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That Thread in Which We Ruminate on the Confluence of Actor Stance, Immersion, and "Playing as if I Was My Character"

Surely, it is a misunderstanding propagated in the media itself, but that doesn't make it good.

For those who do not understand what we are talking about, I give you...
Method acting is often depicted as an actor being "too in character" and "never breaking character". As if when you are playing Al Capone, you keep the accent up all the time, you bring your behavior in line with Al Capone's behavior, you even think like Al Capone, even off set. The depiction is that a method actor will become Al Capone, to the point of hardly needing a script.

That's an inaccurate depiction.

Method acting is using a set of practices (the "method" in the name) to draw upon your own experiences to bring yourself into an emotional state similar to the character's. It is, in fact, specifically about bringing notions and feelings from outside the fiction into the enactment of the fiction.

The problem isn't that the actor "is Al Capone". It is that, when they have a scene where they beat someone's head in with a baseball bat, the actor gets themself into the emotional state you'd need to be in for that action. Then, the director yells, "Cut!" and... those emotions are no longer appropriate, and cannot be processed normally while walking over the the craft services table for lunch.

This can make it very difficult to deal with the actor - "Cripes, Fred, why are you made at me? I'm just a props guy!" - and moreover it is not good for the actor's psychological health. Method acting is/was associated with emotional fatigue, and sleep loss/deprivation to the point of psychological disturbance.

In the end, immersion be damned, I do not want the player of a barbarian to be as worked up as the character is.
So I take it your against players painting themselves black when they're playing Drow?
 

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I didn't get to really dig into this in the OP, but there's some interesting parallels to pen-and-paper RPG play in the "Crimes Against Mimesis" article. (By the way, if you read the "Crimes Against Mimesis" article and didn't know what the acronym "IF" stood for, it's "interactive fiction." Took me a good 15 minutes to figure out that's what it meant.)

Even as a retrospective, the article is interesting, because it talks a lot about the earliest forms of interactive fiction --- the old text-based puzzler games like Zork and the like.

But in terms of the whole immersion / "playing as your character" concept, I was really interested in the author's breakdown here:


The Reader/Player
This is you, the real human being sitting at your computer playing the game. Your goal is to amass points, finish up, and have a good time along the way. You command all the reality-warping conveniences of the game program: save, restore, undo. You know when an item is important, because it is described as a separate object rather than as part of the scenery; you know when an action is important, because you get points for doing it.

The Game Protagonist
This is you, a nameless cipher of a person who just loves picking up objects and toting them around, because you Never Can Tell when they'll come in handy. Your goal is to fiddle around with all these objects in any way you possibly can, so you can explore your environment as thoroughly as possible and amass all the really important objects, so you can get to the really important places. Strange urges guide you -- whispered warnings from disastrous alternate universes your player "undid", oracular impulses to pick up the can opener in the kitchen because it's the only thing you really feel is important there.

The Story Protagonist
This is you, Jane Doe, an unassuming college sophomore who has stumbled upon a sinister plot to destroy the world. Or maybe you're John Doe, a cigar-chomping private investigator with calloused knuckles and a callous attitude, who has stumbled upon a sinister plot to destroy the world. Or maybe you're Jhin-Dho, a half-elven sorcerer's apprentice who has ... Anyway, your goal is to stop the villains while staying alive, though it's a bit odd that you keep picking up stray objects without knowing why, and they always prove to be useful later on . . .

And I think we in RPG circles already understood the Reader-Player / Story Protagonist distinction, but I don't know that we've ever really separated "reader-player" from "game protagonist." Like, it's this really interesting concept that there is, in fact, a third level of separation between "player" and "story protagonist."

To me the "Game Protagonist" persona functions/operates at the level of the player interacting with their character sheet. You're not really interacting with a "fully realized character," or "story protagonist" at this level . . . but you're still interacting with the game at hand in a way that's somewhat separate from just the mass of meat sitting at the table. Like, to rewrite the quote in pen-and-paper RPG terms:

The Game Protagonist
This is you, represented by the largely mechanical numbers and one-word descriptors living on the character sheet. You just love fiddling with feats and situational bonuses and picking up new "loot", because it almost always comes in handy. Your goal is to fiddle around with all these mechanical components in any way you possibly can, so you can explore and tackle challenges posed in the environment as thoroughly as possible and amass all the really important objects, so you can get to the really important places. Strange urges guide you -- the need to roll for initiative when the shopkeeper hasn't even done anything threatening, to cast "charm person" on unsuspected bystanders just because you can, and to prod every inch of the floor with a 10-foot pole, because you're just certain it will unlock the secret treasure chamber with the +3 flamebrand longsword.

I'm running out of time again now, but there's some really dense stuff to unpack for me in how as a player I move upwards from reader-player, to game protagonist, to story protagonist.

I think there's something real here to recognize that potentially, "game protagonists" are a form of protagonism, they're just a far less realized version of it. Like, I think the argument that "traditional" RPGs still have protagonism of a kind can be true, if you use the "game protagonism" as the basis, rather than "story protagonism."
 

Arilyn

Hero
I agree with the posters saying we dwell too much on disassociated mechanics.
Technically, most of what we do in RPGs is disassociated: rolling dice, writing on character sheets, eating snacks, talking out of character, even asking questions of the GM. I think what immerses us is just what's happening in the session. And Fate points, momentum, bennies, fail forward or players adding to the fiction are not going to pull me out. To me they are tools of the game, like dice and hex maps. If the events are engaging, and there are interesting characters to bounce off, I'll be immersed.
 

Immersion comes from the group, not the individual.

Having a group 100% engaged increases immersion. Having a group where two people are on their phone decreases immersion. This is one of the reasons why electronics are so damning - they remove immersion. Immersion's prerequisites are eye contact, listening, responding, asking questions, and then the RP starts to fall into play.

I would be willing to bet no one has experienced immersion in Roll20.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Immersion comes from the group, not the individual.

Having a group 100% engaged increases immersion. Having a group where two people are on their phone decreases immersion. This is one of the reasons why electronics are so damning - they remove immersion. Immersion's prerequisites are eye contact, listening, responding, asking questions, and then the RP starts to fall into play.

I would be willing to bet no one has experienced immersion in Roll20.
What's your forfeit? I mean, I want to know what I'm winning.
 

I often wonder how many people who equate immersive roleplaying with "being in actor stance" have actual strong experience of being an actor? Because they seem to describe a state of mind in which 100% of the actor's mind is so immersed in the character that anything external to the character is not intruding. But I don't think this is not the actual case. In fact, I might argue that the best possible state for an actor would be about 50-50 split in their mentality; half of their mind fully engaged in the character, acting and reacting as part of the flow; the other half analyzing the situation as a play for issues, thoughts and ways to make it better. In other words, half in-character thought and half meta-thought.

As an example, I was playing a character in Agatha Christie's AND THEN THEN WERE NONE a few years back and had to enter in a high state of excitement. Offstage, I would do so some physical prep to build physical tension (meta mind) and also subvocalize and talk to myself in character (in-character mind). When I entered the scene, my prep -- both just then and over the course of the run -- made most of what I was presenting to the audience automatic -- here's a sample of my meta-thoughts in action for one performance I recall very clearly (lines edited slightly to avoid too many spoilers):

"It's all come true. My Ten Little Soldiers plan -- My rhyme -- my rhyme"
Oh -- the other character on set jumped back much more stage right than usual. I'll have to delay a little while circling her to give them time to move back to position. They should work it out ...

"Silence! It's all right, it's all right. Don't be frightened ..."
Great, they noticed and adjusted. All good now...

(Long speech here) ... "... The question was, who would win out?" <step up onto sofa>
This sofa is a bit unsteady. Must remember to ask to have a more solid board put under the cushion between acts.

"... he went and hanged himself ..." <throws rope with noose up over the ceiling rig>
Oh crap ... that's hanging in exactly the wrong place -- it must be snagged. It's right where I fall behind the sofa in about two lines now. If I catch myself on it when I dive it could be really nasty and will look terrible

"... I must have my hanging ... my hanging!"
Oh naughty word, there's <other actor> ready to shoot. I'll have to dive to the right and miss the mattress. This is going to hurt, but I won't break anything, hopefully.

BANG! <falls behind sofa, missing the mattress>
OK, not injured, just bruised, I think. Let's give a thumbs up to the stage manger who is looking very nervous so they know I'm OK and they can continue. Two minutes to curtain; five to ibuprofen ...

I don't think I'm that unusual as an actor. There always seems to be two parts to the mind, one concerned with the character and the other with the play as an entity. Any good actor will always be aware of positioning, who is blocking who, things that will distract the audience, that sort of thing.

Relating this to roleplaying games: Their typical "audience" is the other players, so I would expect someone in "actor mode" to be spending about half their energy on "what would my character do" and half half on meta decisions that make the audience enjoy the game more. So for me, when an RPG player uses a meta tool to make the game more fun, they are behaving exactly as I would expect a good actor to do.

As a director, an actor who doesn't modify his acting to help his fellow actors is a selfish actor, and one who doesn't use acting techniques to make the performance run well is a bad actor. As a GM, a player who doesn't modify his play to help his fellow players is a selfish player, and one who doesn't use meta techniques to make the game run well is a bad player.

TLDR: An "all-immersion" actor is a disaster; an "all-immersion" player is also a disaster.
 

Most of us have probably had the experience of watching a movie or TV show, or reading a book, and forgetting that we are doing so. We become absorbed into the fiction, and the outside world drops away. You no longer sense the person sitting next to you in the theater. You no longer notice you are turning pages. That the real world exists is forgotten for the moment. That, in a nutshell, is immersion. Immersion is sought in RPGs for the same reason it is sought in movies, TV, theater, and books.

This is a good description, similar to what I was trying to elucidate in the OP. And I'd say that most of us have had an experience like that, at some point, in our RPG play "careers."

But in my experience, it's tenuous and fleeting. The very few times it happened, I remember thinking that it was an interesting, enjoyable feeling, but I couldn't pinpoint what it was that would have led to that moment.

Interestingly, the strongest, most vivid "immersive" experience I had was playing a system I strongly dislike (GURPS). And if I can remember it correctly, it seemed to be strongly tied to a scene where the GM and I mostly ignored the rules, or at least the rules weren't a factor in the play out of the scene.


Now, in RPGs, we are usually talking about a subset of that kind of immersion - immersion in the first-person experience of a single character. But the reason that experience is important to some is still the same.

And this is where it starts to get interesting. Because after my recent experiences with Ironsworn, I'm no longer convinced that first person / single character perspective is a requirement for "immersion." Two sessions ago there was a dramatic moment where I can't recall being as "immersed" / in the moment / in suspense as a GM, ever. I was completely enthralled with the drama playing out in front of me, and I had almost zero final authorial say in the outcome. I wasn't "immersed" in the view of a single character, I was immersed in the scene as a whole.


Mind you, I think the assertion that you cannot be role playing while using dissociative/non-diagetic mechanics is like saying an actor cannot actually be feeling emotions while remembering their blocking, where the camera/audience is and adjusting to suit, or recalling their lines. I can accept that maintaining immersion in the role can be harder when your mechanics are outside the fiction, but it is not impossible. Humans aren't great at multitasking, but we can sometimes achieve it to some degree.

And the whole "association" thing goes back to the idea that "immersion" is best realized when you can only "see the world" / interact with the world / interpret the world as your character. I think this is much of what I'm trying to get at with this thread --- how, when, and why did this particular conceit become accepted as the mode of play that leads to that fleeting sense of immersion?

Because without that particular conceit, the entire dissociated mechanics argument falls apart. If immersion can take place outside and beyond the confines of "playing only through my character," then the need to assert the primacy of "associative" mechanics falls apart.

In retrospect, though the concept of "associative" mechanics is tautologically correct ("decision points taken by the player correlate to decision points made by the character), as I review the last decade of my RPG play, I don't ever really recall my group having "immersion" as a goal of play. Enagement? Absolutely. Of paramount importance. The action, the dice, the drama / stakes of a particular scene, the hijinx and laughs . . . all of that.

But immersion? Hmmmm . . . not so much. And I'm sure there's some D&D purist that would claim that 8 years of playing Savage Worlds has blinded me to SW's "dissociations," such that of course immersion was impossible! "Don't you know how dissociative Savage Worlds is? Of course there was no immersion!"

But if the goal is to really experience that "slipping away of the real world into the imagined," how does mechanical "association" and "only acting through my character" really accomplish that?

Because when I look at the strongest time I was "immersed" while playing GURPS, it seemed to have more to do with the GM allowing me to advocate for my character and accept my improv'd propositions as truth.

Now, I will say, for that particular game, I had probably the most strongly-realized character I've ever played. For all of its fault in resolution, one of GURPS' great strengths is how very strongly realized its characters are. The granularity and minute detail that go into a character build create very strong "building blocks" for knowing who your character is. My immersion was aided by the fact that I could easily slip in and out of "actor" stance without losing the thread of my character's motivations. I could quickly survey a scene in "author" stance, and know how my character in abstract would respond.

So I don't think "immersion" is achieved just through "playing through the eyes of the character." Playing through the eyes of a weakly-realized, rootless-vagabond-murderhobo isn't immersive in any way.

And thinking it through now, the immersion achieved in Ironsworn was greatly faciliated in a similar way---all of the characters are strongly realized through simple, but effective "fictional positioning" effects.
 
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Anyway, lots more to ruminate on, but I'm anxious and excited to hear what others have to say.
All mechanics are dissociated from the narrative. That's what makes it a mechanic, and the game a game rather than simple shared storytelling. There are different levels of dissociation, but they all, to some degree, break out of the narrative flow.

The metric I aim for is giving meaningful choices to the players.
I also like that a system "backgrounds" the mechanics well - that is, they rapidly become comfortable, such that my many learning-challenged players can, within a few sessions, just be told the assets to use and they know how to pull the dice together and read the result.

SOme of the play that, looking back, felt most immersive was, in fact, filled with mechanics, and all mechanics are dissociated based upon the definition in that linked article. It's author was not rigorous in their application of the definition.

"Structures make creativity easier" is one of the key wisdom points my Ed instructors repeated. And I've found it equally as true at the game table and in the classroom, and it's the most useful advice I was ever given.

Mechanics are structure. And dissociated from the narrative by their nature. The question is, how much do your players want and/or need, not are they good or bad, nor are they dissociated or not.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
For example, addressing the characters by name, rather than using the players names, is a seemingly small but actually fairly useful style item.
Agreed. I only ever use character names unless I'm specifically trying to get a zoned-out or distracted player's attention back to the game.

Using character names falls apart, however, if you hit the situation I once had: a character and a player with the same name, but the character of that name is not being played by the player of that name. That was a tear-the-hair-out special, believe me! :) Mercifully, it was only for a one-session gonzo game.
 

MarkB

Legend
The description of immersion in the OP seems to suggest that it's an on/off state. Either immersion is fully happening, or it's not happening.

For me, it's always been more a matter of degree. Whenever I'm playing, I tend to have the in-character scenario playing out in the back of my mind while I'm also paying attention to what's going on at the table around me (or, these days, on the screen in front of me and the Discord call in my headphones). And the extent to which that mental image of the in-character scene comes toward the forefront of my attention will vary depending upon what's happening in-game and out of game.

But while I'm playing there's never really a zero level of immersion. That in-character viewpoint is always at least just ticking over in my head. And in particularly dramatic moments it will grab a lot more of my attention.
 

So in the "What is the point of GM's notes?" thread, several posters brought up that one of the highest priorities for sandbox-style play is to experience a "living world," but to only do so through the viewpoint of the character.

In almost every case this was described as only being properly facilitated through extensive prefabrication and preexistent notation of the game world by the GM. For sandbox play, adherents described high levels of prep as necessary to produce the needed levels of continuity, without which the desired qualities of "emergent" fiction, player engagement, and sense of "living" world would suffer or be damaged.

Now, let's be clear---the definition of "immersion" is murky. It's subjective, it's personal, and often contentious. What isn't in doubt, though, is that for certain D&D playstyles, there is a very high value expressed around the desirability of "immersion" as an attribute. Regardless of individual personal definitions of what immersion is, in the thread it was always viewed as a positive, desirable trait or condition to achieve during play.

And despite the potential pitfalls and disagreements, I'm very curious as to how and why this particular trait or quality of play has achieved its unique primacy.

So, going back 10 years, I looked at a thread I started defending the concept of dissociated mechanics. And needless to say, I am absolutely terrified and embarrassed at how little I understood about RPG theory, and how absolutely blind I was at the time. My arguments in that thread are laughable, but I was so sure of what I was saying at the time.

For context, I wrote the thread in 2011. In 2011, I had just barely finished running a Pathfinder 1 campaign from level 1 to level 8, lasting 9 months. I had played 4e exactly once, for 2 hours, at an FLGS in the town where I was doing my post-graduate degree. I owned a copy of the old FASA Mechwarrior RPG, and had dabbled with a tiny bit of Top Secret S.I. as a twelve-year-old, but otherwise had literally zero exposure to any other non-D&D games. My main RPG journey went from BECMI > 3.5 > Pathfinder.

I hadn't played a single session of Savage Worlds yet.

I bring this back up, because I also went back and read the original dissociated mechanics essay by Justin Alexander.


And having significantly more experience with non-D&D systems now, my response to the essay was markedly different. Oddly, I continue to agree to the general principle. However you want to term the binary (associative/dissociative), I understood the functional equivalence of, "Mechanics are associated when decisions/processes invoked by the player correlate to decisions/processes invoked by the character in the fiction."

But even if I kind-of/sort-of agree with the concept in principle, I radically disagree now with his take on what non-diegetic mechanics do. (The diegesis / non-diegesis argument is brought up in a later reddit thread here: ).

From where I stand now, the entire concept of "association" only makes sense if the apex priority of play is immersion.

And now having significantly more experience in the realm of RPGs, I'm now wholly of the opinion that the pursuit of immersion is now much like the pursuit of "realism" in RPG play --- it's largely illusory, ephemeral, difficult to obtain, and generally speaking, impractical to attempt to achieve as anything more than a fleeting (if enjoyable) side-effect.

Don't get me wrong, I've definitely experienced immersion in play. Even if it's somewhat a conceit, I can say there have been times when I have fleetingly experienced it, for brief moments. That sensation of the present, real world slowly slipping into the background as the mind's eye roves and focuses within the fictional world. For brief moments feeling some of the feelings of my character, having vague emotional responses as if I was my character.

But my recent play using the Ironsworn rules has given a new perspective on this. And I will say that the experience has not been "immersive" in the same way. And I'm even willing to admit that there are elements of Ironsworn that probably make it more difficult to realize that kind of in-character immersion.

But here's what's been very different---how much I care about the outcomes for the characters involved when I play Ironsworn. Even if I'm not as fully enmeshed or "immersed" in the reality of the fiction, the level of input into the fiction for the players creates a different kind of immersion---there's immersion in the scene, the stakes, and the outcome for the players and the inhabitants of the fiction that's different than D&D, GURPS, or Savage Worlds.

I'm anxious to hear from other posters, but there was one more thing I ran into as I went through the reddit thread. There's an article from a game designer of interactive fiction, stored on the internet archives that I found fascinating.


I was fascinated by the separation between the three parts, or partitions of personality while playing interactive fiction---the player, the character-as-cipher, and the character-as-fiction.

And I think there's a connection to be explored about how immersion is achieved---or not achieved, or even desired---where the intersection of those three concepts carries some weight.

And I wonder if the in-character sort of immersion can only be achieved when the player and character-as-cipher aspects are set aside.

Anyway, lots more to ruminate on, but I'm anxious and excited to hear what others have to say.

I was one of the proponents of living world in that thread: to be clear, at least for me, I never used immersion, and while I was involved in the discussion of association/dissociation, I only ever said it hit on something that resonated for people who were not satisfied with changes in 4E. For me, immersion as a concept is somewhat useful but often taken too seriously or too much to an extreme. I think with living world, your are trying to create a sense of an external place to the PCs. And that is done in part by only allowing them to impact the world through their PCs, but there are whole styles of living world where no distinction is made between say character knowledge and player knowledge: so character's point of view, strictly speaking, isn't the hard limit. I think what it is is an attempt to model a world, using a variety of methods, with a focus on treating moving parts in a setting (NPCs, faction, historical forces, as living, and having a kind of will of their own like PCs do). For me personally, when I role-play, the sense that I am there is definitely the thing that makes the activity different from other media (i get to choose what my character tries to do, and there is a real sense of interaction with a place). But sense isn't dependent on living world or sandbox. I can have that sense in a structured investigation mystery adventure, in a dungeon crawl with things pinned to specific location, in an adventure path (though clearly in the latter, my sense of total freedom might be more constrained by the conceits of the adventure structure). That said, immersion is definitely a goal I see among a lot of living world sandbox people. Usually they mean something like having to interact with the world through their character. Some people mean it to be getting deep into character, and intuiting their character's feelings and thoughts about things. And some folk get very specific and rigid about it. Myself, I don't act out in a performative way with my characters that much (and if I do it is hammy and fun), I am not there to feel what my character is feeling or achieve a high level of play. It is a game, I am there to enjoy it, and one of the things I enjoy is the sense that I am on the ground making choices that matter. I would call that experience immersion, but you can call lots of experiences immersion, and breaking someone's immersion isn't a grave sin or anything (getting upset because your immersion is disrupted, to me, is the sign of a problem player)
 

Campbell

Legend
What I look for in roleplaying is a lot closer to how I felt on stage growing up in the theater than it is to how I feel when getting wrapped up in a good book, movie, or TV show. When I watch a movie or read a book I get wrapped up in the narrative, but I do not feel like I'm there in the midst of what's going on in the fiction. I'm a fan. An audience member.

What I'm looking for when playing an RPG is bleed. That sense of being there in the midst of it all, taking an active part, feeling what my character feels. It's a profoundly different experience for me.
 

What I'm looking for when playing an RPG is bleed. That sense of being there in the midst of it all, taking an active part, feeling what my character feels. It's a profoundly different experience for me.
based on my understanding of this term: bleed is definitely not what I am after.
 


What are you after then? Just curious.

again my idea of what bleed is is based on descriptions I have seen but I am after fun, socializing, catharsis and for getting a chance to feel like I am in the shoes of a character. Bleed just sounds one or two steps more deep than what I am looking for (for instance I am fine playing a character and jamming up a villainous moment: but I don’t want that those emotions following me into the real world. Again it is possible I don’t understand bleed here.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
again my idea of what bleed is is based on descriptions I have seen but I am after fun, socializing, catharsis and for getting a chance to feel like I am in the shoes of a character. Bleed just sounds one or two steps more deep than what I am looking for (for instance I am fine playing a character and jamming up a villainous moment: but I don’t want that those emotions following me into the real world. Again it is possible I don’t understand bleed here.
I didn't get the impression that Campbell was talking about anything that impacts out-of-game mental states. I could be wrong of course, but I think what he was after might be more completely called something like in-game bleed. @Campbell - correct me if I'm wrong here.
 

Campbell

Legend
I didn't get the impression that Campbell was talking about anything that impacts out-of-game mental states. I could be wrong of course, but I think what he was after might be more completely called something like in-game bleed. @Campbell - correct me if I'm wrong here.


Pretty much just in the moment. Ideally it's something that can be shut off and turned on basically on command. I want to connect to the character emotionally (for a moment), feel empathy for them. Be affected, but not like feel actual sadness if they were sad. Once play has stopped I want to feel for them, not as them.
 

Pretty much just in the moment. Ideally it's something that can be shut off and turned on basically on command. I want to connect to the character emotionally (for a moment), feel empathy for them. Be affected, but not like feel actual sadness if they were sad. Once play has stopped I want to feel for them, not as them.

This is helpful. I was thinking out loud by the way, my post wasn't intended to come off as saying you were doing things bad or wrong. Over the years, I've come to realize that what I am looking for in an RPG is less about the emotions and empathy of immersion and something lighter (a good analogy might be I am less interested in being marlon brando and more interested in being vincent price if that makes sense). Like I do want to be able to intuit what my NPCs would feel about a given situation, I do want to make decisions like I am in my character's shoes, but I am not terribly worried about 'an I completely in the headspace of the character').
 

I was one of the proponents of living world in that thread: to be clear, at least for me, I never used immersion, and while I was involved in the discussion of association/dissociation, I only ever said it hit on something that resonated for people who were not satisfied with changes in 4E.
And to me this is basically it. That one key part (not the only part) of immersion is when you've mastered the rules to a sufficient degree that they get out of the way. What the rules are does matter - but for the purposes of immersion they matter because some are easier to master than others and that familiarity is a vast help. There are other things the rules do, of course, including setting the tone.

And for all the comments on disassociated mechanics the fundamental problem was unfamiliarity and an unwillingness or inability to adapt. I've no real problem with this; there are lots of games I can't be bothered to learn. (I did and do have a huge issue with the edition war and the need people felt to burn 4e to the ground).

What I found 4e gave me was an actor stance that was similar to @GrahamWills example of And Then There Were None above. Someone looking at the environment and using options they knew how to use to make sure things work out and fill gaps with fewer options as I get tired. "I hit him" doesn't cut it (or rather it's for a limited number of fighting styles, most covered by the barbarian).
 

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