Players choose what their PCs do . . .

I think they hardly touched on what 5e does good IN RELATION TO ROLEPLAYING.
Your definition of role-playing is simply too narrow. Especially given the need to go all caps and bold like some sort of outraged Darth Vader voice.

I think there's a distinction there that is overlooked.
There's at least a 3-way distinction. There are games that aren't role-playing, there are instances of playing a role that are in no way games...

...and there are role-playing games, that integrate (not merely juxtapose) the two. In an RPG the fact that you are playing a game and the fact that you are playing a role are inseparable.

A mechanic can influence one, the other or both IMO. I think there's a lot of one true way baggage that often prevents us from acknowledging that's the case and acknowledging things in an RPG sometimes have nothing to do with roleplaying value.
OneTrueWayists tend to want to define and judge narrowly. That which confirms to their way is True Role-playing, that which does not is other, to be dismissed out of hand.

Honestly, if freestyle RP had a DM that arbitrated the experience in a mutually agreed upon setting, it really wouldn't play much different than how I approach D&D.
The only difference would be the combats -
Thank you for your honesty.

I don't think it's that unusual, outside of the loci of magic and combat, D&D traditionally leaves us essentially Freestyle'n.
 
Last edited:

Manbearcat

Adventurer
I decide in these cases what my character will put on the line, and so there is always that layer of safety, even if it seems my character has losses, and is struggling with angst. ( I have done my share of WOD). When I play in games with role playing mechanics that really puts on the pressure, it is different. It's actually more immersive, despite the initial reaction that role playing mechanics should destroy the player's autonomy. Everything has a more immediate feel, a greater intensity.
This earned a lot of xp, but the take-home needs to be emphasized.

In real life we aren't characterizing ourselves. In real life we don't have nearly the expression of autonomy or internal locus of control that one characterizes their PC with in a game of AD&D, 3.x, and 5e D&D.

In real life, our behavioral outputs are a collage of external inputs (from emotional provocateurs to those that turn genes off and on), irrational compulsions, irrational biological imperatives, divorced-from-conscious-mind-neurological-subroutines, crappy heuristics, erudition, practice, and well-considered mindfulness.

So that very pressure (that you cite) is fundamental to our daily lives, and shapes the most visceral moments of our lives in key ways...ways that transcend that moment and feed back onto the rest of our days. Mechanics that push/pull/provoke/demand (often with the seduction of immediate return at the cost of "the long game") are the best way I know of to model the fundamental role of those many externalities (like a drug addict battling their addiction, or an enabler battling their conscience, or a workaholic battling their zeal/anxiety, or someone who is more comfortable sad than happy battling their damaging comfort with melancholy, or someone who lacks discipline trying to control their disorderly compulsions, or someone who is being leaned on by the police for 36 hours who confesses to a crime they didn't commit, etc etc).

A man arrives 5 minutes too late from a 2 hour journey that was meant to save his sister from suicide. Her body rests on cold white tile, laying in a pool of thick red, blood and gore on the wall next to her. He stoops down over her. The world is complete silence as they share this moment. This is the last time he will ever see her and he probably knows this will haunt him the rest of his life. Dilated pupils in her dead eyes. Frothing mouth. Wet hair from the blood and gore. Skull fragments everywhere. He just stares into her dead eyes. For who knows how long.

Why does he do this? Is it because this moment he has waited on for so long is finally upon him and he doesn't want to consider the philosophical implications? He doesn't want to hear the sound of his mother's heart breaking when he calls her to tell her what has happened? Because she has left 3 children behind and they're likely to all be ruined by this? If he just stays in this moment, his sister won't truly be reduced to this broken biological state and he won't have to confront all of those things. As he is staring, he knows this is a terrible image to imprint upon himself...it will have lasting effects for certain. But he can't tear his eyes away from hers nonetheless.

That is life.

Its marked by visceral events that aren't "full-agency characterization" (such as the case is when there is no active machinery or feedback loop putting pressure on you) that are completely transformative. You're not struggling with contrived angst in real life that is all bark (mere performance) and no bite (actual emotional, physical, or philosophical phase-change). There is real pressure brought to bear against you from several different directions (some internal, some external). And the misbegotten idea of a singularly unified consciousness (rather than overwhelmingly an amalgamation of entangled inputs wholly divorced from the "you" that you identify with) that is cooley in control of your behavioral outputs is quickly put to rest.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
In 5e having a soul has no mechanical effect.

I've not yet decided how to portray a character that has no soul. There is going to be some difference for sure. Whatever that difference is, that is what was put at stake.
When I read this, I'm imagining a Texas Hold 'Em tournament where:

1) There was no codified "buy-in" $ figure for the tournament and we don't know what the participant's financial situation is going into the tournament (is this a desperate attempt to get a windfall at zero hour so a debt to the mob can be paid off?).

2) We don't know what their chip stack was when this hand was played.

3) We can't tell whether they won the hand, lost the hand, or split the pot...and we can't tell what the pot was (and therefore the implications on (2) above).

4) The only thing I can discern is that none of 1-3 mattered to the player of the hand...their decision-point navigation was disconnected to the (possibly) interesting pressures inherent to 1-3 above; it was only correlated to the cocktail waitress promising to bring them another whiskey on the house if they arbitrarily check-raised the Turn or went All-In blind pre-Flop.


Its just background color.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Realism? In a discussion of hit points?

Nope, we don't. A very slight trauma involving relatively little injury can kill instantly, profound trauma over much of the body can be survived. The human body is freak'n weird. People fall in the shower and die. People fall out of airplanes without parachutes and live. It's not because some people rolled 1 on their HD. It's not because falls do d1000 damage. It's because reality is far, far more complex than something like hps can even begin to model.

More over, "Realism" was the bludgeon with which critics attacked D&D in it's earliest days - /for having hit points that increased with level/. Because, if hps were, as you just blithely claimed, just a measure of ability to absorb trauma, then 'experience' increasing them would be wildly unrealistic. Your character would have to physically grow, or become denser, or change his material composition or something.

That criticism was answered, and hps were never conceived as simply a measure of capacity to absorb physical trauma.

But, come the edition war, that fallacious strawman criticism of early D&D was held up as /the way D&D had always been/.

It's about the most 1984-worthy bit of double-think in the revisionist history of the game.
Except that Early D&D didn't describe them that way. Only the detractors did.

D&D OE B1 p 18 said:
Dice for Accumulative Hits (Hit Dice): This indicates the number of dice which are rolled in order to determine how many hit points a character can take. Plusses are merely the number of pips to add to the total of all dice rolled not to each die. Thus a Super Hero gets 8 dice + 2; they are rolled and score 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6/totals 26 + 2 = 28, 28 being the number of points of damage the character could sustain before death. Whether sustaining accumulative hits will otherwise affect a character is left to the discretion of the referee.[/q]

Interesting, that last line... Also interesting is that HP were rerolled at new level. One of the magazine Q&A's suggests rerolling at the start of each adventure. HP were vague.

Gygax tried to NOT pin them down.

AD&D also has a wibbledy-wobbledy description...
AD&D PHB p34 said:
CHARACTER HIT POINTS
Each character has a varying number of hit points,' just as monsters do. These hit points represent how much damage (actual or potential) the character can withstand before being killed. A certain amount of these hit points represent the actual physical punishment which can be sustained. The remainder, a significant portion of hit points at higher levels, stands for skill, luck, and/or magical factors. [...] Thus, the majority of hit paints are symbolic of combat skill, luck (bestowed by supernatural powers), and magical forces.
I snipped out the detailed example in the middle of the paragraph.

The thing is, many of the detractors didn't read, or didn't understand, that passage.

Holmes doesn't discuss what they represent, other than 0=dead. A serious wound is defined in the lycanthrope entry as 50% of HP...
 

pemerton

Legend
In 5e having a soul has no mechanical effect.

I've not yet decided how to portray a character that has no soul. There is going to be some difference for sure. Whatever that difference is, that is what was put at stake.
How is something at stake if you don't know what it is yet?
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Your definition of role-playing is simply too narrow. Especially given the need to go all caps and bold like some sort of outraged Darth Vader voice.
LOL. I apologize for the caps. It was 2am and I went too far in trying to emphasize. I don't think so. I think that in order to not sound one true way you have included things under the roleplaying umbrella that aren't actually roleplaying.

There's at least a 3-way distinction. There are games that aren't role-playing, there are instances of playing a role that are in no way games...

...and there are role-playing games, that integrate (not merely juxtapose) the two. In an RPG the fact that you are playing a game and the fact that you are playing a role are inseparable.
I disagree. Just as a cute off the cuff mental example. Suppose that D&D had a mechanic where everytime your character took a hit you had to do 5 jumping jacks. Are you seriously arguing that doing 5 jumping jacks upon taking a hit is inseparable from roleplaying?

OneTrueWayists tend to want to define and judge narrowly. That which confirms to their way us True Role-playing, that which dies not is other, to be dismissed out of hand.
Sure. The opposite to that is that a non-one-true-wayist defines and judges non-narrowly. Anything which confirms to anyones way is true role playing and anything which does not is other. So anything that someone calls roleplaying is to be accepted out of hand.

You see the juxtaposition and the issue right?

Thank you for your honesty.

I don't think it's that unusual, outside of the loci of magic and combat, D&D traditionally leaves us essentially Freestyle'n.
Thanks. Yet, you argue in other posts that freestyln has no benefits to roleplaying, that a system of some kind will always be preferable to that.
 
In life the stakes aren't typically clearly defined....
...another good reason to play a game now and then. ;)

LOL. I apologize for the caps. It was 2am and I went too far in trying to emphasize. I don't think so. I think that in order to not sound one true way you have included things under the roleplaying umbrella that aren't actually roleplaying.
The voice is less at issue than the message. And, if I seem strident about this, it's because it's not just your too-narrow, exclusionary definition and it's not just in this context. The Forgites do the same thing, multiplied by their copious lexicon, and it happens way to much in RL politics.

It's fine to stipulate a definition for purposes of discussion, but if anyone was going to advance such a definition, it should have been the OP, and clearly limited to the question being put forward. Even then, it might not go over so well, or could be chosen to assume or force a conclusion, exclude valid alternatives, etc...

I disagree. Just as a cute off the cuff mental example. Suppose that D&D had a mechanic where everytime your character took a hit you had to do 5 jumping jacks. Are you seriously arguing that doing 5 jumping jacks upon taking a hit is inseparable from roleplaying?
I'd certainly be trying harder to avoid hits, which'd impact roleplaying a brave vs cautious vs foolhardy character.

Sure. The opposite to that is that a non-one-true-wayist defines and judges non-narrowly. Anything which confirms to anyones way is true role playing ...
The idea is just to be a bit open-minded.

Yet, you argue in other posts that freestyln has no benefits to roleplaying, that a system of some kind will always be preferable to that.
Not what I'm arguing. (Though, also not exactly wrong: sure, a functional mechanic should deliver it's intended experience more consistently and over a wider range of users than would freestyle RPing from the same assumptions.) Rather my point is that, because you prettymuch can RP (broad definition) anything, including, hypothetically, delivering any given RP experience (just w/ or w/o specific system artifacts), trying to compare or analyze systems on the basis of what experiences they can't deliver is fraught, and will invite push-back and descent into subjectivity, rather than thoughtful engagement.

And, that's just an observation - of this thread and others like it, really.
 
Last edited:

Arilyn

Adventurer
This earned a lot of xp, but the take-home needs to be emphasized.

In real life we aren't characterizing ourselves. In real life we don't have nearly the expression of autonomy or internal locus of control that one characterizes their PC with in a game of AD&D, 3.x, and 5e D&D.

In real life, our behavioral outputs are a collage of external inputs (from emotional provocateurs to those that turn genes off and on), irrational compulsions, irrational biological imperatives, divorced-from-conscious-mind-neurological-subroutines, crappy heuristics, erudition, practice, and well-considered mindfulness.

So that very pressure (that you cite) is fundamental to our daily lives, and shapes the most visceral moments of our lives in key ways...ways that transcend that moment and feed back onto the rest of our days. Mechanics that push/pull/provoke/demand (often with the seduction of immediate return at the cost of "the long game") are the best way I know of to model the fundamental role of those many externalities (like a drug addict battling their addiction, or an enabler battling their conscience, or a workaholic battling their zeal/anxiety, or someone who is more comfortable sad than happy battling their damaging comfort with melancholy, or someone who lacks discipline trying to control their disorderly compulsions, or someone who is being leaned on by the police for 36 hours who confesses to a crime they didn't commit, etc etc).

A man arrives 5 minutes too late from a 2 hour journey that was meant to save his sister from suicide. Her body rests on cold white tile, laying in a pool of thick red, blood and gore on the wall next to her. He stoops down over her. The world is complete silence as they share this moment. This is the last time he will ever see her and he probably knows this will haunt him the rest of his life. Dilated pupils in her dead eyes. Frothing mouth. Wet hair from the blood and gore. Skull fragments everywhere. He just stares into her dead eyes. For who knows how long.

Why does he do this? Is it because this moment he has waited on for so long is finally upon him and he doesn't want to consider the philosophical implications? He doesn't want to hear the sound of his mother's heart breaking when he calls her to tell her what has happened? Because she has left 3 children behind and they're likely to all be ruined by this? If he just stays in this moment, his sister won't truly be reduced to this broken biological state and he won't have to confront all of those things. As he is staring, he knows this is a terrible image to imprint upon himself...it will have lasting effects for certain. But he can't tear his eyes away from hers nonetheless.

That is life.

Its marked by visceral events that aren't "full-agency characterization" (such as the case is when there is no active machinery or feedback loop putting pressure on you) that are completely transformative. You're not struggling with contrived angst in real life that is all bark (mere performance) and no bite (actual emotional, physical, or philosophical phase-change). There is real pressure brought to bear against you from several different directions (some internal, some external). And the misbegotten idea of a singularly unified consciousness (rather than overwhelmingly an amalgamation of entangled inputs wholly divorced from the "you" that you identify with) that is cooley in control of your behavioral outputs is quickly put to rest.

All I can say to this post is a quiet yes.
 
A man arrives 5 minutes too late from a 2 hour journey that was meant to save ...
I recommend sblock and trigger warning.

Aside from that, great post...
In real life, our behavioral outputs are a collage of external inputs (from emotional provocateurs to those that turn genes off and on), irrational compulsions, irrational biological imperatives, divorced-from-conscious-mind-neurological-subroutines, crappy heuristics, erudition, practice, and well-considered mindfulness.
...y'all'll hafta just imagine a cynical quip, here.
Maybe later.
 
Last edited:

Manbearcat

Adventurer
When you are going to sum up my personal experience with it's just background color. You've objectiveness has seriously gone awry.
Forget for a minute what you feel about my analysis of your excerpt.

Do you not think, for better or for worse, this would have changed the cognitive space you were occupying and the play experience of the other participants who bore witness to your PC's sacrifice?

1) Your character had a feedback loop (lets call it Nature) with 3 descriptors attached to it and both a positive and a negative mechanical aspect:

* If paranoia or fear of the arcane and occult interferes with your effort to save an ally, increase your Nature by 1.

* If your appetite for destruction is overcome by your appetite for a meal, increase your Nature by 1.

* If you show fearlessness in dire circumstances while knowing you must live with the consequences, change (mundane, but defining trait) Dense to Reflective.

2) Nature goes from 0 to 7. You can recover it and you can tax it. If you ever end a session at 0 or 7, your character retires for whatever reason seems relevant given the fiction (eg the character becomes lost, broken, weary, fulfilled, or resolved to a new path).

3) You can tax your Nature (lowering it by 1) when either (a) heroism calls or (b) a situation is outside of your niche but it makes sense for your character to act and be effective (say that you should make a Charisma/Intimidate check, but you don't have the Skill and a -1 Charisma, for when a parley is going south, but the result means something serious to your character). If you do, you have Advantage and sub your current Nature for your modifier.



So, lets take your excerpt but add this.

- Your decision-points include the understanding that (a) you're facing something that afflicts you which will intensify who you are...but (b) you'll never be the same afterward (in self-perception, in the way others invariably perceive you, and that no eternal life with your ancestors awaits you).

- Lets say your Nature was at 1. You can either increase it to bulwark your Nature (recovering 1) by not sacrificing your character...or...you can tax it and put it to 0. If it doesn't increase before the end of session...your character will be removed from the game (perhaps fittingly).

You don't think this will change your cognitive workspace? It won't resemble the mental arithmetic that real humans do in a moment of desperate choice (run to or shrink from danger and possible extreme cost)? You don't think the other participants at the table wouldn't have their heart-rates uptick as this decision looms?
 

Sadras

Explorer
We have given you all kinds of examples. You dismiss them all because there's no dice involved.

So let me give you a 5e example with dice this time. Tonight my character volunteered for a magical ritual whose outcome was uncertain that would on a failure kill him and on a success take his soul. The ritual succeeded and so now my PC has no soul.

Note that it was fully in my control to volunteer for this and that I roleplayed my character honestly in volunteering. Note that neither outcome was a good outcome for me - but one much worse than the other.
Frogreaver said:
I would just love once to hear their take on the pros of 5e in relation to roleplaying.
Frogreaver might I please ask that you answer your own question.

I just want to be clear, your example above, although meant as an answer to a different question, does not, in my view highlight any pros of 5e in relation to roleplaying. I could very much do the same scenario with the barest mechanics of every other RPG I have played.

I'm indeed curious as to what pros you see in the 5e mechanics that assist roleplaying.
 
Last edited:

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Frogreaver might I please ask that you answer your own question.

I just want to be clear, your example above, although meant as an answer to a different question, does not, in my view highlight any pros of 5e in relation to roleplaying. I could very much do the same scenario with the barest mechanics of every other RPG I have played.

I'm indeed curious as to what pros you see in the 5e mechanics that assist roleplaying.
That's a different question than what I asked - but I think we can get to the same place.

The mechanics of not having any roleplay mechanics assists with roleplaying. I've went on about the benefits of such a system for most of this thread.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Forget for a minute what you feel about my analysis of your excerpt.

Do you not think, for better or for worse, this would have changed the cognitive space you were occupying and the play experience of the other participants who bore witness to your PC's sacrifice?

1) Your character had a feedback loop (lets call it Nature) with 3 descriptors attached to it and both a positive and a negative mechanical aspect:

* If paranoia or fear of the arcane and occult interferes with your effort to save an ally, increase your Nature by 1.

* If your appetite for destruction is overcome by your appetite for a meal, increase your Nature by 1.

* If you show fearlessness in dire circumstances while knowing you must live with the consequences, change (mundane, but defining trait) Dense to Reflective.

2) Nature goes from 0 to 7. You can recover it and you can tax it. If you ever end a session at 0 or 7, your character retires for whatever reason seems relevant given the fiction (eg the character becomes lost, broken, weary, fulfilled, or resolved to a new path).

3) You can tax your Nature (lowering it by 1) when either (a) heroism calls or (b) a situation is outside of your niche but it makes sense for your character to act and be effective (say that you should make a Charisma/Intimidate check, but you don't have the Skill and a -1 Charisma, for when a parley is going south, but the result means something serious to your character). If you do, you have Advantage and sub your current Nature for your modifier.



So, lets take your excerpt but add this.

- Your decision-points include the understanding that (a) you're facing something that afflicts you which will intensify who you are...but (b) you'll never be the same afterward (in self-perception, in the way others invariably perceive you, and that no eternal life with your ancestors awaits you).

- Lets say your Nature was at 1. You can either increase it to bulwark your Nature (recovering 1) by not sacrificing your character...or...you can tax it and put it to 0. If it doesn't increase before the end of session...your character will be removed from the game (perhaps fittingly).

You don't think this will change your cognitive workspace? It won't resemble the mental arithmetic that real humans do in a moment of desperate choice (run to or shrink from danger and possible extreme cost)? You don't think the other participants at the table wouldn't have their heart-rates uptick as this decision looms?
I've read this a number of times. I don't understand your questions. I'll be happy to answer if you can make them more clear for me.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Not what I'm arguing. (Though, also not exactly wrong: sure, a functional mechanic should deliver it's intended experience more consistently and over a wider range of users than would freestyle RPing from the same assumptions.) Rather my point is that, because you prettymuch can RP (broad definition) anything, including, hypothetically, delivering any given RP experience (just w/ or w/o specific system artifacts), trying to compare or analyze systems on the basis of what experiences they can't deliver is fraught, and will invite push-back and descent into subjectivity, rather than thoughtful engagement.

And, that's just an observation - of this thread and others like it, really.
Agree 1000 times over.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
I was thinking more in terms of internal to my character. But yes, should I die I cannot be resurrected. That is a mechanical impact.
There's also the weakness to soul jar. A couple other odd spells.

Extreme implications taken by treating all the spell descriptions as rules text also means you can't level up, because you cannot learn.
 

Sadras

Explorer
So I've read on now almost to the end of the thread. Some posters have posted about why this can be good (neither @FrogReaver nor @Lanefan, oddly enough). As I've just posted in response to them, I'm reminded of a certain approach to 2nd ed AD&D.

The good of the GM's "special status" seems to consist in curating the players, via their PCs, through an adventure with a reasonably pre-determined structure/sequence of events, or fictional elements to be encountered. (I think this is what @Ovinomancer means by "exploration", and what @Lanefan has in mind in expressing worries about challenges/obstacles being "bypassed".)

Now can someone tell me how that sort of play is going to put fundamental pressure on the player's conception of the character? I've not seen that in the real world, and I'm not seeing it in these descriptions either.
Good question.

If I have understood your side's position (and there is a fairly reasonable possibility I have not as I have only skimmed this thread), is that the player having to make the tough choice between A & B without necessarily a change to the character concept is not considered a challenge. If one accepts that, then yes D&D, in general, doesn't have the necessary mechanics per RAW to put pressure on the player's concept of character.

In 5e per RAW, personality characteristics are only utilised via the carrot method: The player roleplays their character by adhering to their ideals, bonds or flaws so they may be rewarded with an inspiration point for good roleplaying. (Even in this instance, DM decides). But there are no mechanics, per RAW at least, that allow for placing fundamental pressure on character concepts.

As an aside one of my players has a character with the Bond: Those who fight beside me are those worth dying for.
My intention is to challenge this character concept - to place the character in a position where if he
(a) chooses to save a former ally, this may result in a loss of influence (mechanical) for the party; or
(b) does not choose to save a former ally, which may result in the player having to amend his character's Bond.

In (a) the cost is in-game time and a skill challenge used to resolve the possible influence loss suffered.
In (b) a singular saving throw (with no proficiency modifier) will resolve if the character's bond will have to be amended. If the player fails the saving check, then he can amend the bond with the table deciding if the new bond is reasonable based on their perception of the character and the events that transpired.
Of course my intention is for the player to know the stakes of (a) and (b) beforehand and for me to be completely transparent with how it will play out.

Now granted, the above is not RAW and may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the DM empowerment in 5e permits me to bend the rules of the game and I have a table that trusts me so I'm going to run with that. Of course, I also believe my players will enjoy this type of challenge!

Out of curiosity, do you consider the above an example of fundamental pressure on the player's concept of the character?
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Top