log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Roleplaying in D&D 5E: It’s How You Play the Game

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
The rules of 5E give this definition of roleplaying:
Roleplaying is, literally, the act of playing out a role. In this case, it’s you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks.​
The passage goes on to say that roleplaying “is a part of every aspect of the game,” and that there “are two styles you can use when roleplaying your character: the descriptive approach and the active approach.”

That roleplaying is present throughout the game is also made clear by step 2 of the basic pattern according to which the game unfolds as given in the “How to Play” section of the rulebook's Introduction, “The players describe what they want to do.” This is the players giving voice to their roleplaying. I.e. they determine how their characters think, act, and talk and then describe to the rest of the group what they have thus determined. This is the players’ sole contribution to the game, the other two thirds of the basic pattern belonging to the DM, and is the only way that the players can be said to actually be playing the game.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
What's the point? This kind of comes off as one true way-ism, that you must do things a certain way or you are not really role playing.

There are many ways of playing the game, I'm not going to pretend that the way I prefer or my interpretation of this editions rules are the way to play. People can be totally immersed in their PC's life, or a PC could just be stats on a page, a paper avatar that goes from combat to combat while people hang out with friends.

Or maybe I'm just missing the point you're trying to make.
 

People don't agree with my way of playing?!?

south park mob GIF
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
What's the point? This kind of comes off as one true way-ism, that you must do things a certain way or you are not really role playing.

There are many ways of playing the game, I'm not going to pretend that the way I prefer or my interpretation of this editions rules are the way to play. People can be totally immersed in their PC's life, or a PC could just be stats on a page, a paper avatar that goes from combat to combat while people hang out with friends.

Or maybe I'm just missing the point you're trying to make.
I could be wrong, but my guess is this is saying, “as long as you’re deciding what your character thinks, says, and does, you’re roleplaying.” It’s the opposite of one-true-wayism, saying that you don’t have to act in a particular way to be roleplaying, so long as you’re making decisions for your character. But then again, maybe I’m misinterpreting. The opening post doesn’t really have a thesis that I can identify, it’s just kind of stating what the rules say.
 
Last edited:

What's the point? This kind of comes off as one true way-ism, that you must do things a certain way or you are not really role playing.

There are many flavors of roleplaying, some of which are emphasized or de-emphasized in various game systems.

One-true-wayism is a claim that one is innately superior to others.

Seems to me @Hriston is just saying that D&D 5e emphasizes one of those flavors.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Not really sure what this topic is about. Is this something unique to 5e? Maybe I'm not understanding the post. I thought the game was a collaboration for storytelling, not a tasked assignment where players are only expected to do one thing and DMs something else. Let me see if I can find something relevant from another source...
The DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game is, first and foremost, a roleplaying game, which means that it’s all about taking on the role of a character in the game. Some people take to this play-acting naturally and easily; others find it more of a challenge.
Your character is more than a combination of race, class, and feats. He or she is one of the protagonists in a living, evolving story line. Like the hero of any fantasy novel or film, your character has ambitions and fears, likes and dislikes, motivations and mannerisms, moments of glory and of failure. The best characters blend the ongoing story of their adventuring careers with memorable characteristics or traits. Jaden the 4th-level human fighter is a perfectly playable character even without any embellishment, but the personality of Jaden the Grim—brooding, fatalistic, and honest—suggests a particular approach to negotiating with townsfolk or discussing issues with the other characters.
A well crafted personality expands your experience of the game dramatically. The DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game is a roleplaying game but not necessarily an exercise in improvisational theater. Sometimes, the role you play is defender or leader; the character you’re playing is engaged in combat and has a job to do so that your team comes out victorious. Even in combat, though, you can interject bits of personality and dialogue that make your character more than just the statistics on your character sheet.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
My perspective is that 5e is minimalist in many ways, enabling it to propose a version of D&D which is streamlined in many ways, easy to read, and therefore interesting even to non-geeks, and that has been confirmed by its popularity. These "definitions' of roleplaying, like many parts of the rules are actually very vague and extremely open, and just giving general guidelines about what roleplaying could be when you are a beginner, and it's actually not necessarily an easy concept to grasp, today there are many videos like Critical Role who at least give some views as to what it could be. Moreover, like the rest of the rules, its completely subject to a table and a DM's interpretation. I just think it's a fine thing that D&D actually insists that it's a roleplaying game and that roleplaying permeates every part of the game, including combat.

That being said, like almost all the rules in the game, there will be people who try to use simple sentences out of context to try and justify OneTrueWayism (and I've seen people on some forums do exactly that saying that by definition in D&D, roleplaying was only "how your character thinks, acts, and talks"). Like all these attempts, it's actually a rather pathetic attempt at controlling others and "being right", but I don't think that this thread is about this so it's fine.

That being said, I would argue that "the players decide what they do" is not really about roleplaying, because it's exactly the same thing in a board game. Even the "how your character thinks, acts, and talks" is not necessarily about roleplaying, especially if it's not consistent from one moment to the next for various reasons. It could be argued that the "playing our a role" is actually the only part of the original post that actually speaks about roleplaying. There are however a few complements in the rules, such as "Drawing on your mental image of your character, you tell everyone what your character does and how he or she does it." or "When you use active roleplaying, you speak with your character's voice, like an actor taking on a role. " But note that these two sentences from from alternative sections about how to roleplay, once more showing the real open nature of the game.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The rules of 5E give this definition of roleplaying:
Roleplaying is, literally, the act of playing out a role. In this case, it’s you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks.​
The passage goes on to say that roleplaying “is a part of every aspect of the game,” and that there “are two styles you can use when roleplaying your character: the descriptive approach and the active approach.”

That roleplaying is present throughout the game is also made clear by step 2 of the basic pattern according to which the game unfolds as given in the “How to Play” section of the rulebook's Introduction, “The players describe what they want to do.” This is the players giving voice to their roleplaying. I.e. they determine how their characters think, act, and talk and then describe to the rest of the group what they have thus determined. This is the players’ sole contribution to the game, the other two thirds of the basic pattern belonging to the DM, and is the only way that the players can be said to actually be playing the game.
The bit you've bolded is the key here.

It could - and arguably should - be worded differently such as to get the word "characters" in there somewhere, but consider the ramifications of these two alternate wordings:

"The players describe what they want their characters to do."
"The players-as-characters describe what they want to do."

The first promotes pawn-stance, the second promotes immersion. The wording they actually used promotes neither, and thus leaves it open-ended. For a game trying to be the biggest tent it can, this is an impressively good little piece of writing in terms of achieving that goal. :)
 

I could be wrong, but my guess is this is saying, “as long as you’re deciding what your character thinks, says, and does, you’re roleplaying.” It’s the opposite of one-true wayism, saying that you don’t have to act in a particular way to be roleplaying, so long as you’re making decisions for your character. But then again, maybe I’m misinterpreting. The opening post doesn’t really have a thesis that I can identify, it’s just kind of stating what the rules say.
This is how it reads to me as well. The rulebook makes clear that first person or third person description and decision-making, speaking in character voice all the time, sometimes, or never, to all be roleplaying.
 

pemerton

Legend
The rules of 5E give this definition of roleplaying:
Roleplaying is, literally, the act of playing out a role. In this case, it’s you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks.​
The passage goes on to say that roleplaying “is a part of every aspect of the game,” and that there “are two styles you can use when roleplaying your character: the descriptive approach and the active approach.”

That roleplaying is present throughout the game is also made clear by step 2 of the basic pattern according to which the game unfolds as given in the “How to Play” section of the rulebook's Introduction, “The players describe what they want to do.” This is the players giving voice to their roleplaying. I.e. they determine how their characters think, act, and talk and then describe to the rest of the group what they have thus determined. This is the players’ sole contribution to the game, the other two thirds of the basic pattern belonging to the DM, and is the only way that the players can be said to actually be playing the game.
I've bolded a part of your post that - especially in light of some other recent threads - I think might be controversial.

Suppose (for the sake of analysis) that the game contains rules roughly of the form if a player declares that their PC does X, then mechanism Z is invoked to determine what happens next in the shared fiction. Then one contribution that the players make to the game, beyond determining how their PCs think, act and talk, is to invoke mechanisms via rules of the sort described.

Furthermore, such rules, if they existed, would constrain what the GM is allowed to say when "The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions" (the wording is quoted from p 3 of the Basic PDF). Thus another contribution that the players would make to the game would be to (indirectly) generate those constraints.

Now it seems that there is no consensus on whether or not D&D 5e does contain rules of the sort that I've described. But I think there is some evidence that it does, to be found especially in (i) the class write-ups, (ii) the stuff about travel and PC roles while travelling, (iii) the chapter on combat rules, and (iv) the rules for casting spells.

None of the above casts any doubt, at least as far as I can see, on your account of what roleplaying consists in for 5e D&D purposes.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
The one issue I have with the original post is when they say this: "they determine how their characters think, act, and talk and then describe to the rest of the group what they have thus determined. This is the players’ sole contribution to the game."

Uh, I'm sorry... but are we forgetting SNACKS? That's the players' SECOND contribution to the game, thank you very much! You determine how your character thinks and acts, * AND * you put a bag of cheese doodles on the table for me to eat.

Yeah, some of you may say this is "One True Wavy Lays-ism"... but screw you people! I didn't spend all this time prepping this adventure for you to not to pick up some pretzel rods for me. I mean sheesh!

;)
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
A little more explanation of my late-night-half asleep post. :sleep:

I don't think there is or needs to be one definition of role playing, nor do I think the current version of the game "demands" a specific style, or even if it does that it matters. People should do what works for them.

Let's start with:
... “The players describe what they want to do.”
There are some people who would say that you must state "I attempt to climb to get to the top" followed by the DM telling them to do a strength (athletics) is the way to do this. There are others who would be fine with the player stating "I roll a 15 athletics" if it's obvious the PC is climbing the wall; they've just taken a shortcut.*

... This [describe what they want to do] is the players’ sole contribution to the game,
So the player can never take narrative control? If they do, they're playing wrong? Seems very, very one true way and a needlessly strict definition. Not necessarily good nor bad, especially as a general guideline for people that have never played before.

the other two thirds of the basic pattern belonging to the DM, and is the only way that the players can be said to actually be playing the game.
So if a player tells a story about their family or associate, they are not actually playing the game? If a DM has a player describe the tavern, they aren't "actually ... playing the game"? Please tell me I misinterpret this.

But the pièce de résistance, the bit that seems to be the whole point of posting:
... [players describing what they want to do and think, the DM doing everything else] is the only way that the players can be said to actually be playing the game.​
I will never state or imply that other people are not "actually playing the game" based on, well, any personal preference or interpretation of the rules.

Maybe I misunderstand. Maybe it's just a troll with a wig and lipstick. Maybe the OP means exactly what I think and I just couldn't disagree more. There is no one true way.

* I really, really don't care what the book says on this, nor do I want to argue about it. For me, if what they are doing is clear it's fine. Other people find a different approach works for them. 🤷‍♂️
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I’m not sure what is controversial here. We have an OP quoting the rules and then, literally, stating the obvious: that roleplaying is how players engage with the game. It is a roleplaying game, after all.
From the title of the thread "it's how you play the game" to the last line "the only way that the players can be said to actually be playing the game." comes off as "If you are not playing the game this way, you're playing it wrong."

As it says in the intro to the DMG "The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren’t in charge." The general advice given is just that, general advice. It's not a bad place to start and for some people following the letter of the rules strictly will work best for them. Other people need to find their own groove.

Maybe I'm just antiauthoritarian, I reject the "thou shalt" vibe. It seems as though though the OP just stating the obvious or trolling. If it's the former, I don't really see the point. Why bother? It's like me starting a thread by copying and pasting the rules for fireball. If the latter I guess it's sort of working but I still don't see the point.
 


From the title of the thread "it's how you play the game" to the last line "the only way that the players can be said to actually be playing the game." comes off as "If you are not playing the game this way, you're playing it wrong."

As it says in the intro to the DMG "The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren’t in charge." The general advice given is just that, general advice. It's not a bad place to start and for some people following the letter of the rules strictly will work best for them. Other people need to find their own groove.

Maybe I'm just antiauthoritarian, I reject the "thou shalt" vibe. It seems as though though the OP just stating the obvious or trolling. If it's the former, I don't really see the point. Why bother? It's like me starting a thread by copying and pasting the rules for fireball. If the latter I guess it's sort of working but I still don't see the point.
Sometimes being reminded of the basics is a good chance to reflect on how we approach this game we all love.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Sometimes being reminded of the basics is a good chance to reflect on how we approach this game we all love.
So ... we have to follow your interpretation of the rules and ignore the other text that basically says "do what makes sense to you"?

To me there are hard rules (spell A has this range and effect) and there's guidance. Guidance is just that and you are also explicitly told by the game to do what works for you and your group.

But sure. One true way for the win I guess.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I could be wrong, but my guess is this is saying, “as long as you’re deciding what your character thinks, says, and does, you’re roleplaying.” It’s the opposite of one-true wayism, saying that you don’t have to act in a particular way to be roleplaying, so long as you’re making decisions for your character. But then again, maybe I’m misinterpreting. The opening post doesn’t really have a thesis that I can identify, it’s just kind of stating what the rules say.
"Guidelines", say. Per DMG 244.
 

So ... we have to follow your interpretation of the rules and ignore the other text that basically says "do what makes sense to you"?
No.

But I've found that it is useful to reflect once in a while on whether how we've been playing (i.e. "what makes sense to us") continues to jive with the basics of the game. Occasionally the ship drifts off course. YMMV

To me there are hard rules (spell A has this range and effect) and there's guidance. Guidance is just that and you are also explicitly told by the game to do what works for you and your group.
And to some, the books contain lots of rules to support the DM in running the game (and, indeed, the players in helping the DM to run the game). Where one decides to draw the line between "hard rules" and "guidance" is completely arbitrary per the "ruling not rules" uber-advice, wouldn't you say?

But sure. One true way for the win I guess.
Not sure why this is even a thing in this discussion. Perhaps we could keep the mud on the ground, yes?
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top