Who does the monster attack? How about why?

I wanted to address this post, I'm not sure why, I mean people can use a thing however they like, but I thought I'd just write out my preference.

So, if you approach attempting to answer this question thru system, you abandon story, which is fine, but realize what's taking place. You can make a system that addresses each creatures natural enemy, or trigger to violence. For example trolls hate fire, and will attack the closest thing giving off flame or heat. Orcs hate the smell of dwarf, and will attack them purely on scent. But none of these things are making it any more of a story. They're adding detail, but detail is just one very small part of something, and it can distract from a premise, if you even bother to have something approaching it.

If your desire is to empower your friends, connect them to this thing that's going on, story is a good way to do that.

Maybe this monster lost it's mother to one of the magical weapons, now in the hands of the current adventuring party? Isn't that a juicier motivation? You could even flashback to when the monster was just small, seeing it's mother killed.

If you're just making a system to resolve questions, that has no attempt to show story, it's gonna fall flat.

It's why Pandemic is a shitty rpg. It's the opposite of story. It removes the human drama, through distance and distillation.
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Comments

  • Good post, Nathan.

    I believe that, in the original discussion, I posted some examples of an algorithmic process of monster motivation, but it's hard to do.

    It all depends on what kind of game you're playing. If story is the goal, then the who and the why are intertwined (e.g. Frodo gets attacked just because he is carrying the Ring, perhaps).
  • > Maybe this monster lost its mother to one of the magical weapons, now in the hands of the current adventuring party? Isn't that a juicier motivation?

    Sure. Now the monster is attacking "the current adventuring party". Who does it attack? Maybe the one with the weapon that killed its mother, if it's dumb. If it's not dumb, it'll attack according to [that procedure].

    Sandra's thing says on it "they select the most hated heroes first", seems simple enough to add to the procedure "if there's a story reason they'd select someone first and they're not necessarily acting strategically, they select that one first".
  • Nathan darling if you do call out threads to me please put @2097 in so I can see them faster♥

    I’m not gonna go into how our group has had some amazing RPG sessions with Pandemic (we have! and it revived our group after a slump) but instead address the core question raised here. This is partially on me because I didn’t explicitly address your March 23 post.

    But I’m glad it’s in a separate thread now. Let’s dig in.

    It sometimes happens that only one hero is fighting a monster, or is being fought by a monster. That happened last session. The monster had a very clear diegetic reason to focus on that hero and it was obvious to everyone at the table. And so that’s what happened. (It feels weird to write “monster” on here since my name for them at our table is “pretty”, as in “fly my pretties”.)

    We do have a human DM in order to adjudicate special situations like that.

    Such special situations happen less than 1 out of 30 fights. Or less than 1 out of 100. It’s happened maybe three times over these last 50 sessions.

    1. The monsters were after a book that one PC had
    2. The monsters were after those who had entered a particular dwelling and only two PCs had
    3. The monsters were attacked by one PC to the shock & surprise of the other PCs

    What are the more common reasons the monster attack?

    • Most common reason: Because they want to protect themselves or their dwelling or their master’s dwelling from the murderous hobos
    • Second most common reason: Because they eat people and the hobos are, for the most part, people.

    Both of these common reasons usually lead to more than one hero qualifying for attack. Then we need a disambiguation protocol for who they attack.

    Stories…

    It’s not my job at the table to write stories. For a while we were using Microscope Chronicle to explore the previous history of magical weapons and such which would then tie back into the main game. That was awesome and, again, would lead to these rare special situations where it’s clear to everyone why a monster has a particular target as their first priority. But even then it affected a very small percentage of fights.

    Now, in the first two versions of my monster-target-selection protocol this wasn’t explicitly addressed. Any rule can get overridden by the SIS. If so, I do it in consultation with the table.

    The third (and currently most recent) version that I did last monday does have a “special” column where these kinds of special exceptions can be explicitly and openly addressed.

    Nathan_H said:

    If you’re just making a system to resolve questions, that has no attempt to show story, it’s gonna fall flat

    That’s what the system is. A consequence engine. It’s there to resolve questions. That’s why I call it “the guns on the table”. We are creating story and if none of us are reaching for the guns, that’s fine. That happens often. But when we do reach for them, they better be well-oiled, functional, and not dependent on me making up new facts. It is a rule in our group that the DM shall strive to not introduce new facts to the game world once it is set in motion. C.f. mirror story.

    “Hey, that Flame Tongue Sword you have… this skeleton’s mom was killed by it!” ← awesome if true and will ofc influence the battle. In v1 and v2 as obvious exceptions, in v3 as a checkmark in the special column. But introducing such facts post-hoc is not part of our process. . We run “full myth”.

    So the reason I didn’t give your original post its full due response was that the question I was asking was this:

    When there is a lack of clarity over who the monsters attack, who do they attack?

    And your response was pretty much “Sometimes there is clarity”.

    Or, “Introduce a clarity by writing story”. Which, by design, isn’t part of our process. The table action is the story. All week I’ve been telling people I meet in my daily life about what happened in our game last friday because it was so awesome. And that’s almost every week because the game… creates story.

    It just so happens that two of the heroes’ young son was killed during the game. Not as a pre-story or pre-planned or railroaded thing. He just died in a fight. (He got tossed into a volcano by dancing fungi.) And now that’s a big part of their motivation, trying to find a way to resurrect him. Monkey’s paw style. ♫I don’t wanna be buried…♫

    Rather than the game being a collection of stories that I came up with, our game is a world where stories happen and the mechanics are there to support it being a world of physics and consequence and weight.

    I also do write novels and comics and put on my web page. That’s my outlet for my story ideas instead of taking it out on the group. But those novels and comics suck compared to our game!

    Any questions?

  • edited March 29

    Sure. Now the monster is attacking "the current adventuring party". Who does it attack? Maybe the one with the weapon that killed its mother, if it's dumb. If it's not dumb, it'll attack according to [that procedure].

    Sandra's thing says on it "they select the most hated heroes first", seems simple enough to add to the procedure "if there's a story reason they'd select someone first and they're not necessarily acting strategically, they select that one first".

    Guy♥♥♥♥
    That's a great & much appreciated summary: if there is a story reason then that's what they go with. If there isn't, then protocol to resolve.

    But one nitpick: the procedure isn't making them smarter, it's limiting them. Before the protocol the monsters were devilishly smart in a suicidal, living-bullet way. They focus-fired AF, and they weren't switching targets as often (which triggers opportunity attacks i.e. bad action econ for them). The protocol was put in place to limit them rather than to enhance them. That's why a large part of the protocol is limiting targets (via TOR-inspired "they primarily go for one front-rank hero each" [because they'd reasonably have to, that's how battles are formed, lest they'd leave their backs open]) and only part of the protocol is prioritizing targets (via DU-inspired "they punish backstabbers" and similar). With that in mind, the protocol isn't them being stupid either. It's more a way to add some texture to the battlefield. Since we were doing TotM we had a "anyone can target anyone" problem but with these protocols there are ranks and lines forming. Which is great, paints a way vidider picture.
  • Yeah "strategically" isn't right, more like "according to the default strategy accorded [pretties]".
  • Yeah, that's a perfect way to put it
  • edited March 30
    So, the monsters that I like, that have moved me, made me "lean into" a role-playing game, or into a story, have been monsters that had obvious contradictions. I mean, if you don't feel somewhat bad for a monster, it's not doing it's job. Or at least, not all of it's job.

    I'm of the school, using your gun analogy, that if a guns on a table, people are gonna use it.
    People, generally speaking, are lazy.

    It takes work, maybe playful work, and certainly time, to make up a good enough lie to explain a new development.

    I could make a whole post about monsters and what makes a meaningful monster and what makes a meaningless monster.
    I don't think a system is gonna change a meaningless monster, into a meaningful monster.
    Unless you call cause and effect a system?

    If a monster's just there so that players have something to do, it's being poorly used. I would imagine you would have to ask yourself why, and that answer will most often be because I was lazy, or in a hurry. Which is understandable. But if it's got no purpose, a system isn't gonna give it much of one. In my opinion. I mean, this is all my opinion.
  • Nathan_H said:

    I don't think a system is gonna change a meaningless monster, into a meaningful monster.

    Senseless violence is its own reward♥♥♥♥
  • I don't place specific pretties in front of the hobos. I don't curate or steer the experience in that way. We are playing on a continental-sized hexmap with random tables and dungeons
  • edited March 29
    @Nathan_H Maybe in darwinian sandboxes, monsters are part of the eco-system. You know how they are convenient to grind resources away from adventurers. Also, sometimes, they are resources themselves. They are not characters hired by the local rangers to warn you about wildlife and its dangers, they are real. I guess that's the intent.
    But I agree, for me valid NPC have their own goals. That is, once they have their goals, they're no longer a burden to animate.
  • This is a basic question of "what's our creative goal here?", isn't it? Like, why are we playing this game, and why do we have a fight with a monster?

    If it's fable about the creation of the world, "who does the monster attack?" could mean EVERYTHING ("...and then the beast turned on Adam, for he represented the Creator, whom the beast envied..."), or it could be completely unimportant (just colour, in other words, because the monster represents raw chaos in our story).

    If it's a tactical battlegrid combat, it could be really key (because the game's design is supposed to pit the GM's wits against the players) or better left to some algorithm (because the GM is supposed to be as impartial as possible).

    And so on.
  • edited March 30
    2097 said:

    I don't place specific pretties in front of the hobos. I don't curate or steer the experience in that way. We are playing on a continental-sized hexmap with random tables and dungeons

    Yep. I don't play role-playing games like you do. I mean, I have but I no longer do. It's just not my thing. At some point, I found story or at least the promise of something resembling it, more alluring.

    If I want to play a tactical game, I'll just play board or card games.

    There's nothing wrong with playing D&D all random-like and sandboxy, with Gygaxian death mazes, it just holds no mystery to me. Thankfully, there are other things to eat, besides pizza.

    You and I need different forms of catharsis. I need violence to make sense, and to have semi-realistic repercussions. I need the cause to feed the effect.
  • It's not necessarily that simple either, though. Sometimes it can be very fulfilling to take a random process and *then* decide what it means, after the fact.

    A simple example might be a system where you roll who the monster attacks randomly, and you roll the same PC three times in a row. Suddenly, it inspires you with a fascinating backstory, racial or national enmity, or some strange magical effect - and something beautiful is born. Why did they do that? You get to answer it, in play.

    Lots of different ways to get these things to the table!
  • Paul_T said:

    It's not necessarily that simple either, though. Sometimes it can be very fulfilling to take a random process and *then* decide what it means, after the fact.

    True. When I started Dracula Dossier, at the end of one session, the 4 PCs decided to split up and go in four different directions. I had each of them get attacked because I knew I would never get this chance again. It wasn't any deeper than that, to begin with.

    After the session, I looked at who had been attacked by whom / what, and then found reasons that it all made sense (to my surprise, I could actually do that). This worked because of the kind of sandbox that is Dracula Dossier. I don't claim it's my best gming, but it sometimes works surprisingly well. I suspect this is because the PCs and players don't spend a lot of time during the attack stopping to wonder why. I mean, afterwards? Sure, they discuss it, and then it occurs to me that a reason other than "the players gave me an opening" would be a Really Good Idea, but no one seems to mind their PC the focus of an action scene.

    I don't run every game that way -- usually, I try to overthink and overplot on the grounds that this is how I keep up with players. And even here, the attackers didn't come out of the void or a random encounter table (not that I mind those, you understand). I had the stats on hand and a very vague idea that these existed. I just didn't think about the why or how of it all (well, not beyond "Public bathhouse? Okay, mentally ensorcelled man with a knife. In his home? Carmilla's latest "mother".")
  • Nathan_H said:

    Yep. I don't play role-playing games like you do.



    But that's why your suggestion didn't solve my problem.
    Nathan_H said:

    I mean, I have but I no longer do. It's just not my thing. At some point, I found story or at least the promise of something resembling it, more alluring.

    Whereas I journeyed in the other direction, being late to the party on D&D but finding it really clicked.
    Nathan_H said:

    If I want to play a tactical game, I'll just play board or card games.

    In my experience D&D scratches that itch better. We used to play Magic & Netrunner but now it's D&D all the time.

    1. It's open source meaning we can keep on building on it & improving it. Really fun & also makes the game an increasingly good fit for us / me. Not that I don't have house rules for Magic. I guess I'm just a rules B.
    2. M I R R O R S T O R Y
    I was in tears of joy, I called my mom, I felt like I finally "got it". This was what I had been searching for since I first saw an RPG back in 1992.

    Phase 1. Did not understand the games (a Runequest clone) — to complicated & no instructions on how to prep. Me, my sister and our girlfriends making characters but then never could actually start the game. My mom ran one game for us, that was fun.
    Phase 2. Discovered Everway, Fudge and SLUG. And Usenet. Finally got some games in! At first pretty bad since I was running for guys and they wanted me to play sexy NPCs giving them sponge baths…?!?! Goodbye to those guys pretty quick. Then found some players I liked more. Made some great games, at this point I was playing super rules light or w a very stripped down Fudge. Player retention/interest wasn't great, getting a game together was a rare occasion, 2, 3 times per year maybe. The problem was it was all DM fiat, DM making things up on the fly or a preconceived idea, since we were playing in a very identifying-stance way everything they said or did was what the character said or did, leaving not much room for story idea contributions. The stories were all mine and we had some players loving them but… it was pretty much smoke & mirrors.
    Phase 3. Trying to find good rules! Having fun with story games, kinda struggling a bit with Fate (since I was into Fudge I discovered Fate pretty much day 1 but it never clicked for us)
    Phase 4. Discovered D&D!!! & the joy of precommitted world facts.

    Bitter over wasting two decades before "getting it" but… it's great now!
    Last session yesterday was another mirror-story-esque situation with lots of "physics" and weird magic items and traps to interact with and explore.

    I suspect this is because the PCs and players don't spend a lot of time during the attack stopping to wonder why.

    Yeah, that's interesting! I have learned that everyone — everyone needs stats because I never know how they're gonna attack. They threw an ice storm spell at a little princess girl the other day for crying out loud! Whereas some of their best friends as NPCs were people I put in there as bad guys & antagonists but they were like "OK we like this guy! We're gonna hire him!"

  • Paul_T said:

    It's not necessarily that simple either, though. Sometimes it can be very fulfilling to take a random process and *then* decide what it means, after the fact.

    A simple example might be a system where you roll who the monster attacks randomly, and you roll the same PC three times in a row. Suddenly, it inspires you with a fascinating backstory, racial or national enmity, or some strange magical effect - and something beautiful is born. Why did they do that? You get to answer it, in play.

    Lots of different ways to get these things to the table!

    Paul, I don't buy into that. There are better carriers. I'll use a deviled eggs analogy. I could just place deviled eggs, all loose-like, tossing them into the trunk of my car, and transport them to where ever I'm going with this analogy, or I can put them in a container, that's made to transport food from your house, to another house without damage.

    Sure, you can use it, but it might be easier to use something made for what you're doing.

    If it doesn't matter(random), then why does it matter? It matters because something has clicked. You've gotten a bit of inspiration from this somewhat random, somewhat predetermined thing.

    I don't buy into the "ends justifies the means", not that I think this is what this is exactly, but if you follow a similar train of thought, it could be. Can we agree that people create without needing to roll dice or consult pre-written tables?

    "A simple example might be a system where you roll who the monster attacks randomly, and you roll the same PC three times in a row. Suddenly, it inspires you with a fascinating backstory, racial or national enmity, or some strange magical effect - and something beautiful is born. Why did they do that? You get to answer it, in play."

    So, why can't we answer the things we used a "random" table to answer, instead of playing to answer? By play, you mean imagine, or at least partly imagine. Why can't we imagine instead of relying on a predetermined table. I mean, rpgs are only so random. Why rely on game for anything? It's an agreement.



  • Kevin Crawford's Godbound has a nice semi-random element in his monster encounters (I know I've seen it elsewhere, too), in that different monsters have different strategy tables.

    This is a simple d6 table with different actions for each result, like so:
    1-attack the weakest looking opponent in the front row
    2-try to attack whoever looks like a spell caster
    3-fall back and lead the enemy into a trap or ambush
    4-try to bring a more powerful ally into the fight, etc.

    For the more powerful and magical creatures, the 5's and 6's are usually cues for the monster to use an area attack or buff itself with a magical effect.

    I have found this to be a nice compromise between making sense of encounters and being unpredictable. Honestly, my brainpower is limited when running games and I'm very happy to delegate questions like this to a randomizer.

    Sure, if it's a goblin hit squad trying to avenge the insult the Thief character made to their Queen during the last session, then it requires more thought. But I almost always elevate NPC's after the fact. If the heroes kill five goblins and one of them gets away, that's the one that gets a name and becomes a recurring figure in the game. If I choose the significant figure ahead of time, the PC's are guaranteed to kill them, every time.
  • Nathan_H said:

    Can we agree that people create without needing to roll dice or consult pre-written tables?

    So, why can't we answer the things we used a "random" table to answer, instead of playing to answer? By play, you mean imagine, or at least partly imagine. Why can't we imagine instead of relying on a predetermined table. I mean, rpgs are only so random. Why rely on game for anything? It's an agreement.

    Some people like it more. It has a different feel than coming up with everything yourself. wildbow, author of Worm, arguably the best web serial on the internet (arguably ;)), has literally rolled dice to determine who lives and who dies.

    You don't like authoring stories that way, that's very clear. :D But it's not some kind of intrinsically worse method, it's just that you don't like it and for you it's always worse than the alternative. Which is fine. For you.
  • edited April 3

    Once play starts I have a three tiered source of information.

    1. What’s in the prep, as in “The chest has a jade statuette”. If that has a gap,
    2. What’s in the mechanics, as in “Rando chest contents roll table”. If that has a gap,
    3. Make it up. Note it as a failure (don’t beat yourself up though). Try to patch this entire category of holes up for future DMing.

    With this rule I’m discouraged to try to create at the table. That’s why I’m not into your approach, Nathan.

    Coming up with this three-tiered system turned creating sandbox worlds from impossible (I have some neuropsychiatric issues so I literally thought I was expected to pre-record every grain of sand and dust) to easy, quick, something I can start quickly & something I gradually get better with the more I do it.

  • edited April 3
    And that's why I cooked up the "who does the monsters attack" system (with the help of the sources I copied from). Because that often was a gap in information I had.
    When the prep told me clearly who got attacked I didn't need to go there. "They hate whoever carries The Ashen Metal Blade" or w/e. That's already how my sandbox prep work, this three tiered source.
  • Thanks for breaking it down like that, 2097!
  • Nathan,

    There are lots of reasons to prefer random procedures to non-random procedures. For instance, take this procedure:

    * Sit down together, and brainstorm a genre you'd like to play in. Try to come up with some examples of stuff that works well in this genre, until you're all on the same page.
    * For the player on your left and on your right, come up with an interesting relationship between your characters.
    * Next, think of an interesting item or location for this genre, and place it between two players.
    * Also come up with an interesting "need" for this genre, something that could motivate someone, and put that between two different players.

    Or, you could pick a Fiasco playset, and roll dice, and you have everything ready.

    Can you see why someone might prefer the latter over the former?

    Some obvious features are:

    * It's easier and more convenient.
    * It prevents creative block and helps resolve disagreements between players about genre.
    * It's much faster.
    * It may have content that's better than what your group could come up with on their own.
    * It will create unexpected combinations, which can break you out of a creative rut and force you to come up with something you normally would never think of...
    * Etc.

    I think there's plenty of value at all points along this spectrum, personally. Just need the right tool for the right game and the right group and the right circumstances!
  • Nathan, I hope you don't feel like we all pile up on you. I really do appreciate the thread and I apologize for not taking the time to reply properly to your original post in the other thread. Thank you again
  • Paul_T said:



    Or, you could pick a Fiasco playset, and roll dice, and you have everything ready

    I have never played Fiasco without some creative editing. It's never been that easy sounding. Look, I'm thanked in the book, twice, but Set-up hasn't always gone smoothly, and I err on the side of story. Sometimes it takes a couple turns 'til relationship pairings flesh out, sometimes they flip-flop.

    Fiasco isn't the end all be all, nor does it magically arrive at fun, for everyone, always. Sometimes the Tilts feel wrong. Sometimes the game doesn't reflect what happened in the story.

    Yes, having something to reference can be helpful, but it isn't always. You guys act like having rules means having fun, and those two things are usually very separate.

  • I guess my RPG journey led me to that position because when I finally found rules that clicked we were having a lot more fun than the freeform scenarios we'd been doing up till then.
  • Paul_T said:

    Some obvious features are:

    * It's easier and more convenient.
    * It prevents creative block and helps resolve disagreements between players about genre.
    * It's much faster.
    * It may have content that's better than what your group could come up with on their own.
    * It will create unexpected combinations, which can break you out of a creative rut and force you to come up with something you normally would never think of...
    * Etc.

    The points you list as positives, could also be seen as negatives. And I'm not sure that having rules helps you get there and "faster" or "better".

    When I would play music improvisationally, it can be sometimes best to not come with anything beforehand. Sometimes relying on a structure, previously made, without any connection to what's going on, the relationships currently between the people playing music, has just felt like a bump. It'd usually the first thing to go, those expectations that had nothing to do with the current thing.

    It's just a different perspective. I do like games, but only so much. Rules can focus and blind.



  • Do you play strictly theremin / kazoo / fretless-single-stringed or do you have things like note intervals, fifth tuning, TET, piano keys etc?
  • Oh, absolutely. There are also many downsides to rule-based constraints. It's always a balancing act, and sometimes you want to explore one end of the spectrum and sometimes the other.

    We're in total agreement there.

    An easy example of that:

    When a famous writer sits down to write their next novel, they don't (generally) reach for dice and a fiasco playset.

    But for a group of strangers playing on a strict three-hour timeline, it can be very handy.

    I'm not making an argument that any particular way is better.

    To bring it back to the original topic:

    My personal preference is to know a strong "why" for each monster, so they have a purpose, both tactically and thematically. Careful chosen ad crafted for maximum impact. That tends to be far more interesting and satisfying than any alternative.

    However, there are many games and gaming contexts where a random table or a simple algorithm might suit what we're doing better.
  • edited April 4
    2097 said:

    Do you play strictly theremin / kazoo / fretless-single-stringed or do you have things like note intervals, fifth tuning, TET, piano keys etc?

    I don't let the math get in the way of the heart. Passion should come first, then technique, and finally theory. It's like love and bravery - love isn't shit without it. If you don't first feel something, it's pointless.

    I like instruments with less going on, so that more of me can get in there.

    I get it, forms have preconceptions. Guitar music sounds a lot like guitar music.

    I do like some continuous pitch instruments, but even they have their own rules.

    I've been known to play a duck call, with my finger, pulling the end off, and pressing the little metal tine with my finger. It sounds like a little weird saxophone.
    You have to turn it around, and draw breath(suck) into the typically-end-now-mouthpiece.
  • And music is 90% math, but that other 10% feels, seems more like 100%.
    I mean, the math in music doesn't quite work out. It'll get you sorta, kinda there, but it's not the goal.

  • It's pointless to me. I mean, all of this is to me. I'm not telling you how you play is wrong, or that my way is right, but I'm just used to my way. It suits me better than other ways.
  • I guess I shouldn't have gone too deep in the analogy like that. I appreciate your patience with that, thank you.♥

    What I should've said is that my role as GM is to be the world, not the author.
    Stories happen through the PCs actions & experiences rather than their, or my, narration.
    It's very much a story game but… the story… this isn't ouijaboarding, it does work. It does just emerge. It's not authored, not at the table.

    That's the fundamental rule that makes everything else tick in what I'm doing.
    Nathan_H said:

    It's pointless to me. I mean, all of this is to me. I'm not telling you how you play is wrong, or that my way is right, but I'm just used to my way. It suits me better than other ways.

    I don't think we're even doing the same thing in different ways. The activities we are doing are fundamentally and incompatibly different. It's like comparing a car ride to a cake-eating contest.. All fun things to do, but completely different things.

    You're right in that the conversation is also kinda pointless. There is no minor change that can turn what I'm doing into what you're doing or vice versa.

    I think we're trapped in some sorta "want to have the last word" loop, or maybe it's just me that kinda am. Because I did feel like you sorta jumped into my "here I'm gonna design some mechanics that fits in right with the other ones I've got" thread and were like "duh, why don't you just create more of a story for each monster" and it'd be like I'm tryna bake a cake and you're like "OK I drive cars that's similar and here's some gasoline, add that to your dough and it'll really go".

    Your game sounds really cool but it's so far from what I'm doing.

    The entire rules, structure, music notes analogy was a dead end and I fucked up leaning into it. It's more like… a holodeck or a theme park or or just a big ol forest on the one hand, or a movie or a song or a novel or a play on the other.

    I have a hard time letting the topic go because it's something that I wish I understood a long time ago and I wish I knew how to explain it. Maybe you already understand the type of gameplay I'm talking about and you've moved on from it; it's just that we're not finding the words to communicate or verify that that's the case.

    When the mirror story happened I was like…
    "Oh, so this is a roleplaying game!" That was after having been active running and playing and writing about it for 2 decades. You probably have even more experience, not trying to appeal to my own "authority" or whatever. Just trying to say that… the uh… the whatever the mirror story was / is, was something that I had not understood before it happened. Rereading other texts about roleplaying, I can see that some of them hint to the same sort of gameplay, it's just that I misunderstood them and couldn't get what they were about until I had had my own satōri kick.

    As a player of games like Zork, Choose Your Own Adventure, Fighting Fantasy or whatever, even reading fucking Robin's Laws [as much as I love Hillfolk and HHP, Robin's Laws is garbage. Sorry Robin if you're reading this but it's prob one of the worst books I've read] I thought "OK, A GM presents a sequence of scenes, this happens then this happens than this happens. The more generous&ambitious the GM, the more branches off that trunk there are. But instead I'll just learn to improvise."
    I still had a "events happen" mindset. I'd see a module with dungeons & rooms and I'd still be like "OK, first they come to this room, then they come to this room, then they can choose between room A and room B..."
    When the mirror story happened and I realized that… we were in a tangible, consistent, solid world that was more than the story created in the moment, that was a place we had visited for real, through our words and through the DM's words…

    Guh, I'm not tryna convince you to change your ways. Just… it's like if you were to ask about Sit-Down Pretend Without Scene/Action Resolution and I'd answer "Oh, just use GURPS and do a Quick Contest using the rules on page B348". That's not what your question was about.

    And you fundamentally did not understand what my question was about.
    It was about "who does the monster attack". On their own. Once I've wound up the little spring inside and let them loose. Not "who can I come up with a fake reason why they attack someone and then have them attack that person."
    Because the reason would be fake and cheating given the premise of the activity I'm doing. It's not fake nor cheating in a story narration yarn spinning exercise. In fact, it's super cool there. That goes back to the four mirror scenarios and two groups thing. What's bad in one is great in the other. And vice versa. And both activities are super fun. I dearly love both. There can even be mixes of them. Like, this part of the game is this kind of game, that part of the game is that kinda game. "On the ship we get to tell improvised tales of space adventure but once combat starts it's no more improvisation." Or vice versa or w/e.
  • Nathan,

    I think that trusting human judgement, intuition, and story instincts is a time-tested and entirely valid way to create any sort of art (and I have no trouble calling story games art, whether they are profound or silly and light).

    I think that, for Sandra, that falls short because her wants are impartiality and consistency - things human intuition is really badly suited to.

    To play Devils advocate for a moment:

    Given that this is your position, what kind of procedural structure or constraints do you find useful?

    Why bother with games and rulesets at all, if you don't want constraints, for instance?

  • I also feel kinda bad rn, as I do whenever I've been like super categorical in writing and then hit send and then I think back on how compromised & wishy-washy & sloppy my practice is in actual play. And maybe that that's part of what makes it work :bawling:
  • Paul_T said:

    Nathan,

    I think that trusting human judgement, intuition, and story instincts is a time-tested and entirely valid way to create any sort of art (and I have no trouble calling story games art, whether they are profound or silly and light).

    I think that, for Sandra, that falls short because her wants are impartiality and consistency - things human intuition is really badly suited to.

    To play Devils advocate for a moment:

    Given that this is your position, what kind of procedural structure or constraints do you find useful?

    Why bother with games and rulesets at all, if you don't want constraints, for instance?

    Ooo ooo ooo, I can answer this.
    I mean, it all depends on what I'm doing but I will assume you're asking about me playing role-playing games with old friends. I verbalize more of these things with people I've not played pretend with, than with people I have. I think that's probably common, but I brought it up anyway.

    I might address theme in a round-about sort of way, before worrying about characters. I don't do this with any level of professionalism. What kind of almost-story do we want to tell? Where? What does it feel like? Sometimes I'll just ask what game they want to play, but I don't stop asking questions after that. I mean, at some point I stop asking questions, but not yet.

    Well, I do like characters that contrast one another. Ones with opposing lives and perspectives. So, I like player characters to contrast, compliment one another. I mean, the easiest way to show who a character is, is to contrast it by it's opposite. I'm using the term opposite loosely here, but I assume you get the point.

    The dance of contrasts.

    I think dice are used as deciders because of their innocuousness. I mean, who can argue with a simple oracle. I think they're relied upon a it too much for creating mystery and surprise. I guess what I'm saying is I don't find dice to be that constructive of a constraint. They're a fuzzy petition to an authority. Fuzzy might not be the right word, but they're a petition with varying, somewhat chaotic weight.

    There are constraints in life. You don't need a rules to have them. Creating an idea-thing has it's own boundaries too.

    Well, games can be magical. I think Hide and Go Seek is strangely perfect. I'm not sure if you could create that sort of mood, that real-feeling-fake-fear, without rules? But you don't use Hide and Go Seek to tell something that sort of resembles a story. I'm sure you could, but it might not have the hallmarks of one without some editing.

    I think human intuition might be better at consistency than you're maybe willing to give it? People are creatures of habit. We tend to fall into patterns. If patterns aren't consistency, than I don't know what is?

    I like constraints, but I tend to make enough for myself. The idea has it's own boundaries. There's an honesty to just following cause and effect.

  • edited April 4
    2097 said:

    I also feel kinda bad rn, as I do whenever I've been like super categorical in writing and then hit send and then I think back on how compromised & wishy-washy & sloppy my practice is in actual play. And maybe that that's part of what makes it work :bawling:

    Oh, it's fine. Don't be so hard on yourself. You're allowed to have an opinion.
    You can play games however you like, as long as no ones breaking any laws.
  • edited April 4
    Is "don't be an asshole" a constraint?
    Or, if you're an asshole, be able to acknowledge it, and maybe quit it.
    We can all be jerks, to ourselves and others.

    I've played pretend through my teenage years. I've done some jerky things.
    Is "try not to talk over someone else, unless it's helpful or encouraging" a constraint?
    I play pretend differently now at forty, then I did in my twenties and teens. I'm probably more forgiving about some things, and less forgiving about others.
  • Good answers (although you didn't afraid my precise question - basically, whether you use any rulesets at all, and, if so, what value they bring you)!

    I'll happily disagree with you about consistency - humans are biased creatures and it's very hard to ignore those biases. Most of our rules and laws and structures are about enforcing consistency (without law being upheld, an authority figure would almost never punish transgressors consistently, for example - family members might get preferential treatment, better looking people might as well, and so might certain ethnic groups, etc).

    Same goes for "will this activity be the same when a different group plays?", and others potential concerns.

    I do think that playing with the same group of friends allows us to treat many of these structures and constraints as known - unspoken rules and traditions.

    If you're happy playing by the unwritten rules in your head, and you have the authority to enforce those (or at least have them addressed) in your group, then you arguably don't need a ruleset at all.

    Making procedures becomes much more important when communicating those to other humans is a priority - for instance, when you play with strangers often or want to teach someone else to GM in your style.
  • Rules are agreements, somewhat. I mean, sometimes people "agree" without knowing. Oftentimes.

    What ruleset do I use wholesale? Is that what you're asking, Paul? And what benefit do I think, what fun does it give to me and my friends?
  • I only meant that people are consistently biased. Rules and impartiality are another thing. I think of consistency and the attempt at fairness as completely different things.
  • edited April 4
    I'm forty-four years old, and have yet to see this magical land of Fairness. ;)
  • I don't buy into the fact that pretend needs rules. It'll make it owns rules.
  • Nathan_H said:

    Is that what you're asking, Paul? [what rules do I use?] And what benefit do I think, what fun does it give to me and my friends?

    Sure, that's close enough.
  • Nathan_H said:

    Well, games can be magical. I think Hide and Go Seek is strangely perfect. I'm not sure if you could create that sort of mood, that real-feeling-fake-fear, without rules? But you don't use Hide and Go Seek to tell something that sort of resembles a story. I'm sure you could, but it might not have the hallmarks of one without some editing.

    Remember that time we played Hide and Seek in the city and I crawled under a gate to hide in some stranger's yard? I was more afraid that they would catch me than you.

    With games of this nature, games with rules... we *live* the story.

    This is why I speak of "buy-in" where others might speak of immersion. "If you fail that roll we'll rip up your character sheet." "I know. :bawling: But I'll have to risk it. I care to much about the prince Emmeline and his pet bird to not try to save them, even if it means risking my own life."
    Nathan_H said:

    I don't buy into the fact that pretend needs rules. It'll make it owns rules.

    And I've outlined some of the rules that pretend has made for me to be able to run a game that don't make the pretend all fall apart. For me. "Let's pretend the floor is lava." "Oh cool! But why are you standing there?" "Oh this exact part of the floor (points to exactly the same kind of floor no different floor tile color or carpet or anything) isn't lava."

    This is also why pre-committed world facts are such a key ingredient in what I find awesome. If there was a note in your pocket, signed&sealed yesterday, saying "the floor under me, whereever I go, isn't lava", then cool. If you're changing the rules on me on the fly, then not cool.

    If you select rock after seeing me select scissors, that's not cool.



  • edited April 5
    Paul_T said:

    Nathan_H said:

    Is that what you're asking, Paul? [what rules do I use?] And what benefit do I think, what fun does it give to me and my friends?

    Sure, that's close enough.
    None. Does anyone play a role-playing game as it's actually written, maybe other than the person or people who wrote it? They're not like checkers or chess.

    When I play Fiasco, I often ignore the Aftermath, maybe because it feels unnecessary by that point? Sometimes it's nice to have that "where are they now" montage, but oftentimes it doesn't gel with what was going on at the table.
    Even after Set-up, Relationship parings might flip-flop, depending on those first couple scenes.
  • edited April 5
    2097 said:

    And I've outlined some of the rules that pretend has made for me to be able to run a game that don't make the pretend all fall apart. For me. "Let's pretend the floor is lava." "Oh cool! But why are you standing there?" "Oh this exact part of the floor (points to exactly the same kind of floor no different floor tile color or carpet or anything) isn't lava."

    This is also why pre-committed world facts are such a key ingredient in what I find awesome. If there was a note in your pocket, signed&sealed yesterday, saying "the floor under me, whereever I go, isn't lava", then cool. If you're changing the rules on me on the fly, then not cool.

    If you select rock after seeing me select scissors, that's not cool.

    In your example, you have something that makes story - that status play of maker of rules - bender of rules. That's story, and you wanna get rid of it for egalitarian reasons(the McDonalds of reasons - consistency). You have drama. Two people want something different(everything is lava because I say it is/this part isn't lava because I say it is).
  • edited April 5
    Then, this story creating thing, you wanna kill with the roll of dice, resolving this potential story-making(struggle-making)thing.

    If it were a story, this lava game argument, you would want it to complicate, instead of resolve.
  • I am sizzling with a craving to interject but know better. I'll just say that you are talking about "controlling the story". In my games, I don't want too much drama between players. This can end bad.
  • Nathan,

    I don't much care if you play any game as written (I deliberately omitted that part from my quote, in fact). I'm just curious what value you see in using a ruleset at all, given then stance you've been promoting here. Why bother with rules and procedures at all?
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