Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin

Started by Callan S., May 04, 2010, 12:29:32 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Jim D.

Quote from: Callan S. on May 10, 2010, 10:48:24 PM
But upthread we already had a discussion of expectations being prioritised ahead of rules. So me saying it's the rules being broken will sound pretty meaningless to anyone who prioritises expectations ahead of rules (when expectations are being broken by regular rules use). When rules don't come first, who cares if they are being broken, eh? But by the same token, if the rules say 'you can say anything you want' you aught not listen to them for the fact of the matter, since they don't come first. So it's not particularly interesting - it's either cheating, or expectations have priority over rules. The vaunted 'spirit of the game' perhaps?

I'm sure you already get my point, Callan, so what I'm about to say might be redundant.  But that's where expectation as we've defined it gets a little hairy:  I honestly believe that the "expectations" create the rules in force for the session.  It all links back to what you succinctly referred to as "the spirit of the game".  All things considered, I dare say these three things fold into one -- the expectations of the game group, usually shaped by the spirit of the game's concept (if not its wording), create the rules as the hybrid I mentioned before; the accepted rules therefore, properly implemented, reflect the spirit of the game and the spirit of the group's interpretation; and the spirit of this group's game it feed their expectations, which feeds back into their understanding...  It's cyclical.

To say "expectations >> rules" without qualifier is to miss the point; some order should be maintained or the game no longer makes sense, and the "expectations" don't exist because a state of near constant flux results; no one's sure what to expect!

Ron Edwards

Hi everyone,

I'm back from my week in Italy. I'd like to review this thread in detail, for purposes of participation and mainly for moderation (e.g. possible splits). So without any implication regarding its content so far, please delay further posting until I post next. Thanks.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

The thread may continue, subject to two moderator points.

1. Callan, you should acknowledge Vincent's point. Either you don't believe him or think he's lying or something, in which case say so; or acknowledge that you're talking about some kind of construction of the SIS which isn't what he's talking about.

2. Callan, you mentioned that you could draw upon a huge number of possible instances of actual play to illustrate your points. Do so, at least occasionally. I am overriding your suggestion that this would be distracting and mandating that you include at least some mention of some actual event in role-playing, here and there.

Finally, depending on how the thread goes, I may close it and call for daughter threads if that seems most sensible. At this point, though, the topic still seems unified enough to me to continue here.

Best, Ron

Callan S.

- Ron, Vincents point, in regard to my last post to him, was irrelevant. If you shout fire in a crowded theatre, it doesn't matter if you did or didn't really believe there was a fire. The result in terms of other peoples behaviour is the same, they bolt out, thinking there's a fire. If you sound exactly like someone who thinks "your tactical advantage depends upon details of your character's immediate circumstances", whether you do really think that or not is pretty irrelevant to it's effects on other people when they read that. I wanted to talk about that point, he ignored that point and went back to stating what he apparently really meant as if certain that was the end of it, I tried to mod on this whole certainty thing, got the 'oh come the fuck ons', which I ceased reading. Your ignoring my moderation as well because you think 'he has a point', whereas if you closed the thread and I then posted 'oh come the fuck on' if I just happened to think I have a point, you'd see it as entirely missplaced.

On your number 2, I've said ask me for more details - I don't know what people might want to look at in particular. Particularly if they have an issue - if someone can't tell you what would have to be the case to disprove their theory, blindly stabbing about for examples of something that would somehow force them to see it's disproved is pointless. No one asked for more details (or did someone ask and I failed to read it? Could have, I grant). Also asking makes for less detached 'just looking' behaviour and becomes more personally connected. Though I grant I could have prompted more to be asked for details, as I only said it once in the first post.

Regardless, mostly in terms of the former, this really isn't good enough. We got somewhere with the 'expectations priority over rules' identification, but now this thread is closed.
Philosopher Gamer

Ron Edwards

Those dogs do not hunt.

You do not get to play moral high ground with Vincent, nor does this have anything to do with my position in this argument - in which as it happens, I don't have a particular position. The point is that neither of you have behaved well toward one another in this thread, and although I concede I should have said so to him too in my post, the fact remains that calling for a frank un-snarky statement from you is a fair demand.

Your calling for examples from others isn't the issue. I'm calling for them from you, and only to a minimal and occasional extent. This is not an excessive demand.

Closing threads is my prerogative here, and when I use it, it's not to score the last word in arguments. Fang used to try that stunt a lot (ah memories).

Dialogue on the thread topic is open and welcome. I will close it for daughter threads if that becomes necessary.

My current thinking is that the SIS-exists-or-not issue is a red herring. The real issues seem to me to be that the spoken record of play (my guy has the high ground) may be a feeble foundation for certain mechanics applications (the +2), and even if it isn't, the standards and immediate usability of what I say next in play are not typically clear in role-playing.

Let's take that first bit, about the "strength" of the existing verbal record and, presumably, shared imagined context for applying such a rule. I'm thinking about those competitive adventure modules, the classic D&D and AD&D stuff like the Giants series and Slave Lords. Every single encounter is not only textually prepared, but verbally prepared, with exactly what the players hear from the DM being pre-scripted into those boxes with bold type. And then, in the regular type, the DM gets some instruction about the tactics and monsters and what-not to apply ... and in many cases, the application of things like +2 for the high ground * is textually rock-solid. The geography/layout of the cave or room or whatever is set in stone, and in that context, the goblins (let's say it's goblins) are attacking from the high ledge or whatever, and they get a +2.

The trouble is that now, instead of using one of those modules, I'm dealing with some kind of more fluid and emergent situation in play, in which someone jumps up onto a table, for instance, and claims the same high-ground bonus those goblins got. Does he get it because he says it? After all, the goblins got because .... wait for it ... the book said it. Not a person. The book, as in the book, the rules, presumed to be binding on everyone in play.

See what I mean? The book kind of pretends that the bonus is derived from the fictional content, but the fact is that both the fictional content (high ground) and bonus (+2) are presented in the very same medium and at the same time, as a coherent if logically-circular unit. Which provides no guideline whatsoever, or no rigorous line of reasoning, for trying to apply that circular logic to the non-circular circumstances of arriving at how to know when to use that +2 bonus in ordinary, non-scripted, emergent by the simple spoken exchange of words through time among real people.

So OK, now for the second bit I talked about, that here I am, and our characters are in a fight scene, and let's go further and say the situation arose very thoroughly through play itself and the GM (to be generic about the system in question) didn't prep "fight scene time" beforehand. Anyway, so anything and everything about the fictional circumstances was established through previous description, and perhaps currently as well, from people Director-Stancing things into play like saying "I grab the bar stool" when no bar stools had been described although a bar was mentioned.

And I say, "I jump up on the table to fight them from there," and then I say, "So I get +2!!"

Huh. Rules-use? Open to judgment and possible negation by anyone? What the fuck? I hope my point is clear, that something else is involved, and at the moment, I think it has a lot to do with group attention to what's going on, and to some kind of validation that the fiction has been altered enough to include such an application of the rules. What that validation consists of, and what standards are applied in providing it ... man, I dunno. That is very, very interesting.

I promise to use real play rather than hypotheticals in my next post.

One more point going forward: no snark. This is a topic of genuine interest, not an opportunity for whining and scoring personality-points.

Best, Ron

* Which I'm beginning to think is a great name for a rock-and-roll album


Theoretically the what-was-said of play could be recorded and referenceable, make it as robust as a rules text.  But I suspect the more interesting case arises when someone should have had the +2 for high ground, but everyone at the time forgot to invoke it and it was not applied.  That sort of thing certainly happens, and has happened to me, and sometimes has significant inplications for rolled outcomes.  A similar case is when I have some aspect of the character or peice of equipment recorded in my character sheet, which I forget about.  Is a "ring of defence AC+1" a rule or a part of the IS?

Similarly, the high ground place could be disputed; that is, the GM could say, no,  standing on  table isn't enough to justify the +2.  Or it could be negotiated, and the group could come to the agreement that while not high enough for a +2 bonus the table could justify a +1 situational advantage.

So I think all of thse cases could summed up as process in which a claim is "invoked and agreed"; it might fail due to not being invoked, or not being agreed.  A GM or other system-empowered player might be able to invoke without needing agreement as such, just like the writer of a module text, but in this regard their authority to do so exists explicitly.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci


I think this all really boils down to Lumpley principle stuff, somehow the group has to come to an agreement about whats happening in the game.  There are a million different ways to do it and each is going to be specific to it's own game.  As has been pointed out there are several games where things like this dont matter, if you are using a system with fortune at the beginning then those details come up after it's already been resolved and you can narrate in the use of height advantage as the reason for success.

I do get a hint of a problem in the discussion that reminds me of something from boardgames, the distinction between abstract games and thematic games.  Abstract games are things like Chess or Go where the movement of the pieces are apropos of nothing save themselves and it's a clear contest of moving the pieces.  Thematic games have a theme applied to them like say owning a plantation or building a farm in the middle ages and the game is supposed to have the feel of doing that theme even if it is still a contest of who builds the best farm or biggest plantation.    Maybe I'm deluded but I get a sense that Callan is valuing the game on the abstract level as a contest of numbers and less on the thematic level?

Christopher Kubasik

Quote from: Ron Edwards on May 14, 2010, 04:09:33 AM
And I say, "I jump up on the table to fight them from there," and then I say, "So I get +2!!"

Huh. Rules-use? Open to judgment and possible negation by anyone? What the fuck? I hope my point is clear, that something else is involved, and at the moment, I think it has a lot to do with group attention to what's going on, and to some kind of validation that the fiction has been altered enough to include such an application of the rules. What that validation consists of, and what standards are applied in providing it ... man, I dunno. That is very, very interesting.

I, too, think this is very interesting, and have been thinking about it a lot over the last week. Specifically the notion of "validation" and "standards."

What those standards are, how they are arrived at, is the nub of a big issues.

In my play I've observed this: the fiction built by the group is never fully concrete, but always in a state of flux. Different people of course have different notions of what the specific are in fiction. When those differences clash ("Is my guy on the table or not?") the group then focuses on the details of that fictional element and make it more concrete -- never completely concrete, but concrete enough to continue moving forward with building story.

There's nothing strange about this in terms of story. But the point is, this is about story creation. When Filip says he is talking about "game as game" I'm completely with him in terms of, say, Sorcerer being something that isn't "game as game." My own view is that Sorcerer, In A Wicked Age..., and lots of other things we call "games" are actually "tools for making stories socially." Like a piano is a tool for making music.

And rather than depending on "rules-use" alone to navigate the session the whole time, there are moments of "validation" and "standards" where the table says "Yes" or "No" or "Fuck you."

I'm bringing all this up to make sure I'm on the same page of the discussion. This is the stuff I've been thinking about, and I think it's where this thread is going.

But I want to ask something: A lot of the original focus was about the physical aspect of the fiction (whether there's a height advantage, whether or not something is available in the market). But I think the conversation Fillip and I had about "With Love" is equally a part of the conversation.

I, too, think that the notion of whether or not there is a "reality" to the SIS is a red herring (No, it isn't real; yes, it gets more defined enough for play to continue as required). But this notion of what gets validated and what standards are applied and how those standards are applied moves across all interactions of fiction and rules, from +2 height bonus to "With Love" for dice selection to "My character's Trait does apply to this conflict, so I'm bringing in an augment" to "Oh, no, I'm sorry... I had a different picture in my head. I thought you were all the way across the starport. You can use a ranged weapon if you want, or take two rounds to close on the guy you want to help."

To me, they are all under the same umbrella. But that might not be the umbrella of this discussion. So, I'm checking in here.

I have an actual play example from the starport scene ready to go, with observations about validation and standards if I'm on track.

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield


Some of this might seem a bit familiar to some people; it's something I've written on before (but that was a long time, and I should really get around to putting more work into it.)  I think the missing link that breaks us out of the loop of circular logic doom is what might be called "The Real World", but really all I mean is everything outside of the game, which might include other fictions and such as well.  What the lit majors would call "extra-diegetic."

For example, consider these two rules:

1.  When a character is standing on the high ground, he gets a +2 to hit.

2.  When a character is standing on a rug, he gets a +2 to hit.

From a purely mechanical and legal viewpoint, these two rules are virtually identical.  There's nothing inherent there that should make one of them any better than the other.

But I think that with an average group of average people, it'll be easier to accept rule #1 on a visceral level than rule #2.  This often gets pawned off on the basis of "rule #1 is more realistic" but I think that's misleading at best.  "More consistent with all our other Outside-This-Game knowledge and experience" is a lot closer.

There are all sorts of implications around this.  Every set of rules is going to depend, to greater or lesser degrees, on this Outside-This-Game knowledge of the audience and players.  On the 'to a greater degree' side of things, we have every edition of D&D (but increasingly-so as one travels back in time to the earliest editions,) and Primetime Adventures, to pick a couple examples.

When the players have a different set of Outside-This-Game experiences, or one player's are different from the rest of the group's, things can get... interesting, and unpredictable.  I don't know enough to say if that describes Callan in situ, but it seems like a possibility.

Filip Luszczyk


Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: FilipI recall having a design not unlike Christian's, where it didn't matter what weapon your character was using, it only mattered what attack value and resource points you had on your sheet. It didn't even matter if your character was using any weapon at all or some wild kung-fu, since you could describe your attacks according to your aesthetic preferences, all being mechanically equal. This addressed some of my issues with Exalted at that time, which punished the player mechanically for most weapon choices other than the grand daiklave (boring). When I pitched this game to some gamers I used to hang out with (not my regular gaming group at the time), here's what they told me: "You're kidding? Everybody will go overboard with weapons!"

I think Ron has an anecdote about writing a game called 'bullshit less' and someone he played with read it and said 'you can't just read this - you'd have to play'...and that was a stumbling block, apparently. People invent hurdles.

Oh, but they didn't invent anything, it was actually there. They were totally right. My rule was broken.

My rule said that you could describe your weapons and attacks however you wanted. However, if someone asked me the USS Enterprise question at the time, I'm sure my answer would be along the lines of "Uh, oh, not USS Enterprise. Describe your weapons however you want: kung-fu, big swords, mecha, airships, what have you, but no USS Enterprise." Magitek airships fine. USS Enterprise lame.

So, regardless what my rule said, the actual rule was different ("however you want, unless Filip finds it lame," i.e. too vague for any practical use). You could totally go overboard with weapons, though not necesarily the way those guys seemed to be thinking about.

(The one time I played V:tM with that group, my Brujah, Japanese martial artist with maxed out Melee, was not allowed to start with a katana. I was only given your standard issue handgun with a single clip of ammo. Taking a quick side trip to the nearest museum to steal the katana using Celerity was perfectly acceptable, though.)


Quote from: Christopher KubasikBut the point is, this is about story creation. When Filip says he is talking about "game as game" I'm completely with him in terms of, say, Sorcerer being something that isn't "game as game." My own view is that Sorcerer, In A Wicked Age..., and lots of other things we call "games" are actually "tools for making stories socially." Like a piano is a tool for making music.

Nope, you're misinterpreting and misrepresenting my point here. When I'm talking about "game as game", I still have games like IAWA in mind. I don't know and don't really care about Sorcerer (we only tried it once, and didn't move far past chargen), but IAWA is firmly a game.

If anything, it's a tool for spending four hours with your friends playing some characters and rolling some dice. Granted, some story comes out, but it's a byproduct of gameplay, not an end in itself.

When you say "tools for making stories socially", I can only picture something like WoD, at least like I've seen it played by some groups. And come to think about it, it just occurred to me that I participated in some sessions of WoD where there might have been no "height advantage" equivalents. That's because the activity was pure storytelling and social stuff, with little to no actual gameplay: no rules application (other than perhaps Rule Zero), no significant choices or consequences, no in-fiction actions to resolve, with the characters largely in the position of spectators and commentators. That didn't seem like a "game as game" at all, "tools for making stories socially" sounds much more like it. Lots of story and social bullshit, little to no game.

Compared to that, IAWA is about as gamey as chess.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure about board games. I can think of some examples when we had "height advantage" equivalents in an explicit board game. All examples I can think of are also examples of dealing with ambiguous rules wording, however.

QuoteBut I want to ask something: A lot of the original focus was about the physical aspect of the fiction (whether there's a height advantage, whether or not something is available in the market). But I think the conversation Fillip and I had about "With Love" is equally a part of the conversation.

Well, I started that part of the conversation being surprised this wasn't obvious from the opening post (the part about skill roll permissions, specifically). "With Love" is a bit tricky in that even if you had a module with textually rock solid relationships, it still wouldn't be unambiguous whether the character's particular actions are driven by love or something else. Still the same realm mechanically, though.

Christopher Kubasik


I apologize for using your name in my previous post.

What you said about IAWA is as true for Sorcerer as anything I know, and exactly what I meant by tool for making stories.

All WoD materials have nothing to do with what I'm referring to.

I'm just going to assume we're not going to communicate too well on any of this. You now have nothing to defend.

Seriously, everyone, forget I mentioned Filip.
"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

Christopher Kubasik

I forgot to add this:

Yes, Filip, al the examples at hand are  mechanically the same. I pointed out that we already agreed on this point two pages ago.

Ron has brought up the more interesting point, to me in any case, that the question at hand is HOW the decision to allow the mechanic to be invoked -- and I'm asking how broad the types of these decisions are in this discussion.
"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

Simon C

I really, really don't get what's controversial about this argument.

Actual Play: We played Savage Worlds without miniatures for a long time. In Savage Worlds, you get +2 to hit if you charge, providing you charge in a straight line and nothing gets in your way.

So the characters are in a fight with some zombies. I've described the situation, and the players say what their characters do. One of them says "Rothgar charges the lead zombie."  Now it's my job to decide if Rothgar's player gets +2 to the roll. I decide.

But! I make my decision by thinking about the things that have already been agreed to by the players. I've said "You're standing in a wide open street" and the players have all gone "uh huh", because I'm the GM and I get to say that kind of thing.  I haven't said "The zombies are standing behind a barricade" which is also my perogative. I have to consider all this stuff when I'm making my decision. I absolutely COULD decide that the player doesn't get the +2, but I'd have to say something like "oh, there's a barricade in the way" or "the cobblestones are too uneven to get a good charge going" or something like that, or else I'm breaking the rules. If I did decide that, the player would justifiably be confused. He'd be like "Hey! You didn't say that before!" and I'd be like "Fair cop" and then probably let him describe the character doing something else instead, if he wanted to.

So yes, Callan, you're correct, someone decides. But "Someone decides" isn't the same as "someone chooses randomly". Someone decides, usually based on an agenda of remaining consistent with things that have already been said and agreed to.

Is that complicated? Am I missing something?

Ron Edwards

I'm with you, Simon. The fundamentals aren't especially at issue here, as far as I can tell ...

... unless it's to highlight that some, or possibly many role-players have never experienced a functional SIS in the first place. I've observed such play, or suffered as a participant sometimes.

I think we've all experienced "hiccups," in that someone thought their character was standing on the table, but no one else processed that, and subsequent rolls or described events were predicated on the character being on the floor. In such cases, every group finds ways to cope, either back-writing or updating what the character is "actually" doing in the present wave-front of action, sometimes passing over a mis-application of certain mechanics and simply carrying forward.

But I'm not talking about a mere hiccup. I'm talking about every aspect of play being subject to negotiation in the negative sense of the word, such that merely moving forward in fictional time requires immense effort in the face of advantage-seeking, or bored inattention, or confusion. It doesn't surprise me that such play results either (i) in slamming all play as hard as possible toward the more formalized mechanics, such as rounds and initiative and rolls to hit; or (ii) in slamming all play as hard as possible toward the exact opposite. In (i), it happens because the interpersonal yip-yap is so traumatic that it halts play in its tracks. In (ii), it happens because the interpersonal yip-yap comes under the dominance of a single personality, or a very tight team of at most three people.

I would certainly like to talk to other people who played a lot of Champions during the 1980s (pre-4th edition), because my impression is that that game, in particular, became extremely characterized either way for a given group, and only a few groups were able to find another way, in which the mechanics and the talking were harmonized.

As an aside, I think this dual failure is the origin of the false roll/role dichotomy enshrined in RPG rhetoric during the 1990s. We're not talking about roll vs. role at all, we're talking about play which fails at establishing its most basic medium, as if soccer players were trying to play without quite being sure of what a "goal" is or whether we're using this "ball" thing or not, or if a painter were not entirely sure what the colored gunk is for.

I have no idea whether what I'm saying applies to either Callan or Filip, and don't mind if it doesn't. I do think that what I've read from them in this thread, and in many previous to this, is consistent with the notion that they have zero trust in people talking, and seek formalized procedures of play which restrict all talking and imagined content to what is provided by sources external to the people playing. It so happens that I think Dungeoneer, a card game which I enjoy immensely, would suit this desire perfectly. Whether the Dungeoneer RPG, associated with the card game and using some of its mechanics, would suit this desire, I don't know. There seems to me to be a hard conceptual break between the two activities, which lies directly in this topic of actual human speaking and imaginative input being a component of the role-playing medium.

I will assume for the moment that a reader agrees with me that functional role-playing necessarily includes both functional talking/listening and functional mechanics (no matter how "diceless" or "story" one claims the game is), and without both, you fail to establish a medium for play. As an aside, I hope it also makes sense that this has nothing to do, or not fundamentally to do, with Creative Agenda, but rather with the very possibility of having a CA at all.

So: to me, the question begins with the observation that people can do this, i.e. role-play in the sense that I'm describing here, and not merely because someone "decides" stuff in an arbitrary and/or domineering way. Given that observation, the question is "how," and I do not anticipate the answers to be mysterious, mystical, or overwhelmingly profound.

Best, Ron

Filip Luszczyk


Quote from: Ron EdwardsIt so happens that I think Dungeoneer, a card game which I enjoy immensely, would suit this desire perfectly. Whether the Dungeoneer RPG, associated with the card game and using some of its mechanics, would suit this desire, I don't know.

No, this assumption is incorrect.

It so happens that I played some Dungeoneer just a few weeks ago, with one of the players from my core player pool, with whom I normally game successfully. It sucked. The game felt somewhat similar to the little pre-3.x D&D play I had, only it sucked even more. It delivered less fun overall, while the ruleset was intrusive to the point that it just didn't feel worth the effort. Our conclusion was that if we wanted to play something like this again, which we specifically don't want, we would probably be better off playing one of those retro-clone things.

Important related data point: I've run a pretty satisfying campaign of Pathfinder not so long ago (prep was too demanding to keep things up on a satisfying level for much longer, though). On the other hand, the few sessions of D&D 4e we played in the past were mildly satisfying, as everything outside combat felt just too loose compared to 3.x.

I play various other board games with that guy and others from my core player pool, and it normally works fine. Abstract board games like Carcassonne or Samurai work especially well. Arkham Horror is interesting, as it includes some adventure game aspects, but as opposed to Dungeoneer works fine. It delivers entirery different sort of fun than games with solid imaginary content played with the same people, though.

I find it hard to relate to your comments about trust, but I notice the activity disconnect thing I was writing about here and there, where I just don't see how your words apply to anything I know or want. When I play games I specifically don't want to have to trust anyone in any special way. Likewise, I specifically don't want other players to have to trust me in any special way. Past the very basic level of trust when I know those people are not going to cheat or something, I expect the game to provide solid ground for whatever we are about to do, without anyone having to worry that some invisible lines get overstepped (e.g. see my posts above about rules that say one thing when the actual rule turns out to be different). A friend once described his experiences with multiplayer action games, where most players are largely anonymous and cheating is rampant, with people routinely using applications that change how the game works to gain unfair advantage. This is the sort of environment that plain doesn't meet that basic trust requirement for me; I wouldn't even consider playing anything under similar conditions. It's one of the reasons I avoid massive multiplayer games like fire. I used to play satisfying multiplayer video games with small groups of people I knew at that basic level, however. Past this basic level of trust, I expect the game to provide a safe and functional playground.

I expect this from video games and board games, and in vast majority they tend to deliver. I don't see why I shouldn't also expect this from roll-playing games, but with various weird attitudes permeating the hobby, those prove much less reliable in practice. They often push to the players what in just about any other commercial product under the sun would be the designer's job. At the same time, their texts tend to be oversized in comparison with games of other sorts (and consequently, more demanding in terms of time and effort). Oddly, this seems often not only accepted, but even praised in the hobby.

The result is that with every new roll-playing game I try, the first few sessions are a trial period when I'm focused primarily on figuring out whether the design is reliable enough (or worth fixing when it isn't). Only once I build trust in the ruleset, I shift to playing normally rather than in playtesting mindset.

Note that:

1). I initially came to rpgs looking for a different kind of games, largely based on my fascination with crpgs at the time. Back then, I specifically wasn't looking for "a fusion of theater, happening and literature," as some text I encountered early described them, though there was a relatively short period when I bought into that rhetoric wholeheartedly (incidentally, also a period of quite unsatisfying gaming and all sorts of high school social bullshit).

2). There was no one to introduce me to the hobby initially (no stable groups till college, in fact). From the beginning I had to figure everything out by trial and error, having only a handful of scarce texts as references. The first arguably complete game text I was exposed to was some Lord of the Rings based introductory system that was pretty much the distilled essense of 90s bullshit. However, I tried out or examined a relatively large number of games in those early gaming years (that is, compared to some established WFRP-only groups I've encountered at some point in high school), including stuff like FUDGE or GURPS Lite that I recall downloading as soon as internet access became available, and a substantial number of homebrews. I used to experiment a lot in those early years, e.g. I recall trying out GM-less gaming long before I even encountered any mention of such games.

Well, I've been cheated by the "game" part in rpg, I guess. Until D&D 3.x and later some Forge titles, it plain didn't work as games.