When the die roll does *NOT* determine what happens

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  • On the whole I would have to say that I am in the wrong for making such a call. In truth I have no data from which to draw any sort of conclusion regarding what the "players" in the war game simulation were prioritizing and socially rewarding each other with. I presumed the whole point was to work out "battlefield" strategies that would lead to victory in the real world but that description does not encompass what the participants were "enjoying." I would have to wonder at some level if such an enterprise could even be considered a "story game/rpg" as I'm assuming there was no shared imagined space. For me to try and categorize it by Creative Agenda might just be a category error. The wrong tool for the wrong job, as it were.
    Isn't that sort of a classic deflection of Step On Up style play, that you're not really "metagaming" because the character ostensibly shares the goal of succeeding by whatever means? I don't mean that to be critical, I think it's a really interesting question regarding Creative Agenda that arises in any sort of play where "challenge" is part of the fiction.
    It's also a bit of a trap to look at stuff that pre-dates RPGs as we know them and try to shoe-horn them in to CAs, but I still try anyway.

    I was using the Verdi/Kriegspiel example because I'm pretty sure Verdi was running his scenarios using almost all ad hoc mechanics ( with a d6), stating stakes, using pre-existing data(*) and his own experiences, but also Spicy-rolling on the spot results for very high and low rolls. He was doing it in the 1800s, so at least some folks already understood the general technique.


    Is it Hardcore Gamist? Well yeah, but only as solidly supported by Sim. If there is some result of a roll, spicy or otherwise, that isn't consistent with reality ( source material) and training officer experience ( source material), then a Win based on that is no good.

    Kinda like why Cadet Kirk sucks when he reprograms the Kobayashi Maru Scenario computers. He was going Hardcore Gamist without solid Sim support, therefore his result was illegitimate. A "loss" would have been solidly more legitimate of a win.


    (* similar to the way I was talking about using game mechanics as source material earlier, training officers at these late 1800s military schools would have huge amounts of data about all sorts of military related statistics. Ditto cadets. Free Kriegspiel, what Verdi was practicing, was about getting away from that data and letting the Ref use their own judgment to hopefully give far more accurate results, more quickly, and hopefully with more nuance)
  • On a total side note, the games that immediately come to my mind when I think of using a game as the basis of play, including mechanics as inspirational source material and not much else ( and then going almost entirely to Spicy Rolls) are pretty much all of those first gen White Wolf World of Darkness games.

    Heck I'm pretty sure they'd work better that way.

    And, no, I don't mean that as a slam on their mechanics, either.

    The writing in those games makes me feel like the designers really did mostly want Spicy Die mechanics, but felt beholden to the RPG buying public to just mash in semi-traditional mechanics.
  • Hi David,
    What happens is by allowing many, but not all, of "deductions" stand this reinforces our understanding of both "how the world works" (inductive logic) as well as our understanding of the situation (abductive logic). On the other hand an incorrect "deduction" is not a game/meta fail as rather than breaking us out of the moment we double down by re-examining our abduction/induction cycle of logic and try to make another deduction and keep moving forward. The bedrock assumption for this to work is that we don't come up to the social contract layer to say, "hey, you made a mistake" but we do what the bricoleurs do - you take the imperfect part (or the erroneous deduction) and you strive to make it work in game within the fictional world. I'm not explaining this well, but Chris Lehrich did in the link I posted in above in my post to Paul_T.
    A concrete example of an incorrect deduction from your own play would be interesting.
  • edited November 2018
    My point was that avoiding complete ignorance, which you agree is necessary, takes time.

    "Looks to be 30 to 50 feet away but it's hard to tell", puts the progress of fictional time on hold, reducing the sync between fictional time and real-world time.

    And this is okay. And if this is okay, then maybe the time taken to specify the fictional stakes of a die roll is also okay.

    That's all I was saying. You wouldn't suffer any new downsides if Cary were to communicate, "This thing you're doing looks like a 50/50 crapshoot!" as you're picking up your die to roll it.

    Any thoughts on that?
    Going back to Chris Lehrich's posts this bricolage process analogy (aka mythic or ritual thinking) works by and among the relationships between "things." In the example you helpfully provided above what you did was abstracted out of the "concrete". I suppose it's a matter of technique but consider this in light of relationship between concrete objects. Instead of a player asking how wide the chasm is (an abstraction and how the "engineer" might function the bricoleur might ask, "Have I ever leapt over anything this wide before." You see? His question is one of relationships between his character (specifically his history and capabilities) and the chasm at hand. So the effective player is staying within the Shared Imagined Space and has proactively started to gather information without abstracting to a higher level. The DM rather than offering odds (which is an abstraction) might reply, "Yes, or so it seems, but it looks awfully dangerous." Still within the SIS without abstracting upwards to chances or resolution mechanics. The DM totally could abstract upwards towards resolution mechanics or offering odds for lots of reasons, but the decision to do so would be based on the table aesthetic and the accumulated circumstances.

    But remember, for the most part we want to prioritize staying with the concrete.

    So in the example I offered of the DM's response the player is left to deduce his chances, roughly, but also what the DM means by "dangerous." Here, to me, the DM is offering a clue as to the "stakes" of failure. What does "dangerous" mean to me? Also why is the DM using the descriptor "dangerous"? I pull on knowledge of the world, past and present, build up a case of facts (abduce) use my knowledge of how the world works (gravity will pull me down, smashing into rocks is potentially lethal - induction) to conclude that failure to succeed has a good chance in resulting in my character dying (deduction). Now we add in the stakes. I weigh my attachment to my character and the repercussions to the world should I die - say for example I am carrying a message of an assassination attempt on the son of Findulas, Boromir. The loss of Boromir would have devastating effects on the "world" as, in the books, he was the military captain who kept Gondor from being over run for a good number of years. It's the player who is grinding all this information though in a few seconds. Do you see?

    It's not the DM telling the player the odds or the stakes but provides enough information in world for the player to start the abduction, induction, deduction cycle to try and formulate a plan of action based on concrete objects given him by the DM not based on abstractions. Even the part about it being "dangerous" was couched in terms of perception - "looks dangerous" not the declarative statement "is dangerous"

    So even though there is this time consuming exchange we really haven't left the game in progress as we played it all out through bricolage laying much of the onus on the player to fill in bit and pieces to paint a fuller picture. And the kick is that we're not done! The player could decide to ride on parallel to the chasm to see if there is a place where it narrows or perhaps becomes climbable or less deep. Or the player may just say, "Screw it. I never signed up for this mess (warning the Steward at risk to life and limb)" and let himself be captured and take his chances that way. Or just forget the effort all together and seek an escape to personal safety, etc.

    Let's say, on the other hand the player decides to try and make the jump and succeeds through some extraordinary rolls. The DM narrates inside the SIS that the PC just barely manages to land on the other side but, in good cinematic tropes, he's just barely hanging on the crumbling ledge and needs to pulls himself up as he looks over his shoulder to see one of the bad guys unlimbering a bow. As if things weren't bad enough!

    Does this mean anything to you?

    Best,

    Jay
  • Heh. You messed up the quote function. I'll PM you about how to fix it. :)
  • Thanks for the help! I hope I got it fixed....
  • edited November 2018
    In reply to your latest response:

    If you checked out my comics, hopefully it was clear there that my group does the same thing you're advocating! I don't consider measurements in feet or dice to be "best practice" -- I prefer character-POV descriptions from the GM, like "That looks tough to jump!"

    The point of my "50/50 crapshoot" suggestion was not to just indicate a target number. The point is to enable the player to make an informed character decision, with an added bonus of indicating a target number.*

    Your example is actually almost in line with what I'm suggesting:
    Player: "Have I ever leapt over anything this wide before?"
    GM: "Yes, or so it seems."

    My only gripe with that example is that less information is being communicated than the character has in that situation.

    I would rather answer:
    GM: "You think so, most likely, but if so, it was right on the edge of your ability."

    Why? Because now the player knows they might or might not physically be able to jump that distance. Beyond all the other considerations you listed -- basically, the consequences of failure -- I think the player should also know everything the character knows about the odds of failure.

    If I hear, "Yes, or so it seems," I figure that my odds of failure, as apparent to my character, are 0%... but of course appearances can be deceiving. So either (a) I should succeed in my jump without a roll, or (b) some new factors should arise once I make the attempt (like a hidden monster lunging out of the chasm).

    So that would be my interpretation, as a player. Unfortunately, I am guessing that "apparently 0%" is not exactly what you intended to communicate in your example, and that my corresponding player expectations would thus be incorrect.

    I think you and I mostly agree on how this communication should go. I think the main difference is that I am putting more emphasis on the GM communicating odds to the player as clearly as the fictional environment would to the character. I think that's really important! I think it's worth an extra sentence or three in play when necessary. And, if we could agree on it, I think it'd be worth putting in a "how to play Spicy" manual.

    * "50/50 crapshoot" is what I'd call an even-odds chance in real life. I didn't intend to invoke dice mechanics with that phrasing. Feel free to substitute in your own words for some endeavor you'd assess as even odds.
  • This conversation is now moving a little too quick for me to keep up, but I just wanted to say that I really like the, "Have I ever seen someone jump across a chasm this wide?" technique. Framing queries about the fiction as in-character points of view is a really cool thing to do (and sometimes I do so in my head, to give context to the information being discussed, even if I don't say it out loud).

    I agree with Dave that it's less efficient and less clear in a lot of cases, but that's just a question of whether you value clarity of communication or "consistency of immersive communication" (just made that up; hope no one starts using such a clumsy phrase) more.

    I can well imagine that a "Spicy Die" group full of players who are just enjoying thinking character-first and trust the GM might be happy not to know the odds (in fact, to know the odds less well than their characters!). But that's a question of taste.

    Dave,

    Throughout this thread, I've been thinking one question, which is:

    "In what ways is this style of gameplay different from playing Delve?"

    (Delve is Dave's immersion-friendly fantasy game.)

    I suspect there are quite a few subtle points of difference (mostly on the GM's side, perhaps), but I doubt I could confidently say what they are.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on that! (Or some discussion with Dave and Jay to establish those things.)

  • edited November 2018
    @Paul_T I'd say that immersion and conversational resolution are the primary overlaps, and that otherwise Delve and Spicy Middle Earth are quite different.

    Delve arbitration is more consensus-led, as opposed to purely GM-led. Delve only rolls to resolve uncertainty, not to add spice. Delve's source material doesn't exist in popular fiction, and play isn't aimed at celebrating it. I don't think Delve is a more semiotic-jazz-y RPG than most; agenda-wise, it's closer to OSR.
    Framing queries about the fiction as in-character points of view is a really cool thing to do
    . . .
    I agree with Dave that it's less efficient and less clear in a lot of cases
    I don't think it has to be! The conversation just needs to serve multiple priorities.
  • Excellent overview.

    Not sure I follow that last point, though!
  • I meant that I think it's possible to be both (a) clear/efficient and (b) character-POV. It just takes some practice to do both at once.
  • Can you illustrate with an example?

    I think we're saying the same thing, but I'm not totally sure.
  • "I peer over the edge and try to judge if I could jump it."
    "You may have made jumps that far before, but if so, just barely!"
  • Ah, great!

    I think that's clear and efficient, but obviously not AS clear and efficient as (at the other end of the extreme), "You'll need to roll a 6 to make the jump", right?
  • edited November 2018
    Oh, crap, you're right. I didn't get us all the way to the roll. How about this:

    "I peer over the edge and try to judge if I could jump it."
    "You may have made jumps that far before, but if so, just barely!"
    "So I can probably make this, but I'd better not botch my leap?"
    "Yep!"

    Now we're prepared for the GM to narrate something really bad on a 1, possibly something bad on a 2-5, and at least getting to other side alive otherwise. (Assuming "botch" doesn't have a more specific meaning for this group.)

    I time this exchange at 15 seconds. Which is 13 seconds more than "Target number?" "Six." But it's 13 seconds still spent focused on the fiction, and it avoids that situation where the player rolls a 3 and the GM narrates failure and the player is shocked because they've made jumps that far before.

    ...although if the group has been playing together for long enough, "You've done it, but barely" may communicate "definitely don't roll a 1, probably don't roll a 2-5" all by itself.
  • I second that the notion of bricolage and the technique of asking 'Have I ever...?' could be very useful to anybody reading this thread.

    @Jeph : I agree that Vincent's AM game was 'principled freeform plus' too but way less spicy and way more collaborative than Silmenume's game.

    I think I have witnessed a larger group playing what seems like 'spicy roll' now for years. That time I was a teenager and I was arrogant about this type of gaming ('freestyle' in Hungarian RPG jargon), but I still know that GM (he became an influential HEMA instructor). Do you think that I should get in contact with him and ask how he DMed that time?
  • Definitely.
  • edited November 2018
    I think the main difference is that I am putting more emphasis on the GM communicating odds to the player as clearly as the fictional environment would to the character. I think that's really important!
    @Silmenume it just occurred to me that this is important to me because I'm used to an impartial GM, and to major stakes potentially riding on strategic assessment ("Is the risk of this jump worth it?").

    In play aimed at maximizing meaningful moments rather than fair challenges, perhaps my logic doesn't apply, and we don't need to communicate all relevant details of the Shared Imagined Space before taking action, because it's the GM's job to improvise something that (a) is meaningful and (b) doesn't make my jump attempt look moronic (of course A and B go together).

    That sounds perfectly doable to me... although it's harder with a die roll. Without a roll, the GM and player would never know they disagreed on the odds; the player could just assume something very unlikely happened. But if they roll a 10 and get something out of the blue, now they know they acted under incorrect impressions.

    Unless everyone knows the roll isn't about odds? Maybe everyone agrees that 2-19 = "Whatever the GM thinks would be cool?"
  • edited November 2018
    Hey David,

    On the whole you have the right of it. However I would argue a slightly different take on the die roll WRT the players "knowledge" of the odds. Again I propose the die roll is presented as a cool opportunity for bricolage. Due to long play at our table we have accumulated the "knowledge" that if the risk of failure was trivial the DM wouldn't call for a die roll in the first place. The mere act of calling for a roll is a communications act to the player that what they are about to try to accomplish is risky. IOW the chance for a "bad" outcome is fairly high or we wouldn't be rolling. This puts the player into a "stressed" frame of mind which already means the player is invested into the outcome of "roll." It's not just 1's or 20's that are significant as all the numbers on the die have their role (no pun intended) on a sliding scale. However consider the following examples. The player indicates that he's "going" to make the jump. He rolls a '1' and he gasps at the certain disaster that is coming. A seasoned player will very quickly attempt to add to the SIS to mitigate the "failure." If the player can "pull something out of the shed" and cleverly bricole something into the SIS that is interesting, clever and exciting the DM will give him another roll to see if it works/enters the SIS. Also consider that a '1' might mean the player makes his jump only to break his ankle on the landing. Or perhaps he gets shot with an arrow spoiling the attempt before it starts and he's captured.

    The die isn't just an impartial arbiter (and I know that you aren't saying that) but it helps signal a direction that the DM a bricoleur might take. The die roll is not a task resolution device but a tool of the bricoleur and can act as in inspiration device or perhaps lend legitimacy to a direction the DM is considering (or both!).

    Also consider that because a die roll isn't part of a task resolution that '1' isn't the last roll that player is going to make. Quick thinking allows the play to attempt other actions as indicated above. Rarely does a single "1" result in complete failure. It means that events are going to turn radically against the player "in some way." The DM may simply call for another roll to see "how bad that '1' is." I've seen plenty of 1, 20, 1, 20 sequences that we all laugh at the DM because we know just how hard he's going to have work that out! However if a player rolls a second or a third "1" in row now we're getting into lethal territory.

    The dice push the bricoleur but don't dictate his choices. So low numbers mean that something "undesired" is going to result but that doesn't close the issue. The DM as a bricoleur (and bricolage facilitator!) wants to keep the process on going so narrates a result where the player might have leapt across but didn't make the far ledge but instead is hanging by his fingertips on a rocky outcrop that is starting to pull loose from the wall and he's taken significant damage. A middling roll could indicate a better success and the character might have landed half on the edge and half off, taken some minor damage and maybe loses his sword. A higher number might mean the player succeeds but now has to contend with arrows flying at him. A "20" might mean that the character makes the jump so cleanly they might get a check in Strength, Dex or Agility. Or the character lands, rolls up looks behind him and catches the eyes of the leader "bad guy". Perhaps he's so stunned by the amazing feat that he's slacked jawed for a moment giving the seasoned player the opening to flee out of bowshot before the arrows start falling. Or perhaps the leader "bad guy" and the PC share a moment and the leader "bad guy" subtly nods his head in what appears to be acknowledgement of such daring and skill and orders his men to ride around the chasm as opposed to having his men pepper the PC with arrows.

    The key to making these events "meaningful" is for the DM to create as many opportunities for the player to engage in bricolage as possible. As a DM, to facilitate the players bricoling efforts, you want to give them answers/opportunities that leave room for them to bricole. This is why something like TN's typically work against this process. They lead to absolutes - or to use Chris Lehrich's example, the perfectly engineered "heating coil" response that doesn't promote further bricolage as opposed to using the imperfect "clothes iron" or "toaster" response which leads to further bricoling opportunities.
    That sounds perfectly doable to me... although it's harder with a die roll. Without a roll, the GM and player would never know they disagreed on the odds; the player could just assume something very unlikely happened. But if they roll a 10 and get something out of the blue, now they know they acted under incorrect impressions.
    There is nothing wrong with acting under incorrect assumptions in bricolage. In point of fact as per Chris' posts such errors are very easily corrected via bricolage. And by "tweaking across" to a solution as opposed to abstracting upward to design a whole new rule during play it reinforces the whole structure of signs and meanings by showing that it has always worked but we just missed the error before.

    In our game this propensity for incorrect assumptions to arise is central to play. On one level this allows for some sense of mystery in the game as we try and figure where we (as opposed to the DM) went wrong in our logic cycle. We also explicitly state to new players that there will be "fog of war". Just as in real life we have to make decisions with varying degrees of stakes with incomplete information all the time. This most certainly is not a bug but a feature of bricolage. Dealing with the Incorrect Assumptions only serves, in the end, to reinforce the "reality" (or rather the solidity of the created reality) of the game.

    David, on the whole, I believe we're pretty close in understanding each other in what we're discussing. I think that what differences we have may just be chalked up to style and differences in group dynamics.

    Best,

    Jay
  • That's definitely a possibility!

    Another thing to consider is that having the die there - that "10" result showing us that maybe our expectations don't align - can actually help clarify communication over time.

    I think that the communication style you're describing (which is concerned with careful decision-making and clarity of information) is quite different from Spicy Die play - at least some that I've seen. Speed, intuition (unconscious, spontaneous decision-making), unpredictability, and maintaining a certain tempo at the table (which includes cutting out "out of character" talk altogether, sometimes) can be high priorities in this style of play.

    I think that, "You need to roll a 6" is the clearest and most efficient way of communicating.

    "Just say what you do and roll the die! I'll tell you what happens" is the least clear - but it's fast and powerful.

    Your approach tries to marry the two (clarity, yes, but also trying to stay "in the fiction"), but at the cost of speed of delivery.

    I can imagine that a group like Jay's might be playing the game on a long enough timeframe that getting all this right immediately or in the first session isn't imporant - hey, you'll figure it out over time, as you get to know the GM, the world, and the subtler dynamics of the group. (As a few people have pointed out, audience reactions can also be significant here: if everyone looks scared after a roll, the GM will likely take that into account, whether consciously or not.)
  • I have a question and a request for @Silmenume

    So do you use HP loss at all or just inflict 'fictinal' injuries to characters? Or?

    It would be tremendously helpful for me (bit I think for others) if you could present us a (hypotetical) actual conversation between a GM and two players to show how spicy roll and actual bricolage really works. Especially the 'we did not roll any 1s or 20s' part!
  • Jay, your last post really makes sense to me. Thanks so much for getting into those details! I'll have a longer response soon, but just wanted to say this now. :)
  • edited November 2018
    So do you use HP loss at all or just inflict 'fictinal' injuries to characters? Or?
    The short answer is, yes, we do use HP.

    The longer and more nuanced answer is, of course(!), more involved. I'll start off by stating that it isn't perfect, it has it problems, but works well enough. First our HP system is broken into two parts that we call Stamina and PBP (Pure Body Points). Stamina is something that "represents" all those intangibles that occur when going up "levels." Your character's ability to endure more that life throws at them as they become more "experienced." This handles most "blunt" force trauma and the character's endurance. Running a long period of time results in a temporary loss of stamina as does losing sleep or going hungry. PBP was originally born out of the DM's desire to make players really fear knife fights and arrow shots. It has change some since its inceptions to no one's surprise (right?). PBP is supposed to represent your physicality, your flesh. It does not change with levels and is influenced by Con, height, weight and if you're an Elf or Dwarf. As indicated above knife damage and most piercing weapons bypass Stamina and directly affect PBP. Armor, which is pretty rare, reduces the damage applied by its own value (vanilla chain absorbs 12 damage and has an arrow rating of 6) if it covers the area struck. Also for every PBP point of damage taken you lose your level times damage so even a high level character doesn't want to take PBP damage. At "0" PBP the limb is no long usable. If its the head at "0" you lose consciousness while chest and abdomen at "0" leave the character incapacitated. If you go below zero you're "bleeding out" and if you go negative of the PBP value in any body area you die. (Say you have 5 PBP in the arm, if you go to -5 you've bled out).

    In most circumstances "damage" is applied to Stamina so higher level characters and special races tend to do better in battle or facing other physical trauma. When you get to zero stamina any further damage is applied to PBP (less any armor protections). You also get penalties applied to just about any die roll.

    Now this all sounds very, very much against everything i've been talking about...and it would be if we followed these "mechanics" in a deterministic fashion. Primarily this whole system is used as a referent signifying the state of you character's "health" and more importantly as a means to increase tension (i.e., my stamina's getting "low" so I have to start figuring out how to put an end to this combat by coming up with a quick victory, fleeing, negotiating a cessation of hostilities, etc.)

    Instead of thinking of deterministic values think more along the lines of a "danger meter." If our stamina goes to "0" we're in trouble. If we're losing PBP we are in "immediate peril." The actual mechanics sit in the background and are used mostly as referent to "inform" us of our in game status. This "shorthand" also serves especially well during combat as that is handled in "real time" so keeping track of your characters status is extremely difficult given that your are using all your brain power fighting for your life. Literally we standing at the table with The Last of Mohicans playing (Elk Hunt - danger, or worse, Massacre/Canoes - lines are collapsing or the wall's been breached) swinging our imaginary swords, ducking and weaving, trying to make use of the terrain, keeping track of what's happening to other players and NPC's as well as developments regarding the bad guys actions, rolling your own dice, etc. Its extremely hectic and stressful. Having a handy reminder of your characters health status is extremely useful as a quick touch stone.

    Does that help?
    It would be tremendously helpful for me (bit I think for others) if you could present us a (hypotetical) actual conversation between a GM and two players to show how spicy roll and actual bricolage really works. Especially the 'we did not roll any 1s or 20s' part!
    I will, but give me sometime to either recall or generate an example.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited November 2018
    Your 2 stats really looks like Hero system (Champions Stun vs BODY). Was it an influence ?
  • My group used to do something similar to Spicy Die when we played DnD (but with a very transparent "dice rolls do not mean anything, and this is an agreed upon social contract" sort of way). We handled HP as just being totally non-canon. We took out death rules and took HP as nothing but a game mechanic. If I were to try to put it to representing something, it would probably be best defined as something like fighting spirit. (Our play is and always has been very very anime-influenced, with combat segments emulating shounen anime combat). So essentially HP was just a vague resource that when it ran out, a particular character was removed from the specific fight until someone did something to bring them back in.
    With enemies, this often equated to running away or teleporting out or some other non-mechanical escape method. With PCs, this was typically either unconsciousness or just a vague "defeated" where they're still up, but can't do combat stuff or take actions like in a lot of anime when a character is taken out of a fight but is still standing on the sidelines talking and being panned over to regularly in moments that really emphasized how much the remaining combatants were fighting for their defeated friends. The whole friendship-is-power moment.
    At the end of a fight, HP was restored to full, and if anyone wanted to play out injuries, that was done without mechanics. They would still be mechanically at full health, but would play up an injury in their "downtime" scenes (which were 90% of our play).

    That being said, dissatisfaction with this method because of the fact that we weren't really engaging with the game and would have had a better time just playing the stories we told in DnD freeform instead led us to abandon that whole method and instead search for games that actually suited the play we wanted (which is what led us to CMWGE).
  • I agree that you last post, Jay, was particularly clear and illuminating.

    I wouldn't have thought that "every die roll indicates a stressful situation" would be a principle for a game like this, for example, so it's cool to see it stated explicitly.

    On a side note, this part is really interesting:

    There is nothing wrong with acting under incorrect assumptions in bricolage. In point of fact as per Chris' posts such errors are very easily corrected via bricolage [...] it reinforces the whole structure of signs and meanings by showing that it has always worked but we just missed the error before.

    In our game this propensity for incorrect assumptions to arise is central to play. [...] This most certainly is not a bug but a feature of bricolage. Dealing with the Incorrect Assumptions only serves, in the end, to reinforce the "reality" (or rather the solidity of the created reality) of the game.
    It strikes me as so so very strikingly in line with Ron edwards's musing on Sim play and "constructive denial".

    Fascinating!
  • I think the role of incorrect assumptions depends largely on two things:
    - Whether the fictional world is set in stone in the GM's mind, or whether it's malleable and the GM adjusts to player assumptions.
    - Whether takebacks are allowed when a player announces an action that then turns out to not make sense after the situation is more fully communicated.

    If the world is set in stone and there are no takebacks, than incorrect assumptions must be avoided at all costs. Otherwise, s'all good, I guess. :)

    I find that forming an intention in-character to do a thing, thinking I'm informed, and then finding out I had the wrong impression, breaks me out of character identification. So that isn't my favorite approach for immersive play. But perhaps the other stuff Jay's group is doing either avoids this or just makes it no big deal.
  • edited November 2018
    Does that help?
    Definitely. It was extremely helpful for me, thank you for your detailed answer. Your openness and responsibleness about our inquiry is a huge contribution to the topic.

    What I see now is that our previous model of your game style ('principled freeform plus') was misleading a bit. I think a lot of us initially understood 'spicy roll' as a waaay more informal thing, which takes book rules only as inspirations to the fiction so to speak.

    Right now it looks like to me that the situation is more complex. It is not that you dont really use 'book rules', it is that your attitude toward rules are not as strict as an engineer would take his tools ('as specific things for a particular function'), because you are not designers but bricoleurs. Maybe you look at rules in a more laxed way, you treat them as guidlines or 'toys' (my jargon), things to refer to when needed and things which can be put in the corner if they are in the way of fun. Am I closer now to the truth?

    If yes, is it possible to make generalizations about how much you lean on for example the rules (and not rolls!) for PBP damage during gaming? All the time? 50%? 33% Less?

    Also, if you can really afford to write us an actual play example some time, could you please include parts where 'incorrect assumption' and 'taking pbp damage' happens?
  • Your 2 stats really looks like Hero system (Champions Stun vs BODY). Was it an influence ?
    No. As I understand it my DM had only played TSR's D&D or AD&D when he set about developing his new system for play. He's never played (or read) any other system. While one can see strong influences from those sources he worked hard to make a system that reflected what he felt represented how Middle Earth worked with a dash of Epic Heroic thrown in.

    Best,

    Jay

  • Right now it looks like to me that the situation is more complex. It is not that you dont really use 'book rules', it is that your attitude toward rules are not as strict as an engineer would take his tools ('as specific things for a particular function'), because you are not designers but bricoleurs. Maybe you look at rules in a more laxed way, you treat them as guidlines or 'toys' (my jargon), things to refer to when needed and things which can be put in the corner if they are in the way of fun. Am I closer now to the truth?
    Maybe? The rock bottom reason of the more overt and structured use of direct mechanics is trust. The DM could run combat without referencing all the above mechanics but given that death is real and irreversible in the game he fully realizes that one those occasions when a character does die it helps prevent bruised feelings and possible recriminations. You know, trust. It's a concession to human nature. It also helps because it is speedy as Paul_T seems fixated on ;) , yet also note that there are times when the combat is so intense, so fast paced and first person that the DM and the player stop rolling dice altogether as they mime their combat.

    I should note that we play a folio of characters and some are quite literally decades old and quite powerful, have survived some amazing events and typically at this level are deep in the councils of the wise WRT to struggle against Sauron. The loss of a character can end said player's involvement for the night. It's not that the DM can't work in another character in a pretty short time but the loss is that emotionally staggering. It's understood and allowances are made if the player chooses to pack it up for the night. To some it might seem harsh that such traumatic events occur in play but the flip of such events is the much more frequent elation at surviving deadly combats. These (admittedly infrequent) deaths actually give surviving combat that much more juice. No one likes losing a character but it does make for a much more intense gaming experience knowing that death can come and it's for real. Sort of like the difference between no stakes poker and betting your house. It changes the game.

    Again, for all the "employment of rules" they are not used in a strictly deterministic fashion. Even in heated combat die numbers are a dial suggesting degree of success or lack thereof. Sometimes the DM will roll a die to get a "sense" of the fight. Sometimes a roll of a D20 will not only indicate a hit but how much damage is suggested. I've also seen damage revised down from a value that would have been a lethal blow upon hearing such from a player to a merely crippling blow. One time a player had just finished rolling up a brand new character for the night and play had just begun when the DM called for the table to roll. Said player rolled a "1" so was asked to roll again. By the end the player had rolled 4 "1's" in a row - the result? The character was narrated to have had a heart attack and died. No PBP. No Stamina. No rules.

    I'm guessing at motives here but my thoughts are that the DM tries to get the PC's close to the possibility of death in most combats and hold them there maximizing both dramatic impetus as well as keeping players on tenterhooks. A dramatic technique if your will in keeping in line with the books overall theme of individuals fighting (nearly) impossible odds in the hopes of finding victory.

    I know I haven't directly addressed your question regarding how often or how closely we hew to the stamina/PBP system but in short I'll answer both frequently and rarely. That whole system while appearing deterministic is in reality a dramatic tool that has consequences. I apologize I haven't given a clearer answer right now but I'm stressing my 4 brains cells at present. I will return with more to say soon! I hope what little I've offered has shed some light. It is complicated but then so can bricolage...

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited November 2018
    Real quick -

    I made a huge, gigantic, ginormous mistake using the phrase "incorrect assumptions." From this point on please re-calibrate to "incorrect DEDUCTIONS." Huge difference. Assumptions are about initial conditions or not thinking. Deductions are the result of employing the abductive, inductive, deductive logic cycle.

    My apologies and thank you.

    Best,

    Jay
  • To some it might seem harsh that such traumatic events occur in play but the flip of such events is the much more frequent elation at surviving deadly combats. These (admittedly infrequent) deaths actually give surviving combat that much more juice. No one likes losing a character but it does make for a much more intense gaming experience knowing that death can come and it's for real. Sort of like the difference between no stakes poker and betting your house. It changes the game.
    I find it really interesting that you guys do character death in that style. Not wanting character death was, for my group, pretty much the #1 reason why we adopted the style.
    We explicitly didn't want for stakes to feel "real", and didn't want for combat to be "intense" or a survival trial or whatever.
    "Real", "intense", and filled with stakes were exactly the opposite of the feeling that we wanted from combat, because realistically what we wanted was mechanization of dramaturgical structure without any mechanization of outcomes and the like, but at the time we didn't at all realize that was an option, so we were basically trying to remove the more traditionally game-y stuff and make it so that all decisions on outcomes were based on what made the most sense as far as the dramaturgy. Which outcomes led the best towards our planned storyline, and eliminating options that could be problematic as far as expressing our story.

    Which like, I suppose that distinction is why we abandoned the style when we found diceless, GMless storygames that primarily mechanize dramaturgical structure and that don't mechanize outcomes at all, whereas you guys are still interested in the style.

    I just find it really interesting to see how stuff diverges as far as similar style for extremely different artistic goals. :)
  • edited December 2018
    I had nearly the same 'learning curve' as @EmmatheExcrucian had so yes, @Silmenume examples are very surprising and enlightning to me. Like looking at an unknown continent or planet where evolution diverged into something strange and interesting. And I'm pretty sure that Ron was not right about this style being fundamentally broken.

    From a GM's POV using 'book rules' in lethal situations to avert personal responsibility and retain group trust is a logical step.

    Your attitude seem to match @lumpley idea about Rules vs Vigorous Creative Agreement.

    the purpose of an rpg's rules is to create the unwelcome and the unwanted in the game's fiction. The reason to play by rules is because you want the unwelcome and the unwanted - you want things that no vigorous creative agreement would ever create. And it's not that you want one person's wanted, welcome vision to win out over another's - that's weak sauce. (*) No, what you want are outcomes that upset every single person at the table. You want things that if you hadn't agreed to abide by the rules' results, you would reject.
    Maybe the case is that this original 'spicy roll' play is not really different from what Vincent described in the link above.
    1. Mostly it is a 'principled freeform plus' with a lot of 'non deterministic' (i would say 'augural') rolls which add spice to the game. The results helps to bricolage fiction.
    2. Sometimes, when the situation is lethal, rules are used for the unwanted and the unwelcome.
    3. There is a strong trust in the GMs competencies. The fluctuation between 1 or 2 is not based on some formal procedure or group concensus, but on his choice. He uses these decisions to steer forward intense situations, 'maximizing both dramatic impetus as well as keeping players on tenterhooks.'

    (Only the third is surprising for my collaborative indie brain!)

    I think you need to be both very assertive and pressing but also empathetic to succesfully create these rollercoster experiences for your players. I great skill I should improve!
  • When I ran a dozen or so sessions of spicy play, I used damage rolls for exactly the reasons you describe @hamnacb : to disclaim responsibility and build credibility.

    Whenever a character would be injured, I'd tell them the number of (exploding) damage dice: 1/2d6 for minor injuries, 1d6 for most solid strikes with a deadly weapon, 2d6 for probably crippling, 3d6 for very likely lethal.

    The process leading up dealing damage, and decision for how many dice, was pretty fuzzy... but once you get to that point, you as a player know that if total damage accrued < your hit points, your character is still alive and in play.

    (This system was induced from the knowledge that damage rolls existed in Jay's game, but that's about it... cool to finally get more information about how the process worked at the table!)

    I always want to compare this technique to *World-style "Inflict harm as established".

    In my game, I also used another "disclaim responsibility" mechanic: saving throws against fixed target numbers that were pre-calculated for each character. I'd sometimes call for a save against Dread, Hesitation, or Trauma to see if characters would freeze up, react too slowly, or be incapacitated by wounds. Like with damage, the table knew that saves sorta... carried extra constraints on interpretation? Spicy principles still operate, but tightly bounded by the framework of "you are able to act freely if and only if you roll at least X on the d20."

    (And the player's thinking would be "I failed my save against Hesitation, darn!" instead of "Jeff just decided by fiat that I was too slow to act, what a jerk".)

    On another note, I was just re-reading Vincent's posts on how he wants rules that create unwanted outcomes a few days ago, in light of this Spicy discussion. I think I totally agree with your conclusions.
  • Yeah, stakes and costs created by rules mandates definitely have some advantages over stakes and costs created by other participants. A genuinely undesirable cost at stake is a great example. I couldn't get my head around Vincent's phrasing, but I did eventually get his point.

    An impartial OSR ref can definitely inflict certain kinds of unwelcome outcomes on their own (without rules), due to the responsibilities of the their role and the authority granted them by the group. So it wouldn't have surprised me if Cary's niche in Spicy Middle Earth were similar. But "leave hits and damage to the rules" makes sense to me too.

    "I just decided that you lost your sword and are dangling from a cliff" is one level of authority/responsibility/trust, but "I just decided that you're dead" is a whole other one. :)
  • Indeed. Dave, I know you've given that phenomenon a lot of thought.

    I think that there are lots of ways to make that more palatable, and I would think a major one is warning about stakes and dangers ahead of time, so the player can buy into them instead of being surprised. (For instance, if we say, "Do you really want to fight him? No one has ever fought him and lived..." that sets entirely different expectations, and helps "set the scene", so to speak, for the possibility of character death.)

    What other techniques help?
  • Has anyone died in the Spicy Roll game(s)?
  • Has anyone died in the Spicy Roll game(s)?
    @Silmenume said that some PC had died. Im curious about the details.

    In my troupe play mini campaign which was influenced* by the original 'spicy roll' thread one PC died in a surprise attack against the 'inactive' heroes. It was not a heroic sacrifice, more like atragic accident, the price they had to pay for their negligence.

    * In a sence that: competence + advantage > luck
  • It strikes me as so so very strikingly in line with Ron edwards's musing on Sim play and "constructive denial".

    Fascinating!
    To the best of my understanding and what has been relayed to me by others Ron never understood Sim, never really cared to try to understand Sim and seriously doubted it even functioned as a coherent Creative Agenda. My understanding of the "constructive denial" formulation was that it was his take on players actively/constructively "denying" that they were in fact not expressing a Creative Agenda at all. Period. Dead stop.

    He didn't have the tools or academic framework to parse Sim and it left him bored. Chris Lehrich did have the tools to dissect what was going on between the players but the Theory Boards were shut down not long after Narrativism was pinned down.

    I'm not trying to bag on Ron nor do I want a thread about The Forge, but I want to make clear that I don't think Ron makes a good authority to reference re the Sim play process. Everything useful that I've drawn from as a resource to discuss about what is going on in Sim play has come Chris Lehrich's posts/essays.
  • Yeah, @Paul_T the fact that the group does something "to reinforce the 'reality' (or rather the solidity of the created reality) of the game" is similar, but I'd say the rest is different. Happy to discuss further if you'd like, but not here. :)
  • edited December 2018
    Perhaps. There was a period, towards the end, where Ron was exploring Sim play quite heavily, and excited about a number of "Sim-supporting" games, like Dead of Night. There was a lot of rigorous and serious discussion on the subject. Lots of other people have successfully applied Sim theory to gaming (see Eero's recent threads about his Prydain campaign, for instance, which is very deliberately an attempt at conscious Sim play in line with those Forge concepts, and is, by all accounts, so successful
    that it even attracts observers (an audience) on a regular basis.

    More interesting, though, to me, is how well your descriptions here line up with those essays Ron wrote!

    I have no particular stake in whether it's correct or not (I don't consider Ron's ideas on roleplaying to be in any way prescriptive for play), but it's a striking similarity or parallel. What you're describing sounds exactly like what Ron described as Sim play, at least to the best of my knowledge (I never got as in depth on that subject as did some others, like @David_Berg, so anyone can feel free to correct me).

    In any case, the similarities in concept and description are striking!

    (Edit: I'm responding to Jay here, not David - cross-posted.)
  • At "0" PBP the limb is no long usable. If its the head at "0" you lose consciousness while chest and abdomen at "0" leave the character incapacitated.
    More convergence here. This is exactly what I do in Delve. There's not a lot of combat mechanics in Delve, nor detailed mechanical modeling of much of anything, but still -- hit locations are worth knowing. :)
  • edited December 2018
    I think the role of incorrect assumptions depends largely on two things:
    - Whether the fictional world is set in stone in the GM's mind, or whether it's malleable and the GM adjusts to player assumptions.
    - Whether takebacks are allowed when a player announces an action that then turns out to not make sense after the situation is more fully communicated.

    If the world is set in stone and there are no takebacks, than incorrect assumptions must be avoided at all costs. Otherwise, s'all good, I guess. :)

    I find that forming an intention in-character to do a thing, thinking I'm informed, and then finding out I had the wrong impression, breaks me out of character identification. So that isn't my favorite approach for immersive play. But perhaps the other stuff Jay's group is doing either avoids this or just makes it no big deal.
    I think this an area worth talking about. For myself, I make deductive errors in real life all the time! In the movies we watch our heros make deductive errors all the time. Its part of the unravelling of the story and allows for plot twist and turns. Thus I'm having a little trouble understanding why it's such a deal breaker for your roleplaying experience. Obviously it's important to you, I'd just like to learn more as to why. Maybe it's just a matter of you and I not communicating what we mean effectively or maybe its a real phenomena?
    - Whether the fictional world is set in stone in the GM's mind, or whether it's malleable and the GM adjusts to player assumptions...
    I hope my emergency post on player deductions and assumptions helped clarify this. I should note that the "fictional world" must be as open to bricolage as anything else in the game or the result will be player deprotagonization. In our game some of the major NPC's of the books are already dead including Halbared, Elladan and Elrohir while Saruman was exposed as a traitor while at meeting of the White Council (its important because Orthanc is now up for up grabs among other matters and the Wise are working very feverishly to make sure he doesn't get back in.) Also a dragon smashed Rivendale (it wasn't completely destroyed but the damage was extensive and thus as a seat of Power it was severely diminished). One of the players had set into motion events that led to the Lonely Mountain Dwarves and Thranduil's Elves taking the field against each other.
    If the world is set in stone and there are no takebacks, than incorrect assumptions must be avoided at all costs.
    Again, the manner in which bricolage works, at least as described in tribal societies demands that there are no takebacks. But as what we are doing is roleplay not setting the foundations of an explanatory worldview we do have some room to wiggle. In most cases where the stakes are small the error of deduction is left in play and we work with it just as would in real life. OTOH if an "established fact" was held in error by the DM we will correct. In the first case the error is limited to the character. People make mistakes, characters make mistakes. Not so terrible. If the DM makes a mistake about the world (that includes your character) serious disruptive discontinuities can result and shatter the fictional reality. Point in fact we have to stop bricoling and abstract upward all the way up to the Social Contract level to sort out the problem. That's a Big Problem. So one can see, that on the whole, the idea of "no takebacks" forces the players to pay attention and think carefully. This necessity to "pay attention and think carefully" really pushes the player to dive deeply into the fictional reality which usually leads to an alternate sense of reality sometimes confusingly called "immersion."

    On a side note even Tolkien, when finding he made some world error, would typically leave the error in and work to make it function within his writings. To use Chris' example he'd find a way to counter that balloon lifting the machine off the ground rather than removing the balloon.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited December 2018
    A take on Spicy Middle Earth in PbtA-speak:
    if the risk of failure was trivial the DM wouldn't call for a die roll in the first place.
    . . .
    The die roll is not a task resolution device but a tool of the bricoleur and can act as in inspiration device or perhaps lend legitimacy to a direction the DM is considering (or both!).
    . . .
    The DM as a bricoleur (and bricolage facilitator!) wants to keep the process on going . . . to facilitate the players bricoling efforts, you want to give them answers/opportunities that leave room for them to bricole.
    These are some of our agendas and principles.
    • the player might have leapt across but didn't make the far ledge but instead is hanging by his fingertips on a rocky outcrop that is starting to pull loose from the wall
    • he's taken significant damage
    • the character might have landed half on the edge and half off
    • taken some minor damage
    • loses his sword
    • has to contend with arrows flying at him
    • get a check in Strength, Dex or Agility
    • [the "bad guy" is] so stunned by the amazing feat that he's slacked jawed for a moment
    • the leader "bad guy" and the PC share a moment and the leader "bad guy" subtly nods his head in what appears to be acknowledgement of such daring and skill and orders his men to ride around the chasm as opposed to having his men pepper the PC with arrows
    These are MC moves of various types.

    If I wanted to pass this system along to others (with just a few tweaks to increase replicability), I might present them with this text:

    GM Agenda:

    • maximize opportunities for bricolage

    GM Best Practices:

    • only call for rolls when there's a non-trivial risk of meaningful failure
    • if a player wants to add on to their action which prompted a roll, let them speak before you do
    • use die rolls for inspiration (or to lend legitimacy to a direction you already favored)
    • use Moves lists for further inspiration if needed
    • before the die is rolled, have a general idea (such as a specific Moves list) of what an average result (roll of 10 or 11) would be; once the die is rolled, adjust accordingly

    Moves Lists:

    Fatal Moves

    - use these moves, or something similarly bad, when a player rolls badly after already falling into a terrible situation (e.g. from previous bad rolls)
    • permanently disfigure them
    • take away their most prized possession(s) forever
    • kill them

    Hard Moves

    - use these moves, or something similarly bad, when a player rolls badly and/or the situation is already dire
    • inflict significant damage
    • put them in a situation that will quickly get worse if not addressed
    • put them at someone's mercy
    • separate the party
    • take away their stuff

    Complicating Moves

    - use these moves, or something similarly complicating, when the roll and/or situation suggests a middling result
    • put them in a dangerous situation
    • block their resources
    • inflict minor damage
    • move to attack them
    • also use a Hard Move
    • also use a Success Move

    Success Moves

    - use these moves, or something similarly rewarding, when a player rolls well in a situation in which they can flat-out succeed
    • they impress someone with their skill or daring
    • they spot an opportunity
    • they achieve their objective, but discover a complication
    • they almost achieve their objective, with one obstacle remaining

    Triumph Moves

    - use these moves, or something similarly rewarding, when a player rolls very well in an advantageous situation (or a 20 in a more neutral situation)
    • they completely awe someone with their skill or daring
    • they completely achieve their objective, and minimize any subsequent risk of losing it
    • they increase the score of the skill or ability they just used

    Thoughts?
  • I just find it really interesting to see how stuff diverges as far as similar style for extremely different artistic goals. :)
    Right on! The neat idea of thinking of Sim as bricolage by analogy or Semiotic Jazz as a descriptor of what drives us to play the way we do is that the improvisational jazz descriptor already includes the idea that the group is going to play what it finds aesthetically pleasing. IOW - you do you!

    In my case the source material and its theme of struggle against overwhelming odds appealed to us players as a story so we want to experience the same in our game. Seems you took what you liked from your source material and made it work in your particular game. Yay! It only serves to shore up the idea that Sim is a diverse healthy and engaging style of play that taylors itself to each groups aesthetic sensibilities.

    Thanks for sharing your style of play and how successful it is!

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited December 2018
    Congratulations.
    This is the first attempt at systematic formalisation as per OP. It may be too strongly influenced by AW, but that's a very limited risk wrt what you provide.
  • edited December 2018
    Thoughts?
    Wow?! (Until I can digest....)

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited December 2018
    @Silmenume re: "set in stone" and takebacks, I think my word choice was confusing. By "the fictional world" I meant "the particulars of the characters' immediate environment, which informs their decisions".

    As long as the players are bothering to attempt deductions (rather than just assuming, as you clarified), and the GM is responsive to their queries, then I'm reasonably confident that Big Problem errors will be rare.

    The GM forgetting an important detail about the fictional world is a great example of a Big Problem, but not the one I had in mind.

    The Big Problem error I was asking about was more like when a player decides to leap a chasm because they failed to first ascertain that it was too wide to leap. If there are no takebacks, then your character commits a nonsensical action and the fiction-in-the-moment is broken.

    There are a million ways to avoid that; I was just wondering which one(s) you use.

    My solution is twofold: players, clarify the relevant details before taking action; GM, assume all characters are not morons, so stop players who are acting in obvious ignorance. I am getting the vague impression that your group has something fairly similar...?
  • Re: my PbtA brainstorm: no hurry, Jay. Thanks, @DeReel :)
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