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Title: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 29, 2006, 06:31:35 AM
Here are the previous threads' links:

[D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19311.0)
[D&D 3.0/3.5] Skill combat and blood drinking (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19690.0)
[D&D 3.0/3.5] Spells and swords: fight! (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19889.0)
[D&D 3.0/3.5] Undead, real dead (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20177.0)

This is the last thread about this game, because we finished the scenario in two short sessions in two days.

Due to the time constraint (Christopher leaving for summer camp), I asked the players about what they'd like to see in the last sessions, specifically, whether a solid confrontation was key or a set of social interactions. They opted for the former which I also think was a good idea; we've established about as much as could be established with the positions and outlooks of all the NPCs.

The fifth session

In this one, the characters headed off to the abandoned "old fort" of the Khoros lands, which they'd learned was the favored haunt of Lord Garfauld when he was going cuckoo, years ago, and figured was where he was holed up in his nasty undead way. Without prompting from me, Christopher and Dan insisted that the two siblings, Raetha and Hathic, accompany them, so the characters could assess them a little better. At the time, they both favored Raetha over Hathic, who had been established as a slightly bigger mouth than motor.

I enjoyed using in-game time for urgency and effect, but not as much as I might have in the past. Lord Khoros could delay Lady Khoros' funeral only a little bit, according to the laws of the land, and that meant if the party wanted to defeat Garfauld before the funeral, they'd be arriving at the ruins at nightfall. This had absolutely no mechanics-based effect, but the players reacted with great trepidation. It's interesting - years ago, I considered it the height of GMing skill to induce emotion in the players, this or any other, but now, I get a lot less pleasure out of it. I would have been a lot happier with a general consensus that "night = scary = great Color," and not have it be considered otherwise beyond minor tactics.

I happily used this map (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/mapofweek/march2006/03_MarMAW2006_300_ppi_vn212op.jpg) from the D&D website. I love interesting dungeon maps. I decided it represents three levels (topologically speaking), with the alcove-heavy passageway being below the initial round room, and then the two round rooms connected by a passageway being the deepest. I also found another map of a ruined fort and graveyard to put "on top" of this map, above ground; we didn't use this tactically, merely for Color.

Rather than stock every damn niche with yet more giant rats, spiders, and "there just because" goblins, I kept it simple. I hope you'll forgive me for not posting a square-by-square key. Don't get the wrong idea, though. Although I'm describing our actual play-events, all of the creatures and traps were established during preparation and nothing except for Color-stuff was improvised into existence during play.

I stated that the entrance was through the big round room, and that it was in disarray. I defined the funny little objects in that room as gas traps. I'm usually not a big fan of traps, but part of my goal was to revisit some tropes of D&D. Also, looking back on previous play, I'd decided that more saving throws were called for, both formally (i.e. traps like these) and improvisationally.

In the watery corridor leading to the rest of the complex, they fought a gelatinous cube, a creature that I had never before encountered via a D&D character, nor run as a DM. At long last, eh? Surprisingly, it was a tad easier to kill than I anticipated, partly because saving throws seem to have become a lot easier in modern D&D than I recall from the old days, and partly because they had two not-half-bad helpers along, the siblings. Then again, three of the six characters did get engulfed and many hit points did get burned down by the thing's acid, so I guess it served its purpose. Plus, the color of the fight, in the pitch-black, thigh-deep water corridor, with torches tossing wildly and getting snuffed out, was generally pretty cool. It was fun to see Forin get engulfed, but make his paralysis saving throw, and thus grapple the cube from the inside. (I am using the cube description from the 3.0 book; I was a little dubious that one could be engulfed but not paralyzed, but the description there doesn't contradict that reading. This might be another error on my part, but if so, it was a fun-making error.)

I'd given a little thought to the siblings and decided to show each of them at his or her best. So at one point, when Hathic was engulfed by the cube, Raetha extended her spear into it for him to grab. He'd failed the roll against paralysis, so it didn't accomplish much, but it was a nice bit.

Anyway, that's as far as we got with this session. Dan provided an interesting observation, that in this adventure, finding treasure just wasn't a big deal. Although his early D&D experiences peeked through occasionally, he made a kind of personal shift from search-and-loot to why-we-fight, and noted it when it happened.

The sixth session

This one brought them into the deepest, nastiest section, the big circular room beyond the water-filled passage, which I'd prepped for a fun fight as follows.

The corridor to the south was filled with magical darkness, and that's where Garfauld was lurking. It turns out the Darkness spell trumped the Light that the clerics could cast, so there was no going into there, everyone decided.

The object to the north was an iron globe, which soon emitted electrical bolts all over the place in every direction; the idea was that everyone got zapped, forcing Fortitude saves. Failing the first makes the character flatfooted, failing a second in a row knocks him or her down, and failing the third and later means taking damage.

Given my map of the aboveground area, and the orientation of the two maps I'd decided upon, this area was right under the graveyard, so I also had big, bloated, mutant grubs to drop on them too. I merely assigned them AC and damage based on whether they were stuck to you or not; to avoid getting attached when they bit you required a Dexterity saving throw. You guys can see I was all about the saving throws in this prep ...

Anyway, the globe started zapping, and I had Garfauld lunge out of the darkness to grab whoever came close to it. I'd jury-rigged Garfauld by combining the ghast description in the 3.0 book with the spells of a 3rd-level evil cleric, which were not half bad to beef up the ghast stats. And he was really, truly evil with this Death Touch ability, the one you get with the Death Domain.

What Garfauld wanted, basically, was to corrupt either of his grandchildren to his worship of Nerull. So he attacked the one who got closest, then tried to tempt the other to kill that one. As far as Narrativist choices go, this one wasn't meant to be very compelling - note, for instance, that's why it was presented to NPCs, not to the characters. It was context for the fight ... back-story, nothing more.

So what happened?

1. Dan was the player to shine this time. His character Corin aced his Alchemy skill, of all things, to dope out the iron globe. Bemused (and pleased, in that I hadn't really expected any such tactic), I said that Corin had figured out that "breaking a connection" in the various trappings of the globe would shut it off. It took him a couple of rounds, but he did it. Pretty cool!

His character Forin had been savaged by the cube and had about 5 hit points left. He busted out yet another Feat combo plus lucky roll to do the final damage to Garfauld, but not before Garfauld got in the Death Touch. Yup - Forin bit the dust. No save, even.

2. Christopher's characters didn't have a good day. They failed a bunch of saving throws, they got hit by stuff, they missed a lot, and their spells got beaten down by other spells. I was interested in three specific things about his play, though, in this session. (a) He was very, very careful to play the two characters differently, more so than he'd done in the past, and very much in the trends that I mentioned in the previous thread. Interesting! (b) His character Joshua defied the Voice of Nerull which spoke to them from the shadows after the fight, which actually ended up being suitably dramatic and very cleric-like. Dan was sort of impressed that his kid back-talked a god. (c) Christopher was uncharacteristically petty toward the two sibling NPCs, talking about "hitting them" in a kind of random way at the end of the game; I attributed this to his frustration at his characters' relative less-effectiveness during the fight, as it didn't connect with any of his characters' other actions or depictions until that point.

3. As for the scenario itself, I'd also had Hathic stand up for Raetha during the fight with Garfauld, and so just as an amusing ending, I had each one of them demand not to become Lord/Lady, and to swear fealty to the other one as such. That leaves the realm itself in a bit of a pickle, but at least it's a nice (Good) one. Dan in particular found this very satisfying as a general outcome. It made a lot of sense to me as the player-characters had really set a good example for the two siblings, so I figured they'd both do the Good-est thing.

As a final bit, we briefly described Lady Khoros' and Beezah's funerals, and I told them that she had left a letter for her old friend, Corin's and Forin's mother. It also occurred to me, for the first time in my history as a role-player, and given the cleric-heavy, Hieronymous-heavy scenario, that resurrecting a player-character might actually be a fun and dramatic topic for a later scenario, rather than a lame-ass "oh let him keep playing" add-on.

I haven't yet totted up the experience, but I'm pretty sure the characters might make it to fourth level. I'll get around to figuring that out before Christopher gets back from camp. Not that we'll play these characters or this game again, but it's a form of closure.

So to sum up, here were some of the Social Contract goals at work, and how we did.

1. Did Christopher get to play D&D? Check.
2. Did Dan and Christopher get to do a dad-and-son thing together? Check.
3. Did Dan get a bit of nostalgic fun in with his fellow suburban neighbor-guy? Check.
4. Did we hit the creative goals that we talked about in the beginning? Check.

All in all, not bad. I have some general thoughts and conclusions about running the modern D&D, but even more about the nature of dialogue about D&D, and the latter may or may not show up in this thread. At present, I'd like to open up the discussion to questions about our game, especially in Big Model terms. In fact, I'd like to invite people who are relatively new to the Forge to check out the first couple of pages of The Provisional Glossary (http://The Provisional Glossary) and to practice the terminology via questions about this game, if they'd like.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: kalyptein on June 29, 2006, 07:29:42 AM
Quote
Anyway, that's as far as we got with this session. Dan provided an interesting observation, that in this adventure, finding treasure just wasn't a big deal. Although his early D&D experiences peeked through occasionally, he made a kind of personal shift from search-and-loot to why-we-fight, and noted it when it happened.

I had a moment like this a few months ago in a 3e D&D game (just me with a friend GMing).  After dealing with a mind-controlled town and various monstrous minions, I succeeded in forcing the Big Bad, an aboleth, to come out of the water and duke it out.  It was a lot of fun, a close fight with lots of bravado and trash talking, and in the end I killed it.  In the aftermath I spent a while trying to help the town cope and alerting the authorities and even inventing a song with a laundry list of "aboleth control symptoms" to spread around so that people would have a chance to recognize the threat if it happened again.

We play by instant messenger normally, but I happened to visit my friend a few weeks later.  Practically the first thing he says is, "You didn't search for treasure!" and starts laughing.  I laughed too, because it was strange to have totally forgotten this part of the traditional "1) kill it, 2) take it's stuff" process.  The one piece of treasure I did find, I regarded as a clue and ended up returning to the family of the elf who once owned it.  But even if I could have done it over again, I don't think I'd have searched for loot.  Jump into murky water and scrounge for gold?  Never, these are my good clothes.  Slit the creature open and poke around?  Gross.  And why would a giant fish have treasure anyway?  If I'd known it was there for sure, maybe I'd have hired some peasants to do the dirty work.

My shift to why-we-fight must have come and gone without me ever realizing, and it was strange to look back at where I'd been.  I was completely absorbed in the social repercussions, what the appearance of the creature might mean, everything except how much loot it had.  My friend thought this was funny and groaned about having to invent new ways of giving me rewards.  I ended up getting some armor as a gift from the elf's kin, which was vastly more satisfying to me and didn't smell like fish guts.

Alex


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ben Lehman on June 29, 2006, 07:39:37 AM
Hey, Ron --

As always, sounds fun.

And with an invitation to talk about this in Big Model terms -- uh, well, I don't know if I can help myself.

Let's talk Creative Agenda.  Your personal insistence and also the contents of your report make it pretty damned clear that you're playing D&D with a Narrativist Creative Agenda here.  So I'm going to base some questions around that.

1) You seem pretty strongly insistent that you aren't drifting the game strongly.  While we can quibble about the details of this, I can see pretty strongly that you aren't doing a lot to drift it into a Narrativist direction.  Given that the game system isn't giving you a ton of support for your creative agenda, what tools to you use to help you with your Creative Agenda?  Were there any times when you wished that you had more systematic support for your Creative Agenda?  Were there qualitative differences in experience between playing this D&D and playing with a game where Narrativist goals are openly supported by the system, such as Shadow of Yesterday or Trollbabe?

2) Likewise, you're dealing with two players who don't have a strong attachment to any style of role-playing other than some distant memories and media-given images.  In terms of CA especially, how was the experience of playing with these folks different than playing with, say, the Hyde Park group, where you seem to have a pretty strong grasp on your shared creative agenda?

3) Okay, so this one's actually social contract level, so it's personal and feel free to blow me off.  I know from meeting y'all that you're pretty close with the neighbors in question.  I'm curious what specific effect role-playing -- either in terms of the activity itself or because it's "your thing" in a concrete way -- has had on your friendships as opposed to, say, watching Star Trek or some of the other things you've done together.  Including "it's exactly the same" in the scope of possible answers.

Probably enough for now.

yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  Those free maps from Wizards are awesome.  There's a lot of baggage on the word "support" in gamer circles, but it is nice to see a company actually provide it.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ricky Donato on June 29, 2006, 07:47:26 AM
At present, I'd like to open up the discussion to questions about our game, especially in Big Model terms. In fact, I'd like to invite people who are relatively new to the Forge to check out the first couple of pages of The Provisional Glossary (http://The Provisional Glossary) and to practice the terminology via questions about this game, if they'd like.

Absolutely!

I enjoyed using in-game time for urgency and effect, but not as much as I might have in the past. Lord Khoros could delay Lady Khoros' funeral only a little bit, according to the laws of the land, and that meant if the party wanted to defeat Garfauld before the funeral, they'd be arriving at the ruins at nightfall. This had absolutely no mechanics-based effect, but the players reacted with great trepidation. It's interesting - years ago, I considered it the height of GMing skill to induce emotion in the players, this or any other, but now, I get a lot less pleasure out of it. I would have been a lot happier with a general consensus that "night = scary = great Color," and not have it be considered otherwise beyond minor tactics.

I agree with your first opinion, that it is "the height of GMing skill to induce emotion", because it demonstrates that the players are interested and invested in the game. Can you explain your shift in opinion, and do you think that there are situations where you would still feel very happy to induce emotion?


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 29, 2006, 09:44:51 AM
Hi guys,

Alex, that's what I'm talkin' about. Exactly. And it's a great example of how the reward system employed (which in your case did not include "get money from looting corpse") is the direct procedural expression of Creative Agenda.

Cool questions.

Ben, I'll take'em by the numbers.

Quote
1) You seem pretty strongly insistent that you aren't drifting the game strongly.  While we can quibble about the details of this, I can see pretty strongly that you aren't doing a lot to drift it into a Narrativist direction.  Given that the game system isn't giving you a ton of support for your creative agenda, what tools to you use to help you with your Creative Agenda?  Were there any times when you wished that you had more systematic support for your Creative Agenda?  Were there qualitative differences in experience between playing this D&D and playing with a game where Narrativist goals are openly supported by the system, such as Shadow of Yesterday or Trollbabe?

I'm drifting the game like a motherfucker. See my #3 point about Drift in the "Undead, real dead" thread. The key drift, in this case, is playing a single adventure without any particular investment on the trajectory of development for the character. Someone rightly pointed out (although in an odd context, as if I'd never realized it!) that planning and strategizing about future modifications is a huge part of traditional D&D satisfaction, and which has been amped up to 11 in the modern design. That's what's been drifted out in my game, simply through what might be called "mega-framing," for the entire concept of how long we play and how much. Of course I realized this. It's key to the entire game. And it is major, major Drift.

Now, what I think you're talking about is the absence of reward mechanics along the lines of plot points, Trust, maybe "alignment meters," or relationship scores, and so on. But I want to stress, over and over, that such mechanics are great - but they not in and of themselves Narrativist. They are as close to a given CA as given Techniques can get, but by defiinition, never to be forgotten, is that a given Technique is not and can never be a CA.

We reinforced, rewarded, encouraged, enjoyed, empathized - whatever you want call it - Narrativist play. All together. By mutual inclination. As mediated through imagined Situation (the central component of the SIS) and through decisions about characters' actions. It doesn't matter whether it was mechanically reinforced, in order to be Narrativist play.

System Does Matter. We drifted the fuck out of the system to our purposes, as I described. We did not institute other mechanisms such as the ones you're thinking of ... to put it bluntly, we didn't have to, and to do so would have been out of keeping with a secondary goal, which was to "play D&D" in a superficial sense (the trappings, including various rules - saving throws, AC, etc).

What you are seeing as my insistence on the "rules" is my astonishment that others, who have been playing modern D&D in a fashion I can only describe as worshipful, are so astoundingly bad at reading the rules. They have built a Wall around the Torah and defend their Wall rigorously, and they will point to a comma here or a semicolon there, but the sentences in the Torah itself seem to have eluded them.

Quote
2) Likewise, you're dealing with two players who don't have a strong attachment to any style of role-playing other than some distant memories and media-given images.  In terms of CA especially, how was the experience of playing with these folks different than playing with, say, the Hyde Park group, where you seem to have a pretty strong grasp on your shared creative agenda?

All of us in the Hyde Park group have to have a verbal grasp of CA ... otherwise our damaged and halting habits will overwhelm our desire to have fun with each other. We've improved a lot since our first year together and many of the habits have finally been abandoned, but it took some work.

Dan's and Christopher's stronger grasp on Narrativist play emerges simply and straightforwardly from their desire to have fun, just as it should in whole, healthy people.

In other words, someone without the neurosis in the first place doesn't need therapy-based jargon in order to help themself enjoy doing something. All we did was that two-minute talk in the beginning about what sort of play we'd like, and since that talk wasn't swamped in meaningless garbage like "realism" and "balance" and similar, it was productive and sufficient.

Quote
3) Okay, so this one's actually social contract level, so it's personal and feel free to blow me off.  I know from meeting y'all that you're pretty close with the neighbors in question.  I'm curious what specific effect role-playing -- either in terms of the activity itself or because it's "your thing" in a concrete way -- has had on your friendships as opposed to, say, watching Star Trek or some of the other things you've done together.  Including "it's exactly the same" in the scope of possible answers.

I'm cool with this question. In fairness, my wife and I are not exceedingly close to the other family. We like them a lot and foresee becoming good friends, and this last year was a strong player in that process, but they're not yet like ... ohhh, say, a family or couple that we'd go vacationing with together. This isn't a judgment or fixed distance, just a description of the existing level of intimacy or shared time.

I'd say the D&D experience has strengthened the bond, though, pretty strongly. I've provided a good model for a game-y weird-y adult who's not also socially marginal. Dan has mentioned that he really likes the specific social-procedural features of our game, involving attention to process but also to courtesy and listening to everyone, and thinks that it's been important to Christopher. For my part, I think it's been great to meet at the level of Narrativist CA, and thus formed the same sort of bond that mutualistic artists (small "a") can have, as in a band. And at a slightly wider remove, if I'm not mistaken, I think the mom has appreciated that we've taken time to do this, but not turned it into a tremendous time-sink or emotionally-obsessive topic - in other words, that role-playing can be just another activity with its own virtures and without dubious properties.

Ricky, with respect, you may not be understanding me at all. Or if you are, and if you do think that mode of play is "best" or even "good," then I suggest your outlook is at best juvenile and at worst rather distasteful.

I think that induced, transitive emotion, by the GM, toward/in the players, is a grotesque act. Do not misunderstand me. I agree that emotion during play, in and among people, is a wonderful thing. But to transfer it like that - from the GM's prepared pocket to the gaping mouths of the baby birds - is something that healthy people should avoid.

In other words, when Dan or Christopher or I enjoyed any kind of emotional response to what was going on, ranging from exuberance at a good roll or engaging narration, to sudden sharp ethical certainty (a serious, less euphoric, but no less gripping type), then yes, that is part of "successful" play for us.

But I did not induce it in them. I did not say "I shall scare them" and then proceed to scare them. I did not say "I shall inspire them" and see their little eyes light up in inspiration. I enjoyed and took care of my emotions, and contributed to the SIS; they enjoyed and took care of their own, and contributed to the SIS. The relative roles of GM and player only concern the contributions to the SIS - they have nothing to do, at all, with delivering emotion (as an experience) from one to the other. I did not control or induce emotion in them in a "here you go, feel this" kind of way.

We interacted with one another via our ongoing, all-persons-go contribution to the SIS, and we all enjoyed and shared our respective emotional engagement as well. No one was the emotions-maker.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Joel P. Shempert on June 29, 2006, 10:10:33 AM
I too was interested in Ricky's question regarding this:

I enjoyed using in-game time for urgency and effect, but not as much as I might have in the past. . .It's interesting - years ago, I considered it the height of GMing skill to induce emotion in the players, this or any other, but now, I get a lot less pleasure out of it. I would have been a lot happier with a general consensus that "night = scary = great Color," and not have it be considered otherwise beyond minor tactics.

Specifically, I'm curious about the role of Color in your play, in in this game or others. Here at least you seem to downplay its importance, to the point of wanting to just give it a nod and move on--"yeah, it's spooky, we get it, now let's get to the good stuff"--which strikes me that it would possibly short-circuit investment in what's going on, for some players. These players certainly seem invested in the Color, at any rate. I'm not talking about "gotta immerse, gotta scare the players to scare the characters," or anything like that. I'm just talking about the look and feel and such being important for everyone to "dig," in order to really invest in the deeper content, just as whatever Premise is addressed in, say, Star Wars, or Les Miserables, wouldn't engage anyone if the "color" were flat. You certainly seem to dig on other bits of Color throughout the sessions, like the dungeon map or Christopher's moments of cleric-ness. But here you're like, eh. Wish we could just get on with it. Why?

Just to clarify, I CAN see why (as seems to be the case throughout the forums and the essays) you'd be down on empty color, like "ooh, we hung out in shadowy rooms and brooded over blood in wineglasses and angsted our little angsty hearts out, what cool Vampire players we are!" I'm just trying to find why, if I'm reading you right, you also seem to be down on color in support of, say, Narrativist play goals.

Or, it just occurred to me, is it more about the specifics of the GM-player dynamic than about the Color as such? Also, it occurs to me that perhaps Christopher and Dan were so freaked because they did expect a mechanical significance: "Ooh, ghoulish magic guy, bet he's more powerful at night." Any possibility that that's the case?



One other question:

What Garfauld wanted, basically, was to corrupt either of his grandchildren to his worship of Nerull. So he attacked the one who got closest, then tried to tempt the other to kill that one. As far as Narrativist choices go, this one wasn't meant to be very compelling - note, for instance, that's why it was presented to NPCs, not to the characters. It was context for the fight ... back-story, nothing more.

My question: what Narrativist choices WERE the players addressing at that point? Or were the significant choices already made throughout the previous sessions, such that this fight was just the natural result and payoff of the path they chose for their characters?

Peace,
Joel


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Joel P. Shempert on June 29, 2006, 10:18:23 AM
Ron,

Sorry about the cross-post, I see that you've answered a good deal of what I was wondering is answered in your response to Ricky. I'd still like to know if my thoughts on Color hold any water, though.

Thanks,


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 29, 2006, 11:52:10 AM
You're misinterpreting my comments on Color by 180 degrees, Joel. My comments were all about amping up the Color and enjoying it fully, rather than maneuvering around it. Dan in particular reacted to my "nightfall" input as if it had been a tactical move on my part, in the sense of now it being his turn to try to find a way not to be there at nightfall. Whereas my goal was entirely in line with your notions of what Color is for - to establish it, get into it, enjoy it, and reinforce whatever other goals are at work. Just as in the Big Model, in which Color is a "multiplier" through the algebraic equation of the other four components.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Joel P. Shempert on June 29, 2006, 12:12:19 PM
Color is a "multiplier" through the algebraic equation of the other four components

That's awesome. Thanks for the clarification, man. I begin to understand. . .

Peace,
-Joel


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 29, 2006, 12:25:59 PM
Another clarifier, for your question about Narrativism, Joel.

Too many questions about Creative Agenda are framed in an atomic fashion, and yours graded into that direction. Not necessarily for any and all play, but definitely for this particular session in this particular game.

What I'm saying is that the whole five sessions were an "address" of the kind you're talking about. There were bits and moments of specific expression of it, as manifestations or "tells," but to talk about Creative Agenda in this case, we need to look at the entire scenario and sequences of actions throughout it, not at any one particular fight.

Or a better way to put it is, the Premise being addressed by our play in this game was not "fight and destroy Garfauld," in part because that's not a Premise in the first place, but even as any imaginable equivalent. So this fight was best understood as a step or piece of a series of decisions and scene-outcomes, not a goal. In many ways, it was only a showdown from the point of view of the characters (which we enjoyed immensely as the players, yes), and not so much a crunch here-it-comes showdown moment for us as people. I'd say that aspect of addressing Premise pretty much peaked at Beezah's death and the aftermath.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Joel P. Shempert on June 29, 2006, 01:20:21 PM
Thanks. I'm speaking from the standpoint of someone who is very attracted to Narrativist-style play, but has experienced very little of it (coherent, anyway) in practice, so these clarifications are invaluable. Even when (as is the case wich much of what you just said) it's a concept I've already heard and think I understand, I think there's a tendency, with roleplayer brain dama--er, ingrained habits kicking in, to veer off course repeatedly, so a course correcter, internally or from others, is welcome and needed.

Or a better way to put it is, the Premise being addressed by our play in this game was not "fight and destroy Garfauld," in part because that's not a Premise in the first place, but even as any imaginable equivalent. So this fight was best understood as a step or piece of a series of decisions and scene-outcomes, not a goal. In many ways, it was only a showdown from the point of view of the characters (which we enjoyed immensely as the players, yes), and not so much a crunch here-it-comes showdown moment for us as people. I'd say that aspect of addressing Premise pretty much peaked at Beezah's death and the aftermath.

Yes, this falls in line with my impression of the rhythm of the sessions. I think because "kill Garfauld" is not a premise, it had me scratching my head and thinking, "what, their big Narr-D&D game ends with a Big Bad and a simple fight?" But yeah, observed from the macro level, it was simply part of a progression that had address of premise as its main (player) goal. Makes sense. Thanks again.

-Joel


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 29, 2006, 02:16:43 PM
Here are all the character portraits we used during play, all taken from the D&D site.

The player-characters

Joshua (http://www.wizards.com/dnd//images/pc_portraits/263_12.jpg), human 2nd-level fighter/1st-level cleric; Christopher pointed out that he had a big ol' tattoo of Hieronymous on his back as well
Vall (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/279_MElvencleric.jpg), elven 2nd-level paladin/1st-level cleric; as time passed, Christopher played him as more and more forbidding and intense, unlike the rather bluff and friendly Joshua
Forin (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/PCP_halfbreed13.jpg), half-orc 3rd-level barbarian; half-brother to Corin - all 'round bad-ass with a good heart
Corin (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/PCP_halfbreed3.jpg), half-elf 2nd-level fighter/1st-level sorcerer; half-brother to Forin - sneaky, smart son-of-a-bitch, always seeking an angle, but also good-hearted

The family

Lord Khoros (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/Investigator_002.jpg) - an overly generic pic; I now wish I'd used this one (http://www.wizards.com/dnd//images/pc_portraits/263_11.jpg), but didn't have a good enough feel for the character at the start
Hathic (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/268_12.jpg) - perfect! Exactly the kind of guy I was looking for as I browsed the portraits for this character
Raetha (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/277_temptress.jpg) - a bit more sultry than I'd planned, but I really didn't want an anime waif-girl, so this was my first choice; I now wish I'd used this one (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/268_3.jpg) instead, which I like a lot
Garfauld (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/288_02Zombieghoul.jpg) - standard ghast thing; I guess a tad more dignity would have been good, but whatever

Others

Beezah (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/287_rottingelf.jpg) (this pic inspired me to add the whole bit about Beezah protecting Raetha, and thus suffering Garfauld's "black kiss")
Eladd (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/268_6.jpg) (a tad more catamite-ish in the pic than I played him, but I did note Dan's amused glance when he saw the illustration)

Oh yes, one another images-during-game point. I simply put the whole map out in front of all us as soon as they entered the dungeon. No one had any issue with "knowing what the next room looked like," and all decisions during play were made perfectly in accord with characters not knowing. I didn't have to mention a word about that, and in fact, I didn't mind if player-knowledge snuck in there in any way, as long as it was internally consistent as well. But as it turned out, there was absolutely no issue with any of that at all.

I kept my notes on my lap in front of me, or on a side table. We were sitting on my porch, so there wasn't a central table. The map was put on a little table (TV-tray type thing) in the middle. I didn't try to hide my notes and they didn't show any interest in looking at them.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Precious Villain on June 29, 2006, 02:36:23 PM
Quote
Oh yes, one another images-during-game point. I simply put the whole map out in front of all us as soon as they entered the dungeon. No one had any issue with "knowing what the next room looked like," and all decisions during play were made perfectly in accord with characters not knowing. I didn't have to mention a word about that, and in fact, I didn't mind if player-knowledge snuck in there in any way, as long as it was internally consistent as well. But as it turned out, there was absolutely no issue with any of that at all.

I'm totally doing that next game.  If there's anything that turns off a dungeon crawl for me it's the need to pace off distances while whoever had the bad luck to be the mapper gets his act together!

I wanted to raise a question about the Skill Combat that went on, in theory terms -

IIEE for skill combat seemed to me to go like this

Players and GM talk, either "in character" or "out of character," about a subject.  Either the player or the GM calls for a skill roll - which is done on the spot.  Then, depending upon who wins the skill roll, the direction of the conversation changes (or continues). 

Is the above a correct summary?  Would it be appropriate to formalize the procedure? 

I had a situation arise in play a couple weeks back:  The game is D&D 3.5.  5 players plus GM (me, I was filling in for our regular GM who hadn't had time to prep).  The player characters are piloting a rowboat up a reservoir (man made lake) in an area heavily populated by goblins and elves.  There happens to be a human settlement just below the dam at the bottom of the reservoir - where the PCs have been staying.  Goblins in their own boats set upon the PCs, but with the extra surprise that there's an elf among them!  The PCs defeat the Goblins but are able to capture the elf. 

At that point, the PCs began to question the elf, with folks speaking pretty much in character.  After a failed diplomacy roll and failed intimidation roll the interrogation pretty much flatlined.  They did get some interesting information via sense motive rolls - which made sense later.  However, the scene drug on for some time as the player characters kept trying to reason with their prisoner.  I finally had to cut the scene by flatly telling them that they had failed their intimidation rolls, and thus could not frighten him into talking, had failed their bluff rolls so no trickery and finally had failed the diplomacy roll which would be a prerequisite to reasoning with the guy.  That seemed to work fairly well - it ended the scene and did so in a fashion I consider to have been entirely fair.  In IIEE terms we got a little hung up on Effect - a failed roll didn't necessarily end the scene, although enough of them conspired to do so.

For a first attempt at using these rules in this way, I think it worked pretty well.  However, I'm curious if you had similar problems or if your result would have been similar. 

Best,

Rob


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: James_Nostack on June 29, 2006, 02:36:43 PM
This may be a little tangential, but I use those pre-generated maps too.  I really like how the D&D website has maps, adventure hooks, critters to fight, and so on.  Given how prep-heavy the game can be, it's good customer service.  I only wish I knew of some good apps to generate treasure and dungeons, since that's almost all look-up tables in the DMG.   


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: rafial on June 29, 2006, 02:41:29 PM
Quote
I kept my notes on my lap in front of me, or on a side table. We were sitting on my porch, so there wasn't a central table. The map was put on a little table (TV-tray type thing) in the middle. I didn't try to hide my notes and they didn't show any interest in looking at them.

This strikes a cord with me.  Since my return to RPGs in 2000, any time I GM I just plop my notes in front of me.  If there is something I'd prefer the players didn't see immediately, I keep it in a folder, or simply at the bottom of the stack, but other than that I make no real attempt to hide anything I'm doing.  And as you experienced, those people I play with have never evinced much of an interest in looking.

At one point I pondered using a screen, and I surprised myself with a rather intense feelign of revulsion at putting something between myself and the other players.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 29, 2006, 04:15:44 PM
Hi there,

Rob, you summarized:

Quote
Players and GM talk, either "in character" or "out of character," about a subject.  Either the player or the GM calls for a skill roll - which is done on the spot.  Then, depending upon who wins the skill roll, the direction of the conversation changes (or continues).


Yes, with this crucial addition: or concludes. Because the roll is a conflict-resolver; the key conflict at issue for the conversation or confrontation is really at stake for its outcome. If you are trying to get Lord Khoros to delay the funeral, and he doesn't want to bend the law that far, then it's Diplomacy on Diplomacy - and guess what, you lose. He ain't delaying it past a few hours, as he said initially.

Talk until you're blue in the face after that point, but de roll is de roll. Sometimes, it's fun to play out the rest of the conversation or get in a last one-liner or something; other times, the roll ends the conversation.

There are some difficult areas with this tactic if we're talking about D&D 3.0/3.5 or with similar skill systems (i.e. nearly all modern RPGs). For instance, what if the player decides to intimidate now, instead of negotiate? I tend to say that's worth a new roll, as it will yield significantly different kinds of success and failure than the previous one.   

The D&D rules try to deal with the grey area by pitching the results over optionally to the DM fiat rule, which I recognize is a common solution, familiar to most role-players, but I choose not to employ it. You can see a more concrete and functional set of techniques inherent in the Sorcerer dice/conflict system, though.

Also, in your example, you were describing an interrogation scene. Whole reams of essays and threads could be employed just to discuss interrogation scenes. That brings in so many problematic aspects of role-playing as currently conceived, it's practically the entire GNS essay and the three sub-essays at once. I don't really have the energy to tackle that at the moment, but keep it on hold for now. I'd like to do that relatively soon.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Joel P. Shempert on June 30, 2006, 06:09:38 AM
The D&D rules try to deal with the grey area by pitching the results over optionally to the DM fiat rule, which I recognize is a common solution, familiar to most role-players, but I choose not to employ it. You can see a more concrete and functional set of techniques inherent in the Sorcerer dice/conflict system, though.

I'm curious about one thing, namely how involved (or not) is fiat in the setting/approving of the conflicts in the first place? Like, if someone says "I roll to convince him that I am the God-King of the universe, and he should donate all his wealth and armies to our cause," do you draw the line and say "that's not a reasonable goal"? (assuming that the story HASN'T led up to that point, that is!) Even in less extreme cases, there's still got to be some degree of judgment call involved, right? Like in the "intimidate the guards" example, presumably a goal of "convince the guards to accompany and fight alongside us" would be less reasonable than "cinvince them to let us keep our weapons."

Regrettably, I haven't yet been able to check out Sorcerer, so I don't know if those rules answer this question at all.

Peace,
-Joel


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Roger on June 30, 2006, 07:39:31 AM
(I am using the cube description from the 3.0 book; I was a little dubious that one could be engulfed but not paralyzed, but the description there doesn't contradict that reading. This might be another error on my part, but if so, it was a fun-making error.)

As far as I can tell, you handled it exactly correctly.

Quote
Dan provided an interesting observation, that in this adventure, finding treasure just wasn't a big deal. Although his early D&D experiences peeked through occasionally, he made a kind of personal shift from search-and-loot to why-we-fight, and noted it when it happened.

Huh.  I wonder if this had anything to do with the approaching end of the campaign?  Treasure is more-or-less a form of character advancement in D&D, and I'd imagine character advancement becomes less of a concern if you know you're putting the character into a drawer after another session or two.  Or it might well be something else entirely.

Quote
2. Christopher's characters didn't have a good day.

Did you find yourself at all tempted to use just a little bit of Illusionism to "fix" these problems?

Quote
It also occurred to me, for the first time in my history as a role-player, and given the cleric-heavy, Hieronymous-heavy scenario, that resurrecting a player-character might actually be a fun and dramatic topic for a later scenario, rather than a lame-ass "oh let him keep playing" add-on.

I've got good news and bad news.  The bad news is that characters killed by a death effect, like the death touch from the Death domain, can't be raised or reincarnated.  The good news is that resurrection and other powerful magics will work just fine.  Just for your information.


Cheers,
Roger


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 30, 2006, 02:49:40 PM
Hi there,

Joel, "fiat" isn't the right concept for the set-conflict processes in any role-playing game. However, the functional ways in which this is accomplished vary widely, and are currently ill-described by current RPG jargon.

I suggest that a great deal of your question, however, is irrelevant. Shared commitment to the SIS is a powerful thing. If a participant in the game were to ask for or instigate such an irrelevant, wacked conflict, it's almost certain that the person is disrupting the SIS, on purpose, for some agenda of his own that has nothing to do with the shared medium. A lot like getting up and doing a belly-dance on the sofa when the rest of you are trying to play a game of cards or watch a movie together. Or building a card-house with one's hand during a poker game, and saying, "What? I'm playing cards with you, aren't I?"

If you can provide a real, actual-play example of such a conflict being proposed or established, which is not an instance of such disruption, I'd be interested to know about it, in its own thread.

Aside from disruptive examples, I submit that Trollbabe is probably the game to check out for a rules-set that solves the issues you're concerned about without fiat - merely authority. But that's off-topic here, I think. All I can say here, productively, is that D&D offers no procedures to deal with that except to invoke the rule that says "DM really decides" following the roll, for some of the social skills, especially Diplomacy. That is indeed a form of social correction, or an attempt at one, although I don't think it would be very effective.

Roger: no temptation whatsoever. Any such hint of that temptation has been burned out of my RPG desires or habits by years of Sorcerer, which has taught me that it is simply and clearly more fun to see where things go, rather than to try to spin the two dials of "how the rolls turns out" and "how the situations turns out" simultaneously. It's not that I merely don't want to do it ... it's that I can no longer even imagine wanting to fudge a dice outcome or to tweak a narration, in order to make Christopher's characters look better or succeed a little more or have an opportunity arise. At present, my reaction to such a thing is not much different from direct, repulsed aversion. If you, for instance, were to state that this was a technique you'd be willing to employ as a GM, it would be a strong disincentive for me to play with you.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Joel P. Shempert on June 30, 2006, 06:04:41 PM
Hmm. . .I think I'm starting to see that at the very least my concepts of "fiat" vs. "authority" need some heavy examination. I'll try to come up with some AP examples and perhaps work up a new thread.

Peace,
-Joel


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: greyorm on June 30, 2006, 06:21:42 PM
At present, my reaction to such a thing is not much different from direct, repulsed aversion. If you, for instance, were to state that this was a technique you'd be willing to employ as a GM, it would be a strong disincentive for me to play with you.

During an AD&D game I played in some years ago, a scene arose where the guardian of some crypt or another (I forget the exact details) demanded the sacrifice of one of the party in order to let the rest of us pass deeper into the crypt and retrieve the whatever important thing it was we were looking for.

Now, in that game my character owned a sword: an intelligent, cruel, blood-drinking sword. My character also happened to be a paladin of the goddess of magic and illusion. As such, he was sworn not to destroy the sword, because items of magic were sacred to his goddess (and it was colored sacred red to boot).

Now, I'd fought for that sword, I'd wrested it from its foul owner, and I was invested as a player in having my character bring that sword "into the light" -- get it to confess its sins, understand how its sins were wrong, and to come to serve the goddess as his very own holy blade.

What I do recall of that session, and vividly, is when that choice came up, I offered up the sword as the sacrifice. I was using that offer as a threat, trying to get the sword to swear it would never again try to attack an innocent. The plan was to retract the offer once the pledge was made. It was careful psychological manipulation...and it backfired.

The sword was obstinate, it didn't make the promise...not until it was handed over -- it didn't think I would go through with it, couldn't concieve its grasp on me was tenuous at best, couldn't believe I would willingly hand it over -- and then it screamed and pled.

Now the GM could have fudged things and given the sword back to me somehow, knowing that I was losing something precious and important to my character, but he didn't. The guardian took the sword, and we were teleported away.

But I'd realized a moment after making that choice...I didn't want to make the choice I just had. Yet I'd walked into it eyes wide open, I'd made the choice knowing the consequences...and here I was, and no one fudged my way out of it.

I'd just handed a powerful, magical, evil sword into the hands of creatures who would befoul it bt indulging its wicked desires, and destroy all the work I had done so far. I would never get to complete a task I had set myself as a player, because of what I'd chosen to do, what I'd tried and failed at.

I was upset, the rest of the night's game was ruined for me because I was focused on my loss. Maybe because I expected the GM to pull fiat out of his hat to save my butt...because that was the way the game had worked thus far. I don't know.

It HURT. I wanted to take it back so badly, and I couldn't. It was too late. There was nothing I could do. It was also one of the most poignant and memorable moments of gaming I had had in years. It was emotional, engaging, meaningful.

Whenever I roll the dice today or otherwise make a decision, I expect the fallout. I WANT it. If I make a bad choice or a bad roll, I don't want the GM saving my butt. (Of course, I also expect the consequences to be fair and expected, and the rolls to be non-arbitrary.)

I chose to make the roll after all, thus it is absolutely essential I deal with the consequences of it, or the entire point of making those rolls and making those decisions is undermined: they become completely meaningless as actions, they are playing pretend.

If the decisions I make matter, if the outcome of a roll matters, then I want it to matter. I don't just want to pretend it matters with a wink and a nudge.

As such, I can completely understand exactly where Ron is coming from regarding his aversion to fudging rolls and spinning situational dials to soften the blow.

Given that, Ron, and given Christopher was obviously becoming quite frustrated with his character's ineffectiveness, what do you feel would be a functional solution to the player's frustration? (Either in Christopher's specific case, or in general?)


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 30, 2006, 07:49:08 PM
Hi there,

You guys are responding as if the minor and healthy reaction of a twelve-year-old boy were a problem, or as if the response of the father and adult friend (i.e. to ignore it, which we did) were a problem.

Neither is a problem. We were enjoying an activity that includes, as part of what's in it, the failure of actions. It takes place over several sessions (or as to its fullest potential, many[/] sessions), and as expected, the sessions vary in terms of how successful or significant a given character's actions are at any particular moment. Right? As expected. Given the resolution system, given many features of this particular game, that's how it works.

You guys get that, right? There wasn't a problem. This wasn't a crisis. Christopher is not scarred. His characters performed many, many heroic and dramatic acts during play - you read about them, remember? He loved the game. Don't get all bent out of shape at a kid his age going "grump grump" in an extremely minimal way when his characters have an off-kilter series of rolls; it's disturbing to read.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Paul T on June 30, 2006, 08:43:48 PM
Hello.

I would like to ask a question about something Ron has only touched briefly in the "D&D: the kid two houses down" threads.

(As I am new to the Forge, please let me know if I am violating any established etiquette. In particular, I don't how much I should bore you by describing where I'm coming from, what my experience with roleplaying games is, and so on. Please feel free to ask for more information, and I will oblige. I'm also concerned that I may not be handling the "quote" function incorrectly, so please bear with me if the quotes don't come out right.)

My question is about the discussion that prefaced the whole game:

In other words, someone without the neurosis in the first place doesn't need therapy-based jargon in order to help themself enjoy doing something. All we did was that two-minute talk in the beginning about what sort of play we'd like, and since that talk wasn't swamped in meaningless garbage like "realism" and "balance" and similar, it was productive and sufficient.

In the original thread, Ron, you mentioned that you discussed the game briefly, identified a Creative Agenda (a potential one, perhaps, or only a possible one?), and gave the players a warning about the nature of challenges in the game:

We all had a little talk about what we'd like to do, and my jargony conclusion from what they said is, "light-hearted Narrativism, with necessary attention to strategy in order to keep characters alive." So no gonzo Gamist Magic-deck style Feat combinations, no crazed perusing of spell lists from every possible supplement, etc. [...] And bluntly, when it comes to looking over every little box on the sheet and figuring out that they should be getting +7 instead of +5, well, I warned them - that's not my job. I'll be hitting them with penalties and AC bonuses to foes, and if they don't track their +'s for various things, too bad.

I would really love to hear what kind of discussion you had, what kind of questions were fielded, and so on. I'm really interested in what kind of discussion can be helpful to nailing down these priorities or Contract-related issues before play.

With hardline roleplayers, as you point out, it can be very difficult to get past discussion of "game balance", "realism", "metagaming", or whatever baggage they feel particularly important to pound into the ground.

With people new to roleplaying, it can be difficult to get any input at all, since new players are more likely to be shy/reticent, and anyone unfamiliar with a game is not going to know what they might like or dislike, since they might not have any idea of what to expect from play.

I'm really interested in figuring out how to have a "jargon-free, productive and sufficient" talk with my fellow players, whether they belong to the former group or the latter (although I am more interested in the latter at the moment). Are there any particularly good questions you have come across? What approaches have worked, and which haven't? Athough I am pointing this question at Ron, I would love to hear from anyone here at the Forge.

If this topic has already been discussed in-depth, I won't waste your time, but would really appreciate it if someone could post a link to the appropriate discussion, instead. Finally, if this is something that people are interested in discussing in more depth, I would love to start a new thread on the topic. If so, what would be the most appropriate forum?

Thank you very much! I've been reading discussions on the Forge for several months now, and have found it to be a repository of useful and insightful advice, without any of the rude and unfocused conversations so common on other internet fora.

All the best,


Paul


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: greyorm on June 30, 2006, 09:02:00 PM
You guys are responding as if the minor and healthy reaction of a twelve-year-old boy were a problem, or as if the response of the father and adult friend (i.e. to ignore it, which we did) were a problem.

Neither is a problem. We were enjoying an activity that includes, as part of what's in it, the failure of actions.

Hah! Cool. That's exactly the answer I expected, at least for this particular situation.

So why the reactions? Keep in mind, too, a lot of us, especially long-time D&D players have a personal, emotional history with the whiff-factor, because in the environment in which D&D usually exists as an activity, we get completely hosed by it and the GM, time after time after time. Failure isn't made out to be cool or interesting or something that just happens -- many times it is used to socially hose the player among his peers.

Course, I know you know that because it is why we have talked about these very issues for years, so, yeah, jeez, no wonder it disturbs you. You're looking at thick, yicky scar-tissue.

All of which is drifting the thread away from your game, your players, and your play as the topic, so I'm stopping there.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 01, 2006, 07:39:03 AM
Raven, do not set me up with what look like serious questions, only to say "Ha! That's the answer I hoped to elicit." It's patronizing and annoying. If you have a viewpoint on a topic, simply present your viewpoint, and spare me this coffee-shop version of the Socratic method.

Paul, welcome to the Forge, and your posting here is perfectly acceptable. I do encourage you to start your own Actual Play thread, regarding any RPG experience you've ever played.

I'm going to disagree with one distinct point you made. When you see what it is, and what I'm saying, I think you'll see it's the foundation for my overall answer to your question. You wrote,

Quote
With people new to roleplaying, it can be difficult to get any input at all, since new players are more likely to be shy/reticent, and anyone unfamiliar with a game is not going to know what they might like or dislike, since they might not have any idea of what to expect from play.


I disagree with this claim. I suggest, instead, that what you (the role-player) are remembering or encountering with non-role-players at their first game, is the second thing they demonstrate, not the first. They demonstrate this second thing (exactly what you describe) upon receiving fierce, unified, marginalizing feedback from the role-players they're with, about how they're doing it wrong, or reacting wrong, or not getting it in some way. That's when they become shy and reticent, as well they might.

Since Dan and Christopher were not in this position, I was free to deal with their first reaction, which as I know from many years of "working with" (terrible phrase) new role-players, is the simplest and most easy thing ever.

It would be hard to reproduce the conversation, because it was so basic and normal and unstressed. From reading a number of posts here at the Forge over the years, I get the idea that role-players think these discussions need to be encounter groups - ripping the emotions out, revealing long-standing trauma, hugging as they collapse into, at last, honest tears. Maybe it does have to be among role-players, although I don't think so, but it certainly doesn't have to be so among non-role-players.

Let's see ...

Me: OK, there are two main ways we can do this. One is more like a video game, where overcoming the monsters and traps is the point. I'd set up a maze and you guys would try to clear it, win or lose. The characters' personalities are there mainly for fun, but not a big deal. The fighting rules are really cool and part of playing would be to get better at them. The other way is more like writing a script as we go along, where the characters are in a difficult situation and have to make decisions and put their lives on the line about it. Their personalities are therefore a really big deal and you should know, I won't be able to dictate what they do or what they think is important. Oh, and don't forget, they can die in the second kind of play, too.

Christopher: The second way.

Dan. The second way.

And that was it, and that's exactly what happened without fail, and without apparent effort or need to remind ourselves at any point - not one - during play.

Also, to fend off any reader-based projection, no, I did not curl my lip or otherwise imply with my tone or expression that "video game" type play was a lesser thing. I presented the options fairly and said I was willing to do my best as DM either way.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Mark Woodhouse on July 01, 2006, 08:13:27 AM
Ron, I'll speak up with an actual play example that describes what I think Paul is talking about. Situation is  very similar to your description, although the game is Call of Cthulhu. Neither of my two prospective players has much RP experience - a little bit of high school D&D in one case, some Vampire LARP in the other. I described the choice as between a Stephen King kind of story, in which normal life is menaced by a monster and the characters need to figure out its secrets so that it can be defeated, and a Clive Barker kind of story, in which people come into contact with the supernatural and are pushed to the point of destruction or transformation by it. What we had was a highly digressive conversation that amounted to "well, I like this about choice one, and that about choice two, and I don't know which I'll like better - so you choose. You've done this before." Essentially, the new player(s) deferring to presumed expertise on the part of the experienced player, absent the kind of bullying you suggest.

At least I think I didn't bully. It can be tough to be objective about these things.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 01, 2006, 08:50:03 AM
Ah, Mark. Mark.

You didn't provide them with Agenda-specific options. You described stuff which, to a role-player, would make sense in terms of nuances of Character Exploration and the expected success/fail ratio. They had no idea what you were talking about.

No, not even "defeat menace." That is not a Gamist flag to a non-role-player. You have to be specific about the human reality of a given CA. You have to talk about Step On Up in some explicit way.

Print out my little dialogue with Dan and Christopher, above, and your summary in your post. Put them side by side. Now draw, on the Big Model diagram, what each text piece is talking about.

You'll find that mine is totally aligned along the arrow of the Creative Agenda, and that yours is firmly embedded in the Components of Exploration section, mostly Character and a little bit of System (i.e. outcomes, failure/success).

Non-role-players, quite reasonably, assess the things they want to do along the line of agenda, in this case, Creative Agenda because it's a creative activity. Role-players, unreasonably, are largely unable to talk about CA and exist in a state of verbal denial that it even exists. Nothing you described to them had anything to do with what they needed to know.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: greyorm on July 01, 2006, 10:07:24 AM
Raven, do not set me up with what look like serious questions, only to say "Ha! That's the answer I hoped to elicit." It's patronizing and annoying. If you have a viewpoint on a topic, simply present your viewpoint, and spare me this coffee-shop version of the Socratic method.

This is me grumbling and grousing and giving you the Vulcan stare. We aren't communicating in a variety of ways. I don't know what you think I'm saying/doing, but your reactions have twice been incongruous with my idea of what I'm saying/doing. That's not good; we'll have to save this discussion for some other time, preferably in real-time.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Paul T on July 01, 2006, 12:27:32 PM
Ron,

Thank you very much! That's exactly what I was hoping for. I'm sure I'm not the only one who
will find that kind of example useful.

Paul, welcome to the Forge, and your posting here is perfectly acceptable. I do encourage you to start your own Actual Play thread, regarding any RPG experience you've ever played.

I'm going to disagree with one distinct point you made. When you see what it is, and what I'm saying, I think you'll see it's the foundation for my overall answer to your question. You wrote,

Quote
With people new to roleplaying, it can be difficult to get any input at all, since new players are more likely to be shy/reticent, and anyone unfamiliar with a game is not going to know what they might like or dislike, since they might not have any idea of what to expect from play.


I disagree with this claim. I suggest, instead, that what you (the role-player) are remembering or encountering with non-role-players at their first game, is the second thing they demonstrate, not the first. They demonstrate this second thing (exactly what you describe) upon receiving fierce, unified, marginalizing feedback from the role-players they're with, about how they're doing it wrong, or reacting wrong, or not getting it in some way. That's when they become shy and reticent, as well they might.

Since Dan and Christopher were not in this position, I was free to deal with their first reaction, which as I know from many years of "working with" (terrible phrase) new role-players, is the simplest and most easy thing ever.

You're quite right that this sort of pressure will often take place, and, furthermore, that the way most roleplayers will attempt
to communicate about their games is counterproductive. It is simply astounding to me to see how bad most gamers are at communicating about their games. I include myself in that category, since it's always more difficult than I would have expected to
explain those things.

However, I have found what I described absent any bullying or "unified, marginalizing feedback". The times I have attempted roleplaying with people new to the hobby, no other gamers were present, and I usually let them do as much talking as I can before saying anything. Generally, I would simply ask something like this: "So, you'd like to try roleplaying? Can you tell me what appeals to you about it? Do you have any preferences about what kind of game you'd like to play, or what kind of story you'd like to be involved in creating?" Then I try as hard as I can to stay quiet until they've had their say.

Rather, what I have encountered is that people aren't really ready for the creative, collaborative aspect of roleplaying. There are few decisions to make before trying any other kind of game--when your friends invite you to play "Monopoly", you're not going to have a discussion about what kind of game it will be before you begin. In my experience, people want to sit down and just see what it's all about. They are shy about making any statements because they want to see the thing "au naturel".

Not knowing the nature of play, they can't really have any idea that, for example, a roleplaying game could exist without a Gamist agenda, or without a Nar agenda, or whatever may appear central to what they've heard about roleplaying or imagined in their heads (this is true of many, if not most, roleplayers as well).

This isn't necessary a bad thing. My experiences with people new to roleplaying have been almost universally very positive. Almost exclusively, however, they have involved getting together a whole group of people who were new to the hobby, as opposed to trying to incorporate one "newbie" into a group of hardline gamers, so the whole "bullying" thing has never really come up. As or myself, I always try to go with the new players' playstyle--if the players begin using some Author or Director stance, I usually let them go with it, and so on. The group develops its own style as a result--there's no one there to shout and explain that it's "not done that way".

The key reason that you had proper communication in your game, I feel, is because you came up with a good way of narrowing down the options for the players. You gave them option A and option B, and they were able to choose the one they found more appealing. Learning how to present those options is what I'm interested in.

Anyway, this thread is about your D&D game, and I feel like I've just about highjacked it, so I'll stop there. I just wanted to thank you for your reply, and, hopefully, to temper cynicism with a positive account of experienced roleplayers interacting with people new to the hobby. If, on the other hand, it still sounds like I'm misunderstanding something, please let me know.

You also suggest that, for further discussion on this topic, I should begin an Actual Play thread. That seems obvious in retrospect. I will do so as soon my most recent upcoming experiment with non-gamers takes place.

All the best,


Paul





Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 02, 2006, 07:23:10 AM
Hi Paul,

One speedbump I'm encountering with your post is that I can't tell whether you're agreeing or disagreeing with me. It starts one way and seems to end up another.

Forging ahead a little blindly, I suggest my answer to Mark may apply to your case as well. For whatever my value judgment is worth, it's good that you didn't include bullying and negative reinforcement to mold others into your own model of play; both of you seem to have avoided that without trouble. But absence of negative stuff is only half the battle. The "positive," which is to say the constructive in the most literal sense (stuff to build with), is Creative Agenda, in concrete, human-interactive terms. And although I didn't mention this before, the touchstone for that in terms of procedures ("what do we do here?") is the reward system.

I suggest that in your case, based on what you've said here (because I wasn't there and cannot be sure), you might introduce, say, Tunnels & Trolls as follows:

The goal is to "beat my dungeon." The only way to do that is to progress as many of your characters upward through as many levels and abilities as possible, because I'll be amping the foes up the whole time. You'll need imagination and to think laterally a lot of the time, because the system is highly flexible and you can do stuff that isn't explicitly listed there. Sometimes it'll involve working as a team, and sometimes it'll involve screwing one another over in small ways.

Compare that to:

You make up characters and act out their dialogue!

Thud. The non-role-players' resulting stare of puzzlement and hesitancy is fully justified. Why would anyone want to do that? Of course they'll be unsure; they're looking for the part which any social/fun activity has to have in it - the social and procedural reinforcement process. What do they do which "works?" Without that, and even without the negative practices I mentioned before, they won't have received the explanation they were looking for.

It'd be like explaining Monopoly by saying "we move pieces on a board!" and leaving it at that. Without even knowing what a turn is, or how you get money or how you know someone wins, they are definitely going to hesitate as play begins, or even as they sit down at the table.

My next point may be a little jarring to role-players, who are used to coping with a diversity of strongly-felt, inarticulate Creative Agendas or incoherent versions of them. Instead of saying "Gee, the floor's open, what way shall we go?", which is reasonable in the face of the role-players I just characterized, with non-role-players, especially in a group of'em as you describe, you need to be singular and concrete. This Creative Agenda, procedurally reinforced in this way.

I provided Dan and Christopher with two, but only because we were dealing with D&D 3.0/3.5, with its plethora of associations. If it had been Tunnels & Trolls, I would have described raw, bouncy Gamist play; if it had been The Mountain Witch, I would have described highly player-interactive Narrativist play; and in neither case would I have provided Column B.
Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: colin roald on July 03, 2006, 08:51:43 AM
One speedbump I'm encountering with your post is that I can't tell whether you're agreeing or disagreeing with me. It starts one way and seems to end up another.

It sounds to me like Paul wasn't particularly agreeing or disagreeing with you -- that is, I don't think his point was "to make an argument in the debate", but rather just "to ask a question".  Specifically, I think his key sentence was "Learning how to present those options is what I'm interested in."

I hope I'm not putting words in his mouth.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 03, 2006, 02:48:31 PM
Paul can speak for himself, Colin. He can let me know whether my reply to his question - which is consistent with your interpretation - helped him. This isn't a confrontation, and you don't need to mediate.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Paul T on July 04, 2006, 10:57:13 AM
Ron,

Your reply was, indeed, just what I had been hoping for, and quite clear.

My own post could have used quite a bit of editing. For the purposes of retaining clarity in this conversation, I'll try to summarize what it was that I had been trying to say:

1. You are correct: that sort of response, coming from people new to gaming, is often a "second" response, as you put it--a direct reaction to negative experiences they've had in the past.

2. However, will I agree with that, I disagree that it is the ONLY reason. Another explanation is that they either just want to experience the RPG thing "au naturel", as an explorer or observer, and thus do not want to provide input. A third is that they simply can't articulate what they want because they don't really understand what RPG gameplay is like, not having experienced it yet. I feel quite confident that the reticence I have seen in some new gamers is due to one of these reasons, and not a result of bullying or other negative behaviour.

3. What I'm interested in is learning how to communicate about these things in a simple way, whether with people new to roleplaying or veteran gamers.

You've provided two great examples of a simple way of explaining CA in plain English, and thus offering these people a clear choice. Those examples are a good model for that sort of communication. Essentially it comes down to telling the players what the overall goal of play is (e.g. collect the most money in Monopoly, defeat the other players), rather than describe parts of the process (especially things like Color elements within the fiction).

However, explaining Gamist priorities is probably the easiest of the three (at least once you get over any stigma attached to "rollplaying" or "playing to win" being evils, and can just explain it as it is, as you have done). Where most people flounder, I think, is in trying to explain collaborative storytelling/Narrativism, where there isn't as clear a "victory condition". Even more difficult is trying to explain an open Sim-type game. And, of course, there are many varieties of play within games aimed at fulfilling those Agendas. The "mainstream" RPG world is focused on that type of play, although it usually talks about "storytelling", so that's probably what most gamers are trying to describe, most of the time--and failing miserably! 

Can you offer any advice on talking about those? A single paragraph, like the ones you wrote so far, would be sufficient, I think.

My final concern in the previous post was that this might be considered off-topic. I will not be surprised if you choose to keep it brief, therefore.

More in line with the thread topic, however, I could frame the question differently:

You have made it clear that you do not intend or expect to continue this game with Dan and Christopher. If the answer doesn't lie too deep in the personal realm, why not? Is it a personal issue (lack of time, preference to play with other gamers, or similar), or a game-related issue (the setting/characters, or the system, doesn't interest you beyond this brief game)? Have you satisfied whatever interest you had in playing 3rd edition D&D in the first place?

(All of the above goes for you or Dan and Christopher--so, if you know how they feel about these questions, I'd love to hear about that too. And, finally:)

Do you plan to play with Dan and Christopher again? If so, how would you pitch a different game (even if it's D&D again) to them?

And, while I'm here, one more question:

All in all, not bad. I have some general thoughts and conclusions about running the modern D&D, but even more about the nature of dialogue about D&D, and the latter may or may not show up in this thread.

I'm not so interested in the latter, but rather in the former. Have you said all you have had to say on the subject, or is there more forthcoming?

Thanks!

All the best,


Paul


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Paul T on July 04, 2006, 11:06:55 AM
Sorry, just to clarify:

When I said,

"Can you offer any advice on talking about those [other Agendas]? A single paragraph, like the ones you wrote so far, would be sufficient, I think."

I was referring to the example you gave for "Tunnels and Trolls", which I found immensely helpful as a model for describing Gamist play:

I suggest that in your case, based on what you've said here (because I wasn't there and cannot be sure), you might introduce, say, Tunnels & Trolls as follows:

The goal is to "beat my dungeon." The only way to do that is to progress as many of your characters upward through as many levels and abilities as possible, because I'll be amping the foes up the whole time. You'll need imagination and to think laterally a lot of the time, because the system is highly flexible and you can do stuff that isn't explicitly listed there. Sometimes it'll involve working as a team, and sometimes it'll involve screwing one another over in small ways.

Compare that to:

You make up characters and act out their dialogue!

All the best,


Paul


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 04, 2006, 02:01:53 PM
Hi Paul,

I get it, and have from the beginning: "not all," or "not only," is a fair statement regarding newcomers' hesitance and the causes I've stated. I do stand by my observations that the negative reasons (including Creative Agenda inarticulacy) are vastly more common, but there's no point in debating that. I'd like to forestall any further debate on whether other reasons are 10% or 20% or whatever percent of the total.

Regarding describing Creative Agendas to a group prior to play, a lot of this has to do with the way I compose handouts for a given group. I've discovered that the little summaries I write in the first couple of paragraphs are a lot more meaty than they look at first. "Creative Agenda via Color" might be the best way to describe them.

For a pretty intense example, see my old account of My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=7912.0). Actually, the most relevant portion of the discussion can be found in the second thread, The necromancy game continued (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=8079.0); see my point #3 in my first post, especially.

As for providing a whole string of off-the-cuff examples here, I'd rather not. Part of the reason is that venue is important: who exactly I'm writing for, as well as the general social circumstances of the game. Another part is that it's not really the way I like to interact on-line, providing lists on demand, although that is not to be taken as a criticism of you in particular (you've been very courteous).

As for the other questions, here goes.

Quote
You have made it clear that you do not intend or expect to continue this game with Dan and Christopher. If the answer doesn't lie too deep in the personal realm, why not? Is it a personal issue (lack of time, preference to play with other gamers, or similar), or a game-related issue (the setting/characters, or the system, doesn't interest you beyond this brief game)? Have you satisfied whatever interest you had in playing 3rd edition D&D in the first place?

Lack of time relative to other games I'd like to play, lack of interest in developing skills specific to this version of D&D (e.g. knowledge of feats, among other things), general satisfaction of my contract with Christopher to "play D&D," general satisfaction on my part at seeing at least some of the system in action (e.g. recognizing Champions when I see it, in the monster creation).

As for playing again with these guys, I enjoyed role-playing with Dan and Christopher a great deal and look forward to playing other games with them. Pitching really isn't an issue any more, at least not in terms of "trying to convince them to play at all." I think that a lot of our shared gamer-culture problems with pitching is that it's often serving two purposes: trying to convince people to play at all, and trying to convince them to play a particular game. When the former is a given, then a lot of the tension simply vanishes, and the game in question can be presented very minimally on one or two merits, with little debate.

In fact, now that this has occurred to me, I suggest that a lot of the unspoken edginess of the posts about this topic, in this thread, is probably the result of this exact double-duty problem. It's tied very closely to the gamer-culture issues of the "reversed priority" that I discussed in Social context (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=4258), as well as my general, also problematic observation that a proposed game is often offered as the New One Thing that will finally enable the group to have fun.

Something I'd suggest if we set up another game, though, is expanding the group to include more people, whether of their invitation or mine. As for which game, I'd probably bring out about six different books and let people paw through them and eventually settle on one.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Paul T on July 04, 2006, 05:06:28 PM
Ron,

I am not interested in discussing percentages either, so we're on the same page there!

I will go and read the threads you linked to, as well your three main essays (my main problem being that I'm not sure how to explain a Narrativist CA without using GNS jargon, and a Simulationist CA without using gamer-geek jargon).

I realize that posting a shopping list of paragraphs is not your mode of operation--I only suggested it because that was the format you used for the first example. Are you still interested in discussing my question (in some form other than "read this boxed text before your game" from Ron Edwards)? What are important points to hit on for other CAs? As I said, I've found the examples you've put up so far extremely useful.

Finally, in the first post of this thread, you mentioned that you'd like to encourage new posters to ask questions about the GNS aspects of your D&D game. Very well! You've already mentioned that you "drifted" the game in part by limiting the scope of play, effectively removing the planned character improvement aspect of play (as well as beginning at 3rd level, encouraging multi-classing, and having two characters per player). What other methods did you use to make sure you reached your "creative goals" in this game?

Quote: "4. Did we hit the creative goals that we talked about in the beginning? Check."

I believe that by "creative goals" you were referring to your earlier statement: "light-hearted Narrativism, with necessary attention to strategy in order to keep characters alive."

So, what techniques (including out-of-game discussion or anything else, not just rules changes) did you apply to encourage your stated "light-hearted Narrativist [...] + strategy" agenda? So far, you've mentioned the discussion you had up-front (making special note of the potential for character death), relationship-mapping, and some time spent checking over the characters in order to help the players remember to put on their armor, and similar.

For example, were the characters created completely in a vacuum, as the books seem to suggest (unless I'm mistaken)? How did you encourage (if at all) a connection between the characters, and between the characters and the "adventure"?

The relevant quote: "Our heroes are friends of the family in various ways and are showing up for Lady Khoros' funeral."

Was this your decision (and was it open to negotiation), or theirs (likewise)?

Thanks a lot, once again. I've really enjoyed these threads, and your last few posts have been particularly useful to me.

All the best,


Paul




Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 04, 2006, 06:30:30 PM
Hiya,

The general question about initial presentation is probably too general for this thread, and I can only say that for most of the stuff I've posted about here in Actual Play, I've tried to articulate just how I presented it to the group. Check out my threads and let me know if any of the content provides useful examples.

As far as specific techniques regarding Narrativist play ... you know, I think it was pretty much just that first discussion, and that was it. After that, it was an agenda, not techniques. Not what we did at an atomic level, but what we did it for, as evidenced by a number of concrete decisions and interactions during play - the same ones I've been careful to point out across all the threads, they should be relatively easy to spot on a re-read.

One of these days, I'd like to consider reward systems which, mechanically speaking, consist solely of subsequent interactions among the characters (PC or NPC, doesn't matter). I aimed very specifically in that direction in my game Trollbabe, and you can see hints of it in games like Polaris and Dogs in the Vineyard ... and the daddy of these effects is probably Hero Wars (later HeroQuest) ... h'm. Another thread topic, to be sure.

My point in bringing it up here concerns the mechanics of the reward system we utilized, and as far as I can tell, it was extremely SIS-heavy - actions had very specific and identifiable consequences in terms of how all the other NPCs related to the character from that point on. It goes back to the essence of relationship-mapping as a technique, actually, which puts one of the foundational texts at The Sorcerer's Soul.

You asked some good questions.

Quote
were the characters created completely in a vacuum, as the books seem to suggest (unless I'm mistaken)?

Yeah, they were. Dan's decision to make his characters brothers, and Christopher's to make both of his characters clerics of Hieronymous, were entirely theirs; I didn't know about them until they showed up with the completed sheets.

Quote
How did you encourage (if at all) a connection between the characters, and between the characters and the "adventure"?

See, that's backwards. I saw all Good characters, two of them Lawful Good clerics, with a general tendency toward elfiness (even the half-orc has a half-elf brother). I thought for a little bit and came up with an environment that seemed suitable to them, and with a situation that put the bite on certain features of that environment. So they set the real parameters for my decisions; you could say they encouraged me rather than the other way around. I totally did not follow the advice of so many RPG books, which urge the GM to enforce character creation that fits with his planned adventure.

Now, I did make some decisions after that point that they knew nothing about, and would not see except in terms of my actual contributions during play. Among them were the focus on death and my notion that their characters would have a social place in the situation, but would also be new arrivals.

And this was one of those sorts of decisions too:

Quote
The relevant quote: "Our heroes are friends of the family in various ways and are showing up for Lady Khoros' funeral."

Was this your decision (and was it open to negotiation), or theirs (likewise)?

It was my decision, or rather my suggestion, presented as part of the first five minutes of actual play, and was at least partly open to negotiation. I asked them if my presentation made sense, and was at least emotionally open to the idea that they might not like it.

And actually, now that I look at that quote, my actual presentation was more specific. I told Dan that the dead lady was a friend of his characters' mother, even though they had not met her; I told Christopher that these lands were sacred to Hieronymous and the people were mostly human, but very well-inclined toward the elves, so his characters were being sent to the funeral as an official gesture by the church.

If they hadn't liked it, I would have said, "well, there's this funeral, and you tell me why your character's going," with the expectation of batting justifications around a little if necessary. I said it was partly open to negotiation because it was not surprising that at this point in play (i.e. just starting), they'd probably follow my lead. Still, I didn't present it as "do it this way or we can't play," and as it happened, both players responded favorably (not merely cooperatively) and offered details of their own to flesh out the justification.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Paul T on July 05, 2006, 09:14:50 AM
Thank you very much, Ron. That answers my questions (particularly the parts about choosing to make death an important part of the game, etc).

Is it acceptable for me to quote some of what you wrote here in a new thread?

Thanks,


Paul


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 05, 2006, 03:35:45 PM
Better to ask me procedure-questions by private message. That way, I don't have to switch moderator/poster hats in the middle of the thread, which confuses people (and sometimes myself). Anyway, though, yeah, quote as you like. However, be sure to post about real actual play of yours if you're aiming for the Actual Play forum; don't merely quote me as the basis for a new thread by itself.

Everyone, further posts on this thread should focus on the D&D game I described.

Best, Ron