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Author Topic: A question on a fundamental, whether it's taken as a given and taught by default  (Read 5420 times)
Callan S.
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« on: April 26, 2010, 04:03:41 PM »

Kind of difficult to phrase this question without a somewhat technical set up first...

If you had a real life roulette table, and had a rule
"If the ball ends up in a slot marked six, the result is six"

And if you had a rule
"If your character has the higher position, the result is you get +2 to your attack roll"

How is the forge teaching this? Is it teaching them as both basically being the same, in that your consulting an actual something for the result? Has it always been teaching them as the same? And by teaching, I mean informally as well, even in just treating it as a given when writing anything?

I'm asking in site discussion because after writing a long draft I realise there is nothing to argue as no evidence is being given for the latter, in terms of proving to any degree there's an actual thing to consult. I've only seen assertion and sole onus on the other guy to disprove it (and the falacious idea that if others can't disprove it, it's proved). There's no actual evidence/meat to engage at all.

To me, the latter is exactly the same as this
“If Harvey, the invisible six foot rabbit next to the GM, gives it the nod, you get +2 to your attack roll.”

In that it refers to a made up thing as if it's real and determines the +2 - both Harvey and "checking if there's height advantage" (in a literal sense) are both the same to me.

And I'm starting to wonder if actually, all this time, the vast bulk of people at the forge treat the height advantage (and similar 'mechanics') as an actual thing you can consult, like you can consult the real life roulette table.

If this is an accepted and (even informally) taught fundimental at the forge all this time...well, fuck. I would say it's a fundamental, and as you can tell I see measure it as flawed, so that flaw would have permeated though everything to some degree.

But for the question never mind whether I think it's flawed. Are the roulette wheel and height advantage being treated as two things that can be consulted for a result by most people at the forge?

I'm kind of stuck at asking because it's both fundamental and inarguable. It's just how a forum or whatever teaching/work place operates from, or doesn't. It's a bit like asking if you can have pictures in your posts, in that way.

So yeah, I took awhile to ask the equivalent of a 'can I post pictures in threads' question!

Just as a quick side note for comparison, here's something that I think, at a measurable level, does work: Someone is the backstop – hopefully declared by the rules. This person listens to everyone else, and he allows himself to be moved somewhat by their ideas. A vague approximation of everyone elses ideas collect in his head, then he looks at them with his own idea of the words ‘height advantage’ in mind and chooses whether you get +2 to hit. Maybe we talk as if were climbing onto the table and crap, but that’s no more happening than when we dream at night were climbing onto a super model a table, it’s happening. What’s really going on is our own mind tumbling through a lot of ideas.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2010, 06:11:53 AM »

Hi Callan,

This is one of the best examples I've ever seen of an Actual Play topic. Please rephrase it as such, and it could become a fine thread.

I do want to stress that the Forge is not a school. The only conclusions and outcomes of discussions here are those which emerge, for better or for worse, completely or incompletely. To say "the Forge teaches (x)" might be accurate in terms of what happened at a particular time or for a particular group of threads, but it's not the same as referring to a curriculum or a dedicated message.

Discussion of your point or claim may not continue in this thread.

Best, Ron
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2010, 06:14:05 AM »

I think the way you formulated this thread is problematic. My first impulse is to unpack my thoughts on the higher ground issue itself, but that's specifically not what you are asking about, it seems.

I anticipate, unless the thread simply gets ignored, somebody is going to just say Forge is not a monolith. It's the same sort of mental shortcut as that unfortunate group thing from other thread. The Forge in itself doesn't teach anything. There appears to be a strong presence of people who conflate the two, but it's hard to measure, I think.

The core of the problem, I guess, is that fundamentals were never defined here. The site has its mission statement, it exists for the discussion of a specific type of activities. However, I don't think an precise definition of that type was ever formulated. The result is that people come here to discuss games on the grounds of a vaguely related product base, i.e. the commercial focus of the extended hobby. When users attempt to discuss their actual activities and rulesets as fundamentally the same, however, it often leads to deep disconnects that obstruct reaching useful conclusions (like conflating very specific and mechanically defined effect with fictional effects reached via sheer consensus, or this higher ground out of nowhere issue).

The confusion regarding the higher ground out of nowhere issue ties to a thread I've been thinking to start for quite some time now. The main reason I didn't is that I'm afraid of bumping into the fundamental disconnect again, and a functional threadjack by posters approaching the matter in ways useless for my purposes. At the same time, I can't think of a single webpage where the thread would be more appropriate and potentially productive. My sense of suitability is based exclusively on the vaguely related product base discussed here, however.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2010, 06:27:21 AM »

Hi Filip,

My suggestion is the same: an Actual Play thread. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't, but in my estimation, they are likelier to work here than at most other websites.

Best, Ron
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Callan S.
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2010, 08:14:58 PM »

Hello Ron,

I think I'm getting pipped by much the same thing here, but at an even earlier stage. For example, I can swear in front of my children without a particular curriculum in mind. Does that mean they wont repeat the swears latter?
Quote
The only conclusions and outcomes of discussions here are those which emerge, for better or for worse, completely or incompletely. To say "the Forge teaches (x)" might be accurate in terms of what happened at a particular time or for a particular group of threads, but it's not the same as referring to a curriculum or a dedicated message.
I don't think what the forge teaches at a particular time simply emerges out from some neutral ether or something, as much as I don't think that 'Harvey' just popped out the +2 on a particular occasion. But I'm not saying there's any grand controller, either. I think there will be accepted trends that can be identified, as much as there is at a gaming table, or can be identified at any social gathering, and I'm asking what are those trends (maybe it's a fairly intimate question, even of a large group?). Perhaps I didn't say that particular well with the word 'informal' in informal teaching, but what words are there to use? So I lodge my skepticism on the proposed idea of there being no informal teaching, though really I want to lodge it much further on on the actual high ground stuff.

As to rephrasing for an actual play account, part of why I'm asking this is to see if I'd just be shoving at firmly held beliefs, like a missionary or something.


Hello Filip,

Well good luck with it. Just it might be like wrestling ghosts. And it can be tempting to invent ghosts of ones own when there is no way to disprove theirs (though there is the Richard Dawkins tea cup example, where if someone says there's a tea cup orbiting the sun, too far out to see by telescope, does the fact that it can't be disproved mean it should be treated as being there? That can help dispell ghost assertions).
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greyorm
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2010, 09:30:43 PM »

Callan, actually, an Actual Play example might help because I have no clue at all what you're actually asking about -- other than it sounds like some kind of a personal beef to me about something someone said once.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2010, 05:52:30 AM »

Callan, I have no idea what you think of this, but the whole +2 from high ground issue is extremely open to discussion here. Raven's right: ground the issue in an instance of actually playing, post it in the right forum, and we're off to the races.

Speaking for myself, I can draw upon about 100 examples of either "no, the ground isn't high enough for your bonus," or "yeah! +2!" from real play. I can also speak of real play in which that entire approach is unacceptable, and if you have the +2 on your sheet, you get it, which forces the high ground into the fiction then and there. I say this to claim that there is no imaginable basis, as I see it, for trying to shirk the actual-play requirement for discussion of topics like this.

That's the only hard barrier you're hitting in this thread - not regarding content (and why you think that content is some kind of sacred cow, I have no idea), but regarding flat-out posting policy for minimum content requirements.

Best, Ron
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Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2010, 05:08:59 PM »

What I'm refering to could only exist as a sacred cow, whether it's recognised as one or not. There's not much point going into a discussion to disect a sacred cow if everyone says they are free of sacred cows/no one will humour the idea that perhaps they do have a sacred cow to dissect. That or if no one genuinely has any sacred cow, the discussion is as short as I would have expected it to be, as people repeat something much like my small text from above (they repeat something that refers only to actual physical things as the reference) and that's that. But if there are sacred cow(s), recognised or not, discussion without humouring the idea would be like an AA meeting where no one even humours the idea they might possibly be an alchoholic. So it's not just about minimum content requirements from me. But I hadn't thought of stipulating requirements when writing the first post, because it's not something I usually do.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2010, 05:22:29 PM »

The subject of the +2 bonus for height has to be connected at the very least to a particular game rules set.  Obviously if a game has extensive rules concerning terrain in combat, the answer is going to be obvious, and if it doesn't it's going to be more difficult.  Running Multiverser, if a player were to say to me that because the fight is occurring on a staircase and he is above his opponent he should get a bonus, I would probably agree and give him one--and if the rules formalized what that bonus was, then it would apply when the circumstances of the described play made it apparent that it applied.  Whether it applies in other situations requires much more detailed consideration of the circumstances, so take it to an actual play thread.

The question that does belong here is whether there is an inherent "taught" concept set at The Forge, "fundamentals" that everyone either "knows" or "learns" from being here.  The answer is really yes, there is--we teach that games are a social activity governed by sociological "rules", and we try to fathom some of those rules; we teach that different ways to play are all legitimate, even if individually we don't enjoy some of them; we teach that mechanics should be designed to foster specific responses in play, that is, that the rewards and advancements and whatever else should encourage the kind of play the game is supposed to foster.

We don't teach that any particular approach to play is superior to any other--whether it's narrativism versus something else, or rules-light versus something else, or gm-ful versus something else.  We want to encourage designers to explore all the possibilities and create good games of all types.

In that sense, no, there is no implicit list of fundamentals that answer the kinds of technical question you've raised.  It's specifically the kind of question that goes to the social contract of the specific gaming group as impacted by the authority of the documents that attempt to represent the game.  More simply, those kinds of things are determined on a case-by-case basis within the context of actual play.  In one game, such a bonus would be applied whenever it obviously applied, in another it would be a recommendation for use whenever whoever makes those decisions thought it ought to apply, and in another it would be a completely meaningless statement.  If we applied the rule to chess, there's no information about which squares are higher; if we applied it to Risk, we'd need to add topographical information to our world map.  I think if we applied it to Final Fantasy Tactics, it's an obvious inclusion.

--M. J. Young
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greyorm
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2010, 01:24:13 PM »

Callan, dude, WHAT SACRED COW?! You're blathering about some height bonus, then you're going on about sacred cows, and then...well, fuck man. This is why I said, "Actual Play example". Because I have NO CLUE AT ALL what you're talking about.

NONE.

You might as well be standing on a street corner with a badly spelled sign screaming incoherently about society's wickedness and weinerschnitzel. And you've decided that because everyone is giving you weird looks and saying "What are you talking about?" or not engaging with your subject the way you want, this means that everyone is denying that there's a sacred cow in the room. No. They just don't know what the hell you're on about.

Consider the reaction to your attempt to discuss...whatever...isn't that everyone is running away from looking at some idea they all hold sacred, but that you haven't clearly explained what it is you want to talk about. At all.

So, seriously, I repeat my above post: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Tell us that. Don't sniff derisively and roll your eyes, "Well, I expected you were all too blind to see your own biases, so I didn't think I'd get an answer. No point in continuing." Because right now it looks to me like you're complaining that "the Forge teaches people to apply a +2 bonus for characters being on higher ground and won't admit it"...wut?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2010, 04:50:08 PM »

Raven,

Quote
Consider the reaction to your attempt to discuss...whatever...isn't that everyone is running away from looking at some idea they all hold sacred, but that you haven't clearly explained what it is you want to talk about. At all.

Consider that this is your personal perception. Callan's posts in general, and here in particular, come out as rather clear to me. The explanation appears adequate. I believe it's not about Callan's explanation, but the way you decided to read it.
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2010, 05:04:25 PM »

Callan, in Primetime Adventures, you get no +2 bonus if you are on higher ground.

Callan, in Dogs in the Vineyard you get no +2 bonus if you are on higher ground.

Did you ever play them? From your post, really, it seems you are talking about D&D ONLY, but you don't want to admit it and continue instead to rant about "forge sacred cows".

What I am getting from this thread, is that you don't know many "forge games" at all. 

Can you PLEASE tell us what specifics "forge game" you are talking about?

It's like ranting about "english games" where "yoir character has to be a human or an elf". And then you refuse to say to anyone what you are talking about...
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Callan S.
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2010, 05:42:54 PM »

Raven, from your first post I thought you weren't even humouring as a side possiblity the original post was entirely sufficient and it's actually your understanding was lacking. But I wasn't sure so I left it. But now you make clear your certain your understanding could not be lacking at all. And your reading my post as if I'm only considering that ya'll have sacred cows, then telling me that's what I said. No, I'm considering both possibilities at the same time and I said that and I don't like words being put in my mouth on top of all this.

This is exactly the 'open to discussion' I dread - and I think Filip refered to a problem like it as well.

If there is a AP thread, participants will have the requirement to be able to mull over, even if they don't really honestly believe it, that the information is sufficient and they don't get it...otherwise they can take their caps lock elsewhere and write up their own AP threads.

M.J.,
Quote
It's specifically the kind of question that goes to the social contract of the specific gaming group as impacted by the authority of the documents that attempt to represent the game.
I think that's a seperate subject - what happens when a written document lands in the lap of a certain group. They might just wallpaper their room with the pages, for example, despite what you intended as designer.

I'm talking about how we as designers think it works and what were passing on to each other and in the designs being made.


Moreno,

Again I'm having words put into my mouth - I'm not accusing people of this, I'm asking - do the bulk of designers here treat 'refering to high ground' as the same as 'refering to a roulette wheel'? As in both can be refered to as much as the other? I'm actually hoping no and that there is no sacred cow - but you can't find out if no one will even consider if it's there. Further 'higher ground' is short hand for a large number of mechanics - could be whether you get a +2 bonus on your diplomacy skill roll, or climbing roll. Or whether you get a roll at all. You know I'm using it as short hand to refer to alot of texts in game books?



Anyway, time gentleman. Weve gone through the usual prod and personal reaction that sets the mod swooping in to close the thread. The thread that prompted someone, for some reason, to prod when normally they don't prod. The threads closed - post a wrap up post if you want to, cause I always hate it when someone closes a thread and I can't wrap up.
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greyorm
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2010, 06:38:22 PM »

Raven, from your first post I thought you weren't even humouring as a side possiblity the original post was entirely sufficient and it's actually your understanding was lacking. But I wasn't sure so I left it. But now you make clear your certain your understanding could not be lacking at all. And your reading my post as if I'm only considering that ya'll have sacred cows, then telling me that's what I said. No, I'm considering both possibilities at the same time and I said that and I don't like words being put in my mouth on top of all this.

Callan, my first post was an open statement I didn't get what you were talking about asking for clarification. I asked for AP because that seemed an appropriate way to figure out what it was you were talking about or wanted to discuss. I said up-front that I didn't understand and admitted my lack of understanding. Your response to that was to say you didn't need to reframe it for anyone because clearly it was pointless to do so. In other words, your response was to be a jerk. And, yeah, that made me a little huffy.

When I say again, emphatically, that I don't get what it is you're trying to say, and maybe you might want to consider the idea that it isn't about people refusing to listen but people not grasping what you're saying, you again make out the fact I'm not getting it to be some kind of asinine put-down wherein I'm waving around my superior understanding??

Listen, I'm sorry if I'm too stupid to understand your perfectly clear first post on whatever the hell the issue you want to talk about is, and I'm sorry if asking for clarification or reframing of that is a personal insult to you in some way. Clearly, the miscommunication here is entirely my fault and problem and you are entirely without blame and should do nothing differently than you have done already. Sorry. I apologize.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2010, 10:39:42 AM »

Stop now.

I am moderating.

I said, "Take it to Actual Play." That is the final word. All other discussion here is out of line.

Best, Ron
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