Why D&D?

Faylar

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That's fine. I wasn't trying to sell you stock in PbtA. It's a hugely popular system, and one I like quite a bit, but you don't need to like it too. I'm just looking for a word to replace story or narrative, since other people can't get over that hump, and conversation fits too.
I wasn't commenting on PtBA. Honestly I don't know the system beyond that some people speak of it like it is the be all and end all of roleplaying. I was speaking on the snippet you posted.
 

Fenris-77

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The term story, doesn't push people's buttons, and for someone who is quick to cry foul at people characterizing what others think, you're a mighty persistent job of micharacterizing anyone who disagree with using that term.

The.word Story is incorrect, because not everyone creates a Story when they roleplay.

That's not an inconsequential part of a greater argument, it is the key of the entire argument, because if disagree with what I typed above, there is no point in moving forqard, because you proceeding from an aasumption many of us know to be false.
Sure it does, but that wasn't meant as a criticism. The very fact that you said not everyone creates a story shows why the word is problematic, doesn't it? I don't need the word story to talk about RPGs, nor have insisted it be used, and in fact I've gone out of my to try and find something that doesn't cause the same kind of issue. Feel free to suggest an alternative word to describe what happens at the table. I don't have a favorite or anything.
 

TristramEvans

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I found it useful, yeah, he carries it through the rules really well, it's tight. It's a different way to look at what happens at the table and how the pieces fit together. Personally I don't have one set of vocabulary that I think is 'right', there are lots of ways to talk about RPGs and the knobs and dials involved.
Hmm, a long time ago, so long I couldn't say where I read it or who wrote it, as it was during my "consuming lots and lots of RPG zines"-phase of the late 90s/early aughts, I came across a description of RPGs that ha always stuck with me. It's not perfect, or all encompassing, but Ive never encountered anything that quite so "hit the nail on it's head" as it were...

To praphrase - "When children are young, they inevitably play games of "let's pretend" where they assume the roles of characters in fictional situations. Inevitably, a dispute comes when an event in the fictional situation is disagreed upon ("I shot you" "No you didn't"). RPGs exist to arbitrate thee disputes."

Note that it's very close to what AW says in essence, but with a key difference in that it addresses the purpose and nature of the activity.
 

Fenris-77

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I wasn't commenting on PtBA. Honestly I don't know the system beyond that some people speak of it like it is the be all and end all of roleplaying. I was speaking on the snippet you posted.
Yeah, those people can be annoying. One-true-wayism is everywhere. I do really like the game system, but it's just one among a bunch I really like. As for the snippet, if it doesn't grab, it doesn't grab you. I've found it a useful way to talk about RPGs, but you may not.
 

ffilz

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Actually, now that you bring that up - what seperatess RPGs from Wargames for me is the exact opposite - that the system is beholden to the GM, to be interpreted, modified , or ignored. It is the position of the GM that allows the unique situation of the RPG to exist.
But there are GMed wargames... I GMed a modified game of Stellar Conquest. But it most definitely wasn't an RPG. Maybe the time I GMed Bar Room Brawl (with AD&D rules) was an RPG, but then it was already using an RPG for it's framework, but even that looks more like a war game than a full on RPG. I'll grant that I had never experienced a refereed war game before playing D&D, but the concept made enough sense that the first time I observed D&D play (Holmes Basic D&D in 1977) I offered to be the referee while my friend was the dungeon master (because we didn't yet understand the game and it mentioned both terms). I offered this because I was really unsure about this game that seemed different than the board and miniatures war games I had played up to that point. Once I got well under way with role playing, I struggled to identify what made an RPG. I knew what it looked like in play, but I couldn't quite pin it down, other than keying on the "you can do anything" idea (which the Lumpley Principle encompasses).

I think it might be possible to remove the GM and still have an RPG, though I haven't seen such a game yet. I also have seen almost none of the GMless games other than watched a demo of Universalis. A GM may well be critical to an RPG, or it may just be that the very adjacent games like Universalis are more what folks are looking for in a GMless game.

One thing I dismiss is that the GM has absolute control over the world. For an RPG to be an RPG at all, the player at least has to have agency which means they at least have control over (most of) that portion of the world that is their character. It's also not uncommon for the player to have control over other bits (like hirelings and henchmen, or even creating setting when they offer even a simple background of their character).

The Lumpley Principle and the statement from Apocalypse World doesn't contraindicate a GM, in fact AW is a strong GMful game.
 

CRKrueger

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Sure it does, but that wasn't meant as a criticism. The very fact that you said not everyone creates a story shows why the word is problematic, doesn't it? I don't need the word story to talk about RPGs, nor have insisted it be used, and in fact I've gone out of my to try and find something that doesn't cause the same kind of issue. Feel free to suggest an alternative word to describe what happens at the table. I don't have a favorite or anything.
Yeah but do you believe what's created in all cases during an RPG session is a story, whether we call it that or not?
 

Fenris-77

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Hmm, a long time ago, so long I couldn't say where I read it or who wrote it, as it was during my "consuming lots and lots of RPG zines"-phase of the late 90s/early aughts, I came across a description of RPGs that ha always stuck with me. It's not perfect, or all encompassing, but Ive never encountered anything that quite so "hit the nail on it's head" as it were...

To praphrase - "When children are young, they inevitably play games of "let's pretend" where they assume the roles of characters in fictional situations. Inevitably, a dispute comes when an event in the fictional situation is disagreed upon ("I shot you" "No you didn't"). RPGs exist to arbitrate thee disputes."

Note that it's very close to what AW says in essence, but with a key difference in that it addresses the purpose and nature of the activity.
That works just fine. You'd find AW in pretty much complete agreement on that score.
 

ffilz

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Hmm, a long time ago, so long I couldn't say where I read it or who wrote it, as it was during my "consuming lots and lots of RPG zines"-phase of the late 90s/early aughts, I came across a description of RPGs that ha always stuck with me. It's not perfect, or all encompassing, but Ive never encountered anything that quite so "hit the nail on it's head" as it were...

To praphrase - "When children are young, they inevitably play games of "let's pretend" where they assume the roles of characters in fictional situations. Inevitably, a dispute comes when an event in the fictional situation is disagreed upon ("I shot you" "No you didn't"). RPGs exist to arbitrate thee disputes."

Note that it's very close to what AW says in essence, but with a key difference in that it addresses the purpose and nature of the activity.
Yea, I used to go with that one, well, more phrased as "it's like cops and robbers but with written rules and a referee", but it isn't. At least not the way I played D&D. The players didn't go at each other like kids playing cops and robbers do. The players form a party to address the challenges the GM puts forth in the dungeon (or other scenario).
 

Fenris-77

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Yeah as but do you believe what's created in all cases during an RPG session is a story, whether we call it that or not?
Not at all. If I had to pick a word, just one, the word I'd probably pick is game. A game of pretend, to use @TristramEvans post from above. After the fact, if someone was recording it, you might be able to call that a story though. Maybe.
 

TristramEvans

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But there are GMed wargames...
Sure, Wargams are where RPGs get the concept from. We use a GM in many of our wargames. But wheres a GM in a Wargame arbitrates, interprets, and institutes the rules, I'm not familiar with any situation where a wargame GM is not beholden to the rules.
 

Faylar

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Yeah, those people can be annoying. One-true-wayism is everywhere. I do really like the game system, but it's just one among a bunch I really like. As for the snippet, if it doesn't grab, it doesn't grab you. I've found it a useful way to talk about RPGs, but you may not.
I think its a good starting point, sure. There is also a truth to it... but I just don't see it as a good explanation for Role Playing on it's own. Is there more to it?
 

TristramEvans

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Yea, I used to go with that one, well, more phrased as "it's like cops and robbers but with written rules and a referee", but it isn't. At least not the way I played D&D. The players didn't go at each other like kids playing cops and robbers do. The players form a party to address the challenges the GM puts forth in the dungeon (or other scenario).

Hmm, do kids still do that? Presumably not "Cowboys and Indians" like I played when I was a kid. I tend to assume it's a natural human actiity, and thus "cops & robbers" or whatever modern equivalent seems like it would be a universal understanding, but I also must readily admit I have activelly avoided the company of children for the last 30 years, so I have no idea what they are up to these days (other than their playgrounds being much less "fun" than the ones I grew up with).
 

Faylar

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Not at all. If I had to pick a word, just one, the word I'd probably pick is game. A game of pretend, to use @TristramEvans post from above. After the fact, if someone was recording it, you might be able to call that a story though. Maybe.
I've actually been involved in a similar conversation on this forum... it does indeed come around often. I actually agree that a Role playing session is more of a collaborative story telling session. I don't think we will ever get consensus on this though since all of us have such wildly different degrees and experiences.
 

Fenris-77

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I think its a good starting point, sure. There is also a truth to it... but I just don't see it as a good explanation for Role Playing on it's own. Is there more to it?
Well, pretty much the whole game really. Baker carries the idea of the conversation through the entire book, which is why it's so effective, or at least why I found it so, because all the knobs and dials are keyed to that one explanatory conceit.
 

Faylar

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Fair enough... So I am seeing it as an isolated thing when really its part of a broader tapestry. I can get that.
 

CRKrueger

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Not at all. If I had to pick a word, just one, the word I'd probably pick is game. A game of pretend, to use @TristramEvans post from above. After the fact, if someone was recording it, you might be able to call that a story though. Maybe.
The word Rob used earlier to refer to the imaginary space is Setting. It carries the connotation of the reality of the imaginary space and the rules that describe how the imaginary space differs from ours (Orks, Jedi, God-Emperor, whatever).

I don't have an issue with diagetic frame, now we all know what we're talking about.
 

Fenris-77

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Make believe is still a key childhood past time, yeah. I have four boys and I teach, so I'm basing that on a pretty large sample size too.
Fair enough... So I am seeing it as an isolated thing when really its part of a broader tapestry. I can get that.
Even if you really don't like PbtA games, it's still sometimes a very useful way of talking about things. From a game design standpoint I've found it pretty invaluable. Not because I want to design PbtA, although I might, but because Baker, in the game in his various blog posts, has been blessedly transparent about the design process and what all the moving parts do and how to change them. Reading a bunch of PbtA has made me better able to see the design behind the rules in other, unrelated games.
 

TristramEvans

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Make believe is still a key childhood past time, yeah. I have four boys and I teach, so I'm basing that on a pretty large sample size too.

That's good, I was worried it'd been taken over by technology.
 

Fenris-77

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The word Rob used earlier to refer to the imaginary space is Setting. It carries the connotation of the reality of the imaginary space and the rules that describe how the imaginary space differs from ours (Orks, Jedi, God-Emperor, whatever).

I don't have an issue with diagetic frame, now we all know what we're talking about.
Setting works too, I was just worried that it carried to much of a 'it's what's in the book' feel. A lot of people (no one here, mind) seem to want to use 'setting' and 'lore' interchangeably. So, for example, the Forgotten Realms setting isn't just the bits we're currently using at the table, but everything in an identified sourcebook. I think we're pretty clear though, so I'm happy using either now that I know how you're using it.
 

ffilz

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Sure, Wargams are where RPGs get the concept from. We use a GM in many of our wargames. But wheres a GM in a Wargame arbitrates, interprets, and institutes the rules, I'm not familiar with any situation where a wargame GM is not beholden to the rules.
Kriegspiel or at least Free Kriegspiel, so actually one of the earliest war games... The GM WAS the rules.

Also is Braunstein an RPG? That actually even allowed players to "do anything", well, almost anything. That is a good example of where Rob's "are you playing to victory conditions" comes in as a distinction. I think Braunstein is an almost RPG.
 

Faylar

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Make believe is still a key childhood past time, yeah. I have four boys and I teach, so I'm basing that on a pretty large sample size too.

Even if you really don't like PbtA games, it's still sometimes a very useful way of talking about things. From a game design standpoint I've found it pretty invaluable. Not because I want to design PbtA, although I might, but because Baker, in the game in his various blog posts, has been blessedly transparent about the design process and what all the moving parts do and how to change them. Reading a bunch of PbtA has made me better able to see the design behind the rules in other, unrelated games.
Heres where i disagree and refer to my earlier criticism. On its own it doesnt do it. It takes aim but doesn't fire.
 

TristramEvans

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Kriegspiel or at least Free Kriegspiel, so actually one of the earliest war games... The GM WAS the rules.

Also is Braunstein an RPG? That actually even allowed players to "do anything", well, almost anything. That is a good example of where Rob's "are you playing to victory conditions" comes in as a distinction. I think Braunstein is an almost RPG.
Yeah, that's a point regarding Free Kriegspiel, though it's been a while since I read up on it, I don't recall how much the GM was expected to institute their military knowledge towards the game outside of specifically the individual calls of two units clashing. I'm under the impression (and could be wrong) that what Free Kreigspiel did was allow the opportunity for the GM to decide the percentile likelihood of events, but that they didn't overall deviate from the game structure imposed, players were just free to come up with different tactics not covered by the base rules (like using camels to freak out Roman horses to break the other side's cavalry line - true story).

I agree it's pretty impossible to extricate the two hobbies overall. Braunstein I consider an RPG in effect, if not intention, insofar as how Arneson played it. But then there's less discussed but more significant (IMO) earlier stuff like Bath's Hyperborean campaign, which had character creation rules, stats, an experience system, etc. And one could say, playing an individual character is what seperates the two - except what about the character funnel of DCC? Or Troupe style play in Ars Magica?

I guess to me, I distinguish based on how I engage with the rules.

In a Wargame, I see myself as enacting a simulation, where I am making tactical decisions for my army, but am ultimately a disconnected observer seeing how things play out.
 

EmperorNorton

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I mean, I think that "victory conditions" do not necessarily negate a game being an RPG. Shinobigami technically has win conditions for the characters each session, but I think it still qualifies as an RPG.
 

Faylar

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I mean, I think that "victory conditions" do not necessarily negate a game being an RPG. Shinobigami technically has win conditions for the characters each session, but I think it still qualifies as an RPG.
I would agree. This one came up a lot with the criticizing parents growing up.
"I don't understand how you lot can play a game where you cant win"
The same parents, however had a room where a full on years long axis and allies game was going on yet couldnt grasp the concept of a campaign and following a plot to its climax and conclusion.
We always had goals and victory vonditions. We just often got sidetracked or the campaign ened prematurely.
 

Fenris-77

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Heres where i disagree and refer to my earlier criticism. On its own it doesnt do it. It takes aim but doesn't fire.
It's a four sentence intro. I wasn't suggesting it was exhaustive. I was referring to the entire book btw, not the intro.
 

robertsconley

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I don't know Fiasco, but it is a game that is frequently cited as not being an actual RPG, much like Baron Munchausen.
It not it is a dice game wrapped with the trappings of a caper. Much like Shadowrun Crossfire is a card game wrapped in the trappings of the Shadowrun setting. It also highly abstract allowing people to read whatever they want into it.

I am not a fan.
 

TristramEvans

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I mean, I think that "victory conditions" do not necessarily negate a game being an RPG. Shinobigami technically has win conditions for the characters each session, but I think it still qualifies as an RPG.
Alot of RPG settings have implied Victory Conditions I suppose.

Paranoia you could, theoretically, end the computer's reign. In Tribe 8, you can free humanity from under the cominance of the Z'Bri and Fatimas. In Shadowrun you can topple the Megacorps I guesss. In Planescape you could get laid by the Lady of Pain...
 

robertsconley

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I mean, I think that "victory conditions" do not necessarily negate a game being an RPG. Shinobigami technically has win conditions for the characters each session, but I think it still qualifies as an RPG.
If the point to achieve the win condition then it is a boardgame. If the point is to pretend to be a character having adventure then it a RPG with the "win" condition a poorly named version of milestones.
 

Faylar

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It's a four sentence intro. I wasn't suggesting it was exhaustive. I was referring to the entire book btw, not the intro.
We are going in circles here. Im stepping off the merry-go-round. :p
 

EmperorNorton

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If the point to achieve the win condition then it is a boardgame. If the point is to pretend to be a character having adventure then it a RPG with the "win" condition a poorly named version of milestones.
See I just think this kind of cut and dry definition stuff is how we squash creativity in the RPG field. I think sometimes the reason why I've loved the Japanese TTRPG field so much is they don't seem to be burdened by the mountain of navelgazing that we have in the EN community. They don't think about "oh but if I do x, I'm no longer making an RPG".

"If you do this or that, you aren't a REAL RPG" is just trying to fit everything into the mold of your mindset, rather than accepting that the field is much more nebulous than that.
 

robertsconley

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I agree it's pretty impossible to extricate the two hobbies overall. Braunstein I consider an RPG in effect, if not intention, insofar as how Arneson played it. But then there's less discussed but more significant (IMO) earlier stuff like Bath's Hyperborean campaign, which had character creation rules, stats, an experience system, etc. And one could say, playing an individual character is what seperates the two - except what about the character funnel of DCC? Or Troupe style play in Ars Magica?
A lot of the elements of tabletop roleplaying were being used in various types of campaigns like Braustein's and Bath's Hyperborea. Even Dave's Blackmoor started out as a campaign version of a Braunstein. But eventually due to his willingness to yes, Blackmoor moved away from the Law vs Chaos scenarios into where character pursued their own interests like exploring the Blackmoor dungeon.

I never got the sense that Bath's Hyperborea to be that open ended and the Braunsteins were generally one-shots.
 

robertsconley

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See I just think this kind of cut and dry definition stuff is how we squash creativity in the RPG field.
There more types of gaming than RPG including new forms that been developing.

My counterpoint that games like Fiasco should be their own thing and develop in their own way rather try to shackle themselves to the RPG label with its expectations of players playing character interacting with a setting with their action adjudicated by a referee.
 

Vargold

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And it helps explain why
Good luck getting people to agree on what’s IC vs. OOC. Diegetic is described as a binary switch, everything is Diagetic or non-Diagetic. There’s at least three levels of Roleplaying, IC, Abstracted and OOC, which I describe in my sig.
Your first two levels are diegetic (one first-person layer, one third-person layer) while your third is non-diegetic. I'd probably import Justin Alexander's dissociated mechanics to differentiate those OOC mechanics which directly reference events in the diegetic world from those which do not.
 

Vargold

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Yeah but do you believe what's created in all cases during an RPG session is a story, whether we call it that or not?
No--I agree with you there. It only becomes story once it's retold and narrativized. But everything that happens in the game-world is fictional for certain.
 

TristramEvans

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The problem with IC/OOC is that while there are a few that are clearly divided, there are just as many that are up to player choice to view through an IC or OOC perspective.

Hence the reason I find the player stances as useful.
 

Vargold

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Well, in the end, it's all a huge Wittgensteinian system of family resemblances and overlapping idea clusters. Some sort of multi-dimensional topology.
 

TristramEvans

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I never got the sense that Bath's Hyperborea to be that open ended and the Braunsteins were generally one-shots.
It's hard to say how open-ended Hyperborea could have been without an Arneson to push the boundaries to see what he could get away with,

but I'm a bit confused by the use of "one-shots" here - lots of RPGs are played as one-shot adventures.
 

T. Foster

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It seems pretty clear to me that any definition of "role-playing game" is either going to be too narrow that it will exclude at least some number of games that have been published in the last 45 years (but particularly in the last 20 years) claiming to be role-playing games (including many computer rpgs) or will be so broad as to include some number of games or activities that we don't typically think of as rpgs, so devoting time and effort to trying (in vain) to identify the exact line that falls afoul of neither the former nor the latter doesn't seem like a very rewarding or valuable pursuit. But, hey, maybe I'm wrong.
 

Brock Savage

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I wasn't commenting on PtBA. Honestly I don't know the system beyond that some people speak of it like it is the be all and end all of roleplaying. I was speaking on the snippet you posted.
Hey man I don't have any interest in the current debate but I do recommend picking up a copy of Dungeon World. Even if you never intend to run DW it's worth a read. Not saying it is the end all be all of gaming by any means but like The Lazy Dungeon Master it expanded my GM toolkit a little. I try to stay teachable
 
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