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Players choose what their PCs do . . .

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
After all, If the player chooses to role=play in perfect character, this would not be an issue. But, if the player disregards the character in order to take a magic sword (Excalibur), the most we, as DMs, can do, under the RAW, is exhibit the consequences to the character from the perspective of outsiders.
Define, "role-play in perfect character".

I will assume a few things that I figure are solidly in-genre here for the point. The noble knight wants to be chaste. He also wants to protect the kingdom from whatever threatens it this week. So, the knight has a conflict of priorities - both of which are part of his character. The point here is to ask which is dominant, and have that be an interesting choice for the player.

If we already know what is the perfect choice for this character, then there's no point in asking the question.

Mind you, this still isn't a "challenge". We are not testing whether his chastity is "strong enough". We are simply asking the player to make a decision.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
"interesting" is subjective, so no, this is not generally true. Especially when you call out that combat is "fun" - fun things aren't interesting? I know players who find tactical combat or cinematic combat scenes very interesting. Don't you?

I think most of us use dice-rolling combat not as a "standard" for measure, but as an example/analogy that is ready to hand. If this analogy does not fit, that strongly suggests that "challenge" has multiple meanings in this discussion.
"Interesting" is a pretty vague adjective. Mea culpa.

I agree that some/many players find tactical combat interesting. Far more interesting than non-tactical combat, right? In other words, it's not the uncertainty of the dice rolls they like, it's the complexity of options, and the uncertainty of what the opponent will do. The dice are only needed because a non-random system that encompassed all the possibilities in RPG combat would be...unwieldy. (Think about Ace of Aces...that would make an awesome fantasy combat simulator, if it didn't run to tens of thousands of pages.)

If you stripped out all options, and just allowed each combatant to roll their basic attack every round, combat would be considerably less fun.

Likewise, where there is uncertainty in the resolution of non-combat challenges...e.g. the knight/maiden/heart scenario...I'd rather solve it without RNG. This is why I referenced the discussions about challenging the player vs. challenging the character. Apparently some people think that making the player roll to determine whether or not his heart is melted is "challenging the character", but I see it as just rolling dice. Where the character would be feeling conflicted emotion, the player only feels anxiety about how the dice will fall.

On the other hand, tempting the player with something desirable, even in a pure metagame sense, puts the player in an emotional state at least somewhat similar to the character's: "OMG what should I do?" If a GM rolled dice, or even just simply dictated, my reaction, that just wouldn't be engaging to me. It would make my character feel less like a character and more like a board game token.

Note that I'm NOT saying that it wouldn't still be "roleplaying". Just not the kind of roleplaying I have, so far, enjoyed the most.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That is to say, they are a component of a resolution system. And this is all subsequent to the fiction of how tough the creature/NPC is, not an input into it.
For D&D (any edition), I don't think you can make that general statement. In some games, the GM says, "this is a tough encounter," and the mechanics *will* be tough - the narration literally determines the mechanics.

D&D, though, has a significant past tradition of tournament play, and a current tradition of purchasing adventures created by others, and presenting them with minimal editing. So, for any given encounter or challenge, the mechanics are effectively set before the local GM makes any narration, and the fiction results from the mechanical resolution, not the other way around.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
You were, but it's okay, I see how my verbiage became a little confusing. All I meant by "perfect" and "standard of accuracy" was just that I expect a Lawful Good knight to have to explain himself if he slaughters innocents, causes chaos, and generally makes a mess of things.

I will still let the player do these things, as I can't "police" what they do or what their characters think, but I do ask them what their motivations are.
Ok, fair enough.

But even if you don't force players to roleplay a certain way, your language suggests you still make value judgments about the choices they do make. I would propose thinking deeply about what purpose that serves.

It's kind of like the metagaming discussion, where some people think it's "wrong" or "cheating" to metagame. Others (myself included) say that for GMs who care about it, it's their own fault for putting the players into that situation. (E.g., don't use official monsters if you don't want them to know the monster's special abilities.)

If you don't approve of a noble knight torturing captives, have consequences. The player just proved they find it hard to resist certain benefits (such as acquiring information). Great! That's a totally valid flaw for a knight, and (I think) more narratively interesting than the incorruptible goody two-shoes. Keep tempting them with similar bait, with steadily increasing consequences in the game. But also reward them if they refuse the bait.

If there are no consequences, don't blame the player.

And if you want to play with people who think it's fun to rigidly abide by their predefined personality, find those kinds of players.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
Yes it absolutely can happen if I don't want it do. I can approve all kinds of things I don't want to happen. For instance, even though I really don't want you to try and argue your incorrect position, I approve of your right to that kind of speech.

I've not argued otherwise. If those sorts of games appeal to you, I'm truly glad that they exist for you to play. :)

Again, I've not argued that some people don't prefer games with mechanics for this sort of thing.

Cool, because the absurd part isn't something I've said, either.

It's not semantics. It's literally the difference between less aliens on my lawn waving at me right now and no aliens on my lawn waving at me right now. Less aliens means that there is at least 1 alien out there. That's a pretty significant difference.

Agreed. You can have both risk and challenge when you have full control over your PC's reactions. I know this for a fact, since I have had both full control over my PC and still been challenged.
I could reply point for point, but I don’t think that will really do anyone any good.

My point was this: the increase in risk to character and the mechanics that go along with that are what many players find appealing about such games. You acknowledged that increased risk, and I think you understand that such a game would have a bit of a shift in focus from a more traditional RPG. So I think that you can at least grasp the different opinion, even if you don’t share it.

I don’t know what position of mine you think is incorrect, but the above is the only point worth making. It’s simply an alternate approach to RPGing. Nothing wrong with that way or with the way you play. I think you agree with this, so i don’t really get what you’re trying to argue.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I agree that some/many players find tactical combat interesting. Far more interesting than non-tactical combat, right?
I was using that term in contrast to things like strategic combat, or narrative/cinematic combat.


In other words, it's not the uncertainty of the dice rolls they like, it's the complexity of options, and the uncertainty of what the opponent will do. The dice are only needed because a non-random system that encompassed all the possibilities in RPG combat would be...unwieldy.
Um... you know that there are/have been dice-less RPGs, right? RPGs that have no random elements exist. There is uncertainty not in what the random generator will produce, but instead uncertainty in what they other person will choose as their priorities.



Likewise, where there is uncertainty in the resolution of non-combat challenges...e.g. the knight/maiden/heart scenario...I'd rather solve it without RNG. This is why I referenced the discussions about challenging the player vs. challenging the character. Apparently some people think that making the player roll to determine whether or not his heart is melted is "challenging the character", but I see it as just rolling dice. Where the character would be feeling conflicted emotion, the player only feels anxiety about how the dice will fall.
Here's the thing - when you step back, there are relatively few places where you *purely* challenge the just character build, or just the player. In general, RPG challenges are a mixture. Does the character have abilities and resources to meet the challenge, and what choices does the player make.

This is why, when I talked about challenges alone, I noted that it isn't really a challenge if the player has no way to influence the result. It is in this ability to influence that "meaningful choices" sit.

If, for example, we have a die roll... modified by the player spending some resource to impact the roll, or we have a bidding mechanic where how much the player spends resources determines the outcome, that tests the player's determination to have a thing be true, with respect to the unknown future where those resources might be needed.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
My point was this: the increase in risk to character and the mechanics that go along with that are what many players find appealing about such games. You acknowledged that increased risk, and I think you understand that such a game would have a bit of a shift in focus from a more traditional RPG. So I think that you can at least grasp the different opinion, even if you don’t share it.
What I'm struggling with here is to understand the point you are making about risk.

I do get that risk and uncertainty make (or can make) games more exciting. But the consequence of a risk gone awry does matter. Traditionally (at least in my experience) in an RPG some of the things exposed to risk are:
- Health/Life
- Treasure/Possessions
- Allies
- Reputation
- XP/Levels (in older versions of D&D, for example)
- Maybe some other stuff I'm not thinking off at the moment.

Sure, "Character Concept" could be added to this list. But I'm not sure what that achieves, except to annoy people who think they should be in control of the concept. How about forcibly changing the character's name? Their physical description? Their class?

Oh, wait, real life example: the now-defunct Girdle of Femininity/Masculinity. Which you will note didn't make the cut for 5e. That adds (or used to add) another kind of risk. Does it make the game better to forcibly change the gender of a character?

Your answer may be 'yes', and if so that's illuminating. My answer would be 'no', except as comic relief, and maybe that gets to the heart of the difference in viewpoint.
 
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Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Um... you know that there are/have been dice-less RPGs, right? RPGs that have no random elements exist. There is uncertainty not in what the random generator will produce, but instead uncertainty in what they other person will choose as their priorities.
Yes, although I haven't personally played them. (And is why I made a reference to Ace of Aces.) In a perfect world I would spend some time investigating and then post, but I do feel compelled to observe that RNG-less combat hasn't exactly caught on. I suspect there's a reason for that.


Here's the thing - when you step back, there are relatively few places where you *purely* challenge the just character build, or just the player. In general, RPG challenges are a mixture. Does the character have abilities and resources to meet the challenge, and what choices does the player make.

This is why, when I talked about challenges alone, I noted that it isn't really a challenge if the player has no way to influence the result. It is in this ability to influence that "meaningful choices" sit.

If, for example, we have a die roll... modified by the player spending some resource to impact the roll, or we have a bidding mechanic where how much the player spends resources determines the outcome, that tests the player's determination to have a thing be true, with respect to the unknown future where those resources might be needed.
Yeah, I don't disagree with any of that. It's possible we each misunderstand the other's point, and have falsely concluded we're arguing about something. I completely agreed with your response to Aebir-Toril.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
Ok, fair enough.

But even if you don't force players to roleplay a certain way, your language suggests you still make value judgments about the choices they do make. I would propose thinking deeply about what purpose that serves.

It's kind of like the metagaming discussion, where some people think it's "wrong" or "cheating" to metagame. Others (myself included) say that for GMs who care about it, it's their own fault for putting the players into that situation. (E.g., don't use official monsters if you don't want them to know the monster's special abilities.)

If you don't approve of a noble knight torturing captives, have consequences. The player just proved they find it hard to resist certain benefits (such as acquiring information). Great! That's a totally valid flaw for a knight, and (I think) more narratively interesting than the incorruptible goody two-shoes. Keep tempting them with similar bait, with steadily increasing consequences in the game. But also reward them if they refuse the bait.

If there are no consequences, don't blame the player.

And if you want to play with people who think it's fun to rigidly abide by their predefined personality, find those kinds of players.
So, I don't actually disagree with you, but when I read what you wrote, I had the following thought-

when you appear to criticize someone for making "value judgments about the choices they do make," I have to contrast that with your approach.

I find it hard to square your criticism with the following description of escalating consequences. I mean ... how does one adjudicate "escalating consequences" without making value judgments? If you aren't being all judge-y judge-y about how a noble knight should act as a DM, how (or why?) should you be dishing out consequences?

Again, I happen to be of the mindset, "Spare the rod, spoil the player" myself, so it's not that I disagree with you. I mean, if God & Gygax didn't want consequences (so MANY consequences muahahahahahahahaha!), he wouldn't have invented Paladins, amirite?

I'm just not seeing the distinction you're making. Seems like judge-y turtles, all the way down.
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
Ok, fair enough.

But even if you don't force players to roleplay a certain way, your language suggests you still make value judgments about the choices they do make. I would propose thinking deeply about what purpose that serves.

It's kind of like the metagaming discussion, where some people think it's "wrong" or "cheating" to metagame. Others (myself included) say that for GMs who care about it, it's their own fault for putting the players into that situation. (E.g., don't use official monsters if you don't want them to know the monster's special abilities.)

If you don't approve of a noble knight torturing captives, have consequences. The player just proved they find it hard to resist certain benefits (such as acquiring information). Great! That's a totally valid flaw for a knight, and (I think) more narratively interesting than the incorruptible goody two-shoes. Keep tempting them with similar bait, with steadily increasing consequences in the game. But also reward them if they refuse the bait.

If there are no consequences, don't blame the player.

And if you want to play with people who think it's fun to rigidly abide by their predefined personality, find those kinds of players.
I gave you XP, but you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what I'm saying.

I am not implying that players have to rigidly abide by their characters, which you would know if you read my other responses.

I am, in fact, only implying that I ask players why their characters have chosen to do something.

Yes, I am choosing to judge the actions of the character on an axis of moral and ideological values, but I allow the player to do whatever they want with their character.

Again, all I am doing is asking them why, not telling them they can't do something, not judging that it is not something their character would do, just asking them why.

Is this really so hard to understand?
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
Define, "role-play in perfect character".

I will assume a few things that I figure are solidly in-genre here for the point. The noble knight wants to be chaste. He also wants to protect the kingdom from whatever threatens it this week. So, the knight has a conflict of priorities - both of which are part of his character. The point here is to ask which is dominant, and have that be an interesting choice for the player.

If we already know what is the perfect choice for this character, then there's no point in asking the question.

Mind you, this still isn't a "challenge". We are not testing whether his chastity is "strong enough". We are simply asking the player to make a decision.
False premise looking for an argument.

I didn't think this would be as controversial as it became, all I'm saying is that I ask players why their characters have made these choices.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
So, I don't actually disagree with you, but when I read what you wrote, I had the following thought-

when you appear to criticize someone for making "value judgments about the choices they do make," I have to contrast that with your approach.

I find it hard to square your criticism with the following description of escalating consequences. I mean ... how does one adjudicate "escalating consequences" without making value judgments? If you aren't being all judge-y judge-y about how a noble knight should act as a DM, how (or why?) should you be dishing out consequences?

Again, I happen to be of the mindset, "Spare the rod, spoil the player" myself, so it's not that I disagree with you. I mean, if God & Gygax didn't want consequences (so MANY consequences muahahahahahahahaha!), he wouldn't have invented Paladins, amirite?

I'm just not seeing the distinction you're making. Seems like judge-y turtles, all the way down.
Yeah, that's a fair point.

For me, the distinction is that one is based on the belief that the player is "wrong", while the other is more like designing encounters with monsters or traps or whatever, in that you (the GM) are establishing the realities in your game world, and then inviting the player to engage with it, to their profit or peril. Sure, you may have expectations or even desires that they make certain choices, but if they don't, that leads in ok/fun directions, too.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
False premise looking for an argument.

I didn't think this would be as controversial as it became, all I'm saying is that I ask players why their characters have made these choices.
Ok, but why are you asking them?

(Unless we're talking about brand new players, and you're trying to get them to think like roleplayers...?)
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
Ok, but why are you asking them?

(Unless we're talking about brand new players, and you're trying to get them to think like roleplayers...?)
Sometimes, I do DM for new players.

Otherwise, I ask why a player chooses for a character to do something.

Not because I think players shouldn't have control over their characters, but because I want, as a DM, to know why the noble knight would commit adultery, even if it's not his flaw.

I don't prevent players from doing things, I ask them why they're doing them.
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
[MENTION=6801328]Elfcrusher[/MENTION], for me it's not about the justification of their actions, it's more about my curiosity as to their motivations.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Sometimes, I do DM for new players.

Otherwise, I ask why a player chooses for a character to do something.

Not because I think players shouldn't have control over their characters, but because I want, as a DM, to know why the noble knight would commit adultery, even if it's not his flaw.

I don't prevent players from doing things, I ask them why they're doing them.
Ok, then why do you want to know?

Maybe try to imagine this as a movie. A character you thought was a "good guy" does something surprising. Do you want text on the screen explaining the character's thoughts and motivations? Or do you think, "Oh! I wasn't expecting that! I wonder where this is going....?"
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
@Elfcrusher, for me it's not about the justification of their actions, it's more about my curiosity as to their motivations.
Overlapping posts there.

If it's because you want to be able to design future encounters to interact in interesting ways with the player's ideas for their character, then that I understand. But even then I, personally, would base it off of the actual actions, rather than asking explicitly.
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
Overlapping posts there.

If it's because you want to be able to design future encounters to interact in interesting ways with the player's ideas for their character, then that I understand. But even then I, personally, would base it off of the actual actions, rather than asking explicitly.
Good point, I've used a varied system of both in the past.
 
Maybe try to imagine this as a movie. A character you thought was a "good guy" does something surprising. Do you want text on the screen explaining the character's thoughts and motivations? Or do you think, "Oh! I wasn't expecting that! I wonder where this is going....?"
Are you the viewer, actor, writer, choreographer, set designer, SFX artist, or director?

Because, in an RPG, what you're doing, whether as DM or Player, encompasses several of those.

Part of the point is to experience the story: viewer.
Part of roleplaying is to create that story: writer.
Part of roleplaying is portraying the character, maybe even with the 'method' of experiencing it's emotions: actor.
Part of roleplaying is setting the scene: writer, designer
Part of roleplaying is describing the action: choreographer, SFX

Everyone at the table, if the game is well-crafted enough, /should/ get the sense of seeing it play out as if it were a narrative, like a film or book or the like - but they also play a part, often a very important, collaborative, conscious part, in creating that narrative.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
False premise looking for an argument.
With respect - I think it is more that you expressed your idea here... very poorly.

I didn't think this would be as controversial as it became, all I'm saying is that I ask players why their characters have made these choices.
It became controversial because... well, your words didn't say this. Sorry.
 

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