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Author Topic: "...so tell me what that looks like"  (Read 1640 times)

robh

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"...so tell me what that looks like"
« on: March 25, 2021, 08:54:12 AM »
Since the succession of Covid lockdowns put an end to game group meetings here I have been listening to a lot of online rpg sessions via YouTube. Doing so I noticed, then found irritating and have now come to hate the climactic death scene commentaries.

GM "...and he goes down, sinking slowly to his knees, his last faltering breaths wasted, cursing you and your kin. <pause for effect>
...............So tell me what that looks like"

Where the fuck did that come from?  Have a whole array of GMs simultaneously adopted the Mercerism "Howd'ya wanna do this?" or is it now supposed to be a required part of the way games are run? One stream I was watching the GM extended it to every critical hit the PCs made.

Ghostmaker

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2021, 08:56:12 AM »
It's a bad adaptation of Mercer's 'how do you want to do this?', yeah.

I didn't really mind Mercer offering players the opportunity for cinematic kills or successes. But yeah, at some point the GM has to pick up his end of the table.

Visitor Q

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2021, 09:21:04 AM »
Personally I mix it up, sometimes asking the player to describe how they dispatched an enemy is good for PC engagment.  If I have described a number of enemy deaths in quick succession it also gives me a break without being repetitive. This only really happens if the combat involves a bunch of named bad guys rather than just mooks or random goblins.

On the other hand describing a completly gratuitous death is part of the fun of being a GM (if I can make the players laugh and gross them out at the same time it's been a success).

Zalman

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2021, 10:06:02 AM »
In my opinion, as soon as players are given agency to describe action that doesn't directly arise from their own character's volition, the game has crossed over into storygame territory, creating a completely different feel.

Definitely not my thing: players get to describe what their characters attempt in however much detail as they like, and the DM describes the rest. That's a hard and fast rule for the game I want to play.
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jhkim

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2021, 12:10:47 PM »
In my opinion, as soon as players are given agency to describe action that doesn't directly arise from their own character's volition, the game has crossed over into storygame territory, creating a completely different feel.

Definitely not my thing: players get to describe what their characters attempt in however much detail as they like, and the DM describes the rest. That's a hard and fast rule for the game I want to play.

But particularly in attacks, the player usually *doesn't* describe in detail what he is attempting - just "I attack him with my sword". That's because based on the hit and damage roll, very different outcomes may happen. So GM-described critical hits often mean that the GM is describing exactly what the PC is attempting as well as the result -- i.e. "You sweep your sword over his shield and chop his head off".

I find a lot of GM description often involves PC actions.

Particularly for very skilled and successful PCs, I think this can reduce the feeling of being in-character -- because the PC is supposedly skillful and in charge, but the player just has to shrug his shoulders and let the GM speak. i.e.

P2: "Yes! You got a critical success in Deduction! What did you discover?"
P1: "I have no idea."
GM: "You spot a smudge on the windowsill, so you carefully walk outside and note the footprints in the flower bed."


robh

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2021, 01:30:20 PM »
....... players get to describe what their characters attempt in however much detail as they like, and the DM describes the rest. That's a hard and fast rule for the game I want to play.

That is how I have always played it (as PC or GM)


......because the PC is supposedly skillful and in charge, but the player just has to shrug his shoulders and let the GM speak. i.e.

P2: "Yes! You got a critical success in Deduction! What did you discover?"
P1: "I have no idea."
GM: "You spot a smudge on the windowsill, so you carefully walk outside and note the footprints in the flower bed."

No, the PC should never know the actual die result of a "search/spot/intuition" type roll, they should only be aware of the narrative result the GM feeds back after making the hidden die roll.
The GM is "in charge" NOT the player.

Visitor Q

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2021, 01:59:31 PM »
In my opinion, as soon as players are given agency to describe action that doesn't directly arise from their own character's volition, the game has crossed over into storygame territory, creating a completely different feel.

Definitely not my thing: players get to describe what their characters attempt in however much detail as they like, and the DM describes the rest. That's a hard and fast rule for the game I want to play.

I think it's a balance.  A player laboriously describing in detail their action when mechanically it is the same as the basic action can get very boring very quickly, especially when they are actually just fishing for a mechanical advantage over and above already established rules.

Equally if a player has critically hit the bad guy and it is a killing blow whatever happens, I just assume we are retrospectively finding out what the player's action was that led to the critical hit.  Or to put it another we know the PC succeeded, now we are finding out what they attempted.

Because I am the GM and I am in charge at my table I am also in charge of which way cause and effect gets determined. :-)

But then this is still determining the players actions ("I swing my sword and lop the orc's arm off").  I wouldn't really ask my players to tell me how the NPC reacts ("he looks shocked as he dies etc").

As for intuition/perception/search rolls I have played it both ways as both a GM and a PC.  After many years the conclusion I have come to is it makes zero difference to the mystery and suspense of a game but it makes the players happier if they get to roll and less work for the GM.  I think they think it makes it less likely the GM can fudge dice rolls. 

They are wrong. 



Ratman_tf

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2021, 02:29:37 PM »
In my opinion, as soon as players are given agency to describe action that doesn't directly arise from their own character's volition, the game has crossed over into storygame territory, creating a completely different feel.

Definitely not my thing: players get to describe what their characters attempt in however much detail as they like, and the DM describes the rest. That's a hard and fast rule for the game I want to play.

I think it's a balance.  A player laboriously describing in detail their action when mechanically it is the same as the basic action can get very boring very quickly, especially when they are actually just fishing for a mechanical advantage over and above already established rules.

Equally if a player has critically hit the bad guy and it is a killing blow whatever happens, I just assume we are retrospectively finding out what the player's action was that led to the critical hit.  Or to put it another we know the PC succeeded, now we are finding out what they attempted.

Because I am the GM and I am in charge at my table I am also in charge of which way cause and effect gets determined. :-)

But then this is still determining the players actions ("I swing my sword and lop the orc's arm off").  I wouldn't really ask my players to tell me how the NPC reacts ("he looks shocked as he dies etc").

As for intuition/perception/search rolls I have played it both ways as both a GM and a PC.  After many years the conclusion I have come to is it makes zero difference to the mystery and suspense of a game but it makes the players happier if they get to roll and less work for the GM.  I think they think it makes it less likely the GM can fudge dice rolls. 

They are wrong.

Often when introducing a new player to a game like D&D, I get a sense of dissapointment when they discover that their character can't just "slay the orc!". They have to go through the process of depleting the monsters Hit Points so that it stops being an active opponent. I think most RPGers take it for granted that this is how the system actually works.
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Mishihari

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2021, 05:01:20 PM »
The time for the player to make input is when he announces his action, not after resolution.  If the player says, "I take his head off with my sword, or at least try to" and the dice decree a kill, then I say "His head makes a gentle arc, bounces twice, and rolls to your feet, a slightly surprised look on his face."  If the player says "I attack" and the dice are favorably disposed, the I just say "Okay, he's down," or "You take him in the chest and he folds."  The "Mercer" things you're describing, or whatever it is, is just weird.


...after a few more moments of thought this is just another application of "Players control their character, GMs control the rest of the world."  If you're giving players narrative control of the world, then you're starting to move out of classic RPGs and into something else.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2021, 05:04:28 PM by Mishihari »

Shasarak

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2021, 05:24:50 PM »
I dont really see the problem in getting the player to describe how they kill a monster.

Just seems like some kind of weird power dynamic.
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mAcular Chaotic

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2021, 05:46:32 PM »
I don't ask the player what kind of things the enemy does, but I do ask them how the player deals their finishing blow when they kill a monster sometimes. It helps adds some variety so it doesn't get tedious.
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

Visitor Q

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2021, 07:48:29 PM »
The time for the player to make input is when he announces his action, not after resolution.  If the player says, "I take his head off with my sword, or at least try to" and the dice decree a kill, then I say "His head makes a gentle arc, bounces twice, and rolls to your feet, a slightly surprised look on his face."  If the player says "I attack" and the dice are favorably disposed, the I just say "Okay, he's down," or "You take him in the chest and he folds."  The "Mercer" things you're describing, or whatever it is, is just weird.


...after a few more moments of thought this is just another application of "Players control their character, GMs control the rest of the world."  If you're giving players narrative control of the world, then you're starting to move out of classic RPGs and into something else.

The hobby develops. Otherwise we'd all still be playing Chainmail. Keep what you like, discard the rest. As a GM the only question that need concern you is did you and your players have fun?

PFrota

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2021, 05:16:49 PM »
(...) Where the fuck did that come from?  Have a whole array of GMs simultaneously adopted the Mercerism "Howd'ya wanna do this?" or is it now supposed to be a required part of the way games are run? One stream I was watching the GM extended it to every critical hit the PCs made.

Mercerism my extremely jiggly behind. I've been doing this since the late 90s and it has always made the game better - until some people stopped understanding the concept and thinking of Mercer as some genius. Actually, I think most people have played like that here, since the beginning of the hobby's boom in my country in the early 90s

Kyle Aaron

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2021, 12:50:47 AM »
The battle of Hack vs Thesp has been going since 1974. We must always work to vanquish the Thesp.
Rules for effective DMing:
1. Bring snacks.
2. The dice are always right.
3. I master the game, the game does not master me.
4. Momentum over perfection.
5. The game must go on!
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Omega

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Re: "...so tell me what that looks like"
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2021, 03:23:07 AM »
Since the succession of Covid lockdowns put an end to game group meetings here I have been listening to a lot of online rpg sessions via YouTube. Doing so I noticed, then found irritating and have now come to hate the climactic death scene commentaries.

GM "...and he goes down, sinking slowly to his knees, his last faltering breaths wasted, cursing you and your kin. <pause for effect>
...............So tell me what that looks like"

Where the fuck did that come from?  Have a whole array of GMs simultaneously adopted the Mercerism "Howd'ya wanna do this?" or is it now supposed to be a required part of the way games are run? One stream I was watching the GM extended it to every critical hit the PCs made.

Actually descriptive deaths goes way back. Garry would do it I believe. Though sparingly. Players are free to describe their characters final moments however. Depending on the system. In BX for example those last gasps are it so ham it up since zero hp was DEAD. Not unconcious and pleading out.

Mercer in absolutely no way invented this. Its as old as RPGs. The DM is the senses of the players through the characters and some DMs are verbose and some are not. Or somewhere in between.

Same for everything else. Whats next? Complaining about the DM describing the scenery or monsters?