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bloodtide
09-13-2010, 01:29 PM
So I just wonder how everyone else does this. How do you deal with game information in a role-playing game? How much to you tell the players about everything. I see only two ways it can be done:

1.The players know next to nothing about any game information about the world. Creatures, items and events are described without using game terminology.

2.The DM simply tells the players any and all related game information for every encounter.

Example:The group encounters some gnoll bandits. Type one DM-'the large gnoll in the back waves his staff and a black ray of light shoots out and hits Togh in the chest, [Roll fort Save]. Type two DM-"The gnoll sorcerer casts Ray of Exhaustion on Togh[Roll Fort Save]. At the end of the round, the type one players only know the gnoll is a spell caster, but the type two players know he is a sorcerer with necromancy spells of at least 3rd level.

This gets even more important with mysteries. Game information can make a mystery fade away to nothing.

Example-The group encounters some red frog-like people. The wizard attepts to charm on of them and it fails. Type one-'Your charm spell has no effect on the creature, nothing happens'. Type two-"Your charm spell does not work on the Neraphim as they are Outsiders" As at the end of the round the type one wizard only know the spell had no effect(but it did not make a save), he is in the dark as to why. It could be an immunity, a magic item, spell resistance or any number of things. He has to pick his next action in the dark. The type two player knows exactly why the spell failed, outsiders can't be effected by charm person and casts a dismissal spell to get rid of them.

Example-The group encounters a black door and Togh attempts to open it. Type one-''A black light seeps out of the door [roll wil save, player fails] you take a -6 penalty to your strength.'' The cleric quickly steps up to cast dispel magic on Togh, but it has no effect and the penalty remains. Type two-''The door hits Togh with a Bestowed Curse [Roll save, fails] and he now has a - 6 to STR." The cleric simply takes a step forward and casts Remove Curse on Togh and they continue.

So what way does everyone do it? (Note we are skipping Knowledge checks here and just talking in general, knowledge checks need their own post).

And please no middle of the road answers. It's simple, do you tell the players game information or not? You can't play the middle, you either tell the players the game mechanic details(creature type, spell name, etc) or not.

DMMike
09-13-2010, 11:02 PM
Bloodtide, there's one more choice:

3. Total immersion:

Example:The group encounters some gnoll bandits. Type three DM-'the canine-faced beast in the back waves his staff and a black ray of light shoots out and hits Togh in the chest, [Roll fort Save].

Example-The group encounters some red frog-like people. The wizard attepts to charm on of them and it fails. Type three-'Your "spell of friendship" is complete. The frog person shakes his head as if overcoming a daze, and shouts at you while pointing.'

Example-The group encounters a black door and Togh attempts to open it. Type three-''A black light seeps out of the door [roll wil save, player fails] [DM applies STR penalty, secretly, for remainder of encounter] Your gear suddenly feels much heavier.''

Fergusbarker
09-14-2010, 02:38 AM
I've got to say that total immersion is great! It is a roleplaying game but I think that your third example is a bit too much. I think a player should be able to tell enough about himself/herself to know when you're having a penalty.

Sascha
09-14-2010, 09:32 AM
By your definitions, I'm firmly a type-2; having access to game information is part of playing the game. There hasn't been a situation that's better served in play by hiding things, in my experience.

(Though, I don't believe the question is as simple as presented; the basic premise hangs on a somewhat flawed assumption about the value of game information and its role in the fiction.)

lomifeh
09-14-2010, 10:20 AM
I use a mix really. If their players know then they do. The exception is if they do get a - to STR then I say "things feel heavier, you are at -1 STR" or somesuch. Also I don't mean knowledge checks here. If the players have fought gnolls before or would reasonably know what they are then I'd say "a bunch of gnolls."

bloodtide
09-14-2010, 05:43 PM
I'm Total immersion myself, but only with my good, old gaming group. Most other players can't take it. The average modern gamer wants and needs to know all the game effects so they can mix/max every tiny detail. The rouge needs to know on sight if a foe can be sneaked attacked, and a spellcaster needs to know weaknesses.

And when you do type 2, it's way too much of a game. "DM-The 'hit them on the red X on their backs attack!' Player-"I cast 'backslapper!' DM-"You killed them all!" ; DM-"Some 'hit my left foot' attack, Player-"I use my sweep left foot strike!" DM-"you kill them all!".

Sascha
09-14-2010, 07:43 PM
I'm Total immersion myself, but only with my good, old gaming group. Most other players can't take it. The average modern gamer wants and needs to know all the game effects so they can mix/max every tiny detail. The rouge needs to know on sight if a foe can be sneaked attacked, and a spellcaster needs to know weaknesses.
That's pretty much my issue with the question. There are levels of immersion beyond "total" and "none," and variations on how much game information (and what type) is actually shared.


And when you do type 2, it's way too much of a game. "DM-The 'hit them on the red X on their backs attack!' Player-"I cast 'backslapper!' DM-"You killed them all!" ; DM-"Some 'hit my left foot' attack, Player-"I use my sweep left foot strike!" DM-"you kill them all!".
Indeed, when stated in those terms. But that's a pretty bland game to me. It's possible to blend the fiction (narration) and mechanics, which is how my group and I tend to handle it. Excluding the middle, in this regard, forces a dichotomy where a spectrum of responses is more accurate.

bloodtide
09-16-2010, 12:47 PM
That's pretty much my issue with the question. There are levels of immersion beyond "total" and "none," and variations on how much game information (and what type) is actually shared.

The levels of 'immersion' don't matter. I'm asking if you just tell the players all game information or not. Sure most DM will amswer 'some' to the question, but to me some is all.

In a Classic Game: The DM is in control of the game world 100%. The players agree to go by the DM's say no matter what. If the DM says 'X', the players just nod. This is the type 1, no information.

In a Modern Game: It's more of a group fun effort. Everyone in the game is fair, balanced and equal. A player and DM are the same, they are fair and equal partners in the game. This is type 2, the DM tells all his 'game partners' all the game information, so they can have the 'most fun'.

A typical modern game has characters with power builds, say a super sneak attack. But the player needs to know if they can use sneak attack, as it does not effect everything. The player would have 'no fun', unless every hit was a sneak attack, and would feel very sad 'wasting' the ability when it did not work(Player G-I hit and do 71 damage! DM1-sorry your sneak attack has no effect so the damage is only 7 Player G gets very sad and sulks away into depression). So many type 2 DM, just tell the partner gamer if they can use sneak attack or not.

Sascha
09-16-2010, 06:45 PM
The levels of 'immersion' don't matter. I'm asking if you just tell the players all game information or not. Sure most DM will amswer 'some' to the question, but to me some is all.
And I'm saying that perception biases the answers given; the premise is based on equivocating "some information" with "all information," and framing the definitions in the manner you did leaves the audience with a false dichotomy. You did make immersion levels matter when you said some players can't handle total immersion, and need to know game information to play; it suggests an inverse relationship between the two concepts.


<snip "Classic/Modern" game analysis.>
It isn't a game-design issue. It's a play style issue. Though, it's not really a surprise that different games target different play styles, some of which will be type1, some of which will be type2, and a whole lot more are somewhere in the middle. (Also, I'd love to know where you got the impression that "modern games" are all about equity, with regards to the player-GM relationship. I'm not familiar with any game like that, that actually has a GM role.)

bloodtide
09-17-2010, 04:21 PM
A lot of modern games, take the more modern Liberal approach to life. For example, in classic games you had winners and losers. In modern games you are to all just have the same fair and balanced fun.

Classic D&D was whatever the DM said it was. If your fireball bounced off of the monster, the player would just shrug and try something else. Many modern D&D gamers would throw down a book and stand up and Demand to be told why the fireball they cast did not work. In effect they would demand to know the game information to see if the Dm was cheating, or maybe just forgot something.

A lot of modern games, and I've seen thousands, are more of an equal fair group hug then a game. The DM sets up and encounter, tells the players all the game information about it, and then the players beat the encounter. It has a very 'we are just playing a game feel' to it.

Classic games were more immersion. The players were in the world. They looked at things by descriptions, not game details.

A good half of it is the game rules itself, but the other half is all on the players.

Sascha
09-17-2010, 07:04 PM
I'm not seeing a cite; either you're reading some rather obscure games, or intentionally focusing on the fringe DIY publishers, Forge-y stuff, most of which few players have read. Most of the mainstream (and less-mainstream indie press) games I've read since the demise of TSR have more or less the traditional GM-player relationship model, including both WotC editions of D&D. "Fair and balanced" might be a popular slogan, but it's meaningless outside of context. Context which will be game-specific.

Also, I'm not sure what modern gamers you're playing D&D with - straw men, perhaps. I've never seen a normally-socialized player, D&D or otherwise, act in the manner you've described in this thread, with demands when things don't go their way. Large wager on "It's Not the Game" in the 5th~

Dytrrnikl
09-17-2010, 10:50 PM
A lot of modern games, take the more modern Liberal approach to life. For example, in classic games you had winners and losers. In modern games you are to all just have the same fair and balanced fun.

Classic D&D was whatever the DM said it was. If your fireball bounced off of the monster, the player would just shrug and try something else. Many modern D&D gamers would throw down a book and stand up and Demand to be told why the fireball they cast did not work. In effect they would demand to know the game information to see if the Dm was cheating, or maybe just forgot something.

A lot of modern games, and I've seen thousands, are more of an equal fair group hug then a game. The DM sets up and encounter, tells the players all the game information about it, and then the players beat the encounter. It has a very 'we are just playing a game feel' to it.

Classic games were more immersion. The players were in the world. They looked at things by descriptions, not game details.

A good half of it is the game rules itself, but the other half is all on the players.
I don't want to sound antagonistic, but this assertion of yours is a complete misrepresentation of classic D&D. My own experiences with classic D&D (from the perspective of having gamed since the late 80s, so by no means all encompassing of D&D) is that the game was designed with a far less detailed, clearly defined ruleset that it found in modern systems. The broader or rather less specific mechanics and rules were designed to focus more on story and keeping the game moving...requiring the DM to make rulings on the fly. This allowed for a fluidity of play that is sorely lacking in today's games. My group, to this day, believes D&D has strayed from a 'Story not detail' mechanic rule set to a 'Detail over story' mechanic rule set. It used to be if you wanted to try something that wasn't expressly covered in the rules, and there was a lot that wasn't covered, you quickly figured out the closest possible proficiency or attribute to try your stunt and then rolled a die. I will grant that, as a general rule of thumb, the DM was the final authority for rulings that would come up into play, being as much a judge as referee.

My own take on Modern games, is that the rules have become far too detailed and clear cut, removing fluidity. I believe the intent was to create systems in which the DM was allowed to be more a of referee as opposed to judge. On the sad side of things. There is no more, or far less player saying "I want to try outrageous stunt X which is not covered in the rules"; DM response "OK, that's going to be a roll against stat Y". Modern games have very clear cut, defined rules and mechanics, that requires everyone to know the rules, especially with how frustratingly tactical combats have become...squares, 5 foot steps, 6 second combat round, and so forth. This isn't to say that Modern games are any less enjoyable or entertaining. It's more that the mechanics are pushing to pidgeon-hole players and DMs alike into specific outcomes for all actions.

A paradigm of modern games, especially evident in 4E D&D, are mechanics in which the individual classes function identically and only truly differ in a thematic sense. I will admit that 4E is definately more player friendly, as I've heard it described as being a success oriented game, well-nigh eliminating the idea of negative modifiers. I see that as a reflection of the "You didn't lose kid, you were just the last winner" line of thinking.

DMMike
09-17-2010, 11:03 PM
People are changing, Sacha. The Internet is probably the driving force, which means that anyone doing personal development in the last 25 years is vulnerable to it. So players are changing too.

Let's trace the effect in video games. Early gamers played with the good-old baseball notion: three strikes and you're out. (Early D&Ders were more hardcore - once your character died, rip up that character sheet). Mario, Ghosts and Goblins - one or two hits and you're dead. Now, unlimited lives seems like the video game standard. (Who ever said, "darn...my WoW character died. Time to make a new one?") How is this evidence for Fair and Balanced mentality? Well, if you die (cuz you suck) while other players continue to live and play, it just doesn't seem fair. As long as they're living and playing, you're living and playing.

I can only speculate on how this translates to "modern" RPGs. From reading game designer comments, 3E and 4E were both designed to make everything as fair as possible. 4E takes it a step further - why should clerics have reign on healing abilities? That's not fair... Modern players though, let's look at it in the form of opportunity costs. Someone playing a tabletop RPG could just as easily be playing an online RPG. If the tabletop RPG doesn't offer the "advantages" that an online RPG does (like unlimited lives, unbendable game rules, 24/7 access, whatever) then the player should just play that MMORPG. I can see this as an excuse for PCs to demand things from a Tabletop that a Tabletop really shouldn't do. If not, well, there's a new Warcraft expansion that the player needs to start exploring.

Sascha
09-18-2010, 01:22 PM
People are changing, Sacha. The Internet is probably the driving force, which means that anyone doing personal development in the last 25 years is vulnerable to it. So players are changing too.
I'm not sure if this statement refutes my argument, or agrees with it. Intriguing.


Let's trace the effect in video games. Early gamers played with the good-old baseball notion: three strikes and you're out. (Early D&Ders were more hardcore - once your character died, rip up that character sheet). Mario, Ghosts and Goblins - one or two hits and you're dead. Now, unlimited lives seems like the video game standard. (Who ever said, "darn...my WoW character died. Time to make a new one?") How is this evidence for Fair and Balanced mentality? Well, if you die (cuz you suck) while other players continue to live and play, it just doesn't seem fair. As long as they're living and playing, you're living and playing.
Ignoring the resurrection and reincarnation mechanisms in pre-WotC D&D, sure, the game plays out like an iron-man competition. We never played in that fashion, even in the days of TSR. Again, it's a play style thing, not a "modern" v. "classic" thing, other than the fact that different games are designed with different assumed play styles. And it's not solely limited to "modern" games; Toon explicitly has the rule that characters can never be taken out of the game permanently, and it was written back in '84.

That, and the design goals of a single-player game, like Mario, are most assuredly not the design goals of a cooperative multiplayer game like WoW. You can't have the same rewards structure and failure consequences, without serious consideration on the logical extension of those decisions on game play; tabletop RPGs are cooperative multiplayer games, as well, and design reflects that, to varying degrees. ('Cept for Paranoia. That's not so easily defined as "cooperative" :P But that's the point.)


I can only speculate on how this translates to "modern" RPGs. From reading game designer comments, 3E and 4E were both designed to make everything as fair as possible. 4E takes it a step further - why should clerics have reign on healing abilities? That's not fair... Modern players though, let's look at it in the form of opportunity costs. Someone playing a tabletop RPG could just as easily be playing an online RPG. If the tabletop RPG doesn't offer the "advantages" that an online RPG does (like unlimited lives, unbendable game rules, 24/7 access, whatever) then the player should just play that MMORPG. I can see this as an excuse for PCs to demand things from a Tabletop that a Tabletop really shouldn't do. If not, well, there's a new Warcraft expansion that the player needs to start exploring.
Erm, 3E's intended goals were to reward system mastery. Like, a lot. To the point where it was possible to have wildly imbalanced characters, based solely on the mechanical options the individual players chose; designing rules to reward players with a deeper understanding of the rules isn't fair to all players, either. TSR's D&D, on the other hand, *was* designed with balance mechanisms - demi-human level limits and non-uniform experience tables, chiefly; the intent was to prevent one class from dominating play over another. (Whether they succeeded or not is a separate discussion, as is whether players actually used those mechanisms in their own games.)

4E's focus on balance, that's a pure design issue. I suppose you could call it 'fair' that the intent is to *not* have anyone at the table sitting out of play, and the 'balance' of the game is to ensure no player, by accident or intent, can dominate any part of a cooperative game. Again, those are play style choices, not commentary on the quality of modern players' character.

And, while we're here, condescension towards any section of gamers based solely on play style differences isn't healthy for the hobby or for quality discourse on game design. Ascribing bad behavior and senses of entitlement to "modern"-game players is disingenuous, and poor argument construction. Tabletop games have a wide variety of goals, and some of those design ideas will be stuff you (general 'you') aren't going to like or want. Others will. That's a good thing. Saying what tabletop games categorically should or shouldn't do is play style elitism, and not a good thing.