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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    smile Re: 13th Age vs 4th Edition

    4th Ed D&D = Facepalm
    No, but for real, I did have fun with 4E when it first came out, the combat especially. Skill system was meh (and a little disappointed by the stripping off so many skills). Magic system was not good, but tolerable and manageable. I remember making fighters who got trained in the Arcana skill, then I gave them the ritual caster feat, cuz why not haha.
    I also liked 4E for its monsters, and its vivid fantasy flavor.
    But one thing that really dragged and probably the reason I won't play it anymore is the complexity. The complexity of D&D 4E's combat and character design is one of its strengths, but also one of its most dire weaknesses, especially mid-to-high level.

    Never actually played 13th Age yet, but I want to. Most of what I hear about it persistently intrigues me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    So where would you place a game like Risus or other similar very rules light games? On one hand, they do have rules for what a character can do but the amount and complexity of the rules seems a lot closer to a free-form game than something like D&D. (If you're not familiar, the rules for Risus are like two pages long in total).
    I consider Roll for Shoes to be a role-playing game, not even free-form, and its rules fit on an index card. Or in a forum post.
    • Say what you do and roll a number of d6s.
    • If the sum of your roll is higher than the opposing roll (either another player or the DM), the thing you wanted to happen, happens.
    • The number of the d6s you roll is determined by the level of skill you have.
    • At start, you have only one skill: Do anything 1.
    • If you roll all sixes on your roll, you can get new skill one level higher than the one you used for the action. The skill must be a subset of what happened to you in the action (Say, Athletics 2 if you were climbing a wall, or Teeth of Biting 2 if you were eating a cake).
    • For every roll you fail, you get 1 XP.
    • XP can be used to change a die into a 6 for advancement purposes but not for success purposes.
    I think that idea of control passing between the system and the players is the key thing. I mean I just though of it, I haven't worked out all the details but it seems pretty good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    It's an important distinction. If the decisions aren't about what the players character(a) is/are doing and is instead about story that characters are in, that's a storytelling game, not a roleplaying game.
    There is a difference? I mean I don't know what you thought I meant but I'm talking about but having (as an example) complete open combat but then little choice in what my character does after that, or, almost equivalently, my character's actions ignored by the evolving story is... well, I'll hear any arguments people have that it is a role-playing game. Actually I should explain my word choice, actually I was hoping one of story/fluff/flavor/narrative would get across I'm story of talking about what the mechanics represent. For instance, mechanically there are no open ended choices in most character creation systems. Picking classes, assigning skills, unlocking advanced moves, buying starting gear and so on does have a lot of options. But it is not open ended. On the other hand the narrative side of character creation, name, description, personality and backstory, those are open ended. Does that distinction make sense.

    As an aside: another definition for a role-playing game I use: A storytelling game that focus on individual characters and figuring out what decisions they would make (that is to say, a storytelling game with role-playing). I know some people consider storytelling games to be the degenerate form of role-playing games, but I actually believe it is a super-genre of game because... well when I asked myself "What is a storytelling game?" I just found there was nothing about it that excluded role-playing games. Of course that means that storytelling game does in fact still include all those other types of games people don't like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Honestly to me the ideal would be dropping them entirely followed by a 'build a weapon' system with a good list of examples. Witch reminds me, I now need to go back to my fantasy RPG and rework both damage and protection.
    I think of all the things I want to consider fiddly customization options on, weapons are at the absolute bottom of the list. Generally speaking, when a weapon that you care about shows up in a fantasy story, the reason you care about it is that it is in some way magically impressive. I can't tell you whether Stormbringer is a longsword or a greatsword or a bastard sword off the top of my head, but I can absolutely tell you that it's a blade of magical power and malignant intelligence.

    So Fighters might have a d10 weapon die, and Wizards might have a d6.weapon die.
    I don't understand why you would want to do that. It's just punching verisimilitude in the junk for no reason. If you want the Fighter to be better at using a sword, give him bonuses to using a sword. Don't make the amount of damage the actual sword deals dependent on who is swinging it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    A storytelling game that focus on individual characters and figuring out what decisions they would make (that is to say, a storytelling game with role-playing).
    I think by that definition the process of creating any book or movie with multiple authors was a roleplaying game.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Actually I should explain my word choice, actually I was hoping one of story/fluff/flavor/narrative would get across I'm story of talking about what the mechanics represent. For instance, mechanically there are no open ended choices in most character creation systems. Picking classes, assigning skills, unlocking advanced moves, buying starting gear and so on does have a lot of options. But it is not open ended. On the other hand the narrative side of character creation, name, description, personality and backstory, those are open ended. Does that distinction make sense.
    Yes it does. I thought you were talking about the activity involved in playing the game.

    As an aside: another definition for a role-playing game I use: A storytelling game that focus on individual characters and figuring out what decisions they would make (that is to say, a storytelling game with role-playing). I know some people consider storytelling games to be the degenerate form of role-playing games, but I actually believe it is a super-genre of game because... well when I asked myself "What is a storytelling game?" I just found there was nothing about it that excluded role-playing games. Of course that means that storytelling game does in fact still include all those other types of games people don't like.
    They are not mutually exclusive, and there are plenty of games that explicitly blend the two within their rules. As well as many group choosing to mix and match elements of both outside of the rules structure. It's a matter of if you're playing a character or playing a story (or some third option), and it's entirely possible to do some of each. Or not.

    13th Age for example has a few elements designed to encourage the player to spend some time playing a story rather than a character. That's unsurprising though. Heinsoo definitely understands and clearly espouses some degree of narrative mechanics for players. I don't know if that came about after 4e though. Because it didn't include them. But that may have been a WOTC directive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I think by that definition the process of creating any book or movie with multiple authors was a roleplaying game.
    I don't see why, it's not a storytelling game to begin with so it cannot be a role-playing game. It might be a storytelling tool, process or exercise but that doesn't make it a role-playing game. Now the occasional game can lead to a story so I suppose you could use a role-playing game as a storytelling tool, but is designing a city a city building game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    It's a matter of if you're playing a character or playing a story (or some third option), and it's entirely possible to do some of each. Or not.
    I mean, I consider the three fundamental building blocks to be character, setting and plot. So if you are playing a character you are playing a story* (that's role-playing games). If you are playing a setting you are playing a story* (Macroscope and Questlandia). If you are playing a plot you are playing a story* (I don't know if people actually do this). I'm not sure how you get involved in characters (not just pieces with flavour text) without getting involved in a story. Which is how I arrived at the idea that storytelling games is a broader group than role-playing games. I don't actually have a question but I expect to get some different views on this idea.

    * I might be entirely off by what you meant by "playing a story", it would explain the confusion.

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    Default Re: 13th Age vs 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I mean, I consider the three fundamental building blocks to be character, setting and plot. So if you are playing a character you are playing a story* (that's role-playing games). If you are playing a setting you are playing a story* (Macroscope and Questlandia). If you are playing a plot you are playing a story* (I don't know if people actually do this). I'm not sure how you get involved in characters (not just pieces with flavour text) without getting involved in a story. Which is how I arrived at the idea that storytelling games is a broader group than role-playing games. I don't actually have a question but I expect to get some different views on this idea.

    * I might be entirely off by what you meant by "playing a story", it would explain the confusion.
    Plot isn't required for most RPG games. Nor is story. Depending on the game, you might need character, setting and hooks. Or you might have character and story. Or you might even just have setting and story. Or even just story.

    Storytelling games aren't broader group than roleplaying games because roleplaying doesn't require storytelling. For that matter, many games that used to be advertised as storytelling games often don't even inherently include any storytelling or narrative mechanics. looking at you White Wolf.

    A good example of playing the story would be Fate Points or the like that get to define how something external to the character happens, because story. That's a narrative mechanic.

    In regards to this discussion, the Icon Dice were a 13th Age had a storytelling aspect, as does One Unique Thing. They both are aspects of the character that allow the player to define things external to the character.

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I don't see why, it's not a storytelling game to begin with so it cannot be a role-playing game. It might be a storytelling tool, process or exercise but that doesn't make it a role-playing game. Now the occasional game can lead to a story so I suppose you could use a role-playing game as a storytelling tool, but is designing a city a city building game?
    Well then you're just shifting the ambiguity up one level. What is a "storytelling game"? For that matter, what is a "game"? Is there really a principled distinction between optimizing within the rules of the existing system of Shadowrun or Magic: The Gathering and optimizing within the existing system of the US legal code?

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I think of all the things I want to consider fiddly customization options on, weapons are at the absolute bottom of the list. Generally speaking, when a weapon that you care about shows up in a fantasy story, the reason you care about it is that it is in some way magically impressive. I can't tell you whether Stormbringer is a longsword or a greatsword or a bastard sword off the top of my head, but I can absolutely tell you that it's a blade of magical power and malignant intelligence.
    Cool, add the ability to have weapons be massively powerful and sentient into the books a weapon system.

    I don't understand why you would want to do that. It's just punching verisimilitude in the junk for no reason. If you want the Fighter to be better at using a sword, give him bonuses to using a sword. Don't make the amount of damage the actual sword deals dependent on who is swinging it.
    Simplicity is it's own reward.

    The wizard just isn't worldwide the sword as well, and as such is going to do less damage with it. This doesn't break my verisimilitude.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: 13th Age vs 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Plot isn't required for most RPG games. Nor is story. Depending on the game, you might need character, setting and hooks. Or you might have character and story. Or you might even just have setting and story. Or even just story.
    OK, I flat out have no idea what you mean by this. How do you play a game without doing things and generating some plot? And as long as you have the fiction layer you should have a story. I mean you don't need a planned plot if that's what you are talking about.

    To RandomPeasant: I'm aware its still ambiguous, as I said I don't have any perfect definition* and so every definition I say is imperfect. Captures some important aspects but probably leaves out some detail. "Shifting the ambiguity up" those I think is a win if it is towards terms people have a better understanding of (in this case, probably not storytelling game but maybe game itself).

    I hope the US legal code was not designed for the sake of entertaining lawyers.

    * Unless you include "Storytelling Game: What I mean when I say storytelling game." I wouldn't because while its perfectly precise it is also enormously unhelpful.

    On Weapons: I know some systems where the weapons rules actually change between characters. Usually there is some base weapons rules that most characters use but one or two of the combat classes will have a special subsystem for getting cooler weapons. Like if you wanted to mimic the old "tool for everything fighter" the weapons would actually be presented as fighter special abilities.

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    Default Re: 13th Age vs 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Plot isn't required for most RPG games. Nor is story. Depending on the game, you might need character, setting and hooks. Or you might have character and story. Or you might even just have setting and story. Or even just story.

    Storytelling games aren't broader group than roleplaying games because roleplaying doesn't require storytelling. For that matter, many games that used to be advertised as storytelling games often don't even inherently include any storytelling or narrative mechanics. looking at you White Wolf.
    I believe this indicates you have a much stricter definition of certain key words (Plot, Story, Storytelling, and Storytelling game for example).

    An RPG game will have things happen. Those things do not need to be planned. Those things do not need to include narrative mechanics. At the end of the session you could look back at the session and see a sequence of events that occurred. That sequence of events involved some number of nouns that (past tense verb) and happened somewhere. This emergent byproduct of the session might or might not be something the players care about.

    So if you have a stricter definition of "Storytelling Game" than White Wolf is using, then perhaps your "Storytelling Game meaning" is a subset of their "Storytelling Game meaning" but not a subset of "RPGs". Thus White Wolf is an instance of RPG within their "Storytelling Game meaning" but not within your "Storytelling Game meaning".

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    Default Re: 13th Age vs 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Quertus, you've got some basic misunderstandings of the 4e skill challenge system. But your combination of how you think it works with trying to treat the game mechanics as a physics engine for the in-universe world resulted in a truly entertaining little essay 😂👍
    Glad you enjoyed it. I tried to have more fun describing the elephant's "rope" than I would have had I actually tried to *show* the elephant, and fully define RPGs.

    To roleplay - as *I* define the term - you have to treat the mechanics as world physics. Because, as *I* define role-playing, it's like stances(?): whenever you're thinking in terms of mechanics when making your choices, you aren't role-playing. So the mechanics - the world physics engine - have to be integrated into your character's experiences, so that you're not breaking character to make your choices, to play the game.

    That is what makes something a Role-Playing Game, as I define the term.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Also, and I'm not sure on this, doesn't FR get retconned so it's always worked on the latest edition rules when the change occurs. The almost planetary disasters make for convenient breaks, but I though the underlying assumption was that the world didn't go *ping* and suddenly Bards could wear Chain Shirts.
    Although I doubt the FR stories will agree with this, I also certainly hope that 4e FR did not draw upon the Dark Arts of Retcon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    To [BQuertus[/B]: Yes I see it and I read it. OK basically your argument is "I found that D&D 4e prohibited my role-playing instead of enabling it", is that right? In that case I see where you are coming from. Its kind of like how chess isn't a role-playing game even though you can try to get into the mind of your queen-side bishop. But still I see two problems with this:
    • I didn't have this problem (at least no more than other editions of D&D) and we could poll for more opinions what makes it more than a matter of taste? I know that skill challenges had problems, but for me its because it didn't represent the world, not that the world it represented was insane.
    • Wouldn't that just make it a bad role-playing game? I don't think quality should be part of the definition and while there exist comically bad games (two "Games that will be not be named" and the one from the SUE Files come to mind) I think those are still role-playing games without question.
    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Yeah, this. For something to not even qualify as an RPG, it would presumably be something that you can't roleplay in. Which quite a few people do in 4e, even if Quertus isn't one of them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Fair enough, though I'm still curious what sort of definition of RPG that would include most editions of D&D, other games we typically consider RPGs (unless there are more games Quertus disqualifies from being RPGs) but specifically not 4e.
    Now, remember, that was just me feeling around and describing "it's like a rope", rather than the full elephant of my definition of role-playing, and thereby of RPGs.

    (By (a simplified version of) my definitions)

    To be a RPG, it must have both "RP" and "G".

    Most everyone agrees on that.

    I take it one step further, and insist that… Hmmm…

    (I got this wrong in my first attempt; hopefully, my edits no longer reflect this failure)

    … "it is the natural and intended flow of the game for most minigames to be played in the 'RP stance'; that is, you can, and you should, but not that you must, roleplay in (most minigames of) an RPG."

    (Most of the time, you're not role-playing during the character creation minigame, for example.)

    Playing your Knight as having an affair with the Queen, and your Bishop therefore working for the enemy… isn't Chess, as most envision it. In Chess, role-playing is actively disruptive to the intended flow.

    And there's more. Computer games fail at, like, the first order derivative of that, or something. If I'm in a so-called CRPG, and ask, "WWQD?", I'll often hit "well, he'd do something the game wasn't programmed to handle.". So I have to break "RP stance" and, for purely metagame reasons, choose differently. Thus, CRPGs are not RPGs, by my definitions. The open-ended ability of the G to handle the output of the RP is a necessity for an RPG.

    4e fails not just by not handling things outside the box well, but by the 'G' not being accessable to the RP (as I explained above, and in the Spoiler).

    But let me feel around in this dark room for more of the elephant.

    By my definitions, in order be role-playing, when you take an action, the answer to the question "why?" must definitionally already have been answered. You have to have previously processed the events that led to the choice you're making now. So, cluedrew, your character who looks at her rings whenever she's nervous? Not role-playing, by my definition. Most of Angry's recent article on "role-playing"? It's talking about what I call "character creation", and talking about creating your character during the game.

    So, every time you make *any* decision in a game, pretend I'm there asking you, "why?". If your reason is based on mechanics, it's not role-playing. If you have to make something up to answer the question all the way back to "first principles" / "foundation events" (this needs a better name), then it is not, by my definitions, role-playing.

    Bruce Wayne became Batman. Why? Because his patents were killed in front of him, and he thought bats were scary. Why? Oh, an incident in a cave (that later became the bat cave). He never uses guns. Why? His parents were killed with a gun.

    Sure, other characters put in that scenario might have developed differently. Bruce Paine may well have become Ratman, master of guns in the night. And that's fine. But, either way, you've got solid personality traits, built on clear causal foundations.

    Now, I said that the work has to have already been done. But technically that doesn't guarantee that you can instantly do the full deep dive answer to give first principles.

    Turns out, there was an important piece of Armus' history that I had, quite simply, forgotten. But all of his personality traits, all of their subtle details, had been formed with that in mind, shaped by it for as long as I remembered it. So, once I read and "rediscovered" that fact, I saw that there was nothing in his roleplay (or what of it I could remember of it over the course of the next few weeks) that was inconsistent with that fact. Because all of his traits were shaped by that fact, all of his traits and actions reflected that fact, even when I did not actively remember said fact.

    Gah. I said that in all the wrong order. Let me try again.

    If I just said, "Quertus is a tactically inept academia mage", and asked others to roleplay him? What they played wouldn't be *him*. Because there's so much more subtlety to the exact nature of even those traits, that isn't covered by those few words. It's the fine details, the exact nature how those manifest, which is formed by *why* Quertus had those personality traits in the first place, that makes him the character that he is.

    Or, take me for example. I have some… "materialistic" tendencies (not what others call them), and I'm not very… "generous"… except to a select few people I really care about. I (mostly) had no idea *why* I was this way, but my Mom commented casually that it's because, when I was little, my dad sold all my toys for drinking money.

    Now, that's not the *only* reason for those behaviors - or, at least, not the only things shaping them. And, through my introspection, I understood those other foundations and how they shaped the behavior. But when my Mom made that statement about the origins of the behavior, it didn't feel like a retcon - it actually fit with the subtle details of the behavior.

    And that's the level of… thing… that is required for it to be worth my time to think about, for me to not want to turn my brain off. That is what is required for something to match my definition of role-playing.

    Again, we're not at my full definition, this is just feeling the elephant in a dark room. But feel the direction, enough to understand some things that aren't elephants?
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-09-11 at 10:22 AM.

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    Default Re: 13th Age vs 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    "Shifting the ambiguity up" those I think is a win if it is towards terms people have a better understanding of (in this case, probably not storytelling game but maybe game itself).
    But "game" isn't really clarifying in this context. No one thinks 4e isn't a game, people disagree about what type of game it is. So if you're importing the bulk of your meaning for "RPG" from "game", you haven't really solved the problem.

    I hope the US legal code was not designed for the sake of entertaining lawyers.
    Not every game is designed for the purpose of entertaining people, let alone played for that reason. Consider the difference between a flight simulator being used to train a pilot, and one being played for fun. What makes one different from the other? I don't think you can really argue that it's the fidelity of the simulation or something, because I'm sure there are people who would play a flight simulator at any level of fidelity you cared to provide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So the mechanics - the world physics engine - have to be integrated into your character's experiences, so that you're not breaking character to make your choices, to play the game.
    And HP doesn't completely throw this out the window? Like Quertus is a pretty high level wizard be now right? So if someone with average strength came up to Quertus and started stabbing him with a knife, Quertus could probably wait for a full minute before reacting to that and nothing he was wearing or carrying would be damaged by this. And you have no issue integrating this into the world? Is that actually how Quertus (the character) thinks about getting stabbed or have you patched over it and now do so reflexively? This is not a rhetorical question, in fact you might be the only person I would pose this question to as a non-rhetorical question.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    But "game" isn't really clarifying in this context. No one thinks 4e isn't a game, people disagree about what type of game it is. So if you're importing the bulk of your meaning for "RPG" from "game", you haven't really solved the problem.
    Well I'll have to ask Tanarii if additional information about how I view the relationship between role-playing games and storytelling games helped them explain to me what they thought the difference between the two was. That's the problem I was trying to solve when I posted it. (I completely forgot why I created the definition in the first place.) It isn't related directly to 13th Age vs D&D 4e, only through the bit where we are trying to hammer out what a role-playing game is.

    Not every game is designed for the purpose of entertaining people, let alone played for that reason. Consider the difference between a flight simulator being used to train a pilot, and one being played for fun. What makes one different from the other?
    Yeah I don't know, maybe nothing. There is a reason I have been bringing up the fact these definitions are imperfect. If you think you have a perfect definition for it feel free to bring it forward. But honestly a perfect definition that truly encapsulates everything a word can mean is REALLY HARD. And a lot of the boxes we like to draw with them turn out to not have clear edges.

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    Default Re: 13th Age vs 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Not every game is designed for the purpose of entertaining people, let alone played for that reason. Consider the difference between a flight simulator being used to train a pilot, and one being played for fun. What makes one different from the other? I don't think you can really argue that it's the fidelity of the simulation or something, because I'm sure there are people who would play a flight simulator at any level of fidelity you cared to provide.
    Context. "Game" isn't a property of the simulator, but a property of the uses to which the simulator is being put.

    And "Game" isn't a binary either. It's a spectrum--there are more-game-like uses and less-game-like uses, without clear boundaries between "game" and "not-game".

    Some factors that influence me in determining whether some activity is more-game-like or less-game-like[0]:
    1) what is the primary motivating factor in participating in that activity? If it's fun, then the activity is likely more game-like.
    2) what are the consequences for failure for the players? The lower those are, the more game-like the activity.
    3) are there mutually-agreed on "rules of conduct" (ie meta-rules) for the game? Are there tactics that are considered less fitting, despite not being against the non-meta-rules? If so, it's more game-like.

    So war games are more game like than real war, but less game like than an idle chess contest in the park between old friends. Professional sporting events are less game-like (higher consequences, participants are motivated by other factors other than just fun) than rec-league sporting events, all else being equal. Etc.

    Under these conditions, 4e is definitely generally used on the more game-like end of the spectrum. It's engaged in for fun, the consequences of failure for the players are...non-existent, since failure for the players isn't a well-defined concept, and there are strong meta-rules (ie you're adventurers, doing adventuring things, so playing a shopkeeper who never goes out to adventure isn't part of the game, despite the fact that you could, in principle, create a character who does nothing but keep shop).

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew
    But honestly a perfect definition that truly encapsulates everything a word can mean is REALLY HARD. And a lot of the boxes we like to draw with them turn out to not have clear edges.
    Agreed. Natural language is allergic to unambiguous definitions with clear boundaries. As is, basically, life. Instead, I find it best to use heuristics. In this case, the duck heuristic[1].

    1. Does 4e call itself an RPG? Yes. That's a necessary, but not sufficient criterion.
    2. Is 4e marketed and played as a game? Yes. See above.
    3. Does 4e involve playing roles? Yes. Specifically, the players act as specific, discrete individuals with specific roles in a could-be-real world. And the DM plays lots of such roles, often in series. And actions are intended to be guided by those roles and are open ended, not merely by some abstract optimality considerations on a fixed moveset[2].

    Is it, by this heuristic, a role-playing game? Yes. Is it a good RPG? That's a subjective matter that I'll leave up to the individual.

    [0] Rulesets and programs aren't games, except by shorthand attribution, assuming that they're only used for activities that end up on the more-game end of the spectrum. The same ruleset can be used both as more-game and less-game; cf soccer.
    [1] Does it look like a duck? Walk like a duck? Quack like a duck? Then it's likely a duck.
    [2] Which distinguishes it from a board game, where every possible action is encoded in the rules and the only thing that matters is winning. The more a game encourages abstract optimization over character and role-based decision making, the less RP it is. 4e isn't the best at this particular criterion, but it certainly does have encouragements for character-based decision-making. Unless the player chooses to ignore those. Which is their right; one factor in TTRPGs is that the rules are non-binding unless the table decides they're binding. There's no external referee that can tell you you're doing it wrong and make that judgement stick.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    OK, I flat out have no idea what you mean by this. How do you play a game without doing things and generating some plot? And as long as you have the fiction layer you should have a story. I mean you don't need a planned plot if that's what you are talking about.
    Not at all. Storytelling is either recounting events that have happened, collaboratively controlling the world and events external to the character often retroactively (usually through narrative mechanics), or a controlled series of events in the world that only the author can impact (a plot). Only the middle one usually applies to TTRPGs. The last one often does technically apply for the introduction of new adventure hooks before the characters interact (on the GM's part), but also in the case of railroading.

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    I believe this indicates you have a much stricter definition of certain key words (Plot, Story, Storytelling, and Storytelling game for example).

    An RPG game will have things happen. Those things do not need to be planned. Those things do not need to include narrative mechanics. At the end of the session you could look back at the session and see a sequence of events that occurred. That sequence of events involved some number of nouns that (past tense verb) and happened somewhere. This emergent byproduct of the session might or might not be something the players care about.
    Things happening and the resulting story that can be told after the fact are two different things. Things happening in an RPG doesn't automatically make for storytelling any more than living my life is living the story of my life.

    So if you have a stricter definition of "Storytelling Game" than White Wolf is using, then perhaps your "Storytelling Game meaning" is a subset of their "Storytelling Game meaning" but not a subset of "RPGs". Thus White Wolf is an instance of RPG within their "Storytelling Game meaning" but not within your "Storytelling Game meaning".
    As far as I can tell, white Wolf uses "storytelling game" to mean "you should focusing on characterization not mechanics" and "the GM will run campaigns about things other than dungeon delving and similar adventuring sites".

    There are lots of modern RPGs that actually have storytelling aspects to them, through narrative mechanics. And there are others in which the table does with without those elements, by players participating in defining events and parts of the world external to the character's actions. 13th Age has some of them. I don't recall 4e having any though.

    This is distinct from Roleplaying, in which you decide things for your character and what they will do, and either the rules or the GM resolves what happens in universe as a result.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    There is a reason I have been bringing up the fact these definitions are imperfect. If you think you have a perfect definition for it feel free to bring it forward. But honestly a perfect definition that truly encapsulates everything a word can mean is REALLY HARD. And a lot of the boxes we like to draw with them turn out to not have clear edges.
    As have I. Which is why you don't want to think about it in terms of definitions at all. Better to think of it in terms of examples.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Professional sporting events are less game-like (higher consequences, participants are motivated by other factors other than just fun) than rec-league sporting events, all else being equal. Etc.
    But they're not. I don't think that anyone you would care to ask about the subject considers NFL-level football "less a game" than high school football. Similarly, there are all sorts of political norms that politicians typically follow beyond simply the constitutional or statutory limits of their countries, but I don't think many people would call politics a "game" in the same way that Poker or World of Warcraft or Exalted are games.

    Is it, by this heuristic, a role-playing game? Yes. Is it a good RPG? That's a subjective matter that I'll leave up to the individual.
    But so is "is it a role-playing game". Picking the heuristic is the easy part, the hard part is the argument that the heuristic is an accurate and effective match for our intuitions.

    Which distinguishes it from a board game, where every possible action is encoded in the rules and the only thing that matters is winning.
    Says who? What stops you from playing Risk with the goal of unifying and defending Europe, or playing Clue as a character who's too uptight to set foot in the kitchens? Certainly the other players might be bothered by it, but the other players will typically be bothered by extremely mechanically suboptimal decisions in a TTRPG too.

    There's no external referee that can tell you you're doing it wrong and make that judgement stick.
    And there is one in boardgames? Free Parking in Monopoly famously does whatever you can convince the other players it does. The rules of any game are enforced by the people participating in that game. Even when there is an external referee, he's there because the teams have agreed to it, just as you could hypothetically find someone whose opinions on the rules you think are generally good and abide by their decisions in all debates that arise while playing D&D.

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    To PhoenixPhyre: I like your follow up but have nothing to add to it.

    To Tanarii: I guess it comes down to making up completely fictional characters and events, even if those characters and events reflect the rules given by a role-playing game, is storytelling. Maybe not just stating up a character, but giving them a backstory counts (OK its not quite storytelling if you don't mention it to anyone, story writing?), as does adding flavour text to there moves even in strict 4e-style combat and so does narrating what they do with their down time. And I kind of don't see why people don't think that is storytelling. Because storytelling does involve creating setting and figuring out what is in each scene is part of storytelling, but also includes figuring out who the characters are and what they do. People are kind of obsessed with people, and so people are at the center of a lot of stories people tell.

    To RandomPeasant: Do you want examples of something? I'm sure where you are trying to go with this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    This is not a rhetorical question, in fact you might be the only person I would pose this question to as a non-rhetorical question.
    While it is an extremely alien mindset to me, Quertus is far from the first person I have seen espouse such a view on these forums. Lots of people play with the “HP are meat therefore high level PCs are superheroes and immune to normal weapons” on this forum.

    Heck, one of the first long threads I remember on this forum was when a DM had a plot hook involving the inheritance of a mid level knight who died in a horseback riding accident off screen and the players calling the GM a cheater because it was impossible by the rules, and the people in that thread were pretty much fifty fifty about whose side they took.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    To Tanarii: I guess it comes down to making up completely fictional characters and events, even if those characters and events reflect the rules given by a role-playing game, is storytelling. Maybe not just stating up a character, but giving them a backstory counts (OK its not quite storytelling if you don't mention it to anyone, story writing?), as does adding flavour text to there moves even in strict 4e-style combat and so does narrating what they do with their down time. And I kind of don't see why people don't think that is storytelling. Because storytelling does involve creating setting and figuring out what is in each scene is part of storytelling, but also includes figuring out who the characters are and what they do. People are kind of obsessed with people, and so people are at the center of a lot of stories people tell.
    As has been brought up before on this board, the first sentence is so broad a definition of storytelling as to be functionally useless.

    I completely agree backstory is ... well, story. That's why I understood what you were talking about when you said you were talking about making up character background elements rather than talking about gameplay itself.

    Description is ... I'm ambivalent about that. I generally see that as a form of resolution if it's part of play. Because I consider the fluff/crunch model of RPG analysis to generally be flawed. However, since we're talking about 4e and 13th Age and Heinsoo, it's relevant because he tells us it's relevant. Certainly being free to make up any descriptive elements you feel fit the game play actions taken is inherent to both the games. With all the handwringing over disassociated mechanics that comes with it.

    In short, sure you can fluff the crunch any way you want by the RAW of 4e (and IIRC 13th Age), but it doesn't automatically tie back into something usable for resolution on the part of either player or GM. If you take it too far trying to tie the rules back in, you end up with Quertus-world or Tippy-verse. But if you don't take it far enough, players can't make informed decisions and GMs can't make informed resolutions.

    But yeah, if you mean "describing things about your character and what they do in-universe is inherent to roleplaying games" when you say they are storytelling games, I agree with your point just not the definition.

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    One issue for my group with 4e was whether or not the fiction should match the rules, or if the rules should match the fiction. I think that 4e mostly worked if you did rules>fiction in combat and then flipped to fiction>rules for everything else.

    This was perhaps most obvious with the druid character. There was a utility power that transformed them into a cat. By the rules the only thing this did was make the druid tiny, look like a cat, and add +5 to stealth rolls for up to about 5 minutes. Also you couldn't pick anything up or make any form of attack. By the rules it didn't change how hard it was to identify the race of the druid, or even change that from "elf" to "cat". It didn't do anything about climbing or changing your senses, and trying to catch mice or drag a cat toy around (no picking anything up) was impossible. Even worse not only did the +5 stealth not make a druid any good at level-appropriate stealth, since stealth wasn't an allowed druid skill, but by the rules the power didn't last long enough to do hardly any sneaking around.

    Basically the rules for the power and 4e didn't let it work for its supposed fiction purpose, probably because encoding the actual rules to be funtional out of combat would likely have made it "too powerful" in combat. You had to ignore the rules when out of combat for things to work properly in the fiction, or you had this weird fiction where your "turn into a cat" power didn't mean "turn into a cat" but did a strange faux-cat shrinky not-disguise thing.
    Last edited by Telok; 2021-09-11 at 09:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I'm increasingly leaning towards this opinion. If a game isn't willing to go the distance and give me a robust selection of weapons - and most aren't - then just let me use whatever, however and whenever.
    Making weapons more abstract is something I've begun to appreciate more and more. In something like Mythender, for instance, your characters weapons are abstracted to the point that you can pretty much play a character with any strange fighting style or mythical superpowers you want, and I find that freedom really valuable. It's one of the reasons why I love the way Masks: A New Generation approaches superpowers. You have so much freedom to come up with all kinds of creative powersets and abilities when the system abstracts them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Plot isn't required for most RPG games.
    Out of curiosity, how do you define "plot"? Because by my definition, even something as simple as "go into the dungeon, kill the goblins, take their stuff" is a plot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kymme View Post
    Making weapons more abstract is something I've begun to appreciate more and more. In something like Mythender, for instance, your characters weapons are abstracted to the point that you can pretty much play a character with any strange fighting style or mythical superpowers you want, and I find that freedom really valuable. It's one of the reasons why I love the way Masks: A New Generation approaches superpowers. You have so much freedom to come up with all kinds of creative powersets and abilities when the system abstracts them.
    That's interesting, I was about to suggest that weapons could be handled in a similar way to how Mutants & Masterminds handle superpowers. I suppose it makes sense that systems that want to handle diverse superpowers have to be pretty flexible.
    Last edited by Batcathat; 2021-09-12 at 03:45 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kymme View Post
    Making weapons more abstract is something I've begun to appreciate more and more. In something like Mythender, for instance, your characters weapons are abstracted to the point that you can pretty much play a character with any strange fighting style or mythical superpowers you want, and I find that freedom really valuable. It's one of the reasons why I love the way Masks: A New Generation approaches superpowers. You have so much freedom to come up with all kinds of creative powersets and abilities when the system abstracts them.
    I should probably have a look at both of those, although the Cypher System rulebook does Cody nearly £60(!).

    But yes, as I've grown out of my teens I've lost the idea that lots of rules or less of weapons is inherently good. When it's as in depth as GURPS with the X-tech books it's nice, but most people I know struggle building GURPS characters.

    Actually, I do like that the Cypher System seems to boil weapons down to three/six categories, maybe I should actually get that core rulebook. Maybe when it's actually on Amazon UK and so a bit cheaper...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Mythender is actually free online! Masks is not, unfortunately, but it's only like 14 bucks.

    Mutants and Masterminds goes in a great direction, with superpowers that are relatively abstract and effects-based, which keeps them pretty clear and concise. Not a huge fan of how it works in practice, though. Tying everything to the d20 is a bit of a weakness of that system. ICONS, made by the same creator, takes this a bit further and makes some neat improvements. I've never gotten a chance to play it, but it seems pretty neat.

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    I'll certainly nab Member next time I'm in my laptop rather than my phone.

    My problem with Mutants & Masterminds is that Wild Talents does even more versatility with even fewer Effects.

    My problem with both is that I'm just over complicated games. If more than happily play 13th Age, but it's too much for me to run. The same with the various Warhammer games, I love them but unless I can get ahold of a physical copy of Dark Heresy 1e again I just don't have the patience or eyesight to make my way through the books (and desire it's claims Wrath & Glory is at least as crunchy as Dark Heresy was, all I feel I've lost it's the quick hit location system which made 'where do you have armour' a worthwhile question). I've found much lighter and easier to run games for most things though, and I'm sure I can hack a Dark Heresy 3e together, maybe from the Warhammer fantasy Roleplay 4e rules.

    So yeah, I'd love a very simple superhero game that doesn't involve CP counting for superpowers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    And HP doesn't completely throw this out the window? Like Quertus is a pretty high level wizard be now right? So if someone with average strength came up to Quertus and started stabbing him with a knife, Quertus could probably wait for a full minute before reacting to that and nothing he was wearing or carrying would be damaged by this. And you have no issue integrating this into the world? Is that actually how Quertus (the character) thinks about getting stabbed or have you patched over it and now do so reflexively? This is not a rhetorical question, in fact you might be the only person I would pose this question to as a non-rhetorical question.
    Lol. I'm glad I'm distinctive.

    Gah, what order to say this, to make it most clear? Hmmm… maybe treat it as slips of paper, left by the Oracle, that you have to sort into your own meaning?

    D&D is "like the real world, unless noted otherwise". So why is it hard for people to accept the possibility that HP is a "noted otherwise"?

    HP aren't just an abstraction. They're an in-game reality. There have been numerous items that measure HP, spells that key off HP, etc.

    D&D doesn't have *mechanics* for pain (mostly); that is covered at the fluff level / characters are at 100% until they're dead. But the pain still exists - even Milo acknowledged it (he just then ignore it). And this "injuries are painful, but not debilitating" is simply another way that the world is different. I'll admit, my roleplay occasionally doesn't reflect this difference (usually when an NPC's actions don't reflect this difference).

    Quertus (my signature academia mage for whom this account is named) has been to numerous worlds. And he's noticed that the very nature of reality changes between them.

    On some worlds, HP are "meat points", and people (technically including himself, not that he'd ever) can just sit there and tank being stabbed repeatedly. On others, it represents a combination of luck, skill, and meat, where the 4-HP peasant just takes the knife to the gut, whereas the high HP character *mostly* dodges the blow, barely getting scratched (and would still die to a single stab if bound/immobilized). On still others, it's HP. What, you think there should be more to it than that?

    On some worlds (/ under some GMs), if you try to just tank a dagger to the gut or just tank having your throat slit, you'll be dead, regardless of your HP.

    Myself, I used to try to square the circle, and treat HP as perfectly reasonable IRL. Any more, however, I realize that that is a silly requirement, like expecting D&D spells, or D&D jump rules, to work IRL exactly like in the book.

    Max and I had a discussion about HP once. Max insisted that they couldn't do X, I countered with how they could. Repeat for Y, Z, and on beyond Zebra. Eventually, he got a point where, when I squinted hard enough, I was pretty sure he was right, and that they finally did break down as an abstraction for something IRL would consider "reasonable". But it didn't bother me, because it happened beyond the point of anything that had ever come up in a game, and beyond the point that I could really comprehend it.

    Whereas "child helping mommy in the kitchen"? Party role protection? "Can I help?"? "Can you give me a hand here?"? These are things that come up all the time.

    Whereas "how people think"? "How 'being skillful' works / what that means"? Having no comprehension of it at all is how you get Cthulhu tech modules with "there's no forensic evidence, because the abductors knew medicine", and is not conducive to anything I'd likely call role-playing.

    Yet another reason my characters are "not from around here". They grew up with a "reasonable" understanding of physics, and, if the GM does something really weird, they'll evidence their surprise, and deal with the new world's unusual buoyancy laws in character.

    Most of my characters are cowards compared to a Determinator. They come from worlds where injuries hurt, and Death happens to the unwary. (See also Talakeal's thread about how many steps away from failure one is comfortable being).

    As far as Quertus being damaged? He regenerates faster than that. (Insert SaO reference here). But, as cool as it may have been when Kirito did it, that's not Quertus' style. Daggers hurt! And Quertus is an academic, not an adventurer (insert "he's in denial" joke here)

    As far as Quertus' items being damaged? Most have been soaking in Placian magic for untold millennia - they're sturdier than most artifacts. They might be disgruntled about having been stabbed, and look a little more worn after the fact (Quertus has a permanent illusion on him… of himself. Those who can pierce the illusion can notice when he takes damage, can see that his robes look more threadbare than the pristine illusion, etc), but they won't be damaged by much short of a Sphere of Annihilation. His mundane gear, however, is perfectly capable of being damaged or ruined by a muggle knife. Granted, on most worlds, that requires a called shot / intent for a knife (unlike AoE damage, like grenades, that can mess up his muggle gear regardless of intent (on some worlds)).

    In short, no, D&D HP do not prohibit role-playing, at least not for someone like me whose understanding of them has a higher "depth covered" than "depth comprehended". And my "depth covered" covers everything that's come up at the table for, what, 40 years now?

    (And remember, this is still based on me just groping around for the elephant's parts, rather than going through the tremendous effort of actually trying to fully define the elephant.)

    EDIT: additive vs subtractive! I'll bet a penny that's (at least related to) your issue (or my lack thereof)! I'll cover this when I get time.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-09-13 at 11:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Out of curiosity, how do you define "plot"? Because by my definition, even something as simple as "go into the dungeon, kill the goblins, take their stuff" is a plot.
    You're going to have to articulate your own definition that covers something like that, because I'm interested to see a definition that isn't so broad as to be functionally useless that covers a hook like that.

    A plot is the underlying narrative tying together the events of a story. That makes it highly dependent on if something is a story or not.

    More generally speaking in terms of RPGs, something is a plot only while under control of the author (usually the GM). As soon as it comes out of the module or notes/mind of the GM and interfaces with the players, there is no longer an underlying narrative. Unless they are making choices to retain or rebuild a narrative, instead of determine actions for their characters, or unless the GM is railroading for the same purposes, any underlying narrative has been shredded. There is no longer an underlying narrative to the game any more than there is an underlying narrative to me living my life.

    That pretty much summarizes the root cause of why I object to the idea that RPGs are collaborative storytelling. They don't have an underlying narrative if I'm making decisions for my characters as if they are people living a (usually highly exciting) life, facing events in their life. Only if I'm making decisions to actually create an underlying narrative instead. They're mutually exclusive reasons for making decisions, as far as I'm concerned.

    Example using your 'plot'. Choosing to "go into the dungeon, kill the goblins, take their stuff" because that's the adventure the DM has written is a narrative choice. Choosing to do it because my character wants to get rich, believes these goblins deserve to die, or really likes dank smelly caves is a non-narrative character-living-their-life choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    You're going to have to articulate your own definition that covers something like that, because I'm interested to see a definition that isn't so broad as to be functionally useless that covers a hook like that.
    A term isn't useless just because it's broad. The word "house" can describe everything from a tiny cabin to a skyscraper, that doesn't mean it's meaningless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    More generally speaking in terms of RPGs, something is a plot only while under control of the author (usually the GM). As soon as it comes out of the module or notes/mind of the GM and interfaces with the players, there is no longer an underlying narrative. Unless they are making choices to retain or rebuild a narrative, instead of determine actions for their characters, or unless the GM is railroading for the same purposes, any underlying narrative has been shredded. There is no longer an underlying narrative to the game any more than there is an underlying narrative to me living my life.
    My definition of a plot may be broad but yours also seem very narrow.

    I don't think it's as binary as either railroading or no underlying narrative at all. I suppose I could agree with you if the GM runs a pure sandbox with nothing pre-planned and merely reacts to the players. But most have at least some plans for what is happening, even if it's (hopefully) responsive to what the party does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Example using your 'plot'. Choosing to "go into the dungeon, kill the goblins, take their stuff" because that's the adventure the DM has written is a narrative choice. Choosing to do it because my character wants to get rich, believes these goblins deserve to die, or really likes dank smelly caves is a non-narrative character-living-their-life choice.
    So in your definition of "plot", it ceases to be a plot the moment someone makes a in-character decision rather than a narrative one?
    Last edited by Batcathat; 2021-09-12 at 12:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    I don't think it's as binary as either railroading or no underlying narrative at all.
    A plot is the underlying narrative of a story. You don't agree with that definition?

    I understand I'm going from that to whether or not something qualifies as an underlying narrative (edit: and for that matter what qualifies as a story), but if you don't think that's what a plot is, then we're at an impasse.

    So in your definition of "plot", it ceases to be a plot the moment someone makes a in-character decision rather than a narrative one?
    Definitely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    D&D is "like the real world, unless noted otherwise". So why is it hard for people to accept the possibility that HP is a "noted otherwise"?
    I haven't even tried to because I see no reason why it should be true. I have read official advice about when the HP abstraction is in appropriate, and when it should be discarded.* I have read absurd amounts of D&D lore and none of them even attempted to fold in HP as meat. Never a hint that was the intent, so why should I try?

    That being said: Any other rules you fold into cannon? Character creation? NPC/PC divide? Combat turns? I want to see where the rabbit hole goes.

    * I think it might have even been in the 2e rule-book. Of course it has been a while so I'm not sure about that. However, I am willing to stand on the assertion that someone somewhere who had some official standing with D&D said something about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    So in your definition of "plot", it ceases to be a plot the moment someone makes a in-character decision rather than a narrative one?
    Definitely.
    Well then none of my stories (if I'm allowed to call them that) have a plot. OK maybe some of the really short ones with two stock characters and one plot point. But in-character decisions happen a lot because that is how you get consistent characters.

    I can't say for certain, but it feels like the difference between two major views that seem to be that one is like the other, except includes a major "except for role-playing" clause. It feels very artificial, although not non-sensical. If you mostly have to deal with storytelling in the context of storytelling games and you mostly enjoy role-playing games, then defining storytelling games in contrast to role-playing games kind of makes sense. Still I deal with storytelling in other contexts there giving "thinking about what the character would do" special status is just weird because it is interwoven with everything else going on. That is also how I approach playing a role-playing game, just the ratio is different, but other people can do it their own way. Actually I suppose storytelling is also my own approach to, but I think understanding the characters is pretty common.

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