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

### Gamer Talk

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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 it's kind of a tautology: if you have rules, you can't have those rules not be a part of the setting.

But if you have a conflict where the rules and the setting depart (which happens frequently) which one holds higher value at your table.

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.

Whose setting?

Well we have Golarion as the published setting for one. We could go Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk...but I suspect if you are on the rules side you probably have your own setting to conform to the rules, as you read them, which would mean the setting serves the rules.

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ciretose wrote:
But if you have a conflict where the rules and the setting depart (which happens frequently) which one holds higher value at your table.

Oddly, I haven't had this happen frequently. I've been doing this sort of thing for more than a decade, and I can't recall the last time I felt the rules and the setting were at war with one another. Or even in a bad mood with each other, for that matter.

 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Neither "serves" the other. The rules are part of the setting. If you change one, you inherently change the other.

Ashiel wrote:
ciretose wrote:
But if you have a conflict where the rules and the setting depart (which happens frequently) which one holds higher value at your table.
Oddly, I haven't had this happen frequently. I've been doing this sort of thing for more than a decade, and I can't recall the last time I felt the rules and the setting were at war with one another. Or even in a bad mood with each other, for that matter.

You also find ways to manipulate the rules to acheive outcomes and have a setting where you can't get +3 items but you can buy attributes from Genie binders, neither of which seems consistent with any published setting I've read.

Jiggy wrote:
Neither "serves" the other. The rules are part of the setting. If you change one, you inherently change the other.

When the conflict arises between what the setting says should happen and what is permitted under the rules, who wins.

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Setting is such a loaded word. The rules effect the settings and vice versa. Because if your setting is low magic like E6 or E8, there are rules that are basically never used. Or that you have to add rules to still allow characters to feel that they are growing.

If by setting you mean like is the game social/skills focused or combat focused. The D&D/PF rules are definitely combat focus, their skill/social resolution is too simplistic to do a nuanced game based on politicking without heavy house rules.

In D&D and PF the first thing in character creation is ability scores. There are other games that focuses on developing character concepts first and foremost, and than the crunch follows. So even by that simple change in layout of character creation I feel will have a subtle but strong impact on setting. Is it character personality driven or crunch driven?

I can probably write a ton more on this subject. At the end of the day the rules should fit the story that you are trying to tell and that is more important than anything.

ciretose wrote:
Well we have Golarion as the published setting for one. We could go Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk...but I suspect if you are on the rules side you probably have your own setting to conform to the rules, as you read them, which would mean the setting serves the rules.

Well I run Golarion occasionally when I'm running APs. I've done a little time in the Forgotten Realms. I'd really like to track down a copy of Living Grayhawk though 'cause one of my favorite deities is from that book and it was the setting of 3.x but I never got the book. I'm a pretty big fan of Eberron, but I haven't run that in a while. Recently I've been putting more emphasis on my homebrew world which tries a few things that are a little different than the norm, I think.

I think if I was going to run Golarion specifically for a while, I think I might like to set up something heavily involved in Cheliax. The place has a certain uniqueness to it, and we have art of people who apparently consort with pit fiends on a semi-regular basis which caught me off guard a bit the first time I saw it. I was like "Wow, you would need a gate spell to get a pit fiend to your side. These people aren't kidding around". It was a bit odd that they had a pit fiend and succubus in the same art though. Oh well, evil casters are evil casters I suppose.

I still can't recall the last time a setting got in an argument with the rules though. Generally most settings tend to let you know up front what is different from them and the rules.

Where are the Genie Binding stores in Golarian? I haven't seen them mentioned? And if they were prevelent it seems odd the published attributes are so low...

If the rules seem to allow something that seems inconsistent with the setting, which one wins.

 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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ciretose wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Neither "serves" the other. The rules are part of the setting. If you change one, you inherently change the other.
When the conflict arises between what the setting says should happen and what is permitted under the rules, who wins.

How does that even happen? That's like asking "When the conflict arises between what should happen on earth and what is permitted by the laws of physics, who wins?"

The premise of the question doesn't make sense to me. Can you give me concrete examples? I mean, all I can think of is if the GM decided to, say, make a setting where divine magic doesn't exist but then failed to houserule a ban on divine casters or establish unavailability of divine magic items. But then that's just an example of a GM's utter ineptitude artificially creating a conflict that shouldn't have existed in the first place. So surely that's not what you're talking about.

So what are you talking about?

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ciretose wrote:

Where are the Genie Binding stores in Golarian? I haven't seen them mentioned? And if they were prevelent it seems odd the published attributes are so low...

If the rules seem to allow something that seems inconsistent with the setting, which one wins.

I get it this isn't a philosophical debate on rules interactions with setting but your beef with Ashiel. You can ignore my posts.

I can see stories where Ashiel's abuse would be no problem but I can see stories where the abuse can be problematic.

If Ashiel played at my table I will make it clear which type of story I intend to GM for and ask him to play nicely.

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Interesting. It seems those who think the setting serves the rules don't even notice that they do so.

Think about it this way: The rules are an abstraction. An approximation of how the game world works. They are necessarily incomplete and probably wrong in detail. They are also focused on things important to adventurers and much less on the rest of the world.

The rules, at least in my settings, are not actually the laws of physics. They are close enough for most things I need them for.

I gave an example in the original post. Many people have discussing things such as the commoner rail gun, or ways to manipulate the economics of the rules of the game, etc...

Jiggy, you've been around the threads a long time.

Gignere wrote:
ciretose wrote:

Where are the Genie Binding stores in Golarian? I haven't seen them mentioned? And if they were prevelent it seems odd the published attributes are so low...

If the rules seem to allow something that seems inconsistent with the setting, which one wins.

I get it this isn't a philosophical debate on rules interactions with setting but your beef with Ashiel. You can ignore my posts.

I can see stories where Ashiel's abuse would be no problem but I can see stories where the abuse can be problematic.

If Ashiel played at my table I will make it clear which type of story I intend to GM for and ask him to play nicely.

No, it is a philosophical debate on rules. Ashiel I feel is a strong advocate of the "RAW is the setting" side of the debate.

I'm a strong advocate of if the rules make no sense in the setting, sense overules until you can get the devs to fix it.

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?

thejeff wrote:

Interesting. It seems those who think the setting serves the rules don't even notice that they do so.

Think about it this way: The rules are an abstraction. An approximation of how the game world works. They are necessarily incomplete and probably wrong in detail. They are also focused on things important to adventurers and much less on the rest of the world.

The rules, at least in my settings, are not actually the laws of physics. They are close enough for most things I need them for.

I agree 100% and I think this is the divide.

If a player can manipulate a rule to do something completely absurd, they aren't going to be allowed to do it just because the rules didn't plan for every contingency.

The GM is the final arbitor specifically because the rules can't plan for every contingency. And where the rules either don't cover the issue at hand, or just don't make sense, it is the job of the GM to keep the game moving smoothly.

 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I guess I don't know what this whole "bound genies issue" is.

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 :)

ciretose wrote:

No, it is a philosophical debate on rules. Ashiel I feel is a strong advocate of the "RAW is the setting" side of the debate.

I'm a strong advocate of if the rules make no sense in the setting, sense overules until you can get the devs to fix it.

However, RAW does have a heavy impact on setting, like the example above even something as subtle as how character creation is laid out can have an impact on the setting of the game. So how can RAW not impact setting?

If certain rules breaks verisimilitude in your game than you ask the player to not do such. It is impossible to say setting trumps RAW in all case because some of RAW basically helps define the setting. Imagine if the RAW on the spell section were gone. You are basically playing a no magic game, whether you want to or not.

 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

ciretose wrote:
The GM is the final arbitor specifically because the rules can't plan for every contingency.

Which is itself, in fact, a rule.

So are we talking about people who like to follow the rules, or people who like to selectively ignore whichever rules get in their way?

Jiggy wrote:
I guess I don't know what this whole "bound genies issue" is.

One of the many ways people have proposed you can capture/create Genies and force wishes at no risk.

But thejeff is correct, it isn't about a specific ruling, it is about a mindset.

Do you approach the game from the starting point that if the rules allow it, that overules the...for lack of a better word, physics of the setting, or as thejeff put it are the rules the best appoximation of the physics of the setting, and therefore if a technicality in the rules don't match the "physics" you go with the logic of the setting.

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ciretose wrote:
Where are the Genie Binding stores in Golarian? I haven't seen them mentioned? And if they were prevelent it seems odd the published attributes are so low...

My guess is where casters capable of providing such services are? I'd imagine Cheliax would be a pretty likely bet. I mean, they got pit fiends, an efreeti would bit nothing and would fit the lawful evil nature of them well. I mean Cheliax is Lawful Evil and likes slaves, Efreeti are Lawful Evil and like slaves. One has the power to call 'em up, one has some power to give. Seems like they would fit in very well there.

As for the statistics of NPCs published in adventures, well y'know everyone has their idea as to what is right and good to stat up. Some stuff in adventures are quite weak, some quite powerful, and everyone does things a little differently. On a side note, I couldn't imagine it being that appealing to NPCs from a perspective of spellcasting services. Junk is expensive. Generally you get way more love out of a few cheap magic items or a lil' buff. More bang for your buck if you will. But hey, if you've got someone who has ready access to such things on the cheap, sure, knock yourself out.

Quote:
If the rules seem to allow something that seems inconsistent with the setting, which one wins.

It depends. Inconsistent with the setting is pretty rare usually. One could say anything above 11th level is pretty inconsistent with Eberron for example (the most inconsistent thing is actually in the campaign setting itself, where it clearly notes the barren condition of characters above 10th level at the start of the campaign, yet they got magic items requiring caster levels higher than 10th all over the place before Pathfinder fixed that problem).

I find Pathfinder meshes pretty nicely with most settings. I myself prefer a fairly realistic (I know, realism in fantasy, yuck) scale in my fantasy worlds. I like for normal people to die from normal things, do normal stuff, and live normal lives. I'm not big on the idea that you average bartender is a 5th level character, or that your typical homeless beggar or prostitute is a 2nd level PC-classed character with heroic stats. Not my bag baby. I like that Pathfinder allows us to have most magic item creationists be reasonably leveled adepts and other mild classes.

One of my fondest moments as a GM that I recall from recent years was when my players entered the local alchemist shop in a small village and were greeted by a rather tomboyish potion maker and alchemist with half-singed hair and a dirty apron and patches all over her clothing. Had a blast roleplaying the scene, players loved the NPC, and then they bought some potions at the rates and availability expected and then they went off. Came back for her help later when they found something they weren't sure what to do about (if memory serves I think some evil necromancer had plagued them with a clutch of plague zombie bats or somesuch and they were trying to see if he had any medicinal solutions).

Good times.

And yet, because of the interaction of a setting picture and the rules, your Cheliax must be full of 17th level casters.

Gignere wrote:

If certain rules breaks verisimilitude in your game than you ask the player to not do such.

I think this is what some believe, it is what I believe, but other don't and that is the divide.

I am honestly not trying to assign "Wrongbadfun" to this, as I have no doubt that that side of divide do enjoy the way that they play. Theorycraft in and of itself is really enjoyable to people who are into that kind of stuff.

The question is when you sit down at the table are you trying to create a setting to conform to the rules, or are you more interested in having the rules be an outline for how to accomplish things in the setting.

For example, I think some spells are written in a vague way in order to allow options for stories. To allow that something "could" happen so a story "could" occur.

However I don't think they were intended to be written so that it was the norm, as following the possible applications out via what I would can manipulation and someone else would call "intelligent play" completely changes how the setting would logically work.

So which is paramount. Assuring the logic of the setting stays consistent, or having the rules define what the setting is.

Which informs which.

thejeff wrote:
And yet, because of the interaction of a setting picture and the rules, your Cheliax must be full of 17th level casters.

And this is the divide.

Is it the GMs role to maintain the integrity of the setting, or simply to act as a referee calling balls and strikes.

Should technicalities be allowed.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ashiel wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Where are the Genie Binding stores in Golarian? I haven't seen them mentioned? And if they were prevelent it seems odd the published attributes are so low...

My guess is where casters capable of providing such services are? I'd imagine Cheliax would be a pretty likely bet. I mean, they got pit fiends, an efreeti would bit nothing and would fit the lawful evil nature of them well. I mean Cheliax is Lawful Evil and likes slaves, Efreeti are Lawful Evil and like slaves. One has the power to call 'em up, one has some power to give. Seems like they would fit in very well there.

Save that you're ignoring the cultural bias to enslaving devils. That's what makes Cheliax different from Qadira, which is the far more logical place to shop for enslaved genies. (it's even highlighted that way in the Inner Sea World Guide)

But these are just ingredients for a story. It's one thing to talk about genie binders. But it's when you use them in a story that things like consequences put into play. (Such as the occasional genie breaking loose of it's confines and causing absolute havoc, also described in the guides)

Risk is an inherent part of storytelling. Without risks and things going wrong, you have no story. Eberron, Golarion, Greyhawk,the Forgotten Realms, Krynn, all of these are worlds chock full of things gone wrong... that's what makes them story vehicles.

 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I know I'm late to the party on this whole genie binding thing, but it sounds like one person (Ashiel? Someone else?) said "doing X is possible, therefore there's probably someone somewhere doing X" and then ciretose and possibly others are claiming that Ashiel or whoever instead said "doing X is possible, therefore I can find the product of X at any corner shop".

Did I get that about right?

I'm also kind of curious why a spellcaster capable of summoning and binding efreets capable of granting wishes is bothering to sell regular spellcasting services rather than putting those wishes to use for himself.

But then, the rules say, X level spell is available in cities of Y size for Z price. So, he doesn't have any choice. Or at least, someone will have to do it.

ciretose wrote:

For example, I think some spells are written in a vague way in order to allow options for stories. To allow that something "could" happen so a story "could" occur.

However I don't think they were intended to be written so that it was the norm, as following the possible applications out via what I would can manipulation and someone else would call "intelligent play" completely changes how the setting would logically work.

So which is paramount. Assuring the logic of the setting stays consistent, or having the rules define what the setting is.

Which informs which.

Ok I think you need to split this discussion into rules that makes the engine of the game, and exception rules that are not crucial to the game's engine.

Because character creation, leveling, skill checks, attack/damage rolls and magic casting rules definitely controls the settings more than the opposite. Because without these or changes to these engine rules will have great impact on how the group plays.

Additional exception rules like from spells and/or feats are the opposite the setting should define which of these should be allowed and followed.

ciretose wrote:
But if you have a conflict where the rules and the setting depart (which happens frequently) which one holds higher value at your table.

If a house rule needs to be made, I have no qualms with doing so. But that house rule still should (ideally) have been made before the campaign even began, if I intended it to be part of the setting in the first place.

I haven't the foggiest idea how you would classify that in terms of one serving the other.

Jiggy wrote:

I know I'm late to the party on this whole genie binding thing, but it sounds like one person (Ashiel? Someone else?) said "doing X is possible, therefore there's probably someone somewhere doing X" and then ciretose and possibly others are claiming that Ashiel or whoever instead said "doing X is possible, therefore I can find the product of X at any corner shop".

Did I get that about right?

It is illustrative of the divide, but it is in my opinion an extreme example that may or may not be rules legal but definately would not be allowed in any game I would go with 100 feet of.

Now, that being said, if a player approaches you with a rule that when applied to the specific situation makes no logical or rational sense, which happens on occasion, do you go with the rule or common sense.

I go with common sense then come to the board to check for an FAQ or errata.

Gignere wrote:
ciretose wrote:

For example, I think some spells are written in a vague way in order to allow options for stories. To allow that something "could" happen so a story "could" occur.

However I don't think they were intended to be written so that it was the norm, as following the possible applications out via what I would can manipulation and someone else would call "intelligent play" completely changes how the setting would logically work.

So which is paramount. Assuring the logic of the setting stays consistent, or having the rules define what the setting is.

Which informs which.

Ok I think you need to split this discussion into rules that makes the engine of the game, and exception rules that are not crucial to the game's engine.

Because character creation, leveling, skill checks, attack/damage rolls and magic casting rules definitely controls the settings more than the opposite. Because without these or changes to these engine rules will have great impact on how the group plays.

Additional exception rules like from spells and/or feats are the opposite the setting should define which of these should be allowed and followed.

Even in character creation, do you have an expectation that your players create characters that are logically consistent with the setting? The expectation that they are logically consistent with the rules allows grey area on things like traits that require certain history or background.

On skill checks, how do you adjudicate what skills do or don't do? How much goes to the GM's view of how the NPC would act and how much goes to allowing wide leeway on skills to over-rule logical NPC actions.

For me rules generally rules are to serve setting, not the other way around - when rule does not make a sense in particular setting I just drop the rule. If it would be problematic to drop single rule (because it is too much intertwined with other rules) I just pick another game mechanics to support the setting.

The fact that rules allow for something mechanically does not mean that it is actually done. Not every race, class, archetype, spell, magic item have to exist in each and every setting.

Spoiler:
That was one of the offenses of D&D 4th edition - they attempted to introduce all their creations to all their settings which messsed up with certain parts of Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun, but it is matter for another discussion.

Unlike some of the folks here on boards I am used to playing different systems, however, so it is natural to me to pick system to suit the world I want to play in or to tweak it to my needs.

I'm with Jiggy in saying that it's neither.

Ultimately, the rules and the setting serve the table and no one else.

Jiggy wrote:

I know I'm late to the party on this whole genie binding thing, but it sounds like one person (Ashiel? Someone else?) said "doing X is possible, therefore there's probably someone somewhere doing X" and then ciretose and possibly others are claiming that Ashiel or whoever instead said "doing X is possible, therefore I can find the product of X at any corner shop".

Did I get that about right?

That's how this sort of thing usually goes.

TheJeff wrote:
And yet, because of the interaction of a setting picture and the rules, your Cheliax must be full of 17th level casters.

Well, not necessarily. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. Pathfinder as a system did a lot to allow the possibility of certain high level magics to be used without high level casters. The most strait forward explanation is there is at least one 17th level caster who can bring such a creature across the divide. Alternatively, you might have had some lower level casters create a magic item and raised the DC to craft said item using the item creation rules, and then they used that magic item (perhaps some sort of profane book or text) that when used calls forth the Pit Fiend. There's a lot of nice little ways you could do it in Pathfinder. I suppose it depends on what sort of game you wish to run within the setting.

Some people insist to me that Golarion really is just crawling with super high level people and that your average bartender is a 5th level character and your average prostitute is a 2nd level heroic classed NPC with heroic ability scores as is the case in the Gamemastering Guide NPC gallery. That's not really the sort of Golarion I'd like to run (or any world for that matter) so I suppose I would change it a little bit.

LazarX wrote:
Save that you're ignoring the cultural bias to enslaving devils. That's what makes Cheliax different from Qadira, which is the far more logical place to shop for enslaved genies. (it's even highlighted that way in the Inner Sea World Guide)

Hey calm down a sec fanboy. I didn't say that they would enslave the genie I said they'd get along with the genie pretty well. I'm sure there are places that might be even more likely, sure. I just know that at least Cheliax would be big and powerful enough to have some folks capable of being able to arrange such a meeting for a fee with some regularity.

Also, forgive me, but I'm no expert on Golarion lore and don't claim to be. Like I said before, I run some Golarion when I'm running adventure Paths, and I have the original Golarion campaign setting book, but I don't have the latest copy (the Inner Sea World Guide). It's something I'd like to get but money doesn't grow on trees and I haven't found an opportunity to buy it (and I've been busy with my own setting as well). Honestly I never said anything about an enslaved genie anyway. I just said somewhere you could could get access to some efreeti. I'm actually not really into enslaving people I want to work with, and I doubt efreeti would be interested in being someone's slave (they're more the slavers than the slavees as best as I can see).

Quote:

But these are just ingredients for a story. It's one thing to talk about genie binders. But it's when you use them in a story that things like consequences put into play. (Such as the occasional genie breaking loose of it's confines and causing absolute havoc, also described in the guides)

Risk is an inherent part of storytelling. Without risks and things going wrong, you have no story. Eberron, Golarion, Greyhawk,the Forgotten Realms, Krynn, all of these are worlds chock full of things gone wrong... that's what makes them story vehicles.

Absolutely. This goes without saying, but you're preaching to the choir buddy.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

Since this is posted as a "survey" rather than a "debate", I'll state my personal preference as:

"The rules serve the setting."

As for a concrete example as Jiggy asks for, consider the Bard spell "Gallant Inspiration". According to RAW, you can cast it anytime anyone fails a save.

In tonight's game, the party will be stepping into accursed lands, and all of them will have to make Will saves to avoid certain effects. According to RAW, if anyone fails their save, the Bard can cast Gallant Inspiration and help them succeed. However, as GM, since this is an overall miasma with no visible effect, I am going to rule that the bard cannot possibly perceive who is affected and who isn't, and so cannot cast Gallant Inspiration on his affected fellow party members. (Yes, I'll allow him to cast Gallant Inspiration on himself, since he'll feel himself being affected.)

So I'm trumping RAW in favor of storytelling and 'realism'.

Is that a satisfactory example?

Here's an example of rules abstraction/game world divide that I don't think is actual flamebait:

In the course of a combat round, do characters actually act in sequence, one taking his whole action before the next moves, or do they all act essentially at once, some slightly faster than others? Alternate version of the same question: How long does it take a character with 30' movement to charge 60' and swing at an enemy?

IMO, the rules break the round up into discrete actions so that we can handle them. The characters would not see themselves as standing around waiting while other people moved. Yet a "laws of physics" view would have to say that's exactly what they do. Maybe reacting if they get an AoO or immediate action, but otherwise standing motionless waiting for their turn

As for how long it takes: Common sense and my view is that it takes him just about 6 seconds. A laws of physics approach says it depends on how many people in the fight. A round always takes 6 seconds. Everyone acts in sequence. If it's a one-on-one fight, he can charge and swing in 3 seconds. If there are 12 people involved he can cover the same distance and attack in a half a second.

NobodysHome wrote:

Since this is posted as a "survey" rather than a "debate", I'll state my personal preference as:

"The rules serve the setting."

As for a concrete example as Jiggy asks for, consider the Bard spell "Gallant Inspiration". According to RAW, you can cast it anytime anyone fails a save.

In tonight's game, the party will be stepping into accursed lands, and all of them will have to make Will saves to avoid certain effects. According to RAW, if anyone fails their save, the Bard can cast Gallant Inspiration and help them succeed. However, as GM, since this is an overall miasma with no visible effect, I am going to rule that the bard cannot possibly perceive who is affected and who isn't, and so cannot cast Gallant Inspiration on his affected fellow party members. (Yes, I'll allow him to cast Gallant Inspiration on himself, since he'll feel himself being affected.)

So I'm trumping RAW in favor of storytelling and 'realism'.

Is that a satisfactory example?

Great example. The antagonize debate was another one.

ciretose wrote:
Now, that being said, if a player approaches you with a rule that when applied to the specific situation makes no logical or rational sense, which happens on occasion, do you go with the rule or common sense.

Here's a fun question.

Well, first, I ask him or her what they're trying to achieve (maybe there's a less strange way to go about it). Honesty is always a good bet with me. Then assess it, see if it really warrants a house rule, and try to work together to come to a mutual happiness, and if a rule is just at its core bizarre we might be able to come up with something less bizarre that serves a similar purpose.

Here's an example. Once I had a player who found that in 3.x you could revive someone by beginning to drown them. This is...kind of a bizarre rule, and likely not something that was intended ("Oh he's at -3 Hp, drowning makes his HP become 0 HP, we cured him!") but in this players' mind it sort of made sense to him in a "A sudden shock to the system to get them to spring back!" sort of way. I wasn't really as convinced. I asked him honestly, "Why do you want to do this? Is it because you think it's funny and you wanted to try it?" I asked, because it was indeed pretty funny. I mean, I got a grin out of it.

Turns out he wanted a good way to rescue his friends, and he thought this was more reliable than him biffing a heal check (this was in 3.x, and Heal was a cross-class skill for him, so it would be many levels before he could reliably give first aid). I nodded, thought about it for a bit and said "What about, instead of drowning the poor sod to heal him, we cook you up a magical healer's kit that automatically stabilizes the patient as if it had used cure minor wounds on them?" and he liked that idea. I even joked and said that if he really just wanted to splash people with water we could flavor it as a bucket or something. He was happy with the magic healer's kit, and felt gratified for his investment each time he rescued a downed ally with his little kit.

I looked at it. Evaluated it. Realized there was no harm here, and went along. I've changed rules before as needed. I adjusted wish in 3.5 as well because of some broken interactions with it in the rules (if wish worked in Pathfinder like it did in 3.5 then you'd never, ever, eeeeeeveeeeeer be able to defeat a Pit Fiend). It had some stuff that was too much. I talked it over with my group and we fixed it.

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Quote:
I talked it over with my group and we fixed it.

Wat.

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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.

ciretose wrote:

Even in character creation, do you have an expectation that your players create characters that are logically consistent with the setting? The expectation that they are logically consistent with the rules allows grey area on things like traits that require certain history or background.

On skill checks, how do you adjudicate what skills do or don't do? How much goes to the GM's view of how the NPC would act and how much goes to allowing wide leeway on skills to over-rule logical NPC actions.

I see traits more in line with feats, as rules exception instead of the engine rules.

Skill checks is interesting for PF because it is so simplistic as compared to combat. Because of this it leaves wide leeway for both GM interpretation and player abuse.

I have played in games that actually spell out what happens to NPCs or even other PCs depending on the level of your success. It works in those games because the rules accomodate it. Since the players and GMs going in expecting skills to totally change the outcome of a social challenge there are no damn that is breaking my game.

They have stuff like if you hit a certain difficult or number of successes or margin of success, or actually engage in a duel of wits, you can literally convince a loving mother to kill their child, it is highly unlikely but still possible.

Does it break verisimilitude in those games that allow it, no it doesn't because there is an expectation of skills having major impact. Does it break verisimilitude in PF yes, because skills are added in like an afterthought.

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?

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.

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NobodysHome wrote:

Is that a satisfactory example?

I find that usually if someone thinks they need to "trump RAW" as you put it (or alternatively, when they think "RAW" needs to "trump" something else), one or both parties has misread or misunderstood something in the rules and thereby accidentally fabricated a conflict that doesn't actually exist.

Gallant Inspiration wrote:
Cast this spell when a creature fails an attack roll or skill check.

Oh look, I was right. ;)

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Quote:
I talked it over with my group and we fixed it.
Wat.

Eh?

TheJeff wrote:
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?

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".

So later you look at the airships in the book and they require you to be like 12th level to create them. So we have a paradox. Now that irks the crap out of me (partially from a writing standpoint but also 'cause I like there to be consistency in things). Now in Pathfinder this wouldn't be a big deal. The creator would just have to hit DC X to craft it despite lacking the caster level and/or spells of the item, but in 3.x you just flat out could not craft this item if you were below 12th level!

So, you have to make a choice. Either lower the requirements or assume that there are indeed greater than 10th level characters and that they apparently spend their time making magical airship engines by not-evilly enslaving elementals (yes, that too is probably a paradox) or make up a way that they can do it anyway.

In theory any of these methods can work. However, not addressing it a little bit can impact the verisimilitude of the world. I like consistency, so my natural impulse would be to come up with an alternate way to meet the requirements (perhaps a feat or option to allow multiple craftsmen to work together in a sort of aid-another fashion).

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.

Of course, the problem with that argument is that the rules largely came first.

What it seems like to me is that the setting and tropes were written separately, then combined with the rules, not always fitting perfectly.

That's not quite true either, since the D&D rules were obviously in mind when Golarion was invented, but I do think the basic nation descriptions were written largely independent of the rules. "We'll have devil worshippers down here and an undead mage over here, not-Vikings here and not-Egyptians there." etc. Figuring out what the mechanics would be for a nation of devil worshippers would be came later if at all. Or an area ruled only by kings capable of soloing linnorms for that matter. It's a cool concept, run with it.

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