D&D General What are Players?

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
To give a more serious answer…

1) Is the DM a player?
In my opinion, yes, but an important caveat is that the game is asymmetrical. The other players control a single “game-piece” - their character - and are playing to achieve goals, both personal character-driven goals and quest goals. The DM controls the “board” - the environment and NPCs - and is playing to provide a challenge to the other players and perpetuate the gameplay.
2) Are the players writers creating a narative?
Kind of? The players (including the DM) are creating a story, but they’re not writing a narrative as an author does. They’re perpetually facing (or creating, in the DM’s case) challenges in pursuit of their goals, and through this conflict an emergent story unfurls.
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
To an extent. The only thing the (non-DM) players directly control is their own characters. But, the DM may look to the players for help in creating a world that they will find interesting (usually before play, but some do so during play as well and that’s perfectly fine), and the actions of the characters during play can end up influencing the world.
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
Umm… yes, in a sense, but “audience” and “show” to me imply passive consumption, whereas the players (including the DM) are active participants. They are creating entertainment for themselves and each other, so yes, they are its audience, but their relationship to the entertainment is quite different than that of audiences of, say, TV shows.
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?
They’re pursuing goals. Personally, I’m comfortable with calling that “playing to win,” with victory here being defined as successfully achieving those goals. But I know folks are often very particular about that language when it comes to D&D and I don’t want to step into an argument about whether successfully completing a goal constitutes “winning” or not. At any rate, a story will naturally emerge from the pursuit of those goals against the challenges created by the DM, so there’s no need to actively try to make “the most interesting story.” In fact, trying to do so can actually get in the way of that organic story-creation that occurs through the gameplay. “What the characters would do” is up to the players. I would hope, however, that the characters would pursue their goals to the best of their ability. I think doing otherwise is ultimately an attempt to “tell the most interesting story,” just with a particularly idiosyncratic view of what makes “the most interesting story.”
 
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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
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) Yes.
2) No, but they are something similar: improvisational actors creating a shared experience. This can mean varying degrees of "narrative" depending on what is desired.
3) Yes, sometimes. Definitely before play (that's literally what backstory is), sometimes during. It's a matter of give and take as to what specifically happens.
4) Nope! They're much more like the actors in the show. The DM is like a director that also acts some of the parts, and does some writing. Each character is shaped by the person playing them, and the world can and will change based on who's playing each character.
5) Yes and no--on all fronts. The players are trying to accomplish goals. They choose the goals they find interesting, based on the information they can glean about the world. How they choose to pursue those goals is up to them. The "choose interesting goals" thing corresponds best to "make the most interesting story," but not perfectly so--sometimes goals can be only weakly associated with narrative per se. Because these are goals they want to accomplish, and because there will be obstacles to doing so, they will want to leverage their resources and work as hard as they can to succeed--in other words, the first thing you said, but not necessarily in a "beat everything" way, more like...it's smart to do what things make you more likely to succeed way. And, finally, the specific methods they pursue, and indeed whether certain methods even occur to them at all, are conditioned by "what the character would do"--such statements should never be excuses, but they realistically should inform times when a character wouldn't behave in certain ways because it would violate their principles or whatever.

Particularly for #1, this mostly reflects my belief that DMs need to be beholden to many of the same restrictions players are. E.g., if players are not allowed to roll a die and then claim that that die says something other than what it actually says, then DMs should not be allowed to do that either.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
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.

I think we agree about most of the points. :)

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 think we still agree there, since as the DM you still discuss and control it to some extent, it is still part of the game, just an extension of it beyond the play at the table itself.

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.

My apologies about this, I admit that I came in a bit strong about the powergaming thing.

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.

I think that we have the same problem, actually, I think we both run our games story-orientated, but we also like to argue about the RAW and its interpretation even though we don't run our games that way. :)

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.

And I think it's the core, the problem comes from when some players really annoy others at the table, which is something that I've seen much more frequently with power gamers than with other behaviours at the table (like "evil" DMs which I've never met, or "extreme roleplayers" which happen but which are much easier to shut down than ruleslawyering powergamers). But if the DM is strong enough and knowledgeable enough, and if the traits are not too extreme, harmony can be reached.
 

TheSword

Legend
1) Is the DM a player?
Yes, they’re playing, therefore they’re a player.
2) Are the players writers creating a narative?
No, because they don’t write things down. More like improvisational actors.
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
Yes before through their background, yes during through their actions. Not after.
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
No, they’re the protagonists. They just haven’t been given the script yet.
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?
They’re probably trying to win. If they can act out a character while they’re doing it I suspect most would enjoy that.

In my experience, only slightly twisted players do a disadvantageous thing because it’s interesting (I’m looking at you @GuyBoy). It’s fun when it happens but I certainly don’t expect it and don’t see it often.

I wrote this before reading the other posts intentionally. And there seems to be remarkable consensus for an EN World thread.
 

1) Is the DM a player?
No, never. The DM is a narrator, and adjudicator, and the person who determines how the world reacts to the characters' influences.

2) Are the players writers creating a narative?
Hopefully.
3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
As much as their actions can influence the world. In most campaigns that is best when they have significant impacts, at least regionally.
4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
I hope not. Pretty boring and slow way to tell a pre-written story. Ever played the original Dragon Lance adventures? They were/are horrible for this. Their is no character impact on the storyline.
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?
The characters should be trying to win at life. Whatever that means to them.

The players should be trying to have fun. To make an enjoyable time for themselves and everyone else at the table. To spend time well with people that may just be (or perhaps already are) friends for life.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
My apologies about this, I admit that I came in a bit strong about the powergaming thing.
Thanks!
I think that we have the same problem, actually, I think we both run our games story-orientated, but we also like to argue about the RAW and its interpretation even though we don't run our games that way. :)
(y)
And I think it's the core, the problem comes from when some players really annoy others at the table, which is something that I've seen much more frequently with power gamers than with other behaviours at the table (like "evil" DMs which I've never met, or "extreme roleplayers" which happen but which are much easier to shut down than ruleslawyering powergamers). But if the DM is strong enough and knowledgeable enough, and if the traits are not too extreme, harmony can be reached.
Agreed.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
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?
Ambiguous. In the context of playing the D&D game, yes, the DM is a player. But in the context of roles within the game, no, the DM isnt a player.

Specifically, I view the DM as playing the setting, while the players play the heroes.



2) Are the players writers creating a narative?
Yes, the player self-descriptions and choices during the adventure game, are defacto "writing" a narrative.

3) Are the PCs able to have any narrative control of the world (before/after/or during game play)?
Yes. Especially at high tiers, the heroes (player characters) can profoundly alter the world, such as becoming leaders of a nation, or saviors of a planet, or starting a successful business, or founding an academy of magic.

4) Are the players the audience watching 'the show' of the game?
The players are participants. The players and the DM are fellow partners in the writing of a narrative.

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?
The story includes challenges to overcome, so there is a sense of winning.

Winning can include founding new allies that once were hostiles.
 

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