D&D 5E Character play vs Player play

KarinsDad

Adventurer
Right. You want player and character to be in harmony. You can't have the player coming up with stuff that the character wouldn't know, because that's meta-gaming. The character also does know a lot of stuff that the player doesn't know, though, and that shouldn't be discounted.

I agree. The character should know stuff that the player does not know, but at the first hint of an intellectual problem, it shouldn't necessarily be "pick up the dice and roll". The DM should just tell the player some things the character knows and move on. Let the players play the game. The character is irrelevant. It's the players who are in the real world there to play the game and have fun. Let them do so. But, don't hand info out on a platter. Give the players a chance to play, give them some pertinent info, but let the players solve the problems and puzzles. Having the character and the dice do so defeats the purpose of roleplaying the character.

The character is the one who actually exists within the game world. The player has no agency within the game beyond what the character can do.

True, but that's a really long list of possibilities.
 

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KarinsDad

Adventurer
The lock to the door is a complex word puzzle. Larry, playing Bonk the 8 int barbarian, steps up and solves the puzzle. Is that good roleplaying?

What if Larry does this consistently, because he happens to be good at puzzles? Is this a good thing, or does it merit calling out?

Who cares? Is Larry having fun? If so, let him. Why be a "character knowledge" police officer as the DM?

Maybe super dumb Int 8 PCs are autistic and savant at the same time. The PC can do puzzles like crazy, but cannot figure out how to use a fork.
 

Who cares? Is Larry having fun? If so, let him.
I care. Whether I'm Larry, the DM, or another player at the table, I don't want players to be encouraged to play out-of-character like that. This is a role-playing game, and we should act like it. That's what I signed up for.

Role-playing is doing what makes sense for the character to do, according to the interpretation of the player.
 
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Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
My advice is taken from GUMSHOE: be free with clues, and make sure the PCs can find them with little or no difficulties. Don't, however, normally interpret those clues for the players. Putting the clues together (as opposed to rolling for them in the first place) is the really fun part.
 

KarinsDad

Adventurer
I care. Whether I'm Larry, the DM, or another player at the table, I don't want players to be encouraged to play out-of-character like that. This is a role-playing game, and we should act like it. That's what I signed up for.

Awesome. I find that most players do not go down this type of rabbit hole. If they do and the DM or other players have heartburn over it, then generally a discussion suffices to curb some of the smart player doing smart things with his Barbarian.

But, one person's idea of smart is another person's idea of dumb.

When my wizard cast Fog Cloud, it seemed smart to me to protect the PCs. But when the foes are kobolds with pack tactics, not so smart. The kobolds still have better chances to hit the PCs then the PCs have to hit them.


But in real life, sometimes asking a smart person to not be smart is like asking a dumb person to not be dumb. One might assume that it is easy, but it shows up in subtle ways because the smart person notices things automatically that average people might not.

Smart player: "I move my Barbarian to the right hand side of the corridor."
Average player: "I move my Rogue to the left hand side of the corridor."
DM: "A stream of liquid fire comes down the left hand side of the corridor and burns the Rogue for 23 points of damage."
Average player to smart player: "How did you know to move down the right hand side of the corridor?"
Smart player: "I didn't. But when the DM described that the corridor tilted slightly to the left, I figured that any ooze or liquid or even traps might be on that side."

If you've ever played with a real smart player, they just figure stuff out automatically. Watch a movie mystery with a real smart person, they often see subtle clues and figure it out way before the end of the movie. That's just how life works. I wouldn't penalize a person for playing smart.

DM: "Well, since the Barbarian moved down the right hand side, that is the side that the blades come out on."

This type of DM behavior seems kind of lame.
 

KarinsDad

Adventurer
My advice is taken from GUMSHOE: be free with clues, and make sure the PCs can find them with little or no difficulties. Don't, however, normally interpret those clues for the players. Putting the clues together (as opposed to rolling for them in the first place) is the really fun part.

The interesting thing about clues is that very few DMs (IME) run things like murder mystery adventures and sometimes when they do, they hand out so many obvious clues that it's not worth it. The art of handing out semi-subtle clues without spelling it out for players is hard to acquire, at least IME.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
If the player wants to have the dice play for him, set a different DC for the check. Like if someone says, "I search everything in the room," versus "I search the closet." Aside from taking significantly more time, there is a higher chance of missing something. So a DC15 Investigation could turn into a DC20 Investiagation.

For someone who won't come up with any creative ideas, have him make DC 30 Insight checks for his character to figure out what to do. With a 20 Wisdom, Insight as a skill, and a +6 proficiency, you only need to roll a 19. :D
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
The interesting thing about clues is that very few DMs (IME) run things like murder mystery adventures and sometimes when they do, they hand out so many obvious clues that it's not worth it. The art of handing out semi-subtle clues without spelling it out for players is hard to acquire, at least IME.

They don't have to be clues to a mysterious question of fact like "who done it" in a mystery. They can be clues to the next bit of action or bit of information so that the players can understand what their enemies are doing and stop them. Masks of Nyarlathotep offers numerous examples of clues the PCs can use to understand the underlying conspiracy, where things are happening, and how to stop the cultists from succeeding at their nefarious plot. A packing slip from a museum in London, a matchbox from a dive bar in Shanghai, a letter from an agent in Cairo... all could provide names, locations, dates, bits of information to piece together and build the story that drives the story the PCs are playing.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
If the player wants to have the dice play for him, set a different DC for the check. Like if someone says, "I search everything in the room," versus "I search the closet." Aside from taking significantly more time, there is a higher chance of missing something. So a DC15 Investigation could turn into a DC20 Investiagation.

Sneaky DM trick: If the player specifies where he's searching or what he's searching and successfully identifies the right hiding place for things i've placed in the room, I make it an auto-success. If he's more vague, I use the roll. For example - if the player says his PC is searching the desk, carefully looking for secret compartments in the drawers, I'm going to reveal them. If he says he's searching the room, he gets no special help from me.
 

The problem is that the game simply becomes a dice game if everything can be solved using in game skills.

This game then becomes:
I roll a 15. I make it. I know what the problem is.
I roll a 17. I make it. My character implements the solution.

How much experience do I get for completing the mission?

Imagine if other games worked like that:
"Should I buy Boardwalk? I think my shoe would know better than I would. What do I roll to see if my shoe can figure out if it's a good idea or not?"
it is a role playing game... we play a role... I don't understand why I can't play a role that I am not good at but the character is... oh wait I can as long as what I am no good at is combat...

player A is an Olympic fenser who can run a mile in just over the world record and jump like a kangaroo, but sucks at mystery and if he makes a smart but not tough character then his character sucks at both (because he himself can't use his skills)

player B can't throw a piece of garbage into a can 3 feet away, can't run a mile with out collapseing and is super smart with an edetic memory and really good at mystories... he can make a combat monster PC and be good at BOTH because his skills match what you make people metagame...

if fair is using out of game skill for B why not let A use his combat and physical real life skill???



If my players forget something, I'll give them an Int check to remember it. But I normally use this in a "I can't remember what that guy's name was again..." "Make an Int Check. You make it? His name was Bob." sort of way. If players don't ask about something, they don't get the check. Unless they are REALLY stuck and I think something is fairly obvious. Then I'll actively say "Alright, you guys seem pretty lost. Everyone make an Int check to remember something you've obviously forgotten." But I won't volunteer until the player's have been trying for a bit on their own.
me too, except I often just say "Oh it's X" no roll needed...

I suppose this is the real question. What is wrong with that? If all the decisions are made by the character then we are watching a tv show and not playing a game.
and if all decisions are made out of game instead of in game they aren't role playing at all...


Well, the person in question is a food critic who gladly tells anyone who asks that he's trying a new soup on the menu made from stuff from the forest.

It's one possible clue you can get. The entire point of the adventure is that each clue your group is clever enough to get before the lightning triggers, the easier it is for you to figure out the puzzle. It is designed to reward players with thinking. I love anything that rewards players for thinking.

There is a skill check to identify the bow. But you need to say "I look at the bow, it's oddly purple, why is that?" If you don't take interest in it, it is assumed your character has no interest in it either. You determine your characters actions which includes your character's focus.
again... bad.

player A is an investigator with maxed out skills, but can't think to ask the right quastions...

player B has no skills other then physical but figures out the trick quick...

in a ROLE playing game player A IN game should get it... he is playing Sherlock and player B is playing Conan... but again out of game skill is all that matters... until a fight.


I can definitely see both sides of this. Your character is good at something, he should be good at that. But by the same token, the game does involve players and their input should matter.

I agree 100%

It's like saying that a 18 Cha character should be able to say "I convince him that it's a good idea to side with us. How? I don't know. I say something that convinces him."
I always give in game speaches and figure things out quick... when I first ran a game with Joe, he wouldn't try to talk to anyone, infact he refused to play a character with CHa above 13... because he had a DM who made him "Plya out what he says" and he hated that I could. You know what I told him... try, just take the skills.

to this day Joe says things like "Can I pull a leverage like Bluff" or "Can I diplomancy this" and me or Kurt pick up with "Oh, you could totally do X or Y" then he picks and rolls. It lets him play a bard...


I like to think that the players come up with the STRATEGY for their character, their character just provides the actual ability to do the things the player decides. So, a player says "My character plans on using the King's indiscretions against him, he'll point out that he wouldn't want his infidelity to be known and he should help us." The character gets to provide the flowery words that makes that strategy convincing.
like Joe... who would say "Can I use cha to blackmail him but without pissing him off"


It's 50/50 for both player and character. The player in question wanted it to be 100% character and 0% player. That is what frustrated me about the situation. I'm asking the player "What do you want your character to do?" he's replying with "What does my character want to do?"
that wasn't the example though... it was "Can I roll X to figure it out?"
The adventure in question has a "release valve". If the players don't figure it out in time an NPC tells them the answer. I think that all good puzzles should have something like this. I understand that puzzles can be frustrating for some people. But I do think they are pointless if the answers are just given up by the DM.
my head would explode and I would be baned from this board if I used every word I am thinking right now.. so I will instead quote praxis
This adventure sounds horribly written. The NPC that shows up and just solves it for them is so wrong.
 

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