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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    In my experience the players have no problem in questioning the decisions of the GM. And while the GM has the last word and it's possible to have inconsistent decisions, the same it's true if you have detailed rules.
    "Hey GM, I'm a great sniper, the DC for hitting that target is ridicolous" is not different from "Who the hell wrote these rules ? The best sniper has trouble hitting a man sitting immobile at 200m ?" which would result in rule change, thus we are at the starting point. By cristallizing stuff with rules you are sure there will be situations where fiction and rules are inconsistent. Altough maybe its better to have mismatches between rules and player expectations, instead that between players
    If the rules are bad then the players will lose faith in the rules and may either lose interest in the game or suggest improvements (if they are good ideas, you absolutely should implement).

    If however the players feel you make unfair or irrational arbitration then they will lose faith in you. It's a lot easier to fix a bad set of rules than it is to fix a GM.

    The only option is to allow the players to try to overrule your decision, have a conversation, listen to each other like adults, be open minded about changing your mind on both sides. This is a lot of big if's and even then it will drag out the game.
    Last edited by Mastikator; 2017-12-30 at 10:05 AM. Reason: I am bad at spelling
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  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Indeed, the rules are supposed to help form framework of shared expectations.

    I find the notion that "knowing about the setting" alone will reliably be enough to establish shared expectations to the degree necessary to have a game in that setting, and to eliminate the need for the framework... rather dubious.
    Indeed, (quoting with people to agree with them is fun!) one of the things I like about D&D 3.5, for all its many and varied flaws, (and as far as I can tell, pretty much uniquely about 3.5 and games that are rip-offs of based on it) is that if you want to do something, either there's a rule for it or you can guess pretty much what the rule for it should be from context ("I'm grappling a creature in midair and their wings aren't strong enough to lift me; we probably fall and then we take falling damage when we land"). Certainly, it's the only game I've played (that I didn't make) where I haven't seen a DM have to make rules up completely on the spot.
    Last edited by Jormengand; 2017-12-30 at 10:11 AM.
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    Indeed, (quoting with people to agree with them is fun!) one of the things I like about D&D 3.5, for all its many and varied flaws, (and as far as I can tell, pretty much uniquely about 3.5 and games that are rip-offs of based on it) is that if you want to do something, either there's a rule for it or you can guess pretty much what the rule for it should be from context ("I'm grappling a creature in midair and their wings aren't strong enough to lift me; we probably fall and then we take falling damage when we land"). Certainly, it's the only game I've played (that I didn't make) where I haven't seen a DM have to make rules up completely on the spot.
    You need at least enough of a rules set that the rules that aren't there can be extrapolated without bogging the game down or feeling unfair to the players.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    You need at least enough of a rules set that the rules that aren't there can be extrapolated without bogging the game down or feeling unfair to the players.
    Yeah, pretty much that.
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    I have to say that I agree with your point. If a player wants to experiment with a system it's better to have rules he can work on alone. Playing wargames is a different thing than just reading stuff, even if often you notice inconsistencies because the games are not perfect as simulation.
    But there can be different situations. For example the player has no interest in studying the rules alone, he just wants to play the game. In that case the application of the rules would fell on the GM, which could already know the matter. Would the rules help him ?
    Or all the players could be experienced. In this case would the rules actually add something, or would they just be an hindrance ?
    I mean: if the rules are a system for learning what should you do once you have learned the matter ? Keep them, expand them or get rid of them ?
    The GM might still want to write certain things down in order to remind themselves to be consistent about those things, especially if its stuff which is ambiguous, where there are multiple different ways one could rule, or if its stuff that required a lot of thought to get straight in the first place. In that case, writing rules is like writing prep for sessions. You're basically doing a bit of your thinking ahead of time so that when it comes time during game, you can adjudicate things smoothly and quickly.

    Rules can also act to abstract things which are just not relevant to the game in question, giving players a way to just assume the answer automatically. A really simple example of this is, giving out a list of items and their prices and saying 'okay, go ahead and figure out what you buy during the week, but have it done before next game'. That way each player can go and take care of those logistical aspects without needing to take any table time for it. The rule in that case is basically just there to establish that there's an automatic okay for certain things. There's definitely stuff that I want players to keep track of themselves in a game, since as a GM I already have quite a lot to keep track of myself. So sometimes a handful of rules can serve to streamline things quite a bit.

    That said, all of these things are tools, to be used or not as appropriate. There's no reason that you must have a line somewhere that says e.g. 'this is how you calculate how far you can jump in inches'. But if there's going to be a lot of jumping, adding that rule could basically say 'yeah, jumping might be more complicated in reality or work different in corner cases or depend on various factors, but lets just go with this to simplify things so we don't have to revisit this each time'.

    Also keep in mind that 'the players are experienced' is a moving target, especially when fantasy/supernatural elements are involved. It's always useful to consider that expectations could differ wildly. If we're playing a superhero game, is it reasonable to expect that strong-type characters could stop a falling asteroid or not? Well, depends on how superheroes work in that setting.
    Last edited by NichG; 2017-12-30 at 10:37 AM.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    As I said before both the players and the GM should know the setting. If the fiction says that people can jump over the one meter fence, they can, no need for a rule that say so. In Star Wars people can jump over that fence, but only Jedi can jump 10 meters straight. In the case of settings that don't have an established fiction (like D&D settings) you would need a big setting guide.
    If both players and DM need to know and agree about the setting, is there any reason left to let the DM decide about difficulties and results instead of the player initiating the action ?

    Every possible reason to do that require that background is not enough for both to agree anyway. And every such disagreement would have been better handled with proper rules.[/QUOTE]

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    No, rules are, well, rules. They aren't "The knowledge about the setting." Sure, rules are what tell you how hard knowledge checks are ("10+creature's HD" in 3.5 and "Bugger off, I'm not going to tell you" in 5e), and the rules also tell you what exactly an arcana or knowledge (arcana) check is in case you're not sure what knowing about arcane things means. But they're also what tells you how hard hitting things is ("Creature's AC" both times) and what you need to do to find out if you reach the DC or AC.
    Ok, tell me what is an arcana check in D&D 3.5 What is the character doing ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If people can easily jump over a one meter fence, the rules need to reflect that by making it easy for the average person to jump over a one meter fence. That's part of the scale of "jumping over stuff" that the rule needs to incorporate if you have a rule for jumping over things. The GM is always free to waive the rule in favor of automatic success, but that given that someone might be below average when it comes to jumping, or facing extra-difficult circumstances (in a downpour and the ground is muddy, carrying a heavy burden, being chased by goblins, whatever), and a resolution required, the rules needs to include that part of the possible spectrum.
    So you are saying that if there isn't a rule people would think that they can't jump over a 1 meter fence ?
    If you are playing, you want your character to jump the fence but you notice that there is no jumping rule what do you do ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    If the rules are bad then the players will lose faith in the rules and may either lose interest in the game or suggest improvements (if they are good ideas, you absolutely should implement).

    If however the players feel you make unfair or irrational arbitration then they will lose faith in you. It's a lot easier to fix a bad set of rules than it is to fix a GM.

    The only option is to allow the players to try to overrule your decision, have a conversation, listen to each other like adults, be open minded about changing your mind on both sides. This is a lot of big if's and even then it will drag out the game.
    If you have to change the rules the game would drag out anyway. So the question become: would you have more disagreements with the rules or without ? And there is also the matter that if you have to just set a DC you need time, but if you have to modify a complex system where there could be cascade effects you need even more time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    If both players and DM need to know and agree about the setting, is there any reason left to let the DM decide about difficulties and results instead of the player initiating the action ?

    Every possible reason to do that require that background is not enough for both to agree anyway. And every such disagreement would have been better handled with proper rules.
    So if there is no disagreement is ok to ignore the rules ? What would you think if 80% of the random rolls were made with agreement on both sides and rules were used only for the remaining 20% ? In this case the rules don't suck, it's just that it's quicker to ignore them.


    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The GM might still want to write certain things down in order to remind themselves to be consistent about those things, especially if its stuff which is ambiguous, where there are multiple different ways one could rule, or if its stuff that required a lot of thought to get straight in the first place. In that case, writing rules is like writing prep for sessions. You're basically doing a bit of your thinking ahead of time so that when it comes time during game, you can adjudicate things smoothly and quickly.
    In theory I would agree, but in practice you risk to write too much stuff, at that point searching trough the notes and the rules become a long process that drag out the game.
    I mean I could run GURPS with all the optional rules. But it's insane. So I use just the basic rules. But there are to many blank spaces, so I make my own rulings. So I'm back to the beginning.
    It seems easy to say: find the otimal middle way. But any ruleset has its limit and some things have to be decided by the GM. And if for those things is fine, why is not for others ?
    For example let's take hit location. Generally combat is common in our games, so having rules for hit location would be natural. But we noticed it slowed things too much. So we removed those rules, but now the GM has to say where hits land, in a total arbitrary way. But if we accept this why shouldn't the GM also decided the DC to hit at all ?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Rules can also act to abstract things which are just not relevant to the game in question, giving players a way to just assume the answer automatically. A really simple example of this is, giving out a list of items and their prices and saying 'okay, go ahead and figure out what you buy during the week, but have it done before next game'. That way each player can go and take care of those logistical aspects without needing to take any table time for it. The rule in that case is basically just there to establish that there's an automatic okay for certain things. There's definitely stuff that I want players to keep track of themselves in a game, since as a GM I already have quite a lot to keep track of myself. So sometimes a handful of rules can serve to streamline things quite a bit.
    I notice that in the case of a price list the price is something that exist in the fiction, so not exactly what I would define a "rule". A more fitting example would be a list of weapons, with the damage expressed in numbers or dices.
    This damage values are an abstraction. If the players are familiar with the weapons in question should I keep the damage values ?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    That said, all of these things are tools, to be used or not as appropriate. There's no reason that you must have a line somewhere that says e.g. 'this is how you calculate how far you can jump in inches'. But if there's going to be a lot of jumping, adding that rule could basically say 'yeah, jumping might be more complicated in reality or work different in corner cases or depend on various factors, but lets just go with this to simplify things so we don't have to revisit this each time'.
    If I understand correctly you are stressing the importance of consistency. If the DC for jumping our fence is X, it should be always X (assuming the same situation). By writing down the rule you make sure the GM doesn't make it Y the second time.
    But I think: if the group remember the DC for the first time they would use it (ok, if they remember different things they would disagree, but I doubt that they would have rather different memories that often). If they don't remember they would just use a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Also keep in mind that 'the players are experienced' is a moving target, especially when fantasy/supernatural elements are involved. It's always useful to consider that expectations could differ wildly. If we're playing a superhero game, is it reasonable to expect that strong-type characters could stop a falling asteroid or not? Well, depends on how superheroes work in that setting.
    Which is why I think is important decide together what are we playing before starting the actual game. We are playing a superhero game ? What power level ? Your character is strong, but how ? Can you quantify ? How many tons can he lift ? Ok that is to specific, he's strong as Captain America, Hulk or Superman ? Well looking at the other characters don't you think that this power level would be more appropriate ?

    Also I would like to ask: what is a ruleset that you think make superheroes in a good way ?

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If people can easily jump over a one meter fence, the rules need to reflect that by making it easy for the average person to jump over a one meter fence. That's part of the scale of "jumping over stuff" that the rule needs to incorporate if you have a rule for jumping over things. The GM is always free to waive the rule in favor of automatic success, but that given that someone might be below average when it comes to jumping, or facing extra-difficult circumstances (in a downpour and the ground is muddy, carrying a heavy burden, being chased by goblins, whatever), and a resolution required, the rules needs to include that part of the possible spectrum.
    You could have an explicit jumping rule, with a difficulty formula that incorporates height, ground conditions, load, curvature of approach path, character stress/fear/whatever, and other things. That formula is either going to be ridiculously complicated (start with mapping character skill level to a long tailed skewed curve, use that as the center point for individual character jump distances on a symmetrical normal distribution, use that baseline in a formula that takes into account all the other variables, and add a table per variable to find out what it is for the specific jump), a bad model that produces bizarre results, or both.

    Alternatively, the GM could just eyeball the specifics and assign a difficulty to making that specific jump on a standard scale. I'd rather do that than use an equation which looks like it escaped from one of my engineering textbooks, and I'm pretty confident that basically every GM can do at least as well as a simple rule. Plus, if there is a complex rule it's probably not accurate; in my experience RPG writers tend to have questionable math skills most of the time. When the creators of Starfinder, a flagship product for one of the biggest companies that can hire tons of people somehow manage to miss basic details like mass not scaling linearly with length as objects get bigger it doesn't exactly inspire hope in highly specific rules.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Another thing that rules do is set sane defaults. That's harder than one might think--a good set of defaults (and information about the normal range of variation) goes a long way to creating a zone of acceptability. If DCs are always in the range [10-20], then knowing the exact number is less important (to me at least). If the range is entirely up to the DM's whim, then it's more concerning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    You could have an explicit jumping rule, with a difficulty formula that incorporates height, ground conditions, load, curvature of approach path, character stress/fear/whatever, and other things. That formula is either going to be ridiculously complicated (start with mapping character skill level to a long tailed skewed curve, use that as the center point for individual character jump distances on a symmetrical normal distribution, use that baseline in a formula that takes into account all the other variables, and add a table per variable to find out what it is for the specific jump), a bad model that produces bizarre results, or both.

    Alternatively, the GM could just eyeball the specifics and assign a difficulty to making that specific jump on a standard scale. I'd rather do that than use an equation which looks like it escaped from one of my engineering textbooks, and I'm pretty confident that basically every GM can do at least as well as a simple rule. Plus, if there is a complex rule it's probably not accurate; in my experience RPG writers tend to have questionable math skills most of the time. When the creators of Starfinder, a flagship product for one of the biggest companies that can hire tons of people somehow manage to miss basic details like mass not scaling linearly with length as objects get bigger it doesn't exactly inspire hope in highly specific rules.
    Amen.

    For as much as people vilify 5e's skill system, the game works just fine if every skill check has one of these DCs: 0 (auto-success), 10, 15, 20, or +INFINITY (auto-fail). The vast majority are 0 or INFINITY, with the dominant majority of the rest being either 10 or 15. It makes adjudicating things very easy and allows adaptation to circumstances, something that tables of pre-determined numbers or formulas do very poorly.
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    So if there is no disagreement is ok to ignore the rules ? What would you think if 80% of the random rolls were made with agreement on both sides and rules were used only for the remaining 20% ? In this case the rules don't suck, it's just that it's quicker to ignore them.
    Yes, if everyone agrees what should be the result, you ignore the rules. But if everyone agrees on a single result, you don't have any use for a random roll anyway.
    Every situation where a roll is useful must have several possible results, often more than two, which all need probabilities assigned. Usually it is something complex and actually using the rules is not that much more complicated than doing all that work yourself.

    But the question was : Why should the DM assign the chane of success and not the player if both are assumed to have deep setting knowledge and that knowledge and common sense is all that is used to set the DC ?

    If you have basically freeform roleplaying, that works better if everyone can participate to the fullest, sharing the decisions not only about what people try to do but also about what the results are.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    You could have an explicit jumping rule, with a difficulty formula that incorporates height, ground conditions, load, curvature of approach path, character stress/fear/whatever, and other things. That formula is either going to be ridiculously complicated (start with mapping character skill level to a long tailed skewed curve, use that as the center point for individual character jump distances on a symmetrical normal distribution, use that baseline in a formula that takes into account all the other variables, and add a table per variable to find out what it is for the specific jump), a bad model that produces bizarre results, or both.

    Alternatively, the GM could just eyeball the specifics and assign a difficulty to making that specific jump on a standard scale. I'd rather do that than use an equation which looks like it escaped from one of my engineering textbooks, and I'm pretty confident that basically every GM can do at least as well as a simple rule. Plus, if there is a complex rule it's probably not accurate; in my experience RPG writers tend to have questionable math skills most of the time. When the creators of Starfinder, a flagship product for one of the biggest companies that can hire tons of people somehow manage to miss basic details like mass not scaling linearly with length as objects get bigger it doesn't exactly inspire hope in highly specific rules.
    Who called for a highly detailed equation-based jumping rule? I didn't.

    It could be a range of Target Numbers to roll against with modifiers for conditions for a system with variable TNs/DCs.

    It could just be modifiers for different heights and conditions, for a system with fixed roll under or roll over values for skills or etc.
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    The problem with "everyone agrees what would happen, because we all know the setting" is that very often people don't agree, even when you all know the setting. Either for the reason of wanting to succeed or just because it's almost impossible for everyone to have the exact same picture in their head, if the game is free form and the GM declaring outcomes, there will be arguments. Any event of any consequence in the game is not going to go smoothly, it will be at best a debate or discussion about how the setting works that takes everyone's attention aside from the actual narrative/action. It won't be 80% unanimous agreement/20% needing rules, it'll be more like 5/95.

    This is not a good thing for a game that is meant to be about action and excitement, nor for a game that is meant to immerse the players in a simulated world as a fictional character. Unless all players give complete control to the GM and agree never to contradict or disagree with the GM's decisions (yeah right), the game will slow to a crawl. If every event involves all the players talking about what they think should happen to their characters and what would make the most sense according to the setting, that isn't really a game, it's more like a story brainstorming session. More time will be spent determining what it is that all the players agree with than will be spent narrating the fictional events.

    When designing a game, you should start with the big picture - what it is that the players of the game should be doing. In what ways do you want them (the players, not the characters) to interact with the game and each other, what sort of skills should they employ, what challenges are they (the players, not the characters) facing? What kind of game experience do you want the players to have?

    This should guide you in deciding what things require the most detailed attention in the rules, what can be less defined, what can be ignored. The rules also provide fairness - objectivity that gives all the players an equal chance to participate and impact the game and a common understanding of what is possible and what isn't.

    The reason for randomly determining outcomes in an RPG is to simulate how we experience things in the real world- there are variables which affect what happens in often unpredictable ways. There is such a thing as luck, at least from our perspective - similar actions don't always have the same results, people that are skilled at something can make mistakes, the weather changes, animals and people might act in unpredictable ways, etc. If you want players to be able to feel like they are in a fictional world, they need to experience things in this manner.

    If the game does not have that sort of experience as one of its goals, then there may be no need for random determination of things. However, you still need to ask what the goal of the role playing game actually is (and in what way it behaves as a game rather than a writing workshop or a person telling some other people a story.)

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    Removing all rules from a game would effectively remove all player agency. They don't know what they can and can't do, they don't know the odds of success and consequences of failure, they don't know even know the results of success. They have no knowledge and can therefore make no informed decisions. That is the same as blindly swinging in the dark, which is worse than being 100% railroaded because at least then you know what's going on.

    One inevitable problem I see with having "the Master think the outcome is dubious he calls for a roll vs a DC of his choice" rule is the lack of consistency, even if you don't mean to you WILL absolutely make inconsistent decisions or at the very least decisions that feel inconsistent for the players. Frankly this is going to be absolute hell for them. This might work only in a hopeless horror game.

    The bare minimum purpose of rules is to avoid the above.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    If the rules are bad then the players will lose faith in the rules and may either lose interest in the game or suggest improvements (if they are good ideas, you absolutely should implement).

    If however the players feel you make unfair or irrational arbitration then they will lose faith in you. It's a lot easier to fix a bad set of rules than it is to fix a GM.

    The only option is to allow the players to try to overrule your decision, have a conversation, listen to each other like adults, be open minded about changing your mind on both sides. This is a lot of big if's and even then it will drag out the game.
    Largely agree with these. Here's my take:

    The rules are there to set expectations.

    The rules are there to make the game fair and consistent.

    The rules are there to be cool. A table of thieves skills? A mutation table? Oooh, I can buy a fez?!

    The rules are there to minimize GM favoritism, and GM bias.

    The rules are there to be mined by Diamonds, for people who enjoy that minigame.

    The rules are there because I've only met one GM (out of the many, many I've played with) who I'd trust to consistently make good rulings on the fly. And, btw, that's definitely not me.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    Indeed[...] one of the things I like about D&D 3.5, for all its many and varied flaws, (and as far as I can tell, pretty much uniquely about 3.5 and games that are rip-offs of based on it) is that if you want to do something, either there's a rule for it or you can guess pretty much what the rule for it should be from context
    Isn't that GURPS?

    Seriously, I have only looked at some excerpts from that system, but everything I have seen and all the other bits I have heard indicate that.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    In theory I would agree, but in practice you risk to write too much stuff, at that point searching trough the notes and the rules become a long process that drag out the game.
    I mean I could run GURPS with all the optional rules. But it's insane. So I use just the basic rules. But there are to many blank spaces, so I make my own rulings. So I'm back to the beginning.
    It seems easy to say: find the otimal middle way. But any ruleset has its limit and some things have to be decided by the GM. And if for those things is fine, why is not for others ?
    For example let's take hit location. Generally combat is common in our games, so having rules for hit location would be natural. But we noticed it slowed things too much. So we removed those rules, but now the GM has to say where hits land, in a total arbitrary way. But if we accept this why shouldn't the GM also decided the DC to hit at all ?
    This doesn't make sense to me - what's compelling you to suddenly lose control and meaninglessly write rules for things that don't matter once you've written a few? Rules are a tool that a system designer/GM can use to achieve certain outcomes, so you use them when they help you achieve those outcomes.

    Like with hit location, it sounds like you're operating from the assumption that you're compelled by some external consideration to care where a blow lands and to resolve it, so your only choice is 'resolve it arbitrarily' or 'resolve it with a recorded rule'. But you can also choose 'hit location isn't important, so we'll just ignore it' or 'hit location is only going to be important in a small number of special cases, so lets just handle it as we go'. If you're going to write a hit location rule, you should have some reason in mind why putting that down as a rule will achieve a desired effect in terms of how the game is played. That could be something like 'I keep having players who want to do instant-kill headshots, so I need a rule to: change that behavior, or introduce strategic diversity, or make sure that once I say yes once I'm not on the hook to make it always work every time'.

    Similarly with consistency, not everything has to be consistent all the time (and not everything is difficult to make consistent), but there are often a few particular things where being inconsistent would be really bad. For example, if you have supernatural abilities in the setting and you're going to have a supernatural murder mystery, making sure that you and the players are both on the same page about what things are hard limits that don't change versus what things are flexible and conditional and have lots of special cases is essential for the players to actually be able to rely on that knowledge to solve the mystery and not come to a wrong conclusion.

    Often the first things I write down in a new system are the long-term plotty, cosmological things which are going to be the backbone of the campaign. I want to be running them the same way from the very start, so that players can use those recurring things as cues to figure out what's going on. There are consequences for me being inconsistent there.

    If I have to change how we're handling library research checks or something like that mid-campaign, that matters less. I'm not intending to hang anything on its consistency.

    I notice that in the case of a price list the price is something that exist in the fiction, so not exactly what I would define a "rule". A more fitting example would be a list of weapons, with the damage expressed in numbers or dices.
    This damage values are an abstraction. If the players are familiar with the weapons in question should I keep the damage values ?
    This goes back to 'rules as guarantees which shape direction of play'. The reason for weapons to have different damage values is because you want differing levels of damage to be a consideration, and you're making that more salient to the players. Alternatively, I could have a very gritty system where basically any solid hit from a weapon will at the very least take someone out of the fight, so damage level is less important than, say, reach. So if I make a system where there are no damage numbers listed, I'm (in a way) communicating how game will be, what expectations to have, and also what constitutes reasonable strategies. That in turn determines what aspects of play the game will focus on - is it going to be about packing the right weapon to get through an opponent's particular kind of defense, or is it going to be about complex positioning and maneuvers, or what?

    If the game isn't going to be about any of that, having no stats for weapons at all can be quite reasonable. I wouldn't have weapon stats in a game about starting corporations - if someone gets your rising tycoon in a room with a gun and shoots you, thats that - we can all figure out what happens next well enough.

    Which is why I think is important decide together what are we playing before starting the actual game. We are playing a superhero game ? What power level ? Your character is strong, but how ? Can you quantify ? How many tons can he lift ? Ok that is to specific, he's strong as Captain America, Hulk or Superman ? Well looking at the other characters don't you think that this power level would be more appropriate ?
    This actually sounds to me a lot like the process of writing a rule system. You're pre-deciding some things before they come up and agreeing as to how those things will work, so that everyone is on the same page. It's just crafting the rules for the specific party members directly rather than crafting the rules for any arbitrary character that someone might choose to play.

    Also I would like to ask: what is a ruleset that you think make superheroes in a good way ?
    Not sure yet, I mention it because its something I've been thinking about but I'm not satisfied with what I've seen or come up with so far. I'm tempted to try something like a mix of FATE (which I normally dislike for being too generic, but a reimagined version of aspects seems really useful for the superhero genre) and Nobilis with extended bidding elements replacing the Auctoritas. The issue is that in the superhero genre, its most interesting if powers are really weird and specific, so having a set of 10 standard powers or whatever would be boring. So you want players to be able to write down pretty much whatever. But at the same time, the superhero genre often is about direct conflict between superheroes so Nobilis' thing about 'you can do anything and everything, just never to each-other' doesn't quite work. It's also rather boring if the fights become something like what one player in our group described as 'two titans take turns hitting each-other' - there should be room to turn a fight around with a clever trick or realization, and furthermore that should be a regular and mandatory occurance - thus, why I kind of want to borrow the idea of aspects and tagging from FATE.

    But its not where I want it to be yet.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    Ok, tell me what is an arcana check in D&D 3.5 What is the character doing ?
    From the SRD:

    "Knowledge represents a study of some body of lore, possibly an academic or even scientific discipline.

    Below are listed typical fields of study.

    Arcana (ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols, cryptic phrases, constructs, dragons, magical beasts)

    Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

    In many cases, you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monsterís HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

    For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information."

    That is, the knowledge (arcana) skill from 3.5 tells the players how hard it is to answer questions about ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols and cryptic phrases, and there are tables in the PHB that give examples of what kinds of things should be at each DC. It also allows players to identify dragons, constructs and magical beasts, and gives a formula telling you exactly what the DC is. That's what a rule should do: tell you, consistently, what you need to be skilled in and how hard it is to do a particular thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    But the question was : Why should the DM assign the chane of success and not the player if both are assumed to have deep setting knowledge and that knowledge and common sense is all that is used to set the DC ?

    If you have basically freeform roleplaying, that works better if everyone can participate to the fullest, sharing the decisions not only about what people try to do but also about what the results are.
    I don't necessarily think that DC setting has to be attached to the GM role, the classical GM roll is just one of many ways to split roles at the table. However if you're using the rest of that role it generally implies that the GM largely controls setting-side material, and the players largely control PC-side material. That roll has two components. The players have defined the PC-side material (skills, what the character is actually doing, equipment), so it pretty naturally falls on the GM to set

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Who called for a highly detailed equation-based jumping rule? I didn't.

    It could be a range of Target Numbers to roll against with modifiers for conditions for a system with variable TNs/DCs.

    It could just be modifiers for different heights and conditions, for a system with fixed roll under or roll over values for skills or etc.
    It could be. If you use that though you inevitably get a pretty poor model which does all sorts of weird stuff at a high level compared to just eyeballing it. That might be a worthwhile design decision if you care less about the model making sense than the players having access to detailed mechanical information, and it's often a good design decision for situations where just eyeballing it is a bit harder (magic, superpowers, and other entirely fictional elements come to mind). There's valid reasons to use it.

    The depiction in this thread of it being a mandatory rule for all systems with no downsides, where any rule that trusts the GM's mathematical intuition more than a hastily made model restricted to dead simple arithmetic is actually just the absence of a rule? That's a load of crap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    I don't necessarily think that DC setting has to be attached to the GM role, the classical GM roll is just one of many ways to split roles at the table. However if you're using the rest of that role it generally implies that the GM largely controls setting-side material, and the players largely control PC-side material. That roll has two components. The players have defined the PC-side material (skills, what the character is actually doing, equipment), so it pretty naturally falls on the GM to set
    Why would consequences of PC actions automatically fall on the setting side of things? It is PCs who are doing stuff, so that natural division would suggest that the player narrates the PCs actions and how they work out.
    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    It could be. If you use that though you inevitably get a pretty poor model which does all sorts of weird stuff at a high level compared to just eyeballing it. That might be a worthwhile design decision if you care less about the model making sense than the players having access to detailed mechanical information, and it's often a good design decision for situations where just eyeballing it is a bit harder (magic, superpowers, and other entirely fictional elements come to mind). There's valid reasons to use it.
    You take the length of what an untrained but healthy person could jump and put that down to average attributes and no jumping skill. Then you take the attribute value of an immobile person and set that to jumping distance 0. Then you take what a good athlete could jump and set that to attributes and skills a good athlete should have in your system. Then you do linear extrapolation and have a very easy formula with a*attribute + b*skill. And now you have an easy rule system for jumping distance for normal sized adult humanoid that does not produce any stupid extremes, not even in high level content. If you want you can substitute skill rank with average skill check result to allow some fluctuation but if that is a good idea depends on how exactly your skill checks work.

    Honestly, it is easer to do the math for transforming your expectation to proper rules than it is to actually come up with the distances for "healthy untrained adult" or "athlete" which would at least require some googling.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2017-12-31 at 07:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Yes, if everyone agrees what should be the result, you ignore the rules. But if everyone agrees on a single result, you don't have any use for a random roll anyway.
    Every situation where a roll is useful must have several possible results, often more than two, which all need probabilities assigned. Usually it is something complex and actually using the rules is not that much more complicated than doing all that work yourself.

    But the question was : Why should the DM assign the chane of success and not the player if both are assumed to have deep setting knowledge and that knowledge and common sense is all that is used to set the DC ?

    If you have basically freeform roleplaying, that works better if everyone can participate to the fullest, sharing the decisions not only about what people try to do but also about what the results are.
    You seem to think that random rolls are for clearing disagreements. That's not true in the majority of cases. Random rolls are for generating random events, because in some cases it's more fun that way.
    And yes DC should be decided by both sides, it's just that in the flow of the game it feel more natural that the GM sets them and the players agree or disagree. If we have to decide some things and you usually come out with solutions I agree with the habit would be that you decide and I speak only if I disagree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    The problem with "everyone agrees what would happen, because we all know the setting" is that very often people don't agree, even when you all know the setting. Either for the reason of wanting to succeed or just because it's almost impossible for everyone to have the exact same picture in their head, if the game is free form and the GM declaring outcomes, there will be arguments. Any event of any consequence in the game is not going to go smoothly, it will be at best a debate or discussion about how the setting works that takes everyone's attention aside from the actual narrative/action. It won't be 80% unanimous agreement/20% needing rules, it'll be more like 5/95.
    Even if it was 5/95 you would be saving time in the 5% of cases, while in the remaining 95% you would be applying the rules... the same thing that you would have done normally.
    I mean I don't see how "I disagree in this case. Let's use the official rules" is slower than "let's use the official rules...always".

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    This should guide you in deciding what things require the most detailed attention in the rules, what can be less defined, what can be ignored. The rules also provide fairness - objectivity that gives all the players an equal chance to participate and impact the game and a common understanding of what is possible and what isn't.
    Regarding fairness: you say that all players should have an equal chance to partecipate and impact the game. If the GM gives the first player a DC for trying to hit the bad guy he would give the same DC even to the second player, or not ? Unless there is a reason, and he would have to explain it. There is also the problem that the rules could be bad and some character weaker than others (hello d&D 3.5 !) or they could be different and the GM scenario favour one over the other. You could say: it's better if the rules are unfair, rather than the GM. Which sounds more like you need rules as safeguards for bad groups, rather than tools to accomplish something for good groups.


    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This doesn't make sense to me - what's compelling you to suddenly lose control and meaninglessly write rules for things that don't matter once you've written a few? Rules are a tool that a system designer/GM can use to achieve certain outcomes, so you use them when they help you achieve those outcomes.

    Like with hit location, it sounds like you're operating from the assumption that you're compelled by some external consideration to care where a blow lands and to resolve it, so your only choice is 'resolve it arbitrarily' or 'resolve it with a recorded rule'. But you can also choose 'hit location isn't important, so we'll just ignore it' or 'hit location is only going to be important in a small number of special cases, so lets just handle it as we go'. If you're going to write a hit location rule, you should have some reason in mind why putting that down as a rule will achieve a desired effect in terms of how the game is played. That could be something like 'I keep having players who want to do instant-kill headshots, so I need a rule to: change that behavior, or introduce strategic diversity, or make sure that once I say yes once I'm not on the hook to make it always work every time'.
    Problem 1: the number of situations where you need a specific rule are quite common (but the specific rule change every time !).
    Problem 2: rule weight. If hit location is important (because combat is realistic and every hit counts) I need to describe where every shot lands. Thus I can't ignore it. Doing so would destroy the fiction.
    But every rule I use slow the game.
    For example I want to have scenes like "your bullet hits the bad guy in the thigh, he fell and starts to crawl in the high grass, leaving behind a trail of blood". Do I need rules fo hit location and bleeding ? If I have them I would have to ignore them in another fight with a dozen of goons, or I would go crazy by managing a lot of stuff that in the end doesn't matter ("the two goons you hit to death in the first round are out of combat and will die soon, can we avoid tracking the bleeding to see in which exact round do they die ?"). If there are no such rules I'm going freeform with the crawling bad guy. Either way I'm inventing rules or ignoring them (which is the same).
    Or I could do the worse thing: not having stuff in game because there are no rules for it. Just like D&D, where you could track down a bleeding guy wounded out of scene, but you will never inflict a wound in combat that makes the enemy bleed to death.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Similarly with consistency, not everything has to be consistent all the time (and not everything is difficult to make consistent), but there are often a few particular things where being inconsistent would be really bad. For example, if you have supernatural abilities in the setting and you're going to have a supernatural murder mystery, making sure that you and the players are both on the same page about what things are hard limits that don't change versus what things are flexible and conditional and have lots of special cases is essential for the players to actually be able to rely on that knowledge to solve the mystery and not come to a wrong conclusion.
    Yeah, fantastical things need to be explained well. But if we are talking about a real world setting ?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This goes back to 'rules as guarantees which shape direction of play'. The reason for weapons to have different damage values is because you want differing levels of damage to be a consideration, and you're making that more salient to the players. Alternatively, I could have a very gritty system where basically any solid hit from a weapon will at the very least take someone out of the fight, so damage level is less important than, say, reach. So if I make a system where there are no damage numbers listed, I'm (in a way) communicating how game will be, what expectations to have, and also what constitutes reasonable strategies. That in turn determines what aspects of play the game will focus on - is it going to be about packing the right weapon to get through an opponent's particular kind of defense, or is it going to be about complex positioning and maneuvers, or what?
    I can easily read such a list more like a guideline than "hard rules". It's a great way for explaining the setting without losing time at the table. But the problem of expectation mismatches can still arise. And it can be caused by both extremes: if the rules are too simple the player doesn't know how they other guys will fill the blank spaces. But if the rules are too complex he doesn't know what the outcomes really are. For example people make wrong choices in character creation in D&D all the time.
    Altough I can see the middle ground here as a far more achievable and effective objective than it is for the rules used during the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This actually sounds to me a lot like the process of writing a rule system. You're pre-deciding some things before they come up and agreeing as to how those things will work, so that everyone is on the same page. It's just crafting the rules for the specific party members directly rather than crafting the rules for any arbitrary character that someone might choose to play.
    You are right. Isn't it more efficient than making rules for cases than you are not going to see ?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Not sure yet, I mention it because its something I've been thinking about but I'm not satisfied with what I've seen or come up with so far. I'm tempted to try something like a mix of FATE (which I normally dislike for being too generic, but a reimagined version of aspects seems really useful for the superhero genre) and Nobilis with extended bidding elements replacing the Auctoritas. The issue is that in the superhero genre, its most interesting if powers are really weird and specific, so having a set of 10 standard powers or whatever would be boring. So you want players to be able to write down pretty much whatever. But at the same time, the superhero genre often is about direct conflict between superheroes so Nobilis' thing about 'you can do anything and everything, just never to each-other' doesn't quite work. It's also rather boring if the fights become something like what one player in our group described as 'two titans take turns hitting each-other' - there should be room to turn a fight around with a clever trick or realization, and furthermore that should be a regular and mandatory occurance - thus, why I kind of want to borrow the idea of aspects and tagging from FATE.

    But its not where I want it to be yet.
    I like FATE for superheroes too. In fact the success of those sessions with my group is one of the causes that lead me to this reasoning and this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    From the SRD:

    "Knowledge represents a study of some body of lore, possibly an academic or even scientific discipline.

    Below are listed typical fields of study.

    Arcana (ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols, cryptic phrases, constructs, dragons, magical beasts)

    Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

    In many cases, you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monsterís HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

    For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information."

    That is, the knowledge (arcana) skill from 3.5 tells the players how hard it is to answer questions about ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols and cryptic phrases, and there are tables in the PHB that give examples of what kinds of things should be at each DC. It also allows players to identify dragons, constructs and magical beasts, and gives a formula telling you exactly what the DC is. That's what a rule should do: tell you, consistently, what you need to be skilled in and how hard it is to do a particular thing.
    From D&D 5e: "Your Intelligence (Arcana) check measures your ability to recall lore about spells, magic items, eldritch symbols, magical traditions, the planes of existence, and the inhabitants of those planes."
    It's the exact same thing !
    3.5 doesn't tell you what an easy or hard Arcana question is, so doesn't really add anything (5e gives too the DCs for easy or hard tasks, but again what are these tasks ?) If there are such tables that provide DCs for Arcana checks please post them.
    The only thing that 3.5 add is the rule for identify monsters. Which is based on HD, which have no correlation with how famous or known a monster is. Thus is a terrible rule that I wouldn't use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Why would consequences of PC actions automatically fall on the setting side of things? It is PCs who are doing stuff, so that natural division would suggest that the player narrates the PCs actions and how they work out.
    The consequences fall out from the die roll as described, which explicitly takes play information into account. It's one of the inputs to said die roll. The other one is the difficulty, and the difficulty of performing a task in a setting is pretty clearly on the setting side most of the time.

    With that said, the classical GM-players structure is still only one way to distribute mechanical responsibilities, and players setting DCs for situations described by the GM is hardly unreasonable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Then you do linear extrapolation and have a very easy formula with a*attribute + b*skill. And now you have an easy rule system for jumping distance for normal sized adult humanoid that does not produce any stupid extremes, not even in high level content.
    It produces a downright weird distribution, and also doesn't include a bunch of important factors. Ground condition didn't get mentioned, load didn't get mentioned, time to build up speed didn't get mentioned. If you're sticking to a linear model (and from a usability perspective you probably should) the obvious option is to introduce these as a distance penalty, which is where you start running into problems. On average jumping in knee deep water will almost completely remove the jump. Having that as a new factor at -c quickly leads to characters able to jump further in normal conditions getting huge and stupid leaps when in said knee deep water. Tweaking that a and b factors and recalculating jumping distance is getting out of the simple rules territory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    The consequences fall out from the die roll as described, which explicitly takes play information into account. It's one of the inputs to said die roll. The other one is the difficulty, and the difficulty of performing a task in a setting is pretty clearly on the setting side most of the time.
    If we use that kind of logic, then every effect the environment or an NPC has on a PC should fall into the authority of the player alone to decide.



    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    It produces a downright weird distribution, and also doesn't include a bunch of important factors. Ground condition didn't get mentioned, load didn't get mentioned, time to build up speed didn't get mentioned. If you're sticking to a linear model (and from a usability perspective you probably should) the obvious option is to introduce these as a distance penalty, which is where you start running into problems. On average jumping in knee deep water will almost completely remove the jump. Having that as a new factor at -c quickly leads to characters able to jump further in normal conditions getting huge and stupid leaps when in said knee deep water. Tweaking that a and b factors and recalculating jumping distance is getting out of the simple rules territory.
    As every rules that is an abstraction. Things like ground condition are usually far too detailed to ever get to be part of the rules. Load does in most games that bother using it with its own rules, usually giving out penalties to skills or to movement distances. Which means if the game has any load rules at all, load in jumping would probably already be covered anyway.

    It is a simple rule. That means, it does not model every detail. If you want a really complex jumping simulation with dozens of variables, you need complex rules that account for dozens of variables. That much is obvious.

    But even that doesn't mean eyeballing is superior. If you want to eyeball at the same level of detail, how much cm distance is wet sand worth compared to dry sand or stone ? How much distance is lost per additional kg of weight ? Could you really estimate that properly without making long calculations ? No, you couldn't.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2017-12-31 at 09:16 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    It is a simple rule. That means, it does not model every detail. If you want a really complex jumping simulation with dozens of variables, you need complex rules that account for dozens of variables. That much is obvious.

    But even that doesn't mean eyeballing is superior. If you want to eyeball at the same level of detail, how much cm distance is wet sand worth compared to dry sand or stone ? How much distance is lost per additional kg of weight ? Could you really estimate that properly without making long calculations ? No, you couldn't.
    You don't need to estimate the formula, you need to assess the difficulty of a particular jump. There's rarely a need to determine exactly how far someone jumped, just whether or not they could make a given jump at all - and in that specific context, I'm confident that I (and basically every other GM) could do better than your rule in terms of accuracy. This with a skill exceptionally friendly to numerical codification.

    There's still a lot of reasons to use a more codified system, but the specific claim that it allows a GM to be more accurate is incredibly dubious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    Problem 1: the number of situations where you need a specific rule are quite common (but the specific rule change every time !).
    Problem 2: rule weight. If hit location is important (because combat is realistic and every hit counts) I need to describe where every shot lands. Thus I can't ignore it. Doing so would destroy the fiction.
    But every rule I use slow the game.
    For example I want to have scenes like "your bullet hits the bad guy in the thigh, he fell and starts to crawl in the high grass, leaving behind a trail of blood". Do I need rules fo hit location and bleeding ? If I have them I would have to ignore them in another fight with a dozen of goons, or I would go crazy by managing a lot of stuff that in the end doesn't matter ("the two goons you hit to death in the first round are out of combat and will die soon, can we avoid tracking the bleeding to see in which exact round do they die ?"). If there are no such rules I'm going freeform with the crawling bad guy. Either way I'm inventing rules or ignoring them (which is the same).
    Or I could do the worse thing: not having stuff in game because there are no rules for it. Just like D&D, where you could track down a bleeding guy wounded out of scene, but you will never inflict a wound in combat that makes the enemy bleed to death.
    Realism and detail aren't really the same thing though. You can be realistic in the sense of outcomes without going into very high resolution as to how exactly those outcomes came to be. For example, with the enemy getting shot in the thigh - you can basically say, wherever the enemy gets shot only three outcomes really matter: it's a graze that won't matter any time in the immediate future, its bad enough that they're basically no longer an effective combatant and will for the most part be dealing with things like shock and bleeding out, or it kills them outright. If someone is going for the kill shot, a perfect outcome is that the target is killed outright, a partial success is the disabling shot, and a failure is a graze or miss. If someone is going for a disabling shot, a perfect outcome is to disable but not kill, a partial success is a low chance of kill or a high chance of graze, and a failure is a graze/miss.

    Whether its thigh or arm or foot or a stomach wound or whatever doesn't really matter in terms of what will - realistically - happen in the next thirty seconds. So you can preserve realism just fine without resolving it. Or, alternately, since you know that you also know that its totally fine to let anyone narrate the details however they like as long as it doesn't change the type of hit. If someone wants their disabling shot to be a hit to the thigh or a hit to the arm or whatever, you can just let them decide since you know that its isolated from the mechanical elements which are there to ensure realism.

    The place where you'd want detailed rules for hit locations is if you want players to actually incorporate that into their planning somehow - e.g. if by choosing a specific location to plant their sniper, they can increase the odds of that thigh hit in exchange for a decreased chance of head wounds and thereby improve their chances of taking the target alive, or something like that. But if its just something that's going to be random and hard to influence anyhow, you might as well just not bother with making any rules for it.

    Yeah, fantastical things need to be explained well. But if we are talking about a real world setting ?
    For a real world setting, I'd mostly be using rules to guide and direct play. So I might have rules for various things but then conspicuously leave out any rules for evaluating combat if I want to discourage using combat as a means to solve problems in that campaign, for example.

    You are right. Isn't it more efficient than making rules for cases than you are not going to see ?
    It can be, but its also often good to have a few templates ready to give players an idea what kind of stuff you're prepared to stat out and what kind of stuff will be a difficult fit for the game. For a superhero game for example, I wouldn't restrict players to powers in the rulebook, but I'd definitely want to have a few example powers statted out in advance - partly for me to get a feeling of how the process is going to go, and partly to provide inspiration or ideas for what character rules are going to look like.

    If you want to have really really mind-twisting stuff, getting out in front of it and putting it in text before character creation can also be a bit of a 'yes, I know it looks broken or crazy, but I'm prepared to run this if you want to give it a shot' thing. For example, having rules ready for how a time travel power would work is saying 'go for it'.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    3.5 doesn't tell you what an easy or hard Arcana question is, so doesn't really add anything (5e gives too the DCs for easy or hard tasks, but again what are these tasks ?) If there are such tables that provide DCs for Arcana checks please post them.
    The only thing that 3.5 add is the rule for identify monsters. Which is based on HD, which have no correlation with how famous or known a monster is. Thus is a terrible rule that I wouldn't use.

    3.5 is full of tables (which don't appear on the SRD or under the OGL, so I'm afraid you'll actually have to open your PHB) telling you what a DC for a particular task should look like. In addition, most skills do have tables which do appear in the SRD, such as Climb's:

    "Climb
    DC Example Surface or Activity
    0 A slope too steep to walk up, or a knotted rope with a wall to brace against.
    5 A rope with a wall to brace against, or a knotted rope, or a rope affected by the rope trick spell.
    10 A surface with ledges to hold on to and stand on, such as a very rough wall or a shipís rigging.
    15 Any surface with adequate handholds and footholds (natural or artificial), such as a very rough natural rock surface or a tree, or an unknotted rope, or pulling yourself up when dangling by your hands.
    20 An uneven surface with some narrow handholds and footholds, such as a typical wall in a dungeon or ruins.
    25 A rough surface, such as a natural rock wall or a brick wall.
    25 An overhang or ceiling with handholds but no footholds.
    ó A perfectly smooth, flat, vertical surface cannot be climbed."

    "Climb DC
    Modifier1 Example Surface or Activity
    -10 Climbing a chimney (artificial or natural) or other location where you can brace against two opposite walls (reduces DC by 10).
    -5 Climbing a corner where you can brace against perpendicular walls (reduces DC by 5).
    +5 Surface is slippery (increases DC by 5).
    These modifiers are cumulative; use any that apply."

    And 3.5's knowledges should be defined in a more rigourous way in the skill description (it's hardly the perfect RPG either). Maybe when you create your RPG, you can do one better and actually define properly how knowledge works, rather than throwing up your hands and going "The DM will know, dammit!"
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If 3.5 is trying to be a "simulation", what is it trying to "simulate"?
    Dwarf Fortress. Why else would it list hitpoints for walls?
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Spoiler: [... on superhero systems ...]
    Show
    Not sure yet, I mention it because its something I've been thinking about but I'm not satisfied with what I've seen or come up with so far. I'm tempted to try something like a mix of FATE (which I normally dislike for being too generic, but a reimagined version of aspects seems really useful for the superhero genre) and Nobilis with extended bidding elements replacing the Auctoritas. The issue is that in the superhero genre, its most interesting if powers are really weird and specific, so having a set of 10 standard powers or whatever would be boring. So you want players to be able to write down pretty much whatever. But at the same time, the superhero genre often is about direct conflict between superheroes so Nobilis' thing about 'you can do anything and everything, just never to each-other' doesn't quite work. It's also rather boring if the fights become something like what one player in our group described as 'two titans take turns hitting each-other' - there should be room to turn a fight around with a clever trick or realization, and furthermore that should be a regular and mandatory occurance - thus, why I kind of want to borrow the idea of aspects and tagging from FATE.
    But its not where I want it to be yet.
    Just looking at your analysis of what you have so far, I like the way you think and if you get the thing you like I think I would like to see it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    There's still a lot of reasons to use a more codified system, but the specific claim that it allows a GM to be more accurate is incredibly dubious.
    Personally, I feel ease of use and speed are better reasons. Sitting around and talking it out will get you an accurate answer, to within the precision of what the group knows/cares about, almost every time. However that takes time and maybe reviewing some technical details (or even looking them up) that are important but not interesting. So instead we figure out what should be important and how it translates into the game ahead of time (or the system designers do) so it doesn't have to be done during gameplay.

    But it is probably not quite as accurate, because you can't think of and encode everything. For example I had a character who not much of an explorer, but was outdoorsy. This meant that she couldn't find her way around the wilderness she lived in/near as well as a streetwise who had never left the city before now. In another I have a character who is proficient in weapons they might never have seen, but not ones they have carried on them for self-defence for years (we got a house ruling to fix that).

    Still we use them, because it speeds the general case enough that it is worth it.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Personally, I feel ease of use and speed are better reasons.
    I'd agree, with the caveat that both of these depend on whether people find it faster/easier to look up material or make a judgment call. That can go either way, and even within the context of one person it can vary depending on just how heavy the material is.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    Even if it was 5/95 you would be saving time in the 5% of cases, while in the remaining 95% you would be applying the rules... the same thing that you would have done normally.
    I mean I don't see how "I disagree in this case. Let's use the official rules" is slower than "let's use the official rules...always".
    Yes, if everyone agreed to follow the rules always, it would go more smoothly and quickly than if you allowed debate whenever someone thought something should be different. Ideally everyone is on the same page from the beginning, you know what situations are covered by game rules and what happens when something isn't covered by the rules, and there should be little argument or disagreement.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    Regarding fairness: you say that all players should have an equal chance to partecipate and impact the game. If the GM gives the first player a DC for trying to hit the bad guy he would give the same DC even to the second player, or not ? Unless there is a reason, and he would have to explain it. There is also the problem that the rules could be bad and some character weaker than others (hello d&D 3.5 !) or they could be different and the GM scenario favour one over the other. You could say: it's better if the rules are unfair, rather than the GM. Which sounds more like you need rules as safeguards for bad groups, rather than tools to accomplish something for good groups.
    This is about creating your own rules, right? Why would you create bad or unfair rules?
    If you think some rules in a game are bad, you change them. You need rules for a game.
    You shouldn't be playing against the rules, or "making it work" in spite of the rules. If there are too many rules you think you need to ignore, you aren't playing the right game.
    You need the right rules for the sort of game you want to play.

    It isn't "good" and "bad" groups or GMs. I'm talking about fairness on a meta-level - everyone knows what to expect at the beginning of the game and have an equal chance to make game decisions with full awareness of how the game works, and hopefully can somewhat predict the possible outcomes of their actions. Very light rules might be appropriate for a certain type of game. More mechanical involvement is appropriate for others.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Realism and detail aren't really the same thing though. You can be realistic in the sense of outcomes without going into very high resolution as to how exactly those outcomes came to be. For example, with the enemy getting shot in the thigh - you can basically say, wherever the enemy gets shot only three outcomes really matter: it's a graze that won't matter any time in the immediate future, its bad enough that they're basically no longer an effective combatant and will for the most part be dealing with things like shock and bleeding out, or it kills them outright. If someone is going for the kill shot, a perfect outcome is that the target is killed outright, a partial success is the disabling shot, and a failure is a graze or miss. If someone is going for a disabling shot, a perfect outcome is to disable but not kill, a partial success is a low chance of kill or a high chance of graze, and a failure is a graze/miss.

    Whether its thigh or arm or foot or a stomach wound or whatever doesn't really matter in terms of what will - realistically - happen in the next thirty seconds. So you can preserve realism just fine without resolving it. Or, alternately, since you know that you also know that its totally fine to let anyone narrate the details however they like as long as it doesn't change the type of hit. If someone wants their disabling shot to be a hit to the thigh or a hit to the arm or whatever, you can just let them decide since you know that its isolated from the mechanical elements which are there to ensure realism.

    The place where you'd want detailed rules for hit locations is if you want players to actually incorporate that into their planning somehow - e.g. if by choosing a specific location to plant their sniper, they can increase the odds of that thigh hit in exchange for a decreased chance of head wounds and thereby improve their chances of taking the target alive, or something like that. But if its just something that's going to be random and hard to influence anyhow, you might as well just not bother with making any rules for it.
    In D&D we had a problem: when critting against normal humans we described the hit as a lethal hit, but then the enemy still had HP. The rules forced the fiction to go in a direction we tought was wrong.
    In the same way if the rules don't distinguish between the type of wounds there will be situations where the narration done by the player/GM is decisive, even if it was supposed to be just cosmetic. For example if wounded enemies still have a chance to fight back the location of the wound could matter. If the PC shoots the bad guy, which is lying on the floor, then the PC is distracted by something and the opponent takes his gun... the description of the hit done earlier would be decisive. "I've hit him in the hand !" or "damn, why didn't I hit him in the hand ?"

    You say "It doesn't matter as long as it doesn't have a mechanical effect" but how would you resolve the situation above ? Saying that the bad guy takes his gun even if not allowed by the narration, because the rules say so ? Or ignoring the rules ? Or maybe such narration should have never happened, because the rules don't support it ? It seems to me that the latter is your position. If that's the case it means that a group who wants detailed hit location needs mechanical rules that support it, right ?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    If you want to have really really mind-twisting stuff, getting out in front of it and putting it in text before character creation can also be a bit of a 'yes, I know it looks broken or crazy, but I'm prepared to run this if you want to give it a shot' thing. For example, having rules ready for how a time travel power would work is saying 'go for it'.
    And if instead you give the players a list of "sample characters" made of famous Marvel superheroes ? Maybe with links to their Wiki page ?


    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    This is about creating your own rules, right? Why would you create bad or unfair rules?
    If you think some rules in a game are bad, you change them. You need rules for a game.
    You shouldn't be playing against the rules, or "making it work" in spite of the rules. If there are too many rules you think you need to ignore, you aren't playing the right game.
    You need the right rules for the sort of game you want to play.
    The problem is that many rules are important in some situations, while in others they are just a drag. So if we ignore them we are playing the wrong game, but if we switch to a simpler ruleset what happen when we are in the first type of situation and we don't have the rule ? The idea that "stuff don't happen because the rules don't support it" is something that I can't accept. The rules should follow the fiction, not the other way around.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    3.5 is full of tables (which don't appear on the SRD or under the OGL, so I'm afraid you'll actually have to open your PHB) telling you what a DC for a particular task should look like. In addition, most skills do have tables which do appear in the SRD, such as Climb's:
    Done. Page 79 of PHB. It's just two lines in the Knowledge skill description (which are the same of the SRD). If there are more info please give me the page number. The climb table doesn't help in the slightest in understanding what a fictional skill does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    And 3.5's knowledges should be defined in a more rigourous way in the skill description (it's hardly the perfect RPG either). Maybe when you create your RPG, you can do one better and actually define properly how knowledge works, rather than throwing up your hands and going "The DM will know, dammit!"
    There are other RPG that explain better what an Arcana skill or something similar is ?
    Because AFAIK they usually just give rules and the GM is supposed to make a setting out of it.
    Although I lack experience with setting dependant RPG like Ars Magica or Shadowrun.

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    Default Re: The purpose of the rules

    Quote Originally Posted by BlacKnight View Post
    In D&D we had a problem: when critting against normal humans we described the hit as a lethal hit, but then the enemy still had HP. The rules forced the fiction to go in a direction we tought was wrong.
    In the same way if the rules don't distinguish between the type of wounds there will be situations where the narration done by the player/GM is decisive, even if it was supposed to be just cosmetic. For example if wounded enemies still have a chance to fight back the location of the wound could matter. If the PC shoots the bad guy, which is lying on the floor, then the PC is distracted by something and the opponent takes his gun... the description of the hit done earlier would be decisive. "I've hit him in the hand !" or "damn, why didn't I hit him in the hand ?"

    You say "It doesn't matter as long as it doesn't have a mechanical effect" but how would you resolve the situation above ? Saying that the bad guy takes his gun even if not allowed by the narration, because the rules say so ? Or ignoring the rules ? Or maybe such narration should have never happened, because the rules don't support it ? It seems to me that the latter is your position. If that's the case it means that a group who wants detailed hit location needs mechanical rules that support it, right ?
    Well, first I'd examine some of those choices and ask 'is this rule really doing what I wanted it to do?'. Like, when you describe all crits as lethal, why did you make that choice? What was the intended purpose of making that (narrative) rule, as opposed to just describing a critical hit as, say, a strike to a weak point or just any particularly effective strike?

    Similarly, lets take the example of the wounded enemy. If we go by the breakdown I described before, a disabling shot is defined as 'injuring in a way such that they are out of the fight'. So, ergo, even if you didn't shoot them in the hand they're succumbing to shock or they've passed out or they're writhing in pain or something like that, at least for the next 30 seconds or however long fights last. If they aren't, then what happened wasn't a disabling shot but rather a graze that the enemy is playing up to make it look like they were taken out. Now lets say the fight finishes, but there's some issue that later on requires you to know where the enemy was shot - for example, maybe you take them captive and you need to know if they can march or if they need to be carried or something like that. In that case, you can simply leave it up to the person who shot them to decide post-facto where the hit was - even if its a metagame advantage to be able to decide that after the fact, its not an advantage which will come up often enough to really cause more problems than the ability to abstract hit location (which could come up all the time) will solve.

    As to 'the group who wants detailed hit locations' again I ask - what is this level of detail supposed to accomplish? It shouldn't be there just because it could be there, it should be there because there is some way that the gameplay engages with it. That means that it needs to be something which is sufficiently non-random that it can be part of strategy and planning. If this isn't going to be the case, its probably a mistake to have rules about hit locations at all, because those rules aren't actually doing anything or accomplishing any design goals.

    It's a bad design habit to add things to a system just because you can...

    And if instead you give the players a list of "sample characters" made of famous Marvel superheroes ? Maybe with links to their Wiki page ?
    That's nowhere near the same as saying 'here is how timetravel will work in this game, you interested?'. Knowing that there's a solid system behind it allows an informed decision. Linking to a Marvel character is just going to be ambiguous - if I link to Dr. Strange does that mean that the cosmology will be the same and timetravel will try to emulate how it works in the movie (or comics)? Or does it just mean I'm saying 'look, this level of power is appropriate' (and what exactly does that mean either, since taking the movie for example in some scenes he's having trouble with a martial arts brawl and in others he's soloing a sentient universe).

    On the other hand I could say something like:

    Spoiler: Power: Time
    Show


    In this campaign, time is a branching and merging flow, where paradoxes and inconsistencies correspond to whorls and ripples in that flow. A character with powers that violate the normal order of causality can freely change future and past events, but these changes tend to be localized and self-healing, along the path of least resistance - a person saved from death who lives the rest of their life a hermit will likely survive, but someone whose death was historically significant will likely find themselves dying in increasingly improbable fashions a week or two after they've been saved. Even extreme things such as killing one's own parents will end up resolving as twists in history where, it turns out all along, the character had been adopted or some other such distortion. A secondary tendency of this self-healing property is that accidental side-effects of time travel tend to be minimized. Going back and changing an event somewhere that intersects the party's timeline doesn't mean 'play the whole campaign over again', but rather somehow things end up working out mostly the same way.

    A sufficiently powerful character can offset this tendency of time to heal itself by acting as an anchor for the new course of events. Each Rank of this power gives the character the potential to anchor a single history-changing alteration even against the self-repairing nature of time. The anchoring lasts up to the furthest reaches of time in which a living version of the character can be found, beyond which time heals once again. Making time-duplicates of an item or person counts as a use of this. At Rank<=3, a character can only release anchors where they were created. At Rank=4, they can be dissolved over the course of a week from any place or time. At Rank=5, a character can release anchors at will. Releasing an anchor can cause a backlash if the anchor was responsible for some benefit - if the character used a time paradox to avoid death, they might find their life imminently threatened once the anchor is released.

    It may also be possible, if risky, to anchor a change in a paradox which is so difficult to resolve sensibly that time simply shears into two simultaneously existing branches. Such anchors are notoriously unstable - any other time travel occurring around the event has a chance of introducing a fluctuation which grounds it out, a highly energetic and destructive event to anyone causally connected to the branch point.

    At Rank 1 of this power, a character cannot bodily venture into past or future, but can receive information from either. The character can also locally distort the rate of time's passage by about ten percent, allowing them to alter the trajectories of moving objects (e.g. causing a projectile to miss, preventing a car crash by slowing the oncoming vehicle, etc). Distance into the past or future is 10 seconds per level of Insight.

    At Rank 2, the character can receive small objects directly from their future or past selves - this doesn't require anchoring so long as the character returns the object in a timely manner. Time distortion is sufficient to slow or accelerate characters giving them either 1 fewer or 1 extra action per 3 rounds. Distance multiplier is 10 minutes.

    At Rank 3, the character can project things directly into the past or future, where they can stay for a short period of time (ten minutes per level of Puissance) before snapping back. Time distortion can freeze a target completely in time, or give an extra action every 2 rounds. Distance multiplier is 1 day.

    At Rank 4, projection has almost no time limit, and the character can even summon things from other periods in time to their present. The character can maintain a single 'future action' which is a plan for their future self to intervene in the present at a moment of need (essentially getting a free action that round), but this does not refresh until they pay it back unless they anchor the paradox. Distance multiplier is 1 month.

    At Rank 5, the character can rip time itself asunder, creating parallel timelines, 'time bubbles' outside of time in which enemies can be imprisoned, or other high-end effects. One big consequence of this rank of power is that paradoxes associated with the character's own body and mind are anchored for free - they can for example freely explore an alternate branch of time and then erase it without the paradox of that alternate information they possess needing to be anchored, and they need never fear backlashes due to the loss of an anchor supporting their continued existence. A character with this rank of the Time power can also spend actions to advance or regress along their own timeline directly - healing wounds that they have just taken, reverting to a younger age, etc. Distance multiplier is 5 years.


    If something like that is in the rules, it lets players know what it's going to be like to play a time traveler in this game and to what extent they will be able to do classic time travel shenanigans.
    Last edited by NichG; 2018-01-02 at 08:33 AM.

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