Narrativism vs traditional techniques

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  • I'm not familiar with Monster of the Week, but if it has a principle called "disclaim decision making", just like AW does, you could have used some of the techniques listed under this principle to guide your process of decision making. For instance, you could have just asked your players, set up a clock for the threat of Erris' death, or whatever else is given as an option.

    Have you talked to the player to get to know how he felt? I don't see the game situation as something so terrible. It's certainly possible for a bullet shot at a fight, to harm an unintended target. Perhaps the player expected some kind of harm roll?

  • I really come across as an asshole in that last double-post; got really pushed to the proverbial edge there. Sorry @Paul_T and @Khimus, I wish I had expressed myself more kindly, but also: come on! Kinda lost my patience a bit there!

    This whole thread has been about trying to establish to Paul what my position really is. If it’s finally ready to start drifting over to the “why” that position is there, I’m all for it!

    @yukamichi & @ebear thank you both so much♥♥♥♥ for chiming in while I was typing.

    If the player has no gaurantee as to whether the GM will incorporate the gloracle into the decision or not then the gloracle loses all it’s magic for setting expectations and seems kind of incoherent.

    Exactly♥♥ (Incoherent in the dictionary definition, not necessarily some big model definition that I might or might not understand.)

    I feel like the gloracle could make Earnest’s decision to shoot or not shoot Erris a lot more interesting, but only if it’s incorporated correctly.

    Really good example.

    We had a very similar example in our game yesterday. A beloved hench NPC – or rather, the wife of one of the characters, rolled up on XGE life paths–(well, she’s not universally loved on the soap opera layer but they need her magic cello because it conjures a cabin for them to live and she also can conjure food and water for them with it, so they def don’t want her to die) had her head stuck in a trap. The way the players dealt damage to the trap also risked her. She ended up making it out with only six hit points remaining.

    The fact that this was handled gloracularly added a lot to the tension and to the outcome. Yet another triumph of blorb♥

    @2097 seems to be suggesting that the gloracle and prep should be used for everything but the “wallpaper” as the solution, and I think that works.

    Yeah, what we do is that the rules I have selected for interacting with items and people are inherently finchian and lawsian, respectively, so that it doesn’t become just a “dicefest”. To do it do it, to say it say it etc.♥

    Damage and harm is one area where the rules interaction does become more stochastic. (Attack rolls and such.)

    When there’s something not covered by rules, such as taming wild animals or finding healing herbs in the jungle, I’ll make rules for it. (Those rules sometimes are based on dice rolls, sometimes on a time charge, sometimes on a proficiency prereq.)

  • The invented dragon in AsIf’s Lady Blackbird game.
    Ok, that's an interesting example. What I read here is the players were unclear on what the principles of this style of gaming were. They didn't want blorbiness or consistency, they wanted the illusion not to be torn apart. I've found this in other games, and many players are ok even with illusionist techniques, as long as the illusion remains. Keeping an illusion is worth that much of an effort? Definitely not for me. I see a thing here with how expectations were set, instead of an essential property of roleplaying with traditional techniques being broken.
  • edited May 2019
    disclaim decision making
    a.k.a. "consult the gloracle"

    Again for me those techniques (on p 87 of AW 2e) all seem very subjective. Even the clock since there's no fixed principle for how many slices of time there should be on the clock as far as I can see, and Blades in the Dark is similarly open-ended about it.

    In effect, the decision making isn't disclaimed enough.

    Edit: But this is why I don't know if AW is or isn't blorby. It's teetering on the borderline; either a brilliant design or it falls down into the ravine of sorrow.
  • @Khimus, thank you for not escalating♥
    Sorry again for being so grumpy in that double-length post.
    They didn't want blorbiness or consistency, they wanted the illusion not to be torn apart. I've found this in other games, and many players are ok even with illusionist techniques, as long as the illusion remains.
    Oh, in that case it's not a good example because we interpret it differently; I see them as wanting blorbiness and consistency. The "it just happened to be exactly the right amount of steam" thing was a miracle to them because they believed that that coincidentally stemmed out of the gloracle.
    I see a thing here with how expectations were set
    Well, one of the things I've been saying in this thread is how using traditional techniques can sometimes set these expectations; and how one solution for reducing blorb-expectation is to introduce extremely alien techniques.

  • (Sorry if writing in a hurry and not addressing every point made)

    I get that this thing about the false expectations is real and it's happened to me. Perhaps the interpretation might vary, but it happens when a group is first exposed to a story now game with GM. What I did was continue to play, hoping the players adapt to this game style. When they embrace it, we've had incredible campaigns. When they don't, I find new players.
    But I analyze it as a product of play culture, rather than an essential property of traditional gaming.

    I have a counterexample: haven't you found players who don't like this blorb gaming? For example, players that want to feel like in a movie, whose characters have plot protection or are guaranteed by plot to play a big role in the story? I'm not talking about story gamers, but about some WoD players, for example.
  • When the illusion breaks I’ve seen three common reactions.

    1. You can desire more adherence to blorbiness; and also develop a mistrust of other DMs and GMs unless they are really good at showing work. Maybe becoming a “forever DM” yourself since you can’t trust other DMs enough to become a player.
    2. You can request the illusion to be kept better next time.
    3. You can become OK with it all being make-believe & pretend & hat-pullery

    [Let’s leave the “you can start seeing the improvisation just as shamanistically as the true blorb; seeing it as a sort of internal, intuitive gloracle” can of worms unopened for now; I said three common reactions, I didn’t say only these three reactions. (My position, btw, is that that kind of reliance on tier three truth, rather than having it as a safety-net/fallback, is not gloracular.)]

    If you haven’t experienced true blorb, outcome two and three become more likely (merely by virtue of outcome one becoming very unlikely if you don’t know what happiness the blorb can bring). (Uh you’re right in the other thread, I’m getting sick of the word too.)

    My reaction when the illusion broke was the third one. And I went down a complete and very radical [that’s my nature; I like to go to the root of things] rabbit-hole of “no myth”. Until I experienced the life-changing magic of blorb with the “mirror story” and switched over to the first reaction.

    I’ve seen outcome three again and again and again and again. That’s why I want to teach blorb.

    (“But Sandra,” you ask, “what if there is no ‘illusion’ of reality that can break? We’re all on the level on how the game is set up” well then you aren’t doing traditional technique, you’re doing alien technique, and you’re fine.)

  • edited May 2019

    Wow, thanks again for keeping up the constructive posts even after me being so emotional! Much apprec♥

    (Sorry if writing in a hurry and not addressing every point made)

    I get that this thing about the false expectations is real and it’s happened to me. Perhaps the interpretation might vary, but it happens when a group is first exposed to a story now game with GM. What I did was continue to play, hoping the players adapt to this game style. When they embrace it, we’ve had incredible campaigns. When they don’t, I find new players. But I analyze it as a product of play culture, rather than an essential property of traditional gaming.

    Interesting; why is that? What makes it not an inherent property to traditional gaming, which admittedly is an extreme position (and new—which might be why Paul is so shocked that I’ve suddenly come down with this extreme position instead of my previous happy kumbaya take on it)? I’m trying to give some more “why”s to my position, but both sides have some burden of proof here.

    For example, players that want to feel like in a movie, whose characters have plot protection or are guaranteed by plot to play a big role in the story? I’m not talking about story gamers, but about some WoD players, for example.

    I found that when using traditional games with that kind of player you constantly need to fight the system. Using non-traditional games seems like it would work much better.

    I would run WoD blorbily, which is why V5 was such a disappointment; I loved the playtest rules with hunger etc, but the playtest scenario was a scripted & wordy mess.

    If the characters die, they die. Not all blorby games have the same degree of lethality though. Fate [usually not played blorbily but there’s nothing in the rules stopping it from being played blorbily] is less lethal than 5e which is less lethal than LotFP.

    Just as we have hit points to negate hits (while still maintaining blorb), you could have some other resource to negate killing blows. It could get a bit tricky mechanically (our last PC death someone was grappled & thrown over an edge; not necessarily a blow per se) since we want to avoid “retcon” feeling saves.

    Edit:Well, if he had had more than 300 hit points he would've survived. So maybe just give out infinity hit points. You can explore the world, discover things, defeat monsters, talk to people, but never get defeated.

    Or, design monsters that have the move "capture and Before I Kill You Mr Bond you" instead of killing you outright.
  • That’s what Eero and Paul have been telling me over and over again, that my love for the “dollhouse” reality isn’t a real love and that what I value most of all is apparently the challenge…? Even though IDGAF about “game balance” :bawling:
    If that is true, I'm sorry for it. I try to not play a mentalist and pretend I know what people think better than they do themselves. I feel it's disrespectful to disregard a person's self-reporting in favour of your own pet theories on what they should be thinking.
  • Well, I do get stoked about the challenge. In addition to other things I get stoked about with this fantastic game.
  • With Magic the Gathering, I get equally stoked about the Jenny stuff, the Spike stuff, the Vorthos stuff and the Tammy stuff. Maybe a little bit more into the Mel stuff. I'm primarily a Mel at heart.

    With the Big Model, I get equally stoked about the Step on Up stuff, the Right to Dream stuff, the Story Now stuff. But a particular technical agenda—blorbiness / "tangibility"—has won my heart completely.
  • I'm not familiar with Monster of the Week, but if it has a principle called "disclaim decision making", just like AW does, you could have used some of the techniques listed under this principle to guide your process of decision making. For instance, you could have just asked your players, set up a clock for the threat of Erris' death, or whatever else is given as an option.
    I think you're absolutely right. I guess I was wondering what it would be like to declare ahead of time what categories of outcomes I would "disclaim decision making" for. Like saying I always use the d6 method for determining named NPC death, rather than just disclaiming for one particular NPC in the moment. And maybe in the long term game we would use the situation to decide as a group what our preferred resolution method would be going forward.

    For the record Monster of the Week has one bullet point in the principles called "you don't always have to decide what happens", but it's not expanded upon at all. Honestly the GM advice in that game is fine, it's just that Apocalypse World does a much better job imo.

    Have you talked to the player to get to know how he felt? I don't see the game situation as something so terrible. It's certainly possible for a bullet shot at a fight, to harm an unintended target. Perhaps the player expected some kind of harm roll?
    We did talk about it a little, enough to think he wasn't totally satisfied with how things turned out. I wish I could remember better but it was a long game and I was pretty worn out after.
  • I guess I was wondering what it would be like to declare ahead of time what categories of outcomes I would "disclaim decision making" for. Like saying I always use the d6 method for determining named NPC death, rather than just disclaiming for one particular NPC in the moment
    Yes, this is something that I've found that I need. I need rules to be able to DM.

  • Sometimes, "the DM decides" can work as a rule. In 5e, the DM can decide whether NPCs die at 0 hp or if they roll death saves. This has a similar problem as AW and MotW has re this. In practice what we do is that NPCs that belong to the party—their employees and employers, wives, husbands and kin—do roll death saves, while enemy combat monsters generally don't.
  • Something that might be helpful, which I haven't seen done so far, is define exactly what constitutes "traditional techniques". What, specifically, falls under that category, what doesnt?

    If we have a specific list, I think it would be easier to argue for or against the idea that any individual technique does or does not preclude coherent narrative play...
  • We could, but we would have to appoint someone to outline that; I don’t think we would ever reach consensus.

    I thought I made a pretty convincing post earlier (referencing Witch, in particular) about how techniques can be mixed and matched; and that’s by just as true for D&D as any “weirder” game.
  • edited May 2019
    That’s what Eero and Paul have been telling me over and over again, that my love for the “dollhouse” reality isn’t a real love and that what I value most of all is apparently the challenge…? Even though IDGAF about “game balance” :bawling:
    If that is true, I'm sorry for it. I try to not play a mentalist and pretend I know what people think better than they do themselves. I feel it's disrespectful to disregard a person's self-reporting in favour of your own pet theories on what they should be thinking.
    My position on this is somewhat nuanced and very specific. I don't think I've ever told Sandra that her "real love" is challenge (it's very clear that the blorb dollhouse/gloracle is foremost in your heart!), or that her group plays with a Step On Up agenda (if I have, let me know, and I'll gladly take it back as well as apologize). Like Eero, I don't see any hope or benefit in labeling strangers online with some vague theory terms (unless they ask for it, I suppose, but no one's really ever asked me to do so). It's foolish, disrespectful, and far too likely to be entirely wrong.

    Eero and I have both found a really successful mode of play which combines "blorb" (Sandra's term) or "hygienic GMing" (Eero's term) with a strong Step On Up agenda for really effective and highly focused gaming. I find that, once you get those concepts lined up (and learn to stick to them), it's almost bulletproof. Those ideas have allowed me to enjoy D&D without reservation for the first time.

    Unlike Sandra (but perhaps like Eero), I find both to be absolutely necessary to make it work. I played with strict "blorb" for years and years and never had that kind of gaming until the missing piece - the focus on challenge, and a recognition that it was happening even when it might seem like it's not (more about that below) - was brought in, thanks to Eero.

    It does require a slightly more sophisticated understanding of "challenge", though (at least, enough that I could see it tripping some people up). Given that understanding, "blorb" tells us HOW to prepare material and make rules and rulings, while "focus on challenge" tells us WHEN to use it (how to distinguish wallpaper from things that are important to prep). Put the two together, and you have a working method for play that really, really works. Have just one, and you're lucky if the thing goes at all.

    The key that's kind of weird (or, at least, easy to miss) is that the GM, in this style of play, isn't engaged in the process the same way that the players are. The GM's role is to prep and make rulings and present vivid and concrete fiction; the whole point of blorb/hygienic practices is to remove the GM from the challenge/competition. (We want to remove the GM's ability to switch what the mirror does at the last minute precisely so that she cannot invalidate the cleverness of the players by switching up what's behind the curtain - and, similarly, so she cannot cheat around a poor decision by the players by changing things in their favour.)

    As you can see, this has absolutely nothing to do with "game balance" (there are types of games that have similar techniques and a similar agenda which find game balance important, but this is a very different beast); it has do with fairness.

    It can be really fun and really exciting for the players to go up against an overwhelmingly difficult challenge. It can be really fun and really exciting when the players manage to cleverly circumvent a challenge and get an easy victory: the point is not to provide balance, but to make their decisions really matter. That's one of the central functions of a sandbox setup: to let the players decide which challenges they want to confront.

    When you play in this style, the GM sets up the "dollhouse" and the rules by which it functions, and then sits back to see what will happen. The players, meanwhile, rub their hands together, feeling confident that the GM isn't cheating, and get ready to be as clever and as lucky as possible: they are facing challenge, not the GM.

    I think that it's easy to lose sight of this as a GM committed to "gloracular" methods, because you're not really engaged in the "challenge" aspect as a participant. However, if you imagine a day when you come to the table and the players aren't trying to survive and win - perhaps they put down their weapons and run into the dungeon with their eyes closed - and you'll see that they are very much engaging with challenge, because when they stop doing so, the whole purpose for play seems really unclear all of a sudden.

    I don't know for sure what's happening in Sandra's game, of course (and we know there's quite a mish-mash of techniques, so there's likely, I think, a mish-mash of types of "fun" happening), but that's what I've seen pretty consistently in other games I've run and played.

    Here are some examples of why this might be true for Sandra (she'll have to confirm or deny, but I'll show what I'm seeing):
    <<p>Really good example.

    We had a very similar example in our game yesterday. A beloved hench NPC – or rather, the wife of one of the characters, rolled up on XGE life paths–(well, she’s not universally loved on the soap opera layer but they need her magic cello because it conjures a cabin for them to live and she also can conjure food and water for them with it, so they def don’t want her to die) had her head stuck in a trap. The way the players dealt damage to the trap also risked her. She ended up making it out with only six hit points remaining.

    The fact that this was handled gloracularly added a lot to the tension and to the outcome. Yet another triumph of blorb♥
    My impression (and you can tell me if I'm wrong) is that the players weren't approaching the wife with her head stuck in a trap with a scientist's perspective ("Hey, I guess she could live or she could die. Let's engage this mechanical process, and we'll find out which in the end, but we'll be happy either way..." - "Oh! She'd be more likely to survive if we hit the trap with a hammer, becaus she has resistance to bludgeoning weapons..." "Shut up, Bob! You're ruining the experiment! Let's stick with the spears...") but as people desperately trying to save her life (looking for new solutions, different ideas, different ways that they could get her out alive).

    In the end, knowing that you all followed the procedures faithfully makes the success feel more earned and more real - that makes it more valuable and more potent. But the key to it is that there was a challenge and the players managed to win (this time)! They saved her! Without the consistent and fair process, the success wouldn't have been earned, and wouldn't have felt as satisfying.

    Another potentially telling point is that "they need her magic cello because it conjures a cabin and food and water", "so they def don't want her to die": her presence is useful to them as a way to be less likely to "lose" the game of survival:

    A good player in a blorby game takes their role as visitor to another world seriously. In this holodeck, or danger room, or Narnia wardrobe, they have one job. It’s a difficult one: To live.

    If "living" is "difficult", that sounds like a situation where survival is a challenge.
  • edited May 2019
    As DM & designer, I want to create a dungeon were players are allowed to pretty much play themselves, or an idealized & braver version of themselves, & apply their best brain to the puzzles or combat situations
    "Apply their best brain to the puzzle of combat situations" is a pretty good and concise description of what "challenge-based adventuring" is all about. I know that it's not the only thing that happens in Sandra's games, but it seems to be, at least, one of the main features of play.

    The "monster AI" for combat is another example: it enables the GM to remove herself from the flow of combat, giving the players a "system" of opposition to test their skills against. (If true simulation, a la Threefold, was, instead, the goal, then giving the monsters an "algorithm" but not the PCs would be a rather unbalanced simulation. The PCs have a strong advantage in this scenario; if the idea was to "simulate" or "test" the *characters'* battle effectiveness against certain monsters, it would make sense to write a similar algorithm/AI for the PCs, as well. The fact that this isn't even remotely on the table, is, again, a way to give an opportunity to the players to Step On Up and test their wits and skills against an objective reality/system.)

    In "what did you play this week", Sandra talks about a particularly exciting, successful heist the players pulled off:

    http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/comment/483939/#Comment_483939

    This seems to me as another example of how cleverness and luck win out over adversity; what makes it cool is that the players were smart. They faced a challenge and they won.

    Read that snippet (it describes a really awesome successful heist moment!), and tell me that it's celebrating anything other than a brilliant play by the players when faced with a challenge. :D

    Which, on a related topic, if the game isn't about challenge at least at some level, why use D&D adventure modules? Why play Finchian trap-disarming games? (Heck, why have deadly traps in the first place?) Why remove all the skills from the game that replace player cleverness? Etc.

    I hope that makes my position clear. I could be utterly wrong about Sandra and her game, for all I know, but it's definitely a trend I've seen in different groups and different situations, and it explains a lot of those questions very cleanly and efficiently.
  • This thread is moving a bit fast for me to completely follow, so consider this a parenthetical aside.

    Context: @Khimus says "hey note the Disclaim Decision Making principle", @2097 replies "a.k.a. consult the gloracle."

    Either I've misunderstood the gloracle a bit, or I don't really think these are always equivalent!

    Another, rather non-gloracular way of disclaiming decision making is Burning Wheel style stakes-setting. Another-nother non-gloracular way of disclaiming decision making is @Silmenume & Cary style fishing for nat-1s & nat-20s on a Spicy Roll.

    Though, both of those methods disclaim the decision a bit less completely than truly consulting the gloracle. With stake-setting, you still chose both possible outcomes, even if you didn't decide which would come to pass. And with the spicy roll, you are in fact still entirely responsible; you're really truly just disclaiming the decision, in the social sense, rather than not making a decision.
  • I thought I made a pretty convincing post earlier (referencing Witch, in particular) about how techniques can be mixed and matched; and that’s by just as true for D&D as any “weirder” game.

    If the game has enough alien techniques, which I believe Witch has, that’s fine.

    My position on this is somewhat nuanced and very specific. I don’t think I’ve ever told Sandra that her “real love” is challenge (it’s very clear that the blorb dollhouse/gloracle is foremost in your heart!), or that her group plays with a Step On Up agenda (if I have, let me know, and I’ll gladly take it back as well as apologize).

    You’re doing it in this very post!!! But also here: “you are using certain ‘Threefold-Sim’ GM techniques to help facilitate or support a Gamist mode for the whole group.”

    Unlike Sandra (but perhaps like Eero), I find both to be absolutely necessary to make it work. I played with strict “blorb” for years and years and never had that kind of gaming until the missing piece - the focus on challenge, and a recognition that it was happening even when it might seem like it’s not (more about that below) - was brought in, thanks to Eero.

    For me the missing piece—I need to put this in the same document that teaches the three tiers & the wallpaper saliency principle—is the saliency time zoom principle. We focus on things were we need clarity/answers. To survive a challenging situation, sure, or to deal with emotional or dramatic fallout, or to marvel at a discovery.

    Instead of spending an extradiegetic day stuck on an ice moon or in void space without even finding as much as a single ice moon, the diegetic time goes quickly “until it matters”. Becomes salient. “OK it’s the next morning, Alice you could get 2 hours of spell copying in.”

    The key that’s kind of weird (or, at least, easy to miss) is that the GM, in this style of play, isn’t engaged in the process the same way that the players are. The GM’s role is to prep and make rulings and present vivid and concrete fiction; the whole point of blorb/hygienic practices is to remove the GM from the challenge/competition. (We want to remove the GM’s ability to switch what the mirror does at the last minute precisely so that she cannot invalidate the cleverness of the players by switching up what’s behind the curtain - and, similarly, so she cannot cheat around a poor decision by the players by changing things in their favour.)

    So even the “mirror story” is gamist now. See, this is what I’m talking about, people telling me what my agenda is. Arguably it is gamist. But I had played gamist/challenge games before (board games, card games, video games). They didn’t blow my mind the way the mirror story did.

    I think that it’s easy to lose sight of this as a GM committed to “gloracular” methods, because you’re not really engaged in the “challenge” aspect as a participant.

    I was a player in the “mirror story” game though, not the DM.

    I don’t know for sure what’s happening in Sandra’s game, of course (and we know there’s quite a mish-mash of techniques, so there’s likely, I think, a mish-mash of types of “fun” happening)

    That’s right, the whole soap opera layer and how it intermeshes with the challenge layer: Alice breaking up her engagement to Bob, and Bob dying shortly thereafter.

    My impression (and you can tell me if I’m wrong) is that the players weren’t approaching the wife with her head stuck in a trap with a scientist’s perspective (“Hey, I guess she could live or she could die. Let’s engage this mechanical process, and we’ll find out which in the end, but we’ll be happy either way…” - “Oh! She’d be more likely to survive if we hit the trap with a hammer, becaus she has resistance to bludgeoning weapons…” “Shut up, Bob! You’re ruining the experiment! Let’s stick with the spears…”) but as people desperately trying to save her life (looking for new solutions, different ideas, different ways that they could get her out alive).

    Also they were under significant time pressure. Every sixth second, she was paying 4d10 slashing to delay the trap closing.

    If “living” is “difficult”, that sounds like a situation where survival is a challenge.

    Challenge lower case, yes. Challenge as in the CA agenda? Who knows at this point.
    It’s difficult enough that I don’t want a bunch of “collaboration” with them stepping on the gloracle’s toes, they should just live their characters and focus on that.

    As DM & designer, I want to create a dungeon were players are allowed to pretty much play themselves, or an idealized & braver version of themselves, & apply their best brain to the puzzles or combat situations

    The rest of that sentence was: “or really do a ‘character’ such as Max the thief or @JonatanK ‘s legendary ’Joanne’.”

    I literally said I wanted to support multiple priorities!

    And I’m working on rules that really reward the latter.

    it would make sense to write a similar algorithm/AI for the PCs, as well

    ???? If a player is portraying a goblin or a kobold (Volo’s, p 118) then obv “the algo” don’t apply to them.

    Similarly the players select what’s in their character’s backpack whereas the gloracle decides what’s in a rando corpse’s backpack.

    Obviously if I could get a human player behind every monster or person in the game world that would be the best. That’s not practically possible, our table is straining as it is with five players + waiting list.

    Read that snippet (it describes a really awesome successful heist moment!), and tell me that it’s celebrating anything other than a brilliant play by the players when faced with a challenge. :D

    Right. When I referred to that moment in PMs it was as a contrast to zilchplay & ouija-boarding. That was an awesome moment without the planchette being moved. Also addressed the premise: “can you survive the challenge by dreaming, which is your right”.

  • Which, on a related topic, if the game isn’t about challenge at least at some level, why use D&D adventure modules? Why play Finchian trap-disarming games? (Heck, why have deadly traps in the first place?) Why remove all the skills from the game that replace player cleverness? Etc.

    There is a challenge layer yes. And a soap opera layer. And a discovery layer. And a save-the-world-from-the-maguffin layer.

    I’ve said before that one reason the start of B4 The Lost City works so well is that the danger of the traps makes engagement with them and with the SIS almost pop out automatically beacuse they matter, are salient. Danger and challenge aren’t the only ways to make things salient but saliency is a key technique and is what I believe was missing from your blorby Trav misery.

    I hope that makes my position clear. I could be utterly wrong about Sandra and her game, for all I know

    It makes your position clear: you believe that our group plays with a Step On Up agenda. Which is what I said upthread; you keep telling me that I have a Step On Up CA. And you also just had said that to Bill.

    IDGAF about what CA I have but if you’re using traditional techniques you should try making your game wholly blorby [and make it clear to the players that it is so] or you should try introducing alien techniques to de-blorbify expectations.

  • This thread is moving a bit fast for me to completely follow, so consider this a parenthetical aside.

    Context: @Khimus says "hey note the Disclaim Decision Making principle", @2097 replies "a.k.a. consult the gloracle."

    Either I've misunderstood the gloracle a bit, or I don't really think these are always equivalent!

    Another, rather non-gloracular way of disclaiming decision making is Burning Wheel style stakes-setting. Another-nother non-gloracular way of disclaiming decision making is @Silmenume & Cary style fishing for nat-1s & nat-20s on a Spicy Roll.
    So when I don't know what rule to apply, for example for climbing a tree (before I had our current overy-complicated & detailed rules in place), and I see multiple outcomes, I'll do a twelve-twenty. I see what's the worst outcome, and what's the best outcome, and what are all the rest (I don't need to sort these). For example climbing a tree while wolves on the ground are biting you: worst outcome: fall & hurt yourself, best outcome: successfully climb up tree, mediocre outcome: not get up in time just stand there under the tree for a round. One roll with two DCs: DC 12 to get to mediocre outcome (player's choice of mediocre outcomes if there are several), DC 20 to get to best outcome. 11 or lower and you get worst outcome.

    The gloracle is sometimes a very precise golden machine and sometimes you can see the chewing gum & hanger wire.

    Normally these situations if they're common enough a rule will get wrote up by me!
  • Being constrained by established facts. That's a form of coherence I really enjoy. It's my favourite form of aesthetic realism in RPGs.
    This thread and others mess with the meaning I associated with "traditional ". For me, a traditional game or technique is one that is passed along without scrutiny of what it does, but based on "it's always been done this way". If concrete examples reveal that fairness fosters a climate of social security in which creativity (be it used for challenge or invention) thrives... I'd say yes, but what's the big deal ?
  • I'd say yes, but what's the big deal ?
    Agreed!
  • Next step is : when is it okay to sort of railroad players. Like deciding of a 5 acts structure that will change the sandbox not motivated by realism but by drama, to dig into the PCs hearts.
  • When you are using very alien techniques.
  • edited May 2019
    So for you "realistic" is trad and "dramatic" is hippie-alien. Close ? Or maybe just in this case.
  • When the drama changes the sandbox you should use alien hippie techniques so that the players don't get sandboxpectations. That's how I wish it worked. That's not the case in practice but that's my wish.
  • edited May 2019
    I don't see a need for it. Look : the DM just fetches the "act 3, everything is messed up" tables and the party keeps on dungeonning. Only their encounters will have an overall distinctive flavour. Reincorporated NPCs, usual agents now in tangled situations. This doesn't feel very hippie to me. Pendragon has animal parables of that sort, for instance. The DM just picked a specific set of tables.
    Ah but, of course, the DM is framing the characters in spite of realism. Would consent (ergo transparency) change the whole perspective?
  • Tables can be switched if there is a diegetic reason for that to happen. I have something similar in my game; there is an event that if it happens, the world gets messed up and the random encounter tables are turned. But we have to play to find out if that happens; it's not a "planned arc" or a series of planned events.

    The pre-planned-5-acts-structure is the unblorby part and why using trad techniques set up bad expectations. The tables-are-new thing is fine.
  • The reason for using hippie techniques isn't because of technical necessity. Traditional techniques can handle anything. The reason the hippie techniques are mandatory is because of expectation management.
  • Our darling DeReel added this after I had posted:
    Ah but, of course, the DM is framing the characters in spite of realism. Would consent (ergo transparency) change the whole perspective?
    Yes. Enough? That's up to the table.
  • edited May 2019
    ... so players don't get off track because of superficial similarities. OK.
    I see that like chemicals for aromatic extraction. Some are very industrial, others more skin-friendly. Others have a capture-release range that just fits in between the previous two sorts. Tools to a task.
    What I like in John Harper games is they capture traditional gamers and sit them at a table with hippie gamers ! At the cost of some confusion, but hey : next time we'll try some other game until we find one that flies for all.
  • At the cost of some confusion
    Too high of a cost for me
  • edited May 2019
    Of course, your sort of high art is not bad ! It has other costs.
    Thank you for the private course !
  • disclaim decision making
    a.k.a. "consult the gloracle"

    Again for me those techniques (on p 87 of AW 2e) all seem very subjective. Even the clock since there's no fixed principle for how many slices of time there should be on the clock as far as I can see, and Blades in the Dark is similarly open-ended about it.

    In effect, the decision making isn't disclaimed enough.

    Edit: But this is why I don't know if AW is or isn't blorby. It's teetering on the borderline; either a brilliant design or it falls down into the ravine of sorrow.
    What's your reasoning for calling this mechanic in AW kind of subjective? You know, there seem to be plenty of subjective gaps in starts without number and other dust too, many of them even recognised by the author. For once, the adventure generator works with abstract concept, like "person, place, complication", which the GM then puts in context.

    Even this blorb machine, at best, is a machine with a human operating it, pressing the levers, feeding it input and interpreting the output. Like every other game. Even this fairness is kind of an illusion. A productive one, perhaps, but it's kind of delusional to think the whole machine is less subjective than "disclaim decision making" in AW.

    Next question: has this method been used successfully for genres other than dungeon crawling? Dungeons are kind of easy because they're a constrained space with relatively few agents, but how do you leave everything to prep and tables in a city? Even SwN admits many, many times players will have you improvise. I can imagine tons of situations that will require more "subjectiveness" than AW's "disclaim decision making", unless the GM actually creates every building and NPC and faction in every single location, which is kind of straining even for low populations of 10k.

    At last: in one of your recent posts, you make a point that the challenge, or game, is about survival. That's so damn specific as a goal to play! I don't think a technique that narrows the play focus so much can be thought of as a must for every game with a GM, unless most of the campaigns, games and genres start looking like a reskin of of&d modules!

    What worries me here is that there's this segment of the hobby suddenly talking about fairness, about an impartial GM and about removing subjectivity from the act of GMing, like those things exist, all while they're blind to the MANY moments of subjectivity their gaming involves!

    One last point: it could be argued that, as well as there is tension between traditional techniques and story now mechanics, there's tension also between this pretension for objectivity and fairness, and the need of a human interpreter/operator for this blorby machine. The disruptive tension seems lower, in my opinion, for traditional story games, which kind of acknowledge the human component in the activity (it's not a computer simulation, after all, but a social game), and design with this in mind. The blorby spectrum seems to try to overcompensate by loading with work a single person. As I said before, this amount of work just to keep the illusion living is not what I aim for in an RPG.
  • What’s your reasoning for calling this mechanic in AW kind of subjective? You know, there seem to be plenty of subjective gaps in starts without number and other dust too, many of them even recognised by the author. For once, the adventure generator works with abstract concept, like “person, place, complication”, which the GM then puts in context.

    Before play starts.

    Yeah, I’ve used that generator a ton, it’s so great.

    A productive one, perhaps, but it’s kind of delusional to think the whole machine is less subjective than “disclaim decision making” in AW.

    It’s a matter of degree. Maybe AW is enough over the line to be good, maybe it’s not. I told you the example of the NPC in danger in our game compared to the NPC in danger in ebear♥’s Monster of the Week game.

    Next question: has this method been used successfully for genres other than dungeon crawling? Dungeons are kind of easy because they’re a constrained space with relatively few agents, but how do you leave everything to prep and tables in a city?

    Yes. Many times.

    Even SwN admits many, many times players will have you improvise. I can imagine tons of situations that will require more “subjectiveness” than AW’s “disclaim decision making”, unless the GM actually creates every building and NPC and faction in every single location, which is kind of straining even for low populations of 10k.

    The fact that you’re asking this makes me stoked because you might be on the verge of converting over to blorb!

    Before I knew of all the tools & techniques available to run cities, post-apocalyptic landscapes, jungles, dungeons etc in a blorby way I was like “do I need to prep every single grain of sand? That is unreasonable!”

    At last: in one of your recent posts, you make a point that the challenge, or game, is about survival.

    No. I said that the role (or task) of the player was to have their character live in the world, rather than create the world.

    Paul misinterpreted that as a survival challenge. Mere living in the world is difficult enough.

    What worries me here is that there’s this segment of the hobby suddenly talking about fairness, about an impartial GM and about removing subjectivity from the act of GMing, like those things exist, all while they’re blind to the MANY moments of subjectivity their gaming involves!

    I’m not blind to those moments. I forgive those moments & patch the holes for next session. That’s the three tiers of truth process & the wallpaper saliency principles. It’s reminiscent of zen meditation; I lose focus, I go back to focus, I lose focus, I go back to focus. With acceptance.

    there’s tension also between this pretension for objectivity and fairness, and the need of a human interpreter/operator for this blorby machine.

    Having a human interpreter is kind of why it works. With our current tech level at least.♥

  • It seems like you’re misinterpreting a lot of my statements as being far more prescriptive than I’m trying to make them. :)

    Here’s a thought experiment:

    Take all the challenge components out of your game. No more Porte-monstre-tees or. Does it still work? Is it still fun?

    If so, what’s generating the fun?
  • I love the rigorous approach to prep and transparency that this style of gaming calls for, and how you (Sandra) are giving a sort of master class on its techniques. That part is awesome!

    However, elevating “blorb” to heavenly status and attributing the success of your game (and, apparently, all traditional games!) is, in my opinion, a mistake of the highest order.

    It’s like we reliving the need for the Forge all over again - back when people argued endlessly about how their specific Technique was BEST!!!1!1! instead of acknowledging the reality that we’re all sitting around a table making stuff up, and that ultimately any sense of objectivity is an illusion anyhow.

    @Khimus says it well, above.
  • However, elevating “blorb” to heavenly status and attributing the success of your game (and, apparently, all traditional games!) is, in my opinion, a mistake of the highest order.
    A mistake that caused Story Games to close down :bawling:

    Funny how you can be dismissive of zilch play & exploration-qua-dream but still hesitate when it comes to radical statements about how much I hate 90s games.
    the reality that we’re all sitting around a table making stuff up
    That's exactly how games were before I found blorb. But with blorb that is no longer the case. It's magic.
  • (I’m not sure what you mean by “hesitate”! If St an important point, you’ll have to explain before I can respond.)

    As for the Elevation of Blorb, what is your take on the following questions:

    1. The concept of “blorb” play and the GM as impartial referee is, more or less, where the hobby started.

    If blorbiness alone is the magic key, does that mean that in the early days all roleplaying was glorious and it’s just been downhill from there?

    2. How do you explain those of us who played in blorby fashion from the beginning, but didn’t have much fun until we found other techniques and other pieces of the puzzle?

    (You’re dead on about saliency and “time zoom” GM techniques, by the way. But how do you decide WHAT is salient, and how do you decide what to zoom in on and what to omit? You’re right that many/most groups fail to learn to “zoom” properly, but I’ve never seen ANYONE not “zoom” at all, ever, when roleplaying. So, in my view, the issue isn’t just the technique - which is key, yes! - but having a guiding principle about when to apply it, which blorb does nothing to clarify.)

  • That's exactly how games were before I found blorb. But with blorb that is no longer the case. It's magic.
    My take is that it is because you had *all the other pieces already in place*. Adding blorb “completed the puzzle” for you.

    For someone else, they might be missing another, different piece of the puzzle. Simply adding blorb to their game isn’t suddenly going to make it awesome. They need another key, missing piece.

    (And that’s saying nothing of people who have entirely different priorities for play, where blorb wouldn’t even be helpful - someone who’s playing Fiasco and having trouble negotiating collaborative narration isn’t suddenly going to have an awesome time by adding random tables for weather.)

  • If blorbiness alone is the magic key, does that mean that in the early days all roleplaying was glorious and it’s just been downhill from there?
    Yes. I've often lamented that I got into roleplaying at a pessimal time. When no-one could teach me blorb. Drakar had many editions but the edition that removed all semblances of normal blorb…? That was the edition I happened to get :bawling:
    I believe that that's why the fad ended. The NES was invented (which was great, love that Castlevania action) and the illuuussiory actions were invented (which were not so good). Even our beloved B/X got in on the action.
    You’re dead on about saliency and “time zoom” GM techniques, by the way. But how do you decide WHAT is salient, and how do you decide what to zoom in on and what to omit? [...] So, in my view, the issue isn’t just the technique - which is key, yes! - but having a guiding principle about when to apply it, which blorb does nothing to clarify.
    This is gold. Agreed. We need to identify all the principles including blorb but also the other puzzle pieces.
    You’re right that many/most groups fail to learn to “zoom” properly, but I’ve never seen ANYONE not “zoom” at all, ever, when roleplaying.
    I've seen that. I saw a group where the party was trapped in a cage and the DM just let them sit there in real time for hours and hours. I've seen another group where the party was travelling in a forest, and a third one where they were travelling on a boat, and just nothing happening.
  • Hehe! Yes, some people are really bad at that. Even experienced, intelligent groups occasionally screw up (c.f. the ice moon story).

    But I’ve never seen any group play out every time they have a meal, go to the bathroom, not summarize and skip night watches, etc.

    I think people intuitively understand that fictional time does not correspond to real time (except in LARPS). Presumably they thought the cage and the boat were important for some reason? (Usually, it’s the GM waiting for the players to do something particular - like figuring out the one way they prepped to escape from the cage - or going for emotional affect: “I want them to FEEL the tense monotony of being trapped!”)

    But, hey, maybe there is someone out there who doesn’t “get” zooming in or out at all, and I just haven’t met such people yet. :)
  • All three of the groups were people who were very new to running games
  • I see!
  • @Paul_T , I agree with most of what you’re saying. Blorb is not an agenda in itself and so on. I also think looking at AW moves is really interesting, I’m maybe going to start a thread about that.

    When I’m trying to look at the fun I break it down as follows:

    SITUATION – There is something exciting about the fictional situation. What is it? The excitement tends to be modified by the ‘system’
    SYSTEM – Is the means we turn the current situation into a new...
    SITUATION – The situation got changed, what’s exciting about the new situation in regards to the old situation?

    The excitement is modified by system because on the level of pure fiction I can get a pay off, but that’s not why I’m roleplaying, I’m roleplaying because I contribute to the situation changing. Example: If the system we use is that the player has to use their wits to disarm the trap by describing things they do and the GM adjudicating, then that’s going to shape the players excitement about the situation.

    So the way I see salience is, it’s a situation we’re all excited about.
  • Salience: Do you need to know it?
    Wallpaper: Would it just be cool to know it?
  • Absolutely!

    So, now, how do you know before it happens whether the situation will be something you’re all excited about or not?

    Is it pure trial and error, or do you have a good sense of that before you sit down and play?

    That understanding is required for any kind of good gaming, and, in particular, it is just as necessary in order to know what to blorb and what not to blorb.

    Basically, a sense of what the game is about: once that’s in place, we can make intelligent decisions about whether something needs to be handled a certain way or not. (This is why in Sandra’s game the monsters get an algorithm but the heroes don’t - because the players are here to test their skills and wits and try to win the fight, but the GM is not.)
  • Situation? We just keep going where we left off last session.
    This is why in Sandra’s game the monsters get an algorithm but the heroes don’t - because the players are here to test their skills and wits and try to win the fight, but the GM is not.
    The idea of the heroes getting an algorithm is the stupidest idea I've ever heard.
    So I guess you are trying to say that neither side should have an algorithm.

    Remember that one reason why the algorithm is so important is that it simulates the limitations of spatiality without having a cartesian representation.

    Without the algorithm we could have 32 raptors biting one character. With it we can't.
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