D&D 5E Character play vs Player play

Mental stats do a lot in the game system.

Some DMs just don't like the metagaming "Let's go straight to the dice" solution for intellectual problems. The game is so much more rich if the players work as a team and kibitz solutions to problems and puzzles and it's not just the "I'm a wizard, can I roll an intelligence roll to solve this?".

yes, it can be fun if EVERYONE at the table wants it that way... more fun is making sure that you play to the players AND the characters...

That's the opposite of meta-gaming. Meta-gaming is expecting the player to do something instead of the character.

I suppose one solution is to require players to only play characters with similar mental stats, but that seems really lame if only the smart players get to play smart characters. Otherwise, you might as well dump your mental stats entirely, and just play a strong character with low Int and figure everything out anyway.

I had a DM pull that once and tell a player "Your too dumb to play a wizard" if it had been a man I would have slugged him for telling my brother in law that... but she was a bitch and we just left the game... and never looked back... the best part when she said "Come on Rob you know he's a tool"

When you expect the player to roleplay the character, that is not metagaming. And yes, problem/puzzle solving is roleplaying.
Yes, and part of roleplaying a high perception high intelegience character is "Hey I don't get it but my character would..."


The disconnect comes from the fact that the player's expectations of the mental capabilities of his PC are huge. Give a rubik's cube to Einstein and he probably won't figure it out quickly. It might take him days to work out an algorithm.
OK, but if a puzzle is solvable by me then Einstein should be able to too... so if the Player next to me has a 20 INt and/or Wis maybe he should get a roll... not an auto pass but a roll

"My wizard knows Arcana, so he should know every tiny little solution to problems." No, your wizard knows Arcana, so sometimes he can make an Arcana check to have knowledge about or figure out some small piece of the problem associated with Arcana or magic, not that the DM's going to hand the entire solution to the player because of one good die roll.
HOw about a roll for 1 clue "You notice X" then if no one gets anything after that they can ask for another roll "you figure Y" as it narrows in the players will get it...

High intelligence allows for a roll once in a while for a clue or a hint or some pertinent set of information. A clue or hint that OTHER players with lower intelligence might not get from the DM. Intelligence checks should rarely be used to insta-solve a problem or puzzle.
agreed on no insta solve, but If any PC asked "Hey can I make a check to figure something out" I would at least let them roll for a clue



You sound like a casino owner. Heaven forbid a person uses his brains and count cards to play the best strategy.
wait... you mean cheating?

I would never penalize a player for being smart and it is totally fine for one player to figure out a lot of stuff at the game table.
I would... infact I do so all the time.
example: I set up a trap where a succubus was "captured" in chains... I described it and 3 players said... "Nope, it's a trap, we leave her" and one said "Wait she might be in trouble..." now that 4th player should have totally trigured the trap of her kiss... but I decided to reward not meta gameing the trap.
She turned out to be the daughter of a lord of hell, and WAS a prisoner... that player who "rescused" her got a whole bunch of cool albit it demonic rewards...

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.
yea, that works well in gumshoe (PS I'm egar for my time travel stuff to start) I find that if a player is trying in D&D it is best to let the dice walk them through it
 

log in or register to remove this ad

pemerton

Legend
This sort of foreshadowing is used in TV all the time. The bad guy appears to be working for some mysterious organization but before the heroes can figure out what it is, the man is killed, leaving the trail cold...for now.
Foreshadowing in TV is for the viewers. There are no viewers to your game. Foreshadowing in game is for the PLAYERS, which means they need the hint at the knowledge to come. In TV the succubus would be lurking somewhere, and while the characters may not have seen it, the viewer most certainly did, hinting at a showdown to come later.
I agree with basically everything that [MENTION=6783796]Lerysh[/MENTION] has posted upthread, including this.

Foreshadowing, in a D&D adventure, I think works when it is for the benefit of the players as playrers, that is, it opens up avenues for them to expore in play. If it just the GM showing off his/her world-building, then I don't really see the point.

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.
I think that depends entirely on the context and the inclinations of the players.

If you are playing Tomb of Horrors as Gygax intended, and the player of the barbarian has engaged in clever deduction (using spells, free-form roleplaying, etc) to decide to walk down the RHS rather than the LHS of the corridor, then for the GM to change the location of the trap would be lame. Cheating, in fact.

But if the GM has simply described a corridor, and the barbarian player arbitrarily decides that his/her barbarian is walking down the RHS, then having the barbarian attacked by the trap seems like fun! Isn't that what barbarians, with their trap-sense and high hit points, are all about?

In a Burning Wheel session that I GMed recently, only of the players had as an instinct (a type of character trait) "If I fall, cast falconskin (and thereby turn into a bird)". Therefore, I decided that the antagonist wizard lived in a tower, with the stuff that the PCs wanted at the top of it. So that there would be a chance for the PC to fall - the player's choice of instinct is a marker of the sort of situations that he wants to have come up in play.

I use the same sort of technique in my 4e game all the time. When one of the players scrutinised a stone column to see if it was suspicous, it turned out to be a roper. When the paladin of the Raven Queen goes out looking for Orcus cultists, he finds them. Etc.

Not everyone is playing D&D in Gygaxian style.

And on that note, that not everyone plays the game the same way,

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.
This adventure sounds horribly written. The NPC that shows up and just solves it for them is so wrong.
I'm with Paraxis on this. The adventure sounds horrible to me.

Not just for this reason, but the whole premise. If I turned up to a session of D&D and the GM expected me to engage in conversations with a food critic (that well-known mediaevel occupation!) to learn about the herbal origins of his soup, I'd be going nuts. To me, that is not the stuff from which heroic fantasy adventure is made.

Even in a modern investigation game like Call of Cthuhu, I would find this particular adventure, at least as described, incredibly weak. It's not even as if there is something distinctively interesting about the woods that makes the bow, the soup etc more than meets the eye. It seems to be a McGuffin pure-and-simple.
 

Lerysh

First Post
Thanks [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] for the kind words.

Cheating is not always bad, if it makes the game more interesting for all involved. If that trap is going to kill that barbarian, or if it was noticed by the rogue, then yea, don't move it. But if it's just an opportunity to roll a dex save to show how awesome the barbarian is at blocking swords with his face then... why not? From the GM's Guide to an RPG called 7th sea, which really taught me a lot about the role of a GM and tools the GM can use during play; Rule 1: The rules are meant to be more actual guidelines. Rule 0: Cheat anyway. (If you are the DM).
 

Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
Why even have mental stats if they aren't going to do anything?

I may be able to solve any given puzzle, if I try, but sometimes that's not in-character. I like to play dumb fighter types who go up and hit things with a club, and nothing breaks immersion quite as much as the party idiot explaining to the wizard and cleric how to get past a complicated series of door locks.

Players do not exist within the game world. Characters do.
My philosophy on mental stats is that they can give you more information upon which to make your decision. But decisions always need to be made by the players.

Say there is a puzzle with symbols on buttons...they have to be pushed in the right order. If you have enough Int, you may make a roll that tells you that the button that looks like 6 dots represents Air since you've seen symbols like this before, and so on.

But you decide which order you push them in, not a die roll. Characters with low intelligence are going to have to guess based entirely on their own intelligence. I assume most players have average intelligence(despite most thinking they are way smarter than that). Without clues, any ideas that people come up with are in the range of "average" people. Even Int 8 people aren't STUPID, they are just slightly below average and likely come up with a good idea from time to time.
 

Majoru Oakheart

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.

Role-playing is doing what makes sense for the character to do, according to the interpretation of the player.
Here's the deal. As I said in a previous post, 8 Int is slightly below average. Saying "Sorry, you have 8 Int, you are too stupid to figure this out" is like telling the stupidest person in your D&D group that he can't contribute to the puzzle because the players is too stupid to help, sorry. Given random distribution of intelligence in society, it's likely that one of the players at your table has the equivalent of 8 Int.

I know most people tend to over exaggerate and say "Me Lump. Me have 8 Int. Me cannot understand language or where the bathroom is!"

I role play my Int 8 characters correctly as those characters who simply aren't as educated or thoughtful as other people. They come up with answers slower, but they still come up with the answers. Sometimes they need hints given to them by other people to solve something that smart people can do immediately. But there are always things that "stupid" people can do even though they are stupid. Sometimes better than the smart people simply because of luck or previous experience. I don't worry too much about what the 8 Int person does. If they get EXTREMELY out of hand, I might say something. I'd much prefer that player to say "Here's the deal, I don't think my character would figure this out, but here's what I think the solution to this puzzle is" and have the rest of the party say "Oh...you're right, my character, the smart one comes up with that solution." My goal is to test the players anyways, so I don't have a huge problem with them helping each other out of character in this way.
 

Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
That's the opposite of meta-gaming. Meta-gaming is expecting the player to do something instead of the character.
No it isn't. People keep abusing the word metagaming. The definition as per both the 3e and 4e DMGs is using the knowledge that you are playing a game in order to come up with information that your character would not know.

The example given in the 3e DMG was coming across a door that didn't have a way to open it but thinking "The DM wouldn't put a door here without giving us a way to open it. He wants us to get further into the dungeon. So, there must be a secret lever or switch somewhere around here to open it. I'm going to search for it."

That is metagaming. Though it's a horrible example of metagaming given that a PC could think "There has to be a way through this door, the builders of this dungeon would want to be able to get back and forth through the door and would have built a way to do that." and suddenly it is no longer metagaming.

In fact, most metagaming is fairly easily explained through non-metagaming thinking. So, it's nearly impossible to spot ACTUAL metagaming.

Other examples of metagaming are things like:

"I know the DMG specifies an XP budget and I've calculated the value of all the monsters we've fought so far. If the DM is following it, then it should be safe to open this door because it's unlikely to have any monsters behind it."
"That guy fell 50 feet. No one can survive a fall from that height, he's dead...let's go." "Actually, I'm fairly certain he did survive it, he likely had over 80 hps. A fall from 50 feet only does 5d6 points of damage, which even if you rolled max on it wouldn't kill them."
"Our DM likes to give out XP at the end of the session, so I should know fireball by the time we have to fight the boss at the end of this adventure. Don't worry guys, I'll have a fire spell before we run into him."

It has to be using knowledge of the rules/DM/the fact that you are playing a game in a way that your character would not have or knowledge of.

Acting smarter than your character is, is at worst, poor roleplaying. And given nothing in the rules specifies what a person with Int 8 can or can't be smart enough to do, at best it is a guessing game and at worst a game of mother-may-I to determine what your character is smart enough to accomplish based on the opinions of the DM in question.
 

pemerton

Legend
Other examples of metagaming are things like:

"I know the DMG specifies an XP budget and I've calculated the value of all the monsters we've fought so far. If the DM is following it, then it should be safe to open this door because it's unlikely to have any monsters behind it."
"That guy fell 50 feet. No one can survive a fall from that height, he's dead...let's go." "Actually, I'm fairly certain he did survive it, he likely had over 80 hps. A fall from 50 feet only does 5d6 points of damage, which even if you rolled max on it wouldn't kill them."
"Our DM likes to give out XP at the end of the session, so I should know fireball by the time we have to fight the boss at the end of this adventure. Don't worry guys, I'll have a fire spell before we run into him."
As something of a tangent, I would expect my players to use that sort of reasoning in playing the game. I expect them to think about how to ration their abilities to meet the challenges they expect to face.

Back in the old days, instead of the XP budget example the players might have said "We're only on the 1st dungeon level, there won't be giants down that corridor". But the idea of dungeon levels, with creatures living in a hierarchy of strength, is the merest gloss on the metagaming.
 

Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
Foreshadowing, in a D&D adventure, I think works when it is for the benefit of the players as playrers, that is, it opens up avenues for them to expore in play. If it just the GM showing off his/her world-building, then I don't really see the point.
The players are both players AND viewers. They get to be part of the story, but that doesn't mean they don't also view the story...just through the eyes of their characters. The adventure in question is the story about a bunch of Red Wizards who are trying to conquer the Sword Coast and the heroes that try to stop them. It happens in a couple of acts. The first act, the PCs get some clues as to what is going on but are unlikely to be able to piece them together, then in Act 2 they stop some goblins who took over a town, then somewhere in act 3 or 4 the Succubus along with a bunch of other people attack the PCs and try to frame them for murder. Which should give them enough information to figure out why the guard did the things he did. Especially because her human cover was seen with the guard all over the place.

It ties the beginning of the adventure together with the end of the adventure while leaving some questions hanging for a bunch of the adventure.
I'm with Paraxis on this. The adventure sounds horrible to me.

Not just for this reason, but the whole premise. If I turned up to a session of D&D and the GM expected me to engage in conversations with a food critic (that well-known mediaevel occupation!) to learn about the herbal origins of his soup, I'd be going nuts. To me, that is not the stuff from which heroic fantasy adventure is made.

Even in a modern investigation game like Call of Cthuhu, I would find this particular adventure, at least as described, incredibly weak. It's not even as if there is something distinctively interesting about the woods that makes the bow, the soup etc more than meets the eye. It seems to be a McGuffin pure-and-simple.
Reactions were mixed to the adventure. That adventure is actually 5 mini-adventures. Each an hour long. I like that one the best of the 5 because it's nice to have a change of pace. It was entirely roleplaying with no combat at all. The rest of the adventures are almost entirely dungeon crawls that consist of walking from room to room killing monsters. This one was different, used an odd mechanic and really gave the PCs a reason to sit down and roleplay their character's personality with the NPCs in the inn. It put them in interesting social situations that D&D characters rarely get into and asked them to figure out what their character would do.

As for the woods, I don't know if I fully described it above, but the idea is that the artifact in question is actually the tooth of a blue dragon who was extremely old and lived in that woods all its life. Somehow, it had been imbued with the power to electrocute people and still had a semblance of the will of the dragon. The dragon wanted to punish those it felt had defiled its forest. So, it reached out and zapped anyone carrying stuff from his forest. But it was only a sliver of the dragon's original will, barely conscious. So it just kind of lashed out blindly.

I find that fairly interesting. Especially, given that these are 1 hour intro adventures that were purposefully designed to be plot light and easy to run so that new players who came in off the street could easily participate in them. It was amusing for me, and a bunch of the players to watch the PCs frantically run around trying to figure out who would get zapped next before the lightning jumped. Each of them hoping that it wasn't one of THEM this time.

But I love watched confused players try to figure things out. It's one of the best feelings I have as a DM. No idea why, it's just the process of watching them work through clues to come up with a solution that I already have. Mainly because when I first read the answer to the problem, my thought was "Ha...it's because of the forest? That's hilariously difficult to figure out. This should be amusing to watch."
 

pemerton

Legend
somewhere in act 3 or 4 the Succubus along with a bunch of other people attack the PCs and try to frame them for murder. Which should give them enough information to figure out why the guard did the things he did.
As I understood the scenario outline from your OP, at this point in time solving the mystery of the guard's suicide doesn't actually drive the adventure forward. It is just tying up a loose plot thread.

I like that one the best of the 5 because it's nice to have a change of pace. It was entirely roleplaying with no combat at all <snippage> and really gave the PCs a reason to sit down and roleplay their character's personality with the NPCs in the inn. It put them in interesting social situations that D&D characters rarely get into and asked them to figure out what their character would do.

As for the woods, I don't know if I fully described it above, but the idea is that the artifact in question is actually the tooth of a blue dragon who was extremely old and lived in that woods all its life. Somehow, it had been imbued with the power to electrocute people and still had a semblance of the will of the dragon. The dragon wanted to punish those it felt had defiled its forest. So, it reached out and zapped anyone carrying stuff from his forest.
I've got nothing against social challenges.

But to me this seems entirely unmotivated. As I understood the setup, the PCs have no connection to any of the NPCs other than as plot devices. The PCs have no connection to the forest or the dragon. The PCs have no way even of knowing about the forest or the dragon until the end of the scenario - again, there is nothing but the tying up of loose plot threads.

My reasons for finding the scenario unappealing are expressed, I think, in this quote from Christopher Kubasik:

[M]any people mistake character for characterization.

Characterization is the look of a character, the description of his voice, the quirks of habit. Characterization creates the concrete detail of a character through the use of sensory detail and exposition. By "seeing" how a character looks, how he picks up his wine glass, by knowing he has a love of fine tobacco, the character becomes concrete to our imagination, even while remaining nothing more than black ink upon a white page.

But a person thus described is not a character. . . .

Character is action. That's a rule of thumb for plays and movies, and is valid as well for roleplaying games . . . This means that the best way to reveal your character is not through on an esoteric monologue about pipe and tobacco delivered by your character, but through your character's actions.

But what actions? Not every action is true to a character; it is not enough to haphazardly do things in the name of action. Instead, actions must grow from the roots of Goals. A characterization imbued with a Goal that leads to action is a character.​

I don't see how this scenario links at all to meaningful goals for PCs in a fantasy RPG. The social situation does not contain any elements that put pressure on the PCs' goals or personalities. They have no stakes, that I can see, other than - for basically metagame reasons, of knowing that the GM has plonked them into a mystery scenario - trying to work out what triggers the lighting attacks. They have no character-based reason to care about what is going on.

That may be true of the other adventures in the series also. Which means I probably wouldn't like them either. But at least a dungeon crawl has D&D tropes, which presumably part of what motivates a person to play D&D. Whereas talking to a pseudo-mediaeval food critic about the ingredients of a soup, not so much.
 
Last edited:

Sadras

Legend
I have found that adventures I run involving puzzles, riddles and just generally player-thinking more so than player rolling against DC's, require a greater degree of skill to have players engaged so as not to leave any of them frustrated or bored. Overall I have been fortunate, my group generally enjoys being challenged this way.
I certainly don't adhere to the 'everything can be rolled for' mentality but maintaining a careful balance between player strengths and character strengths I believe is something most should be able to get behind and of course evaluating whether this is something the group will enjoy or if it is solely for DM pleasure.

Regarding @Majoru Oakheart's modules he selected, they are, given some of the posts, not everyone's cup of tea, but I do find that I myself tend to look at old modules (even poorly written ones, by today's standards of roleplaying) and decide how I could possibly incorporate and execute them, preserving at least some of their inherent feel. For better or for worse we get through them, and I at least find it satisfying to have completed some published D&D modules.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top