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D&D General Skilled Play, or Role Play: How Do You Approach Playing D&D?

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Well, collapsible equipment (whether metal or wood) would likely require a greater level of "tech" (metal working, precision tools, etc.) than is present in the D&D world.

But then again, maybe not? The actual level of "tech" in the D&D world seems to vary from bronze-age to early Industrial Revolution depending on what you looking at. :)
"http://Japanese carpentry was developed more than a millennium ago and uses distinctive woodworking joints. It involves building wooden furniture without the use of nails, screws, glue or electric tools"
1608866157043.png
It's pretty hardcore 3d puzzleish so I recommend seeing more examples doing a google image search for japanese wood joinery
the cultural stasis of world like FR make such developments likely but FR is not the only setting. Eberron, spelljammer, & sigil/planescape almost certainly have had a wide range of collapsible equipment for so long that it's not even unusual in certain product areas to find collapsible versions where it makes sense. Darksun is another one that almost certainly had it just as common but now just has some of it to be recovered so it could be found even if nobody still knows how to make it.

While eberron is early industrial revolution yes, it's not our industrial revolution so some areas (ie metallurgy) they are going to be quite a bit behind while others are going to be above the curve we set (sometimes dramatically so). The enlarge reduce is only a second level spell & does quite a bit more than would be needed for shrinking a nonliving inanimate object so the enchantment needed to shrink things like a pair of skis/snowshoes/fishing pole/bedroll/etc could easily be first level or even cantrip level enchantment on the item. That folding boat might be rare in forgotten realms sure but the first three of those four settings might have an availability on par with our heavy duty inflatable rafts today because it's a simple enough enchantment to build in.
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
If such things matter, or are important as archaeology, the question was answered by Mentzer in the 1983 Basic Red Box. Page 52 for those reading at home.

To quote a few relevant bits:

“Players are not characters!

It is important to remember that the player and the character are two different persons. The more the two are kept apart, the better your games can be...

There are many ways that this can affect the game, especially when a player knows something that the character doesn't...

When the players remember the difference between themselves and their characters, everyone can have more fun in Role Playing. If a character has low Intelligence and Wisdom scores, for example, and then does something stupid, the player can honestly say "I was playing my character," and others should remember not to get mad at the player. Their characters may indeed get mad at the stupid character, but it is very important to remember that the player is a different person.

This should not be used as an excuse for bad or selfish play. The DM should watch all the role playing closely to help everyone have the most fun. Since the object of the game is to have fun by playing roles, stupid or weak characters can be as much fun as smart, powerful ones — if the roles are played well.

The Dungeon Master may say, at any time in the game, "You don't know that!" or "You wouldn't think of that." Good players will learn to avoid this type of problem by keeping the character knowledge and player knowledge separate.”

It’s always interesting, to me, to look back at the early days and see what they said. If more people would read the old stuff, or the new writers would include this kind of language, we maybe could avoid some of the sillier long-standing arguments. But then what would we do instead of arguing endlessly...maybe play more games.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
If such things matter, or are important as archaeology, the question was answered by Mentzer in the 1983 Basic Red Box. Page 52 for those reading at home.

To quote a few relevant bits:

“Players are not characters!

It is important to remember that the player and the character are two different persons. The more the two are kept apart, the better your games can be...

There are many ways that this can affect the game, especially when a player knows something that the character doesn't...

When the players remember the difference between themselves and their characters, everyone can have more fun in Role Playing. If a character has low Intelligence and Wisdom scores, for example, and then does something stupid, the player can honestly say "I was playing my character," and others should remember not to get mad at the player. Their characters may indeed get mad at the stupid character, but it is very important to remember that the player is a different person.

This should not be used as an excuse for bad or selfish play. The DM should watch all the role playing closely to help everyone have the most fun. Since the object of the game is to have fun by playing roles, stupid or weak characters can be as much fun as smart, powerful ones — if the roles are played well.

The Dungeon Master may say, at any time in the game, "You don't know that!" or "You wouldn't think of that." Good players will learn to avoid this type of problem by keeping the character knowledge and player knowledge separate.”

It’s always interesting, to me, to look back at the early days and see what they said. If more people would read the old stuff, or the new writers would include this kind of language, we maybe could avoid some of the sillier long-standing arguments. But then what would we do instead of arguing endlessly...maybe play more games.
2e DMG had a great section on the importance of player rewards like treasure & magic items thst went into how you could use other rewards such as xyz but doing so was a difficult feat to accomplish well in fulfilling ways as the gm. It's not really reflected in the 5e DMG and hard to give weight that the 5e team remains reading that
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
Well, collapsible equipment (whether metal or wood) would likely require a greater level of "tech" (metal working, precision tools, etc.) than is present in the D&D world.
Meanwhile, in D&D world: your potion of vitality will be delivered at the nearest teleportation circle within a week. Subscribe to Nyanzon Prime to get your goods delivered at your door step within 24 hours!
 

reelo

Adventurer
Meanwhile, in D&D world: your potion of vitality will be delivered at the nearest teleportation circle within a week. Subscribe to Nyanzon Prime to get your goods delivered at your door step within 24 hours!
What "D&D world" ? Maybe in yours, not in mine.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
With the caviat that there still be a Magic stat, I agree.

3 Magic stats. One magic stat associated to each of the physical one.

I always said that if I made an OSR. I'd make a "Skilled Play" one with Magic Strength, Magic Dexterity, and Magic Toughness. All Mental aspects would be roleplayed. Maybe allowing players to take roleplaying tags.
 

Jack Daniel

Legend
3 Magic stats. One magic stat associated to each of the physical one.

I always said that if I made an OSR. I'd make a "Skilled Play" one with Magic Strength, Magic Dexterity, and Magic Toughness. All Mental aspects would be roleplayed. Maybe allowing players to take roleplaying tags.
Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Mana, Glamour, and Piety. :)
 

Zsong

Explorer
Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Mana, Glamour, and Piety. :)
How about replace strength, dexterity and constitution with mental state to like toughness, guile, and will

You don’t have to be buff like a body builder, maybe they do the extra damage because they are tough as nails like Clint Eastwood and just have that extra edge to do damage.

maybe they are not an Olympic athlete, and they have that guile to know where not to be when an attack starts coming their way.

maybe they don’t have a superior immune system for extra hp, just the will to live and keep fighting.
 

Could you give me some examples? What I posted is the broadest definition I can think of that's not so broad as to be meaningless.

To be precise: "But roleplaying is, at its core, the interaction between the player and the DM. The player inhabiting a character in a fantasy world the DM describes to the player."

Here fantasy only means make-believe, not fantasy in the sense of the fiction genre labeled "fantasy" for marketing purposes.
OK, I guess there is RP that doesn't involve a 'player and DM' interaction. Beyond that I don't think that one single participant must be describing the world to the other. There are a lot of configurations of who can say what and I think the people practicing those different techniques are still RPing.

I don't think your definition is BAD, as far as it goes. It just strikes me more as a description of the classic D&D paradigm, not 'role play in general' or 'role playing games in general'. That's all.
 

This is an interesting point. You decide your abilities or you roll them and they can shape how you approach the character you created.

What I want to make clear that in my approach to the game, this is a voluntary course of action taken by the player, if it improves their enjoyment.

What I mean is that if a player rolled or chose a 3 Int for their character, that player has the choice to voluntarily role-play that character as dumb and do dumb things in character. It can be fun to be comic relief or instigate trouble or whatever (assuming it doesn't mess with the group).

But some elements of the game are not intended to challenge the character (like puzzles) or many activities are a joint group discussion (like figuring out how to ambush some guards or sneak into a castle). In these cases, that player may want to and enjoy taking a part in solving those puzzles or discussing options. I would not use that 3 Int to discourage or prevent that player from that enjoyment.

I am sure as heck not going to tell a person sitting at my table to shut-up because a piece of paper has a number 3 on it.
I certainly hear you, but IMHO this sounds more like "play in a skilled fashion" where your PC is just basically a 'pog' that you move around to indicate where you are and to interact with some rules now and then, but the numbers on the sheet really don't match up with your RP. I guess the question is, if you are playing a PC with a low INT and you play cleverly and come up with a lot of smart solutions to puzzles that less intelligent people would not, and your ability score bonuses (or whatever for the given edition) indicate low chances of success at things that require "intellect" then it seems like your character concept is not very coherent! So this type of play does run into some problems when it comes to RP (and this is probably what the OP was thinking when he started this thread).
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Not really.

First, make the pole square instead of round.
Second, chop it into four 2.5' lengths.
Third, take the hinges off your small treasure chest and attach them to the four pieces of pole such that it folds into two stacked Zs.

Bingo. Collapsible pole.

FLOPPY collapsible pole, as nothing keeps those segments straight when it is extended. You need at least one latch per joint to hold it open.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
How about replace strength, dexterity and constitution with mental state to like toughness, guile, and will

You don’t have to be buff like a body builder, maybe they do the extra damage because they are tough as nails like Clint Eastwood and just have that extra edge to do damage.

maybe they are not an Olympic athlete, and they have that guile to know where not to be when an attack starts coming their way.

maybe they don’t have a superior immune system for extra hp, just the will to live and keep fighting.

The idea is that in the original skilled play, the mental aspects are purely roleplayed as the players and player skill is used in that realm.

So only physical and spiritual/magic ability scores are the only ones handled by the game. Strength Dexterity Toughness Lore Piety Willpower.

This way you can roll in order and not affect your PC's personality and mind.
 

Dr Magister

Explorer
Both, but in my experience there's a sharp divide within a game session, and it's usually when combat starts.

There'll be plenty of roleplay and acting in character and getting into the mindset of the character and chatting to NPCs a d e gaging with the setting. Then initiative is rolled, the battlemap is brought out, and everyone switches to Tactical Wargame Mode. Decisions might be made based to some extent on 'what my character would do', but mostly it's about tacical expediency.

Then the last baddie hits the deck, and it's back into Roleplay Mode.
 

Yes, and, when done right, narrative play and skilled play in D&D 5e need not look so different in practice at the table in many circumstances. Only the DM is aware of the exact answer to a puzzle or if the answer is not fixed or if there is a fixed range of answers. I believe it should not be obvious to the players at the table that it is one way or another. It's really always the illusion of a single fixed answer or small possible number of alternative ways around the puzzle. I guess what I'm saying is that, to me, the '3rd type of play' you describe is more like a tool in the DM's toolbelt rather than a way to run an entire campaign. Otherwise, if most anything can succeed at all times, challenges such as puzzles become, well, unchallenging - in D&D anyway.
Well, games like Dungeon World really do basically run this way 'all the time', the agenda and principles of play are simply different from the other paradigms. It is certainly possible for the players to be surprised in DW by a twist. It is of course trivial for the PCs to be in the dark about things. So, a genuine puzzle is possible in DW, it wouldn't be played so much to test the puzzle-solving skills of the player, nor of the PC actually, but it COULD do so, and if that is enjoyable then it is certainly 'correct play'.

In DW the GM is a 'fan of the PCs' and the idea is to give them chances to be awesome, but that also involves chances to fail. Mostly in DW or similar games 'failure' (or some shade of grey where you succeeded with complications) isn't tightly coupled to the action being taken, but more to the intent. It would be perfectly normal in DW to have a failed attempt to pick the lock on a door end with a surprise guard patrol showing up just as the lock clicks open. The intent, to pass beyond the door without raising an alarm, has not been achieved, though technically the awesome lock-picking Thief overcame the tumblers of the lock...

With puzzles specifically DW would allow for something like making 'Defy Danger' checks to not make the wrong puzzle move, with failures either creating a more difficult position or some such. Of course it is also perfectly feasible to simply do it the old-fashioned way too!
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
OK, I guess there is RP that doesn't involve a 'player and DM' interaction. Beyond that I don't think that one single participant must be describing the world to the other. There are a lot of configurations of who can say what and I think the people practicing those different techniques are still RPing.

I don't think your definition is BAD, as far as it goes. It just strikes me more as a description of the classic D&D paradigm, not 'role play in general' or 'role playing games in general'. That's all.
That’s not an example, really. Except for solo play, there’s no RPG I can think of that doesn’t involve one person describing the scene and one or more people describing their characters reacting as if they were in that scene. Even story games like Fiasco are still RPGs by that definition. Whether that involves a set role of DM/GM/Storyteller/Referee/Facilitator/Etc or not. All RPGs involve one person describing something and another describing their character’s reaction to that description. I mean that’s literally playing a role. naughty word. That description is so broad it might even include proper acting and improv. So I’m not sure why you think it excludes some RPGs. If you could give me an example of a game you think doesn’t fit my definition that would be a great start.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Meanwhile, in D&D world: your potion of vitality will be delivered at the nearest teleportation circle within a week. Subscribe to Nyanzon Prime to get your goods delivered at your door step within 24 hours!
Dang it! I subscribed to Primus and now I can only buy something if I also buy it for the rest of the class. That gets expensive.
 


Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Skilled play is preferable, it's not new or modern, it's actually very old school.

We tried Role Play in 1980-81, because there was nothing else in the B/X rules, and quickly discovered it didn't work. A player can't role play 18 intelligence if he is only average Intelligence. Same goes for Wisdom and Charisma scores higher than the player's.

Thus, we decided to use roll equal or less than the ability scores in 1981 after trying out Call of Cthulhu. The players made a d20 roll to determine outcome of the action. Everyone was happy, me (DM) included.

Also, using player knowledge to resolve situations is called meta gaming. It lead to all kinds of long winded arguments on what should and should not be allowed. Like, for example, trying to jury-rig a WWII flamethrower-like device, using oil flasks, in the middle of a dungeon because the magic-user had no more spells.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Skilled play is preferable, it's not new or modern, it's actually very old school.

We tried Role Play in 1980-81, because there was nothing else in the B/X rules, and quickly discovered it didn't work. A player can't role play 18 intelligence if he is only average Intelligence. Same goes for Wisdom and Charisma scores higher than the player's.

Thus, we decided to use roll equal or less than the ability scores in 1981 after trying out Call of Cthulhu. The players made a d20 roll to determine outcome of the action. Everyone was happy, me (DM) included.

Also, using player knowledge to resolve situations is called meta gaming. It lead to all kinds of long winded arguments on what should and should not be allowed. Like, for example, trying to jury-rig a WWII flamethrower-like device, using oil flasks, in the middle of a dungeon because the magic-user had no more spells.

And not all metagaming is purpuseful. It's easy to forget what your scores are in the heat of the conversation unless you are a skilled actor and can fake it and keep in character for long periods.

Skilled Play and Role Play are hampered by
  1. The spellcasters having genius levels of mental stats.
  2. The warriors having no emphasis on mental stats for their roles and jobs.
  3. The additional difficulty in playing PCs with normal stats
  4. The low or lack of support in mechanics for playing physical spellcasters and mental warriors.
I miss the 4e Cha-Paladin. You only needed enough Str to make sense in the heavy armor and you could play a non-beefy person who can be a frontliner and a smooth talker without dirty hexblade shenanigans.

Shadowsword: You wanna smite people with your Charisma, right? So oil my hilt and think of Bahamut.
 

Well, games like Dungeon World really do basically run this way 'all the time', the agenda and principles of play are simply different from the other paradigms. It is certainly possible for the players to be surprised in DW by a twist. It is of course trivial for the PCs to be in the dark about things. So, a genuine puzzle is possible in DW, it wouldn't be played so much to test the puzzle-solving skills of the player, nor of the PC actually, but it COULD do so, and if that is enjoyable then it is certainly 'correct play'.
Haven't played Dungeon World, but sounds like a nice mechanic for that ruleset. Although, not having the context of having played DW, the description you provide here doesn't sound all that different from playing 5e.

In DW the GM is a 'fan of the PCs' and the idea is to give them chances to be awesome, but that also involves chances to fail. Mostly in DW or similar games 'failure' (or some shade of grey where you succeeded with complications) isn't tightly coupled to the action being taken, but more to the intent. It would be perfectly normal in DW to have a failed attempt to pick the lock on a door end with a surprise guard patrol showing up just as the lock clicks open. The intent, to pass beyond the door without raising an alarm, has not been achieved, though technically the awesome lock-picking Thief overcame the tumblers of the lock...
Very much the same as in D&D 5e, in my experience, with the key being the bolded part - and everything else follows.

With puzzles specifically DW would allow for something like making 'Defy Danger' checks to not make the wrong puzzle move, with failures either creating a more difficult position or some such. Of course it is also perfectly feasible to simply do it the old-fashioned way too!
Again, plays very much the same in 5e at our table. Most any action declaration to make the right puzzle move (or to not make the wrong puzzle move) might be met with a DM asking for an ability check - that is, if the action has the possibility of success or failure, and meaningful consequences for said failure.

Hmm... I guess one might say that the distinction between "skilled play" and "narrative play" needn't have a strongly defined border.
 
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