Where is the enjoyment for the DM?

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Do you guys run standard published worlds or 'homebrew'? Do you think this affects this discussion?



I've run both. My preference having played in multiple styles is that, in the collaborative approach, I'd rather start with nothing and build the world together because then the players will tend to remember it more and be more engaged by it. The only exception is if I have a full group that has a good working knowledge of a published setting and are fans of it. That's the only time I'll use published, and we treat canon as fairly immutable by agreement, same as if we had established that fiction during play.

Does high levels of player input, combined with 'death and failure' avoidance(for lack of a wordier description) create problems with breaking the 4th wall?



It's only a problem if your skills at maintaining your own immersion are weak. Or if you are poor at compartmentalizing character and player knowledge in a useful way. In order to build a scene collaboratively, the players sometimes need to be "allowed" to draw upon metagame information so they can establish elements that the player wants to see but that the character can't necessarily make happen in the context of the game world. I advocate players using such information to help build an engaging scene and then, by extension, you become immersed in your characters. It's more of a "god's eye" view of the game and it breaks the tyranny of "My character wouldn't do that," because you're focused on the scene first and your character second. This is a more reliable and deeper form of immersion in my view. It has a way of drawing you in more easily than if you're just focused being Ragnar the Fighter.

I'm not exactly sure how the issues of death and interesting failure apply here with regard to your question except that the best way to break immersion is to no longer have an interface with the game (i.e. your character is pushing up daisies).

Regarding your last post, FamousErik, why do you feel the need to rant at all? If everything's working at your table, keep on doing that. 




In my view, that's wrong because you're now focused on making the scene interesting. You've ceased with the roleplaying and stopped playing D&D. You play to roleplay a character that thinks differently from you.  This style of play encourages the player to completely ignore his character thus making it so the player only ever chooses actions that he/she would do if they were there. That is completely and utterly not the point of D&D. If there ever was a wrong way to play, I'd say it's that. At that point, you're just doing shared storytelling about yourself in a fictional realm. 
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/
High levels of player input and the lack of death and/or failure do indeed break down the 4th wall. I also concur that they have a large impact on player immersion.

How does allowing player imput into making the death/failure scenes cooler result in not having death/failure scenes?



It runs on some assumptions I will not ever grant to your side of the argument (given that many of my own arguments are dismissed or labeled as "jerks").
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/
How does allowing player imput into making the death/failure scenes cooler result in not having death/failure scenes?



It doesn't result in that at all. But certainly don't try to tell that to someone who has never even bothered to try to the approach being advocated. It's easier to theorize and attack than to implement it and learn. Or to have an honest discussion.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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Does high levels of player input, combined with 'death and failure' avoidance(for lack of a wordier description) create problems with breaking the 4th wall?




I'm not exactly sure how the issues of death and interesting failure apply here with regard to your question except that the best way to break immersion is to no longer have an interface with the game (i.e. your character is pushing up daisies).


Just the thought that patterns will emerge that the players will notice that pull them out of the game.
As a crude example: players know that characters near cities will die( and can be easily revived at the city) while characters way out in the forest are more likely to 'wake up' from their death experience as captive or some such idea. 




Regarding your last post, FamousErik, why do you feel the need to rant at all? If everything's working at your table, keep on doing that. 


Just language. Change 'rant' to 'inquiry'.
I want to understand how things work at your table as well. 
Just the thought that patterns will emerge that the players will notice that pull them out of the game.

As a crude example: players know that characters near cities will die( and can be easily revived at the city) while characters way out in the forest are more likely to 'wake up' from their death experience as captive or some such idea.



By and large, most players in my experience choose to have their characters die when it comes around. Based on feedback, they say it's because of the constant collaboration in the game that their death scenes hit the right dramatic mark just about every time. This also comes from the players being focused on the scene and, by extension, their characters. If the scene is made better by their death, they choose to die. If it's made better by their living, they choose to live.

The next common reason cited is because they have a backup character they've wanted to try ready (our games have a reputation for being tough).

I've never once seen anyone use a raise dead spell. It's unnecessary as a mechanic with this approach. 

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Obviously there are merits to both view points about player input, especially given that they are far from obsolutes on either end.

A few thoughts:

Do you guys run standard published worlds or 'homebrew'? Do you think this affects this discussion?

Does high levels of player input, combined with 'death and failure' avoidance(for lack of a wordier description) create problems with breaking the 4th wall?
 



I play 100% Homebrew, and have for over 20 years, I have played ONE official tournament (3.5) and one "Actual D&D" game which taught me how superior my own system was. All of my advice and biases are from the lens of Homebrew Rules.

I think this impacts the discussion largely: I don't understand the concept of using published adventures.


I feel high levels of player input provide information; some players are cool with death, others are attached to their character. Sometimes death can be interesting, other times the outcome is a disturbance. This occurs because in Talisman or Monopoly, or an RPG Video Game, you return to save points, or set up a new board; the "game" is not over.  In D&D, death can mean the end of the story, or the game and sometimes, even the campaign itself.

So, what is death and what does it mean? Any failure which causes a player to be eliminated from the game is bad because that player will turn on the x-box or start texting. Any failure which mandates a player to "wait around" for an hour while other players argue about how to proceed is bad for the game. Likewise, any success which "ends the game early" is also bad as a failure which results in the same consequence.

I try to learn how my players feel about failure and death so I can design encounters, trapdoors and other things to keep players at the table. Most often, I try to have players "own" up to 3-5 characters and I try to keep 5-8 active NPC's near the group when possible to present "Stay involved" options for players that have a character die. My goal in death or failure is to keep the game moving, and interesting.


In my games, there is no room for boredom and I always have something for a player to do, and I have many many instruments to keep the player involved.

I think that players hate death because of "Time Waste". Imagine playing an MMO Game, and getting killed in a way in which you lose 6 months worth of items. That would make you feel like your entire time gathering those items was a waste. Translate to D&D and players have no incentive to be attached to their character or care about the game if they can just "lose everything" in one round. From my experience, players hate this loss of time which is why they hate death/failure.


Within; Without.

High levels of player input and the lack of death and/or failure do indeed break down the 4th wall. I also concur that they have a large impact on player immersion.

How does allowing player input into making the death/failure scenes cooler result in not having death/failure scenes?



It lets you know by design what failures your players feel ruin the game for them. If a player is sensitive or attached to a character, you need to know that. Sometimes, players who hate death don't mind an "Epic Death".

It lets you design games with encounters where the risks are:
(A) Sensible given the context of the encounter.
(B) Difficult to achieve with maximum opportunity of success or failure that WON'T break the game.


As for not having death/failure scenes...

Different groups have different needs. I had a campaign where I didn't let anyone die because we played once every 2 weeks, balls deep in the game and nobody wanted a reset, restart or new character, they ONLY wanted to use their current level 50's and wouldn't have fun if they had to make new characters to "get to know".

I also had a campaign where every single battle had potential for death, and players were always tense and on their toes. I felt the excitement was good, but my players felt like they needed to "Sand Bag" their items and wealth, afraid of owning a magic item because I might have an NPC dispel/disenchant it, afraid to own gold because of the marketplace thieves, afraid to use their best spell because it "might be wasted". Players were paranoid, and that was bad. A lesson I learned was that I needed to create a challenge level appropriate for the group.


This is where I am going with all of this: Different players want different "Challenge Levels". Some players prefer Axis and Allies over risk because risk is too simple, while others prefer risk because Axis and Allies is too complex. Some people enjoy Magic The Gathering but don't enjoy decks that kill in the first 6 turns (or sooner) - while others only enjoy those kind of decks. I like to know who I am against so i can use "the right deck for the right opponent". A newb will never see Force of Will from my hands or a counterspell of some kind for everything.


If players have input about the challenges they will face, and what the risks and failure options are, they will be comfortable with that, because those failures were part of the agreed upon premise of the game. If they have an input about those things, they will be more likely to enjoy the failure risks rather then fear them. They might even look forward to those risks, and players who helped design an enemy will enjoy that enemies successes, even if that means their own failures against that enemy from time to time.

Within; Without.

With #2, it's more what happens when you go in for detail, and you get what amounts to a big "I don't care." No DM wants to hear that, except in the dry sense of knowing what avenues to never go down with that player again.

I agree. That's a clear sign that the player is not engaged, and hasn't been for some time. It would be disappointing, but the chances of that happening are pretty easily avoided if the players are engaged from the outset.

#5, I should've clarified that I meant that from the perspective of a player. Many people enjoy a world that's, in a sense, indifferent to them, where their fates are left entirely to...well, fate, and the whims thereof. It has versimillitude, anyway. Real life doesn't seem to care about us too much, our lives are reactions against our circumstances. As CS Lewis said, we're adjectives, not nouns. That part of the world is what some players enjoy. What's the point of a hero's journey if they decide what stops would be cool?

But such a player could then contribute idea that spoke to that, probably better than any DM could, because only the player knows what level of "indifference" they're expecting.

Again, a DW example. A paraphrase of a conversation we had after his character died in the first session:

"So how come your cleric with a strength of 8 went into melee combat? He sucks at it, and he would've known he sucks at it."
"He had to do something; can't just sit around."
"Granted. But couldn't he have done something brainier, like spout lore regarding their weaknesses, or something?"
"In the books they don't have any weaknesses."
"It's not set in stone."
"That's crap. You can't just invent ways out of things."

First of all, there's incentive for failure in DW. The more you fail, the faster you level. Unless failure involves death.

Second of all, the player was doing what made sense to him, and that's the guiding principle of collaboration. If you think it would make sense for something to be true, but no one has mentioned it, then there's every chance that it is true. In many games, including DW, you can either declare (perhaps with a resource cost, as in FATE) or roll to see if that detail is true and whether or not it's to your advantage. You're not creating anything, because it was there the entire time. And if you don't want to declare something, you don't have to.

Essentially, the malleability of a collaborative game ruined it for him.

Malleability is not the right way to think about it. In the game world, things are what they are. It's just that we don't always know what they are until someone says what they are. In a collaborative game, anyone can have an opportunity to say what things are. Things aren't appearing out of the blue in the game world. They've always been there, but only just became relevant.

And yup, thought his reaction against Fiasco was weird too. "But it has the zany, scheming, ambitious stuff you like."
"Yes, but it's so controlled. When things happen naturally due to player ambition in an otherwise neutral campaign, then it's magical. When it's the whole point, it loses its spontaneity."

It's magical because it's incredibly rare in a "neutral" campaign that a player will put themselves in a position for anything to happen to their character "naturally."

And if one person comes up with content for people that he thinks is cool, it will probably be an average to good game. If everybody comes up with content that they all think is cool, then it will definitely be a great game.

I don't believe this is true.  Collaboration is no more a guarantee of greatness than anything else.

Not when one is collaborating for someone else's benefit, or within a very large group. When a group collaborates for its own benefit, and it's small enough that everyone can and does have a say, they almost certainly do better as a whole than if someone was making choices for them.

The TV metaphor is interesting.  My favourite programmes all have a lead writer that controls direction and they also take the story to places I never would, had I any input.

They control the direction, but they're not deaf to input from others involved in the show, other people they know, and from their audience. It's a simple fact that more brains can generate more ideas, and work out problems with ideas. Yes, you have one brain that calls an end to brainstorming so that things can actually proceed without getting too complicated, but it's folly not to hook other brains in parallel.

What kinda Yoda advice is that?

Looks like it's going to be a while, then.

 Through your own fear, and the sarcasm you cover it with, I can see that you're very close to the answer.

So, here are my questions: Do you also want to understand? Do you have any questions? Or are you just here to complain about something you don't understand and have no interest in understanding?

Lets just engage each other on the interesting topic. You don't have to try and take the role of wisdom dispenser.

You don't engage me. You just make assumptions. Actually, you're making my point for me.

And...thats about enough pop psychology as well.
You are not the 'truth holder', waiting for me to move past my fear to accept the 'truth'

And I'm not obligated to respond to your rhetoric, either.

Obviously there are merits to both view points about player input, especially given that they are far from obsolutes on either end.

A few thoughts:

Do you guys run standard published worlds or 'homebrew'? Do you think this affects this discussion?

Thank you for asking some honest questions.

It's a bit of both for me. My main "world" draws from various published sources, including Eberron and the Paragon modules, but I don't tend to hew to maps or organizations or other facts, except as they suit me and the other players. Drow are drow, eladrin are eladrin, but if we need something we create it in the copious open areas we've left ourselves.

But I don't think this affects this discussion, because one of the advantages of collaborating is that it deals well with players who have much less understanding of the setting (homebrew or not) than the DM and the other players. Or, heck, even if the DM has less understanding than another player. I, for one, am tired of downloading setting information to players who, by the very fact that the download is necessary, don't care as much about it as I do. I would rather toss out pages of information about the setting than correct a reasonable assumption by one of the players that doesn't contradict anything that's already been established in play. Even if it has already been established, if someone's just not getting it, I will gladly change things to be in line with what they're assuming. It's not likely to be worth anyone's time or aggravation to keep correcting them. And averting potential arguments is worth losing a little immersion.

Does high levels of player input, combined with 'death and failure' avoidance(for lack of a wordier description) create problems with breaking the 4th wall?

I don't know exactly what you mean here. I have done my best to answer, below, but what exactly do you mean?

First of all, there isn't necessarily any "death and failure" avoidance. Since players can take part in setting up what death and failure mean, they can make death or failure interesting, and remove the need to avoid it. Something it's so much more interesting than success that we just decide it happens.

If by "the 4th wall" you mean "immersion," or "forgetting that the outside world exists," I find collaborate helps with this immensely. Imagine not having to ask if something is the case, but just assuming it is because it makes sense, describing your action and moving on. Imagine everyone around you doing the same, and giving the impression that they somehow know details the DM hasn't even mentioned (the DM's nodding, and building off of them, so they must be true...). How can that be less immersive than five people asking what they see, asking for clarification, doing something, and then asking what happens when they do that?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

High levels of player input and the lack of death and/or failure do indeed break down the 4th wall. I also concur that they have a large impact on player immersion.

How does allowing player input into making the death/failure scenes cooler result in not having death/failure scenes?



It lets you know by design what failures your players feel ruin the game for them. If a player is sensitive or attached to a character, you need to know that. Sometimes, players who hate death don't mind an "Epic Death".

It lets you design games with encounters where the risks are:
(A) Sensible given the context of the encounter.
(B) Difficult to achieve with maximum opportunity of success or failure that WON'T break the game.


As for not having death/failure scenes...

Different groups have different needs. I had a campaign where I didn't let anyone die because we played once every 2 weeks, balls deep in the game and nobody wanted a reset, restart or new character, they ONLY wanted to use their current level 50's and wouldn't have fun if they had to make new characters to "get to know".

I also had a campaign where every single battle had potential for death, and players were always tense and on their toes. I felt the excitement was good, but my players felt like they needed to "Sand Bag" their items and wealth, afraid of owning a magic item because I might have an NPC dispel/disenchant it, afraid to own gold because of the marketplace thieves, afraid to use their best spell because it "might be wasted". Players were paranoid, and that was bad. A lesson I learned was that I needed to create a challenge level appropriate for the group.


This is where I am going with all of this: Different players want different "Challenge Levels". Some players prefer Axis and Allies over risk because risk is too simple, while others prefer risk because Axis and Allies is too complex. Some people enjoy Magic The Gathering but don't enjoy decks that kill in the first 6 turns (or sooner) - while others only enjoy those kind of decks. I like to know who I am against so i can use "the right deck for the right opponent". A newb will never see Force of Will from my hands or a counterspell of some kind for everything.


If players have input about the challenges they will face, and what the risks and failure options are, they will be comfortable with that, because those failures were part of the agreed upon premise of the game. If they have an input about those things, they will be more likely to enjoy the failure risks rather then fear them. They might even look forward to those risks, and players who helped design an enemy will enjoy that enemies successes, even if that means their own failures against that enemy from time to time.



They may also be uncomfortable with having that much control because those failures were self-enforced and robs them of a more adventurous, challenging, or surprising game on their end.

If they don't have input about those things, they will be more likely to enjoy their successes and more deeply mourn their losses (which can lead to interesting roleplaying opportunities they wouldn't have brought about on their own). They may even look forward to those risks because it can lead to unexpected pleasentries, even if that means they have a moment from time to time where they do genuinely fail what was put before them.
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 eagerly await further questions on this issue. They're so much more interesting than baseless assumptions.

Here's one of my questions:

How do you deal with players assuming one thing and the DM assuming another about, say, the same physical detail of a room? When trust is high, it's easy for one side or the other to just go with the other's assumption. When trust is not high, I tend to see either arguments or resentment or both arise, sometimes over extremely minor matters. This, in part, is why I prefer as both a player and DM to say "Yes, and..." to others' assumptions. Nothing else really seems worth my time.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

If by "the 4th wall" you mean "immersion," or "forgetting that the outside world exists," I find collaborate helps with this immensely. Imagine not having to ask if something is the case, but just assuming it is because it makes sense, describing your action and moving on. Imagine everyone around you doing the same, and giving the impression that they somehow know details the DM hasn't even mentioned (the DM's nodding, and building off of them, so they must be true...). How can that be less immersive than five people asking what they see, asking for clarification, doing something, and then asking what happens when they do that?



This is an important distinction. I find it far less immersive when the players have to pepper the DM with questions about things they could otherwise safely assume are present when they want to take an action, given the context of the scene.

Take a tavern brawl: Does a player really need to ask the DM if there's a serving tray nearby he can smash over someone's head or can he just say there's one, pick it up, and roll some dice to arrive at an outcome? This is just a simple example of how often the DM fields questions from players to get more information just so they can use that information in a fun way. I find it more immersive if players assume, establish, and act rather than question, ask for permission, then act.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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This is an important distinction. I find it far less immersive when the players have to pepper the DM with questions about things they could otherwise safely assume are present when they want to take an action, given the context of the scene.

Take a tavern brawl: Does a player really need to ask the DM if there's a serving tray nearby he can smash over someone's head or can he just say there's one, pick it up, and roll some dice to arrive at an outcome? This is just a simple example of how often the DM fields questions from players to get more information just so they can use that information in a fun way. I find it more immersive if players assume, establish, and act rather than question, ask for permission, then act.



Open question: If you're concerned about this method, is the above example the kind of thing that worries you?

After all, it's also plausible that a person reach out and grab a patron's magic sword in the midst of a brawl, and if we're really not blocking player ideas then someone could say they grab a flamethrower that's kicking around. They can do that.

The assumption we're working from is that all incentive for doing that has been removed. The players helped with creating the world, so they have no incentive for putting in things that break the illusion of that world. The players helped create the adventure, so they have no incentive for adding details that dismantle the adventure. The players helped craft the encounter, so why would they do something to change it drastically?

I wouldn't block a player declaring some (to me) incongruous detail, but I would definitely pause things and ask what the upshot is. What's the "and"? What's the real point of that declaration, because I'm not seeing it? Does the player just want to "win"? Then we can just make that the case, without any call for odd, unbeatable declarations. Let's just let the other players interact for a few moments with the scene we all just created, with the flamethrower character's player guaranteed a "win" (whatever that means in the scene), and then we'll try another scene in which that player can once again help establish a scene that they can enjoy without having to introduce odd details, or in which the odd details are established up front.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

As an aside, the existence of a flamethrower might even make a tavern scene worth playing out.

(And for those who will no doubt take the flamethrower example to what they consider a logical extreme to prove some baseless assumption, call it a wand of burning hands if it makes it easier on you. The wizard who owns it ate the fish and left it on the table nearby in his mad dash to the loo.)

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

If they don't have input about those things, they will be more likely to enjoy their successes and more deeply mourn their losses (which can lead to interesting roleplaying opportunities they wouldn't have brought about on their own). They may even look forward to those risks because it can lead to unexpected pleasentries, even if that means they have a moment from time to time where they do genuinely fail what was put before them.

If they agree with the DM that the risks, rewards, and failures that he presented to them are fun.

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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.
If they don't have input about those things, they will be more likely to enjoy their successes and more deeply mourn their losses (which can lead to interesting roleplaying opportunities they wouldn't have brought about on their own). They may even look forward to those risks because it can lead to unexpected pleasentries, even if that means they have a moment from time to time where they do genuinely fail what was put before them.

If they agree with the DM that the risks, rewards, and failures that he presented to them are fun.

The entire paragraph you quote seems predicated on the now-thoroughly-addressed misunderstanding that challenges that have been collaboratively created are inherently easier. People need to get past that fallacy before they're going to even begin to understand the point of collaboration.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

They may also be uncomfortable with having that much control because those failures were self-enforced and robs them of a more adventurous, challenging, or surprising game on their end.

If they don't have input about those things, they will be more likely to enjoy their successes and more deeply mourn their losses (which can lead to interesting roleplaying opportunities they wouldn't have brought about on their own). They may even look forward to those risks because it can lead to unexpected pleasentries, even if that means they have a moment from time to time where they do genuinely fail what was put before them.




This is a good point, which is why I use "Session Zero" to measure the player. I already have a very good map with 12 regions and over 60 interesting locations. Many of the details were "woven in" during gameplay, and marked in the notes. Later on, I would use the notes to modify the map so the next session, they could see some changes from their actions.

I often have a 5 point forumula I follow: (while there are a few extra pointers)

1. Begining: Go over final details of the last game. I tell the players what happened since last game, and where they are when the game begins. I give each player a timeframe "You spent the last X days here, what were you doing?" If they aren't "on page" to know an answer, I suggest them to make Profession, Gather Information and a few other skills and reward them on their degree of success. There is no failure on this roll, and a natural 1 is given the minimum reward.

2. The Chain of Events is the true begining of the game. The players at this point know the context, and "The Story Unfolds". I present them options on how to respond to what has been happening in the world, or to news they have heard "during background" checks. Then a goal is assigned. The players discuss how to proceed. I use their discourse to weave in my plans. Every action they take, person they talk to; will have something interesting which will impact their plans in some way; other times they will learn the impacts of their works.

3. Every "Encounter" is a situation in which something happens that the player causes to happen, or can respond to. Every encounter has unlimited means of resolution; I suppose you could use Bayes Theorm to calculate the total number of options, then use nPr to calculate the total possible solutions if you were dedicated. That said, you will never spend that much time waiting on your turn!

4. Every situation is a ticket to the next situation. Each situation has 3 things: A begining, A moment where they players "jump in" and may act, and an easy ticket out. Players might see 2 Guards ruffing up a little girl in the alley and when i ask what they do, one of their valid choices is "Walk Away". This lets them have a way out of things they thought were uninteresting and teaches me to include less of that.

5. These situations occur in the 5 room formula, often: The situation starts. Then it evolves to point B. Then, C happens. Finally the scene ends.

6. When the scene ends. Think of it like this. You leave the "come together" spot and on your way out of town you enter Banshee Forest. Your first scene is "chatterers" all over the place, non-hostile little spiritlings that begin to follow you. You will find some kind of environmental hazard. If you succeed, you will find a danger you avoided, and if you fail, you will get some kind of penalty. Then, a situation will occur where the penalty matters. You could die here. If the players enjoyed that, a battle or two will occur, if not then I will say "You make your way through the woods and find some footprints of a large creature. You also see a couple of banshee spirits floating around screaming words of death however they don't disturb you."

7. The end of the scene often provides a time to give a quick reward or set up camp, narrate travel or some other non-action moment. The interest from this non-scene is "recovering" 1-3 or more days and making a few survival checks to find food and have a wilderness encounter which could be any type of encounter. I use this as a wind down, if you will.

8. Once the players are collected, we repeat all of the above. The initial objective might go uncompleted, it might be abandoned due to "in game events" or a new objective might occur. I look to end the game during such a wind-down period because I can refresh from that.

I set up 2-3 hour length games. Sometimes, everyone wants to play more and I tell them to create a new character at Level X. I will throw a "One-Shot" game in the "new region they just entered" and they are people in that region. I explain the context of what has been happening here while their other characters were out and about. The game "ends" at the point the PC's arrive.

I often permit these characters to "Join the party". PC's don't normally enter a place with like 4 people to kill a bunch of monsters. They usually engage a planning session with several NPC's who are "assigned to tasks" which can include "solving a problem" or "working on a goal" or "tag along with the group". Once the players have given NPC's a job, the results of those actions will impact the groups goals.

Some encounters, the players know there is risk of being hindered in their objectives if they lose however sometimes they know there is little risk of death; instead, there is risk of something else. When the risk is death, NPC's and players "hold festivities" or "pre-battle mourning" to prepare the players minds for the fact that their player might die, and set a scene that any fallen character will be remembered for their effort. In this way, character death is part of the story and world history.

Sometimes, when a player wants to do a complex task, I tell them to make "Two out of Three" and add the totals. If they roll a natural 1, I tell them to add its total. (not a critical failure).

I have mixed feelings about player death. I feel if the player is okay with it, they can die and roll a new character and the story goes on. There is no "one hero" but many heroes all over the world at all times working in and out of the worlds affairs. The "PC's" in this sense are part of a story within the story. They have a begining and an end. I have time pass, and characters age. Yes, they die of age too. Part of my game is "Generation development", that one character will "Retire" and often pass the legacy. This itself can set up a whole new campaign. The players are never the only people "working on this job one way or another".

If the whole party is wiped, a new group enters the location for different reasons and the story continues. This can be with newly created characters or adopted NPCs, it can even be a rival group of adventurers. The remains of the fallen are found by someone, someone will have a motivation to enter the area, if it is a war, then someone else is likely nearby anyway. Most of my players when they plan to face danger, try to set up their own devices for the worst conclusion. This can include "Insurance" where they pay a cleric and group of mercenaries an up-front fee to retrieve them if they fall. They don't always do this because the church requires 20% of "All Ownings" tithed. However it gives them an excuse to wake up at the alter if they die in battle.

I try to be flexible about death because the goal is really about keeping the game and fun going.

Also, LunarSavage:

I hope you don't feel I called you a "Jerk". I was clear in my attempt to define a "Jerk" as a "Grief Player" who enjoys making mischief for the DM and other players, and these players do exist. I also attempted to make clear that I am aware not every "challenging or difficult player" is a "Jerk", because often those players don't have a motive of causing grief to others. Please don't think I am calling you a "Jerk" because you have a different playstyle. I respect that you have a different playstyle than myself and welcome any of your feedback about how I do things, because I like my games to be "Open" to as many "Different Types" of players as possible; just not those who enjoy causing Grief.

Within; Without.

If they don't have input about those things, they will be more likely to enjoy their successes and more deeply mourn their losses (which can lead to interesting roleplaying opportunities they wouldn't have brought about on their own). They may even look forward to those risks because it can lead to unexpected pleasentries, even if that means they have a moment from time to time where they do genuinely fail what was put before them.

If they agree with the DM that the risks, rewards, and failures that he presented to them are fun.



I've found that even if they don't, they still have fun. 
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/
They may also be uncomfortable with having that much control because those failures were self-enforced and robs them of a more adventurous, challenging, or surprising game on their end.

If they don't have input about those things, they will be more likely to enjoy their successes and more deeply mourn their losses (which can lead to interesting roleplaying opportunities they wouldn't have brought about on their own). They may even look forward to those risks because it can lead to unexpected pleasentries, even if that means they have a moment from time to time where they do genuinely fail what was put before them.






Also, LunarSavage:

I hope you don't feel I called you a "Jerk". I was clear in my attempt to define a "Jerk" as a "Grief Player" who enjoys making mischief for the DM and other players, and these players do exist. I also attempted to make clear that I am aware not every "challenging or difficult player" is a "Jerk", because often those players don't have a motive of causing grief to others. Please don't think I am calling you a "Jerk" because you have a different playstyle. I respect that you have a different playstyle than myself and welcome any of your feedback about how I do things, because I like my games to be "Open" to as many "Different Types" of players as possible; just not those who enjoy causing Grief.



I do wish to address the rest of the post you made, but when I have more time and focus. As for now, I'll just address this section. By no means did I think you were calling me the jerk.

I've seen the word get thrown around on these boards, and often it is used to label a large segment of the player base that plays differently or enjoys a certain style of game. And it sickens me.

The particular type of player you address, "the griefer", I do concur with as being a jerk.

I find it funny that two certain individuals can spam the same questions and methods in just about every single thread (and sometimes without even reading the opening post) that urge other DMs to change their ways. But as soon as they are presented with players that don't want to play their way, they label them "jerks" and walk away. 
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 hope you don't feel I called you a "Jerk". I was clear in my attempt to define a "Jerk" as a "Grief Player" who enjoys making mischief for the DM and other players, and these players do exist. I also attempted to make clear that I am aware not every "challenging or difficult player" is a "Jerk", because often those players don't have a motive of causing grief to others. Please don't think I am calling you a "Jerk" because you have a different playstyle. I respect that you have a different playstyle than myself and welcome any of your feedback about how I do things, because I like my games to be "Open" to as many "Different Types" of players as possible; just not those who enjoy causing Grief.



Like as not, the given poster is referring to these statements (both mine):

Perhaps a better way to describe that is "players acting like jerks," not "entitled." Because players are entitled to a lot of things, including fun, but not at the expense of others. That's jerk behavior, not entitlement.



Agreed! Jerks are jerks. Don't play with jerks. Because someone doesn't like your playstyle doesn't mean they're a jerk. But if they know your playstyle (Session Zero), play anyway, then demonstrate poor behavior during the game, they're jerks.

 

To most, I'm sure it is plainly obvious that when we're referring to jerks, we're talking about people who purposefully disrupt the game, not people who don't like a given playstyle.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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Well, I did throw around the word a few times and felt I may have been less than clear about who is a jerk.

As i said, I try to accommodate every player because they will feel validated and accommodate me.  This is why I always start introspectively, to ask if I am the problem and not the player, or if the player has a problem but isn't the problem.

Some DM's can also be seen as jerks because they enjoy "dictating" their players.

I suppose humans are naturally categorical thinkers, and not everyone is trained to understand a "problem player" is usually a "player with a problem" rather than "a troublesome player".

Within; Without.

It gladdens me to hear you share my view on this point.

It's a frequent occurence that we see DMs on these forums wondering why the players didn't take their plot hook, aren't paying attention during the game, or argue with the DM (and on and on). The common conclusion seems to be the player is the problem, so how does the DM "make" the player change?

It's a rare DM in my experience that posits that perhaps his plot hook sucks or his game pacing is terrible or he blocks players' ideas causing them to argue. It may not be the case at all and the player may indeed be the problem. But it's a good idea to at least look at yourself to see if there's something you can change on the DM's side of the table.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

It's a rare DM in my experience that posits that perhaps his plot hook sucks or his game pacing is terrible or he blocks players' ideas causing them to argue. It may not be the case at all and the player may indeed be the problem. But it's a good idea to at least look at yourself to see if there's something you can change on the DM's side of the table.

Even without anything sucking, or anyone being a jerk, that particular game simply might not be engaging the players for whatever reason. Plenty of people really like The Lord of the Rings, but more than a few of them have judiciously skimmed "The Council of Elrond." They're not jerks and Tolkien doesn't suck, but c'mon.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

It's a rare DM in my experience that posits that perhaps his plot hook sucks or his game pacing is terrible or he blocks players' ideas causing them to argue. It may not be the case at all and the player may indeed be the problem. But it's a good idea to at least look at yourself to see if there's something you can change on the DM's side of the table.

Even without anything sucking, or anyone being a jerk, that particular game simply might not be engaging the players for whatever reason. Plenty of people really like The Lord of the Rings, but more than a few of them have judiciously skimmed "The Council of Elrond." They're not jerks and Tolkien doesn't suck, but c'mon.

I'm suddenly inspired for a new campaign idea. The heroes are elven party planners commissioned by the elven king to plan seating arrangements for an important meeting involving elves, dwarves, humans and hobbits.. ummm... halflings.

I agree with your statement here that it's not necessariy the DM's fault. A DM can juggle chainsaws and spit fire all he wants but if he (or she) has got a player more interested in watching cat videos on his (or her) cell phone, what can ya do? If a DM has 5 players totally interested in the game and one that isn't 'feeling it'?

Some might assume lack of collaboration is the issue, but it's hard to collaborate with someone who watches cat videos when they could be playing D&D, lol.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
It's a rare DM in my experience that posits that perhaps his plot hook sucks or his game pacing is terrible or he blocks players' ideas causing them to argue. It may not be the case at all and the player may indeed be the problem. But it's a good idea to at least look at yourself to see if there's something you can change on the DM's side of the table.

Even without anything sucking, or anyone being a jerk, that particular game simply might not be engaging the players for whatever reason. Plenty of people really like The Lord of the Rings, but more than a few of them have judiciously skimmed "The Council of Elrond." They're not jerks and Tolkien doesn't suck, but c'mon.

I'm suddenly inspired for a new campaign idea. The heroes are elven party planners commissioned by the elven king to plan seating arrangements for an important meeting involving elves, dwarves, humans and hobbits.. ummm... halflings.

I agree with your statement here that it's not necessariy the DM's fault. A DM can juggle chainsaws and spit fire all he wants but if he (or she) has got a player more interested in watching cat videos on his (or her) cell phone, what can ya do? If a DM has 5 players totally interested in the game and one that isn't 'feeling it'?

Some might assume lack of collaboration is the issue, but it's hard to collaborate with someone who watches cat videos when they could be playing D&D, lol.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Even without anything sucking, or anyone being a jerk, that particular game simply might not be engaging the players for whatever reason. Plenty of people really like The Lord of the Rings, but more than a few of them have judiciously skimmed "The Council of Elrond." They're not jerks and Tolkien doesn't suck, but c'mon.



Of course, it could be any number of things causing the game to fall flat. I just find it troubling that many DMs want to blame the other first instead of at least looking inward. "I put all this work into the game. It can't be me!"

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Even without anything sucking, or anyone being a jerk, that particular game simply might not be engaging the players for whatever reason. Plenty of people really like The Lord of the Rings, but more than a few of them have judiciously skimmed "The Council of Elrond." They're not jerks and Tolkien doesn't suck, but c'mon.



Of course, it could be any number of things causing the game to fall flat. I just find it troubling that many DMs want to blame the other first instead of at least looking inward. "I put all this work into the game. It can't be me!"

And just as many players will blame the DM first. I am usually the one voted to DM (and I generally enjoy it), so I'm biased on the side of DM's... but...

If I were an outsider looking in, having to determine where things go wrong...
If I see on one side this DM creature engaged in various activities with 6 or 7 interested players and on the other side I see a lone wolf player busily engaged in a text conversation with his ex-girlfriend or political operatives not having fun, I would be a little hard-pressed to come to the opinion that the game is falling flat because the DM is doing something wrong.

I don't think any of this is what the original poster is talking about, though. I think it's just a cultural trend. I remember the first time I heard that tag would no longer be allowed in schools and that they were playing sports games without keeping score because "failing at competitions creates feelings of inferiority". I thought "the world has changed". I didn't think (and still don't) that it is changing for the better. I'm guessing the OP has some beefs with some of the changes in D&D play styles as well.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
And just as many players will blame the DM first. I am usually the one voted to DM (and I generally enjoy it), so I'm biased on the side of DM's... but...

If I were an outsider looking in, having to determine where things go wrong...
If I see on one side this DM creature engaged in various activities with 6 or 7 interested players and on the other side I see a lone wolf player busily engaged in a text conversation with his ex-girlfriend or political operatives not having fun, I would be a little hard-pressed to come to the opinion that the game is falling flat because the DM is doing something wrong.



I'm talking about the DM looking inward first before blaming the other. I'm not saying it's always the DM's fault. I'm saying it is the mark of a good DM in my opinion to consider that it might be.

I don't think any of this is what the original poster is talking about, though. I think it's just a cultural trend. I remember the first time I heard that tag would no longer be allowed in schools and that they were playing sports games without keeping score because "failing at competitions creates feelings of inferiority". I thought "the world has changed". I didn't think (and still don't) that it is changing for the better. I'm guessing the OP has some beefs with some of the changes in D&D play styles as well.



If the way you play tag with your friends is working fine, keep on playing tag that way.

If the OP has no problems at his game using whatever style he's using, then he should keep doing that. Why look for a beef when it has no impact on you whatsoever?

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I don't think any of this is what the original poster is talking about, though. I think it's just a cultural trend. I remember the first time I heard that tag would no longer be allowed in schools and that they were playing sports games without keeping score because "failing at competitions creates feelings of inferiority". I thought "the world has changed". I didn't think (and still don't) that it is changing for the better. I'm guessing the OP has some beefs with some of the changes in D&D play styles as well.

If the way you play tag with your friends is working fine, keep on playing tag that way.

If the OP has no problems at his game using whatever style he's using, then he should keep doing that. Why look for a beef when it has no impact on you whatsoever?

"The world is changing, and not for the better," is the refrain of all those who see their assumptions and skills being disregarded and made obsolete.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.



How do you deal with players assuming one thing and the DM assuming another about, say, the same physical detail of a room?


I'm... not sure. I think in the case of the room, it would largely depend on the importance of the detail. If the room is identical to the room opposite for some reason( Hey! these rooms are identical. Maybe there is a secret compartment in the same place in this room!) then I would be sure to correct any misunderstandings. If the room is the back of a tavern, then go ahead and decide there is a cellar, or some old weapons or whatever.
As a broader question, I feel it applies in the same general way. 




If the OP has no problems at his game using whatever style he's using, then he should keep doing that. Why look for a beef when it has no impact on you whatsoever?


Discuss and learn. I can't say I agree with a heavy player input style, but I understand it better.

Personally, I think the conversation has had some good points, from different depth levels of player control, handling death and why different types of players prefer different types of games.

I will be sure to consider that while I continue to use what I already do (not broken, no need to fix). I prefer to "direct things" and weave things in, while letting players choices define the direction of the story. I see the case for letting players "have control" and to be honest, I hadn't considered that until I saw it here. While I am unlikely to adopt the model, I will surely incorporate "player control" in more areas, specifically any area where I notice them not having fun.


That said, I feel the best "Fun" of a dungeon master is to ask yourself the definition of fun, the depth levels of the different kinds of fun you have in the game.

1. You have access to EVERY ability in the game.
2. You control any/every character archetype you want to. If you want to test a character, you can put it in.
3. You aren't bound to your character, if it dies, you have another in 2 seconds.
4. You can play Terrasques and Elder Dragon Lords and other things you might hesitate to let players use.
5. You have more gold at your disposal than your players do.

Just in that alone, you should be able to look at your players character sheets and design encounters where players are required to use those skills to overcome their environment and progress in the story.

You, as the DM, can play Future Sound of London or Carbon based Lifeforms (and pretend you are only doing it "for the game" instead of admitting you got caught by the music. some music you catch, this music catches you.)

Best of all, you are the one the players are looking to for purpose, direction and arbitration. You have the "challenge" of making them happy and resolving any disputes. Yes, being a DM is "Challenging" in different ways than being a "Player" in another persons game. It is a different type of challenge, and a different type of fun.

If you feel the current "System" doesn't give your group the entertainment you want, ask what about that system fails and why. Then, correct it! Many games have "Modding" these days, which is what you get to do as a DM. You get to say "Instead of 10 battles = level, I will have 18 Challenges = Level". (I have 5 Hard Challenges, 5 easy challenges, 4 non-battle moments of intensity and 4 cool down situations with a challenge/objective of some kind, normally).

Create 3-4 different "Models" of how you could do it. Tell the players you want to "Test different ideas, see what works and throw away what doesn't". Most players are open to testing a new idea for "One Game", and might even have feedback before, during and afterward.

Within; Without.

I agree with your statement here that it's not necessariy the DM's fault. A DM can juggle chainsaws and spit fire all he wants but if he (or she) has got a player more interested in watching cat videos on his (or her) cell phone, what can ya do? If a DM has 5 players totally interested in the game and one that isn't 'feeling it'?

Some might assume lack of collaboration is the issue, but it's hard to collaborate with someone who watches cat videos when they could be playing D&D, lol.

Lack of collaboration wouldn't be the issue, more of an attempt at a solution wherein the person who watches cat videos would be engaged with the game.  If the person watching cat videos is, in fact, not actually interested in joining in the first place, and actively refuses to engage with the game, then there's no real way to get that person into gear... so why even count him as part of the group in the game session?

Now if this cat lover has to be there for one reason or another, and he' supposed to join the session, then I as DM would observe what sort of cat vids he's watching, and ask him what makes those cat vids so appealing to him (aesthetics).  Then based on the cues that I pick up from him, combined with a review of both what the other players like and what is existing in the game world, I'd check out what I might be able to do (dynamics) to grab his attention and draw him into the game. 
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I don't think any of this is what the original poster is talking about, though. I think it's just a cultural trend. I remember the first time I heard that tag would no longer be allowed in schools and that they were playing sports games without keeping score because "failing at competitions creates feelings of inferiority". I thought "the world has changed". I didn't think (and still don't) that it is changing for the better. I'm guessing the OP has some beefs with some of the changes in D&D play styles as well.

If the way you play tag with your friends is working fine, keep on playing tag that way.

If the OP has no problems at his game using whatever style he's using, then he should keep doing that. Why look for a beef when it has no impact on you whatsoever?

"The world is changing, and not for the better," is the refrain of all those who see their assumptions and skills being disregarded and made obsolete.




In the same way that "This will solve all your problems" is the refrain of the snake oil salesman.

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 don't think any of this is what the original poster is talking about, though. I think it's just a cultural trend. I remember the first time I heard that tag would no longer be allowed in schools and that they were playing sports games without keeping score because "failing at competitions creates feelings of inferiority". I thought "the world has changed". I didn't think (and still don't) that it is changing for the better. I'm guessing the OP has some beefs with some of the changes in D&D play styles as well.

If the way you play tag with your friends is working fine, keep on playing tag that way.

If the OP has no problems at his game using whatever style he's using, then he should keep doing that. Why look for a beef when it has no impact on you whatsoever?

"The world is changing, and not for the better," is the refrain of all those who see their assumptions and skills being disregarded and made obsolete.




In the same way that "This will solve all your problems" is the refrain of the snake oil salesman.



Beat me to the punch. xD
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'm... not sure. I think in the case of the room, it would largely depend on the importance of the detail. If the room is identical to the room opposite for some reason( Hey! these rooms are identical. Maybe there is a secret compartment in the same place in this room!) then I would be sure to correct any misunderstandings. If the room is the back of a tavern, then go ahead and decide there is a cellar, or some old weapons or whatever.
As a broader question, I feel it applies in the same general way. 



The characters are engaged in a fierce fight with some enemies at an open gate to an outpost in the desert. There are some foot soldiers, but more deadly than that are the archers up on the wall who are raining arrows down on the PCs. One player says that his character runs past the gate and sees a ladder that he can grab to get up on that wall and start killing archers. The DM hadn't previously established that there were ladders laying around and there are none drawn on the map.

Would that be okay with you? Why or why not?

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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I'm... not sure. I think in the case of the room, it would largely depend on the importance of the detail. If the room is identical to the room opposite for some reason( Hey! these rooms are identical. Maybe there is a secret compartment in the same place in this room!) then I would be sure to correct any misunderstandings. If the room is the back of a tavern, then go ahead and decide there is a cellar, or some old weapons or whatever.
As a broader question, I feel it applies in the same general way. 

The characters are engaged in a fierce fight with some enemies at an open gate to an outpost in the desert. There are some foot soldiers, but more deadly than that are the archers up on the wall who are raining arrows down on the PCs. One player says that his character runs past the gate and sees a ladder that he can grab to get up on that wall and start killing archers. The DM hadn't previously established that there were ladders laying around and there are none drawn on the map.

Would that be okay with you? Why or why not?

Seeing as even the DMG points out that looking for excuses not to do something cool is a lot more boring than looking for reasons to do it, I'd say go for it. Keep the game going.

Founder and figurehead of Just Say Yes!

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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I wouldn't block a player declaring some (to me) incongruous detail, but I would definitely pause things and ask what the upshot is. What's the "and"? What's the real point of that declaration, because I'm not seeing it? Does the player just want to "win"? Then we can just make that the case, without any call for odd, unbeatable declarations. Let's just let the other players interact for a few moments with the scene we all just created, with the flamethrower character's player guaranteed a "win" (whatever that means in the scene), and then we'll try another scene in which that player can once again help establish a scene that they can enjoy without having to introduce odd details, or in which the odd details are established up front.



Time for me to take apart this fiction again.

Let's see here...

"I wouldn't block a player declaring some (to me) incongruous detail, but I would definitely pause things and ask what the upshot is."

So, in other words, the player wouldn't be blocked but they WOULD be singled out by the DM for introducing something that is (only in the DM's opinion) incongruous. This is known as passive-aggressive behavior...a "soft" block if you will. See, what the DM is doing in this situation is taking part in a collaborative game where everyone gets a voice but clearly Centauri is okay singling out players he feels are not matching his expectations.

Hmm. Singling someone out in the middle of a game for not meeting DM expectations? Uh oh!

A discerning reader will also notice this...

"Does the player just want to "win"?" What a strange assumption. What a negative assumption too! You can definitely hear it in the tone. This is followed up with

"Then we can just make that the case, without any call for odd, unbeatable declarations. Let's just let the other players interact for a few moments with the scene we all just created, with the flamethrower character's player guaranteed a "win" (whatever that means in the scene), and then we'll try another scene in which that player can once again help establish a scene that they can enjoy without having to introduce odd details, or in which the odd details are established up front."

Again note the tone of the writing. The player is singled out again and there is mentioning of "try"-ing again...and you will notice the inclusion of "without having" which strongly implies that the behavior was unacceptable or undesirable. Oh my.

So, lets go through this...


odd  


/äd/

Adjective


  1. Different from what is usual or expected; strange: "the neighbors thought him very odd".


Well, the word "odd" occurs 3 times in the description of a players possible actions. But...what is odd can only be different from what is expected. Seems like the DM MUST be projecting expectations then...that or the players are all projecting expectations on a single player...or all on each other. That would be okay except that it is also clear in this example that that player then gets singled out for this "odd" behavior by being treated differently by the DM who stops the scene, interrupting it to question the player as to what they are trying to "get out" of it. Aren't they all supposed to be having fun? If a player does something it must be "to have fun" right? That is what you guys say is the point of what you do...so it must be why the person is doing it. So why ask them? Why put them on the spot? ahhh that's right...because they are violating the expectation of the DM. Oopsie.


in·con·gru·ous  


/inˈkäNGgro͞oəs/

Adjective

Not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something; not in place.


This word also appears in the paragraph and is fairly synonymous with "odd". Notice how this also singles out the player. We now have a firm example of the fact that Centauri's system DOES single out players on the spot in the middle of a game no-less to challenge them for something they've said that does not fit the expectations of the DM.


Now, I suspect this will be ignored or brushed off as "unimportant" but everyone should realize just how important this is when considering advice you take. As I pointed out before, "this fixes everything" is the tell-tale pitch of a snake oil salesman.


This approach does NOT fix everything in a game...it merely changes issues about while glossing over others, outright ignoring some or exacerbating others. That these issues can be dismissed, ignored, marginalized or flat-out lied about does not mean they do not exist...as evidenced by the quoted paragraph above where a DM singles out a player for what they feel is inappropriate. I am sure the player does not feel very good about the situation...do you?

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The characters are engaged in a fierce fight with some enemies at an open gate to an outpost in the desert. There are some foot soldiers, but more deadly than that are the archers up on the wall who are raining arrows down on the PCs. One player says that his character runs past the gate and sees a ladder that he can grab to get up on that wall and start killing archers. The DM hadn't previously established that there were ladders laying around and there are none drawn on the map.

Would that be okay with you? Why or why not?

This is an interesting example. I could very easily see myself wanting to block a declaration like that, because it could very easily remove the intended challenge of the archers on the wall. Furthermore, it would be pretty easy for the DM to state that the defenders wouldn't be so stupid as to leave a ladder next to their battlements.

If we'd collaborated on this encounter, then I would expect that the players would have provided themselves a way to make the archers vulnerable that we all agreed made sense and kept the challenge. If not, I think I'd decide that it makes sense for there to be some way for the heroes to access the battlements, and that still provides them with the level of entertainment they want, and I can still work with this (having the archers try to push him off the battlements, having people inside the outpost attack him, separating him from the group, or I can ask the player what the new challenges are that they'd enjoy). The presence of a ladder still wouldn't make a lot of sense to me, so I could ask the players to help me understand the reason or just decide in my own mind that the exact method doesn't matter. Maybe he used arrows to climb the wall, like in Tangled. Whatever. I'd rather devote my creativity to allowing the idea than to blocking it.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Maybe, if the PC's aren't the only people on their side, their allies got to the walls first, and brought ladders that are too large and heavy for the archers to push over (while that would be hard to carry, maybe they were aided by telekinetic magic, or maybe it was transformed into something light to carry and then something heavy to stay in place), even though the soldiers that have already tried to use the ladders were killed?

Founder and figurehead of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.
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