A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Carlobrand View Post
    That is one powerful confusion spell. I am totally confused.
    This killed me. +1
    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    DMs (try to) have NPCs act as if the DM is doing their best to pretend that the DM doesn't know thing thing that they actually know.
    That is very different from the DM having NPCs act as if the DM doesn't know the thing. That's only possible by the DM not knowing the thing.
    I think we are differentiating between true ignorance and the feigned ignorance.

    For me, my NPCs are known values -- either I know how much they know because they are a significant actor in the world/narrative or they are undifferentiated until the PCs start talking to them and I figure it out on the fly.

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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Christew View Post
    For me, my NPCs are known values -- either I know how much they know because they are a significant actor in the world/narrative or they are undifferentiated until the PCs start talking to them and I figure it out on the fly.
    It's not a question of whether you know WHAT they know. It's a question of how they will act given only what they know, despite you knowing more.

    Illusions are my go-to for this, because DMs I know who are otherwise very good at DMing will frequently have NPCs and monsters ignore or otherwise act differently with illusions than they would if the spell that was cast instead created a real thing. It's like they can't escape the knowledge that the illusion isn't real, even in the game's narrative, and thus can't figure out how the NPCs and monsters WOULD act if they WERE real.

  3. - Top - End - #63
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Carlobrand View Post
    That is one powerful confusion spell. I am totally confused.
    Quote Originally Posted by Christew View Post
    This killed me. +1
    I like it too.

    I think we are differentiating between true ignorance and the feigned ignorance.
    I certainly am. And they will result in different behavior. A lot of folks act like they're the same thing when talking about player-character separation. Like they're good at feigning ignorance, so they can be absolutely sure they're acting as if the character (or NPC) were actually ignorant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It's not a question of whether you know WHAT they know. It's a question of how they will act given only what they know, despite you knowing more.

    Illusions are my go-to for this, because DMs I know who are otherwise very good at DMing will frequently have NPCs and monsters ignore or otherwise act differently with illusions than they would if the spell that was cast instead created a real thing. It's like they can't escape the knowledge that the illusion isn't real, even in the game's narrative, and thus can't figure out how the NPCs and monsters WOULD act if they WERE real.
    Classic arguments for players seem to always revert to trolls and fire/acid or vampires and various vulnerabilities. But I agree illusions are probably a more common issue, at least on the DMs side. Because people seem to assume the DMs true knowledge won't affect things, or their feigning of ignorance won't affect things in a different way from actual ignorance.

    Even multiverse DMs running their monsters won't fix that, if it's announced what the spell is when it's cast.

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It's not a question of whether you know WHAT they know. It's a question of how they will act given only what they know, despite you knowing more.

    Illusions are my go-to for this, because DMs I know who are otherwise very good at DMing will frequently have NPCs and monsters ignore or otherwise act differently with illusions than they would if the spell that was cast instead created a real thing. It's like they can't escape the knowledge that the illusion isn't real, even in the game's narrative, and thus can't figure out how the NPCs and monsters WOULD act if they WERE real.
    I mean if you are creating a "thing" which I assume to be monster how would you know they are acting different. Even if it's not an illusion it's often far better to attack the summoner and try to break concentration then to fight the summon. And I've never not seen minor illusion used to momentarily distract a guard fail to distract the guard. I think the problem is more likely that some players/DM have differing opinions on what illusions can do.

    Now I'm sure there are times the DM does fail to properly differentiate his knowledge from the NPC, but I doubt anyone would argue that the DM shouldn't at least try. So why shouldn't the players also not at least try even if they aren't 100% successful at it.

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Everything this, so much this.

    That's why I changed the way I run games. Meta-knowledge does not by-and-large, aid the players or their characters. Knowing there's a secret door behind the throne doesn't equate to finding the button that opens it. Knowing where both are still doesn't add up to a whole lot, because the other obstacles after that secret door may still exist.

    All you've essentially done is skip a half-dozen "Spot", "Investigation", "Perception" (or their ilk) checks until someone finally rolls high enough to find it. The meta-knowledge just lets people skip the boring part "finding the door" and move on to the interesting part "where the door leads". The challenge isn't the door, the challenge is what the door leads to. Monsters, rooms full of traps, whatever. Even if a player knows every detail about each of those things, those challenges still need to be resolved. Aggressive monsters need to be fought and defeated. Cunning monsters need to be reasoned with or avoided. Traps need to be disarmed or avoided. Those checks are the interesting ones, and they're ones that specific meta knowledge often has little bearing on. So what if you know the treasure demon needs the Magic Treasure, you still have to go get it for them.

    The fun and the interesting and the challenge is in the doing not the knowing.



    It's especially worsened when it's a smart player combined with a smart character, who is stymied by bad rolls.
    I get the point but can't fully agree. There is fun in the mystery and discovery of the secret door, that moment of "AHA!". I can accept it as a character feature, such as a character proficient/expertise in Perception and Investigation who takes Observant feat the DM just flat out says there's a secret door here, a trap there etc. The player spent the resources and gets to enjoy the fruit of that labor.

    However, I have been the player who has already played the module in a previous gaming group the party is playing. The game is different because of different players and PC, but the module sets are the same. Of course I let the DM know. What I do is purposely let the other players take the lead. They do the investigations. I go along with their plans. I do my thing when I know I'm dealing with something not in the module or at least it was never encountered when I played it, so I really don't know what's supposed to happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    I get the point but can't fully agree. There is fun in the mystery and discovery of the secret door, that moment of "AHA!". I can accept it as a character feature, such as a character proficient/expertise in Perception and Investigation who takes Observant feat the DM just flat out says there's a secret door here, a trap there etc. The player spent the resources and gets to enjoy the fruit of that labor.
    Frankly, we don't really need dice to enjoy the discovery of the room. That's sort of my rant here. Yes, it is possible to inspect every corner of a room and miss the clue. But...that's lame. My point is more that the dice don't make a good story. If the party takes the time to search the throne and inspect the chest of drawers, they should find the clue. The dice shouldn't get to say that the last 20 minutes of thoughtful investigation were a waste of everyone's time because we all rolled low.

    However, I have been the player who has already played the module in a previous gaming group the party is playing. The game is different because of different players and PC, but the module sets are the same. Of course I let the DM know. What I do is purposely let the other players take the lead. They do the investigations. I go along with their plans. I do my thing when I know I'm dealing with something not in the module or at least it was never encountered when I played it, so I really don't know what's supposed to happen.
    A player who knows the information can certain take this route, I know I have. But this is different. The player who knows can always suppose information that the party may be missing, sometimes the party overthinks things and misses the obvious. A Player Who Knows can suggest "Hey, what about that old bookshelf in the last room? Something about it is just bothering me."
    (As a personal aside, I don't play printed campaigns multiple times for this reason. One or two runs is it. Unless I know it's a DM who mixes things up a little each runthrough. Even DMs who do homebrew worlds but have Their World*TM* I try to avoid playing multiple times.)

    But that's kind of my point, A Player Who Knows should be able to reasonably introduce Useful Meta-Information when it is beneficial to the flow of gameplay. They shouldn't be handcuffed into pretending they don't know know because the dice rolled poorly.

    To put a point on my point, my complaint is handcuffing knowledgeable players that could provide useful, relevant, and tactical information in situations by insisting on a die-roll between their brain and their character. While TTRGPs use dice to resolve many things, the dice themselves do not make for a good game, and certainly don't tell a good story.

    Fate Points and the like are an excellent way to do this if you want to provide some kind of limitation on meta knowledge. To make the Player Who Knows more judicious about when and what information they inject into the game. Just not dice. Having to play the buffoon for no reason other than the random number generator came up short isn't the sort of gameplay I'm interested in engaging in (from either side of the table).
    Last edited by False God; 2021-09-17 at 10:56 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #67
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It's not a question of whether you know WHAT they know. It's a question of how they will act given only what they know, despite you knowing more.
    I guess I view DM knowledge about setting and narrative intent as absolute, and a given NPC's knowledge as a deliberately defined (by the DM) subset thereof. Making it a functionally known quantity for the DM because they are in control of the operations affecting the unknown value. Again, I strongly differentiate the approach to important NPCs and general NPCs.
    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Illusions are my go-to for this, because DMs I know who are otherwise very good at DMing will frequently have NPCs and monsters ignore or otherwise act differently with illusions than they would if the spell that was cast instead created a real thing. It's like they can't escape the knowledge that the illusion isn't real, even in the game's narrative, and thus can't figure out how the NPCs and monsters WOULD act if they WERE real.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    But I agree illusions are probably a more common issue, at least on the DMs side. Because people seem to assume the DMs true knowledge won't affect things, or their feigning of ignorance won't affect things in a different way from actual ignorance.
    I agree that illusions are a difficult space due to rule ambiguity and strong deference to DM interpretation, but I think an assumption of benign DMing over adversarial DMing alleviates most of my concerns. Use illusions to benefit the scene/story, not to "gotcha" players in a game where you hold all the cards.

  8. - Top - End - #68
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Frankly, we don't really need dice to enjoy the discovery of the room. That's sort of my rant here. Yes, it is possible to inspect every corner of a room and miss the clue. But...that's lame. My point is more that the dice don't make a good story. If the party takes the time to search the throne and inspect the chest of drawers, they should find the clue. The dice shouldn't get to say that the last 20 minutes of thoughtful investigation were a waste of everyone's time because we all rolled low.
    I think this cuts both ways. The dice are the unknown quantity/variability. They should definitely not be in charge of telling the story, but they are a valuable tool in telling an interesting story. A DM knowing when/why to call for dice rolls and having a clear notion of gain/failure and how either will affect the players/narrative at that given point is an ideal solution, but probably not a given at every table.
    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    But that's kind of my point, A Player Who Knows should be able to reasonably introduce Useful Meta-Information when it is beneficial to the flow of gameplay. They shouldn't be handcuffed into pretending they don't know know because the dice rolled poorly.
    I get a little uncomfortable rewarding system mastery more than the system already does inherently. I think abstracting the table as a whole is my most comfortable solution to this (i.e. if someone at the table knows detailed info about vampires it is likely someone in the party knows detailed info about vampires). I am not inclined to reward a given player for extra game knowledge, but I will reward the party.
    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    To put a point on my point, my complaint is handcuffing knowledgeable players that could provide useful, relevant, and tactical information in situations by insisting on a die-roll between their brain and their character. While TTRGPs use dice to resolve many things, the dice themselves do not make for a good game, and certainly don't tell a good story.
    This. "Roll to limit your knowledge" is never fun for anyone. As always (and mentioned above by many), Good DM + Good Players + Session Zero (with agreed upon expectations) = ideal.

  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    I also think that DMs just frankly have different pressures and expectations on them. It's fine to expect DMs to play NPCs who don't act with the DMs full knowledge. To me, this is part of the job, and part of the fun of the job. DMs get the privilege of making many characters and defining everything about them. This is counterbalanced of course, by their increased responsbility to, well. Be responsible with their power. Many a DM has gone mad with the power of getting to make characters that do and know EVERYTHING.

    Players only get one character, and are more limited in terms of what they can do. They have responsibilities as well, but its proportionate to their relative power in the game, and they're fundamentally different. One such responsibility to be attached to their character and to try to help the party 'win.' Nobody likes playing with a disaffected player who doesn't really care how things end.

    This responsibility (to be engaged and try to win) runs contrary to the responsibility to "not god-mode" and exploit OOC knowledge. If you want to win and you do know vampires are vulnerable to radiant and you do have a way of dealing radiant damage, and you can reasonably justify your character knowing such a thing, its going to be very hard to force yourself to consider the opposite situation where you don't know that thing. You might have chosen the radiant option even without knowing that fun fact.

    As far as avoiding metagaming, DMs have many advantages, the most important of which is that they aren't under any impetus to want their guys to win. Yes the DM has the job of making things challenging, but a good DM fundamentally has to be okay with their NPCs getting ultimately beaten by the PCs. This is the order of the universe. They also have the benefit of preparation. It's easy to know how Jimmy the Rat will react when someone lies to him, because I've already prepared notes for what he'd be willing to offer the party if he views them as friends.

    In summary, Player/Character separation is conducive to good play for a DM and one of their most necessary skills, but for players its contradictory to their other responsibilities at the table. It's ironically easier to figure out a character's actions when you're not quite so much "in character."

  10. - Top - End - #70
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by strangebloke View Post
    In summary, Player/Character separation is conducive to good play for a DM and one of their most necessary skills, but for players its contradictory to their other responsibilities at the table. It's ironically easier to figure out a character's actions when you're not quite so much "in character."
    Great stuff.

    I think the previously mentioned player running through a campaign for the second time is an illustrative example. That player becomes a quasi-DM in the second run through in the sense that their stimulus/goal has shifted from novelty/personal success to supporting others' novelty/narrative success.
    Last edited by Christew; 2021-09-18 at 12:14 AM.

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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Christew View Post
    I think this cuts both ways. The dice are the unknown quantity/variability. They should definitely not be in charge of telling the story, but they are a valuable tool in telling an interesting story. A DM knowing when/why to call for dice rolls and having a clear notion of gain/failure and how either will affect the players/narrative at that given point is an ideal solution, but probably not a given at every table.
    Certainly, and it can be something that is difficult to learn when a roll is really necessary. I know there are some people who think "More rolling=more fun." and hey if they enjoy that good for them. I'd just personally rather not leave everything up to chance.

    I get a little uncomfortable rewarding system mastery more than the system already does inherently. I think abstracting the table as a whole is my most comfortable solution to this (i.e. if someone at the table knows detailed info about vampires it is likely someone in the party knows detailed info about vampires). I am not inclined to reward a given player for extra game knowledge, but I will reward the party.
    I always run group XP, and I encourage players (both when I'm DM and when I'm not) to use their system mastery powers for the good of the group.

    This. "Roll to limit your knowledge" is never fun for anyone. As always (and mentioned above by many), Good DM + Good Players + Session Zero (with agreed upon expectations) = ideal.
    Yep, which is, going back to my first post, why I now run "isekais".
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Frankly, we don't really need dice to enjoy the discovery of the room. That's sort of my rant here. Yes, it is possible to inspect every corner of a room and miss the clue. But...that's lame. My point is more that the dice don't make a good story. If the party takes the time to search the throne and inspect the chest of drawers, they should find the clue. The dice shouldn't get to say that the last 20 minutes of thoughtful investigation were a waste of everyone's time because we all rolled low.
    Its also following the RAW. The DMG tells the DM to do exactly that. There's an explicit rule to handle automatic success do to being able to continue doing a task until you succeed by just taking ten times as long, never having to touch the dice.

    Quote Originally Posted by strangebloke View Post
    I also think that DMs just frankly have different pressures and expectations on them. It's fine to expect DMs to play NPCs who don't act with the DMs full knowledge. To me, this is part of the job, and part of the fun of the job.
    To me, you just said it's part of the DMs job to do something that isn't possible for a human being to do without actually not having the full knowledge. If you said it was part of the DMs job "to expect DMs to pretend to play their NPCs who don't act with the DMs full knowledge" I'd agree.

    Because there is a huge difference between pretending you don't know something, and actually not knowing it. There's no reason to think they'll result in the same actions.

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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Christew View Post
    Break-off thread based on OP request.

    How do you manage the inherent tension between player knowledge and character knowledge at the table?
    - Tactical metagaming vs RP informed combat
    I think this is a tough one because it is a fine line. In Frogreavers example below, is that an abstraction of a savvy combatant using knowledge of reach and timing to best engage an enemy or a player unreasonably capitalizing on the mechanical underpinnings of the combat rules? I think here I'd default to the former. It's tough to guage intent and if it could be fine it should be fine.
    i generally support tactical metagaming. Ultimately, the largest portion of 5e's rules are there to control combat, specifically tactical combat. Also, most of the fun of combat *is* the tactics. i don't want to reduce player fun by removing information that allows a player to think tactically (unless of course that is part of the monsters tactics. i.e. darkness/invisibility...**** like that). and for that example specifically, i can see how that works in narrative. Its about timing your strike (or spell, or whatever) in sync with an allys. think of like...fighting games, or some hack'n'slash games. where the goal isn't to just spam the attack button. instead you slow down by 200ms, just long enough for the game to register a 'pause'.
    - Characters knowledge of monster stats/abilities vs players
    I think the tavern construct is an interesting angle here. Do we hand wave character knowledge of vampires because they would have heard stories in taverns? Would that be an effective source of objective information about vampires or a melange of tall tales, outright falsehoods, and grains of truth? I think practicability becomes a concern here. Differing character knowledge has some verity to it and could be a great source of fun, but is that worth the prep/table time it would require?
    this is, IMO, precisely the role of an intelligence check. For one, the players don't decide how common knowledge of vampires is, the DM does. So sure, the player could say 'hey, i've heard about vampires in like a tavern or some ****'. And the DM may be fine with that, but it absolutely doesn't guarantee that the information they heard was accurate, useful, or that they remember it. Im not sure what you mean by it costing table/prep time though? it makes sense to me that PC's don't know everything. and there should always (or at least commonly generally) be some amount of choice between 'we can go now, unprepared, and hopefully stop future victims. or risk more victims, but wait to see if we can learn more information. That is, assuming a PC doesn't just roll well enough to recall the information.

    That being said, i also monkey with monsters some behind the screen. and i don't usually outright tell players what they're fighting. if the player draws their own conclusion, and then metagames off of that conclusion...and they're wrong. then thats on them. Im open about this from the start. so like...not every troll you fight is guaranteed to need fire/acid damage to stop their regen...and not every creature i describe is going to match their description in the book. they may even match other creatures descriptions (although that last part is mostly just due to coincidence. i don't have literally every creatures aesthetic memorized, and i refuse to hold myself responsible if i create an aesthetic description that matches one of the hundreds of mythological creatures out there and it ends up confusing a player that wants to metagame.

    - Player abilities vs character abilities
    I have seen this most clearly with puzzles. The 20 INT wizard is played by a person with no puzzle acumen while the 8 INT barbarian is played by an avid puzzler. Does the barbarian stay silent because solving the puzzle is not something his character would do? Do we just take the table as an abstraction of the party instead of the player as the character? Here I think I default to the former for reasons of practicability, though I have whispered puzzle hints/solutions to the highest INT character before.

    Quotes from other thread for context.
    i actually don't think thats a very good example. intelligence isn't a measure of enjoyment of, or even proficiency at, puzzles. an 8 int barbarian might actually quite enjoy puzzles, even if it typically takes them a while to finish one. While the 20 intelligence wizard may despise puzzles, and not like to spend their time on them. The type of puzzle, in particular, can also affect this. one person may enjoy (and be good at) crosswords, but they refuse to try sudoku. So, ultimately, its up to the player what their character is interested in. And i'd never admonish a player for trying to engage with a puzzle they believe their character to be interested in. look at it this way: if its a puzzle designed to engage the players, then their characters stats already don't matter (some DM's do this. they may even give the players a physical puzzle to solve.) and if its a puzzle thats only being solved in character, then the characters stats already reflect how effective they are. if the 20int wizard rolls a 3+11 and the barbarian rolls a 19-1...thats not an indication of the barbarian being smarter than the wizard, its just the barbarian trying something the wizard hadn't gotten to yet. to put it in sudoku terms, if the wizard is going through sequentially starting at 1's and moving up. looking for any obvious entries, but the barbarian just, arbitrarily starts at 5. The barbarian will find the free 5 first. Doesn't mean the wizard missed it, they just hadn't gotten to that step yet.
    Last edited by kazaryu; 2021-09-18 at 05:26 AM.

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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    To me, you just said it's part of the DMs job to do something that isn't possible for a human being to do without actually not having the full knowledge. If you said it was part of the DMs job "to expect DMs to pretend to play their NPCs who don't act with the DMs full knowledge" I'd agree.

    Because there is a huge difference between pretending you don't know something, and actually not knowing it. There's no reason to think they'll result in the same actions.
    That should go without saying, no? DND is a role-playing game. Its all pretend. We're not actually elves and gnomes, however hard we wish otherwise.

    My key point is that DMs and players have different responsibilities, and different resources, and this favors some level of player character separation.

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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Tweaking a troll so that it's lightning that stops regeneration is fine, I suppose, as long as the party gets to learn that in the combat. A troll wearing a ring of fire resistance is also ok. However, it can get to the point where it stops being tweaking and starts being adversarial, to punish the player for the audacity of having played the game before.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Tweaking a troll so that it's lightning that stops regeneration is fine, I suppose, as long as the party gets to learn that in the combat. A troll wearing a ring of fire resistance is also ok. However, it can get to the point where it stops being tweaking and starts being adversarial, to punish the player for the audacity of having played the game before.
    as far as it becoming adversarial, thats not really determined by the degree of change, but by the reason for said change. Most of the time I alter monsters its because i dislike how they are to begin with, from a narrative standpoint. Or because of something else i've established in my setting. For example, i significantly altered how all angels work so that they're not just...higher tiers of exactly the same thing. (and actually adjusted some of the higher CR ones so that they fit their lore better). I haven't actually run an altered troll, i was just using it as an example, because its a common example made by people that are pro metagaming. 'i've heard about trolls in stories, etc.'

    to be clear: i don't alter how monsters work *because* im worried about players metagaming. I just don't feel any obligation to stick to the monster manual in my homebrew setting, so i will make changes that i feel make sense given...well any number of things. however, incidentally, this also means that players that metagame are inherently taking a risk. But other than that, i don't really care if a character just, out of the blue, decides that suddenly it wants to use fire in this fight. There are more important things to focus on as far as fun goes, and i have other ways of hiding my monster's abilities if its important to the current adventure.

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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by kazaryu View Post
    i actually don't think thats a very good example. intelligence isn't a measure of enjoyment of, or even proficiency at, puzzles. an 8 int barbarian might actually quite enjoy puzzles, even if it typically takes them a while to finish one. While the 20 intelligence wizard may despise puzzles, and not like to spend their time on them. The type of puzzle, in particular, can also affect this. one person may enjoy (and be good at) crosswords, but they refuse to try sudoku. So, ultimately, its up to the player what their character is interested in. And i'd never admonish a player for trying to engage with a puzzle they believe their character to be interested in. look at it this way: if its a puzzle designed to engage the players, then their characters stats already don't matter (some DM's do this. they may even give the players a physical puzzle to solve.) and if its a puzzle thats only being solved in character, then the characters stats already reflect how effective they are. if the 20int wizard rolls a 3+11 and the barbarian rolls a 19-1...thats not an indication of the barbarian being smarter than the wizard, its just the barbarian trying something the wizard hadn't gotten to yet. to put it in sudoku terms, if the wizard is going through sequentially starting at 1's and moving up. looking for any obvious entries, but the barbarian just, arbitrarily starts at 5. The barbarian will find the free 5 first. Doesn't mean the wizard missed it, they just hadn't gotten to that step yet.
    On the subject of puzzles:

    If you are providing your players with a real physical representation of the puzzle(crosswords and sudokus also count), then it is a player challenge, and the high or low int of the character should have no bearing on the resolution.*

    If the puzzles are abstracted or impossible to represent with a real-world companion, then it is a character challenge and all that matters is a die roll.

    *Note: the IRL puzzle is still part of the game, or at least a representation of part of the game. So if an IRL puzzle is unable to be solved, a DM should allow a die roll to resolve the puzzle.

    Puzzles are notoriously problematic in role-playing games, in large part because many of them are inherently player challenges, not character challenges. That's sort of the problem with this player/character boundary line, some parts of RPGs are actually intended to cross it and challenge the player, not the character.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Tweaking a troll so that it's lightning that stops regeneration is fine, I suppose, as long as the party gets to learn that in the combat. A troll wearing a ring of fire resistance is also ok. However, it can get to the point where it stops being tweaking and starts being adversarial, to punish the player for the audacity of having played the game before.
    Or worse, it's to punish the player for critically thinking and resolving a challenge the DM thought was 'really super-duper hard' fairly quickly. In my experience, adversarial DMs take a lot of approaches to punishment, but ultimately it's all wanting to punish creative thinking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    In my experience, adversarial DMs take a lot of approaches to punishment, but ultimately it's all wanting to punish creative thinking.
    An elegant distillation of a serious problem.

    There are DMs who view the campaign as a way for players to creatively solve problems, with innovative spell uses and/or being resourceful, and there are DMs who see every encounter as having 1 or 2 solutions, and if you try to think outside of their box, they promptly shut it down.

    Granted, sometimes it's the player who needs to chill ("No, you can't mage hand the assassin's poison dagger out of its sheath and stab him with it"), but there are so many DMs who struggle with the control thing. Sometimes it's inexperience, but sometimes it's their whole DMing philosophy, which is usually impossible to amend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    An elegant distillation of a serious problem.

    There are DMs who view the campaign as a way for players to creatively solve problems, with innovative spell uses and/or being resourceful, and there are DMs who see every encounter as having 1 or 2 solutions, and if you try to think outside of their box, they promptly shut it down.
    Yep, and often it's because that DM wants to be seen as the "smart one" who is sooooo clever as to have come up with this thing noone else can figure out! It's often paired with worst offenders of DMPCs who seem to always know the answer, have the special resolution or are just right there in a pinch when the party needs to be saved from the totally OP encounter.

    Granted, sometimes it's the player who needs to chill ("No, you can't mage hand the assassin's poison dagger out of its sheath and stab him with it"), but there are so many DMs who struggle with the control thing. Sometimes it's inexperience, but sometimes it's their whole DMing philosophy, which is usually impossible to amend.
    Well....It'd need to be a Stealth check first, then a Silent Spell(it's V,S). Then it's a Sleight of Hand check to grab the dagger. Then it's an attack roll. I'd allow this, but it's a multi-step process to assassinate and assassin. Those players whose reigns need to pulled often try the "one die roll resolution" for what is actually a really complex attempt. I'd rather 3 reasonable die rolls than one super-hard-almost-impossible roll.

    Anyway, yeah, it's all a control thing, wanting to be seen as the best. Adversarial DMs are typically adversarial people. Unfortunately a lot of time can get sunk into a game before a player figures it out.
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    Knowing that D&D trolls require fire and using it isn't critical or creative thinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Knowing that D&D trolls require fire and using it isn't critical or creative thinking.
    Or... IS IT!?

    I kid, it's evidently not, but I think what we're talking about isn't so much that hitting the troll with fire is "creative" in the literal sense of the word, but that it represents a step outside what the DM had planned. Like the DM has this script in their head: "Okay, first the PCs are going to attack the troll, but hoo-boy, the look on their faces when they find out it can REGENERATE"

    Then one or more of the PCs is like "Trolls, right? So we have to tag it with fire or acid to disable the regen," and then the DM gets very indignant, "No no no, your CHARACTERS wouldn't know that, so how could YOU know that. I'm gonna need you guys to flail around for at least 3 rounds before someone tries a fire spell."

    So in this example, using fire to weaken a troll isn't "creative" in terms of ingenuity, but it's contrary to the DM's plans, so it's "creative" in the sense of being unplanned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    I kid, it's evidently not, but I think what we're talking about isn't so much that hitting the troll with fire is "creative" in the literal sense of the word, but that it represents a step outside what the DM had planned. Like the DM has this script in their head: "Okay, first the PCs are going to attack the troll, but hoo-boy, the look on their faces when they find out it can REGENERATE"

    Then one or more of the PCs is like "Trolls, right? So we have to tag it with fire or acid to disable the regen," and then the DM gets very indignant, "No no no, your CHARACTERS wouldn't know that, so how could YOU know that. I'm gonna need you guys to flail around for at least 3 rounds before someone tries a fire spell."
    So what you're talking about is a failure in critical and creative thinking on the part of the DM.

    Relevant: https://theangrygm.com/dear-gms-meta...is-your-fault/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    Or... IS IT!?

    I kid, it's evidently not, but I think what we're talking about isn't so much that hitting the troll with fire is "creative" in the literal sense of the word, but that it represents a step outside what the DM had planned. Like the DM has this script in their head: "Okay, first the PCs are going to attack the troll, but hoo-boy, the look on their faces when they find out it can REGENERATE"

    Then one or more of the PCs is like "Trolls, right? So we have to tag it with fire or acid to disable the regen," and then the DM gets very indignant, "No no no, your CHARACTERS wouldn't know that, so how could YOU know that. I'm gonna need you guys to flail around for at least 3 rounds before someone tries a fire spell."
    Yeah, that's the bit I really really have trouble with. If a player knows something that their character doesn't, it's actually very hard to roleplay not knowing it, without falling into the trap of "anti-knowing" it.

    What if firebolt is your go-to damaging cantrip? What if your typical fight-opener is to triple-scorching-ray (or fireball) the biggest baddie?

    Or even worse, what if there is some (logical or not) line of reasoning that concludes fire is a good option to try first, for someone who actually doesn't know fire is a solution?

    It's like going to a job interview where the HR guy asks one of those brainteaser puzzles they seem to love so much, but you already know the answer, and you need to convince them that you're only now coming up with the solution because if you admit you knew it already, you wouldn't get the job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by strangebloke View Post
    What I'm saying is that "they're low level and haven't encountered this monster before" is not sufficient to justify them not knowing what an owlbear is. You can't prove that they wouldn't know about it. Owlbears aren't freakish 1-of-a-kind monsters.
    You don't know how common owlbears are in the game until you discuss it with the DM. You can claim they are super duper common all you want, but you as a player do not dictate behavior in the DM's world.


    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    ...Character knowledge becomes player knowledge, player knowledge becomes character knowledge. One unified whole.

    Nothing has fundamentally changed about my games except that I no longer have to worry about meta-knowledge.
    This promotes what I feel is cheating. When you spout off all the resistances the encounter has because you read up on it between sessions, that makes the game a lot less fun for everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Its impossible to have your character act as if you the player don't know the thing when you as a player know the thing. The best you can do make a best guess as to how your character might react if you the player didn't know the thing. And folks often get that wrong by just doing the opposite of what they would do. That's not the same thing. That's why ultimately player-character separation is a myth. It's impossible.
    Really? Because I can easily pretend not to know the formula to make gunpowder all day long. It's not impossible. Inaction on knowledge you don't have is easy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Demonslayer666 View Post
    Really? Because I can easily pretend not to know the formula to make gunpowder all day long. It's not impossible. Inaction on knowledge you don't have is easy.
    Sure. But is choosing between attacking with firebolt and magic missile "easy" when you know that the creature is immune to fire but your character does not? Or when you know the creature is particularly vulnerable to fire but your character does not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Demonslayer666 View Post
    You don't know how common owlbears are in the game until you discuss it with the DM. You can claim they are super duper common all you want, but you as a player do not dictate behavior in the DM's world.
    With this I'll agree as it's a world building issue.
    This promotes what I feel is cheating. When you spout off all the resistances the encounter has because you read up on it between sessions, that makes the game a lot less fun for everyone.
    That's not a fact, that's an opinion. (The bit in italics) Or it's a matter of taste.
    Really? Because I can easily pretend not to know the formula to make gunpowder all day long. It's not impossible. Inaction on knowledge you don't have is easy.
    But I can never unlearn two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun. That commercial jingle (or maybe we now call things like that an earworm) is in perma memory.

    So too is a troll's regeneration and fire slowing that down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Demonslayer666 View Post
    This promotes what I feel is cheating. When you spout off all the resistances the encounter has because you read up on it between sessions, that makes the game a lot less fun for everyone.
    What information is the DM providing that your hypothetical "cheater" is translating into accurate listings of resistances?

    If the DM is trying to dictate character knowledge and experience, ought not they explicitly do that, one way or another?
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    If player/character knowledge separation is impossible, then does that mean it's not only ok but expected for the DM to have all the creatures act with full conscious knowledge of the players' plans, positions, capabilities, etc? Because the DM is a player as well, and thus what he knows cannot be separated from what the characters know. To me, that's well beyond what's acceptable, and a DM who acted that way would be justifiably open to criticism of being antagonistic and player-hostile. And not role-playing at all.

    Role-playing relies on there being a difference (at least in principle) between the character and the actor. Otherwise it becomes a tautology--"acting like the character would" and "acting like I would" are thus identical. And if there's a difference, there must be a difference in knowledge.

    And having character knowledge == player knowledge makes a total hash out of the idea of fictional worlds. Because that would imply that the characters know about the history of Earth, plus things like nuclear weapons, etc. Things that do not and cannot exist in <fictional world> and for which the knowledge has never and can never reach <fictional world>. And vice versa--the characters know lots of things (including basic sensory data) that we cannot know. The smell of a trikine's explosive farts. Because trikine don't exist here.

    Thus, I cannot accept the idea that player/character separation is a myth. It's foundational to any form of roleplay that does not take place in the current world (with no differences) and with the people sitting around the table. Ie any roleplay at all.
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    Default Re: The tension between player knowledge and character knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Thus, I cannot accept the idea that player/character separation is a myth. It's foundational to any form of roleplay that does not take place in the current world (with no differences) and with the people sitting around the table. Ie any roleplay at all.
    The two sets overlap. They are not disjointed sets. (Or whatever the new term is for sets that have zero in common)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Demonslayer666 View Post
    You don't know how common owlbears are in the game until you discuss it with the DM. You can claim they are super duper common all you want, but you as a player do not dictate behavior in the DM's world.
    There's a handy bit of signaling that goes on here. When the DM describes the monster, does he say "an owlbear emerges from the cave, roll initiative." or "a huge beast emerges from the cave, covered in both feathers and fur, with great claws and a sharps beak... Roll Initiative."

    But I think that if a DM is going to draw a hard line and claim that something is a rare and unknowable species, they better have a damned good reason. People in medieval Denmark knew what a lion was. Heck, they knew what a rhino was.

    Quote Originally Posted by Demonslayer666 View Post
    This promotes what I feel is cheating. When you spout off all the resistances the encounter has because you read up on it between sessions, that makes the game a lot less fun for everyone.
    If the fun of the game is rolling knowledge checks to determine stuff you know OOC then you're a very different person from me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Demonslayer666 View Post
    Really? Because I can easily pretend not to know the formula to make gunpowder all day long. It's not impossible. Inaction on knowledge you don't have is easy.
    That's mostly because its not relevant to game mechanics. Neither is a working knowledge of the stock market. Deciding whether to cast fire bolt or not is relevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    If player/character knowledge separation is impossible, then does that mean it's not only ok but expected for the DM to have all the creatures act with full conscious knowledge of the players' plans, positions, capabilities, etc? Because the DM is a player as well, and thus what he knows cannot be separated from what the characters know. To me, that's well beyond what's acceptable, and a DM who acted that way would be justifiably open to criticism of being antagonistic and player-hostile. And not role-playing at all.

    Role-playing relies on there being a difference (at least in principle) between the character and the actor. Otherwise it becomes a tautology--"acting like the character would" and "acting like I would" are thus identical. And if there's a difference, there must be a difference in knowledge.

    And having character knowledge == player knowledge makes a total hash out of the idea of fictional worlds. Because that would imply that the characters know about the history of Earth, plus things like nuclear weapons, etc. Things that do not and cannot exist in <fictional world> and for which the knowledge has never and can never reach <fictional world>. And vice versa--the characters know lots of things (including basic sensory data) that we cannot know. The smell of a trikine's explosive farts. Because trikine don't exist here.

    Thus, I cannot accept the idea that player/character separation is a myth. It's foundational to any form of roleplay that does not take place in the current world (with no differences) and with the people sitting around the table. Ie any roleplay at all.
    I've written about this upthread. But DMs and players have different responsibilities. A DM is supposed to provide challenges, but critically isn't supposed to care about their guys winning. They get a huge amount of latitude as far as making their NPCs and giving them abilities, and they get to roleplay more than anyone, but the price they pay here is that they have to practice player character separation. They need to be disengaged. They need to be okay with the PCs winning. To this end, a DM will often prepare specific notes about how a character will react to a certain sort of stimuli.

    Players are not supposed to be detached like this. They're supposed to care about winning. They're supposed to be involved, get hype, get scared. It's a huge part of the experience. They only get to play one character and the rules give them less latitude, but they're allowed encouraged even to win, and win as hard as they can. Obviously someone who powergames too much can be disruptive, but the reverse extreme, the player who doesn't even care whether their character lives or dies and has to be poked with a stick to contribute anything, is far worse.

    Player/character separation becomes difficult under these conditions, and overall isn't worth it. It's fundamentally unfun if the player who enjoys puzzles and is good at them is prevented from engaging with the puzzle because his character has 9 INT. Possible, but not much fun.
    Last edited by strangebloke; 2021-09-20 at 04:39 PM.

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