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D&D General Has the meaning of "roleplaying" changed since 1e?

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Lyxen

Great Old One
Imagining you are someone else and pretending to be that character? I imagine I'm Bob the Blue Wizard. I cannot cast spells, Bob can. I don't have hitpoints, Bob does. So, if I say Bob casts a spell, then I'm pretending my character, Bob, can actually cast spells. This requires nothing more than this -- I don't have to give Bob a backstory, or a motivation, or anything else, because I've met the requirements of this clause simply by agreeing that my character is a wizard.

Bob might be technically a character, but he is not "someone else" (... "imagining that you are someone else..."). Someone else is a person. Bob is not a person. And again, take normal actors, and Bob will not fit the bill by a long shot.

And yet you've focused quite a lot on that word. Your further expansions don't work very well, either.

No, you were the one who focussed on it, to the point that it seems that the only actor that matters to you is OW, the shining example of what being an actor means. sigh And that is, once more, because you are ruleslawyering a single paragraph, dissecting it to make every single word mean something very specific, like "actor = Owen Wilson".

I have. For a long time. Roleplaying according to that passage is fully satisfied by both cases of Bob the Blue Wizard I put forth above. If you don't smuggling in assumptions, that is.

Let's assume that, in good faith, the author actually meant what you claim. Then loads and loads of people played the game wrongly

No, they did not. Because, once more, you are the one putting a judgement of valor here. I'm not. Maybe some portions of the world at large was not ready for the concept. Maybe it was not a fun concept for some people at the time. Maybe the local culture and the way to play war/board games influenced people. As long as it was fun for them, it was not wrong.

But I went to a convention in France in I think 1980 or 1981, and you got points for technical objectives and for roleplaying your character, both. I still have the trophy somewhere in my basement.

And again, it's not a question of criticism of anyone, the question here is "did roleplaying change", it just goes to show that no, it did not, not significantly.

, entirely tournaments - put on by the people that made the game - were played incorrected, and the most recent edition (5e) had decided to break with this concept completely and allow for roleplaying that doesn't require what you claim.

And once more, I've shown to you that only a very narrow minded reading of one sentence out of all the 5e sections that speak about it allow this interpretation, as well as forgetting all the next sentences, which read: "In this case, it’s you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks. Roleplaying is a part of every aspect of the game, and it comes to the fore during social interactions. Your character’s quirks, mannerisms, and personality influence how interactions resolve."

Or "Characters are defined by much more than their race and class. They’re individuals with their own stories, interests, connections, and capabilities beyond those that class and race define."

Or the whole section on Personality Traits ("Give your character two personality traits...")

Etc.

This last is a point that you continue to ignore and not address -- that 5e explicitly allows for Case 1 of Bob the Blue Wizard.

If you mean by "allow", 5e allows anything. But Bob certainly does not pass all the criterions above, and in particular no stories, no interests, no connections, no personality traits, etc.

And again, it's not a judgement of valor on Bob or on its players. But factually, he does not meet the criteria for a roleplaying character.

And yes, all the above also goes to show that, from a single paragraph in BECMI, we now have multiple sections of the game which give recommendations and even propose rules about generating and playing a role, in the roleplaying sense (and not as in "I'm the wizard of the party, I'm a controller/damage dealer"). The game has indeed evolved, the terms have changed (probably to avoid people continue to nitpick on Owen Wilson), but has not changed the basic way of roleplaying.
 

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Lyxen

Great Old One
I've already proven to you that the 5e definition is literally just playing a role. That's it. So all of those DO satisfy the 5e definition of roleplay.

The only thing that you have proven is that you have not read the PH completely. See my previous post.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The only thing that you have proven is that you have not read the PH completely. See my previous post.
Keep your head buried in the sand and deny facts if you want, but the definition in 5e is clear. You can be wrong, even if you don't think so.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Keep your head buried in the sand and deny facts if you want, but the definition in 5e is clear. You can be wrong, even if you don't think so.

Oh yes, sure. Look, I have found other sections of the rulebooks for you:
  • Each race’s description in this section includes information to help you roleplay a character of that race, including personality...
  • "Encourage players to roleplay supporting characters as true to the NPCs’ personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws as possible, so that they don’t come across as automatons."
  • These elements can make the character easier and more fun to roleplay. Personality traits provide a glimpse into the character’s likes, dislikes, accomplishments, fears, attitude, or mannerisms.
  • You don’t need to be a practiced thespian or comedian to create drama or humor. The key is to pay attention to the story elements and characterizations that make your players laugh or feel emotionally engaged and to incorporate those things into your roleplaying.
  • And I skip all the "roleplaying X" section in all modules, where they explain the personality traits that need to be expressed.
It's really all over the place, if you read the books completely instead of skipping the sections that do not interest you (again, nothing wrong with that in itself, just when you try to foster the idea that Bob the Wizard is aligned with the ideas about roleplaying expressed in 5e).
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Bob might be technically a character, but he is not "someone else" (... "imagining that you are someone else..."). Someone else is a person. Bob is not a person. And again, take normal actors, and Bob will not fit the bill by a long shot.
"Normal" actors? You don't see the smuggling going on, here, do you? Bob the Blue Wizard isn't who I am, so it clearly has to be someone else. You're adding requirements to what "someone else" is that don't exist.
No, you were the one who focussed on it, to the point that it seems that the only actor that matters to you is OW, the shining example of what being an actor means. sigh And that is, once more, because you are ruleslawyering a single paragraph, dissecting it to make every single word mean something very specific, like "actor = Owen Wilson".
And now you're denying that you leaned on what "like an actor" meant very heavily earlier in the thread? That it isn't crucial to your argument?
No, they did not. Because, once more, you are the one putting a judgement of valor here. I'm not. Maybe some portions of the world at large was not ready for the concept. Maybe it was not a fun concept for some people at the time. Maybe the local culture and the way to play war/board games influenced people. As long as it was fun for them, it was not wrong.

But I went to a convention in France in I think 1980 or 1981, and you got points for technical objectives and for roleplaying your character, both. I still have the trophy somewhere in my basement.

And again, it's not a question of criticism of anyone, the question here is "did roleplaying change", it just goes to show that no, it did not, not significantly.
Again, you're engaged in special pleading. There's clear documentation of tournament play that eschews any form of characterization in favor of being successful at the adventure (which also doesn't require any characterization) that were put together by the very people that wrote the rule you're arguing means so much more.
And once more, I've shown to you that only a very narrow minded reading of one sentence out of all the 5e sections that speak about it allow this interpretation, as well as forgetting all the next sentences, which read: "In this case, it’s you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks. Roleplaying is a part of every aspect of the game, and it comes to the fore during social interactions. Your character’s quirks, mannerisms, and personality influence how interactions resolve."

Or "Characters are defined by much more than their race and class. They’re individuals with their own stories, interests, connections, and capabilities beyond those that class and race define."

Or the whole section on Personality Traits ("Give your character two personality traits...")

Etc.
Nope, not even close. I'm pointing to the descriptive approach to roleplaying. Here, I'm free to describe my character and their actions instead of act it. There is still no requirement that I provide anything different from myself. I can, just by putting my own wants in those places, do all of that -- I don't require someone different from myself. It all still works. You're still smuggling in requirements that aren't there.
If you mean by "allow", 5e allows anything. But Bob certainly does not pass all the criterions above, and in particular no stories, no interests, no connections, no personality traits, etc.
He absolutely does pass them. Name one he doesn't pass. Bob has quirks, mannerisms, and personality -- mine. Bob has a story -- what happens in play. As for personality traits, I pick two of my own. Done.
And again, it's not a judgement of valor on Bob or on its players. But factually, he does not meet the criteria for a roleplaying character.
I've just shown I've met every single criteria you've presented. Bob has quirks, mannerisms, and personality. He has traits. They are just me, but unless you're saying I don't possess these things, then I've achieved the criteria.

Here's the rub -- you're assigning some kind of quality to these things, when no quality is required. I can absolutely pick things that aren't me, but have them be very low quality and pretty much totally ignore them and I've still met the things you're saying. The minimum bits are that I have a character who isn't actually me in the game -- I've taken on the role of a wizard. Sufficient.
And yes, all the above also goes to show that, from a single paragraph in BECMI, we now have multiple sections of the game which give recommendations and even propose rules about generating and playing a role, in the roleplaying sense (and not as in "I'm the wizard of the party, I'm a controller/damage dealer"). The game has indeed evolved, the terms have changed (probably to avoid people continue to nitpick on Owen Wilson), but has not changed the basic way of roleplaying.
Except I can play Bob the Blue Wizard just fine in 5e and meet all of those criteria. The only thing that's different is that there's more support present for other approaches and that you're insisting that only one approach is "true" roleplaying.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Oh yes, sure. Look, I have found other sections of the rulebooks for you:
  • Each race’s description in this section includes information to help you roleplay a character of that race, including personality...
  • "Encourage players to roleplay supporting characters as true to the NPCs’ personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws as possible, so that they don’t come across as automatons."
  • These elements can make the character easier and more fun to roleplay. Personality traits provide a glimpse into the character’s likes, dislikes, accomplishments, fears, attitude, or mannerisms.
  • You don’t need to be a practiced thespian or comedian to create drama or humor. The key is to pay attention to the story elements and characterizations that make your players laugh or feel emotionally engaged and to incorporate those things into your roleplaying.
  • And I skip all the "roleplaying X" section in all modules, where they explain the personality traits that need to be expressed.
It's really all over the place, if you read the books completely instead of skipping the sections that do not interest you (again, nothing wrong with that in itself, just when you try to foster the idea that Bob the Wizard is aligned with the ideas about roleplaying expressed in 5e).
Bob the Blue Wizard does these things. You're assigning some level of performance necessary to satisfy your personal preferences and ignoring that, even with these encouragements, what satisfies them is extremely basic.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Oh yes, sure. Look, I have found other sections of the rulebooks for you:
  • Each race’s description in this section includes information to help you roleplay a character of that race, including personality...
Yep. Advice on one type of roleplay. It's not prescriptive.
  • "Encourage players to roleplay supporting characters as true to the NPCs’ personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws as possible, so that they don’t come across as automatons."
Encouragement to roleplay in THAT manner. Also not prescriptive. Doesn't say that automatons are not roleplayed.
  • These elements can make the character easier and more fun to roleplay. Personality traits provide a glimpse into the character’s likes, dislikes, accomplishments, fears, attitude, or mannerisms.
Yep. Can make it more fun to roleplay. Not prescriptive. Advice on a style of roleplay other than just playing Joe the fighter.
  • You don’t need to be a practiced thespian or comedian to create drama or humor. The key is to pay attention to the story elements and characterizations that make your players laugh or feel emotionally engaged and to incorporate those things into your roleplaying.
Still more advice that isn't prescriptive.
  • And I skip all the "roleplaying X" section in all modules, where they explain the personality traits that need to be expressed.
It's really all over the place, if you read the books completely instead of skipping the sections that do not interest you (again, nothing wrong with that in itself, just when you try to foster the idea that Bob the Wizard is aligned with the ideas about roleplaying expressed in 5e).
Yes. Advice on ways to roleplay is all over the place. None of that is prescriptive or contradicts the definition that I showed you. You're batting 0 with showing me the One True Way to roleplay.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Mod Note:
It seems that folks are now at an impasse. Two sides, dug in. There's not a lot of evidence that there's going to be much movement.

And you know, that's fine. It is okay for folks to have opinions that don't shift.

However, there's not a lot of good that comes out of butting heads together over immobile positions. If we don't see signs of something more constructive than that, the thread will likely close in the not-distant-future.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
On a related note to the argument, most roleplaying is backwards. There's this consistent argument that roleplaying comes from the character to the player, in that the player is trying to support the character's motivations. However, most of the time, the opposite is true -- the character takes on motivations that align to what the player wants. If I, the player, want something to happen, it's fairly trivial to adjust or invent the justification for such in my character. The most egregious cases of this are generally easy to spot, but it's a very common things that happens at the table. I don't even think this is a bad thing -- you really aren't trying to see the world from a different point of view with truly different ways of thinking and desires, but instead just imagine you with a slightly different set of priorities. This goes extra for games similar to D&D that hold that character is entirely the province of the owning player and that almost nothing can force or alter the character's thoughts or feelings (magic being the only exception to this, and excused only because it's magic, one of the more circular reifications I've seen). So, there's absolutely nothing pushing against a D&D character except the player, who can easily justify almost anything they want, up to and including a sudden major shift in concept (or the denial of such) for almost any reason.

Some other games do a slightly better job, but even there it's usually trivial to make these same changes and essentially direct the character into whatever action the player wants rather than have the character direct. (Of course, the latter is an actual impossibility, because the character is fictional and can't actually effect anything.) But, they do this by operationalizing character mechanically and also staking character, meaning that changes to character can be consequences and unavoidable. Both of these are anathema to many D&D players, who very much value their total control over character (largely because this is one of the very few portions of the game they actually do have control over rather than supplicating the GM). And, I don't blame them. The idea you can lose control over who your character is can be pretty jarring when you're used to games where that's all you have control over. Other games compensate for giving more control over a wider swath of play, something not at all present in D&D (or, at least, it's rebounded hard in 5e).

This awareness of how "roleplaying" works is one of the reasons that I vehemently disagree with @Hussar that it's "improved." It's still the same thing, we just have a larger lexicon and some better conceptions (although this one is sure to be controversial) of some approaches, and the approach @Hussar enjoys has certainly become more mainstream. However, as much as @Hussar argues for his "improvement" what he's recommending would be rather hollow to a Nordic LARPer, who's looking for bleed and that requires a much closer alignment of character and player than the forms @Hussar is suggesting are default. Mostly, the techniques for hiding the pea have become more baroque. Not sure that's an improvement. And I say this as someone that loves my funny voices and playacting.

To give an example, recently in the Blades game I play in, my character participated in a duel against two others. My character is not good at dueling -- he's a talker. But, due to consequences, I had picked up a haunting by a duelist friend that had died not directly due to my character's actions, but close enough that a trail of blame could be asserted (I thought he'd win, honest). I had a choice between challenging the killers of my ghostly ex-friend or suffering his wrath (which would be considerable). Now, in Blades, I very probably could have found a way out of this through talking, and my character would very much have preferred this approach, but I chose for my character to not think that it was possible -- that he was stuck with the deal the haunting enforced -- and proceeded to engage in the duel. This was because I thought this would be fun and a great moment, but it didn't really come out of my character, despite my roleplaying that it did. Further, during the duel, my character took actions because I though they would be cool -- I have no idea if the character I've put together would consider them, but now he does, and has embraced his dabbling in the whisper's path of interacting with ghosts (something he initially avoided, mostly because it was dangerous and he was bad at it. It's still dangerous, but he's better at it now).

This, though, was plenty enough to get XP for engaging my character in Blades, because I was establishing new goals and drives and beliefs in these moments that were not expressed before. However, the whole makes sense, in arc, but it wasn't driven by an arc, it was because I changed my thinking on what would be fun to play and guided my character there. No one could consider this not roleplaying without adopting nonsensical positions about characters actually being real and separate from the players.
 

This is why I look at things like AD&D or Basic/Expert and barely consider them to be role playing games. Sure, there is the opening description, but, beyond that, there's practically nothing in the game that promotes any sort of role play. You have your character, rolled randomly, you typically don't even bother naming it before about third level, because, well, why bother? Backstory is barely even mentioned. There's no reward and no punishment for not role playing because the game frankly couldn't care less how involved you are with your character because, back then, role playing meant what @Ovinomancer is talking about - sitting down and playing D&D is good enough.
So, this is where we have to part ways. D&D (AD&D specifically, but all D&D) certainly expects and allows RP, and that RP is almost surely bound to have a direct impact on play! Pretending to be Ghengis Khan while playing chess is meaningless, it has literally no impact on the game, aside from possibly irritating the other player. Pretending to be a ruthless conqueror and playing that part in a D&D game will have a HUGE impact! Even if that impact is limited to "what do I decide to do" and "how do other characters react to me" that is still pretty big.

Obviously we will both agree that you could do a lot more with that in Dungeon World, where it could directly effect things like how much XP you get, etc. (A DM in D&D could obviously decide to reward you as well). In a proper DW game though, you will find that the story will include stuff about how you try to conquer your 'world' and how that works out, etc. In D&D (maybe 4e aside) you'll have to hope the DM goes for it, but IME most won't rise fully to the task.
 

Dice, or even randomization, is not necessary for a roleplaying game, or even a game, in general - see Chess as an example.

One fairly simple view of this is that if your play is structured by rules, then you are playing a game.
I actually really like this as a definition, coming from the ye olde forum roleplaying, although part of why I like it is that it produces an interesting gradiation of formality, eventually blurring 'rules' into the etiquette of those same freeform forum RPs, with something like Fizzy Bubbles having more rules and structure than a freeform RP but being much more in that vein.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So another fundamental difference here might be in how developed our starting characters are. I usually start with a build* that interests me, then come up with a one or two sentence story that both makes sense with the build and sounds fun to me. Everything else about the character I "discover" in play.

*And by "build" I usually just mean a race/class combination, with an intended sub-class, and maybe some signature spells or a feat I want.
Largely the same here, and the rest emerges through play.

Thing is, most of that emergence happens very quickly during the first few sessions the character's active; and sets up the character's personality, quirks, alignment, etc.; which can from there much more slowly morph or not as the campaign goes along.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If I sat down with my Fytor character, no back story, zero personality, absolutely no engagement with the setting, and during play, I barely interact with NPC's or even the other characters, am I actually role playing? I don't think so. Back then, that was the norm of play.
The bolded is where you're getting the pushback, as while it may have been the norm in your experience it seems not to have been in that of quite a few others.

Otherwise I agree.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Keep your head buried in the sand and deny facts if you want, but the definition in 5e is clear. You can be wrong, even if you don't think so.
I find it hilarious that Lyxen, after taking the stand that natural language is crystal clear for the purpose of a rulebook, is miffed that not everyone uses the same exact definition of actor or role (or, apparently the words "someone else") than he is.
 
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I want to go back and address something @Lanefan said earlier, to the effect that using player knowledge isn't fair to people who invest in those skills.

The corollary to my willingness to let players use whatever knowledge they have...or think they have (mwuhahahahaha)...is that I treat proficiencies as having more potency than the mere numerical bonus the skills are supposed to confer. If somebody has proficiency in Arcana/Nature/Medicine/Whatever, I will tend to just default to automatic success when that skill is applicable. Which is way better than just giving them an additional 10% or 15% on a roll. And this isn't (intentionally) to balance player knowledge, but because in both cases I would just rather that players have information and make decisions based on it, rather than gate challenges behind secrets.

So not only is there still value in knowledge skills, but I would argue there's even greater value to those skills than in games where DMs won't let players use their own knowledge, but do make them roll dice every time.
 

I want to go back and address something @Lanefan said earlier, to the effect that using player knowledge isn't fair to people who invest in those skills.

The corollary to my willingness to let players use whatever knowledge they have...or think they have (mwuhahahahaha)...is that I treat proficiencies as having more potency than the mere numerical bonus the skills are supposed to confer. If somebody has proficiency in Arcana/Nature/Medicine/Whatever, I will tend to just default to automatic success when that skill is applicable. Which is way better than just giving them an additional 10% or 15% on a roll. And this isn't (intentionally) to balance player knowledge, but because in both cases I would just rather that players have information and make decisions based on it, rather than gate challenges behind secrets.

So not only is there still value in knowledge skills, but I would argue there's even greater value to those skills than in games where DMs won't let players use their own knowledge, but do make them roll dice every time.
I like 4e's +5, and you can get +8 total with a feat (Skill Focus). This is of course on top of your ability bonus, which most PCs have a good one for trained skills. Also, with the general "knowledge check" framework, you will know a lot of basic stuff without any doubt. Backgrounds are also noted to provide related knowledge.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Look guys, at this stage,
I find it hilarious that Lyxen, after taking the stand that natural language is crystal clear for the purpose of a rulebook, is miffed that not everyone uses the same exact definition of actor or role (or, apparently the words "someone else") than he is.

And I find it really sad that you have to deform my thoughts like this. I really thought that it was possible to discuss openly about these subjects without that amount of nitpicking.

FYI:
  • I never said that the natural language rules were crystal clear, I said that they are good enough for a DM to do his own rulings when necessary, therefore avoiding ruleslawyering.
  • And I don't require anyone to use the definitions, it's just that apparently some people did not even know that they existed, and again, I find the level of ruleslawyering applied to these old definitions extremely sad.
So actually, both go exactly in the same direction, and I'm really happy that 5e went in a direction that confuses ruleslawyers. May it live long and prosper.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Look guys, at this stage,


And I find it really sad that you have to deform my thoughts like this. I really thought that it was possible to discuss openly about these subjects without that amount of nitpicking.

FYI:
  • I never said that the natural language rules were crystal clear, I said that they are good enough for a DM to do his own rulings when necessary, therefore avoiding ruleslawyering.
  • And I don't require anyone to use the definitions, it's just that apparently some people did not even know that they existed, and again, I find the level of ruleslawyering applied to these old definitions extremely sad.
So actually, both go exactly in the same direction, and I'm really happy that 5e went in a direction that confuses ruleslawyers. May it live long and prosper.
Dude, you're still saying that the words for roleplaying mean only what you deem them to mean, while allowing other words to retain ambiguity. This was the point made -- you're insistent that there's no other interpretation of the one while arguing for the openness of the other.

That trying to exclude the way other people played and play from the "correct" version of the hobby is exactly what garners the statements that this is gatekeeping -- you're insisting that your interpretation is the only correct one and others aren't even doing it right.
 

Twenty pages later, and who'd have ever guessed it, the debate has devolved into an entrenched argument between the inclusive definition of roleplaying that includes even (le gasp!) video games, and the narrow definition that only admits high roleplaying (read, amateur-hour improv thespianism) as real roleplaying. Shocker.

Needless to say, arguing for the narrow definition is textbook gatekeeping, and nobody gets to dodge around that fact by claiming only narrow definitions fit some arbitrary measure of "usefulness."
 

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