Why is "Say Yes or Roll the Dice" Gospel?

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  • Such an important question! I've done things as both player and GM at the end of sessions that I probably wouldn't have done at the beginning or middle.
    Yeah, same here! And sometimes I regret some of those things :confounded:
  • edited May 2018
    I mean I get it - Vincent. Vincent is a sharp guy.
    But what about random tables? Weather dice?
    I mean, it seems that old-school gaming is more or less "Say No Mostly, or Roll To Possibly Say a Convoluted Yes".
    If we "play to find out" which to me is debatable; why not always roll for everything? Why not roll dice to tie your shoes? And by your, I mean your character's shoes in this bullshit somewhat structured thing happening between hopefully friendly people.
    What would happen if you rolled dice for every seemingly trivial matter, and pretended they didn't exist for the important life and death stuff?
    Does it matter?

    I get that this whole "say yes unless chance/game would improve players enjoyment, is where a lot of small press games are coming from. I get that it speeds up what was traditionally considered play in the 80's.

    Thanks for reading.
    I always thinks it's amusing when people starts to create reactions to reactions to the traditional way of doing it.

    "Black lives matter" - "All lives matter"

    ---

    Yes, it works what you're doing but the main thing is that you don't need to roll for everything. Mantras is teh shit, because they are easily remembered. I got my own in one of my earlier games: "Will this action affect the adventure?" - Only roll if it do.
  • edited May 2018
    I've done things as both player and GM at the end of sessions that I probably wouldn't have done at the beginning or middle.
    Agreed. Or I've failed to do that, and regretted it (as GM, cuz then we didn't get satisfyingly far in a given session).
  • Something just now dawned on me re this argument from a few weeks back:
    I think it's pretty obvious why I enable dice-based searching; I don't think that a dialogue-based approach is truly sufficient alone if you desire the process to be quick and have uncertainty.
    The last three words there... why have uncertainty?

    I want dungeons to have things to find, yes, because I find it interesting game play. Like in NES Metroid where it's not random whether you find a secret door, you find it because you searched there (or accidentally happen to search there).

    Why is "you can randomly miss the traps" / "you can randomly miss the treasure" interesting gameplay? It seems like it'd feel like ProgressQuest after a while...? You roll search dice instead of making choices?

    I do think searching is interesting... like, my DMing style is pretty Infocom inspired. I like that it's not random what you find in Zork, but if I thought searching was boring, the obv solution is to just say yes. Give the players all the info they needed to make decisions. A la un-named deleted Western game — you come to town, you deliver the post, you bless the babies etc etc until you discover Conflict that can give you Fallout.

    In my game you can miss things. Because it's your choices that lead to you finding or not finding things.

    Another option would be to charge them time. "You search all the cells along the corridor? That takes 30 minutes." (Because time will lead to encounter checks — a type of uncertainty I can understand.)

    Speaking of "Search all the cells along the corridor" — that's how I like to do it. I don't go "OK, you go in the first cell. Where do you look first."

    Instead, I try to ask them leading questions so that they establish a:
    search protocol
    Like "you just go down the corridor looking into them from the outside, or what?"

    If they just look in the cells, I can tell them about the straw mattress in cell 5 and the red tin bucket in cell 16. And not about the loose brick in cell 2.
    If they go in and scrape the mortar from floor to ceiling in each cell, I charge more time and thus more encounter checks.

    Search protocols are good!

    This also ties in to the "instead of controlling pacing, the game slows down to ask questions in order to get clarity, and speeds up when there is clarity."
    Once there is search protocol, I'll go to the gloracle with that and be like hmm ok so as you step into cell 8, snakes fall down" or w/e the gloracle says. Because that's a situation that demands clarity ("how do they deal with the snakes?"), since "how do you search" question was given clarity by the search protocol.

    We notice this a lot in the hexcrawl game I'm running now. We have a night routine — watch schedule, put out rain catchers, roll encounter + a d12 to see which hour the encounter falls into.
    And then as things change — a cleric joins the party, making rain gathering less necessary b/c purify water, or axe beaks destroy the tents — the next night there is no longer clarity so we zoom in again. Pacing sets itself.
  • And then as things change — a cleric joins the party, making rain gathering less necessary b/c purify water, or axe beaks destroy the tents — the next night there is no longer clarity so we zoom in again. Pacing sets itself.
    A very good observation. High theory on this matter, if I'm any judge.
    We notice this a lot in the hexcrawl game I'm running now. We have a night routine — watch schedule, put out rain catchers, roll encounter + a d12 to see which hour the encounter falls into.
    Out of philosophical curiousity: why have random encounter checks but not search checks?

    One could argue that both of those procedures feature uncertainty because they involve imponderable factors that the players choose to not simulate in detail. Yes, you can just "say yes" on any factors that happen to be elided in search protocols, in which case you don't need to roll - but why then doesn't the same work for random encounter checks? Couldn't you just make camp in such a fashion as to make it impossible for an encounter to occur?

    (I'm thinking a cold camp with scent obfuscation and thermal shielding if necessary, positioned in a random place with no signs of frequent travel. Basically, reduce the probability of a monster stumbling on the party to the point where the monster would have to essentially walk over the sleeping adventurers to spot them.)

    This comparison might not make any sense to you, in which case please ignore it - it just interests me because to me those seem like the same type of dice roll: a short-cut to establishing an outcome without having to just say yes on the imponderable details we don't feel like going into right now.

    One could, of course, ask the same question of combat rolls like attacks and saves and such, but I suppose those are so different emotionally that you couldn't expect them to necessarily work the same as searching and random encounter checks anyway.
  • edited May 2018

    Another option would be to charge them time. "You search all the cells along the corridor? That takes 30 minutes." (Because time will lead to encounter checks — a type of uncertainty I can understand.)

    Speaking of "Search all the cells along the corridor" — that's how I like to do it. I don't go "OK, you go in the first cell. Where do you look first."
    For what its worth, I like this style -- where you can search a relatively broad area by declaring that you are doing so -- much more than the more narrow "Okay, I check the floor. Now the bed. Okay, what about the desk?" method, because it avoids the kind of "I missed it because I didn't think to specifically mention searching the bookshelf" play. But I'm also a little confused, because previously it sounded like you were endorsing the "If you didn't say you check the bookshelf, you don't find the thing that was hidden in the bookshelf" style of play.

    Does the level of granularity of searches vary frequently in your game? On what does it depend?

    I think the thinking on "why would you roll for that?" is that it simulates that the character might not think to check the bookshelf (in much the same way that the player might, though the player doesn't have the fact that the bookshelf is right there to remind them, so there's that), but takes a lot less time than the players listing out all the things they want to check. This could be desirable if the act of searching isn't really important to the game. It sounds like it IS important to your game, so this method is probably a bad fit, as you have already surmised.
  • Out of philosophical curiousity: why have random encounter checks but not search checks?

    B/c “where do you look?” is a question for players. “Do monsters come if we dwell here too long?” is a question for gloracle.

    Pushing their luck with the encounter checks – and in my game they know the chances for encounters for the region they’re in, like right now there are three checks per day w/ 25% chance each – is up to them.

    Time is a resource for them to spend carefully.

    For what its worth, I like this style – where you can search a relatively broad area by declaring that you are doing so – much more than the more narrow “Okay, I check the floor. Now the bed. Okay, what about the desk?” method, because it avoids the kind of “I missed it because I didn’t think to specifically mention searching the bookshelf” play. But I’m also a little confused, because previously it sounded like you were endorsing the “If you didn’t say you check the bookshelf, you don’t find the thing that was hidden in the bookshelf” style of play.

    Yeah I wasn’t super clear earlier, for sure!

    Like yes I do enjoy the old “finding things exactly” gameplay if and when the prep supports it

    Does the level of granularity of searches vary frequently in your game? On what does it depend?

    Here are some factors: - player[sic] skill – how good are they at looking - how much time their characters have (how risky is it spending time here) - how much do they suspect something is here - how important do they think it is that they find it - how much can they carry - but most importantly: what is the scale of the prep here?

    Like, if they know they are in a 10-mile-hex map as opposed to a vampire’s carefully mapped castle, they search differently

    If they start hearing a lot of details, they also examine them more carefully

    I think the thinking on “why would you roll for that?” is that it simulates that the character might not think to check the bookshelf (in much the same way that the player might, though the player doesn’t have the fact that the bookshelf is right there to remind them, so there’s that), but takes a lot less time than the players listing out all the things they want to check. This could be desirable if the act of searching isn’t really important to the game. It sounds like it IS important to your game, so this method is probably a bad fit, as you have already surmised.

    Yes, this is good. This leads into why it’s so hard for me to give advice since so much of my weird DM style is interdependent on other weirds part of it.

    I wouldn’t mind rolling for whether a monster would found something a player has hidden, if that makes sense? But if a player is searching, I would want them to just find it, as long as they were looking in the right place [at the current granularity].

    Them missing stuff is fine – this isn’t Call of Cthulhu where there’s a trail of breadcrumb clues to find. But if they want their characters to fail they can just choose to fail, choose to not look there. Can be a source of insp fishing for them if that’s part of their PC’s traits.

    This is similar to why I don’t like Persuasion rolls. If they have good arguments that could persuade an NPC, let’s hear it! And if you want to let your character be persuaded you can just let that happen & get insp.

    [PCs having a random chance to miss stuff] could be desirable if the act of searching isn’t really important to the game.

    OK so if either of these two are right for your group, then sure: - If the things you can find is just easter eggs, like extra treasure, and you want some PCs to randomly get this - You want the type of gameplay where the main choices are made in building your character rather than choices you make at the table. Like you don’t want to, as a player, be good at finding, you want a character to have Finding +7 or perhaps Finding -2 if you want to expend resources elsewhere. (1 and 2 combine well.)

    Otoh, if it’s more like: - Searching is unimportant but the things you can find are important

    Then just let them have it.

    I’ll add that another good thing about doing it my way is that it’s very much in the hands of the players. If they start turning over every nook and cranny well that’s the gameplay they make. And ofc they “protocolize” this, as long as there is clarity. “We are prying loose the floor tiles and moving them out of the dungeon.” “OK, if the floor tiles counts as Small Items, how many can you take at once? Twelve across the party and then you’re encumbered but not heavily? And each trip to the surface takes about 30 minutes, right? So that’ll be four hours for the trips and twelve times 10 minutes between each trip, for prying, 24 hours total. You’re working 8 hour days?” etc etc

    And if they don’t care for the extra easter eggs or w/e then they don’t search so carefully

    I also want to add that search rolls actually have made their way into my game, as of the latest session, earlier this week, it snuck up on me. There is a rule in 5e that you can forage for food with a survival check daily. And I didn’t make the connection that this was similar to search rolls so I kept the rule in there. And then we latched more and more stuff onto that rule. Like right now they are looking for ingredients for bug salve (in quantity, in a big jungle, that’s prepped with 10 mile coarse granularity) and we made the house rule that it’s a DC 15 survival check [once daily – represents all of your searching throughout the day] but you give up your food foraging searching for the day.

    It’s not a question or not of whether they’re gonna find the stuff, just how much of it each day they can find.

    They have agency in how many of their henches they put on food searching duty and how many they have chasing salve ingredients. And it’s a push your luck, they want to find the salve ingredients but they also need to eat. And the more days they spend on this, the more monsters can come. Etc etc.

    They know all the odds and DCs etc #gamist #sim-engine

    Is this inconsistent of me? Yeah, I just didn’t realize until now, writing this, that it’s essentially “search rolls”.

    But it’s what the prep provides, right? If I know that the maltese falcon is behind the books on the bottom shelf in a bookshelf in room 13A in house 9C in city 3B and the PCs are sending out their army to comb the houses all over the duchy, I can negotiate a search protocol and like a visitation-order or w/e with the players and then we can calculate out when, or even if, they find the falcon without rolling, because the prep supports it.

    I don’t have that sort of fine-grained knowledge about where bepuga seeds grow or how much bee’s wax you can gather in a day so we negotiated a rule instead. #excuses

  • edited June 2018
    Out of philosophical curiousity: why have random encounter checks but not search checks?

    B/c “where do you look?” is a question for players. “Do monsters come if we dwell here too long?” is a question for gloracle.

    So the answers to Search rolls are pre-planned by the game master? Why can't there be a random stuff generator?
  • Isn't that simply because there isn't? I mean, adventure prep is whatever it is, and it just happens to be that adventure spec defines what's hidden and where, but doesn't specify monster routing.

    Usually, that is - there's no procedural reason why it couldn't be the other way around if you wanted to start writing adventure prep in a different way.
  • So the answers to Search rolls are pre-planned by the game master? Why can't there be a random stuff generator?
    Rickard♥
    Again, this is why it's hard for me to talk DM stuff because 2097e is such an interdependent mess.
    Some locations, such as a room with a hidden object, have prep to the extent of "the statue is in the bookshelf behind a row of books on birch trees" and some locations, such as the pockets of a rando, have prep to the extent of "roll on this table to see what's here" and some locations even have prep to the extent of make up non-salient things here. Like for many of my houses it's fine for me to improvise the wallpaper on the spot because wallpaper appearance hasn't become salient in that particular campaign.

    So yes, there can be and often is a random stuff generator for some locations.

    Just as some locations are pre-keyed with specific monsters. It's the exact same thing: some things go on the key, some things go on the table, some on both.

    However, it's not tied in to a character skill. Finding stuff: If the player decides to have their character look there, the character looks there. Monsters arriving: If a player decides to have their character dwell there, the character dwell there.

    Hope that clarifies things ♥


    If the player purposefully decides to have their character mess up in either of those two regards that can be an instance of rewardable flashlightdropping i.e. insp.

    Comparing the Fate model to the GURPS model. In GURPS, you set your Scrounging skill (B218 ­— the Search skill B219 is only for searching people, luggage and vehicles are you kidding me right now gurps?) before play starts by investing a point cost, or you can get rewarded points by taking a disad or quirk like Tends To Miss Red Objects When Searching -1.

    Fate moves a lot of that character detail and point reward to actual play instead of leaving it front loaded. You have an aspect that helps you search things? You pay for it with points during play to use it. You have an aspect that says you are bad at searching for things? You get points during play if you fail at finding things. This is good for two reasons: if the aspect turns out to be less than relevant in the particular session you don't have to pay and/or you don't get the reward/compensation. And secondly, it lets you reconsider your choices in actual play. Perhaps you really, really want to find something even though you have a bad-at-finding aspect. In Fate you can.

    So Fate delays some of the sculpting of the character and her behavior compared to GURPS where many decisions are frontloaded.

    And then in 5e (or at least "2097e" my, uhm, very subjective "reading" of 5e) you don't even have to roll for finding things. You just have your character look where you want them to look. It's free. And if you have quirks, flaws etc you can get rewarded for deliberately missing.

    So 2097e even further delays some of the character sculpting. You don't have to invest in being good at searching, have a high int/wis/cha, etc. Anyone can try to solve a puzzle, persuade a guard, look under a bed. Anyone is free to at their own leisure move along the character ↔ player spectrum. They can think [as themselves] "This is an interesting puzzle, I'm gonna try to solve it" or [as 'authors'] "Yawn a puzzle... but having my character be unable to solve it is gonna create an interesting situation" or [as their character] "This is the sort of thing my years in the Mage School of Arachnids prepared me for! Let's see now..." and they don't have to be consistent, they can choose moment to moment.
  • 2097 in the house.
    This is linked to zooming in / out, right ? Random stuff generators and improved salient details are a way to tell the players it's not about double guessing the GM, it's about what they want to play. And when they know, the GM follows.
    This gives me two meaning to "say yes or roll the dice" : 1° randomize realistic details 2° antagonize but refuse responsibility. Always follow the players choice of scale/stance.
  • That's right♥ although I guess I drifted a little from 'say yes or roll the dice' which is a rule that I understand in DitV but need a list of ifs and buts to apply anywhere else
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