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Survey: Do the rules serve the setting or does the setting serve the rules.


Gamer Talk

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thejeff wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
This supposed divide you speak of is a false dilemma. Rules and settings aren't servants of each other. They must, by inherent purpose, work symbiotically with each other or they don't work at all. Specifically in Pathfinder the core rulebook is a mechanical worktable to appropriate mutual arbitration of supposed "physics." Any setting, once it is connected to a set of "physics," must then conform to those "physics." The only place these two could ever possibly separate from one another is if something in the setting went blatantly against the rules. If the setting said a magic-user pulled the moon out of its orbit, and nowhere in the mechanical "physics" was there an approximation or set of rules to define how that would happen, you would have a breach. Filling up a vast land with 17th level casters doesn't discount the rules, it proves them true. Can Cheliax be created using the rules? Yes. Does that fit with your personal idea of what Cheliax should look like? Perhaps not, but it doesn't change the fact that the setting and the rules continue to work symbiotically.
How about if the Setting books state that Cheliax isn't full of 17th level casters, but other details imply that it would have to be by the rules?

Are such things stated explicitly? Or are they assumptions made based on inference?

Andoran

No...the concept of devil binding and soul contracts came long before any version of the game was written.

This specific version of the classic trope may be "new" but it isn't a new concept, story, or setting idea.


ciretose wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Yes, ciretose. I think this is actually an interesting question, and I'd rather not see it dragged down into a flame war quite yet.

Can you find examples other than Ashiel's?

Half of Ravingdorks's posts :)

Or all of Frank Trollman's over on the den. He takes RAW = setting so far that he's written an entire sourcebook where free unlimited wishes have made wealth-based economy utterly meaningless. Trade is instead done in the few things that can't be wished for, like crystallised souls.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

EDIT: Deleted this post because I should know better.


ciretose wrote:

Do they?

Conceptually, as I understand it Cheliax was the result of one house allying with devils to win a civil war. This actually doesn't require a vast land of 17th level casters to occur. It is a trope that could occur any number of way, based on the classic soul contract stuff I assume the setting was based on.

In my opinion, the setting, or at least the tropes, came first. Then the rules were written to allow the tropes to occur, while at the same time creating some logical sense to the whole thing.

In my opinion, the rules are an approximation of the world, written to facilitate the setting. Not the other way around.

Mayhaps, mayhaps. Though the rules existed before the setting, so to a degree it seems a wee bit lazy to not at least address these things a bit. Again, verisimilitude and consistency are also major factors of keeping a good game, or story I think. For example, in the Curse of the Crimson Throne there s an encounter...

[spoiler="That's Patently Messed Up"]That involves a bunch of CR 2 Imps attacking a group of 1st level PCs. But the PCs are supposed to be rescued by Pseudodragons who swoop in to fight the imps, because apparently in this city Pseudodragons help keep the imp population in check.

The problem is, this doesn't work. Pseudodragons just cannot do this. They cannot hurt imps because of their damage reduction, and imps have regeneration, and the whole mess is screwed up to the point that it just doesn't work. So now you have a consistency fail because the writer apparently wasn't checking his source material or making for any special explanation.

So then Paizo goes and releases a special feat for Pseudodragons specifically native to Korvosa to have flecks of silver in their claws from...I think shingles or something (I forget) to allow them to bypass their damage reduction in a way as to actually make the encounter playable in a way that's not a total party kill for the players, the dragons, and the verisimilitude!

That was one of the encounters that is the reason I won't run stuff strait from the books without a little double-checking and possibly some revising. When I ended up running that encounter for my group, the encounter took place in an area completely different from the one suggested (in this case in an antique and baubles store where the party was trying to sell a certain brooch, and there happened to be lots and lots of silver lying about to improvise and smack the snot out of the little hellions).


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The REAL purpose of playing any tabletop RPG game, whether it's Pathfinder or D&D, varies from table to table. When you get right down to it, everyone has their own reasons for playing the game. For most people, however, the whole "purpose" is to get together with other players, bring characters together, and enjoy a unique RPG experience together directed by the GM. At the game's core, that's the whole point... for most of us. Some people want to see how quickly they can kill their friends. Some want to see how much damage they can deal in one swing from a greataxe. Some play because they have the hots for the person sitting across the table. The purpose of playing is going to differ from table to table - no, even from person to person. But it's safe to say that for the most part, we just want to play.

In that respect, I'd say that most people play for the setting (and by that I mean enjoying a unique RPG experience), and the rules are tools used to make it happen.

Andoran

Umbral Reaver wrote:
ciretose wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Yes, ciretose. I think this is actually an interesting question, and I'd rather not see it dragged down into a flame war quite yet.

Can you find examples other than Ashiel's?

Half of Ravingdorks's posts :)
Or all of Frank Trollman's over on the den. He takes RAW = setting so far that he's written an entire sourcebook where free unlimited wishes have made wealth-based economy utterly meaningless. Trade is instead done in the few things that can't be wished for, like crystallised souls.

And to be clear, I'm not opposed to this.

But if you are going to argue RAW is unquestionable even in the face of logic (an typos...) you are saying the rules ARE the physics of the world, rather than the best approximation of the physics of the world given we are sitting at a table rolling dice.

We all know when in doubt and the rules are unclear the GM "makes it up" but when the rules are...well...stupid because of technicalities, how do you adjudicate?


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For me, setting and tone are the things the rules are there to support.

When I make setting pitches for players, I state this up front. I tell them that I will turn off abilities that threaten the tone and feel of the setting.

I also tell people who argue "The rules don't say I can't..." that they get to make that argument twice; third time, I ask them to leave, because I have FAR better things to do with my recreation time than play Calvinball with rules lawyers. I do that developing games. While it's handy to have someone there who can do that in game dev, it's about as pleasant as ulcerated hemmorhoids to the guy trying to make a fun experience for four to five of his friends.

The Paizo messageboards act as biker's bar for the "But the rules don't say I can't..." crowd. (See half of Ravingdork's posts...)

One of the problems is that Pathfinder rewards system mastery to too great of a degree. It also seriously over-rewards specialization, and making The One Tactic Character.


Ciretose wrote:
when the rules are...well...stupid because of technicalities, how do you adjudicate?

To the best of your ability.

In all seriousness. That's how it works. In the given moment, to move things along as quickly as possible, without bogging them down with debates or shenanigans, you adjudicate it to the best of your ability (which includes all knowledge gained up to that point).

End of story.

Of course you could write a whole thesis on what the best of each individual person's ability at any given table means, but the end result is, you do it, as best you can.


MendedWall12 wrote:
This supposed divide you speak of is a false dilemma. Rules and settings aren't servants of each other. They must, by inherent purpose, work symbiotically with each other or they don't work at all.

They do not must work with each other. I can take a setting and play it with different rules. I can even take a setting and make a session without any game mechanics involved at all. I can take the rules and make a setting-less game composed of series of encounters. And as long as all the involved were enjoying either type of session that means that either the setting or the rules worked without the other.

Quote:
Specifically in Pathfinder the core rulebook is a mechanical worktable to appropriate mutual arbitration of supposed "physics." Any setting, once it is connected to a set of "physics," must then conform to those "physics." The only place these two could ever possibly separate from one another is if something in the setting went blatantly against the rules. If the setting said a magic-user pulled the moon out of its orbit, and nowhere in the mechanical "physics" was there an approximation or set of rules to define how that would happen, you would have a breach.

I think this is the essence of the whole thread: asking who in case of such breach would side with the rules ("there is no possibility of pulling down the moon with mortal magic so it didn't happen") and who will side with the setting (it happened so we have to change the rules so that it is possible).


ciretose wrote:

No...the concept of devil binding and soul contracts came long before any version of the game was written.

This specific version of the classic trope may be "new" but it isn't a new concept, story, or setting idea.

True, but then those things were around when the rules were made, and the rules made to accommodate I would say. Just as nothing is original. Everything has been done. Even the whole notion of Planar Binding comes from stories of King Solomon binding evil spirits to make them build the Temple of God because he used his magical authority over them. But hey, it's a game. It's a game that draws on source material that came before.

And when you're making a setting for your favorite RPG specifically for your company to promote said RPG, it might be wise to kind of...y'know, take the whole picture in.

Umbral Reaver wrote:
Or all of Frank Trollman's over on the den. He takes RAW = setting so far that he's written an entire sourcebook where free unlimited wishes have made wealth-based economy utterly meaningless. Trade is instead done in the few things that can't be wished for, like crystallised souls.

That's very interesting and also very logical. Pit fiends have incredible power, but the suckers collect souls easily (those bastards get soul trap at will as a spell-like ability!).

It kind of reminds me how Pathfinder's economy drops off for the most part at 16,000 gold pieces on the high end, by the standard assumptions. At high levels, I've always seen gold piecers and wealth as being for the most part a plot device really. Believe it or not I'm actually pretty happy with the 16,000 gp limits (versus the 100,000 or was it 200,000 gp limits in 3.x) for stuff in a Metropolis. I like that you kind of hit a point where lots of extra gold pieces aren't so special. Now you're in the realm of epic quests, favors, crafting your own trinkets of awesome powers, and finding sweet magic items taken off your enemies from high levels. Working with outsiders, and so forth.

A fun little story. The first time the topic of getting wishes from Efreeti came up I started to buck it, but then thought about it good and hard for a while. I realized, logically, an efreeti would have no reason to turn them down, so I went with it after examining what it would mean for my campaign, how it would affect game balance and so forth. When I realized the sky wasn't going to collapse, I was okay with it and just wandered in that direction with the story. It allowed me to do some cute things that I hadn't ever thought about before. Suddenly here was the party rubbing elbows with some outsiders, and oh boy did I see this had some potential.

So one day, they decide they want to get the help of their favorite efreeti for something (I think they were going to see if they could help them get into something, but I forget the exact details), but much to their surprise their efreeti buddy appeared in the summoning chamber in chains! Egad boy, they wondered, why was their efreeti partner in bondage!? Well as it turned out the efreeti had some enemies in their homeland, and his community had been overtaken by these enemies, and the efreeti had been bound up and only "free" because they yanked him to the material plane! Well that just would not do, they thought. They can't be picking on their genie they said! The efreeti needed them! Sim-sim salabim man, and bam, to the elemental plane of fire to rescue the efreeti. Thus sparked a mini-campaign within the campaign with the party attempting to overthrow a red dragon and his minions who captured the efreeti and made them his slaves.

When the party finally managed to free the efreeti, they were gifted with the slaves of the efreeti, and in an act of selflessless in turn gave them their freedom. Perhaps, a bit, inspiring a few efreeti in that community to rethink their places a bit. In any case, the family of their efreeti helper was saved, and they were not heroes on another plane, and so back to the material plane they went, and the campaign continued. It was fun though, and it was a great side-quest. We all had a blast, and I got to exercise my creativity a little.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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NobodysHome wrote:

Intentionally misunderstanding someone to prove your point is quite frustrating.

The original version of Gallant Inspiration my player showed to me was from Hero Labs, and included saves. Obviously they fixed that at some point, because both Hero Labs and the APG sitting in my lap show that you're correct.

Me not being aware of HeroLabs' past errors does not constitute me intentionally misunderstanding you. I've never used HeroLabs, ever. So I just saw you give an example of "it doesn't make sense for a spell to do X, so I'm changing it" when the spell doesn't actually do X. What did I "intentionally misunderstand"? Or was the only "misunderstanding" that I didn't know HeroLab got that spell wrong?

Quote:
But the multitude of RAW threads prove that there ARE places the rules need to be reined in or adjusted.

I spend a lot of time the rules forums. It's from that experience that I originally formed my view that most conflicts arise from misunderstandings of the rules. There are places where the rules are unclear, so these misunderstandings are not always anyone's fault. This is why I keep a library of links to developer commentary and share them whenever applicable. I'm not saying anyone's doing anything wrong, just that 9 times out of 10 a conflict between rules and "common sense" is actually a misunderstanding of the rule in question and can typically be resolved by looking into it further.

I would point out, by the way, that at the table I am in favor of a GM making a ruling that makes sense and then digging later. Typically the GM's common sense ruling will be the way the rule actually works, because the designers have common sense too. Heck, even in your example, your common sense ruling brought the game closer to the correct rule! :)

Quote:

A second example, if you will: A poster was showing off his barbarian build for a Shoanti barbarian in the Cinderlands. He'd taken the 'rich parents' trait and used that to purchase a masterwork nodachi as a starting character.

As a GM, I would disallow this as being completely contrary to the setting.

I'm not familiar with the Cinderlands, I'm afraid. But in any case, what's wrong with "rich parents" being successful warlords who have accumulated impressive spoils of war and passed them to their son, instead of taldan fops who said "here's a bag of gold, get out of our hair"? I'm not quite seeing the issue here with a barbarian beginning play with a nice sword (but again, that could be my unfamiliarity with that specific setting). Or it could be that when I say "rules", I exclude "content" while you include it? Dunno. Need more info. :)


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ciretose wrote:
We all know when in doubt and the rules are unclear the GM "makes it up" but when the rules are...well...stupid because of technicalities, how do you adjudicate?

The method I've always found most appealing and most fruitful has always been to talk it over with your whole group, express your concerns, listen to theirs (emphasis on listen). Group communication is a good thing and can work out some surprising things. I think it's good for the GM and their players.

And while on this topic, this sort of discussion (GM and players) should have no insults. No implying someone is stupid, or believes something is stupid. Or implying they are bad, wrong, or should feel bad, for not necessarily agreeing with you. That never helps anything, in a group, or out in the wild.


Drejk wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
This supposed divide you speak of is a false dilemma. Rules and settings aren't servants of each other. They must, by inherent purpose, work symbiotically with each other or they don't work at all.

They do not must work with each other. I can take a setting and play it with different rules. I can even take a setting and make a session without any game mechanics involved at all. I can take the rules and make a setting-less game composed of series of encounters. And as long as all the involved were enjoying either type of session that means that either the setting or the rules worked without the other.

Quote:
Specifically in Pathfinder the core rulebook is a mechanical worktable to appropriate mutual arbitration of supposed "physics." Any setting, once it is connected to a set of "physics," must then conform to those "physics." The only place these two could ever possibly separate from one another is if something in the setting went blatantly against the rules. If the setting said a magic-user pulled the moon out of its orbit, and nowhere in the mechanical "physics" was there an approximation or set of rules to define how that would happen, you would have a breach.
I think this is the essence of the whole thread: asking who in case of such breach would side with the rules ("there is no possibility of pulling down the moon with mortal magic so it didn't happen") and who will side with the setting (it happened so we have to change the rules so that it is possible).

Drejk, I agree with you, but want to clarify something. When I say they must work together, I'm saying that when you sit down to play with your friends, the two entities must work as a cohesive whole. If you find a set of rules that you like, and a setting that you like, you must spend some time ahead of time reconciling any natural disparity ahead of time. That's why people with homebrew settings have to adjust parts of the rules before play begins, and let their players know about those adjustments ahead of time. So I think you both understood, and misunderstood what I was saying.

Taking settings separately and rules separately is an abstract exercise in research. Once you begin to play, both those parts must work together, or nothing will work.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
ciretose wrote:


1. Do you agree that this is a fair dividing line (with lots of people who fall into grey areas between on various issues)

2. Which side of the debate are you generally on. In other words, do you believe the rules serve the setting or that the setting serves the rules.

As to the OP:

1) Yes, I believe this is one of the ways you can discribe the various different ways people look at RPGs. (And yes, most are in the center somewhere)

2) I think I would fall more to the Rules serve the Setting in how I see various things. In fact I often grow tired of the rules nit-picking because in a particular setting I may use the rule different based on the setting's needs.


danielc wrote:
In fact I often grow tired of the rules nit-picking because in a particular setting I may use the rule different based on the setting's needs.

Which was exactly my point.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

Intentionally misunderstanding someone to prove your point is quite frustrating.

The original version of Gallant Inspiration my player showed to me was from Hero Labs, and included saves. Obviously they fixed that at some point, because both Hero Labs and the APG sitting in my lap show that you're correct.

Me not being aware of HeroLabs' past errors does not constitute me intentionally misunderstanding you. I've never used HeroLabs, ever. So I just saw you give an example of "it doesn't make sense for a spell to do X, so I'm changing it" when the spell doesn't actually do X. What did I "intentionally misunderstand"? Or was the only "misunderstanding" that I didn't know HeroLab got that spell wrong?

Quote:
But the multitude of RAW threads prove that there ARE places the rules need to be reined in or adjusted.

I spend a lot of time the rules forums. It's from that experience that I originally formed my view that most conflicts arise from misunderstandings of the rules. There are places where the rules are unclear, so these misunderstandings are not always anyone's fault. This is why I keep a library of links to developer commentary and share them whenever applicable. I'm not saying anyone's doing anything wrong, just that 9 times out of 10 a conflict between rules and "common sense" is actually a misunderstanding of the rule in question and can typically be resolved by looking into it further.

I would point out, by the way, that at the table I am in favor of a GM making a ruling that makes sense and then digging later. Typically the GM's common sense ruling will be the way the rule actually works, because the designers have common sense too. Heck, even in your example, your common sense ruling brought the game closer to the correct rule! :)

Quote:
A second example, if you will: A poster was showing off his barbarian build for a Shoanti barbarian in the Cinderlands. He'd taken the 'rich parents' trait and used that to
...

I appreciate the friendly reply. I deleted my post because I didn't want to get into a back-and-forth of more and more ridiculous examples until I found one you'd accept. Your post makes it clear you and I are in agreement (if 9 out of 10 times it's a misunderstanding of the rules, then 1 out of 10 times the GM is using common sense arbitration, which is what I was getting at), so I'll avoid the whole, "Let's look for a ridiculous counterintuitive example" thread.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For me, there are 3 things which govern the story and what is allowable to happen in a world (in no particular order):

1. The rules of the game

2. Common sense (which can supercede 1 if need be)

3. A fair-minded GM's call made to resolve a difficult or confusing situation (which can supercede 1 if need be)

These things should provide a solid structure and foundation, but the setting's and characters' skin thrown over that infrastructure should be flexible, allowing for as much room for movement as possible within that framework.

Going to any extreme (rules trump story or story trumps rules) especially at any level of regularity or constancy is bound to lead to frustration.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Ashiel wrote:
I can't answer for him, but a very similar thing crops up in the Eberron Campaign Setting actually. The book pretty much says "There aren't any people above 10th level and there are airships".

Actually the setting says that there are extremely few people above that level. As opposed to Faerun where you can't walk 30 feet without tripping over an epic level archmage.

Eberron has just emerged from a war stretching over a century, where most of the best and brightest have killed each other off. And it's not that there AREN't super high level characters they are just very rare and very hidden for the most part. This still leaves room for very powerful items that are essentially relics/artifacts of another time.

And I don't really see a problem with cooperative teams of mostly 7th-9th level backed with the resources of a powerful clan able to build and maintain airships, lightning rails and other devices of comparable mystech level.


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MendedWall12 wrote:
Drejk wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
This supposed divide you speak of is a false dilemma. Rules and settings aren't servants of each other. They must, by inherent purpose, work symbiotically with each other or they don't work at all.

They do not must work with each other. I can take a setting and play it with different rules. I can even take a setting and make a session without any game mechanics involved at all. I can take the rules and make a setting-less game composed of series of encounters. And as long as all the involved were enjoying either type of session that means that either the setting or the rules worked without the other.

Quote:
Specifically in Pathfinder the core rulebook is a mechanical worktable to appropriate mutual arbitration of supposed "physics." Any setting, once it is connected to a set of "physics," must then conform to those "physics." The only place these two could ever possibly separate from one another is if something in the setting went blatantly against the rules. If the setting said a magic-user pulled the moon out of its orbit, and nowhere in the mechanical "physics" was there an approximation or set of rules to define how that would happen, you would have a breach.
I think this is the essence of the whole thread: asking who in case of such breach would side with the rules ("there is no possibility of pulling down the moon with mortal magic so it didn't happen") and who will side with the setting (it happened so we have to change the rules so that it is possible).
Drejk, I agree with you, but want to clarify something. When I say they must work together, I'm saying that when you sit down to play with your friends, the two entities must work as a cohesive whole. If you find a set of rules that you like, and a setting that you like, you must spend some time ahead of time reconciling any natural disparity ahead of time. That's why people with homebrew settings have to adjust parts of the rules before play begins,...

I am interested in your opinion and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Andoran

MendedWall12 wrote:
Ciretose wrote:
when the rules are...well...stupid because of technicalities, how do you adjudicate?

To the best of your ability.

In all seriousness. That's how it works. In the given moment, to move things along as quickly as possible, without bogging them down with debates or shenanigans, you adjudicate it to the best of your ability (which includes all knowledge gained up to that point).

End of story.

Of course you could write a whole thesis on what the best of each individual person's ability at any given table means, but the end result is, you do it, as best you can.

I think we agree, but that isn't actually an accepted opinion.

Many would argue you go with RAW (or RA They believe it is W I should say...), regardless of reason and common sense.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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ciretose wrote:
Many would argue...

The things people claim that many would argue tend to be the things I least often see anyone actually argue.

Andoran

I think a more clear way to say it is this.

If a player walks up to you and proposes doing something that they can reasonably argue is rules legal but can't reasonably argue was intended to be allowed, do you allow it.

Or in other words, if they can argue well for the RAW but cannot argue well for the RAI, which way do you adjudicate.

EDIT: And vice versa. As in RAI I clearly should be able to do this, but RAW I can't.


RAI is a subjective term. Who knows what the writer actually intended when they wrote the rule? No one, save the writer themselves. Which means that any argument about RAI is begun on unstable footing. One can argue what they think was intended by a rule, but then, they don't get paid to think (at least I'm assuming they don't).

Edit: I also wanted to mention something, by way of illustrating a previous point. If a setting has guns, and the rules have rules for guns, but the people at the table don't like the idea of guns, they remove them from play. Thus they've adapted the setting and the rules to meet their needs (forcing them to work symbiotically). This leads to thinking about if a setting has guns, but the rules do not, it necessitates a creation of a new set of rules that will work with the setting. Likewise if a setting does not have guns, but the rules do, you must adjust the rules ahead of time to deal with any complications those gun rules might create. If a symbiotic relationship between the two entities is not reached before play begins, the service of one to the other makes little difference.


ciretose wrote:
If a player walks up to you and proposes doing something that they can reasonably argue is rules legal but can't reasonably argue was intended to be allowed, do you allow it?

If I thought it wasn't meant to be allowed, I probably wouldn't allow it. But I would acknowledge that being forced to house rule stuff on the fly is a campaign bug, not a feature!

Andoran

MendedWall12 wrote:
RAI is a subjective term. Who knows what the writer actually intended when they wrote the rule? No one, save the writer themselves. Which means that any argument about RAI is begun on unstable footing. One can argue what they think was intended by a rule, but then, they don't get paid to think (at least I'm assuming they don't).

So you are saying that if you believe RAI a rule wasn't meant to have an unintended consequence, you will put that to the side and go with RAW.

Because that is where I'm placing the divide. If the rules serve the setting, when you get to a dispute you ask "Does this make sense."

If the setting serves the rules, when you get to a dispute you ask "Technically, what could the rule permit."

I ask "Does this make sense."

Andoran

hogarth wrote:
ciretose wrote:
If a player walks up to you and proposes doing something that they can reasonably argue is rules legal but can't reasonably argue was intended to be allowed, do you allow it?
If I think it wasn't meant to be allowed, I probably wouldn't allow it. But I would acknowledge that being forced to house rule stuff on the fly is a campaign bug, not a feature!

Presumably if you have decent group, anyone is going to check in with the GM for permission before trying something that might fall into gray area.

Obviously we aren't discussing all of things that are agreed to both be RAW and RAI.


Jiggy wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Many would argue...
The things people claim that many would argue tend to be the things I least often see anyone actually argue.

Quite. The truth is out there. Or perhaps I should say not out there? *sips a slurpee*


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ciretose wrote:
hogarth wrote:
ciretose wrote:
If a player walks up to you and proposes doing something that they can reasonably argue is rules legal but can't reasonably argue was intended to be allowed, do you allow it?
If I think it wasn't meant to be allowed, I probably wouldn't allow it. But I would acknowledge that being forced to house rule stuff on the fly is a campaign bug, not a feature!

Presumably if you have decent group, anyone is going to check in with the GM for permission before trying something that might fall into gray area.

Obviously we aren't discussing all of things that are agreed to both be RAW and RAI.

*shrugs*

Limiting ourselves to the imaginations of a handful of writers would mean not being able to enjoy the most wondrous part of the game. Freedom. That thing that makes it not like a video game, or a book that you just read, or a film that follows a set plot and script.

I mean, someone mentioned dual-shields. One of the devs said he thought that sounded silly and it wasn't intended even if you could do it since he didn't know of any basis in reality. Then someone showed him a martial art that...what do you know, focused on using two shields offensively and defensively.

The only thing that matters at the end of the day, as best as I can tell, is...

1) You and your group are having fun.
2) It doesn't destroy the gameplay portion of your game.


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ciretose wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
RAI is a subjective term. Who knows what the writer actually intended when they wrote the rule? No one, save the writer themselves. Which means that any argument about RAI is begun on unstable footing. One can argue what they think was intended by a rule, but then, they don't get paid to think (at least I'm assuming they don't).

So you are saying that if you believe RAI a rule wasn't meant to have an unintended consequence, you will put that to the side and go with RAW.

Because that is where I'm placing the divide. If the rules serve the setting, when you get to a dispute you ask "Does this make sense."

If the setting serves the rules, when you get to a dispute you ask "Technically, what could the rule permit."

I ask "Does this make sense."

Ciretose I'm going to need for you to clarify something here, because part of what I'm reading from you may be unintended. Are saying that if somebody (while we're playing, mind you) asks to do something, that I don't think makes sense, but they pull out a rule that allows said thing to happen, what's my next move?

I hate to be nit-picky with you, but at that point, "what makes sense," might have nothing to do with the setting, and have more to do with some sort of perceived sense of mechanics approximating physics. I mean, if they're a 9th level caster and they want to roast some goblins with a fireball, and I suddenly say, "No, that doesn't make sense in this setting." I'm being a d!ck. Unless of course we covered ahead of time that slinging fireballs isn't allowed in this setting, and therefore any rules about slinging fireballs do not apply to this game. Which has been my point all along. If you have a setting wherein the rules don't match, you address that ahead of time, or you run into these kinds of problems.

Which, again, is why I keep restating that setting and rules must work symbiotically or they don't work at all. If I come upon something mid-game that breaches the symbiosis, its because I didn't take enough time reconciling natural disparities ahead of time.


ciretose wrote:
So you are saying that if you believe RAI a rule wasn't meant to have an unintended consequence

Sorry, I was trying to avoid this, but I just couldn't help myself. You realize that in this statement you've said "I believe the rules as intended were not meant to have unintended consequences." If the writers are writing rules with the intention that they have unintended consequences we're playing a terrible game, and should probably stop.


Okay, here's a rules question that could come up that illustrates the thought I raised earlier:

You're a wizard being attacked by 3 orcs. They are 50' away and have only melee weapons so they're likely to charge you. You've won initiative. Your meatshields are busy holding off other attackers behind you, so you can't retreat. The only spell you've got available that can affect an area is Color Spray.
Can you ready an action to cast it on them before they reach you?

Or can you only cast on one, since they'll come one at a time in initiative order?

What's RAW? What makes sense?


thejeff wrote:

Okay, here's a rules question that could come up that illustrates the thought I raised earlier:

You're a wizard being attacked by 3 orcs. They are 50' away and have only melee weapons so they're likely to charge you. You've won initiative. Your meatshields are busy holding off other attackers behind you, so you can't retreat. The only spell you've got available that can affect an area is Color Spray.
Can you ready an action to cast it on them before they reach you?

Or can you only cast on one, since they'll come one at a time in initiative order?

What's RAW? What makes sense?

Interesting circumstance, and an amusing limitation of the combat round system. As a player, I would probably enjoy it if my GM allowed all of them to go at once in response to my readied action. However, if not, I'd move up and cast on them. The result is effectively the same in most cases. Interesting scenario, and I'm not entirely certain how I'd rule on it at the moment. I've been up quite a while, and would like to think about it for a while more.


thejeff wrote:

Okay, here's a rules question that could come up that illustrates the thought I raised earlier:

You're a wizard being attacked by 3 orcs. They are 50' away and have only melee weapons so they're likely to charge you. You've won initiative. Your meatshields are busy holding off other attackers behind you, so you can't retreat. The only spell you've got available that can affect an area is Color Spray.
Can you ready an action to cast it on them before they reach you?

Or can you only cast on one, since they'll come one at a time in initiative order?

What's RAW? What makes sense?

This isn't a terribly good example as the orcs may try to surround you, or may decide that three orcs versus one robed human isn't worth the effort so Thrak gets to take your skull.

Or maybe they simply aren't charging you all at once but in this staggered line as suggested.

What makes sense is whatever the GM decides makes sense in this case describing and justifying the order of actions as best as they are able.

It sucks for the wizard, sure, but them's the breaks.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Lemme get something out in the open here:

The subjects of dealing with "cheese", trumping "RAW" with logic/common sense, and so forth are probably some of the hardest for me to remain objective on. It's very possible I've already failed to be objective within this thread (but I'm not going back through my posts to verify).

Here's why:
I've spent a lot of time in the Rules forums. I've followed many hot debates from start to finish. I've put in the work to gather links to developer commentary (something like 70 links currently in my library, IIRC). I've split off new threads to gather FAQ flags (and sometimes it's even worked!) and I've tried to help opposing sides understand each other.

Almost every time I follow a "hot" rules debate, one side is saying that the idea is cheesey, exploitative, a loophole, defies common sense, and so forth. They talk about how it's the job of the GM to put the kibosh on that ridiculousness, and about how silly it is to be such a blind slave to "RAW".

Sometimes the thread simply dies out as people quit bothering to argue. But other times it gets resolved with a FAQ or developer input. In those cases, it has very often been the case that the rule in question really does work that way, was always intended to work that way, and for all the reasons the alleged "RAWyers" were citing. The people citing "common sense" were dead wrong, and the people being accused of breaking the game and being ridiculous were exactly right. "Obvious intent" was the opposite of what it was claimed to be. I've seen it over and over again.*

So then when a thread like this comes along, saying "Shouldn't common sense trump RAW?", all I can think of is all the times people used that same idea as grounds to make accusations of other people's ethics and motives, and then disappeared without a word as soon as it came to light that their "common sense" was a load of crap. All I can think of is all the times that "RAW vs Logic" turned out to be "Literacy vs Elitism".

So yeah, I probably agree with folks like ciretose that common sense should "win", but I've got a learned skepticism of anyone who feels the need to talk about it.

And since I'm not likely to be unique in this experience, try to cut some slack to those who seem to "oppose common sense", as they may just be reflexively defending themselves from the idiocy of those who came before you under pretense of the same sentiment you now espouse.

*:

For those who are curious/incredulous, topics where "opponents of commons sense" were in fact playing the game as intended include the following:
• Take 10 works as written (that is, with every skill except UMD, and in any circumstance that doesn't provide combat-like levels of distraction).
• Spell Combat + Spellstrike + Arcane Mark = Yes, really.
• TWF penalties (including damage modifications) apply only to your full attack, and then only if you actually use the mechanic to gain an extra attack.
• Bards can fight or cast spells or whatever else while maintaining Inspire Courage, with no hindrance whatsoever
• You don't have to search for traps one 5ft square at a time

The list goes on. Heck, some of these have been hashed out more than once. Every time, the people who were right were labeled as trying to get away with something or breaking the obvious intent or common sense in favor of foolish RAW. After you see a certain number of people attacked for simply using the rules as they were intended, you start to get a little defensive toward people who use the same terminology as those who did the attacking. It's not fair, but there it is.


Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Okay, here's a rules question that could come up that illustrates the thought I raised earlier:

You're a wizard being attacked by 3 orcs. They are 50' away and have only melee weapons so they're likely to charge you. You've won initiative. Your meatshields are busy holding off other attackers behind you, so you can't retreat. The only spell you've got available that can affect an area is Color Spray.
Can you ready an action to cast it on them before they reach you?

Or can you only cast on one, since they'll come one at a time in initiative order?

What's RAW? What makes sense?

Interesting circumstance, and an amusing limitation of the combat round system. As a player, I would probably enjoy it if my GM allowed all of them to go at once in response to my readied action. However, if not, I'd move up and cast on them. The result is effectively the same in most cases. Interesting scenario, and I'm not entirely certain how I'd rule on it at the moment. I've been up quite a while, and would like to think about it for a while more.

I actually specifically chose 50' and Color spray so you couldn't move and cast. It's a 15 cone effect, leaving them out of range.


thejeff wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Okay, here's a rules question that could come up that illustrates the thought I raised earlier:

You're a wizard being attacked by 3 orcs. They are 50' away and have only melee weapons so they're likely to charge you. You've won initiative. Your meatshields are busy holding off other attackers behind you, so you can't retreat. The only spell you've got available that can affect an area is Color Spray.
Can you ready an action to cast it on them before they reach you?

Or can you only cast on one, since they'll come one at a time in initiative order?

What's RAW? What makes sense?

Interesting circumstance, and an amusing limitation of the combat round system. As a player, I would probably enjoy it if my GM allowed all of them to go at once in response to my readied action. However, if not, I'd move up and cast on them. The result is effectively the same in most cases. Interesting scenario, and I'm not entirely certain how I'd rule on it at the moment. I've been up quite a while, and would like to think about it for a while more.
I actually specifically chose 50' and Color spray so you couldn't move and cast. It's a 15 cone effect, leaving them out of range.

Spread a bunch of caltrops/lamp oil in the square in front of the wizard between the orcs, to stop the charge lane. So they can only do a double move than I'll color spray all of them when they bunch up. I never don't have any character that doesn't have caltrops/bag of marbles/or lamp oil on them.


TarkXT wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Okay, here's a rules question that could come up that illustrates the thought I raised earlier:

You're a wizard being attacked by 3 orcs. They are 50' away and have only melee weapons so they're likely to charge you. You've won initiative. Your meatshields are busy holding off other attackers behind you, so you can't retreat. The only spell you've got available that can affect an area is Color Spray.
Can you ready an action to cast it on them before they reach you?

Or can you only cast on one, since they'll come one at a time in initiative order?

What's RAW? What makes sense?

This isn't a terribly good example as the orcs may try to surround you, or may decide that three orcs versus one robed human isn't worth the effort so Thrak gets to take your skull.

Or maybe they simply aren't charging you all at once but in this staggered line as suggested.

What makes sense is whatever the GM decides makes sense in this case describing and justifying the order of actions as best as they are able.

It sucks for the wizard, sure, but them's the breaks.

Well, if they don't all want to charge that's the breaks.

The problem is can they all charge at once? They're not charging in a staggered line because they want to, but because, by RAW, each character in a fight takes his entire action before the next starts to move.

aside:
Also by RAW the only way they can all reach you this round is a charge to the closest square, so they can't surround you and attack, which would give you another round to cast. Not so bad.

To me it makes sense that if they all want to reach you and attack you, they're all moving pretty much together. That's how you'd expect to see it in a movie or a real fight, unless they were deliberately coming one at a time. But, in a rules are physics world, they don't. They can't.


Gignere wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Okay, here's a rules question that could come up that illustrates the thought I raised earlier:

You're a wizard being attacked by 3 orcs. They are 50' away and have only melee weapons so they're likely to charge you. You've won initiative. Your meatshields are busy holding off other attackers behind you, so you can't retreat. The only spell you've got available that can affect an area is Color Spray.
Can you ready an action to cast it on them before they reach you?

Or can you only cast on one, since they'll come one at a time in initiative order?

What's RAW? What makes sense?

Interesting circumstance, and an amusing limitation of the combat round system. As a player, I would probably enjoy it if my GM allowed all of them to go at once in response to my readied action. However, if not, I'd move up and cast on them. The result is effectively the same in most cases. Interesting scenario, and I'm not entirely certain how I'd rule on it at the moment. I've been up quite a while, and would like to think about it for a while more.
I actually specifically chose 50' and Color spray so you couldn't move and cast. It's a 15 cone effect, leaving them out of range.
Spread a bunch of caltrops/lamp oil in the square in front of the wizard between the orcs, to stop the charge lane. So they can only do a double move than I'll color spray all of them when they bunch up. I never don't have any character that doesn't have caltrops/bag of marbles/or lamp oil on them.

It's a thought experiment. I get the whole thinking out of the box thing, but play along.

You used up your last caltrops on the last group, okay?

Actually, you can only stop one that way anyway. Two could still get to you.
O -----------------X-
O -----------------XW
O -----------------X-

Each orc has to charge to the corresponding X to reach you.


Jeff,
Lots of GMs, myself included, frequently batch up groups of mooks and move them on the same initiative. PCs using delay often do this also. But from a 'what are they thinking'---you can easily see two different approaches by the orcs.
Either:
Lets all rush that finger waggler before he smokes us or
You first!
The rules as most GMs apply them support either interpretation---is there any GM out there that applies separate initiative rolls to every single mook? or is that the reason why encounter sizes are so much smaller for most these days?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Quite frankly in answer to the original question.

The rules and the setting serve each other. The rules expedite a style of play, and the setting gives you reasons to play in the first place.


EWHM wrote:

Jeff,

Lots of GMs, myself included, frequently batch up groups of mooks and move them on the same initiative. PCs using delay often do this also. But from a 'what are they thinking'---you can easily see two different approaches by the orcs.
Either:
Lets all rush that finger waggler before he smokes us or
You first!
The rules as most GMs apply them support either interpretation-

Even if the initiatives aren't the same, with any form of realism if each orc waits for the previous one to finish before he starts to move they would really be acting in different rounds.

That's the point. Initiative and the round structure makes everything happen in discrete individual actions when by any kind of common sense it's all happening at once.

Can 3 (or 20) guys run 60' in six seconds? Sure.
Can 3 (or 20) guys each run 60' in a total of six seconds if they do it one at a time? Not likely for 3. Not possible for 20.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

thejeff wrote:

Can 3 (or 20) guys run 60' in six seconds? Sure.

Can 3 (or 20) guys each run 60' in a total of six seconds if they do it one at a time? Not likely for 3. Not possible for 20.

Interestingly, this actually goes to show that in some circumstances, "logic"/"common sense" of how things would really be happening actually need to defer to game rules, instead of vice-versa. There can be times when the game stops being playable if you try to be more realistic than what the rules account for.

So perhaps the mindsets of "setting trumps rules" and "rules trump setting" are both flawed, and a GM needs to decide in any given situation which one needs to win in order to make the game play better.


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I understand the dichotomy of viewpoint the OP is drawing. It brings up a larger issue, I think, and that is: Who has the power, the players or the DM? If you look at the evolution of this game, it can be seen as a gradual transition from total DM-centralized power (1st edition) to total player-centralized power (4th edition). Essentially, I think at this point both DMs and players have proven that they cannot be trusted with that power. As much as I would love to discuss the specific examples being brought up here, I think that in the end these kinds of issues are always going to boil down to the social contract. Every table of DM and players is going to have to find a balance of power that works for them.

I cannot say it enough: There is no right or wrong way to play this game. There is only the way that works for you and your players. If you bring in a player to an existing group and he has a different play style that you decide is incompatible, tell him without anger that he will have to change or find another group. Then it is his decision and you can part ways if necessary without hurt feelings. If your players collectively want a culture of gaming that is making it impossible for you to enjoy DMing, find another group and let them find another DM. Discuss these things without judgement or emotion, and don't cling to a group or a game that is causing you more frustration than enjoyment.

As far as the genie binding thing goes, it is a perfect example of players proving that they cannot be trusted with power. Peace to them. They shall play their way, and may they have fun.

And since this is a survey I will say that as for myself I lean toward setting trumping rules, if that's the way the dichotomy is being framed. That said, I think that the DM should err on the side of changing as few rules as possible, and that house rules/game culture/genre should be discussed with players beforehand in detail. I don't think the idea of genre and its interaction with gaming is well understood at all, but that, although entirely relevant, is probably a discussion for another thread.


I'm certain that for published settings at least the setting serves the rules. No other way to explain gods spread evenly across a nice alignment grid, several completely different kinds of magic, large numbers of sapient species, and cosmopolitanism everywhere.

If the setting were first you'd expect to see
* a mostly "good" pantheon like the Norse and Egyptians had or a manichean good/evil or law/chaos split with few neutrals like India has or a bunch of overpowered scuzzballs like the Greeks had.
* one or two forms of magic, each fairly self consistent
* few sapient species native to distinct environments. Elves and Dwarves can coexist because elves don't live in the hills and dwarves don't live in the woods, but Humans and Halflings can't because they're after the same real estate and the same ecological niche.
* limited intercontinental travel. Even merchants shouldn't be crossing more than one national border very often. Crossing a continent should be a Marco Polo type big deal. Monks in Varisia? Not without an occidental archetype.


thejeff wrote:

Okay, here's a rules question that could come up that illustrates the thought I raised earlier:

You're a wizard being attacked by 3 orcs. They are 50' away and have only melee weapons so they're likely to charge you. You've won initiative. Your meatshields are busy holding off other attackers behind you, so you can't retreat. The only spell you've got available that can affect an area is Color Spray.
Can you ready an action to cast it on them before they reach you?

Or can you only cast on one, since they'll come one at a time in initiative order?

What's RAW? What makes sense?

This is why both my tables have agreed to a houserule wherein the GM can fiat groups of enemies working on the same initiative. In this case three (or more) like orcs would all act on the same initiative count. In which case the caster could wait for them all to get in range and then fire off the color spray.

This is neither RAW or setting, it's my tables making an adjustment to the rules to fit our playstyle.


Overall I think everyone has their own view on the balance between rules and setting and what drives their character development and play style. There is no defined line in the sand in regards to this.

For me, the rules serve the setting. When I am developing a character I start by figuring out who he is not in the rules sense but in the setting sense. I first define my role playing aspects for the character and once that is settled in my mind I then go hunt for what rules may best serve me in getting to this design. Most of the time the rules have options that serve this well. Sometimes there just isn't an option or the options are only partially satisfying.

I wouldn't say though that the setting completely drives my play. I do develop characters within the RAW and if I am not completely satisfied with the concept I may just scratch it. This is mainly because most of my play is driven by PFS and so I don't have the option of saying what can change in the rules.

Andoran

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ciretose wrote:

Carry over from another thread. I said the following.

"On the one hand you have people who view the game as a puzzle to be solved. How can I make the best X to win all of the things. The rules, to them, are the game.

On the other hand you have the people who view the game as an interactive story that they expect to not be a simple "win" or "lose" kind of proposition. The rules, to them, serve the setting.

Obviously with people who fall in the grey area in between.

When I hear about someone trying to argue for bound genies with no risk granting bonuses, I want to throw a book at them. You are, to me manipulating the rules to break the setting.

When someone else hears me say "You can't do that" to something they think is RAW, to them, I am cheating and being cruel.

I fall very strongly on the side of the rules serve the setting, rather than the setting serving the rules."

1. Do you agree that this is a fair dividing line (with lots of people who fall into grey areas between on various issues)

2. Which side of the debate are you generally on. In other words, do you believe the rules serve the setting or that the setting serves the rules.

I think the Rules are simply an interpretation of the Story of the Setting. They are by no means the only way to interprete the story, but the Story(Setting) is the important.

You could run Golarion in PF, 4e, Savage worlds, etc, etc... and while they all use different mechanics, all they are doing is giving you a mechanical way of representing what is happening in the story. None of them are "correct", they just focus on different aspects of the story.

I see this coming up with people doing conversions alot. For a long time, people have been trying to convert the MTG setting to a RPG. Everytime they do it, they always want to recreate the MTG mechanics in an existing game by making new rules. What they often fail to see is that the existing game almost always has rules for something like that expressed another way. No need to make a First Strike mechanic that works exactly like MTG, when Improved Initiative in D&D does the same thing from a story standpoint. They both represent going first to strike in battle.

Game rules are just the conflict resolution mechanic that makes it a game and not a joint literature project.

Andoran

MendedWall12 wrote:


Ciretose I'm going to need for you to clarify something here, because part of what I'm reading from you may be unintended. Are saying that if somebody (while we're playing, mind you) asks to do something, that I don't think makes sense, but they pull out a rule that allows said thing to happen, what's my next move?

I hate to be nit-picky with you, but at that point, "what makes sense," might have nothing to do with the setting, and have more to do with some sort of perceived sense of mechanics approximating physics.

To use the example actually provided by someone in this thread in another thread, if a player asked to be able to pay a high level caster to bind a genie and force that genie to grant wishes that gave that player higher attributes for a cost of approximately 18,000 gold, would you allow it if they could demonstrate that, RAW, it should be allowed.

Taldor

IMO : rules are, at best boring.

The rules should serve the setting.

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