Dissociated mechanics

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  • Is that a coherent enough distinction?
    Yes, it's a good explanation, thank you. What I find interesting is why someone would design a mechanic, where contributing (to the) fiction is not intuitive.

  • edited November 2018
    @Thanuir "Associating them seems to bind the world to quite specific karma-like metaphysics"
    Of course it does ! When you play Fate, you know fiction is going to happen in a world where Karma exists. It's written on the tin, engraved in the rules. It's not really metaphysics anymore, it's physics in Fate.

    I don't know if with "metaphysics" you're really saying "this rule can be associated as long as it doesn't get used", in which case I'll reach certainty that I don't understand anything you say.

    I sometimes think you're saying : rules for Fate providing a clear, univocal explanation of what Fate points mean, exactly, are "associated". Is this a question of rules redaction / presentation, then ? If this is so, then I'll object that a pragmatical approach (bread is a thing you eat, cut it like that, store it like so) is regularly better than an accurate explanation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread) for rules redaction.

    Rules redaction, psychological state, actual procedures of play linking intra and extra-diegetic material : it's crowded in here. And the topics are not small.

    The main problem is not one of preferences. We can distinguish what we like and what is good with few clarifications. The large size of messages and all the rhetoric, if not methodological precautions in the thread comes from somewhere else.

    The main problem is that you are using the handle of an epic Narr slaying sword, removing the blade, and saying : we can use this concept. Well, as OP shows in points 5 and 6, this concept (the handle) is so linked to judgement (the blade) that it's going to be hard to do anything else with it. Even brandishing the pummel or saying the sword's name is enough for flaming a war. It's a sort of Godwin point. Why insist ? Let's make the concept and name it later.

  • edited November 2018
    @hamnacb "Are you familiar with Nathan Hook's D-M Creative Agenda Model?" No, but I recognize in it the frame I use, which is derived from the WotC survey. It is simple enough to communicate things clearly, and not littered with assumptions. It greatly helped me improve my design.

    In fact I use another version that is a tetrahedron, because many techniques are vectors from one playstyle to the other : the ridges help me locate them. I needed a model, but not one that implies that two play styles are "poles apart". It is a very limited model, but a handy tool.

    Clouds and dice is a nice read : the travel is worth more than the destination.
  • edited November 2018
    I must say I'm getting quite confused by Thanuir's goal shifting responses. Many have engaged in the hypothetical exercise where a fictional or metaphysical explanation of fate points would make FATE work for an alienated player. An explanation in the requested terms was provided, but there's a "trade-off", apparently. But it seems to be a given that most players will accept the highly convoluted associative-explanations for hit points, turns, initiative, vancian magic, etc (in my experience, players simply don't care, though).
    What I'm beginning to think is that either, by following this definition, all games are dissociated, or we should reject it and try to frame a more useful concept.
  • edited November 2018
    JDCorley also holds that all rules are dissociated by nature. But I say no-no, it's not as ambitious as "a game is dissociated". It is more or less so. Like in some games, some players can easily picture things simulated by the rules. And in other games, some rules are just harder to represent with things in the fiction by some players.

    Look, it's simple : one rule is, at a certain time, associated or not, for a certain person, according to the presentation of the rule the person has been exposed to. The fact is, when you read Fate rulebook, the authors probably don't try to give an "in fiction" rationale for Fate points. The rule is therefore dissociated.*
    * except it is "intuitively" associated by some players either well versed in fiction analysis, metaphysics, role playing or that simply have a potent solvent for imagination.**
    ** which begs the question of whether that explanation or intuition must be shared among all players ? or only within expert community ? A schism could ensue ;)

    But if you (come out from under the sofa and) explain to the player that fate points are to the character like the god of destiny's invisible magic wand bullets, then the rule is associated. This is not a good or a bad thing per se. It's just fact, by definition. And that's mostly it.

    Am I correct @Thanuir ? You see, I may have been confrontational and, certainly, I lost my cool, but I was earnestly trying to understand your concept. And I think I did partly but I have no certainty. That said, it could be interesting to go beyond that : what do you propose we do with the concept ? How was it useful to you ? What do you achieve with it (in the OSR space) ?
  • JDCorley also holds that all rules are dissociated by nature. But I say no-no, it's not as ambitious as "a game is dissociated". It is more or less so. Like in some games, some players can easily picture things simulated by the rules. And in other games, some rules are just harder to represent with things in the fiction by some players.

    Look, it's simple : one rule is, at a certain time, associated or not, for a certain person, according to the presentation of the rule the person has been exposed to. The fact is, when you read Fate rulebook, the authors probably don't try to give an "in fiction" rationale for Fate points. The rule is therefore dissociated.*
    * except it is "intuitively" associated by some players either well versed in fiction analysis, metaphysics, role playing or that simply have a potent solvent for imagination.**
    ** which begs the question of whether that explanation or intuition must be shared among all players ? or only within expert community ? A schism could ensue ;)

    But if you (come out from under the sofa and) explain to the player that fate points are to the character like the god of destiny's invisible magic wand bullets, then the rule is associated. This is not a good or a bad thing per se. It's just fact, by definition. And that's mostly it.
    It seems to ME like you're pretty close; I think an element that is missing is whether the idea associated with a rule slots easily into someone's view of the world. Vancian Magic doesn't bother a lot of people, because it's easy enough to say "Okay, Wizard Magic has rules, and those rules are kinda screwy and weird, but it's Wizard Magic, so it's kinda supposed to be weird and screwy." But there's no embedded explanation of Fate Points at all (obstacle 1) and even if you presented one, it ends up as "That's just how the universe is!" and some people will balk, probably in part because there isn't one Fate Universe.
  • So it's about whether the player can accept or incorporate an explanation, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense. For example, for many players, Hit Points don't seem to be a bothering issue, and they will resort to not-describing with much detail, or at all, combats or characters' health. Is that sort of natural evasion of a description a proof that a rule is associated?
  • edited November 2018
    @Airk many more persons have a slot for karma kismet poetic justice than there are with TTRPG intuitions.
    The "hard / easy" distinction is silly, but there is no need to use it for the concept. Discussion makes all kind of slags and sparks. Not all are useful. Let's maximise understanding.
  • @Airk many more persons have a slot for karma kismet poetic justice than there are with TTRPG intuitions.
    I am not sure where this statement comes from.

    The "hard / easy" distinction is silly, but there is no need to use it for the concept.
    Respectfully, I disagree. Some concepts are harder for some people than other concepts. That's important to recognize that just because you EXPLAIN something to someone doesn't mean they can integrate it into their view.
  • edited November 2018
    What is hard to represent for some (like invisible karma or poetic justice) is easy for others (like, religious people, or people working with fiction). The distinction is silly for our purpose because it cleaves through people and communities without representing the concept any more clearly. Anyway.
  • edited November 2018
    Hit points are actually a really good example of the kind of thing that happens with this issue:

    When a group is happy enough to describe things in abstract terms, hit points are satisfying and feel quite associated.

    Those groups that look for higher fictional detail, though, start running into the edges of the abstraction, and often will have difficulty with the concept, finding it dissociated, in contrast.

    e.g. "He swings at you with the giant axe! ...it's a hit, take 12 damage."

    "Ok! But wait... did he hit me? Because I can't arrive at the meeting with the Queen if I have blood on my tunic. And how hard? I have lots of hit points left, on one hand, but on the other hand you rolled maximum damage... so that should mean something, too. Right?"

    That's where we realize that we're just making up plausible-sounding things, and the rolls and numbers are, at best, a guide.

    It's good miniature case study, in my opinion.

    This seems to be a general trend; if a concept is too far from the fiction, then analyzing it from association point of view does not seem useful.

    Analyzing the criteria by which the next scene is chosen seems to be more reasonable. Typical traditional techniques focus on uncertainty, danger, or potential to reveal something about the characters. Typical drama game techniques, traditional or not, relate to character motivations, significant decision points and potential to reveal something about the characters. Seeing if these and others can be associated seems to be a worthwhile thing.
    These are both solid insights.

    The decisions of the players, and how they are reached and modified in play, is far more interesting and improtant, I think, than classifying those mechanics as associated or not.

    Sometimes the group may be easily able to do so, by forming a mental representation of what the dice or numbers mean in the fiction... in another situation, the same group and the same rules may create some pretty strong "dissociation".
  • edited November 2018
    So far, I’m not seeing much benefit coming from the use of these terms (dis/associated mechanics). I’m not saying that the terms couldn’t be useful, but they have been defined in a rather slippery way without much caveat. Also, the topics the terms are being used to address have already be discussed thoroughly and in more sophisticated and constructive ways.

    Different RPGs have different design and gameplay goals. To say that the more associated mechanics a RPG has, the better it is, is just making a statement of personal preference. Anyone thinking in such stark and simple terms is putting fairly arbitrary design and gameplay constraints on a RPG for what essentially amounts to an ideological stance.

    As an aside, the claim made in the attached link, which is that real RPGs are the ones that use associated mechanics, is mindless and tribalistic nonsense, and we’ve had enough of this sort of talk in the hobby. I know this view doesn’t represent the OP’s perspective, but I do think it has relevance with regard to the larger subject. If these terms are being used to argue for the superiority of a particular type of RPG over another, than they are probably going to be construed as divisive by many.





  • This is an interesting discussion! Many kudos to @Thanuir for keeping a cool head. I'm one of those who find the concept intuitively easy to grasp, even though I don't think that way in my own gaming. In fact, I think I have a tendency to dissociate rules that are supposed to be associated.

    For me, the rules are not, and have never been, things that exist in the game world. That is, just because a PC has an easier time lifting a rock if they have a high Strength score doesn't mean that people in this world have Strength scores that measure how good they are at lifting rocks, or that having a high Strength score means you are strong. To me, the Strength score is used to determine what happens in the fiction as we play. All it means is that this character will often be successful at lifting rocks, at least when we are looking. People in the world in general are weak or strong, but this has nothing to do with the rules of the game. It doesn't even mean anything about how good the character is at lifting rocks when we aren't looking (off screen). If there's a lot of rock-lifting that happens off screen and we mention it in the game, it makes sense to make up that this character did pretty well, for the sake of consistency of the fiction. But this has nothing to do with the Strength score per se.

    An example: I played a Battlebabe in an Apocalypse World campaign. She was the baddest and inyourfaciest gosh darn person in the world. She was a killing machine, and probably accounted for half the deaths in the story, and she was always cocky and menacing. She also had -2 Hard. To me, her low Hard score didn't mean she wasn't "hard". If there was ever anyone who could reasonably be called hard, she was it. However, when we were looking in, in this story, and she was doing things like Going Aggro or Siezing by Force, things went badly. She often got badly hurt, things got out of control, nothing really got solved by it. Her propensity to violence always got her in trouble, which was beautifully illustrated by her low Hard score. But man, she was one tough gal.

    The rules affect what happens in the fiction as we play. The result of the rules is the story. But they don't apply outside of the story (to me). Heck, the reason we're interested in this story might even be that it's different from how things normally work! In this story, the heroes grow with the challenge and defeat the bad guy. We wouldn't be interested in them otherwise, and thus the rules causes this to happen. Sort of an anthropic principle of rules. In the ruleset, being defeated increases your chances of beating the bad guy in the end. In the world, the opposite is true. Being defeated makes it even harder. That makes it even more impressive that the character managed to come back from that defeat, and the rules make sure they do, since if they didn't we wouldn't be interested in this story.

    I guess this is author stance. The ability of James Bond to get out of trouble doesn't depend on how smart he is or what weapon he has. It depends on where we are in the story, what's at stake, and what the consequences of failure would be. Those are the rules of a story, and if you're playing a story, those are the rules the rules system should emulate.
  • Does this mean that rules can be associated or dissociated from the story, as well as ass/diss from the world simulation? If we're playing a heroic fantasy game, a rule where a character dies at zero hit points would be disassociated from the story, since that's not how heroic stories work. Just a thought.
  • edited November 2018
    Yes (see Fiction 3). In this case, I would rather say Genre : a heroine killed within the first half hour is dissociated from most genres.

    Story = Simulation + Narration
    World 1 = Physic
    World 2 = Physic + Genre
    Fiction 1 = Simulation
    Fiction 2 = Story - something

    Fiction 3 = World + Story = Simulation + Physic + Narration (+ Genre ?)

    Since
    a) supporters of the concept only recognize World and Fiction 1 (genre blindness ?)
    and
    b) "acting in character" has been written out of the equation
    There is not much left for the concept to be useful : "sim rules are for sim play"

    With World 2 "dissociated rules" would also have to be gamey / social by nature. Supporters of the concept could show that gamey / social (presentation of) rules are less useful in OSR, for instance. I just tried to find an example and I couldn't find one. In other words, how would Hit points be detrimental to OSR if they were presented functionnally as "just points" without any effort from the player to go beyond that ? I guess he'd just ask "how do I get more HPs" when low on them.

    I am convinced (subjectively that is) that having a sleek seamless design, built around very few strong intuitive concepts is better than a complex architecture where designer and player alike run more risk of losing sight of conflicting intents, patching for sim here, narrative there. That has little to do with ass / diss. But everything to do with OP's alleged usefulness of the concept.
  • What I thought up, reflecting upon this thread... (part 1/?)

    It seems to me there are two general, distinct approaches to mechanical analog-game rules - their design, implementation and use in game-play:

    A) rules that attempt to represent, describe or simulate a fictional or real-world object, phenomenon, relation or quality, to some degree of abstraction.
    Both the "Finchian trap-finding", rulings-not-rules OSR approach and the "fiction first" approach of AW, among others, appear to me to be subsets of this "A" type.

    B) rule-first mechanics, that are "just" rules and don't even attempt to signify anything. Rules such as "we take turns framing scenes going around the table clockwise". Both in designing and in applying such rules, their adherence to any non-rule entity is seen as of no consequence: what does matter is their effectiveness towards some end goal (functional or expressive).

    This A/B split is not exclusive to role-playing games. It is in fact a big deal in tabletop war-game, board-game and computer-game design, as far as I know (are "eurogames" a movement toward B in board-gaming?). It was a (sore) point of contention in my enjoyment (or not) of Magic: the Gathering as a child. It does have special implications for role-playing games, though.

    The A/B split can refer to individual items of rules, but also to whole games (in both actual meanings of the word). When looking at whole games, it is not just a matter of whether the majority of the game's rules are A or B... Looking at a "game" as designed object, which was the designer's approach - why were the rules designed that way? Looking at a "game" as an instance of play, i.e. a game we're playing together, which is the "correct" approach by which we choose our moves, in the moment?

    I say "distinct approaches", despite it would appear logical to place games on a continuum of increasing abstraction from A to B: isn't chess an extremely abstracted representation of a medieval European battlefield? For practical purposes, however, it is more useful to think of this A/B dichotomy as a sharp divide (or fuzzy divide, perhaps?).
    When designing a chess variant, or refining chess tournament rules, I don't believe anybody seriously ever thinks: "Hey, but actual historical cavalry could only charge in a straight line! Knights shouldn't move in an L shape, then!" or "Why isn't a rook stationary if it represents a fortress?" A player who refused to move their rooks, ever, on the grounds that rooks are castles would be playing chess wrong (in principle - it might be that keeping your rooks stationary is the winning move in this particular game, I wouldn't know).
    This is why I resisted using the word "abstract" to define B-type rules, by the way. Past a certain degree of abstraction, whatever fictional or real-world reference the rule or game originally "stood for" becomes irrelevant to both rule-design and game-play.

    As role-playing games are games of fiction (i.e., that fiction, aka "diegesis", aka the "shared imagined space", aka the conversation is the field where play happens) all rules bear a necessary relationship to the fiction. Dice & clouds. Within this specific design space, type A and type B both occur.

    But this is it for now. In a future post, I will attempt to show how both A and B relate to the fiction in role-playing game. This being the topic of the thread, I will also illustrate my opinion that the feeling of "dissociation" is actually a property of approach A (when done wrong, i.e. rules-design is weak), not approach B. Perhaps of type-B rules misunderstood by players approaching them from angle A?
  • edited November 2018
    Great ! You take it to another level !
  • edited November 2018
    The problem is that many rules don't fit clearly into A/B and most RPG GAMES don't either.

    Is the rule "You get an action point after every second encounter" trying to "describe or simulate a fictional or real-world object, phenomenon, relation or quality"?

    What about "You can use the power Blinding Barrage once a day?"

    Then you have things that are partially both -- maybe you can claim that Fate Points are "karma" (I think that's dubious at best and a terrible representation of the idea of Karma, especially as a concept that people actually believe in as part of their religion, but fine) but you CAN'T argue that resetting to three Fate Points at the start of a session unless you had more at the end of the last one has anything to do with that. So Fate points have rules that are both in "column A" and "column B"

    My suspicion is that many of the rules concepts that people object to as "dissociated" at the ones that don't fit cleanly into one category or the other -- often because they are a collection of rules around a thing rather than a single rule.
  • I am convinced (subjectively that is) that having a sleek seamless design, built around very few strong intuitive concepts is better than a complex architecture where designer and player alike run more risk of losing sight of conflicting intents, patching for sim here, narrative there. That has little to do with ass / diss. But everything to do with OP's alleged usefulness of the concept.
    Yes, I agree. But some posters, here, think that patching for sim is what makes a RPG different from a story-game(?). That's how I've been reading this thread.

  • edited November 2018
    @Airk examples like yours are exactly what I want to get to ASAP with some Bakerian dice & clouds talk.

    I substantially agree that things not "falling neatly" into A or B is most probably the source of this "dissociation" feeling (or, alternatively, players only being aware of either approach looking at a rule coming from the other one).

    Edited to correctly attribute the person I'm replying to. Sorry, other parties accidentally involved.
  • A sort of "green-blue" strangeness.
  • edited November 2018
    @Rafu , agreed. The tricky part isn't rules about taking turns around the table. The tricky part is when a rule does some fictional representation/description/simulation but also does other stuff.

    Which is, like, 99% of RPG rules.
  • I think Fate Points are not Karma nor a measure of anything spiritual in the fiction. Same with HP, it isn't a measure of anything physical in the fiction. There's another point of view/philosophy applying here: it's the Narrative.

    In the case of Fate Points the logic applied is narrative: heroes are supposed to get in trouble and do epic things to get out of them. That's it. If you are familiar with this kind of stories, this logic makes perfect sense. It has nothing to do with Karma. It's more related to the genre. When you keep this in mind, the rule is associated, as it produces a particular form of fiction. Try to force it to represent anything in the fiction or fight the concept that the hero must get in trouble and do epic stuff to get out (because in the real world or X source things never go that way, it's unrealistic, blah, blah), and it becomes a dissociated mechanic that will ruin your immersion.

    In the case of HP, it's a narrative type of resource, one that determines when your character loses immediate agency in the fiction. If the game is about physical conflict, it makes sense you lose agency when your character loses a physical conflict, so HP is reduced when you get hit. When it goes to zero, your character "loses consciousness" and you've got no more agency. If the game deals with stress, terror, etc, it makes sense to have Sanity as a resource, which works in a similar way.

    Of course, it's easier at the table and even in rulebooks to explain Fate points as Karma and HP as life. "You get fate points for getting in trouble and spend it to get more agency or be awesome, like, err... Karma, I think?" and click, the players get the idea. "You lose HP if you get hit and fall unconscious when you get to zero" "It's like my life then?" "Well, yes!" -and now you all can start playing.

    Rules can either try to represent something in the fictional world, be there to help produce a specific effect in the story or do both at the same time. Some do it in a more efficient way. Some build specific events in the fiction in a nice way but fail when applied to special cases. Some are generic enough to enable players multiple interpretations, but may require an experienced player/GM to translate them properly.

    So, if any part of a rule, it's application, the moments when the players/gm trigger it and choose to apply it. etc go wrong, stall the flow or produce consequences in the fiction that doesn't resonate with players expectations, it becomes dissociated. How do you know it isn't an absolute right/wrong thing? When other groups use it just fine and have no problems with it. How do you know it's incomplete in the corebook? When too many of those groups report adding a ruling to make it work and the designer confirms that's the way he plays it (only that he forgot to put that in the book because he internalized the ruling so much he thought "it's common sense and everyone will know it")

    Like, consecutive strenght checks by different characters should be allowed only when the weaker PC goes first, as it makes sense that if a stronger character tried it before and couldn't, then why a weaker character would obtain a better result?
  • I think WarriorMonk is on to something with "dissociated" actually meaning "A rule or concept that has been divorced from what it actually describes" -- i.e. a rule or concept that is there for narrative purposes, when viewed by a person who doesn't want narrative things in their game.
  • For me, associated means I’m making a decision that is roughly analogous to my characters decision, which is the Alexandrians definition as well. I’m also into theory and have read most of the Forge and Anyway, so I also find the Alexandrian definition kind of crude. If I was making a theory friendly definition, without going into dice and arrows, it would be as follows.

    Trigger association means the mechanic is trigger by the character doing something in the fiction. Think a lot of AW moves.

    Positioning association means the mechanical positioning has an analogy in the fiction.

    Take a positioning rule like ‘You can only declare your love to Lucy if she declares her love to you first.’ This is the same as ‘you can only use hyper strike twice per encounter.’ and the same as hit points.

    I think a lot of confusion comes from treating the above two things like they’re the exact same thing. Which isn’t helped because a lot of trigger rules can also act as positioning rules.

  • Is that a coherent enough distinction?
    Yes, it's a good explanation, thank you. What I find interesting is why someone would design a mechanic, where contributing (to the) fiction is not intuitive.

    Is that a coherent enough distinction?
    Yes, it's a good explanation, thank you. What I find interesting is why someone would design a mechanic, where contributing (to the) fiction is not intuitive.

    I think Fate Points are not Karma nor a measure of anything spiritual in the fiction. Same with HP, it isn't a measure of anything physical in the fiction. There's another point of view/philosophy applying here: it's the Narrative.

    In the case of Fate Points the logic applied is narrative: heroes are supposed to get in trouble and do epic things to get out of them. That's it. If you are familiar with this kind of stories, this logic makes perfect sense. It has nothing to do with Karma. It's more related to the genre. When you keep this in mind, the rule is associated, as it produces a particular form of fiction. Try to force it to represent anything in the fiction or fight the concept that the hero must get in trouble and do epic stuff to get out (because in the real world or X source things never go that way, it's unrealistic, blah, blah), and it becomes a dissociated mechanic that will ruin your immersion.

    In the case of HP, it's a narrative type of resource, one that determines when your character loses immediate agency in the fiction. If the game is about physical conflict, it makes sense you lose agency when your character loses a physical conflict, so HP is reduced when you get hit. When it goes to zero, your character "loses consciousness" and you've got no more agency. If the game deals with stress, terror, etc, it makes sense to have Sanity as a resource, which works in a similar way.

    Of course, it's easier at the table and even in rulebooks to explain Fate points as Karma and HP as life. "You get fate points for getting in trouble and spend it to get more agency or be awesome, like, err... Karma, I think?" and click, the players get the idea. "You lose HP if you get hit and fall unconscious when you get to zero" "It's like my life then?" "Well, yes!" -and now you all can start playing.

    Rules can either try to represent something in the fictional world, be there to help produce a specific effect in the story or do both at the same time. Some do it in a more efficient way. Some build specific events in the fiction in a nice way but fail when applied to special cases. Some are generic enough to enable players multiple interpretations, but may require an experienced player/GM to translate them properly.
    I agree with this, I think in the end most rules in a game generate the rules of a genre. When used consistently, all sessions with a particular ruleset will share some defining traits. Even "world/physics simulation", to me, is a genre. So, for me, it's all about verisimilitude, not realism, where a game lays down it's own goals and then can be measured by whether he delivers the kind of fiction it promised.
  • edited November 2018
    The problem is that many rules don't fit clearly into A/B and most RPG GAMES don't either.
    I think the main difference is in our culture and not in the rules themselves. It is an attitute towards rules (and other social structures), not just in gaming but in real life.

    How do we percieve rules? It depends on our needs and values. What is more important, variety or predictability? Chaos or order? How much do we trust rules? Do we give up our instincts and follow them or avoid them when they seem to stand innour way? Etc.

    BTW A and B looks similar to my 'rules as toys or tools' or Silmenume's bricolouring vs engineering dychotomy.

    Of course some games are created this way or that way. Traditional games are made by bricolouring existing rules. Designing from scratches also existed but only the forge made it into a subculture.

    This does not mean than they cannot be played with the other approach. You could try to use MLwM for dungeon delving with bricolouring. And most of the clashes between D&D players might originate from these different attitudes.


  • Those things were all problems. Like, every single one of them.

    1. The GM-player split, in the sense that one mostly decides what their character does, while the GM decides what there is in the world.
    2. The idea that characters are described by numbers and words in a formal way. (Like strength 4, trait: obsessive, ...)
    3. Implementing the mechanics: Picking the number, rolling dice, maybe arithmetic or counting, announcing the result.
    4. Interpreting the result back into the fiction.
    5. That the mechanical rules make decisions about outcomes of actions.
    6. Related to the following: That one does not have full control of what happens to one's character.
    Thank you for the response. That is very interesting. I would say that number 2 is the most interesting and relevant, in terms of the present discussion, and number 4 is also relevant.

    Numbers 1, 5 and 6 are matters of different distribution of authority. Tabletop gaming usually has most people controlling the intents of a characters, while the outcomes of the intents and the rest of the fiction is controlled by game master and rules. I do not think this is any more associated than the typical forum freeform, where (as far as I know and remember) everyone has one, or maybe more, characters they have basically veto rights over (as long as they remember to not godmode or however it is expressed), and everything else can be narrated pretty freely.

    Number three is a matter of personal skills like arithmetic.

    I am very surprised by number two being a problem. I do not know the background of the player, but around here schools tend to rate people by how good they are at various activities and they use set phrases or numbers to do this. This is common in computer games and various services where one rates hotels or movies or whatever. So I find it highly surprising that they have problems with the idea of a character being described in such a manner. Maybe they come from a very different culture; I do not know.

    I do not have anything useful to say about number four, at this point.

    I find it interesting that you mention stances when talking about how she plays, since the more I participate in this thread, the more I think this "ass/diss" thing is about how certain rules require certain stances, and players too used to stay in actor stance find it difficult to transition to others. And many rules in story games require an authorial stance over your character.
    You can have a completely associated rule that must be operated outside actor stance. For example: "Whenever a character who has done great deeds dies, their death reverberates through the cosmos and empowers items that they were close to. Choose some to become relics, and at least one to become a mockery of what they were."

    Though, I do think that rules that can be operated in actor stance are associated.

    The first point makes the concepts distinct.

    Although it looks like the term "dissociated mechanics" is such a flame-trigger that we need a different label.
    This was a surprise.

    Here's a thought about a mechanics taxonomy:
    - Fiction-descriptive - serves only to measure established fiction in numbers (example: once "50/50 shot" is established in fiction, that becomes "roll 11+ on a d20")
    - Fiction-additive - introduces new content (events, objects, probabilities) into the fiction (example: "every hour of actual play, roll for wandering monsters")
    - Fiction-prescriptive - establishes what can and cannot happen fictionally at a given time (examples: Combat rounds! Hit points! (If you can make these purely fiction-descriptive in your game, you are a mental ninja master! Mostly that honestly does not happen.))
    - Fiction-independent - changes the player's position without "going through" the fiction; fiction may be adjusted afterward if desired (example: I spend a token to cost you your turn; maybe I then narrate how my character's minions' attacks are depleting your character's resources, and you complete the narration by describing your character's distraction)

    I have a feeling this taxonomy won't hold up, but maybe it's a stab in a useful direction?
    I think the concept of rules that prescribe the fiction is useful, and distinguishing those rules from the ones that are independent of the fiction is not obvious.
    A given rule can:
    1. Have a clear interpretation in the fiction and conform to one's intuitions about whatever it is trying to represent. It might be realistic or suitable to the genre the game is trying to replicate or something like that.
    2. Have a clear interpretation in the fiction, but break one's intuitions about whatever it is trying to represent. One might call it unrealistic or a poor fit for the genre or whatever.
    3. Not have a clear (and unique) interpretation in the fiction.
    Maybe part of the friction in talking about "1-or-2 vs 3" stems from the fact that, for someone who prefers 1, 2 is way worse than 3. :tongue:
    Very likely.

    I feel like there are a ton of RPG mechanics which can be used without fiction, but it's counter-intuitive to do so. So, for me, a fiction-independent mechanic is the kind where you might expect to have to remind a player to contribute fiction, because contributing fiction is not intuitive.
    I do this very easily when playing mechanically involved figure chess games - I ignore most of the fiction, especially how combat maneuvers look like, and just play the rules, and try to do it as quickly and well as possible. I offer no description of the fiction while playing. If game mastering such a game, I usually think about what the creatures would do and have them act accordingly and describe their actions at least some of the time.

    Pretty strange, now that I think of it.

    I sometimes feel that the culture of roleplaying which plays a very specific subset of traditional games in a very particular way (and, it seems to me, they overlap heavily with the people who find discussion of "dissociated mechanics" highly relevant to their play experience) is a subset of all gamers/roleplayers who are used to and expect a very particular kind of engagement with the game. There's nothing wrong with that (and I find it a really fun way to play!), but mistaking it for the entire field, which people sometimes do, can get people into hot water - and into debates or arguments.
    There might be one such group, or maybe several ones, but yes, certainly there are a significant number of people who find the term useful, and significant number of people who do not find the term useful.
    I think we should try again this study in another thread, without reference to the Alexandrian and without specialised terms, without expressing judgement other than preferences. Something very factual, statement by statement. And then branch into the topics that interest each one with clear road signs.
    I am not saying leibnizian rigour is the only way, or even the best, but this study obviously requires extreme care. Is it a reason to dump it ? On the contrary ! We are close to the bone !
    This barnum-wide ending was necessary Paul_T but is unsatisfying, because OP has been misunderstood in so many ways, and it was too late when the smoke got cleared.
    The Alexandrian link was clearly a mistake, in hindsight; I had no idea that people would react to it like they did. Live and learn. You are free to start another thread; maybe that will work, but I doubt.
  • @Thanuir "Associating them seems to bind the world to quite specific karma-like metaphysics"
    Of course it does ! When you play Fate, you know fiction is going to happen in a world where Karma exists. It's written on the tin, engraved in the rules. It's not really metaphysics anymore, it's physics in Fate.

    I don't know if with "metaphysics" you're really saying "this rule can be associated as long as it doesn't get used", in which case I'll reach certainty that I don't understand anything you say.
    I use metaphysics in a casual way, here - stuff like afterlife, alignment, karma, the existence of a monotheistic god. I was under the impression that I could run a Fate game in world that does not commit to karma of any type by not associating Fate point rules; if I keep them as a metagame mechanic, what is the problem?

    I sometimes think you're saying : rules for Fate providing a clear, univocal explanation of what Fate points mean, exactly, are "associated". Is this a question of rules redaction / presentation, then ? If this is so, then I'll object that a pragmatical approach (bread is a thing you eat, cut it like that, store it like so) is regularly better than an accurate explanation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread) for rules redaction.
    If the rules state an interpretation for something, then there it is. If rules merely compare the mechanic to something, then the situation is less clear.

    The main problem is that you are using the handle of an epic Narr slaying sword, removing the blade, and saying : we can use this concept. Well, as OP shows in points 5 and 6, this concept (the handle) is so linked to judgement (the blade) that it's going to be hard to do anything else with it. Even brandishing the pummel or saying the sword's name is enough for flaming a war. It's a sort of Godwin point. Why insist ? Let's make the concept and name it later.
    Number 5 is missing context: that some dissociated rules are fairly harmless in a specific context. I'll edit in a note to this effect. Thanks for pointing out a specific issue in the original post. Specific issues and questions are good and productive.

    Number 6 is not judgmental: If you have two otherwise equivalent rules, than the associated one is easier to teach, is my hypothesis, and allows for certain kinds of play the other does not. Thus far, the only potential counterexample to "easier to teach" I have encountered is the player Emma mentioned.

    I do not recall historical examples where an rpg theory concept that is in wide use has been renamed and the new name enforced successfully. But feel free to suggest alternatives, as always, and start using them. Maybe they are useful and will catch up.
    I must say I'm getting quite confused by Thanuir's goal shifting responses. Many have engaged in the hypothetical exercise where a fictional or metaphysical explanation of fate points would make FATE work for an alienated player. An explanation in the requested terms was provided, but there's a "trade-off", apparently. But it seems to be a given that most players will accept the highly convoluted associative-explanations for hit points, turns, initiative, vancian magic, etc (in my experience, players simply don't care, though).
    Fate points without association:
    * Need to be active learned as a new concept.
    * Can not be played with from in-character perspective only (actor stance, for those who prefer that jargon).

    Fate points associated as a kind of karma:
    * Are easier to learn as they tie to previously known concepts.
    * Can be discussed and used in character.
    * Tie the world to particular metaphysics.
    * Open up the possibility to mess with the fate point economy by diegetic (in-fiction) means. An extreme example would be playing a fate mage who draws karma and luck from others and otherwise manipulates it. Certainly an interesting archetype and worth allowing in many genres of fantasy where karma is a thing. The most intuitive way of implementing the mechanically would be for them to manipulate fate points in various ways. Maybe this would be ok in Fate, maybe break things, but certainly the game would change a lot.

    Vancian magic in D&D, dissociated:
    * Needs to be actively learned as a new concept.
    * Characters might have a discussion about why they can only memorize three spells at once or whatever, but it would be impossible for them to find a reason. This might be frustrating in a game focusing more on wizards, metaphysics and magical research.

    Vancian magic in D&D, associated:
    * Easier to learn.
    * Can be discussed in character.
    * Ties the world to a particular metaphysics of magic.
    * Opens up the spell economy to all kinds of hijinks: If spells are demonic entities captures in brains of casters, how about releasing one from someone else's brain? A trap spell that consumes or corrupts other spells or clones itself and fills the entire brain? Spellthieves that steal spells from others, maybe as a character class? A spell that can hold two other spells and, when released, release them?
    (A number of these types of things have been implemented mechanically in various editions of D&D with various ways of associating the form of magic, or without such.)

    As associated and a dissociated mechanic have different features. Sometimes you might want one and sometimes the other.
  • Well, I find it quite unlikely that a concept like vancian magic, as gamist as it is structured, can ever be associated. I mean, not even in Vance is magic so predictable or quantified, and I'd find it hilarious if I ever read a novel where mages talked about their spell slots by level per day. Again, in my experience players just don't ask any questions and go along with those rules, perhaps they find d&d rules easier to grasp due to a life playing videogames.

    I think my biggest takeaway from the thread is that an honest application of the ass/diss concept should label most rules in most games as dissociated, especially d&d rules.

    But not to be so negative, I found the discussion useful to analyze how different have Burning and PbtA games been in my experience:

    PbtA games try to stem rules trigger and changes in the fiction from the fiction itself, and thus seem more friendly to new players, since they can mostly resort to just describe what their characters are doing, and the GM will trigger the necessary rules.

    Whereas Burning Games seem to impose a structure to the fiction that comes from the outside (rules), and some players will try to struggle with those limits, thinking about what would make sense in the fiction, when it doesn't work that way for, say, Torchbearer. Moreover, in Burning Games players can't just say what their characters are doing, they should engage the mechanics at least to some extent, or they'll struggle a lot against the game and miss opportunities.

    I obviously enjoy both, but Burning Games take a bigger toll in me as a GM, as I need to remind players their options and overcome their initial resistance. But interestingly, Burning Games make it easier for me to impose an atmosphere where their resources are limited and there's constant pressure, whereas in Pbta it's a bit easier to hold your hand a bit when handling the opposition.
  • @Thanuir,

    If you look at some of the comments here, you'll notice that Emma was talking about that player as an example of something she's seen a lot. A few of us have mentioned that we've seen the same thing. It's hardly uncommon, in my experience. It just depends on the mindset with which a given player approaches the activity of roleplaying.

    (I'd imagine that groups which are very rigid about their style of roleplay will effectively "weed those people out" fairly quickly, however, and end up playing only with people who DO align with this point of view. So I can imagine how someone who generally plays in this style might rarely interact with such players.)

  • I've been observing a little bit of D&D play, and an interesting example came up - I think it's a good illustration for why I prefer to talk about moments in play which create choices which are easier or harder to rationalize from an in-character stance, rather than label discrete mechanics or rules as "dissociated".

    In D&D and similar games, there is often a "Stealth" skill or roll, which determines whether a character can proceed without being seen or detected by others.

    On the face of it, this seems pretty clearly "associated", right? (I'd imagine most straightforward task resolution mechanics like these would be considered "associated" by people who look at gaming in this way.)

    However, in practice, it depends a great deal on the application of the rule, and how and when the rolls are called for.

    For instance, imagine you are sneaking towards an opponent, trying to slowly gain ground to get close to them. We are, perhaps, going back and forth between you and other players as the scene/situation progresses, and the tension is high. Can you get within reach of your enemy before you're spotted?

    Does the GM constantly ask for new Stealth rolls from you, every time your actions are being described? That aligns nicely with the tension of the moment, and might "feel" appropriate - after all, the character is constantly trying to keep quiet and out of sight, and it could go wrong at any moment.

    However, doing that means that the character's odds of success drop very quickly - after all, it just takes one failed roll to be noticed; roll enough times and you'll get a failure sooner or later. That doesn't work well for the stealthy character, and a savvy player would avoid such a situation, rush forward to try to reduce the number of rolls made, or some other choice which could potentially feel quite "dissociated" from the fiction.

    I can easily imagine a conversation where the player says, "I do this!", the GM replies, "Ok, make another Stealth roll!", and the player is forced to think, "Wait a minute! Is there something different I can do which *wouldn't* trigger another Stealth check? I'd rather do that."

    On the other hand, some groups might impose something like a Let It Ride rule, where a single roll is intended to model a larger scope of action - basically, the attitude is that the one roll you made represents your skill and your ability to stay quiet under these circumstances, so that result should hold throughout the scene/encounter/situation, at least until circumstances change.

    A very reasonable way to handle the abstraction of the task resolution roll, and avoids the problems of the first method. However, now a different problem crops up: when the GM goes back to the stealthy character's player and say, "Ok, what do you do next?", the player knows that they *won't be spotted*, taking a lot of the tension out of the situation. (At best, the player knows that she just has to avoid narrating any actions or behaviour which might cause the GM to ask for another roll, as above.)

    To me, this is a good example of why speaking of "dissociated mechanics" is a really strange and misleading construction. What matters to me is gameplay and player decisions; in many cases, more "simulationist" or more highly "associated" mechanics don't actually produce the desired alignment of character and player concerns. I think there must be better ways to talk about this - the concept of "dissociation", to me, fails a number of litmus tests when seen in a broader context.

  • edited December 2018
    Same here. Also, I began tinkering roleplaying games when I saw how my kids played pretend. There is more intuition there than in sim rules. Sim rules we tried with toy soldiers : it was easy given the level of abstraction, but not "intuitive" at all.

    Is Torchbearer more or less complex than BW ? I haven't seen Torchbearer.

    @Thanuir : it looks we're close to same-page, except I am not sure your concept is the same as TheAlexandrian 's, hence the renaming.

    One thing though : Karma technicians are possible in a world with Karma ( Reve's Dragon physic might interest you, in english it's Reve The dream Ourobouros) but they are not necessary. Many previous answers take the later for granted an roll with the idea of rules the characters just have no clue about. They are indistinguishably ass- or diss-. Hence the confusion.
  • JDCorley also holds that all rules are dissociated by nature. But I say no-no, it's not as ambitious as "a game is dissociated". It is more or less so. Like in some games, some players can easily picture things simulated by the rules. And in other games, some rules are just harder to represent with things in the fiction by some players.

    Look, it's simple : one rule is, at a certain time, associated or not, for a certain person, according to the presentation of the rule the person has been exposed to. The fact is, when you read Fate rulebook, the authors probably don't try to give an "in fiction" rationale for Fate points. The rule is therefore dissociated.*
    * except it is "intuitively" associated by some players either well versed in fiction analysis, metaphysics, role playing or that simply have a potent solvent for imagination.**
    ** which begs the question of whether that explanation or intuition must be shared among all players ? or only within expert community ? A schism could ensue ;)

    But if you (come out from under the sofa and) explain to the player that fate points are to the character like the god of destiny's invisible magic wand bullets, then the rule is associated. This is not a good or a bad thing per se. It's just fact, by definition. And that's mostly it.

    Am I correct @Thanuir ?
    I think this is pretty close and probably within the margin of error in communication of what I am trying to get at.

    With respect to *: I think the question is, if there is only a single reasonable interpretation of the rule (for a given player, in a given culture, or however broadly one wants to look at it). If there are several different ones which people try to use at once in a given game, there might be misunderstandings and other trouble due to that.


    You see, I may have been confrontational and, certainly, I lost my cool, but I was earnestly trying to understand your concept. And I think I did partly but I have no certainty. That said, it could be interesting to go beyond that : what do you propose we do with the concept ? How was it useful to you ? What do you achieve with it (in the OSR space) ?

    I trust your good intentions and do not carry a grudge.

    This discussion here clarified to me the different challenges that would arise when trying to use a system with heavy simulative rules (like Pathfinder), versus the challenges when using a game like D&D 4, for OSR-type play (solving fictional problems by fictional means, GM as referee, etc.). I have experience with Pathfinder and OSR games; D&D 4 is educated speculation, and I am (as always) interested in counterexamples.

    With Pathfinder, the friction comes from simulating things poorly and from trying to associate class abilities (motivated by issues of game balance) and doing it poorly.

    Simulating things poorly: Pathfinder has rules for example for crafting anything, for running a caravan, for social intrigue, for determining which magical items can be bought and sold and at how big cities, etc. Some of them are broken and some break when used at different level of abstractions than intended. Some simply reflect a different type of game world than one would prefer.

    Associating class abilities: A nice example is the bombs class feature of an alchemist. The alchemist can create bombs and throw them at the same rate as an archer fires arrows (roughly speaking; a little slower if the archer is focused on rate of fire, which mechanically optimized ones do). During the same process the alchemist decides whether the bomb is of the usual kind, or maybe one that deals acid damage, etc, which presumably alters the ingredients of the bomb. Also, the containers used by the bombs are created during usual downtime.
    The alchemist is a solid and fun class by the standards of the Pathfinder community, but it is pretty obvious it has been created mechanics first, with fairly flimsy justifications associating them. I guess this is a specific case of the previous source of friction, but maybe notable in that most of the non-character rules do seem to simulate something, more or less, in a manner that makes it interesting to play (or tries to), whereas the class has the priorities reversed.

    With D&D 4, or other effects-first design, one faces different issues. Giving post-hoc justifications for how the martial characters slides others around or how a gelatinous cube is tripped is not satisfactory, since we want to focus on the fictional details and clever use thereof. We want some powers to not work and others to work well based on the circumstances in the fiction. So there is a large number of rules the group needs to associate - interpret and agree to - during or before play.

    Similar reasoning applies when modifying or adding to an OSR ruleset. If it is an abstraction, then is it an abstraction of the type where it is easy to go into more detail or zoom out, or is it somehow brittle? Does it model the kind of fiction one wants to? If it is dissociated, then how easy or cumbersome is it to associate and how necessary is this for play, or is it even fruitful to keep it dissociated?
  • edited December 2018
    Applied to these games (I never played) this seems to work very well ! Of course, my example about Karma is "associatification ", that is, it doesn't work very well. I am not sure "association" works with Torchbearer, but I don't play OSR either. Generalisation as a theory for all RPGs is harder for me, for the games I know. But it led the scalpel in some deep places. Thank you and good luck in your endeavour!
  • I can easily imagine a conversation where the player says, "I do this!", the GM replies, "Ok, make another Stealth roll!", and the player is forced to think, "Wait a minute! Is there something different I can do which *wouldn't* trigger another Stealth check? I'd rather do that."
    This can be still be explained/decided from a purely in-character POV ("Wait a minute! Is there something different I can do which *wouldn't* put me on risk of being spotted? I'd rather do that."), therefore it's still associated.

    Same with the case of the group ruling that the character doesn't need any more stealth roll ("Great, I succeeded putting myself in a position that grants me I won't be spotted, at least until I do something exceedingly flashy/noisy.").

    In my opinion (feel free to disagree), some people make some mistakes about the interpretation of dis/association:

    - Implying that a definition is not useful at all unless you can always clear-cut apply it. What's the exact point where something is not "small" anymore but "big"? Are "small" and "big" useless concepts? Light/heavy? Bright/dark? Short/tall? …

    - Implying an ethical connotation ("ass=good, diss=bad"). I find it wrong and misleading. What it can be is being good/bad at supporting a particular playing style (as any rule anyway, nothing excitingly new here, right?).

    - Thinking that "associating" means "giving a rationale". If the rationale works at the player's level, but not at the character's level (like for a rule meant to give a certain narrative flavour) then it's not association. (Again, that doesn't mean the rule is bad.) Generally, from my understanding I'd say that any rule that puts the player in author's stance rather than actor's stance is disassociated, no matter how reasonable and well explained. Similarly, any resource management that can't happen in-character is disassociated.

    Lastly - as side note - I think Fate points are still disassociated, no matter how karma-fuelled your imagined world is. For example, they reset to three unless you have more at the end of the session; and their management requires an author's stance: there's no way a character could think "My performance for this task is almost good enough but not quite, I could decide it's better, but I won't, because I'd rather get a better performance later", even with a real working karma. Which is OK, Fate is designed to require an author's stance anyway in lots of other places, so it doesn't make much sense to try to associate this particular rule.
  • edited December 2018
    What matters to me is gameplay and player decisions; in many cases . . . more highly "associated" mechanics don't actually produce the desired alignment of character and player concerns. I think there must be better ways to talk about this - the concept of "dissociation", to me, fails a number of litmus tests when seen in a broader context.
    Yeah. I mean, I think "associated"/"dissociated", as defined, is a thing, but I think it's at least somewhat beside the point. I think the more important point is:
    • What is the basis of fictional causality in this game?
    • Is this rule compatible with that?

    For example, "whenever you do try to do something undetected, roll your Stealth score" fails spectacularly* at compatibility with a "real-world physics" basis of fictional causality, but fits quite nicely with an "espionage movie" basis of fictional causality. (Or with a "whatever the mechanics dictate" basis of fictional causality, of course. :smile: )

    * 1. Being undetected in one situation/action requires completely different skills than being undetected in another situation/action.
    2. In traversing terrain, what matters is knowing what to look for, and assessing if there is in fact an option to be stealthy, and if so, taking that option. A cautious player playing a cautious character can do this themselves with no reference to any ability scores, just by asking the GM useful questions and acting on the answers.
    3. Even in matters of character skill, it is extremely rare to find a "maybe" situation which suits a die roll; the majority of the time, in the real world, you can either do something or you can't.
  • edited December 2018
    Indeed.

    While @emarsk makes some other good points, what I was trying to illustrate with my example of the "Stealth check" was the following:

    * There is a mechanic which most people thinking from this perspective would consider highly "associated": the "Stealth check".

    * I illustrated two different ways a GM or group could apply the rule, in practice.

    * Imagine those two applications taking place in exactly the same fictional situation, with the player making exactly the same decisions.

    Nothing is different about the fiction, the descriptions we're making, or the choices being made... and yet the implications for in-character decisions and how we engage with the game are completely different.

    That's something you can't get from an armchair analysis of a rule in a rulebook.

    Making our application of the rules line up with the fictional causality of the game, genre, and playstyle we're involved in is a matter of many different factors, in my opinion.

    How familiar are the players with the rules? (How much mental effort is required to go through the process?) Which aspects of the rules and our application of them align with the stuff we're saying at the table? What is the internal mental state of the player, and what is she capable of rationalizing or reframing in her mind as she plays? Do the procedures of play (including, say, rolling dice, drawing cards, adding or subtracting numbers, looking up rules, and so on) challenge the player, or are they familiar and require fairly little effort and attention?

    A perfect example is how, with time and practice, players and groups learn to narrate their way around task resolution and hit points, so as to avoid moments of "dissociation". (For example, experienced D&D players get used to saying, "I hit the orc in the face!", while actually hearing, "I'm *trying* to hit the orc in the face, and let's see how it actually turns out".) This consists of practice, habits, and becomes ingrained over time.

    I think that a group that has only ever played Primetime Adventures and suddenly picks up D&D (as total novices) would experience most of the D&D rules as extremely dissociated, and have trouble feeling involved or immersed in the fiction.
  • I think people need to remember that this whole "Dissociated/Associated" split sprang from the mind of people from the traditional RPG scene -- people who are used to playing in Actor Stance and who value their "immersion" -- as a means of explaining why certain rules didn't work for them. The argument that dissociation is meaningless because some people actually have any EASIER time with dissociated rules is therefore in my opinion irrelevant. The distinction exists, and is disruptive to some people (generally: People who play a lot of D&D.)

    Maybe you can argue that it's not a particularly clear distinction, but I think at this point we've successfully disproved the idea that it's a concept that exists only to justify a preference. If I say "I don't like blue things but I'm fine with green things" and yet some people are fine with green and there are situations where it's hard to tell whether a given thing is blue or green, it does not mean that I am arbitrarily using the term 'blue' to justify my dislike of something. The idea of blueness is still a thing, and is a valid reason to dislike something.
  • I don't feel that we should be using the terminology that some of the worst of the rpg community created to attack us, regardless of whether or not they claim it is useful to them.
    Shitty people naturally find ammo to use against the people they attack useful.
    The fact that they find it useful is why we shouldn't be using it under any circumstances, and why we should be calling it out as bullshit whenever we see it, because us using it and acting like it actually means something validates their bullshit and makes them feel like we "figured out" they were right all along or something.
  • Wait what?

    This terminology was created by people who had issues with D&D4.

    This is not some sort of weird RPGPundit-Made-This-Up-To-Criticize-Storygames stuff.
  • It really is stuff made up to criticize storygames. Like, it's made up by the guy who wrote the whole shitty "Storygames aren't roleplaying games and we need new terminology to gatekeep them out" article (the Alexandrian).
    It's nothing but toxic.
  • I think people need to remember that this whole "Dissociated/Associated" split sprang from the mind of people from the traditional RPG scene -- people who are used to playing in Actor Stance and who value their "immersion" -- as a means of explaining why certain rules didn't work for them. The argument that dissociation is meaningless because some people actually have any EASIER time with dissociated rules is therefore in my opinion irrelevant. The distinction exists, and is disruptive to some people (generally: People who play a lot of D&D.)

    Maybe you can argue that it's not a particularly clear distinction, but I think at this point we've successfully disproved the idea that it's a concept that exists only to justify a preference. If I say "I don't like blue things but I'm fine with green things" and yet some people are fine with green and there are situations where it's hard to tell whether a given thing is blue or green, it does not mean that I am arbitrarily using the term 'blue' to justify my dislike of something. The idea of blueness is still a thing, and is a valid reason to dislike something.
    You've said clearly in the first paragraph, the concept was created by a certain subset of gamers. It pretty clearly exists only to justify a preference, since, as many have already stated and you've just accepted, a lot of gamers don't share their same priorities. How is a concept only valid for a fraction of gamers a valid tool to analyze all rules in all games?

    I don't think the whole "ass/diss" thing is an objective way to classify rules, and it seems to me very clear that not even d&d holds up when analyzed by this concept (specially not d&d). To me, it's merely that a bunch of gamers are too accustomed to one school of design, to an extent where anything even slightly different won't seem like an RPG to them. It's their fault for playing only one kind of game, not something a designer should have as a priority.
  • You've said clearly in the first paragraph, the concept was created by a certain subset of gamers.
    This implies nothing about the concept itself. Disqualifying its origin doesn't disqualify the concept (it would be an ad hominem attack).
    [The concept] pretty clearly exists only to justify a preference, since […] a lot of gamers don't share their same priorities.
    This sentence makes no logical sense: the premise doesn't imply the conclusion. Also, even if the conclusion is correct, the original purpose of the concept doesn't imply anything about its validity or usefulness.
    How is a concept only valid for a fraction of gamers a valid tool to analyze all rules in all games?
    This is a tautology, with an unverified premise.
    It's their fault for playing only one kind of game
    So, having a preference is a fault now?
    not something a designer should have as a priority.
    Why not? Designing a game that satisfies a particular playing style is a perfectly reasonable goal. In fact, one of the criticisms I read several times about D&D 5e is that it tries to be too "generic" and good at too many things, not really succeeding in any of them, instead of focusing on a particular style.
  • edited December 2018
    The ideas of blueness, beauty, etc. are typically cultural constructions. ass/diss as you present it is foreign to me. You have to construct it if we are to use it as a common. Thanuir, in his attempt to do just that, crossed out the possibility that his concept had an exclusionary purpose.

    But your concept is not the same as the one we collaboratively made with Thanuir previously in this thread. Under our very eyes, you undo all this work, moving the grounds again, with a new definition where character knowledge is central. This rude move leads to either calling the whole thing broken. Or be constructive and say : "let's build it again, shall we ?" Good luck with that !

  • This terminology was created by people who had issues with D&D4.
    I'm with Emma here. If it was just about D&D4 then this should've been made clear. But of course it isn't/wasn't ever for these people. Absolutely gatekeeping.

  • edited December 2018
    As far as I know Justin Alexander never ever made an argument against story games. I have always known him as a very smart, well-read and polite roleplayer with a lot of insights into gaming.

    Actually, he runs (or ran) BitD and some Gumshoe stuff. It was his brilliant analysis and promotion of Apocalypse World MC principles that brought me back from OSR to games like Lady Blackbird, Fiasco and PbtA games.

    I think the positive meaning of his discussed post is the following: during the actual process of playing RPGs, a lot of times we use procedures and rules which are against 'character immersion' stance*. This is why these people whine all the time. He thinks that D&D4E has way more of these rules than TSR editions. Is that a problem? Only if your goal is to experience things through the eyes and ears of your PC in D&D4E!

    What is negative in his post is that he had used the term 'roleplaying' in a very oversimplified way and others who hate our loved games exploited his terms against our subculture.

    I think his analysis has a lot of merit but we should criticize his conclusions. Looks similar to Marxs or Ron Edwards writings haha!

    I agree that we should avoid these terms and use better vocabulary to describe these real distinctions.

    (* I dont like the term 'actor stance'. Have you ever acted on stage or film? For a lot of actors it is not about 'character immersion' at all.)
  • edited December 2018
    As far as I know Justin Alexander never ever made an argument against story games. I have always known him as a very smart, well-read and polite roleplayer with a lot of insights into gaming.
    This is in line with my experience. I mean, one of his favorite games is Ten Candles. This is not some sort of my-way-or-the-highway OSR nutjob. He ends what I assume Emma is referring to as the "storygames gatekeeping" article with "Personally, I enjoy both sorts of games: Chocolate (roleplaying), vanilla (storytelling), and swirled mixtures of both." Doesn't exactly read as "GTFO" to me.

    In any event, I don't have to be the one to "prove" to you people that this term is useful. You guys are all the ones in here arguing about it. If you think it's not useful, or "foreign" to you (Speaking of things that don't have value. This is reads as you saying "I don't understand this and therefore it's not a real thing.") or I'm somehow moving the goalposts by reminding you of the origins of the term, that's...not really my fault.

    This forum seems strangely hostile on this topic. I guess I'm done.
  • A dissociating topic.
  • Regardless of whether or not he likes the other activity, it's still gatekeeping to say "These games that call themselves RPGs aren't really RPGs, they're instead this other term I made up right now because my definition of roleplaying is too limited to accommodate any playstyle different from the bog-standard mainstream one."
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