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

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Lyxen

Great Old One
Well, if by playing a role one means having a particular suite of capabilities to bring to bear on the ingame situation, then classic D&D promotes playing a role through its relatively tight class system. This is what Gygax points to on p 18 of his PHB.

This conception of playing a role is reinforced by other passages in the PHB and DMG, though these are a bit half-baked. The PHB entry on Experience (p 106) identifies "aims" for each class, and says, "If characters gain treasure by pursuit of their major aims, then they are generally entitled to a full share of earned experience points awarded by the DM." The DMG does not develop this notion, but instead (p 86) has a rule for training time (and hence amount of expenditure required) to gain a level: that time is based on a the DM's rating of the player's play, having regard (to among other matters) whether the player "perform[ed] basically in the character of his or her class".

This is very different from characterising a PC. Page 86 of Gygax's DMG does mention another factor - "Were his or her actions in keeping with his or her professed alignment?" - but I think that is much more about limits on behaviour that flow from being lawful and/or good rather than presenting a fully-realised character.

But while different from characterising a PC, it is the playing of a role.

You are forgetting the section on page 7 of the PH, or is it something that you call "half-baked" ?

As a role player, you become Falstaff the fighter. You know how strong, intelligent, wise, healthy, dexterous and, relatively speaking, how commanding a personality you have. Details as to your appearance, your body proportions, and your history can be produced by you or the Dungeon Master. You act out the game as this character, staying within your “god-given abilities”, and as molded by your philosophical and moral ethics (called alignment). You interact with your fellow role players, not as Jim and Bob and Mary who work at the office together, but as Falstaff the fighter, Angore the cleric, and Filmar, the mistress of magic! The Dungeon Master will act the parts of “everyone else”, and will present to you a variety of new characters to talk with, drink with, gamble with, adventure with, and often fight with! Each of you will become an artful thespian as time goes by — and you will acquire gold, magic items, and great renown as you become Falstaff the Invincible!

So why I agree that there is that aspect of "playing a role in the party" according to class, there is also the part about acting in character, and this is reinforced by the descriptions from the modules that I have also provided.

The loosening of class boundaries in 3E and 5e D&D reduces the scope to play a role in this sense, I think.

The notion of party role was heavily reinforced in 4e, though, so it's not a general trend, more like specificities of editions, the way I see it.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
The counter-example to this is the example of play in Gygax's DMG, which has no characterisation of note, and is entirely functional in its approach. (There is a marked contrast here with Moldvay's example in his Basic rulebook.)

By the time Gygax wrote the PHB it seems he was aware of departures from strict wargaming play, and was addressing them to some extent with the reference to "becoming" Falstaff the fighter etc. But that introductory remark doesn't change the overall tenor of the game in the way that, say, the AD&D 2nd ed discussion of building and playing a PC does.
There's hardly anything, if at all, about the sort of play-acting that people regard as "proper roleplaying" in the Moldvay B/X box set, which was a major introduction and primer to roleplaying games for many (older) people in our hobby.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
If "like an actor" means that you are meant to be an actor as part of roleplaying, how does this change our understanding of 'like'?

When Madonna sings "Like a Virgin," does this mean that she is a virgin?

When Jason Biggs's character in American Pie asks, "Guys uh, what does third base feel like?" and they respond with "Like warm apple pie," does this mean that we need to rethink female anatomy?
 

pemerton

Legend
You are forgetting the section on page 7 of the PH
No I'm not. I mentioned it in a reply to you not very far upthread:
The counter-example to this is the example of play in Gygax's DMG, which has no characterisation of note, and is entirely functional in its approach. (There is a marked contrast here with Moldvay's example in his Basic rulebook.)

By the time Gygax wrote the PHB it seems he was aware of departures from strict wargaming play, and was addressing them to some extent with the reference to "becoming" Falstaff the fighter etc. But that introductory remark doesn't change the overall tenor of the game in the way that, say, the AD&D 2nd ed discussion of building and playing a PC does.
 


pemerton

Legend
Think about it, alignment is one of the few really distinct elements of a role playing game. I am not stating that RPG's must have alignment, please don't go there But, it's something that RPG's do have that you almost never see in any other type of game. And even RPG's that don't have alignment often give the players tools to create consistent characters that mirror what alignment attempts to do. If my Fate character has the characteristic of Valorous (I'm making this up), then it's not terribly different than writing Lawful Good on a D&D character sheet. Aspects aren't alignment, true, but, they do serve a similar function in pushing the players into creating consistent characters that are the lens through which we play. IOW, role play.
Role playing does not mean, or does not mean only, playing a consistent character. As I've already posted, nothing in the play of AD&D requires me to play a consistent character beyond adhering to the "do nots" of my alignment.

Does my PC have friends? Family? Culture? The game is all silent on that.

The first version of D&D I can think of that actually answers some of these questions, and hence tends to give rise to genuine characters, is the original OA.

Of the RPGs that I know and play, the one that generates the most vivid PCs with deep familial and other relational connections to the world they inhabit, and with deep passions and emotional vulnerabilities, is Burning Wheel. And if you right Valorous down as a trait of your PC in BW, that does not have to mean pushing the player into creating a consistent character. Artha (roughly, fate points) is earned in BW not just for leaning into a trait in play, but for pushing against it when it comes into conflict with other traits and/or Beliefs and/or Instincts. In other words, BW characters are often inconsistent, conflicted and as a result undergo transformations. And the design and play of the game virtually guarantee that such events will take place.

It's roleplaying at its most intense, and has very little to do with characterisation.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
True. But in Moldvay's play example, a slightly greater sense of personality emerges than in Gygax's.

I agree, I had to read it again as the example of play in Moldway is far down the book, but it's true that there is some personality there. That being said (and hoping that we are speaking about the same thing), it says "example of combat" but goes beyond that, where as Gygax is really "example of melee" and at least conforms to its statement of intent. ;)

Hoping that i's the same thing that we are speaking of and trying to dispel the doubt, here is the section: " Before the party leaves they gag the hobgoblins, to make sure that no alarm will be raised. Morgan is Neutral in alignment, and argues that it is not safe to leave a sure enemy behind them, even if that enemy is temporarily helpless. Silverleaf is also Neutral, but he believes that the hobgoblins are too terrified to be of any further threat. If Morgan wants to kill the prisoners he won't help her, but he won't stop her, either. Sister Rebecca, a Lawful cleric, is shocked by Morgan's suggestion. She tells Morgan that a Lawful person keeps her word, and that she promised the hobgoblins that they would be spared. Her god would never allow her to heal someone who killed helpless prisoners. Morgan agrees that killing captives is wrong, and that it was only the great pain from her wound which caused her to say such things. Sister Rebecca casts her cure light wounds spell on Morgan. It does 5 points of healing, bringing Morgan back to her normal 6 hit points."

It's heavily alignment based, but it's honestly quite interesting too.
 

pemerton

Legend
I agree, I had to read it again as the example of play in Moldway is far down the book, but it's true that there is some personality there. That being said (and hoping that we are speaking about the same thing), it says "example of combat" but goes beyond that, where as Gygax is really "example of melee" and at least conforms to its statement of intent. ;)

Hoping that i's the same thing that we are speaking of and trying to dispel the doubt, here is the section: " Before the party leaves they gag the hobgoblins, to make sure that no alarm will be raised. Morgan is Neutral in alignment, and argues that it is not safe to leave a sure enemy behind them, even if that enemy is temporarily helpless. Silverleaf is also Neutral, but he believes that the hobgoblins are too terrified to be of any further threat. If Morgan wants to kill the prisoners he won't help her, but he won't stop her, either. Sister Rebecca, a Lawful cleric, is shocked by Morgan's suggestion. She tells Morgan that a Lawful person keeps her word, and that she promised the hobgoblins that they would be spared. Her god would never allow her to heal someone who killed helpless prisoners. Morgan agrees that killing captives is wrong, and that it was only the great pain from her wound which caused her to say such things. Sister Rebecca casts her cure light wounds spell on Morgan. It does 5 points of healing, bringing Morgan back to her normal 6 hit points."

It's heavily alignment based, but it's honestly quite interesting too.
I had in mind not the examples of combat, but the example of exploration in Moldvay, on pp B57f, and Gygax's example of exploration in his DMG, on pp 97ff.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I had in mind not the examples of combat, but the example of exploration in Moldvay, on pp B57f, and Gygax's example of exploration in his DMG, on pp 97ff.

True, the difference is even greater, not only do the Moldway characters have names, but the behaviour and the speech is fairly well in character. I did not remember the DMG example to be so bland in comparison.

The thing I did remember was the quick and gruesome deaths, though, it was a brutal era...
 

Hussar

Legend
As I've already posted, nothing in the play of AD&D requires me to play a consistent character beyond adhering to the "do nots" of my alignment.
That is not terribly surprising. AD&D is barely a role playing game. The basic ideas are there, but, like I said, it's very basic and barely even acknowledged. Telling me that nothing in AD&D requires characterizing a character does not surprise me at all.

Then again, I think you're essentially agreeing with me anyway by saying that AD&D defines role playing differently than we generally see role playing defined today.

Which makes sense considering the topic of the thread.
 

But, your play isn't meant to be defined in any way by playing a "good guy" or "bad guy" driver in Mario Kart. You don't play Mario driving any differently than Wario. And the game certainly doesn't expect you to.
This isn't quite true. One of the Mario Kart stats is weight - and the heavier karts win collisions. Wario has a weight of 9 (and Bowser a 10) meaning he wins collisions most of the time, so you're encouraged to have a dirtier, more bullying playstyle, You also have a higher acceleration with lighter karts and a higher top speed with heavier ones, meaning that Wario and Bowser are better able to get to the front and pull away (until the blue shell) looking imposing, but get caught faster when taken down. It's subtle but it's there.

The next question is whether Smash is roleplaying...
I know I'm getting criticised for making broad brush statements here, but, come on, I can make a 1e character with zero background. Heck, Secondary Skills is an optional rule buried in the DMG. As a player, I don't even have access to that unless the DM allows it. Can someone show me how 1e or Basic D&D actually promotes playing a role?
XP for GP rule shows how you should behave.

Also your class and your class abilities pretty much lock you in to a function if you want to be effective.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
That is not terribly surprising. AD&D is barely a role playing game. The basic ideas are there, but, like I said, it's very basic and barely even acknowledged. Telling me that nothing in AD&D requires characterizing a character does not surprise me at all.

Nothing required it in any edition of D&D, even 5e actually. And it's one of the arguments of some people that, considering the mass of technical combat rules in the books, the part given to roleplaying is extremely small any way, and there are not even rules about it.

Then again, I think you're essentially agreeing with me anyway by saying that AD&D defines role playing differently than we generally see role playing defined today.

If you look at the definition, I don't think that they are that far apart, honestly. In both cases, it's a few paragraphs with the basic principles of playing in character being there. And I think that Gygax was really a complex guy, with a large history of wargaming, and it can be felt in AD&D probably more than anywhere else, when you see the DMG in particular.

And at the same time, there was a lot about roleplaying NPCs, personality traits for them (DMG page 100-101), and advice about incarnating them in modules like T1. So many things in that DMG, so many inconsistencies, it's really a mish-mash...
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
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.

OK. So, since by your estimation the level of ruleslaywering in this thread is high regarding the writing, and you say a good enough writing avoids ruleslawyering, therefore logically the writing was not good enough on this point?

  • 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.

I think that, using the broad definition of role, personnality and actor (etc.), some posters determined that the original intent was to include roleplaying a sociopathic rock, or Bob the Wizard, and it seems that your views that the word implied a different personnality or significant acting, are perceived as ruleslawyering on your part, arguing about definition. Which isn't a fault on anyone's part.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
OK. So, since by your estimation the level of ruleslaywering in this thread is high regarding the writing, and you say a good enough writing avoids ruleslawyering, therefore logically the writing was not good enough on this point?

Whoever pretended that the level of writing was stellar in these early editions, I really wonder. Still, it's what we had, and it not only did not prevent us from reading the book, but it started a passion for the hobby that has lasted since then, more than 40 years ago.

I think that, using the broad definition of role, personnality and actor (etc.), some posters determined that the original intent was to include roleplaying a sociopathic rock, or Bob the Wizard, and it seems that your views that the word implied a different personnality or significant acting, are perceived as ruleslawyering on your part, arguing about definition. Which isn't a fault on anyone's part.

A player at my table who argues about the word "actor" meaning "Owen Wilson" is probably the same one that is going to argue that he can use Suggestion as a Dominate person, and for exactly the same reason: Reading single words instead of the whole text, not caring about half what is written because it does not support his view, and taking the very extreme for those words, even if it obviously means a complete reverse intention of the way the word is used.

For myself, without requiring anything of anyone, I content myself by saying that since, at the time, and despite the fact that it's a really short paragraph, and not that well written, it still hints strongly as creating the personality of someone else and acting like that personality. To what extent, I don't care, and I don't care if you did it or not, and I'm not judging you for it.

And because it hinted at that, that's what we did, and we found it great, and had fun doing it. I'm not judging anyone else's fun.

And because it was fun, we have been doing it ever since, with variations, and in each edition we have found paragraphs, more or less well written, that hinted at the same thing, so we thought that it was great that the game was supporting it, amongst many other styles of play.

How this can offend you, I'm still wondering, just pointing out that Gygax, who probably fancied himself a writer compared to Moldway, used the word Thespian, and this one, for some reason, does not seem to evoke Owen Wilson... :p
 

pemerton

Legend
AD&D is barely a role playing game. The basic ideas are there, but, like I said, it's very basic and barely even acknowledged. Telling me that nothing in AD&D requires characterizing a character does not surprise me at all.

Then again, I think you're essentially agreeing with me anyway by saying that AD&D defines role playing differently than we generally see role playing defined today.
I think that AD&D absolutely is a role-playing game. Just because it doesn't emphasise characterisation doesn't make it some other sort of game.

I love RPGing; but I generally find 2nd ed AD&D-style characterisation an uninspiring, even insipid, approach to the genre.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Whoever pretended that the level of writing was stellar in these early editions, I really wonder. Still, it's what we had, and it not only did not prevent us from reading the book, but it started a passion for the hobby that has lasted since then, more than 40 years ago.



A player at my table who argues about the word "actor" meaning "Owen Wilson" is probably the same one that is going to argue that he can use Suggestion as a Dominate person, and for exactly the same reason: Reading single words instead of the whole text, not caring about half what is written because it does not support his view, and taking the very extreme for those words, even if it obviously means a complete reverse intention of the way the word is used.
I think we found the judgement.
For myself, without requiring anything of anyone, I content myself by saying that since, at the time, and despite the fact that it's a really short paragraph, and not that well written, it still hints strongly as creating the personality of someone else and acting like that personality. To what extent, I don't care, and I don't care if you did it or not, and I'm not judging you for it.

And because it hinted at that, that's what we did, and we found it great, and had fun doing it. I'm not judging anyone else's fun.

And because it was fun, we have been doing it ever since, with variations, and in each edition we have found paragraphs, more or less well written, that hinted at the same thing, so we thought that it was great that the game was supporting it, amongst many other styles of play.

How this can offend you, I'm still wondering, just pointing out that Gygax, who probably fancied himself a writer compared to Moldway, used the word Thespian, and this one, for some reason, does not seem to evoke Owen Wilson... :p
Cool, you no longer assert that the rule specifically advanced how you were to roleplay, but instead that how you like to roleplay was just one interpretation of that rule and mine was another, equally valid one. Glad we agree.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I think we found the judgement.

Indeed, but about the way you conduct discussions, not about the game itself, or the way to play the game.

Cool, you no longer assert that the rule specifically advanced how you were to roleplay, but instead that how you like to roleplay was just one interpretation of that rule and mine was another, equally valid one. Glad we agree.

No, we still don't, sorry, when you need to be that far-fetched about your interpretation as to how to play the game (Example of actor = Owen Wilson). No one is accusing you of anything, but if you ask me whether, in my interpretation of BECMI, playing Bob the Wizard the way you want to play it, is roleplaying, the answer is still negative. It does not make my interpretation more valid than anyone, it doesn't mean I'm judging you, anyone else, or the way to play the game, it's purely mine, but I hope that I'm still allowed to have personal preferences and interpretations.

Exactly as if you're asking whether, in my interpretation of the Suggestion spell, one is allowed to dominate the target for 8 hours, I would tell you that, in my interpretation, is no, because - again in my interpretation - it's far fetched to call being enslaved "reasonable", just as it is far-fetched to call Owen Wilson an actor.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I think that AD&D absolutely is a role-playing game. Just because it doesn't emphasise characterisation doesn't make it some other sort of game.

My point of view exactly.

I love RPGing; but I generally find 2nd ed AD&D-style characterisation an uninspiring, even insipid, approach to the genre.

Hmm, for me it's also about the type of characters that you are playing. D&D is really designed to simulate high fantasy, with bigger than life heroes, epic challenges and over-the-top villains and situations. This in turn leads to that sort of characterisation.

Actually, we had a long argument within the French LARP society, between those of us who liked to create that kind of High Fantasy LARPs, and those who liked more subtle LARPs, usually historical, in which the motivations and characters were totally admittedly more subtle.

It's not that they were telling us that our roleplay was bad, it was that what the characters we where roleplaying were not subtle enough to their tastes, they wanted more nuanced motivations. A bit like, in Fantasy, you have books like The Wheel of Time and books like Tigana.

It's a question of style, of personal preferences, and as such require no justification, not one is superior to the other, we just have different tastes.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Indeed, but about the way you conduct discussions, not about the game itself, or the way to play the game.



No, we still don't, sorry, when you need to be that far-fetched about your interpretation as to how to play the game (Example of actor = Owen Wilson). No one is accusing you of anything, but if you ask me whether, in my interpretation of BECMI, playing Bob the Wizard the way you want to play it, is roleplaying, the answer is still negative. It does not make my interpretation more valid than anyone, it doesn't mean I'm judging you, anyone else, or the way to play the game, it's purely mine, but I hope that I'm still allowed to have personal preferences and interpretations.

Exactly as if you're asking whether, in my interpretation of the Suggestion spell, one is allowed to dominate the target for 8 hours, I would tell you that, in my interpretation, is no, because - again in my interpretation - it's far fetched to call being enslaved "reasonable", just as it is far-fetched to call Owen Wilson an actor.
Wait. Putting everything else on hold, are you actually claiming the Owen Wilson is not an actor? That's pretty big, and it's awful late to just now be bringing that up, but man, does it explain quite a bit, here. Are you sure you know which Owen Wilson I'm referring to? Here's a link to his career, but you may remember him from Armageddon, Wedding Crashers, Loki, Cars, and a few other things. I mean, I fully expected someone to chastise me for being unfair to Owen, and pointing out that he's largely typecast and actually has some pretty good range (there are some smaller films he's really done a great job in), but not an actor?!

Whoa.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Wait. Putting everything else on hold, are you actually claiming the Owen Wilson is not an actor? That's pretty big, and it's awful late to just now be bringing that up, but man, does it explain quite a bit, here. Are you sure you know which Owen Wilson I'm referring to? Here's a link to his career, but you may remember him from Armageddon, Wedding Crashers, Loki, Cars, and a few other things. I mean, I fully expected someone to chastise me for being unfair to Owen, and pointing out that he's largely typecast and actually has some pretty good range (there are some smaller films he's really done a great job in), but not an actor?!

Whoa.
Maybe Owen Wilson is "like an actor"?
 

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