OOG discussion after a weekend of play
The gaming group that I DM for has been playing the same game (characters) for twenty years. We recently ( a couple of sessions ago) began the painful switch to D&D 3.5. We had a topic come up on our gaming forum (yes, we have a private site devoted to the game -- how nerdy is that?) that I thought others might find useful, or have comments about. I'm trying to be a stickler for the player describing what the character is doing. By default, if you haven't said it -- your not doing it. Often times this contradicts what the character would logically be inclined to do.
While we did not state in detail about how we were looking out for additional attacks in the void, the characters logically would have been in serious "high alert" mode especially after the first and second attacks. Yet this was not recognized. I think we would all appreciate a little flexibility in scenarios such as this. Technicalities can get a little frustrating at times.
I understand completely... However, Role-playing game theory shows that there are three elements to an RPG. They are the Gamist; Narrativist; and Simulationist perspectives. The gamist perspective seeks to overcome the challenges of the rules and maximize conditions to achieve results. Narrativists ask that they engage the game from the point of view with the character, with story taking precedence of character "advancement" and achievement of goals. The simulationist point of view seeks to faithfully re-create challenges and overcome them.
These three perspectives can co-exist nicely under certain conditions, but sometimes come into conflict. In the situation above the simulationist point-of-view is coming into conflict with the narrative (or lack therof). If I always allow what your characters "would logically do" to always intercede and replace the need for the narrative, then I am not coaxing the narrative perspective during action sequences. No one perspective is more important than the other and I strive towards an ideal of balance.
After many years of playing with you guys I have a good idea where each person sits on the spectrum of the three. Let me tackle the dangerous task of telling you about yourselves:
Rob: Rob is a SNG (Simulationist-Narrativist-Gamist) who enjoys imagining the sub-text of the adventure. He is not concerned if a few rules get broken along the way, yet enjoys the gamist endeavours of optimization and syncronization. These tools are a means to an end and sustain the idea of his character and his place in the imaginary context. Faced with peril, he seeks to have security and contingency so that the character and story will endure.
Karl: On the other end of the peril spectrum, Karl is focused on the immersive thrill of being in the battle. Karl is a NGS. He acutely feels the thrill of battle, or the bitter frustration of theings going poorly. The identity of Arondil is less important than his actions and experiences.
Rick: To counter-point Karl's focus on the actions, Rick is very interested with the identity of Bleys. Identity actually sits in the realm of the simulationist. "Who is Bleys?" "What would he do." "How is he changed by this experience?" Rick is a SGN. Adhering to the rules and ensuring that things are done correctly are important because they validate the identity of Bleys. Making sure that the encounter runs correctly, and as it should are facets of the Simulationist model.
Carlos: If Karl is active, Carlos is the passive. Carlos enjoys problem-solving and challenges that are unusual or have a non-standard solution. Less inclined to worry about what should happen Carlos wants to engage the game as a balanced NS; Story, Logic, and then, in the distance, Rules.
It is too easy to lose the narration in the game and get caught up in HP, Attacks-of-opportunity, Alignments, and AC. With so much focus on rules and structure I want to make sure that you are still describing what you are doing, imagining it as you say it, and feeling it as it happens.
Here's the thing. If you didn't say that you were looking around in the darkness, it is probably because you weren't thinking about it enough. If you had said it, you would have felt more -- imagined more. I'm not trying to make a rule that you can solve by saying "okay, we always do this." That is the furthest thing from what I want. I want you to put yourselves in character. When you fail, I'm gonna be a prick and shove it in your face. You'll miss clues; monsters will get the drop on you; and you'll have the eerie feeling that the bad guys have an inside track -- because they do. They be "in-character" always remembering to engage with the environment and ask the simple questions (even when the players forget.)
I don't want to "push" too far against your own natures. But, you have more fun when you are more deeply involved in the narrative. It is a better experience with a balance between the three perspectives (Gaming/Simulating/Narrating).
Do you want logic to always shape your encounters? I can relent, but we would sacrafice narration to do it?