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Author Topic: Dice fudging and other indicators  (Read 17014 times)
Andrew Morris
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« on: November 28, 2005, 01:36:25 PM »

In a recent Sons of Kryos podcast, Judd makes a statement to the effect of "dice fudging is an indicator that the players are not being served by the rules." I'm totally on board with that idea, as I think many here would be. My question is whether there are any other behaviors that indicate the same thing. Any ideas?
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2005, 01:40:55 PM »

I'm a big fan of the one where you leave your character sheets in a folder in a drawer, and the one where you go a session without a single die roll.

-Vincent
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2005, 01:57:20 PM »

I'm a big fan of the one where you leave your character sheets in a folder in a drawer, and the one where you go a session without a single die roll.

The session without a die roll is also, ironically, held up as an example of great role-playing.
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2005, 02:00:58 PM »

The session without a die roll is also, ironically, held up as an example of great role-playing.

Indeed. And running a game with a rule system that doesn't suit the style of play is often held up as an example of great GMing. "You ran a Care Bears game using Call of Cthulu rules? Wow, awesome."
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Bankuei
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2005, 02:40:29 PM »

There's also the classic binder full of house rules as another strong indication (or worse yet, unwritten houserules that spring up every 5 minutes during play).

Chris

PS- A few weeks ago, I played in a Dogs game where the GM was trying his damndest to avoid dice rolls.  I was completely confused as to why he choose to run Dogs in the first place...
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Judd
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2005, 04:59:41 PM »

PS- A few weeks ago, I played in a Dogs game where the GM was trying his damndest to avoid dice rolls.  I was completely confused as to why he choose to run Dogs in the first place...

I think this comes from an old-school misconception that I once held dear that rolling dice indicates some kind of role-playing failure.  It is a rather new idea to me that die rolling can enhance and aid role-playing and creativity.

I think this is a hold-over from system-related frustration.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2005, 05:14:54 PM »

Chris & Judd, that one belongs in Actual Play, I think.

Another indicator that freezes my blood, anyway, is the enthusiastic announcement that the fictional contents of the campaign (they always use this word) are going to be the core of the fantasy or space-soldiers novel the GM is writing.

You might wonder how that indicates that "the system is not served by the rules." Think about it for a bit, and you'll wonder no longer.

Best,
Ron
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Keith Senkowski
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« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2005, 05:44:17 PM »

Another indicator that freezes my blood, anyway, is the enthusiastic announcement that the fictional contents of the campaign (they always use this word) are going to be the core of the fantasy or space-soldiers novel the GM is writing.

Christ.  I played in this fucking game for like three years...

I think another indicator is complaints that character background isn't used, even though the GM demanded a page from everyone (sick fucker).  So basically, any extra work that doesn't have a mechanical significance would be an example in my book of system not suited for you...

Keith
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dindenver
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« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2005, 09:59:37 PM »

Hi!
  Well, die fudging could be a sig n of bad GM'ing or overconfident players too...
  I think when the characters don't fit in the game world, then something is terribly wrong (example, hack and slashers in a Vampire game)
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John Kim
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« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2005, 10:10:24 PM »

Well, die fudging could be a sign of bad GM'ing or overconfident players too...
I think when the characters don't fit in the game world, then something is terribly wrong (example, hack and slashers in a Vampire game)

Well, this is still a mismatch.  Overconfident players would probably prefer a system where they had hero points or somesuch rather than fudging rolls.  GMs who misestimate challenges would probably prefer a system which makes challenges more clear and/or gives more leeway in consequences. 

To be fair, oftentimes people who have problems with their system are aware of those problems.  i.e. The people who don't roll dice for ages in their D&D games are often quick to disparage the written rules.  They're just not interested in spending a long time playtesting and searching to find a pre-written system that does exactly what they want.  It is often easier to fudge and houserule some, rather than sift through the hundreds of systems out there or build your own system from the ground up. 
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Arpie
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« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2005, 11:15:49 PM »

Hmmm....
If what you mean is that a player purposefully lying or exaggerating his rolls means that the game system frustrates the player or acts in a counterproductive manner to play, then, yes, that's probably what it means. It could be that the guy's tired of losing and wants to feel differently, it could be a form of rebellion against the GM's decsions and style. It could be a simple mistake. Or the guy could just get a thrill out of cheating.

But that doesn't mean the system is bad, right? It just means it isn't working for one guy. If everyone in the group is doing it, but they claim they love the system, then the indicator might be that they like the system because they're comfortable with it... hmm... That's a toughie.
Do you wean them or what?

BUT... to specifically answer your question:

In my experience, players trying to actively betray or kill other player's characters (especially with little or no motive as in "I shot her in the face because I just KNEW she was a robot" or "I poisoned him because he made fun of my hat - I DID write down that I was irritible on my character sheet.") becomes a good indicator that players want to change systems (and that they resent the GM and, perhaps even the other players, for being so devoted to the current rules.)

(In a game where betrayal and killing are part of the whole milieu, like Paranoia, for instance, this indicator doesn't really apply.)
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2005, 05:46:19 AM »

Ron & others have mentioned this elsewhere, but another "key indicator" is probably when the group spends more time buying equipment, planning march order, and fidgeting with travel times than actually doing anything adventurous and thus unpredictable. This often indicates that the awkwardness or lethal unpredictability of the dice-rolling (Fortune) parts of the system, or the inability to restrain arbitrary GM fiat (poorly structured Drama), is so painful that players start obsessing about the predictable, controllable parts of the game (Karma), even if they're not really interesting.

Of course, careful, detailed planning can also be fun from either Gamist ("look at our clever plan!") or Simulationist ("it feels as if we're really travelling through the wild!") perspectives, so this activity isn't always disfunctional. (I don't think there's a Narrativist way to enjoy this, but I'm often wrong).
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2005, 07:26:07 AM »

But that doesn't mean the system is bad, right? It just means it isn't working for one guy.
Exactly. I'm not making a value judgement, just a determination of suitability.

Oh, and to add two things to this discussion:

1) I'm going to start calling this the Paka Principle, because it sounds cool, and also to specifically disprove the Czege Principle.

2) I hate Tony Lower-Basch for explaining how a Care Bears game actually could be run using CoC rules. I hate him more because it sounds like it would even be fun. Damn creative bastard.
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Wormwood
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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2005, 07:59:00 AM »

I think part of the problem with indicators of faulty rules is that most RPG play comes from multiple texts, not simply the overt rule book, but also additional meta-rules or structural expectations brought to the game. A good example of faulty non-textual rules was the chris's DitV GM and the worst kind of novel writer GM (who brings a text of expectations for the novel).

Fudging and other forms of cheating and bypassing rules are pervasive, (and I've posted on that subject before) but they need not indicate that the rules are not serving their purpose, it is also possible that the actual system of play (or as I call it constraints) requires a compromise between texts.

I'd argue that a system which lies quite distant from the overt rules (such as non-random D&D) or play which does not lend itself to a consistent system (such as house rules evolve continually, rather than overtly or covertly becoming fixed in a short amount of time) are particular signs of pathology in the over rules. But it is also those same situations where simply codifying the patterns which do occur is not sufficient, simply incorporating the cheats or bypasses into the rules doesn't necessarily solve the problem.


   - Mendel Schmiedekamp
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