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  #51  
Old November 3rd, 2018, 01:51 AM
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Players ask how a game is played. They end up playing "Mother, May I" style somehow, where players sit around the table asking the Referee what their characters can do. That's a popular play style. Yet play rules don't mention playing that way.

You can talk about the rules as written, the mechanics of a game, what's intended by the writers, what isn't setting, and what is proto all you want. Rarely does a game group read the rules to the game they play unless something needs looking up during actual play. And even then, it is still played as "Mother, May I" by the players.
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  #52  
Old November 3rd, 2018, 03:54 AM
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That's funny, the most common phrase in the games I run is:
"I am going to..."
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  #53  
Old November 3rd, 2018, 09:37 AM
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Heh, ironic, I would tend much more to 'try with penalty' then flat out say no. The DMs should be skewed to failure with even the routine, but I prefer maintaining player agency to make horrible mistakes over no.
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  #54  
Old November 3rd, 2018, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by kilemall View Post
Heh, ironic, I would tend much more to 'try with penalty' then flat out say no. The DMs should be skewed to failure with even the routine, but I prefer maintaining player agency to make horrible mistakes over no.
Honestly, I was hedging my phrasing in that last post, desperate to avoid the go-around from that previous thread. (I re-read it again last night...) I had no desire to be accused again, relentlessly and uselessly, that I was playing the game as if skills and characteristics did not matter and that I would be letting the PCs "do anything" without concern for their skills and characteristics.

Ultimately my rulings would come down to the circumstances at hand, using the RAW as a baseline but open to all sorts of modifications on the fly. But that's me. And you as well, it seems.
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  #55  
Old November 3rd, 2018, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ShawnDriscoll View Post
Players ask how a game is played. They end up playing "Mother, May I" style somehow, where players sit around the table asking the Referee what their characters can do. That's a popular play style. Yet play rules don't mention playing that way.

You can talk about the rules as written, the mechanics of a game, what's intended by the writers, what isn't setting, and what is proto all you want. Rarely does a game group read the rules to the game they play unless something needs looking up during actual play. And even then, it is still played as "Mother, May I" by the players.
Hi Shawn,

If you are speaking about RPG play in general, I don’t know what to tell you.

When I run a game my players don’t play Mother-May-I. When I play in a game, I don’t play Mother-May-I. Like Mike, most of players spend the game making declarative statements about what they are going to do. Charging into trouble, creating trouble, getting out of trouble, pursuing goals, dealing with the fallout. I play that way as well.

I run games that are open-ended for the Player Characters in terms of choice and action. As a Referee I am constantly surprised and delighted by the choices the player and where the evening’s play goes.

So, if your statement is supposed to be some sort of summation of how people play RPGs, I know such play exists, but it doesn’t exist at my Monday Night Gaming table. And it doesn’t happen at my convention games either. If I have someone who is used to playing in a Mother-May-I style, I have techniques and playstyle that get them out of that mode.




If you are speaking to the matter more specifically that some games might end up being Mother-May-I and other might not, and that the rules have no bearing this, you are, as I stated, wrong.

As an extreme example, I’ll point to the game Apocalypse World. In this game, the Referee is makes what is called a Move — which is simply something like, “The gunmen move out from behind the rocky formation pointing their weapons at you,” or “The headman says he’s accept your offer or he’ll hunt down your sister and kill her.” And then, per the rules, the Referee says to the Players, “What do you do?”

Please note: It’s right there, in the rules: “Ask the Players, ‘What do you do?’”

The Players are not asking the Referee what they can do or what they are allowed to do. The Referee must ask the players what they will do. He has no idea what they will say. (Please note: The Referee doesn’t have to literally ask the question every time in every situation, and generally the question is dropped as the players declare actions in response to Referee Moves without any prompting.)

Significantly, the game is written so the the Referee never rolls dice. Only the players roll dice, and only when they have declared what their PCs are doing. Until the the Players declare what their PCs will do… nothing happens. The game pauses and simply hangs there. No dice can be rolled, no other mechanics can be engaged by either the Referee or the players. And so the Referee waits if need be — patiently, happily — for the player to make a statement about what his PC is doing.

(But, again, most players don’t hesitate and the game moves along well. I’m assuming we’re dealing with some of the battered players Shawn has conjured, who have never assumed they could be proactive. We’re being gentle with them in this post, giving them time to realize they can drive their PCs’ actions and drive the evening’s fun with their choices.)

In other words, the rules of Apocalypse World (those I’ve described above, and others I haven’t mentioned yet) directly affect the play style at the table. In fact, the rules were literally designed to affect the particular “switch” of Mother-May-I/Not-Mother-May-I play, literally rendering notion of the Referee having a pre-planned plot and leading the PCs by the nose all but impossible. (The Referee can certainly try to have a pre-planned plot… but he or she will be fighting the rules as written the whole time.)

I’ll add now that games like Sorcerer, Burning Wheel, In a Wicked Age…, Mutant Year Zero, and many RPGs all have mechanics that literally undercut Mother-May-I play and turn the switch definitely to Not-Mother-May-I play.




On the other hand, many RPGs (and maybe most?) do not address the switch of Mother-May-I/Not-Mother-May-I play, and so each group will determine whether or not the players are waiting around to be led through the evening’s play or not. That said, each game will have certain tools that can be use to encourage either option of that switch.

For example, Original D&D, B/X D&D or original Traveller; The PCs are incredibly open in the possible actions they can choose to take because the rules are so narrow in proscribing specific actions for the PCs. (In other words, since the rules only cover a limited number of actions by the rules, there are countless actions that the rules don’t cover that are up to the players to conjure and make use of as they will.) I, as the Referee, literally have no idea what choices are actions or ploys the players will have their PCs make. I literally must be surprised throughout the session.

But that is how I see the rules working. That’s my point-of-view and my pleasure. Without doubt other people will use the lack of levers and buttons the players can pull and push to limit what the Players can do with their PCs. I don’t get it… but I’m sure it happens.




But the Mother-May-I/Not-Mother-May-I is not the only switch. For example, original Traveller has lots of Random Encounter Tables. On the other hand, the game King Arthur Pendragon has none.

In the first both the players and the Referee soon realize (if they are using the rules) they have no idea where a campaign will end up. A random encounter with some smugglers in session three might be the source of trouble and fun for the next three sessions… or perhaps end up forming the spine of months of play or the entire campaign.

In the second, the game’s structure and purpose would be derailed by random encounters. The game is built upon moving the PC Knights through time, with a nominal structure of one adventure per year. But a session’s adventure is not merely a railroad for the PCs to follow. Instead of events and choices driven by the introduction of random NPCs and beasts, a game of [i]Pendragon/i] is spun off the tracks by the Traits and Passions rolls, which drive the PCs themselves in unexpected ways. Each [i]Pendragon/i]] “adventure” is a series of tests of the PCs’ Traits and Passions to reveal what sort of knight they are. Then the knights’ adventure wraps up, the knights go home, Winter Phase occurs, we find out of the knight married or fathered a child, and the knight ages another year closer to death.

Now, there are countless other rules differences between original Traveller and Pendragon. But looking at the different kind of gameplay that will be produced simply by the difference in having Random Tables or not provides a starting point to see how different the games will be. In one we know that we, as Players, have countless options about how to respond to all sorts of stimulus about where we might go and what we might do. In the other, we quickly realize the play of Pendragon is about focusing on our the internal life of our Knights as we go off on missions and tasks (whether magical or mundane) to find out who we are as characters when we return.

A whole different set of “switches” within each game are being thrown because the concerns of the two games are very different. And each set of rules leads to very different expectations about how the Referee prepares as session, how the players engage with the fictional word, and each other, and how the Referee presents the world and the choices for the PCs.

In other words, even with this simple focus on having Random Encounters or not (which barely touches on the rich set of rules and their implications in both games) we can begin to see how the rules will help determine the playstyle of a session.
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Last edited by creativehum; November 10th, 2018 at 06:02 PM..
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  #56  
Old November 3rd, 2018, 01:05 PM
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I get a lot of "may I ...?"
But only when the players don't know the rules.
When they have a grasp on what is covered, it tends to be, "I'm going to..."
When they know the rules but don't think its covered, "I want to...".
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  #57  
Old November 3rd, 2018, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
I get a lot of "may I ...?"
But only when the players don't know the rules.
When they have a grasp on what is covered, it tends to be, "I'm going to..."
When they know the rules but don't think its covered, "I want to...".
I think that's a given, as people sort out how to get things done with a specific set of mechanics.

I believe that Shawn, given his other posts on this matter, is talking about another matter entirely.
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Old November 10th, 2018, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by creativehum View Post
. . [T]he notions of how to play the games from the first years of the hobby where forgotten... or if they were remembered they were seen as lacking or broken. But they weren't broken. They were simply a different way of playing that were quite functional if you played them in the playstyle they were designed to support.
The longer I play roleplaying games, the more I appreciate an almost wholly ad hoc approach to skills.

Original, 'classic' Traveller - specifically the approach in Books 1-3 or TTH - is fairly close to my sweet spot; unfortunately, things would not remain thus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by creativehum View Post
The notion that a Classic Traveller PC can only perform actions based off the skills on character sheet is a kind of nightmare, of course. And I can't imagine playing the game that way with any sort of pleasure. But I can see how some people who started playing post-1980 might try it that way. And most likely become frustrated and start thinking the with the rules to "fix" them.
Unfortunately Traveller skills proliferated with each successive book and supplement and module in response to this.
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