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Author Topic: Pistols at dawn.  (Read 62811 times)

Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2006, 11:52:04 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
You're basically saying here that "no really, its different from just roleplaying it" and asking me to just believe that.
Can you give some examples of HOW whatever you do is different from what I and most other gamers just do intuitively? Because I have to say, from just reading what you've said thus far, it strikes me as pretty much just roleplaying...

Yep, it's just roleplaying; the difference is simply one of emphasis. I'll dredge up a few example from actual play for you for my next post, though.


Quote from: RPGPundit
No, it isn't news. But it is sort of news to hear an admitted game theorist admit that.

Hey, personally, I throw a lot of darts at the board.  Some score higher than others; sometimes I miss the board entirely.  I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of; I've gotten my ass handed to me a few times theorizing in public, and my ideas evolve faster as a result.

On game stores, yep, there's a two new ones in the last few years - GZ Games and Happy Harbour.  My group tends to go to GZ.

Whyte Knight has filtered down the crowd by a vast margin from previous years.  Same basic people, but they talk more often about how they can't get a game these days.

WARP 1 has a WARP 2 and a WARP 3, and gotten much more heavily into comics and movie-based toys, their stock in games has been somewhat reduced.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I will concede this point to you. To me, both elements have to be part of the solution. You need normal gamers being open about their gaming, so that the public at large sees that in fact most gamers are normal productive members of society, and you need those same normal gamers making it clear that not only do the lawn crappers not represent them, the lawn crappers are unwelcome in the hobby's activities.

Okay.  I'm going to borrow what you said here, go one step further in my own direction, and see if we can actually reach a consensus on the point.  a quick essay for you:

Representing the Hobby
In order to keep, or make, the hobby healthy in your area, gaming needs one thing above all else - to maintain a healthy image.  The image that we have now in many places is pretty crappy, and making it healthy again isn't that hard.  We have three basic image problems, and each one is a kind of person. They are, from most to least common:

The first, and most common, is "silent" but otherwise perfectly great.  There are loads of gamers out there that are great people, but the more they keep quiet, the more that regular hear about roleplaying by means of people that aren't them.  This isn't a good thing, people.  Don't be ashamed - the majority of gamers are totally cool people.  Be confident.

The second is the basically thoughtless.  These are the gamers that babble on about roleplaying in earshot of non-gamers in ways that freak them out.  The group of Vampire LARPers that wear their costumes home on public transit and talk loadly.  The guy that talks about his character to people at his work that really don't want to hear it.  If you're guilty of this, knock it off.

The third is the slightly unwashed.  These are gamers that have taken the idea that they'll be accepted as they are just a few steps too far.  Folks, we need to tell these people that they can't be this way.  A lot of these people are great folks, and may be friends of yours - and if they are, give them a hand if you can.  Sometimes giving them a hand means you'll need to tell them that specific form of behaviour won't stand.  Sometimes it's easier than that.  Sometimes it's harder.  And if it simply doesn't happen, maybe you can't help them - maybe they're just not willing to put in the energy; if that's the case, you decide if you want to keep on playing with them.

The fourth, and the rarest by far, is the unrepentant.  These are the few that have irredemable habits, utterly inexcusable behaviour, and no intention of changing it.  The best thing we can do as gamers for these people is put as much distance as possible between us and them, and make that completely clear.  We're not camoflage for them; we shouldn't act like it.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Please explain to me how the fact that D&D has more rules than Castle Falkenstein (or, say, Amber) means that it will in some way be played more as a game and less as roleplaying?

It's not the number of rules I'm actually talking about.  It's how fuzzy they are.

As a further example, the game In Spaaaace! has even less rules than the basic Castle Falkenstein, and is at the same time more gamelike.

Quote from: RPGPundit
To me, DiTV pushes the boundaries of the definition of Roleplaying game. Whereas Polaris or Universalis or Capes are just plain not-roleplaying-games.

Agreed, with the caveat that I've never read Capes, so I can't say.  Though from what I hear, I'd likely consider it a story-game, too, and it sounds like a really fun one.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Done well, these things can be positive. I'll never forget the example of D20 Pulp Heroes, where an "Evil Mastermind" gets bonuses to his Leadership if he provides all of his henchmen with uniforms and has a secret base.

Yep.  Good stuff, that.

Quote from: RPGPundit
This to me is an example of an effect that can create artificiality in the game, when turned into a mechanic instead of being left to the organic interplay between DM and players.  There's a big difference from it being "advice" (which is good) to it being a "rule" (where it can end up creating railroading or other problems).

To a degree, that's correct.  And that's why I'm not a huge fan of that specific rule.  But I feel it does give the desired effect.

Quote from: RPGPundit
But besides that, I question how this equates to "creating story". It affects play, there's no doubt about that. But basically, if you aren't forcing the results on the players (or the players forcing results on the master), you aren't going to follow the traditional formats of stories.

The traditional format of stories is, more or less:

Beginning -> Rising action -> Climax -> Falling action -> Denoument.

Preparing a meaningful conflict is a beginning.

Continued escalation gives a form of rising action.

Continued escalation eventually hits a climactic point.

After such a point, wrap-up of side parts of the conflict provides falling action and denoument.

That's a story.  Whether the story is any good or not often depends on the raw ingredients of the beginning, and how they're brought on throughout.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Your point here neither demonstrates that RPGs are good at creating conventional stories, nor that indeed it is a worthwhile goal for RPGs to create stories in the first place.

Worthwhile?

Many people like it.  That's all that's really required to be worthwhile in a form of entertainment.

Or were you going back to my original statement about "meaningful"?

Quote from: RPGPundit
So your argument amounts to "the absence of clear structure between DM and players will miraculously lead to players being responsible"??

Not quite.

Specifically stating that the structure is what everyone at the table chooses to make it and that this makes people fully responsible for whatever they do to the game as a result is a clear structure.

Any and every time you increase the ability of the player to say "what happens next", whether in terms of their immediate character (the guy they play), their extended character (their backstory, for example), or the things outside of their character, the way to avoid power struggles is simply to make them fully answerable to the group for anything they do.

Someone says "Oh, I've decided I'm from this town", and another player goes "That's kind of lame", and you work it out.  Like adults.

Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2006, 11:54:47 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
XXXXXXXXX


Ah, bloody hell.  Missed a line.  Where the X's are, should be:

Yep, it's just roleplaying; the difference is simply one of emphasis.  I'll dredge up a few example from actual play for you for my next post, though.

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« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2006, 01:48:59 AM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Yep, it's just roleplaying; the difference is simply one of emphasis. I'll dredge up a few example from actual play for you for my next post, though.


Ok.

Quote

On game stores, yep, there's a two new ones in the last few years - GZ Games and Happy Harbour.  My group tends to go to GZ.


Really? Where are they in the city? I'll probably be visiting some time next year and it'd be great to get gaming stuff from somewhere other than WARP. How is the shelf-selection in these places?

Quote

Representing the Hobby


I agree with your essay, basically. It might be gentler than I'd put it, but its a step in the right direction.


Quote

It's not the number of rules I'm actually talking about.  It's how fuzzy they are.

As a further example, the game In Spaaaace! has even less rules than the basic Castle Falkenstein, and is at the same time more gamelike.


Ok. I'm not even going to bother to ask how you define "fuzzy", nor do I wish you to do so for me; unless you really want to first make the claim that "fuzzy" games will have more roleplaying than D&D.
Remember, your claimed Axis here, unless you wish to retract it, is:
roleplaying<------------------------------------------------>game

You're now claiming that "fuzzy" games have more roleplaying than, for example, D&D. Is that right? If it is, define "fuzzy". If not, retract or rephrase your statement.

Quote

To a degree, that's correct.  And that's why I'm not a huge fan of that specific rule.  But I feel it does give the desired effect.


See, to me if it denies player agency, its an "effect" that isn't "desired".
Its funny, you theory types always seem to want to give players influence in places they shouldn't have it, and take away their freedom in places where they should.

Quote

The traditional format of stories is, more or less:

Beginning -> Rising action -> Climax -> Falling action -> Denoument.

Preparing a meaningful conflict is a beginning.
Continued escalation gives a form of rising action.
Continued escalation eventually hits a climactic point.
After such a point, wrap-up of side parts of the conflict provides falling action and denoument.
That's a story.  Whether the story is any good or not often depends on the raw ingredients of the beginning, and how they're brought on throughout.


But the problem is, as soon as you create a GOAL of "making story" you are assuming you want your story to be something like a short story, novel, literature, movie, tv show, drama, something along those lines, that follow the conventional structure you detailed above.

RPGs aren't made to do that. If you play RPGs to try to do that you will be as disappointed as if you try to run Monopoly as a simulator of the real estate market, or try to recreate the battle of Agincourt using the rules of Chess.

You see, what you wrote above looks good and sexy in theory. But in practice, your player will find the big bad in the first five minutes and cut off his head.
Or the other player gets the treasure, before he was supposed to.
Or the whole party gets whacked by a lucky hobgoblin.
Or Player #3 decides its more fun to try to run a tavern.
Or the whole party decides they're going to go on a quest to Corunglain instead.

Real stories do not have characters with their own agency, and real stories do not suffer from the possibilities of abrupt endings. RPGs are not story-makers because you cannot control the course of the adventure to be sure a full story will be told, at least not without either forcing the players or forcing the world. Doing this is something that creates a less enjoyable play experience, and is still a sub-optimal way of creating story. That's what I meant by "worthwhile".

If you want to create a story, do a shared-world fan-fiction exercise, not an RPG.

Quote

Specifically stating that the structure is what everyone at the table chooses to make it and that this makes people fully responsible for whatever they do to the game as a result is a clear structure.

Any and every time you increase the ability of the player to say "what happens next", whether in terms of their immediate character (the guy they play), their extended character (their backstory, for example), or the things outside of their character, the way to avoid power struggles is simply to make them fully answerable to the group for anything they do.

Someone says "Oh, I've decided I'm from this town", and another player goes "That's kind of lame", and you work it out.  Like adults.


Um, that's well and good, but it depends on people acting like adults when playing a game. Sometimes the best of adults have trouble with that.  When you create set limits on what the player does and what the GM does, it helps make certain that there will be no ambiguity, no power struggles; you won't get player x wanting the orc king to surrender his sword to him and player y thinking that's lame and having to stop the game for three hours to figure out how to give everyone what they want. Because players x and y will both know that the DM is the one in charge of what the orc king does. They accept those rules of the game, and can focus instead on running their characters effectively.

Not to mention that in an RPG, a lot of the time the entertainment is derived from NOT getting what you want as a player. And often players will have trouble accepting that denied short-term enjoyment for the sake of more long-term enjoyment.

In my experience any game where the DM is forced (by the rules or by his own stupid choice) to say "YES" to the players under any circumstance is a game that will go downhill fast, and one that will be more limited in lifespan than one where the DM can fit the world to his vision.

Saying "players get to do x, the GM gets to decide y" is not the opposite of being adults. Adults set rules from the start, specifically because adults know better than to be making the shit up as they go along. Hierarchy and structure are the friends of the smooth-running gaming group.

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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2006, 02:52:14 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Really? Where are they in the city? I'll probably be visiting some time next year and it'd be great to get gaming stuff from somewhere other than WARP. How is the shelf-selection in these places?


Happy Harbour is about two bookcases of selection - if you go west down Jasper avenue to where it actually corners, it's on the second floor of one of the buildings at the corner there.

GZ is in a strip mall right by Kingsway Mall.  It's a full-on games store; shelf selection is pretty good, and the focus is RPGs, minis, and solid board games like Settlers, Civilization, and so on.

And, hey, if you're visiting, drop me a line.  I'll buy you a beer, you can pack my rarely-used pipe, and we can sit down and do something like this in person.

Quote
I agree with your essay, basically. It might be gentler than I'd put it, but its a step in the right direction.


I'll work on polishing it up a bit - it needs to be more "punchy" to properly stick in the head.

Quote
Ok. I'm not even going to bother to ask how you define "fuzzy", nor do I wish you to do so for me; unless you really want to first make the claim that "fuzzy" games will have more roleplaying than D&D.
Remember, your claimed Axis here, unless you wish to retract it, is:
roleplaying<------------------------------------------------>game

You're now claiming that "fuzzy" games have more roleplaying than, for example, D&D. Is that right? If it is, define "fuzzy". If not, retract or rephrase your statement.


Fuzzy rules: Rules deliberate left open to broad situational interpretation, as a feature of gameplay.  This opposes rules left open to such interpretation simply because the designer didn't think of it - that's just a bug.

Game with fuzzy rules are less strictly gamelike, meaning that the tactical elements of the game draw less player attention and time.  If less player decisions revolve around considering gamelike maneuvers (how to win challenges effectively), then more of those decisions revolve around characterization.  Hence, more roleplaying.

The same can also be said of many minimal sets of rules, but not all - WUSHU is pretty light on rules, but directs the player to description rather than characterisation.

Quote
See, to me if it denies player agency, its an "effect" that isn't "desired".
Its funny, you theory types always seem to want to give players influence in places they shouldn't have it, and take away their freedom in places where they should.


"Desired" in the sense of "does what it's supposed to".  And in this case, it limits almost strictly the agency of the the GM.  Which is why I find it acceptable.

Quote
But the problem is, as soon as you create a GOAL of "making story" you are assuming you want your story to be something like a short story, novel, literature, movie, tv show, drama, something along those lines, that follow the conventional structure you detailed above.


The best stories to emerge from roleplaying games aren't quite the same as other stories; they aren't novels, or movies, or what-have-you; they're stories of play.  I want it to be like what it fairly often is; I just want it to be that thing more often.

Quote
RPGs are not story-makers because you cannot control the course of the adventure to be sure a full story will be told, at least not without either forcing the players or forcing the world. Doing this is something that creates a less enjoyable play experience, and is still a sub-optimal way of creating story. That's what I meant by "worthwhile".


Aha!

"Forcing the world" doesn't actually bother me in the slightest, and is in large part what I do.  The world doesn't have, and does not need, agency.  All it needs is consistency inside of the game; nothing else.  I couldn't care less what a book says about the setting, unless we agreed to use the book or it's actually come up in play.

Quote
Um, that's well and good, but it depends on people acting like adults when playing a game. Sometimes the best of adults have trouble with that.  When you create set limits on what the player does and what the GM does, it helps make certain that there will be no ambiguity, no power struggles; you won't get player x wanting the orc king to surrender his sword to him and player y thinking that's lame and having to stop the game for three hours to figure out how to give everyone what they want. Because players x and y will both know that the DM is the one in charge of what the orc king does. They accept those rules of the game, and can focus instead on running their characters effectively.

Not to mention that in an RPG, a lot of the time the entertainment is derived from NOT getting what you want as a player. And often players will have trouble accepting that denied short-term enjoyment for the sake of more long-term enjoyment.

In my experience any game where the DM is forced (by the rules or by his own stupid choice) to say "YES" to the players under any circumstance is a game that will go downhill fast, and one that will be more limited in lifespan than one where the DM can fit the world to his vision.

Saying "players get to do x, the GM gets to decide y" is not the opposite of being adults. Adults set rules from the start, specifically because adults know better than to be making the shit up as they go along. Hierarchy and structure are the friends of the smooth-running gaming group.


I expect my players to get by in such a fashion when playing games like this, and they do.

Yes, adults set rules.  And in such an exercise as roleplaying, they can quite easily set them all on their own, through precedent and by trying things out, without needing a book to tell them.

As for the GM being required to say yes in any circumstance, players having narrative rights over things doesn't mean the GM is unable to disapprove, cock an eyebrow at them, call their actions lame just like anyone else.  And it's only in a very few games that the GM is actually limited where the players are empowered; that a relatively tiny handful of games.

...

And onwards, here’s one of those actual play examples; I’m still looking for where I wrote up the other one.  To illustrate the whole “hitting a character theme” thing.  

The game is Dogs in the Vineyard; the characters are wandering religious judges with guns, going town-to-town.  I set up a town for them to visit that hit on a lot of things about their characters, but that was specifically charged with serious violence – one of the characters, Tryphena, had a problem with being “wrathful”, to the point where this was something actually on the sheet.  I wanted to hit that, so I put in plenty of places where she’d likely be tempted to violence.

And, playing Tryphena, she “went off” in a pretty good spot, blowing away someone they already knew they’d need to deal with, and exposing her uncontrolled anger in front of the group in a way they just couldn’t ignore, being all faithful in the way they were.

Tryphena got pretty screwed up in that fight herself, as it happens, and was laid out on a stretcher to be hauled back to camp.  Mary, one of the other characters, stepped up and laid into Tryphena verbal, and they decide to grab the dice and make a conflict out of it.

The stakes on the conflict were – if Mary wins, Tryphena repents of her wrath.  If Tryphena wins, Mary agrees that Tryphena’s anger is righteous and keeps her safe.  They go back and forth a bit, working things out the way conflicts go in that game, and Mary wins.  Tryphena breaks, and repents, crying; both are changed by the experience.

Now, that’s a really fast summary of what happened, but in the end, it followed the model – Beginning (Tryphena has an anger problem and is trying to hide it), rising action (her anger gets more and more obvious until it’s apparent), Climax (her companion confronts her regarding the problem), falling action and denoument (both of them are changed by the argument, and learn from it).  And, in play, it was satisfying as all hell, in terms of story.

I had no idea going in that the story would come out like that.  None.  I had a beginning, and a way to keep it rising, neither of which took away player agency.  And that’s all I had.

If you have any questions about that, ask away.

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« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2006, 03:45:43 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Happy Harbour is about two bookcases of selection - if you go west down Jasper avenue to where it actually corners, it's on the second floor of one of the buildings at the corner there.
GZ is in a strip mall right by Kingsway Mall.  It's a full-on games store; shelf selection is pretty good, and the focus is RPGs, minis, and solid board games like Settlers, Civilization, and so on.
And, hey, if you're visiting, drop me a line.  I'll buy you a beer, you can pack my rarely-used pipe, and we can sit down and do something like this in person.


Great. Sounds good to me.


Quote

Fuzzy rules: Rules deliberate left open to broad situational interpretation, as a feature of gameplay.  This opposes rules left open to such interpretation simply because the designer didn't think of it - that's just a bug.


And again, games that are deliberately "Fuzzy"? Because I'm guessing most of the games I think you're thinking of as deliberately so, would to me be badly made rules by lazy designers.

Quote

Game with fuzzy rules are less strictly gamelike, meaning that the tactical elements of the game draw less player attention and time.  If less player decisions revolve around considering gamelike maneuvers (how to win challenges effectively), then more of those decisions revolve around characterization.  Hence, more roleplaying.

The same can also be said of many minimal sets of rules, but not all - WUSHU is pretty light on rules, but directs the player to description rather than characterisation.


I really don't agree with this. Fuzzier rules makes for fuzzier roleplaying, not "more" roleplaying.

Quote

"Desired" in the sense of "does what it's supposed to".  And in this case, it limits almost strictly the agency of the the GM.  Which is why I find it acceptable.


I certainly don't. To me something that limits the agency of the GM is as bad or worse as something that limits the agency of the players.

Quote

The best stories to emerge from roleplaying games aren't quite the same as other stories; they aren't novels, or movies, or what-have-you; they're stories of play.  I want it to be like what it fairly often is; I just want it to be that thing more often.


I think that happens more effectively by working with creating a tightly-knit gaming group that works well with the GM and comes to understand each other's play styles; trying to create these situations artificially will be a poor substitute.

Quote

"Forcing the world" doesn't actually bother me in the slightest, and is in large part what I do.  The world doesn't have, and does not need, agency.  All it needs is consistency inside of the game; nothing else.  I couldn't care less what a book says about the setting, unless we agreed to use the book or it's actually come up in play.


"forcing the world" to me isn't "forcing the setting"; its "forcing the DM". If the GM wants to change the setting, that's no big deal. But if a game system creates an inherent situation where the GM has his hands tied as to either the setting, the system, or the player's whims, its a very serious problem.

I mean, your side seems to get and laugh at the idea that games like Synnabar (seriously) or Hackmaster (jokingly) propose, where players can chastize the GM for incorrectly following the rules or applying the wrong rules.  Why don't you get that a system that says that players can manipulate the DM's setting or change entire plot elements are basically the same thing?

Quote

I expect my players to get by in such a fashion when playing games like this, and they do.
Yes, adults set rules.  And in such an exercise as roleplaying, they can quite easily set them all on their own, through precedent and by trying things out, without needing a book to tell them.


And how is the limits set by the RPG system anything other than a pretedermined set of "precedents" that skip out the drawn out and overcomplicated conflict-inducing process of determining what everyone's powers and limits are?

Quote

As for the GM being required to say yes in any circumstance, players having narrative rights over things doesn't mean the GM is unable to disapprove, cock an eyebrow at them, call their actions lame just like anyone else.  And it's only in a very few games that the GM is actually limited where the players are empowered; that a relatively tiny handful of games.


But your position seems to be that it would be ok for the GM's authority over the setting, the NPCs, or the physical reality of the world to be no greater than that of the PCs.  This would be a little like a soccer game referee's judgement not actually being worth more than the players. It invalidates the role and purpose of the GM and sets up the conditions for chaos on the playing field.

You're essentially reducing RPGs back to the level of childhood "cops and robbers" where one player can say "bang! you're dead" and the other can say "am not!", starting an incessant conflict.  I mean, that's the whole point of the GM's role, to prevent that sort of nonsense.

Quote

And onwards, here’s one of those actual play examples; I’m still looking for where I wrote up the other one.  To illustrate the whole “hitting a character theme” thing.  


Its an interesting story. But ignoring the disgusting qualities of the DiTV game where you can change another player's character by rolling better dice than he does (that, to me, takes away player agency), I really see nothing about that example of actual play that makes it better than my own, non-theory-based play.

What you call "hitting a character theme" is pretty well just what happens naturally to most of us; that is, crafting the campaign around the characters that have been created for it.

I'm sorry. I think your whole trip through theory has perhaps been a kind of rehab therapy for you, getting you to the point where you can roleplay like a normal person.  And I'm glad you've managed to escape the story-based swinery of WW-style play, and the wierd-ass cultlike Swinery of Forgeite play, but at the end of the journey I really don't think you've ended up gaining on those of us who just roleplayed from the beginning and spent the same amount of time working on perfecting our play/GMing styles.

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« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2006, 05:04:26 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
And again, games that are deliberately "Fuzzy"? Because I'm guessing most of the games I think you're thinking of as deliberately so, would to me be badly made rules by lazy designers.

I really don't agree with this. Fuzzier rules makes for fuzzier roleplaying, not "more" roleplaying.


How so?

You're sitting at the table at any given moment, making decisions.  You base those decisions, generally, on how your character operates, and on the tactics of the situation.

Good rules let you do this more clearly - you can say "Jumping over that crevasse is easy", because you know how far you can jump.  Bad rules don't; they make you ask, "uh, how do I do this?"

Gamelike rules push you to think in terms of the tactics of the game.  You don't give ground back and forth, making witticisms, as in a fencing match, in standard d20, when bothe characters are armed with a rapier - that might be great characterisation, but you skip it because you're thinking tactically; you don't want those attacks of opportunity and such.  This in no way makes standard d20 "better" or "worse"; the tactics of the moment are awesome things to concentrate on.

What I call "fuzzy" rules are ones that balance the confrontation mechanically and tactically, but which don't push you to think in terms of the tactical limits of the game.  Instead, they push you to draw on your character.

Stunts in Iron Heroes are gamelike.  Stunting in Exalted is fuzzier (though, again, it pushes just as much towards clever description as good characterisation).

Every decision you make is based on something.  

Quote from: RPGPundit
I certainly don't. To me something that limits the agency of the GM is as bad or worse as something that limits the agency of the players.

I think that happens more effectively by working with creating a tightly-knit gaming group that works well with the GM and comes to understand each other's play styles; trying to create these situations artificially will be a poor substitute.

"forcing the world" to me isn't "forcing the setting"; its "forcing the DM". If the GM wants to change the setting, that's no big deal. But if a game system creates an inherent situation where the GM has his hands tied as to either the setting, the system, or the player's whims, its a very serious problem.

I mean, your side seems to get and laugh at the idea that games like Synnabar (seriously) or Hackmaster (jokingly) propose, where players can chastize the GM for incorrectly following the rules or applying the wrong rules.  Why don't you get that a system that says that players can manipulate the DM's setting or change entire plot elements are basically the same thing?


Actually, I like Hackmaster, and I like that specific thing about it, too - it encourages players to speak up in a way that isn't offensive.  I've never read Synnabar.

I'll make a nice singular argument out of this, rather than respoding point by point.

The GM is a specialized player role.
Where the majority of the players are concerned with affairs relating to their characters, the GM is concerned with using the setting and affairs relating to it.  Just as the GM has some authority to affect the players with description regarding their characters in order to make the game run more smoothly, the players in turn have descriptive authority in the setting.  Neither should challenge the other's primary authority over "their thing" - a player can't just alter large parts of the setting at will, nor can a GM change a character's basic person whenever they like.

If a player is in a gunfight on a street that's described as "Main Street" in an old west game (no further description), and they're in the middle of a gunfight (no map), they shouldn't need to ask the GM about details of cover, blah, blah, unless they're hoping for something really special.  They should be able to simply declare "I run a few steps and skid into cover behind some rain-barrels at the corner of a nearby building" - and they should be completely comfortable doing that.  Now, if that same player said "I shoot him dead", and put down their dice, simply assuming that was a win, they're reaching into the stuff the GM controls without using the normal methods of play to do it, which is too far.

Likewise, if the GM is running that gunfight, they should be able to happily say that the character's coat (blowing in the wind), is giving them some penalties; they don't need player permission.  But the GM doesn't get to say "Oh, you forgot your gun"; that's pushing too far into player stuff.

Now in terms of settling disputes on "who get to describe that thing?" - Let's say a player says he jumps on a horse starled by the gunfire of the fight and uses it to escape the gunfight completely.  Here's the rule I use - anyone can shut it down.  Another player, including the GM; they simply need to call it "lame".  And the person that described it gets one sentence to make a case for it and convince the person that called them on it.  If they can't, it doesn't happen.  

People can call out the GM on such stuff, too - and if it's related to things that the GM has set up that he doesn't think are good to go into right now, he can just say "It makes sense; you'll see." - and at the end of the game, if the players haven't seen why it makes sense, the GM explains.

Quote from: RPGPundit
And how is the limits set by the RPG system anything other than a pretedermined set of "precedents" that skip out the drawn out and overcomplicated conflict-inducing process of determining what everyone's powers and limits are?


It is a series of pre-set precedents, you bet.  It may or may not be one that fits the group.  And the process of setting limits yourself need not be drawn-out or complicated; it can be really, really easy.

The controls that a system places on the authority of individual players in a group may or may not fit the group - because the rules weren't written for that specific group.

Authority at my table is divided between myself and my players as we see fit - the game book does not have authority.  I don't answer questions with "hey, it says so in the book".  Me, my players.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Its an interesting story. But ignoring the disgusting qualities of the DiTV game where you can change another player's character by rolling better dice than he does (that, to me, takes away player agency), I really see nothing about that example of actual play that makes it better than my own, non-theory-based play.


I never said better.  I said, more suited to some players.  Like, say, me.

And, so you know, the players actually broke the rules of DitV when playing out that conflict.  By the rules of that game, you actually can't force a specific change in a character through conflict - you can force them to stop what they're doing right now, and if they push hard to keep doing it regardless,  they may need to "spend" the fallout (points of bad crap) to alter their character in the long run - but they decide how they spend it.

Quote from: RPGPundit
What you call "hitting a character theme" is pretty well just what happens naturally to most of us; that is, crafting the campaign around the characters that have been created for it.


It's possible that you're close.  I certainly don't claim to do things that are "revolutionary!" or "unique!", just differently focused.

As to crafting the campaign around the characters, absolutely, I see a lot of gamers doing it.  I also see a lot of them sending the characters on missions that in no way engage what is unique or interesting about those characters to the players.  

I find that it's a small number of games that are about the player characters and consider everything else a tool for interacting with them, and nothing more.  And that's a big part of what I'm talking about.

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« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2006, 12:57:11 AM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen

Gamelike rules push you to think in terms of the tactics of the game.  You don't give ground back and forth, making witticisms, as in a fencing match, in standard d20, when bothe characters are armed with a rapier - that might be great characterisation, but you skip it because you're thinking tactically; you don't want those attacks of opportunity and such.  This in no way makes standard d20 "better" or "worse"; the tactics of the moment are awesome things to concentrate on.
What I call "fuzzy" rules are ones that balance the confrontation mechanically and tactically, but which don't push you to think in terms of the tactical limits of the game.  Instead, they push you to draw on your character.


I really don't think this is a question of system. On the contrary, a system where mechanical aspects are clearly defined just means that those technical systems are easily resolved and "creativity" comes in the roleplaying aspect.

I am firmly of the position that a system that does not have mechanics to govern what your character feels or thinks are systems where you can then focus on ROLEPLAYING those aspects.  The "fuzzyness" of failing to clearly define the physical aspects of the game, or the "fuzzyness" of trying to regulate the roleplaying aspect mechanically make for both a poorer game overall and a poorer roleplaying experience.

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Stunts in Iron Heroes are gamelike.  Stunting in Exalted is fuzzier (though, again, it pushes just as much towards clever description as good characterisation).


What I take this to mean is that stunts in Iron Heroes is better designed than stunts in Exalted.

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Actually, I like Hackmaster, and I like that specific thing about it, too - it encourages players to speak up in a way that isn't offensive.  


Um, you realize that this element of Hackmaster is a joke on rules-lawyers and the ultra-oldschool absolutists "the rules are the rules" idea of gaming, right? That it isn't meant to be taken seriously...

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I've never read Synnabar.


Consider yourself lucky.

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The GM is a specialized player role.


I will create a counterpoint, then:

The GM is Not a Player, but a Referee
The GM is not meant to be just another player with a slightly different role. The GM is the one who sets the board, creates the adventure; in a role akin to the judge/ref in a sporting match. His relationship toward the players should not be antagonistic, and his actions should be designed to maximize the player's enjoyment, and derive his enjoyment from that perspective.
The other side of this understanding is that the players do not have the authority to overrule or make demands on the GM. Their agreement upon entering the game is that the GM makes the world.
This hierarchical structure, and this contract between players and GM, create the optimal play situation.
Ironically, game theorists' efforts to put the GM on equal footing to the players is one that will foster an antagonistic play environment. If the GM is just another player, then it is for his own enjoyment that he plays, and then a power struggle ensues.
The situation is further complicated when you consider that part of the GM's job as a "ref" is to try to maintain a balance between the influence and authority of the players; the players should all be equally influential, in a secondary position to the GM. It is part of the GM's responsibility in a gaming group to make sure that no one player ends up dominating the group through primma donna attitudes, social bullying, or other such qualities.
If the GM is just one more player, part of the power struggle that ensues can also result in one player ending up dominating the GM, influencing him and the other players to create a dysfunctional group that becomes all about that player.

Game theorists attempt these radical changes to traditional RPGs because they are dissatisfied with instances in their own play where the GM has railroaded them, created "mary sue" characters, or otherwise made their gaming unpalatable. These problems are NOT caused by the fact that the DM has more power than the players; they are caused by poor GMing, as the GM in those instances has abdicated the responsibility of making the game player-centered (rather than story-centered, or NPC-centered).  Its like if the Ref starts kicking the ball and trying to score goals.  The solution is not to disempower the GM, but to emphasize good GMing skills and the proper place of the GM in the group.

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It is a series of pre-set precedents, you bet.  It may or may not be one that fits the group.  And the process of setting limits yourself need not be drawn-out or complicated; it can be really, really easy.


But why re-invent the wheel? what you're doing in these situations is creating something different, that will not really be an orthodox RPG, that will probably have all kinds of unexpected consequences to long-term group cohesion, and require unnecessary tinkering; rather than just put the emphasis on playing RPGs, as they were designed to be played, as effectively as possible.

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The controls that a system places on the authority of individual players in a group may or may not fit the group - because the rules weren't written for that specific group.


Well, I suppose you could say that about Soccer or Chess too. But changing those things means you're no longer really playing soccer or chess anymore. If RPGs are a "craft", then the craft comes in doing the best work possible within the boundaries of the "rules" of the game.

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As to crafting the campaign around the characters, absolutely, I see a lot of gamers doing it.  I also see a lot of them sending the characters on missions that in no way engage what is unique or interesting about those characters to the players.  


This doesn't require gaming theory or disempowering the GM. It just requires effective communication between the players and the GM.

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I find that it's a small number of games that are about the player characters and consider everything else a tool for interacting with them, and nothing more.  And that's a big part of what I'm talking about.


I see that as a pretty blinkered vision. I'm one of the biggest proponents of RPGs being character-centered. That's essential. But that doesn't mean that it has to:
a) exclude the emulation of genre; which often goes directly against a player's wishes for his character.
or
b) mean that players must receive constant and instant wish-fulfillment or gratification for their characters.

Its one of my big problems with gaming theorists: they seem to be all about spoiled players and dysfunctional gaming groups and some how calling that more "mature" or "egalitarian" gaming than traditional RPG groups, even though to me it just seems like a bizzare sort of anarchic "law of the jungle" school of gaming.

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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2006, 01:58:11 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
I really don't think this is a question of system. On the contrary, a system where mechanical aspects are clearly defined just means that those technical systems are easily resolved and "creativity" comes in the roleplaying aspect.

I am firmly of the position that a system that does not have mechanics to govern what your character feels or thinks are systems where you can then focus on ROLEPLAYING those aspects.  The "fuzzyness" of failing to clearly define the physical aspects of the game, or the "fuzzyness" of trying to regulate the roleplaying aspect mechanically make for both a poorer game overall and a poorer roleplaying experience.


Tell me, how much can a STR 17 D&D character arm-curl?  Bench press?  Leg lift?  Do you know these things?  Do you care?  I surely don't.  

Has D&D thus failed to define the physical aspects of the game?  I certainly don't think so - it has, instead, clearly defined the physical aspects of the game as they apply to that system, in terms of what kind of action the game leads you to.  If a game leads me to a different and equally specific kind of action, I want different but equally specific rules.  If it leads me to a different but broader variety of activities, then I want broader rules, in the sense of being able to be applied to situations more flexibly, with a range of description that suits - fuzzy.

Now, as to rules that govern feelings or thoughts of your character, can you give me an example or two?  I think I know what you mean, but I'd like to be sure.

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What I take this to mean is that stunts in Iron Heroes is better designed than stunts in Exalted.


Depends what you like.  To "stunt" in Exalted, you describe what you're doing in terms of cool kung-fu badasserry - which means the rule pushes emulation of that feel - and the GM gives you a bonus based on the coolness of the description.  There are guidelines for the bonus wihich are pretty clear, and the reactions of other players are considered.  But the rule is open to broad interpretation.  It's fuzzy, in my terms.

(As a side note; I'm aware that the person running the game in Exalted isn't called the GM, but I will be damned before I call them a "Storyteller".)

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Um, you realize that this element of Hackmaster is a joke on rules-lawyers and the ultra-oldschool absolutists "the rules are the rules" idea of gaming, right? That it isn't meant to be taken seriously...


Yes, exactly.  And in play, I've seen players act on that "rule", jokingly, and their GM listened in amusement, sometimes actually shifted back to a rule where it was appropriate to do so, and they went on.  The rule made the dialogue into "no big deal" - which was perfect.

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Consider yourself lucky.


Is it, in your terms, theory-bad, or just plain bad-bad?

The first kind, I might like.  As to the the second kind, I think I agree with your tastes enough (certainly, in terms of board and d20 games, that's true) to listen.

Quote
I will create a counterpoint, then:

The GM is Not a Player, but a Referee
The GM is not meant to be just another player with a slightly different role. The GM is the one who sets the board, creates the adventure; in a role akin to the judge/ref in a sporting match. His relationship toward the players should not be antagonistic, and his actions should be designed to maximize the player's enjoyment, and derive his enjoyment from that perspective.
The other side of this understanding is that the players do not have the authority to overrule or make demands on the GM. Their agreement upon entering the game is that the GM makes the world.
This hierarchical structure, and this contract between players and GM, create the optimal play situation.


So far, sure, that's pretty standard, and I could play in this game.  It's not what I'd run, mind, but I could play it.

Quote
Ironically, game theorists' efforts to put the GM on equal footing to the players is one that will foster an antagonistic play environment. If the GM is just another player, then it is for his own enjoyment that he plays, and then a power struggle ensues.


Why is that?  My enjoyment as GM comes from the players, and not from beating them down, but from challenging them in ways that suit both player and character.  Where's the power struggle?

Quote
The situation is further complicated when you consider that part of the GM's job as a "ref" is to try to maintain a balance between the influence and authority of the players; the players should all be equally influential, in a secondary position to the GM. It is part of the GM's responsibility in a gaming group to make sure that no one player ends up dominating the group through primma donna attitudes, social bullying, or other such qualities.


I'd say that this part is everyone's job.

Quote
If the GM is just one more player, part of the power struggle that ensues can also result in one player ending up dominating the GM, influencing him and the other players to create a dysfunctional group that becomes all about that player.


This can happen in any kind of game.

Quote
Game theorists attempt these radical changes to traditional RPGs because they are dissatisfied with instances in their own play where the GM has railroaded them, created "mary sue" characters, or otherwise made their gaming unpalatable. These problems are NOT caused by the fact that the DM has more power than the players; they are caused by poor GMing, as the GM in those instances has abdicated the responsibility of making the game player-centered (rather than story-centered, or NPC-centered).  Its like if the Ref starts kicking the ball and trying to score goals.  The solution is not to disempower the GM, but to emphasize good GMing skills and the proper place of the GM in the group.


I'll defend only myself on this score, for the moment.  While I've been a crappy GM, I've only twice had to endure playing under one - I taught myself gaming out of GURPS and ran games for six years before I got to play in one; I had been running games for three years before I actually talked at any length with a  gamer that hadn't taught how to play by me.

And, you know what?  I can see your method working.  I've run games by it; did so for a long time.  

Your method works; it simply doesn't give me what I want, and - speaking only for myself, here - it can be a recipe for GM burnout.

The fact that your method works does not in any way make my method unsound.

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But why re-invent the wheel? what you're doing in these situations is creating something different, that will not really be an orthodox RPG, that will probably have all kinds of unexpected consequences to long-term group cohesion, and require unnecessary tinkering; rather than just put the emphasis on playing RPGs, as they were designed to be played, as effectively as possible.

Well, I suppose you could say that about Soccer or Chess too. But changing those things means you're no longer really playing soccer or chess anymore. If RPGs are a "craft", then the craft comes in doing the best work possible within the boundaries of the "rules" of the game.


As for "why", simply to fit the group better.

And I'd happily say that about soccer or chess.  If someone looked at me in a game of D&D I was running, and said "You know, we're not really playing D&D anymore, by some standards", my responses would be, in order "Are you having fun?" and "Are we still playing an RPG, by your standards?" - and in my experience, I'd get a yes to both.  At which point, I couldn't care less if we've gone off into territory that "isn't D&D" anymore.

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This doesn't require gaming theory or disempowering the GM. It just requires effective communication between the players and the GM.


This point I concede; it's true.

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I'm one of the biggest proponents of RPGs being character-centered. That's essential. But that doesn't mean that it has to:
a) exclude the emulation of genre; which often goes directly against a player's wishes for his character.
or
b) mean that players must receive constant and instant wish-fulfillment or gratification for their characters.


I completely agree.  And I haven't argued in favor of either.  

If it's the nature of the characters to fit themselves to a genre, and the desire of players to keep to that, then that's what you do, with the backing of all the other players at the table.  

As for immediate gratification, what on earth are you talking about?  

Quote from: RPGPundit
Its one of my big problems with gaming theorists: they seem to be all about spoiled players and dysfunctional gaming groups and some how calling that more "mature" or "egalitarian" gaming than traditional RPG groups, even though to me it just seems like a bizzare sort of anarchic "law of the jungle" school of gaming.


I've never claimed that my style of play was more "egalitarian", and it's only more mature in the sense that it has developed from what I was doing before.  

...Or would you actually like to add "the micro-culture of RPG theory" to the subjects up for debate?  Because, hey, I'm up for it.

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« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2006, 02:36:39 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Tell me, how much can a STR 17 D&D character arm-curl?  Bench press?  Leg lift?  Do you know these things?  Do you care?  I surely don't.  
Has D&D thus failed to define the physical aspects of the game?  I certainly don't think so - it has, instead, clearly defined the physical aspects of the game as they apply to that system, in terms of what kind of action the game leads you to.  If a game leads me to a different and equally specific kind of action, I want different but equally specific rules.  If it leads me to a different but broader variety of activities, then I want broader rules, in the sense of being able to be applied to situations more flexibly, with a range of description that suits - fuzzy.

What you're saying, if I've grokked you correctly, is that if you're writing a game that's mostly supposed to be about political intrigue in early renaissance europe you do not need or want complex firearm rules; and if you are playing a modern-day espionage game that isn't supposed to include elements of the supernatural, you don't want to include a huge set of rules about magic-use.

This is pretty self-evident. But what I assumed you meant as "fuzzy" were those games where the aspects of the rules that one could safely assume would be regularly used in the game are the very rules that are left intentionally vague as some kind of misguided effort to "force creativity instead of reliance on mechanics".

This is inded different than Rules-lite, since many rules-lite games can be simple but very consistent. I have nothing against rules-lite; i have a lot against rules-fuzzy. Because I think that having crippled mechanics does nothing to encourage roleplay.

As for a "broader variety of activities", I don't see how a broader variety of activities requires fuzzier rules. It requires a broader variety of rules.

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Now, as to rules that govern feelings or thoughts of your character, can you give me an example or two?  I think I know what you mean, but I'd like to be sure.

Well, besides this I also meant to talk about so-called "social mechanics", that supplant actual roleplay with a set of roles that are somehow supposed to "encourage roleplay" when in fact they reduce roleplay to a series of rolls.
But what I meant by rules that govern feelings or thoughts I mean those "personality rules"; either mechanics of character creation that buy "personality traits" that IMO are best left to roleplay, or mechanics that govern how you will react to a specific situation (with the exception of appropriate-to-genre rules, like sanity in CoC).

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Depends what you like.  To "stunt" in Exalted, you describe what you're doing in terms of cool kung-fu badasserry - which means the rule pushes emulation of that feel - and the GM gives you a bonus based on the coolness of the description.  There are guidelines for the bonus wihich are pretty clear, and the reactions of other players are considered.  But the rule is open to broad interpretation.  It's fuzzy, in my terms.

But Feng Shui does the same as exalted, only with clear guidelines that require no "fuzzyness", making for a superior mechanic.

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Yes, exactly.  And in play, I've seen players act on that "rule", jokingly, and their GM listened in amusement, sometimes actually shifted back to a rule where it was appropriate to do so, and they went on.  The rule made the dialogue into "no big deal" - which was perfect.

I really really think that you (and your gaming group, apparently) are reading too much into that rule.

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Is it, in your terms, theory-bad, or just plain bad-bad?

The first kind, I might like.  As to the the second kind, I think I agree with your tastes enough (certainly, in terms of board and d20 games, that's true) to listen.

Synnibar is consistenly ranked among the top 5 worst RPGs of all time. It merited one of the "Darren reviews" of the game on RPG.net. Its one of those kind of games.

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Why is that?  My enjoyment as GM comes from the players, and not from beating them down, but from challenging them in ways that suit both player and character.  Where's the power struggle?

If you're put into a position as GM where a player decides that your "challenge" isn't what he wants, then the solutions are to "give in", which very quickly degenerates the game into a monty haul; to "talk it through with the whole group", which leads to a quagmire of touchy-feely negotiation with your players where certain players will have more pull with you then others.  Or you can just step up and be the GM and do the job the GM is supposed to do. You can listen to your players, you SHOULD listen to your players, especially if they are repeatedly demonstrating a lack of satisfaction. But its a  situation where the structure and orientation of the gaming group works better if it is taken as a given that the final word is the GMs.  RPGs aren't supposed to be a democracy. They are supposed to be a benign dictatorship, where the GM's goal is to make all of his players have an entertaining enjoyable time, and they concede the "GM powers" to him with the understanding that he's not there to power trip or fuck them over; but specifically he needs that power to make sure other PCs don't power trip or fuck the rest of the party over.

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I'd say that this part is everyone's job.

I'd say that having everyone working with the frame of mind of creating a positive environment is condusive to a good game. But "everyone's" job is to support the GM in maintaining this kind of environment. Not taking it upon themselves to do the GM's job for him.

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This can happen in any kind of game.

Except in a game where the GM does not abdicate his power and does not shrug off his responsibilities.

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As for "why", simply to fit the group better.
And I'd happily say that about soccer or chess.  If someone looked at me in a game of D&D I was running, and said "You know, we're not really playing D&D anymore, by some standards", my responses would be, in order "Are you having fun?" and "Are we still playing an RPG, by your standards?" - and in my experience, I'd get a yes to both.  At which point, I couldn't care less if we've gone off into territory that "isn't D&D" anymore.

And that's a fair enough point, for your group.  It is another thing altogether to suggest that games should be designed or gaming as a hobby should be changed to fit that kind of mentality; when the tried and tested standard of how gaming hierarchy works is what has functioned well for the vast majority of gamers throughout gaming history; and especially when your method, applied to groups other than yours, is far more prone to create power struggles and conflicts, or at the very least a great deal of unnecessary "negotiation" and "discussion" that interferes with getting to the gaming.

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As for immediate gratification, what on earth are you talking about?  

In my experience, a lot of the "gaming theory" discussion seems to be about giving players exactly what they want for their characters and for the setting, RIGHT FUCKING NOW. Its the policy of immediate gratification under the veneer of "narrative control" or "story now" or "player empowerment" or any other number of catchphrases that are just the pseudo-intellectual equivalent of monty haul.

Many of the best campaigns I've ever run have centered around players not getting what they wanted for their characters, and the struggle that ensues to turn defeat into victory. Most players, even the ones who claim otherwise, will mostly choose easily-surmountable challenges to their character and the opportunity to look cool if they have the power to do so. But when you up the ante for them and put their characters in situations where things are much tougher than they would have thought they liked, that's when you get them pushed into truly excellent roleplaying and truly exciting play.

Amber taught me that; that real character growth comes from character suffering.
And years of GMing have taught me that games where the players have it easy and get what they think they want will be short-lived games. If players can set their own limits, then they will never be pushed past those limits.

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...Or would you actually like to add "the micro-culture of RPG theory" to the subjects up for debate?  Because, hey, I'm up for it.

You mean the Forge-style theory subculture? The cult of Ron? Do you really honestly think you can or want to be defending that?

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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2006, 06:43:03 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
What you're saying, if I've grokked you correctly, is that if you're writing a game that's mostly supposed to be about political intrigue in early renaissance europe you do not need or want complex firearm rules; and if you are playing a modern-day espionage game that isn't supposed to include elements of the supernatural, you don't want to include a huge set of rules about magic-use.

This is pretty self-evident. But what I assumed you meant as "fuzzy" were those games where the aspects of the rules that one could safely assume would be regularly used in the game are the very rules that are left intentionally vague as some kind of misguided effort to "force creativity instead of reliance on mechanics".

This is inded different than Rules-lite, since many rules-lite games can be simple but very consistent. I have nothing against rules-lite; i have a lot against rules-fuzzy. Because I think that having crippled mechanics does nothing to encourage roleplay.

As for a "broader variety of activities", I don't see how a broader variety of activities requires fuzzier rules. It requires a broader variety of rules.


Okay, we're getting much, much closer.

Now, if it seems as if my point here has been a little hazy and ill-described thus far, I'll apologize for that - I've never argued this particular point rigorously before, despite being convinced that it's true, and you've forced me to clean up my thinking on it to a degree.

So, this is a recampment.  My rephrased position:

1. At any given moment of play, a player is making decisions regarding the actions of their character.  They are guided in their decision-making by the rules the group is playing by, whether those rules are formal or informal, group-built or by-the-book.

2. Rules are, by their nature, limits, and in a good game, that's a positive thing.  A well-developed and well-explained set of rules leads by it's very nature to play of characters that are appropriate to those rules, in ways that that fit what the rules are trying to do.

3. Some rules promote characterisation and genre, often by prompting description or character action tied to effects.  These rules can be helpful in one of two ways; either they put forward a specific kind of characterisation, and support it, or they encourage the player to 'dress' the mechanic in description suitable to their character.

Now, let me give some examples on that third one, just to make this nice and clear.  

In D&D, the ability of a Cleric to turn the Undead promotes characterisation of clerics as people that fight the undead.  Likewise, the pulp rule mentioned quite a while back where one gains bonuses outfittign henchmen the "right way" for genre pushes characterisation of a villian's extended stuff.  Those are specific.

On the other side, while the mathematics on the Power Attack feat are quite clear, and there are boundaries to the ways it could be described, it is open to more than one form of characterisation.  I could happily take it for my barbarian, and descibe the use of it as powerful, uncontrolled swipes.  I could equally take it with a fencing bard and describe the use of it as taking a reckless lunge; it prompts description that fits my character to a degree, but can be described in multiple ways.

Now, I can go a whole lot further down the road than the power attack example, here, but several of the best examples would bog down a bit in this specific debate because they're from games that have other baggage as well.  The confict systems as found in games such as the Shadow of Yesterday, Heroquest, and so on are a natural extension of this principle, though the execution of those systems specifically brings up other issues.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Well, besides this I also meant to talk about so-called "social mechanics", that supplant actual roleplay with a set of roles that are somehow supposed to "encourage roleplay" when in fact they reduce roleplay to a series of rolls.
But what I meant by rules that govern feelings or thoughts I mean those "personality rules"; either mechanics of character creation that buy "personality traits" that IMO are best left to roleplay, or mechanics that govern how you will react to a specific situation (with the exception of appropriate-to-genre rules, like sanity in CoC).


I can't exactly lead a rousing defense of such rules, since I'm pretty cool on most of them myself.  If they lead naturally to meaningful emulation of genre or good conflict, I dig 'em.  If they put boundaries on character behavious to no evident goal, I don't use them.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I really really think that you (and your gaming group, apparently) are reading too much into that rule.


Could be - but it just me though; this was a small-convention game, not my regular group (who would look at me like a martian if I tried to hook them into a game of Hackmaster, but some of whom would happily play Munchkin d20).

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Synnibar is consistenly ranked among the top 5 worst RPGs of all time. It merited one of the "Darren reviews" of the game on RPG.net. Its one of those kind of games.


Having read that...

....Ugh.

Quote from: RPGPundit
If you're put into a position as GM where a player decides that your "challenge" isn't what he wants, then the solutions are to "give in", which very quickly degenerates the game into a monty haul; to "talk it through with the whole group", which leads to a quagmire of touchy-feely negotiation with your players where certain players will have more pull with you then others.


If I challenge one of my players in a way they don't want, and that becomes clear, dropping the challenge is not the same thing as giving out goodies; I'm not sure why you think it is.  Actually, I'd say it's generally the opposite; going through conflicts of different kinds is how players get the goodies in the first place - if they balk, fine, but they get nothing.

Equally, "Dude, that's lame.", followed by "Yeah, screw it, let me try something else" is hardly a touchy-feely quagmire of anything.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Or you can just step up and be the GM and do the job the GM is supposed to do. You can listen to your players, you SHOULD listen to your players, especially if they are repeatedly demonstrating a lack of satisfaction. But its a  situation where the structure and orientation of the gaming group works better if it is taken as a given that the final word is the GMs.  RPGs aren't supposed to be a democracy. They are supposed to be a benign dictatorship, where the GM's goal is to make all of his players have an entertaining enjoyable time, and they concede the "GM powers" to him with the understanding that he's not there to power trip or fuck them over; but specifically he needs that power to make sure other PCs don't power trip or fuck the rest of the party over.


I find it easier to simply tell my players that if they go power tripping or fuck the rest of the players over, then everyone will simply hold them accountable for it; if they keep trying it, after the group has told them to knock that shit off, they won't be playing with us anymore.

As for conflict between characters in the game, so long as both the players are into it, cool.  It's their play to make.  If they aren't both into it, then one of them is likely being a dick, and I - and the whole group with me - will step in and tell them not to be a dick.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I'd say that having everyone working with the frame of mind of creating a positive environment is condusive to a good game. But "everyone's" job is to support the GM in maintaining this kind of environment. Not taking it upon themselves to do the GM's job for him.


I don't make sure people have rides home, or cook for the group, any more than any other member.

What makes this any different?

Quote from: RPGPundit
And that's a fair enough point, for your group.  It is another thing altogether to suggest that games should be designed or gaming as a hobby should be changed to fit that kind of mentality; when the tried and tested standard of how gaming hierarchy works is what has functioned well for the vast majority of gamers throughout gaming history; and especially when your method, applied to groups other than yours, is far more prone to create power struggles and conflicts, or at the very least a great deal of unnecessary "negotiation" and "discussion" that interferes with getting to the gaming.


I'm pleased to buy games that fit my group.  I'll happily talk about what works for my group, and sometimes it helps other people find things that work for them.  That's not a call to change the hobby at large or an attempt at "subversion"; that's just what gamers do.  

Quote from: RPGPundit
In my experience, a lot of the "gaming theory" discussion seems to be about giving players exactly what they want for their characters and for the setting, RIGHT FUCKING NOW. Its the policy of immediate gratification under the veneer of "narrative control" or "story now" or "player empowerment" or any other number of catchphrases that are just the pseudo-intellectual equivalent of monty haul.

Many of the best campaigns I've ever run have centered around players not getting what they wanted for their characters, and the struggle that ensues to turn defeat into victory. Most players, even the ones who claim otherwise, will mostly choose easily-surmountable challenges to their character and the opportunity to look cool if they have the power to do so. But when you up the ante for them and put their characters in situations where things are much tougher than they would have thought they liked, that's when you get them pushed into truly excellent roleplaying and truly exciting play.

Amber taught me that; that real character growth comes from character suffering.
And years of GMing have taught me that games where the players have it easy and get what they think they want will be short-lived games. If players can set their own limits, then they will never be pushed past those limits.


Holy shit, man.

That quote there?  What you just said?  I've heard many, many theorists say almost exactly the same thing, but usually they were railing against specific games and bits of advice in them, rather than against other theorists (though I've heard that one, too).

The only thing that differs substantially is the very last sentence; that one usually comes across as "by setting group limits, we find the trust for each other required to push those limits slowly further".

The argument isn't for immediate gratification.  It's to "cut out the shopping for armor for two fucking hours and get me to the real struggle; yes, I went shopping, who the fuck cares?"

In my experience, players don't want to cut the challenge.  They might want a different challenge, but they do want one.  And they want to fight it, bleed for it, care about it, and win it.

Quote from: RPGPundit
You mean the Forge-style theory subculture? The cult of Ron? Do you really honestly think you can or want to be defending that?


Oh, I can.  But, as a warning of sorts, my primary line of defense would be a comparison of the misperceptions about yourself that you generate and those about them that they have generated, and things you object to about them and things you do yourself.  I don't know if you want to go there.

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« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2006, 12:33:10 AM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen

So, this is a recampment.  My rephrased position:
1. At any given moment of play, a player is making decisions regarding the actions of their character.  They are guided in their decision-making by the rules the group is playing by, whether those rules are formal or informal, group-built or by-the-book.


Assuming the group is using rules clearly, this is true.

Quote

On the other side, while the mathematics on the Power Attack feat are quite clear, and there are boundaries to the ways it could be described, it is open to more than one form of characterisation.  I could happily take it for my barbarian, and descibe the use of it as powerful, uncontrolled swipes.  I could equally take it with a fencing bard and describe the use of it as taking a reckless lunge; it prompts description that fits my character to a degree, but can be described in multiple ways.
Now, I can go a whole lot further down the road than the power attack example, here, but several of the best examples would bog down a bit in this specific debate because they're from games that have other baggage as well.  The confict systems as found in games such as the Shadow of Yesterday, Heroquest, and so on are a natural extension of this principle, though the execution of those systems specifically brings up other issues. ]


Ok, and your point is? Which of these are the "fuzzy" rules? The Cleric's turn undead? The power attack? Heroquest? How do any of these encourage more roleplaying than the other?

I mean, if you have a game where a particular "stunt" mechanic depends on a particular quality of yours (ie. "You can only do the power bagel attack by including a description of how your love of bagels assists you to hit"), its relatively easy for a player to incorporate cheep veneers of these descriptors without making a real effort to roleplay the character.
Likewise, feats that don't require a specific character descriptor element to function can be done with a great deal of roleplay if the player is so inclined.

So I still don't see how one set of rules does a better job of "encouraging roleplay" than the other. Its really more up to the group and the individual player's dedication to including roleplay in the actual play.


Quote

If I challenge one of my players in a way they don't want, and that becomes clear, dropping the challenge is not the same thing as giving out goodies; I'm not sure why you think it is.  Actually, I'd say it's generally the opposite; going through conflicts of different kinds is how players get the goodies in the first place - if they balk, fine, but they get nothing.


Depends what you mean. I'm not talking about a situation where you give the characters a difficult mission to retrieve the sacred fungus to save the kingdom and they say "fuck that shit". That's their perogative, playing out their characters.
I'm talking about a situation where they want to be the General of the Paladin Army, without having to retrieve the sacred fungus in the first place, and all the players agree that it'd be really cool for them to be the High General and the Being of Dark Power and the Merchant Prince; rather than actually have to go through the motions of obtaining that.
Its human nature: given the choice between starting with a +5 Sword and going on a quest to get a +5 Sword, the player will usually choose to start with the +5 Sword rather than have to go through all the rigamarole of seeking it out, if given the choice: That way they can Be Cool.
And it seems to me that a lot of Gaming Theory seems based on the Players getting to Be Cool with zero effort. Unfortunately, being cool is often followed by Being Bored.
If they are not given that choice or do not believe they have the authority to demand a +5 Sword of the GM, however, then they will be quite pleased with having to go through hell to get the Sword, and then the Sword will be that much Cooler for having it.

Quote

I don't make sure people have rides home, or cook for the group, any more than any other member.
What makes this any different?


Because the GM isn't supposed to be in charge of cooking or arranging rides by default. He is supposed to be in charge of running the game.


Quote

I'm pleased to buy games that fit my group.  I'll happily talk about what works for my group, and sometimes it helps other people find things that work for them.  That's not a call to change the hobby at large or an attempt at "subversion"; that's just what gamers do.  


Except here we're talking about what's good for gaming at large.  

Quote

Holy shit, man.
That quote there?  What you just said?  I've heard many, many theorists say almost exactly the same thing, but usually they were railing against specific games and bits of advice in them, rather than against other theorists (though I've heard that one, too).


I must be reading all the stuff by those "other theorists" then, because I rarely hear them talking about anything that supports orthodox gaming over new-age GM-disempowering crap gaming.

Quote

The only thing that differs substantially is the very last sentence; that one usually comes across as "by setting group limits, we find the trust for each other required to push those limits slowly further".


Then that last sentence is where they get stupid. You don't push limits by chit-chatting with your PCs so they can give you their wish list of power-mongering and prima-donna angst-acting. You push limits by creating e vocative adventures where the characters feel real challenge, real menace, usually by killing one or two of them off or occasionally screwing them over big time, but always with the chance of taking a highly lethal or screwed up situation and turning it into victory.

Quote

The argument isn't for immediate gratification.  It's to "cut out the shopping for armor for two fucking hours and get me to the real struggle; yes, I went shopping, who the fuck cares?"


A lot of people care. To a lot of people, the shopping is an essential part of SOME games. To others it isn't; it usually depends on what the DM is trying to emulate.

Quote

Oh, I can.  But, as a warning of sorts, my primary line of defense would be a comparison of the misperceptions about yourself that you generate and those about them that they have generated, and things you object to about them and things you do yourself.  I don't know if you want to go there.


Try me. Only, I would challenge you to show me that the misconceptions I have about them are genuine misconceptions, and not unfortunate truths. I mean, I have been to the Forge and seen the Cult of Ron firsthand, I have read some (not all, of course) of the Forgey-games, and I have read the theory threads on RPG.net.
Like Patton, I've read their books. And I know what these not-very-magnificent bastards would want to change RPGs to be like.

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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2006, 01:09:24 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Ok, and your point is? Which of these are the "fuzzy" rules? The Cleric's turn undead? The power attack? Heroquest? How do any of these encourage more roleplaying than the other?

I mean, if you have a game where a particular "stunt" mechanic depends on a particular quality of yours (ie. "You can only do the power bagel attack by including a description of how your love of bagels assists you to hit"), its relatively easy for a player to incorporate cheep veneers of these descriptors without making a real effort to roleplay the character.
Likewise, feats that don't require a specific character descriptor element to function can be done with a great deal of roleplay if the player is so inclined.

So I still don't see how one set of rules does a better job of "encouraging roleplay" than the other. Its really more up to the group and the individual player's dedication to including roleplay in the actual play.


Again, you seem to expect that what many players want is to be lazy.

I assume the exact opposite; what they want is to play a character that they think is totally awesome.  That means, for some, rules elements that let them show off their stuff regularly and reliably, in a predictable way - good rules.  It also means, for others, rules that don't block them from showing things off their own way.  Including one doesn't mean excluding the other.

In those terms, True 20 does better than D&D; it doesn't get in the way of that kind of player action as often.  Perfect 20 goes even further, and systems like heroquest and the Exchange go the full distance.

Going the other direction, some players (very likely the majority, really) want solid archetypes and recognizable, consistent tactics that they will play to in new ways, rather than tools to create ones.  They want to go the other direction, and the market leader or something similar generally suits them fine.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Depends what you mean. I'm not talking about a situation where you give the characters a difficult mission to retrieve the sacred fungus to save the kingdom and they say "fuck that shit". That's their perogative, playing out their characters.
I'm talking about a situation where they want to be the General of the Paladin Army, without having to retrieve the sacred fungus in the first place, and all the players agree that it'd be really cool for them to be the High General and the Being of Dark Power and the Merchant Prince; rather than actually have to go through the motions of obtaining that.
Its human nature: given the choice between starting with a +5 Sword and going on a quest to get a +5 Sword, the player will usually choose to start with the +5 Sword rather than have to go through all the rigamarole of seeking it out, if given the choice: That way they can Be Cool.
And it seems to me that a lot of Gaming Theory seems based on the Players getting to Be Cool with zero effort. Unfortunately, being cool is often followed by Being Bored.
If they are not given that choice or do not believe they have the authority to demand a +5 Sword of the GM, however, then they will be quite pleased with having to go through hell to get the Sword, and then the Sword will be that much Cooler for having it.


There's some truth in what you're saying, to be sure.  Characters in theory-formed games are often given much more freedom, ability, and the like.  They tend to start off Being Cool.

So, my players want to play the High General and the Being of Dark Power and the Merchant Prince.  Nice.  I got no problem with that - actually, that sounds like a pretty fun starting cast to me.  But they aren't done setting up, yet.  They must have a struggle built-in to them that is meaningful to those characters, just like any other character, or we will be bored.

The struggle of "obtain power and wealth and glory" is nice, but it's not the only one around.  "Obtain redemption" is actually the kind of struggle I'd be most likely to put in front of the players that handed me those three characters you've named; and if the players thought that was great, that's what we'd go for.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Because the GM isn't supposed to be in charge of cooking or arranging rides by default. He is supposed to be in charge of running the game.


He's supposed to be in charge of playing the setting and challenging the players.  To me, the rest is negotiable.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Except here we're talking about what's good for gaming at large.


You bet.  And what's not good about having a whole variety of different styles of play competing, mingling, under constant discussion?  That strikes me as far better than everyone trying to play the same way, buying the same games.  

I mean, there's no question that the market has a single absolute leader; d20 is king, unmatched.  And the people that write it read a lot of different opinions, even some as flaky as mine.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I must be reading all the stuff by those "other theorists" then, because I rarely hear them talking about anything that supports orthodox gaming over new-age GM-disempowering crap gaming.


And that shocks you?

Orthodox gaming doesn't need fresh support from them; it has plenty rolling out as it is - also, you also see more people talking about how they want to house-rule their game of choice than you see celebrating just how amazing those rules are.  That's the nature of the beast.

I note that your invective has started to get cleaner; "new-age GM-disempowering crap" is much better insult.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Then that last sentence is where they get stupid. You don't push limits by chit-chatting with your PCs so they can give you their wish list of power-mongering and prima-donna angst-acting. You push limits by creating evocative adventures where the characters feel real challenge, real menace, usually by killing one or two of them off or occasionally screwing them over big time, but always with the chance of taking a highly lethal or screwed up situation and turning it into victory.


...Or you push limits by having situations that involve things that any person in their right mind would get keyed up over, whatever their position, and where the characters need to make hard choices.  

...Or any number of other methods.  Why limit it?

Quote from: RPGPundit
A lot of people care. To a lot of people, the shopping is an essential part of SOME games. To others it isn't; it usually depends on what the DM is trying to emulate.


What is served by spending time shopping?  Seriously, what's the gain?

Quote from: RPGPundit
Try me. Only, I would challenge you to show me that the misconceptions I have about them are genuine misconceptions, and not unfortunate truths. I mean, I have been to the Forge and seen the Cult of Ron firsthand, I have read some (not all, of course) of the Forgey-games, and I have read the theory threads on RPG.net.
Like Patton, I've read their books. And I know what these not-very-magnificent bastards would want to change RPGs to be like.


Okay.

Here's a simple comparison.  Take a look at your journal.  Some of it is discussion about things, some of it is you giving your thoughts on this and that, and some of it is you railing against the things that piss you off.  It's not professional, it's personal.  And to the eye of a casual reader, it's looks like there's a lot of groupthink going on there; you even make references to your "proxy army".

But many people wouldn't note that there are plenty of people there that see you making some points they nod along with, and others that just make them wince.  I post there, and we hardly see eye-to-eye on everything - some things, sure, but not all.  Hell, Clinton R. Nixon has popped for a look now and again, and he's the guy that actually does the day-to-day running of the Forge site.  It's not a big "everyone thinks the same stuff as the Pundit" session.

But there's obviously one voice that dominates.  A big, cranky voice given over to making big, sweeping statements that catch the eye in a weird tone, but once assimilated, actually have something to say.

And there are plenty of terms used that offend.  Brain Damage.  Swine.  Incoherent.  Lawncrappers.

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« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2006, 03:11:53 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Again, you seem to expect that what many players want is to be lazy.
I assume the exact opposite; what they want is to play a character that they think is totally awesome.  That means, for some, rules elements that let them show off their stuff regularly and reliably, in a predictable way - good rules.  It also means, for others, rules that don't block them from showing things off their own way.  Including one doesn't mean excluding the other.


Its not about laziness. Its about what the players want from the game.

Some players want to be "always on". They want every little Cleave and Power attack and every trip to the bathroom to be roleplayed. And systems that don't mandate that descriptiveness be included in every attack can still do that, just as well as the descriptive ones. If the player wants to roleplay, he can roleplay it. Believe me, I know; I had one player in my BlueRose/PortBlacksand campaign that enjoyed roleplaying his every swordthrust in combat and explaining how it related to his training and study in the philosophy of the Balance; and how his success or peril in combat affected his confidence in his chosen philosophy etc etc.

Meanwhile, making games REQUIRE descriptiveness for every mechanic means that the players that want to do that sort of thing (which are to me the minority) will do it happy anyways, though probably no better than the would at D&D. But the ones who don't really need to describe every little act and grok that good roleplaying isn't really about that anyways, they will probably just slip by with the minimal possible description required by the rule to allow the bonus or whatever and move on. The difference is that doing that with no real effort is a fuckload of a lot worse than just saying "i attack" and rolling the D20 without effort; because the systems that try to MANDATE descriptiveness will stink much worse if that "descriptiveness" is half-hearted.

Its not about lazyness, its about having a different idea of how roleplaying is done. I don't think that putting descriptors into every action is "roleplaying", not real roleplaying anyways.

Quote

Going the other direction, some players (very likely the majority, really) want solid archetypes and recognizable, consistent tactics that they will play to in new ways, rather than tools to create ones.  They want to go the other direction, and the market leader or something similar generally suits them fine.


Ok but you still seem to be arguing that there's a difference between those "fuzzy" games and D&D and that the "fuzzy" games somehow are "more" roleplaying than D&D is. And I continue to insist that the difference in these things never lie in the game played but in the party playing; and that games which try to push "more roleplaying" usually just create "fake roleplaying".

Quote

There's some truth in what you're saying, to be sure.  Characters in theory-formed games are often given much more freedom, ability, and the like.  They tend to start off Being Cool.


Note that I was using "Being Cool" in a deeply sarcastic way; since I don't think that the coolness of the character depends on whether he can level cities or has the +25 sword of System-breaking.

Quote

So, my players want to play the High General and the Being of Dark Power and the Merchant Prince.  Nice.  I got no problem with that - actually, that sounds like a pretty fun starting cast to me.  But they aren't done setting up, yet.  They must have a struggle built-in to them that is meaningful to those characters, just like any other character, or we will be bored.
The struggle of "obtain power and wealth and glory" is nice, but it's not the only one around.  


Certainly not, but i think you got sucked into my example and are missing my fundamental point. If a game is supposed to be ABOUT something, and the players decide that they want to start with that something already resolved or easily resolved in their favour, then the game is going to go downhill fast.

I also don't believe that the "struggle" of an adventure or campaign needs to be "built into" the characters. I think it can be provided externally from the GM. That idea of the struggle having to come from the characters is usually an excuse to create pretentious angsty games where the characters are already of great power and really do whatever the fuck they want, but the players give a bit of lip service to how depressed and angsty they are.

Characters can just as easily start with no inherent struggle and be thrust into a situation where they must struggle; "save the kingdom", "stop the world from ending", "you've ended up getting this funky Ring...", etc etc.

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"Obtain redemption" is actually the kind of struggle I'd be most likely to put in front of the players that handed me those three characters you've named; and if the players thought that was great, that's what we'd go for.


Really? "Obtain Redemption"? You'd go with that?
I mean, really? The most angsty pretentious pseudo-artsy "i'm going to pretend to be upset about my great power" excuse of all?


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You bet.  And what's not good about having a whole variety of different styles of play competing, mingling, under constant discussion?  That strikes me as far better than everyone trying to play the same way, buying the same games.  
I mean, there's no question that the market has a single absolute leader; d20 is king, unmatched.  And the people that write it read a lot of different opinions, even some as flaky as mine.


I'm saying that because of the nature of most gaming groups, the kind of egalitarian "everyone is equally special" "the DM is just another player" thing written into the rules of a game would make that game unappealing, broken, and unplayable to the vast majority of gaming groups.
Whereas, if you create the game from the point of view of orthodox gaming groups and conventions, individual groups can always choose to go all touchy feeling.

I mean, shit, for SOME groups the game might run better if the entire gaming group is stark naked while they play. I am absolutely sure that my gaming group is not one of them, and would give a hearty "fuck you" to any game that tried to tell me that this is the optimal way to play.

The Nudist gamers can still play D&D, you see, they just privately and personally get naked to do it.
But make "The Naked RPG", and anyone who isn't a Nudist gamer certainly won't be able to play it well. Worse, if you have a whole movement running around claiming that the "SUPERIOR" way to play is Naked, then you'll get groups becoming totally fucked up and then wondering why they're so inferior that they can't manage playing Naked well; when in fact there was absolutely nothing wrong with their groups until some shitheads managed to convince them that they needed to be Naked to roleplay.

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What is served by spending time shopping?  Seriously, what's the gain?


Many games are based on scarcity of equiptment. If I take my players deep into the Wilderlands of High Fantasy I don't WANT them to be able to say "well i'm sure I shopped for a rope somewhere", or "I have a Grappling Hook because its DRAMATICALLY CONVENIENT" *insert rainbow and flowers here*.
Fuck that shit. You didn't buy it when you had the chance, now you have to make due without it.

In some other games, that might not be necessary. Its ok for me to use the wealth system in my Roman game or in Port Blacksand because those games weren't about acquiring treasure.  But in my wilderlands game every last food ration is important because whether or not you bought it or got it somewhere can mean the diff between living and starving to death.

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Here's a simple comparison.  Take a look at your journal.  Some of it is discussion about things, some of it is you giving your thoughts on this and that, and some of it is you railing against the things that piss you off.  It's not professional, it's personal.  


Actually, its Gonzo. Which is all about making the personal professional.

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And to the eye of a casual reader, it's looks like there's a lot of groupthink going on there; you even make references to your "proxy army".


A term that comes from the Swine's claim that anyone who reads my website and later writes on RPG.net is just writing as my "proxy", not writing their own opinions.

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But many people wouldn't note that there are plenty of people there that see you making some points they nod along with, and others that just make them wince.  I post there, and we hardly see eye-to-eye on everything - some things, sure, but not all.  Hell, Clinton R. Nixon has popped for a look now and again, and he's the guy that actually does the day-to-day running of the Forge site.  It's not a big "everyone thinks the same stuff as the Pundit" session.
But there's obviously one voice that dominates.  A big, cranky voice given over to making big, sweeping statements that catch the eye in a weird tone, but once assimilated, actually have something to say.


Right, and now you're suggesting that Gaming theory is the same.
I have two responses to that.
First; specifically, the Forge: the difference between MY BLOG and "the Forge" is that my blog is very clearly, obviously, focused on the writing of one man. Its a BLOG for fuck's sake.
Whereas the Forge claims to be THE forum for discussion of "Indie RPGs". That means it should be a place someone could go to without ever having read Ron Edwards or GNS, and write about gaming theory or indie RPGs from HIS point of view. But this is not the case. On the Forge, it is taken for granted that Ron Edwards is the Leader.

Second; gaming theory as a whole. Gaming Theory as a whole is based on a subculture that, at its core, is driven by nothing more than an elitist hatred for D&D as an "inferior game". All its claims about wanting to "understand how RPGs work better" is just so much bullshit, because virtually all gaming theory starts from the point of view that the SINGLE MOST SUCCESSFUL AND PLAYED RPG OF ALL TIME is "broken" or wrongly done.
They do not want to understand how Gamers play or how to play better; they want to argue that people who play and enjoy Orthodox RPGs (not just D&D, but with D&D as the number one villain) are playing out of ignorance or bad choices and want to impose a concept of gaming that defines RPGs as something different than what they are. Their real agenda is to use pseudo-intellectual claptrap to try to turn people away from playing conventional RPGs and make them feel stupid or inferior for playing them.
They are hypocrites, and thus I despise them.

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And there are plenty of terms used that offend.  Brain Damage.  Swine.  Incoherent.  Lawncrappers.


Brain Damage is YOUR side's term. Not mine. And the proof that the Forge is nothing more than a cult is how the vast majority of people stepped up directly behind Ron Edwards and backed him up completely; coupled with a small minority who criticized him but fundamentally argued "well that's just Ron's way" or "its his site, who are we to argue with him?".

You want to argue that I'm an asshole? That's fine. I AM an asshole.
But then you have to argue that he's an asshole too.
But the difference is that I'm an asshole who's out to defend mainstream Roleplay.
Whereas Ron is just an asshole out to be seen as the brilliant cult-leader of the "real intellectuals" of the game.

I regularly mock those who claim that my readers are just yes-men.
Ron Edwards regularly expects his readers to be Yes-men.

I encourage people to argue against me in my own Blog.
Ron Edwards closes the gaming theory forum because his theory is now Perfect and needs no further corrections.

The difference is that I don't want a cult-leader status, and he does. I don't take mine seriously, and he does.

And all of gaming theory is the poorer for it. Ron Edwards has permanently poisoned the well. Any attempt at doing real gaming theory from a sincere perspective without the hidden agenda of forgeites that  I've detailed above is now impossible because of the weight of all the utter shit that has been dumped on theory and how theory is done, thanks to Mr.Edwards.

Frankly, I'm amazed that you in particular don't want the fucker drawn and quartered for what he's done.

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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2006, 04:41:58 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Its not about laziness. Its about what the players want from the game.

Some players want to be "always on". They want every little Cleave and Power attack and every trip to the bathroom to be roleplayed. And systems that don't mandate that descriptiveness be included in every attack can still do that, just as well as the descriptive ones. If the player wants to roleplay, he can roleplay it. Believe me, I know; I had one player in my BlueRose/PortBlacksand campaign that enjoyed roleplaying his every swordthrust in combat and explaining how it related to his training and study in the philosophy of the Balance; and how his success or peril in combat affected his confidence in his chosen philosophy etc etc.

Meanwhile, making games REQUIRE descriptiveness for every mechanic means that the players that want to do that sort of thing (which are to me the minority) will do it happy anyways, though probably no better than the would at D&D. But the ones who don't really need to describe every little act and grok that good roleplaying isn't really about that anyways, they will probably just slip by with the minimal possible description required by the rule to allow the bonus or whatever and move on. The difference is that doing that with no real effort is a fuckload of a lot worse than just saying "i attack" and rolling the D20 without effort; because the systems that try to MANDATE descriptiveness will stink much worse if that "descriptiveness" is half-hearted.


You know, I actually agree with most of this.

I even agree that this puts my group in the minority.

The only point I'd argue here is that the players wanting to do this will, in my experience, do a better job when it is mandated, and enjoy it more because it's been made central.  The thing that they want and like has been put closer to the forefront of the game; that's a good thing for them.

This means that games written to this style may well have a smaller audience.  So be it.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Its not about lazyness, its about having a different idea of how roleplaying is done. I don't think that putting descriptors into every action is "roleplaying", not real roleplaying anyways.


The bare act of description isn't.  Characterisation is; and it is expressed through action and description.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Ok but you still seem to be arguing that there's a difference between those "fuzzy" games and D&D and that the "fuzzy" games somehow are "more" roleplaying than D&D is. And I continue to insist that the difference in these things never lie in the game played but in the party playing; and that games which try to push "more roleplaying" usually just create "fake roleplaying".


A roleplaying game that blocks me from any kind of characterisation by spurring me to look for "the optimal choice" rather than "the most interesting one for my character" is pushing me to think of it more as a game instead of a roleplaying experience.  I prefer to think of it as both.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Note that I was using "Being Cool" in a deeply sarcastic way; since I don't think that the coolness of the character depends on whether he can level cities or has the +25 sword of System-breaking.


I actually didn't catch it.  I don't think coolness is entirely dependent on character power; but it can be a factor.  Characters need to be strong enough to make a difference to the parts of the setting that they actually interact with.  And the three sample characters that you provided actually strike me as pretty cool.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Certainly not, but i think you got sucked into my example and are missing my fundamental point. If a game is supposed to be ABOUT something, and the players decide that they want to start with that something already resolved or easily resolved in their favour, then the game is going to go downhill fast.


Again, you find yourself in total agreement with me and the main body of theory.  

Quote from: RPGPundit
I also don't believe that the "struggle" of an adventure or campaign needs to be "built into" the characters. I think it can be provided externally from the GM. That idea of the struggle having to come from the characters is usually an excuse to create pretentious angsty games where the characters are already of great power and really do whatever the fuck they want, but the players give a bit of lip service to how depressed and angsty they are.

Characters can just as easily start with no inherent struggle and be thrust into a situation where they must struggle; "save the kingdom", "stop the world from ending", "you've ended up getting this funky Ring...", etc etc.


To me, the game hasn't really started until the struggle is known, and the characters have commited to it.  Everything before that is a prelude; it might be interesting, but it's not what I go to the table for.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Really? "Obtain Redemption"? You'd go with that?
I mean, really? The most angsty pretentious pseudo-artsy "i'm going to pretend to be upset about my great power" excuse of all?


"Pretend to be upset?" Hell, no.  That's ass.

"Escape the wrath of a powerful and righteous God by putting right the wrongs I commited to obtain my power, and struggle with the fact that I really like my great power and don't want to give it up, but don't want to get struck down, either." - that's a quest for redemption.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I'm saying that because of the nature of most gaming groups, the kind of egalitarian "everyone is equally special" "the DM is just another player" thing written into the rules of a game would make that game unappealing, broken, and unplayable to the vast majority of gaming groups.
Whereas, if you create the game from the point of view of orthodox gaming groups and conventions, individual groups can always choose to go all touchy feeling.

I mean, shit, for SOME groups the game might run better if the entire gaming group is stark naked while they play. I am absolutely sure that my gaming group is not one of them, and would give a hearty "fuck you" to any game that tried to tell me that this is the optimal way to play.

The Nudist gamers can still play D&D, you see, they just privately and personally get naked to do it.
But make "The Naked RPG", and anyone who isn't a Nudist gamer certainly won't be able to play it well. Worse, if you have a whole movement running around claiming that the "SUPERIOR" way to play is Naked, then you'll get groups becoming totally fucked up and then wondering why they're so inferior that they can't manage playing Naked well; when in fact there was absolutely nothing wrong with their groups until some shitheads managed to convince them that they needed to be Naked to roleplay.


You honestly believe that every game should try to appeal to all kinds of players equally?  I don't.  We have a game for that.  What we have less of are games that appeal to the people that want a narrower focus.

I've never played naked, for the record.  But considering that somewhat over half of my players are female, and in their mid-20s...

*Ahem*

The whole "my way is superior to yours" thing doesn't really make me hot, either; it's just another form of pretension.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Many games are based on scarcity of equiptment. If I take my players deep into the Wilderlands of High Fantasy I don't WANT them to be able to say "well i'm sure I shopped for a rope somewhere", or "I have a Grappling Hook because its DRAMATICALLY CONVENIENT" *insert rainbow and flowers here*.
Fuck that shit. You didn't buy it when you had the chance, now you have to make due without it.

In some other games, that might not be necessary. Its ok for me to use the wealth system in my Roman game or in Port Blacksand because those games weren't about acquiring treasure.  But in my wilderlands game every last food ration is important because whether or not you bought it or got it somewhere can mean the diff between living and starving to death.


Okay.  This, I can agree with.  Makes sense.

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Actually, its Gonzo. Which is all about making the personal professional.


Which most people can't tell; most people think of "Gonzo" as the guy from the Muppet show.

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A term that comes from the Swine's claim that anyone who reads my website and later writes on RPG.net is just writing as my "proxy", not writing their own opinions.


Again, true.  But I'm talking perception here, not reality.

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Right, and now you're suggesting that Gaming theory is the same.
I have two responses to that.
First; specifically, the Forge: the difference between MY BLOG and "the Forge" is that my blog is very clearly, obviously, focused on the writing of one man. Its a BLOG for fuck's sake.
Whereas the Forge claims to be THE forum for discussion of "Indie RPGs". That means it should be a place someone could go to without ever having read Ron Edwards or GNS, and write about gaming theory or indie RPGs from HIS point of view. But this is not the case. On the Forge, it is taken for granted that Ron Edwards is the Leader.


The Forge is the center of the Indie game movement.  Which is distinct from the small-press game movement, or even the yet smaller and stranger Ransom game movement.

And Ron Edwards isn't the only leader.  There are quite a few.  He just gets the most press, because he's the most inflammatory.

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Second; gaming theory as a whole. Gaming Theory as a whole is based on a subculture that, at its core, is driven by nothing more than an elitist hatred for D&D as an "inferior game". All its claims about wanting to "understand how RPGs work better" is just so much bullshit, because virtually all gaming theory starts from the point of view that the SINGLE MOST SUCCESSFUL AND PLAYED RPG OF ALL TIME is "broken" or wrongly done.

They do not want to understand how Gamers play or how to play better; they want to argue that people who play and enjoy Orthodox RPGs (not just D&D, but with D&D as the number one villain) are playing out of ignorance or bad choices and want to impose a concept of gaming that defines RPGs as something different than what they are. Their real agenda is to use pseudo-intellectual claptrap to try to turn people away from playing conventional RPGs and make them feel stupid or inferior for playing them.
They are hypocrites, and thus I despise them.


Uh, nope.

If you want to criticize theorists on the basis of their hidden agenda, go with "They had really shitty gaming experiences, and wanted to remake their gaming so they wouldn't have to put up with that crap." - it's close enough to almost be true in many cases.

Back in the day, before the Forge, most theorists didn't give a damn about the whole of the hobby.  They cared about their play experiences,  not those of anyone else.  They were basically thinking out loud, and then hooking up with people that had similar thoughts.  And when they got play experiences that they really like, most of them thought "Hey, this is really cool.  I should tell these other guys that think like me about this, so they can see just how cool it is."  and by sharing with each other, they found people that they're interested in sharing ideas with individually.  

Later, around the same time the Forge was developing, a lot of theorists got questioned on how to do X and Y and Z, and they started saying "Look, your gaming is your concern.  If you want to know what I think, I already wrote it down.  Go read it; but understand that like you, I'm here to get the gaming I want first and foremost." - they were even good enough to provide links, which was pretty nice of them, considering that they weren't doing it to change the hobby, just their own gaming.

The whole idea of taking theory out of those groups and making games for sale based on it is actually pretty recent.  The idea of making it "friendly" to outsiders is also pretty recent.  And there are plenty of people still in the theory community that think in terms of "I'm here to work on my own play; what you get out of this is totally incidental to me." - these people contrast pretty readily with the people making games and selling them and getting excited about how this is creating a whole new "kind" of gaming.  But they all know each other, and hang out in the same places, so it looks really confusing from the outside.  That's just how it is, and I don't see any evil agenda there.

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Brain Damage is YOUR side's term. Not mine. And the proof that the Forge is nothing more than a cult is how the vast majority of people stepped up directly behind Ron Edwards and backed him up completely; coupled with a small minority who criticized him but fundamentally argued "well that's just Ron's way" or "its his site, who are we to argue with him?".


I did neither.  I was not alone.

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You want to argue that I'm an asshole? That's fine. I AM an asshole.
But then you have to argue that he's an asshole too.
But the difference is that I'm an asshole who's out to defend mainstream Roleplay.
Whereas Ron is just an asshole out to be seen as the brilliant cult-leader of the "real intellectuals" of the game.


You're both cantakerous bastards.  I like cantankerous bastards; they think things I would never have come up with on my own.  And I don't see him trying to be a "cult leader" at all.

Really, you both remind me of Dennis Leary's character in the film Demolition Man, who I enjoyed immensely.

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I regularly mock those who claim that my readers are just yes-men.
Ron Edwards regularly expects his readers to be Yes-men.

I encourage people to argue against me in my own Blog.
Ron Edwards closes the gaming theory forum because his theory is now Perfect and needs no further corrections.


Actually, he was quite willing to argue with me on any point I chose, and so far as I know, closed the forum because it was going in circles.  

I've been really tempted to challenge him to a debate of this kind sometime in the future, though.

Quote
And all of gaming theory is the poorer for it. Ron Edwards has permanently poisoned the well. Any attempt at doing real gaming theory from a sincere perspective without the hidden agenda of forgeites that  I've detailed above is now impossible because of the weight of all the utter shit that has been dumped on theory and how theory is done, thanks to Mr.Edwards.

Frankly, I'm amazed that you in particular don't want the fucker drawn and quartered for what he's done.


I welcome opposing viewpoints to mine.  Always.  I prefer that they aim for my thinking rather than for my dignity, but I'm willing to take some indignity so long as my thinking is also challenged.

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« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2006, 05:50:36 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen

The only point I'd argue here is that the players wanting to do this will, in my experience, do a better job when it is mandated, and enjoy it more because it's been made central.  The thing that they want and like has been put closer to the forefront of the game; that's a good thing for them.


But to me, its the case of the "one sour apple spoils the bunch" scenario.  When you're using a system that doesn't make this MANDATORY, then the characters who do use descriptiveness in combat don't ruin it for the rest of the group.
But when it is MANDATORY, then the players who have no interest in this will end up either doing it half-heartedly or will do it as an excuse for munchkin behaviour (always using the most "Powerful" description they can to get the best advantage), and this WILL ruin the game for everyone.


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A roleplaying game that blocks me from any kind of characterisation by spurring me to look for "the optimal choice" rather than "the most interesting one for my character" is pushing me to think of it more as a game instead of a roleplaying experience.  I prefer to think of it as both.


See, the point is that if you have a group of people, some of whom like to smoke and others don't, then its pretty fucking shitheaded to forbid smoking in this group and screw the people that like to smoke; I get that, obviously.

But its FAR more shitheaded to REQUIRE the non-smokers to start smoking just because the smokers really like it.
Wouldn't you agree the ideal would be a situation where the smokers can smoke and the non-smokers can choose not to?

There isn't a game alive that doesn't push players toward the "Optimal choice": If finding away to depict your Love of Bagels as a characteristic into an attack will give you a +5 bonus, then you can bet that a player who wants to be "Optimal" will find a way to "roleplay" (used with high sarcasm) their love of Bagels. Not because they want to be better roleplayers, but because they want their +5.  Just as surely as if Kicks do 1d8 and punches do 1d6, you'll get certain players using nothing but kicks, and sense and roleplaying be damned.

You are talking, really, about two different situations. One is encouraging Roleplaying, the other is making sure players aren't just powergaming/minmaxing their tactical choices rather than doing what makes the most sense for their character.

The former can't be encouraged by rules. That is my position. There is no such thing as a system that "encourages roleplaying": There may be a system that "encourages fake descriptiveness and pretense of roleplay"; but ironically in my experience these systems tend to hamstring real roleplaying (because then the characters are faced with a choice between "real" roleplaying with no reward in the system or "pretense of roleplay" with a reward, and they'll choose the pretense instead of the real immersion).

The latter has to be dealt with by the rules, but it doesn't fundamentally have to do with trying to convince the character that he "really ought to roleplay instead of just always doing kicks because they do a d8", it has to do with finding ways to make those D8 kicks less appealing.

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I actually didn't catch it.  I don't think coolness is entirely dependent on character power; but it can be a factor.  Characters need to be strong enough to make a difference to the parts of the setting that they actually interact with.  And the three sample characters that you provided actually strike me as pretty cool.


I have run campaigns of Amber where the characters are literally godlings, and campaigns of Call of Cthulhu where the characters were essentially totally normal, and both have been cool.

But my point is you can't just be "given" cool. Its like: you can premake a character to 10th level in D&D, or you can make a 1st level character and roleplay him up to 10th. The pre-made 10th level character will NEVER seem like the character that's been roleplayed up to 10th. Why? because he will be created from scratch; he won't have any of the wierd advantages or disadvantages the other char might have amassed over weeks of play; he won't have the less than optimal advancement choices that a character might have been forced to make (taking a feat at lv 3 that's really good for lv.3 but close to useless at level 10); he'll always be ideal because he's sprung from the forehead of the player with no prior history. Likewise, the character that has been played through will be much deeper and much more profound.
Now, they both might start as Merchant Princes. But the premade one will be a kind of Jerry Bruckheimer Merchant Prince, created by commitee to fit the unidimensional stereotype of cool; while the one that has been played up to 10th level will be cool in ways the "jerry" character could never possibly be, because I as a DM will have made the player sweat blood from his testicles to get that character to being a Merchant Prince.

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Again, you find yourself in total agreement with me and the main body of theory.  


You keep saying that but everything I've seen about game theory tells me the opposite. If they really had these views, then I wouldn't have such issues with them.

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To me, the game hasn't really started until the struggle is known, and the characters have commited to it.  Everything before that is a prelude; it might be interesting, but it's not what I go to the table for.


I agree that the struggle or struggles usually should be defined early in any campaign; but I still don't feel that they have to come from the characters themselves. It can come from the GM and where he wants to take the campaign, assuming the characters choose to go with it. If they don't, then they can find other struggles.

Also, there's nothing wrong at all with pastiche, no matter how much theorists hate "simulationism"; some of the best games have no inherent struggle as a theme but rather the "struggle" of wanderlust, travelling through a world to discover it and grow and learn.

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"Pretend to be upset?" Hell, no.  That's ass.
"Escape the wrath of a powerful and righteous God by putting right the wrongs I commited to obtain my power, and struggle with the fact that I really like my great power and don't want to give it up, but don't want to get struck down, either." - that's a quest for redemption.  


My players, at least, wouldn't care for that sort of thing.  Why give them great power for nothing only to take it away? Why not start them without power and give them the much more entertaining struggle to obtain it, and then let them use it with the knowledge and satisfaction that they worked hard to get it?

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You honestly believe that every game should try to appeal to all kinds of players equally?  I don't.  We have a game for that.  What we have less of are games that appeal to the people that want a narrower focus.


I don't believe that every game should have to appeal to all kinds of gamers equally. I do believe that the most successful games are those that will have appeal to the largest varieties of gamers. Not many gamers are going to be drawn to Gay Cowboys Eating Pudding, and to suggest that we must change the industry to focus on those kinds of games is irresponsible.

Quote

The whole "my way is superior to yours" thing doesn't really make me hot, either; it's just another form of pretension.


Bully for you. But you must admit that it is something that is endemic in Gaming Theory. The vast majority of gaming theorists believe their style of roleplay is superior because of how much time they spend inventing made-up terms for it. They convince the stupid, young, and innocent that they too must use stupid made-up terms and try to "optimize their group" and "discuss narrative" in order to have the "superior" gaming experience, and in so doing fuck up these poor kids for life.

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Which most people can't tell; most people think of "Gonzo" as the guy from the Muppet show.


Well, people who know anything about journalism, or Hunter S. Thompson or whatever will grok what I'm doing. For the ones who don't, that just makes it all the more amusing.

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The Forge is the center of the Indie game movement.  Which is distinct from the small-press game movement, or even the yet smaller and stranger Ransom game movement.
And Ron Edwards isn't the only leader.  There are quite a few.  He just gets the most press, because he's the most inflammatory.


From what I've seen of how the rest of the Forge slowly orbits around Ron Edward's rectum, I would have to say he is "the Leader".

Quote

If you want to criticize theorists on the basis of their hidden agenda, go with "They had really shitty gaming experiences, and wanted to remake their gaming so they wouldn't have to put up with that crap." - it's close enough to almost be true in many cases.


But its also "my shitty gaming experiences must be solved by my intellectual diarrhea and the same is what will help others; I am so smart"!

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Back in the day, before the Forge, most theorists didn't give a damn about the whole of the hobby.  They cared about their play experiences,  not those of anyone else.  They were basically thinking out loud, and then hooking up with people that had similar thoughts.  And when they got play experiences that they really like, most of them thought "Hey, this is really cool.  I should tell these other guys that think like me about this, so they can see just how cool it is."  and by sharing with each other, they found people that they're interested in sharing ideas with individually.  

Later, around the same time the Forge was developing, a lot of theorists got questioned on how to do X and Y and Z, and they started saying "Look, your gaming is your concern.  If you want to know what I think, I already wrote it down.  Go read it; but understand that like you, I'm here to get the gaming I want first and foremost." - they were even good enough to provide links, which was pretty nice of them, considering that they weren't doing it to change the hobby, just their own gaming.

The whole idea of taking theory out of those groups and making games for sale based on it is actually pretty recent.  The idea of making it "friendly" to outsiders is also pretty recent.  And there are plenty of people still in the theory community that think in terms of "I'm here to work on my own play; what you get out of this is totally incidental to me." - these people contrast pretty readily with the people making games and selling them and getting excited about how this is creating a whole new "kind" of gaming.  But they all know each other, and hang out in the same places, so it looks really confusing from the outside.  That's just how it is, and I don't see any evil agenda there.  


With all due respect, Bullshit. GNS wasn't created as one guy's solution to his own little problems, It was created, marketed and promoted as "the solution to all Gaming's problems", and what would supposedly be used to create (at different times and based on different twisted interpretations of same) the best gamers, the best gaming groups and the best games EVAR.  And all gaming theory, thanks to the pressure and omnipresence of the forge, will sooner or later be FORCED to be interpreted through GNS, whether the original theorist wants it to or not, because of the Cult of Ron.
They created their Forge games on the basis that these are "better designed" games than normal RPGs, which are supposedly sub-optimal by virtue of not knowing which category they are supposed to be in and thus having "confused goals". Of course, the fact that not a single Forge game has ever outsold D&D or even made anything more of a splash than a 5 year old's roadside tinkle in the industry as a whole pretty much proves that their theories are all a crock of shit; though of course they will choose to blame the evils of the capitalist system and the "ignorance" of the common gamer and blather about how their games are meant for the elite anyways.

There may be many people who use gaming theory for nothing more than the utterly misguided goal of trying to improve their own individual groups through theorizing; but the culture as a whole is one of elitism and a desire to force change in the industry that would move it away from broadly popular GAMES into pretentious microgames that appeal to a tiny group of fake intellectuals.

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I did neither.  I was not alone.


You were drowned out by the vast chorus of Forgeites literally posting "YOU'RE RIGHT RON; IM BRAIN DAMAGED!"

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You're both cantakerous bastards.  I like cantankerous bastards; they think things I would never have come up with on my own.  And I don't see him trying to be a "cult leader" at all.
Really, you both remind me of Dennis Leary's character in the film Demolition Man, who I enjoyed immensely.


Jesus Christ on a stick why don't you skewer me with a butter knife while you're at it. You couldn't think of any other character to compare me to from an even slightly better movie? You bastard.

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Actually, he was quite willing to argue with me on any point I chose, and so far as I know, closed the forum because it was going in circles.  


Ah yes, the circles of him not giving a shit what anyone thinks about his theory. I guess that makes sense.

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I've been really tempted to challenge him to a debate of this kind sometime in the future, though.


His response would be interesting to me.

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I welcome opposing viewpoints to mine.  Always.  I prefer that they aim for my thinking rather than for my dignity, but I'm willing to take some indignity so long as my thinking is also challenged.


But Mr.Edwards has destroyed any possibility of Gaming Theory ever doing anything productive ever. It is co-opted beyond salvation by the Intellectualoids, who are more interested with showing off their own fashion sense and alleged cleverness than actually doing anything productive.

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