Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin

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Callan S.:
Fa wut uts worf

Couple of requirements for participating in this thread - you have to be able to humour the idea, if not actually believe, that something that's near and dear to you could possibly be bollocks. Also you have to humour the idea, if not actually believe, that there may be enough information here to understand and if you don't get it it is your own understanding that has failed. (or maybe there isn't enough information, who knows - but you need to be able to consider both possibilities, that there is enough info and you don't get it, and that there isn't enough info, not just the one possibility that sets you up to be right). I'll moderate that and that's not to say I know, like some omnicient god, whether you think you could not possibly be wrong. Otherwise I'd be doing the very same thing. No, I'll just be working from an estimate that could be wrong, yet I'll still enforce that moderation.

Also I'm not saying 'this works and this is how it works'. 'if you have height advantage' is rather bizarre wording and I'm describing one way of making sense of it in practical terms. It's the same as if the rule were worded 'Light some joss sticks and commune with great god Odin to see if you get +2 to hit'. One practical responce to such weird wording is 'Oh, someone just decides if you get +2. And we light some joss sticks...for some reason'.

Also this may be a huge non event. And I'm rather hoping it will be a non event. I actually asked my woman 'If you had a rule that said if you have height advantage, you get +2 to hit, it wouldn't be like consulting a real life roulette wheel, right? Someone would just be deciding whether you get the +2" and she said "Yeah". That simple. No big discussion. I would have thought it'd be that cut and dried with gamers and indeed I have thought that and would prefer to keep that assumption.

In terms of AP examples: This is a bit like giving examples of breathing at the gaming table - uh, which one do you give that is any more an example than any other time? Also the mechanism behind 'height advantage' is in tons of other places in traditional designs and also in newer ones - this isn't discussing just height advantage. Skill roll bonuses, or whether you can roll a skill at all - same issue. Whether you have 'line of sight' to 'shoot someone' - same issue. How many free attacks you get on an enemy that has decided to run - same issue. Man, that was always a joyous moment in gaming at our table, the free attacks - all take, no give! One time a recurring villain was flying away in a session of the underground RPG - that one parting shot Matt got to do, with the huge exploding dice effect - BOOM! But still the same basic type of issue. Also, whether you can 'buy' object X from 'a shop', same issue. It just shows up all over the place! Also getting back specifically to 'height advantage' in one AP at the table the verbal descriptions had gotten to the point where I'm describing my cleric 'on the table'. Notice how I'm being pedantic in describing the play account, as in what actually happened? Just people talking and descriptions. Sound waves. Rather than writing here 'my cleric was totally on the table, mace in hand, standing over this beast!'. Because that isn't an actual play acount, because it doesn't describe anything that actually existed or occured at the table. Anyway, I could see the GM chewing the words over at the time - I think maybe he didn't like the idea of a heavily armoured cleric on a wooden table. Anyway, in the end HE gave me the +2 (or is it +1 in D&D? I forget?). HE gave it to me, not some 'height advantage'. Indeed, perhaps we didn't even follow the rules, since they say if you have 'height advantage' you get it, they don't say if the GM decides it. If they said great lord Odin decides it and instead the GM decided it, that wouldn't be following the rules either, eh? Even though that Odin rule example is patently insane.

Also I think just looking at single, particular individual instances of actual play in graven detail will be distracting - it's like a D20. Sure it may seem crazy random on each individual roll, but if you look at the bigger picture by rolling it dozens of times, you see an average behaviour emerge. If you fix onto just one play account, it'll be ignoring the overall average behaviour. But I'll grant, how can one describe dozens and dozens of play sessions quickly? Does anyone have some ideas to pitch on that? Anyway, ask for more details, but I'll try to be drawing from a pattern in a bank of accounts rather than fixing onto just one AP account.

Ok, partial cut and paste time!

If you had a real life roulette table, and had a rule
"If the ball ends up in a slot marked six, the result is six"

And if you had a rule
"If your character has the higher position, the result is you get +2 to your attack roll"

What is the average pattern of thought on this, at the forge, for instance? Now remember the D20, you might think everyone thinks different thoughts all over a spectrum - but do they, or does it all average out? And what is the average, if so?

After writing a long draft I realise there is nothing to argue as no evidence is being given for the latter, in terms of proving to any degree there's an actual thing to consult. I've only seen assertion and sole onus on the other guy to disprove it (and the falacious idea that if others can't disprove it, it's proved). There's no actual evidence/meat to engage at all.

To me, the latter is exactly the same as this
“If Harvey, the invisible six foot rabbit next to the GM, gives it the nod, you get +2 to your attack roll.”

In that it refers to a made up thing as if it's real and determines the +2 - both Harvey and "checking if there's height advantage" (in a literal sense) are both the same to me.

And I'm starting to wonder if actually, all this time, the vast bulk of people at the forge treat the height advantage (and similar 'mechanics') as an actual thing you can consult, like you can consult the real life roulette table.

If this is an accepted and (even informally) taught fundimental at the forge all this time...well, fuck. I would say it's a fundamental, and as you can tell I see measure it as flawed, so that flaw would have permeated though everything to some degree.

But for the question never mind whether I think it's flawed. Are the roulette wheel and height advantage being treated as two things that can be consulted for a result by most people at the forge?

I'm kind of stuck at asking because it's both fundamental and inarguable. It's just how a forum or whatever teaching/work place operates from, or doesn't. It's a bit like asking if you can have pictures in your posts, in that way.

Just as a quick side note for comparison, here's something that I think, at a measurable level, does work: Someone is the backstop – hopefully declared by the rules. This person listens to everyone else, and he allows himself to be moved somewhat by their ideas. A vague approximation of everyone elses ideas collect in his head, then he looks at them with his own idea of the words ‘height advantage’ in mind and chooses whether you get +2 to hit. Maybe we talk as if were climbing onto the table and crap, but that’s no more happening than when we dream at night were climbing onto a super model a table, it’s happening. What’s really going on is our own mind tumbling through a lot of ideas.

Fa wut uts worf

Filip Luszczyk:
A thought experiment.

In front of us, there's a printout of Super Mario Bros in machine code.

You play Mario. You tell me what Mario is doing. You verbalize your pad input. You can do anything, as long as its within these bounds.

I read the code and run it in my head. I tell you where you are and what surrounds you. I accept your declarations and tell you what happens. I'm trying my best to process your input and offer you precise output. I'm very determined to remain faithful to the code. For the next few hours, I'm your hardware.

Note that there is no negotiation involved. We clarify our statements when needed, though. Other than that, our agreement to everything we say is automatic and total. Technically, the only moment when we have to reach an agreement is when we choose to play this game. I'd say this doesn't constitute a part of actual play; it occurs before we even start playing and it's the most basic requirement for us to commence. I'd say it occurs out of game, as it's not more a part of gameplay than blowing into the cartridge before inserting it into the console.

1. Ideal play. I'm processing your input through the code perfectly, as actual NES would. (How is that different from actual NES gameplay, other than medium and controls?)

2. Less than ideal play. I'm only human, so sometimes I'm making mistakes reading or applying the code, failing to process your input correctly. Say, you you walk into a monster, but I forget to apply collision detection, and you pass by harmlessly. We generally notice that eventually, but never fast enough to apply corrections immediately. Still, we assume that's what happens and move on.

3. As above, only this time, none of us notices the mistake. We move on as if the code was applied correctly all the time.

4. I'm applying the code selectively. Sometimes, I'll let you walk through a wall, sometimes there's a monster when it normally shouldn't, sometimes your jump will take you farther than it would. I'm doing this consciously, voluntarily and on my whim. Or perhaps I'm just being lazy?

Consider the degree of decision making in each of the above points. In terms of referring to platforms, walls and monsters, are there differences?

So, I believe height advantage and its equivalents are, essentially, a pieces of data to process. They are quite concrete and can be referred to in the same way one could refer to the machine code representation of platforms, walls and monsters in the above thought experiment. I think the core of this issue is not whether they are tangible enough to be referred to as actual things, but where they come from and how they are processed.

Also, I believe your questions and observations are on the machine code level, when most of the current theory and discussion is primarily concerned with interface, input/output and, especially, players.

I think it has the potential to be a confusing thing.  I mean, sure, you're saying "Height advantage and line-of-sight obviously come out of the SIS; they don't come out of the Real World."

And I look at that and say, "What are you talking about?  I've got the miniatures right there on the table in front of me.  I'm staring right at them with my own eyes.  Of course I can tell which miniature is taller, or higher.  Of course I can tell who has line of sight -- look, I'll dig out my laser pointer and we'll double-check it just to be sure.  There's no interaction with the SIS here."

We both have the potential to be completely correct in our own contexts.  What's worse is that we could be talking about the exact same published set of rules.  So there's the potential for confusion.

In terms of how that shakes out in Actual Play, I think the interesting parts come when there's a contradiction between the two.  I've seen it resolved both ways.  Sometimes everyone agrees and insists that whatever's on the the board is on the board -- if that miniature is a goblin with a crossbow and a dagger, then that's what's there in the SIS.  Sometimes everyone agrees and insists on the opposite conclusion -- it doesn't matter that all those zombies are Gummi Bears -- they're zombies, dang it.


Callan S.:
I'm pausing to allow responces to occur, but I'll add a correction
Quote from: Roger on May 03, 2010, 07:51:12 PM

I mean, sure, you're saying "Height advantage and line-of-sight obviously come out of the SIS; they don't come out of the Real World.
Roger, I'm describing the complete opposite. There is/can be a decision by a real world person on +2, there is no SIS that physically exists for anything to come out of, and indeed +2 can't even come out of a singular IS even (unless the person somehow has lost their own will anything they imagine is what they say). I think you should read through again.

Otherwise I'm pausing to allow responce

Callan, you're my man ;)

This is one of my pet peeves !
Linked to another very similar : why fudge that your character is, well let's say... 50 meters far, so that makes, let's see... -2 to shoot. This is stoopid ! Why not give the malus in the first place ? Why convert ? Why not give the malus first considering what's apropriate (say dramatically) and THEN decide what distance it represents ?

I'm currently working on a design, and here is how I "solved" this annoying (to me) peculiarity :
No bonus, no malus, except when the GM or the players pays some resource, to modify the test with a malus or a bonus. And then you narrate why it is so. Done.

The thing is giving bonus/malus is always (in trad rpg) GM fiat. So instead of that, you have to make it a part of an economy. It solves two things : the fudge aspect (why give the bonus now ? why this one ? why not at every occurence ?) and the drama aspect : if your economy is linked to your dramatic progression, then what happens "on screen" will rise accordingly (if you choose so in your design).
In a boardgame, you never have a bonus "just because", you have to actually work on it ! Same here.

What do you say ?


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