't knows that the Rook doesn't move like a checker, but a player does, that can be corrected, and the GM can learn.

    There are usually 5+ (and, in my preferences, 10+) people sitting around the table, and, even if the GM *happens* to be the most knowledgeable of the group (a rarity, IME), that doesn't mean that they rolled well on their knowledge check for this particular rule. I still fondly remember the time that I corrected a particular GM who generally knew a particular system better than I did.

    Also, I don't want to GM all the time - I want to get to play, too! If I hand 5e off to a 10-year-old, well, let's just say it won't look anything like chess, with their idea of what is "hard". Anything where the group can point to the Rules, to both lessen the amount that the GM has to learn up front, and to limit the damage that their inexperience can do to the game, is a plus.

    Take that idea, and apply it to handing the reins off to any noob GM, and perhaps you'll grok the concept of the players knowing the rules, but the GM not, and the advantage of having rules in that scenario.

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