Disallowing PC actions convincingly

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David Fisher

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May 23, 2007, 8:46:01 PM5/23/07
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I am thinking about ways to disallow an action convincingly. Here are some
possibilities I can think of:

1. PC tries and fails. Doesn't work for all situations: "Throw rock at
ground" => "You miss".

2. Pretend the action succeeds, but don't change the world state. "Give
coconut to monkey" => "The monkey plays with the coconut for a while and
then tosses it back to you". (This isn't really disallowing the action, but
it comes to the same thing).

3. PC is willing, but the action is prevented somehow. "Attack bully" =>
"Cynthia notices your intentions and moves to stop you. 'Don't be a fool!'
she whispers."

4. PC is unwilling; explained by narrator: "Attack bully" => "He's a lot
bigger and stronger than you are" - or explained by internal dialog: "Attack
bully" => "Yeah, well I'd love to, but he's a lot bigger than me."

I am mainly thinking of ways to keep it believable and not too contrived.
You can only do 1-3 so much of the time, so I am mainly thinking about 4.

So how do you say "You don't want to do that" in a believable, convincing
way, many times during the same game?

David Fisher


Andrew Plotkin

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May 23, 2007, 10:44:14 PM5/23/07
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Here, David Fisher <da...@hsa.com.au> wrote:
> I am thinking about ways to disallow an action convincingly. Here are some
> possibilities I can think of:
> [...]

>
> So how do you say "You don't want to do that" in a believable, convincing
> way, many times during the same game?

To an extent, the places where you say "You don't want to do that" are
*defining* what's believable. If you have a fairly coherent idea of
what sorts of things the player should do, the player will go along
with it.

Obviously, if you have the player shooting a longbow in one scene and
then unable to throw a rock in the next, that's harder to sell. You'd
need to address it specifically, at least.

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
It's a nice distinction to tell American soldiers (and Iraqis) to die in
Iraq for the sake of democracy (ignoring the question of whether it's
*working*) and then whine that "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

Jim Aikin

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May 23, 2007, 10:47:57 PM5/23/07
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5. Action is described as impossible, before or after the attempt. "Climb
tree" => "You test one of the lower branches, and it's obviously too thin to
support your weight."

This is similar to your #1, but I think the example you give for #1 is a bit
contrived, because that could be mapped to the Drop action. Other examples
might include, "Pick up boulder." That's sort of a generic template.

Your options for #4 depend in big ways on the personality of the player
character. Your example wouldn't work if the PC is a Hell's Angel, for
instance. The example I gave earlier today on the mailing list was, "Yeah,
you could beat the crap out of him, but sooner or later you'd wind up in
jail again, and the asshole isn't worth it."

--JA

"David Fisher" <da...@hsa.com.au> wrote in message
news:1359o1p...@corp.supernews.com...

K M

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May 23, 2007, 11:02:37 PM5/23/07
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On May 23, 7:46 pm, "David Fisher" <d...@hsa.com.au> wrote:

> I am mainly thinking of ways to keep it believable and not too contrived.
> You can only do 1-3 so much of the time, so I am mainly thinking about 4.
>
> So how do you say "You don't want to do that" in a believable, convincing
> way, many times during the same game?

I think that's where developing the PC's character, the backplot, and
the game's ambiance come in.
Contrast:

>THROW FIGURINE AT COLIN
Hurling a rare, mint condition Royal Daulton antique? You repress the
impulse with a shudder.

vs.

>THROW FIGURINE AT COLIN
As your hand arcs, the smooth porcelain cold your perspiring palm,
your hand begins to tremble and your grasp loosens. You'd better find
more opium soon.

In game #1, we have PC = Leslie Hindman, or maybe PC = Meg Whitman.
The second makes me think PC = Woolf, or maybe Cobain.


David Fisher

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May 24, 2007, 2:15:49 AM5/24/07
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"Jim Aikin" <edi...@musicwords.net> wrote in message
news:f32ucu$tsd$1...@aioe.org...

> 5. Action is described as impossible, before or after the attempt. "Climb
> tree" => "You test one of the lower branches, and it's obviously too thin
> to support your weight."

I guess this would include "you can't go that way" messages (due to a wall,
etc).

>> 4. PC is unwilling; explained by narrator: "Attack bully" => "He's a lot
>> bigger and stronger than you are" - or explained by internal dialog:
>> "Attack bully" => "Yeah, well I'd love to, but he's a lot bigger than
>> me."
>

> Your options for #4 depend in big ways on the personality of the player
> character. Your example wouldn't work if the PC is a Hell's Angel, for
> instance. The example I gave earlier today on the mailing list was, "Yeah,
> you could beat the crap out of him, but sooner or later you'd wind up in
> jail again, and the asshole isn't worth it."

(Which is what inspired me to ask the question ...)

To expand on point 4 a bit, here are some (overlapping) reasons I can think
of for the PC to be unwilling to do something:

a) Action seems dangerous - examples above.

b) Action conflicts with current goals - "drop ring" => "You can't leave it
behind!"

c) Etiquette / avoiding embarassment - "kiss Edward" => "You blush at the
very thought."

d) Action is against PC's morality - "whip horse" => "You can't bring
yourself to do that"

e) Action is repulsive or goes against personality in some other way - "pick
up dead animal" => "Eew!"; "wear jacket" => "It's way too daggy for you."

f) Laws / rules / duty - "west" => "That is a restricted area"; "You can't
desert your men."

g) Action is unmotivated - "take anvil" => "It doesn't really seem worth
it."

Well, that's all I can think of for now.

David Fisher


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