D&D General What are Players?

HammerMan

Legend
Okay I have a theory about gameing styles... most (not all) of your style comes down to what you think the players are, but there are multi questions to this.

1) Is the DM a player?
2) Are the players writers creating a narative?
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
5) Are players trying to 'win' by beating everything as best they can, or are they trying to make the most intresting story, or are they (oh god I hate this one) doing just what there characters would do?


in my eyes the DM is a player, all of the players (including the DM) are only partially creating a narrative, and PCs ALWAYS can help narrative control of the work before/after game play and sometimes during. I believe the Players are the audience, and as such I have 100% banned out of game secrets. I also think we are at 50/50 between players trying to win and trying to make intresting stories (so I expect that they will not always take the best choice).

what about you? Don't feel constrained by JUST my questions, this is open ended... What are Players?
 

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Vaalingrade

Legend
in my eyes the DM is a player, all of the players (including the DM) are only partially creating a narrative, and PCs ALWAYS can help narrative control of the work before/after game play and sometimes during.
Agreed except sometimes is replaced by 'also'.
I believe the Players are the audience, and as such I have 100% banned out of game secrets.
I feel that sometimes having character secrets being secrets can be useful as long as they're not stepping on another player's deal. Like, no you aren't secretly Bob's father, because.... well you'll see.
I also think we are at 50/50 between players trying to win and trying to make intresting stories
Heh. The idea that one of our games can be 'won' or have an ending... Teehee.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Heh. The idea that one of our games can be 'won' or have an ending... Teehee.
one of the most fun games I ever played was after we "won"

2nd edition AD&D. the DM made a world and had a necro shadow lich going to take it over. Pretty standard adventures, we raided a few dungeons with whispers of the threat every now and then, but around level 6 (for me 2e allowed for different level PCs) we found out about her (don't remember her name just that she was a shadow that was also a lich and specialized in necromancy) we foiled a few plans, then quested for a sunblade and killed her...then hunted her phalactery that turned out to be the heart of a dragon...facing her again (but weaker) and the dragon we lost half our party but we won... day saved... all of that though was prolog.

DM said "Well thats the game" and we were like "Heck no we want to keep playing what about those dwarves we needed to help us reforge the armor, we still owe them, and the hobogoblin army that was her living forces are still around, and we never fount out about what that mindflayer was talking about when we killed him" so we went on and played for 2 years AFTER that... and every amazing story Becky tells of that campaign (She was a fellow player but this game made her WANT to try to DM) is in those 2 years after...
 


Players definitely write the story. I couldn't put more emphasis on that. Players are absolutely not the "audience". DMs that want that should write a book.

Only last night the players lied to the lords of Neverwinter, starting a war with the Moonshae Isles. That was not in any of my preparations (I'm the DM), but it's much too cool to pass on, so war it is! Looks like we're going boating.
 

Dausuul

Legend
1) Is the DM a player?
Yes, in the broad colloquial sense (the DM is one of the people playing the game).

No, in the sense of D&D jargon (D&D defines roles called "DM" and "player" and they are distinct). One could argue that a DM with a DMPC is filling both roles and should be considered a player; but in general, you are one or the other at any given moment.

2) Are the players writers creating a narrative?
No. The players are not writers, and thank God for that, because most people are truly abysmal writers.

Nor are they "creating a narrative." They and the DM are producing raw material--a sequence of fictional events--that could be turned into a narrative, but narration involves much more than just regurgitating a sequence of events.

3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
If by "narrative control," you mean, "insert details into the world external to their PCs," then the answer is technically up to the DM but practically almost always yes. Any detail of a PC's history before the start of the campaign is going to involve something external to the PC.

4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
Some of them are. This is the "wallflower" player who just rolls what they're told to roll and is mostly there to enjoy the company of friends.

5) Are players trying to 'win' by beating everything as best they can, or are they trying to make the most intresting story, or are they (oh god I hate this one) doing just what there characters would do?
Depends on the player.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
one of the most fun games I ever played was after we "won"

2nd edition AD&D. the DM made a world and had a necro shadow lich going to take it over. Pretty standard adventures, we raided a few dungeons with whispers of the threat every now and then, but around level 6 (for me 2e allowed for different level PCs) we found out about her (don't remember her name just that she was a shadow that was also a lich and specialized in necromancy) we foiled a few plans, then quested for a sunblade and killed her...then hunted her phalactery that turned out to be the heart of a dragon...facing her again (but weaker) and the dragon we lost half our party but we won... day saved... all of that though was prolog.

DM said "Well thats the game" and we were like "Heck no we want to keep playing what about those dwarves we needed to help us reforge the armor, we still owe them, and the hobogoblin army that was her living forces are still around, and we never fount out about what that mindflayer was talking about when we killed him" so we went on and played for 2 years AFTER that... and every amazing story Becky tells of that campaign (She was a fellow player but this game made her WANT to try to DM) is in those 2 years after...
For context:

My current campaign had the PCs get a sneak peek at the BBEG. She is some sort of creature that can kill and replace people, either by swallowing them whole or desiccating them to dust.

They took one look at her MO and... left.

The continent. They fled into the night and started rooting for side quests and doing their own thing, paranotically ignoring the shadow growing over the city that's now been taken over by the BBEG. It's been three years real time. They still have no intention of facing what they think to be John Carpenter's The Thing anytime soon.
 

payn

Legend
1) Is the DM a player?
My answer to this is "yes+" The DM is a different type of player. One who prepares a world for play and runs the NPCs. The DM also has final say in mechanical decisions.
2) Are the players writers creating a narrative?
Sort of. They have the limited scope of being an individual in the setting and can impact it.
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
Mostly during play, but I encourage DMs to seek input and feedback on the world/setting whenever.
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
On its face, this seems a bit limiting. I'd say yes, they are watching a "show" in the sense they dont know what the DM has prepared for the story. Though, they get to react and/or be proactive with the "show" of the game too.
5) Are players trying to 'win' by beating everything as best they can, or are they trying to make the most interesting story, or are they (oh god I hate this one) doing just what their characters would do?
All three? I mean beating things and surviving could be seen as a win state. Also, who wants a non-interesting story? I do expect my players to act as best they can in the character space without being unduly disruptive.
in my eyes the DM is a player, all of the players (including the DM) are only partially creating a narrative, and PCs ALWAYS can help narrative control of the work before/after game play and sometimes during. I believe the Players are the audience, and as such I have 100% banned out of game secrets. I also think we are at 50/50 between players trying to win and trying to make intresting stories (so I expect that they will not always take the best choice).

what about you? Don't feel constrained by JUST my questions, this is open ended... What are Players?
I seem to be in tentative agreement with your ideas on, "what is a player?".

Okay I have a theory about gaming styles... most (not all) of your style comes down to what you think the players are, but there are multi questions to this.
Now that you have some replies, are you going to expand on your theory about gaming styles?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Okay I have a theory about gameing styles... most (not all) of your style comes down to what you think the players are, but there are multi questions to this.

1) Is the DM a player?
2) Are the players writers creating a narative?
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
5) Are players trying to 'win' by beating everything as best they can, or are they trying to make the most intresting story, or are they (oh god I hate this one) doing just what there characters would do?


in my eyes the DM is a player, all of the players (including the DM) are only partially creating a narrative, and PCs ALWAYS can help narrative control of the work before/after game play and sometimes during. I believe the Players are the audience, and as such I have 100% banned out of game secrets. I also think we are at 50/50 between players trying to win and trying to make intresting stories (so I expect that they will not always take the best choice).

what about you? Don't feel constrained by JUST my questions, this is open ended... What are Players?
1. The DM is a player, but not a Player. Everyone playing the game is a player. The PCs are played by Players. The remaining player is the DM.
2. I suppose you could look like that, but they are only writing what their PCs do. The DM is the player writing the responses of the world to those actions. Together the narrative is created.
3. Not by default. The DM can enact house rules or optional rules to change that.
4. No.
5. It's a combination of all three in my opinion. They need to beat some things, but not everything. They want to have fun, and interesting is the way to do that. And the Players should roleplay their characters(what their characters would do) to make the first two things happen.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Now that you have some replies, are you going to expand on your theory about gaming styles?
my theory is pretty simple. and it comes in two forms, but can be broken down to "We don't speak the same language"

As much as we talk about Combat as war vs COmbat as theater vs Combat as sport, or narrative or Railroads, Illusionism, and Participationism, or what ever argument we make, it all comes down to us not understanding each other.
 

payn

Legend
my theory is pretty simple. and it comes in two forms, but can be broken down to "We don't speak the same language"

As much as we talk about Combat as war vs COmbat as theater vs Combat as sport, or narrative or Railroads, Illusionism, and Participationism, or what ever argument we make, it all comes down to us not understanding each other.
IDK, all those thing make a lot of sense to me. Sometimes, I need a clarifying sentence or two, but I can usually get on the same page with anyone on those topics. Whether we think they are good or bad is the likely point of contention, not so much the understanding.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Note that I'm not picking on you, I'm picking your answer to reply to as it's one of the most interesting, I hope you're OK with this. :)

1. The DM is a player, but not a Player. Everyone playing the game is a player. The PCs are played by Players. The remaining player is the DM.

Thanks for this, I think that most of the debate is, as usual, at least as much a problem of terminology as it is about sensitivities. Without using capital letters as they are in and of themselves ambiguous, I prefer to say that all play the game, one as DM and the others as players.

And this is also what separates the DM from a simple referee, as a referee participates in the game but certainly does not play it.

2. I suppose you could look like that, but they are only writing what their PCs do. The DM is the player writing the responses of the world to those actions. Together the narrative is created.

The DM is very often doing much more than this, he is creating the campaign/Arc/Scenario/Module that guides the narrative to very varying degrees, from 0% to 100%, although the closer it is to 100% the more it is usually frowned upon by the community. Although I'd like to point out that, for those who play D&D as a more combat orientated game, the DM is often creating very close to 100% of the scenario just by determining the adversaries and setting for the next fight. Since the fights themselves are usually not a narrative in that kind of play...

It's not mandatory (I think I know your perspective on this, you are close or very close to 0%), but it is I think by far the most common way of playing the game.

3. Not by default. The DM can enact house rules or optional rules to change that.

Before/After are not playing the game. If players want to have narrative control, they are free individual and can do whatever they want, but it's not part of the game as players.


Complete agreement here, simplest and best answer.

5. It's a combination of all three in my opinion. They need to beat some things, but not everything. They want to have fun, and interesting is the way to do that. And the Players should roleplay their characters(what their characters would do) to make the first two things happen.

Yes, the balance is specific to each table, and is what should make it fun for each table.

At our tables, it's about the story but it's even more about the people playing the game (players and DM) having fun creating it.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
1) Is the DM a player?
The players are the people around the table. The DM is technically a player, but ... is responsible for more than the other players--there is some variation in the extra responsibilities in games outside the sphere of D&D-alikes.
2) Are the players writers creating a narative?
Not writers exactly. I think narratives kinda emerge naturally and inevitably from play--I've gone so far as to say the narrative is the point of play--but that doesn't mean they're thinking about what's going on in the game the way authors think about what's going on in a story. The ... investments are different, I think is the way I want to put it.
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
The PCs? Not at all. The players might. There might be room for players to write their characters biographies onto the world before play, or outside of it; and there are ways for a DM to allow it during play ("How do you know that?") though these are ...kinda the advanced manual, and that I can tell mostly deployed in D&D-alikes by GMs with experience in other games.
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
In a way, the people around the table are the audience for the story, as well as the creators thereof. It's ... complex. There are rooting interests, as well as ... avatar-ish investements.
5) Are players trying to 'win' by beating everything as best they can, or are they trying to make the most intresting story, or are they (oh god I hate this one) doing just what there characters would do?
Why choose? If the non-DM players are setting their characters' goals and trying to achieve them, that seems to me as though it'd be all three.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Note that I'm not picking on you, I'm picking your answer to reply to as it's one of the most interesting, I hope you're OK with this. :)
No worries. :)
Thanks for this, I think that most of the debate is, as usual, at least as much a problem of terminology as it is about sensitivities. Without using capital letters as they are in and of themselves ambiguous, I prefer to say that all play the game, one as DM and the others as players.
Sure thing.
The DM is very often doing much more than this, he is creating the campaign/Arc/Scenario/Module that guides the narrative to very varying degrees, from 0% to 100%, although the closer it is to 100% the more it is usually frowned upon by the community. Although I'd like to point out that, for those who play D&D as a more combat orientated game, the DM is often creating very close to 100% of the scenario just by determining the adversaries and setting for the next fight. Since the fights themselves are usually not a narrative in that kind of play...
I can agree with this. My point was more that the narrative is a back and forth between both sides, with the players controlling only their PCs.
It's not mandatory (I think I know your perspective on this, you are close or very close to 0%), but it is I think by far the most common way of playing the game.
Yeah. I improv a lot of my game, and a whole lot of my game is in response to the players actions. What I've prepared can go right out the window with absolutely no frustration on my part if the party zigs when I think they will zag. I'm usually pretty good at guessing(probably 95%) what the players will do as we have played with each other for 14-38 years(depending on the player, the 14 year being the son of the 38 year), but sometimes they zig so hard my head spins. Usually that happens when they are looking at their notes, see something that happened 10 levels ago in passing, attribute much greater importance to it, see a similarity to something current, and come up with 2+2=6. :p
Before/After are not playing the game. If players want to have narrative control, they are free individual and can do whatever they want, but it's not part of the game as players.
Yes, with the caveat that the DM can allow it. For instance, when the players write up a background, they are free to create NPCs and even small villages/towns, because the Realms is huge and doesn't note those sorts of things. They can do it within reason. They can make up a mayor and say the mayor is a half-elf jerk, but it's up to me to decide if he has a class, any secrets, etc. They can say they are friends with a hermit, but I decide what the details of why the man is a hermit is.

I'm also experimenting with a new inspiration mechanic this campaign. In all my campaigns I use a fate deck of magic cards for when a 1 is rolled and occasionally a 20 on an important roll. Say the party is trying to break down a door and a 1 is rolled and the player pulls a Shatter card. The door is simply going to burst either from age, a hidden flaw, or whatever. If that 1 is rolled in combat, the PC's sword my shatter.

This campaign when a player earns inspiration, they can pick a card and I'm letting them interpret it to their benefit within reason when they use the inspiration. It seems to be a much more enjoyable mechanic than simple advantage.
Yes, the balance is specific to each table, and is what should make it fun for each table.

At our tables, it's about the story but it's even more about the people playing the game (players and DM) having fun creating it.
Yeah. I think you've gotten a bit of a wrong idea about how I work. You've accused me of powergaming in the past when I really don't give a fig about that. I'm more concept and story driven. However, when I argue here about the rules as written, it may come across differently as quite often I'm arguing something that I've changed for my game. How I think the rules do something is often not how I run it.

My players are mostly the same. I have one guy who loves to optimize, but he also loves to roleplay and nobody else at the table cares if he does extra damage or has a very high skill bonus, so it's not an issue. Two guys(the father and son) are all about story and character, to the point of often forgetting rules and abilities that would give them an advantage in a situation and/or picking very non-optimal spells, feats, etc. because it fits their characters. The fourth player in the middle, but moving more towards the story end of things each campaign.
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
1) Is the DM a player? Yes.
2) Are the players writers creating a narative? Yes, but their authorship is extremely limited.
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)? In D&D, traditionally, no, unless the GM dictates otherwise.
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game? Yes, but they're also participants in writing and acting in the show.
5) Are players trying to 'win' by beating everything as best they can, or are they trying to make the most intresting story, or are they (oh god I hate this one) doing just what there characters would do? Yes. ;)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Prediction: this thread will get long.

Very long.
1) Is the DM a player?
Yes and no. The DM is a player sometimes in that she's participating in the game, but not a player in that her role is in part that of referee; and referees aren't players in the game they're officiating.
2) Are the players writers creating a narative?
Again, yes and no. In some cases the players intentionally create the narrative; in others the narrative creates itself through what happens in play, and odesn't become clear until looked at in hindsight.
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
Via their own actions and how those actions affect the world, yes. Via their backstories, in minor ways yes. Beyond that, no; the setting is the purview of the DM.
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
Yes, except they are at the same time a part of that show. The "show" isn't just what the DM provides, it's what everyone else at the table provides; and while a player watches that he's also expected to return the favour and be part of the show everyone else at the table gets to watch.
5) Are players trying to 'win' by beating everything as best they can, or are they trying to make the most intresting story, or are they (oh god I hate this one) doing just what there characters would do?
Ideally they're just doing what their characters would do.
in my eyes the DM is a player, all of the players (including the DM) are only partially creating a narrative, and PCs ALWAYS can help narrative control of the work before/after game play and sometimes during. I believe the Players are the audience, and as such I have 100% banned out of game secrets. I also think we are at 50/50 between players trying to win and trying to make intresting stories (so I expect that they will not always take the best choice).
Er...I can maybe see how you could ban IN-game secrets (though were I a player I'd oppose this to the hilt), but how on earth can you ban players from keeping out-of-game secrets? (example: completely unrelated to the game you know two of your players - along with some other people - are planning a surprise party for a third; do you enforce your no-secrets rule by blowing their cover?)
 



Musing Mage

Pondering D&D stuff
Players are a crunchy little snack for DMs, best served with a garnish of salty tears... :devilish:

Okay...

1) Is the DM a player? Damn right they are. They simply have a different role at the table, but they are there to have fun too.

2) Are the players writers creating a narrative? :unsure: Not quite... more like they are one of three points of view that propels the narrative. The other two being the Dungeon Master, and the Universe (as represented by the dice).

3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)? Players/PCs have control over the actions of their characters and nothing else. They certainly influence the world and thus the narrative through these choices, but I wouldn't call it narrative 'control.'

4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game? No, they are the protagonists of the show. 'Audience' implies a passive observation whereas players are most certainly active (or should be).

5) Are players trying to 'win' by beating everything as best they can, or are they trying to make the most interesting story, or are they (oh god I hate this one) doing just what there characters would do? Neither and both... a player should ALWAYS being performing in a manner consistent with their chosen character even if it means being a jerk about it... yes that's my position. HOWEVER, to that point - the parameters of what's allowed at a table should definitely be outlined by the DM and players. Some of my tables include actors and improvisors who understand and separate their characters from themselves, and likewise with their fellow players - so anything goes and everyone's okay with it. If your table doesn't allow such conflicts then you really need to play within the bounds of your group, and stick to characters that fit.

As for 'winning' well... survival to the next session counts as a win, does it not? Living to fight another day?
 
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