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Punishing Bad RP


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Bill Dunn wrote:
Warped Savant wrote:


Ah, okay... I think I see a thing that is causing a misunderstanding... You're talking about rewarding everyone for doing something cool, not just on social skill based things, right?

Bingo!

Warped Savant wrote:

The original post specifically says "I've come to the conclusion that giving circumstance bonuses to social-skill checks for good roleplay, and thereby ENCOURAGING players to try and play something out without strictly requiring it of them, is best practice." so I think the majority of the conversation is people thinking that you're talking about only giving bonuses on social based skills.

But you're talking about giving bonuses to anything that has a cool result/description, right?
(ie: an unsocial barbarian can get a bonus to acrobatics if the player describes doing something in a really interesting way)
Am I right?
That's my stand on it. Mind - giving a really good off the cuff speech in character is something that's really cool so points for good acting is there - it's just a subset of everything worth getting a bonus.

I'm not at all convinced that's the source of any miscommunication or that the misunderstanding is all or mostly on Irontruth's side.

Personally, I'd understood that for a while and it doesn't do anything to bring me closer to MrTsFloatinghead's viewpoint.
If anything, I'm far more likely to give bonuses for good talky-talky in social situations than for cool descriptions of combat or other skill usage. Or even to handwave social rolls altogether. I've played and run using many approaches over the years.

I do however think there are some conflicts between things I value in all those approaches. Conflicts that don't have simple resolutions. But my motivations aren't what he insists nor am I simply misinterpreting the abuses I've seen in games. Far more tied to immersion and concerns of effective character abilities not matching the character as written than to any worries about feats of unfairness.


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A thought occurs- A lot of the concerns about "bias" or "player skill not character skill" are not specific to Pathfinder, and indeed would apply to any related sort of game. Indeed, some people's bad experiences probably harken back to older games.

So I will talk briefly about the other d20 fantasy game I play regularly- 13th Age. In 13A, there are no skill ranks- instead you have backgrounds (which are literally anything you write down in the box) and you can apply your background score to a skill check if the player can justify how their previous experience applies to this situation. Sometimes this is easy- if your biggest background score is "Monastery Dropout" or "Orphan from a city ruled by Monsters" it's presumable that you know how to be sneaky or climb a wall, that's easy to justify- the ex-monk probably spent some time sneaking in and out of the monastery (over high walls) in order to have a good time in town, the orphan may have had to run and hide from various monsters. What gets interesting though is if you have a player who wants to apply a background "Imperial Filing Clerk" to "climb a wall". But the thing is, if the player is able to concoct a story about how the interior of the building they worked in was labyrinthine and had a lot of ill-tempered security, whereas there was just one 8 foot wall between the outside of the complex and the courtyard abutting the player's office, so to save time the clerk learned how to scramble up the wall, and how to look presentable immediately thereafter- you accept it, and give them a bonus.

So certainly "being able to give a pretty speech" and "improvisational acumen" are different skills, but this is both a situation where we're talking about a player skill and not something you can reflect on a character sheet. Where's the difference really? 13A is 100% up front about its improvisational storytelling focus (it's one of the selling points of the game from where I sit), whereas Pathfinder is not really necessarily about talking or improvising or any one thing (you could play it as a miniatures combat game where no one ever talks, if you wanted).

So I guess the takeaway I have her is that if you're up front about how your game is going to emphasize in-character speaking, and spur of the moment improvisation, then people know who sign up will know what they are getting into. It's probably not a good thing to just spring on someone, but even if a player knows they're not good at speaking extemporaneously, they might still want to play (to get better at it in a safe space, to hang out with friends, etc.)


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


I think certain points you've made are factually wrong. Not just a difference in preference, but in how you justify and portray them. I'm willing to have a conversation about your method, but you refuse to admit certain facts that are true about it, so we have to debate these facts instead. Maybe they aren't true facts, and I am mistaken, but in that case I'm going to need to see a lot of clarification, and the best way for me to get there is precise answer to my questions. For the time being, I'm not enthused about reading the walls of text.

So:

You won't accept my position without a lot of clarification, but you also won't allow me to give you that clarification because you are only willing to accept answers that come to you in a form that you have effectively custom-designed to make it impossible for you to get that clarification. Hell, I gave simple, direct answers to the questions you asked, and while you assert that I was sidestepping them, you have no actual demonstration of that for me to attempt to understand or respond to. In essence, you are establishing a position that says "MrTsFloatinghead's opinions and preferences can go die in a fire, and if he or anyone else wants to discuss that position with me, they can only do so by adopting my preferences". I am not sure what you think you are offering there that is tempting, or even reasonable. Why should I conform to your preferences if you aren't even willing to acknowledge the possible legitimacy of mine? Why is the burden only on me?

To be clear, I am not, nor have I ever been, attempting to make you AGREE with me. I'm just trying to get you to accept that it is legitimate to disagree on the facts here. As for debating the facts, I have already tried that with you, and as far as I can tell, you have not even bothered to consider the things I am saying - not because you don't agree with them, but because the way in which you disagree with them exactly conforms to patterns of reasoning that I am...

Oh, you need an example. I asked you at one point if your method was objective or subjective. You replied "yes". It isn't a yes or no question. Saying "yes" is an obfuscation. Based on the tenor of the rest of that post, it was quite an intentional obfuscation.

There is only as much burden on you to provide proof and justification as you want there to be.

Here's the thing, right now, I'm just annoyed at you trying to get out of the concept that you are adding potential bias to your system. That's it. If you accept that, there's nothing left to debate.

It's a system of subjective bonuses to players that are not equal.

That is how I perceive it. If you want to get me to perceive it some other way, I will admit, it is going to take a LOT of convincing. If you don't want to do that, no skin of either of our backs.

I don't like systems like that. Because as thejeff reminds us, it means that skills on the character sheet will not necessarily reflect outcomes in the game.

Now you're right, that equity doesn't mean giving every player the exact same thing. It would be "equal" if everyone got a free pair of shoes, and they're all size 10 1/2 hiking boots, because everyone got exactly the same thing, but those boots would not meet the needs of each person. Equity is giving each person a pair of shoes that fits them and meets their needs.

I think you can do that without adding bonuses to certain rolls and not others. In fact, I would be much more open to other methods of doing that.

If Dave and Bill are both playing Fighters, but Dave sucks at optimization, so he does half the damage Bill does, should we just double Dave's damage? Or should we help him with optimization? I would vote for the latter, and I would classify your approach as the former.

Shadow Lodge

I think you're right, PossibleCabbage, that expectations are important. If you go into the game expecting that your character is going to be the best smooth talker because they have the highest Bluff and Diplomacy skill bonuses, and find that the group rarely uses those numbers to resolve social situations, you'll be more disappointed than if you're told up-front that social encounters are handled in a rules-light improv theatre style - especially if getting those skill bonuses means that your character is noticably below average in combat.

Honestly my group is pretty fuzzy about social encounters. We do a lot of talking, mostly in first person, and occasionally roll dice when it seems dramatically appropriate. The players with more social characters talk a bit more and make more of the dramatic rolls, but less social characters can also direct the conversation or make assist rolls where appropriate. Outcomes probably don't reflect mechanics as well as they could, and personally I find it difficult to play high Bluff characters because I have difficulty coming up with plausible lies. But players are generally engaged in these scenes, and I think adding dice is more likely to hurt than help.

Note that we do also roleplay in non-social encounters, though for me personally that mostly happens through the way I design my character mechanics. For example, if I make a character who can take a lot of damage they are probably the type of person to get into the thick of combat and shield their allies from attack.

Dracoknight wrote:
RDM42 wrote:
If they can provide a good and creative reason that meshes with their character background why they might know more about this thing, perhaps.

The background skill system and the "Lore" skill was added for just this reason. Forexample if in your background was attacked by a Bear, your lore could be about Bears in particular to manifest that characters way of studying how to kill bears as a revenge.

Personally i think the background skill system that add +2 skillpoints to dedicated "background skills" is a good way to flesh out mechanically a background without sacrificing the utility of far more useful skills. (Who would take Proffersion over Perception forexample?"

I love this system, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be that widespread. Most of my characters do have at least a few ranks in "background skills" anyway.


Weirdo wrote:

I think you're right, PossibleCabbage, that expectations are important. If you go into the game expecting that your character is going to be the best smooth talker because they have the highest Bluff and Diplomacy skill bonuses, and find that the group rarely uses those numbers to resolve social situations, you'll be more disappointed than if you're told up-front that social encounters are handled in a rules-light improv theatre style - especially if getting those skill bonuses means that your character is noticably below average in combat.

Honestly my group is pretty fuzzy about social encounters. We do a lot of talking, mostly in first person, and occasionally roll dice when it seems dramatically appropriate. The players with more social characters talk a bit more and make more of the dramatic rolls, but less social characters can also direct the conversation or make assist rolls where appropriate. Outcomes probably don't reflect mechanics as well as they could, and personally I find it difficult to play high Bluff characters because I have difficulty coming up with plausible lies. But players are generally engaged in these scenes, and I think adding dice is more likely to hurt than help.

One thing I see a lot is that even though a player is well aware that they will rarely need to actually roll something, nonetheless they want to RP as an expert at it and will invest heavily in the skill as a result.

Like, for example, one of my characters was a human who grew up in a circus operated by Dwarves who earned her keep through a comedy juggling act. I put max ranks in "Perform (Comedy)" and "Sleight of Hand" and I don't think I ever had to roll either. GM just let me juggle whatever I said I was juggling and NPCs reacted appropriately to my jokes depending on whatever I intended for them to be (since sometimes "the joke is not funny" is the joke.)


PossibleCabbage wrote:
A thought occurs- A lot of the concerns about "bias" or "player skill not character skill" are not specific to Pathfinder, and indeed would apply to any related sort of game. Indeed, some people's bad experiences probably harken back to older games.

All games have some amount of "mastery", and all systems where humans make decisions will have some amount of bias.

The question I would pose then is do we minimize and account for these aspects? Or do we lean into them? The answer won't always be the same, and might vary from game to game, and even within a game. The method of leaning into these aspects is also an important aspect.

Like with 13th Age, you can basically always argue a background, so as a player I will purposely not do it sometimes because I want to define an area where my character isn't skilled. At the same time, when I do want my character to be skilled I find that justification. Essentially the designers have removed the question "how skilled is this character?" away from the design of the class, and put it into my hands: the player. There are benefits and drawbacks to this method, and you've pointed out one of the drawbacks.

The +2 for "good roleplaying" to me is a poor implementation. You can achieve the same benefits in a way that won't leave players like thejeff and I feeling like the play at the table is not reflecting the game's system. If there's a smooth way to do something without altering the rules of the game, to me that is the better way to do something.


http://www.handbookofheroes.com/archives/comic/strong-silent-type

Shadow Lodge

There's only two ways I can think of to reward roleplaying without using mechanics:

The "positive reaction to the player" some people have mentioned - if someone does something cool, complement it but then move on.

The "narrative reward for narrative effort" approach I mentioned earlier, and which I think some other posters aluded to. Players who roleplay get the kind of in-character reactions that make them feel good about their roleplaying, and ideally get presented with more opportunities to roleplay (eg, give the bard an audience, give the wizard people to act superior to, give the guy with the detailed backstory adventure hooks related to that backstory).

If you're willing to use mechanics, but don't want the result of the roll to drift from character skill, you could also try:

Giving hero points or inspiration for roleplaying (which in-game could reflect strength of spirit or gaining the attention of some patron spirit).

Group XP bonus. If the rogue disarms a trap, everyone gets some XP. If the bard plays a song at the table... everyone gets some XP? Everyone likes getting XP, the roleplayer feels good for being the one to earn the XP.

If you are worried about bias in the latter two, you could make some objective standard like "you get an award for bringing in a piece of art related to your character, making your backstory relevant to the session, or bringing in game snacks".

PossibleCabbage wrote:

One thing I see a lot is that even though a player is well aware that they will rarely need to actually roll something, nonetheless they want to RP as an expert at it and will invest heavily in the skill as a result.

Like, for example, one of my characters was a human who grew up in a circus operated by Dwarves who earned her keep through a comedy juggling act. I put max ranks in "Perform (Comedy)" and "Sleight of Hand" and I don't think I ever had to roll either. GM just let me juggle whatever I said I was juggling and NPCs reacted appropriately to my jokes depending on whatever I intended for them to be (since sometimes "the joke is not funny" is the joke.)

I see that sometimes, too. As a player, though, I like to make rolls for this sorry if thing sometimes, so as a GM when a player puts in this effort I try to give them opportunity to make those rolls.


graystone wrote:
thejeff wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Do we take the athlete and force them not to exercise so they won't make the out of shape feel bad?
No, but if you have an eager nine-year-old playing an Int 18 wizard, and an adult who is obsessed and very experienced with puzzles playing an Int 8 barbarian, as a GM I would see it as essential to rein in the adult if they use their RL skills to jump all over in-game puzzles in ways that are both out of character for their barbarian and getting in the way of the nine-year-old playing to their character's strengths.

Part of why I hate puzzles in RPGs. Most of the time, there's no way to solve them in character, they break me out immersion completely and it just becomes me trying to solve a puzzle whether my character would be any good at it at all.

And I'm normally pretty good at it, so if I'm not playing the smart guy, I've still got to pitch in or we'll likely just sit there and stew.
I can't agree more. On one hand, i enjoy those handout puzzles and I too am good at them: the rub is when my character is on the lower int scale... Do I point out the solution and try to pass it off as an 'idiot savant' moment or hold my tongue and let the 'smart' characters player try to figure it out. Neither is particularly palatable a a solution.

Personally, I would either encourage the players to address a complex puzzle as a group, out of character, synergising player skills, and then figure out how to make that a plausible in-character interaction, or have the eager nine-year-old roll for it, depending on which the group as a whole would enjoy more. (Though tending towards not souring an eager nine-year-old on the game experience as a high priority.)

I am fairly clear on how I favour approaching the general issue here, fwiw. Player with high Cha/Int/Wis accurately roleplaying character with similar high ability score; good roleplaying, reward. Player with low Cha/whatever playing character with high Cha; talk about why player wants to do this, in session 0, and lean on using rolls to resolve issue as most likely solution absent a better idea turning up. Player with high Cha trying to get around character's low Cha by using RL charisma; ding them for bad roleplaying.

This does depend on one's players being reasonably self-aware about their mental ability scores, though.


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Weirdo wrote:
If you are worried about bias in the latter two, you could make some objective standard like "you get an award for bringing in a piece of art related to your character, making your backstory relevant to the session, or bringing in game snacks".

Be careful with that, or at least know your players... I've been looking for another justification for making a croquembouche, but there's not a lot of call for 3' tall pastries...

I already bake to destress, so if there's XP in it... watch out.

Maybe this is how I'm gonna get my level 6 Oozemorph...

Shadow Lodge

Wait, you're saying I could convince you to bring a 3-foot tall tower of pastry and caramel to my gaming group... and I shouldn't do it?

Seriously though, it's just a question of what you or your group wants to incentivize.


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We give bonuses based on WHAT is said, not HOW it is said.


For me its based on the effort someone has taken to fit the narrative. Rattling off some flowery speech that doesnt actually mean anything, no matter how good your acting is, doesnt help. Giving me a detailed description of how you want to convince someone based on what youve learnt about them in character? That i give a bonus to. And if they do it in character, thats nice.

But its never based on acting ability or how naturally you slip into roleplaying.


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Being honest, I find the game moves much smoother, and is much more fair, if no one ever talks in character.

I prefer to have the player describe what he wants to convey or request, 3rd person, and then roll the appropriate skill checks. Then, with the results of the checks known, we can discuss what actually happened (again, can be completely in 3rd person). This is no different than how a sword is swung, or a trap is disarmed.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am very uncomfortable any time an adult talks about 'punishing' or 'rewarding' another. I don't think that's an appropriate way to be thinking about any relationship. It's destructive to the relationship, and destructive to any fun in the activity.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:

Oh, you need an example. I asked you at one point if your method was objective or subjective. You replied "yes". It isn't a yes or no question. Saying "yes" is an obfuscation. Based on the tenor of the rest of that post, it was quite an intentional obfuscation.

There is only as much burden on you to provide proof and justification as you want there to be.

Here's the thing, right now, I'm just annoyed at you trying to get out of the concept that you are adding potential bias to your system. That's it. If you accept that, there's nothing left to debate.

First - the question you were referring to was "Is your method objective or subjective?" - that IS properly considered a rhetorically yes/no question. This is why I typically answer the question I believe you MEANT to ask, not the plain-text reading of the question you actually asked - however, you also object to that practice, so I'm again really not sure how you expect me to communicate with you. If I had said "I think what you mean to ask here is 'Which method do you generally use, an objective one or a subjective one?'", you would be holding up this same question as an example of how I refuse to answer your simple questions and instead distort them into something they are not.

Second - The reason I answered the way I did rather than edit that question you meant to ask is because upon reflection, "yes" is really also the correct answer to that question, because there is not one "method" - there are "methods" plural, and they all contain some element of subjectivity and objectivity, just like your methods do. Hence, again, "yes" is the logically correct answer to your question.

Third - if you are going to claim something to be an "objective truth" (IE something with which it is impossible to reasonably DISagree), that process requires a deep philosophical and scientific argumentation. On the other hand, disproving a claim of objective proof is relatively easy: "If something is objectively true, then by definition it cannot be reasonably disagreed with. I reasonably disagree with your position, thus it cannot be objectively true." Conditional, meet contrapositive. It's as simple as that.

Fourth - Again, I accept that you BELIEVE that I am adding bias to the system. I am asking you to understand that your belief in that position, however firmly and genuinely you feel it to be true, it still merely a belief. You have every right to have it - I accept your right to hold that belief even if I don't agree with the conclusions you draw. What you are demanding is that I accept your belief is TRUE, and that I will not do, not only because I genuinely and firmly believe that it is not true, but because I understand that the conclusion I believe(d) that you are trying to defend does not require that your believe be accepted as true.

For the record, I believe (giving you the benefit of the doubt) that you are not REALLY trying to be judgmental and seek to cause other people to conform your play to your subjective preferences, merely that you are trying to assert your right to HAVE those subjective preferences. More and more, however, I am becoming convinced that you really are inappropriately trying to step beyond that into something truly improper, which is to tell me that I should not be allowed to think and feel the way I do. You very clearly are annoyed at what you feel is my attempt to get you to change your "opinions" - I am saying I am annoyed that your position requires essentially pushing me and my preferred playstyle out of this conversation and out of this hobby, because you are saying that not only can you not agree with me (which is fine), but you cannot even accept my right to disagree with your "facts" (which is decidedly not fine).

I am trying to get to this middle ground: You are allowed your beliefs, even if I disagree with them. I am allowed my beliefs even if you disagree with them. Neither of us is justified in imposing our beliefs on the other as "facts", no matter how strongly we hold our beliefs.

To the thread in general: The root disagreement is not a textual misunderstanding or a failure in communication (though I'm sure those have happened as well). The root disagreement is that one side is asserting the first plank of my "middle ground" (that they are absolutely allowed to hold their own opinions) without granting the second two.

EDIT: Note - there was an error in the text of my third point which could very easily have caused confusion about what my definition of an objective fact is - I have corrected the typo and apologize for any confusion.


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
To the thread in general: The root disagreement is not a textual misunderstanding or a failure in communication (though I'm sure those have happened as well). The root disagreement is that one side is asserting the first plank of my "middle ground" (that they are absolutely allowed to hold their own opinions) without granting the second two.

If I'm part of that one side, that is not the root disagreement.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Shinigami02 wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Warped Savant wrote:
*Snip*
Sure, I've played with people who where shy, and people who didn't say things in character. All players play differently, too, of course. But honestly, I don't see a contradiction - given the incredibly wide scope for what "good roleplaying" is, I have never experienced, as a player or as a GM, or even as a spectator of other people's games, a situation where an entire session went on and I wasn't able to find a single solitary thing praiseworthy about an individual players actions. I don't seek to limit what counts as "good roleplaying" beyond "did something that added to the experience at the table", and the reason I'm adamant that what I'm doing isn't biased or bad is because I have never been in a situation where a player didn't add something of value to a session (even when overall I felt the player was a net drag on the table and had to have a conversation about being rude to other players). Every player brings something unique and cool to the table in my experience, and I cannot imagine a situation where that is not true.
This is as much out of curiosity as anything, just wanting to know... can you give an example of rewarding good roleplaying with a combat-focused character? And I mean something other than, say, a flanking bonus or other such bonus that is hard-coded into the basic mechanics of the game, and not counting stuff like the instance of "I'm a body builder IRL so I use my bodybuilding knowledge to influence these barbarians in this social encounter" but an actual judgement-call based bonus in a combat situation. Something that would make the BSF or Sneak Attack Rogue feel special (ignore that specific wording if it disagrees with you, as stated before I'm not the best wordsmith, but just that idea of "you did really good, have a bonus") for doing their big thing of fighting.

It's not my example, certainly, but for instance watch any of the Penny Arcade DnD games with Pat Rothfuss, and the running gags about using a chandelier to get some kind of combat advantage. That would be an example of something like using the environment cleverly - note that there are no rules anywhere that I know of for how to swing on a chandelier and bring it crashing down onto enemies, so in the event that a player tried something like that, I would have to either say "no, sorry, there's nothing in the rules that allows you to do that", which I find deeply unsatisfying, or I would have to make up something on the fly, in exactly the same way as I have to make up social interactions and their in-game implications.

(you could, I suppose, argue that you could decide what material the chandelier was made of, calculate it's mass and height, evaluate its shape and what kind of damage it would do if it falls, what kind of rope or chain suspends it, including thickness, so you can determine both hardness and hp, etc. but even then that's just pushing the subjectivity to making those calls, and I would argue that requiring that much work for such a simple action becomes a de-facto if not de-jure ban on it.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
thejeff wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
To the thread in general: The root disagreement is not a textual misunderstanding or a failure in communication (though I'm sure those have happened as well). The root disagreement is that one side is asserting the first plank of my "middle ground" (that they are absolutely allowed to hold their own opinions) without granting the second two.
If I'm part of that one side, that is not the root disagreement.

Then what do you see as the disagreement? The only thing I am arguing for is that your opinions aren't facts and that however entitled you are to believe them, I'm just as entitled to believe mine, so instead of passing JUDGMENT on each other, we should simply accept that our views are legitimately different. We can still discuss our different preferences, but it would be a whole lot more reasonable thread if one side would stop asserting those preferences as fact.

I have repeatedly and explicitly said that you are entitled to your opinion, it's just that those opinions are not objective facts and thus you don't get to pass judgment on others. The response I have gotten is that they are, in fact, objective facts (thus refusing the second idea - that I am allowed different beliefs to you), and that what I feel and do is therefore "wrong" (thus refusing the third idea - that it is not acceptable to impose upon the other).


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MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Irontruth wrote:

Oh, you need an example. I asked you at one point if your method was objective or subjective. You replied "yes". It isn't a yes or no question. Saying "yes" is an obfuscation. Based on the tenor of the rest of that post, it was quite an intentional obfuscation.

There is only as much burden on you to provide proof and justification as you want there to be.

Here's the thing, right now, I'm just annoyed at you trying to get out of the concept that you are adding potential bias to your system. That's it. If you accept that, there's nothing left to debate.

First - the question you were referring to was "Is your method objective or subjective?" - that IS properly considered a rhetorically yes/no question. This is why I typically answer the question I believe you MEANT to ask, not the plain-text reading of the question you actually asked - however, you also object to that practice, so I'm again really not sure how you expect me to communicate with you. If I had said "I think what you mean to ask here is 'Which method do you generally use, an objective one or a subjective one?'", you would be holding up this same question as an example of how I refuse to answer your simple questions and instead distort them into something they are not.

Second - The reason I answered the way I did rather than edit that question you meant to ask is because upon reflection, "yes" is really also the correct answer to that question, because there is not one "method" - there are "methods" plural, and they all contain some element of subjectivity and objectivity, just like your methods do. Hence, again, "yes" is the logically correct answer to your question.

Third - if you are going to claim something to be an "objective truth" (IE something with which it is impossible to reasonably DISagree), that process requires a deep philosophical and scientific argumentation. On the other hand, disproving a claim of objective proof is relatively easy: "If something is objectively true, then by definition...

All I see is a lot of dancing around to avoid answering the question. You didn't reduce my opinion that you've avoided answering the question, you've heightened it.

You could have saved yourself the 400 words of your 4 points, said nothing, and we'd be exactly where we are now.

Like all humans are biased, all humans also judge. You're judging me, you've done it constantly in your posts, even though you claim not to. There is no method for either of us to enforce our judgements in this conversation, so we don't actually have to agree to anything.

This conversation only means as much to you as you allow it to mean. You seem to want my approval for something, but with the course you've laid out for yourself in this conversation, that is not going to happen, I'm telling you this now plainly and clearly.

If you want me to change my mind, you're going to have to come at it at a different angle.

Or you can just stop caring about how my mind is set.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:
All I see is a lot of dancing around to avoid answering the question. You didn't reduce my opinion that you've avoided answering the question, you've heightened it.

And you are entitled to that entirely subjective opinion. I disagree, and think there is another way to interpret what I'm saying. The difference here is that I'm not saying your point of view is wrong, I'm just disagreeing with it.

I neither want nor desire your "approval" - what I want is this:

I want this thread to be a space where everyone can discuss their own PREFERENCES without fear of direct judgment, and we are free to expand our perceptions of each other's playstyles so that we can come to what I think is the likely conclusion - that we are not actually diametrically opposed at all, but rather that we are just at different spots on a spectrum of "good play", which each of our personal places on that spectrum determined by our own subjective preferences, but that nobody is doing it "wrong" - that way you can share what is best about your games and I and others can share what is best about our games, and everyone's game is richer for the experience.

To the extent to which you or anyone else feels that my behavior has been poor, and that I am preventing this world from coming into being, I apologize, again. I understand why you feel that why - however, I feel VERY strongly that a necessary precondition for having the kind of discussion that I want to have (and that I think is still possible, and that I think is even happening in places outside the sideshow that is this direct back and forth) is that people be willing to at least acknowledge the possible reasonableness and legitimacy of opposing viewpoints - even those that we strongly personally disagree with.

What I want is for you to accept my apology and acknowledge ONLY that you can see why I might interpret your stated positions as being a barrier to the kind of conversation I genuinely think we all want to have. You do not in any way have to agree that your behavior has factually been the barrier that I think it is, nor do you have to defend yourself against any accusation that it was your intent to prevent a free exchange of ideas. All I want is for you to accept that you can see how a reasonable person can disagree with what you are saying and interpret things my way, because point blank if you are unwilling to extend at least the olive branch of an assumption of reasonableness back, I don't see how we can both participate in the discussion, and that to me would be sad (and I make no claim as to who SHOULD participate, to be clear!).

Beyond that, my SUGGESTION is that in the "grand" tradition of our back and forth thus far, you also answer for me a question:

Can you share one of your favorite experiences at your table that you feel would not have been possible under my preferred playstyle, so that we can discuss how I might have handled it differently (or not!), without either of us saying that the other person is objectively wrong?

***EDIT: Upon review of the wording of my question to you and in light of our recent exchange, if you wanted to also extend the olive branch that you can see things my way as well as hoist me by my own petard, I would definitely laugh if you simply answered "Yes." :)***


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As a historian, I hate counterfactuals. I can't tell you how a situation would have played out differently if I changed an element of it.

I can give examples of my playstyle and how it has succeeded or not.

I went to GenCon for the 2012, 2015 and 2016 conventions. I volunteered at the Games on Demand room where I was responsible for running games. I ran Mythender at all three conventions, and added Dark to my list in 2015. Dark is a game about action-stealth. Mythender is a game about killing gods.

Dark has a little less room for wiggle, as it's pretty tightly focused on a group of people breaking and entering into a location in order to steal something. There's still a lot of room in narration, tactics and strategy, but it always involves slinking in shadows, because the game tracks light levels and players have more resources in shadows.

Mythender has more variety in specifics that happen in the game, but the themes are the same: power vs. free will vs. survival. In essence, you need to take power to survive, but this costs you free will, so are you really surviving on your own terms? Players have more control over the specifics of narration than I do, but I control the general themes. A free pdf of the rules can be had here.

I run games for 4 hour slots, and I tend to run 4 of them each year, as it brings me over the 14 hours required to get a free badge (I've been to GenCon 5 times and have never purchased a badge). I usually have 4 players at my table, once only 2, and once 5. That comes to 63 players. Only one player has sat at my table twice, so that's 62 individuals.

Now, there is a sort of self-selection bias, people choose to come sit at my table, though sometimes they doing so as their first pick, other times my table is one of the last ones available, so they pick it because they just want to play something. Either way, they still want to play a game, but I think most people who show up to a game with friends probably want to play that game too, so I don't know how much of a bias this is. That said, 62 players have shown up to my games and all of them have fully participated and "roleplayed well" IMO. Some were gaming veterans, some were game designers, and others were relatively new to the hobby. I didn't know any of them prior to them sitting down at my table. I didn't steer certain people towards or away from my table.

So, without providing mechanical incentives I have been able to get 62 random gaming strangers to give me detailed accounts of their characters, either with exciting action, or deeply emotional portrayals of turmoil within their character. I get excited for their character, I give suggestions, but I also explicitly tell them they can ignore at any time (actually, I use expletives to show how far they can go in ignoring me). Especially with Mythender, I get players to describe how they rip mountains apart and reflect on what that act means to their character's soul.

One player had a warrior who refused to acknowledge the existence of the gods. At the end he was using his own severed head to smash Odin into non-existence, and in that moment he realized his own defeat as he turned into Odin. None of that was my creation, all of it came from the player (supported by the game's mechanics).

There are still too many factors in all of this to consider it definitive, and I have noted a couple, but there are more. That said, I'm going with this to support me because it's closer to definitive than one gaming group that meets regularly IMO, which would be even more anecdotal. Getting the same results from 62 different players over a span of 4 years is fairly suggestive that this method is indeed effective. That I don't need to hand out mechanical bonuses in order to induce players to "roleplay well".

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

From a personal perspective gained from life experience, less is more.


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CraziFuzzy wrote:

Being honest, I find the game moves much smoother, and is much more fair, if no one ever talks in character.

I prefer to have the player describe what he wants to convey or request, 3rd person, and then roll the appropriate skill checks. Then, with the results of the checks known, we can discuss what actually happened (again, can be completely in 3rd person). This is no different than how a sword is swung, or a trap is disarmed.

Personally, this does not sound like a game I would want to play (or run) since a significant part of the aesthetic attraction of this kind of thing (as opposed to an out and out board game) is that you get to pretend to be imaginary people, do voices, get into absurd arguments, etc. But to each their own.

In the interest of "smoothness" I'm suggesting this house rule- "If you RP or narrate your actions effectively, then if you would have passed the check by taking 10, the game just continues apace without anybody rolling anything." Removing the need to wonder if a 10 passes (some GMs will say so, some won't) seems an appropriate reward for getting into it.

In my experience, the smoothest sessions I've ever been in nobody ever picked up a die, it was 100% in character (just with game mechanics backing there to resolve conflict if they are needed.)

Shadow Lodge

Redelia wrote:
I am very uncomfortable any time an adult talks about 'punishing' or 'rewarding' another. I don't think that's an appropriate way to be thinking about any relationship. It's destructive to the relationship, and destructive to any fun in the activity.

I can see what you mean - there's an association of those terms with uneven power relationships. But when I talk about rewarding roleplaying, I mean making players feel that roleplaying is rewarding - that it's a useful and appreciated activity. And incentives are sort of baked into the game. Story XP was introduced when some gamers realized that non-combat achievements should be dusky recognized and rewarded - IIRC there was some concern that giving XP only for combat incentivized murderhoboism. And if you don't use certain skills, that's a dis-incentive to invest limited character resources into them (not that people won't, just that they'll do it less often or less happily.)

Irontruth wrote:
I don't need to hand out mechanical bonuses in order to induce players to "roleplay well".

Ok, you don't need to give mechanical bonuses. And I don't need to feel like Profession is useful to put a rank or two in it. But I definitely feel more rewarded and appreciated if that choice has a mechanical impact.


Redelia wrote:
I am very uncomfortable any time an adult talks about 'punishing' or 'rewarding' another. I don't think that's an appropriate way to be thinking about any relationship. It's destructive to the relationship, and destructive to any fun in the activity.

But isn't providing good consequences for good decisions and less good consequences for less good decisions pretty much the definition of a GM's job? It's not a feature of the relationship with the players, but it's an inherent feature of the game the GM and players have agreed to play.

How do you conceptualise XP and treasure in your games, if not as rewards?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:
As a historian, I hate counterfactuals. I can't tell you how a situation would have played out differently if I changed an element of it.

This is extremely interesting to me (tangent incoming, please feel free to ignore), because my educational background is also in history, but I LOVE counterfactuals as a thought experiment, though I think we can both agree that they get taken way too far, or way too seriously (particularly when it comes to military history). Still, I do like the game of "what if" as an intellectual exercise. Particularly when it comes to teaching, I find that asking a question like "What might have been different if the peoples of the America's had had access to the same sorts of opportunities for domesticated livestock and beasts of burden as those in Europe, Africa, and Asia?" is helpful for shining a light on the way those kinds of things may and may not have led to where we are. The key I think is to make it clear that nobody can answer with authority, but simply to use the thought experiment to evaluate various arguments for how/why we got to where we are today.

Irontruth wrote:


I can give examples of my playstyle and how it has succeeded or not.

Thanks for the examples (and the link, I will check that out later), and I agree that it sounds like your playstyle was effective and fun for everyone involved. The Odin story specifically sounds awesome - I've done something similar as a player in Scion, where by the climax of that campaign was that my character worked a great fatebinding so that the players all basically had a choice - they could allow Ragnarok (in the form of a full-out nuclear war) to happen, blasting the modern world back into something resembling Numeria, and we could start a new campaign (and game system), setting up our current characters as the new pantheon of gods and rolling up new characters, OR they could stop the nukes but in so doing expose themselves and the world of myth and legend to a great fatebinding that changed the nature of that world into one less resembling myth and more resembling modern comic books and superheros. And then we could roll up some Champions characters. Sadly, I got a job out of town and a few others had to move away before we were going to have a chance to do either of those campaigns, so we essentially left it as a cliff-hanger on which was going to happen.

I don't generally do convention gaming, so my experiences are typically more with groups in various friendly local gaming stores, but I've played a variety of games with a smaller variety of people (many games were variations on the 3.5 chassis, admittedly, like Pathfinder, the 3.5 version of Iron Kingdoms, and Star Wars Saga edition, but also more narrative games like Scion).

Probably one great example of my game play working well AND not so well would be one of my all time favorite sessions - the night I put my Legacy Era Star Wars party through an adventure set on an abandoned Nebulon-B Medical Refit from the rebellion era. It was almost all my own adventure design, and I designed it along the lines of a horror movie. I'll spare you the (literally) gory details, but the central premise was that the ship had been hijacked back during the Rebellion's evacuation of Hoth by a deranged 2-1B medical droid who had corrupted the ship's systems and droids, resulting in the predictable horrors.

It was super-creepy and super-atmospheric, but it was also one of the first adventures I'd ever really designed from the ground up (though still, I think my best, or at least most interesting), and I got some stuff wrong, so I was having to make adjustments on the fly. In particular enemy hp were a bit in flux, as I sought to find a level where the party was challenged enough that everyone had something to do each fight, even the less mechanically combat optimized characters. This was pretty successful, and several really tense, really interesting an memorable fights were had.

The part that worked less well was the big reveal at the end that all this horror had been orchestrated by a simple 2-1B Medical droid that went down on the very first roll of the final combat to a sub-auto blaster crit from the least combat inclined of the party, because given that it was super late by that point, and that my intention had always been that the end boss was simply a deranged droid, I just used the rules for the stock factory droid as presented. After all the epic fights earlier, ending on the anti-climax didn't work as well as I wanted, but overall it was still a highly successful adventure, and I think it's one that probably nobody else but me could have delivered, given how much I had to adjust and ad-hoc my way through it to realize my intended vision.

One of the biggest adjustments I made to my initial intended plan was that when it became clear that the guards I had stated out were a bit too powerful for the overall power level of my party, I decided to add in a new rule, whereby all the weapons on the guard droids were stun/non-lethal only - this meant that when part of the party got overwhelmed (because it's a horror movie, of course they split the party), instead of being dead or incapacitated for the long term, they were instead strapped into a surgical bed for "treatment", setting up a clear countdown for the rest of the party to either rescue them or for them to free themselves (and that, too, required a bit of ad-hocery, since I hadn't really considered that approach before the game, I didn't have a firm set of options for how one might escape, so we had to RP it out and make up options as we went).

One of the cool things of adjusting like I did too was that it actually allowed for that very cinematic thing where early on the enemies seem utterly implacable, but that soon the heroes learn how they work and are quickly adapting and thrashing through them. To me, not being willing to make these subjective calls and give my players credit and bonuses for clever ideas or cinematic bits of narrative (however delivered), would likely have resulted in a significantly less successful session, and indeed probably would have resulted in the adventure not working at all. In your experience, how have you handled it when you realize that your adventure is going off the rails for whatever reason?


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Redelia wrote:
I am very uncomfortable any time an adult talks about 'punishing' or 'rewarding' another. I don't think that's an appropriate way to be thinking about any relationship. It's destructive to the relationship, and destructive to any fun in the activity.

But isn't providing good consequences for good decisions and less good consequences for less good decisions pretty much the definition of a GM's job? It's not a feature of the relationship with the players, but it's an inherent feature of the game the GM and players have agreed to play.

How do you conceptualise XP and treasure in your games, if not as rewards?

Necessary markers to get to the next power level in the game.

Honestly these days we generally handwave the XP - level by fiat. Handwaving the treasure is more complicated, but it's not really treated as a reward.

And that's in PF, where gear plays such an important role. In other games, there often isn't any.

Shadow Lodge

MrTsFloatingHead wrote:
I want this thread to be a space where everyone can discuss their own PREFERENCES without fear of direct judgment,and we are free to expand our perceptions of each other's playstyles so that we can come to what I think is the likely conclusion - that we are not actually diametrically opposed at all, but rather that we are just at different spots on a spectrum of "good play", which each of our personal places on that spectrum determined by our own subjective preferences, but that nobody is doing it "wrong" - that way you can share what is best about your games and I and others can share what is best about our games, and everyone's game is richer for the experience.

It is hard to believe that is the case when I've made an effort to discuss different ways to make roleplaying rewarding and you haven't engaged with any of those suggestions.

For example, do you feel your roleplaying effort is sufficiently rewarded when the GM designs plot elements tailored to your character backstory?


thejeff wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


How do you conceptualise XP and treasure in your games, if not as rewards?

Necessary markers to get to the next power level in the game.

Honestly these days we generally handwave the XP - level by fiat. Handwaving the treasure is more complicated, but it's not really treated as a reward.

And that's in PF, where gear plays such an important role. In other games, there often isn't any.

So in that case, would it be fair to describe getting to the next power level as the reward the game is providing to the players? And the GM as adjudicating that reward?


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
It was super-creepy and super-atmospheric, but it was also one of the first adventures I'd ever really designed from the ground up (though still, I think my best, or at least most interesting), and I got some stuff wrong, so I was having to make adjustments on the fly. In particular enemy hp were a bit in flux, as I sought to find a level where the party was challenged enough that everyone had something to do each fight, even the less mechanically combat optimized characters. This was pretty successful, and several really tense, really interesting an memorable fights were had.

Here's the thing, I do this as well.

The part we've been arguing about, is that this is subjective, not objective. That's all I've been arguing. This is a tool open to the GM, and when the GM modifies the stats of enemies, they are potentially opening up a Pandora's Box.

This whole argument you and I have had is whether or not that potential exists in a given method of arbitration.

It exists.

There are merits for it, and against it. Those merits measure differently in different areas, and there is a lot of room to debate that. We could think of it like this: is the rules text or the GM the final arbiter?

If the text: objective
If the GM: subjective

Which is better in a given situation is preference, but whether something is one or the other is factual.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Weirdo wrote:


MrTsFloatingHead wrote:
I want this thread to be a space where everyone can discuss their own PREFERENCES without fear of direct judgment,

It is hard to believe that is the case when I've made an effort to discuss different ways to "reward" roleplaying and you haven't engaged with any of those suggestions?

For example, do you feel your roleplaying effort is sufficiently rewarded when the GM designs plot elements tailored to your character backstory?

I'm sorry - I was not replying to you because I did not see that there was any disagreement in what you were saying and what I was saying. Your position seemed (and seems) to me to be consistent with my view that there are multiple "right" ways to do it. I liked all of your suggestions - I think there are a great many ways to reward players - certainly building their backstory and character beats into the world is one - and one that I would assume would (or at least could be seen to) have mechanical advantages, right?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Redelia wrote:
I am very uncomfortable any time an adult talks about 'punishing' or 'rewarding' another. I don't think that's an appropriate way to be thinking about any relationship. It's destructive to the relationship, and destructive to any fun in the activity.

But isn't providing good consequences for good decisions and less good consequences for less good decisions pretty much the definition of a GM's job? It's not a feature of the relationship with the players, but it's an inherent feature of the game the GM and players have agreed to play.

How do you conceptualise XP and treasure in your games, if not as rewards?

I don't do either. We do exclusively story levelling, and I cut out all the experience grinding random encounters and only do random encounters I think my players will enjoy. Wealth is done as everyone at level up has wealth by level. The focus is on the story and your character's place in the story. There is nothing that would be labelled as either 'rewards' or 'punishment,' there are only 'natural consequences' both good and bad. (I'm using language from parenting literature here)

edit: I should specify that this is for home games, not PFS games.


Considering the text requires interpretation, I'm not sure we can qualify anything in this game as "objective." Obviously, there will be varying levels of intersubjective consensus from "this is what these words are understood to mean in 21st century American English" ranging all down to "this is what the GM decided" but there is absolutely nothing objective about any venture that involves natural language.

I mean, there are significant breaks in the CRB depending on whether you read the text in a legalistic or conversational sense.

A GM has to be the final arbiter because a GM is the only person qualified to say "this interpretation of the text is preferable to this other one" in the context of a given game. I mean, the rules forum is full of differing opinions on "does A work with B" and the thing is- a lot of the time none of those interpretations are flat out wrong.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:

There are merits for it, and against it. Those merits measure differently in different areas, and there is a lot of room to debate that. We could think of it like this: is the rules text or the GM the final arbiter?

If the text: objective
If the GM: subjective

Which is better in a given situation is preference, but whether something is one or the other is factual.

Right, but what I'm saying is that from my perspective it is always functionally the case that the GM is the final arbiter because the decision by the GM to make the rules the final arbiter was ultimately a subjective one.

"I choose to go outside of the pure rules to make this game run as best I can" and "I choose to stick purely to the rules text here to make this game run as best I can" strike me as equivalently subjective choices, and it seems to me that you are saying they are not equivalently subjective, correct? That's the point on which I have been arguing that I would like us to agree to disagree on.

In any case, since this is the advice forums, do you have any good examples of more "light-touch" interventions you use when you see an adventure is going off the rails, particularly ones that you think people like me who are maybe more open to subjective intervention than you are might overlook?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Redelia wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Redelia wrote:
I am very uncomfortable any time an adult talks about 'punishing' or 'rewarding' another. I don't think that's an appropriate way to be thinking about any relationship. It's destructive to the relationship, and destructive to any fun in the activity.

But isn't providing good consequences for good decisions and less good consequences for less good decisions pretty much the definition of a GM's job? It's not a feature of the relationship with the players, but it's an inherent feature of the game the GM and players have agreed to play.

How do you conceptualise XP and treasure in your games, if not as rewards?

I don't do either. We do exclusively story levelling, and I cut out all the experience grinding random encounters and only do random encounters I think my players will enjoy. Wealth is done as everyone at level up has wealth by level. The focus is on the story and your character's place in the story. There is nothing that would be labelled as either 'rewards' or 'punishment,' there are only 'natural consequences' both good and bad. (I'm using language from parenting literature here)

edit: I should specify that this is for home games, not PFS games.

Your mention of wealth by level raises an area where I definitely think there are RP reward potentials, but also potential minefields.

Has anyone had much experience finding ways to incorporate "rich" characters into games without resorting to the tried and true tropes of like the lost heir or disowned/disgraced/bastard noble? I've had some success with giving minor "bonuses" like making sure to always have NPC's play up the quality of the rich character's clothes, or letting the party handwave minor expenses like food and housing at an inn by putting it on the rich character's "Tab", but it's definitely an area where it's easy both to make players feel disadvantaged by comparison, but also to make players feel like their character's background isn't really being incorporated into the game. Do people just generally avoid okaying the "I'm really rich" background to avoid the headache?


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:

Your mention of wealth by level raises an area where I definitely think there are RP reward potentials, but also potential minefields.

Has anyone had much experience finding ways to incorporate "rich" characters into games without resorting to the tried and true tropes of like the lost heir or disowned/disgraced/bastard noble? I've had some success with giving minor "bonuses" like making sure to always have NPC's play up the quality of the rich character's clothes, or letting the party handwave minor expenses like food and housing at an inn by putting it on the rich character's "Tab", but it's definitely an area where it's easy both to make players feel disadvantaged by comparison, but also to make players feel like their character's background isn't really being incorporated into the game. Do people just generally avoid okaying the "I'm really rich" background to avoid the headache?

Not in D&D or Pathfinder.

It really just doesn't work, unless you completely ditch wealth as "treasure found". The wealth disparity is just too great. "Rich" that would be completely game breaking at low levels is "poor" by the standards of a few levels later.

I have done it in other systems that don't run purchased gear as a separate power track.
Rich characters are a staple of superhero fiction and work fine in sueprhero games, since mostly you can't just buy superpowers (A little finagling in there, but no more than in the source material.) I've had rich characters in Call of Cthulhu and other semi modern games.

The Exchange

Irontruth wrote:

As a historian, I hate counterfactuals. I can't tell you how a situation would have played out differently if I changed an element of it.

I can give examples of my playstyle and how it has succeeded or not.

I went to GenCon for the 2012, 2015 and 2016 conventions. I volunteered at the Games on Demand room where I was responsible for running games. I ran Mythender at all three conventions, and added Dark to my list in 2015. Dark is a game about action-stealth. Mythender is a game about killing gods.

Dark has a little less room for wiggle, as it's pretty tightly focused on a group of people breaking and entering into a location in order to steal something. There's still a lot of room in narration, tactics and strategy, but it always involves slinking in shadows, because the game tracks light levels and players have more resources in shadows.

Mythender has more variety in specifics that happen in the game, but the themes are the same: power vs. free will vs. survival. In essence, you need to take power to survive, but this costs you free will, so are you really surviving on your own terms? Players have more control over the specifics of narration than I do, but I control the general themes. A free pdf of the rules can be had here.

I run games for 4 hour slots, and I tend to run 4 of them each year, as it brings me over the 14 hours required to get a free badge (I've been to GenCon 5 times and have never purchased a badge). I usually have 4 players at my table, once only 2, and once 5. That comes to 63 players. Only one player has sat at my table twice, so that's 62 individuals.

Now, there is a sort of self-selection bias, people choose to come sit at my table, though sometimes they doing so as their first pick, other times my table is one of the last ones available, so they pick it because they just want to play something. Either way, they still want to play a game, but I think most people who show...

ok Irontruth. now you did it. I need to go to Gencon this year. You going to be there again this year? maybe I'll sit at your table.

Sovereign Court

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Then there are some skill checks I would just as soon were NOT described at the table.

By their very nature Intimidate checks bother me. I always just gloss over them. To me a statement "Intimidate Check is a 35" is much better than the graphic threat to someone's body/family/business/friends that is often represented by the skill check. A description of how the PC is going about an Intimidate check? No thanks. I have had to leave a table when another player insisted on getting a bit ... graffic... in the description of an "Intimidate check". I know I would not enjoy someone asking the players "...to describe what their character is doing, exactly,..." when it comes to Intimidate or heck, to a lot of other things....

For example:

judge: "it's a dead body"
Player: "What killed it? I got a 24 Heal check..."
Judge: "Describe what your character is doing, exactly, to determine that the month old body died of damage from a swarm of wasps..."

no thanks... not going there. If a judge insisted on this I would leave the table (I know this as I have had to before), and if it became more than a one-off, I would think very strongly of ever playing there again.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
thejeff wrote:

Not in D&D or Pathfinder.

It really just doesn't work, unless you completely ditch wealth as "treasure found". The wealth disparity is just too great. "Rich" that would be completely game breaking at low levels is "poor" by the standards of a few levels later.

I have done it in other systems that don't run purchased gear as a separate power track.
Rich characters are a staple of superhero fiction and work fine in sueprhero games, since mostly you can't just buy superpowers (A little finagling in there, but no more than in the source material.) I've had rich characters in Call of Cthulhu and other semi modern games.

Yeah, that makes sense... I do kind of wonder if it would work in something like a "Hell's Rebels" style urban intrigue campaign where the whole party played nobles who were seeking to use their wealth and prowess to instigate a coup against the rightful and legitimate ruler of the city (that was the point of Hell's Rebels, right?:P).


MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Not in D&D or Pathfinder.

It really just doesn't work, unless you completely ditch wealth as "treasure found". The wealth disparity is just too great. "Rich" that would be completely game breaking at low levels is "poor" by the standards of a few levels later.

I have done it in other systems that don't run purchased gear as a separate power track.
Rich characters are a staple of superhero fiction and work fine in sueprhero games, since mostly you can't just buy superpowers (A little finagling in there, but no more than in the source material.) I've had rich characters in Call of Cthulhu and other semi modern games.

Yeah, that makes sense... I do kind of wonder if it would work in something like a "Hell's Rebels" style urban intrigue campaign where the whole party played nobles who were seeking to use their wealth and prowess to instigate a coup against the rightful and legitimate ruler of the city (that was the point of Hell's Rebels, right?:P).

No idea. :)

I still don't see how you keep them from spending an insignificant fraction of the wealth they're using to instigate the coup to completely demolish the expected guidelines for gear at the start. And/or, by the end being able to use their looted wealth to bribe nearly everybody.

You could just fiat it: You're starting with X gold in gear and 10,000 for bribe money, PR, etc. Maintain separate accounts, no crossing the lines. Give them extra loot, but mandate no more than WBL on personal gear. At that point though, I'd be tempted to drop the pretence that the gear budget has anything to do with actual money.

Shadow Lodge

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
I'm sorry - I was not replying to you because I did not see that there was any disagreement in what you were saying and what I was saying. Your position seemed (and seems) to me to be consistent with my view that there are multiple "right" ways to do it.

That's fair. But just because we don't disagree doesn't mean we can't swap ideas and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. Like so:

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
I liked all of your suggestions - I think there are a great many ways to reward players - certainly building their backstory and character beats into the world is one - and one that I would assume would (or at least could be seen to) have mechanical advantages, right?

It absoultely can have mechanical advantages. For example, if the ranger decides that his village was destroyed by a dragon, and that he's trained as a dragonslayer, I'll probably include more draconic enemies in the game (possibly even a showdown with the dragon that destroyed his village), giving him more opportunites to use their favoured enemy bonus.

I'm also fond of giving out boons from powerful NPCs or supernatural sources, which generally result from character choices rather than just succeeding at dice rolls. Sometimes the boons involve improvements to some character stat.

But I think the only way in which roleplaying affects success in specific tasks is "conversational tactics," which greystone and others have discussed. For example, at a recent dinner party the summoner guessed that the lady of the house was obsessed with her work, so he decided to ask her questions about it, resulting in an easy improvement to her attitude toward him (essentially an auto-success, given the summoner's Diplomacy bonus). Meanwhile, another player did a highly entertaining impression of someone completely out of their depth at a social event and ended up making a correspondingly bad impression (which nevertheless could be advantageous in the long run, since the hosts will underestimate him).

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Has anyone had much experience finding ways to incorporate "rich" characters into games without resorting to the tried and true tropes of like the lost heir or disowned/disgraced/bastard noble?

Hm. We've had success with rich characters whose assets weren't accessible for other reasons. In once case, the entire party had been shipwrecked, leaving the noblewoman with only the level-appropriate amount of wealth on her person. And at least one character who had non-liquid assets such as family land, that didn't give mechanical advantage and couldn't be converted to adventuring gear. One or two characters took the "rich parents" trait, but that's only really relevant for the first level or two. In general I wish this was easier to represent mechanically in PF.

Shadow Lodge

thejeff wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Yeah, that makes sense... I do kind of wonder if it would work in something like a "Hell's Rebels" style urban intrigue campaign where the whole party played nobles who were seeking to use their wealth and prowess to instigate a coup against the rightful and legitimate ruler of the city (that was the point of Hell's Rebels, right?:P).

No idea. :)

I still don't see how you keep them from spending an insignificant fraction of the wealth they're using to instigate the coup to completely demolish the expected guidelines for gear at the start. And/or, by the end being able to use their looted wealth to bribe nearly everybody.

You could just fiat it: You're starting with X gold in gear and 10,000 for bribe money, PR, etc. Maintain separate accounts, no crossing the lines. Give them extra loot, but mandate no more than WBL on personal gear. At that point though, I'd be tempted to drop the pretence that the gear budget has anything to do with actual money.

Well, this starts to get into making changes to the system, but if you decouple the adventuring gear from the gold economy it should work out OK. Something like the automatic bonus progression, but including a much wider range of magical effects - possibly even anything that a magic item would be expected to do. Or place some kind of "mystical" limit on how much magic a person can employ, so that once they've hit that limit any additional wealth needs to be spent on things other than personal magical gear.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
thejeff wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Not in D&D or Pathfinder.

It really just doesn't work, unless you completely ditch wealth as "treasure found". The wealth disparity is just too great. "Rich" that would be completely game breaking at low levels is "poor" by the standards of a few levels later.

I have done it in other systems that don't run purchased gear as a separate power track.
Rich characters are a staple of superhero fiction and work fine in sueprhero games, since mostly you can't just buy superpowers (A little finagling in there, but no more than in the source material.) I've had rich characters in Call of Cthulhu and other semi modern games.

Yeah, that makes sense... I do kind of wonder if it would work in something like a "Hell's Rebels" style urban intrigue campaign where the whole party played nobles who were seeking to use their wealth and prowess to instigate a coup against the rightful and legitimate ruler of the city (that was the point of Hell's Rebels, right?:P).

No idea. :)

I still don't see how you keep them from spending an insignificant fraction of the wealth they're using to instigate the coup to completely demolish the expected guidelines for gear at the start. And/or, by the end being able to use their looted wealth to bribe nearly everybody.

You could just fiat it: You're starting with X gold in gear and 10,000 for bribe money, PR, etc. Maintain separate accounts, no crossing the lines. Give them extra loot, but mandate no more than WBL on personal gear. At that point though, I'd be tempted to drop the pretence that the gear budget has anything to do with actual money.

Yeah, ideally you'd be able to find some way to balance things so that there were genuine choices (including save for later) for what to do with the money - like point out that if they spend all the treasury in the first week, who is going to pay troops, buy food, etc NEXT week, but then you start getting into a potential resource management game more in line with like a Kingmaker theme.


Redelia wrote:


I don't do either. We do exclusively story levelling, and I cut out all the experience grinding random encounters and only do random encounters I think my players will enjoy. Wealth is done as everyone at level up has wealth by level. The focus is on the story and your character's place in the story.

For what it is worth, that would be an accurate description of my preferred GMing style also.

Quote:


There is nothing that would be labelled as either 'rewards' or 'punishment,' there are only 'natural consequences' both good and bad. (I'm using language from parenting literature here)

Some of my players would likely rise in revolt if I used that language, though, because they would see it as me trying to abdicate responsibility for my judgement calls.

To put it another way, I don't generally think of myself as rewarding or punishing the players except in certain specific cases (such as a high Cha player playing a low Cha character as a high Cha character as described above, because to my mind that is dishonesty in engaging with the character concept and the other players), but I am definitely the conduit through which the workings of the fictional universe are rewarding or punishing the characters' decisions pretty much all the time, some of which are from the rules and some of which are my own judgement calls.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Weirdo wrote:
MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
I'm sorry - I was not replying to you because I did not see that there was any disagreement in what you were saying and what I was saying. Your position seemed (and seems) to me to be consistent with my view that there are multiple "right" ways to do it.

That's fair. But just because we don't disagree doesn't mean we can't swap ideas and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. Like so:

Also fair!

Weirdo wrote:

It absoultely can have mechanical advantages. For example, if the ranger decides that his village was destroyed by a dragon, and that he's trained as a dragonslayer, I'll probably include more draconic enemies in the game (possibly even a showdown with the dragon that destroyed his village), giving him more opportunites to use their favoured enemy bonus.

I'm also fond of giving out boons from powerful NPCs or supernatural sources, which generally result from character choices rather than just succeeding at dice rolls. Sometimes the boons involve improvements to some character stat.

But I think the only way in which roleplaying affects success in specific tasks is "conversational tactics," which greystone and others have discussed. For example, at a recent dinner party the summoner guessed that the lady of the house was obsessed with her work, so he decided to ask her questions about it, resulting in an easy improvement to her attitude toward him (essentially an auto-success, given the summoner's Diplomacy bonus). Meanwhile, another player did a highly entertaining impression of someone completely out of their depth at a social event and ended up making a correspondingly bad impression (which nevertheless could be advantageous in the long run, since the hosts will underestimate
...

Interestingly, one of my initial impulses when thinking about mechanical advantages for backgrounds was stuff like having basically "auto-success" on some skill checks with like family NPCs as well, because, for example, I think it could easily seem sort of ridiculous to be like "I greet my parents warmly and settle in for the kind of family dinner we haven't had in far too long" and have the GM be like "Okay, so... roll diplomacy!"

On the other hand, I also realized that if I wanted to generate some paranoia on the part of a players, I could do things like this:

Player: "I greet my parents warmly and settle in for the kind of family dinner we haven't had in far too long"

GM: "Okay, roll a sense motive check for me, no particular reason why..."

Shadow Lodge

Heh.

When I say "autosuccess" I mean rolls where the DC is low enough that the PC can't fail (10+bonus if unstressed, 1+bonus if stressed) so I don't bother calling for a roll. Assuming a healthy relationship, greeting your parents is a super low DC and can't fail.

Same reason I don't call checks to tie shoelaces, or why I don't ask a PC with a climb of +15 to roll to reach the top of a knotted rope.

Or, for that matter, ask the character with a +25 Sense Motive to roll to see whether he can tell there's something... off... about this family dinner.


Weirdo wrote:


Or, for that matter, ask the character with a +25 Sense Motive to roll to see whether he can tell there's something... off... about this family dinner.

Wrong skill =P

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

"Mommmmm! Daddddd! When did you start Atkins? You KNOW I love bread with my meals!"


Muse. wrote:

Then there are some skill checks I would just as soon were NOT described at the table.

By their very nature Intimidate checks bother me. I always just gloss over them. To me a statement "Intimidate Check is a 35" is much better than the graphic threat to someone's body/family/business/friends that is often represented by the skill check. A description of how the PC is going about an Intimidate check? No thanks. I have had to leave a table when another player insisted on getting a bit ... graffic... in the description of an "Intimidate check". I know I would not enjoy someone asking the players "...to describe what their character is doing, exactly,..." when it comes to Intimidate or heck, to a lot of other things....

For example:

judge: "it's a dead body"
Player: "What killed it? I got a 24 Heal check..."
Judge: "Describe what your character is doing, exactly, to determine that the month old body died of damage from a swarm of wasps..."

no thanks... not going there. If a judge insisted on this I would leave the table (I know this as I have had to before), and if it became more than a one-off, I would think very strongly of ever playing there again.

I dunno that doesn't sound too bad unless the Dm wanted details. Such an event also sounds like it could be a back and forth event. If you would allow me;

Player: Okay, I take the body's shirt/chest plate off, and I look for any chest wounds or broken bones. The I check the beck and if that doesn't work I check the legs too. Oh and I have enough sense to check the lips for poison and the skin for rashes.
Judge: hmmm you do notice welts all over the body with small protrusions in them.
Player: Is my 24 still good or roll again?
Judge: I'll say it's still good.You realize this much damage is the result of a swarm of insects. Roll me Heal to figure out what.
Player: I have knowledge Nature can I use my wildness knowledge or get a bonus from it?
Judge: Hmm okay.

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