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2:24 AM
The Strix asks on twitter "what are the key principals of progression design," "What makes certain progression design good progression design," and "Do you know of any games where progression is degenerative?"
 
 
2 hours later…
4:19 AM
I think I understand doing stuff better than being stuff.
Wish there was an RPG that allowed for that.
 
Cozy Town by Jamila R. Nedjadi. This game is an opportunity to sit down with friends and create a lovely town together. You’ll play out an entire year of this town, across sweet spring, sunny summer, soft autumn, and snuggled down winter. Together you’ll explore what makes people, and the communities they’re in, feel safe and cozy
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Every time, before I can start playing and seeing what there is to do, have to describe at length "what kind of person do you want your character to be?" How should I know?
Aw, that sounded nice until the last sentence.
 
That's a popular style of play but it's not the only style by a long shot.
 
* pricks up ears * Where have you seen others?
And they always insist on me coming up with some kind of strong preference about what to play. I don't care.
 
Since I don't have details about what, precisely, you're encountering I don't know the degrees you're dealing with. A lot of games start with a sketch of a character and play to find out the details.
Like, a lot of my Fate games start with a character sheet that's only a quarter or a third filled in and you add stuff as you play. Some games have only the broadest of outlines and may never need more than that, like Honey Heist. Some games like Psi*Run and A Penny For My Thoughts are about not knowing your character at the beginning.
Some games provide pre-made or partially pre-made characters that have the choices already made for you, and your choice is which of the pre-mades to play.
A lot of Powered By The Apocalypse "playbooks" do that, but so does Lady Blackbird.
Lady Blackbird combines pre-made characters with play-to-find-out, which can also be play-to-change.
Games like Cozy Town, Microscope, or Lovecraftesque, don't have dedicated player characters at all.
There's an acknowledged playstyle of "I'm just here to do something with friends" that some games don't support at all but there's more and more awareness of, which has the potential to blow open notions about game roles.
 
4:33 AM
Interesting thought about Psi*Run and A Penny For My Thoughts (I have vaguely seen both of those). I've kind of thought of those as "you're supposed to know who they are in advance but pretend like you don't", since that's what "mystery" characters are in most games. But with the structure of both of those games you mentioned, thinking about it, there's actually nothing to stop you deciding what the "truth" is only when you get to it.
 
I've got an idea of an optional "embellisher" role in a future game, which is a player who just adds details to what's going on to make it more cool and fun and interesting, and helps keep track of things.
@A.B. Both of them are specifically about not knowing, and playing to find out.
 
I'm not sure there would be with most games, actually, if it wasn't for the requirement to submit full details to the GM before the game starts.
Does a backstory fall in the forest if there's nobody there to hear it?
 
I find it a lot easier to define my characters by how they relate to other people instead of who they are. (Which may be a side effect of how I mostly define myself by how I relate to other people, instead of who I am)
 
Yeah, when I GM I encourage players to leave a lot of blanks in their characters, both mechanically and narratively, that will be filled in along the way so that (a) we have questions to ask and answer together, (b) they aren't committed to things without enough information, and (c) they can be awesome by saying "oh, my character is FROM this town" or "yes, my character has that skill" so that their character is the right person for what's happening.
@bobble I really enjoy games where relationships are a major part of character mechanics.
Bubblegumshoe, Masters of Umdaar, Lady Blackbird...
 
Regarding PsiRun and A Penny For My Thoughts: that's a much better idea than the common "you have to know who they really are because that'll determine what they're like and what they can do and of course you have to determine all that at the start, but you can play them not knowing and finding out".
 
4:38 AM
(If you put a \ before the * in Psi*Run, it treats the * as text.)
 
Weird that it messed up the asterisk that time. I suppose it was because I also had some italics later on.
Oh, it supports that? Thanks, that's handy to know!
@bobble That's a good idea.
 
It's how to I do obnoxious things like [putting links inside brackets].
 
But how do you do links with text?
Just remembered I didn't know how to do that.
 
Same as main-site. [text](URL)
 
Apr 1 '19 at 23:35, by BESW
For off-site links, use [text goes here](https://www.link-goes-here.com "optional mouseover text here")
 
4:41 AM
Gotcha, thanks both.
Unfortunately, I'm stuck in Vampire: the Masquerade at the moment.
 
Aye, I get the impression V:tM is very much a "brooding backstory carefully fitted into the GM's world" kind of paradigm.
Partly because I've read the original edition of Katanas & Trenchcoats, which is a parody of that kind of game (and particularly the playstyle popularized by it in the 90s), and has "joke but not really" rules like giving you more character points the more pages your backstory is.
Not a style I've ever been fond of; the closest I've come is encouraging players to have pre-existing relationships between their characters but we never have to, like, map out all the details unless they want to. "He saved my life once" or "I think of him as the annoying little brother I never had" are quite sufficient to start with.
 
And it's a living world game, i.e. I'm joining something that's already been going on for some time rather than setting up a new character at the same time as some other people are setting up theirs (I don't think there's any other new player joining just now who I could conspire with), so I can't think of a way to use the "relationships with other characters" idea. Unless either of you can.
That sounds like a good level of detail to me, too!
 
You could make your character a fan of an existing one?
 
Ooof that's rough. Unfamiliar continuity without a setting bible is... not something I'd ever want to impose on my friends.
 
If another character is sufficiently (in)famous
 
4:46 AM
That could happen, actually.
I've made him a newbie, but it's still possible.
 
@A.B. Well, have you ever seen long-running TV shows introduce a new character? There's a lot of tropes for how to integrate them.
 
Is there no space for detail, or some rule against retroactively adding past details?
 
@MikeQ Not sure what you mean by "no space for detail".
 
Long-lost relative is a popular one: "I'm the illegitimate half-brother you never knew you had!"
 
@A.B. I'll rephrase: What prevents you (and other players) from retroactively adding some past history with the established characters?
 
4:48 AM
Buy-in from other players?
 
@MikeQ Good idea, that's something that can be done later.
 
Find a space in the lore and pry it open with a crowbar to shove yourself in. "We knew each other in high school," "We're co-workers who now discover we have something more than work in common," etc.
 
Yeah, I'd have to conspire with another player, but that too is something that can be done later, it doesn't have to be done at chargen.
 
"We were both trained by the same mentor" is popular one too.
 
It's more, I think, that I'm supposed to say a lot about what my character is like up-front, so that by the time I start playing and get to know by experience what I'll enjoy doing, it's too late and I've already tied myself down.
 
4:50 AM
In vampire games, "both sired by the same vamp" can make you functionally a long-lost relative AND co-mentees.
 
That would be one advantage of the clan problem.
 
@A.B. I feel that so much. It was so freeing when Fate Core encouraged me to leave big sections blank to fill in during play.
 
The idea of not having space for new retroactive details is in the narrative mindset where events are only true if they were narrated, and anything not explicitly narrated cannot be possible.
 
Here's some Doctor Who characters I made for a 50th anniversary game, to be played with people who were not super familiar with the franchise. They're all characters from the show, but with gaps so that players could make them their own while still being true to the core of the show versions.
 
And I being terribly pessimistic about anything to do with me - either because that's an effect of my condition, or because of experience because I have a pretty shitty life due to my condition, or both, I don't know - I always start out convinced that anything I tie myself down to at random will turn out to have been a very bad choice, so I always freeze up while trying to make a character.
 
4:54 AM
That's another thing Fate helped me embrace: changing characters after the fact. Not just if the story changes them, but being able to go "Okay, this choice isn't working out, I need to fix it."
TRPGs aren't like most forms of media: you don't get to edit and revise them to fix things before they "go live."
So you have to be more forgiving and flexible about addressing problems and mistakes on the fly.
 
Doctor Who demonstrates one interesting way to leave space for new things to come out about a character. The Doctor has been around for umpteen episodes, but there's still almost nothing about him/her that's proved beyond any possibility of saying something new about - because most of what's known about the Doctor we only have their word for and they're a shocking liar! :-)
 
Heh, yes. Though also, and for me more importantly, the show has a history of just not caring about contradicting itself.
 
That too.
 
Whatever's good for the current story is true.
 
V:tM is a rip-off of Buffy, or, rather, the other way around. And goodness knows contradicting its own established story worked for Buffy.
 
4:58 AM
More recent seasons have been more concerned about explaining themselves, and I feel that's an issue as well. Old Who had more space for contradictions to be ignored or for fans to explain them, because Old Who didn't try to explain everything, it just let things happen without much comment.
Doctor Who taught me that so long as the characters' emotions and relationships are moderately consistent, you can get away with a lot of sloppiness in the plotting.
 
Yeah, trying to make a fuss about "canon" sounds like a bad idea for Doctor Who, if they've been doing that. To the extent that Star Trek makes a fuss about "canon", it's a bit of a stone around their leg.
 
A story with emotional weight that makes people feel things, but doesn't make a lot of logical sense when you think about it afterwards, is more successful than a story that makes total sense but doesn't make the audience feel anything.
(I'm looking at you, Asimov.)
 
Well, some stories work in their own right, even if they don't entirely match what happened three episodes ago. It would be a waste not to have that story.
 
So yeah, I'm right there with you on being impatient and frustrated about TRPG campaigns that expect a lot of uninformed commitment up front, especially without space to modify it going forward.
 
And "moderately consistent" sounds about right even for the people. In real life, most people are only moderately consistent, if that, Monsieur Poirot notwithstanding.
 
5:03 AM
I actively push against that kind of expectation in my games.
@A.B. Hah, yes.
 
The bright spot is that I've no reason to think this lot are particularly attached to that idea, they may just be doing it because that's what they usually see done and they haven't thought about it.
> TRPGs aren't like most forms of media: you don't get to edit and revise them to fix things before they "go live."
So you have to be more forgiving and flexible about addressing problems and mistakes on the fly.
I like this way of looking at it.
 
Aye, I'm familiar with that kind of cultural inertia. I've been caught up in it myself, many times.
 
Not "you don't get to revise things first, so you have to stick with what you've got", but "you don't get to revise things first, so you have to be excused not sticking with what you've got".
Yes, things that there's no particular need for but they work well enough not to bother until you come across something they particularly don't work for. I may be the thing they don't work for and will require reshuffling for.
 
A common bugbear of TRPG expectations, in my experience, is wanting a TRPG to be like our favorite novel or TV show or film. We can take elements and tropes and inspiration from other media, but it's an adaptation and we have to make accommodations for the difference in medium and adjust our expectations.
 
@BESW I was just playing this with my gaming group this morning! It was a fascinating thing to play, rather than just to read.
 
5:08 AM
We're not gonna get the carefully polished dialogue at the table that we'll get in a film or a novel, but that's okay. We're also not gonna have to work as hard to be invested in the main characters because they're us.
When we play first-person characters in a TRPG, there's built-in investment and immediacy that no other medium can offer. That's where the strength of this medium lies.
@BardicWizard Oooh if your group's okay to share their picture I'd love to see it some time.
This is one of ours:
 
If the sun had eyes, would it only be able to see stars brighter than itself?
 
If the sun had eyes, thermodynamics would work very differently.
 
@BESW we did it over a MSTeams whiteboard so no pictures, sorry
It was gnomes with little hats on a floating island though
 
Awww
 
The island had a hat as a hotel
And apparently turnips as the main crop
It was wonderful
 
5:18 AM
That sounds joyful.
 
There was one argument, about whether the caffeine of choice for the town was tea or coffee, in the entire game. It’s a new record, in a good way
Alright, gotta go now! Bye!
 
5:51 AM
> That would be one advantage of the clan problem.
Oh, I forgot to say, what I meant by this was that I made a character sheet for a Malkavian, before I realised that that particular server had a flood of Malkavians.
But one thing that means, if I do end up playing that character and not another one, is that at least there's plenty of options for people he could be "related" to.
 
6:35 AM
4
Q: How does the Enlarge/Reduce spell work to enlarge a creature when the target creature is surrounded?

ptorI'm trying to understand how enlarging a creature works when said creature is surrounded. According to the description of the enlarge/reduce spell: If there isn't enough room for the target to double its size, the creature or object attains the maximum possible size in the space available. Whic...

 
6:45 AM
@BESW DAAAWWWW
XD
 
7:04 AM
This has been a big help, anyway, I think, thanks.
 
 
4 hours later…
11:16 AM
@BESW it really varies. One thing that helps is working through the 'embrace' with the character's sire
@BESW I once made a character that was "I'm the legitimate half-brother you never knew you had!"
 
One of my early D&D games had two characters who bonded over having been orphaned by the same paladin.
 
11:53 AM
@Akixkisu What gives you the impression Cozy Town (tags: Cozy, Cute, simple, sweet, tabletop, ttrpg ) (intro: "Special thanks to Dream Askew - Dream Apart, and The Quiet Year for being the rpgs Cozy Town is modeled after. Thematically, this tabletop roleplaying game is also inspired by video games like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley") is a board game?
Reopen votes here, please. Or a mod could power-open it, that'd be nice.
 
12:28 PM
@BESW 3 close votes before mine while appearing to have a concrete number of actions and options that a player can do, as you can see I was the first to cast a reopen vote after reading more.
 
Yes, I asked that just before you left your second comment.
 
In a situation like that I always start with the assumption that whoever decided to initiate the close vote did so with good reason, so I will glance at the material, make a preemptive decision, then take the time to check - that is usually my close vote flow.
 
I wonder, if people ask more questions about guided games like Cozy Town, We Forest Three, Together Among the Stars, Microscope, etc, if the notion that listed actions and options aren't a TRPG thing will fade. I doubt it, since the exact same situation exists in PbtA games at a mechanical level, and D&D 4e; they just give more choices and are more traditional about the trappings applied.
 
I'm uncertain about the closure reasoning of the first three votes.
I think a reasonable amount of popular TRPGs have listed actions and options, but they tend to present them in a less upfront and concise fashion.
 
12:44 PM
Aye. To a certain extent, it's a matter of gapping.
Nedjadi, in particular, makes games with gapless mechanics, while games like PbtA are defined by their gaps.
That is: in a PbtA game players do freeform roleplay until they trigger a mechanic, and the mechanic's resolution is always a prompt for more freeform roleplay. There is a freeform "gap" between each mechanical action.
In games like D&D 4e or Cozy Town, there is no freeform gap. Each mechanic's resolution tells the group what the next mechanic will be, and freeform roleplay is inserted alongside the mechanics rather than used to bridge the gap between them.
I suspect for a lot of people, that gapless play where roleplay exists within and alongside mechanical cascades, feels so alien that it seems like it must be an entirely different kind of game. Hence 4e being "too much like an MMO," for example. Or calling Microscope "not really a TRPG."
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The D&D tradition stems from taking wargames (which are gapless) and prying apart the mechanics to make space for freeform play. Many other ways of dealing with mechanics exist now.
 
I wonder if a lot of that comes from the distinction of TRPGs and Wargames.
Ah, you are quicker.
 
We now have mechanics that are roleplaying, or have space within themselves for roleplaying, rather than occupying the space between roleplaying.
A game like Cozy Town also gets pushback from literalist readings of the medium because players aren't occupying specific, continuous roles of individual characters throughout the game. I've encountered people who only grudgingly accept Microscope as a TRPG because it has an "occupy an individual's role" option for one kind of scene and that technically makes it count in their eyes.
But I feel like prescriptivist definitions like that are artificial limitations which will just leave people behind as the hobby bounds forward into exciting new spaces.
Anyway, I've wrapped up my conversation with a friend about the similarities between Judaic and Haudenosaunee epistemologies and the nature of living conversations with preserved texts, so it's time for bed. Goodnight!
 
If the foam on the coffee wiggles a lot it still stays on top even if a drop makes it out, no?
@BESW exciting, good night.
 
1:32 PM
@BESW hit me up with some of that one day
@Akixkisu depends on if it wiggles by itself
 
 
8 hours later…
10:21 PM
Can we get some delete votes here
Maybe some rude abusive flags too
 
 
1 hour later…
11:29 PM
13
Q: Can Someone Lie Non-Vocally in Zone of Truth?

KeverlySay one of my party casts Zone of Truth on a mute person or perhaps the party trickster simultaneously case Silence in the same area. Under the mechanics of Zone of Truth, can those affected lie in sign language or a non-vocal form of communication? The text of Zone of Truth says: you create a m...

 

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