Ultimately, this explains why so many people have had intensively negative reactions to dissociated mechanics: They’re antithetical to the defining characteristic of a roleplaying game and, thus, fundamentally incompatible with the primary reason many people play roleplaying games.
I can't say with mathematical certainty, but I will say this - narrative flex IMO empowers tabletop RPGs into making them a unique medium, elevating them above other game forms such as board games and video games, where the rules are ironclad. I believe, as a player and designer, that the ability to change and mold the story, together with friends, to fit what you want collectively is the essence of tabletop roleplaying itself
. Scenarios are not made to be defeated - they are challenges to be taken on and hopefully overcome using a variety of different means, based on the players' actions within their characters' capabilities. Video games are meant to be beat, often in a "best" way; tabletop RPGs are meant to be the basis for creating a unique solution to the challenges, based on the people and characters playing it.
This is from one of my favorite blogs on tabletop gaming, and one of the best essays I have read on the subject of dissosociated mechanics. I would suggest anyone interested in the discussion to read this... http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/17231/roleplaying-games/dissociated-mechanics-a-brief-primer
unless your fairly versed in the role-playing vs. storytelling arguements.
Put simply... I hate dissociated mechanics, I hate any rule which pulls my players out of playing a roll and forces them to do something other than role playing, I feel it kills immersion and takes away from the experience. I’m not interested in “developing a story together” that’s not the player’s job, the player is just supposed to play his character, the DM/GM is responsible for narrative, story, world etc.
I read the essay, and it was interesting. If this is the measure of success or failure by this disassociative mechanics (as I mentioned in the other thread) then the -Craft games (and in fact, all Crafty's games) have failed. We have always, in every one of our games, had abilities that trigger "1/session," "1/combat," "1/scene," and "If you spend an action die" (in itself an artificially limited resource). Those are resources to be spent, and which are limited, making their use a tactical choice rather than a "this is the best possible decision, so I'll make it 100% in character" decision. I call that a feature of our games, rather than a bug - it's how their built.
To illuminate my thinking: you don't fault an economy car for not being able to pull a boat as well as a heavy-duty truck, because that economy car's meant to get good gas mileage and be small. Same thing here; when making a game, you have to make decisions about what you're going to be, and more importantly, what you're NOT going to be. Any other decision and you have GURPS or HERO (and to be perfectly honest, even those "universal" games are better at some things than others).
Storytelling features in a game can also really mess up a well designed adventure, for example… I was reading fantasy-craft, it mentions that while hiding from goblins the player gets a threat, so he starts spending action dice, spending enough action dice allows him to follow the goblins back to their lair, sneak inside, get the general layout, and sabatauge all the weapons and armor the goblins have putting them at a combat disadvantage later….
1) what if I want there to be a goblin master-trapper, and designed traps everywhere, 2) now I either have to force the roguish player to deal with the traps solo (likely getting killed far away from his supporting party) or 3) I have to deny his use of action dice, the player then says “but I did the same thing against the orcs and the ogres… maybe there is something fishy going on at this monster lair, I’ll be extra careful in there…” 4) now after the player feels let down at not being able to use his character’s unique talents, 5) the rule has also tipped off the player about an adventure feature I wanted to be a complete surprise.
I am ok with a little bend in this, some minor tweaks on skills or damage by spending action dice, but I want to avoid huge adventure changing screw ups like the ones mentioned above.
This is where you and I differ - I see those features and I see opportunities for the player, not problems for the GM. Personally, when I run games (which is pretty much the only way I roleplay) I have no interest in controlling or constraining the players' actions - I am merely challenging
them with a situation. It's up to them to figure that out, using what they can within the game constraints (character, rules, mathematical probabilities, etc.). Quite simply, I never say "no,"
because as a player (as you point out), that totally sucks. Instead, I build upon unique or unusual solutions in a realistic way within the context of the game.
I think you are making the assumption that narrative mechanics by definition must break the 4th wall, and I challenge the notion that their existence is a threat to consistency within a game. I postulate they can be challenging, but the end can and should live entirely within the narrative you and your players have established. In the case of your trapper, if the rogue gains a bunch of information because of luck and skill - why not reward him? Why not make a trap that hits his party (whom he's abandoned), forcing him back to the mothership to help him? Actions have consequences, and a lot can come storywise by looking way from the "failure" of your story created by some luck to focusing on the resulting events that come from the path that character did take.
At any rate, I hope you can see where I'm coming from. We have a fundamental disagreement on the use of disassociative mechanics and what narrative rules mean (and perhaps why people roleplay in the first place). I hope Spycraft Third is a game you will enjoy, but whether you are willing to accept what it offers will ultimately be up to you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.