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D&D General Styles of Roleplaying and Characters

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Aldarc

Legend
@Oofta and @Xetheral, I know that you have both bowed out of the conversation, but I have been thinking about your latest responses, and they've been kind of stuck in my brain. I've been mulling on them, and I hope you don't mind me addressing a few key points. I have moved quotes around a bit to group some similar ideas that pop up in both of your posts.

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

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.
It also doesn't mean that for me that a game system is going to make me "feel" anything.
I can understand that for you, having social/mental mechanics in place would potentially lessen the impact of what you are feeling while roleplaying your character. I have no intention of invalidating your experiences there.

Where I take issue, however, is with the idea that keeps propping up here is the implication that these social/mental mechanics are about or needed to make either you or me feel anything. I think that misunderstands their purpose or function, and the analogy to other media doesn't quite hold up IMHO, but I don't really want to go down that rabbit hole. I don't think that is the underyling purpose of these mechanics or why people like me may enjoy them is about trying to make you (i.e., the participant) feel. These mechanics aren't needed for the player to feel anything nor do I think they are trying to make you feel. I would suggest that "making me feel" is not a helpful way of thinking about these discussed mechanics.

I think they help inform your roleplay of your character as a character in the fiction who can be affected by the game world, but I don't think that they are fundamentally about making you (i.e., the Player) feel anything. Does a "hit" in combat tell me that I am feeling pain or how my character feels about pain? Not really. It tells me about the state of the fiction. If my character is affected by fear, then it's not making me as the player feel fear, but I do discover that my character is feeling fear in this moment in the fiction. How does my character feel about it? Disappointed? Horrified and humiliated by their own fear? That's up for me to decide and roleplay. But as a player, am I afraid? Likely not. Did the game make @pemerton feel afraid when his character was frightened? I didn't get the impression that was the case. Is the game trying to make me feel anything? I don't think that it is.

My own feelings as a player are distinct from that of the PC's. My play goals as a player are distinct from the character's goals in the fiction. As a player, I may be quite exhilarated that my character is facing a challenge in the fiction that will test their mettle. My character may be extraordinarily anxious about the experience. In contrast, I may be excited by either their success or failure of this challenge by the character because it's naturally good to succeed, but the failure may push the fiction to interesting new places, which may be even more interesting for my character than if I had succeeded in full. But through this all, I am also gaining a better understanding of my character and constantly reevaluating who my character is and what drives them forward. I don't think that the game, however, is trying to make me feel anything here. I think it's there to help drive the fiction forward, create drama, and facilitate uncertainty in the states of the fiction, particularly as it relates to the characters.

TL;DR: the important takeaway from this conversation about these social/mental mechanics should NOT be that the game is trying to make you feel anything. I think that is a critical misunderstanding that fundamentally risks impairing your ability to understand and sympathize with those of us arguing in favor of these social/mental mechanics.

@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.
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.
Edit: Sorry, @Xetheral, but in the quote editing, the bottom quote got attributed to Oofta rather than you, and I'm too lazy to figure out how to fix it. 🤷‍♂️

A pestering issue I have with this is the hidden implication that resides in this assertion: i.e., I don't care enough about who the characters are or do not deeply respect roleplaying enough, but if I truly did, then I could make it work for D&D. I will respect on good faith that you likely did not intend it to come across this way, and this reading may be a matter of me reading too much into it, but I do hope that you can see how this reading is possible in what you wrote. It's the implication that I or any of us could make it work - like it does at your table - if we truly cared enough to make it work regardless of system. It may not be what you intend, but that implication would not be the first time it was explicitly lobbed at some of us. So just marking that potential landmine with a flag and working around it.

Also, a lot of this makes this incredibly GM/table dependent. Just because the players/GM can care, doesn't mean that they will. Moreover, just because your games care deep enough for your roleplaying needs doesn't mean that it will do the same for mine. Maybe your respective tables do care about who the characters are, but also maybe if I sat at your table with your group I would be just as disappointed as when I'm playing with my friends who I otherwise enjoy playing with. It may also be that there is a difference in what is meant or understood about caring about the characters. Often in D&D, caring about who the characters are feels more like a call to "play-act roleplay to your heart's content" rather than play really being about the characters.

I have sat at many tables over my years of roleplaying D&D where participants have promised the sort of experience that cared about engaging my character (much like you do here) but ultimately failed to deliver. How many times should I tolerate this disappointment before getting to this regularly promised roleplaying experience on Candy Mountain that cares deeply about who the characters are?

In my personal experience, other games have facilitated that promise of caring about characters better and more consistently than D&D from table to table. (And other games don't care at all about that, because they are upfront about promising something else, which is why I also play those games. I also don't play D&D if I want a game that cares deeply about who the characters are. IMHO, that's not what it's really designed to facilitate.) In contrast, some games require that I and others constantly engage who the characters are in the fiction as a fluid and organic part of play.

Please don't take any of this to be heated or hostile towards either of you. The tone is more about my personal frustration regarding my experiences.

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.
That's pretty accurate. However, I likewise often approach RPGs in terms of "what ruleset would be most helpful for running our game," but I think that also comes with understanding the strengths and limitations of each game. This usually means that I probably won't be running D&D if I want to emphasize the protagonism/characterization of the PCs or want play to be about who they are because the game is not particularly helpful in running/playing such a game.
 
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pemerton

Legend
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.
It depends what you mean by system.

There are multiple RPGs that are much-the-same system, in the sense of having the same sort of approach to distribution of authority over various aspects of the fiction.

There are particular RPGs that can be used to play multiple systems, by changing the principles that the participants conform to. An example is Classic Traveller, which can be played in an "exploratory" way (this is implicit in the early modules, and in a good chunk of the core books) but also in a much more PbtA-ish way (this is implicit in some of the referee advice/direction and some of the skill descriptions in the core books). I approach it in that second way.

In this sense, I do see system as defining the game being played. And the system, whatever it is, will have some way of determining how the characters are established. Different ways of doing this produce different play experiences.

Where I take issue, however, is with the idea that keeps propping up here is the implication that these social/mental mechanics are about or needed to make either you or me feel anything. I think that misunderstands their purpose or function, and the analogy to other media doesn't quite hold up IMHO, but I don't really want to go down that rabbit hole. I don't think that is the underyling purpose of these mechanics or why people like me may enjoy them is about trying to make you (i.e., the participant) feel. These mechanics aren't needed for the player to feel anything nor do I think they are trying to make you feel. I would suggest that "making me feel" is not a helpful way of thinking about these discussed mechanics.

I think they help inform your roleplay of your character as a character in the fiction who can be affected by the game world, but I don't think that they are fundamentally about making you (i.e., the Player) feel anything. Does a "hit" in combat tell me that I am feeling pain or how my character feels about pain? Not really. It tells me about the state of the fiction. If my character is affected by fear, then it's not making me as the player feel fear, but I do discover that my character is feeling fear in this moment in the fiction. How does my character feel about it? Disappointed? Horrified and humiliated by their own fear? That's up for me to decide and roleplay. But as a player, am I afraid? Likely not. Did the game make @pemerton feel afraid when his character was frightened? I didn't get the impression that was the case. Is the game trying to make me feel anything? I don't think that it is.

My own feelings as a player are distinct from that of the PC's.
This is probably a matter in respect of which we differ.

For me, good social/emotional mechanics will create a type of change in my feelings that corresponds to what is happening to my PC. For me, this is part of the goal of inhabitation of my PC.

But I think it's fairly complicated and there are differences across the range of emotions and how they relate to the possible range of mechanics.

I think an important function of the Burning Wheel Steel mechanics is to make the player feel the same dread, and weight of decision, as the PC is feeling. In the case of the PC, this is because the PC is confronted by something shocking or frightening, be that external (eg seeing a walking corpse) or internal (eg contemplating murder). In the case of the player, this is because I have to pick up the dice and roll them to find out whether or not I (as my PC) hesitate.

(A parenthetical remark at this point may be helpful for some readers, though I think redundant for @Aldarc: to protest but perhaps my PC doesn't find these things dreadful is to miss the point - the Steel mechanic rests on a premise that they are. That is part of what you buy into when you use the mechanic, just as - in D&D - you buy into the notion that PCs are built out of race/heritage + class, and hence it would be just missing the point to insist that your PC has no race/heritage or no class.)

In other contexts, social mechanics may affect how I feel in a different fashion. For instance, if my PC is being persuaded towards a particular course of action, it makes sense that the system should make that course of action more appealing to me. There are various ways that can be done: the Cortex+ debuff-style is one; integrating the course of action into a bigger framework of PC commitments (eg Beliefs in Burning Wheel) is another. In either case, I will try and bring my thinking - in my imaginative inhabitation of my character - into line with my character's thinking

Another way a system can work is to generate momentum and consequence around something that is important to my PC, so even though there is no particular system element or component that directly speaks to the social/emotional issue, the most logical/natural way to think myself into the fictional situation is to adopt a certain outlook/perspective as my PC.

This requires the fiction, and the situations, to have a certain seriousness and intensity.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Do what works for you. D&D's lack of system works for me. While I appreciate the explanations that have been given, I don't want a game to tell me when my PC hesitates or that my PC is convinced by someone else's argument because of a contest.

It really is just as simple as that. I don't care if it's not "realistic" that I'm the sole author of my PC. I'm not going to be affected by a game rule telling me that my PC is anxious, nor do I think that it's any more realistic than me making my own judgement call. If I don't care whether my country bumpkin who's been thrown into the life of an adventurer would be nervous about facing a band of ogres that outnumber them should or should not be nervous. If it makes sense to me, the player, that the PC would be nervous then they are. If not, they are not. If I can't get into my player's head enough to figure that out I either don't care or the game telling me they're anxious isn't going to have any impact.


P.S. @Aldarc, one of the difficulties is the contradictions.
...mechanics are about or needed to make either you or me feel anything.
followed by
... My character may be extraordinarily anxious about the experience...

So is "anxious" not a feeling? Either the game system is informing you what your PC is feeling or it's not. Or I'm just misreading because I haven't had any caffeine yet. :sleep:
 

Aldarc

Legend
P.S. @Aldarc, one of the difficulties is the contradictions.

followed by

So is "anxious" not a feeling? Either the game system is informing you what your PC is feeling or it's not. Or I'm just misreading because I haven't had any caffeine yet. :sleep:
What contradiction? My character Tom the Fighter may feel something (e.g., anxious), whether as a result of a game mechanic or how I roleplay them in the fiction, but I as a player may feel something else (e.g., excited amusement) due to my own play goals. This is not to say that the mechanics make me feel anything or evoke in feelings in me. The mechanics don't necessarily make me (i.e., Aldarc the Player) feel anything because there is a distinction between player and character even when I am ideally in the headspace of the character.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
What contradiction? My character Tom the Fighter may feel something (e.g., anxious), whether as a result of a game mechanic or how I roleplay them in the fiction, but I as a player may feel something else (e.g., excited amusement) due to my own play goals. This is not to say that the mechanics make me feel anything or evoke in feelings in me. The mechanics don't necessarily make me (i.e., Aldarc the Player) feel anything because there is a distinction between player and character even when I am ideally in the headspace of the character.
It's been said repeatedly that the rules don't tell me what my PC is thinking or feeling. That's contradicted by the statement. That's all.

As far as what my PC feels, I don't want to be told, unless it's supernatural. That's all.

There is no one true way.
 

Aldarc

Legend
It's been said repeatedly that the rules don't tell me what my PC is thinking or feeling. That's contradicted by the statement. That's all.

As far as what my PC feels, I don't want to be told, unless it's supernatural. That's all.

There is no one true way.
I feel as if you are talking past me, Oofta. I repeatedly said that the rules don't tell you, OOFTA, what YOU are feeling and that the rules can't make YOU (OOFTA) feel.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think they help inform your roleplay of your character as a character in the fiction who can be affected by the game world, but I don't think that they are fundamentally about making you (i.e., the Player) feel anything. Does a "hit" in combat tell me that I am feeling pain or how my character feels about pain? Not really. It tells me about the state of the fiction. If my character is affected by fear, then it's not making me as the player feel fear,
The question is, should it be trying to? Should having your-as-player's emotions match your character's be an end goal of either design or play? And if yes, should that end goal be blared from the rooftops or more subtly woven into the game?

In sequence, my own answers to those would be "yes, where it can", "yes, though with ample wiggle room to allow tables that don't go for such things to strip this aspect out", and "subtly woven in where possible".

Obviously we-as-players can't literally feel the pain our characters feel on getting hit in combat, because combat is by necessity completely abstracted. This if nothing else keeps the game legal in most jurisdictions. :)

Emotions, however, are not abstracted - or at least don't have to be - meaning that if your character is feeling afraid there's nothing stopping you-the-player from mirroring that at the table, be it internally in your own mind or externally through your roleplay; and IMO doing just this helps with immersion and roleplay. Ditto if your character is excited, or angry, or maudlin, or just havin' a normal day - be the character.

And sure there's going to be times when our-as-player's emotions don't match those of our characters - e.g. times when the characters are at each others' throats but the players just can't stop laughing at the goings-on - and that's great. But overall I don't think discouraging the idea of emotional parallel between player and character is the way to go.
but I do discover that my character is feeling fear in this moment in the fiction. How does my character feel about it? Disappointed? Horrified and humiliated by their own fear? That's up for me to decide and roleplay.
After the fact, yes; just like anyone might reflect later on a bad moment. But right in the moment, not so much I don't think.
Also, a lot of this makes this incredibly GM/table dependent. Just because the players/GM can care, doesn't mean that they will.
This, to me, is obvious. No two tables are going to take the same approach; and there may even be wide variance within a table.

That said, why not give a gentle design-level or advice-level nudge now and then in the direction of caring and leave it at that?
 

Aldarc

Legend
The question is, should it be trying to? Should having your-as-player's emotions match your character's be an end goal of either design or play? And if yes, should that end goal be blared from the rooftops or more subtly woven into the game?

In sequence, my own answers to those would be "yes, where it can", "yes, though with ample wiggle room to allow tables that don't go for such things to strip this aspect out", and "subtly woven in where possible".
I think that you are begging the question here.

Obviously we-as-players can't literally feel the pain our characters feel on getting hit in combat, because combat is by necessity completely abstracted. This if nothing else keeps the game legal in most jurisdictions. :)

Emotions, however, are not abstracted - or at least don't have to be - meaning that if your character is feeling afraid there's nothing stopping you-the-player from mirroring that at the table, be it internally in your own mind or externally through your roleplay; and IMO doing just this helps with immersion and roleplay. Ditto if your character is excited, or angry, or maudlin, or just havin' a normal day - be the character.
Emotions are heavily abstracted, and I think that it's safer for all to create emotional distance between yourself and the characters. I have witnessed emotional damage done to others in the name of being "in-character."

And sure there's going to be times when our-as-player's emotions don't match those of our characters - e.g. times when the characters are at each others' throats but the players just can't stop laughing at the goings-on - and that's great. But overall I don't think discouraging the idea of emotional parallel between player and character is the way to go.

After the fact, yes; just like anyone might reflect later on a bad moment. But right in the moment, not so much I don't think.
I am not discouraging an emotional parallel. I drawing awareness to the distinction that intrinsically exists between that of the player and that which is projected onto the character regardless of emotional parallels. I do think that saying that the character has an emotion risks reifying the character.

That said, why not give a gentle design-level or advice-level nudge now and then in the direction of caring and leave it at that?
Because that doesn't work for everyone.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I feel as if you are talking past me, Oofta. I repeatedly said that the rules don't tell you, OOFTA, what YOU are feeling and that the rules can't make YOU (OOFTA) feel.

I never said anything about the player's feelings, not sure where you're getting that.

On the other hand, the game is dictating emotions and decisions at least some of the time. I don't want that and never have.

It's fine if you do, but it wouldn't enhance the game for me. But that's really all ... I have nothing else to say. You want different things than I do.
 

pemerton

Legend
I never said anything about the player's feelings, not sure where you're getting that.
Probably from this, and similar posts by you:

I'm not going to be affected by a game rule telling me that my PC is anxious

<snip>

If I can't get into my player's head enough to figure that out I either don't care or the game telling me they're anxious isn't going to have any impact.
 

So I've been giving some thought about this topic, and an idea occurred to me. I think maybe it's about surprise.

Think of the movies and books and other forms of entertainment you've watched that feature fictional characters. You may decide you like or dislike a character based on how they're introduced and how they're portrayed. But in most cases, character defining moments...the ones that are the most important...are those moments where they surprise you. Where they do something different than what you thought they'd do.

So let's take Star Wars: A New Hope as an example. We have Luke Skywalker and we have Han Solo. There are reasons to like both of them. But does Luke ever do anything in the story that's surprising? Or are we pretty much certain what he'll do at any decision point he faces?

Han Solo, on the other hand, we're a little less certain about. His motivations are less pure, and his outlook is pessimistic and seemingly selfish. And yet what's the defining moment for him in the movie? No, not shooting Greedo. It's when he swoops in to save Luke despite having nothing to gain from the act.

That moment is not one that we expected (or, at least, it wasn't established as likely in any scene portraying Solo), but it's what happened, and it's one of the best moments of the movie, and redefines Han Solo's character going forward. He is changed.

Applying this to RPGs and the player-PC relationship....do you guys think that it's about not wanting to be surprised? That it's about wanting a Luke Skywalker character rather than a Han Solo character which may have the ability to surprise you?

Do you think that it's possible to wind up with a more Han Solo type of character in traditional D&D play? Does the game as written actively promote one over the other (generally speaking, accepting that there will be exceptions with some gaming groups)? If so, how does it promote that character type? If not, how do you tweak things to get it to do so?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Probably from this, and similar posts by you:
I would find being told what my character decides (i.e. persuaded by another character) or feel either boring or likely nonsensical/irritating for my vision of the character. If it was something I agree with, I could have decided it myself.

I don't know how to state that any more clearly. Any emotion I feel as a player would either be neutral or negative.
 

Hussar

Legend
It's been said repeatedly that the rules don't tell me what my PC is thinking or feeling. That's contradicted by the statement. That's all.

As far as what my PC feels, I don't want to be told, unless it's supernatural. That's all.

There is no one true way.
See, this is why I see the argument as contradictory.

A. We need rules to determine the character's physical states. We all agree here. The amount of rules needed can vary wildly from game to game, but, by and large, we don't want the game to devolve into cops and robbers. So, fair enough.

B. Conversely, we do not need any rules to determine the character's mental states. That is 100% up to the player who apparently must be given absolute authority over the mental states of the character. Unless, of course, we add in handwavium in the form of magic. Or a few other corner case kinda/sorta magic effects. And alignment. And traits and bonds and ideals. And a few other things. But, by and large, we must not ever have rules to determine the character's mental state.

My issue here, and why I see this as contradictory, is that why is it true? If the player can be given 100% authority over the mental state of the character, and nothing must ever interfere with that, then why does that not apply to physical states? I envision my character as a great swordsman. You can't hit me with your sword because that counters my character concept.

What's the difference?

@Aldarc makes it perfectly clear. Having mechanics that determine a character's mental states is in no way any different than the physical ones. You incorporate all those physical states into your play do you not? If my character is physically weak (low Strength) then I'm not going to be doing any breaking down of doors, most likely. My play will be informed by the fact that I have a low Strength score. Conversely, if I've got bags of HP and a high Strength, then that will likely inform my play as well.

How is this any different?

"I don't like it" is a perfectly fine answer. But, let's not pretend that that's anything other than a personal preference. It doesn't mean that it shouldn't be in the game. It just means that if it's in the game, that person won't use those rules. Which is fine. Lots of people ignore lots of rules in D&D and many other RPG's. But, no, it's not "one true wayism" at all to say that these mechanics would open up all sorts of design features and add a huge number of elements to the game which can then be leveraged in further designs. D&D's utter lack of anything like a social mechanic has really handicapped what can be done in D&D for years.

To put it another way, the lack of social mechanics means that social characters - characters that excel at the talky bits - are never really a viable option in the game. At best they're support characters.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
I never said anything about the player's feelings, not sure where you're getting that.
I'll show you:
@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.
You appear to be talking about yourself as a player in these instances rather than what the player character feels. Your uses of the pronoun "me" definitely lends to my reading that you are referring to the player. I probably wouldn't use "me" when talking about what my PC feels. Plus when you talk about media making you feel, that also would be about you the player/audience.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Conversely, we do not need any rules to determine the character's mental states. That is 100% up to the player who apparently must be given absolute authority over the mental states of the character. Unless, of course, we add in handwavium in the form of magic. Or a few other corner case kinda/sorta magic effects. And alignment. And traits and bonds and ideals. And a few other things. But, by and large, we must not ever have rules to determine the character's mental state.
This is how it is for me. First, half the rules there don't have authority over the mental state of a PC. Alignment, traits, bond and ideals can be ignored at the choice of the player. I might have a PC with the trait mouths off to authority, but if he's in front of the emperor who is known to have people beheaded on the spot if annoyed, you can bet that my guy is going to bite his tongue. It's my choice.

Magic has the nice ability to override choice with in a plausible way. That makes it palatable to me, though if it's used too much I would become really annoyed with that as well.
My issue here, and why I see this as contradictory, is that why is it true? If the player can be given 100% authority over the mental state of the character, and nothing must ever interfere with that, then why does that not apply to physical states? I envision my character as a great swordsman. You can't hit me with your sword because that counters my character concept.

What's the difference?
The difference is that mundane things can affect me physically and there's nothing I can do about it. If a spear hit my PC, he's taking damage and feeling pain. If he's pinched, it will hurt. Mental things don't have that same standing. Someone shouting boo at me isn't going to scare me unless he's got some mystical power to back up that attempt to frighten me.

That said, as DM I sometimes will describe things with feeling. If they walk into a mausoleum where powerful undead live, I might describe a feeling of oppressiveness in the air. Generally, my players go with it. Occasionally, if there's something about their character that would run counter to that feeling, they will say something like, "My character doesn't feel like that because..." At that point I will respond with the equivalent, "He feels however you want him to feel." The player knows his PC far better than I do and would know more accurately how he would feel.
"I don't like it" is a perfectly fine answer. But, let's not pretend that that's anything other than a personal preference. It doesn't mean that it shouldn't be in the game. It just means that if it's in the game, that person won't use those rules. Which is fine. Lots of people ignore lots of rules in D&D and many other RPG's.
This is absolutely true. It is all preference. I have nothing against games with mechanics to non-magically control what PCs feel, but I wouldn't play one.
 

pemerton

Legend
Do you think that it's possible to wind up with a more Han Solo type of character in traditional D&D play? Does the game as written actively promote one over the other (generally speaking, accepting that there will be exceptions with some gaming groups)?
I think there are challenges in this respect, once we consider (i) D&D's mechanics and (ii) the typical range of D&D play.

Historically, the emphasis in D&D has been on consistency of character. Alignment rules pushed towards consistency - eg in his DMG, Gygax says (p 25) "Changing of alignment is a serious matter, although some players would have their characters change alignment as often as they change socks. Not so!" Part of the rationale for this is a perception - an accurate one, I think, in classic D&D play - that changing one's character is exploitative or abusive, avoiding the obligation to engage the challenges of the game with the role one has chosen.

The importance of consistency, and its relationship to "good roleplaying", is also suggested in other passages of Gygax's rulebooks:

Experience points are merely an indicator of the character's progress towards greater proficiency in his or her chosen profession. UPWARD PROGRESS IS NEVER AUTOMATIC. . . . Consider the natural functions of each class of character. Consider also the professed alignment of each character. (DMG p 86)​
You act out the game as this character, staying within your "god-given abilities", and as molded by your philosophical and moral ethics (called alignment). . . . While involuntary change of alignment is quite possible, it is very difficult​
for a character to voluntarily switch from one to another . . . {PHB pp 7, 34)​

A second factor is that D&D doesn't, by default, provide "hooks" that link the PC into the sorts of interactions that produce circumstances or pressure for change. The PC build is generally quite a bit less than a total picture of the character (this contrasts with fuller "skill system" builds, or Pendragon's traits, etc) and this means that the natural process of developing the PC over time, and bringing the PC's abilities to bear on situations in play, doesn't tend to reveal the character or changes in the character. (In my mind, a clear contrast here is with Rolemaster play, where every level involves a choice of skills to develop, which reveals something about how the PC is changing - or not - in response to the vicissitudes of the fiction.)

A third factor - related, to an extent, to the previous one - is the typical nature of D&D adventures/scenarios. They tend to be "external" problems that the PCs are recruited to resolve, and hence that don't implicate the PCs own concerns and relationships.

I think all these things push against the sort of "Han Solo" character transformation you describe.
 

Hussar

Legend
but if he's in front of the emperor who is known to have people beheaded on the spot if annoyed, you can bet that my guy is going to bite his tongue. It's my choice.
But, we've been over this so many times.

Why do you think that a social mechanic system would suddenly force you to commit suicide? Do you really have that little faith in game design? Or, to put it another way, can you point to an actual game where this is possible? Or, are you just pulling examples out of the air without any actual experience? Because, from what others have said in this thread, it sure looks like that.

It's like a bunch of people insisting that they hate something they've never tried, don't really know anything about and have just made up their minds that it must be a certain way without anything approaching actual reality. I hate ice cream because it's too spicy!!! seems to be the cry.

This looks so much like the whole Exploration Pillar Sucks thread we just had. Any suggestion that the mechanics be changed to make exploration more robust is received with virtually the same reaction we're seeing here.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'll show you:

You appear to be talking about yourself as a player in these instances rather than what the player character feels. Your uses of the pronoun "me" definitely lends to my reading that you are referring to the player. I probably wouldn't use "me" when talking about what my PC feels. Plus when you talk about media making you feel, that also would be about you the player/audience.

Maybe I could have worded it better but all I'm saying is that additional rules on this would have no positive impact on the enjoyment of the game for me.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
But, we've been over this so many times.

Why do you think that a social mechanic system would suddenly force you to commit suicide? Do you really have that little faith in game design? Or, to put it another way, can you point to an actual game where this is possible? Or, are you just pulling examples out of the air without any actual experience? Because, from what others have said in this thread, it sure looks like that.

It's like a bunch of people insisting that they hate something they've never tried, don't really know anything about and have just made up their minds that it must be a certain way without anything approaching actual reality. I hate ice cream because it's too spicy!!! seems to be the cry.

This looks so much like the whole Exploration Pillar Sucks thread we just had. Any suggestion that the mechanics be changed to make exploration more robust is received with virtually the same reaction we're seeing here.
Since it's all a preference and there are already other games that include additional rules, why do we need to add those rules to D&D?

Why not play those other games and let D&D be what it is and always has been? It's the most popular TTRPG ever, it obviously doesn't need the secret sauce to be successful. Yet time and time again when people say "I like it the way it is" the response is always "Why can't we fix it?"

I don't want to fix or add to something that, for me, is not broken. Which obviously means I'm attacking everyone who disagrees ... even though I try to go out of my way to say that it's just a preference.

Meanwhile whenever I suggest that people come up with concrete ideas on how to implement things in D&D that could actually receive feedback, that gets rejected as well. A plus thread on how to add things to the game may actually be useful to those who want it; repeating vague assertions and complaints? I don't see the point. Publishing a supplement to DmsGuild? If it's successful it may be adopted in some form in an official supplement. Complaining on a forum like this? Never goes anywhere.

In any case, this is pointless. If there's ever concrete rules that we could critique I may have something else to say. Until then, it's a free country and feel free to yell at the wind.
 

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