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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 36 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [D&D 3.5] "I don't play for endings" (way too long)  (Read 7290 times)
masqueradeball
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2008, 08:48:58 PM »

To an extent I agree with what your saying. The problem is, IMO, that the way people role play is very different from the way they play Volleyball. Until recently a lot of groups have been playing in isolation, guessing out a lot of what they were doing, with out much contact from the outside. It'd be like if everywhere in the world had a Volleyball League, but they all ran by a different set of rules, a lot of which no one ever bothered to right down. All that local variation is bound to mean confusion for a new player, and talking is the only way to get around it.

For instance, you talk about the DM using is by the text protected prerogative to change the rules of play. The DMG also really stresses explaining the changes to players, explaining why the change was made, and stating it clearly before play begins.

Ninja, by the way, are ridiculously good. At low levels there main role in combat will be defending and drawing opponents off from bigger damage dealers, but their touch AC is going to be really good... which is a major benefit in 3.5. Later, the power array makes up for lost rogue abilities. Also, getting Improved Feint is well worth it. One of the funnest and most frustrating aspects of D&D is how powers combine with one another. Look at the Invisible Blade prestige class for a great pairing for any Ninja, also, multi-classing is always an option.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2008, 06:52:39 AM »

Hi Nolan,

That's true. Have you read my essay "A hard look at Dungeons & Dragons," in the Articles section? It's aimed at getting out of that isolated, cargo-cult mentality regarding this game in particular.

Best, Ron
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masqueradeball
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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2008, 09:44:02 AM »

Ron: Yeah, I almost referenced it in my post. My point to Callan was just this: that a lot of the time the reason play is bad is because roleplaying or Dungeons & Dragons or whatever have different meanings for everyone at the table, and, as you explain really well in your article, this is the baggage the hobby brings with it, since D&D for a really long time, was the hobby. I think Callan has a good point, and I think the newer editions of D&D are pretty clear about what your suppose to be doing when you play, but... the reality is that most people carried over their habits from 2e, or worse still, learned how to play entirely through guessing it out by example, having never read more of the rules than absolutely neccessary.

And D&D does suggest pre-game discussion. Its in that section in the DMG about the two styles of play, you know, Kick Down the Door or Deep Immersion or whatever they call it.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2008, 07:06:01 PM »

Hi Nolan,

I don't think that's true. Take your example where everyone has a 'volleyball league'. Why are they all calling it volleyball? That doesn't happen by itself - people invent sports independently all the time, but they name them all sorts of things. For everyone to name their variant the same (volleyball), there must be some central organisation which is telling them it's volleyball. It's sending out the message that it is. It'd have to be organised - you don't get hundreds of people making really different games, then naming them all the same just by chance. Same with D&D. Why is everyone calling their game they essentially made up, D&D? Thousands of games made and all called D&D? Seriously, why? Unless someones patting them on the back somehow and saying 'Oh yeah, that's D&D!'

In terms of D&D, talking about it is not the way to get around it. There's a central authority involved which will say 'Oh yes, that's D&D!' to just about any flippin' set up. When people in the same group have different set ups, but this central authority keeps going 'Oh yes, what your doing is D&D!' to each of them, any talk the group might have is undermined before it even begins. Talking about it only aggrivates the whole situation, because their all bloody certain their doing D&D because they keep getting told through books and shit that they are. Which is terrible, come to think of it, because talking about it is about the only thing we have as human beings to deal with stuff. Though in terms of creative denial and simulationism, it could work out - and there does seem a massive sim culture out there.

I almost feel bad saying 'talk is bad' - it seems really heretical to say, yet it adds up.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2008, 07:20:55 PM »

Hi Callan,

That kind of talk is bad, I definitely agree. However, that can't possibly mean that any talk is bad - the talk in this thread, for instance, is seriously good. Does it not seem possible to you that, some day, you will be able to play D&D with some folks with whom you talked in this way, instead?

Best, Ron

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Callan S.
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« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2008, 10:54:39 PM »

Hmm, when you put it that way, no! To "play D&D" would mean saying I know what D&D is, or whoever else says "Lets play D&D" would be saying they know what it is. You can't refer to doing something without implying you know what it is. As said, it's company (past and present) pats any version on the head - what is true D&D? Who knows? Or wants to clash with someone elses idea of it?

However, talking about making up something as we play, and talking about canabalizing D&D rules or rules from other books that seem to suit, that is fun! I'll have to start asking about that first next time - also that helps kick off the talk in a 'make up a game' session. The talk will be roughly like in this thread and the forge in general. Still feel a bit ripped off with the books - but the best revenge is living well/playing happily! :) Also checking out what RPG's I can actually find in shops, check 'em out to see if they are just the one thing. Perhaps canabalizing them otherwise, bwa ha ha ha ha!

It's probably that time for anyone to give their last comments to the thread before closing time, aye?
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masqueradeball
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« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2008, 12:14:17 AM »

Just an aside Callan, but have you ever put serious effort in running D&D by the book, and getting people to consent to do the same, you'd be surprised at how well it works. Its like playing one of those board games thats based of D&D (you know, Descent or Dungeoneer or Dungeon Twister or whatever, heck even Munchkin kinda counts) except its a lot better. D&D breaks when you try to do things with it that it wasn't meant to do... As far as the company line equating to "Do whatever you want" well, I guess that kind of sucks, but... they're not really saying that, I don't think. They're saying, try to make the game the best it can be for you... it just is tied up really really deeply in trusting your DM like you would your mother.

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Calithena
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aka Sean


« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2008, 07:47:32 AM »

Talking: I wanted to say you don't talk when you sit down at the chess club. But actually even at the club you scope out people of equal ability. You've ferreted out the 'casual players' just by being at a club, so you don't have to worry about destroying sensitive people, but on the other hand no one wants to waste their time either. The expert might play a few games with the tyro as a kindness, but will prefer to play against other experts most of the night, most of the time.

With 'D&D', which means everything from 'any role playing game at all' to 'this particular edition of a game actually titled D&D' to 'the way me and my friends played such-and-such at time x', not talking means you just show up and see what happens. The stronger your preferences are for particular ways of playing, the more time-wasting this threatens.

----------------------

What I'm thinking about that made me want to post was the social stuff.

I'm totally fine with real-life social status and issues between players mediating and being mediated by what happens in an RPG. (Others may not be, which is fine too.) The situation Callan describes to me would be poisonous, but not because the social dimension is there - it's because the social dimension is shitty and juvenile, or at least seems to be by my standards and reading of Callan's description.

Distributed 'player control' as an approach to RPGs is theoretically interesting in all kinds of ways and has produced some thought-provoking designs. But I think it's perhaps misplaced as a response to the problem of shitty social manipulation. I suppose it's possible that distributed control makes the entire game shut down faster if someone's an overt dick, but you can always take your social manipulation to a higher level.

Being adult and mature in your social relations can happen with a 'God GM' or with totally distributed power across the table or anything in between. Each approach can be manipulated in different ways and has different strengths and weaknesses.

-------------------

As a corollary to this, though, I just thought of an interesting reason why some people might like the kind of play described in Callan's post, God GM, social manipulation, and all. Just as some horror movies let you get off by fantasizing about being the killer - or Grand Theft Auto's fantasy of lawlessness - maybe being in a D&D game of this kind lets you be as big a shithead as you possibly can in a constrained environment.

In other words, I wonder whether the shittiness of these games is actually for some players a feature, not a bug. "At home and school and at work I have to be nice to people whether I like them or not. Fuck that shit! I want to be in it for me and get away with whatever I can...."

Thinking about that, I'm sure it's right, actually - it explains a huge amount of play I've seen over the years in a satisfying way. The ruthless killers, the peevish social manipulators, the bad boys, all kept in as tight a cage as possible, raising the ante for the stab out, the break, etc.

So it's a kind of gamism after all, but the game is (1) fucking the DM (that actual person) and (2) fucking the other players (we're the leaders, we get the magic items, etc.). The SIS and the system are props for that social interaction. And that's where the real fun is for a lot of people who play our games.

But going back to the conversation issue I started with, how many of them can admit that to themselves, let alone to others thinking of joining their group?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2008, 05:20:00 PM »

I'd like to add some extra notes to my post, since when the penny dropped it was all so clear, but perhaps not described well.

Essentially there are two outcomes - A: I either do the particular activity I set out to do, or B: I don't. It's binary, there's no inbetween. And when Ron posted, I realised all the talk in the world wont change that it ends up at one or the other.

Be careful in reading this, I'm not saying talk can't change which outcome you end up at. I'm saying once you arrive at an outcome, all the talk in the world cannot then change that you ended up at that outcome - you ended up at A or B. You can't end up at B, have a bit of a chat and somehow end up at A instead.

Take the volleyball example - all the pregame talk possible wont matter, if no one else is actually interested in a ruthless game except you. You've already hit outcome B - you've failed to do the activity you set out to do. "No! See, now you just gee 'em up, get em feeling ruthless!". No, this is like the example of the gambler who keeps repeating the same behaviour, because he will not accept he failed to do the activity he set out to do when he lost the first bet. Putting in more and more effort into geeing them up or whatever is like the gambler throwing more and more money at it so he can win (what he has already, permanently lost). The activity you set out to do involved ruthless volleyballers already there, it did not involve you geeing them up.

When you accept you've failed to meet your expectations, you naturally look for something else you want to do (what you want might be in the same area as before, or you might want to go for a jog now, or something else). You change your behaviour. If you don't accept you failed, you can try new approaches all you like, with all the forge help and talk you can get - your still plugging away at a battle you already lost, repeating the same core behaviours much like the gambler does. Any other change in behaviour don't matter if you have a core set of behaviours which simply must be followed (since 'they have not failed'!). Those core behaviours will overide any other changes in behaviour, if they get in the way of the cores desire.

Personally I thought I wasn't getting to A because I thought it was a skill, like driving, and I was a bad driver and running into a tree half way and just needed to get better. The way Ron phrased it, I realised I'd lost before I'd begun - to 'play D&D' requires someone to assert their version of D&D for play - bang, that wont let me meet my version of D&D, so I'm already at B. No amount of skill will overcome that because it's already happened. It's over already. And thus...behaviour change! Which feels good!
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masqueradeball
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« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2008, 06:41:21 PM »

Sorry, but I have to disagree and I hope hope hope that I'm not just being contentious. I think you see D&D as a game in the traditional sense, but no matter how you slice, its not. It will never tell you what to do next. I know this sort contradicts what I said above about playing it by the book, but by "by the book" I guess I just meant taking the most obvious course provided by the book and following it.
With very few exceptions, role playing "games" are essentially sets of tools that a group of people can use to make a game... The game is the scenario the GM/DM/Storyteller presents, not anything in the book, and there's no possible way anyone can know what their getting before hand besides discussion: so, with these tools that we bought, what kind of game are we going to make.

Their are RPG's now that fix this (Panty Explosion comes to mind, because I've actually played it... it sounds like a lot other Forge-y RPG's do the same) and if you want to avoid all the "so what the fuck are we doing here" talk, I highly suggest sticking exclusively to those games.

But even then, talk will probably be necessary. To take a board game example: I love A Game of Thrones by Fantasy Flight. Its a solid game and there's never any confusion over the rules of play that can't be found in the rule book, but oh man, have I seen the way that various people approach playing that game dramatically effect the feel and out come of play.

Extreme A) No one talks about what is happening in play, everyone plays the game without in put, advice or deal brokering between players.
Extreme B) Every action take part by any player comes after long negotiations with the other players.

I find both methods to be fun and enjoyable, and I like in-between play as well, but some people hate A and hate B, though both are perfectly allowable within the rules... thus, discussions is necessary.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2008, 10:37:32 PM »

Nolan, do you want to ask people questions where they give their own answer, completely on their own, without any influence from you or anybody else?
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masqueradeball
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« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2008, 02:21:08 PM »

Sorry, I have no idea what you mean by this statement. Are you saying I'm asking a leading question, or that I'm not asking a question at all? Well, I wasn't trying to ask a question, I was making a statement in response to your last statement, one that said as clearly as I could what my opinion on the issues at hand is. I figured you would respond by giving your opinion, from what I said, with the purpose being that we both would understand things more and thus be able to make better (i.e. more informed decisions). I said I hoped that I wasn't being contentious because I didn't just want to contradict you... if you want to end the conversation theres no reason for me to sit here and give an opposing side to things... Anyway, if you could explain what you meant maybe I could respond more directly.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2008, 03:21:53 PM »

It wasn't a statement, I wasn't saying anything, I wasn't talking. I was asking a question. There's no ill will here, in fact I am listening very intently for just your answer. This is your choice, alone, quite seperate from any talk we could have had, because all I am doing is listening to you. Please excuse my shortness and relative silence. It is because I am busy listening only to you.

Nolan, do you want to ask people questions where they give their own answer, completely on their own, without any influence from you or anybody else?
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masqueradeball
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« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2008, 10:59:48 PM »

Sometimes...
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Balesir
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« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2008, 07:40:23 AM »

Take your example where everyone has a 'volleyball league'. Why are they all calling it volleyball? That doesn't happen by itself - people invent sports independently all the time, but they name them all sorts of things. For everyone to name their variant the same (volleyball), there must be some central organisation which is telling them it's volleyball. It's sending out the message that it is. It'd have to be organised - you don't get hundreds of people making really different games, then naming them all the same just by chance.

Hmmm, let's change a few letters...

"Take an example where everyone has a 'football league'. Why are they all calling it football? That doesn't happen by itself - people invent sports independently all the time, but they name them all sorts of things. For everyone to name their variant the same (football), there must be some central organisation which is telling them it's football. It's sending out the message that it is."

I don't think this:
It'd have to be organised - you don't get hundreds of people making really different games, then naming them all the same just by chance.

...is what happened.  It was just like with football - the game evolved in different environments in different ways.  The difference is that it's taking a while for players to realise the differences - perhaps in part because they aren't as obvious as picking the ball up and running with it or throwing it to other players - and deal with them.

As an analogy, I think you are the soccer player who has wandered onto the Aussie rules pitch - or maybe the other way around ;-)  What makes it worse is that the game rulebook has been rewritten to tighten the rules, but the other players are still playing the game they used to play because, well, it's what they play...

As Nolan has said, D&D3.5E has strong guidelines about explaining rule changes and notifying players of them up-front.  It's actually a pretty gamist-supporting system as written, but the nature of RPGs means that the unexpected can crop up and GM judgement is about the only tool for a gamist game in those circumstances.

The 3.5 game I'm currently running has a simple meta-rule: the GM may only make up a rule (a) by common agreement of all the players (if a rule is just dumb, for example) or (b) if no rule can be found that covers the situation.  Just when enough time has been spent looking, in the second case, follows a majority view!  The general message is "if you want to use a wierd ability, you'd better know where to find the rules on it!" :-D
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Andy Gibson
a.k.a. Balesir
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Eschew Obfuscation!
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