Critical Role Critical Role Episode #26 - spoilers!

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
One question is, is it OK for a player to roleplay their character in such a way that it may bring negative consequences to themselves and the group. And to that I say, absolutely it's OK! In fact, when I have a player roleplay that way, I get excited, because it fits into the kinds of games I want, and that is the kind of player I want - one who is focused on "telling a good story" instead of focused on "I need to win this game." My belief is that roleplaying is primarily a group story-telling activity with game elements thrown in, rather than a game with story-telling elements thrown in. There is a balance there, though, and it's not polite to play a character with so many flaws that they are constantly a hindrance and problem to their teammates. Ashley was neither; she did fine!

I think this is somewhat close to a false dichotomy though. It's very possible to both tell a good story and focus on "winning," assuming that means you're shooting for more success than failure or even mostly success. There are so many ways to portray a character's flaws in an entertaining way that isn't also actively hurting the rest of the party.

But the other question is whether a player can determine the actual crunch and rules to apply to a given situation. And I say, no! That's the DM's job, and it begins to get a bit rude when players are deciding that they are going to make a skill roll just because they should, or deciding they are going to get advantage, because reasons, without at least asking the DM. Usually they shouldn't even ask, unless it's a situation where a roll might need to apply and it's easy for a DM to pass over it. Otherwise, they should focus on the narrative of what they are doing, and let the DM decide if any crunch rules and dice rolls and modifiers should apply. Again, Ashley asked Matt in a courteous way and was respecting his decision one way or another, so she did fine.

Right.
 

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5ekyu

Hero
I agree with the core point you are making, but I think you are confusing two different questions.

One question is, is it OK for a player to roleplay their character in such a way that it may bring negative consequences to themselves and the group. And to that I say, absolutely it's OK! In fact, when I have a player roleplay that way, I get excited, because it fits into the kinds of games I want, and that is the kind of player I want - one who is focused on "telling a good story" instead of focused on "I need to win this game." My belief is that roleplaying is primarily a group story-telling activity with game elements thrown in, rather than a game with story-telling elements thrown in. There is a balance there, though, and it's not polite to play a character with so many flaws that they are constantly a hindrance and problem to their teammates. Ashley was neither; she did fine!

But the other question is whether a player can determine the actual crunch and rules to apply to a given situation. And I say, no! That's the DM's job, and it begins to get a bit rude when players are deciding that they are going to make a skill roll just because they should, or deciding they are going to get advantage, because reasons, without at least asking the DM. Usually they shouldn't even ask, unless it's a situation where a roll might need to apply and it's easy for a DM to pass over it. Otherwise, they should focus on the narrative of what they are doing, and let the DM decide if any crunch rules and dice rolls and modifiers should apply. Again, Ashley asked Matt in a courteous way and was respecting his decision one way or another, so she did fine.
Why is there a second question here?

The player decided to play her flaws.
The gm and the table all agreed when she asked them.

The apoarent hot button issue for some of players having the utter temerity to apply limitations to their checks is a fabrication created by foljs who misconstrued the circumstance.

But let me also be clear... A GM or player who gets their dander rule-fu adherence up to the point that they see a problem with "with this flaw, i think my character is so rattled by this i will take disadvantage on mt attack check" (on the grounds of "RAW thats in the GM box" **and** a notion that they are hutting their party chances by taking a mechanical penalty) but who is fine with "with this flaw i think my character is rattled so she will move away and not attack this turn" is missing the forest for thw RAW defend the GM box trees.

If "i attack with normal chances" is within the players right to choose *and* i choose to not attack at all is within her right to choose then it seems to be putting the RAW and defend the RAW beyond "common sense" to argue that "i move in and attack with disadvantage" is now a case for the GM to step in and say "no", thats my job dont be rude."

The option she chose was halfway (so to speak) between two options she has fully in her control (full swing or no swing.) So, by all means, stand your GM ground and say "no" and "rude" but it wont make it seem any more sensible a hill to die on.

If a GM told me no in that exact same case, i would absolutely look up and say "ok, so she doesnt attack, doesnt take the attack action, cuz shes so rattled" which is even more "penalizing" the group...

Maybe one day that gm would allow me to choose penalties for my own character between "no penalty" and "no action" eventually,

more options than all or nothing often seem appropriate.
 

5ekyu

Hero
My Stupid Rule
If while describong a rule i feel stupid doing so, i dont use that rule.

"Ok so, you can choose to attack full out or you can choose to not attack at all but you cannot choose to attack half-heartily and take disadvantage... errr... Wait... let me think about that"
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
My Stupid Rule
If while describong a rule i feel stupid doing so, i dont use that rule.

"Ok so, you can choose to attack full out or you can choose to not attack at all but you cannot choose to attack half-heartily and take disadvantage... errr... Wait... let me think about that"

A bit of a strawman perhaps? :) any rule can described stupidly if you try!
 

I think this is somewhat close to a false dichotomy though. It's very possible to both tell a good story and focus on "winning," assuming that means you're shooting for more success than failure or even mostly success. There are so many ways to portray a character's flaws in an entertaining way that isn't also actively hurting the rest of the party.

This assumes that there is only one way to “win”.
Not everyone prioritized winning at combat. Or that not doing making the best tactical decision “hurts” the rest of the party.

Saying that you can only present flaws in ways that don’t negatively impact combat reeks of badwrongfun.
 

5ekyu

Hero
A bit of a strawman perhaps? :) any rule can described stupidly if you try!

How is this a strawman in this case.

I am pretty sure statements that choosing not to fight or to runaway are the players choice, choices to go in and attack are the players choice but explicitly choices to run in and make attacks at a disadvantage are not... do i need to go dig out quotes?

"But the other question is whether a player can determine the actual crunch and rules to apply to a given situation. And I say, no! "

thats just one

"That's weird. You can be frightened without being Frightened and I don't see how that's a player's role to decide. I could see the DM mandating it for reasons or offering it as an option to the player in exchange for Inspiration (not a great trade, but better than nothing). But the player deciding? Nah."

and...

"Right - all this player needed to do to show their fear was to remain out of the fight (just take non-combat actions - dash, dodge) and for a melee fighter, just stay out of melee range and take cover."

There is more...

So let me ask specifically you who seems to be at least tangentially agreeing with the "player should not give themselves mechanical disadvantages" thing

If you would be so fine as to answer me these questions three which have nothing to do with sparrows.

1 is it acceptable for the player to decide "my character will rush in and attack"?
2. is it acceptable for the player to decide "my player will stay back and stay away because she is afraid."?
3. is it acceptable for the player to decide "my character will rush in an attack at a disadvantage because she is afraid"?

You have seemed to sy the latter is if not "where i would say no" at least an area you see as questionable?

But please, if you saw that posing of the POV i said earlier as a strawman, please tell me, what are your feelings on whether or not it is acceptable in your games for a play to do 1, 2 and 3 or are all of the inacceptable, or are some not and others yes? Asking from a GM-Player perspective, not some sor tof implied bait and switch sort of thing since that wasnt what happened here and thats not the debate.

Are any of 1-2-3 "not a players role to decide" or "the player deciding that, nah"
 

5ekyu

Hero
This assumes that there is only one way to “win”.
Not everyone prioritized winning at combat. Or that not doing making the best tactical decision “hurts” the rest of the party.

Saying that you can only present flaws in ways that don’t negatively impact combat reeks of badwrongfun.

Agree and also, it points to a specific sets of values as far as what is important - basically sounding like "all that role play stuff is fine as long as it doesn't get in the way of combat" which is a more common than not perspective in some games/gamers.

As i have said, as GM i might have suggested to her to take a disad on init roll for hesitation but i would have no problem if she stuck with disad on attacks. i am not gonna plant my GM rights and "how the game is played" flag and die to defend the hill of "you cant call disadvantage, player" when i allow her to hold the hills of "not attack at all" and "attack fully".
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This assumes that there is only one way to “win”.
Not everyone prioritized winning at combat. Or that not doing making the best tactical decision “hurts” the rest of the party.

Saying that you can only present flaws in ways that don’t negatively impact combat reeks of badwrongfun.

The assumption stated was narrowly defined and not exclusive or exhaustive. You may also note that I did not refer in any way to the type of challenge at which a player might want to "win." A player may wish to achieve success in all three pillars, not just combat. I also did not assert that "you can only present flaws in ways that don't negatively impact combat." I only said that you can do it, if you choose.

If you're going to try to criticize my arguments, which is fine by me, at least please try to stick to criticizing arguments I've actually made.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
[MENTION=6919838]5ekyu[/MENTION] makes a great point here that I did not consider - if the player has full control of attacking or doing nothing or running away, attacking with disadvantage would not give them anything they did not already possess, and it also makes for a more engaging story.

I was listening to a recent episode of the Glass Cannon Podcast (those guys are the “Critical Role” of Pathfinder, I highly recommend them!) and one player gave his character the shaken condition for several rounds because of a story-related reason involving his past coming back to haunt him in the middle of a combat. It surprised me, but also was perfectly within the bounds of the story at that moment. The same case was made there.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
@5ekyu makes a great point here that I did not consider - if the player has full control of attacking or doing nothing or running away, attacking with disadvantage would not give them anything they did not already possess, and it also makes for a more engaging story.

I can't see the posts you refer to as that poster has me blocked, but I would say a couple of things about the above. What the player gains in the latter case is the ability to make DM calls, at least in this case, which isn't desirable to someone like me who prefers players and DMs stay in their prescribed roles. As well, I don't see why the mechanic necessarily makes for a more engaging story. It seems reasonable that an engaging story can be achieved without the mechanical penalty. To add to that, I would say it could make for less engaging stories over time (edit: by your standard) as players seek to avoid penalties for portraying their characters in certain ways. An incentive like Inspiration is in my experience a much more assured way to get players to act according to established characteristics - because there's a payoff for making choices that might not be the most optimal, but that are in line with said personal characteristics.
 
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Henry

Autoexreginated
I can't see the posts you refer to as that poster has me blocked, but I would say a couple of things about the above. What the player gains in the latter case is the ability to make DM calls, at least in this case, which isn't desirable to someone like me who prefers players and DMs stay in their prescribed roles. As well, I don't see why the mechanic necessarily makes for a more engaging story. It seems reasonable that an engaging story can be achieved without the mechanical penalty. To add to that, I would say it could make for less engaging stories over time as player seek to avoid penalties for portraying their characters in certain ways. An incentive like Inspiration is in my experience a much more assured way to get players to act according to established characteristics - because there's a payoff for making choices that might not be the most optimal, but that are in line with said personal characteristics.

I think it makes it pretty engaging that a character, despite the tremor in their hands and the feeling of falling in their gut, faced by their most fearsome foe, still manages to prevail — or is utterly beaten and needs to come to terms with their failure. To me that’s more engaging than just “running away” or “failing to attack due to said fear.” I’m still not seeing how voluntary disadvantage leads to “players seeking to avoid penalties for portraying their characters in certain ways.” It’s not DM usurpation, it’s DM collaboration, it’s basically an extension of the “saying yes” technique.

I won’t argue against inspiration, carrots always tend to work better than sticks - but if you have players already so engaged they’re playing their flaws consistently, the carrots aren’t as useful. Might as well just start everyone out with inspiration each session if they’re that good. Sadly, we aren’t all as skillful as the CR cast at making awesome characters. ;)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I think it makes it pretty engaging that a character, despite the tremor in their hands and the feeling of falling in their gut, faced by their most fearsome foe, still manages to prevail — or is utterly beaten and needs to come to terms with their failure.

I would find that engaging as well. That's the stuff of legends! But it doesn't require a character to be at a mechanical disadvantage to get at that story.

I’m still not seeing how voluntary disadvantage leads to “players seeking to avoid penalties for portraying their characters in certain ways.” It’s not DM usurpation, it’s DM collaboration, it’s basically an extension of the “saying yes” technique.

A character having disadvantage on attack rolls due to giving into an established flaw (say) is effectively getting a disincentive. "If you act THIS way, you get a mechanical penalty." Contrast that with "If you act THIS way, you get a useful resource you can use now or later." As is the case with Inspiration. My money's always going to be on the incentive, not the disincentive, in terms of determining whether the players will be encouraged to act according to established characteristics or not.
 

The assumption stated was narrowly defined and not exclusive or exhaustive. You may also note that I did not refer in any way to the type of challenge at which a player might want to "win." A player may wish to achieve success in all three pillars, not just combat. I also did not assert that "you can only present flaws in ways that don't negatively impact combat." I only said that you can do it, if you choose.
You said:
I would instead encourage the player to write an appropriate personal characteristic (personality traits, ideal, bond, flaw) for the character regarding his or her fears, portray it accordingly with no mechanical hindrance
But that sentence was preceded by these sentences:
A player-imposed hindrance to a character is a hindrance to the entire team to varying degrees. It messes at some level with the difficulty of the challenge.
The two statements are tied together in a singe paragraph. So, yes, you did say that you would encourage players to only give their characters flaws that do not impact combat. Because it hinders “the entire team”.

Meanwhile, you keep insisting that your very narrow definition of the player’s and DM’s roles are according to the rules. Which means that the alternative would be against the rules. You have been very clear about that.
You very much are casting your option as RAW/ RAI, using that to give your opinion authority. And thus presenting the alternative view as “wrong”.
You are very much presenting the alternative a “playing the game wrong”.

I stand by my statement.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
You said:

But that sentence was preceded by these sentences:

The two statements are tied together in a singe paragraph. So, yes, you did say that you would encourage players to only give their characters flaws that do not impact combat. Because it hinders “the entire team”.

That I would encourage players to do create personal characteristics from which they can earn a bonus resource without necessarily hindering the entire team is not the same as saying "you can only present flaws in ways that don't negatively impact combat."

I'm not going to defend a position I don't hold, sorry.

Meanwhile, you keep insisting that your very narrow definition of the player’s and DM’s roles are according to the rules. Which means that the alternative would be against the rules. You have been very clear about that.
You very much are casting your option as RAW/ RAI, using that to give your opinion authority. And thus presenting the alternative view as “wrong”.
You are very much presenting the alternative a “playing the game wrong”.

I stand by my statement.

The "very narrow definition" referenced is about the "win" condition perceived by the players and DMs of that group and is a response to @machineelf's post that I view as approaching a false dichotomy.

As well, my pointing out that I'm following the prescribed DM and player roles as I understand them is not a judgment on how you or anyone else plays. At best it's a statement of how I prefer to play and nothing more.

I repeat my request: Please feel free to criticize my positions. If you're not clear on my positions, please ask instead of attacking positions that I don't hold.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
I think it makes it pretty engaging that a character, despite the tremor in their hands and the feeling of falling in their gut, faced by their most fearsome foe, still manages to prevail — or is utterly beaten and needs to come to terms with their failure. To me that’s more engaging than just “running away” or “failing to attack due to said fear.” I’m still not seeing how voluntary disadvantage leads to “players seeking to avoid penalties for portraying their characters in certain ways.” It’s not DM usurpation, it’s DM collaboration, it’s basically an extension of the “saying yes” technique.

I won’t argue against inspiration, carrots always tend to work better than sticks - but if you have players already so engaged they’re playing their flaws consistently, the carrots aren’t as useful. Might as well just start everyone out with inspiration each session if they’re that good. Sadly, we aren’t all as skillful as the CR cast at making awesome characters. ;)

Seems like a character asked a DM to apply a rule and they did. So, fine whatever.

I’d have said no, myself, if I were DM. As far as 5E goes (and if I’m your DM, pretty much any game), I choose if, when, and how to apply rules.

Chiefly because the players role is the game is to decide how the character behaves, acts, and thinks. None of that includes applying rules or adjudicating actions. That’s the DM’s role. I find the game is best when those roles don’t overlap. I find it’s generally very messy and often unplayable when the roles overlap. Even when I’m a player, and a DM makes a call that I wouldn’t, that’s the call.

That’s a side issue. Would the challenge have turned out differently if there was no disadvantage on this one check? Hard to say “yes.” It seems like there was some drain-circling that became apparent afterward.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
[MENTION=6919838]5ekyu[/MENTION] makes a great point here that I did not consider - if the player has full control of attacking or doing nothing or running away, attacking with disadvantage would not give them anything they did not already possess, and it also makes for a more engaging story.

I was listening to a recent episode of the Glass Cannon Podcast (those guys are the “Critical Role” of Pathfinder, I highly recommend them!) and one player gave his character the shaken condition for several rounds because of a story-related reason involving his past coming back to haunt him in the middle of a combat. It surprised me, but also was perfectly within the bounds of the story at that moment. The same case was made there.

Hmm, but what about the other foot? What would you say if a player said “because of XYZ i’m going to have advantage on attacks and skill checks for the duration?”

If it’s OK in the one case is it OK in the other?
 

5ekyu

Hero
I think it makes it pretty engaging that a character, despite the tremor in their hands and the feeling of falling in their gut, faced by their most fearsome foe, still manages to prevail — or is utterly beaten and needs to come to terms with their failure. To me that’s more engaging than just “running away” or “failing to attack due to said fear.” I’m still not seeing how voluntary disadvantage leads to “players seeking to avoid penalties for portraying their characters in certain ways.” It’s not DM usurpation, it’s DM collaboration, it’s basically an extension of the “saying yes” technique.

I won’t argue against inspiration, carrots always tend to work better than sticks - but if you have players already so engaged they’re playing their flaws consistently, the carrots aren’t as useful. Might as well just start everyone out with inspiration each session if they’re that good. Sadly, we aren’t all as skillful as the CR cast at making awesome characters. ;)
A couple observations.

First, yes, absolutely, the notion that a player voluntarily choosing to take a penalty would lead to players) not voluntarily taking penalties is baffling.

Also, yes, agree as well, inspiration rewards for GMs who do those are perfectly fine for these cases. No barter needed, as barter for inspiration iirc is not core rules anyway. It seems like possible the inspiration barter is being portrayed as an alternative or counter proposal when in fact rewarding inspiration "when you... give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw" is right there in the book and no special mention is made about that being "non mechanically" or somehow offered as a trade.

Simply put, the inspiration core in the book would seem to apply to a player who "gave in" with a mechanical penalty or not, as long as the GM say it as fitting his requirements.

Some GMs tho seem happy with letting their players choose between no penalty and full action or no penalty but non-action but somegow not wanting to allow them to choose some penalty with action.

One of my rules is "Ssy yes unless there is a compelling reason to say no" and to me "defending mu GM turf" is just not compelling enough to say no.

Then again, i also let my players of nearly 4 decades of time playing with me state that they are "doing abcdefg" and then make their checks on their own for skills and checks we all have seen countless times without making them wait for me to give them permission and inform them what the check and ability/skill will be, sven tho that to some is also violating the "gm turf" as defined by the sacrosanct "introduction".

Folks get hung up,on wierd stuff. I am no exception.

But i dont need to defend my turf in that particular way. Got no problem sharing a bit of that effort. Got no,problem letting a player choose courses between "full and fine" and "dont attack" even if that means they pick a mechanical detriment themselves when they voluntarily want to show their flaws.
 

5ekyu

Hero
Hmm, but what about the other foot? What would you say if a player said “because of XYZ i’m going to have advantage on attacks and skill checks for the duration?”

If it’s OK in the one case is it OK in the other?
No obviously. Just like in many places in the rules.

Consider...

A character has speed 30.

He can choose without gm permission, blessing or without beseeching that divine permission to move 30', dadh to 60', not move at all or to move any distance in between.

***He can volunarily choose to do less than his most.***

He cannot "choose" to move more than his normal limit.

So see, already in the rules choosing to do less than max is treated differently than more than max.

In this case, the player could choose to not attack at all or to attack normally. She wanted to reflect gining in to a personality trait or circumstance by choosing an option between those two - attack but with penalty.

The false linkage of her just wanting advantage - thats in the camp of choosing to do more and is outside the range of her character's capabilities without some other buy-in.

Its like buying lunch.

If momma just gave you 10 bucks, you can choose to go hungry, to spend 5 bucks on the happy meal, spend 10 bucks on the bbq platter but not to spend 20 bucks on the steak and shrimp. If you want the steak and shrimp you gotta get more money somehow.
 

5ekyu

Hero
Seems like a character asked a DM to apply a rule and they did. So, fine whatever.

I’d have said no, myself, if I were DM. As far as 5E goes (and if I’m your DM, pretty much any game), I choose if, when, and how to apply rules.

Chiefly because the players role is the game is to decide how the character behaves, acts, and thinks. None of that includes applying rules or adjudicating actions. That’s the DM’s role. I find the game is best when those roles don’t overlap. I find it’s generally very messy and often unplayable when the roles overlap. Even when I’m a player, and a DM makes a call that I wouldn’t, that’s the call.

That’s a side issue. Would the challenge have turned out differently if there was no disadvantage on this one check? Hard to say “yes.” It seems like there was some drain-circling that became apparent afterward.

Asking for clarification...

You would have said no to the player asking to apply disadvantage to reflect her fear even though she could have chosen to not attack at all "to reflect her fear" or chosen to just ignore her fear and attack fully? Both extremes would be allowed but not the middle ground?

main reason i ask is not to criticze your table rules but because others seem to have considered a Gm choosing thusly to have been a strawman case, not one represented here in spite of comments leaning that way.

Thanks.

Hmmm... edit for additional query as well... if the player wanted to reflect the fear by choosing "i will only take one attack of my multi-attack" (assuming appropriate ability) would you permit that but deny the "take both at disadvantage" request?
 
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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
No obviously. Just like in many places in the rules.

Consider...

A character has speed 30.

He can choose without gm permission, blessing or without beseeching that divine permission to move 30', dadh to 60', not move at all or to move any distance in between.

***He can volunarily choose to do less than his most.***

He cannot "choose" to move more than his normal limit.

Not sure what exceeding limits has to do with advantage or disadvantage. This is about whether the odds are with you or against you. If players sometimes can consider the odds stacked against them it seems reasonable that at other times they can consider the odds in their favor, and thus roll with advantage over and over?
 

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