• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General Styles of Roleplaying and Characters

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
...It's sort of in the same category as great s*x: if you've never had it, you can't really be sure whether or not you have.

Well, great sax is quite subjective isn't it? I mean, there's jazz, big band, bebop and of course all sorts of derivatives. Unless of course you were talking about great ... oh ... wait ... never mind. :blush:
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
IIRC you gave a long example of outcomes without describing what happened without explaining any mechanics except to refer to other game specific mechanics without explaining how they work.

People have explicitly stated that their reactions were dictated by the game system such as whether to murder someone or that they're attracted to an individual of the same sex. How do they get there? I have no clue because y'all talk around it using yet more game terms.
Pick one, I'll be happy to explain it to you in as much detail as you like.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Thanks for the apologies, which really are above and beyond!

I wasn't worried about being undervalued (a colleague at an old workplace use to refer to my "healthy sense of self-regard"), but am keen to bring the discussion into serious territory that hopefully can be more productive.


I think the "mood tables" is intended as a reference to @loverdrive's PbtA move posted upthread - it's the only thing mentioned that looks even remotely like a table - but that's still a gross mischaracterisation. I've pointed to Wuthering Heights as coming closer to having "mood" rules, but no one seems to have followed up on that. In that spirit of howling into the wind, here's a link to my Wuthering Heights actual play experience, which shows how that system played out for me and two friends.

I don't think I agree with this. In 4e D&D the Deathlock Wight has a Horrific Visage which causes psychic damage and a push (ie the victim recoils in horror). Is that mental or physical? In Rolemaster Companion III (published 1988), the Depression Critical Strike table has the following result for a 46-50 'A' crit result: Stunned for 5 rounds. Mild depression. -5 to all actions for 1 minute. Is that mental or physical? In Burning Wheel a character who takes more than a superficial wound has to make a Steel check. If the check is failed, and the hit was to the arm, the character drops whatever they were holding; if to the leg, the character falls either to one knee or prone (depending on the degree of failure of the Steel check). Is that mental or physical?

I think insisting on a strong mental/physical divide can pose significant issues both for RPG design and RPG adjudication.

I can only speak for myself. And perhaps am drifting into repetition.

It's true that all RPGing is concerned with shared fictions - as @Ovinomancer said, that's banal. But there are multiple ways of encountering a fiction about one's character. One can author it. One can be told it by someone else. And - in RPGing - one can have it generated via a process that is not quite either, or rather, is a type of authorship that is not the immediate result of anyone's intentions.

A simple set of examples, where the fiction is about my PC falling:

* I can declare, speaking as my PC, I jump over the edge - eg I'm a high level fighter in the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl and think I have a better chance of surviving the fall than beating the approaching giants.​
* The GM can declare The ground beneath you gives way, and suddenly you're falling - eg the GM has determined that I've stepped on and triggered a pit trap. I did this once as adjudication of a skill challenge failure, GMing 4e D&D.​
* Another way the preceding example might happen, but with less GM decision-making: the system is classic D&D; the GM has written up the dungeon map and key, which includes notes about a concealed pit trap in a corridor; the player declares movement for their PC which means they walk directly over the concealed pit trap; the GM, by reference to the prepared map and key, declares the ground beneath you gives way and suddenly you're falling.​
* A roll-based resolution process can generate the result You fall over the edge without anyone at the table deciding, in the moment, that this is what will happen. An example: the system is 4e D&D; the current setting is the Glacial Rift; the PC is adjacent to the edge of the rift; the GM rolls a hit for a frost giant that has a Push 1 effect; the player fails the saving throw that is permitted for forced movement into damaging terrain; thus, the PC falls over the edge.​

Any and all of these can be exciting. But when I choose to jump, the excitement form me is probably not so much that I'm falling but rather will I survive? When the GM decides that the PC falls, as in my skill challenge example, that can be shocking or exciting for the player but it wasn't for me as GM, because I'd already decided it was going to happen. In the dungeon-crawling case the GM has less leeway but is still not going to be surprised: they authored the pit. Part of the point of dice roll resolution, at least it seems to me, is that everyone can be caught by surprise: the interplay of decisions, established fiction, and mechanical constraints dictates new outcomes.

Emotional/social aspects of resolution can be similarly varied:

* I decide that my PC is keen on another character - eg in my Prince Valiant game the player of Sir Justin and the player of Sir Morgath both decided their PCs were keen on the Lady Violette, and they competed for her hand.​
* The GM decides that my PC is keen on another character - eg this happened in my Prince Valiant game, when I used the Incite Lust effect on Sir Morgath as he rescued Lady Lorette of Lothian and carried her in his arms. The player had seen it coming, but was steeling himself to succeed on an opposed check: he hadn't necessarily anticipated the fiat Special Effect.​
* A check is made to determine how I respond to another character, or the parameters of that response - eg in Prince Valiant (again) when Lady Lorette appealed to Sir Gerren to lower the drawbridge so that she might enter the castle, I rolled her pool of Presence + Glamourie against Sir Gerren's Presence enhanced by 2 morale dice (for being a stalwart Marshall defending his castle against an advancing force). On the occasion Sir Gerren held firm; but later, when Lady Lorette tried to seduce him while they were out hunting, his resolve failed (ie the player rolled poorly). Which did not endear him to his (then) fiancée.​

In Prince Valiant this is all fairly light-hearted and pulp-y. In a system like Burning Wheel, which doesn't have the middle option but does have the first and last, it's all a bit more serious and can be emotionally pretty demanding. As I tried to explain upthread with reference to the Steel mechanic, the aim of the BW systems is to make you as the player of your character feel the same sense of emotional pull and weight that your character is feeling in the fiction. This includes, at least in principle (of course different tables will have different views about the limits of good taste) the possibility of being seduced by someone who you wouldn't have expected to fall for.

So for me, the difference across different methods is mostly about the experience that accompanies the establishing of the fiction. What does it make me feel? How does it bind me deeper into the inhabitation of my character?

While I wouldn't want to play a serious game where the situation can trigger my PC falling for someone else I appreciate the example.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Have you ever felt your hands sweat and your heart stop as you make a crucial roll, the one that will determine whether or not the whole party will be wiped out or instead whether your PC, the last one standing, will take down the last foe before they get to act and take you down?

At least in my experience, that's one source of excitement in RPGing. It would be different, and probably not as exciting, if I or another participant just got to decide you win.

Now imagine the same thing when, playing @Oofta's Mr B, you proceed to carry out your vengeance on the person with the necklace your daughter once wore. Where the exciting question isn't can I kill him? - Mr B is a mighty vengeance paladin, while this person with the necklace is just a commoner who was once a lowlife thug - but can I bring myself to do it? You've been building up your Steel by deliberately putting yourself into situations that inure you to shock and gore and viciousness (which is how Steel increases in BW). But have you got what it takes, here and now?

For me, at least, that's what it's about.

Thanks for the explanation. Then I should clarify: I don't want a metagame mechanic (steel) to affect my decision. That would feel artificial to me. I would rather make a decision base solely on the personality I had envisioned. There are some things I don't want reduced down to resources I've accumulated - I think that's the correct terminology.

That doesn't make it a bad system, it's just that my vision of Mr B is more complicated than that and I don't want this style of game because for me I would focus on the metagame and not on the person.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Thanks for the explanation. Then I should clarify: I don't want a metagame mechanic (steel) to affect my decision. That would feel artificial to me. I would rather make a decision base solely on the personality I had envisioned. There are some things I don't want reduced down to resources I've accumulated - I think that's the correct terminology.

That doesn't make it a bad system, it's just that my vision of Mr B is more complicated than that and I don't want this style of game because for me I would focus on the metagame and not on the person.
And you think that @pemerton wasn't doing the same -- playing a character they had envisioned? The difference is that @pemerton envisioned a character who's dedication to their goal and willingness to do what it took to accomplish it wasn't certain and they were interested in finding out where the character came down on those question.

You are consistently approaching this topic from the basis of saying you have no doubts about what your character would do so these mechanics would be forcing you to do things, whereas it's been repeatedly explained to you that this kind of play is one where the question of what the character would do has been decided by the player as being up for grabs as much as whether or not you beat an orc in combat.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I assume people have heard the term of being "In the zone"? It's when you're really into what you're doing, and things are just flowing. For me it's been when I'm coding something complex and I'm just cranking out code and then I look up and notice that I was supposed to go somewhere an hour ago. It's similar to times when I'm writing (not that I claim to be an author) or even playing video games. I'm not really thinking about it, but things are just "clicking".

Having to take into consideration some metagame consideration on what my PC would do or having a contest would take me out of the zone.

In any case, I appreciate that we've actually been getting into mechanics with explanations. Doesn't really change my mind for reasons I've explained. If I get time I might watch the actual play streams.
 

Thanks for the explanation. Then I should clarify: I don't want a metagame mechanic (steel) to affect my decision. That would feel artificial to me. I would rather make a decision base solely on the personality I had envisioned. There are some things I don't want reduced down to resources I've accumulated - I think that's the correct terminology.

That doesn't make it a bad system, it's just that my vision of Mr B is more complicated than that and I don't want this style of game because for me I would focus on the metagame and not on the person.

When your endocrine system hijacks your decision-point in real life (you swoon when you hope for poise, you stammer awkwardly when you feel bested by someone's presence or rhetoric, you flee/cower when you wish to make a stand), does it feel artificial to you?

When your brain offloads rote work onto automaticity such that you can't recall your morning drive or your ritualistic activity after you've done it, does it feel artificial to you?

I don't know if you have any afflictions, but if you do, when your behavior is captured by it and there is little to nothing you can do about it, does it feel artificial to you?


Obviously these are leading questions. The only correct answers are either "no" or "yes, but that is how the human biological system/cultural layer interface works."

What I need to convince me otherwise is a third option that I'm unaware of. If you (or anyone else) has a third answer to this that is actually convincing (somehow), please bring that into the conversation. Until that point, when someone says "it feels artificial" what I read is "it feels bad because when I play TTRPGs, I want my conception of my PC (in particular its inner workings; emotional, philosophical, endocrine response) to be under my authority exclusively. Other participants have little to no say and where system has its say, it is cordoned off to the arena of combat."

Which is totally fine, but "artificial" is doing different work here than it would mean if "artificial" were to mean "biological systems like humans that interface with a complex cultural layer don't behave like this (have their volition hijacked by their biology or by biology/culture interface)."
 

You are consistently approaching this topic from the basis of saying you have no doubts about what your character would do so these mechanics would be forcing you to do things, whereas it's been repeatedly explained to you that this kind of play is one where the question of what the character would do has been decided by the player as being up for grabs as much as whether or not you beat an orc in combat.

It's funny that I agree 100% with almost every post of yours I've read, but then on this thing I'm like, 'Whoah...no THANK you.'

Just goes to show how much variety there is, I guess.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
When your endocrine system hijacks your decision-point in real life (you swoon when you hope for poise, you stammer awkwardly when you feel bested by someone's presence or rhetoric, you flee/cower when you wish to make a stand), does it feel artificial to you?

When your brain offloads rote work onto automaticity such that you can't recall your morning drive or your ritualistic activity after you've done it, does it feel artificial to you?

I don't know if you have any afflictions, but if you do, when your behavior is captured by it and there is little to nothing you can do about it, does it feel artificial to you?


Obviously these are leading questions. The only correct answers are either "no" or "yes, but that is how the human biological system/cultural layer interface works."

What I need to convince me otherwise is a third option that I'm unaware of. If you (or anyone else) has a third answer to this that is actually convincing (somehow), please bring that into the conversation. Until that point, when someone says "it feels artificial" what I read is "it feels bad because when I play TTRPGs, I want my conception of my PC (in particular its inner workings; emotional, philosophical, endocrine response) to be under my authority exclusively. Other participants have little to no say and where system has its say, it is cordoned off to the arena of combat."

Which is totally fine, but "artificial" is doing different work here than it would mean if "artificial" were to mean "biological systems like humans that interface with a complex cultural layer don't behave like this (have their volition hijacked by their biology or by biology/culture interface)."

I don't think anyone needs to "convince" anyone else. It's all just personal preference which is neither right nor wrong. To me it would feel artificial and forced to a degree. To you it's beneficial.

I can only explain my preferences, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything or saying that different preferences are better or worse. Same as I don't think the different dimensions of role playing referenced in the OP are inherently better or worse. 🤷‍♂️
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA!

You absolutely insisted that mechanics can NEVER dictate your actions. You have been absolutely adamant about it.

Yet, here you are, using mechanics to determine the actions of your character.

So, which is it?
My character's in-world choice to riff off of ... umm a play he saw once ... about a crazy guy who dressed up as a bat and the completely sane dude who knows that most people are motivated by random stuff so is just being explicit about how random and meaningless life is?

Because, as I just quoted @Oofta above, the line is not clear. @Oofta repeatedly absolutely stated that he refused to use any sort of mental mechanics. That any sort of mental mechanics were 100% not appreciated. He then goes on to state that sometimes, if he is unsure of how his character will react, he will use mental mechanics.

That's my point all the way along. People make these absolute claims and then, once you start to actually scratch the surface, suddenly those claims aren't actually backed up by the facts.


But it's my choice as a player to do so, my choice on what the possible outcomes and the odds are. It's also something I use extremely rarely, just something I have used in the past even if I can't remember the last time.

Not lying. Just not examining the facts.

Right. Because you decided what the facts are, which just happen to contradict how people express their thought process. You are the sole arbiter of truth on something that's subjective.

You flat out stated that you NEVER use mental mechanics and then gave examples where you did by using random chance to make the decision for you.

So, it's all about understanding the process of decision making. If you aren't in control of emotional responses, then how can you claim that it is perfectly reasonable for your character to be 100% in control of his emotional responses. Only, he isn't, since you use game mechanics to determine his responses. Which makes claims that you never use mechanics to determine emotional and mental states kinda hard to parse.

When I have used it, it's more "I know something and understand what's going on, but would my character realize this?" But there is no one true way. If I do decide as a player to make a call based on a random roll it's not dictated by the game system. The game rules don't determine mental mechanics. As a DM I never tell a player to make a check to determine their mental state. Other players can never tell me what my decision is.

So again, apples and oranges. The player is still in total control even if I decide that my PC will flip a coin to make a decision because the character is totally aware that they are flipping a coin, it's not a metagame mechanic.

Fair enough. LIke I said, it was my personal opinion and not meant as a statement of fact. I do consider a lot of earlier D&D to be barely a role playing game. The role playing game that many of us engage in evolved despite the game not because of it. Heck, the rise of Vampire owes a considerable amount to the reaction against the way D&D was being played. But, you're right, this is getting off track. Please, let's return to the notion of how people never use mental mechanics except when they do.

I mean, so far, we have @Oofta contradicting himself. @Maxperson upthread mentioned using mental mechanics to determine NPC actions, and, presumably, would have no problems doing the same as a player. Wonder who else has done as @Oofta has and let an ad hoc mechanic (If I roll this I do X, if I roll that, I do Y) determine the mental state of the character.

I think it really is a good area to explore, because the root argument against mental mechanics is that people don't want mechanics telling them how their character feels. But, when the rubber meets the road, it's apparently fine to do it in small doses.

If it's acceptable to do in small doses, then the problem isn't with the mechanics, but, with how and when those mechanics are applied. Considering the rather broad range of ignorance of other games and how such mechanics actually look like in play, it's a fairly challenging conversation to have.

I'm only "contradicting" myself because you twist what I say into knots. I don't want the game system to dictate what my PC thinks, feels or what causes them to hesitate. What you view as consistency I view as limitations. How the player determines what their character thinks or feels, even if that means including some randomness, is completely up to them. I don't even care about PC's TIBF or alignment, it's up to them how they're used, or not.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Ok, I'm clearly just not getting this.

It causes me actual physical pain...to the point of blood not just leaking but squirting out of my ears...to watch streams of other people playing RPGs, but I would make that sacrifice to see an example of this in play. Any suggestions?
I will try to find an example of a Contest in Cortex Prime/Plus or something similar in Fate when I am able. I will even time stamp so you can skip over the “bad parts.”
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I will try to find an example of a Contest in Cortex Prime/Plus or something similar in Fate when I am able. I will even time stamp so you can skip over the “bad parts.”
I tried watching the Blades in the Dark ... gah. Just can't. Skipped around a bit and at the 48 minute or so mark they talk about the devil's bargain where (if I understood it) anyone can come up with something with potential negative consequences to get some kind of bonus.

Not sure I followed it though and stopped listening, I just couldn't do it any more.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Publisher
It's a mechanic, but it's not explicitly a mental one. That same mechanic is used for every skill out there, physical or mental. It's just a mechanic.
Pretty much every example in this thread is exactly the same in this regard. There's no mechanical difference between mental and physical tests in Burning Wheel, Fate doesn't care if the aspect you compelling is called "Trap-filled dungeon" or "Anger management issues". Well, probably the only exception is PbtA games, but there everything has a different encapsulated rule.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Having to take into consideration some metagame consideration on what my PC would do or having a contest would take me out of the zone.

Fair.

But, you know that getting in "the zone" is in part a learned skill, right? You can train yourself to more easily get into the zone, and learn to ignore distractions to stay in it - like presumably you've learned to ignore some of the distractions that come up with combat (long wait times for your turn, looking up rules, and so forth).

Which isn't to say that you would like it, just that some of the barriers you've mentioned can be removed with practice.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I assume people have heard the term of being "In the zone"? It's when you're really into what you're doing, and things are just flowing. For me it's been when I'm coding something complex and I'm just cranking out code and then I look up and notice that I was supposed to go somewhere an hour ago. It's similar to times when I'm writing (not that I claim to be an author) or even playing video games. I'm not really thinking about it, but things are just "clicking".

Having to take into consideration some metagame consideration on what my PC would do or having a contest would take me out of the zone.

In any case, I appreciate that we've actually been getting into mechanics with explanations. Doesn't really change my mind for reasons I've explained. If I get time I might watch the actual play streams.
It's no more metagame than taking 10 hitpoints worth of damage because that orc with a sword hit your Armor Class of 16.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It's no more metagame than taking 10 hitpoints worth of damage because that orc with a sword hit your Armor Class of 16.
We'll just have to agree to disagree. I need a metagame for combat, I can't imagine running a game without it that wouldn't devolve into Cops and Robbers where one kid says "I shot you" and the other saying "No you didn't".

Many, many campaigns around the world work just fine without a metagame for other aspects of the game. It's a preference.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
We'll just have to agree to disagree. I need a metagame for combat, I can't imagine running a game without it that wouldn't devolve into Cops and Robbers where one kid says "I shot you" and the other saying "No you didn't".

Many, many campaigns around the world work just fine without a metagame for other aspects of the game. It's a preference.
Ah, so the problem isn't the metagame, glad we cleared up that metagame isn't your problem for being "in the zone."
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Ah, so the problem isn't the metagame, glad we cleared up that metagame isn't your problem for being "in the zone."

Combat is different from non-combat. I don't need or want metagame rules outside of combat. I shared my opinion and reasoning.

I'm done with your gotcha postings trying to "win".
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top