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Archlyte

Players describing Threat

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I was listening to Jay Little talk about the game and how he likes to let players toss in ideas about how Threat affects them in a roll. Jay seems to see the dice pool as a very communal thing, which I think is a great sentiment and in practice increases engagement. 

I think that description pushing dice being include din the pool and also in the interpretation of the results is paramount. It often devolves into "ok you take two threat" or the application of a setback die, but to me this is when things aren't living up to their potential. 

How far do you take this in practice or do you not allow the players to describe threat? 

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It's great when everyone gets in on it! Keeps people engaged even when it's not their turn, and lets them set up aspects of the overall situation for later, which results in satisfying callbacks, one-two punches, and rule-of-three storytelling moments during encounters. It's also amusing how willing players get to screw themselves over by providing the GM with cool ideas.

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7 minutes ago, Stan Fresh said:

It's great when everyone gets in on it! Keeps people engaged even when it's not their turn, and lets them set up aspects of the overall situation for later, which results in satisfying callbacks, one-two punches, and rule-of-three storytelling moments during encounters. It's also amusing how willing players get to screw themselves over by providing the GM with cool ideas.

I totally agree! And I also think you are dead on with the thing about how players will have such great ideas about how they just got boned by some circumstance lol. 

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I let the players give input for everything, unless I have a very specific need (which is rare).  That said, I don't like wasting time humming and hawing (it kills the narrative inertia), so in practical terms, 1-2 threat most often get turned into setback or strain.  3A or 3T is my benchmark for "let's take a little more time with this".

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Archlyte said:

Yeah at times you have to just keep it moving

 

Interestingly, the Tales of the Hydian Way podcast just had an episode about threat use and they made the point that even a single threat can be be worth using for something other than inflicting strain, what with just how few threats you need to equal a despair on the various skill suggestion tables from the cores and supplements. When three or four threats are the equivalent of a scene-changing development, routinely using single threats to inflict strain seems a bit of a waste.

And I probably butchered their point horribly, but that's what I took away from it, at least.

 

Edited by Stan Fresh

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I'm always open to suggestions from my players, but most of them are old-school simulationists and prefer for me to just decide and keep moving.  

As for just tossing out strain, I've got one player with multiple talents involving strain management; so I don't see it as a bad thing (and he certainly doesn't either). 

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Posted (edited)

I think that's pretty much mainstream from what I have seen from this system in use. By old-school simulationists you mean they attempt to portray the setting accurately? 

Edited by Archlyte

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Archlyte said:

By old-school simulationists you mean they attempt to portray the setting accurately? 

It's quite possible that I'm using the term wrong, but what I mean is that they see RPGs as simulations of their existence in a fictional setting.  Beyond crafting their backstories; they don't believe that they, as players, they should be able to dictate the flow of the story beyond the impact that their character's actual actions have (though they might throw out requests, and I'm usually happy to oblige).  They never use destiny points to zig the narrative, and they find talents like Bad Motivator and My Biggest Fan to be very strange.  

Edited by Vorzakk

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1 hour ago, Vorzakk said:

It's quite possible that I'm using the term wrong, but what I mean is that they see RPGs as simulations of their existence in a fictional setting.  Beyond crafting their backstories; they don't believe that they, as players, they should be able to dictate the flow of the story beyond the impact that their character's actual actions have (though they might throw out requests, and I'm usually happy to oblige).  They never use destiny points to zig the narrative, and they find talents like Bad Motivator and My Biggest Fan to be very strange.  

That's a pretty good description. 

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41 minutes ago, Vorzakk said:

It's quite possible that I'm using the term wrong, but what I mean is that they see RPGs as simulations of their existence in a fictional setting.  Beyond crafting their backstories; they don't believe that they, as players, they should be able to dictate the flow of the story beyond the impact that their character's actual actions have (though they might throw out requests, and I'm usually happy to oblige).  They never use destiny points to zig the narrative, and they find talents like Bad Motivator and My Biggest Fan to be very strange.  

Ah got it. I see what you mean now. I think you are right that this is an old school way. I'm very partial to old school principles such as GM authority, Description as a means of doing things instead of just making a check, etc. I think there is a difference though between Players using the rules against you and trying to forecast vs. you giving them a chance to contribute to narrative control a little bit.

I did have some instances where a player went a bit too far with the description at times and I had to reign it in because instead of focusing on his character, he tended to want to project the effects onto adversaries. All PC boner stuff like "I punch him and he's terrified of me," or "a pillar falls on their head and kills them." This was with Advantage though. 

With threat I guess it can be the same with Players trying to lowball the interpretation. "Two threat oh that's bad I guess my character feels bad for eating that extra taco at lunch." or something else that is lame. With good players you don't get this though because they understand that complications and setbacks are usually pretty interesting. 

But based on your explanation I imagine they would not really be able to spend their threat because a lot of it would seem like it was too external for their sense of proper player narrative control. 

 

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12 hours ago, Vorzakk said:

It's quite possible that I'm using the term wrong, but what I mean is that they see RPGs as simulations of their existence in a fictional setting.  Beyond crafting their backstories; they don't believe that they, as players, they should be able to dictate the flow of the story beyond the impact that their character's actual actions have (though they might throw out requests, and I'm usually happy to oblige). 

Same here. Occasionally, the table will agree that "Oh, this just has to happen," and it will. But my players are pretty traditional, and enjoy the game most seeing the world as objective and me as either a neutral force (success by logical consequences) or an opposing one (success by consent). Making whatever they wanted to happen on their own is easy; against some form of counter is an achievement.

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Good discussion guys thank you. I think that if Simulationist is coming up the classical definition of that term from GNS theory is the pursuit of depicting the world in the most faithful representation. So for instance if you were playing in a Lord of the Rings game you would not have Orcs and Elves in the party together. 

The idea of players having Narrative Control external to their character is counter to Simulationism to me only because it is more in line with a Narrativist or Gamist perspective. Narritivist use being narrative control to further the motivations of the character in what happens, and Gamist in that the external narrative control would benefit the character mechanically and help them win. 

I have seen the abuse of player external narrative control and as I call it Forecasting. The situation where a player attempts to force the story in ways that are outside of the scope of the actions of the character. An example would be a situation where a PC wants to open a restaurant and then attempts to dictate that the customers like the food. Also arguing with what the GM dictates has occurred, refusing to accept the GM's narrative control. 

I think that this is something you see in players who either don't respect the GM or are just obsessed with their character. 

 

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50 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Good discussion guys thank you. I think that if Simulationist is coming up the classical definition of that term from GNS theory is the pursuit of depicting the world in the most faithful representation. So for instance if you were playing in a Lord of the Rings game you would not have Orcs and Elves in the party together. 

The idea of players having Narrative Control external to their character is counter to Simulationism to me only because it is more in line with a Narrativist or Gamist perspective. Narritivist use being narrative control to further the motivations of the character in what happens, and Gamist in that the external narrative control would benefit the character mechanically and help them win. 

I have seen the abuse of player external narrative control and as I call it Forecasting. The situation where a player attempts to force the story in ways that are outside of the scope of the actions of the character. An example would be a situation where a PC wants to open a restaurant and then attempts to dictate that the customers like the food. Also arguing with what the GM dictates has occurred, refusing to accept the GM's narrative control. 

I think that this is something you see in players who either don't respect the GM or are just obsessed with their character. 

 

Narrative play also tends to assume that players will ultimately be successful (or not) as the narrative requires with the outcome determined more by player decisions than character actions. Simulationist play seeks outcomes that seem most fitting through character actions without overly straining suspension of disbelief (this is where highly narrative elements can really chafe). Gamist play maneuvers for the best chances of success but then let's the dice fall as they may with little regard for the needs od the narrative or strain on suspension of disbelief. Despite being billed as a narrative game,  this game is firmly a hybrid,  but some talents and (especially) signature abilites go deeply into the narrative side enough to rub some players the wrong way. 

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15 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

Narrative play also tends to assume that players will ultimately be successful (or not) as the narrative requires with the outcome determined more by player decisions than character actions. Simulationist play seeks outcomes that seem most fitting through character actions without overly straining suspension of disbelief (this is where highly narrative elements can really chafe). Gamist play maneuvers for the best chances of success but then let's the dice fall as they may with little regard for the needs od the narrative or strain on suspension of disbelief. Despite being billed as a narrative game,  this game is firmly a hybrid,  but some talents and (especially) signature abilites go deeply into the narrative side enough to rub some players the wrong way. 

Yeah I was going to bring up the part about it being billed as  a Narrative Style game but you covered that. I agree with you to some degree about the success thing, but I would say that this is mainly in the parts of the story where success is gonna be a pay-off according to classic story structure. Also Narrativists hate death because it means that at least for that character it is the end of the story. Gamists hate death because it means they lost. Sim folks don't mind death if it affirms the dangerous nature of the world. 

In the past I would have been unhappy with the narrative elements (like the Talents you mentioned) and I am still suspicious of them to some degree, but I think that is more of a me thing than anything else. I try to be more accepting of the narrative stuff because I know that as a player at times I have really enjoyed it as long as it did not go too far. The Simulationist in me fits your description. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Gamists hate death because it means they lost.

Gamists don't necessarily hate character death as long as it happens through fair gameplay. Sure, you have some sore losers among them, just as you have narrativists that subvert the narrative and jackhole simulationists that abuse "that's what my character would do" shenanigans, but those don't define the types.

Edited by HappyDaze

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1 minute ago, HappyDaze said:

Gamists don't necessarily hate character death as long as it happens through fair gameplay. Sure, you have some sore losers among them, just as you have narrativists that subvert the narrative and jackhole simulationists that abuse "that's what my character would do" shenanigans, but those don't define the types.

That's fair but anecdotally the overzealous gamists seem to outnumber the overzealous sim folks by a lot in my experience. Especially if you get players form tabletop wargaming. 

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1 minute ago, Archlyte said:

That's fair but anecdotally the overzealous gamists seem to outnumber the overzealous sim folks by a lot in my experience. Especially if you get players form tabletop wargaming. 

I'll match your bad gamist wargamers against the bad simulationists that ran rampant through the White Wolf World of Darkness games in the 90s (and beyond). The latter are diminished in numbers but not yet extinct.

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1 hour ago, HappyDaze said:

I'll match your bad gamist wargamers against the bad simulationists that ran rampant through the White Wolf World of Darkness games in the 90s (and beyond). The latter are diminished in numbers but not yet extinct.

That was not my scene but its infamy lives on :). In my experience the problems described can be addressed by bringing it up. I tell my players that they are not to get Tunnel Vision, which is just to say don't be self-centered. The situation where the player thinks only of their character and their self in making decisions and taking actions in game. 

For the Bad Gamist this is the win at all costs mindset, me myself and I for the purpose of winning and more importantly, not losing. The best loot belongs to them by right. Furthermore they see no reason to ever choose a sub-optimal option no matter how interesting. Very predictable. 

The Simulationist with tunnel vision is gonna do what you said and Blue Falcon the group or other PCs because this is what their character would do. I would go so far as to say their initial decision to even make such a character is an act of hostility toward the game unless the point of it is expressly a PC battle royale. In grim Dark/Horror settings this is nearly a guarantee. 

The Narrativist with Tunnel Vision does not care about anything but doing the story they want to do and it is usually about their character or motivations. Hook rejection is their thing if they are Tunnel Visioning it. Won't matter how much the group wants to do something they will choose some self-driven goal. 

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1 minute ago, Archlyte said:

The Narrativist with Tunnel Vision does not care about anything but doing the story they want to do and it is usually about their character or motivations. Hook rejection is their thing if they are Tunnel Visioning it. Won't matter how much the group wants to do something they will choose some self-driven goal. 

Narrativists with such flaws tend to be sadly common as GMs.

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Posted (edited)

People who are an "extremist" with tunnel visions are all one thing; they are gamer Richards. The moment that person start prioritising their own joy to the expense of others they are becoming a problem that needs to be corrected, which isn't to say a gamer shouldn't sometimes push for something they feel strongly about, but I feel every gaming table needs to have a strong line of communication so everyone can get what they want. Maybe not everyone can get what they want every session, but over the course of a campaign every player should at least have several experience that they were able to share with the table.

Players spending threat is cool if the GM doesn't immediately have something in mind. Personally I love gaming hard and describing my fumbles and what not. It brings a scene to life.

Edited by LordBritish

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

Narrativists with such flaws tend to be sadly common as GMs.

I guess I have to do the obvious disclaimer but I hereby state that there are overbearing railroad GMs as well. Also I want to specify that when I state an example I don't mean every situation is like this, I am assuming it is understood that everyone knows that all situations are different. 

Edited by Archlyte

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When I was GMing, I asked the table for suggestions all the time. Now that I am playing, the GM that was in my previous game does the same thing. There are plenty of things for the GM in this system to juggle already, also needing to come up with every Threat, Triumph, Advantage and Despair is too much on one person. If I have something in mind, I will go with it. Otherwise, the table is open to suggestions and the GM gets to choose what they like.
What tends to get suggested for threats is things that make sense in context, things that harm the PCs chance of success and things that are (funny isn't the right word) dramatic irony. We have an agreement at the table that we are all playing together, GM and players, and that we are all responsible to drive the game along. Everyone narrating threats and the GM choosing what they want to happen is part of that.

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My groups is all former 40K who largely treated D&D 3.5 as a system to be optimized and/or broken.  There is a sort of friendly rivalry between player/DM in that regard.  Combats would take most of the night. 

When I started Star Wars, I set a lot of expectations around the term Narrative Dice and it has been slowly adopted in the group.  The first time someone asked me something like "Do I know the storekeeper?" and I said... "I dunno, do you?" and gestured at the destiny pool.  He flipped a token, said "yes", and I cheered inside :) 

They are now getting comfortable with describing threat results.  In some ways, they feel like they are cheating, having that much autonomy.  In social situations I still mostly interpret the dice results since I know how much I want to reveal.  

 

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