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D&D General Styles of Roleplaying and Characters

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Hussar

Legend
(Note to self: when you want to drop out of a conversation, don't keep following that conversation, because you may just not be able to resist jumping back in.)



Ok, so let me get this straight: your argument is demonstrated by a line from Lord of the Rings? That somehow LotR is actually a session log from a roleplaying game, and that all those residents of Gondor are actually Player Characters, not NPCs?

And you deliver this..."logic"...with mocking derision?

Really?
Yes, because this is the sole, only example of this that has come up in this thread. Oh, wait, no it isn't. The oft repeated mantra of "If it's magic it's okay" has been pretty prevalent throughout the thread.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
We are told that, when Gandalf took command of the defence of the city of Gondor, wherever he came men's hearts lifted again. That seems to me a change in those men's feelings.
A change caused by that setting's equivalent of a divine blessing*, as an always-on aura effect around Gandalf quite similar to the 1e Paladin's always-on protection from evil 10' radius gained at (I think) 7th level. It's not a spell, but it is magic.

* - Gandalf is, after all, the setting's equivalent of an angel.
 


I don't follow. Why can't there be any inspiration without mental mechanics?

Player A: "I give a rousing speech!"
Player B: "I'm inspired!"
DM: "So are all the NPCs!"

What's the problem here? (And this totally ignores the distinction between using mental mechanics on NPCs, and using them on PCs.)
Here's the problem:

Player A as Gandalf: I give a rousing speech
Other players: We control our characters and we're not inspired
GM: Nor are the NPCs
Player A: Don't I get a roll?
All: No. That would be mind control.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
A change caused by that setting's equivalent of a divine blessing*, as an always-on aura effect around Gandalf quite similar to the 1e Paladin's always-on protection from evil 10' radius gained at (I think) 7th level. It's not a spell, but it is magic.

* - Gandalf is, after all, the setting's equivalent of an angel.
Except it doesn't work on me because I choose to not be inspired by his magic aura. I refuse to let my character's actions be bound by either the fiction or mechanics of the game.
 

pemerton

Legend
Ooh...you're right. I meant "character" not "player" emotions. As in, "dictate to the player what their character's emotions are." My bad.
But now we have no comparison to Gandalf or Saruman. All we have is authorship of some shared fiction. All RPGing involves this. It's no more sinister to ask you to play a scared character than to play a hungry one than to play a hurt one. (Just to choose possible outcomes of, respectively, a morale-type mechanic, a starvation-type mechanic and an injury-type mechanic.)
 

pemerton

Legend
A change caused by that setting's equivalent of a divine blessing*, as an always-on aura effect around Gandalf quite similar to the 1e Paladin's always-on protection from evil 10' radius gained at (I think) 7th level. It's not a spell, but it is magic.

* - Gandalf is, after all, the setting's equivalent of an angel.
Gandalf rouses their spirits by speaking to them. He changes how they feel because he is charismatic, and inspiring.

To suggest that the best way to model this is via some supernatural effect that is alienated from the actual emotions and desires and personalities of those whom he inspires is already to have abandoned any attempt at genre emulation.

If that's the best D&D can do, then D&D would be an almost indescribably shallow game. Fortunately for D&D, it's not the best it can do - as is shown by significant chunks of 4e, and by the not-as-robust-but-at-least-it's-there Inspiring Leader and similar stuff in 5e. (I think even AD&D, with its paladins' auras, is not as feeble as all that despite the best efforts of 2nd ed AD&D to make it seem so - but that would lead down another tangent about the relationship between (i) a paladin's aura and alignment, and (ii) alignment and individual personality.)
 

pemerton

Legend
Except it doesn't work on me because I choose to not be inspired by his magic aura. I refuse to let my character's actions be bound by either the fiction or mechanics of the game.
Your post is a working out of my alienation point: ie the only rebuttal is to say that Gandalf can "inspire" you even though your own true personality does not accept the inspiration. It's a complete reversal of what JRRT is actually depicting.
 

pemerton

Legend
To see if he could? To (try to) show his independence one last time? Does it matter?
It seems like you didn't read @Xetheral's posts to which I was responding. I read Xetheral as asserting that, at least in the context of RPGing, any change in a character is - or is experienced by Xetheral as -9 a redefinition of that character. And I asked whether that view generalises, eg to the Han Solo example.

I don't understand how you see your posts as relating to that issue: eg are you saying that a player of Han Solo is at liberty to redefine the character? Or are you saying that it is not a redefinition, to have him change his mind and come back and save Luke and the Rebellion? Or what?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
To see if he could? To (try to) show his independence one last time? Does it matter?
But ... but ... the whole argument here is that Star Wars is actually a D&D game along with "people can't possibly have complex characters without game mechanics that can force the players to have their character do something they wouldn't otherwise do!" Keep up. :rolleyes:
 

Amrûnril

Explorer
Regarding Inspiring Leader, it's worth noting that the wording is "Each creature can gain temporary hit points..." If a player felt strongly that their character would not be affected, the ability would not force them to be inspired.

As it's come up in the Gandalf discussion, I'd also emphasize that I don't think anyone has an objection to game mechanics influencing the mental states and decision making of NPCs. That's the entire point of persuasion/intimidation/deception checks after all (though its of course up to the DM to determine the degree to which NPC are susceptible to such influences).
 

Aldarc

Legend
@pemerton, I sometimes get the feeling that when people are imagining social mechanics in other games that they are imagining social mechanics that operate in the style and manner of D&D style spell mechanics, hence how social mechanics are (somehow) "mind control." So when they imagine D&D with its spell mechanics plus social mechanics, the further addition of what they regard as "spell-like effects" encroaches on that limited bubble of action declarations that the game affords them.

However, I don't think that social mechanics in these other games particularly operate in that manner. And it doesn't seem to matter how often we quote the rules of these other games for them to engage or criticize, they will be ignored in favor of this prior assumption that seems to by a carry-over from D&D that anything of this nature is or must be spell-like. Either you, me, or anyone else can point to the sheer latitude of player choice regarding these mechanics, even when their PC is the one affected, and it won't matter. These mechanics will be regarded as binding on their agency as either Charm or Hold Person.

I can't say, for example, that most of the discussed social mechanics operate anywhere near the level of agency-removal as say the Charm spell does. There is a LOT of player choice that often operates in the framework of these social mechanics too. It's not necessarily, "I won, so you must do as I say." It's often, "I won, so I get what I wanted out of this Contest and you don't. We agreed that your character now has the complication 'honor bound to serve their lord,' so how does your character feel about that? What do they do in response?"

Moreover, if we accept the contention that social mechanics and magic spells equally impair action declarations, then how many "action declaring impairments" will we likely encounter between these average games? Honestly, I suspect that D&D would have more on average, and I do suspect from my own experience with these different games that I will have less opportunities for action declarations in D&D than I would playing Dungeon World, Fate, Cortex Prime, or Blades in the Dark. One reason I suspect that D&D would have more is because of central it puts it in the framework of combat, monsters, saving throws, spells, etc. And the framework of D&D seems to generally view affect (of nearly any kind) as a negative for the player character rather than something that the player character actively engages as part of the fiction or a challenge that they actively put themselves into. There is a completely different mindset when it comes to how some people approach D&D (and by extension, all other games) that sees any affect on their character as inherently adversarial and encroaching on their territory.

As it's come up in the Gandalf discussion, I'd also emphasize that I don't think anyone has an objection to game mechanics influencing the mental states and decision making of NPCs. That's the entire point of persuasion/intimidation/deception checks after all (though its of course up to the DM to determine the degree to which NPC are susceptible to such influences).
But does that include the heart of the PC hobbit named Pippin, who (I believe) was there too?
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I get that you are trying to make a distinction between these two things, but I am having difficulty seeing a difference. If a distinction exists, at most it feels like a distinction without a difference for me.

Before I respond to the rest of your well-written post, if it's ok with you I'd like to take a moment to double-check that we're discussing the same thing. :)

The way I see the current line of discussion, you've successfully explained to me why the distinction doesn't exist from your perspective (or is otherwise a distinction without a difference), but I've not yet successfully explained to you why the distinction exists from my perspective. Is that how you see the discussion as well? If so, I'm happy to continue to try to explain my perspective if you're interested in learning more about it.

It's possible, however, to instead read your post as arguing that my perspective is unfounded because it's based on a distinction you don't think exists. Is that a more accurate description of how you see the discussion? In that case, rather than defending my perspective I'd prefer to simply acknowledge that our perspectives are incompatible and move on.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Before I respond to the rest of your well-written post, if it's ok with you I'd like to take a moment to double-check that we're discussing the same thing. :)

The way I see the current line of discussion, you've successfully explained to me why the distinction doesn't exist from your perspective (or is otherwise a distinction without a difference), but I've not yet successfully explained to you why the distinction exists from my perspective. Is that how you see the discussion as well? If so, I'm happy to continue to try to explain my perspective if you're interested in learning more about it.

It's possible, however, to instead read your post as arguing that my perspective is unfounded because it's based on a distinction you don't think exists. Is that a more accurate description of how you see the discussion? In that case, rather than defending my perspective I'd prefer to simply acknowledge that our perspectives are incompatible and move on.
Yes to the bold. I have explained why I don't see a distinction nor have either you (or anyone else, for that matter) successfully explained to me how the distinction exists or how it matters to any significance for roleplaying. But I'll be frank: at this point in the conversation, I doubt that anyone has any intention of crossing their own lines that they have drawn in the sand. It's clear that you have not found my argument convincing, and I am skeptical that your argument will make much of a difference with my own perspective. I do suspect from our interactions in this thread that our perspectives are incompatible. That said, you are welcome to continue or not.
 

Yeah, part of the problem with the discussion is that the way D&D works is framing how folks are viewing the very idea of mechanics that affect PC emotion/mental state. The vast majority of examples are magic, so that is accepted, even if there’s still an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with it.

And D&D has such a strong delineation between the responsibilities of the GM and the players that anything that crosses that line (at least from the GM side into the player side) is often met with strong resistance.

The idea of taking social mechanics as they exist in other games and just plopping them into D&D isn’t really feasible. It’s like saying “oh look how offsides works in soccer, that’s interesting…let’s put it in baseball”. It doesn’t really work.

That doesn’t mean that D&D can’t have these kinds of mechanics….cleary they already do. They’re painted with the magic brush or similar, and so they’re accepted. But could those rules and similar ones be reworked and reframed in such a way to make D&D more focused on this aspect?

I mean, I think that it’s possible. You’d have to rework things and more importantly, people would have to be willing to play this way.

The question then becomes is it worth the effort to try and do that work? My answer in the past few years is to simply play another game if I’m interested in exploring characters, and to play D&D when that’s not a concern.
 

But now we have no comparison to Gandalf or Saruman. All we have is authorship of some shared fiction. All RPGing involves this. It's no more sinister to ask you to play a scared character than to play a hungry one than to play a hurt one. (Just to choose possible outcomes of, respectively, a morale-type mechanic, a starvation-type mechanic and an injury-type mechanic.)
Right. Exactly. Using a novel to argue about game design is pointless, which is why I was being facetious.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm arguing that Gandalf is not using a supernatural effect. That's a misreading of JRRT, in my view - actually quite a deep one.

EDIT to make this slightly less gnomic: Gandalf is not Saruman. That's one of the central motifs of LotR, and thematically quite fundamental.
This is not a normal effect of Gandalf. When travels, spirits are not uplifted wherever he goes. He's not normally an inspiring, highly charismatic individual. That was a deliberate effect he is enacting, either through magic or his angelic presence. Either way, it's supernatural.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Gandalf rouses their spirits by speaking to them. He changes how they feel because he is charismatic, and inspiring.

To suggest that the best way to model this is via some supernatural effect that is alienated from the actual emotions and desires and personalities of those whom he inspires is already to have abandoned any attempt at genre emulation.
Gandalf is not an inspiring charismatic. Much like the Suggestion spell, speaking was the way he used his magic or had his angelic presence about him as he spoke. It was supernatural.
 

This Gandalf thing is a bit muddy given the nature of the character in the fiction. But just go to another example. I mean, pretty much any military-based story.

Can we all not picture a non-wizard walking the line and lifting the spirits of his troops? Or a coach or team captain giving a rousing speech? Is that something that we would consider a supernatural quality?

Of course not. It happens in real life all the time. I’ve experienced it myself, and I imagine most of us have.
 

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