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D&D General Styles of Roleplaying and Characters

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pemerton

Legend
systems where the character is forced to evolve on an ongoing basis I'm not fine with; barring these occasional external magics I-as-player want control over how my character evolves and develops.
I have a preference for how/when/why the character is not in full and rational control to be up to the player of that character, rather than determined by a game mechanic.

From my standpoint the player knows more about the character than the game mechanics ever could
There's a tension here, I feel, between the last quoted sentence and the first two. Namely, that authoring a character's response or action isn't typically a manifestation of knowledge about the character. It seems more like a manifestation of hope or desire or preference in respect of the character.

Sure a DM could grant ad-hoc advantage on the saving throw (although I think ad-hoc adv/disadv is more common for ability checks than saving throws), but I don't see why the chance of success is pertinent? Even if there was a 95% chance to successfully save, when it does take effect the dragon fear is still both stronger than, and categorically different from, ordinary intimidation. A dragon can go up to a person it's never met and, without saying anything or knowing anything about them, have a chance (even if it's a small one) of inflicting terror strong enough to specifically stop someone from approaching (no matter how strong their motivation to do so) without actually incapacitating them or preventing them from doing anything else. Somewhere between 6 and 60 seconds later, the terror abruptly vanishes, and the person will not be afraid of that dragon again for 24 hours.

Given the differences from ordinary fear that one person can try to invoke in another, is it understandable how I think dragon fear meets the threshold I described earlier as "beyond the level of influence possible in the real world"? And that dragon fear therefore seems to me like an unrealistic "magic" ability even if it isn't technically magical enough to being stopped by an antimagic field?
Not really, because I assume that a typical outcome of frightening someone by (eg) decapitating a prisoner in front of them and threatening them that they will be next would also be to inflict the frightened condition.

To the extent that the frightened condition doesn't do a very good job of modelling fear, that seems to me to be a criticism of the condition rather than a reason to read any oddities of the condition back into a characterisation of dragon fear as categorically different from other scary things.
 

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pemerton

Legend
In case it's not clear:

The reason for including the Steel mechanic in Burning Wheel is not realism. That's not to suggest that it's unrealistic: but there's any number of things that also wouldn't be unrealistic that aren't part of the game. For instance, the game expressly leaves it up to the player to decide whether or not their PC can whistle (it's a passing but clear remark in the rules for PC build), and by implication I think also leaves it up to the player to decide whether or not their PC can roll their tongue or wiggle their ears - but it wouldn't be unrealistic to have a rule for determining these things, like rules I've seen in various games for determining handedness and ambidexterity.

The reason for including the rule is because the game has something to say: it has something to say about the gravity or horror of certain deeds or certain situations. And the Steel rules are the way whereby it says those things.

If you don't want to play a game in which you might (via your PC) find yourself faltering in the face of such things, then you don't use the BW Steel mechanics. It's an aesthetic matter.

In a different genre - action spy adventure films - something like this aesthetic contrast obtains between the Bourne films and most (at least pre-Craig) Bond films.
 

To the extent that the frightened condition doesn't do a very good job of modelling fear, that seems to me to be a criticism of the condition rather than a reason to read any oddities of the condition back into a characterisation of dragon fear as categorically different from other scary things.

As I mentioned upthread, my issue with the Frightened condition is that it contains two elements, one that imposes penalties on certain sorts of behaviors (disadvantage on attacks and ability checks), and the other that prohibits certain behaviors (movement toward the source of the condition).

If it only contained elements of the first sort, I would have no problem accepting that it can be imposed on my character in non-magical ways. I probably wouldn't personally DM it that a simple Intimidate roll could accomplish that, but if another DM chose that route I wouldn't take it amiss, because I would still be in control.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Well, I don't know those systems, so I don't know exactly how they work, but based on your description the difference is that in D&D this kind of loss-of-control is both very relatively rare, and can always be associated with some "power" (for people who don't like "magic"). Thus the assumption is that you control your character, but there are some exceptions. And (for me) when those exceptions occur, it very much feels like ceding control of that character to someone/something else.
IME, these loss-of-control powers are more common and employed more regularly in D&D than in many of these other games discussed, social mechanics included. I have probably handed my character sheet to the DM in D&D so they can control my PC far more frequently than I have, if ever, while in playing games like Fate, Cortex, Blades in the Dark, and Dungeon World. Like @Campbell, I can tell you which sort of "loss-of-control" mechanics I prefer, and it's not the D&D variety. They are the ones that let me keep playing and exploring who my character is without needing to preserve their character concept in some protective bubble that's safe from being affected by the world. They are the ones where I don't have to hand over my character to the GM to play while under the guise of magic. They are the ones where I put my character in the situation to test their mettle. They are the ones where I can choose to concede the conflicts. My character being psychologically, emotionally, or mentally affected doesn't change that player agency to roleplay my character for me.

But if the underlying premise of the game is that you don't control your character, and the core mechanics are built around you not controlling your character, then I'm just not really interested. I don't want the premise of the game to be that I don't control my character.

On the positive side, it sounds like that loss-of-control is an upfront fact about the game, so for people who want to play that way, go for it! That's MUCH better than (arbitrarily) telling a player of D&D "your character wouldn't do/think/know that".
Being emotionally or psychologically effected does not necessarily preclude your ability to control your character anymore than being "hit" by a weapon attack, knocked prone by an attack, or hand-cuffed in chains. You respect that it happens in the fiction for your character, and you adjust your roleplaying decicions accordingly. These games are not necessarily ones where the player loses control over their character, but, instead, ones in which the character can be affected mentally, emotionally, and psychologically by a variety of magical and nonmagical factors. Likewise, players are expected to respect that fiction and roleplay their characters accordingly. Often the situations that "trigger" these mechanics require that the players put their characters to the test or purposefully entering into a contest/duel of wits while knowing the stakes. These games generally also give players quite a bit of leeway regarding the consequences.

But as @Umbran said, a loss of control not the premise of these games. If such bad faith and inaccurate takes were the premises of the games, then D&D is a much stronger contender for "loss of control" being the game's premise. Just because it puts that "loss of control" behind magic or powers doesn't change anything about the fact that loss of control of your character would be part and parcel of the game. "But magic" is a flimsy counterargument that says more about your aesthetics of when loss of control over authoring your character is acceptable rather than whether loss of control transpires or how frequently.

By the way, I want to point out that the existence of examples in 5e that seem to defy my principal isn't proof of inconsistency on my part. Maybe if I were the author of those examples...

But "Hey, what do you think of example X?" instead of "Ha! Example X shows you are being inconsistent" would demonstrate open-mindedness and engagement, rather than...well, something else.
Not that it changes your passive aggressive "well, something else" any, but my example was from 3e. I'm not sure how I could be even more clear about that, and it was not just addressed to you but to the general attitude of making an exception for magic.

@Bill Zebub, here is the video example of a contest in Cortex Prime that I promised.


A Contest in Cortex actually happens early on in the opening scene between two player characters in one of their official streams. Keep in mind that Millie (the GM) is also trying to teach the game to the players (and viewers). Also, much as @Umbran said earlier, the more that you practice roleplaying in these sorts of games, like with D&D, the easier it is to get into and stay "in the zone" while engaging in these mechanics.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
There's a tension here, I feel, between the last quoted sentence and the first two. Namely, that authoring a character's response or action isn't typically a manifestation of knowledge about the character. It seems more like a manifestation of hope or desire or preference in respect of the character.
I'm not sure I understand where the tension you see is coming from. From my standpoint it seems clear that the better one knows who a character is and what they've been through, the more nuance one will be able to provide when determining how/when/why that character will react to natural stress and trauma. How could a better understanding of who someone is not be of value when determining how they would react? Could you please explain more about the tension you see?

Not really, because I assume that a typical outcome of frightening someone by (eg) decapitating a prisoner in front of them and threatening them that they will be next would also be to inflict the frightened condition.
Ah, that assumption may be a misunderstanding of 5e on your part. While the system is open-ended enough that a DM could choose to impose the Frightened condition as a result of a successful Charisma (Intimidation) check (or even just unilaterally, with no check), that is not how the game is usually played, both in my experience and everything I've seen on forums. Perhaps your experiences differ, but in play I would consider typical, social skills don't inflict formal status conditions.

To the extent that the frightened condition doesn't do a very good job of modelling fear, that seems to me to be a criticism of the condition rather than a reason to read any oddities of the condition back into a characterisation of dragon fear as categorically different from other scary things.
Since the system as typically played (again, with a caveat that it's possible there is more variation than I am aware of) doesn't use the Frightened condition to represent scary things in general, I think separately categorizing the abilities that can produce that condition follows implicitly.
 

I think I'm going to bow out of this conversation. The tone seems to be shifting and become more unpleasant and aggressive. If I pushed any buttons I apologize; that wasn't my intent.

I've learned things, though, and have much to think about. Thanks for that.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
In case it's not clear:

The reason for including the Steel mechanic in Burning Wheel is not realism. That's not to suggest that it's unrealistic: but there's any number of things that also wouldn't be unrealistic that aren't part of the game. For instance, the game expressly leaves it up to the player to decide whether or not their PC can whistle (it's a passing but clear remark in the rules for PC build), and by implication I think also leaves it up to the player to decide whether or not their PC can roll their tongue or wiggle their ears - but it wouldn't be unrealistic to have a rule for determining these things, like rules I've seen in various games for determining handedness and ambidexterity.

The reason for including the rule is because the game has something to say: it has something to say about the gravity or horror of certain deeds or certain situations. And the Steel rules are the way whereby it says those things.

If you don't want to play a game in which you might (via your PC) find yourself faltering in the face of such things, then you don't use the BW Steel mechanics. It's an aesthetic matter.

In a different genre - action spy adventure films - something like this aesthetic contrast obtains between the Bourne films and most (at least pre-Craig) Bond films.

Part of the disconnect is the implication that without rules such as steel that a PC can never hesitate or falter.

It may not happen as often, some people may play every PC as uncaring sociopaths. But I have had players who's PCs reacted to such things and done it myself. I've also played PCs that were numb to such things because they had seen too much.

I don't want a game rule to tell me how my PC is going to react or what's going to cause them to hesitate.
 

Hussar

Legend
Part of the disconnect is the implication that without rules such as steel that a PC can never hesitate or falter.

It may not happen as often, some people may play every PC as uncaring sociopaths. But I have had players who's PCs reacted to such things and done it myself. I've also played PCs that were numb to such things because they had seen too much.

I don't want a game rule to tell me how my PC is going to react or what's going to cause them to hesitate.
If it's okay, can I rephrase that implication from "never" to "nowhere near often enough"? Sure, you can point to where it has happened, but, like your example of using dice to determine mental processes, it's likely pretty rare. Which, frankly, is a lost opportunity to real delve into the persona of the character. The number of times a character "falters" without any sort of mechanics like this is likely somewhere between zero and once in a campaign.

Now, think about it this way. Those moments, when the PC faltered, were really stand out moments no? These were events in the game that really stick out in your mind. So, why not have mechanics which bring those moments forward in the game more often?
 

pemerton

Legend
Part of the disconnect is the implication that without rules such as steel that a PC can never hesitate or falter.

It may not happen as often, some people may play every PC as uncaring sociopaths. But I have had players who's PCs reacted to such things and done it myself. I've also played PCs that were numb to such things because they had seen too much.

I don't want a game rule to tell me how my PC is going to react or what's going to cause them to hesitate.
A game in which players get to choose how their PCs respond to these things is not one in which the game has something to say about what sorts of events and/or actions are dreadful and weighty.

Especially if the faltering that players choose is simply colour/narration, but not something that actually plays out in the resolution (eg in the form of actions foregone).

I'm not sure I understand where the tension you see is coming from. From my standpoint it seems clear that the better one knows who a character is and what they've been through, the more nuance one will be able to provide when determining how/when/why that character will react to natural stress and trauma. How could a better understanding of who someone is not be of value when determining how they would react? Could you please explain more about the tension you see?
The tension I see is that creating a character isn't a demonstration of knowledge of the character. I see this as roughly corresponding to the difference between belief and desire as mental states - belief has world-give correctness conditions and hence sometimes constitutes knowledge; desire does not have the same sorts of correctness conditions.

Your reference to nuanced determination suggests that you think there is some third possibility between sheer creation and inference or extrapolation based on knowledge. I have doubts about that possibility, moreso in the context of a RPG where a player typically has other sorts of constraints that also affect their decisions about action declaration (eg wanting to achieve whatever their goal is in the context of the game).

My sense is that the players' feeling about "what fits" for the character is mostly an aesthetic rather than a knowledge-based response. Part of the point of a system like Steel is to disrupt that particular sort of aesthetic judgement.

Ah, that assumption may be a misunderstanding of 5e on your part. While the system is open-ended enough that a DM could choose to impose the Frightened condition as a result of a successful Charisma (Intimidation) check (or even just unilaterally, with no check), that is not how the game is usually played, both in my experience and everything I've seen on forums.

<snip>

Since the system as typically played (again, with a caveat that it's possible there is more variation than I am aware of) doesn't use the Frightened condition to represent scary things in general, I think separately categorizing the abilities that can produce that condition follows implicitly.
I can't comment on what is typical in 5e D&D play. 4e D&D does not have a Frightened condition but there is no distinction of the sort you describe between "magical"/"special" and "ordinary" Fear effects.

The 5e approach you described sounds rather strange to me, as it implies that what a character experiences when a dragon imposes the Frightened condition on them isn't fear at all, but some other (perhaps not even emotional) state.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Part of the disconnect is the implication that without rules such as steel that a PC can never hesitate or falter.

It may not happen as often, some people may play every PC as uncaring sociopaths. But I have had players who's PCs reacted to such things and done it myself. I've also played PCs that were numb to such things because they had seen too much.

I don't want a game rule to tell me how my PC is going to react or what's going to cause them to hesitate.
One of my recurring issues with D&D, and I will be upfront with it, is that the game doesn't fundamentally care who my character is nor does it respect the roleplaying of that character as anything other than the bare minimum performatory function, like being a warm butt in a chair. The rest is entirely opt-in. My character and their characterization is largely irrelevant to the game and how it functions. It can and will often ignore my character and their characterization at the leisure of the GM or adventure. There is little to nothing about the game that actually engages my character and who they are. Nothing fundamentally challenges my conception of the character in any way. The game doesn't care anything about who Tom the Fighter is other than whether they complete the Tomb of Annihilation. Nor does it care why they are doing it. Who they are afterwards? Meh. Who cares? The same is not true for other games. Entering the Tomb of Annihilation in a game like Burning Wheel or Torchbearer may utterly break Tom the Fighter.

It's why and how, as you allude to, people can play so many different character option builds while still playing essentially the same character (i.e., themselves). The game doesn't push or pull the characters in any meaningful way. Even while feeling as if I am roleplaying my heart out, it often feels as if my character after 20-30 sessions is the same as they were when they started the game (if not conceptually flatter) because the game is mostly concerned with plugging in any character into an external story adventure plot rather than with the characters themselves rather than engaging the roleplaying of said character. I never really feel as if I really learn anything meaninful about my character. I never really feel as if the game somehow acknowledges my character's existence. Nothing surprises me at all when I control everything about the character's inner thoughts, how they react, or what causes them to hestitate. My character's mental state is entirely opt-in. My character is essentially immune from being mentally affected.
 
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Hussar

Legend
My sense is that the players' feeling about "what fits" for the character is mostly an aesthetic rather than a knowledge-based response. Part of the point of a system like Steel is to disrupt that particular sort of aesthetic judgement.
@pemerton, would you mind if I rephrased this a bit?

If I'm understanding what you're saying here, the point of mental mechanics isn't to tell someone how their character feels. The point of mental mechanics is to force the player outside of their comfort zone. If I always decide what my character thinks and feels, then there is never a point where there is any loss of control. There is no surprise. There is no discovery and at no point am I required or even encouraged to explore any sort of impact upon my character.

Or, to put it another way. How often has anyone, outside of having mechanics which necessitate it like Sanity in Cthulhu, played their character as being losing control? Spiraling ever downwards? IME, every D&D character does nothing but have a string of successes and then retires. Even setbacks are only temporary and nothing is ever impactful.

Lacking these kinds of mechanics, as you said @pemerton, all these points are simply narration. My character loves that character. Ok, great. You act like you're in love. Only, not really, because, well, there's nothing there that actually indicates that in the game. You love that character because, you, the player decided that your character loves that character. But, that's pretty rarely how love works. Or any strong emotion really.

I mean, people were shocked that fear would make a parent not rush to save their child from a dragon. I really hate to break it to you, but, that happens all the time in the real world. Frozen in fear is a real thing. Being totally in control, while so afraid of something that it actually has a game effect, is just bizarre really.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
@pemerton, would you mind if I rephrased this a bit?

If I'm understanding what you're saying here, the point of mental mechanics isn't to tell someone how their character feels. The point of mental mechanics is to force the player outside of their comfort zone. If I always decide what my character thinks and feels, then there is never a point where there is any loss of control. There is no surprise. There is no discovery and at no point am I required or even encouraged to explore any sort of impact upon my character.

Or, to put it another way. How often has anyone, outside of having mechanics which necessitate it like Sanity in Cthulhu, played their character as being losing control? Spiraling ever downwards? IME, every D&D character does nothing but have a string of successes and then retires. Even setbacks are only temporary and nothing is ever impactful.

Lacking these kinds of mechanics, as you said @pemerton, all these points are simply narration. My character loves that character. Ok, great. You act like you're in love. Only, not really, because, well, there's nothing there that actually indicates that in the game. You love that character because, you, the player decided that your character loves that character. But, that's pretty rarely how love works. Or any strong emotion really.

I mean, people were shocked that fear would make a parent not rush to save their child from a dragon. I really hate to break it to you, but, that happens all the time in the real world. Frozen in fear is a real thing. Being totally in control, while so afraid of something that it actually has a game effect, is just bizarre really.
You don't need to go full CoC sanity to do it. Take faye style compels and the wolverine example someone brought up earlier. Logan wants to channel his pain into rage as an aspect (maybe his trouble aspect even), has got a chip on his shoulder and you know... except the group is talking about sneaking in to quietly destroy the sentinel manufacturing plant with a virus & the gm is waving a fstevpoint token while asking "would a man who wants to channel his pain onto rage really be ok with this plan?"... alternately the gm could even hold up the fate point & mention that chip on his shoulder whole talking about how good it would feel to tear his claws through the metal of the machinery while sneaking in. In both cases Logan csn expend a fate point to say no I'm going to be cool & controlled or yes & take the fate point to be awesome personally or spend declaring something that makes things awesome.
Edit:autocorrect #$/**&##!
 
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Aldarc

Legend
I mean, people were shocked that fear would make a parent not rush to save their child from a dragon. I really hate to break it to you, but, that happens all the time in the real world. Frozen in fear is a real thing. Being totally in control, while so afraid of something that it actually has a game effect, is just bizarre really.
I mean if we were playing Fate, the character could potentially invoke their character's aspect "My children are my world," spend a Fate point, and then overcome the fear that is afflicting them. It would be a dramatic moment highlighted by the engaging of the mechanics. Or if we were playing Cortex, then the PC may be able to also draw on their Relationship die with their child when assembling a pool, spend a PP for some extra bonus, and then also go all out in saving their child. There is game engagement of the characters.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If it's okay, can I rephrase that implication from "never" to "nowhere near often enough"? Sure, you can point to where it has happened, but, like your example of using dice to determine mental processes, it's likely pretty rare. Which, frankly, is a lost opportunity to real delve into the persona of the character. The number of times a character "falters" without any sort of mechanics like this is likely somewhere between zero and once in a campaign.

Now, think about it this way. Those moments, when the PC faltered, were really stand out moments no? These were events in the game that really stick out in your mind. So, why not have mechanics which bring those moments forward in the game more often?
Because if there are mechanics for it, it would lessen the impact, potentially to nothing.

I get why some people want it. But for me, it's twofold. First, I don't want to run a "gritty" campaign (if that's even the correct description). My games have a fair amount of drama but it's still primarily just supposed to be fun. What makes a game fun and rewarding is going to vary.

@Aldarc, I agree that the game doesn't care. That doesn't mean that the players and the DM can't care. Some people see growth, some don't. Sometimes I see growth and change in my PCs, sometimes I don't. It also doesn't mean that for me that a game system is going to make me "feel" anything.

Ultimately the game telling me something wouldn't feel organic or "real". There's only so much a game, movie or novel can do for that.

But there's not really much more to say. If it works for you, great. I don't think either style is better or worse, I don't think a game can make me feel something I'm not going to and I think a lot of people just don't care. If it matters, if it's the type of campaign where it makes sense, reactions that I come up with will have more impact than ones determined by a game rule.

But I'm with @Bill Zebub. I think I'm done here. So long and thanks for all the fish.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
The 5e approach you described sounds rather strange to me, as it implies that what a character experiences when a dragon imposes the Frightened condition on them isn't fear at all, but some other (perhaps not even emotional) state.
I agree--that's basically what I was trying to say. Fear invoked by dragons (or magically, via the Fear spell) is different enough from ordinary fear that it doesn't impinge on my preference for reactions to ordinary fear to be left up to the player to decide for their character.

Reframed in terms of my original point in this thread: a character's reaction to ordinary fear is character-defining, and I prefer for defining the character to be left up to the player, rather than game mechanics. Explicit monster abilities, spells, etc., in 5e that produce the Frightened condition are different enough from ordinary fear that I don't consider a character's reaction to those effects to be character-defining, and thus they don't run afoul of my preferences.

It's similar to how the ability to resist ordinary temptation is character-defining, whereas the ability to resist a Suggestion spell is not (in my opinion, anyway).

I mean, people were shocked that fear would make a parent not rush to save their child from a dragon. I really hate to break it to you, but, that happens all the time in the real world. Frozen in fear is a real thing. Being totally in control, while so afraid of something that it actually has a game effect, is just bizarre really.
To clarify, I entirely agree that being frozen in fear happens all the time in the real world. However, that's outside the range of fear that one person can typically influence in another, particularly without knowing the person, or saying anything to them, or doing anything scary. Combined with the fact that dragon fear in 5e doesn't make someone frozen in fear (a Frigthened character can still act however they want, except that they can't approach the dragon), and its fleeting nature (it lasts no more than a minute), and I think there is good reason to classify dragon fear as something other than acute normal fear.

I also dispute your suggestion that a character frozen in fear in DnD 5e can still act. The lack of any mechanical restriction from ordinary fear means the player is, indeed, unconstrained in their action declarations for their character. But if the player decides that their character is so afraid that they don't act, then the character indeed can't act.

If it's okay, can I rephrase that implication from "never" to "nowhere near often enough"? Sure, you can point to where it has happened, but, like your example of using dice to determine mental processes, it's likely pretty rare. Which, frankly, is a lost opportunity to real delve into the persona of the character. The number of times a character "falters" without any sort of mechanics like this is likely somewhere between zero and once in a campaign.

Now, think about it this way. Those moments, when the PC faltered, were really stand out moments no? These were events in the game that really stick out in your mind. So, why not have mechanics which bring those moments forward in the game more often?
Personally, I wouldn't find such moments nearly as meaningful if they were the consequence of game mechanics rather than the decision of the player. It's similar to how I'd consider brilliant tactics on the part of the player meaningful in a way that wouldn't apply to (e.g.) a wildly successful Tactics roll in the In Nomine system (where which side in a combat has better positioning can be abstracted by a single die roll), even if both the player's plan and the successful Tactics roll led to the same level of tactical advantage.

Also, I find such player-initiated faltering moments come up frequently at tables where fuzzy lines between friends and foe are common, regardless of the system being run. It's one of the reasons my D&D 5e combats last unusually long, as players skip their own actions or spend them on characterization rather than using them to contribute to the fight. I've occasionally had so much faltering on both sides that the fight has effectively stopped mid-combat and dialogue has started.

A game in which players get to choose how their PCs respond to these things is not one in which the game has something to say about what sorts of events and/or actions are dreadful and weighty.
One of my recurring issues with D&D, and I will be upfront with it, is that the game doesn't fundamentally care who my character is nor does it respect the roleplaying of that character as anything other than the bare minimum performatory function, like being a warm butt in a chair. The rest is entirely opt-in. My character and their characterization is largely irrelevant to the game and how it functions. It can and will often ignore my character and their characterization at the leisure of the GM or adventure. There is little to nothing about the game that actually engages my character and who they are. Nothing fundamentally challenges my conception of the character in any way. The game doesn't care anything about who Tom the Fighter is other than whether they complete the Tomb of Annihilation. Nor does it care why they are doing it. Who they are afterwards? Meh. Who cares? The same is not true for other games. Entering the Tomb of Annihilation in a game like Burning Wheel or Torchbearer may utterly break Tom the Fighter.
These comments about what the game has to say or what the game cares about suggest to me that there may be a deeper philosophical difference at play in terms of how we approach RPGs. From my perspective, my group has our own "game". Our choice of system is simply a question of what ruleset would be most helpful for running our game. Our games deeply care about who the characters are, and we deeply respect roleplaying, regardless of which system we happen to be using. Accordingly, a system designed to make our game care about the characters isn't helpful to us, because our game already does so. And a system designed to make our game care about characters differently than it already does would be actively unhelpful because it would create tension between the mechanics and our game.

If I'm understanding correctly, @pemerton and @Aldarc, you see the choice of system as defining the game you are playing, and thus if the system has nothing to say about who the characters are, then the game doesn't either. That makes perfect sense, and makes it easier to understand where your preferences are coming from. It's just so different from how I approach RPGs at a conceptual level that I can see why it makes understanding each other's preferences (and even just communicating them) so difficult.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Hmm, with a second person bowing out, I think that's a good sign the conversation has run its course, so I'm going to do the same. I'll happily read any responses to my most recent post, but I'm going to refrain from posting again.

Thanks for the discussion! I've learned a lot about different approaches to, and preferences for, RPGs. And by trying to describe them to others I've learned a lot about the reasons behind my own preferences.
 

pemerton

Legend
Because if there are mechanics for it, it would lessen the impact, potentially to nothing.

<snip>

Ultimately the game telling me something wouldn't feel organic or "real". There's only so much a game, movie or novel can do for that.

<snip>

I don't think a game can make me feel something I'm not going to
For some people, when the band plays the Marseillaise in Casablanca tears well up; for others, that's not so.
 


Hussar

Legend
Someone upthread and I can't remember who, said something along the lines of we need combat mechanics so the game doesn't devolve into cops and robbers- I shot you... no you didn't. Fair enough. I totally agree with that point.

Where I don't agree though is that somehow that same reasoning doesn't apply to mental aspects of the character. We do not trust players to play out combat without it devolving into stalemates, but, we are supposed to implicitly trust all players that they will play out their characters in a plausible manner? I've met far, far too many players where that is very much not true.

I guess I don't really see much of a difference between, "The monster hits you, you take X damage and possibly Y effect" and "This NPC makes a pretty good point and convinces you that X is true." In both cases, the player has to react to the new reality dictated by the game. Or, to put it another way, the player has no control over how much damage the character takes or whether or not you fail that saving throw vs poison, so, why should the player have absolute control over every mental process of the character?
 

I guess I don't really see much of a difference between, "The monster hits you, you take X damage and possibly Y effect" and "This NPC makes a pretty good point and convinces you that X is true." In both cases, the player has to react to the new reality dictated by the game. Or, to put it another way, the player has no control over how much damage the character takes or whether or not you fail that saving throw vs poison, so, why should the player have absolute control over every mental process of the character?

You don’t find the process where the NPC says something to the PC, the player says “I don’t trust this jerk…I want to make an insight check” promptly fails the check, then says “ai still don’t trust this jerk” to be satisfying mechanically?
 

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