Keeping the rules from players

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hawkeyefan

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The game mechanics can inform players about the characters’ chances of success and so on. Removing may increase verisimilitude in some ways but will reduce it in others. So I don’t think there’s much to add there.

Anytime rules or a GM suggest to hide things from the players, I tend to dislike it. I don’t really see the value add versus what I think is lost.

Roll in the open, share information freely, provide DCs/target numbers….err on the side of the players. Better to give too much info than not enough.
 

robertsconley

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Obviously, the capacity for this approach to be successful directly correlates to the degree in which a given system models the reality of the game world vs "because game" abstractions, and depends on a mutual trust existing between the GM and players. The whole "mother may I?" complaint is predicated on the idea that player characters cannot simply do whatever they realistically could do if they were actual people living in the gameworld.
Hilarious example aside, which is why the approach requires the referee to be a excellent coach AND teacher. And why the setting has to be crafted to make sense with the verbal approach. Note it doesn't have to be realistic but it has be able to be visualized in the players mind in order give them the foundation to understand the constraints in order to make decisions about what to do in the game.
 

Winterblight

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The rules should never be hidden from the players. However, in my own experience, some players should be hidden from the rules.

In all seriousness, I’ve seen more than one gaming group implode because some players can’t help themselves when they get hold of the rules, break out the maths, and challenge every GM ruling.
 

TJS

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It is true that some of the best campaigns have been with systems the players have not been wholly familiar with.

It's like over familiarity with the system constrains players ability to create characters they can actually engage with over a long time.
 

Stan

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If the answer to the question "can I survive a jump off this cliff?" isn't obvious based on the circumstances (and you aren't playing Toon), then the game has no verisimilitude.
The question is verisimilitude to what. Most rpgs are not simple, real world roleplaying. Players want to know whether a lot of things about their character that they have no real world experience with. Can their fire spell kill an ogre? How fully does their super armor stop bullets? The cliff example is way out on the edge; there is a lot going on in less extreme example?
 

ffilz

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The rules should never be hidden from the players. However, in my own experience, some players should be hidden from the rules.

In all seriousness, I’ve seen more than one gaming group implode because some players can’t help themselves when they get hold of the rules, break out the maths, and challenge every GM ruling.
I haven't had a rules lawyer since college... I've had folks unhappy with rulings, but I really can't recall anyone pointing to the rules and throwing a fit. I don't think it even happened with my D&D 3.x play. Back in college and high school, yea, people would latch onto some rule and insist the rule be followed despite any sort of logic, or pull other rules lawyer stuff.
 

TristramEvans

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The question is verisimilitude to what. Most rpgs are not simple, real world roleplaying. Players want to know whether a lot of things about their character that they have no real world experience with. Can their fire spell kill an ogre? How fully does their super armor stop bullets? The cliff example is way out on the edge; there is a lot going on in less extreme example?

How do you know the size of a Yurmathrax that dwells in the fields of Onislaab and what colour is it's coat?
 

Fenris-77

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Everyone knows that the Yurmathrax of Onislaab only wear the finest Corinthian leather coats dyed a cerulean blue. Sheesh.
 

TristramEvans

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Everyone knows that the Yurmathrax of Onislaab only wear the finest Corinthian leather coats dyed a cerulean blue. Sheesh.

What? How can you know that information without a rules system?

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Winterblight

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I haven't had a rules lawyer since college... I've had folks unhappy with rulings, but I really can't recall anyone pointing to the rules and throwing a fit. I don't think it even happened with my D&D 3.x play. Back in college and high school, yea, people would latch onto some rule and insist the rule be followed despite any sort of logic, or pull other rules lawyer stuff.
I haven't had one recently, but I've had a couple of really disruptive ones over the years. Eventually, they had to go.
 

EOTB

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Players can know all the rules in my campaigns, and I've found that the best play comes when they know all the rules.

I value play velocity and seeing what happens when someone decides to do something. Secrecy/uncertainty of the rules themselves improve neither of those things; uncertainty of where the dice will fall on the odds spread is sufficient. I simply do not care about faithful characterization of ignorance if it lessens either of the former two.
 

CRKrueger

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Dunno how many pages this will go, but here's the answer.

On one end, there's people who consider it not only impossible to roleplay, but also a personal affront if they don't know the rules. All.The.Rules
On one end, there's people who consider it not only impossible to roleplay, but also a personal affront if they have to deal with the rules while playing.

For those of us in the middle, it depends. I tend not to play Tactical RPGs or Narrative RPGs, which have detailed meta systems, and prefer games that try to find a way to represent what's happening with as much verisimilitude, consistency and logic as they can.

As a result, I usually have no problem with taking a player's spoken intentions for the character and translating into game terms. In many cases I've found that streamlines the learning process of a new system immensely.
 

Malleustein

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And right there, that's the key.

Almost always, if the rules are kept from the players, they don't know. They can only guess, and if they guess *wrong* ... well. And it's not as if I haven't run into GMs whose notions of capabilities and verisimilitude came from Hollywood, dog-eared novels or out of their asses. Like Brock Savage says, I do NOT fucking want to play Mother May I? or negotiate with the GM for things I damn well know my character should be able to do. Hell, I walked away from a campaign having had a very similar conversation as Tristam's Wizard-vs-GM one.

Dungeons & Dragons didn't start with a Player's Handbook. It had Men & Magic. The players didn't need to read it. They needed to know very little outside of a few values (hit points, armour class, move etc.) and most rolls were to-hit or saving throws. Therefore, it was easy for a referee to keep the rules to himself. I'm not suggesting this was the one true way, but it seemed to be Gary and Dave's approach early on.

To reiterate, I've been the referee in campaigns were the rules and rolls were hidden from the players with no issue at all. Kult being the last instance of it. It suited the mystery, horror and general unreliability of characters (who often had flaws that made them do things the player may not want). The rules the players needed to interact with the most were skill rolls, a simple d20 roll-under system. So players could easily decide if they felt confident about a task since the chance of success was right there on the charater sheet.

No wild guesses... No mother may I... No need to negotiate anything... No game destroying lack of vital information...

Again, I'm not saying this is the right, only or best way to referee. But it's a perfectly viable option. I haven't used it myself for a long time due to not running a game I felt would benefit from the extra effort.
 

Ladybird

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If the answer to the question "can I survive a jump off this cliff?" isn't obvious based on the circumstances (and you aren't playing Toon), then the game has no verisimilitude.
I think expecting a certain answer is too much, being able to take a fair guess and analyse the risk is enough, and I don't think it's an unfair thing to expect as a player. I can look at a cliff (For example) and make a fair judgement about whether I'll die or not, even without knowing for certain; I'd expect someone I played in a game to be able to do the same.

lol, some of you folks have surprisingly adversarial relationships with your GMs

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I don't think the player is the problem in that situation, though. We've all heard similar stories; one common topic in D&D (And similar) forums is "ways to screw over your players' Wish spells", for example. I've seen that sort of "provide vague answers so players can't feel entirely safe" and "keep results hidden from players so they don't know if they have succeeded" advice in GM advice sections; fuck, I've done it before myself.

I also sometimes think that it's counterproductive to hide some results or deliberately be secretive, because it limits you as a GM. If, for example, my players are searching for traps, and they roll low... they know what they've rolled. When I say "you don't find any traps", they know their PC's did a half-assed job or whatever. But you can still say "sorry, your PC tried their best, no second chances... unless..."; if they want a second chance, then there's some sort of cost they're going to have to pay to get it. Time, danger, reputation; all extra toys that you get to play with.
 

Black Leaf

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Generally, I think I lean towards something of a middle ground. I'm intrigued by the idea of a game where the players don't know the rules, but the only time I've ever actually run something like that is Paranoia.

Where feasible, I am in favour of keeping some setting details secret. And that does include the mechanics that go with them. To use the previously mentioned Pendragon as an example I'd let players know the combat rules but would rather they didn't have any idea how magic works or even the specific abilities of evil Knights.

On the hidden HP issue, when I ran Unknown Armies it actually worked well. The players enjoyed it and it made them very cautious about combat. However, it also led to a lot more work for me as I not only had to track it but had to find good ways to say "you're on half health" or "another blow will possibly kill you" in interesting ways.

I do think there's some potential in hidden setting details but I'm not sure how practical that is in most games. Hence the large amount of Vampire neonates who apparently know about the existence of Golconda and have read the Book of Nod.
 

xanther

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... fanzines at the time).

What do people think of it as a concept? I'm intrigued by it, but I can see a lot of players pushing hard back against it.
...
Heck I try to get players to learn the rules, and manage as much of their character stuff as possible. The last thing I need is more work :smile:

I do tend to use rules systems where you don't need to know them to do well, that is there is no real wonky-ness, no magic combos, superior "builds" or "superior" feat chains and the like, that is the metagame layer is thin at best. To the extent players are at a lost for what their PC would readily know I just tell them.
 
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Dammit Viktor

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If the answer to the question "can I survive a jump off this cliff?" isn't obvious based on the circumstances (and you aren't playing Toon), then the game has no verisimilitude.

This problem and this entire class of problems are especially prominent in D&D, because the rules say one thing-- very clearly-- but the majority of players and referees want them to say something else, because they want to be playing in a very different kind of setting than the one implied by what those rules say. And the problem is, a player can know the rules, but even knowing the referee isn't much of a guarantee of how they're going to make their ruling... especially when a lot of referees (not without reason) impose harsher house rules when they know the player is intentionally relying on dissonant rules for tactical benefit.

Which... isn't really a criticism of the referee or the player in this situation, or even the rules. It merely highlights a problem that arises when the rules aren't written to function the way that people desire/expect them to, and aren't compatible with what people are trying to do with them. Not sure why, but I have the strangest feeling like I've tried to express similar concepts before...
 

Fenris-77

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If you jump off a cliff in my game you die, I don't really care what the rules say. I'd also feel like bad about having invited such a suppurating asshole to play my game, but that's a separate issue.
 

Simlasa

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I do think there's some potential in hidden setting details but I'm not sure how practical that is in most games. Hence the large amount of Vampire neonates who apparently know about the existence of Golconda and have read the Book of Nod.
That gets at why I'd rather not play games where everyone knows the setting... various famous IPs where I've seen a lot of arguments about picayune details of 'canon'.
Yeah, you can say, "This is MY version of Star Trek/Star Wars and not beholden to the shows/movies"... but that still invites a whole trivia night as the fanboys comment on the digressions... at least with SOME people (often the ones who really really want to play in that setting).
 

Fenris-77

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That gets at why I'd rather not play games where everyone knows the setting... various famous IPs where I've seen a lot of arguments about picayune details of 'canon'.
Yeah, you can say, "This is MY version of Star Trek/Star Wars and not beholden to the shows/movies"... but that still invites a whole trivia night as the fanboys comment on the digressions... at least with SOME people (often the ones who really really want to play in that setting).
You need to grab some control over your game. No one in my games does that shit. My games are, well, my games. They very specifically aren't canon. You want canon? Go read a fucking book. You want to play? Be cool.
 

TJS

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It doesn't need to be obnoxious or lead to arguments I find.

It's just...I can't run Star Wars, because the setting I'm running the game in is simply not the setting that players think they're playing in.

They can't get into they're head that the only Canon is the original trilogy and a few episodes of the Mandalorian I thought weren't bad before it got unwatchably fanservicy.

l introduce an alien I made up on the spot and the players are all "ohhhh a Duchesnozzlewanger".

The problem is not the things I get wrong. It's the things they just assume I get right.
 

CRKrueger

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The rules I've done it with are BRP (the BGB!) and B/X D&D. Both simple enough that I could easily just tell the Players, "You're sure you can make the jump" vs. "You might be able to make the jump". For magic I just described the basics of what their spells could do/not do (no one had a lot of spells starting out).

Now I'm wondering if/how this could be done with something like Mythras, specifically it's combat maneuvers. "You've created an opening with your attack, is there anything you'd like to try?" is maybe too vague an offer... but not that different from DCC's 'Mighty Deeds' where the Player just comes up with an idea, which I like better than choosing off a list.
It’s interesting, because that exact method “Your attack has created an opening in your opponent’s defense you can exploit, what kind of trick or maneuver would you like to try” I’ve found eliminates the Analysis Paralysis that new players have with the mechanic.
 

Agemegos

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That gets at why I'd rather not play games where everyone knows the setting... various famous IPs where I've seen a lot of arguments about picayune details of 'canon'.
That's the opposite of Ken Hite's dictum that you should start where possible with Earth, the setting that everyone knows (supposedly an advantage).

You can have nasty accidents with canon in things set on Earth in reality. If the players know some detail of the canon and the GM does not, and it never occurs to the players that the detail is not true in the setting of the game, they can go on relying on unstated certainties, making unstated deductions, committing to courses of action that would work in reality and that won't work in the setting of the game. I was once involved in a game that turned out badly because the GM assumed that radio jamming is completely inconspicuous and forgot that international air travel is available to the military, whereas the players assumed the broad spectrum radio jamming is very conspicuous and that the military can get special forces reinforcements across the Atlantic in a week. Each party assumed that the other was on the same page, and the players made and acted on deductions that the GM was unaware of until they got themselves deep into a no-win situation.

Not that there is a lot that you can do about it if it never occurs to the GM that he or she has altered canon and it never occurs to the character players to check every piece of knowledge they are counting on.


One thing that I have done with some success is to devise a setting that is explicitly, radically different from the default cliché setting in fundamental and conspicuous ways, to disengage player's presumption that they know canon. For example, my most successful fantasy setting design I set in a tropical archipelago where the people were ethnically, politically, militarily, economically, and agriculturally completely different from people in the pseudo-European, pseudo-mediaeval fantasyland that everyone "well actually"s you about.
 
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Silverlion

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It varies a lot between 'What game are we playing and 'How much trust the players have for me in this game we're going to play.

I don't mind a player (which is sometimes me) knowing the rules, as long as I or my GM has made it clear how they will apply when they are used. I don't mind them being hidden when I'm given enough information that my player can act appropriately upon.


I've run games with hidden rules, and games without. Though usually, it's only with very trusted players for the former. I've played games along the spectrum as well. I generally prefer games where the character in question can judge circumstances well enough to know what's likely to happen--so games like FFG's Star Wars I dislike, I know the rules well enough now after playing it for a while, but because even in what should be a task that has some chance for failure, and needs a roll, but I'm skilled at it--I've no idea if my character has a "good chance" or a "bad chance" of succeeding. Plus the system is anti-dramatic/climatic in its entirety because its rules are kind of poorly handled.

I know for example if I was trying to sneak up on someone, in real life. Whether I have a good chance or bad chance based on clues in my environment, what I'm wearing, where their attention is focused, and so on--ten thousand minor details that inform me, that GM's won't always plan for in the way our own brains do. Now, I'm a big clumsy guy, but even then, there are many circumstances when I know that I have a good chance of sneaking. (I've walked up behind people before silently enough to make them jump even knowing I was coming because I had all those clues.)
 

CRKrueger

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That's the opposite of Ken Hite's dictum that you should start where possible with Earth, the setting that everyone knows (supposedly an advantage).

You can have nasty accidents with canon in things set on Earth in reality. If the players know some detail of the canon and the GM does not, and it never occurs to the players that the detail is not true in the setting of the game, they can go on relying on unstated certainties, making unstated deductions, committing to courses of action that would work in reality and that won't work in the setting of the game. I was once involved in a game that turned out badly because the GM assumed that radio jamming is completely inconspicuous and forgot that international air travel is available to the military, whereas the players assumed the broad spectrum radio jamming is very conspicuous and that the military can get special forces reinforcements across the Atlantic in a week. Each party assumed that the other was on the same page, and the players made and acted on deductions that the GM was unaware of until they got themselves deep into a no-win situation.

Not that there is a lot that you can do about it if it never occurs to the GM that he or she has altered canon and it never occurs to the character players to check every piece of knowledge they are counting on.


One thing that I have done with some success is to devise a setting that is explicitly, radically different from the default cliché setting in fundamental and conspicuous ways, to disengage player's presumption that they know canon. For example, my most successful fantasy setting design I set in a tropical archipelago where the people were ethnically, politically, militarily, economically, and agriculturally completely different from people in the pseudo-European, pseudo-mediaeval fantasyland that everyone "well actually"s you about.
How do players make such detailed plans relying on specific facts without the GM having any idea of what they’re doing? Are they planning in private or something?
 

Simlasa

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You can have nasty accidents with canon in things set on Earth in reality.
Yep. I've seen Players, during games set on current day Earth, start niggling arguments with GMs over some specialist knowledge the Players had... guns (always guns...), telecommunications, the floorplan of the Denver airport...

So maybe...
GM says:"It's like Earth, but not exactly our Earth"...
Player: "In what ways isn't it Earth"
GM: "Various ways"
Player: "What ways?"
GM: "Ways!"
 

TJS

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That's the opposite of Ken Hite's dictum that you should start where possible with Earth, the setting that everyone knows (supposedly an advantage).

You can have nasty accidents with canon in things set on Earth in reality. If the players know some detail of the canon and the GM does not, and it never occurs to the players that the detail is not true in the setting of the game, they can go on relying on unstated certainties, making unstated deductions, committing to courses of action that would work in reality and that won't work in the setting of the game. I was once involved in a game that turned out badly because the GM assumed that radio jamming is completely inconspicuous and forgot that international air travel is available to the military, whereas the players assumed the broad spectrum radio jamming is very conspicuous and that the military can get special forces reinforcements across the Atlantic in a week. Each party assumed that the other was on the same page, and the players made and acted on deductions that the GM was unaware of until they got themselves deep into a no-win situation.

Not that there is a lot that you can do about it if it never occurs to the GM that he or she has altered canon and it never occurs to the character players to check every piece of knowledge they are counting on.


One thing that I have done with some success is to devise a setting that is explicitly, radically different from the default cliché setting in fundamental and conspicuous ways, to disengage player's presumption that they know canon. For example, my most successful fantasy setting design I set in a tropical archipelago where the people were ethnically, politically, militarily, economically, and agriculturally completely different from people in the pseudo-European, pseudo-mediaeval fantasyland that everyone "well actually"s you about.
The big danger of setting things on earth is if you feel compelled to accuracy.

Say you're running a game set in England during the 'Babylon Captivity' and the players decide to petition the pope for some reason, so they want to travel to Avignon and now you realise you have to do some research into Avignon in the time the popes were resident there.

Now of course, the more comfortable you are being loose with history, the easier this is - you could just ignore the relocation of the Pope, and have the players go to Rome and just play out Rome and the papacy however you imagine it to be and this works fine, as long as the players are making the same basic assumptions as you - you may run into clashing expectations if one of your players actually knows a lot about the history of the Catholic church and wants to use that knowledge to make plans.

While I agree with Hite in general, I think his point often works better in fiction and published settings then for individual games. I find historical games more rewarding, but on the whole they are often harder.
 
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Agemegos

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Yep. I've seen Players, during games set on current day Earth, start niggling arguments with GMs over some specialist knowledge the Players had
The niggling arguments are one thing. It's a lot harder to blame the players when they don't state their knowledge but assume that you know it too, and then make plans and deductions and contingency plans, take chances and attempt gambits, and end up in an irrecoverable situation because you didn't tell them something.
 

CRKrueger

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The niggling arguments are one thing. It's a lot harder to blame the players when they don't state their knowledge but assume that you know it too, and then make plans and deductions and contingency plans, take chances and attempt gambits, and end up in an irrecoverable situation because you didn't tell them something.
It depends. I’ll ask again, where are the doing all this detailed, specific planning? If they’re doing it right in front of the GM and he doesn’t say anything when he notices a massive difference of perspective, then he’s just a Bad GM.

If they scurry away to a different room to plan while the GM takes an Xbox break, they kind of have it coming.
 

AsenRG

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It doesn't need to be obnoxious or lead to arguments I find.

It's just...I can't run Star Wars, because the setting I'm running the game in is simply not the setting that players think they're playing in.

They can't get into they're head that the only Canon is the original trilogy and a few episodes of the Mandalorian I thought weren't bad before it got unwatchably fanservicy.

l introduce an alien I made up on the spot and the players are all "ohhhh a Duchesnozzlewanger".

The problem is not the things I get wrong. It's the things they just assume I get right.
I'd try "speaking OOC, guys, I didn't even know there is such a thing as a Duchesnozzlewanger - now try to guess how many things you assume are true about this kind of aliens are true? No, don't tell me what a Duchesnozzlewanger is, I'm not going to change my universe because some Star Wars author, or hack, had a similar idea that I was blissfully ignorant about. Told you to check your assumptions at the door. BTW, your characters haven't seen such an alien, ever, not even on holonews. Now what do you do?"

It depends. I’ll ask again, where are the doing all this detailed, specific planning? If they’re doing it right in front of the GM and he doesn’t say anything when he notices a massive difference of perspective, then he’s just a Bad GM.

If they scurry away to a different room to plan while the GM takes an Xbox break, they kind of have it coming.
...But if they remain in the same room while the GM has a PS4 break, it's on the GM:devil:?

Come on, man - "Bad GM", "they have it coming"...nope. In both cases it's a failure of communication. I very seldom see one of those where both parties didn't share at least some of the blame...and this is certainly not one of those rare cases:thumbsup:.

The rules I've done it with are BRP (the BGB!) and B/X D&D. Both simple enough that I could easily just tell the Players, "You're sure you can make the jump" vs. "You might be able to make the jump". For magic I just described the basics of what their spells could do/not do (no one had a lot of spells starting out).

Now I'm wondering if/how this could be done with something like Mythras, specifically it's combat maneuvers. "You've created an opening with your attack, is there anything you'd like to try?" is maybe too vague an offer... but not that different from DCC's 'Mighty Deeds' where the Player just comes up with an idea, which I like better than choosing off a list.

It’s interesting, because that exact method “Your attack has created an opening in your opponent’s defense you can exploit, what kind of trick or maneuver would you like to try” I’ve found eliminates the Analysis Paralysis that new players have with the mechanic.
Guys, "You've created an opening with your attack or defense, is there anything you'd like to try?" is exactly how I explain what the Manoeuvres/Special Effects (I usually call them Special Moves, but that's me:grin:) represent in the Mythras system... and that's when I'm explaining the rules. It's actually faster to explain that way - the only difference is that I tell them "...is there anything you'd like to try, or would you prefer a list of options?"
Yes, I'd gladly let them try anything not on the list. If it sounds much better than the average, it's probably Critical Only, or Enemy Fumbles Only (but not both:shade:). And maybe the one affected rolls a defensive check against the attack roll.

As a consequence of the above, you can safely conclude that I'd actually be able to run the game in the same way even if the players didn't know the rules...
Actually, I have done so... relatively recently, when running a game for First Daughter (I switched it to Mythras, though it started as My 2d6 Hack...which unsurprisingly uses a combo of Traveller, BoL and Zenobia, so the way I'm explaining it didn't change:angel:).
She still doesn't know the rules, but then she's 9, so there is plenty of time.
 
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It depends. I’ll ask again, where are the doing all this detailed, specific planning?
I do it in my head. At any decision point or opportunity for initiative I will think of at least a handful and often a lot of possible things to do, and rule out most of them as obviously not fit to the circumstance. In solving a mystery I am constantly making hypotheses and ruling out the impossible ones that don't need testing. Pruning out fruitless branches of a decision tree is often an inexplicit decision. I can't express every fleeting thought because I don't have time, besides which plodding through iteration after iteration of processes of elimination is dull for everyone else.

If it were always a matter of making a plan of co-operation for a known situation players might have to grind everything out explicitly, but making a detailed plan and then executing it bores many players. So many adventures amount to infiltrating an unknown position or dealing with a fluid situation. We improvise. Improvisation is fun. Improvising a course of action through an adventure involves repeatedly thinking up a bunch of things to do and quickly, quietly ruling out most of them.
 

TJS

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I'd try "speaking OOC, guys, I didn't even know there is such a thing as a Duchesnozzlewanger - now try to guess how many things you assume are true about this kind of aliens are true? No, don't tell me what a Duchesnozzlewanger is, I'm not going to change my universe because some Star Wars author, or hack, had a similar idea that I was blissfully ignorant about. Told you to check your assumptions at the door. BTW, your characters haven't seen such an alien, ever, not even on holonews. Now what do you do?"
It's not an irresolvable issue. It's just an enthusiasm killer.

After all, the only reason to run Star Wars, rather than generic sci-fi universe is player enthusiasm.

When I realise a big chunk of that enthusiasm is for details that it bores me to even contemplate learning about, then I lose all interest.
 

Sloth_in_a_bowl

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All of the above conversation is basically why I love Fudge as an introductory RPG.
With the character skills described rather than numbered they don't need to understand how to play to know that their adventurer is 'great' at melee combat, 'good' at athletics but only 'average' in knowledge.

I also tend to go for skills no attributes and have a few simple feats or talents that can be described on the sheet, such as.
Strong - count athletics as 'great' on a strength based test.
Fencer - ignore one minus die face when using a sword.
Ex Farmer - Knowledge and Charm 'good' for farming and rural life.
 

Ladybird

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If you jump off a cliff in my game you die, I don't really care what the rules say. I'd also feel like bad about having invited such a suppurating asshole to play my game, but that's a separate issue.
The thing is, sometimes, in some game situations, characters should be able to do that; if we're playing something high fantasy / superheroic, and I'm Legolas or Captain Marvel then I would expect to have a chance of surviving or even walking away because that's just what those types of characters do. You could make an argument that there's some aspects of protagonistism there, and you'd probably be right, but still; if that's the sort of game that your players are thinking they are playing, then that's how their characters will act.

It depends. I’ll ask again, where are the doing all this detailed, specific planning? If they’re doing it right in front of the GM and he doesn’t say anything when he notices a massive difference of perspective, then he’s just a Bad GM.

If they scurry away to a different room to plan while the GM takes an Xbox break, they kind of have it coming.
There's merit to that, sometimes... but sometimes it's also fun to let your players make mistakes.

To extend the example from earlier, if one of them says while planning their paramilitary action "there are no special forces bases near Hereford, we'll do it there" but that's... not true at all, and they just didn't do the research (In-character)... then they're in for a bad time. I'd consider that a problem they caused for themselves, and not something I should explain for them.

But if their plan relies on some information that's already been established in-game and the players have misremembered or misunderstood, fine, I'll correct them. That only feels fair.
 

finarvyn

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It's not a simple question, and for me the answer changes somewhat depending upon the era and the game played.

In the 1970's we had a group who played OD&D and we had somewhere between a half-dozen and dozen players depending upon the day, but only three of us really "knew the rules" because we rotated three DM's. Most of the others were perfectly content to have a vague sense of the rules and few particulars. When I moved and started a new group I found the same thing -- that most of the players were perfectly content to NOT have to learn rules but instead to let me guide them as to when to roll and with what dice. I think that OD&D in some ways encouraged this attitude because it allowed for the DM to adjust and create as needed, and it encouraged players to try creative things without knowing if they "can" or not.

My current 5E group (with some of the same players) is totally opposite. Newer editions of RPGs seem to take the stance that "rules mastery equals great players" and each person is responsible for knowing what their character can and cannot do. (Except for my wife, who has played 5E wizards for years and somehow is continually surprised to find what she can do.) And 5E has enough variant options that as a DM I have no desire to familiarize myself with everything, so in general I'm content to have them "master" the rules.

My frustration is that older edition rules tend to free up the game where imagination and innovation counts for something, but newer edition rules seem to cause players to look up in rulebooks to see what they can attempt. Very big difference in philosophy.
 

TristramEvans

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I don't think the player is the problem in that situation, though. We've all heard similar stories; one common topic in D&D (And similar) forums is "ways to screw over your players' Wish spells", for example. I've seen that sort of "provide vague answers so players can't feel entirely safe" and "keep results hidden from players so they don't know if they have succeeded" advice in GM advice sections; fuck, I've done it before myself.

Well, yeah, no rules system, or lack thereof, is going to fix plying with a crappy GM. Although I think there's generally some big warning signs that a GM is going to be antagonistic or deliberately unfair to the players before the game even begins if you know what to look for.

This problem and this entire class of problems are especially prominent in D&D,

Hee Hee Hee - yeah, no kidding.

My frustration is that older edition rules tend to free up the game where imagination and innovation counts for something, but newer edition rules seem to cause players to look up in rulebooks to see what they can attempt. Very big difference in philosophy.

Yes, this exactly
 

xanther

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Yep. I've seen Players, during games set on current day Earth, start niggling arguments with GMs over some specialist knowledge the Players had... guns (always guns...), telecommunications, the floorplan of the Denver airport...

So maybe...
GM says:"It's like Earth, but not exactly our Earth"...
Player: "In what ways isn't it Earth"
GM: "Various ways"
Player: "What ways?"
GM: "Ways!"
Simple solution, this Earth is an alternative quantum reality, very, very close to the Earth you know...and so far all the big things seems the same, but there are small differences you may notice. History etc., is as you know it, or should I say the limited and misleading "history" you recall seems to be taught here as well. So the floorplan of the airport is different than what you remember...hmmm, a clue to something important or not, is it a thread you pull on?

On specialist knowledge, best to use a rules system where the designer didn't think they were some expert and go into details that could be called out. I do welcome subject matter experts to refine rules and expectations as long as they truly are expert and not just looking for some advantage or special exception/new rule subsystem based on what they know.

As to the GM above...yah vague is never good, but I loved the "Why" game with my kids.
 

xanther

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This problem and this entire class of problems are especially prominent in D&D, because the rules say one thing-- very clearly-- but the majority of players and referees want them to say something else, because they want to be playing in a very different kind of setting than the one implied by what those rules say. ....
Or they want some verisimilitude to even the modicum of knowledge they have on the world. :smile:

Or the rules are complete and perfect as written, as evidenced by many an article explaining that over and over and why spell points could never work. :smile:

P.S. Just in between turkey basting times here...
 

xanther

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....

My current 5E group (with some of the same players) is totally opposite. Newer editions of RPGs seem to take the stance that "rules mastery equals great players" and each person is responsible for knowing what their character can and cannot do. (Except for my wife, who has played 5E wizards for years and somehow is continually surprised to find what she can do.) And 5E has enough variant options that as a DM I have no desire to familiarize myself with everything, so in general I'm content to have them "master" the rules.

My frustration is that older edition rules tend to free up the game where imagination and innovation counts for something, but newer edition rules seem to cause players to look up in rulebooks to see what they can attempt. Very big difference in philosophy.
Yah that is my expereince with 5e and 3e+ as well. It's like imagination has turned into just searching through a list of feats. Have I mentioned before how much I look down on feats as a game mechanic ? :smile:

The rules limiting action or creating ridiculous situations (yes I have enough HO to jump off the cliff, no your MU cannot even pick up the sword it leaps from your hand...etc.) started to creep in in AD&D IIRC. OD&D was so much a skeletal outline that this never seemed to happen, but it could also be the age and gaming expereince of the player base....as I have ranted on before.

There is certainly a monetary incentive to promote look at the rules, and rules mastery. It sells books, Who knows what new book or supplement could give you PC a big advantage. DIY? That doesn't sell books (well it could but that is another thread).
 
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