Thursday 1 September 2022

Primacy of Action

In Mythic Bastionland I talk about the Primacy of Action.


Even when using the rules for travel, exploration, and combat, remember this, the most important thing

No rule or system within the game should devalue the Actions the players take.

Remember the core of giving players information, honouring their choices, and describing the impact of their actions.

This has some similarity to the Fiction First concept found in many games. I'll avoid trying to define that one too closely, as others can't seem to agree fully.

I'd probably apply this to all of my games, but I wanted to stress the point in Mythic Bastionland because there's a much larger focus on procedures. These are meant to be tools to allow the GM to emulate a living world, not a rigid programming code to a clockwork nightmare outside of the players' control.

I almost called it Primacy of Past, as I want the group all know that previous established facts get priority over the usual procedures of play, but really even present Actions should carry certain weight above the mechanical processes. 

The players always have choice, but they must live with their actions, for better or worse. 

Normally the group is considered to have Supplies. While travelling they might get a result that says "today's supplies are the last", so the following day they have no supplies. 

It might seem obvious, but player action can deplete supplies before this roll calls for it. That roll is a tool to account for the passive consumption of supplies in a level of (low) detail that I feel is appropriate for this game. Let's say they meet another travelling group of knights in the woods and offer to cook them up a feast and share a camp. The GM might say "you can do that, but you'll leave yourself low on supplies, tomorrow will be the last". As this all came out of player action, this feels fair. 

So a few days later the group are out of food.  A typical way to resolve this is using a Task to Forage, which might require a roll depending on their situation. Instead they encounter an Omen that describes a lush orchard filled with delicious fruit. If they press into the orchard then of course they can fill up on supplies here without needing a roll, or even performing a Task at all. It's right there, assuming nobody minds you taking it...

When it's a call between protecting the impact of player action, and protecting the authority of the game rules, I'd choose the former wherever possible. 


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