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Why is math so underrated?
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
5e not only shares a name, but is pretty much nostalgia given corporeal form.


As opposed to actual reprints of AD&D, which are worse at being nostalgia products for AD&D? Actual AD&D, which is for sale as reprint right now, is still losing to 4e on Roll20. If nostalgia were the secret sauce to 5e's success, I'd expect the actual product it's nostalgiazing to be doing better than 4e.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:
Oh, I wouldn't disagree with anything here. Knowing the math only prevents dumbass errors like "hey, to model an extended challenge I'll force players to succeed in consecutive skill checks".


Won't even necessarily do that. Repeated rolling to model an extended action might "work" from a math perspective. Especially if you're doing something like crafting or lockpicking where the ultimate outcome is largely expected to be deterministic but you're wanting to generate an amount of time that the action takes. The fact that rolling the dice fifteen times is a giant pain in the ass doesn't mean it isn't mathematically creating the appropriate outputs.

There are lots of ways to fuck up the math in repeated rollings. I mean shit, look at the stupid fucking extended tests in SR5 or any of .the literally two dozen Skill Challenge versions they shat out for D&D 4e. But the primary mark against them is that rolling more dice slows the game down and it would be better to have the math be slightly worse and have faster resolution in most cases.

Chamomile wrote:
As opposed to actual reprints of AD&D, which are worse at being nostalgia products for AD&D? Actual AD&D, which is for sale as reprint right now, is still losing to 4e on Roll20. If nostalgia were the secret sauce to 5e's success, I'd expect the actual product it's nostalgiazing to be doing better than 4e.


Roll20 straight up is not a meaningful cross section of the gaming public. I just did a half assed search of a couple of games and found there were 3 gaming groups for all World of Darkness games and 3 gaming groups for any edition of Shadowrun, and nine gaming groups for Call of Cthulhu. That's not data. That's like a single university gaming club that has a couple people with eclectic taste.

Now, it's got like 250 5e D&D games on it. But that doesn't mean that 5e D&D has 80 times as many players as all forms of World of Darkness games combined. It just means we've already established that Roll20 is a non-representative sample, and it happens to be a place where a large number of 5e players congregate.

-Frank
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Mask_De_H
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

First, are you saying a behavioral psychiatrist wouldn't know how to do good math? Or that it doesn't take some understanding of math and human behavior to get the number of cards per hand/in deck/in play right?

Zinegata wrote:

Modern designers instead understand that "play" is ultimately a human experience, and that the most important feedback is actually seeing how playtest groups react while playing a game. Unfortunately, this playtest step is almost completely ignored by most RPG publishers and those who do it treat it as a publicity stunt where they get sanitized feedback rather than as a serious effort to gauge human reactions to their creation; and it's really in this aspect that RPGs have completely fallen behind its competitors and has contributed the most to its decline.


And what do you think gets tweaked under the hood in response to playtest feedback? Pictures?

You're trying to prove a point to seem like the wizened "real" gamer against Frank's number autism, but it's a bad point. TTRPGs are games that run on numbers, as are most boardgames. A game that runs on numbers is a game that requires math. In order for the game to produce consistently fun results to a wide band of people, the game has to run right. If the game's math is right with it's mechanics, then it is more likely to run right. If the game is more likely to run right, then it is more likely to be fun and enjoyable.

One of the problems with TTRPGs is that they have been so nonfunctional in this regard for so long, the existing audience accepts and assumes that's just how it works. Game runners fudge everything and since they must be right, the game must be right. Players barely read the material since runners lead them by the nose through it anyway. Neither side knows the rules to any rigorous degree; if they did they're shunned like you do to Frank/the Den like all the time. Because of that, feels are all we've had and all we really get.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You are off by multiple orders of magnitude, Frank. Google for the Orr Group Industry Report. Using one website's trends to predict the entire market is not exactly ideal, but unless you've got some equivalently large sample sizes for other communities, it's the data we have, and that data is not kind to AD&D.
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Guts
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Why is math so underrated? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Zinegata wrote:
saithorthepyro wrote:
Can someone give a reason for this, why the designers of games cannot seem to master or fix what looks like pretty simple to recognize and even correct math problems?


Because math doesn't sell games that are premised on story-telling. Themes and ideas are what makes an RPG sell, not the math itself.

Mathy games do exist - the emergence of the "Euro" genre should be ample evidence of how it can actually be popular - but the key thing to realize is that these "mathy" games are closer to puzzles rather than as a medium for storytelling or interaction. Indeed, Euros tend to be rather unconcerned about story or theme, and instead ask players to create systems where cubes are converted into more cubes which are then converted into points.

Moreover, such a "Focus on solving a puzzle" game mode tends to be highly incompatible with how RPGs are played, because you want the players interacting instead of staring at their sheets for 2 hours (a Euro game phenomenon now termed as "multiplayer solitaire").

Only RPGs or games focused on mystery-solving can really get away with this - as you end up having the players looking at the mystery from different angles and discussing it - but to be blunt crafting excellent mysteries is hard which is why the best game of the genre (Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective) is over 35 years old already yet is still being reprinted with its original set of 10 mysteries.

In short, you can advertise a game as being the most mathematically sound and balanced one ever made and gamers will ignore it in favor of an RPG book with a cool dragon on the cover.

This. I was going to reply but Zinegata articulated my own ideas much better than I could.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
Voss wrote:
5e not only shares a name, but is pretty much nostalgia given corporeal form.


As opposed to actual reprints of AD&D, which are worse at being nostalgia products for AD&D? Actual AD&D, which is for sale as reprint right now, is still losing to 4e on Roll20. If nostalgia were the secret sauce to 5e's success, I'd expect the actual product it's nostalgiazing to be doing better than 4e.


You're going to have to ask yourself that, since you brought it up as a major selling point for 5e:
you wrote:
From looking at 5e, it appears as though the three biggest selling points D&D can have are (in no particular order) 1) sharing a name with something a semi-large demographic has fond memories of playing in middle school, 2) sharing a name that thing the celebrities played on that one podcast, and 3) being simple to run. Note that #3 does not require that the game run well, just that it require relatively little effort to make it run. Mind caulk (apparently) requires less effort than remembering lots of rules, so light games with few rules that require lots of mind caulk to function trump heavy games with lots of rules that can actually be played as-is.


Personally I'm really comfortable with the idea that people actually don't want to play 2e or 1e or BECMI, or whatever terrible version they played as teenagers. Not only is the math bad, it's presented poorly, confusingly and inverted in most cases, but the non-math systems are also bad. 2e has all sorts of side bars recommended to aspiring DMs that they fuck the players over on a regular basis, and little sense of role-playing or anything beyond 'go dungeon, kill monsters, repeat.' Those ideas come later in increasingly niche products.

While 5e suffers from a lot of problems, its got a much shinier presentation, and gets to the point faster, without a lot of hidden bullshit or Appendices A-H of Wackily Complex Subsystems.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
You are off by multiple orders of magnitude, Frank. Google for the Orr Group Industry Report. Using one website's trends to predict the entire market is not exactly ideal, but unless you've got some equivalently large sample sizes for other communities, it's the data we have, and that data is not kind to AD&D.


No. I'm not off by orders of magnitude, I literally just checked it right now. 3 games for all World of Darkness. 3 games for all editions of Shadowrun combined. One game of Champions - in French. It's just not a very big sample, and as samples go it's not particularly representative of anything.

If you personally started a different game each day of the week, you could make Cthulhutech or RaHoWa bigger than Shadowrun and World of Darkness combined. It just doesn't mean anything. It's exactly the equivalent of citing the gamer hookup board at your local game store.

I don't think a lot of people still play AD&D. Because it's actually pretty bad and has pretty bad production values. But Roll20 just isn't a meaningful set of statistics to prove or refute my belief.

There is some evidence that 5th edition D&D is doing better in terms of players than 4th edition was. But there's honestly also evidence that it is not. The fact that the current edition of D&D can't even manage one magazine sized book a month is pretty fucking sad. While Mearls has made various bold claims about how well the edition is doing, he is also a known liar and he made similar claims about 4th edition that we now know were either outright lies or stretches of the truth so bizarre that they were only technically not false in the legal sense. Honestly, Mike Mearls making a simple claim that 5e is doing well makes me more likely to believe it is performing badly in any sense that I care about. His torturous Amazon claims coupled with the 4e rant about how it was doing so well that it needed extra printings (extra printings that were later revealed to have been micro-printings created for the purpose of making the claim).

WotC seems happy with the D&D brand. And they report to shareholders that the D&D brand makes money. But at this point the D&D name gets slapped on more board games and other licensed products than it does RPG materials. If you care about RPGs specifically, 5e D&D is a dark dark time.

-Frank
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K
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Isn't the real issue that numbers are a crutch in RPG design?

I mean, the laziest way to design an ability in a game is to say "it's gives you a +1 on that check". Add in the random name generator and the lazy game designer can have a sizable chunk of an RPG written by just making things give various bonuses and penalties.

Doing math with those numbers is the only way to justify using them. It's a self-reinforcing error.

Unfortunately, that leads to the comedy game that is DnD where you can die because you failed a check to climb a tree, something that you never should have never made a roll for in the first place. Or the fight where the warrior misses all his attacks because he only had a 70% chance to hit. Or the successful Strength check by the weak mage to bend metal bars after the party's warrior all fail.
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Won't even necessarily do that. Repeated rolling to model an extended action might "work" from a math perspective. Especially if you're doing something like crafting or lockpicking where the ultimate outcome is largely expected to be deterministic but you're wanting to generate an amount of time that the action takes. The fact that rolling the dice fifteen times is a giant pain in the ass doesn't mean it isn't mathematically creating the appropriate outputs.

There are lots of ways to fuck up the math in repeated rollings. I mean shit, look at the stupid fucking extended tests in SR5 or any of .the literally two dozen Skill Challenge versions they shat out for D&D 4e. But the primary mark against them is that rolling more dice slows the game down and it would be better to have the math be slightly worse and have faster resolution in most cases.

Yup, you're right - to clarify I'm thinking of cases where designers don't take into account the increasing chance of failure for something like a stealth system. A better example here is oWoD's "if you fail with 1 in your dicepool it's a critical fail".
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Mask_De_H
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

K wrote:
Isn't the real issue that numbers are a crutch in RPG design?

I mean, the laziest way to design an ability in a game is to say "it's gives you a +1 on that check". Add in the random name generator and the lazy game designer can have a sizable chunk of an RPG written by just making things give various bonuses and penalties.

Doing math with those numbers is the only way to justify using them. It's a self-reinforcing error.

Unfortunately, that leads to the comedy game that is DnD where you can die because you failed a check to climb a tree, something that you never should have never made a roll for in the first place. Or the fight where the warrior misses all his attacks because he only had a 70% chance to hit. Or the successful Strength check by the weak mage to bend metal bars after the party's warrior all fail.


I'd argue the lazy design there is more crucial than the numbers. Getting to the fail train/piddly bonus in which numbers become a crutch comes down to the mechanics (and the valuations behind them) being off. The numbers on the sheet simply are.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
No. I'm not off by orders of magnitude, I literally just checked it right now.


Check again.
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Guts
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
Check again.

Interesting info, thanks for the link!
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virgil
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
FrankTrollman wrote:
No. I'm not off by orders of magnitude, I literally just checked it right now.


Check again.
You two are using different sources
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zugschef
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mask_De_H wrote:
K wrote:
Isn't the real issue that numbers are a crutch in RPG design?

I mean, the laziest way to design an ability in a game is to say "it's gives you a +1 on that check". Add in the random name generator and the lazy game designer can have a sizable chunk of an RPG written by just making things give various bonuses and penalties.

Doing math with those numbers is the only way to justify using them. It's a self-reinforcing error.

Unfortunately, that leads to the comedy game that is DnD where you can die because you failed a check to climb a tree, something that you never should have never made a roll for in the first place. Or the fight where the warrior misses all his attacks because he only had a 70% chance to hit. Or the successful Strength check by the weak mage to bend metal bars after the party's warrior all fail.


I'd argue the lazy design there is more crucial than the numbers. Getting to the fail train/piddly bonus in which numbers become a crutch comes down to the mechanics (and the valuations behind them) being off. The numbers on the sheet simply are.

The early levels of 3rd edition were designed pretty well and still, it's exactly in this stage of the game where falling off a tree kills characters and pansy elvelings achieve greater feats of strength than an ogre every once in a while.

I think K is totally right: the random numbers are the problem. Ideally you would have as little math and numbers (and counting and tracking them) as possible in your game. That damn d20 is keeping the game hostage.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
FrankTrollman wrote:
No. I'm not off by orders of magnitude, I literally just checked it right now.


Check again.


Apparently the Orr Group Industry Report data isn't considered all that informative.

Specifically from that link:

Player Data is Nonsense
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Games Data is Pretty Good… But Only Pretty Good

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Looking at actually running games is likely to give a more accurate picture of what's actually going on; rather than looking at metadata scraped from player profiles.

However, what Frank is missing from searcing for "listed" games is that games that are advertised =/= games actually being played on Roll20. There's a high probability that people are using Roll20 the same way people used to use MythWeavers. As a place to run games/store character sheets that they advertised/organized on other communities, rather than specifically on Roll20.
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Guts
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think we are seeing more and more games doing the "math" right, or, accomplishing what it says on the tin with coherence. This gets clear if we compare modern games like Blades in the Dark or The Sprawl to any edition of Shadowrun, for example.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Guts wrote:
I think we are seeing more and more games doing the "math" right, or, accomplishing what it says on the tin with coherence. This gets clear if we compare modern games like Blades in the Dark or The Sprawl to any edition of Shadowrun, for example.


I'm not sure why you think those first two things are equivalent, or how either game does accomplishes either goal.
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Guts
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss, maybe it deserves it's own topic, but, long-story short, Shadowrun is simply too cluttered and incoherent for it's own sake. It aims at a group doing criminal heists while conflating physical, virtual, astral and vehicular action. In practice, though, it doesn't pull if off, because each sub-system is unnecessarily complex and slow, and fit badly together . Add to that an opaque resolution mechanic (dice pools) that's even worse depending on edition (game feels pulpy with variable target numbers up to 5, and feels gritty with targets above that).

The other cited games aim for the same goals (criminal heists) but in much faster, simpler, coherent and transparent ways.
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Trill
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Guts wrote:
Add to that an opaque resolution mechanic (dice pools)

I don't exactly see how they are opaque?

  • Your average/expected amount of hits is (Dice Pool)/3
  • Your Dice Pool Size limits how many hits you can have.
  • More Dice == Lower chance for glitches
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Trill wrote:
Guts wrote:
Add to that an opaque resolution mechanic (dice pools)

I don't exactly see how they are opaque?

  • Your average/expected amount of hits is (Dice Pool)/3
  • Your Dice Pool Size limits how many hits you can have.
  • More Dice == Lower chance for glitches


The average number of hits is super easy to grasp with SR4. The specific chance of getting a specific number of hits requires combinatorials to calculate and most people can't do it in their heads.

So with SR4 the answer to the question "What result am I likely to get if I try X" is very easy to give. The answer to the question "What are my chances of succeeding at a specific task" is very hard to give.

SR4 is therefore opaque when asking binary questions like "Can I do X?" and very transparent when asking open ended questions like "How well can I do X?" That is the opposite set of transparency parameters from d20, and there are therefore people who consider that opaque because it's hard to answer the questions they are used to asking.

-Frank
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Guts
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Even assuming it's resolution is as transparent as any other, you would still have the dysfunctional complexity of the whole Shadowrun system, which is a much more grave point, imo.

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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Guts wrote:
Even assuming it's resolution is as transparent as any other, you would still have the dysfunctional complexity of the whole Shadowrun system, which is a much more grave point, imo.


For fuck's sakes dude, you're literally talking about the transparency of a fucking Apocalypse World hack. Apocalypse World games by definition do not have an answer to the question "What are my chances of succeeding at this task?"

It isn't that the answer is hard to calculate, it's that there literally is no answer. Each die roll has three potential outputs, but you could succeed or fail at the task on any of those outputs. That should be me talking smack, but it's literally not. There are examples in the fucking book of the "cost" of "success at a cost" being "you fail at the original task." Hell, there are even examples of "success" being defined down so hard that you get some minor advantage on trying to escape with your damn life because you instantly automatically failed the entire mission. Again, that should be hyperbole on my part, but it's not. It's really that bad.

Anyone who talks shit about the opacity of any resolution system in the same breath as they are talking up a powered by apocalypse game is a liar or a fool. Even FATAL has calculable odds. Apocalypse World does not.

-Frank
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Guts
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Have you actually read or played The Sprawl? Because nothing of what you say shows up in the book, nor in my playing experience. But if PbtA offends you for some reason, no prob, compare Shadowrun to Blades in the Dark.

Or just analyze Shadowrun in isolation, really. The point stands regardless. Mr. Green


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Guts wrote:
Have you actually read or played The Sprawl? Because nothing of what you say shows up in the book, nor in my playing experience.

But if PbtA offends you for some reason, no prob, compare Shadowrun to Blades in the Dark. Wink

Edit:...or just analyze Shadowrun in isolation, really. My point stands regardless.


I don't have to fucking read through all the fucking PBtA bullshit books. The point stands on the original core book. The entire structure is that the player makes a move and rolls the dice and then the MC makes a move that is not rolled but merely "inspired by" whatever the player just declared and rolled.

So here's the question:
    I have a +2 Stat and I'm carrying +1 Forward and I'm declaring my intention to open an electronically locked barrier.

    Q: What are the chances that we immediately fail the entire fucking mission?


You can't answer that question, because what determines whether you immediately fail the mission is the MC's move afterward. If the barrier opens and there's a bunch of cyberbears behind it and the team is now just supposed to run for their damn lives, that's just as valid as the barrier opening to reveal the prototype resting on a pedestal. The MC is specifically not even supposed to decide in advance what's behind the barrier, they determine whether you get the maguffin or the swarm of security bears after you declare, after you roll the dice, and after they even describe the barrier opening when you succeed. There is fucking zero input from the player on whether a success or failure on that task makes them succeed or fail at the mission. The MC pulls it out of their ass at the last moment.

That is how the game fucking works. It is literally impossible to design a game that is less transparent than that! Even "Guess what number I'm thinking of" is a game which presupposes that the MC is actually thinking of a number that you could successfully guess. In PBtA, the MC decides whether the number was right or wrong after you guess it.

Fuck. Off. Fuck all the way off.

-Frank


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Guts
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Whatever, just forget about those games then. Contrast Shadowrun with Blades in the Dark. Or just analyse it in isolation. The point stands: it's a slow and convoluted ruleset, that does not do what it says on the tin. It's authors "didn't do the math".

My humble opinion, of course, after dozens of hours in both cited games (Shadowrun and Blades) and half-dozen in Sprawl. Wink


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