2009-06-09 : Adequacy, Cause and Effect

Here's a subsystem from a game I just made up (similarities not especially coincidental):

When your character attacks, describe the attack and roll d20. If you roll less than your opponent's ADV (Armor Defense Value), your character hits! The GM describes the hit, and you roll your character's weapon's damage die for damage.

We all know what happens with these rules. "Describe the attack" and "describe the hit" notwithstanding:
I attack.
You miss.
I attack.
You hit!
7 damage! I attack.
You miss.
I attack.
ad interminable

Now, what we want, recall, is for somebody to say something interesting instead. There are two ways I see to make that happen. I've been focusing on this one:

Make rules that give the details of the attack and the hit or miss causal power.

For example:

GM, on a hit, choose one of these, based on the details of the attacker's attack and the defender's position:
* The defender stumbles and falls.
* The defender backs desperately away.
* The defender's guts spill out.
* The defender's foot is half-severed.
* The defender's skull is cracked.
* The attacker's weapon wedges in the defender's ribs.
* The attacker slips and looses her footing.
* The attacker has to draw up or she'll overreach.
(Some of these have mechanical implications, but not necessarily all of them.)

See how the GM will just naturally ask the player "how are you attacking?" and take the player's answer into account?

I attack. 6 damage.
You hit. Wait, what was your attack?
Uh, I thrust at his face with my knife.
Cool. [checking the list] You cut open his cheek but your momentum's significant. Do you draw up or overreach?

Okay! That's the first way: make rules that make the fictional details into fictional causes.

The second way I see, I haven't talked about:

Minimize or do away with real-world effects.

It looks like this (similarities, again, not at all coincidental):

When your character attacks, describe the attack and roll 2d6. The defender's player says what happens. If the GRIM die beats the SLAPSTICK die, the defender's player makes what happens be something grim; if the SLAPSTICK die beats the GRIM die, she makes what happens be something funny.

See it? There are no hit points. The attack has no effect except a fictional one, so there's no "I attack. I miss. I attack. I hit. 6 damage. I attack" for it to collapse to.

I attack. SLAPSTICK.
Okay ... what was your attack?
Uh, I thrust at his face with my knife.
Ha ha! He was charging toward you but now he tries to reverse. He windmills his arms and his feet shoot out and he slides between your legs. He pops up on the other side of you, back to back, like waaah!

Somebody help me list games that work this way! Tales of the Fisherman's Wife. The Otherkind dice. Is this how Bacchanal works, overall? How about Steal Away Jordan? Breaking the Ice? It Was a Mutual Decision? I think it's how MonkeyDome works almost exclusively - hence my example - but correct me, MonkeyDome people.

...Know what? I'm going to stop there, I'm not going to get to adequacy after all. I need to talk to Emily about this.

Questions welcome, meanwhile, and do help me list games whose rules work without real-world effects.

1. On 2009-06-09, John Harper said:

I'm designing a game right now that works the second way. But that's not saying much, except that it's on my mind and this was nice to see.


2. On 2009-06-09, Mule said:

Does Mountain Witch work this way kinda, where you get your choice of mechanical damage *or* fictional effect?


3. On 2009-06-09, Christopher Kubsik said:

(raises hand!)

In both Sorcerer and Primetime Adventures, players are rewarded with bonuses for adding fictional details (or moments of creative pleasure, which is both fuzzy and kind of more accurate).

Significantly, the fictional details don't have to fit into any kind of channel (as in the two methods you describe above.)  A player in PtA can get Fan Mail for, well, anything—a combat move, a funny line of dialogue, whatever.  The same is true for Bonus Dice in Sorcerer assigned by the GM.

I have found that this looseness is helpful.  If the rules say, "The scene does not continue until each character describes how the moment connects one character to the next," that moment of justifying the desire to move the scene forward tends to trip up the human brain.  Suddenly put on the spot to be creative in the "right way" I've seen people freeze.

Compare this to Fan Mail or Bonus Dice, where the creative act happens, and is simply recognized and rewarded.  I find this method tends, over time, to engender more and more creative, fictionally rich input from players.  It creates a habit of adding details at the table.

I'm curious if this might be a third method to add to list.  However, if I'm understanding where you're coming from (and I might not), you're looking for more color attached to tactical moments of play.  The details that Bonus Dice and Fan Mail might touch on tactical moments, but are mostly accidental when they do so.  Again, it's the pleasure of a creative moment that is rewarded.

Where does this mechanic of Bonus Dice and Fan Mail fall within the methods you are discussing?


4. On 2009-06-09, Seth Ben-Ezra said:

If I'm understanding you correctly, this is how Dirty Secrets works, especially Violence.

That rule goes something like this: When narrating the outcome of a conflict, consult the number of active Violence dice and compare to the Violence chart. Your narration of the end of conflict must include Violence of this intensity being inflicted to a character by another character.

FYI, the violence chart looks like this:

0—no violence
1—lightly injured
2—seriously injured

So, um, is that what we're talking about? Because, if so, that's where my design mind has been living these days.


5. On 2009-06-09, Seth Ben-Ezra said:

Spione works this way, too.


6. On 2009-06-09, Abkajud said:

I've been working on something vaguely like this for forever: two players roll dice pools, aiming for more successes than one another, and when you're "up" by 5 successes, pop! You can either wound your opponent or gain a total tactical advantage over him. There was the innate assumption that you had to work a lot harder to kill somebody than to capture/detain them, and a big emphasis on what the dice meant, moment to moment. This attitude continues in the current iteration of the idea, with lots of dice-to-cloud stuff, but not a lot of cloud-to-dice.

I've since moved on to doing things a little differently (each throw of the dice you win, your opponent loses a die; running out of dice = cornered/forced to your knees/etc.), but I realize that there's precious little reference to the in-game fiction once the dice start rolling. The simple Sorcerer technique of GM rewards for exciting and dramatic description would be a nice addition.
My first crack at metagame currency hasn't really tied into this in any way, unfortunately - rather than "my honor is at stake! +3 dice!", we do a much slower, more long-term Honor Vote each session to "track" the PCs' reputations. I find this dissatisfying, as it doesn't really laser in on decision-making moment to moment so much as a general finger-wagging "Are you being honorable?" attitude. Blech. Things to work on.


7. On 2009-06-09, Simon C said:

I've been playing a little bit of Basic D&D recently, and since I never played it very much as a kid, it's been an interesting experiment in discovering a way to make this game work, rather than trying to recapture what made it fun the first time.

It's been especially interesting in terms of this whole clouds and arrows issue, because Basic D&D has a very unusual approach to it, I think.

The rules absolutely support the "I attack" "You miss" "I attack" "You hit! Roll damage." mode of play.

The thing is, as players, if you try that, your character will get murdered.  The vast majority of stuff in the world is WAY more dangerous than a first level player character is prepared for, and the only way to give yourself even a slight chance of survival is to avoid using the rules for fighting as much as possible.  The result is lots of "Ok, we position by the door.  I've got my spear out ready for if it charges, and the elf is gonna shoot it with his bow.  If he misses, we're all ready to run."

Of course, the game never actually TELLS you that this is how things should go down.  It hands you a character, promises twenty levels of advancement and tells you to go forth and slay.  I'm not even sure that the deadlyness of the game is by accident or design.  The Metzner edition of the rules explicitly tells the GM to cheat at dice to keep the characters alive, implying that character death was a bug, not a feature of the rules.  So I'm not exactly going to call this GOOD game design at all, but it's definitely making for fun play at the moment.


8. On 2009-06-09, Arturo G. said:

I would say that in Polaris conflict resolution only some key phrases imply a real-world impact. "But only if..." leads most of the conflict and they do not usually have a real world impact.  Although it is optional, as you can always request a change in the character-cosmos as part of any statement.


9. On 2009-06-09, Moreno R. said:

Hi Vincent!

What you described is trollbabe. It even use BOTH methods (a fixed list for rerolls, and pure fictional outcomes)


10. On 2009-06-10, Callan said:

Doesn't this sort of suffer from 'be creative now' issues? It gets exhausting and tiring, because its inventing stuff from raw cloth, rather than drawing on an imaginative source and when the inspiration hits, if it does, then giving it.

Like, if you were to roll on rolemaster or warhammer critical hit description tables (ignoring the numbers), and the group adds it to the narrations, BUT if it inspires something else in the person who's turn it is, they can ignore what they rolled and say it (noting that what they rolled may have inspired them to some degree, even though it is now being ignored).

That's a not so exhausting model because the fictional material keeps flowing even when inspiration eludes you (and that material then helps to create latter inspiration).


11. On 2009-06-09, Christian Griffen said:

So most of the time we're chat playing, there are no straight-mechanical things involved.  But we're also playing on a particular site that has a dice roller, and characters have three stats (mind, magic, body).  The only existing rule is that when you're fighting, you roll, and if you get your stat or go over, you hit.  But that's it.  It doesn't say what the consequence of a hit is.  It doesn't give you degrees of success.  It doesn't even say that a hit has to do damage. In fact, "you hit" is the only result you get from this rule.

That actually allows people to rely on the fiction for consequences.  When it comes to the effect of a hit, it's all about how you attacked and what the fictional circumstances are.  Some people take the roll into account—most of them will take a stronger hit if someone rolls a 20.  But I've seen people shrug those off, too.  So it's mostly about the fiction, just with some fun unpredictability, vague guidance, and less of the "should I take this hit or not" pressure.


12. On 2009-06-10, Vincent said:

In my own experience, the worst is when someone turns to you and everyone taps their foot until you say something slapstick (eg). I can't perform. Ask J about that time in the Mountain Witch at Dreamation, when I had a pretty movie in my head and nobody else got to see it, for instance.

I prefer a game that shoulders some of the burden itself, and shares the rest out among the participants more organically, I think. I'm not a big fan of "now it's your turn to talk, so talk" rules.

But! Those are all just examples. The thing I want to point out is that doing away with real-world effects, like damage rolls vs hit points, can make the fiction richer too.


13. On 2009-06-10, John Jenskot said:


I???m glad I read this thread.

This is indeed how MonkeyDome works.

Along with removing real world effects, this method (in MonkeyDome) also deals away with fictional success or failure. Resolutions instead deals with tone, in fiction effects, and lessons to be later reincorporated (taking things less seriously if you are too grim or growing up if you are too zany).

I find Dread (Jenga) especially inspiring when approaching resolution this way.

I agree with Callan that similar methods can lead to ???be creative now??? issues. We addressed many of these concerns with how scenes, situation, and tensions are framed and rules for passing ???focus??? between players and GM and vice versa. I see most problems as opportunities. Rules for passing and assigning focus was this opportunity and it???s pretty neat in play. And if you don???t feel inspired to react to a specific element in the fiction, you can use focus to make the GM give you more till you have something you feel comfortable reacting to.



14. On 2009-06-10, Christian Griffen said:

So... you've got making fictional details into fictional causes. And then there's doing away with mechanical causes. There's also this third way that I'm exploring, and I'm still kind of working my way through how to explain it. The third way, which not surprisingly is also borne from my freeform experience, is to have the mechanics emphasize fictional actions, but not having any direct effect whatsoever.

I'm currently trying to make this into a workable game that's tentatively called Within Our Eyes. The idea is that, when you have a fictional action that affects another character—say, you call his honor into question, or you brush your lips over his ear—you place a card at the appropriate venue (passion, intrigue, violence, ritual).  Put it face down, unless your action raises the intensity level between the characters (i.e., escalates), in which case it's face up. You don't actually talk about the cards during the scene, you don't openly discuss the intensity, you just use them as silent cues while staying entirely in character.

So while you play the scene, that's all it is.  There's no mechanical resolution during the scene, no determining of who hits whom, no conflict or task resolution. The cards simply let you emphasize what you're doing and keep track of how intense it's gotten between the characters.  When the scene is over, you get to figure out if the characters had a lasting effect on each other, using the amassed cards to change traits, gain advantages, inflict handicaps, etc.  But all of those are related to the cards again, so they're really more suggestions than enforced mechanical consequences (unless you get to the point of imperiling or dooming another character, but you can only get there when both players voluntarily take the intensity to a certain level).

If anyone knows a game that deals with this kind of third approach already, I'd love to hear more about that! :)


15. On 2009-06-10, Emily said:

Awesome system, Christian. The only thing that comes to mind is the cake you eat in Slaaraphenland. The player eats a piece every time you succumb to temptations—which is solely based on player choice. Afterwards, your narrations change, but the cake is just a very physical marker of the choice you've made that heightens your sense of gluttony and brings in taste, smell and touch for the player which is what is being expressed in play.

In my own experience, the worst is when someone turns to you and everyone taps their foot until you say something slapstick (eg).

I was talking with Eppy about this, and it's not as bad as it might seem. MonkeyDome is surprisingly easy in this regard. When someone hands you the dice, what they are actually doing is putting you in a conversation with the GM about the dynamics of the scene. You can hold onto the dice as long as you want to, and as long as you do, the GM is responsible for increasing the tension on you. Then, when you choose to react, you roll the dice and the outcome is a springboard for what you do next, whether zany or grim.

There are other things that support a player, too. It's explicit that you are not responsible for coming up with something funny. Zany and Grim are way more doable than having to reliably be funny. Also, everyone else is also there to support and mirror your zany/grimness. You're not on your own out in space.

Being the GM is where I'd think there might be more moments of "what do I do now?" But there are things in the system to help: the overall threat is created by taking a hope the characters have and perverting it, and in every scene you have to create two menaces, one in the near term one in the far, so you make up in every scene two things for yourself to play back and forth between.

Partly, as Eppy pointed out, because it was written via Playstorm we looked for ways to make it easy on the player as went along, as opposed to finding we might need to do so in a later playtest. It's a lot easier to not think of how hard it is to come up with something on the fly when you're just writing directions for other folks to do it, not doing it yourself right then.


16. On 2009-06-10, Emily said:

This is what John was talking about with focus! When you pass the dice to a player, you pass the focus to that person's character.


17. On 2009-06-10, TomR said:

Baron Munchhausen operates almost entirely in the second mode.


18. On 2009-06-10, Matt Wilson said:

Primetime Adventures has no real world effects. The only bit where the fiction might inform how the conflict goes is if you want to use that extended card flip thing. But that's kind of an ambiguous cue. There aren't specific fictional details that tell you yes/no. It's more like, does this feel like it would be cool if we flipped one by one? Rather than "if your tension score is higher than a 6"

Either way nothing on your sheet changes as a result.


19. On 2009-06-10, Robert Bohl said:

Well, taking chips out of the pool and giving them to another player for doing something interesting in-fiction is a real-world effect, right?


20. On 2009-06-10, Christian Griffen said:

I was thinking of PTA, too!  Of course, we just had a really great session of it Sunday, so it's fresh on my mind.

For me, the actual resolution in PTA is probably the least influential part of its mechanics.  The implications that a screen presence of 1, 2 or 3 has for how we play out the whole episode (with spotlighting, setting scenes, supporting other characters' issues, etc.) has a much bigger impact on our game than the fact that it changes the number of cards drawn in a conflict.  In fact, where in other games the conflicts are often the high points, my favorite moments in our game weren't when we engaged the cards, but when the other parts of the system—issues, screen presence, camera work, etc.—worked together with our character interactions to create some really great moments and dynamics.


21. On 2009-06-10, Matt Wilson said:

Good point, Rob!

you fucker. ;)


22. On 2009-06-10, Robert Bohl said:

Awesome! More:

When you have a scene in your personal set, you get to refresh one use of a trait.


23. On 2009-06-10, Matt Wilson said:

Noes! game designer knowledge FAIL


24. On 2009-06-10, Emily said:

Issues in PtA, as I recall, are all fiction all the time.


25. On 2009-06-10, Raven Daegmorgan said:

ORX works this way, I think. I'm not really clear on what "real-world effect" encompasses.

Anyways, there's a mechanical effect in terms of available resources, but the fictional content and meaning of the roll is entirely up to the players at the table with some structure provided by the dice chosen and the result of the conflict roll (which is succeed/fail, and I don't think is any different than grim/slapstick(?)).


26. On 2009-06-11, Callan said:

"But! Those are all just examples. The thing I want to point out is that doing away with real-world effects, like damage rolls vs hit points, can make the fiction richer too."

The way my mind works (which is to say, no definitive statement of how things work) is that I end up thinking "richer to what purpose?". The orphanage thing, even though it's dry on detail, does culminate in a result. It'd feel alot better with richer fiction prior to it, but it does give a result. A real world one as well as fictional, given it hinges on a RL dice and RL points (well, they're pencil marks scratched on note paper, but that's still real)

The thing about combat is that it appears that it's a culmination in itself, assuming a character can actually die. If so, it seems a bit late to bring in rich fiction now? And if they can't die and this combat is about enriching the fiction - toward what end/purpose/culmination, my mind tends to ask? I'm kind of remember the joke about tantric sex; why is tantric sex like waiting for a plumber? Because you stay in all day and nobody comes. Perhaps that joke teases the idea of tantric sex, but is this enriching the same? It's not aimed at any eventual climax? Just asking in case the question helps us.


27. On 2009-06-11, Matt Wilson said:

Hey Vx:

I have never played Puppies. What happens as a result of dice rollin' in that game? Is there ever dice rollin' with no real-world effect?

A lot of the NFA rolls in 3:16 are fiction only.


28. On 2009-06-11, Bill White said:

Ganakagok works like this: As a player, you respond to the situation prompted by the card draw. But then to resolve what happens you roll the dice first, and manipulate the result by invoking fictional elements. So rather than dice obviating the fiction ("I roll-I hit" D&D style), or dice driving the fiction (parlor narration style), or fiction driving fiction (freeform style), it's fiction driving dice (yay me!). But I think it's merely an extreme case of the "bonus dice for cool narration" as in Sorceror, and of course it's only part of the on-going interaction of game mechanics (or, more broadly, "system"—that being that which happens at the table) and fiction (the "diegesis," as the Scandinavians like to say).


29. On 2009-06-12, Roger said:

In the early dawn of D&D, a number of the spells worked purely in the fiction.  It dwindled as time went on until it was mostly gone by version 3.


30. On 2009-06-14, Raven Daegmorgan said:

Interestingly, the druid's shapeshift power in 4E works purely as fiction now. You get nothing from it except the shape (you can't fly, you can't breathe water, you don't get a bigger strength, etc. no matter what form you take—unless you already have those powers).


31. On 2009-06-15, Adams Tower said:

It seems to me that it has primarily non-fiction effects. It does two things: lets you use your beast-form at-wills and keeps you from using your implement at-wills. The animal you turn into is fiction, but it's fiction that doesn't matter. It's been my experience of the game that no one really cares whether you're a puma or a wolf.


32. On 2009-06-15, Adams Tower said:

I should add that I've played 4e all of twice, though.


33. On 2009-06-15, Meserach said:

Playing a 4e druid literally now. I consider myself constrained in terms of forms by the rules to some extent - here at 1st level, I figure anything roughly medium sized and bascially bipedal or quadrapedal is more or less okay, but no birds, clouds of insects, or mice until I get appropriate combat powers that permit those things.


34. On 2009-06-15, Vincent said:

Adams: That's how it seems to me too. Especially, abilities like flying and breathing under water are usually fiction-only in games. I can't think of a game where your character's being able to breathe underwater means anything mechanical, only that your character can go fictionally under water and breathe there. (I suppose they do in freeform-trait games like Dogs: "I can breathe underwater 2d4.")

It's not that now it has only fictional effects, it's that now it has very limited effects, fictional and mechanical both.

Seems to me. I've played 4E less than twice.


35. On 2009-06-15, Callan said:

But but but...lots of games have holding breath and drowning rules, right down to hitpoints lost? I know 3.X did, haven't checked 4E for this particular. I'd assume breathe under water lets you bypass that? I'll grant when such rules are triggered is the GM drawing on the fiction (typically) and his own rules granted capacity to apply "Your PC is underwater!". I'll grant a GM could just never apply those rules even if the druid went over the waterfall, but the odds are he would. And then as it negates the drowning, it's a mechanical effect that cancels the mechanical rules for drowning.

Mind you, that's a straight square to square interaction, as I understand the diagrams. Or are you guys just saying being underwater doesn't seem to come up much, ie, it's mostly fiction only since it never comes up? To which I'd agree, drowning doesn't seem to come up much at all.


36. On 2009-06-15, Vincent said:

Oh! Games with drowning rules, that's interesting. I hadn't thought about those, shows where my head's at.

So in those games, the rule is "if your character is underwater, use the drowning rules. If your character can breathe underwater, though, don't," say? In that case, the ability to breathe underwater removes real-world effects from your character's being underwater, and changes the fictional effects.

It may also leave some real-world effects in play, if the game has tactical underwater movement rates or whatever.

Notice however that without minis most movement rates are in-fiction: "your character can run 3 hexes (that is, 30 fictional feet) per round (that is, in 2 fictional seconds)," for instance. I can't think of a game that uses real-world movement rates without using minis on a board or pawns on a schematic (like Agon and 3:16), but there probably are some.


37. On 2009-06-15, Callan said:

Well, that's interesting about the mini's - is it just fiction? It's certainly still recordable, as its giving exact distances. I heard of a guy who does the times crossword without writing anything into it - was he working in fiction?

I'd say it's moving into an area that a typical person cannot accurately envision in their heads. It becomes fiction out of error/a natural incapacity to properly memorise (though you could train your memory, prolly, like the times crossword guy). Which is one reason why I avoid thinking in terms of fictional causes, since theres so much room for the guy to have erred, and instead in who has the by the rules right to call something.

Actually, that'd be an interesting RPG/experiment to write - the game says to run a fight just in fiction, but with measures given, and then latter the exact same fight (barring changes in player move choices) on a battlemat.


38. On 2009-06-16, Vincent said:

I promise you, nobody's moving 30 real feet in my living room! They'd be in the front yard. Those 30 feet are 100% fictional.


39. On 2009-06-16, Callan said:

Well, their technically fictional even if you use minis and a battlemat - the mini is moving six inches (or whatever), not thirty feet.

The thing is, it's possible to envision a battlemat in your head and move a figure on it six squares. Much like the guy who could do the times crossword without writing on it - he wrote on the copy in his head, but I'm sure we can all do one figure. Just imagine atleast a six by six grid, and then a figure at one end, then it slides six squares in any direction. Easy. Now is that fiction? It's only in your head, after all. But it's exactly the same result as pushing a real mini on a six by six grid.

Would you call a RL battlemat and minis fictional? So why call a duplicate of a battlemat and minis in your head, fictional? I'm posing that as a chew over sort of idea, rather than pushing toward a hard point right now. :)


40. On 2009-06-16, Vincent said:

> Well, their technically fictional even if you use minis and a battlemat - the mini is moving six inches (or whatever), not thirty feet.

Yes! Yes!

About a fictional battlemat: Let's say there's no battlemat or minis on the table, or anywhere. I say "my mini moves 3 spaces to my left, so it's in the square next to the bugbear mini." You nod; that makes sense to you.

That is, yes, unequivocally, a fictional battlemat, with fictional minis on it. It's certainly not a REAL one - nobody can see, touch, or taste it. It exists only in the fiction we're creating.

(Dammit Doug, stop licking the battlemat.)


41. On 2009-06-16, Adams Tower said:

But it doesn't exist within the same fiction as what it represents. It seems to me that you now have three worlds, the world in which there's an elf fighting a bugbear, the world in which there is a miniature moving on a battlemat, and a world in which the two of us are talking. Just because the minis are fictional doesn't mean that they're the same sort of fictional as the bugbear.


42. On 2009-06-16, Vincent said:

That's fine. Having two fictions doesn't bug me. It's just the result of the pretty far-out thought experiment. "Let's use a fictional battlemat and minis to represent our fictional characters and their positions, what then?" Then we're creating two fictions, is all. No big.


43. On 2009-06-17, Mathieu Leocmach said:

Isn't this battlemat a cue ? I can touch the battlemat and the minis, so their are cues. Same for the board of Monopoly. That was the simple case.

But the virtual battlemat of a video game or the virtual crosswords grid in my head are also cues. They play the same role even if I can't touch them. Their are not the fiction, but a formalized representation of the fiction.

All displacement rules on the battlemat are boxes->boxes rules. I roll a dice and move my mini of the resulting number of hex. Their is of course a leftward arrow saying "the positions of the minis on the battlemat represents the positions of the characters in the fiction". And hopefully some rightward arrows that may influence the size of the dice I throw or directly the positions of the minis.


44. On 2009-06-17, Vincent said:

Another - probably far more common - circumstance in which the content of one fiction inspires the content of another: when somebody's writing a novel based on their group's game.


45. On 2009-06-17, valamir said:

Honest, help me understand question:

Why does it matter?

What insight are we getting from recognizing that the battlemat in our head is fiction and the battle mat on the table is real?

The distinction between the battle mat and the mini as seperate from and merely representational of the fictional world and the fictional elf is pretty obvious.  The value of seeing the difference and understanding how they relate is clear.

But the distinction between the imaginary battlemat as seperate from and merely representational of the real one...I'm having trouble seeing why that matters.


46. On 2009-06-17, Vincent said:

It matters because the distinction between real (and thus subject to the laws of physics) and pretend (and thus subject to the laws of consensual fiction) underlies every single feature and act of roleplaying. If someone's having trouble with real vs pretend, he or she will never understand roleplaying.


47. On 2009-06-17, Joel said:

On that note: a battlemat in a video game is still real. just because it's generated electronically doesn't mean it's "imaginary."


48. On 2009-06-18, valamir said:

I'm not following Vincent.

If we're playing tic tac toe, a easy enough game that you can play the whole thing in your head.  What is different between whether we are playing on a board with wooden X and O pieces, or just imagining a 3 x 3 grid and calling out moves.  Assuming our memory isn't flawed (which seems just as reasonable as assuming the cat doesn't scatter the pieces) they seem completely identical in all ways that matter to me.

Clearly there's a way that matters to you in which they are not identical...I just can't see what that is...


49. On 2009-06-18, Callan said:

For myself, what I was getting at is the state of reality isn't as it is because you agreed to it being that way - and the rules are us allowing something we didn't agree to (the state of reality/the state of a battlemat), into something that formerly only operated by pure agreement on what's there.

Once I ran a D&D game where I had monsters marked out and they were only encountered/existed if I could throw a dice into a bowl from a certain distance. That's a stark example of reality seeping into normally agreed amongst us stuff. Granted the rule for it happening is agreed amongst us, but the quality of my throw, the exact distance, the exact shape of the bowl...unagreed stuff.


50. On 2009-06-18, Vincent said:


> Granted the rule for it happening is agreed amongst us

The entirety of my point.


You and I are talking.

You: I put an X in C3.
Me: I throw a fit and toss the board out the window.
You: You do not. Play the game.
Me: No I'm telling you I do. Out the window!
You: FINE. I set up a new board with pieces in the same arrangement.
Me: I mess with your hands while you do it. I run upstairs.
You: ...
Me: I win! While you were distracted I set up a new board with all the pieces reversed, and you forgot, and I put my O in C3.
You: But you ran upstairs.
Me: I snuck back down. I was up there for like an hour.
You: Hey I have an idea. Let's play with a real board and pieces instead.

Could you construct a million examples of times when the difference doesn't matter? Yes! A million of them. They'd be examples of times when the difference doesn't matter, not examples of times when there is no difference.


51. On 2009-06-18, Callan said:

"The entirety of my point."
Yes, but I'm not sure why there's the idea of two fictions coming up? A fiction and then a battlemat fiction? If it's agreed the battlemat changes the fiction, there aught to be only one fiction - the battlemats physical state and it's fictional cues continually folded into the one fiction, because we all agreed to fold them in.

It wasn't roleplay, but one time I was playing the warhammer quest boardgame and my friends had added these other (friendly) figures on the board. I thought one had been joking around and then the other added an ally for their guy. This went on for some time in the game and I was wondering why they were keep it up and asked, to find they had (agreed to by all) secret past cards and both made them bring someone. It went from silly extra minis on the board that aren't part of the game to those guys are actually THERE! Well, I mean I liked to imagine the action of the boardgame and formerly they just weren't there. Suddenly I folded the boards contents into the fiction in my head.


52. On 2009-06-19, valamir said:

I still don't get it, are you saying that same conversation can't happen if the board is real?  I don't see how playing with a board and pieces is going to keep you from acting like a total whack job.  I don't see how you actually reaching over and throwing the physical board out the window is going to be any more / less disruptive to the play of the game than pretending to throw a fictional board out the window.

I mean I get that one is real and one isn' what.  What's the beam of light that shines off of this distinction and makes it a distinction worth taking the time to make...


53. On 2009-06-19, Vincent said:

So ... nothing. One's real and one's not. That's the question I'm answering: "but Vincent, if we only imagine a battlemat, doesn't it count as real? Because it's a battlemat?"

I think it probably matters - I didn't ask the question, so I don't really know - because when I say "okay, real things vs fictional things, right?" people go "he can't really mean just, y'know, real things vs fictional things, that's too obvious. I wonder what he's really talking about?" Why they go that, I don't know, but they do seem to, some of them.


54. On 2009-06-20, Callan said:

I'm probably confusing this. But I'd say a number in your head is as real as a number written in pencil on a piece of paper. The thirty in thirty feet is real, in you head, even though the feet is fictional. It's instead a question of which is more vulnerable to being smudged, out somehow.


55. On 2009-06-20, Vincent said:

Maybe! I'm fine with that either way.

The cases where the difference doesn't matter aren't the interesting cases to me. Mostly in roleplaying the difference is clear and crucial. "My character takes position on the ridge of the hill" - all fictional. Rolling 4 dice because your character sheet says "combat roll: 4d," and summing the highest two - all real.


56. On 2009-06-29, John Jenskot said:

For anyone interested, Imagination Sweatshop???s MonkeyDome is available for free now!

More info here.

Thanks everyone!


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