Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

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Aelryn Bloodmoon
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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Aelryn Bloodmoon » Tue Dec 07, 2021 10:04 pm

-XXX- wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 9:39 pm
I would take IC driven false narratives over players quoting passages from their years old notepad files anytime.

Even many PC written historical records IG seem to have been warped by the lens of perception or IC agenda. Why not just take it for what it is and invent ways to work with what we have rather than engage in OOC arguments over what is or isn't "canon"?
There are two sides to this thought. One of them, I can get behind, the other is problematic, IMO.

The side I can get behind is that sometimes things are lost to history, and that's a valid pursuit, but PCs are the minority population of Arelith. You could argue that none of the characters from the fall of Benwick are around anymore to tell its story- but what about the thousands of NPC's on the island that were witness to it? Surely some of them wrote things down. Maybe there are conflicting stories, but there shouldn't be nothing. Taking these conflicting accounts and drawing an incorrect IC conclusion is fine, great even.

The mirror to this is the problem- falsely driven IC narratives that rely on a lack of players from the time to contradict them. This is, perhaps unintentionally in some cases, underhanded. It relies on not only not having any players from that time around to contradict you, but it also relies on the assumption that because they aren't, there were no NPCS around, which are supposed to factor into our IG decisions and actions, to go, 'no, my grandfather was there and that's not what happened.'

This side of the coin is where I dig in my heels and insist that there should be some documented history- because without it, you have people going 'there's no way you could know my character is lying, and, unless you can prove it IC, this is a fact, and you're metagaming if you don't agree.' My stance on this approach is that the player in question is, themselves, metagaming furiously to push their narrative with the knowledge that no pc's from the time can contradict them, just like it would be metagaming to look at the player list to make sure the owner of the quarter you're breaking into isn't on.

Just because Arelith isn't full of PC historians furiously scribbling the Truth down in their books for later generations of PC's to read, doesn't mean dozens of scholarly historian NPCs weren't doing it. Approached from this angle, using revisionist history IC encroaches very close to violating the rule of factoring the NPC's of the world into your narrative at all times.
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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by -XXX- » Tue Dec 07, 2021 11:03 pm

Aelryn Bloodmoon wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 10:04 pm
Just because Arelith isn't full of PC historians furiously scribbling the Truth down in their books for later generations of PC's to read, doesn't mean dozens of scholarly historian NPCs weren't doing it. Approached from this angle, using revisionist history IC encroaches very close to violating the rule of factoring the NPC's of the world into your narrative at all times.
Well, that argument is based on a lot of assumptions. Maybe some fictional NPC would have done this or that... or maybe not - key word "maybe".

Were we to strictly follow the wys/wyg rule of the thumb, then the quoted part above would've become a false statement.

Furthermore, there are some historical records not written by PCs that can be found in the module, so the inclusion of such records regarding some events and the absence of thereof regarding other events might have been a deliberate decision by the team.


Aelryn Bloodmoon wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 10:04 pm
'there's no way you could know my character is lying, and, unless you can prove it IC, this is a fact, and you're metagaming if you don't agree.'
Well, this is what makes it so awkward as pushing back against the false recounting of those events that the player has witnessed but their current character has not would have indeed been metagaming.
The knee jerk reaction to this is often taking things OOC seeking arbitration and "canon" sources when probably the most sensible response would've been IC: "I really don't care"


Finally, and this might be just anecdotal evidence: I really REALLY dislike most forms of the "historian/archeologist" RP, as I've seen far too many times these being eventually revealed as little more than petty attempts at having one final say in a conflict after everybody else has moved on.

That being said, I do acknowledge that playing fast and loose with the facs can represent a tremendous RP potential for as long as player ego or pride can be kept out of it. Therefore I think that there's also merit in not having an official OOC canonized version of historical records as those might end up shutting down interesting RP possibilities.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Marsi » Tue Dec 07, 2021 11:36 pm

I used to be borderline obsessed with Arelith history. It was deeply important to me to uncover the events and characters past. Not only as an IC venture, but as an act of IRL internet archaeology. I was a little too good at it: digging up old forum threads, plumbing the depths of public screenshot archives (rip xfire), and pestering old players for hours.

Whenever I found what I was looking for, I was disappointed. The truth sucks.

Most ye olde Arelith conflicts are no different to the ones we have today. Side A says Side B are trolls, they fight, one side is better at PvP, one side is better at whinging OOC, some players get banned, someone hellballs Cordor. Historical PCs can be remarkably unimpressive. There's nothing like finding out a worshipped historical figure used no grammar, were played by a 14 year old, or were just a bully. A lot of grandly named events in the old timeline were nothing more than "awful person is awful, gets banned".

It's actually for the best that sometimes all we get is a vague outline. Let there be legends. What matters is how the history, known or unknown, grants meaning to the characters of the present. And if it means nothing to contemporary roleplay, who cares? Its causality is ended. Now, the specter of "something happened" takes on more power toward the narrative than the something that happened itself.

I remember spending so much time on a old character of mine researching Benwick, or Kohlingen, or whatever, that I paid no heed to the present. I didn't think that one day, as time passed, my character's friends and enemies could become historical figures themselves, or that pvp fest #456 currently raging might have some meaning to future PCs, or that all the things that feel so quotidian, boring, and familiar, could one day be rarified and mythical. Could being the key word here. Old stuff is cool because someone had the foresight to make sure it was remembered that way, deserving or not, and importantly, in-game, where it can actually create roleplay.

The reason there are so many dark ages in Arelith's history is because the contemporaneous historians were too busy discussing [fallen city from 2006].

So if you want there to be more accessible history, have your character record the present instead of agonising over the past. See the potential in things as they happen around you. Focus on the players and their choices, tell a story, lie. And do it in game.
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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by UilliamNebel » Tue Dec 07, 2021 11:57 pm

Ork wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 8:54 pm
I think this is really only experienced for players that continuously play the same character over a year+
I am not understanding how that conclusion is arrived as to whether a new or old character is an issue here. Old or new will not remove a player from experiencing a storyline, or event that has become cliche to near all DnD mediums, PnP, vidya, etc. Likewise, and can just as easily be said that a player going into something that has sense of deje vu, or cliche can bring to it new actions to freshen it up regardless of amount of play on a character.

Every October, on server I used to play on, they had a play a new character event. For most of my experience of it, was just the same player cliches, with re-skins of their characters, like some eighties sit com high school flashback. It was fun, for about a week. And once it was over, all those new characters were largely shelved as the nostalgia for the server's lower level content quickly faded, and players returned to the characters they were more vested in to pursue new story lines until the next year. Innovative story there wasn't hampered by the age of the characters.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Hazard » Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:46 am

-XXX- wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:29 pm
HA HA
Thank you. That is the validation and attention I was looking for.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Edens_Fall » Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:47 am

Aelryn Bloodmoon wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 8:09 pm
Edens_Fall wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 4:38 pm
I didn't even know about the later efforts to aid the refugees or the consorts role with them . . . Seems much is lost to history.
Can confirm the majority of Grumpy's recounting. A few additions/alterations regarding the lead-up.
I knew about the sea elves, but not about Miranda even being there. Which is rather neat for as a new player I recall seeing her around Cordor for a long time. A shame it took her so long for her to claim mayorship in an effort to stave off the attack.
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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Ork » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:08 am

UilliamNebel wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 11:57 pm
Ork wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 8:54 pm
I think this is really only experienced for players that continuously play the same character over a year+
I am not understanding how that conclusion is arrived as to whether a new or old character is an issue here. Old or new will not remove a player from experiencing a storyline, or event that has become cliche to near all DnD mediums, PnP, vidya, etc. Likewise, and can just as easily be said that a player going into something that has sense of deje vu, or cliche can bring to it new actions to freshen it up regardless of amount of play on a character.
I remember a former player complaining about drow raids always had the same formula and after raid #38 in their characters lifetime, they were tired of them. That character had been on the server for a long, long time.

History only matters to players persisting a character past 6 months of rigorous play. I'm sympathetic to Aelryn, because I'm also in a similar situation with no time to actually invest.

In a similar way, your character experienced something that has been revised in game through roleplay. You're concerned about this experience because you remember it differently - and that's really only a problem because your character is still around to argue the change. Now, if this event happened and a few weeks later people were spinning a different tale - I'd say thats great roleplay to invest in! What's the motive of these revisionists? But, if this event happened like months ago and people are misremembering or have a 3rd party accounting of the event, the only that cares that they get it right is your ancient character.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by UilliamNebel » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:18 am

Ork wrote:
Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:08 am
History only matters to players persisting a character past 6 months of rigorous play.
Why not three? Nine? How does it not matter to a character three years on now? To say six months appears rather arbitrary.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Ork » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:32 am

UilliamNebel wrote:
Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:18 am
Ork wrote:
Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:08 am
History only matters to players persisting a character past 6 months of rigorous play.
Why not three? Nine? How does it not matter to a character three years on now? To say six months appears rather arbitrary.
Mostly because a lot of roleplay is pretty cliche. You'll frequently see the same sort of struggles, the same sort of events, the same sort of faction dynamics. It can be cyclical. What makes the different is usually for you, the player, to experience them through a different lens.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Hazard » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:34 am

Ork wrote:
Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:08 am

I remember a former player complaining about drow raids always had the same formula and after raid #38 in their characters lifetime, they were tired of them. That character had been on the server for a long, long time.
38 Drow raids? Wow, that character must have been like a month old to see that many Drow raids :P
I kid.

I think all these differences in how people remember and retell stories is great, as long as it's IC.
It's fine to share OOC knowledge too, I think, because we're players and we enjoy the stories we were a part of, but it's important to separate the OOC from the IC, and also acknowledge and be aware of our OOC and IC perspectives.

What one person remembers OOC might be completely accurate and true from their own perspective, from their time and place in the server, while someone else might have other details that are also true, or it could simply be that someone is remembering wrong, was misinformed the whole time, or intentionally retconning details for a personal reason and not even be aware of it themselves.

The same goes for IC, when a character tells a story in game it's important to remember that is THAT character's re-telling of the story. They don't know everything, and if they're telling it wrong then it might be totally in character and not a player just warping facts for some malicious or uninformed reason.

One of my characters would speak highly of her auntie who was a general in Wharftown and leader of the Waymen. She's so proud of her auntie, she was such a good person and helped so many people and kept them safe :) . . . . In reality, that auntie was the black sheep of the family. A secret warlock that eventually came out and patrolled the streets with a BALOR. She murdered people. She was CE. All she wanted was chaos and ruin. She regularly stole (or tried to steal) souls because she thought if demons would grant her powers for her own soul, surely they will barter with her in exchange for even MORE souls. Does the first character know any of this? Nope. She only knows what was passed on IC, and that's a few notes and letters from a seemingly ordinary guard.

Is the character a liar for telling the story that way? No. It's the best she knows. She has no idea. Am I liar for playing a character that way? Nope. It's roleplay. I'm not doing it for any reason or agenda other than it's interesting to me and hopefully to others for things to have that layer of realism, and by realism I mean inaccuracy.

There's just too many players and complexities for any minor details to be 100% accepted as fact, but bigger more obvious things should be general knowledge that can be found out in game. For example we know the fleet was Amnian and there's in game ways to find this out. We can find out plenty without even interacting with other players because there are clues scattered all through-out the module. Arelith is built wonderfully that way.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Hazard » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:35 am

To me a 6 month lifespan on a character is ridiculously short. It's fine if that's what others want to do, but to me that's a character I'm just leveling up to immediately delete for rewards and not one I'm actually invested in. My short term is 2 years. That's where "short" begins for me. We all have our own.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Hazard » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:38 am

I mean- characters can't even agree on the reality of 'today' in game, let alone many real life years ago.
There's constantly multiple VERY different realities existing in any settlement with political turmoil, where one party is totally convinced the other is evil and has done all these terrible things, and the other party is doing the same.

If characters can't agree on the facts and reality of today, I really can't expect them to agree on the facts and reality of any amount of yesterdays.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Eyeliner » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:42 am

Player memory doesn't wipe with every new character. I hear new characters reference stuff they shouldn't know or act weary of Arelith tropes they haven't experienced yet all the time. I also know old characters who aren't jaded and tired and still have a lot to offer.

I have zero problem with someone going through six or more characters in a year, don't get me wrong, but you can't state any time frame for a character being too long or short as a universal fact. It's all entirely subjective and all that really matters is how inspired you are to inhabit the character you're in.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Seven Sons of Sin » Wed Dec 08, 2021 5:51 am

Read and re-read everything Marsi said.

DMs are human and don't know all the facts.

There's no such thing as truth. Just stuff we might be 99% certain on.

Anyone lording over curiousity in-game with "nah dog u r wrong, this is truth" is lame and you should just pivot away from them.

Every act of re-saying the past is an act of re-interpretation. Language has meaning. Going from "siege of Wharftown" to "bombardment of Wharftown" hits the reader differently. This is actually great (read what Scurvy Cur said), but not actually great if you're obsessed with the Truth.

Characters who have been around the island (1 year+ or some other arbitrary amount) have an obligation to not be spoil-sports and let fresh blood take on new perspectives.

Players who have played multiple characters in the same faction are prone to having jaded, biased perspectives. Challenge them on their viewpoints, ask questions kindly, and then move on.

Characters/players who complain about Arelith's cyclical nature are likely holding to positions of influence and not letting new players/characters participate in that cycle.

The success of your story is defined by how it is interpreted (and misinterpreted) by others. Not by how you "win." Interpretation requires a whole bunch of factors, one of them being how you impress upon other players not other characters. Your behaviour as a player goes a lot farther than the cool-ness of your character.
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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by UilliamNebel » Wed Dec 08, 2021 6:25 am

I am getting a feeling in this thread, that people want others they feel, who have been here longer 'out their way.'

Honestly, they can have whatever it is they think older characters/players have here. I'll be leaving them to pursue that.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by Emotionaloverload » Wed Dec 08, 2021 8:14 am

Marsi wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 11:36 pm


Whenever I found what I was looking for, I was disappointed. The truth sucks.


It's actually for the best that sometimes all we get is a vague outline.
This. I have played my fair share of historians or scribes and I can tell you that often the IG history has a lot of OoC aspects that impact it. Such as a Dm being unable to finish an event or areas changing because of staff decision or PCs just dropping off the face of the map.

I know a few books IG that are flat out wrong about what actually happened at X date but you know what? Their version is better because it took into account that the game is played by humans that have RL obligations and fixed it. Granted the events are so old that the texts become 'canon' and outside of dispute but that's fine. Its good, in fact.

Some things are retconned as server direction changes, some things just weren't explained (see: ' a wizard did it'). All of that can be solved IG by being creative. IG History isn't a problem to solve. Its a challenge to tell the server story in whatever way is open to you. It can be contradictory (like history tends to be!) and that's fine.

Use IG books, area clues, DMs, characters, players and creativity to fill in the gaps. Write about current events, past events, magical events, stupid events, made-up events. Everything. Go wild. Just about anything is permitted.

Don't fuss.

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Re: Can a DM be called on to rule on past event's factuality?

Post by The GrumpyCat » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:27 pm

UilliamNebel wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 11:57 pm
Ork wrote:
Tue Dec 07, 2021 8:54 pm
I think this is really only experienced for players that continuously play the same character over a year+
I am not understanding how that conclusion is arrived as to whether a new or old character is an issue here. Old or new will not remove a player from experiencing a storyline, or event that has become cliche to near all DnD mediums, PnP, vidya, etc. Likewise, and can just as easily be said that a player going into something that has sense of deje vu, or cliche can bring to it new actions to freshen it up regardless of amount of play on a character.

Every October, on server I used to play on, they had a play a new character event. For most of my experience of it, was just the same player cliches, with re-skins of their characters, like some eighties sit com high school flashback. It was fun, for about a week. And once it was over, all those new characters were largely shelved as the nostalgia for the server's lower level content quickly faded, and players returned to the characters they were more vested in to pursue new story lines until the next year. Innovative story there wasn't hampered by the age of the characters.
Yes it's something that the player experiences, but it's something made more... poinient by having a long term character, if that makes sense?

Everty time I make a new character, I'm sort of slightly obliged to rp suprise at stuff. E.g. 'WOW a drow raid! Oh that's so exciting!' Even if I myself, as a player, am not new to it. And because I'm often in a differnet crowd/different postion/even different personality it does give a freshness to the experience.

A pc who's ICly witnessing their 8th drow raid is probably going to be a bit more jaded, and that's going to carry over to the player.

But yeah 'Don't Fuss' is a good aspect to have. Enjoy your histoies! But seriously don't sweat about the small stuff. Indeed enjoy the contradictions! It's actually kinda nice to have them. Gives people something to talk about In Game!
This too shall pass.

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