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  1. - Top - End - #211
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    When I talk about "presume good faith", this is the kind of thing I'm talking about. If the player thinks it should work, and is doing it in good faith, and it's not UNreasonable? Roll with it.

    If you're going to shoot that down, frankly I'd tell them up-front, if there's any way to justify it (and frankly maybe even if there's not).
    I think this is generally good advice for any time you want to say "no". There are many cases when i want my main villain to be immune to some sort of control effect, and rather than spring this on my players like it makes me very clever, i prefer to say something like "as a powerful wizard, you can sense that spell wouldn't work" and let them do something else with their turn.
    Last edited by NorthernPhoenix; 2021-08-01 at 10:25 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #212
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Yesterday's session with my local group revealed that my GM doesn't like close battles either. His 9th level druid NPC (D&D 3.5) almost lost a fight to two boars (a CR3 encounter). Our 1st-level party pretty much lost this fight with half of us down and the other half up in trees to avoid getting attacked. While I appreciate that the GM now understands that we don't like close battles with random encounters, it's also hilarious that he had so little control over his own fight and didn't think to fudge die rolls. He's a veteran GM too, so this wasn't the norm. We all have our off days, but wow... rolled an RL 1 on his GMing check that night.

    In a completely different adventure and with a different GM, we were trying to play the first chapter of War of the Dragon Queen (D&D 5e) and every fight was nearly the last one that ended us. We the players were frustrated that the enemies were rolling so well and dropping half the party each battle; they always outnumbered us. And again, the GM too was frustrated with these fights. Though this one didn't have skin in the fights with an NPC, he was frustrated that he didn't want a TPK to end the session, yet again, he didn't want to fudge rolls or maybe even just reduce the enemies so we stood better odds of victory.


    So that's two recent stories to share about frustrated groups at close battles, with both players and GMs disliking the fights. I laugh looking back at these experiences, because the commonality in both these cases is the the GMs did not want to fudge dice rolls or the encounter setups. Yet, that is within the GM's power to do so and when they have hidden die rolls it's not like many players would notice a little bump up/down in the rolls to balance out the encounters better.
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  3. - Top - End - #213
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    A "win button" is something that just works - Invisibility on Medusa to keep her from turning you to stone, the Knock spell on the epic challenge of a locked door, etc.

    A "button" is a discrete entity on your character sheet (technically regardless of whether or not it has concrete rules).

    D&D Invisibility is six kinds of weird. Anything added later - yes, including dust (or a coating of flour) - is not invisible. If you haven't seen it come up before, you probably haven't played with me or read my stories.

    Many other kinds of invisibility would not interact similarly with flour. Although most kinds would have issues with "smoky" or aquatic environments.

    I guess I can see, "you got to push a button… when do *I* get to push a button" logic limiting people from thinking in terms of non-buttons? Or… Hmmm… someone else pushing a button may make the other players, absent any other information, just assume that this is a button game. Like a boardgame.

    If anyone sees a button, and thinks it is the only way to accomplish something (say, "invisibility" and "not be seen")? There's probably some complicated name for that cognitive failure. And whoever invented the catchy phrase, "there's more than one way to skin a cat" was likely very familiar with the failure.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-08-01 at 06:50 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #214
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Fixating on one aspect at expense of others is colloquially called "tunnel vision", after the optic phenomenom where focusing on one thing limits your peripheral vision.

    In tabletop game, it's usually more exact to call it failure of imagination, because that is literally what's happening: a person has to imagine the game situation in their head and is not doing so in sufficient detail for their imagined situation to suggest the alternate solutions.

    There's a link between this topic and the three basic forms of problem solving, trial-and-error versus insight versus theory. Trial-and-error often fails to solve insight puzzles, or takes very long time to do so - why? Because the insight puzzle requires realizing that some apparent constraints on the puzzle are not binding - so called "out-of-the-box" thinking. The Nine Dot Problem is a classic example.

    Of course, theory can interfere too - in this case, the theory of "exception proves the rule". So if an exception, such as a spell or feat, grants you an ability, it follows people not subject to that exception do not have that ability. This can cross over to learned helplessness, where players just stop trying things lacking explicit permission, because their experience is that nothing without explicit permission is allowed to fly.

    ...

    I guess the point of this post is to showcase there's existent terminology to talk about these issues and you don't need idiosyncratic terms like "button" or "mermaid problem" to talk about them.

  5. - Top - End - #215
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    If I may summarise one of the more common schools of thought I've seen in this thread that a close battle is not actually what people want at all. Instead people want to effect the outcome of the battle. Close battles can help with this because it means smaller contributions are more likely to have made a difference. Except for the people who want the end result to be something else (like an overwhelming victory) for other reasons. And there are other variations too, like if people want the difference to be before the battle, during the battle or either. And there are plenty of variations on the main idea.

    For instance, I want that contribution to be inline with my character. A purely (but not partially) player skill based contribution is not really getting into the whole role-playing game aspect. So if it is just a clever trick or bold move that turned the tide I would very much like it to feel like a part of the character and not just be my tactically optimal decision.

    To Quertus: Yeah I'll try to summarise why explicate/concrete abilities or buttons can reduce other ways of interacting at the game.
    • First is it sets expectation, this is the one you are talking about and it might be called tunnel vision (credit to Vahnavoi). And it is entirely a mental framework issue that you can break out of but then there are another few issues.
    • Second, implicit abilities not written on any character sheet are usually available to every character. So not only does the wizard have invisibility, all their spells that explicitly counter invisibility but they also have all* the implicit tools a fighter does to counter invisibility. Here gap between those who have buttons and those who don't is... well it can shrink a bit but unless the implicit abilities are always better and the characters are functionally identical it isn't going to go away. And then there is the next bit.
    • Third, implicit abilities that are available only to some characters are usually available to the characters with more explicit abilities. So if the wizard has a spell that does not explicitly counter invisibility but does produce mist (we can see the hole), covers the ground in something, produces a constant stream of water or just has an area-of-effect that is safe to fire off into the area the invisible person is roughly in then they have even more tools to deal with invisibility.

    (*) Well most of, but honestly none of counters to invisibility given so far depend on having an ability a fighter (in terms of the archetype) has and a wizard (same) does not. Unless you need to tear open that bag of flower with your bare hands first.

    On Invisibility: This entire time I have been assuming the flour disappears when it touches the invisible person because the invisibility is like a magic field that wraps the person. Flour was a good counter because unlike mud it stays in the air for a while. Where did this come from? Is there some line about D&D invisibility effecting the target and their possessions at time of casting or something?

    Quote Originally Posted by DigoDragon View Post
    I laugh looking back at these experiences, because the commonality in both these cases is the the GMs did not want to fudge dice rolls or the encounter setups.
    I was going to reply to this but then I realised that is a different thread. I'll just drop "there are plenty of good reasons to avoid those" and if we want to get into what they are and if they were/could have been worth it we can go to another thread.

  6. - Top - End - #216
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    If I may summarise one of the more common schools of thought I've seen in this thread that a close battle is not actually what people want at all. Instead people want to effect the outcome of the battle. Close battles can help with this because it means smaller contributions are more likely to have made a difference. Except for the people who want the end result to be something else (like an overwhelming victory) for other reasons. And there are other variations too, like if people want the difference to be before the battle, during the battle or either. And there are plenty of variations on the main idea.

    For instance, I want that contribution to be inline with my character. A purely (but not partially) player skill based contribution is not really getting into the whole role-playing game aspect. So if it is just a clever trick or bold move that turned the tide I would very much like it to feel like a part of the character and not just be my tactically optimal decision.

    To Quertus: Yeah I'll try to summarise why explicate/concrete abilities or buttons can reduce other ways of interacting at the game.
    • First is it sets expectation, this is the one you are talking about and it might be called tunnel vision (credit to Vahnavoi). And it is entirely a mental framework issue that you can break out of but then there are another few issues.
    • Second, implicit abilities not written on any character sheet are usually available to every character. So not only does the wizard have invisibility, all their spells that explicitly counter invisibility but they also have all* the implicit tools a fighter does to counter invisibility. Here gap between those who have buttons and those who don't is... well it can shrink a bit but unless the implicit abilities are always better and the characters are functionally identical it isn't going to go away. And then there is the next bit.
    • Third, implicit abilities that are available only to some characters are usually available to the characters with more explicit abilities. So if the wizard has a spell that does not explicitly counter invisibility but does produce mist (we can see the hole), covers the ground in something, produces a constant stream of water or just has an area-of-effect that is safe to fire off into the area the invisible person is roughly in then they have even more tools to deal with invisibility.

    (*) Well most of, but honestly none of counters to invisibility given so far depend on having an ability a fighter (in terms of the archetype) has and a wizard (same) does not. Unless you need to tear open that bag of flower with your bare hands first.

    On Invisibility: This entire time I have been assuming the flour disappears when it touches the invisible person because the invisibility is like a magic field that wraps the person. Flour was a good counter because unlike mud it stays in the air for a while. Where did this come from? Is there some line about D&D invisibility effecting the target and their possessions at time of casting or something?

    I was going to reply to this but then I realised that is a different thread. I'll just drop "there are plenty of good reasons to avoid those" and if we want to get into what they are and if they were/could have been worth it we can go to another thread.
    Yes, in at least some editions, D&D invisibility has words which state that it affects you, and your possessions at time of casting, but not things you pick up later. Thus, flour. (And, yes, by hanging in the air, it works great - if in a more limited capacity - for many other forms of invisibility, too.)

    Also, invisibility only affects items - not other living beings. So it's a great way to test for morbidity, as well as for lice / parasites / pregnancy.

    Your second point is… misleading, IMO. Case in point: as a Sentient Potted Plant, with *absolutely no buttons whatsoever* to push, because my focus was *not* on pushing buttons (or, really, taking actions at all), I was the one who had the focus to spare, and remembered where we parked.

    So, IMO, the player whose sheet is free of relevant buttons should have an advantage in terms of looking for non-button solutions.

    To say that again, if I were trying to design a character optimized to look outside the box, I would minimize their button space.

    Hmmm… "thinking outside the box" could be taken several ways here, I think. In one form, a Fire Mage burning up the oxygen around a target to selectively suffocate them, or "inflaming passions" is considered "outside the box" thinking. In a second, combining "create plant material" and "create water" to create oobleck, or using invisibility to detect pregnancy, is considered "outside the box" thinking. In a third, realizing that effects oppose one another by caster level, and that flour defeated invisibility, therefore flour has a caster level, therefore its creator is a caster is considered "outside the box" thinking. But I feel that those are all distinct from "we're fighting in a tavern" "taverns have kitchens" "kitchens have flour" "this bag of flour can counter invisibility despite not being a button on my character sheet" is a type of "outside the box" thinking distinct from those other 3.

    Anyway… I *think* (darn senility) that the points I was trying to make were… that I want intelligent action - whether "outside the box" or "choosing the right button to press / tool to use" - to be able to drastically change the outcome of a conflict far, *far* more than I want a conflict to feel tense/close, and that, despite all the conversations and clarifications, I *still* cannot correlate the *changes* between 2e and 3e casting with the growing trend of being unable to look outside the character sheet / the growing "button-dependent" culture. (Or, in newfangled "old" words, that might mean the same thing, I don't see the connection that would cause 3e to produce increasing tunnel vision or learned helplessness over 2e.)

  7. - Top - End - #217
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Anyway… I *think* (darn senility) that the points I was trying to make were… that I want intelligent action - whether "outside the box" or "choosing the right button to press / tool to use" - to be able to drastically change the outcome of a conflict far, *far* more than I want a conflict to feel tense/close, and that, despite all the conversations and clarifications, I *still* cannot correlate the *changes* between 2e and 3e casting with the growing trend of being unable to look outside the character sheet / the growing "button-dependent" culture. (Or, in newfangled "old" words, that might mean the same thing, I don't see the connection that would cause 3e to produce increasing tunnel vision or learned helplessness over 2e.)
    If that is your point, it is probably better to forget all those sidetracks about flour and caster levels and stuff.

    As for the culture, well, most of your "outside the box" ideas basically resolve via DM fiat. Relying on them makes the game feel like "mother-may-I". Even with a sack of flour against an invisible target, you might well be required to drop everything else in your hands, use one or more actions to ready the flour, then accurately guess, where the invisible enemy is, then hit the invisible enemy with the flour, using a thrown weapon attack with penalties for not being proficient with it and it being an improvised weapen. All the while having the chance that the enemy just retreats out of the poor reach of throwing your flow when you ready it. And that is not even going into whether the flour covering an invisible vanishes or not.

    Of course players vastly prefer reliable abilities that work like buttons.

    I will also readily admit that i as GM wouldn't have allowed even half the stuff that happens in many of those stories about "out-of-the-box-solution". I think the old culture you miss so much also had some assumptions about rewarding unconventional or surprising solutions or just have them happen when they look cool. Instead of judging them fairly and requiring appropriate skills and tools.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2021-08-03 at 01:44 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #218
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Also, invisibility only affects items - not other living beings. So it's a great way to test for morbidity, as well as for lice / parasites / pregnancy.
    Are you joking or do you actually play it that way?

    Because if so, you don't need flour to see invisible people, the human shaped cloud of microbes should be more than enough.
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  9. - Top - End - #219
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Are you joking or do you actually play it that way?

    Because if so, you don't need flour to see invisible people, the human shaped cloud of microbes should be more than enough.
    D&D land is… weird. So, either, just like plants don't count as living beings in some editions, microbes don't either (otherwise, "first living being struck" spells wouldn't make it very far), or they simply don't exist.

    So, it depends on the world in question as to which valid implementation they have chosen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    If that is your point, it is probably better to forget all those sidetracks about flour and caster levels and stuff.
    Perhaps. But, if I'm explaining a bush, ignoring all the leaves and roots, and just focusing on the genetic markers that make something a bush? I feel it kinda loses something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    As for the culture, well, most of your "outside the box" ideas basically resolve via DM fiat. Relying on them makes the game feel like "mother-may-I".
    Indeed, many (but not all) of them do. Which is why I rarely want to form my "critical memories" around such nebulous outcomes, let alone rely on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Even with a sack of flour against an invisible target, you might well be required to drop everything else in your hands, use one or more actions to ready the flour, then accurately guess, where the invisible enemy is, then hit the invisible enemy with the flour, using a thrown weapon attack with penalties for not being proficient with it and it being an improvised weapen. All the while having the chance that the enemy just retreats out of the poor reach of throwing your flow when you ready it. .
    I will not admit to how many times I have demonstrated to a GM just how much area of their house i could cover just how quickly in flour.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And that is not even going into whether the flour covering an invisible vanishes or not..
    Depends on the system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Of course players vastly prefer reliable abilities that work like buttons.
    I *think* you're conflating "buttons" and "win buttons".

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    I will also readily admit that i as GM wouldn't have allowed even half the stuff that happens in many of those stories about "out-of-the-box-solution".
    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    I think the old culture you miss so much also had some assumptions about rewarding unconventional or surprising solutions or just have them happen when they look cool. Instead of judging them fairly and requiring appropriate skills and tools.
    I mean, I've corrected people's mistakes regarding *in-box* solutions, and created experiments (including ones that didn't involve flour) to empirically test the viability of creative solutions. I don't run on "rule of cool"

    But, if you want a demonstration for how appropriate the tool is, I'll bring a bag of flour.

    (And I'm pretty sure I've got all those penalties you listed, plus the "I'm not an adventurer, I just play one in an RPG" penalty.)

  10. - Top - End - #220
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    I will also readily admit that i as GM wouldn't have allowed even half the stuff that happens in many of those stories about "out-of-the-box-solution". I think the old culture you miss so much also had some assumptions about rewarding unconventional or surprising solutions or just have them happen when they look cool. Instead of judging them fairly and requiring appropriate skills and tools.
    There's also the AD&D 1e fighter class. Before followers and without using several optional rules it has no "buttons", no 'appropriate skills', and was perfectly functional and popular. The class held its place by being truely better in combat than the other classes and that was all it had, on paper. But the play style (which I think 5e tries to half emulate and completely fails) didn't rely on character sheet "buttons"...

    Realization: All computer games, due to the limited nature of programming, are "button" games. You can't set a tripwire in a dungeon and lure skeletons across it unless its a perbuilt button. Anyone in the hobby with any modern computer game experience is probably subtly predisposed to button thinking. I think we need to recognize that most of us have a bias towards buttons.

    Thinking back over the last three years where I haven't been able to play computer games, my style of playing & DMing has been changing back towards that pre-1990s mode where "buttons" were less of a thing. Thus, if the writers of systems, or different writers of a system are not aware of and explicitly communicating their biases & assumptions to the players & DMs using the books then you'll see more of the tunnel vision towards the written rules and explicit character sheet abilities. That will create more tension, drama, and failed games if all the players & the DM aren't aligned with the system's unwritten assumptions.

    I think that may explain the repeated failures of new DMs I've seen last decade. No DM who came into the hobby mainly through "button" games and media has been able to successfully deal with repeated non-button based play, and the different D&D DMGs haven't seemed to have any effect on that. If the writers of the classes & combat are primed for buttons, the DMG writers are not writing for buttons, and the difference isn't clearly communicated, then you have the system (sometimes different parts of the system) and users working at cross purposes to create a potential fail state for the game.

    Great. Now I know that I and the readers have a potential bias that may not match, and I have to add some more really super-explicit advice to the DtD40k7e appendices.
    Last edited by Telok; 2021-08-03 at 11:59 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #221
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    I really hate the term "Mother May I". It's unnecessarily disparaging towards a game style that works for many many people.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I really hate the term "Mother May I". It's unnecessarily disparaging towards a game style that works for many many people.
    I agree, to me it reads as an expression of rage at not being fully in control of all aspects of a situation. To me, the point of these games is collaborative play, interacting socially with your fellow players (the DM is a "player" in this context) is a healthy part of the game.

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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    There's also the AD&D 1e fighter class. Before followers and without using several optional rules it has no "buttons", no 'appropriate skills', and was perfectly functional and popular. The class held its place by being truely better in combat than the other classes and that was all it had, on paper. But the play style (which I think 5e tries to half emulate and completely fails) didn't rely on character sheet "buttons"...

    Realization: All computer games, due to the limited nature of programming, are "button" games. You can't set a tripwire in a dungeon and lure skeletons across it unless its a perbuilt button. Anyone in the hobby with any modern computer game experience is probably subtly predisposed to button thinking. I think we need to recognize that most of us have a bias towards buttons.

    Thinking back over the last three years where I haven't been able to play computer games, my style of playing & DMing has been changing back towards that pre-1990s mode where "buttons" were less of a thing. Thus, if the writers of systems, or different writers of a system are not aware of and explicitly communicating their biases & assumptions to the players & DMs using the books then you'll see more of the tunnel vision towards the written rules and explicit character sheet abilities. That will create more tension, drama, and failed games if all the players & the DM aren't aligned with the system's unwritten assumptions.

    I think that may explain the repeated failures of new DMs I've seen last decade. No DM who came into the hobby mainly through "button" games and media has been able to successfully deal with repeated non-button based play, and the different D&D DMGs haven't seemed to have any effect on that. If the writers of the classes & combat are primed for buttons, the DMG writers are not writing for buttons, and the difference isn't clearly communicated, then you have the system (sometimes different parts of the system) and users working at cross purposes to create a potential fail state for the game.

    Great. Now I know that I and the readers have a potential bias that may not match, and I have to add some more really super-explicit advice to the DtD40k7e appendices.
    I think I agree. And it's something I've seen. But not just video game-induced bias--I've seen it with people who were really strong into ttrpgs that leaned much more to the "button" mentality (4e D&D especially, but 3.5e D&D to a lesser extent). They tend to think (both as DMs and players) as "you need a specific key item/skill/spell/"button" to do X, otherwise deny".

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I really hate the term "Mother May I". It's unnecessarily disparaging towards a game style that works for many many people.
    Agreed. It's weaponized discourse that assumes the conclusion (that DM discretion in things is something to be avoided).
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I really hate the term "Mother May I". It's unnecessarily disparaging towards a game style that works for many many people.
    the cynic in me welcomes you to how 4e D&D lovers feel when someone throws the word "videogamey" or "mmo" for a game style that works for them (myself included).

    in a less snarky tone however "mother may i" does describe how it feels when a GM is overly restrictive in what they allow players to do outside the explicit rules of the game. You've been creatively browbeaten and hobbled by a GM that isn't, as NorthernPhoenix puts it, interested in collaborative play. Thus anything that isn't expressly written in the rulebook (or how they want/expect a scene to play out) turns into a game of... Mother May I.

    It's not disparaging the game itself, but rather a symptom of a bad GM or negative interpretation of that game.

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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    the cynic in me welcomes you to how 4e D&D lovers feel when someone throws the word "videogamey" or "mmo" for a game style that works for them (myself included).

    in a less snarky tone however "mother may i" does describe how it feels when a GM is overly restrictive in what they allow players to do outside the explicit rules of the game. You've been creatively browbeaten and hobbled by a GM that isn't, as NorthernPhoenix puts it, interested in collaborative play. Thus anything that isn't expressly written in the rulebook (or how they want/expect a scene to play out) turns into a game of... Mother May I.

    It's not disparaging the game itself, but rather a symptom of a bad GM or negative interpretation of that game.
    But it's absolutely used (possibly by other people) about game system design writ large. Any form of "well, that's up to the DM" or other explicit room for DM discretion is derided as "Mother May I" (which by assertion is awful and sufficient reason to reject the implementation proposal out of hand). I don't think I've really seen it used when talking about GM behavior.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Generally whenever I’ve seen MMI mentioned it’s with respect to GMs that have not or will not work to establish a shared understanding of the game expectations. It’s in this state that players query possible, even plausible actions without much certainty that they’ll get the green light. This is rarely a fault of the system, more a matter of good gaming practices and communication.

    But when a system provides arbitrary character features, tells the GM to make stuff up for details that interact with those features, and doesn’t include anything in the way of a suggestion that the GM inform the players on the nature of their personal spin... Hello, are we playing the same game? Again, mostly a matter of bad GMs, but certain systems do set traps for the inexperienced and unwary.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    the cynic in me welcomes you to how 4e D&D lovers feel when someone throws the word "videogamey" or "mmo" for a game style that works for them (myself included).
    This. Is "Mother May I" a negative way to put it? Yes. Is a preference for mechanics discussed as a negative thing (sometimes even "video game induced brain damage") extremely often? Also yes. Stones, glass houses, etc.

    So personally, I consider the ability to go beyond the rules very important, but if I'm doing so it should be for something the rules can't practically cover. Rigging up some special-purpose device? Ok, sure, let's negotiate. Jumping over a pit? There can and should just be concrete rules for that.

    And something that may draw people to concrete abilities - being in control of your own parameters is more relaxing. For example, I can walk or take the bus to get downtown. Walking takes roughly 40 minutes, the bus takes on average 15 (for combined wait time and travel time). So the bus is better, right? Well, if I walk, I know I'll be there in 40 minutes. If I take the bus, I will probably be there in 15. Unless a bus breaks down. And the next one is slow because of picking up more people. And there's more traffic than typical. And so it's possible that I'll end up taking more than 40 minutes, plus I won't know that fact until it's too late to walk instead. For that reason (and that I like walking), I generally walk unless it's raining or I'm in a hurry and willing to take a gamble.

    In the same way, "now I'll do this thing that I know will work" is more relaxing than "I can try to do this thing, and it will probably work how I think, but maybe not, so I should have a contingency plan ..."


    I would say, if you want to encourage players to go outside the rules more, particularly in high-stakes areas like combat, don't be ****ing cagey about how it will work. If they propose something, tell them how you're going to resolve it. Let them change their action after hearing that, if they want to. "Find out by doing" is one of those things that sounds better than it works in practice. And in many cases, the character would have logically found out by trying it already if it's an area they have experience in, it just occurred offscreen.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-08-03 at 01:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    I would say, if you want to encourage players to go outside the rules more, particularly in high-stakes areas like combat, don't be ****ing cagey about how it will work. If they propose something, tell them how you're going to resolve it. Let them change their action after hearing that, if they want to. "Find out by doing" is one of those things that sounds better than it works in practice. And in many cases, the character would have logically found out by trying it already if it's an area they have experience in, it just occurred offscreen.
    I totally agree with this part.

    As for the other part, there are lots of things where the DM has information that the characters can't have. And things that are context sensitive enough that you can't encode them in the rules without massive bloat (or forcing every game into a single mold). DMs need discretion. Discretion is inevitable. Accepting that fact and being honest about it are key to actually having a system that works well.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    the cynic in me welcomes you to how 4e D&D lovers feel when someone throws the word "videogamey" or "mmo" for a game style that works for them (myself included).

    in a less snarky tone however "mother may i" does describe how it feels when a GM is overly restrictive in what they allow players to do outside the explicit rules of the game. You've been creatively browbeaten and hobbled by a GM that isn't, as NorthernPhoenix puts it, interested in collaborative play. Thus anything that isn't expressly written in the rulebook (or how they want/expect a scene to play out) turns into a game of... Mother May I.

    It's not disparaging the game itself, but rather a symptom of a bad GM or negative interpretation of that game.
    As someone that liked 4e, I hated "videogamey" or "mmo" as a descriptor.

    Not least because that's been the majority of my career, and 4e would be a terrible MMO/videogame.

    But no, I don't see any reason we need to be as pejorative towards game styles that just aren't our preferences, regardless of what that style is.
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2021-08-03 at 02:24 PM.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    T
    I would say, if you want to encourage players to go outside the rules more, particularly in high-stakes areas like combat, don't be ****ing cagey about how it will work. If they propose something, tell them how you're going to resolve it. Let them change their action after hearing that, if they want to. "Find out by doing" is one of those things that sounds better than it works in practice. And in many cases, the character would have logically found out by trying it already if it's an area they have experience in, it just occurred offscreen.
    100% on this, btw. Be clear about how you're going to adjudicate a thing, and then let the player change their mind.

    Mostly because the player has an incomplete and non-authoritative view of the world. Since the GM knows everything, and their opinions are authoritative, they need that benefit. Most people can roughly gauge how difficult something is before they start, unless it's due to hidden information. So find a way to give as much info as possible.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    100% on this, btw. Be clear about how you're going to adjudicate a thing, and then let the player change their mind.

    Mostly because the player has an incomplete and non-authoritative view of the world. Since the GM knows everything, and their opinions are authoritative, they need that benefit. Most people can roughly gauge how difficult something is before they start, unless it's due to hidden information. So find a way to give as much info as possible.
    "Let the player change their mind" is key here, because if asking is a commitment, players are not going to ask.

    If a Wizard says "I want to use Magic Missile to cut the Archer's bowstrings", then you reply "Okay, you do and it doesn't work" or "You try, make a DC 30 Arcana check to guide the missiles with that much accuracy", then you've just punished the player for thinking creatively.

    In all likelyhood, the Wizard PC knows better than their player how accurate and precise a Magic Missile can be. They would know if targeting bowstrings is doable, or is very very difficult. They would know if this is a terrible idea.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Point of note: that is irrelevant if it is not the type of adventure people want to run.
    Certainly. But that, I would say, is what the level system is for. The reason levels exist is to divide the playspace into parts, so that you can exclude things that don't fit with your vision of the game. It's not perfect, because it's entirely possible to want to fight 6th level monsters with 14th level utility or whatever, but it's much better than categorically excluding things that create play experiences you don't like.

    I actually haven't checked. Does the thief/rogue get passwall or the ranger teleport?
    Of course not. Those aren't casters, why would you think they would get nice things?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Realization: All computer games, due to the limited nature of programming, are "button" games. You can't set a tripwire in a dungeon and lure skeletons across it unless its a perbuilt button.
    It's a spectrum, not a binary. Computer games aren't all buttons and no creativity any more than TTRPGs were pure creativity in the Good Old Days. Consider a RTS game like Starcraft or Age of Empires. On the one hand, it's true that you can't decide to make a new Zerg creature that's like a Zergling but with acid spit, or take a war elephant and put a bombard cannon on it to make a new siege unit. But on the other hand, the strategy in those games, even in campaigns is not a simple matter of "find appropriate button and apply to problem". There are lots of different ways you can approach a goal in a RTS, and while all of them arise from the defined interactions of the defined elements the developers of those games have created, very often the specifics will be entirely unlike what was expected.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I really hate the term "Mother May I". It's unnecessarily disparaging towards a game style that works for many many people.
    I mean, so is the whole "those abilities are just pushing buttons" thing. Basically no one is fully respectful towards things they don't like.

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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    It's a spectrum, not a binary. Computer games aren't all buttons and no creativity any more than TTRPGs were pure creativity in the Good Old Days. Consider a RTS game like Starcraft or Age of Empires. On the one hand, it's true that you can't decide to make a new Zerg creature that's like a Zergling but with acid spit, or take a war elephant and put a bombard cannon on it to make a new siege unit. But on the other hand, the strategy in those games, even in campaigns is not a simple matter of "find appropriate button and apply to problem". There are lots of different ways you can approach a goal in a RTS, and while all of them arise from the defined interactions of the defined elements the developers of those games have created, very often the specifics will be entirely unlike what was expected.
    I feel like you're misinterpreting the term "Button" here.

    A "button" is a defined, discreet way of interacting with the game, it doesn't refer to what actions one can take within the game.

    In an RTS like starcraft, all methods of interacting with the game are pre-determined. What you DO with those buttons is a whole different matter.

    You don't play starcraft by hitting a single button labeled "Build lots of zerglings and swarm the enemy", but anything you do is going to be some combination of building units and then giving them orders, because that's how you the game is played.
    It's hitting buttons, but it's not JUST hitting buttons.

    Consider Painting. To Paint, you start with a canvas, and you put paint on it. Your buttons are a palette of Paints and a set of brushes. But I don't think anybody would call the act of painting "Just Putting Paint on a Canvas".


    it's not about creativity, it's about "What are the ways the player can interact with the game".
    For example, a longsword is a weapon that deals 1d8+str damage on a hit. It, along with the Attack action, is a button you can press to reduce an enemy's hit points.

    But it's ALSO a piece of sharp metal, about 2-3 feet long with a blunt hilt.

    You could use a Sword to cut a rope on a ropebridge, thus destroying it.

    In a pure "Button" game, that only works if the game recognizes the ropebridge as destructible, and if it recognizes a sword as a valid tool for destroying it.

    In a TTRPG, a sword is a valid tool for cutting a rope the moment the words "Sword' and "Rope" enter the picture, even if "cutting ropes" is not a method of interaction the player was explicitly given.

    It's not that Non-Button games offer greater opportunity for creativity, it's that they can be approached from an entirely different perspective. If you design a TTRPG adventure with the perspective that a PC is simply a set of discrete abilities, and not a fictional person living in a fictional world, then you can get blindsided.

    Saying something like "I Cut the rope with my sword" isn't a more creative strategy than, I dunno, Tower-Rushing in an RTS. I'd actually say it's far more obvious a solution, but it's a solution that comes from viewing the game from a different perspective, a perspective only possible in a tabletop game, where methods of interaction are not all pre-defined.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I really hate the term "Mother May I". It's unnecessarily disparaging towards a game style that works for many many people.
    indeed.
    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    "Let the player change their mind" is key here, because if asking is a commitment, players are not going to ask.
    Are you sure? can also be used here.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    In a pure "Button" game, that only works if the game recognizes the ropebridge as destructible, and if it recognizes a sword as a valid tool for destroying it.

    In a TTRPG, a sword is a valid tool for cutting a rope the moment the words "Sword' and "Rope" enter the picture, even if "cutting ropes" is not a method of interaction the player was explicitly given.
    That's a distinction without a difference. You can rush in a RTS scenario without some explicitly enabled "rushable" tag. There's no categorical distinction between the emergent tactics that arise in sufficiently complex rules systems and the kind of "non-button mindset" that's being argued for.

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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Are you sure? can also be used here.
    "Are you sure" has it's place, but not here.

    "I throw a fireball at the Red Dragon" is a good place for "Are you sure", Are You Sure is a way for the GM to communicate "This is a bad/questionable/risky idea and your character would know better".

    That's different than a player going outside the established rules and the GM telling them If the thing they're trying to do is even possible/ how the GM would adjucate such an action, and giving them a chance to retract their action if what the GM proposes is too mechanically risky/low impact for the cost.

    This would be more like 'I use Shatter on the cave ceiling so the stalactites fall and land on the Dragon", only to be told that, yeah, that might work, but it's just going to turn into a dex save for moderate damage from some falling rocks.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That's a distinction without a difference. You can rush in a RTS scenario without some explicitly enabled "rushable" tag. There's no categorical distinction between the emergent tactics that arise in sufficiently complex rules systems and the kind of "non-button mindset" that's being argued for.
    Emergent tactics are applications of tools that the player has been explicitly given.

    You don't need a "Rushable" tag because "Rushing" is not a method of interacting with the game, it's a strategy one implements using the tools you have been given.

    You don't tell the game to Rush, you tell the game to do a thousand small actions which, when taken collectively, turn into the strategy known as Rushing. But executing that strategy is a process made up of thousands of discrete inputs, each of which is an explicit tool that the player has been given.


    Think about a fighting game like street fighter. When I say "Button", I'm not talking about something like Zoning (Using ranged attacks to keep the enemy at a certain distance) or using change-up combos that are difficult to block.

    I'm talking about actual buttons on the controller, individual inputs that translate into discrete actions on the screen. I hit the attack button, and my character throws a punch. I hit down and attack, and my character does a low kick. Those are two of the many Buttons that I have. I don't get to push a button to make Ryu ask Ken if they want to go bowling instead unless that's one of the buttons I've been given. No combination of the buttons I DO have will ever turn into Ryu saying "Hey Ken, what if we just went Bowling?".

    Which is completely irrelevant when it comes to the question of what depth of strategy and creativity can be applied to the game, but IS a relevant distinction when it comes to thinking about how the player interacts with the game, especially since it defines what a "Creative Solution" looks like.


    Consider, a fighting game like Street Fighter vs something like D&D. A player has a goal: Make it more likely for my attack to connect and not be blocked.

    In Street Fighter, a creative solution to that is to work out a combination of moves that is unpredictable and difficult for the opponent to block.

    In D&D, you can be as creative as you want describing how your character alternates attacks from different angles to overwhelm the enemy's defenses, but that simply isn't a lever you can pull to achieve your goal. Instead, a creative solution might be something like dousing the only light source in the room, so that you (Who has darkvision) can see, but your opponent (Who doesn't) cannot.



    This is relevant because you can get serious problems when the player's perspective doesn't match up with the Games/GM's. Imagine a Starcraft player trying to figure out what buttons to press to load a dropship full of nukes so they can have it crash into the middle of the enemy base.

    A GM who views things from a button perspective can get flabbergasted as soon as a player does something that isn't explicitly listed as an option on their character sheet, and either shut it down, or just say "Well that solves the problem I guess?" (Even if it shouldn't have, or should have at least taken a skill check) simply because it didn't occur to them that players could interact with the world in that way.

    Often far worse is the opposite, where the GM comes from a firmly Non-Button mindset, but the Players are viewing the world through a lens of Buttons. The GM describes a wide, fast-moving river, and the Players start scanning their character sheet for something that translates to "Cross a long distance without touching the ground", instead of, say, following the river to look for a bridge.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I really hate the term "Mother May I". It's unnecessarily disparaging towards a game style that works for many many people.
    Why is referrencing to a somewhat popular children's game a bad thing? The original also does work as well for many people. Children wouldn't play it if they didn't have fun.

    I like this referrence because it easily encapsules both benefits (ease of use, adaptibility) and potential weaknesses (biases, mismatching expectations, power dynamics, consistancy ) of extensive GM adjucation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I will not admit to how many times I have demonstrated to a GM just how much area of their house i could cover just how quickly in flour.
    Are you saying that you already had problems at real tables to let a GM allow you the flour solution ? Well, that seems like a point against flour as win-button, doesn't it ?

    But, if you want a demonstration for how appropriate the tool is, I'll bring a bag of flour.

    (And I'm pretty sure I've got all those penalties you listed, plus the "I'm not an adventurer, I just play one in an RPG" penalty.)
    Sure. You get a sack of flour, a blindfold to simulate the invisibility, we do it out in the open to have an easier time cleaning and give you an easier time moving with blindfold amd I get to bring some Larp sword. If I hit you three times before you get me covered in flour, the flour solution is considered impractical even against a melee enemy let alone a ranged one. Sounds about right ?


    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    I would say, if you want to encourage players to go outside the rules more, particularly in high-stakes areas like combat, don't be ****ing cagey about how it will work.
    But I don't want to encourage players to go outside the rules. I want versimilitude and will always judge (outside of rule) situations as fairly and seemingly realistically as i can. Also combat using weapons specifically made to harm enemies to the best the technology allows used by people trained in using them is really hard to beat with improvised alternatives. If it wasn't, armies would have switched to the alternatives long ago. Established procedured/tactics are established for a reason. That doesn't mean outside the box will never work. But it will never work just because the players brought it up or just because ofdramatic reasons or for some strange always-say-yes mindset.

    If they propose something, tell them how you're going to resolve it. Let them change their action after hearing that, if they want to. "Find out by doing" is one of those things that sounds better than it works in practice. And in many cases, the character would have logically found out by trying it already if it's an area they have experience in, it just occurred offscreen.
    That however is something i would completely agree to.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2021-08-04 at 10:08 AM.

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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    the cynic in me welcomes you to how 4e D&D lovers feel when someone throws the word "videogamey" or "mmo" for a game style that works for them (myself included).
    If a game didn't want that label, it probably shouldn't have listed Magic Rings as going "in a hand slot". Fingers - rings go on fingers, not in "hand slots"

    (I am only half joking - I don't truly believe 4th ed was 'videogamey', but they didn't help themselves on that front with some of the **** they did)
    Last edited by Glorthindel; 2021-08-04 at 03:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Cynical thinking alert.

    It is not always/only the player who suffers from tunnel vision. There are DMs who insist on only allowing button solutions. If they don't outright deny the out of the box thinking attempt, they apply penalties to the roll and/or set the target number so high the player is discouraged from trying and doesn't bother. If he does bother he's lucky if a Natural 18 is enough to succeed. Play with enough of such DMs or long enough with one, the player is conditioned to think only of using a button.

    The most likely reason the DM behaves this way is because he's afraid by not using a button the player is trying to get away with something. The DM has to make something up the rules don't explicitly cover. He does not want to set precedent where now players will always try the Out Of The Box Thing as a new button they created. He's afraid the players will become too powerful and make the game an unplayable mess. It's not play tested! The rules don't say it's ok, so it must be game breaking!

    The catch is that the out of the box thing the player wants to do is possible to be Honest True ridiculous/too powerful/game breaking. A DM has to learn the difference. He won't learn if he denies everything or passive aggressively deny by permitting but making it almost impossible to do. He can still deny what is objectively obvious to be ridiculous, but he needs to permit more with reasonable success chances. When something is proven to be too powerful that's when denial for future games is earned. When players are allowed to think outside the box they will do so.

    Edit: You may hate the term, but "Mother May I" is accurate to describe a game where the player has no idea what his character can do unless the DM says he can. It is the DM's job to adjudicate situations and "make things up" when the rules don't explicitly cover them. The problem is where the line should be drawn between where the rules explicitly cover the situation and the DM takes it from there. It is the game designers' job to make those rules so the DM doesn't have to. That's why the game was bought.
    Last edited by Pex; 2021-08-04 at 05:08 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    The most likely reason the DM behaves this way is because he's afraid by not using a button the player is trying to get away with something. The DM has to make something up the rules don't explicitly cover. He does not want to set precedent where now players will always try the Out Of The Box Thing as a new button they created. He's afraid the players will become too powerful and make the game an unplayable mess. It's not play tested! The rules don't say it's ok, so it must be game breaking!
    It could also be an issue of predictability. If the party can only use their specified buttons, it's fairly easy (well... easier, at least) to know what the party can do in any given situation and plan accordingly. If the party can use literally anything reasonable they can think of, it becomes impossible to plan for every alternative.

    Personally, I prefer to plan just the broad strokes and important details while improvising heavily but I know there are GMs who prefer to plan excessively and I could see some of them being bothered by out of the box thinking.

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