thread: 2009-04-10 : A Moment of Judgment

On 2009-04-13, valamir wrote:

I'm struggling with this...alot.  Part of my struggle is this:

"Player 3 STRONGLY wants the game to have a reliable-but-interesting internal consistency, and doesn't care a bit whether Bobnar has the high-ground advantage.

Which player should get to judge Bobnar's position? (Hint: Player 3 should.)"

I'm struggling, because this sounds like a recipe for every bad old school experience I've ever had being promoted as if its a good thing.

Let me suggest what REALLY happens eventually in nearly every group I've played with that relied on a supposedly impartial party to adjudicate on the basis of "internal consistency"

We spend the next hour arguing about what is more internally consistant.

See Ole Bobnar is armed with a 3 foot long sword.  Player 2's guy has an 8 foot long Bill with a back hook.  Having the high ground is NOT an advantage to Bobnar...its a liability...big time, because #2 can attack his legs with his hook with near impunity and Bobnar'll have to bend over nearly double to defend himself.

But if Player 3 doesn't understand that...because player 3 lacks sufficient knowledge to make a correct internally consistant judgement, then Player 2 is going to rightfully feel screwed.  Not because Bobnar is getting a bonus he doesn't deserve (although maybe that) but because now the fiction in Player 2's head is all borked up with some ridiculous image of a fight scene that makes no sense.

And, what's even more common, is when neither player has sufficient knowledge (but both think they do...pretty typical) than this can go around and around ad naseum...motivated not by either player being a jerk, but by both players being equally committed to having a "reliable but interesting internal consistancy"...and legitimately disagreeing on what that looks like.

Sure...if there was a way to instantly judge who is most capable of "getting it right" for any given moment of judgement...great, fine.  But that's only possible with a long established play group who knows each other's strengths and areas of knowledge well enough to defer to whoever happens to be the resident expert on whichever subject is at issue.  Otherwise what you get is 20 minutes of resume comparison as everyone tries to convince the other guy that their 2 years of Physics class at the local community college makes them best qualified to judge the actual effects of faster than light time dialation.

I prefer techniques that can be more reliably reproduced across a broad spectrum of groups as opposed to those that can only work for a handful of special people some of the time.

I don't see how "give the moment of judgment to a player who's strongly invested in getting it right, not in one character or another coming out on top." reliably produces a good result for anyone who isn't already doing that and doesn't need the advice.

To me that sounds about as reliable as "just make shit up and hope it works".

This is a particular strength of commoditization (nice term that).  Because it means that it doesn't matter if Player #2 and Player #3 can't agree on whether Bobnar should get the high ground advantage or not.  Because the judgement no longer depends on "what makes the most sense".  Is it possible in some incredible set of circumstances for Bobnar's height to work to his advantage even faced with the guy with an 8' Bill...sure...not likely...but we could probably come up with some extreme set of circumstances where that would work.  What happens when Player 1 pays the Fate Point to get the high ground advantage is basically him saying "you know that 1 in a million chance of that actually happening...well it just happened".

Now Player 2 doesn't feel so screwed because he's no longer dealing with somebody not understanding what the "most reasonable" thing should be...instead he's dealing with the "long tail of the distribution" and...he knows that because someone paid a point to make it so.

THAT IMO, is a much more reliable (and reproduceable) way of rendering judgement acceptable to all.


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