#RPGTheoryJuly – 9th – Fictional Positioning

Fictional Positioning is the relationship between the characters, their environment and everything in it. For the most part you don’t notice it until something goes wrong, when the GM says “You cannot do that, their is a boulder in the way.” Your character would certainly have seen a huge boulder between them and their escape or the arch villain but the Player either missed the description or sufficient time and excitement between the now and when the description was given has passed or simply the significance of the boulder was lost.

One solution is a battle map but they are far from perfect. Often situations turn on the head of a pin. Is there a bottle in reach? Is there a fire extinguisher beside the door? These are the little details that are impossible for a GM to describe all of them but could make or break a situation.

I play with two GMs. One of them would roll a dice to see if the thing I am after is there. The other is more confrontational and the answer is almost certainly a No. He is the sort of GM that is against the players as opposed to working all together to tell the best possible story.

I have different take and it the item would logically exist then it does exist. The only time I say No is when the item doesn’t exist for a reason I am aware of. For example if I know my villain has taken away the fire extinguishers because he wants to set the place on fire, I know there is no fire extinguisher. If the barkeep saw trouble brewing and sent the servers around to collect all the empty flagons and bottles there there is no bottle.

All of that is fine for face to face games and even PBP. I explicitly tell my PBP players that everything they expect to be in a scene *is in the scene* and they don’t have to ask me. That speeds up PBP play by cutting out some of the back and forth questions.

In solo play you can go one of two ways. Most of the time I would say the character has a perfect understanding of their environment. If your vision of the office layout has fire extinguishers by the door then they are there. If you imagine a table cluttered with empty bottles and knocked over flagons then they are there. The other option is to resort to the Oracle. This has implications. Firstly, it breaks you out of your story to roll dice, secondly, for good or for ill you may well get a plot twist or interrupted scene. It seems overkill to me to ask the Oracle if there is a bottle on the table or about office fixtures and fittings.

I personally prefer the perfect understanding, less rolls and less interruptions. Neither approach is wrong.

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