5E When did Role become Roll?
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  1. #1

    When did Role become Roll?

    This essay is applicable to any RPG. But as I happen to play D&D 5E, I am presenting it here. I post this with the desire to spark conversation on this topic, and as a result, a greater understanding of what it means to be a player in an RPG.

    D&D is NOT adversarial; It is not the GM against the players, nor is it player against player. It is a cooperative, shared storytelling event. Trying to win is not only a mistake, it doesn't make any sense. It is simply not that type of game. We all succeed when we tell an interesting story that we can enjoy together. That is what Role-Playing is all about.


    Role-Playing simply means pretending to be someone else. Acting & reacting based upon the personality of your character, and only on what your character knows & understands. It is not easy, but with practice, it can happen. Of course, this means knowing your character.


    What is a character? A character is a personality with wants, needs, and life views/beliefs that in many cases differ from yours. Notice I didn't mention class, race, skills, modifiers, etc. These are game mechanics, the tools and techniques your character uses to achieve what they desire. But what is it your character desires?



    Can you describe your character such that we have an understanding of who and what they are? And can you do this without once mentioning any mechanical aspects of the game? Take some time to establish who your character is, not as a bunch of numbers, but as a background to establish motives (what does my character want?).


    Then, you will be able to answer the critical question: What would my character do?


    Please do not interrupt the game by imposing yourself into the story! By trying to control the game as yourself, you take us all out of the story, which is not fair nor respectful for everyone else. If you want to try something, or move the story along, do it as your character.


    Why would a rogue advise a wizard on which spell to cast? You may know everything there is about spells, but your rogue does not. In fact, why are you trying to tell any other PC what to do or not do, you are not there. Your character is, so interact with the other PC's as your character (see above).


    Why are you advising the rogue who is in another room? Please explain to me how your character could possibly know what the rogue is doing considering your character is not in the room. You may know, as you are sitting around the table listening to the story unfold. Great! Sit there and listen. Allow the other player to have their spotlight moment playing as the rogue. You will get your turn.


    Your responsibility to help tell the story is to describe what your character is doing & what your character is about. And to speak to other PC's and NPC's as your character. Pretending to be someone else is the whole point of this game. That is the only way you will ever experience how enjoyable and exciting this game can be. And that requires you to banish this win/lose mentality, and the desire to control the game as a god-like player.


    In short, it is about interaction; imagination and shared storytelling; pretending to be a fantasy character exploring a fantastical world; reclaiming a child-like sense of wonder; the joy of expressing yourself as a creative being.


    Surely that is worth a bit of effort on the part of the player to try the above advice. I look forward to your views.
    Last edited by Bruce Grabowski; Tuesday, 9th January, 2018 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Offensive statement

  2. #2
    Sorry, but I can't agree with your premise. For me, a character is BOTH personality and mechanics.
    You seem have a way that you enjoy to play D&D (which is perfectly fine), but that isn't everyone's way, and nor should it be.
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  3. #3
    BG, if this works for you and your group, great. For myself, it sounds more like a class on improv and method acting than on how to get together with friends to just have fun. If someone posted this on the local bulletin board looking for players, I'd find it rather off-putting.

    Definitely not the way my group roles/rolls.

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  5. #5
    With this being a wiki thread, I'm tempted to edit out every absolute, every hint of a right way to play, every implied insult to the people who play wrong. But that'd be malicious. Instead . . .

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Grabowski View Post
    Your responsibility to help tell the story is to describe what your character is doing & what your character is about. And to speak to other PC's and NPC's as your character. Pretending to be someone else is the whole point of this game. That is the only way you will ever experience how enjoyable and exciting this game can be. And that requires you to banish this win/lose mentality, and the desire to control the game as a god-like player.
    Sure, but when you're fighting for your life in some dungeon somewhere, it's easy to see how survival is your win condition. That's the game that the character is playing, with the highest stakes of all; and to pretend that they don't want to win, it's not conducive to occupying their headspace.

    It doesn't give you the right to act on information the character doesn't have, of course. Wanting to win as the character is not quite the same thing as wanting to win as a player (as though that was possible), but I haven't noticed players having much difficulty with that after the first few corrections.

  7. #7
    Oh, and I think the answer to the thread title's question is this: "Day One."
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Satyrn View Post
    With this being a wiki thread, I'm tempted to edit out every absolute, every hint of a right way to play, every implied insult to the people who play wrong. But that'd be malicious. Instead . . .

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    If silence is your best tactic, you are welcome to edit all you want. But it might be more useful to discuss the whys and wherefores. While I may have presented this in a polemical style, the issues presented are legitimate, reasonable, and quite possibly worth discussing, even if you don't agree.

    Let's discuss the issues raised, and not ones interpretation of "implications" and "absolutes." As for the "citations needed," this was presented as an opinion piece, not an academic paper.

    In an open discussion on agreements and disagreements, we may both, all, come to a better understanding of where Role and roll should meet.

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    ....Can you describe your character such that we have an understanding of who and what they are? And can you do this without once mentioning any mechanical aspects of the game? If not, perhaps that is why you don't know how to Role-Play......ha ha Another preacher telling me how to play "the one true way"!
    ...D&D is NOT adversarial; It is not the GM against the players, nor is it player against player...... Hmm I my experience, it is sometimes adversarial. But those games lose their fun factor real quick. But other groups love the GM vs the player style of play.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Satyrn View Post
    Oh, and I think the answer to the thread title's question is this: "Day One."
    I was thinking "5 minutes after the first rules were published and people realized the game had dice."

    On topic of the OP:

    The game may not be adversarial between the various players, but the game contains more than a few adversarial elements. Since the game contains loss conditions, it automatically has the reverse. I "win" when my character doesn't die. I 'win" more when my character manages to advance -- using any metric of advancement -- whether by increasing level, gaining coin, or getting to write down that the local baron owes me a favour.

    Further, since the game is a rather simplistic model for a large and complex reality, it invariably has bits that work really well - they reasonably reflect effectiveness and probability of success -- and bits that work less well -- that are not so reasonable. It behooves players who want to succeed to drift toward those rules that provide the greatest chance of success.

    As for the provision of advice: it can go too far, certainly. But is the character played by the player supposed to be an expert i.e. would the character be reasonably expected to see the value in a the recommended tactic? Is the player offering advice more skilled? Will the character be closer to its conception if the advice is followed? Did the player receiving advice miss something in the verbal description or forget something that happened 6 weeks ago that the advising player caught or remembers?
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