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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    yet again darth ultron start off saying something i agree with, you can threaten players with things besides death. Then you going whirling away and say a lot of stuff, stuff I dont agree with.

    Other things to threaten are favored npcs and permanent injuries, if you can get them to care about their character you need a lot less actual danger to make them feel threatened. The one thing you do need to do is punish them for being reckless and make their choices matter.

    Generally I find not every fight has to be lethal or even a reasonable chance of being lethal, occasionally its fun to have a fight that is just easy a chance for the pcs to show off how far they've come. Alternatively in my game sometimes the pcs might get into a dozen or more fights before being able to completely recover all their resources. The challenge is manage their resources if the wizards burns his best spell one shoting a swarm of weaklings the fighter could have taken with only minor damage well they might be in trouble latter down the line when a more worthy threat approaches.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    yet again darth ultron start off saying something i agree with, you can threaten players with things besides death. Then you going whirling away and say a lot of stuff, stuff I dont agree with.
    I should like put that in my signature :)

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    Other things to threaten are favored npcs and permanent injuries, if you can get them to care about their character you need a lot less actual danger to make them feel threatened. The one thing you do need to do is punish them for being reckless and make their choices matter.
    So by ''threaten", I use you mean ''Disney threaten"? Like Evil NPC Fred says ''I'll kill Npc Bob"..and everyone acts like that might happen?

    And permanent injuries? Well, I guess your against special item loss right? So you'd also be against ''permanent injuries" that have big effect too right? So no withered hands so a spellcaster can't cast spells or no missing limbs so say a character can't hold a two handed weapon. So, what is your ''permanent injury"? Like ''ok, you took a point of permanent damage...but it has no other effect on your character."

    This comes back to what the OP was talking about: DMs that say ''oh your characters will feel so scared and threatened by things in the game world...and then the DM is like ''oh you see a scary tree and it says 'Boo!'

    As opposed too:

    Characters encounter a lone red skinned orc with two axes. Players laugh. Player Bob sends his animal companion Sir CareBear over, alone, to kill the funny orc.

    Instead...the bear misses will all attacks. And the orc hits with all of it's attacks....and does a lot of damage and hacks the bear in half and bathes in it's blood.

    Then the orc gathers up all the bear blood into a whirl...and shoots a spray of blood at the characters...knocking them all back thirty feet and doing some damage.

    Now see...throes characters feel threatened...and their players react by saying ''we have our characters run away as quick as we can!"

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    It is correct.

    You calculate as follows:

    P = 1-(chance of success on single trial)^(number of trials)

    In this case, your chance of failure is 2%, so your chance of success on a single trial is 98%. 1-(0.98)^100 = ~87% (rounded)

    It is important to remember that mathematics is under no obligation to conform to your intuitions. It's the other way around; a mathematician should train their intuitions to conform to mathematics.
    Yeah it's a combination or permutation or something isnt it? It's been a while since I did probability at school. In any case, it doesnt really translate at the table. It would be impossible to calculate the odds of death in most battles, given all the variables.

    What matters more is the chance of death if you hit zero hp. Which may or may not happen very often, depending on system/game at hand.
    Last edited by Psikerlord; 2018-11-01 at 05:12 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    I mean yeash talk about straw man

    im not going to get into most of that but I will discus one thing, if you threaten npc they generally need to know that A it was their failure that caused the problem and B their has to be real consequences, and C they have to actually care about the npc which means you cant do it to often.
    Last edited by awa; 2018-11-01 at 05:38 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    I mean yeash talk about straw man

    im not going to get into most of that but I will discus one thing, if you threaten npc they generally need to know that A it was their failure that caused the problem and B their has to be real consequences, and C they have to actually care about the npc which means you cant do it to often.
    Or you can do it Ever Round of the Game.

    Sure the player does not care about NPC Farmer Bob......but they sure care a lot about NPC their animal companion Sir Bearalot.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    see there's your problem it only works if they care about the npc. That means the npcs needs to be interesting and they need a relationship with them. If you kill them to often they cant get attached to them. If there not attached to them they wont care about them.

    This also works for pcs ive found that if pcs die often the players have significantly less attachment to their replacement and care less if he dies as well.

    But if they have had invested a lot in the character and they know that their choices will determine if they live or die they will spend a lot more time thinking about them, even if the odds of death are slim.

    Note if they cant make informed decisions or it feels like their choices are arbitrarily shut down it wont work either it will just make them frustrated.
    Last edited by awa; 2018-11-01 at 07:44 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    The Worf Effect is not really related to this.

    ...

    And it does not have to be character death. A more classic is just item loss....even more so special item loss. A couple minutes into the game....and Bob's character Spike looses his spiked chain when a foe sunders it. Bob is in tears, his silly one trick pony character is now utterly useless and the rest of the players are in shock. This snaps everyone quickly into ''this is not a DM lets you do silly wish fulfillment/ego boost fantasies here" type game.

    ...

    Sure the player does not care about NPC Farmer Bob......but they sure care a lot about NPC their animal companion Sir Bearalot.
    This is basically the Worf effect though - in order to communicate a point about the world, the writer (you in this case) must compromise some aspect of the integrity of the game, namely that you decide a priori 'I am going to destroy an item in session 1' or 'I am going to focus fire on the animal companion' even when those outcomes or decisions don't make sense in-character for the enemies or for the natural consequences that should be in place in the world.

    The thing that is lost is that if a player recognizes why you're doing it, then rather than reading it as 'this guy doesn't pull his punches, I'd better take this game seriously' they can read it as 'this guy is just trying to push us around and it won't actually matter what we do in character, so we might as well not bother to be careful since we're screwed anyways'.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Of course, since we're talking system design here, we can also imagine cases where we actually design the damage ratings to be flat or even explicitly description-based damage tracks (Fudge-like), so rolls wouldn't be an issue.
    I've been toying with the idea of universal damage dice. Mostly to avoid the old, "I want to use X Weapon, but Y Weapon is just do much more optimal."

    I mean, it's fun shopping for that perfect balance of damage dice vs crit range, but ultimately it tends to lead to optimal weapon bias and suboptimal weapon redundancy. If this is the only weapon people want to bother with, just give every weapon those stats and let them flavor it however they want.
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    On variance and reliability of damage numbers:

    This is very system dependent, but it could easily be folded into the same kind of design considerations. If you're rolling big bags of d6's for fireball damage, it's going to be pretty low variance. Similarly, if it's high-level D&D and most of the damage comes from constants added on (weapon +'s, power attack, modifiers from stats) then the variance will be low. Low-level D&D, or crit-heavy situations, will have misleading damage numbers. Whether or not you want the damage numbers to be misleading becomes a factor that can be used for effect.
    This has some benefits and drawbacks. If baked into the system from the start it can benefit the system, if not it can be a drawback

    Let's say that the PC gets shot and hit by 3 guys with a .44 Magnum Revolvers. They all roll the same amount of dice. One rolls high damage, while the other two roll low. The PC can evade but must make 3 seperate evasion rolls but has an ability to boost one of his rolls. The player will of course chose to boost his evasion against the high damage attack, even though he doesn't know the result of the damage roll beforehand

    If two of the gunmen have .44 Magnums Revolvers and the third has TAC-50, a .50 BMG sniper rifle then the player will of course chose to boost his evasion against the .50 BMG because it's clearly telegraphed what is potentially the most damaging attack.

    Many systems convey how much damage an attack will potentially do before the roll. The Ogre with a Great Club has much higer damage potential than a small goblin with a spear unless the system is wildly inconsistent

    The question is mostly about the metagame, the player isn't going to spend resources to avoid a blow from the Ogre if he gets a crappy damage roll. This is information that the character might not have

    I personally like better that the system clearly telegraphs beforehand what kind of damage can be expected.
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2018-11-01 at 10:44 PM.
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    see there's your problem it only works if they care about the npc. That means the npcs needs to be interesting and they need a relationship with them. If you kill them to often they cant get attached to them. If there not attached to them they wont care about them.
    Players always care about NPC pets, mounts, animal companions and such.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This is basically the Worf effect though -
    The Worf Effect is when we are told a character (or thing) is super tough...and then week after week we not only don't see it, but the exact opposite: that they are a weak wimp.

    So for D&D that would be like the DM saying ''oh the dragon in the next cave is super powerful"...and then the PCs kill it in like two rounds of combat. And that is not what your talking about, right?



    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    the writer (you in this case) must compromise some aspect of the integrity of the game, namely that you decide a priori 'I am going to destroy an item in session 1' or 'I am going to focus fire on the animal companion' even when those outcomes or decisions don't make sense in-character for the enemies or for the natural consequences that should be in place in the world.
    Well, this is more a Player Complaint though of basically ''I want to feel cool and powerful so set the game on Below Novice Level of Difficulty. "

    It is not so much that a DM targets something, it's more that the DM does not avoid or never targets something. A lot of DMs don't think it's ''fair'' or "right" to target something...and will say stuff like ''I can't kill the animal companion as it's a big part of the characters class abilities" or something like that.

    For example, a classic of mine for goblins is they attack in groups of three: one tank, one disarmer, one grabber. The idea is simple enough...the goblin tank keeps the characters attention, while the disarmer tries to knock the characters weapon from their hand...and then the grabber gets it and runs off. It's amazingly effective. And it sure fits with my view of goblins being sneaky and not fighting fair.



    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The thing that is lost is that if a player recognizes why you're doing it, then rather than reading it as 'this guy doesn't pull his punches, I'd better take this game seriously' they can read it as 'this guy is just trying to push us around and it won't actually matter what we do in character, so we might as well not bother to be careful since we're screwed anyways'.
    Well, this is more of a player selection thing. If a player really thinks they are ''being singled out and attacked by the DM", they are free to leave the game. To me, that is a bad player. Once a player gets to the point of ''if you do X it's ok, but Y is not " then that makes the game pointless.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    The Worf Effect is when we are told a character (or thing) is super tough...and then week after week we not only don't see it, but the exact opposite: that they are a weak wimp.

    So for D&D that would be like the DM saying ''oh the dragon in the next cave is super powerful"...and then the PCs kill it in like two rounds of combat. And that is not what your talking about, right?
    In my example, the PCs are Worf, the 'super tough' reputation is the statement from the DM that 'this campaign rewards you for paying attention and playing smart' or similar assertions about how the game will be run, and beating up Worf is 'well, I need one of you to suffer a consequence to believe that this is a serious situation, so this time at least even if you all play smart I'm going to make sure someone loses an item/NPC/character'.

    It's the reversal of causality here - Worf gets beaten up because New Guy needs to look strong, not because New Guy should actually be able to beat up Worf. As a result, while the immediate narrative demand is satisfied (New Guy looks strong), it comes at the cost of eroding the premise (beating up Worf means that you're strong).

    In the sense of the tabletop game, the immediate response to (arbitrarily) destroying a PC's treasured item in session 1 is that the players become wary and play more cautiously, but it comes at the cost of eroding the premise that this consequence arose from mistakes that the players actually made. Eventually the players realize that suffering a setback doesn't actually mean they screwed up, but rather it just means that the DM decided arbitrarily that they should suffer a setback. As a result, the message ultimately becomes ineffective.
    Last edited by NichG; 2018-11-02 at 02:35 AM.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Players always care about NPC pets, mounts, animal companions and such.

    Not in my experience half the time they trade up as soon as a better option is available and treat it less like a companion and more like a fancy sword that stabs on its own.

    Even if they care about the companion, they dont care about its replacement nearly as much, then you generally see one of two things treating each re-summoning as if it was the same entity or simply not caring at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    I've been toying with the idea of universal damage dice. Mostly to avoid the old, "I want to use X Weapon, but Y Weapon is just do much more optimal."

    I mean, it's fun shopping for that perfect balance of damage dice vs crit range, but ultimately it tends to lead to optimal weapon bias and suboptimal weapon redundancy. If this is the only weapon people want to bother with, just give every weapon those stats and let them flavor it however they want.
    Some systems tie damage to the character, rather than the weapon, which achieves the same result. Other games where things matter use equipment as another form of progression - saving up for that uber-weapon. Meanwhile, there are games that tie weapons to specific mechanics to maximize their effectiveness. Of course, there are mixes of all three and it all depends on design goals.
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Psikerlord View Post
    Yeah it's a combination or permutation or something isnt it? It's been a while since I did probability at school. In any case, it doesnt really translate at the table. It would be impossible to calculate the odds of death in most battles, given all the variables.
    You seem to be assuming that just because there's an enormous number of complex variables that you can't get exact variables for, the calculation is impossible and doesn't translate at the table. But you don't need to know the exact variables in order to get a very tangible advantage at the table. You just need to be able to estimate them sufficiently well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    In my example, the PCs are Worf, the 'super tough' reputation is the statement from the DM that 'this campaign rewards you for paying attention and playing smart' or similar assertions about how the game will be run, and beating up Worf is 'well, I need one of you to suffer a consequence to believe that this is a serious situation, so this time at least even if you all play smart I'm going to make sure someone loses an item/NPC/character'.
    But to be the Worf Effect it has to be the person in charge saying it. For the Worf Effect it is the producers/showrunners/writers, the ones in charge of the show. It's not the actor (or the players).

    You are saying...the DM says the players are 'super tough', and must play a set way.....but if and when they do the DM will just ''trick" the players and do bad things to the characters and ''prove" they are not so tough?

    See, that is nothing like the Worf Effect....that is False Advertising. The DM says "do this and your character will be ok", and the the player does that....and the DM is like "haha! fooled you!" and your character is not ok. Then the Dm dances around and says ''you are a fool to believe me, hehe".

    But I guess your trying to make the point that if the DM ''likes" something...they will simply do it, no matter what the players do. Even if the DM tells them to do something. This is more the classic Scorned DM. The DM makes an awesome trap behind door A, and the players pick door B.....so switches the awesome trap to door B.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    It's the reversal of causality here - Worf gets beaten up because New Guy needs to look strong, not because New Guy should actually be able to beat up Worf. As a result, while the immediate narrative demand is satisfied (New Guy looks strong), it comes at the cost of eroding the premise (beating up Worf means that you're strong).
    See, this does not really fit though. The DM telling the players to act a set way, and then berating and back stabbing them is not the ''Worf Effect". But, would you say that when Producer Guy said to Michael Dorn(aka the actor that plays Worf) "ok, your character is the super tough and powerful guy", and Michael is like ''ok" and takes the job. Then they hand Michael a script with that says Frengi idiot comes on to the bridge with weapon out. Worf turns, pulls out his phaser,, shoots and misses from like five feet away. Then the bad guy shoots back and sends Worf flying across the bridge!

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    In the sense of the tabletop game, the immediate response to (arbitrarily) destroying a PC's treasured item in session 1 is that the players become wary and play more cautiously, but it comes at the cost of eroding the premise that this consequence arose from mistakes that the players actually made. Eventually the players realize that suffering a setback doesn't actually mean they screwed up, but rather it just means that the DM decided arbitrarily that they should suffer a setback. As a result, the message ultimately becomes ineffective.
    Again, though, this is the DM targeting the thing and doing the DM vs. Player type game. And while it does happen, of course, it's to much to say ''anytime anything happens that the player does not like they can just claim it is this".

    Sure like some DMs, that want to get rid of the characters spiked chain, will just (not) "randomly" have every single combat be that a foe attacks and tries to destroy the spiked chain. But just because it does happen, it does not mean it's the DM targeting the thing and doing the DM vs. Player type game.

    I can say also, that most of the time, the player does do a mistake or take a risk.

    The big thing is the game play. In a soft game (''most games") not only is the DM following the interpretation of the Gentlemans rule("don't do anything unfun or that the players won't like") AND interpretation The Rule of Cool("the whole game reality alters so the PCs can be cool"), but a lot of DMs don't like ''doing things" at all to the characters of their ''best friends", and over all just want to run a game where the players ''just feel great like they are on top of the world".

    So in the soft game (much like most movies/TV shows) when a character runs out into the open....all the foes ''forget to shoot" or worse ''have Stormtrooper aim". And that is the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    The big thing is the game play. In a soft game (''most games") not only is the DM following the interpretation of the Gentlemans rule("don't do anything unfun or that the players won't like") AND interpretation The Rule of Cool("the whole game reality alters so the PCs can be cool"), but a lot of DMs don't like ''doing things" at all to the characters of their ''best friends", and over all just want to run a game where the players ''just feel great like they are on top of the world".
    This sort of game is a crime against God and Gygax. These snivelling players need to understand that they are not here to 'have "fun"', their characters are IMPRISONED IN A DEADLY CRUCIBLE which they will emerge as heroes or DEAD. Preferrably DEAD, because it is more Realistic.

    I understand that you can't be happy unless you are causing pain to your players, but not every game needs to be like that. Sometimes I just want to play a badass who can actually WIN fights without having to devote two sessions to planning an unstoppable ambush down to the last flatuation, y'know?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    I understand that you can't be happy unless you are causing pain to your players, but not every game needs to be like that. Sometimes I just want to play a badass who can actually WIN fights without having to devote two sessions to planning an unstoppable ambush down to the last flatuation, y'know?
    Well, like most things to come after 1990 or so...basically it goes too far.

    It sounds good to some to say ''oh my game won't be so Hard Fun".....but in practice it goes way beyond that to the soft ''nerf bouncy house" game.

    And if that is your idea of fun, it's fine....no one is saying it's wrong.

    I'm just saying a Soft DM, who pretends to be Hard ("ok, for this game the kid gloves are off!") will nine times out of ten fail. They simply can't put the soft behind them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    But to be the Worf Effect it has to be the person in charge saying it. For the Worf Effect it is the producers/showrunners/writers, the ones in charge of the show. It's not the actor (or the players).

    You are saying...the DM says the players are 'super tough', and must play a set way.....but if and when they do the DM will just ''trick" the players and do bad things to the characters and ''prove" they are not so tough?

    See, that is nothing like the Worf Effect....that is False Advertising. The DM says "do this and your character will be ok", and the the player does that....and the DM is like "haha! fooled you!" and your character is not ok. Then the Dm dances around and says ''you are a fool to believe me, hehe".

    But I guess your trying to make the point that if the DM ''likes" something...they will simply do it, no matter what the players do. Even if the DM tells them to do something. This is more the classic Scorned DM. The DM makes an awesome trap behind door A, and the players pick door B.....so switches the awesome trap to door B.
    I'm not trying to assert anything about what a DM will do, but rather I'm trying to make the point that if the DM wants to demonstrate something about the game to the players, there are costs associated with 'forcing' the message. In that sense, I chose the Worf effect as an example where the writers think that they're being clever by making use of established context to communicate something, but in the long run they erode that context and make it a joke.

    So a DM who wants to the players to see a game as dangerous or scary or serious or deadly (for whatever reason) has a choice to make - they can 'force' the message by being tough or cruel, which certainly will make the players see the game as dangerous in the short-term, but in the long-term the players will get the message that what they do doesn't matter because they'll be forced to experience those consequences regardless of how well they play. Thus, paradoxically, after 5 or 10 or 20 sessions they will begin play worse than if the DM had simply been lax.

    On the other hand, the DM could make the choice to maintain the game integrity and demonstrate consequences fairly, e.g. only when they're actually for real mistakes the players have made that they could have reasonably anticipated and prevented. This will happen quickly if you have players who make mistakes frequently, which I think is what you may be implicitly assuming. However, you frequently speak about having good and bad players, so lets assume that you've done your due dilligence and weeded out bad players and you're working with a crew of seasoned veterans who only very rarely make mistakes. In that case, even though you might want to maintain the pressure in order to create an atmosphere of danger, the skill of the players means that they will actually be getting in the way of your ability to communicate that if you commit to running the game fairly. That is to say, newer (or 'worse') players may very well be able to experience the danger of the situation, but better players end up being left unable to receive that impression.

    The idea of telegraphing, here, is so that someone can feel the consequences without experiencing them, meaning that even a player who performs 100% perfect play still would be able to feel as if their character were in danger the entire time, and even without any 'arbitrary' risks that cannot be avoided.

    See, this does not really fit though. The DM telling the players to act a set way, and then berating and back stabbing them is not the ''Worf Effect". But, would you say that when Producer Guy said to Michael Dorn(aka the actor that plays Worf) "ok, your character is the super tough and powerful guy", and Michael is like ''ok" and takes the job. Then they hand Michael a script with that says Frengi idiot comes on to the bridge with weapon out. Worf turns, pulls out his phaser,, shoots and misses from like five feet away. Then the bad guy shoots back and sends Worf flying across the bridge!

    Again, though, this is the DM targeting the thing and doing the DM vs. Player type game. And while it does happen, of course, it's to much to say ''anytime anything happens that the player does not like they can just claim it is this".

    Sure like some DMs, that want to get rid of the characters spiked chain, will just (not) "randomly" have every single combat be that a foe attacks and tries to destroy the spiked chain. But just because it does happen, it does not mean it's the DM targeting the thing and doing the DM vs. Player type game.
    I tend not to write in terms of whether one side or other of the table is justified in what they do. I don't really care if a player 'can claim' something. I'm more concerned with 'what are the consequences of doing something a certain way'. Generally speaking, dealing with people, one's own sense of what is reasonable basically doesn't matter, because as much as you can say 'I think the other person is reacting wrong', the reality you have to deal with is that they are reacting that way and that may or may not be what you wanted to happen.

    If you want to achieve a particular dynamic, and other people are involved, its more important to anticipate how they could react than how you think they should react. It's all well and good to say 'good players should do A, B, and C' but when you find out that the players you've been working with don't because that's not actually how people work, at minimum you've just wasted a lot of your own time, and worse, you've missed opportunities where you could have made it work.

    In my book, a 'bad DM' isn't someone who DMs a particular way that I dislike, it's a DM who consistently fails to achieve the effect that they're going for. A bad DM becomes a good DM by recognizing why they failed when they fail, and adapting to it.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    However, you frequently speak about having good and bad players, so lets assume that you've done your due dilligence and weeded out bad players and you're working with a crew of seasoned veterans who only very rarely make mistakes. In that case, even though you might want to maintain the pressure in order to create an atmosphere of danger, the skill of the players means that they will actually be getting in the way of your ability to communicate that if you commit to running the game fairly. That is to say, newer (or 'worse') players may very well be able to experience the danger of the situation, but better players end up being left unable to receive that impression.
    There is a line. You want the danger to be very real, always. And you want the players to be able to handle it...but only to a point. To not make obvious mistakes and not act foolish is just the tip of the iceberg. It's not like the DM is ''setting a trap" and then ''telling the players how to bypass it". It's more a whole style of game play. The whole game atmosphere is important, so things happen all around, not just to the player characters.

    And you want that line right about about 50%, so the players know that even if they do everything ''right" there is still a chance things can go wrong. But you never know.

    I don't just 'say a player is bad as I don't like them', a player has to do a lot more then that....and they do. Most players are just average, and many want to be good.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The idea of telegraphing, here, is so that someone can feel the consequences without experiencing them, meaning that even a player who performs 100% perfect play still would be able to feel as if their character were in danger the entire time, and even without any 'arbitrary' risks that cannot be avoided.
    This is the atmosphere and storytelling.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    If you want to achieve a particular dynamic, and other people are involved, its more important to anticipate how they could react than how you think they should react. It's all well and good to say 'good players should do A, B, and C' but when you find out that the players you've been working with don't because that's not actually how people work, at minimum you've just wasted a lot of your own time, and worse, you've missed opportunities where you could have made it work.
    I see it a bit differently. The way I expect players to act is more of a generic baseline, but NOT the way ''I think or want" them to act(after all that way would be much better and awesome).

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    In my book, a 'bad DM' isn't someone who DMs a particular way that I dislike, it's a DM who consistently fails to achieve the effect that they're going for. A bad DM becomes a good DM by recognizing why they failed when they fail, and adapting to it.
    I can agree here.

    I game a lot at stores (the few that are left) and places like malls(the few that are left) and libraries. A lot of times I have seen DMs fail. The ones that want to be good take advice...the ones that want to be bad just think they know everything...or worse.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    @NichG

    Pursuant to your conversation with DU re: forcing a message...

    You said that there are costs associated with forcing a message, which include aware players perceiving a lack of agency. This got me thinking, and I'd like to poke at some ideas, and get your response.

    So, for starters, unlike certain Skyrim mods, GMs don't usually just start their PCs off somewhere random. Even a typical sandbox isn't populated with random toys. No, in general, the scene is set / chosen because the GM believes that this setup will be enjoyable.

    Similarly, when I'm on my A-game, I usually, if necessary, set the scene such that it will be ready for me to demonstrate certain characteristics of how I GM. For example, I'll try to have something early on that seems to break the rules, but actually doesn't - and that it's possible for the PCs to investigate how this could be true. If the PCs investigate, great. If they show confusion, but no interest in investigating, I'll explain things OOC, after the fact - both what was going on, and how they could have uncovered that information. If they show no interest whatsoever, well, I suppose I know not to bother surrendering too much effort generating that style of content.

    When it comes to lethality, I try to let people know that I'm a "let the dice fall where they may", CaW, "what's 'CR'?" kind of GM. Sure, if I say "for X characters of level Y" (or system equivalent), then one can expect that I believe that such characters could have a good time with the expected content.

    I once had a party stumble upon a series of huge tunnels, like a giant prairie dog colony might make, in the distance. The players looked at each other, then, knowing that their civilization sent out scouts, asked what the scouts had reported about whatever made these. With straight face, I told them that there had been no reports of such tunnels. There was a brief pause, followed by the player concluding (correctly) that no Scott had ever survived contact with these tunnels, and the party wisely decided to give the third most dangerous creature in my works a wide berth.

    So, maybe I'm too close to it, but I'm not seeing the downside to choosing to start the party somewhere interesting, where I'll have the opportunity to demonstrate various components of my style. Are there Costs that I'm not perceiving? Or have I erroneously generalized your statement of of context?

    Thoughts?

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    It is.

    I disagree that it means you have to make most fights have a less than 2% chance of danger, though. I submit that what that means is that having 100 fights over the course of your campaign is way too many.
    Not really going to argue, but I feel it's relevant that the great majority of fights have a zero percent chance of death. At full ressources, in an early encounter with the BBEG's first wave minions (or whatever) you really shouldn't ever die. Unless you did something patently retarded.

    On the other hand, a Final Bossfight might have a risk of death substantially higher than 2%.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    @NichG

    Pursuant to your conversation with DU re: forcing a message...

    You said that there are costs associated with forcing a message, which include aware players perceiving a lack of agency. This got me thinking, and I'd like to poke at some ideas, and get your response.

    So, for starters, unlike certain Skyrim mods, GMs don't usually just start their PCs off somewhere random. Even a typical sandbox isn't populated with random toys. No, in general, the scene is set / chosen because the GM believes that this setup will be enjoyable.

    Similarly, when I'm on my A-game, I usually, if necessary, set the scene such that it will be ready for me to demonstrate certain characteristics of how I GM. For example, I'll try to have something early on that seems to break the rules, but actually doesn't - and that it's possible for the PCs to investigate how this could be true. If the PCs investigate, great. If they show confusion, but no interest in investigating, I'll explain things OOC, after the fact - both what was going on, and how they could have uncovered that information. If they show no interest whatsoever, well, I suppose I know not to bother surrendering too much effort generating that style of content.

    When it comes to lethality, I try to let people know that I'm a "let the dice fall where they may", CaW, "what's 'CR'?" kind of GM. Sure, if I say "for X characters of level Y" (or system equivalent), then one can expect that I believe that such characters could have a good time with the expected content.

    I once had a party stumble upon a series of huge tunnels, like a giant prairie dog colony might make, in the distance. The players looked at each other, then, knowing that their civilization sent out scouts, asked what the scouts had reported about whatever made these. With straight face, I told them that there had been no reports of such tunnels. There was a brief pause, followed by the player concluding (correctly) that no Scott had ever survived contact with these tunnels, and the party wisely decided to give the third most dangerous creature in my works a wide berth.

    So, maybe I'm too close to it, but I'm not seeing the downside to choosing to start the party somewhere interesting, where I'll have the opportunity to demonstrate various components of my style. Are there Costs that I'm not perceiving? Or have I erroneously generalized your statement of of context?

    Thoughts?
    I think you may be generalizing the statement out of context here. I'd say that in my posts (including the OP), the core idea is that you can make subtle alterations to the way that information flows to the players in order to make communicating certain points less expensive than they would be if you didn't use those methods, so I don't think there's some inherent conserved cost associated with the message being received that can't be reduced by a change in technique.

    Rather, the point is that when it comes to danger, most tabletop games (and a number of styles of DMing) demonstrate danger by applying its' consequences. In that sense, you've chosen to pay a fairly steep cost to communicate it (either in the risk that the message fails, the loss of integrity of the game by forcing it, etc). By altering the information channels available to the players, that otherwise expensive message can be transmitted very cheaply.

    In your example, I'd say the message you're trying to communicate is 'the world is internally consistent even if it doesn't seem like it, and you should treat it as such'. The equivalent of 'demonstrate danger by killing a PC' for that would be 'demonstrate consistency by arranging for the players to see behind the curtain, or just tell them OOC what was going on'. I'd say that 'just tell them OOC' does come with an integrity cost, in that the players may come to expect or depend on that OOC reveal (or, for example, they may start to ask about it during game rather than afterwards, with the subconscious expectation that you like to explain yourself and so you might let something slip). In that sense, if you can do it without having to do an OOC reveal, it would be strictly better than if you find yourself forced to use that OOC reveal as a mechanism for communication.

    I do think that the general question of 'how do you communicate what things are relevant (such that consistency can be expected to apply) versus what things are decoration (such that pushing too hard for consistency may break something)?' is an interesting one, and the various tactics surrounding that make for a number of different DM-ing styles or even types of game mechanics. Narrative systems explicitly tell the players that if they ask a question, it's their responsibility to suggest a plausible answer; etc.

    In two of my own campaigns recently what I've found is that the players will actually tend to come up with the right idea or understanding, and then if given a chance will convince each-other in discussion that it was wrong. Part of the problem is that the feedback is pointed the wrong way; namely, lets say they discuss longer (which is an action which they all believe will increase the chance of their decision being right) but actually it causes their decision to be wrong more often. In that case, they tend to believe that if they discussed less, the outcome would be even worse than whatever happens. In order to get the idea across (outside of discussing it OOC, which we've done, but which in a case like this doesn't really help so much) I need them to a) act on first instinct and b) have it succeed. But the longer it goes on, the lower the probability of a) happening. At least I'm in a situation where historically at least, the first instinct actions should have succeeded, so I wouldn't have to compromise the game in 'forcing' the actions to succeed if they did actually act instinctively.

    So what I've started to do is to make use of scenarios with a lot of time pressure, so that 'lets discuss longer' becomes associated directly with particular failures due to obvious missed opportunities. In that sense, I am forcing a few things, and it is costing something (generally it tends to make things more confusing, which in turn risks pushing players across a cliff where they give up on trying to make sense of things at all because they assume they just won't be able to follow what's going on) - which in turn makes people trust their instincts even less. So that cliff is my 'Worf effect' that I have to be careful about in this situation.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    I like the idea, but there are some points of implementation here - namely it's much more interesting if the damage is rolled not just before the defense is resolved, but before the manner of defense is decided. Just getting the counterfactual can provide a mechanical basis to back up a narrative one for harm avoided, which meets the design intention, but doesn't really probe the possibilities of flipping the order much. This also creates a potential new decision point for multiple defenses, and it does so really elegantly. When you use limited defenses is suddenly a more interesting choice, as are more localized allocations of focus between combatants or the like.

    There's also a nice narrative resonance there, as this provides impetus for all those scenes where that one really nasty attack is coming and a character has to seriously disadvantage themselves to avoid it or suddenly finds the skill in desperation to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by martixy View Post
    It is, and others have explained. I'll just put a name to it: It's called a Binomial Probability.
    There is absolutely no reason to bring binomial probability in here - it's a case of not even happening once, which makes this vastly easier. If we wanted to know the odds of exactly one death we'd need the binomial probability theorem. If we wanted to know the odds of no more than any number other than 0 we'd need the binomial probability theorem. Here we have the special case where we don't, where we can just use 1-0.98^100 and call it a day, nCr left abandoned in our probabilistic toolkit.
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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    I like the idea, but there are some points of implementation here - namely it's much more interesting if the damage is rolled not just before the defense is resolved, but before the manner of defense is decided. Just getting the counterfactual can provide a mechanical basis to back up a narrative one for harm avoided, which meets the design intention, but doesn't really probe the possibilities of flipping the order much. This also creates a potential new decision point for multiple defenses, and it does so really elegantly. When you use limited defenses is suddenly a more interesting choice, as are more localized allocations of focus between combatants or the like.

    There's also a nice narrative resonance there, as this provides impetus for all those scenes where that one really nasty attack is coming and a character has to seriously disadvantage themselves to avoid it or suddenly finds the skill in desperation to do so.
    Agreed. I generally like the idea of games designed around bidding systems and the like (Nobilis, for example). I think balancing the time cost of iterated decision making is probably the biggest challenge with going in this direction. It seems to push the design in a direction of making things more abstract and less granular, so that if you're spending 3 iterations deciding the answer to a question, it's a bigger question than 'did I lose some HP?'. But that also tends to make it harder to draw mechanical boundaries or understand knock-on consequences.

    One thing I've tried in the past with systems is to make it so that there is the possibility of chaining into a bidding sequence, but such that that possibility is constrained to happen only once or twice in a given scene. The way it worked in that system was that each side of a conflict would accumulate a pool of 'leverage points' as the conflict went on, and anyone could basically take from that pool to add to one of their rolls. However, at the same time, the combat mechanics encouraged single 'big win' moments, so spending points on an attack or defense and then failing anyhow would be a big setback compared to just making a soft 'fail' (basically everything had a major effect and minor effect, and you could guarantee defense against the major effect up to a point if you were willing to let the minor effect hit you).

    I'm not sure I have anything conclusive to offer here, but I do think it's an interesting design space to discuss.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Not really going to argue, but I feel it's relevant that the great majority of fights have a zero percent chance of death. At full ressources, in an early encounter with the BBEG's first wave minions (or whatever) you really shouldn't ever die. Unless you did something patently retarded.

    On the other hand, a Final Bossfight might have a risk of death substantially higher than 2%.
    I disagree. I think every fight should have a chance of death.

    The idea that the players will just say ''oh a pointless fight" and sit back, put their feet up, drop some dice on the floor and take a nap with a "Oh wake me up when we win." That is exactly what I want to avoid.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    I think every fight should carry a chance of loss, which may or may not include PC death.

    In fact I think death is one of the least interesting punishments. You cut out a character, all the relationships and tactics (story and mechanics here) that have built up around them, any plans that you had for them die on the vine. The entire story comes to a screeching halt as the rest of the party morns the loss of their friend and comrade and... What? We just find the character's long lost twin at the next inn? Well that makes things simpler doesn't it?

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think every fight should carry a chance of loss, which may or may not include PC death.

    In fact I think death is one of the least interesting punishments. You cut out a character, all the relationships and tactics (story and mechanics here) that have built up around them, any plans that you had for them die on the vine. The entire story comes to a screeching halt as the rest of the party morns the loss of their friend and comrade and... What? We just find the character's long lost twin at the next inn? Well that makes things simpler doesn't it?
    Except, as you point out, Character Death IS the biggest one. All them hopes and dreams and the ego of the player and the whole self identity of the player....and more. Gone. All gone forever.

    Even more so in D&D after 3E, the couple of weak punishments in the rules can be negated in like seconds and the Buddy DM will never inflict role playing punishments on a character unless they are pure reactions to what the character did...and even then they will be soft.

    As soon as you take away the character death...the game is little more then a silly cartoon of an action adventure.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I disagree. I think every fight should have a chance of death.
    Not saying it should or shouldn't. I'm saying I've never ever seen any early (or random) encounter that would seriously threaten the PC's - if they play their cards right. I'll take that one step further and flat out claim that 99% of all PC death is in boss fights.

    And I'll go out on a limp and assume that that's no different in your games, whether as a player or a GM.

    And if it is ... your decisionmaking is ... questionable. Not wrong, but definitely debatable. Unless your players are ecstatic about dying to inconsequential fights.

    Not trying to provoke you here - I'm well aware that I have zero clue as to what goes on in your games. But I'm going to challenge you on it regardless =)

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Not saying it should or shouldn't. I'm saying I've never ever seen any early (or random) encounter that would seriously threaten the PC's - if they play their cards right. I'll take that one step further and flat out claim that 99% of all PC death is in boss fights.

    And I'll go out on a limp and assume that that's no different in your games, whether as a player or a GM.

    And if it is ... your decisionmaking is ... questionable. Not wrong, but definitely debatable. Unless your players are ecstatic about dying to inconsequential fights.

    Not trying to provoke you here - I'm well aware that I have zero clue as to what goes on in your games. But I'm going to challenge you on it regardless =)
    You've obviously never played D&D at low levels. For a group of level 1 D&D characters, especially in an edition with critical hits, death can come suddenly from even the weakest sort of creatures. Unless the DM is fudging dice rolls or playing encounters in such a way as to purposefully not threaten the PCs, almost any encounter is potentially a deadly threat. That's a choice of play style, but not what is implied by the game's mechanics.

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    Default Re: Counterfactuals and the perception of game mechanics

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Not saying it should or shouldn't. I'm saying I've never ever seen any early (or random) encounter that would seriously threaten the PC's - if they play their cards right. I'll take that one step further and flat out claim that 99% of all PC death is in boss fights.

    And I'll go out on a limp and assume that that's no different in your games, whether as a player or a GM.
    Nope, it is very different in my games.

    You are describing the classic cinematic game: that character death mostly only happens right at the climax. The rest of the adventure is just a Fun Romp. And it's a fine line between fun romp, and super silly. And this is why all such media has things like dumb bad guys and Stormtrooper Aim. The characters can run through a open area, in full view of bad guys with missile weapons that open fire, and they hit literally everything except the characters(wink wink).

    And your right, most games are played that way. Any combat encounter that is not a boss fight is just ''ok, the player characters will automatically do this, so lets just see how they do it." The question is only how will the the players 'win' the combat. The players can just check out...really even leave the room and check back every couple of minutes to see if the characters have won the fight yet.

    My game is nothing like that. No matter what or where the player characters are: death can happen at any time.

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