When the die roll does *NOT* determine what happens

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  • Dave,

    I think that AW-like formulation is quite good in many respects, except for two things:

    * It doesn't particularly touch on what makes the game GOOD (especially, for example, what the players do). That's OK, because I don't think you were trying to include that yet, anyway.

    * I see some contradiction here:

    GM Best Practices:

    • only call for rolls when there's a non-trivial risk of meaningful failure
    [and]
    • use die rolls for inspiration (or to lend legitimacy to a direction you already favored)
    In particular, Jay writes "if the risk of failure was trivial the DM wouldn't call for a die roll in the first place", but Jeph's post lists a number of reasons to roll which do not necessarily carry significant risk of failure.

    My impression has been that calling for rolls is part of the GM's skill in this style of play, and it can be used in a whole variety of ways.

    For example, would this be acceptable in this style?

    "You three are going to spend three days relaxing in the village before moving on? Ok, Jay, roll a d20 to see how that goes."

    The GM is just fishing for some momentary inspiration before summarizing the events of the week, and there's little to go on, so he asks for a roll.

    Is that kind of thing part of play for either of you?

    (I've occasionally used "the Dice of Fate" for this kind of thing, as in my game The Bureau, and it can be handy to "colour" play one way or another, almost like Swords Without Master's "tone dice" - is this narration gloomy or upbeat?)
  • Real quick,

    What is PbtA and AW?

    Thanks!

    Best,

    Jay
  • Powered by the Apocalypse / Apocalypse World. Sorry for the telegraph writing.
  • Jay,

    Apocalypse World is a game by Vincent Baker, and other games using a similar design are called "Powered by the Apocalypse" (PbtA). One notable feature is that they describe "how to play" in terms of Agenda, Principles, and Moves, which Dave has borrowed for his post.
  • Paul, you're correct, I do not claim that my post constitutes a full game. :tongue:

    As for risk of failure, I think it's a wording issue for which I failed to nail the nuances. The idea isn't "roll every time a PC might lose, and only then". The idea is more "when a PC tries to do a thing, don't make them roll if nothing's at stake". The "roll" I refer to in my brainstorm is the roll triggered by PC action, not a random weather or wandering monster roll or some of the other stuff on Jeph's list. That other stuff would require a separate piece of GM advice. Feel free to write one!
  • Right. There is a variety of applications of rolling the dice here. In a more procedural system, we might have two (or more) different types of rolls, perhaps differentiated by using different dice:

    * The d20 roll for high-stakes character challenge moments.
    * A d6 roll for general "I wonder how it's going" or flavour rolls.

    However, in "Spicy Die" play, my impression is that blurring that line is actually useful as a tool to give the GM the ability to be flexible and to surprise the players. Making it somewhat opaque plays into the strengths of the game (so, for instance, you can generate tension or fear in the players, just a little, even when the roll might not, in fact, carry any danger).

    I'll be curious to hear from Jay and Jeph to see how much of this aligns with their experiences, and whether they differ on this point.
  • @David_Berg I think that's an awesome first step and jumping off point. Like, if you hand a sheet of printer paper with those bullet points and a d20 to a table, they can totally play a Spicy game.

    I think there are just a few missing things to make this a functional minimalist game:
    1. A mechanism for disclaiming responsibility where the bounds of trust begin to fray, eg codified damage rules.
    2. 1s and 20s, or whatever the equivalent is with your dice mechanic. It seems a recurring theme that these are really important opportunities to bring specific techniques to bear; they're qualitatively different from "fatal moves" or "triumph moves".
    3. "Only call for rolls when there's a non-trivial risk of meaningful failure" doesn't seem to capture the full breadth of rollable situations. What about pacing? What about fishing? What about ritual/signaling? Maybe, "Only call for a roll when something exciting and unexpected might happen." (Which is to say, only roll when a 1 or 20 won't make you go "...the heck do I do with this?" and stall out.)
    4. Grounding. The standard we're all riffing on. A starting point to get us all on the same page. Something as simple as, "Choose your favorite setting and system. Make characters like you normally would, then throw away the rulebook."

  • "Only call for rolls when there's a non-trivial risk of meaningful failure" doesn't seem to capture the full breadth of rollable situations. What about pacing? What about fishing? What about ritual/signaling? Maybe, "Only call for a roll when something exciting and unexpected might happen." (Which is to say, only roll when a 1 or 20 won't make you go "...the heck do I do with this?" and stall out.)
    Yeah, that's exactly where I'm coming from on this, as well. (ref. my comments, above)

    That seems like a great shorthand explanation of this approach.
  • Very good principles, thx!

    What is the difference between 'spicy roll' and 'princless play' from the player's perspective? How can they work together or why not?
    @Eero_Tuovinen?
  • edited December 2018
    That's a pretty interesting question. I think that the GM's role - and the player roles! - are quite different in that style of play. However, the methods of Spicy Die rolls could be used in a "princess play" style, why not? It just requires a certain orientation from the group.

    It might be tricky to pull off, though.
  • So, stupid question, but could someone define princess play for me?
    I see the term used a lot but have never been able to find a definition.
  • The really short version is, it's play that focuses on relishing in your character. AFAIK the term was coined by Eero (at least, he's the one who uses it the most); it's basically like childhood pretending to be a princess, but for more than just princesses.
  • That sounds like a good thing in my eyes, but I typically see it used negatively here.
  • I don't think it's ever meant to be negative.

    Just got coined as a phrase that reads like the writer is being dismissive unless you know the background. So probably a bad choice of terminology, but it caught on here so we're stuck with it...
  • edited December 2018
    The reason I asked about the relation between princess play and spicy roll is because while they are two, clearly different things, my mind instantly tied them together.

    1. Princess players need rules to fancy their characters and make them shine.
    2. So it seems that it is very easy for them to use the spicy dice rolls as an inspiration for the fiction, of course only if
    A. they retain the rights of interpreting and narrating the outcomes, or
    B. the GM is able to never break their vision of their character.

    3. Some unwanted (1s) results could be still ok, if it means that my character got captured so I can show off my coolness in the prison and break out.

    4. Swords without Master is maybe the best spicy roll princess play rpg ever! :)
  • edited December 2018
    Hearing more and more description of what qualifies as Princess Play, I'm starting to think that Princess Play is 100% what I do.
    Because like, rules focusing on the importance of the individual characters are something big I look for in rules. Retaining rights of narration and interpretation for everything your character does is absolutely essential to me, which is a big part of why I dislike dice and mechanical generation of outcomes and the like, and the possibility of a GM breaking someone's vision of their character is one of the several big reasons why my group's play doesn't use a GM.
  • I hate the term "princess play" for this playstyle as much as trad gamers apparently hate the term "toy" for that playstyle. (And there's a good, non-insulting reason behind "toy"!)

    Maybe "group solo play"? Like, you're playing with a group, but the solo relationship between a player and their character is very prominent?

    I guess this should be another thread...
  • What is the difference between 'spicy roll' and 'princless play' from the player's perspective? How can they work together or why not?
    Now that is definitely a new thread. Fire it up!
  • @Jeph thank you for those points 1-4! That's very helpful. I think it'll be a piece of cake to update my blurb to include 1,2, and 4. Not sure yet how to succinctly word number 3...
  • edited December 2018
    (posted in wrong thread, ignore)
  • I hate the term "princess play" for this playstyle as much as trad gamers apparently hate the term "toy" for that playstyle. (And there's a good, non-insulting reason behind "toy"!)

    Maybe "group solo play"? Like, you're playing with a group, but the solo relationship between a player and their character is very prominent?
    guess this should be another thread...
    Personally, I see the use of both Toy and Princess Play as reclamation/rehabilitation of the terms.

    Oh, it's a toy? Yes well it's a fucking awesome toy, one that I have and you don't.



    At the same time, if you like this kind of stuff, it's a self-reminder not to take the stuff overly-seriously. Yes, analyze it, try to find ways to make it work better more easily, but never lose sight of the fact that yeah, at the end of the day, it is Play Pretend and it is actually really damn fun.
  • @komradebob I nominate a replacement name for Princess Play as SUPER SERIOUS BUSINESS
  • I noticed that I was summoned, and decided to split the thread to say a few things about princess play. Thread-splitting is a virtue, as it makes it easier for people to find the various branches of the discussion.
  • Nicely done, Eero.

    @Silmenume and @Jeph, I wonder if you would consider contributing to my thread on how to be a good player in Spicy Die play? That's of quite high interest to some folks (and recently came up in another thread):

    http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/21139/the-spicy-roll-agenda-player-edition
  • edited December 2018
    @Paul_T,

    Are you starting a new thread or pointing us to the link as the thread you wish us to post?

    Best,

    Jay

    Addenda - @Paul_T and @DeReel - thank you for clarifying the initials that had left me baffled! :)
  • Go ahead and post in the thread I linked to, since it already exists! I would love to hear more about "how to play well" from your perspective. :)
  • Hey David,
    @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.
    ...and you're right! They are comparatively rare. When were on a roll and playing regularly such Big Problem errors are infrequent however, when starting up play after a fairly lengthy hiatus the Big Problem errors do crop up (relatively) more often. This, to me, is suggestive that there is a certain perishable skill involved in what we're doing. I don't know if it is something as simple as Paying Attention (memory) or something more involved (like bricoling skills).
    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.
    Boy, oh boy. You sure ask the involved questions! As usual I'm not even sure where to start so forgive me if I wander far afield. The first thing to keep in mind about such things as the proposed chasm is that it is not a fixed reality when presented to the player(s). To key understanding such a "concrete object" is its relationship to the character (or party). It is a "test" of the player's ability to contend with the "obstacle." So the dimensions of the chasm are set in such a way as to be an obstacle (or a boon if the player is creative, quick thinking and just a bit lucky.) IOW it will always be difficult no matter the character. However even this assertion isn't always strictly true, for an elf may be able to leap the chasm with ease but rather the difficulty for the player of the elf lies in what to do for the rest of the party.

    So, "the point" of the chasm is to test the players ability to think under pressure. If no effort is made in game by a seasoned player to "solve the problem of the chasm" or said seasoned player wasn't paying attention then woe unto said player and their character. A new player at the table is spoon fed more clues and is given more time to "address the chasm" with the likely possibility that the consequences for failure might be less. A seasoned player is expected to know to "address the chasm". This "expectation to know to address" is one of the metrics we use in determining if a player is a good fit for our table. If, after the "honeymoon" period, a new playing just isn't picking up on the "assertive deductive style" then they we let them go. We don't try to be rude about it and we make it clear that our particular style of play isn't for everyone. OTOH a player who can't think quickly, decided quickly, deduce effectively, isn't creative really, really drags the enjoyability of the play session down.

    So in short, if the seasoned player fails to engage he gets what's coming to him. We have high expectations of each other to keep the game up to standards that we all want in order to enjoy the game. This is part of the incentive to Pay Attention! It's not the DM's job to spoon feed us or to hold our hand for us in the game. We understand (and demand of each other) that we are expected to play by making the very best effort we can. Lack of effort is an affront to the other players who are working very hard to make the best possible gaming experience they can.

    Thus if a seasoned player makes such a basic mistake as to not "ascertain" information about the chasm or perhaps better stated "does not engage with the chasm" then too bad. Said player failed to keep up their end of the Social Contract.

    I will say, though, that the DM almost always drops a clue about the "chasm" so we are rarely (though not always) given some subtle information or intuition about the problem before we have to make a choice.

    I'm running out of gas here, so if you have further questions feel free to ask.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Jay,

    That's really interesting, but I'm not sure I follow the details.

    Can you give some examples of what it might look like when a player does this well, compared to another example where a player does this poorly?

    Sometimes an illustration is much easier than a complex explanation.
  • And some addition to @Paul_T s question. What happens when a seasoned player does not engage with the chasm and rolls a 1, a 20 or a something? And what is the difference between these cases and the cases when (s)he does engage with it?

    (It must be very tiring to explain obvious things over and over so I'm glad that you do it for us, @Silmenume !)
  • edited December 2018
    @Silmenume This "perishable skill" is fine tuned communication I'd say : non verbal hints, a way of cueing intent, MO, likelihood of success and consequences, without committing to a number... yet. I think this is why Paul_T kept coming back on the "it takes time" point. If you want to make explicit the algorithm of mutual acquisition, all the fine grain bits of communication at the table, you lose the kind of (sorry, it's so trendy I can't resist) "swarm behaviour" this communication must be to mesh the procedures into smooth play. Sorry this is full of lame analogy, I can only hope this makes sense to you. In this sense, the illustration could require a camera and microphone.
  • @hamnacb,
    I think you need to be both very assertive and pressing but also empathetic to succesfully create these rollercoster experiences for your players.
    Coming from my experience I would definitely think so. Over the course of many conversations I've had with my DM about the genesis of his style of play he's spoken many times of sitting at the table playing watching the other players gauging what it was exactly they responded to and what flopped. He intuited that he wanted to create an emotionally powerful experience for the player via the in game process. As the DM himself had always enjoyed action movies (plus his love of the LOTR books) that he wanted to DM a game that was both "muscular" and really "pushed" the players to be emotionally engaged. Lots of this came about from his intuited ability to "read" people in general. To put it rather poorly he knew "how to push people's buttons."

    For all the typing I've engaged in about bricolage and Semiotic Jazz and the tendency of the process to push people into a first person perspective he never lost sight it was the players he was trying to create a real emotional response. So in creating the events in game he would do so in such a way that was specifically tailored to each specific player at the table.

    My DM believes it was his role-playing that lead him to screenwriting. Yes he spent lots of time watching and researching the process but the foundations of manipulating an audience he learned from his work to become what he help was the best DM possible.

    Real short - While this is a heuristic and doesn't apply all the time, the premier guiding principle for generating and running a game is simple scenario, complex NPC's. To work the NPC's need to connect to the players powerfully/emotionally via their characters. It works.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Jay,

    That's really interesting, but I'm not sure I follow the details.

    Can you give some examples of what it might look like when a player does this well, compared to another example where a player does this poorly?

    Sometimes an illustration is much easier than a complex explanation.
    You are definitely right, Paul (and @hamnacb). I'm not good a creating such examples whole cloth so give me a little while to see what I can come up with. I'd give a direct example from play but the DM's been busy with his movie since March and for the example to work we'll all need the little details that get forgotten by those of us (me!) who have poor memories.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Thanks, Jay!

    Real examples from the actual game are usually best for this kind of thing. It doesn't need to be terribly detailed or accurate, though - just identifying the meaningful phrase of dialogue or particular exchange that made it work is enough for illustration!
  • Your comments on the GM's attempt to connect with the players emotionally is a huge part of this type of play, I think, and something we haven't discussed at all yet, but, I think, a really significant feature of play in this style. (It's one reason why I think Critical Role, despite using a very different ruleset, is in many ways a similar type of game.)
  • Thanks, Jay!

    Real examples from the actual game are usually best for this kind of thing. It doesn't need to be terribly detailed or accurate, though - just identifying the meaningful phrase of dialogue or particular exchange that made it work is enough for illustration!
    That's the problem, though. I can't (at present) remember any event where a seasoned player has blundered to so badly as to completely fail to engage the setting (the chasm - FREX).

    We did have one player for a long time who has since moved away who would take greater risks fairly often and his dice would back him up to an astonishing degree. He succeeded at some pretty awesome things.

    We were playing somewhere in the deep south of Middle Earth. Further than the southern border of the Far Harad. We used this area for a game experience that was less about the struggle with Sauron and more about conventional "dungeon crawls/murder hobos". The scenario was a port over from an school Star Trek episode where a being (a wizard in our iteration) ruled this ancient town and formented violence between two bands of barbarians every night and then healing them the next morning. Lather, rinse, repeat. Two of the PC were a Tarzan type and the other was an elf who didn't know he was an elf. We go through one cycle when we discovered that this was a perpetual trap. We set off looking for what we deduced was some sort of magic using individual and so we went looking for the highest tower we could find.

    Night was coming on when we found it and the two PC clambered up the side at an astonishing rate. The elf reached to top first and the DM had only just started describing "a wizened man with a staff point..." when said player shouted I jump off the tower. The player rolled a "20" while a lightning bolt crackled just past his chest as he was propelling himself off the tower. He did not enquire about what might be below him that he could use to either control his fall or what he might aim to land on.

    He was an elf. He was highish level (10th?). He made a deduction about the intentions of the "wizened man" before the DM even finished describing him and took decisive action. He rolled that "20". We had only the roughest idea of the height of tower because of the time it took to climb it. The tower was later estimated to be about 70-100 feet high after the game.

    The elf? He landed safely on his feet. The table cheered!

    This doesn't answer what happens when a seasoned player fails to engage but it sort of illuminates when a player takes a calculated risk - death by magic or possible death by falling an unspecified but suspected distance.

    I hope this helps a little. I'm still trying to remember a total failure to engage "the chasm" type of an event by a seasoned player. I will say it is very, very rare. Part of this stems from the Social Contract layer understanding that the DM only paints a partial picture and its the player duty and responsibility to paint in the rest through play (mostly "confident deductions"). To fail to engage is akin to "fail to play". That is what we do.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Jay,

    That's a great example!

    What do you think would have happened if he had rolled poorly? Would you still remember it as a good example of proper play?

    Also, is announcing your action quickly and without hesitation considered a virtue at your table? Is that part of being a good player? If he (as the player) had hesitated, would his character (the elf) been more likely to get fried by lightning?

    Finally, examples of seasoned players failing may be difficult to think of, but examples of the players who "didn't work out" might be easier and just as instructive. Perhaps you can think of a few of those?
  • edited December 2018
    What do you think would have happened if he had rolled poorly? Would you still remember it as a good example of proper play?
    A poor roll would probably have meant a bad landing. The player's quick thinking/decisive action and the fact he was an elf would probably have been sufficient for him to dodge the lightning bolt. If he rolled a "1" I don't know if his character would have been fried by the lightning outright (because he's an elf) but he would have been close enough to death that additional rolls and more input by the player would have been required to see if he survived.

    As far as recalling that particular circumstances with a poor role as an example of proper play would depend on a number of factors. It was a very high risk choice. If said player made those types of high risk choices before hearing the DM out all the time (especially when the stakes weren't that dire) then I would probably not think it proper play. If a player "always" relied on their dice to get them out of difficult situations (even if they rolled consistently well) then I wouldn't really classify it as proper or good play. While this player tended to have good rolling he also tended to play "heroically", decisively, intelligently and creatively. He tended to made interesting things happen in play.

    It's very difficult to call out a single instance of play and then pass judgment on it in isolation. There are many factors that need to be considered both in game and out. Is the player a one trick pony? Does the player get by on dumb luck? Or does the player frequently make good deductions? Does the player interact with the NPC's well and in an interesting manner. What kinds of decisions does the player make in the Kobayahi Marus that pop up frequently? Does the player play his characters in a manner that reflects the themes we are jazzing on at the table?
    Also, is announcing your action quickly and without hesitation considered a virtue at your table? Is that part of being a good player?
    Almost always. One of the axioms at our table is, "Speed Kills." The corollary is that fast thinking saves lives (frequently your own!). During the training period of a perspective player we also tell them the old military saw, "Any decision is better than no decision." The DM does not stop time when events are moving rapidly to allow a player to sit and reflect. The idea (at our table) is to put the pressure on and keep it on. I should note that the pressure isn't max all game (usually) but rather builds to a peak through the night. We are pushed to near our limits during play and this is the primary ingredient of what makes the game so white knuckled. We're not there to sit back and pass the time amicably but instead ride the knife's edge of our abilities as players. You can juggle rubber balls easily? Great! Now juggle glass spheres. Got that? Good. Trying juggling nitroglycerine. Etc. No resting on past laurels. Always seek to improve our play.
    If he (as the player) had hesitated, would his character (the elf) been more likely to get fried by lightning?
    Absolutely.
    Finally, examples of seasoned players failing may be difficult to think of, but examples of the players who "didn't work out" might be easier and just as instructive. Perhaps you can think of a few of those?
    I'm still working on this but I'm minded to say that this usually happens on a "plot" level rather than a tactical level. However, I'll offer another example of "good" as opposed to "didn't deduce properly" play. Long ago another player was playing an elf being pursued by a gaggle of orcs. I remember he wasn't well armed - maybe a knife and a bow. The problem was that the orcs did have at least one archer and knife work would have been very, very dangerous. Though he had a bow the character was out of arrows. So he turned to a tree and sang an arrow from the tree. He had no such skill on his sheet to match this and no one had even done that before in the history of the game. The player, under heavy pressure, had the presence of mind to put forth a new skill as if it had already existed by considering the totality of what he knew and suspected of the gifts of the elves (the logic cycle I've harped on) and without asking the DM if he could do it or not he made the assertion that he was going to sing an arrow from a tree.

    He rolled well enough, though I suspect that too may have been a particularly spicy roll as the DM was very impressed with this action that I believe he would have allowed it to succeed, and was rewarded with an arrow. This is an example of very good play. He proposed a new aspect about elves through direct action. The "world" grew a little bit larger and richer by that act....and to be honest it was pretty cool.

    Best,

    Jay
  • As a sidenote I talked with two friends about spicy roll and one of them made an interesting remark. He thinks it is the opposite of illusionism.

    Both styles depend on GMs fiat a lot. The difference is that in high stake situations illusionism suggests you to fudge results if needed, and spicy roll tells you to disclaim responsibility by sticking to the rolls!
  • Jay,

    Great examples! Glad to see that my hunch about the pace of play being important was correct (and that may explain a lot of your differences in opinion here with David, perhaps).

    I would still really like to hear some examples of "failure cases". It's great to hear about awesome moments of play - it sounds like a really exciting game, and those examples give us a good idea of what the game is like at its best. Awesome stuff!

    However, looking at cases where things went *wrong* is a much better way to really understand the processes of the game: how things actually work. That's when the "guts" of the process are laid bare to examination, so to speak. I hope you can think of one or two!


    hamnacb,

    That doesn't sound quite right to me. It seems to me that Spicy Die play is very much an Illusionism-facilitating technique. It doesn't *have* to be used that way, of course, but the similarity has to do with the opacity of stakes. (For instance, consider Jay's example, above: the GM would probably have "allowed" the arrow-singing feat to work regardless of the roll, which is exactly how a lot of Illusionist play operates.) Calling it 'the opposite' is quite a stretch, although it is also possible to play it with a "play to find out" mentality.

    My experience with this kind of gaming (I've run a lot of games in something like this style in the past) is that there is sufficient GM control, even when trying to "leave it to the dice", that over the long term this turns into a very GM-controlled endeavour.

    The GM might not even be trying to engineer a particular storyline (I wasn't!), but over time every little decision being in the GM's hands means that the long-term outcome averages out to "exactly what the GM expected". (While any given roll might be a surprise, the average outcome is "exactly what you expected", and the "you" in that sentence means "the GM".)

    For me, that's what led me to abandoning that style of GMing. It worked great on almost every level, but I got tired of there being relatively few surprises. (Again, in the short term lots of cool stuff - like that arrow trick - happens, but in the long term the players have little enough input that the final result is "basically something like the story I expected". Here's a thought experiment: you're the GM, and you set up a situation where some Orcs are coming to fight an army of humans. You've decided that the Orcs outnumber the humans and have no fear: you've thought about it, and, in your mind, the likely outcome is defeat for the human army. You're open to other things happening, but that's the baseline you're operating from. Well, there may be occasional variations and surprises, but, if there are 20 rolls made in the process of resolving that situation, it will average out to "what you expected": the Orcs win the battle. Eventually, the game can become predictable - very rarely do the humans win, to continue the example. This is great if the GM is interested in telling her own story and having the players participate in it, and occasionally surprise her. But, for me, that wasn't enough - I wanted that excitement I get when reading a book and I'm turning the page, and anything could happen.)
  • edited December 2018
    I feel like what hamnacb's getting at is this:

    There are two common "fudging" techniques in Illusionist play. In one, the GM rolls secretly, sees something she doesn't like, and lies to the group about the die roll in order to justify a desired result. In another, the GM rolls openly or has a player roll openly without announcing the target number, sees a result she doesn't like, and lies about the target number in order to justify a desired result.

    In spicy play, we NEVER roll secretly, and there's no target number to lie about (except for in rare cases where the target number is extremely explicit—"Don't roll a 3 or less"). You can't fudge; there is nothing to fudge. If the GM gives narration that clearly doesn't fit with the outcome of a roll, she loses trust and authority.

    Spice is fudge-proof.

    That's not to say there aren't a ton of other classically illusionist GM-force techniques that spicy play supports extremely well, though. In particular, "roll until you succeed/fail," fishing (holding a desired result up your sleeve until you see a die roll that justifies inserting it into the narrative), and all roads leading to Rome (always nudging things back towards the same ultimate destination, regardless of the journey).
  • Ah, I see. It's true that "hide the die roll and lie about it" is a distinct thing!

    (However, thinking about it in my experience, most "spicy die" play I've seen and engaged in had the GM making rolls in secret, as well - that doesn't seem to me to contradict anything else we've talked about.)
  • edited December 2018
    @hamnacb,

    An interesting remark, but it also seems to me (and I could very well be wrong) to demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the DM between Sim and...and I don't know what other CA the friend of your was referencing. I'm not trying to bag on your friend on any level but the statement, on face value, presumes the primary role of a DM as a neutral arbiter of task resolution.

    By its very nature, in Sim, the DM's role is to facilitate bricolage. Using the Semiotic Jazz model the DM is most definitely not an outside objective judge but is as deeply enmeshed in the creation of the jazz solos as the players are. Not only is it impossible to be objective as part of a jazz performance the mere idea of "objectivity" in jazz doesn't even make sense. What you want in a DM jazz soloist is a person who doesn't put his solo efforts first. He's there to help the other soloists but his solos must adhere to what's going on within the ensemble as a whole.

    Yet, I will say that because of the intimate involvement of the DM to the activity of play that yes it helps to have a mechanism in place to help players cope with unpleasant outcomes.

    Best,

    Jay
  • In spicy play, we NEVER roll secretly, and there's no target number to lie about (except for in rare cases where the target number is extremely explicit—"Don't roll a 3 or less"). You can't fudge; there is nothing to fudge. If the GM gives narration that clearly doesn't fit with the outcome of a roll, she loses trust and authority.

    Spice is fudge-proof.

    That's not to say there aren't a ton of other classically illusionist GM-force techniques that spicy play supports extremely well, though. In particular, "roll until you succeed/fail," fishing (holding a desired result up your sleeve until you see a die roll that justifies inserting it into the narrative), and all roads leading to Rome (always nudging things back towards the same ultimate destination, regardless of the journey).
    What Jeff says.

    Best,

    Jay
  • I'm not sure I follow this line of reasoning about Illusionism being distinct.

    Sure, I understand that, if the dice are out in the open, there's no fudging the roll itself.

    But, the title of the thread is "When the die roll does NOT determine what happens" (i.e. the GM does, or some for of bricolage does). And the most recent example in Jay's post tells us that "the GM would probably have the attempt succeed, regardless of the outcome of the roll".

    To me, that's... well, maybe it's not 100% Illusionism, but it's at least 90% Illusionism, isn't it?

    There may be a difference in motive or aims (for instance, the GM might not be planning a specific storyline, and probably isn't, from what I've heard), but the step-by-step process of play sounds like it's more or less the same thing.

    In fact, I'd argue that the whole POINT of the Spicy Roll technique is to give the GM the freedom to impose his/her vision on every moment of play instead of being held accountable to the group for a specific outcome.

    For instance, I can imagine, on a really bad roll, the GM saying that "yes, you manage to craft an arrow out of the tree, but before you can reach for it, the Orcs are all around you!", or some such. This is exactly how Illusionism functions in a task resolution system, as well - they're kissing cousins, at least, it seems to me. :)
  • edited December 2018
    Paul, I'd say the main difference is that Spicy gets there hygienically while much Illusionism does not.

    There may also be a different level of GM buy-in to letting extreme rolls change their plans.
  • However, looking at cases where things went *wrong* is a much better way to really understand the processes of the game: how things actually work. That's when the "guts" of the process are laid bare to examination, so to speak. I hope you can think of one or two!
    I'm with you on that. ...and please don't think that I'm trying to dodge your entreaties. I'm having a difficult time trying to fix where in the process of bricolage where "things went wrong" because to the scientific western mind (as I understand Chris' description of Claude Levi Strauss' writings) bricolage is always "error" prone. Every added piece always introduces its own problems but that's a feature, not a bug.

    We've had problems with new players just not being able to handle the apparent openness (lack of deterministic mechanics which give cues as to what the player is supposed to be doing in game) and flail to the point of being utterly ineffective. We've had players come in with the idea that they are effectively immortal because of previous game experiences with their "adventuring parties" and the "DM's prefab story." That never ended well. We've had players freeze up/shut down down due to the overwhelming pressures of the game (FREX - the player we thought might have been heading into stroke territory). We've had players who just didn't grok to the "rules" of the world and just kept dying. We've had players who just didn't understand the "themes" of the world and that created all sorts of disharmony.

    There's been lots of times where we as players failed to deduce events properly and came to erroneous conclusions about the "big picture". IOW abductive failures.

    If you could give me an example of what you think might constitute a breakdown or failure of this mode of play that might help. As seen above there are lots of instances with breakdown at the Big Problem level with new players and lots of failures to logic correctly on the Major Event Level by the seasoned players. Anything you can do to help me understand what exactly it is you're looking for would be deeply appreciated. I apologize for my posting shortcomings until then.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited December 2018
    @Paul_T,

    I will reply at length as soon as I can, but I believe you are making a fundamental error. There is NO task resolution in Sim play. Think on Chris Lehrich's "Shadows in the Fog" game. They use Tarot cards to explicitly call the players to cleverly bricole to the event they are trying to accomplish. The mere employment of a die roll is not automatically an instance of task resolution as the players are not risking their esteem among their peers at the table besting a challenge - Gamism.

    The die, as we employ it, could very well be those Tarot cards. Dice are less openly explicit in their role as a means to encourage players to bricole but they do function the same way. The dice are not used to determine whether you succeed or not because it is not a matter of "esteem/Step on Up" but rather to point the way to the various problems that using this "toaster or clothes iron" could bring to the constructed machine.

    Until this distinction is understood then all we're doing is talking in circles. I can understand all the baggage that most players bring when it comes to employment of a die (that's Claude Levi Strauss working for you! - and by extension bricolage) but in the end we (and I mean our table) use the die for ritual reasons as much as any other. IOW dice have always been a part of "roleplaying" so we'll use dice too - but its not strictly necessary.

    The reason why the DM probably would have let the player succeed at the singing of the arrow from the tree irrespective of the die roll was because the player had bricoled so beautifully and perfectly. It was not because the DM had some story agenda he was attempting to stick to.

    Bricolage trumps die rolls because die rolls do not determine success or failure per say, but rather point to the unwanted side effects of the bricoling effort. FREX is the iron so heavy that the machine begins to collapse under its own weight? The player now has to deal with that "problem". But sometimes the bricoling effort is so "aesthetically pleasing", so "clever" that the effort succeeds without a new problem being introduce to the machine. In this instance die roll is used for "dramatic purposes" which meshes in very tightly with the DM wanting to create the most emotionally intense play experience he can for the players.

    Best,

    Jay

    Addenda - In these perfect moments of bricoling the die is not only used for dramatic purposes it is also used in a ritualistic manner as a "seal" on the event. The number rolled isn't used to point to possible complications but rather to point to perfection. Roll a "20"? Super awesome! A capstone to a perfect effort. Roll a "1" - fate and something else cool might yet come of this from an unexpected direction. A capstone to a perfect effort.
  • edited December 2018
    Jay,

    I'm entirely with you on that last point.

    I'm just looking at it the other way around: the Illusionist GM in the task resolution game who does the "you're surrounded by Orcs" thing is doing Spicy Die bricolage in a task resolution game. She's not doing real task resolution either!

    Using the dice as Spicy Rolls instead of task resolution is a common Illusionist technique, in other words.

    As Dave points out, what *may* separate Illusionism from Spicy Die play is entirely a question of how much commitment the GM has to certain outcomes. (And how that's communicated to the players, or not.)

    In my experience, that's a fairly thin line (and can shift from moment to moment - e.g. in that instance, the GM loved the "arrow singing" idea so much he well go with it, regardless of the roll, but in that next scene he may entirely unsure until we roll the dice and he gauges the players' reaction to it).

    My point is that those two approaches to play share a lot more with each other than, say, a Burning Wheel game run by the book.

    If your GM decides that in the next session he really wants this cool thing to happen, and then does, you can't really tell. (e.g. Did those Orcs catch me because I rolled low, or because that's what the GM has been planning for since two sessions ago? Good luck figuring that out.)

    The motives may be different (which is a meaningful thing!) but the process of getting there is more or less exactly the same. An outside observer merely watching the game would have a really hard time distinguishing one from the other.
  • edited December 2018
    Jay,

    It's hard for me to guess at what kinds of things have gone wrong in your game:

    However, fortunately, you've provided me with a perfect list (despite your claims that you couldn't think of anything!). I've numbered them, just to make it easier:

    (1) We've had problems with new players just not being able to handle the apparent openness (lack of deterministic mechanics which give cues as to what the player is supposed to be doing in game) and flail to the point of being utterly ineffective.
    (2) We've had players come in with the idea that they are effectively immortal because of previous game experiences with their "adventuring parties" and the "DM's prefab story." That never ended well.
    (3) We've had players freeze up/shut down down due to the overwhelming pressures of the game (FREX - the player we thought might have been heading into stroke territory).
    (4) We've had players who just didn't grok to the "rules" of the world and just kept dying.
    (5) We've had players who just didn't understand the "themes" of the world and that created all sorts of disharmony.
    (6) There's been lots of times where we as players failed to deduce events properly and came to erroneous conclusions about the "big picture". IOW abductive failures.

    If you could give me an example of what you think might constitute a breakdown or failure of this mode of play that might help.
    Those are brilliant! Exactly what I'm curious about.

    If you could describe an instance of some of these from your game (especially 1, 4, and 6, but ideally all six!), that would be the best answer I could possible hope for!

    Fantastic. What a great list!
  • Thanks for @Jeph for his 'translation', he explained what I had meant. I think it was a language barrier thing, I could not express myself clearly.

    I think @Paul_T and @Silmenume remarks are astute as well!
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