D&D General What do you want to be able to DO as a player?

jgsugden

Legend
I think you are overstating it. Some significant portion of those 200 hours are the thing I prefer. The rest of the time isn't torture, because I am with my friends.
Again, I am suggesting it is worth considering whether you'd be better off spending that 200 hours playing a rougher fit game with awesome people or spending that 200 hours on a game that is better aligned to your preferences with other aweaome people ... both for you, and for your friends that want to emphasize the role playing that doesn't capture your interest. If your answer is that D&D is the better option ... GREAT! However, if you your answer is something you can provide in a couple minutes time, I think it is worth spending more time reflecting upon it.
 

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Caephros

COVID-era DM - DM at least once weekly
Which is why I noted that, if I sit at the table, I expect to engage with whatever the GM has, regardless of my preferences.

I cannot reasonably expect a GM to know that, five months from now, I'll have had a bad day and all I'll really wanna do is beat some villain into the ground.
I’m finding a lot of these comments very interesting and enjoying the different perspectives and back and forth. You all are really making me reflect on my games (I run about 7 a month) and think about the different motivations. Much appreciated!

As a DM/GM, one of the reasons why I now try to have a mix of scenarios and solutions, at least when I’m designing the adventure, and if I’m running a written adventure (one of my groups prefers Paizo’s Adventure Paths) I try to review it for different potential options ahead of time - is a lot of my players seem to move from a.) wanting to chat with the NPCs to b.) coming up with creative solutions to c.) beat the crap out of the baddies. I have the good fortune to play with my sister and brother and their partners online, we all came to the game in our 30s as a way to bond during the pandemic and in different states across the US. I can’t predict which version of my sister I’ll get in a given session and she’s my oldest friend, so I think trying to get a good mix out of whatever system you are running is good. I’ve done some PBTA, D&D and PF, so while system matters, I think you have to be willing to bend it for the table. I do think there is a certain amount buy-in you need from your players that we are all going to try to make sure each player gets a chance to shine and the conversation at the table is either “Yes, and…” or “No, but…”.

I don’t play very much - at most twice a month, last several months not at all. When I sit down at another DM/GM’s table, my goals are to realize my character in a way that I find a niche in the group and don’t stomp on anyone else’s character. I also try to engage with the central thesis of the GM/DM’s game and keep the party moving forward without betraying that character concept. Fortunately I have a limitless supply of character ideas since I don’t play much, my attachment to the character is pretty low and I’d rather play the character to its idea and have them die, so long as I’m not causing tension at the table.
 

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
Okay, let’s see, what do I want out of D&D in particular? Hmm.

Dramatic character progression. I have no interest in classic zero to hero, but reasonably competent individual to unexpectedly significant solver and creator of problems, that I like. It’s interesting and fun to grow in range of abilities and strength of them and to face challenges that let me and my fellow players put our new stuff to work.

Dungeons. Sure, they can get overdone, but I’ve played so little D&D since the ‘80s that they’re not old and used up for me. There’s so much scope for ancient history and prehistory, weird antagonists (and sometimes weird allies, too), fighting and adventuring with this distinctive set of environmental constraints, the whole deal.

Funky worlds. I like kitchen-sink hybrids, and have since Arduin Grimoires were coming out. I like settings that build on and rearrange D&D elements in interesting ways, like Birthright’s Cerilia and Sigil and the Radiant Citadel. I like worlds that take D&D elements and toss out their expected baggage but not the elements themselves, like Eberron. I like the potential for throwing D&D elements at other stuff and seeing what emerges, like Ultraviolet Grasslands.

Fantastic elements at smaller scales, too. I like interacting with humanoids (and all the related categories D&D uses that I can never remember). I like familiars, and pets and other companion creatures. I like the entities of the Far Realms and other exotic dangers. D&D has some amazing wonders, delights, mysteries, and perils, and I like bringing them into play.

I have broader gamer interests, but lots of RPGs can offer me opportunities for roleplaying, adventuring of other sorts, progression without class and level constraints, and so on. The D&D milieu is a very distinctive one and nothing else quite satisfies it. (Some get close and overlap in fun ways, but there no real substitutes for me.)
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
So, this is going to be a bit of a meandering idea post, but I will try and start with as succinct a central question as I can manage:

When you sit down at the table (virtual or otherwise) to play D&D (any edition or adjacent game) specifically as a player in the game, what is it that you want to be able to do while you are in that chair? I mean this both via your PC but also as a player manipulating the game mechanics themselves. Plus as it relates to interaction with the other participants (players and GM).

What I am trying to get at (and am probably not explaining well) is finding out what is the best possible actual experience of play for you. What do you want out of your 4 hours? What do you want to be able to do?

I will try and explain mine as an example of what I am asking about:

When i sit down to play D&D, I want to be able to playa character that strikes a bonus between ease of use and being complex enough to offer meaningful mechanical decisions. I also want to be able to make meaningful decisions otherwise, both tactical and strategic, as well as "narrative" (not in the "narrative game" sense but in a player agency kind of way). But I also want to be able to experience a coherent flow of events while playing -- not a story per se (it becomes a story after we are done, IMO) but a fulfilling experience at least. I don't mind if the GM is running off the cuff or railroading us if it FEELS like we are making our own choices and things are happening. As a player, I would rather be railroaded than stuck spinning my wheels in a giant sandbox. I also want to be free to make jokes, pop culture references, callbacks and other out-of-character banter. I want to have a few beers and some snacks. I want to be able to know that what we did in those 4 hours will matter for the next time we play, too. I don't mind episodic, but I still want an ongoing campaign.

So, I hoe that kind of helps explain what I am aiming for. I want to know what other people want to be able to do, as players, when they sit down for D&D.

Thanks.
As compactly as possible: I expect to game via roleplay, and to roleplay via game.

Unpacking that: I want, by design, a good roleplaying experience AND a good gaming experience, inseparably. If I wanted RP only, I could just do that, systemless, and did for years (though these days, I usually write instead.) If I want just gaming...I have hundreds of PC games I could play, skipping all the complexity of finidng, joining, and playing in a group.

Since neither GMs nor other players are indispensible for TTRPGs, the key benefit they provide, IMO, is that they're both things simultaneously: both roleplaying and game. Thus, they should reinforce each other. Neither one should ever be seen as an annoying hurdle to get to the other. We should play wanting roleplay AND gameplay--because there are much, much better tools if you only want one side of that.

That's why I have high standards for game design. It's why I gush about 13A's clever design, and why I run Dungeon World instead of something else. IMO, anyone can (with time/effort) write a good, even great setting. (Many, many DMs already do.) But designing a good RPG system? That's incredibly hard. Just a good asymmetrically-balanced system is quite hard, let alone one that truly integrates roleplay.

And when you truly get it right? It is beautiful. Because in that limit--when genuinely good asymmetrical balance is achieved--then there is no difference between "optimization" and "roleplay." Because the sincere optimizer can no longer rely on calculation to guide their choices; the conclusions are inconclusive if all you do is compare quantitative things. You must instead make qualitative choices. You must choose what you value more, not merely what you calculate as highest. When you do that, then to roleplay IS to game, and to game IS to roleplay--the two truly become, not simply inseparable distinct things, but one singular act. No longer a crude weld, nor even a smooth join, they have become truly alloyed together as one single substance.

This is why I am so opposed to unbalanced games. Unbalanced games can generally be solved. They have clear, degenerate solutions which should always be preferred so long as they're available, and one should always put one's full effort into making them available if they aren't. Unbalanced games provide perverse incentives which either push players away from actually roleplaying, or punish them for choosing to roleplay, and they usually even punish engaging with the parts of the game that are meant to be entertaining or interesting to play through.

It's also why I'm opposed to trivial games. Trivial games are also solvable, and rarely interesting. It doesn't take long for even a relatively young child, say 6-8, to realize that Tic-Tac-Toe/Noughts-and-Crosses is a pretty boring game, because it is fairly trivial. Perfect play is easily achieved, and results in a draw every single time. Games that are enjoyable for gameplay offer depth, which is incompatible with being trivial, but also incompatible with being unbalanced.

Everything else--story, drama, satisfying progression, etc.--is a downstream concern. That doesn't mean they aren't concerns. They are. But unless and until you have ensured that your game is neither unbalanced nor trivial, those concerns cannot be properly addressed. I do have many other things I care about as part of what I consider engaging gameplay or engaging roleplay. But it is critical that the game be well-made as both a roleplay experience AND a gameplay experience.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I want to make a character that is a part of the world being presented to me, and then act and react to what is happening around me in said world... taking into account the intentions of the DM and what parts they plan to focus on, and helping them out by having my character interested and focused on the same sorts of things.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Okay, let’s see, what do I want out of D&D in particular? Hmm.

Dramatic character progression. I have no interest in classic zero to hero, but reasonably competent individual to unexpectedly significant solver and creator of problems, that I like. It’s interesting and fun to grow in range of abilities and strength of them and to face challenges that let me and my fellow players put our new stuff to work.

Dungeons. Sure, they can get overdone, but I’ve played so little D&D since the ‘80s that they’re not old and used up for me. There’s so much scope for ancient history and prehistory, weird antagonists (and sometimes weird allies, too), fighting and adventuring with this distinctive set of environmental constraints, the whole deal.

Funky worlds. I like kitchen-sink hybrids, and have since Arduin Grimoires were coming out. I like settings that build on and rearrange D&D elements in interesting ways, like Birthright’s Cerilia and Sigil and the Radiant Citadel. I like worlds that take D&D elements and toss out their expected baggage but not the elements themselves, like Eberron. I like the potential for throwing D&D elements at other stuff and seeing what emerges, like Ultraviolet Grasslands.

Fantastic elements at smaller scales, too. I like interacting with humanoids (and all the related categories D&D uses that I can never remember). I like familiars, and pets and other companion creatures. I like the entities of the Far Realms and other exotic dangers. D&D has some amazing wonders, delights, mysteries, and perils, and I like bringing them into play.

I have broader gamer interests, but lots of RPGs can offer me opportunities for roleplaying, adventuring of other sorts, progression without class and level constraints, and so on. The D&D milieu is a very distinctive one and nothing else quite satisfies it. (Some get close and overlap in fun ways, but there no real substitutes for me.)
Just out of curiosity, do you get to play so little D&D because you are primarily the DM, because you play so many different games that D&D is one among many, or you just don't have the time?
 

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
Just out of curiosity, do you get to play so little D&D because you are primarily the DM, because you play so many different games that D&D is one among many, or you just don't have the time?
Different things at different times. So, some of all of the above.
 

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