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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Lxndr on August 24, 2003, 05:22:33 PM



Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Lxndr on August 24, 2003, 05:22:33 PM
This is in response to Erick Wujcik's recent article (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/24/) that he submitted to the Forge.  I'm not sure if I've got my thoughts in order, but I wanted to put SOME sort of rebuttal.  Perhaps y'all can show me either where I'm wrong, or where I'm unclear, so I can better articulate what I'm actually thinking.

It appears to me that Wujcik's comments and examples are not describing diceless play, but rather freeform play.  Nowhere in his examples and discussion does he mention system-based non-Fortune resolution - instead, it sounds like he's discussing simply eschewing system-based resolution entirely in favor of freeform resolution.

In short, I take some umbrage with the following statement
Quote from: Erick's Article
Since no dice-based role-playing game can use dice for all possible random situations, it follows that all dice-based role-playing games use diceless mechanics.


In my opinion, this is an erroneous conclusion to make.  Simply because a dice-based roleplaying game does not use dice for all random situations, it doesn't mean it uses diceless mechanics at any time.  That last word, I think, is the linchpin on which my objection revolves.  

Yes, there is no game that uses dice for all random situations (though many games bundle many possible "random" outcomes into a single die roll, and failure assumes one or more of those outcomes might have occurred).  Yes, games drift into "free-form" when the mechanics are deemed unnecessary.

But that doesn't mean that any of these games use diceless mechanics.  The style of play Erick seems to be describing is something that can be drifted into through diceless play just as easily as diced (i.e. randomized) play.  "Ignoring the resolution mechanic" is independent of whether or not randomizers are present, and, by dint of ignoring the resolution mechanic, is not a mechanic of itself.

Thus, I cannot agree with this first maxim, from which the other two are derived:
Quote from: The Same Article
Therefore all dice-based role-playing games are a fusion of dice-based and diceless mechanics.


Humbly submitted for your perusal,


Title: Re: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Alan on August 24, 2003, 06:20:57 PM
Hi Lxndr,

Quote from: Lxndr

In short, I take some umbrage with the following statement
Quote from: Erick's Article
Since no dice-based role-playing game can use dice for all possible random situations, it follows that all dice-based role-playing games use diceless mechanics.


I too found something about Erick's article that seemed to miss the mark, but I wasn't sure what it was.  Your quote and comments suggest an idea to me.

I recall the Lumpley principle - ie that system (written and unwritten) is the way the players agree what will be added to the collective fantasy.  

We also have to bring in the idea of credibility: how much "right" a given person has to add to the fantasy.

Most RPG systems have a way of setting a threshhold, past which some mechanic will decide what passes into "phact."  So the incidents Erick refers to, where a dice-using system allows undiced resolution are just incidents where the threshhold hasn't been reached.

Too, we have to differentiate between textual (what the rulebook says) and the cognitive, unwritten rules.  The Text rules may not have a means to cover every situation, but may give guidelines for when the credibility of a player should be challenged.  The unwritten rules are based on when the group (or just the GM in some cases) thinks credibility should be challenged.

This is the cool thing about a game like Trollbabe: dice rolls only happen when someone declares a conflict (tacitly challenging credibility).  If no one does, then events get added inidefinately.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on August 24, 2003, 07:12:48 PM
I more-or-less agree, Alexander.  Well, sort of. In my a perspective on roleplaying (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=7497) thread, I had already been thinking along those lines. However, I am thinking about it differently. I am thinking that "diceless" of "freeform" is based on a very simple principle. That the elements in the shared space may be used in terms of what they are. Mike Holmes articulated this, but I am using it in a slightly different way that he seems to want to do with it. In that thread I combined it with the lumpley principle somewhat and believe, and this is just me talking, that this is roleplaying at it's most basic.

Eric addressed this in the article, stating that "diceless" is not "pure" roleplaying. I agree with this, but admit that I treat it as such sometimes. It's no more pure roleplaying than programing in binary is more pure that C++. It may be a lower level, but what's important is what you do with it.

It gets a little sticky when you look at Eric's D&D thief example. Were those mechanics? They weren't in the book beyond "just roleplay it" IIRC. And they did more that "just roleplay it" it sounds to me. They actually worked out on the fly methods for situation to situation on how to get his character out of scrape after scrape without rolling dice.

Here is where my thought fall apart a bit. Not to be vulgar but, does it have to be written in the rulebook that you should deficate out of your anus? Does it make it a mechanic if it is written down? Is it a mechanic if it is not written?

At this level it's a little confusing. It's almost at water is wet level, which is just common sense but the wetness of the water is a very important factor. Were it not wet, it wouldn't work. So I don't know how to get my head around it.

Eric even mentioned common sense. Problem is, I don't think that relying on common sense alone works. He and Mike Cuba managed to reach an agreement on how stuff happens in the shared imagined space. Lots of people do not. There's the rub for "Just roleplay it"


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Callan S. on August 25, 2003, 12:54:20 AM
Quote
In my opinion, this is an erroneous conclusion to make. Simply because a dice-based roleplaying game does not use dice for all random situations, it doesn't mean it uses diceless mechanics at any time. That last word, I think, is the linchpin on which my objection revolves.


I'd agree. The 'diceless' roleplay is still within the domain footprint of a dice system. For example, if his theif falls down, he'll take Xdice of damage.

Sure, they can just roleplay the fall, but that's avoiding the system. Its not diceless, its dice evasion and avoidance.

If he wants to spot a particular intricate trap part and keeps pumping the GM for info, he's dodging a spot or search roll or such, not being diceless.

As long as your working out of a book that suggests a dice roll for what your doing, even if only vaguely (dex could be applied to walking down the street, for example, only its easier than running across a lurching shop deck), your simply avoiding the system, not being diceless. Valid play option, but not diceless.


Title: Re: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Tony Irwin on August 25, 2003, 02:08:45 AM
Quote from: Lxndr
This is in response to Erick Wujcik's recent article (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/24/) that he submitted to the Forge.  I'm not sure if I've got my thoughts in order, but I wanted to put SOME sort of rebuttal.  Perhaps y'all can show me either where I'm wrong, or where I'm unclear, so I can better articulate what I'm actually thinking.

It appears to me that Wujcik's comments and examples are not describing diceless play, but rather freeform play.  Nowhere in his examples and discussion does he mention system-based non-Fortune resolution - instead, it sounds like he's discussing simply eschewing system-based resolution entirely in favor of freeform resolution.

In short, I take some umbrage with the following statement
Quote from: Erick's Article
Since no dice-based role-playing game can use dice for all possible random situations, it follows that all dice-based role-playing games use diceless mechanics.


In my opinion, this is an erroneous conclusion to make.  Simply because a dice-based roleplaying game does not use dice for all random situations, it doesn't mean it uses diceless mechanics at any time.  That last word, I think, is the linchpin on which my objection revolves.

Yes, there is no game that uses dice for all random situations (though many games bundle many possible "random" outcomes into a single die roll, and failure assumes one or more of those outcomes might have occurred).  Yes, games drift into "free-form" when the mechanics are deemed unnecessary.


But in Eric's article, he mentions that while he was enjoying what you might describe as a drift into free-form, he was later able to identify and articulate underlying mechanics in his group's play. It was a drift from one set of mechanics (D&D rule book) to a new set (this is how our group plays).

Quote from: Eric Wujcik
So I responded in the only way that seemed reasonable. I completely avoided rolling the dice. No close combat, and no taking chances. If I had to deal with a lock, or a trap, I learned that I could just keep asking questions, and Mike would keep supplying imaginative answers. The campaign went on and on, and I dissected every trap, every lock, every mechanism, and every arcane bit of machinery. I used every sense, every trick, and role-played my little heart out whenever possible.


Mechanic 1: The GM may not harm PCs whose players make thoughtful effort to avoid risk.

Quote
No close combat, and no taking chances.


Mechanic 2: GM must allow PCs to solve problems when their player's demonstrate a  commitment of time and thought.

Quote
If I had to deal with a lock, or a trap, I learned that I could just keep asking questions, and Mike would keep supplying imaginative answers.


Mechanic 3: The GM must reward imaginative and immersive player behaviour by ensuring the survival of their PCs.

Quote
I used every sense, every trick, and role-played my little heart out whenever possible.


I see those as mechanics underlying their D&D play (at least when the thief was disarming traps). I don't see them as drifting into free form, rather they drifted onto their own set of mechanics for producing enjoyable play. System was still present, system still matters to them. Any player coming to their group would notice how their system differs from the rule-book system, even if the group themselves perhaps weren't able to exactly articulate how their drifted system works to any observers or new players.

I understood Eric's first point to be that dice-mechanics can be easily replaced with diceless ones, and can in fact result in a more enjoyable play experience. He uses this to establish the ground for this:

Quote
Since no dice-based role-playing game can use dice for all possible random situations, it follows that all dice-based role-playing games use diceless mechanics.


So diceless mechanics aren't just a potential substitute for dice mechanics, they are already present and vital in games that use dice mechanics. The need for an article such as Eric's is that until people recognise that their games are full of many more mechanics than just what and when to roll, they will not be able to identify and articulate the diceless mechanics that are vital to enjoyable play.

Trollbabe identifies and articulates dicless mechanics (rules for framing scenes) that can add to the enjoyment of play.

The Pool identifies and articulates diceless mechanics (specifying what exactly you can and cannot do in an MOV) that can add to the enjoyment of play.

Universalis identifies and articulates dicelss mechanics (how to challenge the input of another player) that can add to the enjoyment of play.
 
These games (like all RPGs that use dice) are a fusion of dice and diceless mechanics, the difference is that these genius authors recognised this and wrote about the diceless ones as well in order to ensure enjoyable play. They identified and articulated as mechanics, the things that many other game authors hope the groups will figure out for themselves.

Eric (and the rest of us) didn't have games like this way back when, the only mechanics in our rule books dealt with rolling dice. We hadn't yet realised that which dice to roll and when, weren't even the mechanics that were producing enjoyable play for us. Eric did though, he eventually recognised that system=dice was a crock and wrote a game (and now an article) to explore that.

PS, Quick question for the sake of my own understanding - how are you defining free-form in RPGs?


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 25, 2003, 06:09:42 AM
Quote
Mechanic 1: The GM may not harm PCs whose players make thoughtful effort to avoid risk.
Mechanic 2: GM must allow PCs to solve problems when their player's demonstrate a commitment of time and thought.
Mechanic 3: The GM must reward imaginative and immersive player behaviour by ensuring the survival of their PCs.


I don't think these are mechanics; these are rules. There is a difference. Mechanics are processes used to do things required for the game. Rules are instructions and guidelines for use while playing the game. While all mechanics are part of the rules, not all rules are mechanics. At its simplest, a mechanic is composed of a device, an evaluation, and an outcome. In Erick Wujick's example, this is the mechanic:

Device: Erick asks a question.
Evaluation: The GM answers the question.
Outcome: Erick gains information.

This process continues until Erick has enough information to solve the problem. Knowing what to do, Erick makes his move:

Device: Erick declares a course of action.
Evaluation: The GM decides whether or not to let Erick's character succeed.
Outcome: Erick's character succeeds or fails, though it seems that success was the norm and that the GM applied some version of Tony's three rules in determining the outcome.

It seems that all this is primarily freeform play. The player is entirely relying on the GM's answers to provide a course of action, and the GM is relying entirely on his own judgment and imagination to determine the outcome. There is no process for challenging that decision, nor any device for determining the outcome. It's all up to the GM, except that the GM apparently followed rules similar to what Tony outlined above. I think Erick's experience was a little unusual. It seems likely that a lot of GMs would have answered Erick's questions, might have given him some sort of bonus for asking them, and then would have insisted on the die roll.

To Lxndr's original point, there are diceless mechanics at work in Erick Wujick's example, but they're not part of the D&D's formal rules. You could say they became part of the group's social contract, but none of this makes D&D a combination of diced and diceless play. Indeed, D&D in particular relies on a die roll for just about everything to the point that, if you can't roll dice for it, you probably can't do it. Certain functions have written exemptions from the die roll, but the original design was written with the expectation that people would roll dice to resolve the vast bulk and majority of character actions. Adding a freeform, diceless process to a group's social contract does not mean that D&D is suddenly equipped with diceless mechanics. It only means that people can change the game to suit themselves.

Edit: Deleted last line.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: lumpley on August 25, 2003, 07:22:45 AM
I read the article and said to myself, oh look, it's my rant (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=3701) as written by somebody else!  Right on!

Wujcik uses words like "mechanics" and "diceless" differently than I do, but I think his essay maps 1:1 to local theory.  He's just describing System.  Out there in the world, I guess it's still shocking to point out that it's the gamers who make things happen in the game, not the procedures described in the game text.

Particularly this:
Quote from: Tony
But in Eric's article, he mentions that while he was enjoying what you might describe as a drift into free-form, he was later able to identify and articulate underlying mechanics in his group's play. It was a drift from one set of mechanics (D&D rule book) to a new set (this is how our group plays).

My emphasis.

I think we can read Wujcik as saying that every game group does this, every time they play, inevitably.  That's what he means by
Quote
My experience in Mike Cuba's fantasy campaign may have been extreme, but it's really the same as every other role-players experience, in every other dice-based role-playing campaign.
and
Quote
Therefore all dice-based role-playing games are a fusion of dice-based and diceless mechanics.


In other words, Hunter, D&D's players will inevitably make decisions without invoking D&D's rules (Wujcik's "diceless").  D&D's System in play must be considered to include whatever process those decisions were made by.  D&D may not make any provisions for that in its text, but it's still gonna happen: in play, D&D is "a fusion."

I agree with Tony: we need to hammer out "freeform" before we keep invoking it.

-Vincent


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on August 25, 2003, 07:43:08 AM
Quote from: Hunter Logan
Adding a freeform, diceless process to a group's social contract does not mean that D&D is suddenly equipped with diceless mechanics. It only means that people can change the game to suit themselves.

This is the Lumpley Principle in evidence. It is als present in a group using the rulebook word for word, but it is more evident here when the group does something not found in the rulebook. Eric realized that were he to leave his character to the mercy of the dice he would be rolling up a new character the first session. Somehow he and Mike came to an agreement about how to avoid this. The players reached an argeement on how to use the elements in the shared imagined space in terms of what they are. The thief disected the trap mechanisms to disarm it. Play went into the detail.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Lxndr on August 25, 2003, 07:51:36 AM
The way I keep defining "freeform" in my head is "system without mechanics."  That's how I used it in my initial post, at least, and what it invokes for me now.  Which is why the thoughts in my head butted up against Erick's essay...

After having re-read Vincent's rant (thank for the link), the article and rant don't seem to be very similar at all.  Erick is saying "because you don't roll the dice for everything, all games obviously include diceless mechanics, and thus the only games that are not a hybrid of diced and diceless mechanics are those without any randomizer at all."  Vincent is saying, "credibility is important, and can take many forms, either using the mechanics, eschewing the mechanics, changing the mechanics, or some hybrid of the above."  Vincent addresses mechanics only as a vessel for credibility; Erick addresses mechanics and says "since you don't roll dice, you're using a diceless mechanic."

To use a probably-flawed analogy, that seems similar, to me, as saying, "if I fast, then I'm being a vegetarian, because I'm not eating meat.  And since everyone fasts between meals, omnivores eat using a hybrid of vegetarian and omnivorous eating styles."


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Tony Irwin on August 25, 2003, 07:54:20 AM
Quote from: Hunter Logan
Quote from: I
Mechanic 1: The GM may not harm PCs whose players make thoughtful effort to avoid risk.
Mechanic 2: GM must allow PCs to solve problems when their player's demonstrate a commitment of time and thought.
Mechanic 3: The GM must reward imaginative and immersive player behaviour by ensuring the survival of their PCs.


I don't think these are mechanics; these are rules. There is a difference. Mechanics are processes used to do things required for the game. Rules are instructions and guidelines for use while playing the game. While all mechanics are part of the rules, not all rules are mechanics. At its simplest, a mechanic is composed of a device, an evaluation, and an outcome. In Erick Wujick's example, this is the mechanic:

Device: Erick asks a question.
Evaluation: The GM answers the question.
Outcome: Erick gains information.


Thanks, I see what you mean. The stuff I listed wasn't really showing how play is produced, whereas what you have here definately does.

Quote
It seems that all this (Eric disabling traps) is primarily freeform play. The player is entirely relying on the GM's answers to provide a course of action, and the GM is relying entirely on his own judgment and imagination to determine the outcome. There is no process for challenging that decision, nor any device for determining the outcome.


Cool, but I don't really see how this is different from most conventional RPGs especially those with explicit "The GM is always right" text. An example from my red box D&D days could be

Me: Ok we go into the room, I'm up front with the torch, I'll hold it up high to make sure we all get a good view. What do we see?
The player is entirely relying on the GM's answers to provide a course of action

GM: An empty rectangular room 30' extending forward. Descending stairs at the far end.
the GM is relying entirely on his own judgment and imagination to determine the outcome.

Me: Dammit, I was hoping for more skeletons.
There is no process for challenging that decision, nor any device for determining the outcome.

Using your spec for mechanics we could say

Device: Tony asks a question about the dungeon.
Evaluation: The GM answers the question.
Outcome: Tony gains information about the dungeon.

So this isn't a informal house-ruled substitute for an existing randomizing mechanic (like the trap disarming), this is a diceless mechanic already present in the system living alongside dice mechanics.

Quote from: Hunter Logan
To Lxndr's original point, there are diceless mechanics at work in Erick Wujick's example, but they're not part of the D&D's formal rules. You could say they became part of the group's social contract, but none of this makes D&D a combination of diced and diceless play.

Indeed, D&D in particular relies on a die roll for just about everything to the point that, if you can't roll dice for it, you probably can't do it. Certain functions have written exemptions from the die roll, but the original design was written with the expectation that people would roll dice to resolve the vast bulk and majority of character actions.


If there are any mechanics at all present that do not use dice, would you accept that the game is a fuzion of dice and diceless? I'm tending towards Eric's viewpoint which is even more radical, that the majority of what is happening in the game is based on diceless mechanics. A couple of (genuinely exciting) dice games, floated on a sea of dicelessness:

Quote from: Eric
Even the most dice-heavy role-playing game around don't use dice for everything. Sure there are rules for conflict resolution that require dice, but Game Masters generally use diceless mechanics for the majority of the events in any RPG (conversions, common sense, movement, 'automatic' skills and abilities, etc.). Each role-playing session must, in order to keep things moving, pass over a multitude of dice-rolling opportunities.


I agree with Eric, I would argue that (red box the way we played it) D&D depended on diceless mechanics to make it work, but I would also say it failed to identify and articulate what many of them were. I venture the possibility that this is why it might seem from the text that dice are used to resolve the majority of character actions.

I'd point to Sorcerer an example of a game that depends on diceless mechanics to make it work (kickers and bangs) but very sucessfully identifies them in the text and makes players aware of them. Using Eric's terminology, Sorcerer is a fuzion of dice and diceless mechanics. If I had a great GM, and was getting crap rolls all night, I'd drift more of sorcerer's dice mechanics into diceless ones just like Eric did with D&D.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: lumpley on August 25, 2003, 08:06:08 AM
Hm.  Lxndr, is it "mechanic" that's problematic?

Try substituting "decision making" for "mechanic" in his essay:
Quote
Sure there are rules for conflict resolution that require dice, but Game Masters generally use diceless decision making for the majority of the events in any RPG (conversions, common sense, movement, 'automatic' skills and abilities, etc.).
and
Quote
Therefore all dice-based role-playing games are a fusion of dice-based and diceless decision making.

Obviously I'm not him, but that's how I read his essay.

Since he doesn't give us a definition for "mechanic" (nor "rule" nor "system"), we're kinda shooting blind.

-Vincent


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Lxndr on August 25, 2003, 08:26:09 AM
Replacing "mechanic" with "decision making", at least imnsho, changes the meaning significantly.  So I guess yeah, "mechanic" is the word which is my issue in the whole thing.

(System = Mechanic + Social Contract, I guess)

Take the following decision that, in most Fortune-based games, you wouldn't "roll" for (the sort of example that Erick uses to "prove" the dice/diceless hybrid):

"I walk across the street."

In most diceless-based games, you ALSO wouldn't resort to the supplied mechanics for such a statement, whatever those mechanics might be.  You wouldn't compare whatever trait corresponded best to walking against whatever target number "having street-crossing issues" would be.  The character generally would expend no resources (in resource-based games).  Et hoc genus omne.

Ignoring a mechanic in favor of a non-mechanical solution (likely one based on Social Contract) seems dissimilar to using a non-fortune-based mechanic.

In D20, "Taking Ten" or "Taking 20" seems to be a diceless mechanic in a diced game.  Conversely, "okay, I'm not going to make you roll while you eat to see if you choke," is outside of the realm of mechanics.

IMNSHO, of course.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: lumpley on August 25, 2003, 09:04:43 AM
Quote from: Alexander
"I walk across the street."

In most diceless-based games, you ALSO wouldn't resort to the supplied mechanics for such a statement, whatever those mechanics might be.
Perfect.  Cool.

You're just forgetting Drama.  "I walk across the street." "Okay." is a Drama mechanic in action.

Isn't it?

Anyhow from this
Quote
...Game Masters generally use diceless mechanics for the majority of the events in any RPG (conversions, common sense, movement, 'automatic' skills and abilities, etc.).
I'd guess that Wujcik would say so.  Otherwise he's making a claim that's facially absurd: "GMs generally invoke Amber's trait-comparison Karma mechanics for conversations," eg.

-Vincent


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Lxndr on August 25, 2003, 09:47:10 AM
It might be a Drama decision in action (or perhaps a Karma one, for all we know:  "Hmm, he's uninjured, so it shouldn't be a problem to walk across the street, okay, no problem..."), but I don't but that it's a mechanic.  It's a bit of decision making, but it's one outside the realm of mechanics.

I guess we need to define "mechanic."  But it looks like there's another thread that was just started to do that.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 25, 2003, 10:12:05 AM
Alexander, I totally agree with Vincent. The term mechanic is a smoke-screen. That is, you just have a different definition of the term. I use the term like you do, personally, but there's lots of people, including Wujcik from the examples, that mean all of system. Consider that in the original DFK essay by Tweet, he states that these three sorts of "mechanics" are the way by which all game decisions are made.

I'm not even sure what a mechanical Drama Mechanic would look like. All Drama mechanics boil down to who gets to decide what happens, and maybe suggestions for what's appropriate. As soon as you reference anything statistical, it becomes Karma. So where are your counterexamples of decisions that are non-mechanical that don't correspond to Wijciks examples?

Mike


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 25, 2003, 12:28:31 PM
Hi Tony,

I hope this helps.

Quote
Cool, but I don't really see how this is different from most conventional RPGs especially those with explicit "The GM is always right" text. An example from my red box D&D days could be

Me: Ok we go into the room, I'm up front with the torch, I'll hold it up high to make sure we all get a good view. What do we see?
The player is entirely relying on the GM's answers to provide a course of action

GM: An empty rectangular room 30' extending forward. Descending stairs at the far end.
the GM is relying entirely on his own judgment and imagination to determine the outcome.

Me: Dammit, I was hoping for more skeletons.
There is no process for challenging that decision, nor any device for determining the outcome.

Using your spec for mechanics we could say

Device: Tony asks a question about the dungeon.
Evaluation: The GM answers the question.
Outcome: Tony gains information about the dungeon.

So this isn't a informal house-ruled substitute for an existing randomizing mechanic (like the trap disarming), this is a diceless mechanic already present in the system living alongside dice mechanics.


This is absolutely true, but gaining information does not necessarily produce resolution. This leads to the next point:.

Quote
If there are any mechanics at all present that do not use dice, would you accept that the game is a fuzion of dice and diceless?


I would take a hard look at the methods for resolving conflicts and other in-game situations. That's where the rubber meets the road. If resolution has a significant diceless process for some circumstances, a diced process for other circumstances, and clearly defined conditions for using those processes, then I think you have a game with real fusion of the two.

As an aside, your example is just the sort of thing has made me a fan and advocate for giving gobs of director power to the players.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 25, 2003, 12:34:23 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm not even sure what a mechanical Drama Mechanic would look like. All Drama mechanics boil down to who gets to decide what happens, and maybe suggestions for what's appropriate. As soon as you reference anything statistical, it becomes Karma. So where are your counterexamples of decisions that are non-mechanical that don't correspond to Wijciks examples?

Mike


Sorry Mike,
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by counter-examples, or what you are looking for by way of response.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Lxndr on August 25, 2003, 01:58:47 PM
Possible Drama mechanics (that are mechanics):

When the dice in MLwM are equal, some sort of dramatic interruption occurs.  I believe this is a dramatic mechanic in an otherwise fortune set of mechanics, because the mechanic itself does not say anything other than "this is precisely where you should use drama to somehow interrupt the situation."  (As related examles, a karma mechanic to resolve this might be "compare these statistics and see which is higher", and a fortune mechanic could be "roll another die").

Bonus dice in Sorcerer are a Drama mechanic, as is "stunting" in Exalted as I understand it (though I haven't seen exalted, so MMMDV).  "Was it cool?  How cool?  Give out dice depending on how cool you, the GM, thought it was."  There's even a separate "step" in the combat proceedings in Sorcerer for bonus dice.

Imho, these are *mechanics*, insofar as they are a step in the described process.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: M. J. Young on August 25, 2003, 08:26:35 PM
Thank you for calling my attention to the new article.

I'm very surprised that this comes from the pen of Erick Wujcik, author of Amber Diceless Roleplaying. My admittedly meager exposure to that game has suggested that it relies heavily on karma-based resolution, yet from the descriptions in his article, you would think that all "diceless" play was drama resolution. I can't imagine that he is unaware of the difference between the two, or the place of fortune in the triumvirate.

I certainly agree with him that most games are hybrid in their resolution systems. Amber certainly is. It combines drama with karma. The characters have strengths and weaknesses that matter in play in specific ways in the resolution of conflicts. These are rated, so we know not only who is better but by how much.

The decision whether to roll the dice or decide the outcome automatically is inherent in every game system; and that's a drama resolution mechanic. Whether the resolution is, "I'm sorry, that's just absurd, you can't do that", or "Yeah, you did that", it's still drama resolution. That doesn't exactly make it diceless--it makes it a system in which the use or non-use of fortune (or karma, for that matter) is determined by a simple drama decision.

It's hardly a revelation that fortune systems use non-fortune subsystems to achieve their goals. After all, what's a map, if not a mechanical representation of the game reality to be revealed? There is usually nothing random about the map. The rules in essence say that as the player characters move through the map, the objects and places on the map will be revealed to them. There's nothing fortune about that at all. It's still a rule, and a rather mechanical one. It's fundamentally a drama resolution of the question of what the characters find, because at some point a person made a decision as to what would be there, and the rules merely dictate when the impact of that decision is felt in play. If you think it absurd to claim that the decisions which create the map are drama mechanics, you've obviously never run a game in which the map was decided by the roll of the dice as the game progressed. I have, often. In those cases, fortune mechanics create and reveal the details of the world; in most other cases, those details are determined by drama mechanics.

On the subject of mechanisms used in drama resolution, I'll suggest one to demonstrate that they exist: precedent. If precedent is an active mechanism, then there is implicit in the system the expectation that once some event has been resolved one way, any similar event will be resolved the same way unless it can be distinguished in some aspect that justifies a different resolution. If (to beat an old horse) I jump across the ditch easily the first time I do it, I expect that I will be able to jump over the ditch easily every time I do it, unless there is some reason for the decision to be different (mud at the edge, personal injury, added weight or impediment). Precedent does not have to be a rule in drama resolution; all decisions could be based on whim, or dramatic potential, or protaganization, or any of a number of other approaches which permit wildly disparate resolutions of comparable events. So you can have mechanisms that control drama in particular ways.

On the subject of what is freeform, I'd say this:
  • A freeform system uses strictly drama resolution.
  • In a freeform system, no one vetoes a declared event or action, but merely modifies it through other declared events or actions.[/list:u]I think those are the essentials.

    I hope this is helpful. (I hope it's coherent--I've been interrupted several times, and started writing before I finished reading, and tried to fit everything together into one poast--but as long as it's helpful, who needs coherence?)

    --M. J. Young


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 26, 2003, 07:41:18 AM
Lxndr (and Logan),

OK, I won't debate that those are potentially Drama mechanics. But how are they at all what Wujcik is talking about? His examples are what you'd call, I dunno, non-mechanics. None of the examples he uses would be mechanics by your definition. In Amber, there is a non-mechnanic that says that if a player is about to get crushed by the Karma resolution that's about to occur, he should try to get out of it by narrating something interesting that would sensibly lead to a different Karma resolution (presumably favorable).

Obviously, when Wujcik says mechanics, this is what he's refering to. So you don't have a problem with his point, you have a problem with his use of the term mechanic. He isn't dumb, and stating that mechanics the like of which you're talking about exist in every game. He's smart, and just doesn't know your personal definition.

Mike


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Halzebier on August 26, 2003, 11:26:30 AM
M.J. Young wrote:

Quote
On the subject of what is freeform, I'd say this:

   A freeform system uses strictly drama resolution.
   In a freeform system, no one vetoes a declared event or action, but merely modifies it through other declared events or actions.


I actually consider "freeform system" an oxymoron, as I see the absence of any system (where system is a collection of mechanics or rules) as the whole point of "freeform".

Also, I do not quite understand why many seem to consider Fortune-based mechanics as incompatible with freeform.
 
Let me attempt to elaborate, starting with Jack's definition over in the "What is Freeform?"-thread, which I like very much:

Quote
Freeform is more like Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do as describe in the bio pic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story "It is like water. It favors formless and as such can assume all forms".

Player in a freeform game come across a situation. Through the lumpley principle they find a method to resolve it and then move on. This method they used to reach agreement fades back into formlessness. It may be used again if a similar situation comes up, it may be modified, it may never be used again.

This is freeform. Not to be confused with diceless, randomless or pure Drama.


The central point is that nothing is fixed.

Hence, *each time* your character tries to jump across that ditch, a method of resolution has to be decided upon.

Obviously, it is often convenient to use precedence (just as it is convenient to use a d6 to resolve a game of Russian Roulette), i.e. use the method that was used the first time around, e.g. "roll 3 or more on a d6" or "you succeed".

However, I think that if the game is to be called (pure) "freeform", nobody would have the 'right' to *invoke* precedence. The moment one would allow that, one is in the process of establishing a system and leaving freeform.

Jumping across that ditch might be handled differently for any number of reasons, even if a Fortune-mechanic was used the first time (e.g. the aforementioned "roll 3 or more on a d6").

Several examples:

# A different type of die (e.g. a d10 instead of a d6) might be used because of the dice within reach at the gaming table at the moment.

# A different type of die (e.g. a d10 instead of a d6) might be used because of a personal preference ("This time, the jump is really important for my character, so I want to use my lucky ten-sider.")

[In the example, this subtly changes the probabilities involved (unless one uses the d10 to simulate a d6).]

# Resolution might switch to a Drama-method, e.g. to avoid anticlimax or repetition (i.e., the characters don't have to deal with all the dungeon's traps again on their way out).

# A different Fortune-mechanic might be used to enhance detail or change the focus: "While you jump to safety, Jesse James draws his gun in slow-motion. Roll a d6 six times, one after the other. James starts rolling d6s as well, one 'round' after you. If he overtakes you, he's quick enough to hit you in mid-air. Oh, and if the sum is less than 18, you fall into the ditch."

The last example is somewhat forced (because I'm trying to use the ditch-example), but I've seen spontaneous changes of the level of detail and thereby most likely a failure to reproduce the probabilities one might expect based on an earlier situation (i.e., here 6d6 > 17 is not equal to d6 > 2).

Of course, a freeform game is somewhat prone to drift into rules-light or whatever, and thus one might be tempted to use the term loosely and call one game "more (or less) freeform" than another.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 26, 2003, 02:03:25 PM
This doesn't correspond with any data that I have in terms of this being a common form of play. That is, freeform does not exist as a coherent movement, AFAICT, but what does seem common is that they do not use mechanics for the most part. That the fewer mechanics, the more freeform it is. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I've never even heard of a game like you describe. Every game of this sort that I've ever seen has as their only rules such things as, "Narrate what you want, but don't mess with anyone else's character." And the like.

So, while that sort of game might exist, I think its hardly the phenomenon that we're looking to categorize. Jack, this isn't what you're claiming to be freeform, is it? I think that Jack is saying that the system gets formed as you go, but still shy's away from anything remotely like hard mechanics.

Mike


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 26, 2003, 05:52:34 PM
Hi Mike,

I actually have no problem with Erick Wujick's use of the term mechanics or his examples. As far as I can tell, the interactions and resolutions he describes work fine with my analysis and definition of mechanics. They also seem to conform to your statements about squishy methods of resolution. My only point about the first portion of Erick Wujick's article is this:

The GM in Erick's example was very kind not to require a die roll. He significantly drifted the resolution mechanics for D&D. If this is an example of the Lumpley Principle in action (as Jack Spencer stated), that's fine, too. I would only add that the GM didn't have to do that. The GM could have answered all Erick's questions and still required a die roll to resolve the action. The GM basically decided it was okay for Erick's thief to disarm the traps without calling for a die roll. It's a very squishy interaction, and it worked for them... But it probably would have failed if the GM decided that Erick didn't ask the right questions, that the thief triggered the trap, and that everyone in the party took several d6 of fire damage in the ensuing explosion.

It's safe to say that these drama-based, squishy, freeform resolution methods are far from perfect. Drama is all about player intent. That's the bottom line. When two players have similar intents, everything is happy. When the players have different intents, conflicts arise. This is the point when something more is needed. If the game includes dice, that's when the dice usually take over, and that's when dice really should take over. This does not mean that dice are the only way to get the job done; but in many games, dice (cards, or whatever other randomizers you like) become the decisive factor for resolving conflicts of player intent (drama, if you like).

Given all that, it's fair to ask, are all rpgs that include fortune-based resolution mechanics really a fusion of diced and diceless mechanics? Is Erick right about that? I don't know. I think old versions of D&D were written with the express intent for diced resolution of all important actions and events in the game, which is why the rules provide die rolls for just about everything that can happen in the game. The only time the die roll is really discarded is when the outcome is a forgone conclusion. A magic missile will hit its target; no die roll needed. A fighter can't disarm traps. If he picks up the thief's tools to give it a whirl, he'll set it off for sure. Of course, YMMV because of the Lumpley Principle; but at this point, I'm talking about the game itself, not the players.

I would also add that Erick's evidence for "fusion in all games" is to point out that no game has rules that require players to roll for unimportant or unrelated events. I can only respond that unimportant, unrelated events shouldn't ever require resolution mechanics because, by definition, they're unimportant or unrelated. They have nothing to do with the real action and interaction of the game Anyway, for completeness here's Erick's take:

Quote
Consider, have you ever choked on a bit of food? Ever stumbled while walking on flat ground? Ever stuttered or fumbled over words? Of course you have. We human beings can screw up anything, at any minute. If you imagine that we're living in dice-based universe, it stands to reason that the dice are rolling millions of times every second, just to see which of your replicating cells are doing their job properly, and which are failing bad enough to give rise to cancer.

Of course in a role-playing game, you don't want to roll for all that stuff.


Again, I point out the reason. It's not because you can't roll for it, but because it's not important to the game. No one would ever roll for any of that unless some other condition in the game made it important. So, a diceless process to handle stuff that's unimportant to play is no indicator of fusion between dice and dicelessness. It's just an admission that players were never going to have to roll for any of that stuff.

Given that, is it fair to say that all (or even the vast bulk and majority of) dice-based roleplaying games as played are a fusion of diced and diceless mechanics? I don't know, and I have no opinion.

So, um... Is there a actually a point of contention here, or are we good to go?


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on August 26, 2003, 10:40:44 PM
Quote from: Halzebier
Obviously, it is often convenient to use precedence (just as it is convenient to use a d6 to resolve a game of Russian Roulette), i.e. use the method that was used the first time around, e.g. "roll 3 or more on a d6" or "you succeed".

This is true, and quite likely the way of it. I recall a brief discussion with a former player about the teardrop being the most aerodynamic shape. It must be because if there were a more aerodynamic shape water, as it falls through the air, would assume that shape.

So it is not unthinkable that a group would fall on precident on what works for that group when playing freeform.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: lumpley on August 27, 2003, 05:47:15 AM
Halzebier, welcome to the Forge!

Quote from: You
I actually consider "freeform system" an oxymoron, as I see the absence of any system (where system is a collection of mechanics or rules) as the whole point of "freeform".

And welcome to the Forge terminology!  We've been using "System" to mean the process - whatever it is - by which the participants agree to what happens in the game.  Since even freeformers agree what happens in their games, they must be using a System.

Here's an earlier post by me on the subject: from Exploration of System (split) (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=70394#70394).

Otherwise I agree with you.  Non-mechanical Fortune rules are common in my experience.

-Vincent


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Halzebier on August 27, 2003, 06:45:27 AM
First of all, thanks for the welcome and hello everybody!

I've been lurking for a while and probably won't have the time to post frequently, but I'm very happy to be here. I'm an old RGFA lurker, but don't hold that against me. =)

Quote
And welcome to the Forge terminology!  We've been using "System" to mean the process - whatever it is - by which the participants agree to what happens in the game.  Since even freeformers agree what happens in their games, they must be using a System.


Thanks for the pointer & clearing this up. I've read up on the jargon, but it will take a while to settle. In the meantime, I'll try to step carefully (e.g. by elaborating on what I mean when I use a term which is likely to have a definition here, or better yet, by looking things up).


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 27, 2003, 10:40:53 AM
Hunter, I don't think there is any controversy, no. But the subject of the thread, Alexander's point, says there is controversy. That's exactly what we're trying to clear up. As I've said, the mechanics issue is a smokescreen brought up by Alex to say that Eric is wrong. I think the overall point of the essay is that non-fortune mechanics are a fine way to go amongst others. Which is, as you say non-controversial. Alex seems to think that Wujcik is saying that all games are partially diceless, so why not embrace dicelessness. Or something.

Here's an example of a very bad but completely diceful game. For every action that you can think of find two opposing outcomes. Flip a coin. If it comes up heads go with the first outcome proposed, if it comes up tails then the second. At no time will anything be established without a flip.

Now, I think that what'll happen with this game is that it will get reduced to nothingness in play, but I think it defies the classification that Wujcik makes. In any case, it doesn't matter. The point is not so much that all games do this anyhow. That's not a point that needs to be made to meet the burden of proof for the overall point. All that needs be said is that in the vast majority of games there will come some point where something relatively important will be resolved via drama, and few players if any have any objection to this.

Now, that leaves room for excpetions. But the level of proof required for the principle isn't that high. All Eric is saying is that arguments that diceless is a bad way to play are unfounded. Defending his own work, you see. He's saying that people don't realize that "diceless" is just an extension of common methods used in other styles of play, and shouldn't be poo-pooed.

The argument that "we all do it" is merely meant to be supportive.

Now, we here not being one's to poo-poo diceless play, probably took it as some sort of statement that all games ought to go diceless or something. But if there's any confusion about that, the last paragraph of the essay should ameliorate this. And given the problems with the ideas that Hunter brings up, I can't see that his point could have been anything else. I mean, what would it prove that every game is either a fusion of diceless and dice or just diceless?

I will say that the point of the essay could have been made more clearly. And perhaps it is I who am reading in things. So if Mr. Wujcik would deign to come by and make clear what the point of the essay is, I'm sure that would be appreciated.

Mike


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Lxndr on August 27, 2003, 10:57:00 AM
I took umbrage with Erick's language, and how it drastically skewed the point that most people seem to believe he was TRYING to make.  I'm not against diceless play in any form (though the form of diceless play Erick was describing seemed to be entirely without mechanic).  To once again try an analogy, let's look at another form of mechanics, celestial mechanics:

An astronomer looks out in space and sees a new asteroid, heading away from the Earth.  He goes, "Hm, I won't bother calculating its trajectory to see whether or not it's going to strike me down - it's not."  This does NOT mean that, suddenly, celestial mechanics have stopped.  It simply means that this particular decision was made without consulting the mechanics.

I'm definitely NOT against diceless play in any form (I like both Nobilis and MURPG, and am trying to get my hands on Amber).  I'm not even against the point that others have said they think Erick was attempting to make (which seems to be "go ahead and use non-fortune mechanics, they're fun") but what I saw as the point actually being made ("if ever you don't roll a die, you're obviously using non-fortune mechanics, and thus you're playing dicelessly!  Ha!")

Mike's example (i.e. his simply and silly game that he claims will get reduced in play) is where I have my niggles.  Erick gives basically the same example:  "We didn't like the dice, so we just reduced the mechanic," and, based on that example, says, "there's a mechanic there."

But if it's just a disconnect between my comprehension of the language that is actually used and the actual point Mr. Wujcik is trying to make, well, I can accept that.  But the point that I got through reading the article (and even now, on re-reading the article) seems to run counter to the point that the individuals here are stating Mr. Wujcik WANTED to make.

Maybe it's just me.  :)


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 27, 2003, 12:19:01 PM
And again, my point is that what you thought was the point, can't in fact be the point. The fact is that he's absolutely right that all games have some amount of "diceless mechanics" using his definition of mechanics, which we can infer from his examples is what we'd call system. Nobody plays my little sample game, and I doubt it would work in any case. So, practically speaking, his statment is absolutely true. Even if, as Hunter points out the drama used is for "unimportant" things, it's used.

Quote
It simply means that this particular decision was made without consulting the mechanics.
Uh, that's Drama. You're judging the essay on your own definitions, when the author's definitions are plain from the essay itself.

But then it seems a trivial point to you? Well, he must be saying something that's either non-contorversial, or he's saying something more that you're not getting. I think it's the latter. Either way, there's no problem with the essay, other than that it could perhaps be a bit more clear about it's goals.

Mike


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Lxndr on August 27, 2003, 12:27:34 PM
There's a disconnect for me between what the language says (to me), and the point that you are claiming the document actually is saying.  If the disconnect is in the language, rather than the point being made, then I have no issue.

If it really is the point that you (and others) have gotten from the document, then there's no problem (other than an injudicious use of the language).  On the other hand, if his point is my interpretation, rather than yours, then I'm still just as much in opposition as I was when I started.

Given that we can't know what his point actually was unless he arrives clarifies it (did he do that somewhere that I missed?), I don't think there's anything more for us to talk about on my side.

Quote
Uh, that's Drama. You're judging the essay on your own definitions, when the author's definitions are plain from the essay itself


I don't see anything implicit in the definition of Drama that has, as its requisite a lack of mechanics (which was the point of my example, not that it was Fortuneless, but that it was mechanicless).  But if he really meant something other than "mechanic" when he said "mechanic" (which is what the general consensus seems to be), that's a moot point.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 27, 2003, 01:07:19 PM
Quote from: Lxndr
I don't see anything implicit in the definition of Drama that has, as its requisite a lack of mechanics (which was the point of my example, not that it was Fortuneless, but that it was mechanicless).  But if he really meant something other than "mechanic" when he said "mechanic" (which is what the general consensus seems to be), that's a moot point.
So it's your definition or no definition? There's nothing implicit in Drama about a lack of mechanics. There is, in his examples, no mechanics. Obvioiusly he's not talking about what you refer to as mechanics, but rather has his own definition. This is what I can't seem to make you understand. He's using a term to mean something different that what you think it means. As soon as you look at it using his definition it all makes sense. Substiutute "method" for mechanics, or whatever term means "decision making technique" in the essay and see how it then reads.

Mike


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: C. Edwards on August 27, 2003, 08:56:43 PM
Despite how smart Erick may or may not be (and due to TMNT and Amber we can assume he's pretty smart) he should have made clear his particular use of such "obvious" terms like "mechanic".

Basically, I'm unwilling to assume that this guy I've never met means a particular thing when he uses a particular word in a particular way. For me, unless Erick can clarify what he meant, the article isn't of much use.

I don't think that Erick's meaning is quite so obvious, and I really don't think anyone should get scrappy with a person because they think that Erick should have been more clear.

-Chris


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: M. J. Young on August 27, 2003, 11:06:31 PM
Yeah, I, uh--I'm having difficulty working out what this article is really about, too.

I've gone back and read it again, and it sounds to me as if this is a defense of "diceless" play. It is specifically addressed to us,
Quote
It is with not a little pleasure that I've been reading some of the postings here on The Forge relating to the mixing of dice-based and diceless role-playing mechanics. All very interesting, all very insightful.

Still, I'd like to present a rather different point of view from those already posted.
When he reaches his point--well, I'm pretty sure this is his point, because he says,
Quote
Now back to my contrary point of view... Which is actually pretty simple.

If you are playing a dice-based role-playing game, you are already combining it with diceless role-playing.
He drives this home further by his conclusion,
Quote
Therefore, when it comes to dice (i.e. randomizers) there are two, and only two, possibilities. Fusion systems that use some combination of dice-based and diceless mechanics, and diceless systems that use no dice or randomizers whatsoever.
Yet, thinking more broadly as a gamer and less as a role playing gamer, I see quite a few more possibilities:[list=1]
  • Fortune-only game systems in which there is little room for anything other than fortune results, such as Parchesi or War.
  • Karma-only game systems in which there is no fortune or drama, such as Chess.
  • Drama-only systems, such as most childhood make-believe and much freeform play, in which nothing other than agreement by the players matters (whether dictated by a referee or derived by a consensus system).
  • Fortune-Karma hybrids in which the object is to do the best you can with what fortune delivers, such as Bridge and Pinochle.
  • Fortune-Drama hybrids, as I take Legends of Alyria to be, in which there aren't really strengths and weaknesses but only scores which are each a strength and a weakness, and randomizers and group consensus work together to create the events.
  • Drama-Karma hybrids, of which I think Amber Diceless Roleplaying is the leading example, in which relative strengths can determine outcome but narrative manuevering is also important.
  • Fortune-Karma-Drama hybrids, which I take OAD&D to be, in which sometimes things are decided directly by dice, sometimes by scores, and sometimes by referee decision.[/list:o]Thus I think that the entire "diced/diceless" dichotomy is nonsense. Very few "diceless" games are "pure" either, because nearly all of them mix karma and drama in their systems.

    I think Drama may be the inescapable mechanic in role playing games; I can't see how to design one that doesn't have someone making judgments about outcomes at some level, which would still be functional. Perhaps Erick's article illustrates that--if the referee can decide that you don't have to roll the dice, then if he decides that you do have to roll the dice, that's a drama-based decision to activate a fortune resolution system.

    What really confuses me most about it is the fact that it's addressed to those of us at the Forge, as if he had taken time to become at least passing familiar with our discussions, yet it overlooks this simple distinction between drama and karma (which is in the first article, System Does Matter). We're all in agreement that you can create and run fortuneless games. Most of us think that to do so you need a fairly strong karma system to support decisions and give it the feel of a "game"; but I think part of that is that we have not yet really explored the concepts of drama mechanics (precedent has been mentioned as a drama mechanic which might or might not be part of a drama-based game system; canon has been mentioned in discussions, but I'm not certain whether anyone has yet said that this is another possible drama mechanic, a core reality that is set down and agreed before play that cannot be violated--and again, possible but not necessary to play).

    If all he wants is for us to say that yes, diceless play is legitimate, he doesn't seem to have been listening to us. My understanding is that that statement was made in the original documents which predated the Forge and provided the foundation for GNS theory, and that issue has never really been challenged here.

    So my problem is I hear him saying, "I disagree with you, and am here to say that diceless play is perfectly legitimate"--and I'm left responding, "So, when were you going to get to the part with the disagreement, given that we've been saying this as long as we've been theorizing about game design?"

    Lxndr sees Erick stating that he disagrees, and so seems to be extrapolating to figure out where the disagreement is, pushing the article beyond what perhaps was actually said. Mike seems to think that Erick doesn't disagree, and so has ignored the part where he says he does. I'm left confused, because I see quite clearly a statement that Erick disagrees with us regarding diceless game design, and nothing in the article that I find remotely radical, challenging, unfamiliar, or contrary to what we've said here--and elsewhere--all this time.

    So I'm left wondering what I missed.

    --M. J. Young


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Erick Wujcik on August 28, 2003, 03:10:51 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young
Yeah, I, uh--I'm having difficulty working out what this article is really about, too.

I've gone back and read it again, and it sounds to me as if this is a defense of "diceless" play. It is specifically addressed to us,
Quote
It is with not a little pleasure that I've been reading some of the postings here on The Forge relating to the mixing of dice-based and diceless role-playing mechanics...


I was referring to a specific, and lengthy, discussion, labelled "Dice & Diceless?" ( http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=7287&start=0 ).

Since that particular discussion has, as of now, 54 postings and 1,269 'views,' I figured it would be fairly well known... Sorry if I made an erroneous assumption.

My article basically responded to the main thrust of the discussion, having to do with merging dice and diceless into the same game... and therein is an explanation for my conclusions, that RPGs with dice already include diceless methods and 'mechanics,' and that adding more on the diceless end doesn't really change their nature. Conversely, adding any dice to a diceless RPG means changing the fundamental nature of that game.

Quote from: M. J. Young
...thinking more broadly as a gamer and less as a role playing gamer, I see quite a few more possibilities...


As do I... but I was referring exclusively to role-playing games (the sort of role-playing games commonly discussed hereabouts).

Quote from: M. J. Young
...What really confuses me most about it is the fact that it's addressed to those of us at the Forge, as if he had taken time to become at least passing familiar with our discussions, yet it overlooks this simple distinction between drama and karma (which is in the first article, System Does Matter). We're all in agreement that you can create and run fortuneless games...


I'll try to clear this up...

First, I'm delighted to hear that you are 'all in agreement that you can create and run fortuneless games...' However, that's clearly not a unanimous opinion in the larger community, so I made the assumption that those of a contrary point of view might well number among my readers (indeed, since the article was posted it was reported on the Palladium Book bb system, and it was discussed favorably).

Second, while I am, as you point out, 'at least passing familiar' with Forge discussions, the article explicitly does not address either drama or karma (mostly because these distinctions make me feel distinctly Hulk-like... or perhaps Gerard-like... and they are terms I feel unqualified to invoke). I defined my own term 'diceless,' in a way that I hoped would be clear. As to whether my definition equates to the 'absence of forture' I will leave for those who have a greater facility with the terminology.

Third, when you say "...it overlooks this simple distinction between drama and karma..." you are 100% correct. I wasn't aware that making this distinction was a prerequisite for my fairly simple observation about dice/diceless. If I am in error, please let me know.

Quote from: M. J. Young
...I see quite clearly a statement that Erick disagrees with us regarding diceless game design, and nothing in the article that I find remotely radical, challenging, unfamiliar, or contrary to what we've said here--and elsewhere--all this time.


Again, I refer to the "Dice & Diceless?" thread.

In that discussion, there were many who expressed opinions with which I am in total agreement (especially Hunter Logan's very insightful post of Fri Jul 25, 2003, who said; "...mixing dice and dicelessness... is a poor design decision..."; and who also used the term 'mechanic' very neatly), but also postings that seemed to me to be at odds with what I wrote...

That you find nothing in the article remotely "radical, challenging, unfamiliar, or contrary..." is a very good thing.

Thanks for your comments!

Erick
[/url]


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 28, 2003, 06:16:52 AM
Wow. There's nothing left for me to do except say thanks to Mike and Erick.

Mike,

Thanks for your response. Your way of putting it makes perfect sense to me.

Erick,

Thanks for for what you said and for taking the time to clarify things.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: M. J. Young on August 28, 2003, 05:46:19 PM
I, too, want to thank Erick for that clarification; it does help significantly.

I had forgotten that thread, although I was a participant at the time. My impression then was that it was more of a challenge to create a game which could be played either with or without dice; I didn't think of it as much in terms of whether that would be desirable, but rather in terms of how you would achieve it were that your objective.

I see a lot of game concepts here (at The Forge) that I think aren't particularly to my liking; I see quite a few that are in my opinion ill-advised. In general, I don't say so when I do; after all, my tastes are not universal. I'm more the nuts-and-bolts man in game design: tell me your objective, and I'll find a way to make it work.

The question seems to be whether it is good design to create a game which can use or not use fortune mechanics as desired by the players. I'll certainly agree that it would be difficult to make such a game and have it be equally as strong in either mode of play, but I don't think I would say it was impossible or even that it wouldn't find an audience. Some of the suggestions on that thread were, I thought, innovative; and the questions raised were often insightful. In the end, though, I suppose the question is why (apart from the intellectual exercise of solving such a problem) would you wish to invent such a game? I didn't ask that question on that thread, as I assumed the designer already had a reason for attempting to do so, or at least wished to explore it as a possibility to see whether it would work.

I certainly agree with you that there's no reason to put fortune mechanics into a game that doesn't need them.

My only other objection is to the suggestion that "diceless" automatically means "not hybrid". I have yet to see a functional (or at least marketable) game system that was entirely drama-based, nor any game system that is not partially drama-based. That thread contained many ideas about resource allocation (karma) and score comparison (again karma), and few suggesting a pure drama resolution system--in fact, I believe I was the only one to make that suggestion in that thread
Quote from: when I
One could in theory devise a system where the player and the referee each propose an outcome of an action, and everyone votes (perhaps as simple as a colored chip or marble held in hand and displayed simultaneously) on the outcome they want to see happen.
It was also on that thread that I raised the same objection to the discussion that I'm raising now,
Quote from: when I
Dice versus diceless doesn't really express what this discussion is about, because diceless has at least three meanings:
  • A fortune system with a randomizer other than dice, such as cards, coins, stopwatch, or roshambo.
  • A karma system in which strategy and strength are elevated to critical importance.
  • A drama system in which decisions are made by one or more players based on what outcome is desired.[/list:u]
--lest you think I'm particularly picking on you. Most "diceless" systems are karma/drama hybrids, just as nearly all "diced" systems are (as you eloquently demonstrated) fortune/drama hybrids (usually with karma elements as well). Calling attention to the fact that such "diceless" resolution is part of all nearly all games is certainly worthwhile, and now that I understand the frame of reference, thanks for the clear statement of that fact. It should prove useful for game designers who are locked in the Rolemaster-brand simulation mindset of needing a diced method of resolving everything.

Oh, and welcome to The Forge. I do hope we'll have you around to knock our thoughts in new directions in the future.

--M. J. Young


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 29, 2003, 08:34:54 AM
Quote
Oh, and welcome to The Forge. I do hope we'll have you around to knock our thoughts in new directions in the future.
I second that, and also apollogize for myself and others for murdering the spelling of your name. :-)

Mike


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Callan S. on August 30, 2003, 12:46:17 AM
Man, this discussion goes this way and that...so I'll keep it short.

When you do somthing in game that fits some rules that use dice, and you don't use dice, its not a diceless system. You've just invented a diceless resolution based on those RPG rules, but thats your invention. Its not part of that RPG, its you.

If the rulebook doesn't have a rule (that uses dice) for somthing, and you resolve it without dice, you've invented a resolution for it. You, not the book.

So to say all RPG's are a framework and can be worked on and added to cover things not already covered in their rules is true. They can even be developed to have diceless parts, as one particular option.

To say all RPG's have diceless elements (after you run out of rules with dice), is bollocks though. They don't, all they have is nothing, an empty framework. What each user decides should go in that framework for resolving things is open to anything.

Just because there isn't a rule for what you want to do, doesn't mean your going to do it diceless.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: M. J. Young on August 31, 2003, 07:01:52 PM
Quote from: Callan a.k.a. Noon
When you do somthing in game that fits some rules that use dice, and you don't use dice, its not a diceless system. You've just invented a diceless resolution based on those RPG rules, but thats your invention. Its not part of that RPG, its you.

If the rulebook doesn't have a rule (that uses dice) for somthing, and you resolve it without dice, you've invented a resolution for it. You, not the book.

O.K., I may be a bit extreme on this, but I'm not in either of the places you suggest. Let me see if I can clarify this.

Multiverser has a section about surprise. The rules state,
Quote
The first rule is anticipation negates surprise, or no one is surprised by what he anticipates.  There are four tests to determine anticipation, and three of them are simple common-sense determinations of fact.  The character is clearly anticipating if any one of these facts is true:  1) the character knows or correctly guesses with accuracy reasonable to the situation the nature and timing of the event; 2) the character takes precautions indicating readiness for an event of this nature at this time although he does not know or guess the nature or timing; 3) the event is non-threatening and common to the setting even if the character has no immediate knowledge and takes no precautions. If none of these facts are true, the player might be surprised.
The text goes on to give examples which illustrate when those principles do and do not apply, and then gets around to the fourth determinant, which is a die roll to determine whether the character recognized the situation and thus was not surprised.

Where is this going? In the end, if there is some question about whether the character is surprised, there is a fortune mechanic which determines that, a die roll. However, the die roll is only called for if there is some question as to whether the character might be surprised. So what determines whether the roll must be made? That's determined by the judgment of someone at the table--in this case, the referee. But the judgment of someone at the table is a drama mechanic. That means in this system, there is a drama mechanic that allows the referee to choose between "You're not surprised" and "Roll the dice to see if you're surprised."

You might argue that such a mechanic doesn't exist; but I think it always does. After all, no referee in his right mind would say, "It's broad daylight, unclouded, on an open plain, and the enemy, wearing their bright red clothes, have been coming toward you for an hour, while you've been watching in all directions, and now they're here, roll to see if you're surprised." Yes, there is a fortune mechanic that determines this, and there are fortune mechanics that determine many other things in play. However, if someone has the authority to say when such a die roll is or is not required, that is a drama mechanic. Do you need to make an agility check to walk down the road? to cross the Brooklyn Bridge? to cross a three-foot wide wooden foot bridge? to cross on a moss-covered heavy fallen log? to cross on a three-inch diameter log? to walk a fence rail? to walk a tightrope? Someone has to decide when the fortune mechanic does and does not apply, and that power of decision is a drama mechanic: it is a human judgment based on information, directives, examples, and understanding, which determines how the game will proceed.

Thus I maintain that nearly all games contain this drama element, which is by its nature "diceless" (or "fortuneless", as I prefer). It's just that most of us overlook that aspect of the process, because we just do it without thinking about it, even when (as in the Multiverser example above) it is hard-coded in the rules that someone has to make the decision as to whether a roll is required.

Does that make sense?


--M. J. Young


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Callan S. on August 31, 2003, 08:20:21 PM
But does it tell him to use a diceless method for any of that?

No, it doesn't. It essentially trails off leaving it up to whatever resolution method the GM wants. Oh, yes, it can be diceless if he wants...but it doesn't have to be. And in any event, whatever way the GM rules, its not part of the book, its somthing the GM's added. Its not somthing you can attribute to that system, but rather to that particular GM.

So, all dice based games can be said to have the option of having extra bits added by the user which are diceless.

Equally all diceless games can be said to have the option of having dice mechanics added to them by users.

Which goes against a couple of Ericks statements at the end of his piece.

Anyway, your saying the book leaves the determination up to the GM and then implying it has to be done via dramatic resolution. I'm saying it just leaves it up to the GM...that's it. What each GM decides to use is different and not part of the equation, including in your example.

To give an example, from your post
Quote
. After all, no referee in his right mind would say, "It's broad daylight, unclouded, on an open plain, and the enemy, wearing their bright red clothes, have been coming toward you for an hour, while you've been watching in all directions, and now they're here, roll to see if you're surprised."


No GM is forced to determine if its broad daylight, unclouded, etc etc via a dramatic mechanic, he can be using dice if he wants. He can also add a one hundred to any spot roll and eliminate any possible critical fumble roll for that check, if he wants.

He can also just be absurd and ask for a spot roll. No quality of the system stops any of this.

You can suggest, instead, that the system suggests a dramatic resolution. But then the systems quality is that it suggests a dramatic resolution. This doesn't make it have, as a quality, diceless elements.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on August 31, 2003, 08:51:36 PM
Quote from: Noon
You can suggest, instead, that the system suggests a dramatic resolution. But then the systems quality is that it suggests a dramatic resolution. This doesn't make it have, as a quality, diceless elements.

For the most part, I agree. I especially liked:
Quote
Equally all diceless games can be said to have the option of having dice mechanics added to them by users.

I agree with this in that I don't think that "the GM decides"  really means that anything the GM decides is part of the system. Or, as you put it, not everything every GM decides is part of the system. It may apply to the individual group, but to attribute it to the published book is false.

However, I disagree in another sense. I think that you will find more often a dice game with be played diceless more often than a diceless game played diced. Why? Because the so-called diceless method is a more basic form of roleplaying. It is easier to regress to this than to develop dice methods, especially on the fly. Such is my view.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: M. J. Young on September 01, 2003, 05:34:12 PM
Quote from: Noon
I'm saying it just leaves it up to the GM...that's it. What each GM decides to use is different and not part of the equation, including in your example.

What I'm saying is "leaves it up to the GM" and "What each GM decides" is  by definition drama-based resolution.

I agree that the GM could decide to use dice to determine all those things; but when he decides to use dice, that's drama-based.

In its essence, drama as a resolution system means nothing more than "someone at the table decides how it will be resolved". They can say, "the last time we faced this, we used an agility check," and then the decision to use an agility check is a drama decision, even though the check itself is fortune. They can say, "I don't think you have to roll for that," or "I don't think you can do that even with a roll," or "roll for that", and those are in themselves all drama-based resolutions of the situation--the third of which is the drama-based decision to invoke a fortune mechanic.

Perhaps the problem is in the nature of the term. Drama does NOT mean, "someone decides according to the best interests of the goals of play (or story)"; it does not mean "someone decides entirely based on his own whim." It means nothing more and nothing less than "someone decides".

Thus if a player decides to try something that is not covered by the rules, even if the referee says, "You can't do that, because it's not covered by the rules," that's a DRAMA-based decision that something is impossible within the game world. He could have said, "that's enough like this other thing that we'll do it this way, roll for this"--a drama decision--or "I don't see anything in the rules that suggests how to handle that, so we'll do it this way"--a drama decision.

Unless the rules themselves state that nothing can be done that is not covered by the rules, you can't escape drama as a resolution mechanic even by agreeing that nothing can be done that is not covered by the rules (agreement of the players is a drama mechanic).

Whenever someone says, "This is what we'll do", that's drama. Can't get out of it.

--M. J. Young


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Erick Wujcik on September 01, 2003, 06:58:58 PM
Noon has made a pair of statements, both of which are 100% correct.

I cannot, however agree with his conclusion.

Quote from: Noon
...all dice based games can be said to have the option of having extra bits added by the user which are diceless.


Correct. This is exactly the case that I made through the entire article. That diceless resolution is used constantly through dice-based games.

Quote from: Noon
Equally all diceless games can be said to have the option of having dice mechanics added to them by users.


Again, totally correct.

However, I believe, as I said in the article, "Only purely diceless role-playing games, where there are no dice at all, avoid becoming a fusion of dice-based and diceless systems."

Of course one always has the option of adding dice. It's just that I would conclude that adding a dice resolution means that the game is no longer diceless (this is by the way, the root of a long-standing argument I've had with one of the best Game Masters in the Amber Diceless community).

Quote from: Noon
Which goes against a couple of Ericks statements at the end of his piece.


In what way?

My major conclusion is that all dice-based role-playing games are a fusion of dice-based and diceless.

Erick

p.s.: Would the following be a correct re-statement? "All fortune-based role-playing games are really a fusion of fortune and non-fortune."


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Callan S. on September 01, 2003, 07:46:02 PM
Quote from: M. J. Young
Quote from: Noon
I'm saying it just leaves it up to the GM...that's it. What each GM decides to use is different and not part of the equation, including in your example.

What I'm saying is "leaves it up to the GM" and "What each GM decides" is  by definition drama-based resolution.

I agree that the GM could decide to use dice to determine all those things; but when he decides to use dice, that's drama-based.


Oh, I get what you mean. But when the boundry of RPG Y ends at point X, a pre arranged house rule set might be neatly butted in there. In fact the GM may develop this rules set as he goes along. This might be considered dramatic rules development, but its not dramatic resolution. He's making descisions about how the resolution is done, not deciding the result of the descision itself. The former can influence the latter greatly, but that doesn't make it the same. And its not part of the book itself either.

And really, all rules development was 'dramatic' at some point, so there's not much point naming its so...uh...dramatically.

If it still sounds as if the particular dice mechanic he chooses is a dramatic resolution, then its a stretch of the meaning.

Resolutions determine what happens in the story.
Rules choices determine whats in the system. That's a different type of choice, which should produce a maxim somthing like 'Once dice mechanic RPG's run out of rules, the method for developing house rules (dice or diceless) is done dramatically, by user choice.'

Its a dramatic resolution of what house rule to create and use. That's not the same as making a dramatic resolution.
Quote


In its essence, drama as a resolution system means nothing more than "someone at the table decides how it will be resolved". They can say, "the last time we faced this, we used an agility check," and then the decision to use an agility check is a drama decision, even though the check itself is fortune. They can say, "I don't think you have to roll for that," or "I don't think you can do that even with a roll," or "roll for that", and those are in themselves all drama-based resolutions of the situation--the third of which is the drama-based decision to invoke a fortune mechanic.

Perhaps the problem is in the nature of the term. Drama does NOT mean, "someone decides according to the best interests of the goals of play (or story)"; it does not mean "someone decides entirely based on his own whim." It means nothing more and nothing less than "someone decides".

Thus if a player decides to try something that is not covered by the rules, even if the referee says, "You can't do that, because it's not covered by the rules," that's a DRAMA-based decision that something is impossible within the game world. He could have said, "that's enough like this other thing that we'll do it this way, roll for this"--a drama decision--or "I don't see anything in the rules that suggests how to handle that, so we'll do it this way"--a drama decision.

Unless the rules themselves state that nothing can be done that is not covered by the rules, you can't escape drama as a resolution mechanic even by agreeing that nothing can be done that is not covered by the rules (agreement of the players is a drama mechanic).

Whenever someone says, "This is what we'll do", that's drama. Can't get out of it.

--M. J. Young


Its an interesting question. If I say my character uses his kung foo charlie attack, listed on page 26, or his dreaded lurgi attack, listed on page 32, is that a dramatic resolution? Or is it a descision I bring to the system...my choice in that particular moment can't be considered part of the system, really, can it?

You can call it drama and dramatic, but not dramatic resolution. It doesn't resolve anything.

You could call that choice diceless though...and since it holds some element of drama, and it resolved the choice...perhaps its could be called dramatic resolution. But if anything else resolved the choice it would then be called brainless resolution.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Callan S. on September 01, 2003, 08:22:05 PM
Quote from: Erick Wujcik
Noon has made a pair of statements, both of which are 100% correct.

I cannot, however agree with his conclusion.

Quote from: Noon
...all dice based games can be said to have the option of having extra bits added by the user which are diceless.


Correct. This is exactly the case that I made through the entire article. That diceless resolution is used constantly through dice-based games.


To which I just wrote they have the option of using that resolution type all the way through, by the users choice[/i].

Its an option, not a certainty. Its uncertain because its up to the user. Its not an element of that system.

Massive abtractionism already exists in these games. The average sword attack is amazingly complex really, yet we usually roll one die and add somthing? No, dice rolls can abstractly contain everything. You might choose not to, but thats your choice, not somthing that's to do with the system.
Quote


Quote from: Noon
Equally all diceless games can be said to have the option of having dice mechanics added to them by users.


Again, totally correct.

However, I believe, as I said in the article, "Only purely diceless role-playing games, where there are no dice at all, avoid becoming a fusion of dice-based and diceless systems."

Of course one always has the option of adding dice. It's just that I would conclude that adding a dice resolution means that the game is no longer diceless (this is by the way, the root of a long-standing argument I've had with one of the best Game Masters in the Amber Diceless community).

Quote
I'd say its no longer diceless, the moment a cheeky player buys a die in the game and wants to know the result when he rolls it. Unless you dramatically resolve an actual in game die roll, which is kind of a funny turn around if you think about it. :)

Anyway, my point was that whether they are a fusion or not is up to end users.



Quote from: Noon
Which goes against a couple of Ericks statements at the end of his piece.


In what way?

My major conclusion is that all dice-based role-playing games are a fusion of dice-based and diceless.

Erick

p.s.: Would the following be a correct re-statement? "All fortune-based role-playing games are really a fusion of fortune and non-fortune."


I'm wondering if, say, a dwarf having a speed of 20feet is considered diceless? I'd had the impression that the idea of diceless was intimately connected with dramatic resolution. Not just about an RPG element that doesn't use a dice in it.

If it isn't and 20foot speed is a diceless thing, well then I guess that's true. But it hardly seems radical or deserving of special consideration and maxim. The +3 quality of my sword is diceless as well, until its applied to a strike roll, too. The range increment of my weapon, diceless. But I didn't think this was what we were getting at by saying its diceless.

I mean, can cars be called a fusion of wheeled and wheeless? What can we do with this information?


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Callan S. on September 01, 2003, 08:32:23 PM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
*snip*
However, I disagree in another sense. I think that you will find more often a dice game with be played diceless more often than a diceless game played diced. Why? Because the so-called diceless method is a more basic form of roleplaying. It is easier to regress to this than to develop dice methods, especially on the fly. Such is my view.


No, I agree with you there, I just didn't emphasize it (for fear of spoiling my point). I did say you can ague dice systems suggest adding diceless resolution. They very heavily[/b] suggest adding that.

But a foregone conclusion, even in practical terms? Nah.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Cemendur on September 01, 2003, 11:33:17 PM
Quote from: Erick Wujcik
Would the following be a correct re-statement? "All fortune-based role-playing games are really a fusion of fortune and non-fortune."


IMHO, yes. However, I believe you want a more specific statement. Their are two types of non-fortune mechanics currently recognized, Drama and Karma.

I would restate that, "All fortune-based role-playing games contain fortune mechanics and drama methods."

Are their fortune-based RPGs without Karma? I don't know, probably.  However, you can't have a fortune-based RPG without Drama. Drama is the essential characteristic of all RPGS. Really its one of two defining features. All RPGs have Drama (role-playing methods) and either Karma or Fortune mechanics (game mechanics), or all three forms of resolution.

Role-Playing Games are any form of Drama that incorporates game mechanics. The two types of game mechanics are Fortune and Karma.

Thats how I currently understand it.


Title: Stumbling Around A Rebuttal
Post by: Callan S. on September 05, 2003, 09:48:15 PM
Quote from: M. J. Young
*snip*
Unless the rules themselves state that nothing can be done that is not covered by the rules, you can't escape drama as a resolution mechanic even by agreeing that nothing can be done that is not covered by the rules (agreement of the players is a drama mechanic).

Whenever someone says, "This is what we'll do", that's drama. Can't get out of it.

--M. J. Young


Just another thought on this.

Take this analogy: A: Say I'm a boss and a descision about how many widgets needs to be made. I decide to make it myself.
B: Same situation again, but this time I don't decide to make the descision myself. I do decide to delegate power to a subordinate and he's the one who makes the descision. Through hierarchy I'm responsible for him, but I'm not actually making the choice myself.

Now, in a RPG, if the GM just decides the outcome, its dramatic resolution. What happens if he deligates power to a dice mechanic.

Yes, he has responsiblity through hierachy there. But he's making the actual choice about as much as the boss who hires a subordinate to do the work.

I think the delegation of power is the point where drama leaves the equation. The choosing to actually delegate power could be argued as dramatic, but I think its only linked by responsibility, and its different like A and B are.

Just some extra thoughts.