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Old 07-01-2004, 01:33 AM   #1
Danish
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Brody recently made a post to the jointhesaga mailing group and forums concerning OOC consent between players and staff during roleplaying events. He used the example of an event that occured on Otherspace several years ago, in which players and staff agreed that no PCs would die in the event, but still maintained the cause and effect needed for dramatic roleplay. I will not repost his post here, but he may do so if he wishes.

I myself am an admin on one of his MUSHes, and recently used this idea of OOC consent (actually today) in an event I ran. On Otherspace we have a taskroll system, which uses automated dice to test the skills of players, much like a tabletop RPG. However, I find that in an event, or scene, when taskrolls become involved, it tends to complicate things, and take the fun otu of it for me, the admin, of running the event. This is due to the pause and break in IC action to OOC action in order to determine what happens ICly later.

I find this extremely disturbing when I run an event, and believe that players feel the schism in the roleplay as well. This also serves to help propogate the belief in an 'admin conspiracy' when Admin-played PCs roll highly on skills or whatnot.

Therefore, in the event I just ran, I chose to form an OOC consent with the players involved. In that none of them would die, and they could choose to take wounds or whatnot on their own behalf. So it worked much like freeform RP does in a non-coded environment.

It worked out great, and not once was I driven out of my IC mindset by OOC complications. So I'm wondering, do players and staff on other MU*'s find it distracting when coded systems become involved in roleplay?

- Dane
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Old 07-01-2004, 03:05 AM   #2
Molly
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To someone like me, who runs a mostly H&S mud, this is a bit unclear, and I wonder if you could explain the system you use a bit. It sounds as if you have to make an extra pause in the flow of events to roll some dice each time a player emoted an action, to determine if the action is successful or not? And that the Admins are rolling these dice? (Like in a tabletop game, you said).

I may have got this all wrong, and if I have, I apologise. But if the actors in a RP scene really have to wait for a random decision before they can go on with their roleplay, I can see how that would be extremely disruptive to the illusion, and why getting rid of it in a staged large event would be a really good idea, with or without player consent.

What I don't understand is why you don't get rid of that system for good, and use some sort of automated code instead, to determine the outcome of certain actions, like fighting or casting spells or crafting items - without the delay. The code that is used on most standard muds is based on the player's age, experience, aquired skill and/or political status, which makes sense to me.

One of the things that gets on my nerves when I try out hardcore RP muds is that the flow of events is so slow. I get jittery sitting and waiting for my turn, while some other player types out his 4-8 line emotes, and roleplaying in larger groups than two usually gets messy. If I had to wait an extra half minute for a diceroll to take place, it would most certainly diminish whatever illusion was created by the emotes. (On the other hand, one of the things that gets on my nerves in H&S muds is that the flow of events is so fast, things scroll off my screen without me having time to read it all).

I'd like to declare that this post is in no way meant as some general flame against Roleplay muds. I am really genuinely curious about the difference between RP and H&S muds. I always thought the difference was mainly a cultural one, but your post made it sound like there is a code difference too.

So could you please explain how that taskroll system with automated dice works - is it manual or automated?

There must be some way of using the best features from both cultures.
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Old 07-01-2004, 07:19 AM   #3
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Molly, what Danish describes has little to do with his game being an RP mud, but more the codebase. It sounds more like a MUSH from the very little I understand of those.

Armageddon - according to its own admin, its players, and what seems to be a rather large contingency of readers here, is decisively a hard-core RP mud. It does not involve the use of admin-controlled dicerolls. And heh - the game limitations won't allow you to type out 8-line emotes. 4 lines is the max - and most people stick with between 1 and 2, adding a "neato" long one for dramatic effect when appropriate.

All the "number stuff" is hidden within the code. The player has the ability to see only certain stats - hps, mana, stamina, stun - and even those won't be visible unless the player sets their "infobar" or prompt line to see them. While it does't run flawlessly or effortlessly, it isn't a turn-based game, nor one where you have to wait for an admin to toss a pair of dice to determine the outcome of things.

If you are really all that curious about the differences between H&S and RP games and the mechanics involved in running/playing them - I suggest you try a few different types of RP games. But just keep in mind - they usually have a much steeper learning curve than the "usual" H&S, so you might need to be patient with yourself and give yourself at least a week to get immersed in the RP.
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Old 07-01-2004, 01:52 PM   #4
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Molly, the system Danish is describing is, in fact, very similar to tabletop (I'm a director on a different JTS MUSH than Danish). Most often, the player rolls their own dice. The rolls are limited to when the player is attempting a contested action, such as picking a lock, or trying to hit someone with his sword. To sneeze or talk requires no dice rolling. It's only in cases of direct conflict that we have admins there to referee in the first place. The reason why we integrate the rolls is in order to better tell an all-encompassing story.

Rather than integrating code that takes into account all the possible factors that could affect someone's success in an action (amount of light, higher ground, weather, temperature, amount of cover the defender is hiding behind, whether the arrows sticking out of Jack's chest would hinder his ability to swing his sword effectively, etc), we use referees to judge these factors, and give appropriate modifiers to the dice roll to reflect these myriad factors. This has worked surprisingly well for our genre (in general, people in our games have a good concept of the division between IC and OOC, and accept the referee's judgements with a minimum of complaint, and the referees are, on average, fairly unbiased).

However, while this allows for a lot of variability (which in itself inspires creativity in action), it tends to distract from the story itself, like an actor constantly getting out of character to take a potty break or get something to eat in the middle of an intense movie. And this can get annoying, thus kind of putting the code and the story at odds.

I find distractions like this in other formats; I personally feel that pre-coded emotes and the inability to pose ambiance(as in the muds that require that everything you express has your name in front of it) are major coded breaks in the flow of roleplaying.

I think there's always going to be some sort of break in the flow, though. Not everyone is trustworthy enough to be given all the tools they need to be successful, uninterrupted rp'ers, and that will always tempt administrators to make standardizations for the sake of fairness and sanity, whether in the form of automated combat, or in the form of needing a referee to oversee things. There's always someone who wants their character to be the best and won't listen to reason. I congratulate Danish on the ability to run a scene without a bit of code, but I have to say that I remain jaded about it becoming a mainstay, especially in games that purport to uphold ICA=ICC. Someone will always eventually emerge to ruin everyone else's fun.
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Old 07-01-2004, 03:52 PM   #5
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You might want to speak with the Admin at the Twighlght Reconquista, Danish. They're a Vampire: Masquerade and a few other things combined, and use a 'rolling' system. I'm not into the vampire setting, so I don't know if they have your problems, but the admin might be able to offer some insight...
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Old 07-01-2004, 05:50 PM   #6
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Thanks Wik for explaining the taskroll system for me

And I agree, I don't want to see taskrolls go away. Because some players simply can't handle the responsibility that a consent-based arrangement like the one I detailed entails. However, as a staffer in a specific faction on Otherspace, I have grown to have an understanding of which of my players could handle such responsibility, which was luckily all of them on at that time, and made use of it.

Warhound: I'll like into that. Thanks.
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Old 07-28-2004, 03:47 PM   #7
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I think there's a difference between freeform and pre-consent, too, where in freeform you decide things ass it comes up, where in pre-consent you say: I will die in this scene and then play it out according to that without spontenaeity in the outcome (though the means can be very spontaneous).
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Old 08-17-2004, 12:24 PM   #8
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How do you deal with accusations of favoritism and bias in the free-form system? I understand the necessity of a referee-like position, but we all know how professional athletes (and their fans) treat referees.

I'll go with a specific example. I'm trying to whack Greenstorm with an axe. (Sorry, Greenstorm, but your name was closest on the thread.) However, Greenstorm has recently struck me on the weapon arm with a rock, and I'm pretty hurt. The referee assigns a modifier.

Now, before the dice are rolled, what if the player disagrees with the modifier? ("It's too small a penalty. His arm is nearly broken!" vs. "It's too big a penalty. I was wearing padded sleeves!") Assume both players are trying to be fair, and just see things differently. Is the referee supposed to bias the modifier towards the better RPer, or the outcome which would make for a more exciting story? Can the two players overrule the referee somehow?

Now, if there's a standard modifier for the situation ("All rock hits to the arm result in -2 to hit."), you'd just hard-code it and save the referee some time. So I assume this is only supposed to cover unusual situations, which is where the most difference of opinion might crop up.

I'm mostly curious because 'favoritism' is a very common accusation levelled at game staff, even in systems where the majority of variables are automatically assigned by the code. In a tabletop game, you're probably playing among people you know, and you won't run into 'internet tough guy syndrome' as often. How does the staff handle these situations when they crop up?
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Old 08-17-2004, 12:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Valg @ Aug. 17 2004,12:24)
Now, before the dice are rolled, what if the player disagrees with the modifier? ("It's too small a penalty. His arm is nearly broken!" vs. "It's too big a penalty. I was wearing padded sleeves!") Assume both players are trying to be fair, and just see things differently. Is the referee supposed to bias the modifier towards the better RPer, or the outcome which would make for a more exciting story? Can the two players overrule the referee somehow?

Now, if there's a standard modifier for the situation ("All rock hits to the arm result in -2 to hit."), you'd just hard-code it and save the referee some time. So I assume this is only supposed to cover unusual situations, which is where the most difference of opinion might crop up.
Referees assign situational modifiers. For example, we'd assign a higher penalty if you're trying to complete a complex move in your attack, or if you're defending from a position of weakness. Armor and weapons have their own "factors" for causing or preventing damage, so they really don't enter into modifying rolls - they're involved in handling the final outcome.

We tend to discourage a lot of OOC griping during the scene about modifiers, because it can break the flow of a good scene. But we do handle questions via private page conversations and, sure, referees have been known to change their initial call based on a quick and rational discussion with the players involved.

Further, some conflicts are handled entirely without a referee, with the players themselves serving as referees and inflicting damage on themselves as needed.
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