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ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-06-08, 02:22 AM
I'm curious as to peoples opinions.

It has always been my opinion that the story takes precedent over the rules. After viewing the forums it has become apparent that many people disagree. . . or seem to. . . what are your opinions and why?


Examples:
1. limiting power in a game for the sake of story
2. Altering classes based on fluff
3. tossing a certain rule in favor of drama
4. not stating gods because pc's can never be that strong or kill a god (unless your running that kind of game)
5. anything else you can think of
(curiosity)

Milskidasith
2010-06-08, 02:28 AM
Fun comes before story or the rules.

If something is annoying and not fun for the sake of the story, it shouldn't exist. Likewise, doing things like "Mages all get their minds eaten 20% of the time you cast a spell" is never going to be a good idea even if the fluff supports it, because it's not fun.

Zen Master
2010-06-08, 02:37 AM
Fun comes before story or the rules.

I agree with this.

To my mind, most things in a game should be based on concensus. The DM may well think his idea for a stone age campaign with only flint weapons and leather armor is great! But if the players find it dull - it isn't getting off the ground.

But then yea - once you agree on the general outline, story clearly comes before rules. Rules are an abstraction at best. Often as not, they are a hinderance.

Satyr
2010-06-08, 03:12 AM
I think that fun alone is a bit too general and too subjective to be used as a measure of what is important in a game; I frequently run horror games strongly influenced by things that I feel are suited to create an intense atmosphere or suspense; if one of my players said it was fun to deal with stuff like human trafficking or forced prostitution, I would honestly believe I play with the wrong people or I have made a serious mistake in the presentation of the matter.
What I think most people mean with fun is something like "the players care for the game and are emotionally involved", which is both a bit more general and precise at the same time, but I am not sure.

However, when it comes to the "Rules vs. Story" there is no basically inevitable conflict. A good gamemaster using a good set of rules (or at least a set of rules which feels suitable) should usually be able to adjust both rules and plot to another to avoid an obvious clash. If the rules enforce the plot to work in a specific ways or would otherwise break, the rules aren't very good. Likewise, if the plot doesn't work within the parameters of the game world and its boundaries, the plot isn't thought out very well.

Eloi
2010-06-08, 03:23 AM
My story is the rules, why would they be two separate conflicting things? But yes, the Rule of Fun is the most important.

Ossian
2010-06-08, 03:26 AM
Rules are there to help the story. You are dealing with magic, dragons and feats of insane physical prowess. You need to suspend your disbelief. How much? That is up to you and the "cut" you want to give the story. Is it a Hyborian Age clash of barbarians? A roguish urban plot? A "everyone is captain america" story? Again, up to you. Once you decide that, you can can decide whether to drop insane feat-chains class dips that are not justified by what the character has been doing and stuf like "this is my planned build lvl 1 to 20" or "I plan to start out as a samurai and end up as a battle axe juggler with arcane powers and armor specialization that does 625000 damage per round polymorphing into a fire giant.

In general, the story is most important, because it will set the tone, the content, the atmosphere. Then you can tweak (or allow/ban) rules accordingly.

O.

Runestar
2010-06-08, 03:37 AM
It depends.

For 1-3, I feel it is fine so long as the players are aware of it beforehand and agree with what you are doing, rather than have it sprung in the middle of a game without their knowledge.

4 is kinda irrelevant. I would only go to the trouble of statting something up if I thought the PCs were going to fight or interact with it in some way (and even then, some numbers for its key skills typically suffices). So I would only have a god's stats if the party expects to fight it.

But I wouldn't handwave anything if and when the players get to encounter a god. For example, I would still allow them a roll when applicable, even though the chance of success is slim (or flat out impossible). To me, they are an integral part of the world, and deserve a chance to interact meaningfully with every aspect of it, even gods.

J.Gellert
2010-06-08, 03:40 AM
Leaving fun aside, the rules are only there to help you tell the story. They are important, and you can't work without them, but story is the focus.

Drakevarg
2010-06-08, 03:44 AM
Likewise, doing things like "Mages all get their minds eaten 20% of the time you cast a spell" is never going to be a good idea even if the fluff supports it, because it's not fun.

Sez you. :smalltongue:

There's more than one definition of fun. For example, I'd rather lose to further the story than win all the time. For some, fun is story. Fun is dying horribly over and over again.

Of course, by the same rule, for some it isn't. But by my reckoning, the priorities should be FUN > STORY > RULES. If the story gets in the way of having fun, change the story. If the rules get in the way of telling the story you want to tell, change the rules.

banjo1985
2010-06-08, 04:03 AM
Fun/Enjoyment are the most important things in this game of ours, both for the GM and players. Story always comes above rules for me, but that's personal taste. I just like to tell a story and develop characters significantly more than simulate combat or use a framework for social interactions. Depends on both you and your groups preference on that point.

Totally Guy
2010-06-08, 05:04 AM
I'll agree with Satyr about the fun element.

But I think that the concept of "story" gets misapplied all the time within the realms of RPG discussion.

Story isn't something that's there. It's something that appears in retrospect.

When I run a game I don't plan a story. I set a situation within the game mechanics for the player characters to interact with.

So as running a game involves running a game I'm going to go with rules.

I have a friend that think our group is enlightened in some way because our group "appreciates plot over everything else" but I don't think he's right, I'm not doing what he think I am. Plot is simply a remembered record of how we got to the current situation.

Rasman
2010-06-08, 05:12 AM
I believe all things require balance.

...I know, very Zen of me...

But srsly, you have to know when to bend the rules a little, like letting your Ninja take the Assassin PRC even though he doesn't meet the Alignment requirements. BUT, you can't just let everything go all over the place and say that something can't happen just because you don't want it to.

Freedom and Structure must be balanced with a grain of salt and a guideful eye.

Ingus
2010-06-08, 05:30 AM
While I agree with the general consensus, I suggest you not to break the rules too much.
If you state any modification in advance, then it's ok. If you respond to an impredictable broken use of a spell/weapon/class feature/whatever, then is still ok, but handle with care.
I usually find that changing the rules in the middle of the story, when used or any time I feel the PCs are "too powerful" ends up in their distaste. GM is the ultimate cheater, but he has the duty of not let the players catch him. If they start to notice that you often adjust their powers to limit them, they'll normally react bad to it.
In any case, this will often break the suspension of disbelief, so you'll probably end up screwing the rules and the story.

In my experience, if you really have to bond or break the rules, do it with the setting or with the enemies, not with PC powers.
So, if you want to cap PC power to a certain level, do it in advance and make it clear to players. And if there is a particular power broken in a particular situation, make it less useful with a deus ex machina or with a NPC clever defence (i.e.: divination hindered by gods struggle, BBEG immune to mind effecting and death effects, location protected to a specific harm, etc).

Regarding gods, those stated in manuals so utterly overpowered and overprotected that no player without a perfect suited equipment and many epic levels should even scratch them. And, if it ends bad, you can still say "ok, you killed the avatar, not the god."

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 06:05 AM
"Fun" is a weird label. Aside from being optional - 'not-fun' stories are still valid, and I suspect they'd be worth experiencing if you're up to it. (I'm not, but that doesn't mean nobody is).

Whether your goal is fun or not, however, narrative and immersion are still means towards it. Rules are good if they support narrative and immersion while remaining simple, robust, flexible, and with a reasonable amount of tactical depth.

In essence, good rules maximise the degree to which they achieve their desired goal - be that fun or something else.

I also think that the rules should support a wide range of 'fun levels' - i.e. you should write your 'fun' game and bear in mind that someone might use it to tell a tragic story.

As far as changing the rules is concerned, I make it clear to my players what the rules of the game are. If I have to change them suddenly, I will make sure my players are happy with those changes.

I couldn't care less about whether or not my rules match the rules in the book, however.

Enix18
2010-06-08, 08:12 AM
I find this question particularly interesting, as there are three different DMs in my area who would each answer it in a different way.

DM1 is the rules lawyer of the three. He is willing to let the letter of the rules take precedence over advancement of the story and furtherance of the players' enjoyment. The "Rule of Cool" applies to the occasional NPC, but almost never to the players themselves. He runs things pretty much exactly as the rules say they should be run, which isn't always a good thing. Often times, it seems to the players like the game is pitting them against him, since his rigid adherence to the rules can border on sadistic.

Then there's Me: an equally experience DM with a much different outlook. It's my opinion that the DM's job is to tell a story that draws the players in and facilitates their enjoyment. Sure, I care about the rules, but not when they pointless hinder and bog down game play. I am willing to hand-wave away rules that the players and I find mutually ridiculous, especially for the sake of making things more exiting. I like to make the players think that its them against me sometimes, but that simple serves to draw them into the game more and motivate them to overcome whatever I'm throwing at them.

Finally, there's DM3, the least experience of the group. He's somewhere between the two of us, and I think he hasn't fully discovered his DMing style yet. He really wants to make a fun and interesting story, and the game he's currently DMing (in which DM1 and myself are both players) he's been putting a lot of effort into crafting his adventures. However, he still finds himself bogged down or confused by the rules at the worst times, which isn't helped by the fact that DM1 as a player is always trying to point out rules errors he makes. I can't yet tell whether he's going to turn out to be a good DM or not, but I have my fingers crossed as we continue with the campaign.

So... who's the better DM? Which style works the best? For the player base we all draw from for our games, the answer seems to be Me. Our players are always talking about exciting moments in my campaigns with enough enthusiasm to make a DM proud, and they're always eager to recapture the glory of our spectacular D&D exalted campaign. Conversely, whenever DM1 comes up in conversation, it is generally in distasteful reminiscence of how un-fun his campaign was or humorous satirization of his rules-lawyery tendencies. Those who have played with DM2 a little agree that he's pretty good, but in general our players prefer to play with Me at the helm. They know the rules are there for a reason, but ultimately they don't want to be pointlessly hindered by them—they want to have fun, they want to be excited, they want to somehow be drawn into the game world and experience amazing things through their characters.

They always prefer that story and fun come before rules.

Optimystik
2010-06-08, 08:45 AM
Throw my vote in the balance pile. Story is great and all, but there's only so many rules we can throw out for the sake of story before I don't even feel like we're playing D&D anymore.

As an example, I recall this thread. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=150852) Semi-interesting concept, but it required breaking so many rules to bring about that it was an instant railroading turnoff for me.

Foryn Gilnith
2010-06-08, 08:50 AM
Story is good.

Limiting power "for the sake of story" is questionably useful. Altering classes for the sake of fluff is similarly fruitless. Tossing a rule "for the sake of drama" is, again, not guaranteed to give you any story improvement in exchange for the mechanics you've lost.

Not statting gods is sort of a given, with some caveats. You don't stat out every commoner, do you? Gods are no different in that regard; they're simply creatures your party will not face. A dogmatic opposition to statting gods, on the other hand, completely ignores "those kinds of games" and strikes me as needlessly restrictive.

In short, story is good, but the efforts to place story above rules rarely make the story better, in my experience.

valadil
2010-06-08, 08:53 AM
You can prioritize story or rules at your own discretion. Either way makes for a perfectly valid game. However you should always be aware of your preference and make sure your players are aware of it too. Nothing sucks the fun out of a game more than trying to play one type of game while your GM is running another. Whichever way you go, your players are more important than story and rules combined.

Personally I favor story. It's the strong point in my games. I can run a really awesome story based game. When I try to run something more mechanically I get bored and so do my players. I treat my games as interactive storytelling sessions, with rules for conflict resolution if necessary.

Grogmir
2010-06-08, 08:55 AM
Fun > Story > Rules IMO but all have their place.

Mystic Muse
2010-06-08, 09:21 AM
Well, Certain rules can be forsaken in order to simply advance the story.

However, in terms of fluff vs. Mechanics I'd rather have good clear mechanics than good fluff because, while both are mutable, It's easier to convince a DM to change fluff than it is to convince them to change mechanics.

Raum
2010-06-08, 09:32 AM
I'm curious as to peoples opinions.

It has always been my opinion that the story takes precedent over the rules. After viewing the forums it has become apparent that many people disagree. . . or seem to. . . what are your opinions and why?Two questions for you to consider...first, what is a story? Seriously, all too many equate 'story' with the GM's plans. Yet, if you look it up, story is what you talk about after the events. As Glug mentioned, the story is a narrative - an account of events. It's not the events themselves.

The second question is whose story / plans / events? The groups? Or one individual's? If the GM actually is telling a pre-scripted story instead of playing a game, are the players simply a mildly interactive audience? Or can they make significant, even radical, changes to the game's events?

My answer to your question is simple. Whether 'script' or 'game' takes precedence, and by how much, is dependent on where your entertainment falls in the spectrum between storytelling and gaming. Different groups tend to find different sweet spots.


Examples:
1. limiting power in a game for the sake of story
2. Altering classes based on fluff
3. tossing a certain rule in favor of drama
4. not stating gods because pc's can never be that strong or kill a god (unless your running that kind of game)
5. anything else you can think of
(curiosity)In general, changes should be stated up front. Then, for that game / campaign, those changes are the 'rules'. It's springing surprise changes in the middle of a game which tends to cause issues. One of the easiest way to irritate people is to mismanage or outright lie about what should be expected.

AstralFire
2010-06-08, 09:38 AM
I think some people are confusing 'Story versus Rules' in the topic title (and it is a misleading title, unintentionally) for 'Narrative Roll-Fudging versus Dice as they Fall'.

Also, I totally agree with OP.

Riffington
2010-06-08, 09:43 AM
Likewise, doing things like "Mages all get their minds eaten 20% of the time you cast a spell" is never going to be a good idea even if the fluff supports it, because it's not fun.

Don't play Call of Cthulhu.

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 11:02 AM
Throw my vote in the balance pile. Story is great and all, but there's only so many rules we can throw out for the sake of story before I don't even feel like we're playing D&D anymore.

As an example, I recall this thread. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=150852) Semi-interesting concept, but it required breaking so many rules to bring about that it was an instant railroading turnoff for me.

That could have easily been a refluffed or cutomised Imprisonment, which breaks no rules in the slightest.

Or, in essence, the DM might have been being a jerk, but he wasn't going beyond what the rules already allow DMs to do to players at that level.

Lin Bayaseda
2010-06-08, 11:13 AM
The rules are the tools to tell the story. The do not contradict the story.

Example: A rogue is trying to sneak through a room with a sleeping guard. He rolls 1 on his Move Silently, and the guard rolls 20 on his Listen, and lo and behold, beats the rogue's MS, despite the -10 for sleeping. Now, the kneejerk reaction here would be: "That's retarded. Rigid adherence to rules breaks the story yet again."

However, a good DM could say "You clumsily knock down a vase. It shatters on the floor, waking the guard up. His head jerks up and he notices you. What do you do?" Thus, he used the rules and the random dice roll results to advance the story. Not in the direction the player wanted, mind you, but adversity exists for heroes to overcome.

Mark Hall
2010-06-08, 11:50 AM
Story comes first. You fit the rules to your story, rather than vice versa. You may wind up making some compromises... it's easier to do X than it is to create Y, so you do X... but story should be the driver, while engine is just the engine.

Saph
2010-06-08, 11:52 AM
Two questions for you to consider...first, what is a story? Seriously, all too many equate 'story' with the GM's plans. Yet, if you look it up, story is what you talk about after the events. As Glug mentioned, the story is a narrative - an account of events. It's not the events themselves.

The second question is whose story / plans / events? The groups? Or one individual's? If the GM actually is telling a pre-scripted story instead of playing a game, are the players simply a mildly interactive audience? Or can they make significant, even radical, changes to the game's events?

I'd agree with this.

Good stories are cool, but you don't necessarily need to script the events or alter the rules to get a good story.

Doug Lampert
2010-06-08, 11:58 AM
I'm curious as to peoples opinions.

It has always been my opinion that the story takes precedent over the rules. After viewing the forums it has become apparent that many people disagree. . . or seem to. . . what are your opinions and why?


Examples:
1. limiting power in a game for the sake of story
2. Altering classes based on fluff
3. tossing a certain rule in favor of drama
4. not stating gods because pc's can never be that strong or kill a god (unless your running that kind of game)
5. anything else you can think of
(curiosity)

The story is what the PCs do. Not something I write when I'm DMing or preparing an adventure. I may have a story in mind, but the ACTUAL story is what the PCs do in play. Since they mostly act according to the rules it's very hard for there to be a conflict between the rules and the story.

In any case the PLAYERS don't have any way to "know" in advance where I'll make an exception to the rules for "story" unless I tell them, so the only way the players can make consistent and reasonable decisions in THEIR STORY is if I as DM mostly follow the rules and tell them when I'm not following the rules so they'll know how the world works.

All that said,

1) D&D is the second lowest powered system I like. I wouldn't limit power in D&D for story, I've run games where STARTING PCs could destroy planets or create intelligent species. What power should I worry about in D&D? I might kill PARTICULAR abilities because they kill stories or the world, but overall powerlevel is fine.

2) It's VASTLY easier to alter the fluff based on the class. I'm lazy, I'll always change fluff before crunch. The only fluff that I'd change a class for if it doesn't fit the world I'm planning to run.

3) No. I'll toss a rule because it doesn't work, or because it's not fun, or because it's stupid, or because it doesn't fit the world. But once the rule passes all that, it's in. I can't change it for story because doing so destroys the story the players are building based on the rules I told them I'd be using.

4) I stat gods not because the PCs may fight them (they may, but that's not why I stat them), but because I NEED to know what the gods powers and limits are to run the world reasonably.

5) I'll make any changes I think are needed, but it will normally be for setting or balance, not out of some delusion that I as the DM control the story. If I want to control a story I'm working on a novel and I write cut-scenes with only NPCs present. If the PCs are present then the DM isn't telling any story and thus he CAN'T act to preserve the story.

Doc Roc
2010-06-08, 12:02 PM
In a good system, this is a false dichotomy.
Rules are a way for the players to interact with, and change, and directly affect the story in ways that are guaranteed to make sense and be consistent. Or at least to approximate consistency.

Optimystik
2010-06-08, 12:24 PM
That could have easily been a refluffed or cutomised Imprisonment, which breaks no rules in the slightest.

Other than "target is trapped somewhere," Imprisonment is completely unrelated to what happened in that thread.

The closest I could find was Damnation, but even that shouldn't work on someone that is already dead.

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 12:28 PM
Other than "target is trapped somewhere," Imprisonment is completely unrelated to what happened in that thread.

Imprisonment:


When you cast imprisonment and touch a creature, it is entombed in a state of suspended animation (see the temporal stasis spell) in a small sphere far beneath the surface of the earth. The subject remains there unless a freedom spell is cast at the locale where the imprisonment took place. Magical search by a crystal ball, a locate object spell, or some other similar divination does not reveal the fact that a creature is imprisoned, but discern location does. A wish or miracle spell will not free the recipient, but will reveal where it is entombed. If you know the target’s name and some facts about its life, the target takes a -4 penalty on its save.

It's not that far from "victim is trapped in the abyss with no limbs or tongue" - the impact in mechanical terms is basically the same. And Imprisonment's anti-divination clause only permits specific spells, so it's fairly close to the 'unscryable' the DM imposed.

In the end, that DM only "sacrificed the rules" in so far as he made things happen in a weird way. He could have brought the same amount of harm to the character without breaking the rules.

Satyr
2010-06-08, 12:30 PM
It's VASTLY easier to alter the fluff based on the class. I'm lazy, I'll always change fluff before crunch. The only fluff that I'd change a class for if it doesn't fit the world I'm planning to run.

I never understood this notion. Most plots are supposed to be based on good ideas; rules however are basically crutches to implement these ideas. I mean why should I want to temper around with a good idea?
Besides rules are damn easy to change, and if not to substitute them with others.

valadil
2010-06-08, 12:34 PM
I never understood this notion. Most plots are supposed to be based on good ideas; rules however are basically crutches to implement these ideas. I mean why should I want to temper around with a good idea?
Besides rules are damn easy to change, and if not to substitute them with others.

I have an easier time writing good fluff than good rules. I've played 3rd ed since it came out, but wouldn't feel comfortable writing a balanced prestige class. It's easier for me to take a prestige class that works well mechanically and alter the fluff to match my character than to make a new prestige class for the fluff I've written.

Axolotl
2010-06-08, 12:37 PM
What story exactly? This idea confuses me.

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 12:42 PM
I never understood this notion. Most plots are supposed to be based on good ideas; rules however are basically crutches to implement these ideas. I mean why should I want to temper around with a good idea?
Besides rules are damn easy to change, and if not to substitute them with others.

It's a lot easier to make a fluff change that doesn't affect anything, and such a fluff change is incredibly good at sounding more meaningful than it is. The truth is, any meaningful fluff change requires at least as much thought as a meaningful crunch change.

The difference is where the thought goes in -- for fluff, you still need to make sure that it's balanced (a mismatch between fluff and crunch power is a bug).

However, more of the thought goes in when you use the fluff -- either because you're writing crunch based on the fluff and you've realised that some of it needs revision because it mandates something unbalanced or could threaten immersion, or when you're working the fluff into prep-work for an adventure.

When you're writing the crunch, a lot more of the thought goes in straight away, which creates the illusion that it's somehow 'harder' or 'more important'.

Doug Lampert
2010-06-08, 12:44 PM
I never understood this notion. Most plots are supposed to be based on good ideas; rules however are basically crutches to implement these ideas. I mean why should I want to temper around with a good idea?
Besides rules are damn easy to change, and if not to substitute them with others.

Ask any writer, ideas are cheap, you can come up with dozens of story ideas while in the shower. Ideas are pointless without implementation, and the rules ARE the implementation, without he rules ideas are meaningless, pointless, and trivial.

And at any case. As I said. I DON'T MAKE THE STORY! The players do. I establish the background and setting. Rules are a very significant part of that background. I can produce the fluff for a setting or class in half an hour, I can make up a dozen settings in a day with no problem. Implementing the rules to make them work is hard, fluff, meh, I can literally do it in my sleep. Go to sleep, wake up with a fluff fix. Try that with rules without thinking things through and you get an incoherent mess.

Rules are VASTLY harder than fluff because rules have implications that OTHER PEOPLE will use to try to break your fluff and interactions that are hardcoded into the rules.

Mauther
2010-06-08, 01:05 PM
Story over rules, in general. But in my experience, anytime this arguement is brought up, its a false flag to hide someone who wants a reason to change the rules, thus really wanting to make rules over story. A nice piece of mental jujitsu.

Frozen_Feet
2010-06-08, 01:08 PM
Compelling game comes before either fun, story or rules. As long as all players feel investing time and emotions to the game is worth it, it's all good. I use "compelling" instead of "fun" or "enjoyment", because many of the most compelling games I've been involved in have contained decidedly unfunny, dreary or jarring elements. Lack of interest is what kills a game; lack of rules, story or fun might create it, but not necessarily.

Emmerask
2010-06-08, 01:11 PM
One hour per setting (a dozen / day with 12 hours to work)? Well those can´t be very well thought out ones and especially for a sandbox game (which you seem to prefer by your posting) this seems to be a big flaw :smallwink:
My last setting took me about 2 weeks of work in comparison :smallwink:

And if you don´t come up with a story then everything in your whole world is basically on time stop mode until your players decide to do something in area xy?

to the op, in my book story will always take a more important role then rules.

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 01:41 PM
<snip>

The idea is something else. Fluff is part of your implementation. It's the fully-developed idea, not the thing you came up with in the shower. It also covers the bits you needed to express -- and maintain in game -- but couldn't do so using crunch (and yes, these can exist, if the crunch can't be made concise, decisive, or specific enough). And it's also the bits that informed and justified your crunch.

Fluff. Is. Not. Trivial.

Make a change to the fluff without considering whether or not it mandates a change to the crunch, and you do far more damage to your game than you ever could by writing an unbalanced rule.

Consistency in fluff is a much higher and more important standard as well - if an inconsistency in the fluff surfaces, then the resulting loss of immersion will break your game far more decisively than any number of kobold paladins ever could.

If an inconsistency in the crunch surfaces, you may be still be able to rescue your game.

Satyr
2010-06-08, 01:46 PM
I have an easier time writing good fluff than good rules. I've played 3rd ed since it came out, but wouldn't feel comfortable writing a balanced prestige class. It's easier for me to take a prestige class that works well mechanically and alter the fluff to match my character than to make a new prestige class for the fluff I've written.


As an individual notion, this is completely understandable. Everybody has different strengths or elements of the game one feels confident with. However, as a general notion, I disagree. It is not generally easy to do either and is certainly not that either to proclaim that one's individual strengths and preferences are a good measure for a general assumption.


It's a lot easier to make a fluff change that doesn't affect anything, and such a fluff change is incredibly good at sounding more meaningful than it is. The truth is, any meaningful fluff change requires at least as much thought as a meaningful crunch change.

Exactly. A significant change of the fluff is likely to have an impact on the mechanics as well. The way I like to run games, fluff that has no significance on the mechanical aspect is pretty much fluffy, hollow and pointless (the same is true for rules that have no significance for the fluff, which are just an empty minigame - at least from my perspective).


Ask any writer, ideas are cheap, you can come up with dozens of story ideas while in the shower. Ideas are pointless without implementation, and the rules ARE the implementation, without he rules ideas are meaningless, pointless, and trivial.

First of all, I think there is something called "Writer's Block", which might indicate that ideas aren't that easy. Good ideas certainly aren't. Otherwise we would have more Songs of Ice and Fire and fewer Eyes of Argon.
Secondly, there are many, many groups who play with no clearly stated rules at all (yes I know, social contract and expections and all that form some kind of invisible body of rules as well, but that is so much dependent on the involved players that they are very hard to generalise or transfer. Besides, this might be bit esoteric). So, are freeform games just a feint of the roleplaying faerie?
Note that I don't argue that rules aren't important, only that they are not chiseled in stone or couldn't or shoudln't adjusted.



And at any case. As I said. I DON'T MAKE THE STORY! The players do. I establish the background and setting. Rules are a very significant part of that background. I can produce the fluff for a setting or class in half an hour, I can make up a dozen settings in a day with no problem. Implementing the rules to make them work is hard, fluff, meh, I can literally do it in my sleep. Go to sleep, wake up with a fluff fix. Try that with rules without thinking things through and you get an incoherent mess.

I wrote a more or less complete revised form of D&D 3.5 out of bordom, and I am not even very passionate about rules in general.
Yes, adjusting fluff is easy, especially when one, take for example you, have a talent for it. But so is adjusting or making up rules. I haven't played a game where I had not at least one good idea for a few housrules when playing it.


Rules are VASTLY harder than fluff because rules have implications that OTHER PEOPLE will use to try to break your fluff and interactions that are hardcoded into the rules.

It is not impossible, and actually often even simpler to break a game with fluff alone. And as far as I can tell, most housrules are just that - rules meant for one group. So that usually the creator of the rule is among those who use it and is also likely to apply them. So what other people we are talking here exactly? The people who check the homebrew forums here? They probably know how to break the game without any additional material.

Doc Roc
2010-06-08, 02:36 PM
Actually, after three years of making fluff up on the fly, lying furiously to players about what I had planned, and rebuilding towns while they were in combat, I think fluff is completely mutable and very trivial. Breaking the game with fluff is pretty silly, and sort of a deeply imbued contradiction. If you are trying to game the system by simply writing rich parents into your background, or calling on omnipotent contacts that some tidbit of poorly written fluff supposedly entitles you to, you are in for a rude surprise called Rules.

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 02:55 PM
Actually, after three years of making fluff up on the fly, lying furiously to players about what I had planned, and rebuilding towns while they were in combat, I think fluff is completely mutable and very trivial.

Did your players notice a plot hole?


Breaking the game with fluff is pretty silly, and sort of a deeply imbued contradiction. If you are trying to game the system by simply writing rich parents into your background, or calling on omnipotent contacts that some tidbit of poorly written fluff supposedly entitles you to, you are in for a rude surprise called Rules.

If you try writing some BS fluff that would break the game if the DM rolled with it, then I would expect the DM to reject the sheet. I'd also expect the DM to reject your sheet if it says you're a kobold paladin with a high Knowledge (The Planes) bonus and from a town with a library.

Sure, only the first one is cheating, but (neglecting good faith) the second isn't any better.

Bad DM'ing is the main source of ways a game can be broken through fluff - for example, giving one player disproportionate importance, reducing the other characters to spectators or escorts for McGuffinMan.

Plot holes, as I mentioned before, are also dangerous, because immersion is mandatory and balance isn't.

In essence, imbalance is basically "int main (void) {main (); return 0;}" to loss of immersion's "rm -rf /".

valadil
2010-06-08, 03:08 PM
As an individual notion, this is completely understandable. Everybody has different strengths or elements of the game one feels confident with. However, as a general notion, I disagree. It is not generally easy to do either and is certainly not that either to proclaim that one's individual strengths and preferences are a good measure for a general assumption.


I can agree with that. I was only speaking for myself.

To be honest I think the mutability of fluff could be its own thread. I've seen a lot of players insist that it doesn't matter at all. Specifically I'm thinking of an argument on WotC's boards where players were complaining that FR didn't have a deity for each domain and that was preventing them from making some build in LFR. Since deities were obviously just fluff, this player wanted to be able to use the domain in his build and couldn't fathom why changing the pantheon in your setting was problematic.

Does fluff get rewritten as frequently in RPGs that aren't D&D? I've always gotten the sense that D&D was the most competitive RPG. Because it's the biggest and most popular, players who want to be the best and show off their uber builds will gravitate towards it. From what I've seen, those are the players less interested in fluff ("What do you mean this PrC has a roleplaying requirement? The GM can just say I did that before the game started") and thus more likely to find it mutable. Do games with less competitive players find their fluff less mutable? (Of course amount of published fluff might also effect this. I've hardly seen any fluff in GURPs, so there's not much to change. I guess WoD is a pretty intricate setting. Does that one get altered according to the whims of players?)

Satyr
2010-06-08, 03:08 PM
If you are trying to game the system by simply writing rich parents into your background, or calling on omnipotent contacts that some tidbit of poorly written fluff supposedly entitles you to, you are in for a rude surprise called Rules.

The game is not only broekn when one character achieves basically omnipotence - it is broken when it doesn't work in the end or requir a considerable effort to make it work.
Now, it is often sufficient to play an utterly unlikeable character, or to introduce some character traits that do not fit at all to the overall moot of the game (either something completely silly in serious matter campaign or something way too serious in a more lighthearted fluffy one), and congratulations, you have broken the game and the gamemaster can't do anything about it (apart from telling you not being an annoyance).

Frozen_Feet
2010-06-08, 03:17 PM
I remember how I used to make rules on the fly, Calvinballing adventure after adventure. Maintaining the fluff of the setting (back then, Middle-Earth) was way more important to me than whatever the rulebook said... oh wait, I didn't actually have any rulebooks back then, just a big ever-growing pile of notes. Such petty things as "balance" or "mechanical consistency" were utterly unknown things to me back then.

And it worked just fine. I feel many "fluff is trivial" people here are those who've used one system for years, and know its rules inside out - if the rules are already highly detailed and vast, it's easy to pick something to represent whatever idea comes to mind. But the opposite approach is equally valid and possible.

Telonius
2010-06-08, 03:19 PM
It's a compromise and a collaboration.

The setting is the situation the characters find themselves in, and I (as DM) provide that. The story is the general direction events take. The actions of the characters - determined by a mixture of the situations they find themselves in as well as the characters' own inherent personalities - drive the story. The rules provide limits and guidelines to what the characters can do.

Given that, the rules necessarily have some effect on the story, since they limit the characters' options. The rules that I decide to use (or houserule) depend in part on the sorts of actions I anticipate the characters might take. The setting is something I hope both the players and I find to be interesting, but also has repercussions on the sorts of things the players might do or the rules I might enforce.

erikun
2010-06-08, 04:19 PM
Story over rules when designing the game. The rules are there to support the game, and you don't want them interfering with everyone's enjoyment or playing the game. If someone wants a ranger that wields a greatsword and gets the Cleave line instead of two-weapon fighting, and you don't have a problem with it, then there is little reason to avoid bending the rules.

Rules consistency over story in the game itself. Players want to know what they can do and what chances of success they have, which cannot happen if the rules keep changing from minute to minute. If they have a stone of magical getting-out-of-dungeons, then it should get them out of any dungeons they find themselves in unless they are somehow seperated from the stone, or unless there is something in game which is preventing it from working.

Doc Roc
2010-06-08, 09:18 PM
And it worked just fine. I feel many "fluff is trivial" people here are those who've used one system for years, and know its rules inside out - if the rules are already highly detailed and vast, it's easy to pick something to represent whatever idea comes to mind. But the opposite approach is equally valid and possible.

Actually, I run four or five different systems.
I just think that fluff isn't so darned hard as people want it to be.

Milskidasith
2010-06-08, 09:24 PM
Actually, I run four or five different systems.
I just think that fluff isn't so darned hard as people want it to be.

Agreed; I can come up with a decent backstory to fit any character, that justifies his alignment, most of his feats, and his skill points, all written *after* the fact (I usually don't justify items save character defining ones because they are incredibly varied and would tend to make your character look like a clown, especially if you used the fluff that comes pre packaged with them in the books).

If I hear the outline of a quest, I can come up with a good reason for the quest or five, ranging from being a national problem to being a problem for somebody as a peasant. Nobody cares if the cities market district suddenly had two story buildings appear for the archer laden ambush that happens there, or if the cities walls suddenly changed from wooden to stone when the scenario changes to a siege, and if (not when; if) these ever become contradictory to other parts of the fluff, it's equally easy to rewrite them; people built two story buildings to work as outposts, the stone came from a nearby quarry that was emptied soon after building the city, the change in trade routes doesn't really affect prices because blah blah blah. Fluff is easy, and refluffing is even easier. Writing a story can be hard, and when the fluff gets in the way of it, refluffing is easier than gaming around the fluff.

sambo.
2010-06-08, 09:31 PM
Story always comes first imho.

the "rules" are mearly guidlines for the DM.

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 09:34 PM
Actually, I run four or five different systems.
I just think that fluff isn't so darned hard as people want it to be.

Nor is crunch.

You can 'wing it' with the fluff certainly. You can do likewise with the crunch, and you might even get a better result because the end result will be your rules, tailored to your game, and because you don't have to worry about coding everything so that there is absolutely no confusion in the slightest about what you mean.

The entire purpose of the roleplaying industry is to make the whole thing seem harder than it is. Don't make the mistake of assuming that that applies solely to the fluff side of things.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-08, 09:39 PM
Since this hasn't been discussed in detail yet. It also depends heavily on the system.

Now, I know it sometimes seems like a sin to assume anything other D&D if it's not specifically mentioned around here, but different systems really do have different flavoring to them.

Some manuals even go as far as to say to throw out every single rule in the book if it'll help player enjoyment. Honestly, this is a sentiment I really do agree with and it's for the simple fact that it's not an extreme. It doesn't insinuate that all structure should be thrown out, but it does admit that the rules are made by people who make mistakes and sometimes won't always work. Rules should be changed when they need to.

A strict pure adherence to the rules at all costs is going to cause problems at some point or another.

So, I will say that a rules bend will eventually be required in just about any system if you play it long enough. No rule set is perfect.

Still, the amount you should bend depends very heavily on the system. It does seem to lean towards the more powerful a system gets, the more bending it'll need. Which makes D&D really weird, because often things don't need bending until after level 6-8.

Point buy systems are actually pretty notorious for needing rules bending as well. Sometimes, a power, if taken EXACTLY as read, can really just break the game, but ultimately can be fine if handled delicately.

Ultimately though, I agree. Player enjoyment trumps all, with story generally coming out on top of rules. While not every story is planned from the beginning and can be retroactive, the idea of story taking precedent is one of letting the roleplaying be more important than the game itself. Sometimes the two are equal, but it's incredibly rare for the game portion to become more important than the roleplaying portion.

After all, if you want more game than roleplaying, then why aren't you just playing Betrayal at the House on the Hill or a strategy video game?

Milskidasith
2010-06-08, 09:42 PM
Nor is crunch.

You can 'wing it' with the fluff certainly. You can do likewise with the crunch, and you might even get a better result because the end result will be your rules, tailored to your game.

Remember that the entire purpose of the roleplaying industry is to make the whole thing seem harder than it is.

Nope.

Read my posts in the homebrew section. While a lot of the stuff I don't post on is balanced or at least doesn't have anything so glaring I need to post on it, I post on a lot of classes with glaring balance issues, and I don't exactly scour every single post for issues.

Crunch is far harder than people give it credit.

Caphi
2010-06-08, 09:44 PM
Rules express and drive events. The story is composed of events. Neither of them have priority because without events, neither exists.

Drakevarg
2010-06-08, 09:44 PM
Crunch is far harder than people give it credit.

Crunch snaps like a dry twig over the knee of the DM when he wants it to do so.

Mystic Muse
2010-06-08, 09:46 PM
Crunch snaps like a dry twig over the knee of the DM when he wants it to do so.

So does the story.

Milskidasith
2010-06-08, 09:47 PM
Crunch snaps like a dry twig over the knee of the DM when he wants it to do so.

All I'm saying is that making up crunch that is balanced is far harder than making up fluff that can fit the setting. I don't know why you're being overly confrontational about a post that wasn't even directed towards you.

Eloi
2010-06-08, 09:48 PM
All I'm saying is that making up crunch that is balanced is far harder than making up fluff that can fit the setting. I don't know why you're being overly confrontational about a post that wasn't even directed towards you.

Creating the logic and laws of the world is no more important or harder to balance or do than creating a fun and enveloping story, characters and setting. They are equal, both very important, and very difficult, which is why DM'ing is a fun but rewarding task.

Drakevarg
2010-06-08, 09:49 PM
All I'm saying is that making up crunch that is balanced is far harder than making up fluff that can fit the setting. I don't know why you're being overly confrontational about a post that wasn't even directed towards you.

You're inferring an emotional state from a toneless collection of words. I scarcely have the emotional range to be overly confrontational.

I'm simply saying that nothing is immutable if the DM doesn't want it to be.


So does the story.

I never said it didn't.

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 10:20 PM
Nope.

Read my posts in the homebrew section. While a lot of the stuff I don't post on is balanced or at least doesn't have anything so glaring I need to post on it, I post on a lot of classes with glaring balance issues, and I don't exactly scour every single post for issues.

Crunch is far harder than people give it credit.

Actually, quality material is what's hard. Your posts are misleading.

First-draft material that never leaves your gaming table doesn't have to meet the same standards as material posted on the internet, or even material that actually sees publication. This can vary, obviously - it's easier to produce crunch for a group that's focused more on story, and it's harder to produce crunch for a group that's focused more on gameplay and optimisation.

This also works for crunch, however. Balance issues - even the ones you describe as 'glaring' - are far less likely to surface in a single game than they are when the same piece of material is posted to a forum. A balance issue isn't an issue unless it surfaces in a game (just like a plot hole isn't an issue unless someone notices it).

Variable optimisation levels, particular idiosyncrasies of a game or group, and simply having fewer pairs of eyes all help make balance issues less likely to surface in a single game.

Anything you post on an internet forum, or on a blog, or even publish, is going to have to meet a much higher standard than the same material confined to a single game, or to your immediate circle of friends. That applies to fluff as well.

Writing a campaign setting, a piece of fiction, or an adventure for your group can be easy. Writing one up for players worldwide is a lot harder.

In essence, it's easier to write any material for your group, circle, or troupe, than it is to write the same material for a publisher or for the internet.

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-06-08, 10:57 PM
I appreciate and respect everyones responses.

It is my opinion that in terms of general play the rules are very important. But the story that the dm and players build together is far more important.

I would rather throw half the system out the window and houserule/homebrew the rest than risk the entertainment and imersion of the group as a whole.

I dont support changing a rule mid-combat or railroading characters down a predetermined DM plot line. Instead I believe the story is a collective creation and for the benefit of the group as a whole, sometimes it is the job of the DM to alter facts about the rules that do not comply with the wishes of the group, or change the features of a class that do not meet a particular players image of the character they are trying to play.

If a player writes into their backstory that they grew up around dogs and that they have 2 pet hunting dogs, I am not going to make them pay for those dogs with starting gold. But a pet is not an animal companion no matter how much they argue with me.

If the fluff of a world has no undead, i'm not going to make a cleric character keep turn undead. . . I'll give them turn (something else) and let it count as turn undead for the purpose of feats.

If the BBEG is about to get killed at a moment a little too soon for him to actually die in terms of the story, I will use the power of the handwave to make sure he is still around for the next big battle with BBEG.

Milskidasith
2010-06-08, 11:07 PM
You're inferring an emotional state from a toneless collection of words. I scarcely have the emotional range to be overly confrontational.

I'm simply saying that nothing is immutable if the DM doesn't want it to be.



I never said it didn't.

Overly confrontational, by which I mean you're quoting my post purely to make a nitpick that has no relevance to what I said while I was not speaking to you. I would say that is being fairly confrontational.


Creating the logic and laws of the world is no more important or harder to balance or do than creating a fun and enveloping story, characters and setting. They are equal, both very important, and very difficult, which is why DM'ing is a fun but rewarding task.

Incorrect. Quality fluff is a lot easier than quality rules, because the rules have to interact with everything else, while the fluff just has to be there to explain the rules or drive the story. It is much, much easier to create reasons for things to happen than entirely new rules that happen to be balanced.


Writing a campaign setting, a piece of fiction, or an adventure for your group can be easy. Writing one up for players worldwide is a lot harder.

Not really, no. Quality settings are quality settings, regardless of how many players are there; a plot hole is a plot hole. It's much easier to make quality fluff than it is quality crunch, because quality fluff does not have to interact with anything. In fact, that goes for *all* quality levels, save abysmally poor; it is far easier to make fluff that is merely OK than it is to create crunch that is merely OK, no matter what the standards, because the fluff does not have to interact with the other bits of fluff. It doesn't matter if your character is a prince from a far away land or an from an exotic and uncharted island and you were blown to the main land by a tornado, your story is not going to directly make the other fluff better or worse in comparison, or render the game unable to continue. Crunch can do that.

When I say the fluff doesn't have to interact with anything, I don't mean fluff doesn't matter for the game. I'm just saying that all fluff has to do is be written without glaring plot holes, because it doesn't matter what the fluff of Class A or City B is, it's not going to render the fluff of Class C or city D moot. With crunch, you have to worry about writing quality and whether or not class A's crunch makes class B's crunch irrelevant. Crunch has all the problems inherent with fluff; it has to be written well, make sense, not have glaring holes, but it also has the problem that it has to be balanced, making it harder to write than fluff.

Lin Bayaseda
2010-06-08, 11:09 PM
If the BBEG is about to get killed at a moment a little too soon for him to actually die in terms of the story, I will use the power of the handwave to make sure he is still around for the next big battle with BBEG.No need to. You can always pull the ye olde "ah, but who was he working for?" switcheroo; players kill alleged BBEG, find out he's but a front for more ominous power.

In my campaign, PCs are hunting down a sorceress named Lin Bayaseda (that's where I got the username), rumoured to be the ex-concubine of a Demon Prince. If all goes according to plan and they meet with her in a climactic combat and defeat her - it's all good, and the Demon Prince can remain a footnote.

If she goes down too early and too easily to a randomly blown save - not a problem. Players keep investigating and find out the Demon Prince is actually the Big Bad.

Drakevarg
2010-06-08, 11:14 PM
When I say the fluff doesn't have to interact with anything, I don't mean fluff doesn't matter for the game. I'm just saying that all fluff has to do is be written without glaring plot holes, because it doesn't matter what the fluff of Class A or City B is, it's not going to render the fluff of Class C or city D moot.

Only if you're lazy about it. Well written fluff has to take into account all sorts of things, including international politics. So if City B is more powerful and influencial than City D, it a relevent impact on the fluff of City D.

If for you fluff is nothing more than a pretty backdrop to whatever the PCs are up to, than yes, it's very soft. But if you want to build a living, breathing world (which I do, on account of my huge obsession with worldbuilding), the fluff can quickly become just as complex and hard as the crunch. Politics, economics, culture, religion, cosmology, all these things; they are not inconsequential to a world's function.

Milskidasith
2010-06-08, 11:20 PM
Only if you're lazy about it. Well written fluff has to take into account all sorts of things, including international politics. So if City B is more powerful and influencial than City D, it a relevent impact on the fluff of City D.

If for you fluff is nothing more than a pretty backdrop to whatever the PCs are up to, than yes, it's very soft. But if you want to build a living, breathing world (which I do, on account of my huge obsession with worldbuilding), the fluff can quickly become just as complex and hard as the crunch. Politics, economics, culture, religion, cosmology, all these things; they are not inconsequential to a world's function.

You didn't read my post at all, did you? Crunch has to be just as well written as fluff in addition to being balanced.

As for the fluff: It takes an *absurd* amount of time to make balanced abilities that are unique. It doesn't take long to make fluff that works. Yes, the fluff has to have verisimilitude. I never said it didn't. It just doesn't have to worry about the fluff for class A being better than the fluff for class B. Even in the example you quoted, you are reading my post incorrectly. Yes, the fluff for city B affects city D. But when writing fluff, you don't have to worry, at all, about how city B is *better* than city D because it has all the benefits of city B but better hit dice and a few extra class abilities.

As for world building: Yeah, I still don't find it that hard to make a world that works. If you tack on a ton of unnecessary detail, it takes a lot more time, but more detail than is necessary, in my experience, either causes purple prose laden descriptions or PCs who somehow offend somebody because of cultural differences that only serve to detract from the actual adventure. A quality world is one in which the PCs can have a good time in that doesn't have gaping plot holes, not the world that has the most nuanced cultural schemes and complicated trade routes that really don't matter when any PCs above level 7 are roaming gods in any setting that doesn't break down into at least some facets of the Tippyverse.

lesser_minion
2010-06-08, 11:40 PM
Quality fluff is a lot easier than quality rules, because the rules have to interact with everything else, while the fluff just has to be there to explain the rules or drive the story. It is much, much easier to create reasons for things to happen than entirely new rules that happen to be balanced.

You're still imposing different standards.

There is no need to consider every single possible interaction of a rule if your players aren't going to do so. For your own games, you can even go the heavy-handed route and just ban everything you haven't considered.

If your game only allowed a limited subset of existing content, then you already have a lot less to worry about. And, interestingly enough, you can't actually do that as easily with fluff. You avoid fluff issues by hiding them.

Fluff still has interactions, and those interactions can still be incredibly far-reaching. And at the same time, you can't patch things as easily - if someone points out that a city in the middle of Mount Inaccessible may be a bad choice for the seat of power for the kingdom whose other major settlements are four hundred miles away, your only recourse is a retcon. Or a new aspect to the setting's fluff which justifies the situation.

If your players aren't too interested in things like this, then you can get away with not putting too much effort in. You can sweep things under the carpet.

But not every group is willing to let you do that.

And you can find groups that aren't too worried about balance as well, as long as they can get an interesting bit of group improv out of the whole mess.

Milskidasith
2010-06-08, 11:42 PM
You're still imposing different standards.

There is no need to consider every single possible interaction of a rule if your players aren't going to do so. For your own games, you can even go the heavy-handed route and just ban everything you haven't considered.

And in fact, for your own games, you can ensure that crunch won't interact in unforeseen ways. The same thing won't work with fluff.

When you write a piece of fluff, you need to consider what else it implies about the setting. Some things are going to be fairly trivial - you might even be able to get away with the odd continuity error.

You can usually pull of dramatic edits as well - for example, adding in something for a PC to grab onto after jumping off a balcony.

However, that's very different to deciding that

If your players aren't too interested in things like this, then you can get away with not putting too much effort in. If an issue surfaces, you have a fair shot at working around it.

However, the same works for crunch. If your players don't really care about power, then any imbalances that come up will also have a fair shot at being non-fatal.

However, when you're posting something on a forum, you're either looking for help to improve it, or you have picked through it repeatedly with vernier calipers and a fine-toothed comb.

That still applies equally to fluff and crunch.

You are still ignoring my point.

Crunch has all of the standards fluff requires, and it is required to be balanced. That's the thing. Fluff has to be unique, fun, add something to the game, and be well written. Crunch has to be the exact same, and it has to be balanced by the rules. If your players don't care about power, you still have to write crunch that is balanced because, even if a PC isn't trying to be powerful, if he picks "Class of fighting +5" then he's going to be more powerful than his friend who picked "Class of moderate aptitude at swinging certain types of weapons in certain conditions +4" even if he didn't intend to.

Drakevarg
2010-06-08, 11:52 PM
Crunch has all of the standards fluff requires, and it is required to be balanced.

No it isn't, otherwise it would be. Which it's not.

Also, you clearly are operating on different standards for each, since you seem to think that crunch has to be balanced and cover every conceivable scenario, while fluff apparently only needs to avoid plot holes and going into any detail is "a waste of time."

Milskidasith
2010-06-08, 11:55 PM
No it isn't, otherwise it would be. Which it's not.

I'm confused by what this means, especially since I never said anything was anything. "No it isn't, otherwise it would be. Which it's not, is not only circular logic, it has nothing to do with my post.

As for different standards: I'm operating on different standards. Why? Because they aren't the same thing.

Standards for good quality fluff:

It has to be unique. It really doesn't matter if there are 10 humdrum fishing villages or 12 supplying the main city with it's supply of fish, because they're all basically going to be copy and pasted unless you really have 12 different aquatic adventures planned, in which case then it is an important distinction.

It has to provide fun (by which I mean a compelling game, since some people argued before when I said fun and said that, say, a horror game isn't fun, but it's compelling) for the players.

It has to add something to the game. This is similar to the other two, but I mean that even the minor details of the fluff have to add something to the game. Describing the overall feel of a city and maybe a few descriptions of important buildings sets the tone; describing every city and the exact locations of all the handholds, the color of the bricks, etc. of major buildings doesn't add anything.

Crunch standards:

It has to be unique. A class that's just "I cast as a wizard spells, but I get one more spell per day in all levels in exchange for only autolearning one spell for level" isn't worth inclusion in a game; likewise, already existant variants such as feat rogue really aren't worth it, because feat rogue is essentially a fighter with a good reflex save, evasion, skill points and worse everything else.

It has to provide fun, or at least compelling options. Even if a class is mechanically balanced, if it isn't fun to play because it has limited options or it's strictly passive or long term buffs, it's not fun (for instance: if you were to play an artificer without scroll or wand use, you'd be very, very bored. Classes like that.)

It has to add something to the game. Don't make classes players aren't going to use, don't make setting specific classes that have minor variations based on fluff (breaks unique-ness), don't make evil PrCs for a good party, etc. For a broad setting, adding something to the game is generally as simple as following those rules. For individual classes, this also means no misc bonuses to irrelevant skill checks (PrC A gets +2 to basketweaving, which wasn't an entry requirement and has nothing to do with any of his other abilities) or overly arbitrary abilities (I get a save on all death effects that don't otherwise have a save... which is symbol of death, and that's about it!)

It has to be reasonably balanced. Even if non optimizers are playing classes, they're still going to be able to tell that, say, ToB is more powerful than a base fighter, or that a wizard casting crowd control spells does a lot more than Stunning Blow ever will. As long as the classes are still on the same level, where a challenging encounter for one is a challenging encounter for all, it's not as bad to be unbalanced, but classes/PrCs that are strictly better than other options are bad even for non optimizers.

Essentially, I put crunch and fluff to the same basic standards; that they have to add compelling options to the game, be unique, and not have extraneous info/abilities, but crunch also has to be reasonably balanced, which makes it much harder to create at a reasonable level of quality. It's equally easy to write crap crunch and crap fluff, though, but I never denied that.

Drakevarg
2010-06-08, 11:57 PM
You said that crunch is required to be balanced.

Crunch is not balanced. It is not required to be balanced. You're getting that belief from your own standards.

Similarly, your own standards say that too much detail in fluff is pointless, and that fluff doesn't need to balance anything out.


Standards for good quality fluff:

It has to be unique. It really doesn't matter if there are 10 humdrum fishing villages or 12 supplying the main city with it's supply of fish, because they're all basically going to be copy and pasted unless you really have 12 different aquatic adventures planned, in which case then it is an important distinction.

An assumption. An inaccurate one.


It has to provide fun (by which I mean a compelling game, since some people argued before when I said fun and said that, say, a horror game isn't fun, but it's compelling) for the players.

I would disagree on the bolded point, but since you're echoing someone else's opinion I'll just move on.


It has to add something to the game. This is similar to the other two, but I mean that even the minor details of the fluff have to add something to the game. Describing the overall feel of a city and maybe a few descriptions of important buildings sets the tone; describing every city and the exact locations of all the handholds, the color of the bricks, etc. of major buildings doesn't add anything.

It's pretty clear listening to you talk that you simply don't care about fluff. And honestly, what's the point in debating it's merit to someone who sees it as nothing but a backdrop?


Crunch standards:

It has to be unique. A class that's just "I cast as a wizard spells, but I get one more spell per day in all levels in exchange for only autolearning one spell for level" isn't worth inclusion in a game; likewise, already existant variants such as feat rogue really aren't worth it, because feat rogue is essentially a fighter with a good reflex save, evasion, skill points and worse everything else.

Yet there are oodles of classes already out there that are only minor varients from one another. Sorcerers/Wizards, Paladins/Blackguards. Sacred Warder of Bahamut/Unholy Ravager of Tiamat.


It has to add something to the game. Don't make classes players aren't going to use, don't make setting specific classes that have minor variations based on fluff (breaks unique-ness), don't make evil PrCs for a good party, etc. For a broad setting, adding something to the game is generally as simple as following those rules. For individual classes, this also means no misc bonuses to irrelevant skill checks (PrC A gets +2 to basketweaving, which wasn't an entry requirement and has nothing to do with any of his other abilities) or overly arbitrary abilities (I get a save on all death effects that don't otherwise have a save... which is symbol of death, and that's about it!)

What if a player happens to want class X, but slightly different? "Too bad, it isn't unique enough so you can't have it?"


It has to be balanced. Even if non optimizers are playing classes, they're still going to be able to tell that, say, ToB is more powerful than a base fighter, or that a wizard casting crowd control spells does a lot more than Stunning Blow ever will.

Only it never is.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 12:05 AM
You said that crunch is required to be balanced.

Crunch is not balanced. It is not required to be balanced. You're getting that belief from your own standards.

Similarly, your own standards say that too much detail in fluff is pointless, and that fluff doesn't need to balance anything out.

Read my standards above. And yes, crunch does have to be balanced, to a reasonable degree, for a game to be playable. It doesn't have to be "all classes are T3" but it has to be somewhere along the lines of "all classes have a minimum of absolutely broken tricks and, if played in a variety of ways, still wind up about even (+- 2 tiers) with the other classes.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 12:17 AM
Basically, Milskdasith is saying that crunch is required to be unique and balanced to make sure things are fun (our big category that most people have decided is the #1 priority). If Crunch A makes Crunch B completely pointless and obsolete to the point that Crunch A character does EVERYTHING Crunch B character does to the point to make character B completely obsolete to the nth degree, then Crunch A will ultimately lead to a less fun game. On the other hand, boring Crunch likely won't ever get played and contributes nothing.

On the other hand, fluff merely needs to be interesting to be good fluff. Since there's no mechanics, it doesn't need to worry about balance. Going a little loopy and over the top with the fluff might turn some players off, but significantly less than a REALLY unbalanced crunch.

Perfectly balanced crunch is, of course, completely impossible, but it DOES need to be balanced within a certain margin of error to be good crunch.

While both can be hard to make, good fluff ultimately has a less exacting standard for keeping things enjoyable.

Edit: Example- I wanna make a game around My Little Ponies because I'm weird. The fluff here is weird. Some people will like it, some won't. It's insane, but some people like that. On the other hand, I make a Pony Class called Good Pony that merely has all the stats and abilities of all the other Pony classes without any drawbacks or entry requirements. Meanwhile, the Dumb Pony Classes gets a +1 to eat carrots and that's it.

Even if I go as far as to change the fluff around that the Pony setting ends up becoming a post-apocalyptic version of Avatar: the Last Airbender with Call of Cthulu monsters, the game balance will probably have still done more damage to the game's ability to be fun than the fluff.

After all, bad fluff can always be funny. Bad game balance just requires house-ruling.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 12:19 AM
Read my standards above. And yes, crunch does have to be balanced, to a reasonable degree, for a game to be playable. It doesn't have to be "all classes are T3" but it has to be somewhere along the lines of "all classes have a minimum of absolutely broken tricks and, if played in a variety of ways, still wind up about even (+- 2 tiers) with the other classes.

A game is only ever "unplayable" if a fundamental rule (one essential to the game running the way it does) directly contradicts another fundamental rule. In any other situation, the game is still playable, it just plays differently.

Really, the only unsacrficible aspect of a game is FUN. If it's not fun, it doesn't matter how detailed the fluff is or how balanced the crunch is. Nobody will want to play it.


If Crunch A makes Crunch B completely pointless and obsolete to the point that Crunch A character does EVERYTHING Crunch B character does to the point to make character B completely obsolete to the nth degree, then Crunch A will ultimately lead to a less fun game. On the other hand, boring Crunch likely won't ever get played and contributes nothing.

You seem to think that if character A is more powerful than character B, that means character B is automatically not going to have fun. This is flat out wrong. I almost always play fighters. And you know what? It doesn't matter how many wizards or warblades I've got in my party. I'm still gonna have fun.

I'm horribly unbalanced, my character offers nothing that another character doesn't offer, and yet I'm having fun. By your standards, this is apparently impossible.

(And you know why I'm having so much fun? The fluff. Yep, that irrelevent background clutter you say only needs to be pretty to function. I don't care how broken the crunch is. If the fluff is good, I'm having fun. If the crunch is perfect and the fluff is mediocre, I'm not having fun.)

awa
2010-06-09, 12:20 AM
Their are a lot role playing games where with absolutely no balance at all old world of darkness springs to mind as does mutants and masterminds where balance is an absolute joke and the fluff of the setting is vastly more important.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 12:26 AM
Their are a lot role playing games where with absolutely no balance at all old world of darkness springs to mind as does mutants and masterminds where balance is an absolute joke and the fluff of the setting is vastly more important.

Try running a game where you DON'T veto a stupidly broken character that makes everyone within 5,000 feet make a 100 strength check or be unable to move.

See how much the fluff helps then. M&M may be unbalanced, but that doesn't mean the GM maintaining balance in the game isn't important. People may come for the fluff, but M&M does actually require a GM to modify the crunch with some groups until the game is playable.

GM modified crunch to make it balanced still kinda means that balance in a party's mechanics is necessary.

EDIT:

You seem to think that if character A is more powerful than character B, that means character B is automatically not going to have fun. This is flat out wrong. I almost always play fighters. And you know what? It doesn't matter how many wizards or warblades I've got in my party. I'm still gonna have fun.

I'm horribly unbalanced, my character offers nothing that another character doesn't offer, and yet I'm having fun. By your standards, this is apparently impossible.

(And you know why I'm having so much fun? The fluff. Yep, that irrelevent background clutter you say only needs to be pretty to function. I don't care how broken the crunch is. If the fluff is good, I'm having fun. If the crunch is perfect and the fluff is mediocre, I'm not having fun.)

Oh, I play fighters too, and have LOTS of fun, but that's because in a PRACTICAL campaign, the GM isn't going to let stupid cheesy shenanigans allow the wizard to instant win each encounter. If the wizard is allowed to do cheesy things to the point that my fighter has LITERALLY no point of even being in the party (we're talking the wizard effectively matches everything I can do mechanically and exceeds it down to even HP) and doesn't get to so much as lift a finger on anything, I'm certainly not going to enjoy myself, and I can't think of too many players that would. Most GMs tend to avoid letting other players step on one player's toes.

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-06-09, 12:27 AM
crunch . . . (our big category that most people have decided is the #1 priority).

On the other hand, fluff merely needs to be interesting to be good fluff.

Actaully I think most people said that the Story was more important than the rules. . .

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 12:28 AM
I'm confused by what this means, especially since I never said anything was anything. "No it isn't, otherwise it would be. Which it's not, is not only circular logic, it has nothing to do with my post.

As for different standards: I'm operating on different standards. Why? Because they aren't the same thing.

Standards for good quality fluff:

It has to be unique. It really doesn't matter if there are 10 humdrum fishing villages or 12 supplying the main city with it's supply of fish, because they're all basically going to be copy and pasted unless you really have 12 different aquatic adventures planned, in which case then it is an important distinction.

It has to provide fun (by which I mean a compelling game, since some people argued before when I said fun and said that, say, a horror game isn't fun, but it's compelling) for the players.

It has to add something to the game. This is similar to the other two, but I mean that even the minor details of the fluff have to add something to the game. Describing the overall feel of a city and maybe a few descriptions of important buildings sets the tone; describing every city and the exact locations of all the handholds, the color of the bricks, etc. of major buildings doesn't add anything.

I find your standards for good fluff inadequate. I find that to merely be the standard for operational fluff.

I also require that it is:

Effectively Immersible: Good fluff is sufficiently self-complete to allow the players to not merely justify their choices, but to motivate their choices.

Self-Consistent: The archer tower showing up would bother me, and trying to justify after the fact would appear clumsy. I expect the trade routes you mentioned to be noted and matter: if they are interrupted, I expect there to be effects when the PCs interact with traders on either end. I expect the kingdoms to have alliances and feuds and for their interactions to line up with the prior interactions.

In short, preventing glaring inconsistencies isn't enough: a well written campaign world should be able to operate for over a year's worth of games with not notable inconsistencies.

Much like with the mechanical design for the game, there will often be unforeseen events that preclude reaching this goal in some minor way. This mirrors the occasional unforeseen class combination that is mechanically broken. In both cases, this amounts to a flaw in design (which may or may not have been avoidable given how much flexibility your players require).

Your mileage may, of course, vary: when I play 3.5 most regularly with groups that almost never do anything close to optimizing. Balance is of minimal concern: if someone were to vastly outshine the rest of the party, in most groups I play in they would ask that they be allowed to retire the character and roll a less show-stealing one. Moreover, we play almost exclusively at T3-T4 level games. The players don't behave like walking gods nor do they want to.


Edit: I do not presume to dump excessive purple prose on the players. The measure I tend to use is that I create two levels more detail than I expect the players to elicit, just in case they choose avenue I didn't even consider considering. On the off chance that they force me to make something up on the fly, this also means that I have a very detailed vision of the situation surrounding the event to make it consistent with prior and later interactions.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 12:29 AM
Try running a game where you DON'T veto a stupidly broken character that makes everyone within 5,000 feet make a 100 strength check or be unable to move.

I could potentially have fun in that one. Only instead of being the heroic fantasy you seem to assume everyone needs to play, suddenly it's survival horror, where the game is every so often interrupted by having to flee in terror and hide from this unstoppable behemoth who can paralyze you by simply being within the same neighborhood as you.

@Ozymandias: Thank you for vocalizing what I, in my sleep and caffine deprived state, could not.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 12:30 AM
An assumption. An inaccurate one.

So your problem is that I said they'd be copy and pasted? OK, maybe "fishing villages" had too many assumptions attached to it. Individual houses. Describing every commoner 1 in the market square. Describing each dirt farm held by those commoners on the outskirts of town. All of these could be unique, but unless the adventure hinges on it, multiple copies of the same thing are not useful to the game.


I would disagree on the bolded point, but since you're echoing someone else's opinion I'll just move on.

The opinion was basically that horror games weren't fun in the typical "We're adventurers and kill stuff" fun, it was a compelling story to tell and that was where the fun came from. It doesn't really matter either way.




It's pretty clear listening to you talk that you simply don't care about fluff. And honestly, what's the point in debating it's merit to someone who sees it as nothing but a backdrop?

Because I don't care about extraneous details? If it adds to the mood, fine. If it's annoying descriptions of unimportant locations, it simply detracts from the adventure because of conservation of detail. People generally assume that whatever gets the most detail is the most important; if you describe every commoner and the one guy you are supposed to talk to with the exact same amount of detail, the issues become unclear. This is the same principle behind games and books throughout the ages; in platformers, not so bottomless pits have coins in them; in books, important people have their raven hair or calloused hands mentioned while crowds are just crowds; in Left 4 Dead, the area that actually leads to the safe house is brightly lit, etc.

Extraneous fluff is not useful to the game. It's not useful for evoking the mood, because by English writing standards, less is more and extraneous words should be cut (no purple prose) and it's not useful for helping the plot along because it muddies where the plot is because players don't know which of the twenty different and highly detailed NPCs is their contact and which are just shoppers.*

*Note: In certain settings, such as a mystery, giving equal attention and equal amounts of obvious "clues" that somebody did it is actually a good thing, but in most cases, extra detail on unimportant objects simply makes players assume they are important.


Yet there are oodles of classes already out there that are only minor varients from one another. Sorcerers/Wizards, Paladins/Blackguards. Sacred Warder of Bahamut/Unholy Ravager of Tiamat.

Sorcerers and Wizards are significantly different in mechanics, as are Paladins/Blackguards (due to alignment restrictions, at the least). Even further, if you are implying that WotC is good at designing things, that's laughable.


What if a player happens to want class X, but slightly different? "Too bad, it isn't unique enough so you can't have it?"

No, if a player wants alterations to a class, it becomes important, whereas brand new classes from the start are less so. However, with the example given, I'd deny it, because that would only be used to powergame for extra spells over other players.


Only it never is.

Actually, D&D, especially if you are using good banlists such as the ToS one, is remarkably well balanced, with most of the ToS remakes and nerfed no-infinite loop casters falling within two tiers of each other.



I find your standards for good fluff inadequate. I find that to merely be the standard for operational fluff.

I also require that it is:

Effectively Immersible: Good fluff is sufficiently self-complete to allow the players to not merely justify their choices, but to motivate their choices.

Self-Consistent: The archer tower showing up would bother me, and trying to justify after the fact would appear clumsy. I expect the trade routes you mentioned to be noted and matter: if they are interrupted, I expect there to be effects when the PCs interact with traders on either end. I expect the kingdoms to have alliances and feuds and for their interactions to line up with the prior interactions.

In short, preventing glaring inconsistencies isn't enough: a well written campaign world should be able to operate for over a years worth of games with not notable inconsistencies.

Much like with the mechanical design for the game, there will often be unforeseen events that preclude reaching this goal in some minor way. This mirrors the occasional unforeseen class combination that is mechanically broken. In both cases, this amounts to a flaw in design (which may or may not have been avoidable given how much flexibility your players require).

The first one falls under providing compelling game/adding fun. The second one is verisimilitude, and falls equally under good writing in general (no plot holes, no poor or vague descriptions in general), and not adding extraneous details; mentioning the trade routes automatically makes them matter, so if the adventure isn't based on the trade routes, mentioning them doesn't help.

EDIT: Your second part actually shows that mechanical balance is a huge issue with your group, since you play a game where everybody is only one tier apart and strong PCs are asked to stop being strong. If that's not an argument for balance being necessary, I don't know what is.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 12:31 AM
I could potentially have fun in that one. Only instead of being the heroic fantasy you seem to assume everyone needs to play, suddenly it's survival horror, where the game is every so often interrupted by having to flee in terror and hide from this unstoppable behemoth who can paralyze you by simply being within the same neighborhood as you.

You realize I was talking about a player, right? Challenging bosses are one thing. Players that make the rest of the party incapable of doing anything are another bag of worms entirely.


Actaully I think most people said that the Story was more important than the rules. . .

Check the beginning of the topic. General consensus was that Fun > Story > Rules. Fun wasn't in the original question, but was added out of what some felt was necessity.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 12:33 AM
You realize I was talking about a player, right? Challenging bosses are one thing. Players that make the rest of the party incapable of doing anything are another bag of worms entirely.

Pff. You think I'd stay on the same side as a guy like that for long? Nope. PC or not, he'd become my antagonist reeeeaaal quick-like.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 12:36 AM
You are still ignoring my point.

Crunch has all of the standards fluff requires, and it is required to be balanced. That's the thing. Fluff has to be unique, fun, add something to the game, and be well written. Crunch has to be the exact same, and it has to be balanced by the rules.

Fluff must be internally consistent. It's a comparable concern.


If your players don't care about power, you still have to write crunch that is balanced because, even if a PC isn't trying to be powerful, if he picks "Class of fighting +5" then he's going to be more powerful than his friend who picked "Class of moderate aptitude at swinging certain types of weapons in certain conditions +4" even if he didn't intend to.

Player equity != concept balance.

Differences in power between classes can be mitigated using troupe-style or other multiple-character play, through "old-school" character generation, or through paying careful attention to the fluff in a group that's amenable to that.

Player equity is important, but class balance isn't the only way to achieve it -- or even a reliable one. Players can be given disproportionate roles in the story despite not having particularly powerful characters. It's actually a concern for certain parts of the fluff as well.

In essence, all that's really required as far as game balance is concerned is that there are as few serious flaws as possible. And it can still be good enough for a serious flaw to be known - once known, it has limited potential to cause further harm. It's a bad mark on the game's record, nothing more.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 12:36 AM
Pff. You think I'd stay on the same side as a guy like that for long? Nope. PC or not, he'd become my antagonist reeeeaaal quick-like.

And you'd instantly die. Hope it was fun.


Fluff must be internally consistent. It's a comparable concern.

As I said above, verisimilitude is equal parts general good writing skills that is required for fluff and crunch and making sure things are relevant to the game. Yes, verisimilitude is, in part, not covered by what I've listed (anything set up to achieve a mood could break verisimilitude if it clashes with other things) but verisimilitude is far easier than balance.




Player equity != concept balance.

Differences in power between classes can be mitigated using troupe-style or other multiple-character play, through "old-school" character generation, or through paying careful attention to the fluff in a group that's amenable to that.

Player equity is important, but class balance isn't the only way to achieve it -- or even a reliable one. Players can be given disproportionate roles in the story despite not having particularly powerful characters.

This is still showing balance is important, just through DM fiat to keep all the players relevant, by, metaphorically speaking, changing the fluff so that Aquaman gets some aquariums nearby so he can do something when paired with Superman, or, in D&D terms, the bull rushing fighter fights a DM fiat powered boss who is invincible unless he's knocked out of his chair somehow. If you have to use DM fiat on something, then whatever that something is, is probably important.

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-06-09, 12:38 AM
Check the beginning of the topic. General consensus was that Fun > Story > Rules. Fun wasn't in the original question, but was added out of what some felt was necessity.

And within Fun > Story > Rules is Story > Rules

frankly in my original question i didnt even think it was worth mentioning Fun as a requisit cause it seemed kind of obvious to me. . . I mean. . . in any GAME entertainment should come first.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 12:41 AM
And within Fun > Story > Rules is Story > Rules

frankly in my original question i didnt even think it was worth mentioning Fun as a requisit cause it seemed kind of obvious to me. . . I mean. . . in any GAME entertainment should come first.

As I said in the first post: If the story helps the fun, the story is more important than the rules. If the rules help the fun, the rules are more important than the story.

Right now, I am not arguing that the story and rules are not equally valid for a game (They are in their own ways, and depending on the group) merely that people think that fluff is much harder and crunch much easier to write than it is. Both can be churned out very easily, but fluff that compels adventurers and doesn't break verisimilitude is comparatively easier to create than fun classes that don't overshadow/undershadow (you know what I mean!) other PCs.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 12:41 AM
Hm. I think a big problem with this entire debate is that we're coming at it from entirely different directions.

When I'm playing DnD, what I'm doing is participating in a story. Rules are an extraneous aspect that could easily be removed in their entirety with no harm to my ability to enjoy what I'm doing. I play with rules because it adds a mildly amusing monkey wrench to my ability to do as I please, and because of the nostalgia factor (DnD is what introduced me to RPing in general).

It seems that when you're playing DnD, it's a pen-and-paper videogame. To you, story and fluff are nothing more than excuses to go kill things and play superhero. (If this seems demeaning, it's because I'm tired and cranky, not because I don't respect that worldview.)

These to worldviews, while both capable of enjoying the same game, aren't going to agree with each other anytime soon.


And you'd instantly die. Hope it was fun.

Antagonist does not automatically = PAUWNCH! Survival horror, remember? Antagonist here means I quietly remove myself from the area and get as far away as possible.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 12:44 AM
Hm. I think a big problem with this entire debate is that we're coming at it from entirely different directions.

When I'm playing DnD, what I'm doing is participating in a story. Rules are an extraneous aspect that could easily be removed in their entirety with no harm to my ability to enjoy what I'm doing. I play with rules because it adds a mildly amusing monkey wrench to my ability to do as I please, and because of the nostalgia factor (DnD is what introduced me to RPing in general).

It seems that when you're playing DnD, it's a pen-and-paper videogame. To you, story and fluff are nothing more than excuses to go kill things and play superhero. (If this seems demeaning, it's because I'm tired and cranky, not because I don't respect that worldview.)

These to worldviews, while both capable of enjoying the same game, aren't going to agree with each other anytime soon.

You're flat out wrong. I play D&D to play a story. The story is important. I never said it wasn't. I play mechanically competent characters, but that is because, in D&D, I would prefer my character to have an effect on the story; I don't try to break the rules, and I don't try to go against the party's goals while threatening them because I'm tougher than they are, I just make character's I know I can be in control, at least in combat, with.

All I am saying is that quality crunch is much harder to make than quality fluff, and that refluffing situations due to the crunch of the matter (identical reinforcements being called because the PCs are having too easy a time, a ledge being available for a falling PC) is a lot easier than recrunching them due to the fluff (trying to figure out, on the fly, how many levels you'd need to add to the guards to make the encounter relevant, revising the fall damage rules so the PC doesn't die but falling is still somehow a threat in the world and people don't go around jumping off buildings for fun).

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 12:45 AM
Pff. You think I'd stay on the same side as a guy like that for long? Nope. PC or not, he'd become my antagonist reeeeaaal quick-like.

I don't know about you, but at the point where I'm actually encouraging my players to kill a party member because he's being a jerk, I feel like I've done something wrong in my GM'ing. Character vetoing is essentially there to stop fights, and if you veto certain uses of powers, you're rebalancing the crunch.

Don't get me wrong, I don't entirely agree Milskidasith here. Fluff is INCREDIBLY important and well-written fluff can make up for bad mechanics, but there is usually a limit to how much you can break crunch before it becomes unplayable while fluff can get pretty horrible and inconsistent before the campaign becomes unplayable. I also don't think crunch really is more important than fluff. From a product standpoint, if I'm not selling a roleplaying game on the roleplaying, it'd be more cost efficient to make a board game.

However, he really does have a reasonable point that people seem to be ignoring because of his stance on fluff. Crunch really can be a hard thing to do right, and really does require more effort to keep at the same level of quality as fluff. Good fluff requires good writing. Good crunch requires both good writing AND a good sense of balance to be considered quality crunch.

You can ALWAYS excuse bad crunch if the fluff is fun, and you can always make new fluff if the original is bad if the crunch is really fun. Why else would some people play some systems if it weren't for ONE of these being outstanding, but ideally, a good campaign AND gaming system really SHOULD require both good fluff and crunch. Fluff is probably a little more important (at least from a marketing and roleplaying standpoint), but that really doesn't inherently mean that a game with super awesome fluff and unplayable crunch is a better game than one that has slightly less awesome fluff but actually good crunch.

EDIT: And considering the post that got posted before mine. I don't really disagree much at all since apparently I misunderstood his stance on story. It's actually pretty sensible to say that recrunching is harder than refluffing, even if the fluff is more important. I'm a little shocked that people are saying that that's such a patently ridiculous idea even if you DO disagree.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 12:49 AM
You're flat out wrong. I play D&D to play a story. The story is important. I never said it wasn't. I play mechanically competent characters, but that is because, in D&D, I would prefer my character to have an effect on the story; I don't try to break the rules, and I don't try to go against the party's goals while threatening them because I'm tougher than they are, I just make character's I know I can be in control, at least in combat, with.

All I am saying is that quality crunch is much harder to make than quality fluff, and that refluffing situations due to the crunch of the matter (identical reinforcements being called because the PCs are having too easy a time, a ledge being available for a falling PC) is a lot easier than recrunching them due to the fluff (trying to figure out, on the fly, how many levels you'd need to add to the guards to make the encounter relevant, revising the fall damage rules so the PC doesn't die but falling is still somehow a threat in the world and people don't go around jumping off buildings for fun).

If I didn't design the fluff to say, "there are reinforcements" then there are no reinforcements. Simple as that. If I didn't put a ledge there, there's no ledge there. Simple as that. I don't bend fluff for convienience. It's as against my standards as unbalanced crunch is against yours.

If the guards there aren't that tough, then they're boned. Sucks to be them. If the PC's fall would kill him, then he dies. Tough luck.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 12:49 AM
I don't know about you, but at the point where I'm actually encouraging my players to kill a party member because he's being a jerk, I feel like I've done something wrong in my GM'ing. Character vetoing is essentially there to stop fights, and if you veto certain uses of powers, you're rebalancing the crunch.

Don't get me wrong, I don't entirely agree Milskidasith here. Fluff is INCREDIBLY important and well-written fluff can make up for bad mechanics, but there is usually a limit to how much you can break crunch before it becomes unplayable while fluff can get pretty horrible and inconsistent before the campaign becomes unplayable. I also don't think crunch really is more important than fluff. From a product standpoint, if I'm not selling a roleplaying game on the roleplaying, it'd be more cost efficient to make a board game.

However, he really does have a reasonable point that people seem to be ignoring because of his stance on fluff. Crunch really can be a hard thing to do right, and really does require more effort to keep at the same level of quality as fluff. Good fluff requires good writing. Good crunch requires both good writing AND a good sense of balance to be considered quality crunch.

You can ALWAYS excuse bad crunch if the fluff is fun, and you can always make new fluff if the original is bad if the crunch is really fun. Why else would some people play some systems if it weren't for ONE of these being outstanding, but ideally, a good campaign AND gaming system really SHOULD require both good fluff and crunch. Fluff is probably a little more important (at least from a marketing and roleplaying standpoint), but that really doesn't inherently mean that a game with super awesome fluff and unplayable crunch is a better game than one that has slightly less awesome fluff but actually good crunch.

Thank you. I actually don't think fluff is unimportant, I just think that it is easier to write good fluff than good crunch. A lot of what people consider to be good fluff is "fluff for every city the PCs could possibly visit and most of the cities they can't, along with a bunch of economic and cultural information (as an aside, many people have such info despite being worlds with many high level mages who should really be altering cultures more) that has nearly nothing to do with the adventure." That's extraneous info, purple prose, the kind of stuff that gets chopped out of books on the editing floor and makes reading some fanfiction unbearable, not good fluff. Good fluff is *quality* work, not *quantity* work.


[QUOTE=Psycho;8660501]If I didn't design the fluff to say, "there are reinforcements" then there are no reinforcements. Simple as that. If I didn't put a ledge there, there's no ledge there. Simple as that. I don't bend fluff for convienience. It's as against my standards as unbalanced crunch is against yours.

If the guards there aren't that tough, then they're boned. Sucks to be them. If the PC's fall would kill him, then he dies. Tough luck.

I am starting to believe that you are merely arguing just to argue, because this would mean either you fluff situations with so much extraneous detail that you make a note of whether multi story falls have any possible handhold to grab while falling and never alter the game, at all, to balance it to the PCs. This is far more extreme than my "crunch has to be balanced" situation, because I actually do care about good quality fluff, but caring about fluff to the point you sacrifice fun and crunch for it is not good.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 12:49 AM
As I said above, verisimilitude is equal parts general good writing skills that is required for fluff and crunch and making sure things are relevant to the game. Yes, verisimilitude is, in part, not covered by what I've listed (anything set up to achieve a mood could break verisimilitude if it clashes with other things) but verisimilitude is far easier than balance.

That doesn't have to be the case - especially if you don't need much balance.


This is still showing balance is important...

It's showing that the amount of care you're suggesting is needed to achieve a reasonable level of balance doesn't have to be required.

There is a difference between using DM fiat to patch over a mistake, and using play style to allow for differences in power level between characters.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 12:54 AM
That doesn't have to be the case - especially if you don't need much balance.

Verisimilitude is only hard if you introduce elements that make it hard. The biggest one is high level magic, which many campaigns actually break verisimilitude with near instantly when anybody who has access to teleportation/scrying asks you to do personal scouting missions (although that is somewhat a matter of crunch). If you don't add extraneous info that isn't required at the moment to scenes, you won't trip over it later.




It's showing that the amount of care you're suggesting is needed to achieve a reasonable level of balance doesn't have to be required.

There is a difference between using DM fiat to patch over a mistake, and using play style to allow for differences in power level between characters.

When you start DM fiating every scenario so that somebody is relevant, it actually takes a lot of care, *and* it leads to poor quality fluff because you're forcing breaking the rule about adding to the campaign; stuff that requires the fighter's unique help so he feels relevant doesn't add to the campaign, it just adds to the fighter. While yes, your players have to play to be unbalanced like that, it is still the DMs job to make sure the tools the players use set them on at least close to equal footing.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 12:54 AM
I am starting to believe that you are merely arguing just to argue,

I wonder that myself sometimes.


because this would mean either you fluff situations with so much extraneous detail that you make a note of whether multi story falls have any possible handhold to grab while falling

I do.


and never alter the game, at all, to balance it to the PCs. This is far more extreme than my "crunch has to be balanced" situation, because I actually do care about good quality fluff, but caring about fluff to the point you sacrifice fun and crunch for it is not good.

Unless I've not had time to properly plan out the campaign, my fluff never changes. As for the fun, I look for fun within the fluff. The crunch can go burn in a fire for all I care.


It's actually pretty sensible to say that recrunching is harder than refluffing, even if the fluff is more important. I'm a little shocked that people are saying that that's such a patently ridiculous idea even if you DO disagree.

Due to the level of detail I put into my work, I need to recrunch things all the time. I consider it easy, if very very boring.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 12:56 AM
There is a difference between using DM fiat to patch over a mistake, and using play style to allow for differences in power level between characters.

That's actually why standard deviation of classes (aka +- 2 tiers) was mentioned. There can be a difference in balance and it can still be fun. The BIG factor is not stepping on another class and character's toes. If a class is not merely stronger than another classes, but makes it completely obsolete, then the GM will have to either veto said class or make some rebalancing of his or her own.

If you break THAT form of balance and make another classes pointless to play, then the balance is wrong and either needs to be fixed by a GM or vetoed.

EDIT:

Due to the level of detail I put into my work, I need to recrunch things all the time. I consider it easy, if very very boring.

...And as is shown in my signature, I'm writing up an entirely new system that I plan to publish at some point. I've both had to give a LOT of fluff and a lot of crunch. They're both difficult and exhausting, but the rebalancing of the crunch has taken more time than the rewriting of the fluff.

...And we're at over 400 unique abilities and counting. Each with FLUFF and CRUNCH.

This may not be the case for you, but it's not unreasonable to say that most people that do both will find getting the same quality fluff is easier than getting the same quality crunch. If you're a good writer and game designer, typically writing fluff will be easier. My entire graduate program friends did this kind of stuff as a job, and they found the fluff easier too.

Who knows? Maybe you're just a better game mechanics guy than a fluff guy. You're probably good at both, but your just that bit better in the mechanics department.

Obviously, I can't prove that fluff is going to be easier than crunch for most people. I just have my experience working with other people, but I don't think it's an insane assumption. You may still disagree, but I don't think it's a viewpoint that directly insults yours.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 12:58 AM
The first one falls under providing compelling game/adding fun. The second one is verisimilitude, and falls equally under good writing in general (no plot holes, no poor or vague descriptions in general), and not adding extraneous details; mentioning the trade routes automatically makes them matter, so if the adventure isn't based on the trade routes, mentioning them doesn't help.

A well crafted world is not build for an adventure: it should be able to host multiple campaigns, each with multiple adventures. I may never mention the trade routes-- unless the players ask. They may have the option of many different avenues of adventure, only one of which involves the trade route. And should they choose not to take that adventure, the fact that they didn't intercede in the situation will effect their ability to trade-- just like everyone else.

The outcome of the current adventure, and the way that the players go about it, may have political consequences. The players know that: they will use it to choose how they go about the situation because it will effect the direction of later campaigns.


EDIT: Your second part actually shows that mechanical balance is a huge issue with your group, since you play a game where everybody is only one tier apart and strong PCs are asked to stop being strong. If that's not an argument for balance being necessary, I don't know what is.

First off, I'm mildly insulted (both personally and on the behalf of my regular tables) by the idea that we would have to be asked to reroll an overly spotlight grabbing character: its not elicited, we offer out of politeness.

Second, the tier thing is mostly a distaste for high level magic in the games. More or less, we want to hit people with magical swords, possibly with the aid of magic that makes the swords more magical or us better at hitting them. We do not want to make the laws of physics our gimps. This was included as a reference to the fact that I have little taste or patience for games where PCs behave like "walking gods," regardless of their character level.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 12:59 AM
Due to the level of detail I put into my work, I need to recrunch things all the time. I consider it easy, if very very boring.

See, right here, this is exactly what I've been saying all the time. If you have to recrunch things all the time, this is harder than doing the fluff. It takes up time to make sure things are right, and you clearly still have flaws with it since you have to recrunch it again later. That isn't "easy" that's hard. When you are spending a ton of time to get something right and it still isn't always right, that is hard.

As for my bias: You are presenting an extreme opinion on how hard fluff is, to the point I can hardly believe you, and outright stating you are biased against crunch, while arguing I am somehow biased against fluff? I'm in the middle ground, just saying that new crunch is harder to write than new fluff, not that neither is relevant, yet you are calling me biased while outright stating you don't care for the rules of the system at all? I don't get it. :smallconfused:

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-06-09, 01:00 AM
If I didn't design the fluff to say, "there are reinforcements" then there are no reinforcements. Simple as that. If I didn't put a ledge there, there's no ledge there. Simple as that. I don't bend fluff for convienience. It's as against my standards as unbalanced crunch is against yours.

I would not consider this fluff, you are talking about your map and your resources, which in my mind is closer to being rules than fluff.

Fluff would be the ambiance and history of your place with no ledge and no reinforcments . . . unless that fluff stated that the walls move in mysterious patterns known only to the denizens and armies arise from nothingness to aid the worthy. . . or something like that, then the presence or absense of ledge and reinforcments has little to do with fluff.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:03 AM
A well crafted world is not build for an adventure: it should be able to host multiple campaigns, each with multiple adventures. I may never mention the trade routes-- unless the players ask. They may have the option of many different avenues of adventure, only one of which involves the trade route. And should they choose not to take that adventure, the fact that they didn't intercede in the situation will effect their ability to trade-- just like everyone else.

The outcome of the current adventure, and the way that the players go about it, may have political consequences. The players know that: they will use it to choose how they go about the situation because it will effect the direction of later campaigns.

And... how does this interact with anything I've said? I have not said anything negative about that. The only thing I disagree on is building an entire world from scratch; it's not necessary for a well built world (there are things called "one shots") and, while preparation is necessary, planning an entire world and adventure hooks for every possible situation puts far too much work into the game for far too little benefit, much like writing twenty new base classes that are setting specific would be far too much crunchwork for one campaign with 4-6 players. If you want to create a whole new world, more power to you, I'm just saying that creating a whole new system of crunch would be far harder to balance.



First off, I'm mildly insulted (both personally and on the behalf of my regular tables) by the idea that we would have to be asked to reroll an overly spotlight grabbing character: its not elicited, we offer out of politeness.

You made it sound like characters of a high power level were not welcome. I apologize for misconstruing your words.


Second, the tier thing is mostly a distaste for high level magic in the games. More or less, we want to hit people with magical swords, possibly with the aid of magic that makes the swords more magical or us better at hitting them. We do not want to make the laws of physics our gimps. This was included as a reference to the fact that I have little taste or patience for games where PCs behave like "walking gods," regardless of their character level.

This seems to contradict the above, though; you make it sound like everybody has an unspoken agreement to retire their character if they are too powerful, but saying you have little patience for such characters makes me feel there may be subtle hints being dropped about it. Anyway, this still shows balance is important and tricky, regardless of whether you see it that way.


I would not consider this fluff, you are talking about your map and your resources, which in my mind is closer to being rules than fluff.

Fluff would be the ambiance and history of your place with no ledge and no reinforcments . . . unless that fluff stated that the walls move in mysterious patterns known only to the denizens and armies arise from nothingness to aid the worthy. . . or something like that, then the presence or absense of ledge and reinforcments has little to do with fluff.

That was another point I forgot to mention... such details as "how many reinforcements are there" and "are there handholds in case a PC does something stupid that makes him fall even though I didn't design the encounter around him falling" are extraneous details that add little to the fluff but detract greatly from the mechanical aspect of the game.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 01:04 AM
See, right here, this is exactly what I've been saying all the time. If you have to recrunch things all the time, this is harder than doing the fluff.

I don't recrunch them because they're imbalanced. I recrunch them because they aren't in line with my fluff.


It takes up time to make sure things are right, and you clearly still have flaws with it since you have to recrunch it again later. That isn't "easy" that's hard. When you are spending a ton of time to get something right and it still isn't always right, that is hard.

It takes up time because I like to keep things internally consistant, and because I often have to recrunch half the monster manual at a time to get it to do what my fluff tells it to.


As for my bias: You are presenting an extreme opinion on how hard fluff is, to the point I can hardly believe you, and outright stating you are biased against crunch, while arguing I am somehow biased against fluff? I'm in the middle ground, just saying that new crunch is harder to write than new fluff, not that neither is relevant, yet you are calling me biased while outright stating you don't care for the rules of the system at all? I don't get it. :smallconfused:

I never called myself unbiased. And I put a huge ammount of work into my fluff, so much so that I have honestly considered at points to simply write a new game system so that it will obey my fluff better. It's not difficult, just boring.


That was another point I forgot to mention... such details as "how many reinforcements are there" and "are there handholds in case a PC does something stupid that makes him fall even though I didn't design the encounter around him falling" are extraneous details that add little to the fluff but detract greatly from the mechanical aspect of the game.

The handholds, maybe, but the reinforcements point has decent fluff-value:

Say, for example, that we're referring to the city guard here. Depending on how many guards are available, this could affect wether or no this is a heavily authoritarian police state, or a borderline-anarchaic gangland. These are both extreme examples, but my point is: in fluff, everything affect everything.

Things that, to you, are minor details that don't need to be there, have far reaching consequences in an extremely detailed world.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:07 AM
I don't recrunch them because they're imbalanced. I recrunch them because they aren't in line with my fluff.

Which is a lot harder than refluffing to fit the crunch, which is my point.




It takes up time because I like to keep things internally consistant, and because I often have to recrunch half the monster manual at a time to get it to do what my fluff tells it to.

As I said, refluffing to fit the crunch is easier than recrunching to fit the fluff. I don't know why you are arguing with this when you are outright saying you're recrunching half the books to fit your fluff. I'm not saying you can't have a good adventure, or that your play is any worse than anybody else's, only that refluffing is easier than recrunching, and I don't see why you are taking it so personally.



I never called myself unbiased. And I put a huge ammount of work into my fluff, so much so that I have honestly considered at points to simply write a new game system so that it will obey my fluff better.

As I said: recrunching is harder than refluffing. Why are you arguing with me? You are basically outright stating your recrunching takes massive amounts of time. I'm not saying refluffing is always good for a campaign, just that recrunching is a lot harder than people give credit and, in most cases, refluffing is a lot easier and a lot more relevant to the game than people give credit.

Hyooz
2010-06-09, 01:09 AM
I never called myself unbiased. And I put a huge ammount of work into my fluff, so much so that I have honestly considered at points to simply write a new game system so that it will obey my fluff better. It's not difficult, just boring.

I have to wonder why you bother with a set of die rolling and mechanics at all. I don't mean to come off as rude, if I do, but freeform has been around forever, and seems to suit you a lot better than any RPG system.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 01:09 AM
Verisimilitude is only hard if you introduce elements that make it hard. The biggest one is high level magic, which many campaigns actually break verisimilitude with near instantly when anybody who has access to teleportation/scrying asks you to do personal scouting missions (although that is somewhat a matter of crunch). If you don't add extraneous info that isn't required at the moment to scenes, you won't trip over it later.

It depends on the degree to which immersion is required. In a horror game, loss of immersion really is "rm -rf /" as I suggested earlier. In a dungeon crawl, it's less serious, especially if your players think too hard about the dungeon.


When you start DM fiating every scenario so that somebody is relevant, it actually takes a lot of care, *and* it leads to poor quality fluff because you're forcing breaking the rule about adding to the campaign; stuff that requires the fighter's unique help so he feels relevant doesn't add to the campaign, it just adds to the fighter. While yes, your players have to play to be unbalanced like that, it is still the DMs job to make sure the tools the players use set them on at least close to equal footing.

I do not advocate the use of DM fiat to patch over broken rules

I'm far more interested in how you can reduce the issue with different styles of play, such as troupe-style play (where players have a stable of characters and on any given adventure, one character takes the lead and the other players choose a character to go with them).

I'm only really concerned with the claim that fluff is in any way 'trivial'. It's not something that can be dismissed easily, especially when you don't actually know your audience, who could be far more concerned with the fluff than they are with the crunch.

As far as the relative difficulty of the two is concerned, I think it varies with your personal priorities, the priorities of the audience, the relative proportions of the two, and the basis for the game in question.

For example, the fluff of GURPS is somewhat less important to the game than the fluff of a licensed RPG like Serenity, or a "middle-ground" RPG like Witchcraft or WoD.

I don't think it's something you can make a hard statement on, beyond noting that both are very difficult to dispense with.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 01:10 AM
I have to wonder why you bother with a set of die rolling and mechanics at all. I don't mean to come off as rude, if I do, but freeform has been around forever, and seems to suit you a lot better than any RPG system.

As I said earlier; nostalgia. I was introduced to RPing through DnD, and while I DO mostly use freeform RPing, I still like to come back to DnD for the old feel of it.


Which is a lot harder than refluffing to fit the crunch, which is my point.

I disagree. It would be easier to simply recrunch the mechanics than it would be to untangle the detailed web of fluff I built for my world. Which is why I recrunch, instead of refluff. If I refluff, I have to refluff everything, because everything affects everything in some way.


As I said, refluffing to fit the crunch is easier than recrunching to fit the fluff. I don't know why you are arguing with this when you are outright saying you're recrunching half the books to fit your fluff. I'm not saying you can't have a good adventure, or that your play is any worse than anybody else's, only that refluffing is easier than recrunching, and I don't see why you are taking it so personally.

I'm recrunching half the books to fit my fluff, because it's easier than refluffing my entire world to fit the crunch.


As I said: recrunching is harder than refluffing. Why are you arguing with me? You are basically outright stating your recrunching takes massive amounts of time.

Time Consuming != Difficult.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 01:12 AM
I never called myself unbiased. And I put a huge ammount of work into my fluff, so much so that I have honestly considered at points to simply write a new game system so that it will obey my fluff better. It's not difficult, just boring.

You should try it sometime.

Write a system to match fluff instead of writing fluff for a system. I've done both now that I'm working on Pirates vs. Ninjas, and it's actually a bigger endeavor than you'd think. Kinda like coding, every little extra bit after the first large chunk gets harder and harder to add.

Think of it this way. Best writers in the world can write 2-3 novels a year. Best coders in the world can write 100,000 lines of code a year. That's about 275 lines a DAY.

But yeah. Don't knock it till you've tried it, it's got some pretty exciting challenges to it. It is definitely not as simple as it seems at first.



I'm only really concerned with the claim that fluff is in any way 'trivial'. It's not something that can be dismissed easily, especially when you don't actually know your audience, who could be far more concerned with the fluff than they are with the crunch.

If you actually read a bit back, it's been specifically said that NO ONE'S saying fluff is trivial. It's merely being proposed that making good crunch is harder, not more important.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:13 AM
I'm only really concerned with the claim that fluff is in any way 'trivial'. It's not something that can be dismissed easily, especially when you don't actually know your audience, who could be far more concerned with the fluff than they are with the crunch.

If I ever claimed that fluff was trivial, please point it out so I can apologize multiple times for saying so. I have not, and do not, maintain that fluff is trivial. I have only said that it is easier to refluff things than to recrunch them, and that creating fluff that allows a compelling adventure to take place is easier than creating crunch that allows a compelling adventure to take place.

Note that creating an entire world is not comparable to creating a few recrunches here and there; creating an entire working world with all the info is akin to creating an entirely new system, mechanically.



You should try it sometime.

Write a system to match fluff instead of writing fluff for a system. I've done both now that I'm working on Pirates vs. Ninjas, and it's actually a bigger endeavor than you'd think. Kinda like coding, every little extra bit after the first large chunk gets harder and harder to add.

Think of it this way. Best writers in the world can write 2-3 novels a year. Best coders in the world can write 100,000 lines of code a year. That's about 275 lines a DAY.

But yeah. Don't knock it till you've tried it, it's got some pretty exciting challenges to it. It is definitely not as simple as it seems at first.

Pretty sure Stephen King and the guy writing the Animorphs cranked out more than 2-3 a year. The guy who wrote goosebumps did as well, but those were mostly crap.

Anyway, speaking of Pirates versus Ninjas, I haven't checked on that lately, I might want to weigh in on some balance issues and crunch some numbers.

Hyooz
2010-06-09, 01:15 AM
As I said earlier; nostalgia. I was introduced to RPing through DnD, and while I DO mostly use freeform RPing, I still like to come back to DnD for the old feel of it.

>.> Just strikes me as going back to a typewriter to write your term paper for old times' sake. Nostalgia is great and all, but when it starts creating unnecessary work and making it harder to do what you want to do most, I dunno. I'd walk away.

I mean, I'll bust out some of my old kiddy Star Wars books and flip through them, look at the pictures and stuff and remember enjoying them. But to get to the point of reading them, and suffering through the badness, I just dump 'em back in the box and read a good book instead.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 01:15 AM
And... how does this interact with anything I've said? I have not said anything negative about that. The only thing I disagree on is building an entire world from scratch; it's not necessary for a well built world (there are things called "one shots").
In a round-about way, you've highlighted my point: a PRC you design only to be used in a one shot need not have the same level of balance you are presuming. You know who will be playing it and what their play-style and regular level of optimization is. There can be issues, as long as you are reasonably sure that they can be avoided (or more likely, won't even come up).

By the same token, the level of detail you are equating to "well-written crunch" would by my measure be equivalent to the kind of well-executed world building I was detailing: you're trying to create something that's relatively unbreakable, portable between tables, and sufficiently enjoyable to be immerse.



This seems to contradict the above, though; you make it sound like everybody has an unspoken agreement to retire their character if they are too powerful, but saying you have little patience for such characters makes me feel there may be subtle hints being dropped about it. Anyway, this still shows balance is important and tricky, regardless of whether you see it that way.

It's more the case that we have similar tastes and gravitated to the same tables over about a decade of gaming in the same larger crowds. The YMMV comment was included to indicate that, because of this situation, I'm not regularly DMing tables where balance becomes a major problem.

I don't disagree that balance is important; I disagree that balance isn't important in the story. I don't view the setting as requiring any less mechanical consistency than the rules. Essentially, I like my "fluff" very "crunchy."

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 01:16 AM
You should try it sometime.

I have, several times. Abandoned it every time, either due to outside events (new videogame, was busy working on a prestige class for 3.5, school, etc.) or because I felt the time was better spent adding even finer details to the fluff.


>.> Just strikes me as going back to a typewriter to write your term paper for old times' sake. Nostalgia is great and all, but when it starts creating unnecessary work and making it harder to do what you want to do most, I dunno. I'd walk away.

Honestly, if I had a typewriter, I might consider doing that. It would certaintly keep me from juggling 3 or 4 different documents simultaneously while also fooling around on the intertubes.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 01:18 AM
If I ever claimed that fluff was trivial, please point it out so I can apologize multiple times for saying so. I have not, and do not, maintain that fluff is trivial. I have only said that it is easier to refluff things than to recrunch them, and that creating fluff that allows a compelling adventure to take place is easier than creating crunch that allows a compelling adventure to take place.

Note that creating an entire world is not comparable to creating a few recrunches here and there; creating an entire working world with all the info is akin to creating an entirely new system, mechanically.

You didn't. Doc_Roc suggested it in the post before the one you seconded, and I assumed you were in agreement.

I'm sorry about that. It was my mistake, not yours.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:19 AM
In a round-about way, you've highlighted my point: a PRC you design only to be used in a one shot need not have the same level of balance you are presuming. You know who will be playing it and what their play-style and regular level of optimization is. There can be issues, as long as you are reasonably sure that they can be avoided (or more likely, won't even come up).

By the same token, the level of detail you are equating to "well-written crunch" would by my measure be equivalent to the kind of well-executed world building I was detailing: you're trying to create something that's relatively unbreakable, portable between tables, and sufficiently enjoyable to be immerse.

Yes, but building an entire world is akin to building an entire system, in this example. The system is far harder to build than the world; the locations needed for one fairly on the rails adventure are easier to create than keeping the encounters balanced, etc. Both are important, it's just that crunch is *far* harder.




It's more the case that we have similar tastes and gravitated to the same tables over about a decade of gaming in similar crowds. I don't disagree that balance is important; I disagree that balance isn't important to a story. I don't view the setting as requiring any less mechanical consistency than the rules. Essentially, I like my "fluff" very "crunchy."

I... agree with you? I don't know where I ever had evidence to the contrary; in fact, my main example of common fluff that broke verisimilitude was high level wizards existing, a very crunchy fact indeed.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 01:21 AM
Yes, but building an entire world is akin to building an entire system, in this example. The system is far harder to build than the world; the locations needed for one fairly on the rails adventure are easier to create than keeping the encounters balanced, etc. Both are important, it's just that crunch is *far* harder.

I've done both. I've been working on a particular fantasy universe for about 6 years now; only about 2 years ago or so did the framework finally take its more-or-less final form.

If I'm working on a new game system? Its framework can be expected to be mostly understandable within a week.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:23 AM
You didn't. Doc_Roc suggested it in the post before the one you seconded it, and I assumed you were in agreement.

I'm sorry about that.

One thing I will say is in agreement with Doc Roc is that worlds can be ported between systems, but the rules cannot, so the game is defined by the rules insomuch as the fact that the rules make the system, but you can easily play a M&M eberron game, or a 3.5 LotR campaign, or something like that; you don't see people advertising "3.5 game" because it takes place in Eberron even though it uses M&M rules.



If I'm working on a new game system? Its framework can be expected to be mostly understandable within a week.

Oh my, you have got to be joking. The amount of work it takes to get a working game system is immense. If the framework of the game system is simply "most of the time, you roll 1d20+modifiers to do something against a check, and you can level up to improve your modifiers" then sure, it'll take a couple weeks, but by the same token, it would only take a couple weeks to say "This country is big and strong, relying on their good position to keep other countries from gaining resources, and the fact they control the coastline preventing exploration to the islands over here, but they have to keep an eye on this landlocked nation here because they have plenty of materials for weapons to revolt with."

That's a framework, or at least a part of one; going into detail on each city is akin to going into detail on each class for a system, and tying the cities together is akin to balancing a game.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 01:23 AM
Pretty sure Stephen King and the guy writing the Animorphs cranked out more than 2-3 a year. The guy who wrote goosebumps did as well, but those were mostly crap.

Anyway, speaking of Pirates versus Ninjas, I haven't checked on that lately, I might want to weigh in on some balance issues and crunch some numbers.

Not going to comment TOO much on the first part. Just going to say that I don't consider Stephen King and the Animorphs guy (despite my love of their works) to be among to top writers in the world.

As for PvN. Been a lot of rebalancing in areas you wouldn't have thought were too bad until you do it in practice. There's a few abilities that are next up on the nerf and errata chopping block (mostly level 5's).

Actually, biggest problem is how fast power inflates past 100 points. 120 seems to be the cap for SENSIBLE, non-epic style play at least in the sense that a good 120 point character can easily take 4 60 pointers but a good 80 point character can't usually take out 4 40 pointers. It's kinda weird and needs some investigation. Mostly seems to come from players leveling up attributes more at that level instead of abilities.

To hit and evade are both working and not working. With enough abilities, a character can almost always hit or almost always dodge, but the builds come with some easily abused weaknesses (our super damaging and super precise guy is also a super weak glass cannon that almost never dodges and has knocked himself out early in 90% of battles). The more middle of the road builds are less powerful, but survive combat a lot longer on average.


I've done both. I've been working on a particular fantasy universe for about 6 years now; only about 2 years ago or so did the framework finally take its more-or-less final form.

If I'm working on a new game system? Its framework can be expected to be mostly understandable within a week.

Common phrase in my field of work. "Last 10% takes 90% of the work." Getting it understandable is the easy part. Getting it workable and enjoyable is the hard part.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 01:26 AM
Yes, but building an entire world is akin to building an entire system, in this example.

I disagree. The scope of the world matters, of course: I would generally peg the design of each nation within a setting as about equivalent to designing a PrC. If your world has the scope of Arthurian England, that will be less of an issue than if your world has the scope of, I dunno, Spelljammer.. And much like designing multiple classes, the difficulty scales with the number of other designs your design has to interact with.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 01:26 AM
One thing I will say is in agreement with Doc Roc is that worlds can be ported between systems, but the rules cannot, so the game is defined by the rules insomuch as the fact that the rules make the system, but you can easily play a M&M eberron game, or a 3.5 LotR campaign, or something like that; you don't see people advertising "3.5 game" because it takes place in Eberron even though it uses M&M rules.

That's true, but it's because a game system is a model for the events that are occurring.

Some models will fit better than others, but given so many different models for the same few things, you'll find that it actually is fairly easy to swap one for the other.

It's kind of like refactoring code, except a little easier.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 01:26 AM
Common phrase in my field of work. "Last 10% takes 90% of the work." Getting it understandable is the easy part. Getting it workable and enjoyable is the hard part.

Same applies to worldbuilding. I don't believe myself to be anywhere NEAR done.


I disagree. The scope of the world matters, of course: I would generally peg the design of each nation within a setting as about equivalent to designing a PrC.

I disagree. A PrC would only take a few hours to write, plus maybe another month, tops to get it reveiwed and balanced out.

A nation? Well, if you're just doing something simple and irrelevent like Corneria, the Land of Corn, yeah, that might take similar time.

But designing a 1000 year old kingdom with a complex history, minor lords, wars, international politics, what have you? That's gonna take some work.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:29 AM
I disagree. The scope of the world matters, of course: I would generally peg the design of each nation within a setting as about equivalent to designing a PrC.

What I mean is that, in terms of scale, if the work were equal, a game system and a game world would take the same amount of time. In practice, it takes a lot longer to design game systems than worlds.

Psycho, I have seen the amount of work it takes to get people to create the mechanics for systems, and have had a hand at balancing it. It is incredible how easy it is to ink down 20 levels of abilities, and then take massive amounts of time to get it balanced, even within the current system; starting from scratch is infinitely harder.

Gralamin
2010-06-09, 01:30 AM
That's true, but it's because a game system is a model for the events that are occurring.

Some models will fit better than others, but given so many different models for the same few things, you'll find that it actually is fairly easy to swap one for the other.

It's kind of like refactoring code, except a little easier.

I have no idea what you've been refactoring, but refactoring a large code base is quite difficult and intensive (Especially if the previous designers didn't bother to design a test suite). While swapping out systems is quite easy.

So It's more like refactoring a class then refactoring code in general :smalltongue:


Edit:



What I mean is that, in terms of scale, if the work were equal, a game system and a game world would take the same amount of time. In practice, it takes a lot longer to design game systems than worlds.

Psycho, I have seen the amount of work it takes to get people to create the mechanics for systems, and have had a hand at balancing it. It is incredible how easy it is to ink down 20 levels of abilities, and then take massive amounts of time to get it balanced, even within the current system; starting from scratch is infinitely harder.

Expanding on that, some classes are near impossible to balance, because they have difficult to solve problems within them. For example, the original d20r sorcerer contained a NP-Complete Knapsack Problem. Of course Fax had no way to know that since most people don't learn about NP-Complete problems. But if he had tried to balance it rather then the rewrite approach, it would of been a very long and grueling process.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 01:34 AM
I disagree. A PrC would only take a few hours to write, plus maybe another month, tops to get it reveiwed and balanced out.

But designing a 1000 year old kingdom with a complex history, minor lords, wars, international politics, what have you? That's gonna take some work.

Presuming I had a basic concept in mind, each would take me about a week to write to my satisfaction and about a month to two to tweak. Though in fairness, in both cases, I would borrow heavily: in the former case from existing classes with similar themes and progressions, in the later case from the existing history of a random non-fictional nation/region (intentionally warped beyond recognition).


What I mean is that, in terms of scale, if the work were equal, a game system and a game world would take the same amount of time. In practice, it takes a lot longer to design game systems than worlds.

And again, I disagree: I don't see designing a world as an analog to designing a system. Or at least, not to designing the core system. If it's truly a huge world with high detail, I would peg it at about the complexity of designing a variant power system: still nothing on the level of designing, say D20 itself.

For something in the way or world building that would be comparable to designing the base D20 system, I would point to designing a high quality game setting to be consistent with an existing body of literature. For example, building a functional gaming version of the DC or Marvel Universe or of Middle Earth.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 01:34 AM
What I mean is that, in terms of scale, if the work were equal, a game system and a game world would take the same amount of time. In practice, it takes a lot longer to design game systems than worlds.

Depends on what you define as a world. In the last 30 years, DnD has been entirely reinvented somewhere between 4-6 times. Comparatively, Tolkien pretty much spent his entire adult life working on Middle-Earth. If you brought him back and asked him, I doubt he'd say he was finished.

And yes, I do hold Middle-Earth as my standard of how detailed a fantasy world should be.


Presuming I had a basic concept in mind, each would take me about a week to write to my satisfaction and about a month to two to tweak. Though in fairness, in both cases, I would borrow heavily: in the former case from existing classes with similar themes and progressions, in the later case from the existing history of a random non-fictional nation/region (intentionally warped beyond recognition).

On the PrC, I agree. On the nation, I disagree: I'll admit to taking a theme from an actual culture, but the history itself is always developed from scratch.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:39 AM
Expanding on that, some classes are near impossible to balance, because they have difficult to solve problems within them. For example, the original d20r sorcerer contained a NP-Complete Knapsack Problem. Of course Fax had no way to know that since most people don't learn about NP-Complete problems. But if he had tried to balance it rather then the rewrite approach, it would of been a very long and grueling process.

Could you explain this to me? I just knew it was easily possible to create sorcerers with burst +40 AC buffs that lasted 40 hours per casting and that you could probably burst buff your allies to have bite attacks of an effective size large enough they could easily eat galaxies.

EDIT Psycho, balancing a PrC within a couple hours is near impossible; playtesting alone would take longer than that, even if you count playtesting as just crunching the numbers against MM standard foes, let alone checking for other rule interactions. Plus, cranking out a PrC is usually just an alteration to a base class (especially spellcasting PrCs), while creating a nation is a lot different; it would be more akin to creating a base class and the feats to go with the new mechanics, I'd think.

The thing with writing fluff is that, even if the last 10% is 90% of the work, it is still more than finished enough to play it, whereas when a class is 90% finished, you have galaxy chomping bites and sorcerers who give armor buffs beyond anything else in the entire system.

As for Middle Earth level detail: There is no game system that could ever have that much detail. Well, OK, there's Dwarf Fortress, but that is in its own class of insanity. If a fantasy world is as detailed as Middle Earth, it will obviously take years to finish, but there have been no attempts to create a game system that complex because, frankly, complexity in the rules is generally a bad thing and there's only so many details you can add to the rules before "new cool idea" gives less to the game than "One more thing to learn" detracts from it.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 01:45 AM
I have no idea what you've been refactoring, but refactoring a large code base is quite difficult and intensive (Especially if the previous designers didn't bother to design a test suite). While swapping out systems is quite easy.

So It's more like refactoring a class then refactoring code in general :smalltongue:

That's kind of what I meant.


Expanding on that, some classes are near impossible to balance, because they have difficult to solve problems within them. For example, the original d20r sorcerer contained a NP-Complete Knapsack Problem. Of course Fax had no way to know that since most people don't learn about NP-Complete problems. But if he had tried to balance it rather then the rewrite approach, it would have been a very long and grueling process.

That's an interesting one, however - if I understand correctly, the issue there was that it's very difficult to predict what can actually be done, and therefore quite hard to analyse.

And the fact that different things could have different costs and worked at different levels was an issue in its own right. Had he tried to balance it himself, he'd have had to at least switch it to "all effects must be purchased at the same effective spell level".


Could you explain this to me? I just knew it was easily possible to create sorcerers with burst +40 AC buffs that lasted 40 hours per casting and that you could probably burst buff your allies to have bite attacks of an effective size large enough they could easily eat galaxies.


I don't know the whole story, but in essence, it's very hard to analyse problems of the form "Spend X points on different things with different costs". Had the sorcerer still used that balancing method, we'd never be able to tell whether or not it was balanced.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:48 AM
That's kind of what I meant.



That's an interesting one, however - if I understand correctly, the issue there was that it's very difficult to predict what can actually be done, and therefore quite hard to analyse.

And the fact that different things could have different costs and worked at different levels was an issue in its own right. Had he tried to balance it himself, he'd have had to at least switch it to "all effects must be purchased at the same effective spell level".

Well, I'm not entirely sure what an NP complete knapsack problem is (I'd like to learn, though) but I do know that some of the abilities were blatantly unbalanced for their cost, such as, again, galaxy biting and giving armor bonuses to AC that were absurd for absurdly long times.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 01:49 AM
I have no idea what you've been refactoring, but refactoring a large code base is quite difficult and intensive (Especially if the previous designers didn't bother to design a test suite). While swapping out systems is quite easy.

So It's more like refactoring a class then refactoring code in general :smalltongue:

You're not my ex-roommate, are you? Guess the point still stands.

I guess the real question here is "how long does it take you to get a WORKING rough draft of a kingdom and a class?"

For me personally, it takes about 15 minutes to stamp out the first ideas of a faction history in Pirates vs. Ninjas while writing out all the mechanics and coming up with around 20 new abilities usually takes 2-3 hours from scratch. Of course, that's me. From there, I usually have to spend more time touching up the mechanics, but that's just me.

However, when I took a class in college where I had to write a 30 page design docs every WEEK, I found that the story assignments got turned in a lot more on time than the game mechanics assignments. As in, about a 50% larger failure to turn in rate (difference between 3-4 late papers and 5-7 late papers). The mechanics papers were also typically shorter in length since we had to read every almost every single one to critique on them. They were also pretty evenly dispersed. So, I don't think it was a matter of warming up.

While I can't exactly recreate these facts, this does seem to show a heavier leniency towards MOST people taking longer on the mechanics. Of course, we could've all been fluff people at heart. We were a class of about 15 people or so. So, it's not a huge group, but it still at least lends some legitimacy to the point.

Actually, I suppose I do have ONE good example. Think about how long it takes you to make a GOOD solid character you care about and want to play. Assuming you both want a good solid backstory with side characters and everything and a nice optimized build for your mechanics ideas. Which one typically will take you longer to write out. It's DEFINITELY the mechanics for me, but I can see it being story for a few people. I'd still think it would generally lean towards mechanics though.

Gralamin
2010-06-09, 01:50 AM
Could you explain this to me? I just knew it was easily possible to create sorcerers with burst +40 AC buffs that lasted 40 hours per casting and that you could probably burst buff your allies to have bite attacks of an effective size large enough they could easily eat galaxies.

Well, that was a symptom of the base problem.

A problem is NP-Complete if it happens to have certain properties. The only relevant ones are that they are really hard to solve, but easy to verify you have the right answer.

A Knapsack Problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knapsack_problem) is a problem where you have various options, each which can be represented with certain weights / values (Such as points / "Effectiveness Value" however you choose to model that). Since its NP Complete, there is no efficient algorithm to determine whether or not its balanced (We can define that here as something like "Plausible options are all effective"). That means if you were to try to balance it by hand, by adjusting values, you would have to test every single change, and it still has a high chance of causing a problem somewhere else, outside where you are looking at. By hand, I'd predict balancing such a system would take over 10 human lifetimes. A computer could still take a long time (if there were 50 seeds, it'd take somewhere around Some Constant * 1.12589991 × 10^15 operations. So if it could do one of these each microsecond, and that constant was 1, it'd take 35 years.)




That's an interesting one, however - if I understand correctly, the issue there was that it's very difficult to predict what can actually be done, and therefore quite hard to analyse.

And the fact that different things could have different costs and worked at different levels was an issue in its own right. Had he tried to balance it himself, he'd have had to at least switch it to "all effects must be purchased at the same effective spell level".
Kind of, yes.



You're not my ex-roommate, are you? Guess the point still stands.
Definitely not, I've never had a roommate :smallwink:

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:51 AM
I'm a mechanics guy and it still takes me longer to do the mechanics than the fluff, and my fluff isn't exactly bad, although the only real impartial judge I have is my English teacher, and for that I'm mostly writing AP test type opinion essay's, which aren't exactly in the same class.

Anyway: NP complete knapsack problems. Explain please. >_>

EDIT: They were explained above, NVM.

EDIT: As for the computer, isn't it possible to make a "smarter" algorithm that wouldn't be brute forcing it? For instance, if we know that giving a class 8 AC at level 1 is balanced, giving it 7 AC and below are reasonably balanced at level 1 assuming no other factors, so that could remove a significant number of variables, though I don't know how much effort that would take to program in or if that wouldn't just slow down the process with unnecessary checks. But yeah, I can see how the problem would be hard to balance overall.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 01:53 AM
Psycho, balancing a PrC within a couple hours is near impossible;

I was referring to simply getting the overall, unpolished idea put together. Obviously balancing it out takes much longer.

On the worldbuilding side, getting the general idea down can take weeks, even for something simple as "I want this to be the capital city of the local barony." Getting the economics, local fashions, blah blah blah down, takes months.


Plus, cranking out a PrC is usually just an alteration to a base class (especially spellcasting PrCs), while creating a nation is a lot different; it would be more akin to creating a base class and the feats to go with the new mechanics, I'd think.

I'd agree, in terms of their relative importances to the overall work.


The thing with writing fluff is that, even if the last 10% is 90% of the work, it is still more than finished enough to play it, whereas when a class is 90% finished, you have galaxy chomping bites and sorcerers who give armor buffs beyond anything else in the entire system.

THIS I will concede to, and perhaps its what you've been trying to get at all along: Crunch requires more work to get it to the bare minimum of functionality. Yes, I'll admit to as much. However:


As for Middle Earth level detail: There is no game system that could ever have that much detail. Well, OK, there's Dwarf Fortress, but that is in its own class of insanity. If a fantasy world is as detailed as Middle Earth, it will obviously take years to finish, but there have been no attempts to create a game system that complex because, frankly, complexity in the rules is generally a bad thing and there's only so many details you can add to the rules before "new cool idea" gives less to the game than "One more thing to learn" detracts from it.

While a game system becomes to clunky to work with as it becomes more detailed, a world only becomes more streamlined. If all you're looking for is enough to to get going, then yes, you need more crunch than you need fluff.

But I stick with my opinion that to do it "properly", you need a true, full, living, breathing world, the likes of Middle-Earth, Tamriel, or the Old Kingdom. Anything else seems like white bread fantasy, and is no better than playing DnD and forcing everyone to use the Warrior class.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 01:54 AM
Actually, I suppose I do have ONE good example. Think about how long it takes you to make a GOOD solid character you care about and want to play. Assuming you both want a good solid backstory with side characters and everything and a nice optimized build for your mechanics ideas. Which one typically will take you longer to write out. It's DEFINITELY the mechanics for me, but I can see it being story for a few people. I'd still think it would generally lean towards mechanics though.

For me, it's easily the story. I'll never expect anyone else to read them, but I'll have at least 5 pages of notes. Most of it will never get used for anything other than giving me a solid base to make thinking in character self-consistent for me. Once I have that done, I'll generally have the build within an hour: and it will very rarely include more than 2 classes (prestige or otherwise).

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 01:54 AM
Well, at least it wasn't a Traveling Salesman problem.

Gralamin
2010-06-09, 01:56 AM
EDIT: As for the computer, isn't it possible to make a "smarter" algorithm that wouldn't be brute forcing it? For instance, if we know that giving a class 8 AC at level 1 is balanced, giving it 7 AC and below are reasonably balanced at level 1 assuming no other factors, so that could remove a significant number of variables, though I don't know how much effort that would take to program in or if that wouldn't just slow down the process with unnecessary checks. But yeah, I can see how the problem would be hard to balance overall.

Oh sure, if you can figure out how to prove P = NP, let me know. There is a $1,000,000 prize for figuring this out (Either proving its impossible, or proving its possible). As a benefit, it'd solve ALL NP-Complete problems.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 01:59 AM
I was referring to simply getting the overall, unpolished idea put together. Obviously balancing it out takes much longer.

On the worldbuilding side, getting the general idea down can take weeks, even for something simple as "I want this to be the capital city of the local barony." Getting the economics, local fashions, blah blah blah down, takes months.

Maybe it's just me, but even when I wrote up an entire world, or at least the start of one, it didn't take weeks to get the basic ideas of what went where; it took a few hours. As for local fashions... that's starting to get into the "absurd" level of detail where, even in a game *about* fashion, I think that's too minor a detail to matter. Well, not that extreme, but you get my point; it will, while possibly an interesting aside, never be enough to even be a minor point in an adventure.


THIS I will concede to, and perhaps its what you've been trying to get at all along: Crunch requires more work to get it to the bare minimum of functionality. Yes, I'll admit to as much. However:



While a game system becomes to clunky to work with as it becomes more detailed, a world only becomes more streamlined. If all you're looking for is enough to to get going, then yes, you need more crunch than you need fluff.

But I stick with my opinion that to do it "properly", you need a true, full, living, breathing world, the likes of Middle-Earth, Tamriel, or the Old Kingdom. Anything else seems like white bread fantasy, and is no better than playing DnD and forcing everyone to use the Warrior class.

The problem here is that it takes a huge amount of time to get a system streamlined and balanced, to the point only a Middle Earth sized super polished world would take more time to create than the system to go along with it. To give you an idea of how big a project I would consider that in game design terms, you would have to either A: Be Toady One, creator of Dwarf Fortress or B: Entirely balance D&D 3.5 while still maintaining the current massive customization. That's the level making a Middle Earth complexity system would be like; either being somebody completely insane (and I love his game so much for that) or being crazy enough to try to balance 3.5e D&D.

In case you didn't know about Dwarf Fortress: It's been in production for years and it's still in early (playable) alpha, and players are only half joking when they say Toady One intends to fully model an entire working universe down to quantum mechanics within the game.



Oh sure, if you can figure out how to prove P = NP, let me know. There is a $1,000,000 prize for figuring this out (Either proving its impossible, or proving its possible). As a benefit, it'd solve ALL NP-Complete problems.

Ok, I have clearly stepped way out of my depth here.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 02:00 AM
The thing with writing fluff is that, even if the last 10% is 90% of the work, it is still more than finished enough to play it, whereas when a class is 90% finished, you have galaxy chomping bites and sorcerers who give armor buffs beyond anything else in the entire system.

I would consider those finished enough to play, mostly because I don't regularly play with anyone who would abuse (or even use) questionable rules. At the same point, I do play with people who would find the lack of that last 10% to be a notable break in verisimilitude.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 02:02 AM
I would consider those finished enough to play, mostly because I don't regularly play with anyone who would abuse (or even use) questionable rules. At the same point, I do play with people who would find the lack of that last 10% to be a notable break in verisimilitude.

Well the d20r sorcerer was 90% finished and, even if you weren't trying to break it, you would, investing your points in a spell (which I believe you could invest most all your points in each spell) get such results, so it wouldn't even require abuse to get those results.

Gralamin
2010-06-09, 02:03 AM
Ok, I have clearly stepped way out of my depth here.

That little fact tends to prove that point to people quite quickly :smallbiggrin:.

It could even be worst though. If someone managed to insert, say, a Post Correspondence Problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_correspondence_problem) in a class (I have no idea how one would), it'd be impossible to solve deterministically. This would be very very bad.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 02:03 AM
Maybe it's just me, but even when I wrote up an entire world, or at least the start of one, it didn't take weeks to get the basic ideas of what went where; it took a few hours. As for local fashions... that's starting to get into the "absurd" level of detail where, even in a game *about* fashion, I think that's too minor a detail to matter. Well, not that extreme, but you get my point; it will, while possibly an interesting aside, never be enough to even be a minor point in an adventure.

Thing is, I worldbuild on an equal scope for both novel-writing and RPs. Partially because I have a genuine obsession with worldbuilding, and partially because I may or may not have OCD. (I honestly have no clue.) And I genuinely never know when a certain detail might be important, so I simply come up with all the details ahead of time.


The problem here is that it takes a huge amount of time to get a system streamlined and balanced, to the point only a Middle Earth sized super polished world would take more time to create than the system to go along with it. To give you an idea of how big a project I would consider that in game design terms, you would have to either A: Be Toady One, creator of Dwarf Fortress or B: Entirely balance D&D 3.5 while still maintaining the current massive customization. That's the level making a Middle Earth complexity system would be like; either being somebody completely insane (and I love his game so much for that) or being crazy enough to try to balance 3.5e D&D.

Given the ammount of detail in Middle-Earth (you have to be a boredline-obsessive fan to even be truely AWARE of how much Tolkien came up with), making a game system for it would probably be more like making all of physics be accounted for on a d20 system.

EDIT-Ninja'd: Oh, so that's pretty much what Dwarf Fortress IS... I'll concede, then.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 02:05 AM
While a game system becomes to clunky to work with as it becomes more detailed, a world only becomes more streamlined. If all you're looking for is enough to to get going, then yes, you need more crunch than you need fluff.

I'm gonna stop you on this one. Two real problems.
1. Unlike Middle Earth, this is an interactive world and detailing too much begins to remove GM freedom to make things up.

2. You can make writing too wordy and clunky. There is DEFINITELY a limit. Faulkner is constantly mocked decades after his death for this. Eventually, you can get too much detail to where it's not longer applicable. In order to write a story about the Cold War, you really don't have to research or explain history all the way back to the birth of Jesus. There's a cut-off point where too much detail can clutter things up and add little.

It's kinda like the worst simile my 8th grade English teacher ever heard.

"He grew wiser with every experience like a man who looks at a solar eclipse without the box with the holes in it and then goes blind and has to go from school to school explaining to all the students there that you shouldn't look at a solar eclipse without a box with the little holes in it or you'll go blind as well."

Needless to say. There's a time to stop. Getting a character name should be required. Knowing what kind of family he has is nice. Naming the family is good touch and a chance for good roleplay. Giving personality and life to his mother, father, brothers, and sisters is absolutely wonderful and will likely result in one of them getting used. Mapping out his extended history for the last 1,000 years is a good way to get the GM to stop reading.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 02:09 AM
I'm gonna stop you on this one. Two real problems.
1. Unlike Middle Earth, this is an interactive world and detailing too much begins to remove GM freedom to make things up.

I'm terrible at making things up, so I generally just pull a Batman and try to think of every conceivable variation ahead of time.


2. You can make writing too wordy and clunky. There is DEFINITELY a limit. Faulkner is constantly mocked decades after his death for this. Eventually, you can get too much detail to where it's not longer applicable. In order to write a story about the Cold War, you really don't have to research or explain history all the way back to the birth of Jesus. There's a cut-off point where too much detail can clutter things up and add little.

Just because the entire world exists doesn't mean you have to point everything out. Middle Earth has an insane level of detail to it, but Tolkien didn't need to halt his story halfway through to explain the thousands of years of history that lead to this point. If I'm writing a novel, I'm only going to mentions the aspects of the world that pertain to the novel; however, the entire world still sits quietly under it, completely planned out.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 02:12 AM
Maybe it's just me, but even when I wrote up an entire world, or at least the start of one, it didn't take weeks to get the basic ideas of what went where; it took a few hours. As for local fashions... that's starting to get into the "absurd" level of detail where, even in a game *about* fashion, I think that's too minor a detail to matter. Well, not that extreme, but you get my point; it will, while possibly an interesting aside, never be enough to even be a minor point in an adventure.

Actually, I could see it as a notable point in a primarily social adventure. It would depend entirely on how you treat checks: if your rogue was going to make a complex skill check to analyze the current local fashion and make a suitable disguise to impersonate a noble, how you you carry out the check. Would you have two rolls and that's the end of it, or would you say "You notice that, this season, the nobility have an affectation for owl-bear feathers worn as ornamentation on the right shoulder." When it became apparent that they failed would you merely tell they that their disguise was flawed, or would you let them find out later that "The feathered cloaks are all designed by the new royal tailor: they are given by the local Duke asas tokens of esteem for high ranking nobles. The person you were trying to impersonate simply isn't of great enough import to warrant such a gift."

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 02:12 AM
That little fact tends to prove that point to people quite quickly :smallbiggrin:.

It could even be worst though. If someone managed to insert, say, a Post Correspondence Problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_correspondence_problem) in a class (I have no idea how one would), it'd be impossible to solve deterministically. This would be very very bad.

I'm still having difficulty figuring out the difference between P and NP Complete (EDIT: Not that I've solved the equation, just that I don't think I fundamentally understand the concept yet), but I haven't taken the class so I really can't hope to understand more. If I've got it basically right, P complete problems can be solved by an algorithm, but NP complete problems can't be solved by an algorithm, but if you have the answer you can easily verify its right.

So to use a terrible analogy that is almost definitely incorrect, NP complete problems are like when the math teacher would give you a multiple choice problem to solve for X, but you had no clue how to do it, but once you plugged in the multiple choice answers, you could find the right one. Except in most NP complete problems, the choices are near boundless and possibly have multiple variables that affect one another.

EDIT: Psycho, as a note, many people actually do criticize the Lord of The Rings trilogy for spending far too much time describing forests and how things were dressed.

Gralamin
2010-06-09, 02:17 AM
I'm still having difficulty figuring out the difference between P and NP Complete, but I haven't taken the class so I really can't hope to understand more. If I've got it basically right, P complete problems can be solved by an algorithm, but NP complete problems can't be solved by an algorithm, but if you have the answer you can easily verify its right.

So to use a terrible analogy that is almost definitely incorrect, NP complete problems are like when the math teacher would give you a multiple choice problem to solve for X, but you had no clue how to do it, but once you plugged in the multiple choice answers, you could find the right one. Except in most NP complete problems, the choices are near boundless and possibly have multiple variables that affect one another.

Very close.
NP-Complete problems are ones that can be solved by a non-polynomial ordered Algorithm. A polynomial ordered algorithm is, for example, sorting a deck of cards. But, you can quickly tell if an answer is correct for an NP-Complete problem (You can verify the answer without knowing the answer).

P algorithms are ones that can be solved and verified by a polynomial-ordered Algorithm. So sorting a deck of cards, giving change, etc.

So, for example, a P problem would be a question that wants a 4 digit answer, and doesn't want any work. Its quick to do, and easy to mark.

An NP problem would be one where you have a very complicated question, that is very difficult to solve, and there are exponential ways of solving it. However, the Professor can quickly tell if you are wrong or not.

Drakevarg
2010-06-09, 02:21 AM
EDIT: Psycho, as a note, many people actually do criticize the Lord of The Rings trilogy for spending far too much time describing forests and how things were dressed.

That's scenery porn, not in-depth worldbuilding. And some people like that.

I was referring to someone saying something offhand, followed by several pages explaining the etymology of his figure of speech, or the history behind the non-plot-important city he'd mentioned. These things are irrelevent to the story, even if I WOULD encourage actually coming up with those details; it's just that people don't need to know about it until it becomes important or if they're genuinely curious.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 02:22 AM
Very close.
NP-Complete problems are ones that can be solved by a non-polynomial ordered Algorithm. A polynomial ordered algorithm is, for example, sorting a deck of cards. But, you can quickly tell if an answer is correct for an NP-Complete problem (You can verify the answer without knowing the answer).

P algorithms are ones that can be solved and verified by a polynomial-ordered Algorithm. So sorting a deck of cards, giving change, etc.

So, for example, a P problem would be a question that wants a 4 digit answer, and doesn't want any work. Its quick to do, and easy to mark.

An NP problem would be one where you have a very complicated question, that is very difficult to solve, and there are exponential ways of solving it. However, the Professor can quickly tell if you are wrong or not.

So what would an example of such an NP complete problem be? That "Draw a map of this fictitious world with all these countries using only three colors (or was it four that was the lower limit) without having any countries adjacent to each other sharing a color" problem? Well, OK, that was solved by computer by proving there were really only a few dozen variations of the possible world map that were stretched and distorted or something like that, but I mean that *before* it was solved; you could easily tell that all maps could be drawn with only three colors, but you couldn't prove that it was possible for all maps/not possible for all maps.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 02:26 AM
As I said, the way costs added up seemed to cause enough playability issues that I don't think Fax would have continued with the exact method he started out using, no matter what happened.

There were also a few typos, which led to the whole "lol 400 temporary hitpoints" hole.

Points as a whole aren't bad, but you need additional constraints - either on what the points values can be, or on what you can do, as far as I'm aware.

So, for example, allowing a character to cast 20 spells per day is fine (because every spell costs only one point, the resulting problem is trivial). Likewise, allowing a character to only cast one spell per action mitigates the damage somewhat.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 02:26 AM
So what would an example of such an NP complete problem be? That "Draw a map of this fictitious world with all these countries using only three colors (or was it four that was the lower limit) without having any countries adjacent to each other sharing a color" problem? Well, OK, that was solved by computer by proving there were really only a few dozen variations of the possible world map that were stretched and distorted or something like that, but I mean that *before* it was solved; you could easily tell that all maps could be drawn with only three colors, but you couldn't prove that it was possible for all maps/not possible for all maps.

The traveling salesman problem, with costs included, is the standard example IIRC:

Given X cities to be visited once each and cost Z to visit them, determine if there is a route that visits them at a cost less than Z.



You can brute force the solution if X is small enough, but there is no known algorithmic solution that can sort it into a simpler problem.

Gralamin
2010-06-09, 02:27 AM
So what would an example of such an NP complete problem be? That "Draw a map of this fictitious world with all these countries using only three colors (or was it four that was the lower limit) without having any countries adjacent to each other sharing a color" problem? Well, OK, that was solved by computer by proving there were really only a few dozen variations of the possible world map that were stretched and distorted or something like that, but I mean that *before* it was solved; you could easily tell that all maps could be drawn with only three colors, but you couldn't prove that it was possible for all maps/not possible for all maps.

Heres an easy one:
Given a series of cities connected by roads, each road having an associated distance, find the shortest route that visits each city only once.

This is called the Travelling Salesman Problem.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 02:30 AM
Heres an easy one:
Given a series of cities connected by roads, each road having an associated distance, find the shortest route that visits each city only once.

This is called the Traveling Salesman Problem.

I though Traveling Salesman was only NPC for the decision problem version (specifically, I though that it was only demonstratably at least NP unless you introduced the decision problem).

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 02:32 AM
OK, I'm pretty sure I've got it now; you can easily tell if one route is faster than the other, but you can't make it into a simpler problem and there's no way to solve it with algorithms, only with brute forcing it or intelligent guesswork (I.E. you can probably tell that New York to Washington DC to New Orleans is faster than New York to New Orleans to Washington DC).

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 02:36 AM
The TSP... yeah. If I recall correctly, it's possible to determine a route that is either the solution or a lower bound for the solution. There's no "quick and dirty" method to actually get a solution, as there is for problems like "get from city A to city B while minimising the lowest point reached".

Bizarrely, the route inspection problem - given a series of roads and intersections between roads, find a path that travels along the roads, visiting each road only once (sometimes with the additional requirement that you must start and finish on the same node) is actually a bit easier to solve. Not that I actually remember how to do it...

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 02:37 AM
That's scenery porn, not in-depth worldbuilding. And some people like that.

I was referring to someone saying something offhand, followed by several pages explaining the etymology of his figure of speech, or the history behind the non-plot-important city he'd mentioned. These things are irrelevent to the story, even if I WOULD encourage actually coming up with those details; it's just that people don't need to know about it until it becomes important or if they're genuinely curious.

...And that's actually the weird thing that separates writing for novels and games. Most people actually love a bit of incompleteness. It gives rise to adventure ideas and plot hooks.

Let's take In Nomine. Steve Jackson Game. You play as the soldiers of Heaven and Hell and anything in between. That game was ALL fluff and plot hooks. The game mechanics were stripped to the bone and 90% of the main book was fluff... The supplements after it? 99% fluff with 1% new mechanics.

It gives examples and histories and personal grudges and events that have happened and so much history you can't keep up with it. However, a lot of it stops before explaining the interesting part.

For instance, there's an artifact called Nybbas' (the demon lord of the media) Eyes. It allows you to see the WHOLE truth and actually damages you over extended use. It's the demon prince's original eyes before he got his cool glasses. However, the book doesn't mention where his eyes are or if the myth is even true. That's right. The book doesn't even confirm their existence after writing up a history for them.

Now, you could go back and write out the full history, or you can intentionally leave some holes for the players and GM to wonder about and get inspired by. How come the Kingdom of Fallun and Reptro became bitter rivals? Was it a treasure, a girl, a world-ending danger, a puppeteer in the shadows? It creates a hook for players. Now, you COULD just explain that it was because of a bet that the first King of Fallun failed to pay up on, but then if someone wants to roleplay that history, it's already written and you either have a railroaded plot or have to say "the history books were wrong".

A little bit of mystery is good.

Actually, if we're going to talk about my favorite campaign setting for anything EVER, it's Uresia. Wonderful setting by S. John Ross. Sets place after the Gods have a major war and all die and magic is the radiation of their dead God corpses.

The book is almost entirely filled to the brim with rumors and legends that aren't confirmed at all. The rest of the really specific stuff is either unique or cool like the Dreed Sporting Chefs (think Iron Chef meets Conan) or the Rindenland Annual Magic Contest (which is usually won by the person that solves the problem with the least magic or no magic at all). It's a book of entirely adventure hooks and tells the players to fill in the blanks for the most interesting parts. The whole thing pulls you right in and makes you want to visit each location and discover the answer for yourself.

Anything else, we can make up as we go along. Even the maps of the continents aren't THAT specific. It's not too important. There's a lot of empty space that can contain almost anything. It's mysterious, it's uncertain, and it's exciting. The adventure IS the mystery.

Why are there flying islands over Yem? Are there Gods left over from the war? Are the Bards REALLY creating a new Goddess from story-telling alone and did it work? What was the driving force behind the Winnowite demons wanting the souls of the elves that lived there? What is the ultimate recipe for beef jerky?

And most importantly. How do I get the attention of that hot catgirl in the beast lands when she can benchpress me with a toe and my magical talents involve silly-looking seductive dancing, smoke, lying, and trickery instead of actual magical force?

And yes. It exists. It's called Boru Sorcery. It's awesome.

Ozymandias9
2010-06-09, 02:39 AM
OK, I'm pretty sure I've got it now; you can easily tell if one route is faster than the other, but you can't make it into a simpler problem and there's no way to solve it with algorithms, only with brute forcing it or intelligent guesswork (I.E. you can probably tell that New York to Washington DC to New Orleans is faster than New York to New Orleans to Washington DC).

The only reason you're noting it as "easily" is because you're using an uncomplex example. Your brain is, for lack of a better term, eye-balling the the brute force method. You're also doing several steps without thinking about them (you know that New York is closer to Washington that New Orleans, but working out that fact is part of the problem).

But what happens when you 20 more cities, or 100? 1000? The complexity of the problem increases (IIRC) as a factorial, and as there isn't a way to remove a portion of that complexity.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 02:39 AM
...And that's actually the weird thing that separates writing for novels and games. Most people actually love a bit of incompleteness. It gives rise to adventure ideas and plot hooks.

Let's take In Nomine. That game was ALL fluff and plot hooks. The game mechanics were stripped to the bone and 90% of the main book was fluff... The supplements after it? 99% fluff with 1% new mechanics.

It gives examples and histories and personal grudges and events that have happened and so much history you can't keep up with it. However, a lot of it stops before explaining the interesting part.

For instance, there's an artifact called Nybbas' (the demon lord of the media) Eyes. It allows you to see the WHOLE truth and actually damages you over extended use. It's the demon prince's original eyes before he got his cool glasses. However, the book doesn't mention where his eyes are or if the myth is even true. That's right. The book doesn't even confirm their existence after writing up a history for them.

Now, you could go back and write out the full history, or you can intentionally leave some holes for the players and GM to wonder about and get inspired by. How come the Kingdom of Fallun and Reptro became bitter rivals? Was it a treasure, a girl, a world-ending danger, a puppeteer in the shadows? It creates a hook for players. Now, you COULD just explain that it was because of a bet that the first King of Fallun failed to pay up on, but then if someone wants to roleplay that history, it's already written and you either have a railroaded plot or have to say "the history books were wrong".

A little bit of mystery is good.

Actually, if we're going to talk about my favorite campaign setting for anything EVER, it's Uresia. Wonderful setting by S. John Ross. Sets place after the Gods have a major war and all die and magic is the radiation of their dead God corpses.

The book is almost entirely filled to the brim with rumors and legends that aren't confirmed at all. The rest of the really specific stuff is either unique or cool like the Dreed Sporting Chefs (think Iron Chef meets Conan) or the Rindenland Annual Magic Contest (which is usually won by the person that solves the problem with the least magic or no magic at all). It's a book of entirely adventure hooks and tells the players to fill in the blanks for the most interesting parts. The whole thing pulls you right in and makes you want to visit each location and discover the answer for yourself.

Anything else, we can make up as we go along. Even the maps of the continents aren't THAT specific. It's not too important. There's a lot of empty space that can contain almost anything. It's mysterious, it's uncertain, and it's exciting. The adventure IS the mystery.

Why are there flying islands over Yem? Are there Gods left over from the war? Are the Bards REALLY creating a new Goddess from story-telling alone and did it work? What was the driving force behind the Winnowite demons wanting the souls of the elves that lived there? What is the ultimate recipe for beef jerky?

And most importantly. How do I get the attention of that hot catgirl in the beast lands when she can benchpress me with a toe and my magical talents involve silly-looking seductive dancing, smoke, lying, and trickery instead of actual magical force?

And yes. It exists. It's called Boru Sorcery. It's awesome.

The answer to all of your questions is...

42. Nah. Nobody knows the question for that answer.


The only reason you're noting it as "easily" is because you're using an uncomplex example. Your brain is, for lack of a better term, eye-balling the the brute force method. You're also doing several steps without thinking about them (you know that New York is closer to Washington that New Orleans, but working out that fact is part of the problem).

But what happens when you 20 more cities, or 100? 1000? The complexity of the problem increases (IIRC) as a factorial, and as there isn't a way to remove a portion of that complexity.

Well, for any example, you can probably note that going across a really large distance and back is always going to be less efficient than just going across the really large distance once; for example, if it were all west and east coast cities, you would want to go, roughly, from the northern part of the east coast to the southern part, then to the southern part of the west coast, then to the northern part of the west coast. Of course, that's not exactly solving or cutting down the complexity, just eyeballing it, and you could actually go from the southern/northern part of either coast to the opposite side of that coast, and there's no way to eyeball which one of those would be faster.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 02:45 AM
The answer to all of your questions is...

42. Nah. Nobody knows the question for that answer.

Hey. All I'm saying is that a setting where "Loreseeker" is as glamorous and interesting of a job as "Magical Fire Elemental Fighter Dwarfs that can turn into Smoke", "Fantasy Setting Appropriate Knights that Pilot Power Suits", "Celebrity Warrior Chefs", and "Super Deadly Combat Maids with Magic Spells Based Around Cleaning" is doing its fluff right.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 02:48 AM
42. Nah. Nobody knows the question for that answer.

What's six times nine, if I recall correctly.

The joke was basically that the universe simply doesn't make sense, and never will.

Although the Hubble constant could, in fact, be 42 - we know it's a constant, but we don't know what it is.

Milskidasith
2010-06-09, 02:51 AM
What's six times nine, if I recall correctly.

The joke was basically that the universe simply doesn't make sense, and never will.

Although the Hubble constant could, in fact, be 42 - we know it's a constant, but we don't know what it is.

I'm actually fairly certain that was explicitly disproven; Douglas Adams stated that he didn't write jokes in 13, and that wasn't the question (people noticed 6*9 is actually 42 in base 13, so.. yeah).

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 09:19 AM
I'm actually fairly certain that was explicitly disproven; Douglas Adams stated that he didn't write jokes in 13, and that wasn't the question (people noticed 6*9 is actually 42 in base 13, so.. yeah).

I was under the impression that that was the question - someone claimed that it made sense in Base 13, which is what led to the "I don't write jokes in base 13" comment.

Riffington
2010-06-09, 09:40 AM
I'm baffled why people are bringing up the idea that crunch needs to be perfect or provably correct, or "as good as computer code". It just has to be approximately as good as the crunch that WotC puts out.

Fix the rules and make them less broken, and you might get GURPS. Which is great and all, but I don't know that people who've played a WotC-level-broken game and a less-broken game necessarily prefer the less-broken game. People who play games significantly more-broken than WotC's (Rifts) do seem to run into problems, so it seems like the point of diminishing returns is reached at a moderately-broken level.
In other words, if your Crunch appears to be working, there's probably no point in improving it even if you see obvious flaws/abusability.

In contrast, improve the fluff over WotC's and you know your game is straight-up better. Every bit of improvement makes your game directly better. Also, as Dairun Cates points out, check out In Nomine. It is amazing with a good GM.

PersonMan
2010-06-09, 10:26 AM
I'm baffled why people are bringing up the idea that crunch needs to be perfect or provably correct, or "as good as computer code". It just has to be approximately as good as the crunch that WotC puts out.

Just because the official standards aren't very high doesn't mean we need to lower ours.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 10:40 AM
Just because the official standards aren't very high doesn't mean we need to lower ours.

Agreed. Even if it's not crucial, having well thought-out and balanced rules helps just as much as having well thought-out, consistent, and sensible fluff.

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-06-09, 12:12 PM
I'm baffled why people are bringing up the idea that crunch needs to be perfect or provably correct, or "as good as computer code". It just has to be approximately as good as the crunch that WotC puts out.


I'm baffeled by what people consider Fluff. . . .I never considered certain facts about game play fluff.
Not fluff:
-the map
-the economy
-the existence of certain classes.

Fluff:
-Character (not build but the actual character their history, their motivations, their emotional capacities)
-world (not map, but the worlds history, flavor and the emotions it evokes)
-Ambiance (the flavor of the game, horror, mystery, adventure. the emotions your trying to evoke in your players when you play the game)
-the story (the story is what you and your players create and should hypothetically be creatable on any system you choose to use. you just pick the best one for it)

As a DM the rules, map and classes are all mutable based on the the fluff. I dont care if the crunch is balanced from a system wide all possible abuses perspective. Story wide perspective is large enough. I aim only to keep my players on the same field and it ALWAYS must be done on a game by game basis. Each story is different and each character is different and all of that will interact with the rules in different ways. . . .

Also if I had players sitting there trying to find a way to abuse the crunch I'd changed to fit fluff, I'd probably kick them out of my game. . . trying to find loopholes that allow you to break the intention of something is exactly the same as cheating in my opinion. It makes things less fun for everyone. . . and fun comes first.


P.S. I'm just thrilled my initial curiosity has spurred such a delightfull debate. . . you all have great points (especially the ones you didnt realize you agreed on for 2 pages. . . lol)

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 12:25 PM
P.S. I'm just thrilled my initial curiosity has spurred such a delightfull debate. . . you all have great points (especially the ones you didnt realize you agreed on for 2 pages. . . lol)

To be perfectly honest, I think a lot of it initially comes in these topics from people trying to defend their stance as a GM or player so people don't think they're a bad GM or player. It really is true when they say, "different strokes for different folks".

Truth of the matter though, is it's your players that determine whether you're a good GM, and it's your fellow players and GM that determine if you're a good player; not some guy on the internet. Although, if you're posting stories with glee about how you made another player cry because of a cruel practical joke, then you're probably not on the right track.

I'm willing to give anyone a chance once, but doesn't mean I won't argue the theory of it. I got a degree specifically for these kinds of things. It's practically my favorite hobby.

So yeah. Debate on.

EDIT:
Also, from a very real perspective, fluff and crunch merge and become indistinguishable at some points. Think of it as a gradient. That's why you get those middle points where people argue if its fluff or crunch.

Umael
2010-06-09, 01:51 PM
Also, from a very real perspective, fluff and crunch merge and become indistinguishable at some points. Think of it as a gradient. That's why you get those middle points where people argue if its fluff or crunch.

Middle point = smack dab in the worse lawyering areas

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 01:54 PM
Middle point = smack dab in the worse lawyering areas

...And once again, that is why Rule 0 exists. Can't remove the gray areas? Put someone in charge of arbitrating it.

Umael
2010-06-09, 01:56 PM
...And once again, that is why Rule 0 exists. Can't remove the gray areas? Put someone in charge of arbitrating it.

True, but you are still going to get these debates because of it. The lawyering of rules is like an Evil Deity responsible for creating multiple universes... which it then wants to consume.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 02:05 PM
True, but you are still going to get these debates because of it. The lawyering of rules is like an Evil Deity responsible for creating multiple universes... which it then wants to consume.

... And the spine of my hardback handbook is like a Good Deity waiting to subsequently smite and silence evil for wasting 30 minutes of our time on whether you should be allowed to drown in a bucket to not die. Who says .pdfs are the way to go.

Besides... my monitor's too heavy to throw at them.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 02:15 PM
Besides... my monitor's too heavy to throw at them.

Meh. Laptops aren't. They're also a little sturdier than quite a few monitors...

Although I guess you could get in trouble for hitting someone in the head with a 2.36 kg chunk of metal and plastic.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-09, 02:16 PM
Meh. Laptops aren't. They're also a little sturdier than quite a few monitors...

Those hinges tend to break though. Besides, there's something just satisfying about the raw THUD a book gives.

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 02:17 PM
Those hinges tend to break though. Besides, there's something just satisfying about the raw THUD a book gives.

Then be careful about how you hit them...

IME, 3.x books haven't been the sturdiest things in the world. The real issue with PDFs is WotC being paranoid about digital piracy.

Drascin
2010-06-09, 02:20 PM
Then be careful about how you hit them...

IME, 3.x books haven't been the sturdiest things in the world.

In my experience, for that you want GURPS hardbacks. The GM's aide manual is also surprisingly well balanced for a frisbee throw.

Riffington
2010-06-09, 02:23 PM
Fluff is what you tell the director doing the movie version.
Crunch is what you tell the mathematician doing models.


Anyway, for those of you who've improved on WotC's crunch, how much better did it really make the game? Because sometimes I think it helps a little; certainly not a huge amount. WotC-level quality is at a point of diminishing returns. Whereas for those of you who've improved on fluff... you know it helps enjoyment of the game a great deal.

I mean, if you could have someone help you out with your game, would you rather have Reiner Knizia or Quentin Tarantino?

lesser_minion
2010-06-09, 02:23 PM
In my experience, for that you want GURPS hardbacks. The GM's aide manual is also surprisingly well balanced for a frisbee throw.

Heh. Real gaming publishers design their books with throwing in mind.

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-06-09, 03:08 PM
I mean, if you could have someone help you out with your game, would you rather have Reiner Knizia or Quentin Tarantino?

Using base "Gygax" math:
Joss Whedon x Felicia Day + Guillermo Del Toro^(Peter Jackson)= AWSOME GAME

Bharg
2010-06-09, 03:30 PM
Examples:
1. limiting power in a game for the sake of story
2. Altering classes based on fluff
3. tossing a certain rule in favor of drama
4. not stating gods because pc's can never be that strong or kill a god (unless your running that kind of game)
5. anything else you can think of
(curiosity)
Entertainment trumps Story trumps Rules.

1. Yes, just like boosting power.
2. Yeess!
3. Yeeesss!
4. They are not present anyway... (Unless your running that kind of game...)
5. Knocking them out...

Drascin
2010-06-09, 03:50 PM
I mean, if you could have someone help you out with your game, would you rather have Reiner Knizia or Quentin Tarantino?

Well, I don't know who mister Knizia is, but given I wouldn't let Tarantino within a mile of any story I had a character in, , much less one I was DMing, I'm going with him :smalltongue:.

Riffington
2010-06-09, 04:11 PM
Well, I don't know who mister Knizia is, but given I wouldn't let Tarantino within a mile of any story I had a character in, , much less one I was DMing, I'm going with him :smalltongue:.

Well, you can substitute Ed Greenwood for Tarantino if you prefer. Knizia is a prolific German board game author. His games tend to have no flavor but very solid mechanics.



I'm baffeled by what people consider Fluff. . . .I never considered certain facts about game play fluff.
Not fluff:
[U]-the map
-the economy


Those have to be fluff. Whenever people talk about "changing fluff", they include "oh, the printed fluff says these guys are from the East, but I want them to be from the Northern Isles", or the relative wealth of various areas. Not sure what you mean by the existence of various classes (for instance, if you mean the existence of their fluff or their crunch).

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-06-09, 06:06 PM
Those have to be fluff. Whenever people talk about "changing fluff", they include "oh, the printed fluff says these guys are from the East, but I want them to be from the Northern Isles", or the relative wealth of various areas. Not sure what you mean by the existence of various classes (for instance, if you mean the existence of their fluff or their crunch).

What you attatch to the map, the meanings, relevance and culture, that's the fluff. . . the map is just geography and unless your world is very strange geography shouldn't be fluff.
The map is just squares (or hexagons) of movement, which is essantially mechanics. The Fluff is what you put over the top of the map to make it suit your story, but the map in and of itself is a mechanic like any other.

The economy is just math. math based on several factors that may be affected by fluff, but math none the less. it would, i belive fall into the grey area earlier discussed, but in my opinion it leans toward mechanic not fluff. i will respect that some people may view it the other way around depending on how they work the economy of their game.

as for the existence of certain classes, i was refering to crunch. i know a number of people who dont allow Incantatrix simply because they feel the class is overpowered. I also know a number of people who dont allow classes that suck, simply because the class sucks so bad. (personally they can play whatever they want but if they break the game up or down(intentionaly) Im slapping them with falling rocks). I will say that you could just as easily eliminate a class from a game bassed on fluff.

Fluff is what evokes the emotions of emersion into the game. Everything else is mechanics.

A map is just a map, until you fluff it with historical sites of carnage and sacred sites, or lost civilizations and warrior nations.

The economy is just math until you fluff it was war boosted trade here and plague ridden poverty over there and a dragon boosting the economy in that one city.

Classes are just stats and abilities untill you fluff them with a dragon in the family here or a proficied warrior priest over there. maybe an agorafobic guy in a tower and a hardluck orphan with sticky fingers too.

Riffington
2010-06-09, 08:55 PM
What you attatch to the map, the meanings, relevance and culture, that's the fluff. . . the map is just geography and unless your world is very strange geography shouldn't be fluff.

This is an incoherent definition if you think about it. Geography has to be fluff if culture and history and names are fluff. All that stuff is campaign-specific and unrelated to the rules (unless your ruleset is bizarrely detailed to the point of "creatures may not move from square AAac1568 to square AAad1568 unless they can pass through solid objects or at least 193497 turns have elapsed.")
And if you do get that kind of detail, you would have to do the same for culture. If Samer is prejudiced against Orcish-sounding names, then there is a mechanical effect to your choice of name for every character. So if crunch means "things with a mechanical effect" then you'd have to call everything crunch, which is silly.

It is much better to say that geography is fluff (and has an important effect on the campaign) because geography is something that can be understood without understanding rules. You can tell your grandma that two nations are separated by a hundred miles of sea, and she will grasp that they will have some natural trade barriers. Same goes for the economy or history or politics.

In contrast, it is much better to say that "longswords do x2 criticals on a 19-20" is crunch, because that's mechanics. If I decided to replace the longsword with a Kataclar in my aliens game, I know the stats have been tested even if the fluff is all different.

JaronK
2010-06-10, 05:07 AM
My take is this: a good GM builds a story that fits within the rules. Why? Because failing to follow the rules ruins versimilitude. If every monster gets bonus hitpoints so the party doesn't kill him too fast, if every time you kill the BBEG he randomly retroactively gets the ability to escape death, then your players stop acting to influence the story. They know the story is going to go a specific way no matter what they do, so they just stop trying and cruise along waiting to be handed everything. Eventually, the DM's story destroys the ability of the PCs to influence the story, and thus the story dies. Rules exist to ensure that the PCs can be a part of the story, not just characters in the DM's story.

As an example, we were playing Shadowrun in my group. We like to rotate DMs, so sometimes the DM for a game will change. Anyway, our first DM was pure story over rules. Stuff would just happen, regardless of cause... the guy who was supposed to see you would see you, even if you were invisibly floating 100 feet away behind cover. If you didn't do the thing that fit in his story, it just didn't work.

When I took over, I tried to have a mystery plot. I kept dropping clues, like that the party got randomly attacked when no one should have known who they were (they were being tracked by a bug). But the party didn't investigate why they were being attacked... they just assumed that was supposed to happen for some reason and they had no effect on it. It took me months to get them to the point of being able to act on their own again, to wonder why things were happening instead of just assuming the game world was arbitrary. Now that I'm actually following the rules and not cheating for the NPCs, the game has gotten much better and the players feel they own their characters again.

JaronK

FatR
2010-06-10, 07:09 AM
I'm curious as to peoples opinions.

It has always been my opinion that the story takes precedent over the rules.
In my opinion, the entire dychotomy is wrong. The story is simply what happens when the players and the world interact. Rules are there to adjudicate this interaction, allow players to get consistent results of their actions, and, ultimately, make their choices meaningful. If GM feels that the story should happen a certain way, he should probably write books instead of running games.

lesser_minion
2010-06-10, 07:32 AM
In my opinion, the entire dichotomy is wrong. The story is simply what happens when the players and the world interact. Rules are there to adjudicate this interaction, allow players to get consistent results of their actions, and, ultimately, make their choices meaningful. If GM feels that the story should happen a certain way, he should probably write books instead of running games.

To a point, yes. Rules are there to ensure that interactions are meaningful and consistent. They also serve immersion by helping to make sure that if the exact same thing happens twice, it happens in the exact same way both times.

However, in this case, we aren't really arguing about whether or not it's OK to shoehorn the entire story into some arbitrary plot set in stone before the players were even introduced to the game, because everyone knows that that's wrong.

We're discussing whether or not it's a good idea to ignore rules if you feel that the story will be made better for it.

In essence, are you cool losing major characters to being run over by a cart?

FatR
2010-06-10, 08:28 AM
We're discussing whether or not it's a good idea to ignore rules if you feel that the story will be made better for it.
I've very rarely, if ever, encountered such situations, if we exclude cases where rules are unworkable and must be not ignored in this particular case but fixed; the outcome-by-the-rules is obvious, so skipping pointless dice rolling does not deviate from their spirit, or when the group tries to use a ruleset for stories it is patently unsuited for (i.e., DnD at double-digit level range for low fantasy).



In essence, are you cool losing major characters to being run over by a cart?
If I'm playing a game when being run over by a cart can plausibly cause death of a major character (unlike DnD), yes, because obviously this game is supposed to be brutally realistic, or something. Also, yes, I do kill PCs in dice accidents and hate fudging. One of the reasons I believe that Exalted system should be killed with fire is virtual impossibility to run some splats against meaningful opposition without regular fudging to ensure PC's survival. When running DnD 3.5, by contrast, I let the dice fall as they may, because competent players can generally ensure their PCs' survival by their own.

Riffington
2010-06-10, 02:22 PM
I've very rarely, if ever, encountered such situations

If a character tries to shoot a glass vial out of an opponent's hand, do you say to the player "oh, you didn't take ranged disarm, sorry you can't do that", or do you assign a reasonable penalty and let her try?

Foryn Gilnith
2010-06-10, 02:35 PM
If a character tries to shoot a glass vial out of an opponent's hand, do you say to the player "oh, you didn't take ranged disarm, sorry you can't do that", or do you assign a reasonable penalty and let her try?

That's a far less drastic rules revision than "Story vs Rules" tends to entail. Complete Warrior (or Adventurer; I don't recall) is an optional sourcebook; Ranged Disarm is by extension an optional game element; and ignoring its existance is therefore no great contradict of rules.

Dairun Cates
2010-06-10, 03:03 PM
That's a far less drastic rules revision than "Story vs Rules" tends to entail. Complete Warrior (or Adventurer; I don't recall) is an optional sourcebook; Ranged Disarm is by extension an optional game element; and ignoring its existance is therefore no great contradict of rules.

That's actually the thing though. If you start making up rules off the top of your head for things for the sake of allowing more interesting combat, you ARE putting story above rules.

If we're sticking 100% with the rules here, then before complete warrior, it's just not a legitimate action for your character. It's not programmed in the game, so to speak. Making up a rule for it, even if it stays a solid rule after that is making a concession in how the system is run for the sake of fun and story.

Now, you may say that's a bit of a no-brainer. If I define things like that, then yes, of course, a little bending should happen for the sake of entertainment and story. Why stick with crunch that contradicts basic physics when you can actually make something logical on the spot. The system can't cover everything. So, the GM SHOULD fill in the gaps.

The thing is, you will get, and I have played under, GMs that won't allow you to do anything that's in the book. It's certainly in their power to play things that way, but I find those games kind of boring. Why play something so gamey and not so roleplay intensive when I can play a computer game that will do the math faster?

So, I don't think we can necessarily make the assumption that absolutely everyone considers that a no-brainer example. If you make up new rules to allow players to try actions the book doesn't explicitly say they can do you do value story over rules even if it's a REALLY small bit.

Lin Bayaseda
2010-06-10, 03:53 PM
If a character tries to shoot a glass vial out of an opponent's hand, do you say to the player "oh, you didn't take ranged disarm, sorry you can't do that", or do you assign a reasonable penalty and let her try?

Again, no contradiction between story and rules here.

The vial has an armor class, hardness and hit points (attack and damage rolls). The vial's owner may also choose to protect it from harm by jerking off his hand away from the path of the arrow at the last second (reflex save).

Make all applicable rolls, resolve them, then tell the story as the dice show.


That's actually the thing though. If you start making up rules off the top of your head for things for the sake of allowing more interesting combat, you ARE putting story above rules. I do believe there's a passage in the DMG, to this effect: "When a player tries an action not covered in the rules, do your best to approximate a rule" (not an exact quote)

Again, no contradiction.

Doug Lampert
2010-06-10, 03:55 PM
Ok, I have clearly stepped way out of my depth here.

If you CAN figure out an efficient solution to an NP-Complete problem, then do NOT publish it and claim the $1,000,000 prize. That's chicken feed. Any government in the world would pay FAR FAR more than that for an exclusive version. So would many criminals.

It basically makes the encryptation used for most modern "secure" data transfers obsolete. This INCLUDES trivialities like the way a bank ATM talks to the bank's computer system and the protection for your credit card info if you EVER buy anything over the net AND various "secure" military systems.

You CAN build a tougher than NP-complete encrypt, but increasingly people don't bother.


I'm still having difficulty figuring out the difference between P and NP Complete (EDIT: Not that I've solved the equation, just that I don't think I fundamentally understand the concept yet), but I haven't taken the class so I really can't hope to understand more. If I've got it basically right, P complete problems can be solved by an algorithm, but NP complete problems can't be solved by an algorithm, but if you have the answer you can easily verify its right.
Both P and NP can be solved by an algorith.

P problems can be solved by an algorithm in a number of operations bounded by some polynomial expresion of the length of the statement of the problem.

NP problems may not be solvable by algorithm in a number of operations bounded by some polynomial expresion of the length of the statement of the problem. But any single PROPOSED SOLUTION, can be checked and verified to be correct or incorrect in polynomial time.

NP-Complete problems are problems for which it is known that if there is a polynomial solution then P==NP.

Riffington
2010-06-10, 04:29 PM
Again, no contradiction between story and rules here.

The vial has an armor class, hardness and hit points (attack and damage rolls). The vial's owner may also choose to protect it from harm by jerking off his hand away from the path of the arrow at the last second (reflex save).

Make all applicable rolls, resolve them, then tell the story as the dice show.

You just made up the reflex save thing. Why? (it's fine if there's a reason, just curious). Also, the rules don't permit you to break a held glass vial with a standard arrow.



I do believe there's a passage in the DMG, to this effect: "When a player tries an action not covered in the rules, do your best to approximate a rule" (not an exact quote)

Again, no contradiction.
Why do you say there is no contradiction? It is indeed covered in the rules: "As a melee attack, you may attempt to disarm your opponent", unless you take a (really crappy) feat to allow ranged disarms. If you want to permit players to do cool action sequences you must replace the existing rules with new ones (permanently or temporarily).

Lin Bayaseda
2010-06-10, 04:49 PM
You just made up the reflex save thing. Why? (it's fine if there's a reason, just curious). Also, the rules don't permit you to break a held glass vial with a standard arrow.
Because otherwise, it would have been just as difficult to break a vial held by a creature as one resting on a table. Since common sense tells us that breaking a vial held by a creature is indeed more difficult, and also tells us that the more nimble and agile that creature is, the more difficult it is, a Reflex save. Or it can be a Dexterity check. I'm not picky.

As for your second sentence, I don't see why not. Care to quote a passage in the rules that says it can't be done? (Just because there is no passage in the rules that says it can be done, doesn't mean it can't).


Why do you say there is no contradiction? It is indeed covered in the rules: "As a melee attack, you may attempt to disarm your opponent", unless you take a (really crappy) feat to allow ranged disarms. If you want to permit players to do cool action sequences you must replace the existing rules with new ones (permanently or temporarily).
If a player tries a ranged disarm without having the Ranged Disarm feat, it's your responsibility to adjudicate the odds of such to the best of your ability, resolve the odds, and tell the story accordingly. The exact methodology is not the point here.

Neither do I want to argue the subtle differences between breaking a vial and disarming. That's not what matters here.

What matters is the algorithm:

1. Player attempts action.
2. Is there a rule to cover it? If so, go to 4.
3. Make up a rule to the best of your ability and assess the odds. In extreme cases, these odds will be 0% or 100%. Generally, the former should be avoided (although sometimes can't be avoided), while the latter should be reserved for mundane actions that don't pose significant risk or chance for drama.
4. Resolve the action.
5. Tell the story according to the resolution.

Do you agree with the algorithm in general?

Riffington
2010-06-10, 08:46 PM
1. Player attempts action.
2. Is there a rule to cover it? If so, go to 4.
3. Make up a rule to the best of your ability and assess the odds. In extreme cases, these odds will be 0% or 100%. Generally, the former should be avoided (although sometimes can't be avoided), while the latter should be reserved for mundane actions that don't pose significant risk or chance for drama.
4. Resolve the action.
5. Tell the story according to the resolution.

Do you agree with the algorithm in general?

Reading your posts, it's clear that your real step 2 is "Is there a rule to cover it that is better than any alternatives I can think of? If so, go to 4." I don't completely disagree, but you are violating the rules on purpose. Perhaps for a good purpose.

When the written rules say that you can do X if Y, they do not mean "if not Y, we are silent". They mean "if not Y, then not X". The rules are not silent, for instance, on whether Barbarian levels grant sneak attack, whether ranged disarms are legal, whether a standard arrow can damage an object, or whether I can break a person (rather than an object) with a Strength check. The answer to all these is "no, it doesn't say you can, so you can't". A good DM would permit some but not all of these according to her judgment.

Lin Bayaseda
2010-06-10, 08:57 PM
Reading your posts, it's clear that your real step 2 is "Is there a rule to cover it that is better than any alternatives I can think of? If so, go to 4." I don't completely disagree, but you are violating the rules on purpose. Perhaps for a good purpose.
I wouldn't say so. Perhaps "Is there a rule to cover it that I actually remember and can reproduce in reasonable time" is a better approximation of my thought process.


When the written rules say that you can do X if Y, they do not mean "if not Y, we are silent". They mean "if not Y, then not X". The rules are not silent, for instance, on whether Barbarian levels grant sneak attack, whether ranged disarms are legal, whether a standard arrow can damage an object, or whether I can break a person (rather than an object) with a Strength check. The answer to all these is "no, it doesn't say you can, so you can't".
Here, I have to disagree on most accounts.
1. Barbarian levels grant sneak attacks? Well, sneak attack is a game term. Can a Barbarian sneak up on a person, surprise him, and deal a large amount of damage? Yes. It's called, in game terms, "Move Silently check" + "Attack roll against flat-footed AC" + "Critical hit" + "a high damage roll". From a story point of view, the barbarian just snuck up on someone and throttled him with his sword.
2. Ranged disarms are legal? Obviously they are, if you have the feat, but I'd loathe to completely disallow them just because you don't have the feat.
3. Can a standard arrow damage an object? Well, as per rules, " Generally, you can smash an object only with a bludgeoning or slashing weapon." - see how they deliberately left a loophole for you with "generally"? Why, I would be a total tool not to use this loophole when the story demands it.
4. Can I break a person (rather than an object) with a Strength check? Again, sure. In game terms, it's called "Entering a grapple" + "maintaining a grapple for a large amount of time" + "dealing large amount of unarmed damage". The chances are of course very low to maintain a grapple for such long time as to actually kill them, but from the story point of view, if it works, yes, you just broke a person with your hands.

FatR
2010-06-11, 02:38 AM
If a character tries to shoot a glass vial out of an opponent's hand, do you say to the player "oh, you didn't take ranged disarm, sorry you can't do that", or do you assign a reasonable penalty and let her try?
I'm not required to use every obscure and stupid feat from who-knows-what-supplement. And as the system already has rules for disarm and sunder, the necessary rolls are easy to extrapolate.

But first of all, I'll remind the player, that, as we bother to roll the combat at all, her character is likely in a life-threatening situation, and she intends to waste something between 50% and 20% of standard actions her character will theoretically be able to take in this particular battle on something meaningless. For that matter, most players realize this quickly anyway. That's why judgement calls like this are hardly ever needeed.

Eloi
2010-06-11, 02:49 AM
B

What matters is the algorithm:

1. Player attempts action.
2. Is there a rule to cover it? If so, go to 4.
3. Make up a rule to the best of your ability and assess the odds. In extreme cases, these odds will be 0% or 100%. Generally, the former should be avoided (although sometimes can't be avoided), while the latter should be reserved for mundane actions that don't pose significant risk or chance for drama.
4. Resolve the action.
5. Tell the story according to the resolution.

Do you agree with the algorithm in general?

Sorta, my algorithm is:
1. Player attempts action.
2. How does the universe, NPC's, monsters typically respond to that? If there is no standard way to narrate their reaction proceed to step 3. If there is a standard reaction to the action proceed to step 5.
3. Try best to improvise a reaction to said action if the action is made within logic. If not proceed to step 4. If so, proceed to step 5.
4. Ignore the player's action, having the world not re-acting to his/her action, and wait for other player responses to the thing being dealt with.
5. Wait for the player to make a re-action to the re-action, and proceed to Step 1.

Riffington
2010-06-11, 04:49 AM
I'm not required to use every obscure and stupid feat from who-knows-what-supplement. And as the system already has rules for disarm and sunder, the necessary rolls are easy to extrapolate.

Agreed, provided you are willing to extrapolate from "this is forbidden" to "I'm going to allow it anyway". I am willing to do so if the story is improved, and so (apparently) are you.




But first of all, I'll remind the player, that, as we bother to roll the combat at all, her character is likely in a life-threatening situation, and she intends to waste something between 50% and 20% of standard actions her character will theoretically be able to take in this particular battle on something meaningless. For that matter, most players realize this quickly anyway. That's why judgement calls like this are hardly ever needeed.

On the contrary. There are many times outside of a combat (or lethal combat) that shooting a little glass vial out of someone's hand might be useful. And even in a lethal combat, if a BBEG bothers to pull one out, then it's unlikely to be useless for the player to thwart her.

Jayabalard
2010-06-11, 08:59 AM
In a good system, this is a false dichotomy.

So, looking at the OP's examples:

limiting power in a game for the sake of story - This one can come up in any system, even Doc Roc's "good" one: do you ever want to limit the power levels that are normally available in the system in order to tell a particular story.
Altering classes based on fluff - Again, this can come up in any class-based system (and has the related "Altering abilities based on fluff" in non-class based systems. do you ever change the classes or abilities to support the fluff of the setting
tossing a certain rule in favor of drama - This can come up in any system, even Doc's "good" ones: will you or your group throw out the rules when the rules dictate one resolution in order to pick the one that is more "dramatically appropriate" even when the dramatically appropriate one has some inconsistencies with previous events.


The OP gives several examples of places where people might decide to choose between having a certain story element, or going with what the rules say in some particualr game and asks for people's opinions. She doesn't present a dichotomy, so there can be no false dichotomy.

I'm pretty firmly of the opinion that in any game there can be conflicts between the story that the GM and players want to explore and the rules. That doesn't mean there will always be a conflict, or that the conflict will always be clear cut, or even that people always pick the same side no matter the situation. Really that last bit is probably what the OP wanted to hear about: where people draw the line. I'd say that even for the people that say story > rules or rules > story, the line isn't always clear cut, so the interesting discussions come from people talking about where they draw that line, why they draw it in that particualr place, how permanent that line is, what causes them to change where the line is and how they with differences of these opinions in a group.



Rules are a way for the players to interact with, and change, and directly affect the story in ways that are guaranteed to make sense and be consistent. Or at least to approximate consistency.I think you're making a bad assumption about the importance of consistency; I can think of several games I've been in where consistency has been of low, or even no importance.

lesser_minion
2010-06-11, 09:37 AM
I think you're making a bad assumption about the importance of consistency; I can think of several games I've been in where consistency has been of low, or even no importance.

I'd need examples to be able to get that.

If the world doesn't operate under what appear to be consistent rules, there is no verisimilitude. So even if it wasn't a roleplaying game, you've already screwed the story over pretty hard.

In a roleplaying game, it's even worse. No verisimilitude = no immersion = no roleplaying.