Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Acting

Among other things, I'm working on a banner for the exhibition table - and for that I have this rather marvellous picture, which has been granted to me.


Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to employ it.  I've tried overlaying text and I've tried black space at the left and right of the image, and for the moment I'm baffled.  This is certainly a compelling pic; and having seen the dearth of such pics at the event here in Calgary some weeks ago, I feel confident that this will drag people towards the table.  The layout is stumping me, however.  There's something I'm not seeing.

I want to give a shout out to those who have already purchased the short book, How to Play a Character & Other Essays.  It certainly helps.  I've made one deal with a vendor in Tacoma, Tacoma Games, and I have an associate pursuing a deal for me with a vendor here in Calgary.  If anyone out there is friendly with or knows an open-minded games dealer, who would be willing to make a non-consignment deal with me, I would like to hear from you.

I don't want this post to just be about sales, however.  The gentle reader can probably understand that such things are weighing heavily on my mind, along with the content I'm working on that I can't talk about because hey, I'm writing it in the bigger book.  That binds my hands somewhat . . . but perhaps I can think of something substantial to talk about.

About three weeks ago I came across this video, which I'm not going to embed.  I was looking for content on drama and immersion, and somehow this guy's effort came up.

His point is a common one: that dice 'spoils' role-play.  In Joker's words, ". . . that's when RPG's really hit their apex.  When role-play is so deep and immersive that the mechanics don't moderate anything, they're not the medium, they just get the hell out of the way."  His example is right up front - it sucks pretending to be an NPC when you have to stop and make diplomacy rolls.

I have a few points, which I'll make without beating the guy up.

Up front in the video, he presents himself at the 'harbor master,' changing his facial expression to 'role-play' the part.  Having established the character, then, he drops the presentation completely in order to roll diplomacy.  Wow.  That die sure ruined the moment, didn't it?

Um, why does he drop his presentation to roll the dice?  Had it occurred to him that he could have rolled the diplomacy die before beginning his presentation?  Or that he could have rolled the die without jumping in his chair and making a big deal of it?

Look.  You're a harbour master.  You're approaching a party.  I have no idea what you're even rolling diplomacy for  . . . you spend all day, every day walking down to ships, looking them over, recognizing what sort of people are running the ship, how competent they are, where the ship has come from, what the state of the maintenance is and so on.  You've been around ships all your life, literally, probably from before your memories begin.  You probably shipped out on your first vessel at the age of 7.  You know ships, you know sailors, you know everything there is to know about the sort of people who land at quays.  What the hell do you need a diplomacy roll for?  You know exactly how to talk to this party.

But let's say you have to make a roll.  Can you not make the roll the same way you might pat your belt to find your tobacco?  Can you not glance down at the roll the way you would at a crate on the dock?  Can you not think of another, more 'in character' manner of rolling that die and seeing the result without changing your facial expression, your tone or the rhythm of your speech?

The thinking here is that somehow a 'game movement' can't be incorporated right into role-play.  That's just . . . wrong headed.  Performance makes use of every kind of prop imaginable . . . and if you think that you have to break character just because you have to use a game prop, then you're really off the mark about what it means to retain character.

There is an old, vicious practical joke in the theatre that I'm sorry to say I never got to try.  The  trick goes like this.

At some point in the play, one of the actors picks up a phone and talks into it.  This takes some mastery.  In rehearsal, the actor trains themselves to pause for exact periods to convey the imaginary person at the other end of the phone, to make them real, and after doing this over and over, sometimes hundreds of times, the pacing of the 'phone conversation' becomes exact:  "Hello, yes, this is Jim."  (pause)  "No, I wanted to -" (pause)  "I wanted to just let you know that I'm . . . I'm not coming down this weekend."  (pause)  "Yeah.  Yeah, I'm sorry too."  (pause)  "Don't."  (pause)  "Don't be like that.  I love you."  (pause)  "Yes.  Okay.  I promise.  But I've got to go now."  (pause) "I said I promise.  Yes.  Okay, good-bye."  Hangs up.

Now, the actor is very used to there being no sound on the phone . . . so on Opening Night, you have a technician hook the phone up to a live line.  Then, while the actor is on stage, in front of the audience, and dials the phone, it actually connects:  and the actor hears a gruff man's voice at the other end say, "Hello?"

That is the sort of thing that really shatters an actor's demeanor.  The phone conversation is important to the play.  The actor must follow through on the conversation.  "Hello, yes, this is Jim."

"Jim?  I don't know anyone named Jim."

The actor swallows, understands that he's a victim of a practical joke, but there's nothing he can do about it.  Fighting now to keep his face straight and his voice level, he plunges forward.  "No, I wanted to -"

"Wanted to what?  Just who in the fuck is this?"  The prankster has been practicing his lines, too, knowing just how much time he has to get each of his in.

"I wanted to just let you know that I'm . . . I'm not coming down this weekend."

"Well, I'll be really disappointed.  Hey, you're not that loser my sister's dating, are you?"

"Yeah.  Yeah, I'm sorry too."

"You ought to be sorry.  She says you're the worst lover she ever had."

"Don't."

"Don't what?  Don't make up my mind until I've had you too?"

"Don't be like that.  I love you."

The prankster's voice deepens.  "I hadn't realized."  He lets out a sob.  "Do you really love me?"

The actor on stage is pouring sweat at this point.  He can feel the conversation pulling to a close.  "Yes.  Okay.  I promise.  But I've got to go now."  At this point, the actor may even be realizing his giving a better performance, because now he really does want to get the hell off the phone.

"You'll call again, won't you?"

"Yes."

"And you'll let me put my cock in your mouth?"

"I said I promise.  Yes.  Okay, good-bye."  The actor hangs up.  And breathes a sigh of relief.

This is the sort of joke reserved for leading actors who get really tight-assed about their importance. There are a number of these sorts of things in the theatre.  They are intentionally quite cruel.  If you're a very good actor, however, you hold your shit together and retain your character.

If rolling a die is all that it takes to put you off, then you have a lot to learn.  Don't get upset.  Use that die.  Make it feel like its part of the character.

Believe me, that is a much better solution, retaining both the qualities of the game AND the qualities of role-playing, then insisting somehow that not rolling dice is somehow the 'apex' of a die-driven game.  Joker's opinion, while a common one, is really in the box thinking.  Got to get the hell out of that box and realize that performing is a damn sight more adaptable than changing your facial expression.

And no, none of this was going to be included in the book.


19 comments:

Oddbit said...

That's a tough image to work with.
It's very compelling indeed but the colors and tones make it require some extra effort to make any text pop from the image.

Essentially you're going to need some kind of bordered or ornately framed text if you want to put something over the image.

Putting something on either side you might want to look into 3D space instead of using the same image board. It breaks the relevance, but it would probably help.

Something like the image in the furthest plane with two additional boards flanking it and in a nearer plane on either side.

If you want it as an image in addition to other things on a board... well you could find some creative framing or reduce the size of the image, but I wouldn't reduce the image size.

These are my first gut instincts on the image, you might be able to iterate and find something better.

BaronOpal said...

Is that Julie?

I would consider an image of your two books on either side, with a quote from the fighter running below them. Something clever with the woman urging them to buy the books because it helped her be promoted from minion to actual PC, maybe.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That is Julie Orton. The image has been kindly sponsored by One Hit Die, the webseries I worked for last year.

Jeremiah Scott said...

Regarding the image: I would put an opaque, or perhaps somewhat transparent block of color (off-white maybe) in the upper-left canton and put my text over that. The image is very striking, but I think her hand provides a conflicting focal point with her eyes, which make up the really stunning part of the image.

Barrow said...

I am frustrated at times by the over use of die rolls by my players. It reduces immersion for me. For example, the barb and the barbarian walk toward the center of the village. To your left, a young girl chases a hen strayed from one of the wooden coops attached to the side of the poulterer's shop. Her father, the poulterer, has a few plucked pheasants and baskets of brown eggs resting on his counter. A mule spits as it passes you. The mule pulls a man sitting on a creaking cart heaped with red apples. The back wheel of the cart squirts mud onto your boot as it squeaks past you toward a produce stand further down the block. You can see it clearly under the rising black smoke of a forge that sits just beyond it. To your right an open air building where a few women operate a spinning wheel and a many others knit wool yarn into clothing. Attached to the textile building, a few boys tend to a pen of shaved sheep. The squeal of a piglet's dying breath cuts through the normal chatter of greedy peddlers and reminds you of the wafting smell of sweat, mud, and blood that always accompanies a marketplace.

Bard's player: I roll a Streetwise to find a ritual shop. I have super high charisma, so it should be easy. [rolls dice] I got a 26.
DM: Well it should be easy enough to find out if this village has a ritual shop if you ask some one. No roll is required.
Bard's Player: OK, I walk up to the poulterer "Hi there" I roll a diplomacy - [rolls dice] sweet a 31. "Is there a ritual shop in this village, good sir?"
DM as poulterer: "Yes, its down the street at Buggless Books. Over that a-way" [he points down the street]
Bard: "Thanks mister" I walk towards Buggless Boo...
Poulterer: Hey wait... I have never... [the poulterer, his pale cheeks turn red]...I have never been so strongly attracted to another man before. Your charisma...makes me forget about Gretchen, my wife.

I had to tone down the use of streetwise from my players quite a bit. I reserve it for things like trying to catch a pickpocket in the act so that the party can blackmail him into doing something.
As for diplomacy, My players used to use it on almost every NPC. I had to tone it back. I reserve it for encounters where the NPC is reluctant and can be persuaded.

Both are instances where I think rolling took out chunks of dialog that could have created game content.


As for the banner picture. To the left (of the entire picture) add a rectangle of black space. Put your text in white. It would look as if she is pulling out an axe to slice what your text is.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Get rid of those rolls. Get rid of them completely. Use your judgement and assess the character's wisdom in guessing where something is as a non-roll. Or simply argue that no one who is completely new to a town can find something without having to ask or simply spend time (which can be assigned and doesn't need a roll) to find something.

It isn't "rolling" that is the problem. It is the stupid habit of later versions of the game to incorporate rolls that shouldn't exist.

Even when I tried to incorporate a metric for conflict, it was for CONFLICT . . . not for every single interaction between people.

Get rid of those stupid, stupid rules. And get rid of any roll where the player rolls the right to tell you what exists and what doesn't.

(That said, I do have those pesky sage tables . . . but I have been redesigning them so they're not a roll, they're a requisite knowledge the player is entitled to; much better!)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Oh, sorry. The conflict metric didn't work. I surrendered it as soon as turned into the complaint your making about diplomacy.

Just get rid of it. See how long it takes before you miss its presence in your world.

Andrew Knapp said...

Thank you for allowing me a chance to respond and remaining civil in your critique and disagreement of my video.

Your piece was well written. I would like to point out a few of my thoughts concerning my video and your commentary.

I don't believe mechanics have to be as disruptive as they appear in the intro. I believe they often are for newer players as I state in the video. This is probably because they don't have the raw experience to wed the two elements together in a way that doesn't jar immersion.

The beginning sequence was an exaggeration to draw a clear line between mechanic and immersion. I don't believe both elements exist at the same time in a game. Something is either occurring mechanically or immersively. Often something is done mechanically then it is acted out. I don't believe moving the dice roll changes anything. The break is still there. I do agree that the mechanical should be downplayed to a state of as little disruption as possible i.e. a quick and subtle roll. Also, I would like to point out that this initial sequence was not to suggest mechanics disrupt games, it was a framing device for the video's larger argument which was the problem of replacing RP with mechanical narrative. For instance, I would have rather had the player roll and act out the result instead of rolling diplomacy and assuming he had convinced him or not from the number.

The harbor master doesn't role diplomacy in my example, it is the rogue type character Corvan who is a player character and is trying to convince the harbormaster of something. That something is unknown because I didn't need to develop the example further to show the disruption.

"The thinking here is that somehow a 'game movement' can't be incorporated right into role-play."

Not once have I thought that. In fact, a skillful game of D&D is immersion silently punctuated and informed by mechanics. This is usually clunky to new players because they lack the experience to interact with each other and the DM in this way. I agree that game movement is always incorporated into role-play. That is the basic nature of the game. The art is making it smooth. The apex, as you later quote, is a game so smooth you forget to use the mechanics.

"Performance makes use of every kind of prop imaginable . . . and if you think that you have to break character just because you have to use a game prop, then you're really off the mark about what it means to retain character."

I don't like the comparison between dice and props. Dice would be a prop if you were acting out a scene about a D&D player in a movie or play about gamers playing D&D. Dice are an out of experience construct in the gaming act of D&D, probably something closer to somebody reading off a casting list or adjusting lights and such mid performance. That is the type of disruption I am talking about that breaks immersion. It is also the type I think can be avoided. Back with the example above, the more seasoned the troupe, the less the mechanical is even noticed. It is with the inexperienced that it becomes a problem.

Andrew Knapp said...

Continued...

"If rolling a die is all that it takes to put you off, then you have a lot to learn. Don't get upset. Use that die. Make it feel like its part of the character."

I don't want mechanics gone. I want them to punctuate what they need to do and fade out. All I'm saying is that for me RP is the driving factor. If I am to err in one direction, let it always be toward RP. What I don't like is somebody using mechanics without RP, like a number simulator. That is why so much of the video discusses the importance of making your table act out everything done mechanically, which was really the point of the video, not the dialogue we are having (and most certainly not the abolishment of mechanics). When I was speaking of mechanics getting in the way of RP, I was trying to elucidate game states where mechanical narration is chosen instead of RP. For instance, saying "I hit the orc for four damage" instead of finding your damage and then RPing the attack.I think we are on completely different wave lengths with my intent and your interpretation.

"Believe me, that is a much better solution, retaining both the qualities of the game AND the qualities of role-playing, then insisting somehow that not rolling dice is somehow the 'apex' of a die-driven game. Joker's opinion, while a common one, is really in the box thinking. Got to get the hell out of that box and realize that performing is a damn sight more adaptable than changing your facial expression.".

My point is that sometimes immersion becomes so strong that stuff passes without the need for dice or mechanics.

Once again, the beginning of this video was an exaggeration to show the difference between mechanics and roleplay, not a clinic on believable acting.

I am glad you posted a link to your blog so that I can respond with my thoughts on the commentary. All I can say is we are extremely far apart at interpreting the point and to some degree even the content of what was said in my video. It is frustrating to me because most of your counter viewpoints are actually my own views on tabletop. This means either I presented the material poorly or you have interpreted my meaning poorly. Neither is appealing to me from the position of a content creator.

I am fine with criticism and will never close my door to civil conversation with a detractor. My skin is thick as hell, I can take it.

~sr2joker

Alexis Smolensk said...

Andrew,

If mechanics are not a disruptive as you present in the video, why present them that way? You are admitting that you deliberately slanted the presentation to produce the argument you wanted. I find that shameful.

If you are going to have some character, 'Corvan,' be relevant to the discussion, then present that relevancy within the opening argument. Of course there is no way I can interpret your meaning if you withhold information.

I'm sorry you don't see dice as props. Your failure to recognize the dice in this capacity is limiting.

If you make the statement that role-play bereft of the die is the "apex" of RPGs, then people will assume you want the mechanics gone.

I find it peculiarly insulting when an individual feels the need to repeatedly condone the civil behavior of another person. That's a manipulation tactic. Always has been.

Beyond these things, I have no problem with what you've said here or in the video. Understand, however, that my contention is that 'role-play' and 'mechanics' are both so crucially necessary to the role-playing GAME that to argue the value of one against the other is more or less the same metric as arguing the superiority of the chicken over the egg, or vice-versa.

When participants of the game become convinced that the die is in some way anathema to immersion, we have stepped into cloud cuckoo land. This is the die, the one element of the game that dictates events randomly, so that no participant can ever in control or in authority over those events. The die, that ruins all expectations and FORCES shock and fear upon the party. The die, that equalizes the effects of interpersonal domination, aggressiveness, passive aggressiveness and timidity.

The die is the only arbitrator that makes role-playing meaningful. Without the die, we have a group of people sitting around the table masturbating.

I trust that's civil enough.

Jeremiah Scott said...

The idea that the mechanics of the game stand so far outside the actual playing of the game so as to constitute a total barrier from immersion into the fictional universe is silly. That argument almost necessarily sees players in immersion-mode as so detached from reality that they've forgotten the game isn't real--like there's no other way their psyche can cope with it except to compartmentalize it utterly. Which, of course, is also silly.

Obviously everyone who plays D&D realizes that, at some point, dice have to be rolled. They play because they love that the d20 is a fickle whore and that their fates often depend upon her favor. Otherwise they would just join an improv club. Rolling tests blends seamlessly with gameplay--provided the DM is doing his or her job. To think that your players have to make a complete break with the game just so the DM can roll a die is not only selling them short, it's insulting.

I see the decision of how often to roll dice more a question of nuisance and economy of clock than one of interrupting gameplay.

Andrew Knapp said...

“If mechanics are not a disruptive as you present in the video, why present them that way? You are admitting that you deliberately slanted the presentation to produce the argument you wanted. I find that shameful.”

As I posted in my last statement, this is either my fault as presenter or your fault as interpreter. I didn’t cast blame then and wont now as I don’t think it will be fruitful to the real discussion. All I can say is I thought my stance was clear, and the way you have interpreted it was not how I intended to convey it. In conversation, when a person states something and you restate your perceived meaning and they correct it, both parties arrive closer at the intended communication. To deny that line of communication and hold fast to an initial reaction even when the person sending the message corrects it is odd to me, especially when no one is slighted or insulted by the elaboration. I also don’t believe my conduct to be shameful. I try to conduct myself in the most courteous and forthright manner possible.

“If you are going to have some character, 'Corvan,' be relevant to the discussion, then present that relevancy within the opening argument. Of course there is no way I can interpret your meaning if you withhold information.”

I don’t believe I withheld information. When I shot the video half a year ago, it seemed obvious to me that the mechanics being discussed were the disruptive use of mechanical narratives. That is why all examples following the opening section of the video dealt with forcing characters to roleplay instead of relying on mechanical descriptions. Even the description of the video was intended to point the viewer in that direction. “A discussion for GM/DMs about breaking immersion and how to find a way back…” The immersion breaking aspect is the mechanical narrative, the finding your way back is RPing the mechanic.

“If you make the statement that role-play bereft of the die is the "apex" of RPGs, then people will assume you want the mechanics gone.”

I wouldn’t fault somebody for making the assumption. The original quote you made in your piece is word for word from the video. In that line I do not paint a picture of a situation with no mechanics; I paint one where they are no longer controlling the RP or have been suspended. “[they] don't moderate anything, they're not the medium, they just get the hell out of the way.” In the example this quote comes immediately after, the DM has chosen not to make a character roll for diplomacy because of the quality of his acting. For me, the less intrusive the mechanics are on the RP, the better. I would not advocate ditching all the mechanics of any game. I do however believe they are flexible and often expendable.

Andrew Knapp said...

Part 2

“I find it peculiarly insulting when an individual feels the need to repeatedly condone the civil behavior of another person. That's a manipulation tactic. Always has been.”

I find it obnoxious when people do it face to face, however, the internet is a far different beast and civility is a lot rarer. It is easy to forget sometimes that we are dealing with humans when the communication is so remote. Anyway, the comment was not meant to manipulate you, but since the last post was copied from the reply to your response on my channel, it bore an open invitation to detractors to engage me in dialogue. In other words, if people disagree with me on my channel, they don’t have to fear being silenced. Censorship is pretty common on YouTube and don’t want any of viewers to think they can’t descent.

“Beyond these things, I have no problem with what you've said here or in the video. Understand, however, that my contention is that 'role-play' and 'mechanics' are both so crucially necessary to the role-playing GAME that to argue the value of one against the other is more or less the same metric as arguing the superiority of the chicken over the egg, or vice-versa.”

That is an interesting concept to me. I think I read somewhere on your profile that you play AD&D. Do you think the dynamic changes across editions or are they always equally important. I only ask because a lot of older edition games I see run are mechanic lite compared to newer editions. Anyway, it is really interesting and challenging for me to view it that way as I do slant for RP over mechanics.

“The die is the only arbitrator that makes role-playing meaningful. Without the die, we have a group of people sitting around the table masturbating.”

Lol you got me there. I DEFINITELY DON’T WANT THAT.

“I trust that's civil enough.”

I very much like your style of writing. You are articulately barbed but still very polite. It was the quality of your writing in your original article that made me want to elaborate on my opinion and open a dialogue with you. My major purpose on YouTube has been to spread enthusiasm for the game and I am always happy to have dealings with others in the community even if we don’t completely agree on everything.
Best Regards,
Sr2joker

Maxwell Joslyn said...

"I wouldn’t fault somebody for making the assumption. The original quote you made in your piece is word for word from the video. In that line I do not paint a picture of a situation with no mechanics; I paint one where they are no longer controlling the RP or have been suspended. “[they] don't moderate anything, they're not the medium, they just get the hell out of the way.” In the example this quote comes immediately after, the DM has chosen not to make a character roll for diplomacy because of the quality of his acting. For me, the less intrusive the mechanics are on the RP, the better. I would not advocate ditching all the mechanics of any game. I do however believe they are
flexible and often expendable."


---


"In that line I do not paint a picture of a situation with no mechanics; I paint one where they are no longer controlling the RP or have been suspended."


If they "have been suspended," they are null and void, correct? If so, that is a situation with no mechanics. Until they are no longer suspended, they are not able to function. (It also sounds something like a video-game cutscene to me.)


"In the example this quote comes immediately after, the DM has chosen not to make a character roll for diplomacy because of the quality of his acting."


Here is my opinion.


1) All the rules are followed all the time, no matter the acting. When a die must be rolled, a die is rolled. When the rule is absolute, it is absolute. This keeps the game coherent, where "coherent" means "not changing here and there depending on e.g. participant mood, ambient conditions, etc."


2) Regarding what you said above ("the DM has $CHOSEN$ not to make a character roll for diplomacy" emphasis mine)


This is what must be avoided. That choice. There should be no choice in using the rule. If there is desire to use choice over a given rule, it is not a rule to use. Improve that rule, and test it; otherwise, remove that rule, and use a simple choice
in the future.


My problem is that you have decided to remove rules on the fly. At this point you have nothing stopping you from throwing away other rules in the future, just based on your situational whim; likewise, any time you follow that rule in the future is now an inconsistency. If you do choose an outcome in spite of a rule, just throw away that rule in the future.


So: if the rules are calling for these checks that you think you can just choose the outcome of anyway, why are you using those rules? To be more specific, why would you use such a Diplomacy rule if you are just going to circumvent it anyway?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I gotta agree with that assessment straight down the line, Maxwell. I should have pointed it out. I am deliriously glad that you did.

It's just the sort of world I wouldn't play in and I wouldn't run.

Andrew Knapp said...

I think we are at an understanding now of what I think and I can accept the rebuke. Hopefully I have illuminated my own stance to some degree so it is less cartoonish then it may have appeared.

I don’t mind suspension of rules when it seems natural and enhances the game (though some would argue that it is never an enhancement). I think a diplomacy example is still the best to express my position. To me there are two types of check situations, a check where the RP’d mechanic precedes the dice roll, and one where it follows (i.e. I act out my diplomacy argument then roll, as opposed to rolling and then acting out the argument.) I think most rolls fall into the second category and are well served by strict adherence to mechanics. Sometimes however, the flow leads to a check that looks like the first. In this situation, the RP precedes the mechanic and cannot be mechanically informed (the PC doesn’t have the information to make the performance convincing or suspicious based on a check number). This can lead to situations where very convincing RP can be overturned by dice and become disruptive, i.e. the charismatic rogues compelling speech jarringly denied, or the town drunkard’s rant convincing a king. The question then becomes, why not always enforce checks of the second category to preserve integrity of the game? My answer is that certain game conditions occur that push narrative or dialogue past the point of return. I think the most common is a scene that is deeply immersive and people are sucked into the theater of the mind just too long to realize the RP has overstepped its mechanical information. I think a second situation is that newer players or DMs fail to recognize the need for checks before it is too late. As I have talked about briefly before, inexperience is often the cause of a failed wedding between mechanics and immersion. When this first type of check arises, I find it advantageous to suspend rules for the RP. I however don’t want rules or mechanics removed from the game, and I definitely don’t want to toss specified mechanics permanently because they have been suspended for continuity of RP (as opposed to continuity of rules). My own view is that the sovereignty rests with the DM or GM and he or she is capable of giving legitimacy to the game in lieu of an iron clad adherence to rules. I however think he or she is well advised to ground the game in the rules, just not hold steadfast to them when it feels like detraction to enforce them.

The paradigm I follow is one where mechanics enhance RP or are avoided. To that, I really am not worried about consistency as much as satisfactory RP. There are times when checks enhance the game or detract; I would just vest the power in the GM/DM to make that decision according to the feeling in the game. Also, if the players find some specific action unsatisfactory, it is pretty easy to correct and know where the lines are for future games. The less standard the game becomes, the more the GM/DM has to weigh the attitudes of the players.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I wouldn't find your game either enjoyable, Andrew. The more you say, the more arbitrary and draconian you sound. Repeatedly you say, "I wouldn't want to do such and such," which is then followed by a lengthy description of your doing such and such.

I believe that your inability to state your case plainly, in less than 100 words, along with an apparent inability to speak plainly without equivocating your position by saying what you think we need to hear in order to accept your position, indicates there is a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in your thinking.

You've clearly trained yourself to write in a manner that seeks approval while courting an opinion you inherently understand would receive disapproval. You might want to look into that.

Andrew Knapp said...

I’ll make one last defense of my position and then let your camp have the last word since it’s your home turf =)

"I wouldn't want to do such and such," which is then followed by a lengthy description of your doing such and such.”

“I believe that your inability to state your case plainly, in less than 100 words, along with an apparent inability to speak plainly without equivocating your position by saying what you think we need to hear in order to accept your position, indicates there is a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in your thinking.”

People prefer to fight strawmen type figures because exaggeration and over simplification of a viewpoint is easy to attack. I think that is why you constantly attempt to put my argument into a flimsier box you are accustomed to smashing. That is cognitive misership on your part because you are unwilling to attempt to understand a complex position.

“You've clearly trained yourself to write in a manner that seeks approval while courting an opinion you inherently understand would receive disapproval. You might want to look into that.”

You mistake an enduring courteousness for seeking approval. For instance, I don’t respect the hostility of your tone and the increase in ad hominem as this conversation has progressed, but shifting focus to it does nothing to further my argument and would be fallacious. The argument must be centered around the ideas of mechanics and role-play. Of course you want to project insecurity onto my argument, that is motivated by such obvious means they aren’t even worth exploring.

I prioritize RP above mechanics. Does that mean I want mechanics abolished? Nope. Does that mean I am more apt to suspend or circumvent them in the name of RP? Yep. What are some times I do so? I have provided examples in our dialogue. What are some times I do not? I have provided examples in our dialogue. What do I believe your misconceptions are about my view? They have been explored at length.

I believe ultimately the impasse is at the weighing of mechanics vs. role-play.

“Understand, however, that my contention is that 'role-play' and 'mechanics' are both so crucially necessary to the role-playing GAME that to argue the value of one against the other is more or less the same metric as arguing the superiority of the chicken over the egg, or vice-versa.”

I disagree and believe mechanics serve Role-Play and therefore are a means to an end. The RP experience to me is the primary goal and is achieved through the game, but should not be victim to it when a zero-sum situation arises. I would then suggest that mechanics should inform RP and further RP but never hinder it.

This ends my dialogue and my apologetics concerning the YouTube video in question. Once again, I would like to thank you for making me aware of your blog post. It was honorable to allow a defense. Despite the varied reception, I am glad we had this conversation because it has at least given me interesting concepts to think about.

Best of Luck with your endeavors!

Oddbit said...

The dice roll is the lens through which the white light of intent travels.

The fact that your lens is warped and a distorted light emits from the other side is the intent, not the excuse for ignoring the lens ever was.

If the player said "I hit the orc with my sword." instead of "I attack the orc with my sword." we do not grant them an instant hit with the sword. We interpret difficulties that the intent could not overcome.

When the very uncharismatic character, or the very unflappable target causes a failure in a roll, we interpret difficulties the intent could not overcome.

You stammer as you speak. Your tone varies such that some words are poorly emphasized. The king once had a brother with an alcohol problem and sympathizes with the drunkard. Your words are short and straight forwards, and perhaps those the dockmaster values such habits. All of these things are possible distortions of the lens, to the favorable or the unfavorable. I accept them, and harness them for the game.

The temptation to automatically grant success for good speech opens the gateway for granting failure for a poor one. This arbitrary judgment does in-fact create inconsistency that pushes the players outside of those that drive the experience, and those that experience the driver.