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D&D General Styles of Roleplaying and Characters

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Aldarc

Legend
I don't see it as being the same.
There's a lot we don't see eye-to-eye on.

In combat, the rules are (usually) pretty clear about what mechanics are used to determine outcomes. Why? Because we can't physically roleplay out the combats at the table and something has to step in and take over.

We can, however, roleplay out social interactions and-or our own characters' emotions at the table without recourse to rules (in which case, rules for such things become unnecessary); and if a character's emotional state is such that he both wants to assassinate someone and is in a positon to do so the game should not IMO attempt to interrupt that by arbitrarily challenging the character's emotional state. Ditto if the character falls in love with someone or feels any other strong emotion; that's the player's choice to make* and the game should not be able to arbitrarily interfere.

Once we get to the actual putting of knife to throat, of course, we're into combat; and all the associated rules of abstraction come into play.

* - in all cases I'm assuming the absence of mind-control magics or similar.
This has been rehashed time and time again. Think that this is the magic time that your old school perspective will convince me or anyone else otherwise that this isn't much of a distinction without a difference?
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So you're an adherent of telling isn't teaching?
I'm an adherent of your character is, absent controlling magics, yours to play as you see fit; and this includes unfettered-by-the-game determination of its emotional state.

I play the character I want to play. If the game can sometimes force my character into a different emotional state than I feel is right for the situation, then at least for the rest of that scene I'm then stuck playing a character I don't want to play. And, as your cowardice example shows, this might have possible long-term ramifications to how the character is portrayed: if I don't want to play a coward yet the game ends up telling me my character's a coward, that character's getting retired right quick. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
You never have PC's surprised? Never use a pit trap in a hallway? No ambushes? That seems a bit doubtful.

Unless, your saying that just by sitting down, there is a tacit agreement that the DM can do bad things to your character, but, that's not what I think you mean.
Actually that is exactly what I mean. Thanks for putting it so clearly. :)

I also have to thank you, indirectly, for causing me to notice something else: I went to quote the page on my game's website where this is mentioned and that page seems to be missing. Most likely it got overlooked when I transitioned from paper some years back. Will fix. :)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Hmm... You've obviously filled in a number of blanks about me (incorrectly) that are making this more difficult than it should be. Let's try and address some of this in turn.

Not at all. Those other mechanics suck too, and if there were any other reasonable way to resolve them other than rolling dice and engaging with (hopefully unobtrusive and fade into the background) mechanics, then I'd obviously prefer them. (Assuming, of course, that you want to introduce an element of risk that can't be modeled any other way. I suppose you could always just talk through action scenes, but few people would find that entertaining in the same way that rolling dice to see if you succeed or fail on various elements is.)

In terms of character exploration and development and (many) social interactions: THERE IS another and superior way to handle it, so I have little interest in a mechanical solution to something that doesn't need a mechanical solution. I'm neither making gross caricatures (or even pleasant caricatures) nor bad assumptions, I just have a very strong preference for non-mechanical solutions whenever reasonably possible. You, I presume, see it as a double standard because you don't have that preference, and like to engage with clever mechanics, so clever mechanics that do something interesting to you in a scenario in which I have no preference for ANY mechanics, especially not overly precious ones seems like fun. I don't think that it is, and it's not because I have a double standard. I just have a different standard than you do.

I also take exception to the egregiously untrue assertion that you've repeatedly made that you can't explore character, or learn anything about character without having mechanics to introduce a random element into the equation, because without the random element giving you results that you don't expect, you can't actually learn anything.

Ahem... that is, in fact, a statement that requires a bad assumption and is therefore a gross caricature. In fact, it's that bad assumption and gross caricature that I believe is almost solely responsible for this tangent being dragged on as long as it has been. That's the kind of thing that people DO take exception to; being told that they're not even doing what they claim to be doing, because if they're not doing it the way you proscribe, then they better come up with a different label for it.


Wow, I'm... not doing that at all. I honestly have no idea what you're talking about now. I don't even play 5e. I've never even read 5e. I'm not at all protecting my playstyle against some perceived attack. I am, however, taking exception to your characterization that certain things can only be done if you do them the specific way that you think that they should be done, and everyone else who says that they're doing exactly what you're claiming that they can't be doing just fine without those mechanics should probably be taken at face value.

I don't play D&D. I've been dissatisfied with D&D since 1985, a least, if not earlier. I leaned heavily into White Wolf in the 90s, and eventually lost interest in them because the games were written and played more like D&D than they pretended to; they were just more smug and pretentious about it. I was heavily exposed to competing approaches to play long before 3e was even released or I discovered ENWorld in its earliest incarnation several usernames ago.

I just take exception to the fact that in your advocacy for PbtA (or Dogs in the Vinyard, or Fiasco, or whatever other Forge-esque game you care to refer to) type games you're making claims that people aren't actually doing what they think that they are doing, because without PbtA type mechanics, they aren't doing jack squat with character. That's patently untrue AND insulting, which is why you're getting so much pushback for making that assertion from so many people.

See, even that you mischaracterize. I made a throwaway reference to the fact that maybe if a bunch of people are telling you that they're doing something just fine without your mechanics that it is, in fact, possible to do so without your mechanics, and all you see from that is a gross appeal to popularity?
Actually, I pegged you as less extreme. Now I am aware of some of your opinions, this makes lots more sense. You appear to be very locked into a particular viewpoint as superior to all others, and that particular view is strongly against the ideas I'm putting forth. No big, you can do you, but any further discussion on the topic is doomed to fail because you've clearly indicated that you're absolutely against even considering these as an equally valid way to play -- that the concepts involved are already bunk. Why you feel the need to also appropriate the concept space so that your approach has everything at all times, though, I'm not sure. My personal approach to gaming isn't nearly as fragile -- I can easily accept that there are other ways to play that I don't like, but that are equally valid. My way is not superior, to use your parlance describing your preferences. It's different.

The Forge comment is especially illuminating.

And I never once said, or even implied, that you have to have mechanics to have interesting character stuff. I strongly disagree with that. You have to have some form of risk to character, which games usually operationalize as mechanics, to have a game where you actually learn things about your character rather than decide things for them. This is a very different thing to say. That you persist in defending a metaphor for the act of authoring a character as truth is weird to me, especially the way you've become so aggressive about it. People also have told me the world is flat, but that doesn't require me to accept this as truth. Similarly, being surprised by your own thinking doesn't mean a character did it.

Finally, on pushback: I've also gotten some good responses and good back and forths and even some good support for my arguments. Those don't mean I'm right, just as you and some others pushing back doesn't mean I'm wrong. It's quite ironic that you accuse me of an appeal to popularity while making one yourself -- that I must be wrong because so many people (what, 5?) have responded with pushback.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This is something I’ve talked about pretty regularly on ENWorld in the past.

This “agency-purifying idea” (not sure what else to call it) in D&Dville whereby humans suffer neither hijack nor undue influence by the endocrine system, cultural layer pressures, badly formed heuristics, and decision-tree work offloaded onto automaticity and unconscious process…

…well I certainly don’t see how it produces either more realism or more habitation of cognitive/emotional workspace (the phenomenon of capture…which is largely not opt-in/voluntary). It resembles nothing like what life is like. Taken to its ultimate conclusion it should wipe out a whole host of troubling human conditions that routinely haunt lives captured by them (like variations of Stockholm Syndrome, peer contagion, addiction, and plenty more).
Except it doesn't wipe those things out. One assumes those conditions (and many others) exist in the game world, thus it merely gives players the choice of whether or not to play a PC as being afflicted by one or more of them rather than having any of those conditions forced upon it by the game.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'm an adherent of your character is, absent controlling magics, yours to play as you see fit; and this includes unfettered-by-the-game determination of its emotional state.

I play the character I want to play. If the game can sometimes force my character into a different emotional state than I feel is right for the situation, then at least for the rest of that scene I'm then stuck playing a character I don't want to play. And, as your cowardice example shows, this might have possible long-term ramifications to how the character is portrayed: if I don't want to play a coward yet the game ends up telling me my character's a coward, that character's getting retired right quick. :)
That sounds more like character concept protectionism that @Ovinomancer was talking about earlier.
 

Except it doesn't wipe those things out. One assumes those conditions (and many others) exist in the game world, thus it merely gives players the choice of whether or not to play a PC as being afflicted by one or more of them rather than having any of those conditions forced upon it by the game.

The problem here is things like the fallout of affliction and the loss of volition due to your endocrine system hijacking your decision-tree (and the other things I mentioned) are not opt-in.

So opt-in/out authorship is fundamentally off the table if a player is looking for the experiential aspect or habitation of an individual who is dealing with (say) being smitten or struggling with addiction.

If someone says "I think I'll go ahead and alienate people close to me because I have an acute attachment disorder due to abandonment and neglect as a child", then they fundamentally are not dealing with anything resembling the experiential aspect of actually having an acute attachment disorder.

Having the option to opt-in/out is a non-starter.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I do not think you need any particular mechanics to have meaningful character exploration (although the right ones applied skillfully can help). In my experience you do need a genuine commitment to it and a strategy for dealing with a number of common pitfalls. First you have a strategy for avoiding becoming too attached to your personal conception of your character. Then you have to find a way to break past the what I call the improv wall - where we avoid meaningful conflict by utilizing improv comedy techniques like yes and. That's collaborative storytelling ,not character exploration, in my opinion. Finally we have to develop a way to set clear boundaries and expectations for each other. We all need to be socially free to play our characters with integrity and invested in each others' characters enough to let things play their course.
I think you touch on something here I'd like to dig into a bit - please forgive me if the following isn't very clear as my thoughts are still coalescing as I type.

There are, I think, two different things under discussion here that are both being called character exploration.

One is what you touch on above where you say you need a "strategy for avoiding becoming too attached to your personal conception of your character". This and some other bits tell me you're equating character exploration with character alteration as the campaign goes along; that the character is highly likely (or certain?) to end up being quite different than what you started with, even ignoring or absent mechanical changes e.g. level-ups etc.

The other type of character exploration doesn't require or expect a character concept to change over time (though, of course, it still can); and that's where a player has a concept and then as the campaign progresses the player explores (and maybe or maybe not exposes through roleplay) how and why that character came to be what it is. What are the underlying in-game reasons for it being what it is and thinking as it does? How id it get here - and, maybe, where's it going next? How has its backstory affected and shaped its current emotional state?

Some players might like to nail down the second type of exploration before the character ever enters play; and while that's fine for them, I see it as jumping the gun in that it's hard to know the in-game reasons behind your character's thought processes when you haven't yet experienced the DM's setting.

The rest of the above paragraph seems to be mostly about avoidance of PvP; which ceases to be an issue if PvP is allowed. :)
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Actually, I pegged you as less extreme. Now I am aware of some of your opinions, this makes lots more sense. You appear to be very locked into a particular viewpoint as superior to all others, and that particular view is strongly against the ideas I'm putting forth. No big, you can do you, but any further discussion on the topic is doomed to fail because you've clearly indicated that you're absolutely against even considering these as an equally valid way to play -- that the concepts involved are already bunk. Why you feel the need to also appropriate the concept space so that your approach has everything at all times, though, I'm not sure. My personal approach to gaming isn't nearly as fragile -- I can easily accept that there are other ways to play that I don't like, but that are equally valid. My way is not superior, to use your parlance describing your preferences. It's different.
Uh... what? Again, filling in the blanks. Pointing out that I have preferences, and talking a bit about what they are hardly qualifies as saying that they're superior. Except with regards to a game that I PERSONALLY would enjoy, of course. This seems like projection to me, or at least some kind of assumptions being filled in that have little to do with anything that I think.

That said, I will absolutely own up to being at a point where I have little interest in experimenting with stuff that is beyond the ken of what I know that I like. I've never been the kind of gamer who liked system for its own sake, and I've tried a little bit of almost everything over the years. I can talk about stuff that's outside the orbit of my preferences from an academic standpoint, and I can recognize why people with different preferences than me would like them, but I have very little interest in doing anything other than that with them anymore. If you want to call that "locked in", well... OK.
The Forge comment is especially illuminating.
Only if you're in the habit of attempting to read too much into stuff. I'm an old school forum guy, and I still use Forge-esque to refer to this kind of stuff because twenty some odd years or so ago when I was spending more time at rpg.net than here, that's what we called it. I recognize that the reference is a bit dated, but I'm not aware of a general term that applies as well to "non-trad" story-mechanics type games, except maybe "storygames" which I refuse to use, because I think it's taken on a bit of a smug, deprecating connotation over the years.
And I never once said, or even implied, that you have to have mechanics to have interesting character stuff. I strongly disagree with that. You have to have some form of risk to character, which games usually operationalize as mechanics, to have a game where you actually learn things about your character rather than decide things for them. This is a very different thing to say. That you persist in defending a metaphor for the act of authoring a character as truth is weird to me, especially the way you've become so aggressive about it. People also have told me the world is flat, but that doesn't require me to accept this as truth. Similarly, being surprised by your own thinking doesn't mean a character did it.
Having a mechanic do it doesn't mean a character did it either. You called me out for supposedly wanting to have a double standard and have it both ways with regards to mechanics, I'm saying you're doing the same thing with regards to what you consider a "character" to have done, or your ability to learn about it. If it isn't done mechanically, you've said repeatedly that you're just "authoring" it, nothing happened that you didn't just think of. I'm not quite sure what to make of you strongly disagreeing that you've said something that you've said repeatedly, so I presume you mean that you don't like the way that I've paraphrased it, either because you think it sounds disparaging, or because I've not properly understood it after all. If the latter, I'd be interested in seeing exactly and specifically what I've misunderstood. Even now you're talking about learning about your character as opposed to deciding for them; what method of learning do you propose that isn't mechanical?
Finally, on pushback: I've also gotten some good responses and good back and forths and even some good support for my arguments. Those don't mean I'm right, just as you and some others pushing back doesn't mean I'm wrong. It's quite ironic that you accuse me of an appeal to popularity while making one yourself -- that I must be wrong because so many people (what, 5?) have responded with pushback.
I think you're in a little bit of denial about taking on a very OneTrueWayism tone, which is probably why you've projected that attitude on to me. And I probably come across as more OneTrueWayist than I actually feel, just because that's my tone generally (my wife tells me variations on that theme repeatedly when I'm just stating my opinion about something.) That said, if you don't think you're doing that, OK. I'll accept that and not continue to try and say that yes you are; you probably know better than me.

Maybe pushback is less accurate than a combination of pushback and complete confusion about your characterization of exploring, learning, discovering, etc. vs authoring. But I'll let that go; given that there doesn't really exist a solid vocabulary to talk about that kind of game play that everyone will follow and understand, perhaps some misunderstanding was inevitable. I think in order to talk about this without it turning into a Charlie Foxtrot, it probably needs a whole different glossary of terms that don't already mean something else in the minds of those who read them.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Uh... what? Again, filling in the blanks. Pointing out that I have preferences, and talking a bit about what they are hardly qualifies as saying that they're superior. Except with regards to a game that I PERSONALLY would enjoy, of course. This seems like projection to me, or at least some kind of assumptions being filled in that have little to do with anything that I think.
I stopped here, because I'm not sure we can continue to have a discussion when you say this right have having said this:

In terms of character exploration and development and (many) social interactions: THERE IS another and superior way to handle it, so I have little interest in a mechanical solution to something that doesn't need a mechanical solution.

I have an appointment, so perhaps I'll get further in your reply at a later time.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
I stopped here, because I'm not sure we can continue to have a discussion when you say this right have having said this:



I have an appointment, so perhaps I'll get further in your reply at a later time.
I didn't say it was GENERALLY superior. I went out of my way to provide context on my preferences so that it would be clear that superior in this case meant superior to me with regards to my preferences. All of that context, which I notice you don't quote.

Hmm... I suppose in hindsight that doesn't seem quite as obvious as it did when I typed it, however.
 

Traveler does annoy me, because it's exactly the kind of random disconnected die roll that people complain about.

How is it different if:
a) During character generation, you roll a result that says, "You carry a secret that (insert secret)"
b) During character generation, another player says, "You carry a secret that (insert same secret)"

Is it that we can assume (or we hope) that the player chooses something that fits the evolving fiction, whereas the random table is the same random table for every game in the world and might not make sense for your campaign?

You're mistaking "detail" for what I'm talking about. I can create an extremely "detailed" character through just the act of authoring it and it doesn't require play at all.

Ah, ok, I started responding to this and I think I realize what you mean. The "detail" might be the secret the other player assigns to you, or the Flaw you choose upon character creation. But then there are the ways in which those details drive how you play the character. Is that the distinction you are making?

If so, perhaps "detail" was the wrong word but I was trying to encapsulate both things. Maybe "facets"? "Expressions"?

No, my point is about finding out things about the character that I don't wholly create myself.

Sure and I was trying to enumerate all the ways those "things" come into being, one of which is you creating them.

I don't follow this at all. Your 1 and 2 aren't exclusive to each other, and I don't know what you're trying to describe here. Perhaps engage with one of the examples I've presented and point out where you're having trouble specifically? You keep generalizing back and somethings being lost but I can tell where exactly it's being lost because of the generalizations.

Hopefully I did just engage a bit more with the example of the secret. But, yes, I'm trying to generalize from the examples, because the only way I can be sure I understand what you are describing is by offering a generalization you agree with. (And, even then...). And I also want a framework to discuss, not just a bunch of examples/anecdotes.

Ahem. Moving right along...

If your character has a "secret" I can think of three ways you could have acquired that secret:
1. You voluntarily take it for your character (you might have come up with it, or somebody else might have suggested it)
2. The rules of the game allow another player or DM to assign that secret to your character
3. The secret is randomly generated according to the rules of the game

In your example, this trait (the secret) was acquired by method #2.

There's then a parallel to these three options during play. In this case I want to use the Flaw you mentioned upthread, about not associating with people who don't pull their weight. In this case you acquired the "detail" by method #1. We could just as easily be looking at the secret, acquired with method #2, but I'm trying to address both of your examples. Again, I see three variations:
1. You decide to express your Flaw in a certain way (perhaps with incentives from the rules to do so in a certain way)
2. Another person at the table is given formal permission by the rules to decide how you express the Flaw.
3. The rules tell you how the Flaw must be expressed (perhaps with multiple options to choose from)

I think in your example you were describing #3, but from another system (not 5e).

To summarize/combine those two parts:

A big component of roleplaying is a) acquiring traits for our characters, and then b) expressing them narratively. In both cases these things can be determined by our own choices, from the choices of others, or from the rules of the game.

And I think what you are saying is that if you only use option 1 for both the acquisition and the expression, then you never discover/learn/explore anything unexpected. That "learning about the character" requires an external source to impose them upon us.

I'm not concluding anything from any of this yet, I just want to get on the same page about what we're actually talking about.
 


Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The rest of the above paragraph seems to be mostly about avoidance of PvP; which ceases to be an issue if PvP is allowed. :)

A big part of what I try to do as a GM in these sorts of games is trying to foster an environment where conflict between characters is sustained and encouraged, there is unity of purpose between players (we all want to see what happens next without being overly invested in the outcome), but we are not colluding to tell a story. It's a delicate line, but it lets me push into the more personal sorts of conflicts without things becoming emotionally tumultuous between players.

So PC vs. PC vs. NPC, but never PvP if we can help it.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I didn't say it was GENERALLY superior. I went out of my way to provide context on my preferences so that it would be clear that superior in this case meant superior to me with regards to my preferences. All of that context, which I notice you don't quote.

Hmm... I suppose in hindsight that doesn't seem quite as obvious as it did when I typed it, however.
I didn't claim you said it was generally superior. Your choice of strong words to indicate that you think it's superior is the same problem -- you've strongly indicated that you're going to reject the concepts outright, so any discussion that's trying to look at a difference in approach isn't going to be fruitful because your answer will be no -- one approach isn't valid in your mind so why bother with differences.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
How is it different if:
a) During character generation, you roll a result that says, "You carry a secret that (insert secret)"
b) During character generation, another player says, "You carry a secret that (insert same secret)"

Is it that we can assume (or we hope) that the player chooses something that fits the evolving fiction, whereas the random table is the same random table for every game in the world and might not make sense for your campaign?
You seem to be fixated on the secret bit, but I'll try to work around it.

First, I didn't say that the lifepath system was or wasn't anything, I said I didn't like it, and I don't. It is the exact disconnected random die roll telling you about your character that is often complained about, for one, and for two I really dislike how disconnected it is from anything else about the character or any other character at the table. That's how it's different for me -- it never engages with the character, it just directs. But then, paradoxically for how many think of my preferences, I dislike systems with lots of random in them.
Ah, ok, I started responding to this and I think I realize what you mean. The "detail" might be the secret the other player assigns to you, or the Flaw you choose upon character creation. But then there are the ways in which those details drive how you play the character. Is that the distinction you are making?

If so, perhaps "detail" was the wrong word but I was trying to encapsulate both things. Maybe "facets"? "Expressions"?
I'm not sure what model you're building here, so I can't really help. Seriously, not trying to be dismissive or difficult, but I'm really not sure what it is you're trying to capture. It seems to me that you're naming trees, though, while looking for the forest.
Sure and I was trying to enumerate all the ways those "things" come into being, one of which is you creating them.
I think maybe this is a crux point. Let me provide useful context by quoting the part of my post that you're responded to here:

"No, my point is about finding out things about the character that I don't wholly create myself."

I'm talking about discovering things I did not create about my character and you're talking about listing ways things are created. This is a disconnect in intent -- I'm not talking about specific methods, here, but in results first. Then the methods can be examined.
Hopefully I did just engage a bit more with the example of the secret. But, yes, I'm trying to generalize from the examples, because the only way I can be sure I understand what you are describing is by offering a generalization you agree with. (And, even then...). And I also want a framework to discuss, not just a bunch of examples/anecdotes.
You're trying to build a framework whereas I'm trying to explain a concept. This kinda feels like you want a set of blueprints for a skyscraper but don't really know what a skyscraper is and are instead putting together your blueprints based off a well, because it's also mostly vertical in dimension and you know wells. Again, not trying to be demeaning here, but this is a mismatch I'm noticing -- you're trying to put together a framework and I'm not certain at all I've gotten my concept across. Which is as much on my as anyone.
Ahem. Moving right along...

If your character has a "secret" I can think of three ways you could have acquired that secret:
1. You voluntarily take it for your character (you might have come up with it, or somebody else might have suggested it)
2. The rules of the game allow another player or DM to assign that secret to your character
3. The secret is randomly generated according to the rules of the game

In your example, this trait (the secret) was acquired by method #2.

There's then a parallel to these three options during play. In this case I want to use the Flaw you mentioned upthread, about not associating with people who don't pull their weight. In this case you acquired the "detail" by method #1. We could just as easily be looking at the secret, acquired with method #2, but I'm trying to address both of your examples. Again, I see three variations:
1. You decide to express your Flaw in a certain way (perhaps with incentives from the rules to do so in a certain way)
2. Another person at the table is given formal permission by the rules to decide how you express the Flaw.
3. The rules tell you how the Flaw must be expressed (perhaps with multiple options to choose from)

I think in your example you were describing #3, but from another system (not 5e).

To summarize/combine those two parts:

A big component of roleplaying is a) acquiring traits for our characters, and then b) expressing them narratively. In both cases these things can be determined by our own choices, from the choices of others, or from the rules of the game.

And I think what you are saying is that if you only use option 1 for both the acquisition and the expression, then you never discover/learn/explore anything unexpected. That "learning about the character" requires an external source to impose them upon us.

I'm not concluding anything from any of this yet, I just want to get on the same page about what we're actually talking about.
Actually, I'm saying your a and b are one form of roleplaying, the one most often used in D&D games, and that is best described as performing your character rather than learning about them. You're in the position where you're making all the choices for characterization and performance moments -- what the character traits are, when they're expressed, and how their expressed. This is entirely in the control of the players.

There's another approach that doesn't require this, but instead brings in the idea that your character is placed at risk, and consequences of that can be changes to the character that you are not choosing to make. These run a scale just like how much you express your traits runs a scale, from small changes to radical ones. This isn't a similar thing to just expressing or performing character, it's a different approach all together that is orthogonal to it. You have have high expression and high exploration (for lack of a better any suggested word). You have go low, low. You can even go none/none. But having one doesn't affect how much of the other you can have -- it's not a trade off, but just two different things you can do while roleplaying. It's not better -- high/high is not better than high/none -- it's just different. And people can find places they can enjoy both.

For example, I enjoy medium/none with 5e. I enjoy medium/light with Blades in the Dark. I'd like to try some other games that lean harder on the second axis, like DitV (which I've read/discussed, but not yet had the opportunity to play/run). I recognize, though, that what these games are trying to do is fundamentally different than what trad D&D roleplaying is trying to do. Not better, not worse, different.
 

pemerton

Legend
I didn't miss those examples. I didn't see them presented in such a way that they were conducive to the discussion of "I like this kind of thing, here's how it works in XYZ" They were presented, rather, in the context of "I'm redefining a common phrase that has a common meaning, and here's an example to prove why I'm right and you're wrong for not accepting my more elevated use of the terms than the plebian use that you bitterly cling to."
I'll repost. There's no discussion of terminology, common or otherrwise. Feel free to respond.

Here's an actual play example from Prince Valiant - it illustrates various sorts of social conflict and a use of the Incite Lust special effect:
My group's last session of Prince Valiant ended with the PCs, leading their religous order (the Knights of St Sigobert) and a peasant army, having conquered a Duke's castle in or about Bordeaux.

Today's session saw quite a bit of action. At the start of the session two of the PCs - the minstrel Twillany and Sir Morgath - took control of the peasant army as it looted the castle and broke into the keep, stopping them from killing the Lady Alia in revenge for the way they and their families had been treated by her father, the (now dead) Duke. The Lady tried to assert her pre-eminence in the situation - she was wearing the ducal coronet - but Twillany prevailed (in an extended contest of Courtesie vs Courtesie) and she retired to her room to wait for judgement as to her fate upon the morrow.

The other two PCs, Sir Gerran and Sir Justin - respectively father and son and Marshall and Master of the order of St Sigobert - followed up on the clue that had been overheard in the previous session, referring to "special duties" to be undertaken by a kitchen hand. While searching the dungeons - finding no nobles being held for ransom but various waifs to be sold into slavery - Justin (via a successful Presence check) noticed the kitchen hand down a side passage. Despite their armour penalites Gerran and Justin succeeded in contested Brawn + Agility checks to catch up with the kitchen hand as he went through a secret passage. He was quickly cowed (Presence check), and led the two knights down a 500 yard long tunnel which ended with a ladder leading up to an old hunting lodge in a woods on the slope below the castle.

In the lodge they found a teenage boy bricked up inside the chimney, who - it turned out - was the dead Duke's son Bryce, imprisoned by his sister Alia. They returned to the castle to acquire tools, and then broke down the wall trapping the boy. They provided him with some food and water, soothed some of his hurt (successful Healing check), and brought him back to the castle, making sure his sister didn't see him.

The players were conscious that Alia had been able to send a signal to a rider, and hence that a relieving force might arrive soon. Inquiries revealed that it was at least two days walk to the edge of the duchy - this didn't give them a lot of confidence as to their time available. And the peasants' looting of victuals from the castle didn't them a lot of confidence as to their ability to withstand a siege. But a speech from the Marshall of the order roused the morale of the men.

The next morning, Sir Justin convened an assembly in the great hall. At that assembly, Lady Alia was confronted with the presence of her brother. At first she disputed his identity, and then she denied his fitness to rule, but the PCs insisted and Sir Justin, in the name of St Sigobert, placed the ducal coronet upon his head. The players had determined that the best way to stop Alia being an enduring enemy was to have her join them in the order, and Duke Bryce had been persuaded to accept this course of action. Now Duke Bryce made the declaration that - while he forgave her in his heart - she had to do appropriate penance, and that this could be done by joining the crusading order. I rolled the dice for him, and his roll was very successful. So she acquiesced, and was led by Sir Justin in reciting the oath of St Sigobert.

Next, warning came that a military force was approaching in the distance. The drawbridge was raised and the gates closed. But Sir Morgath, looking out from the battlements, could see that in front of the soldiers were two women riding hurriedly on ponies. (In the tram on the way to the session I had decided to use the second of the Woman in Distress episodes found in the main rulebook.) There was debate - should the drawbridge be lowered? - but Sir Morgath was against it, as too risky. The women arrived at the edge of the moat across from the drawbridge and called out for help to Sir Gerran, who as Marshall of the order was in command of the gates. Lady Lorette of Lothian explained that she was fleeing from her fiance, Sir Blackpool the Count of Toulouse, to whom she had been betrothed by her father and who had treated her cruelly. Would they not lower the drawbridge?

Although Prince Valiant is not technically a pulp it is from the same period - the 30s and 40s - and there is a degree of pulp-era stereotyping in Greg Stafford's presentation of women in his scenarios. In this case, Lady Lorette has Presence 4 and Glamourie 5. So as she pleaded to Gerran I rolled her 9 dice vs Gerran's Presence of 3. I allowed Gerran's player two bonus dice (the maximum morale bonus allowed for in the system) as a resolute Marshall defending his castle, so he had 5 dice in total. And rolled better than me! And so he didn't relent.

Meanwhile Sir Morgath had lowered a rope down the wall of the castle. He called out to the Lady and she leapt into the moat and swam to him, where he took hold of her and carried her up the wall. But the handmaiden accompanying her did not have the strength or courage to jump into the moat. So Morgath slid back down the rope and swang across the moat to rescue her. (At the start of the session I had handed out some fame (the "XP" of the system) that had been earned in the previous session. This had qualified Morgath for a new skill rank, which he had spent on Agility: his player felt he was repeatedly suffering for a lack of physical ability at key moments. It now served him well, as he got 3 successes on his 4 dice.)

In the scenario as written by Stafford, the Lady has the Incite Lust special effect which she will use against the strongest and most famous male adventurer, provided he is not married. Anticipating possible complications, Morgath - when asked by the Lady who her rescuer was - announced himself as Sir Morgath, husband of Lady Elizabeth of York. But being an unfair GM while also trying to run with the fiction, it seemed only to make sense that Morgath should fall for the Lady as he carried her in his arms into the castle. The player cursed me appropriately, but also had seen it coming. He took the Lady into the keep to ensure her safety.

Meanwhile the Count - Sir Blackpool - and his men had arrived and approached under a white flag of truce. The players had deciced that they would have Lady Alia explain that there was a new duke, Duke Bryce her brother, and that hence there was no need for relief after all. Suitable Presence rolls persuaded her to do as instructed. The Count was satisfied with this, but had one other request - his fiance had been taken into the castle, and he wanted her returned. Sir Justin tried to direct Sir Blackpool to leave in the name of the Duke, but he retorted that he had not yet sworn fealty to the new duke, and would not do so until his fiance was returned.

At this point the player of Morgath was laughing, and thinking that the Lady Alia must be feeling the same way. And as the other PCs decided they would fetch the lady from the keep, Sir Morgath decided that safety required sneaking out with her through the secret tunnel - which they did, and then - with a successful Stealth roll despite the 1-die penalty for having a non-stealthy companion - he led them without being noticed to the lighthouse on the coast which he knew to be abandoned, the PCs having beaten up its thug occupants a couple of sessions ago. So when Gerran and Justin searched the keep for the lady they couldn't find her, and hence reported to Sir Blackpool that "Upon my honour, your fiance is not in this castle!"

Sir Blackpool then demanded satisfaction, in the form of three lances. Sir Gerran accepated the challenge, and the drawbridge was lowered again. Sir Justin and the Duke came out with him. The opposing dice pools were 11 for the Count and 14 for the Marshall, and there were no unexpected results - by the third lance Blackpool had been reduced to 6 dice. But then - treacherously (and in accordance with the scenario description) he gave a signal to his men. In the context it mad the most sense for this to be a volley of arrows (rather than the charging forth of the scenario). Sir Gerran's armour protected him (I rolled poorly); but the Duke was struck!

In Mark Rein*Hagen's scenario description the young Bryce is given the "sacrifice self" special ability, to sacrifice himself to save another from harm. Rein*Hagen suggests that this might happen during the commotion around who is to succeed to the position of duke, but as that unfolded at our table it made no sense for their to be violence, and hence no need for the boyto sacrifice himself. And so I had assumed the ability would go unused. But now the moment presented itself, and he stepped in front of Sir Justin to take an arrow. Sir Justin's player was shocked; and Sir Justin picked him up and carried him into the castle. I invoked the "severely injured" rules (in the system, it is always the GM's call how severe an injury - represented by Brawn depletion - is within the fiction) - thus a Healing check would be needed to save the boy's life. And while normally 1 success would be enough, it had already been established that Duke Bryce was frail and weak, and so I set the difficulty at 2. Sir Justin has Healing 2, and so would have only a 1 in 4 chance of success. So his player asked if he could use the Dagger of St Sigobert - who was, after all, a healer - to help, and I suggested that if it was used to help cut out the arrow he could roll 3 dice (50% chance of success). But the roll was still a failure, and so the Duke passed away in his arms.

Meanwhile Sir Gerran rode down the retreating Sir Blackpool, reducing him to 4 dice. But then Sir Blackpool won an opposed Riding check and so was able to retreat behind the cover of his men. Sir Gerran would not relent, and Sir Justin ordered the men of the castle and the order to ride out to join Sir Gerran and avenge the Duke. And so another mass combat took place, this time with Sir Justin in command. I decided that it would be a single "round" of mass combat.

Sir Justin won the opposed command checks, reducing the Count to 1 die, and so I narrated his men as fleeing. Sir Justin lost a point of Brawnd and of Presence in his personal checks - meaning some exertion and some shaking of his morale. But Sir Gerran succeeded on both his personal checks, while on both checks - made against Sir Gerran's totals - Sir Blackpool was reduced to 1 die in Brawn and in Presence - so he was retreating with his men, failing badly. I let Sir Gerran's player decide what happened to him, and he declared him dead.

From their vantage point in the lighthouse Morgath and Lady Lorette could see the army of Toulouse retreating, and so they returned to the castle and re-entered through the secret tunnel. Lady Alia was the first to find them upon their return, and she spoke with Sir Morgath to discus the next steps - having already decided that he was more sensible than the Sigobertians.

They decided that they should present Lady Lorette as the (now widowed) Countess of Toulouse, which she was happy to go along with; and that she should come under the protection of the (newly ascended) Duchess of Bordeaux. Lady Lorette suggested that Sir Morgath should send for a regent from York, so that she could travel with him on his adventures; while Alia took the view that she should stay in the castle to manage it and rule the ducal lands. This suggestion was presented to Sir Gerran and Sir Justin, who agreed subject to two conditions: that the castle should fly the standard of St Sigobert as well as that of the duchy; and that Lady Alia should marry Sir Gerran to cement the alliance of the Duchy and the order. (It had already been established that the order did not require chastity of its members - Sir Justin is married to Violette of Warwick.)

So the session ended with the wedding being agreed to and preparations having to be made. With discussions of how much crusade might be financed by mortgaging a duchy and a county. And with Sir Morgath's player lamenting that they could have had the company of a battle-maiden and now have an ingenue (or seductress?) instead. He did have the sense, in character, to make sure that the messengers sent to York to discuss the matter of the regency should also bring him back a token of his wife Elizabeth, which he hopes will help him remain faithful despite his feelings of attraction to Lady Lorette.

Here's an actual play example from my LotR game using a fantasy hack of Cortex+ Heroic, illustrating the use of a Scene Distinction to model uncertainty and debate:
In the session that we played I ran an action scene in which one of the Scene Distinctions was Uncertain Of What to do Next, and as the scene unfolded the player of the ranger declared actions that succeeded in eliminating that Distinction, meaning that he was then able to dictate to the table what the next step was. That was a nice alternative to (say) a BW Duel of Wits - the uncertainy being more about the situation than a disagreement between two characters - and I felt it emulated some of those parts of LotR where Aragorn in particular can see the range of options but is unsure what is the right choice of next action.

Here's an account of some social and emotional ups-and-downs in Burning Wheel, including my PC not having the stomach to commit cold-blooded murder:
My group had a session scheduled for today, but due to various vicissitudes only two of us could make it. The other attendee suggested we start a BW game with the two of us making PCs and "round robinning" the GMing.

He burned up a Weather Witch (City Born, Arcane Devotee, Rogue Wizard, Weather Witch). I decided to make a Dark Elf (with his agreement, as per the rules) - Born Etharch, Spouse, Griever, Deceiver. To earn the Grief to make the move to Griever (3 minimum) I had no lamentations, was Born Etharch, and had a history that included tragedy - my spouse died.

I've attached my full PC sheet: some highlights are my gear (the tattered clothes I've worn for the past 39 years, since my spouse died; my black-metal long knife Heart-seeker); my hateful relationship with my father-in-law, the elven ambassador in a human port city whom I blame for my spouse's death; and what I hope will prove to be a suitably embittered suite of Beliefs and Instincts, except for my tendency to quietly sing the elven lays when my mind wanders. I also started barefoot, but didn't end the session that way!

We agreed that Aedhros had travelled on the same ship as Alicia had been working on as a weathermage. Like Aedhros, she started with zero resources and no shoes, and with only rags as clothes.

<snip>

We (the players) agreed the next scene was looking for a room for the two of us in a dodgy inn. (The standard resource obstacle for one person is Ob 1; we agreed that this would do for both of us at such a dodgy establishment.) Alicia offered to also work in the kitchens to help with board - and given her instinct, Don't ask, Persuade, where Persuade refers to the BW equivalent of D&D's Suggestion spell, this meant using her magic to get agreement. Alicia's player wanted to take time to prepare her spell, and as the GM for that purpose I thought that needed an Inconspicuous check. Unfortunately this failed, and so the innkeeper looked at her when she started muttering strange words, and so she just cast the spell. It succeeded (I set the innkeeper's Will, and hence the obstacle, at 3) and so he accepted her offer to work in the kitchen. The Tax for casting left her at Forte 1.

We agreed this gave me a bonus die for my Resources check, so I rolled two dice against Ob 1. This was a fail. We reviewed the Resources rules and had a bit of discussion and my co-GM decided that we didn't get a room and my cash die was gone (apparently the master's purse wasn't as full as we'd hoped). The innkeeper still insisted that Alicia work in the kitchen, though!

Taking back the GM's hat, I first adjudicated things for Alicia. I wanted an Ob Forte test to handle the heat and work in the kitchen; this succeeded (with Forte 1 the player was rolling 1 die; I think he must have rolled a 6 and then spent a Fate point to open-end this and get a second success). Then Aedhros re-entered the scene: with a successful Stealthy check I entered the kitchen unnoticed, and found Alicia. I proposed that we relieve the innkeeper of his cash-box (repay hurt for hurt) and Alicia agreed. Then we would take on the master of the ship. Alicia used her Weathersense to determine if a mist would be rolling in; her check succeeded, and so her prediction of mist was correct! (We'd agreed that a failed check mean clear skies and a bright moon.) She also rested (for about 6 hours) to regain one point of Tax, taking her Forte up to 2.

With the morning mist rolling in, it was time to clean out the innkeeper's cash box. We agreed that the day's takings would be 2D of cash. With successful checks, Alicia cast Cat's Eye so she could see in the dark; I succeeded at a straightforward Scavenging check so that Aedhros could find a burning brand (he can see in dim light or by starlight, but not in dark when the starts are obscured by mist). Alicia went first, in the dark but able to see, but failed an untrained Stealthy check despite a penalty to the innkeeper's Perception check for being asleep. So as she opened the door to the room where was sleeping on his feather-and-wool-stuffed mattress, he woke and stood up, moving his strongbox behind him. Alicia, being determined - as per one of her Beliefs - to meet any wrong to her with double in return, decided to tackle him physically. Of course she is trained in Martial Arts, as that's a favourite of her player! I proposed and he agreed that we resolve this via Bloody Versus (ie simple opposed checks) rather than fully scripting in Fight! I set the innkeeper's Brawling at 3, but he had significant penalties due to darkness, and so Alica - with 4 dice + 1 bonus die for superior Reflexes - won the fight easily. The injury inflicted was only superficial, but (as per the rules for Bloody Versus) Alicia had the innkeeper at her mercy - as we narrated it, thrown to the ground and held in a lock.

Aedhros entered the room at this point, with Heart-seeker drawn and ready for it to live up to its name. But Alicia thought that killing the innkeeper was a bit much. So first, she used her advantageous position to render the innkeeper unconscious (no check required, given the outcome of the Bloody Versus). Then her player, wearing the GM hat, insisted that I make a Steel check to commit cold-blooded murder. This failed, and so I hesitated for 4 actions. Handily, that is the casting time for Persuasion, and so Alicia "told" Aedhros not to kill the innkeeper. The casting check succeeded, but the Tax check was one success against an obstacle of 4. With only 1 Forte left, that was 3 Tax which would be 2 overtax, or an 8-point wound, which would be Traumatic for Alicia. But! - the Tax check also was the final check needed for her Forte 3 to step up to Forte 4 (wizard's get lots of juicy Forte checks because of all their Tax - in this case from the three spells cast), which made the overtax only 1, or a 4-point wound which was merely Superficial. Still, she collapsed unconscious.

Aedhros opened the strongbox and took the cash. We agreed that no check was required; and given his Belief that he can tolerate Alicia's company only because she's broken and poor, and given that it aggravates his Spite to suffer her incompetence in fainting, he kept all the money for himself. He then carried out the unconscious Alicia (again, no check required). He also took the innkeeper's boots, being sick of going about barefoot. But he will continue to wear his tattered clothes.

And here's an account of Burning Wheel play in which my PC first had an uhappy encounter with his brother, and then succeeded in prayer and thereby transformed his relationship with his mother and his sidekick:
My PC is Thurgon, a warrior cleric type (heavy armour, Faithful to the Lord of Battle, Last Knight of the Iron Tower, etc). His companion is Aramina, a sorcerer. His ancestral estate, which he has not visited for 5 years, is Auxol.

<snip>

Friedrich took them as far as the next tributary's inflow - at that point the river turns north-east, and the two character's wanted to continue more-or-less due east on the other side of both streams. This was heading into the neighbourhood of Auxol, and so Thurgon kept his eye out for friends and family. The Circles check (base 3 dice +1 for an Affiliation with the nobility and another +1 for an Affiliation with his family) succeeded again, and the two characters came upon Thurgon's older brother Rufus driving a horse and cart. (Thurgon has a Rationship with his mother Xanthippe but no other family members; hence the Circles check to meet his brother.)

There was a reunion between Rufus and Thurgon. But (as described by the GM) it was clear to Thurgon that Rufus was not who he had been, but seemed cowed - as Rufus explained when Thurgon asked after Auxol, he (Rufus) was on his way to collect wine for the master. Rufus mentioned that Thurgon's younger son had married not long ago - a bit of lore (like Rufus hmself) taken from the background I'd prepared for Thurgon as part of PC gen - and had headed south in search of glory (that was something new the GM introduced). I mentioned that Aramina was not meeting Rufus's gaze, and the GM picked up on this - Rufus asked Thurgon who this woman was who wouldn't look at him from beneath the hood of her cloak - was she a witch? Thurgon answered that she travelled with him and mended his armour. Then I switched to Aramina, and she looked Rufus directly in the eye and told him what she thought of him - "Thurgon has trained and is now seeking glory on his errantry, and his younger brother has gone too to seek glory, but your, Rufus . . ." I told the GM that I wanted to check Ugly Truth for Aramina, to cause a Steel check on Rufus's part. The GM decided that Rufus has Will 3, and then we quickly calculated his Steel which also came out at 3. My Ugly Truth check was a success, and the Steel check failed. Rufus looked at Aramina, shamed but unable to respond. Switching back to Thurgon, I tried to break Rufus out of it with a Command check: he should pull himself together and join in restoring Auxol to its former glory. But the check failed, and Rufus, broken, explained that he had to go and get the wine. Switching back to Aramina, I had a last go - she tried for untrained Command, saying that if he wasn't going to join with Thurgon he might at least give us some coin so that we might spend the night at an inn rather than camping. This was Will 5, with an advantage die for having cowed him the first time, against a double obstacle penalty for untrained (ie 6) +1 penalty because Rufus was very set in his way. It failed. and so Rufus rode on and now has animosity towards Aramina. As the GM said, she better not have her back to him while he has a knife ready to hand.

The characters continued on, and soon arrived at Auxol,. The GM narrated the estate still being worked, but looking somewhat run-down compared to Thrugon's memories of it. An old, bowed woman greeted us - Xanthippe, looking much more than her 61 years. She welcomed Thurgon back, but chided him for having been away. And asked him not to leave again. The GM was getting ready to force a Duel of Wits on the point - ie that Thurgon should not leave again - when I tried a different approach. I'd already made a point of Thurgon having his arms on clear display as he rode through the countryside and the estate; now he raised his mace and shield to the heavens, and called on the Lord of Battle to bring strength back to his mother so that Auxol might be restored to its former greatness. This was a prayer for a Minor Miracle, obstacle 5. Thurgon has Faith 5 and I burned his last point of Persona to take it to 6 dice (the significance of this being that, without 1 Persona, you can't stop the effect of a mortal wound should one be suffered). With 6s being open-ended (ie auto-rolls), the expected success rate is 3/5, so that's 3.6 successes there. And I had a Fate point to reroll one failure, for an overall expected 4-ish successes. Against an obstacle of 5.

As it turned out, I finished up with 7 successes. So a beam of light shot down from the sky, and Xanthippe straightened up and greeted Thurgon again, but this time with vigour and readiness to restore Auxol. The GM accepted my proposition that this played out Thurgon's Belief that Harm and infamy will befall Auxol no more! (earning a Persona point). His new Belief is Xanthippe and I will liberate Auxol. He picked up a second Persona point for Embodiment ("Your roleplay (a performance or a decision) captures the mood of the table and drives the story onward").

Turning back to Aramina, I decided that this made an impact on her too: up until now she had been cynical and slightly bitter, but now she was genuinely inspired and determined: instead of never meeting the gaze of a stranger, her Instinct is to look strangers in the eyes and Assess. And rather than I don't need Thurgon's pity, her Belief is Thurgon and I will liberate Auxol. This earned a Persona point for Mouldbreaker ("If a situation brings your Beliefs, Instincts and Traits into conflict with a decision your PC must make, you play out your inner turmoil as you dramatically play against a Belief in a believable and engaging manner").

<snip>

This was the first time I've played (as opposed to GM) since the last session of this campaign. It was definitely fun.
I think the effect of using the dice for resolution in these various contexts of emotional and social conflict, rather than just asking the GM to say "yes" or "no", speaks for itself. And I don't think the play much resembles a boardgame.
 

pemerton

Legend
It doesn't have to be about challenging someone's decision so much as discussing the decision. Not "your character wouldn't do that" so much as "why did you decide your character would do that?" or maybe even "I was surprised that you had your character do X".

I think these kinds of conversations are interesting, and they can be helpful. They can also, of course, go wrong if people don't handle the situation properly. If it's an open session to question every other player's choices, then yeah, that's probably not productive.
I wonder how you see the following example as relating to the sort of critique you and @Campbell have been talking about.

In my 4e D&D game, the party had five members. All had religious/metaphysical affiliations: a dwarf fighter/cleric adherent of Moradin; a drow chaos sorcerer who was a member of a secret cult of Corellon worshippers and also closely affiliated with Chan, Queen of Good Air Elementals; a deva invoker who served many gods including Erathis, Pelor, Ioun, Vecna, Bane and the Raven Queen; a ranger-cleric devoted to the Raven Queen; and a paladin who was fanatically devoted to the Raven Queen.

As the metaphysical stakes of the game heated up - would the Dusk War come; and would the Raven Queen complete her trajectory from mortal to "overgod"? - the disagreements between the PCs and the resultant intraparty tension ratcheted up: the invoker, serving Erathis, is on a mission to restore the Lattice of Heaven; the dwarf and the chaos sorcerer worry that so much stasis will make mortal life impossible; the dwarf doesn't like the sound of the Raven Queen as "overgod", but the Raven Queen devotees are pretty keen on that, especially the fanatical paladin. Quite a bit of play time (by no means a majority; but a non-trivial amount) was spent in debates about what to do. Some of the players in these debates would be overtly in character (speaking in firs person about "my mistress" (the Raven Queen) etc) and some would be in a more third person approach, but still advocating from the perspective of the player's PC.

On one occasion, the PCs discovered the Raven Queen's mausoleum, lost in the Abyss; and from that were able to learn her (hitherto lost) true name. The player of the dwarf canvassed the idea of using this knowledge of her name to coerce the Raven Queen into lending aid to the other gods without extracting more domains in return (which is what she had been doing so far). After the session, the player of the paladin told me that he had passed a note to the player of the ranger-cleric that stated that he was getting ready to use the Sword of Kas on the dwarf (the Sword grants bonuses for betraying one's allies). It didn't come to that, though, because the dwarf dropped his idea himself.

This isn't really critique of any sort. But to me it felt like portrayals of character, and engagement with one another's characters, that went beyond mere 1D characterisations. The compromises that were reached weren't free of external, "social expectation" influences - D&D 4e is a party-based game, after all - but there was always a sense that outright conflict was a possibility. Which meant that the compromises also had a strong "internal" dimension (eg the dwarf can't rest easy until Miska the Wolf-Spider is retrapped or defeated; but only the Rod of Seven Parts can do that; and only the invoker can reassemble it; but doing so will restore the Lattice of Heaven), where not only did everyone not get what they wanted, but the Raven Queen group were clearly winning out: with the PCs' knowing assistance she gained control over winter in the Feywild, and took control of the souls of the Underdark from Torog, and was victorious in her great struggle with Orcus, and got the upper hand over Vecna, and was able to keep her true name secret. And this wasn't just about the numerical preponderance of Raven Queen devotees in the party, but about the compromises and acquiescence that occurred as play unfolded.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Indeed; I'm talking about PCvPC that stays in-character. Good catch.
Well, I mostly meant it as a joke. But that's another possibly weird affectation of my personal taste; I actually think PC v PC is a lot of fun if the players buy into it. How many books, movies, TV shows, etc. have you watched where a somewhat adversarial relationship between two or more co-protagonists is an important element of character development and the chemistry between them? It works in game too, for the same reasons—mostly, it's highly entertaining.
 

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