The importance of "Be a fan of the PCs"

I'm well-known as a hardcore anti-railroading, anti-GM-fiat person. However, reflecting on things recently, I've realized that all my most contentious GM interactions have been with GMs who didn't obey AW's dictum to "Be a fan of the PCs." I'm actually willing to be slightly forgiving of a *little bit* of heavy-handed bullshit with rules or rulings, as long as I feel like the GM actually knows who my character is and respects who they are.

I mean, in many ways this isn't some deep insight: if you bother to build good relationships with the people around you, you have more room to make mistakes. But in the case of an RPG, I think the key about the way Vincent concisely articulated this principle is that it's not just about the real people, but also about each player's avatar in the game. Know who they are and what they care about, and you're also respecting the player's choices.
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  • edited April 2018
    Agreed.

    I don't think I'd enjoy GMing at all if I were not a fan of the player characters, and this holds for every GM style, including "impartial ref" and "guy who's totally running the show".

    If there's one opportunity I always try to afford players when I GM, it's to play their characters in such a way that we can become fans of them. Play which lacks this feature (e.g. play where the PCs remain unknowns) generally lacks what I like about roleplaying.

    FWIW, for me, PC fandom takes different forms in different play styles. In protagonist-driven story games, it's more like TV show fandom ("What'll they do next?"), while in challenge-based play it's more like sports fandom ("I'm rooting for your victory!"). In railroaded play, I suspect it's more the former, though I haven't really thought about that before. Hmm...
  • Very true. And good life advice too: be a fan of the people in your life. Find something to appreciate, praise, encourage, admire in all of the tremendously and fascinatingly flawed people you encounter in the role playing game called Life. I’ve been trying to practice this with a group of people I’ve fallen in with in a local theatrical production (other parents helping in our kids high school play). I’ve made friends with people I barely thought I could deal w at first! Sorry to go meta w your post. What you say is very very true though.
    Thanks.
    Davey
  • That's a solid insight.

  • Be a fan of the PCs is necessary, but not sufficient. I'm thinking of a specific game from a specific convention where the GM was TOTALLY a fan of our PCs, and... so, the game was a very interesting experiment (which I think the GM thought went better than I thought it did, obviously), which included my thinking for a long time afterwards about where I thought things didn't work. But the GM was totally our fan.
  • Lisa, what did go wrong in that instance? I don't question that "be a fan" is necessary but not sufficient, I'm just curious about the specifics.
  • This was a Monsterhearts (1st edition) game, so some of the stuff that went wrong might well not have been an issue in other games. I wrote a list of what not to do, which I'll put here, but bear in mind that not all of these things happened in this particular game -- it's from a combination of games.

    * Don't bring a town with preset secrets and plots. (This is not 100% true of Monsterhearts 2nd edition if you're using the Small Towns, but I note Small Towns present questions, not answers.)
    * Don't bring a plot. More precisely, don't bring a plot that you insist on the players sticking with if they don't want to. (This is Monsterhearts-specific, possibly PbtA-specific, but if you're running Call of Cthulhu and you tell me the uncle I didn't know my PC had has summoned me to spend a night in his creepy manor, I'm not going to say, "Nah, I'd rather go to the beach" because I've signed up for a CoC game with a specific plot.)
    * Especially with one solution only.
    * Don't break my toys! There is a lot of advice in Monsterhearts and in other *World games about how to be a fan of the players and their characters. Breaking their toys, denying them the cool stuff they signed on expecting to have in favor of your cool plot is not being a fan of them.
  • Matt, I don't understand it. Why is being a fan of the PC:s ok and how does it help you stomach railroaders? I'm missing something?
  • edited April 2018
    I find it interesting that some people are interpreting Deliverator's point here as a sort of statement that "railroading is OK, so long as you're a fan of my character".

    That's not what he wrote, at all:

    I'm well-known as a hardcore anti-railroading, anti-GM-fiat person. [...] I'm actually willing to be slightly forgiving of a *little bit* of heavy-handed bullshit with rules or rulings, as long as I feel like the GM actually knows who my character is and respects who they are.

    The way I read that is to say that railroading is not to his taste, but it's when it doesn't respect the character that it gets really bad.

    I think this is a solid insight. If my character concept is a friendly, charming politician who is beloved by everyone, I might be able to stomach a scene I have no control over where I charmingly win over the opposition and then bask in my popularity, even if I have no say in it, because it's still based on my original contribution to the game - the character concept. However, if the GM railroads me into a situation where I piss everyone off with a terrible faux pas and then murder someone... now we're really in "I'm walking out of this game!" territory. Not only am I being railroaded, but it's clear the GM isn't even considering my input (via the character concept) into the game, so I can't even enjoy playing the character I wanted to play.

    Similarly, fudging the dice so that my Awesome Warrior gets to kill Orcs instead of dying in a pointless scuffle is somewhat palatable. Fudging the dice so my Awesome Warrior gets captured by a bunch of Orcs he should be able to defeat... again, the player is more likely to be upset or to speak up. Why did she bother making the Awesome Warrior in the first place, if the GM is going to cheat so he loses every fight?
  • Lisa, that sounds like the GM was more a fan of their plot than a fan of the PCs. Like a railroader with a little bit more of respect for the players constructions but still one who still can't trust the players to drive the action.
  • Yeah, this actually requires a deeper understanding than the simplicity of the statement implies. If your plot is so precious that the PCs can't alter it, you aren't exactly being their biggest fans...
  • So, in the 5E game I play in, the GM has occasionally been a little bit fast and loose with the rules. His monsters occasionally have a little bit easier time escaping from combat, essentially living again to fight another day, than they really should / even if we might be able to stop them in the 1-2 rounds before they'd realistically be truly out of range. It's not... railroading, per se, but it is a form of GM Force or Fiat to avoid a particular outcome at a particular time.

    But it's always over relatively minor things and definitely never disrespects anyone's core deal / character idea.
  • My favorite "fan of the players" technique is "fail awesomely."

    Lots of players, probably as a side-effect of GM narration of their past failures, narrate their own failures as utter incompetence. I work hard to retrain players in my games that failure has different flavors, including "you were awesome but the monster was just lucky or more awesome" and "despite complete competence, there was something you didn't know about that caused you to fail."

    Most of the time, I ask players to narrate their own successes or failures. I only narrate reactions to those actions.

    Me to Daniel: "Omid, you're up."
    Daniel: "I'll draw my rapier and attack the gnoll on the left."
    Daniel, rolling: "11."
    Me: "With all your bonuses? Miss. Fail awesomely."
    Daniel: "I make several on-point thrusts toward the gnoll, but he frantically blocks each one with the handle of his axe."
    Me: "His feral grin disappears and his nervous eyes lock on yours as he brings his axe down on you in a swing of desperation."
  • +1 Adam, I learned that from DW I think and have been using it all the time. It also helps when you want to establish a foe as someone powerful but you keep rolling low yourself. I also used it as an opportunity to add something special to an opponent, like having the cleric discover that the foe that just made its saving roll against his spell is actually a faithful believer of a god that opposes his.

    I've meet players that were surprised by this practice, as they were too much used to low rolls being translated into character incompetence. Now I see this practice as totally disrespectful towards player even when it may be tolerated and become hilarious to everyone else.
  • Adam, great point. I never liked the situation of, "Well, you're a Rapier Master, but that roll means that you did something incredibly clumsy and inept while wielding your rapier."

    Personally, I do my best to parse all results relative to character skill. The Rapier Master who rolls a 1 using his rapier is the victim of luck, circumstance, skilled opponent, etc. The guy who's never held a rapier in his life, however, may actually do something clumsy with it on a 1.

    For me, this is more about being a fan of the character's consistency and integrity as a living agent in the fiction than about being a fan of their awesomeness specifically.
  • When a player rolls a natural 1, I take narrative control and make them mess up terribly, however. >=)
  • But it's always over relatively minor things and definitely never disrespects anyone's core deal / character idea.

    I guess my confusion was that I've not really encountered railroading or Force Techniques that are meant to override or disrespect someone's character idea. So when I've been thinking about the good parts and bad parts of railroading... I'm not sure I've seen what you've seen when it's been really bad, Deliverator? What would be an example of FT use to counter someone's character core concept?
  • And sometimes the player just wants to mess up, so I let them. If I know they know they can fail awesomely, and they fail miserably instead, I don't remind them. If they are new to my games and may be falling into old habits, I remind them but ultimately respect their choice on how they want to fail.

    My bad guys tend to fail miserably, thwarted by the PCs awesomeness. But when I miss by a few points, and they'd have hit if not for the PC's shield or armor or high Dexterity, I use that to color my narration. The beast bites at you, but its teeth stick in your chain mail. The skeleton's sword chops at your neck, but you raise your shield to block its blows with a repeated metallic clank.
  • Adam_Dray said:

    If they are new to my games and may be falling into old habits, I remind them

    Ah, right, you did mention that some of the point here was to break old habits/expectations. Sounds good to me!
    Adam_Dray said:

    when I miss by a few points, and they'd have hit if not for the PC's shield or armor or high Dexterity, I use that to color my narration. The beast bites at you, but its teeth stick in your chain mail. The skeleton's sword chops at your neck, but you raise your shield to block its blows with a repeated metallic clank.

    Same here. This is the best way to make all the numbers mean something IMO.

    One of my favorite lines when the players hit on a mediocre roll is, "Normally that'd be a miss, but because of your crazy agility and magic blade, you manage to land a solid hit!"
  • 2097 said:

    What would be an example of FT use to counter someone's character core concept?

    Pretty much anytime the GM has a plan in place for what should happen right now, and the player's attempts to play their character as envisioned would violate it, and are thus disallowed.

    You can't intimidate the GM's super-scary NPC regardless of how many points you dumped into Intimidate as the core of your character concept.

    The supervillain preempts your attack which would interrupt their grand speech, regardless of how many points you spent on Improved Initiative as the core of your fast-acting character concept.

    Etc. etc...
  • Yeah, that's a great straightforward example.

    You're a super intimidating character, tall, strong, fearsome. The NPC has been established as someone who is scared of physical violence. We play out a scene where you try to intimidate them.

    1. The GM has a plot in mind where the NPC acts a certain way or does a certain thing, so they override your attempt (doesn't matter whether it's played freeform or a roll - maybe the GM just says, "Nah, he doesn't care", or maybe he sets an impossibly high difficulty for the roll).

    2. The GM sees that the game's rules, procedures or habits should result in the NPC not being intimidated, so they cheat or fudge so that the NPC does get scared.

    Heck, in a worse version, the GM just SAYS you look intimidating, even though you said nothing of the sort! Maybe she demands a roll even though you didn't ask for one, and it succeeds.

    In all cases, the GM might be cheating and/or railroading - doing something against our agreed-upon sense of how we play this game, whether it's acting in accordance to freeform roleplay, fudging the dice, or taking away your agency in how you play your character - but the first case goes against your character concept and the second supports it.
  • For me, the GM doesn't have to be using Force against my aims.

    Using Force to help me win makes me mad, too, because it takes the victory away from me. Secretly pulling punches to make sure my character doesn't die means that my decision to stay and fight really didn't matter.

    And if the GM has a story that will happen no matter what I do, why do I even show up? I could go see a movie and get better special effects.
  • In case it wasn't clear in my last comment (for the hypothetical reader who is confused):

    * It's not just losing or winning. For example, if my character is a scared hobbit, and you cheat the rules so he suddenly succeeds in an intimidation attempt because that's what your story calls for, it's just as bad - the point is that, once my character concept isn't being respected, I've just lost ANY possible input into the game at all, including just providing Colour into scenes.

    * I don't like the use of GM Force at all, unless it's consensual. All my examples, above, would make me quite unhappy. The point is just to support Deliverator's thesis that, yes, it often does make a difference, and one is more palatable than the other. (Neither is welcome at my table, however!)

    Deliverator,

    Would you tell us some of your techniques for "fighting back" against such tactics at the table?

    I'm not even sure I'd say doing so is always or necessarily a good idea, but I'd love to hear some examples of how it might be done! :)
  • Adam_Dray said:

    Using Force to help me win makes me mad, too

    Same here, and, since that's 99% of the force technique usage I see (and complain about), that explains my confusion. I was like "yes of course it would be even worse if [cue something like David's intimidate example] but... I haven't even been thinking of cases that severe." (Again trying to be careful & NPOV about these techniques and their applications in various styles. Illusionist lurkers, sorry for my use of the word "worse" just now.)

    Side note: I'm starting to call it force techniques instead of just "force" so that when we say force as in the stage magician "is this your card?" technique, we don't mean force as in hitting someone in the head.
  • 2097 said:

    But it's always over relatively minor things and definitely never disrespects anyone's core deal / character idea.

    I guess my confusion was that I've not really encountered railroading or Force Techniques that are meant to override or disrespect someone's character idea. So when I've been thinking about the good parts and bad parts of railroading... I'm not sure I've seen what you've seen when it's been really bad, Deliverator? What would be an example of FT use to counter someone's character core concept?
    OK, so let's take the example of the invisible hag escaping combat a little more easily than she probably should have been able to. Under the circumstances, it wasn't that big an issue, because we only had "ordinary" tools available to us, like looking for her footprints in the dirt and listening for her moving around. But if someone had a class feature or even just a spell that let them see invisible? And the GM had just overridden it? That's when I'd get pretty angry.

    ***

    Thinking about it more, most of my really bad examples of when a GM failed to be a fan of a character I was playing were not necessarily about "railroading" in the traditional sense. That is, in the cases I'm thinking of, the GM wasn't invested in the story as a whole having a particular outcome.

    It's more that he was either (a) trying to block me from doing *a* particular thing at a particular moment (that I really should have been able to do) or (b) wanted to use the system to inflict maximum pain and misery on our PCs, such that even if everything he did was technically "by the book," it was done sort of vindictively.

    For an example of (a): Burning Wheel, post-apocalyptic fantasy setting. One of the big mysteries of the campaign was how exactly the apocalypse had happened, several centuries before. I and another player both had written Beliefs about finding the true cause of the Apocalypse. We spent several rolls establishing, successfully, that a particular noble both had the relevant documents and was willing to help us. I then went into the basement to actually look at the documents which, again, had been established to contain the relevant information. I wanted, naturally, to roll my character's rather massive History skill (especially massive given some bonuses from helping skills like Research)... and the GM said no, that it wasn't an appropriate use of that skill, and that I'd need something non-existent and specific like "Apocalypse-wise" to be able to make the roll. It was a mind-bogglingly bad call, I basically bullied him into letting me roll my skill, and the group ended up breaking up over the whole thing.

    (BTW, all my supposedly vaunted anti-RR techniques basically amount to, "Be willing to be a bully and make enemies." There's one exception which I'll get into in a separate post.)

    Now, there was a whole lot going on here, that I don't have the time / space / energy to get into, both with that specific scene and with the group. But the point is, the root of the failure here was that the GM (a) didn't know or care about my character's Beliefs, which are the most important part of play in BW, (b) wasn't willing to respect where I had put my focus in character-building (i.e., my character's "deal" was that he was an accomplished scholar), and (c) was trying to prevent a particular outcome that made him uncomfortable—namely, the revelation of one of the campaign's big mysteries, as authored by me (not that he had figured it out...).

    As for (b), it's a little trickier to explain, but just to give one slightly concise example, also from BW, different campaign: we were having an *extremely* brutal fight, but finally managed to start wounding the monster, getting through its (frankly game-breaking) defenses and draining its dice-pool. The tide of battle had, mathematically, finally shifted in the PCs' favor sufficiently that we pretty much *had* won, but it would have taken a whole lot more real-life time to seal the deal. We ran out of time IRL, and the GM declared that the creature ran away.

    This was immensely frustrating, for obvious reasons, but by the same token I *don't* believe he would have negated our impending victory if we hadn't run out of time.
  • @Deliverator In b) The GM's reaction/decision confuses me. I would have given the players the win, if time was running out and the writing was on the wall.
  • Yeah, I mean, my realization recently about him is that he really wanted to see us fail, which is quite different from being a fan of the PCs by challenging them really hard and seeing *if* they succeed or fail. And BW is an excellent tool for GMs like that, unfortunately, because it is deliberately harsh, thus providing a good amount of alibi to a GM who likes to run like that.
  • Games need chase rules♥

    What I'm trying to say, Matt, is that through all my ranting against this playstyle over the years (and I've mellowed in that regard while creating the RISS model) I've assumed a GM that never did things that bad; I've been against them anyway. I imagine a PC-loving GM that wants to curate the drama curve by selective obedience to dice including occasional violation of gloracle.

    Hence Adam's and my confusion here, because you haven't been saying why railroading for the sake of the PCs was good; you've made it clear that you've identified a subset of the opposition that you feel is worse but not why we should absolve the rest.

    Again, to railroaders: I've buried the hatchet. Once I found (and helped create) a steady stream of GMs who don't railroad I stopped being so panicked over the ones that do. I'll keep on trying to talk of the awesomeness of refraining from railroading but without the fear&vitriol.
  • edited April 2018


    For an example of (a): Burning Wheel, post-apocalyptic fantasy setting. One of the big mysteries of the campaign was how exactly the apocalypse had happened, several centuries before. I and another player both had written Beliefs about finding the true cause of the Apocalypse. We spent several rolls establishing, successfully, that a particular noble both had the relevant documents and was willing to help us. I then went into the basement to actually look at the documents which, again, had been established to contain the relevant information. I wanted, naturally, to roll my character's rather massive History skill (especially massive given some bonuses from helping skills like Research)... and the GM said no, that it wasn't an appropriate use of that skill, and that I'd need something non-existent and specific like "Apocalypse-wise" to be able to make the roll. It was a mind-bogglingly bad call, I basically bullied him into letting me roll my skill, and the group ended up breaking up over the whole thing.

    Did you want to roll to find the documents, to interpret them, or something else?
  • I think one of the tricks with "being a fan of the pc's" is being careful not to go to far in that direction. The gm is providing the opposition for these characters, it's his job to make life difficult for them. You cant be so much a fan that you cant bear to see them get the tiniest scratch or so happy to see them succeed that you hand out mounds of loot for the most minor success. There's a balancing act and it's tricky.

    Lots of good advice here about being true to the character concept but even that is a little tricky when different people can have a different idea of the concept. I remember a Gurps character who was a bit of a con-man adventurer who ran from the police on occasion where I felt the gm went overboard on tracking him down, including using lots of magic. The gm expected the character to get caught and talk his way out of the situation while I was fully invested in evading capture.
  • I can't help but feel bad and disapproving of these bad examples of railroading, but I also feel guilty that I used some of those tricks in the past.

    IMHO it's a matter of the GM having enough maturity+experience. Maturity because trying to feed your ego by imposing your will over others is a proof of insecurity. Use a rulebook or subtle force techniques, justify it behind rule zero, "because the story demands it" or "because the game is meant to me challenging" etc. you are still being childish. I've got that clear now.

    Experience because most of this sort of railroading happens when the GM becomes afraid. Afraid that players will end the campaign too soon. Afraid of seeing all your efforts go to waste. Afraid the mood is switching to something you don't want. Afraid something you didn't expect will send the plot out of control and more important, outside the bounds of your prep. Experience can save you then. There are many ways to avoid falling into the fear and it's best as a GM to learn them.

    The worse ways you can learn -and sadly, the first you learn about- pass through all the bad railroading topics mentioned. They are the worst because they don't really fix anything and players end up noticing, no matter how good your illusionism and misdirection are.

    The best pass through communication and trust: you talk with the players, hear the players, negotiate a common ground. If they are your friends they will understand. You can ask them for time to prep more or a bit of collaboration so things can keep going. It's harder to learn than bad railroading because you have to admit "defeat" (it feels that way at first but we all know it isn't) or "lazyness" (you didn't prep enough and now you don't have anything to throw at them, but nobody should actually need to prep that much to GM). Also, some players can be poor winners, which doesn't really help insecure GMs to learn to communicate more openly.

    There are practical ways to get through this too, like impro and random tables, but the best for me were stated in AW principles: Play to find out what happens and Look through Crosshairs (be willing to destroy your own stuff). For me it means that as a GM I can't fall in love with the prep. My mission is to set starting points and introduce some interesting material, but never create perfect solutions or complete scenes. That's the players right and I learned to make that the reason I love the game. I want to see the players surprise me, I want to know what kind of things they do and enjoy a story I couldn't predict as it unfolds before my eyes. So whatever the players want to try, I roll with it and set the difficulty that makes sense for their actions. And they I enjoy the story amazing twists as they unfold.

    (I've never ended up with way too much gonzo play. Players edit themselves and well, the kind of mood present rarely goes into drama or tragedy, but I believe that's because of our tastes, not because of lack of control over the material created.)
  • Vernon R said:

    I remember a Gurps character who was a bit of a con-man adventurer who ran from the police on occasion where I felt the gm went overboard on tracking him down, including using lots of magic. The gm expected the character to get caught and talk his way out of the situation while I was fully invested in evading capture.

    Ah, this is something I feel a little guilty about too. Besides fear, your own principles and tastes may end up getting the best of you. I wrote before about letting the players go GTA with the setting, because by default I can't stand evildoers getting their way in a world I'm authoring, specially the kind that only want to kick dogs for fun or pray on the weak. I'm all for tricksters that defy authority but can't help to make the world rise it's ugly head and send consequences after murderhobos.

    I was hoping getting in the GTA mood as a GM could help me deal with it, but haven't been able to test it. Another of my players can't stand when others play evil characters, so we haven't been able to play an evil PC campaign. Perhaps it's for the best.
  • I mean, lots and lots of us used to use these techniques. I am a master of them. I ran D&D for 15 years this way. My players had fun, lots of the time.

  • When I was railroading my playgroup dwindled and I couldn’t get good feedback on what was going wrong. I spent around 10 years on that.

    for me… if I had only known how to prep & run sandbox games…

    So part our mission (not S-G’s mission but the “clarity + coherence” team’s mission) is to make sure that GMs can KNOW some awesome ways to make the games actually better and that it’s not just about making them “boringer but more ‘moral’”.

  • edited April 2018

    list of good ways to play collaboratively & together:

    improvise but build on what players do, care about it
    PbtA for example
    prep setting, don’t prep story
    OSR for example
    make the pre-script together with your players
    Chuubo’s for example
    play GM-less
    Untold for example

    list of ways that hasn’t worked for me, personally, but ymmv:

    improvise but be in complete creative control of the game
    wasted soo many years on that dead end
    prewrite story on your own as GM, impose it on them
    or play bought linear modules linearly
  • That is an awesome list, Sandra! I wish someone had showed me that when I was 17. Partly for some of the particular options, but also just for the illustration of the range available.

    I wasted a lot of time pursuing “boringer but more ‘moral’”.
  • That's a really really good list, tbh.
  • please cut&paste that list & edit it & make it fly so that people can know what we in the "clarity + coherence" team see as the truth™
  • Yeah, very nice! A lovely list.

    For me, the concept of Creative Agenda was HUGE in getting past a lot of these hurdles, too.

    For instance, WarriorMonk's issues (with murderhobos and such) can easily be fixed if the group can chat about the game and agree about their creative priorities. Like, what are we playing this for? What's the point? Are we celebrating the adventures of heroes, pursuing challenges, trying to win, challenging characters' moral stances, or what?

    "Be a fan of the PCs" is a great reminder to stay on board with a mini-Creative Agenda of sorts: we're all here to be fans of the *these* characters. If you understand the implications of that and agree with them as a group, a lot of play problems go out the window immediately. ("Hey, Jim, your character seems to be a murderhobo. We're having trouble being a 'fan' of such a character. Do you want to change the character, make a new one, or are we misunderstanding something about them?" That can be a really fruitful conversation.)
  • I am totally down with that list.
  • +1 Sandra.
  • I'm not sure what you is meant by being "boringer but more moral." Like... huh?
  • edited April 2018
    Adam_Dray said:


    Lots of players, probably as a side-effect of GM narration of their past failures, narrate their own failures as utter incompetence. I work hard to retrain players in my games that failure has different flavors, including "you were awesome but the monster was just lucky or more awesome" and "despite complete competence, there was something you didn't know about that caused you to fail."

    Exactly! I've had this same situation and go for the same solution, and yet I still find that players often prefer the clumsy failure approach.

    ***
    Sorry I know the conversation had moved past this part but I was just so surprised to see this exact situation described I had to comment!!
  • It's interesting that, to narrate "you were awesome but the monster more so" requires more directorial control (you have to feel empowered to narrate something about the monster), compared to describing yourself just screwing up. So it might not be just imitation.

    I remember a really interesting game where one player (a newbie to roleplaying) seemed incredibly shy and totally unengaged. I could barely get him to speak up. Well, after a fairly unimportant missed roll (a training fight with his weapons teacher; he was a young prince), I asked him to tell me how his character failed or lost.

    He got a really intense look and described losing the fight and throwing away his sword in anger - he got so into the description that he accidentally threw his pen across the room. It was the most into the game I ever saw him be.

    I have no idea what the lesson is, or if there is one.
  • I'm not sure what you is meant by being "boringer but more moral." Like... huh?

    Should've said boringer but moraler, be more consistent in my inflectional coinages.

    1. Force-technique-using DM:s think their game is awesome
    2. If they were to stop fudging it would just be more boring (they believe. more tense, more exciting, more awesome is what we believe)
    3. And they think that we're a bunch of prudes who are willing to have boring games and the only reason we flinch at sombunall of the force techniques is that we want to appear moral
    4a. And they argue why their way is moral after all, their doing it for the greater good
    4b. Or they argue that we need to wake up and smell the coffee, this is how the sausage is being made, earn your salt
    4c. Or they accuse us of escalatingly calling them immoral
    4d. Or other variations on the theme "this is the only way to do it, to not do to would break the game so stfu"
    5d. And I get sucked into the rabbit hole of the new argument that they've successfully created, argue for hours, get really emotional, delete my account on RPGgeek, discover the next morning that that also deleted all of my hundreds of BGG reviews, photos, strategy articles etc etc.

    Instead, a new strategy for the "clarity + coherence" team is to show people awesome ways of playing first, and argue against force techniques only after, or in conjunction, with showing the awesome way of playing.
  • Wow, another great summary! I can definitely remember many debates like that (although I've never accidentally deleted hundreds of reviews, articles, etc - my condolences, to you and all your readers!).
  • edited April 2018
    That sounds exactly like a description of my stances when I used to be a force technique user.
    I'm so glad that I moved past that kind of thing and onto the clarity+coherence team.

    I remember getting into those horrible kinds of arguments with the clarity+coherence people back then, because I couldn't imagine how a game could have the kind of storytelling I want without having force techniques. Then I found storygames and especially diceless storygames with narrative structuring mechanics (namely Chuubo's) and my eyes were opened.
  • Narration directiorial control: I’m gonna try a new key phrase (will add it to my glossary if it works): What happens? To be used when a monster attacks them, DC 14, what happens? With follow up to prompt more description if they just answer in numbers&rolls

    And when they attack the monster I can describe

    Basically I want to figure out key phrases to match up these two matrices:

    this:

    They attack monsterMonster attacks them
    They roll attack vs monster ACThey roll defense vs monster attack value DC

    with:

    They attack monsterMonster attacks them
    Attack succeedsThey describeThey describe
    Defense succeedsI describeThey describe

    because I don’t want misses to turn into whiff “Whoops I accidentally swung my sword three feet left of the monster, where did that banana peel come from?” style shenanigans

    Although… I’m kiiiinda leary at letting them describe their attacks on monsters because I am protective of the idea that HP = battle pacing rather than tree-fellingly slowly actually wounding the monster ten thousand times

  • I couldn't imagine how a game could have the kind of storytelling I want without having force techniques

    Right, and we weren't helping, because we were arguing for the type of story telling we really value: emergent narrative or sometimes not even narratives, just emergent cool things happening but in a consistent game world.

    Chuubo's really is something else
  • Yeah, pretty much. The fact that everyone against force techniques was advocating for emergent narrative was definitely very much part of why it took me so long to figure out that force techniques suck terribly.
    Basically, it was a lot of misunderstanding and wrong assumptions on both sides, that just generally led to discussions where no one got anything done or had any fun.

    Chuubo's is so much something else, and I love it so so much! :)
  • Emma: sounds like, for you, it literally is a wish-granting engine. :smiley:
    2097 said:


    4d. Or other variations on the theme "this is the only way to do it, to not do to would break the game so stfu"

    Alex ( @StoneTharp ), one of my great GM buddies whom I'm so grateful to have met, often asks people who say 4d if they've ever tried it the other way: rolling in the open, and sticking to whatever the dice say, no matter what. What's so interesting is that they often refuse to answer! But obviously, they haven't.

    And they absolutely refuse to listen to those of us who have run hundreds of sessions that way. It's like they think we're lying. Very exhausting. And a big part of the reason for my cynicism in that other thread.
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