What less-loaded, less-ambiguous terms exist that are equivalent to ‘associative and dissociative mechanics’, ‘immersion’ etc.?

This question has arisen due repeatedly facing misunderstandings when trying to discuss certain differences in the handling of mechanics, decisionmaking etc. between RPGs or between different parts of a single RPG. So first, here is the description of the two contrasting cases in abstract terms, hopefully as long-winded as necessary to ensure clarity (if necessary, it will be edited and expanded).

Definition in Abstract Terms

  • Pattern A: The situation as perceived by the PC is described by the GM. The player decides how the PC decides to react to the situation, and describes the PC’s action. In accordance to this action of the PC, a game mechanic is used to resolve further outcomes. The mechanic in question is an outcome of the PC’s decision and subsequent action. In a perfect example, the choice of which mechanics to employ hinges solely and unambiguously on the description of the PC’s thoughts and actions, and can be derived from them even if the player didn’t convey system information (but in practice most examples aren’t this perfect).

  • Pattern B: The situation as perceived by the PC is described by the GM. The player decides what outcomes the player wants and what mechanics can help achieve that. In accordance to this player decision, a game mechanic is used to resolve further outcomes. The mechanic in question is fully independent of the PC’s decision and subsequent action, and the decision to use the mechanic does not represent any decision of the PC. In a strong example, whether the mechanic is to be used cannot be derived from the sole description of the PC’s thoughts and actions, and requires the player to speak in system terms (in practice not all examples are like this, but many are).


Less Abstract Examples

  • Pattern A: The GM describes a skeleton monster as dangerous but flimsy. The mighty warrior decides to forego defence and hit the skeleton with all his strength, hoping to slay it in one blow. The game mechanics reflect the warrior’s decision in the form of giving the All-Out Attack bonus to damage (which negates Active Defences). The player rolls the dice to see if the warrior hits.

  • Pattern B: The GM describes said mighty warrior’s swing as going off-target (alternatively, the player may just see the negative outcome on the dice and react without waiting for the GM’s description). The player decide that in this case, failure is unacceptable, and decides to use the Luck trait, which allows making a reroll. The warrior did not decide to be lucky this moment instead some other moment – the decision was strictly on the player’s head. The reroll mechanic is used strictly based on the player’s decision.


Terms I’ve Seen Used to Describe Pattern B, and Why I Seek Alternatives to Them

  • Supernatural: One that I think least used and also most misleading, and yet I have encountered a few times. From an inside-the-campaign-world perspective, nothing supernatural actually happened in Pattern B. In fact a lot of the time Pattern B assumes that all mechanically possible outcomes are supposed to also be naturally possible in-setting.

  • Meta: People object to it as meaningless by statements such as ‘Rolling the dice is a metagame action! It’s not something characters do after all’.

  • Narrative, Narrative Control etc.: generally using the word ‘narrative’ in discussion of RPGs tends to result in people jumping to the conclusion that I must be using it in a GNS meaning and cannot ever possibly be meaning anything else.

  • Immersion-breaking (contrasting to Pattern A being labelled immersive): people usually object by saying ‘Thinking about whether to accept a Compel or declare a Story Detail doesn’t break my immersion, but counting HP does!’, which at best results in a long and repetitive discussion of what exactly is meant by the word ‘immersion’ by a given person and how the definitions radically differ.

  • Dissociative Mechanic (contrasting to Pattern A being labelled associative): people also object to it in a similar manner – ‘I don’t feel dissociated from my character when I think of the ways my warrior could get lucky, I do when I calculate encumbrance’; another objection I seen was a claim that the term was coined with the goal of being derogatory of such mechanics (a belief I do not share but am losing any enthusiasm to dispute by now).

  • Author Stance (contrasting to Pattern A being labelled Character/Actor Stance): the objection is generally along the lines of ‘Oh, you called me an Author, as if I’m not an actual roleplayer / not engaging in roleplaying, but rather just writing a book’. I there are some roots of this objection in the reference to the advice for railroading GMs to write a book instead, though it seems like a stretch.


So given the flaws of the above terms, what would be a good replacement? I’m seeking terms that are unambiguous, intuitive and not prone to causing definition arguments and flame wars. Yes, I know I won’t get a perfect, 100% safe solution, but I’m seeking something that is at least better than the ones I found so far.