An interesting litmus test on choices and illusions

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If, as DM, you do not mind occasionally invalidating player choices to fit your pre-conceived notion of what is better (usually because it is necessary for your 'plot' or 'story' or whathaveyou) would you have an issue posting here in admittance of that?

This includes presenting options that do not actually matter. This includes fudging dice or die results to make things "better" (of course in your own opinion) for the game or the story or whatever. This includes things like magician switches and quantum-game components.

If so, and you are willing to admit to it openly on the thread, would you also be willing to direct your players to this thread?

If not, why?

If the answer to "why" in the previous question is "Because it would remove the illusion of choice I have made for them" or something similar, how would you ever reconcile that with the act of teaching a player to DM? Would, in fully teaching them, that act not destroy the very illusion so carefully crafted to trick them as a player?

Thanks for any replies! I am very intrigued by this topic and what I might learn from it!

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I think you need to define "invalidating player choices" because I don't even try to present choices that are invalid but I think you and I might consider different things to be invalidation based on your other thread about railroading.

To use (and expound upon) my previously expressed example:

Team Hero must get to Tol Honeth, the greatest port in the Tolnedran Empire. From where they are they may choose two basic paths, to travel overland along the great trade road, risking bandits and wandering Monsters when they pass near Ulgoland or take ship and risk seasonal storms and the assaults of Cherek pirates.

If I make one of my encounters a group of humans that I can flavor as either bandits (if they took the land route) and Pirates (if they go by sea), have I invalidated their choice? I don't think so.

If you do regard that as "Invalidating there choice" then yes, I would have no problem admitting to your concept of 'invalidation' or directing my players here to read this post.

*Edit* if they try to travel Overland as a method of taking a third choice, avoiding the trade road, I can still have them encounter the bandits and monsters. Teleportation and Flight may be a true third option, but if they have those options I would be aware of that and could still reflavor the human encounter to be appropriate (for Flight). But the humans can be reflavored as a street urban encounter as well if they teleport. 
I think you need to define "invalidating player choices" because I don't even try to present choices that are invalid but I think you and I might consider different things to be invalidation based on your other thread about railroading.

To use (and expound upon) my previously expressed example:

Team Hero must get to Tol Honeth, the greatest port in the Tolnedran Empire. From where they are they may choose two basic paths, to travel overland along the great trade road, risking bandits and wandering Monsters when they pass near Ulgoland or take ship and risk seasonal storms and the assaults of Cherek pirates.

If I make one of my encounters a group of humans that I can flavor as either bandits (if they took the land route) and Pirates (if they go by sea), have I invalidated their choice? I don't think so.

If you do regard that as "Invalidating there choice" then yes, I would have no problem admitting to your concept of 'invalidation' or directing my players here to read this post.

*Edit* if they try to travel Overland as a method of taking a third choice, avoiding the trade road, I can still have them encounter the bandits and monsters. Teleportation and Flight may be a true third option, but if they have those options I would be aware of that and could still reflavor the human encounter to be appropriate (for Flight). But the humans can be reflavored as a street urban encounter as well if they teleport. 



What you have described is known as a "Magician's switch" and indeed it is a form of invalidation.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Hm, I read it called a magician's force in one of Robert Asprin's Myth books but why should I build 3 different encounters mechanically when the same one with cosmetic changes does the work?

Any who, with us getting that out of they way, Yes I am willing to invalidate players choices as you define it and have no trouble directing my players here to see that.
If, as DM, you do not mind occasionally invalidating player choices to fit your pre-conceived notion of what is better (usually because it is necessary for your 'plot' or 'story' or whathaveyou) would you have an issue posting here in admittance of that?

 This includes fudging dice or die results to make things "better" (of course in your own opinion) 




I agree with Jonathan_Sicari's notion of reskinning an encounter to apply to whatever choice the players made.  I don't see it as a "Magician's Switch" as much as  DM working with the player's choices and making an encouter that fits with that plotline.  It's easier for the DM to reskin the encounter, however it's probably better for the DM to have a new/different/better encounter available for whatever the players decide.  For the many DM's that don't have the time to prepare separate encounters for the major choices the players could take, reskinning seems appropriate to me.  We're not Batman-DM, we don't have 5 plans for the player's actions and 5 plans for each other choci ethe palyers could make.

And yes, I have fudged Die rolls to make things "better."  sometimes it's been to avoid a second crit on a PC that would knock that character out or kill them outright.  Sometimes it's been to make a near miss into a hit, for both players and enemies.  If a player misses by 1, I may turn that into a hit  because it helps speed combat along just a little bit.  Every once in a while. I'll make an enemy's miss into a hit.  I often roll in the open, and I've told my players who have had near misses, or drop enemy to <5hp "Eff it, rule of cool, you hit/kill it." And then I ask "How do you kill that enemy?"

I see the problems inherent in fudging rolls, but I don't care.  I believe that the mark of a great DM is creating engaging sessions.  We can argue about it and get mad about it, but what matters in the end run is whether the particular DM's players are having a good time in the campaign.

I'm very curious about how Iserith and Centauri run their games, and based on what I've heard of Lunar Savage's games, I don't think I'd have fun as a palyer there, but his players have a lot of fun.  I won't argue against that playstyle, but it's not for me.  I'm nost sure if Iserith and Centauri's playstyle works for me either, but I don't know since I've never played in it, and I learn best by doing rather than talking about it.  I don't know about YagamiFire's playstyle, I think it could be engaging and fun, but I don't know until I play in the game or see more about how it's done.

If so, and you are willing to admit to it openly on the thread, would you also be willing to direct your players to this thread?



Yes.  They know it and I know it.   And the game is not lesser for it, it's better for it.   Why?  Because we all know what we like.

If, as DM, you do not mind occasionally invalidating player choices to fit your pre-conceived notion of what is better (usually because it is necessary for your 'plot' or 'story' or whathaveyou) would you have an issue posting here in admittance of that?


I know that I used too when I was a younger less experienced DM. I find invalidating players choices would be even more work for me than allowing my players to take the game in new and intrestering directions.

This includes presenting options that do not actually matter.


I've been in games like that and didn't appreciate it, so I do my best not to do it to them.  But I'm not going to lie and say that I've never done it.

If so, and you are willing to admit to it openly on the thread, would you also be willing to direct your players to this thread?


I feel that if you can't talk your players about stuff like this, that's half the problem.  As useful as these boards can be I at times sense a hint of Gamer Mentality not only from myself but from other posters.

I'd direct my players here.  They read different ideas and perhaps a a few new ones of their own.  My players need to know how I run so they can comment on what I do as a DM and help me become a better DM for them.

If, as DM, you do not mind occasionally invalidating player choices to fit your pre-conceived notion of what is better (usually because it is necessary for your 'plot' or 'story' or whathaveyou) would you have an issue posting here in admittance of that?

This includes presenting options that do not actually matter. This includes fudging dice or die results to make things "better" (of course in your own opinion) for the game or the story or whatever. This includes things like magician switches and quantum-game components.

If so, and you are willing to admit to it openly on the thread, would you also be willing to direct your players to this thread?

If not, why?

If the answer to "why" in the previous question is "Because it would remove the illusion of choice I have made for them" or something similar, how would you ever reconcile that with the act of teaching a player to DM? Would, in fully teaching them, that act not destroy the very illusion so carefully crafted to trick them as a player?

Thanks for any replies! I am very intrigued by this topic and what I might learn from it!



I adapt the story to their choices. The only time I've ever used the path of illusion, is when it comes to getting them to a location. Primarily, in wilderness adventures. Those bastards love to try and go OUTSIDE THE WORLD. GRRRRRRRAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH

*upturns all the tables*

Also, I'd gladly show them this thread. Hell, I'll link one of them to it today after work. >:|

Do NOT say I'm afraid to tell my players this kind of thing. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I've removed content from this thread. Trolling/Baiting is a violation of the Code of Conduct.

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Please remember to keep your posts polite and on topic an refrain from making personal remarks or attacks. 
Fair enough moderator. My post was not very useful in general.

I think DMs are more than welcome to have their own style of play, and mine often involves reflavoring an encounter regardless of the direction my players choose. If they wander into the forest, they fight spiders. If they wander into the mtns, the spiders become goblins, etc. Nothing lost, and plenty gained.
Not getting the answer you expected, are you Yagami? (I'll give a full answer to the actual question when I have time)
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
I fudge dice. I ignore dice.  I give red herring options mostly so that I can force the results of player choices to be what the railroad has planned and thus prevent the players from seeing the rails.  I ignore monster hit points.  I reduce monster damage.  I make stuff up out of thin air with absolutely no basis in rules or expectations.  I ruthlessly lie, cheat, and steal and if I do it correctly the players never even suspect a thing and have a grand ol' time.  This is the job I choose when I sit behind the Wall of Fear and Ignorance on the Polyhedral Throne.

Old School: It ain't what you play - it's how you play it.

My 1E Project: http://home.earthlink.net/~duanevp/dnd/Building%20D&D/buildingdnd.htm

"Who says I can't?" "The man in the funny hat..."

Well said.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
My preferred style is to have a general plan as to where things MIGHT go.  I will set up pre-planned encounters and yes I will sometimes place them in the path of the PCs who then have the option as to how they're going to handle it.  Whether it be to avoid it, deal with it head on or something else entirely. 

This is the style of play that works for my group.  They all enjoy it and they know that this is what I do in order to provide things for them to do and experience.  We communicate openly about our games and it's what makes our group click.  I have a rule that all my players know.  As a DM I will never lie to them.  If they ask a question about the campaign we will discuss it.  This doesn't mean I give away that "The next creature you fight is gonna be this...", and they wouldn't ask that type of thing because they want it to be a surprise.  But it does mean that I have no qualms about talking about the methods I use to any of my players and if there is something we disagree on we all talk about it together so that we can make adjustments that everyone can be satisfied with.

I also want to expound a little more on what I said.  My players know that I will never lie to them as a DM (basically I will talk about stuff out of the game and tell them the truth), but they also know that my NPCs may indeed lie, cheat, steal, give them information that is false but the NPC thinks is accurate, etc.  They know this and they like the challenge of figuring out what is truth and what is not within the game.

I roll out in front of my players.  The only thing my screen is for is to hide monsters stats and the like from them.  That being said if a monster rolls a crit and ends up killing a player, then that's what happens.  However, I haven't had this happen very much at all.  I would have to say that in less than 50% of my combat encounters does it end up being a "bring all bad guys to zero HP to win" type of thing and the other times there are alternate ways to win/lose.

Finally, I have no problem telling my players to come read these things because they already know them.

I run a fairly free, open game. Because I do very little prep for my game, the players don't have any real rails to follow, but in a way you could say I soft railroad them. The players make up far more of the story in my game than they realize. I come up with a basic idea of what's going on in the location, and they then get let loose to investigate in whatever way they want. 


Currently there is a Rakshasa impersonating the leader of the merchants guild kidnapping people from the slums to use in a ritual to open a portal to another plane. That’s the entirety of my prep for the whole adventure.


So, the players decided to talk to the local thieves guild to try and find out what was going on. They discovered that one member had dropped off the radar, so they went looking for him. Turns out he was being blackmailed by the rakshasa into taking these people They had a couple of skirmishes against him and his friends as they tracked him down, and then they had the information they wanted.


But what if they had tried to talk to contacts within the nobility? Well, perhaps they would have discovered that one of the wizards was being far more reclusive, not answering requests and not appearing in public lately. It could turn out that he’s hungry for power and is working for the rakshasa.


So, is this railroading? I mean, they end up at the same point with similar information whatever happens. All that’s changed is the way in which they got there. The journey is completely different, as they’ve had different encounters and made different friends, but they still end up where I wanted them. So have I invalidated the players’ choices? Maybe. Is that railroading? Maybe.


But the players don’t know it is. They have a good time whatever, and their actions ARE having a real impact on the world, through the relationships they build and the places they discover. Currently they’re about to enter some thieves guild tunnels blocked off for decades, but they could just as easily be doing other tasks to get in good with the higher powers of the city.


The point is, railroading is fine. Rails help-they steer the players to where the good action is. That's not to say that going off the rails should be boring, but I find that my planned encounters are usually much better than improvised ones because I've had more time to plan, think of cool ideas, and bounce ideas of other DMs and friends. And I can do this when they're in a confined area, such as a house, tower, dungeon or other area which I can map out, so I love it when they end a session just about to head into one of these places.


So, I think soft railroading can indeed be good for a party.


As for dice fudging I used to roll behind a screen so I could if I wanted to, but I found that I fudged so rarely it was easier just to roll in the open, as it not only built trust but it also meant I could get rid of the annoying barrier between me and the players! Currently I play on skype so the option is open to me, but I very much doubt I ever will. If the players die, it probably means they should have legged it a couple of rounds ago. Sure, the enemies may get a lucky crit, but hey, that's life.

"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

I fudge dice. I ignore dice.  I give red herring options mostly so that I can force the results of player choices to be what the railroad has planned and thus prevent the players from seeing the rails.  I ignore monster hit points.  I reduce monster damage.  I make stuff up out of thin air with absolutely no basis in rules or expectations.  I ruthlessly lie, cheat, and steal and if I do it correctly the players never even suspect a thing and have a grand ol' time.  This is the job I choose when I sit behind the Wall of Fear and Ignorance on the Polyhedral Throne.



Well said.



LMFAO!

Good god that literally made me tear up from laughing. Well done, you funny-hatted gentleman. Well done.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Not getting the answer you expected, are you Yagami? (I'll give a full answer to the actual question when I have time)



You are assuming I am looking for a particular response. I find that humorous.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I fudge dice. I ignore dice.  I give red herring options mostly so that I can force the results of player choices to be what the railroad has planned and thus prevent the players from seeing the rails.  I ignore monster hit points.  I reduce monster damage.  I make stuff up out of thin air with absolutely no basis in rules or expectations.  I ruthlessly lie, cheat, and steal and if I do it correctly the players never even suspect a thing and have a grand ol' time.  This is the job I choose when I sit behind the Wall of Fear and Ignorance on the Polyhedral Throne.



Well said.



LMFAO!

Good god that literally made me tear up from laughing. Well done, you funny-hatted gentleman. Well done.



My sarcasm detector is as good as the next person's. But if you break it down, pretty much every thing he has said has been said by someone else, and so this is quite a nice summary.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Jplay36 and Kugnar have said most os what I was going to, so I'm gonna give a +1 to both of them.

Also, jonathan_sicari...I love the David Eddings reference.  Do you actually run your games in that world (or a version of it), or was that just a hypothetical, using the names for ease of the example?
If, as DM, you do not mind occasionally invalidating player choices to fit your pre-conceived notion of what is better (usually because it is necessary for your 'plot' or 'story' or whathaveyou) would you have an issue posting here in admittance of that?


That's going a few steps farther than I ever would.  If the players make a choice, I'm not going to say "nope, this happens no matter what you do".

This includes presenting options that do not actually matter. This includes fudging dice or die results to make things "better" (of course in your own opinion) for the game or the story or whatever. This includes things like magician switches and quantum-game components.

This is a different matter, because here, you're talking about maybe fudging a die roll once in a while (like 10% or less of the time), or adapting what you had pre-planned to fit within the game to be in keeping with the players' choices.

If so, and you are willing to admit to it openly on the thread, would you also be willing to direct your players to this thread?

If not, why?


Sure.  But none of my player even have a login to these forums.  They all know I get on here, and I frequently discuss with them some of the dicusions from the boards and ask for their opinions and inputs on the matter.  But I would have no problem with them knowing that I am willing to do things like that.  I run at least 90% of my game completely straight and honest.

If the answer to "why" in the previous question is "Because it would remove the illusion of choice I have made for them" or something similar, how would you ever reconcile that with the act of teaching a player to DM? Would, in fully teaching them, that act not destroy the very illusion so carefully crafted to trick them as a player?


Whenever anyone I know is taking the reins as a DM for the first time, I impart as much advice and lessons as I can.  I also try to remain available if they want help.
Likewise, when I play, if I ever have cause to think that a DM is doing the same kinds of things...I shrug it off.  DMs all run the game in different ways.  Especially if I can still arguably see that my choices as a player are being rewarded.  If it's "hard railroading", that's another story.  Then I bring up the issue with the DM after the session.  And I would hope if I ever slipped and made a mistake, and the player felt like his choice was invalidated, that it would be brought to my attention after the session.
While in times past (2e) my home gameworld stole wholesale from Midkemia, the world of the Belgariad and the Mallorean as well as elements of DragonLance (I justified it with the 1e reference to higher than level 20 characters being given the option of being planeshifted out of DL) and set it in a demi-shadow plane sort of like ravenloft (I was young and stole lot's of things).

Another time I ran a BESM game set in the past of the Belgariad after the Battle of Vo Mimbre.

Currently I use it for character inspiration and to rob of tropes for advancing my games.
So much awesome. I guess Garion is a Sorcerer/SM to use his fullblade (with Orb attached) as a weapliment?
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Well, I must also confess that I just reread the Belgariad over the last three days. Literally just finished Enchanter's Endgame about 20 minutes ago.

Belgarion can be described in many ways. I think a Bladesinger might be the best way to do it (or an Essentials Hexblade with some refluffing, his weapon is his implement?).
As I posted in the other thread about railroading, I dont think quantium elements or schrodinger's doors are inheriently bad.  Personally, set peices that will be visited I use.  Unless something completely major happens (like the PCs choosing to completely avoid a hook that they have no interest in.) Certain set peices will eventually be visited.

Is it railroading?  Perhaps, but my opinion is that everything between the points will be unique.  After all isnt the journey half the fun? 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

How is reflavoring the bandits into pirates invalidating the choice of the PCs? Because I sincerely doubt that the fight is going to be same if it takes place on a forested road with wagons or on board of a ship where one slide effect can push a monster or PC overboard. Reflavoring stuff can have a huge impact on how the players perceive the encounter, or even how it actually runs. Anyway, my players are well aware I reflavor encounters and I happily would direct them to this thread.

As for running a plot-driven campaign, yes, I run one. It is what my players litterally asked me to do. For a player driven campaign the players need to invest a lot more in their characters and the campaign then with plot driven adventures, which costs time and energy in between sessions. Time some of them simply do not want to invest in the game and for which I cannot blame them. We picked the theme of the plot together and they designed their PCs to fit that theme. I don't have to give them an illusion of choice for the bigger choices or plot hooks. Due to how they designed their characters, I know in advance the ones they are going to make. They will not unexpectedly decide to ignore the BBEG, switch sides or decide to start a kingdom. Of course, if they as a group decided they wanted another type of campaign I would go with the flow. I have no big vested interest in the plot beyond a few pages of notes which I have no trouble with discarding if my players prefer something else ;)

Having said that, my campaign is riddled with choices on how they are going to approach a problem. In a way the players know the end destination of the trip, but the choice is in what road to pick. I usually try to add these choices at the end of a session even going so far as to add an encounter to the existing adventure to adjust the pacing. There is no reflavoring necessary since I don't design the encounter until the choice is made. Obviously, DMs bias* is going to impact what is going to happen and I honestly cannot guarantee the players with 100% certainty they would have had a completely different adventure if they had made a different choice - especially not in regards to challenges (beyond obvious impact the PCs powers, skills and abilities have on terrain and environment). Chances are though that it would have taken a different direction.

* The idea that you could somehow avoid DM's bias feels rather idealistic to me. Even if you use random dice rolls to decide the outcome, you decide the odds. Even more, you as a DM describes the world to the players and hence how they perceive that world and what is likely going to happen after they made their choice. If you as a DM have a preference for one thing or another, it is going to show itself even subconsciously in how you describe it. Of course, as a DM I do try to minimize its impact as much as possible within my comfort zone (I hate designing random tables for example).