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Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Perhaps you missed the part where I mentioned that modules were different. You shouldn't look to them for what the base game expects.
Actually that would be the first place I'd look to see how the base game is intended to be played!

As in, OK - the DMG says "this", now let's see if the official published modules agree with it; because while the DMG can say what it wants the modules are where the rubber's gonna meet the road.
 
The best firm of your argument I can divine is that, given equal empathy and faithfulness to the character portrayed, that speaking in first person with affectations of mannerism and accent, is prima facie superior to presenting the character in 3rd person.
I think you for your considered and thoughtful response. Unfortunately, it goes wrong right with the initial assumption. You start out well enough, but you end up focusing on what is I think a rather minor characteristic of the concept of speaking - namely, affectations of mannerism and accent. Now, I like acting and accents and affecting different voices for characters. In general, I think these are all net positives, and I'd strongly encourage people to at least try these things, practice doing it, and get better at them because of the value that that those skills can bring to the table. By all means, put points on your "character sheet".

But ultimately, that's not really what I've been focused on here. What I've been focused on as the essential element of speaking is concrete dialogue. In other words, the most important element of the conversation is the words actually said, and that these are much more important and much more evocative than merely stating some abstract intention. At some point, I might develop a longer post about when you might want to use some writerly technique or cinematic cut to skip over dialogue that doesn't add anything to the story, but for the purposes of what I'm talking about, anything that involves some sort of fortune test to determine what happens that does involve a potentially important plot point in the transcript of play deserves to also have dialogue as part of that transcript.

With that in mind, I'll try to tackle the argument you develop, although hopefully you already see why I can't respond usefully to every detail of your your argument despite it's elaborate structure, because the assumption it's based on doesn't really reflect my position.

1) performative acts by themselves do not increase the honesty and fidelity of the reoresentation of a character. Else it would be true that all stage or screen representations of a given character from a novel would be superior to the written character.
Here you introduce a concept close to my concept of "reification" of the action. You want to reify the character through its representation. And while that's a slightly different idea than I've been using, it's congruent and I don't disagree with it as a goal of role-play. If no one could ever say what character you were playing, or if the character seemed to have no fixed identity beyond that of a playing piece, I think we both agree that's inferior role-play. Indeed, in point two you outline something similar to my argument by noting that the performative acts you care about can indeed increase character fidelity if done well, which is a parallel structure to my argument and honestly I think if you accept that then you ought to have no particular quibble against my argument.

However, you then go astray by focusing on the visual and audible elements of a performance, which as I said for me aren't crux of the matter. My argument applies equally if we are playing some sort of MU* or PBEM game were we can only communicate by text. Nor for that matter am I particularly concerned about first person or third person. What I am concerned about is the generation of actual dialogue. For example, I don't consider, "Good morrow, Captain. I am Sir Reginald, and as you may have discerned, I am a Knight Templar of Holy Aravar the Traveller." and "Sir Reginald says to the Captain, "Good morrow, Captain. I am Sir Reginald, and as you may have discerned, I am a Knight Templar of Holy Aravar the Traveller." to be very different. Indeed, while the first person construction is preferred in longer conversations, the third person construction has it's place at the table. For example, you might use it when it's not clear whom you are addressing, or to serve as a cue to end OOC discussion, or in an early session of play as a courtesy to reinforce the name of the character to your new comrades and to get the other players to begin to think of you primarily as your character for the duration of play. However, both the first and third person constructions of dialogue are very different than the proposition, "I introduce myself to the Captain.", and at my table, that would often by rejected as an invalid proposition and as a GM I would follow up, with a prompt like, "Ok, tell me what you say. Introduce yourself to the Captain." If the player is nervous and stumbles about doing this, that doesn't really present a problem. We have his character sheet to help inform us how charismatic Sir Reginald actually is. But not having dialogue introduces at times unsolvable problems for me as a GM, as I'm unable to determine the content of the player's action, and further produces and inferior transcript of play and an inferior experience of role-playing.

So you see, what we are comparing isn't really a novel and a movie, but a novel without dialogue to a novel with dialogue, or a movie without dialogue to a novel without dialogue. You might be able to think of a few movies or novels that use clever writerly techniques of narration to achieve effects that might be difficult to achieve with dialogue, but you'll be hard pressed to think of beloved stories that dispense with it entirely, and I think you'll agree that the vast majority of the most beloved stories feature dialogue. Heck, even the ones with just a single character tend to feature a lot of monologues, either spoken or internal, because verbal communication is so extraordinarily important.

4) Point 3 becomes even more obvious when the character becomes more fantastical and representation is outsude the physical abilities of the actor. In the case of very fantastical things, acting cannot be said to be a more accurate representation of the character than a non-acted description of behavior may be. The sound of a dragon's roar, for example, can have more fidelity as a description than as acted out by a participant.
You are I think coming toward the same conclusions I have made but from a different direction. Remember, what I said is that all things being equal, we should tend to prefer the procedures of play that most closely resemble the things we are simulating. That there are things we cannot closely simulate with a conversation I immediately conceded. Indeed, I right at the beginning brought up something very close to the dragon example to explain why although we would prefer to act out conversations, there are elements of a fantasy game - in my example I noted combat - where we would prefer some other device for representing them. So if you are reduced to describing a sound you can't in fact produce, that's OK. But, this still doesn't justify a proposition like, "I try to persuade the Baron." or "I introduce myself to the Captain" over actually producing dialogue. Even bad dialogue is more like dialogue than the absence of dialogue, and even bad dialogue and acting would be preferred to the absence of it on the additional grounds that you will never "get good" without practice.

5) Acting also tends to place more of the actor into the role. There's a reason many good actors have a niche if characters they portray (Ben Affleck is a fine actor so long as he's playing a jerk). This often results in a reversion to mean when acting -- tge further away a character's trait is from you, the less well it will be acted. Hollywood can escape this by having scripts and directors, but still fails at times. RPGs have no such controls, and player acting will always revert to closer to the player over time than to the character.
This assertion fails not just because it's not really acting that I'm concerned about, but because even if it were true the very same objection could be raised to playing a character without dialogue. Playing the character without dialogue will not stop the PC from reverting closer to the player over time. In my experience a minority of players can play a character that isn't basically themselves. But this isn't a real problem - most real people are interesting in themselves - and the character will still be more interesting with their own dialogue than they will be without it, even if the player is basically just saying what they might think in the same situation.

Finally, there is a false comparison that I think you are making throughout your argument where you are insisting that there may exist some version of the preferred thing - a thing you yourself admit preferring - which is so bad that it is inferior to the best version of the non-preferred thing. Essentially you are saying that the acting may be so bad that the player would be better of not acting. Or if we apply this to what I have been saying, that the dialogue may be so bad that the player would be better off not using dialogue. I have a host of objections to this claim. First, it is like claiming that since it might be the case that an assault rifle could be jammed or corroded, that soldiers ought to prefer going into battle with high quality butcher knifes. But this is ridiculous not only because assault rifles are so obviously superior as weapons to butcher knives, but also because the same objection can be made to the butcher knife itself. It could be broken or dull. In the same way, if a player's dialogue is terrible, there is no reason to assume that their non-dialogue is going to be inherently superior role-play. Secondly, I object to the argument because settling for not playing in a skillful manner because you aren't skillful, guarantees you'll never become skillful. I've had at least a half-dozen shy nervous players over the year begin to come out of their shell and eventually have shining moments of awesome sauce producing moments wonderful dialogue. It's not necessarily a steady path to greatness and often they'll go back in their shell from time to time, but it's ridiculous to just say, "Well that player can't role-play so they shouldn't even try." And thirdly I object to the argument because for the most part the contrived situation just doesn't come up. Even the player's nervous attempts to speak in character are better than nothing. Even putting one's foot in one's mouth still makes for more interesting play than declaring moves instead of roleplaying. Finally, I reject this argument because I strongly believe that there is a great deal of symmetry between what is good play for a GM, and what is good play for a player, and in my experience all these things people are claiming to prefer as play for their player because they aren't comfortable with it, is rarely what they prefer from their GM. Sure, there are times as a GM when you might decide that the details of the conversation aren't important, and it's best to just give a summary of what an NPC says, but as a GM I long ago learned that the impact of the scene framing "The jester tells a funny joke." is vastly different than framing the scene with the jester actually telling a funny joke and nothing could change that.
 

Hussar

Legend
It’s not really that hard to find colonialist themes in early dnd.

Isle of Dread is a start as is Keep on the Borderlands. The Giants modules aren’t a bad example, nor are the Drow modules.

While Saltmarsh isn’t too bad, the later modules are all about the (predominantly white) humans being threatened by the lizard folk and sahuagin. Finding colonialist parallels there isn’t much of a stretch.

This shouldn’t be shocking considering the roots of dnd. Pulp fantasy wasn’t exactly the most ummmm politically correct genre.
 
It’s not really that hard to find colonialist themes in early dnd.

Isle of Dread is a start as is Keep on the Borderlands. The Giants modules aren’t a bad example, nor are the Drow modules.

While Saltmarsh isn’t too bad, the later modules are all about the (predominantly white) humans being threatened by the lizard folk and sahuagin. Finding colonialist parallels there isn’t much of a stretch.

This shouldn’t be shocking considering the roots of dnd. Pulp fantasy wasn’t exactly the most ummmm politically correct genre.
Amongst committed Christians there is an neurosis that sometimes develops where the person begins to perceive in more and more things that power of Satan evidenced in the world. Soon thier thoughts become dominated by the idea that everything is in some fashion controlled by powerful demonic forces that are manifesting around them. It's bad theology even in terms of theology, and it has often lead to some of the worst evils committed in the name of Christianity. In even it's more benign forms, it leads to people going around denouncing Satan "in all his forms" and casting Satan out of ordinary benign and harmless things, a condition which becomes eventually indistinguishable from madness.

I feel this whole "colonialist themes" has become the same sort of thing.

It is not sufficient to draw some sort of a vague parallel, proof texted from a couple minor passages taken out of context, or relying on one possible meaning of a single word to show that something has "colonialist themes". Yeah, finding colonialist parallels isn't too much of a stretch, but not because the documents are colonialist in intent or inspiration, but because finding a parallel between something when that's what you wanted to find and expected to find in the first place is not at all hard. Just cherry pick your evidence, and viola.

All you have to do is ignore that the Lizard Folk in question are actually meant to be wise allies of the townsfolk, and that the PC's are intended to ultimately discover that their actions in presuming the monstrous nature of the Lizard Folk were rash and murderous, or that the Saughin are devil worshipping fish people that live under the sea and that they are most certainly and without a doubt not intended to represent any real world ethnic group. They are freaking devil worshipping monsters. Just ignore all of that.

Yes, but other than that, yeah there are "colonialist parallels". Just set out with a thesis first, and then find the evidence. Throw in some innuendo about the relationship to pulp fantasy and you are done, right?
 
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Hussar

Legend
Nice [MENTION=4937]Celebrim[/MENTION]. Folks that disagree with you are now delusional. Yeah, that's going to go over well.

Of course, it's convenient when you ignore 2/3rds of the examples I posted to fixate on the one that maybe you can argue with. That's pretty much par for the course.

Look, it's pretty simple. Early D&D draws very heavily from the pulps. Yes? We can agree on that? Genre pulps of the early 20th century were misogynistic, racist, bigotted and deeply, deeply grounded in colonialist ideology. So, it's not really a shock when early D&D also shows signs of being misogynistic, racist, bigoted and grounded in colonialist ideology. I'm rather surprised that this is even contentious to be honest. I figured that this was pretty much common knowledge.

First half of the 20th century genre fiction was racist, bigoted and grounded in colonialist ideology should not be news to anyone.

It's shocking how far people will go to rewrite history in order to somehow protect this idealized fiction of history that people have constructed in their heads. Tolkien included instances of racist ideas in his writing - again, this is not news. This is not surprising. This is just accepted fact that has been accepted fact by anyone who isn't interested in rewriting history for decades. It's not shocking that a writer in England at that time would have some cultural baggage creep into his writing. It doesn't make him a bigot. It doesn't make anyone who likes Tolkien's writing a bigot. It just means that nothing is perfect. We see it, we acknowledge it and we move on.

Same goes for early D&D. Huh, shock, an American using early 20th century pulps as inspiration, writes stuff that, decades later, isn't really considered acceptable anymore. SHOCK. The HORROR. Oh my god. :erm: Good grief. This is like saying rain is wet. Again, it gets acknowledged and we move on.

What, exactly, are you defending here [MENTION=4937]Celebrim[/MENTION]?
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
What, exactly, are you defending here [MENTION=4937]Celebrim[/MENTION]?
His right to cherrypick out of context with the best of them? The issue with the lizard men in the Saltmarsh series may be drawing the PCs into a misunderstanding (and may work against the colonialist narrative), but picking that one as if it refutes all really isn't dealing with the issues in Keep on the Borderlands, the name level privileges of some high level characters in 1e, and so on. Someone who approaches the game with a perspective of wanting to explore those issues will certainly find them (but then, literary criticism is pretty much like that).

That doesn't mean I don't find problems with the colonialist conceptual framework since, as I see it, the issues are far older than the Age of Colonization. Colonialism is mostly a convenient buzzword that fits certain other political frameworks, I think, so the people using them can avoid interrogating other parts of history.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Actually that would be the first place I'd look to see how the base game is intended to be played!

As in, OK - the DMG says "this", now let's see if the official published modules agree with it; because while the DMG can say what it wants the modules are where the rubber's gonna meet the road.
I disagree. Modules were largely created for tournaments and conventions. They are also not presumed by the game to be used. They were completely optional. It's also easier to tone down a module to make it fit a smaller group, than it is to ramp it up for a larger one. These are reasons why modules are at the high end of the number of players the game expects. They don't contradict the 3+ expectation at all.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Look, it's pretty simple. Early D&D draws very heavily from the pulps. Yes? We can agree on that? Genre pulps of the early 20th century were misogynistic, racist, bigotted and deeply, deeply grounded in colonialist ideology. So, it's not really a shock when early D&D also shows signs of being misogynistic, racist, bigoted and grounded in colonialist ideology. I'm rather surprised that this is even contentious to be honest. I figured that this was pretty much common knowledge.
Or else Gygax and others understood that the PCs needed something to face and just picked monsters to stand against them. It had nothing to do with any sort of real world parallels at all. It seems silly to me to be offended by something that isn't actually there.
 

Hussar

Legend
Wow. it just never stops does it.

A. It doesn't offend me therefore it's not offensive.

B. Folks are just looking for something to be offended about so they can feel good about themselves for opposing it.

C. People are just too stupid to actually know what's really going on, but, I'm smarter than everyone else, so look at my superiority and be amazed.

Did I miss any of the typical arguments? I probably did. I'm just too disgusted frankly to bother to look any harder. This is just sad.

I'm going to take the [MENTION=6943731]dragoner[/MENTION] option and bow out now. it's just so not worth my time.
 

Michele

Villager
We have no problems with violence in RPGs for the same reason why we have no problems with violence in fiction. In other games. And especially in sports.
Mind you, either it's not real violence (in fiction and games), or it's a strictly codified, limited form of violence (in boxing or football). Those are ways to vent the tendency, or at least the capability, for real violence that we have.

We are, of course, capable of real violence because until yesterday it was necessary for survival. It was necessary to fend off enemies, to find food and to secure the possibility of procreating. Survival for yourself, for your offspring, for your community and for your species.

Now it's no longer so much needed, yet we are still wired in the same way. We still have testosterone, vasopressin, adrenaline and whatnot. So violent sports (watched or practiced) and fictional violence are probably ways to sublimate the pressure. Playing a violent videogame is possibly not well accepted socially, but it does not land you in jail.

Why is it better to kill monsters in RPGs? Because it's easier to kill enemies and non-humans. Killing humans goes against the last of the commandments of survival because it attacks the species; but it is acceptable if they are enemies threathening you survival, your offspring's survival, or your community's survival.
But if they are no threat to any of the above, if they just mind their business in their cave, killing them and taking their stuff is more difficult... unless, well, they actually are not human. Then there is no attack on your own species. If they actually aren't humans, or if you can at least convince yourself that they are not humans, then they are fair targets.

"Colonialism" does not play any role here, of course, especially in the meaning that it seems to have assumed today, but not even in its proper historical sense. What we are looking for when we decide that we can assault the kobold tribe is de-humanization. Which is something we are all able of; for instance, Hutus and Tutsis called each other "cockroaches" and "snakes" - then proceeded with a nearly successful genocide of the Tutsi. The reason why it's practical to place a bag on the head of captives is that it's then easier to mistreat prisoners, or to kill hostages. If they are able to show their faces and eyes, it's more difficult to forget they're humans.
 

Bedrockgames

Villager
Wow. it just never stops does it.


Did I miss any of the typical arguments? I probably did. I'm just too disgusted frankly to bother to look any harder. This is just sad.
.
People just genuinely disagree about this stuff. It doesn't mean they are evil. I find the colonialism in D&D argument fairly silly myself. I don't think the people advancing the argument are bad. I just think they are seeing something that isn't there and they have an elaborate argument defending it. Personally I find the logic a bit tortured. But I find the logic for lots of things tortured. Does it really warrant disgust if people genuinely don't think something is present or that it isn't present in sufficient quantity to impact things or worry about?
 

Bedrockgames

Villager
Nice @Celebrim. Folks that disagree with you are now delusional. Yeah, that's going to go over well.
I grew up in a very, very religious community. I think delusional is a strong word but I do think Celebrim is hitting on something that is real. There does seem to be a religious like impulse in the chasing of perfection here. And there is an ultimate evil that we are trying to purge (even when, as you yourself point out, it isn't fully evil itself, it is just imperfect---referring to your Tolkien example). And it does seem like the moment people disagree they start getting viewed as if they are the evil itself as well. I think people taking your position are trying to improve the hobby. I just think it is a misguided way to do so. And I think it gets into repressive territory that ultimately will make things worse in the long run. And when I say repressive what I mean is you are advocating for people to repress ideas that are not even consciously bad. But ones that you must interrogate to find the problem. That makes the natural free flow of creativity fairly difficult. And having grown up in a repressive religious environment, it isn't something I want to placate in my hobby.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
I think you for your considered and thoughtful response.  Unfortunately, it goes wrong right with the initial assumption.   You start out well enough, but you end up focusing on what is I think a rather minor characteristic of the concept of speaking - namely, affectations of mannerism and accent.  Now, I like acting and accents and affecting different voices for characters.  In general, I think these are all net positives, and I'd strongly encourage people to at least try these things, practice doing it, and get better at them because of the value that that those skills can bring to the table.  By all means, put points on your "character sheet".
 
But ultimately, that's not really what I've been focused on here.  What I've been focused on as the essential element of speaking is concrete dialogue.  In other words, the most important element of the conversation is the words actually said, and that these are much more important and much more evocative than merely stating some abstract intention.  At some point, I might develop a longer post about when you might want to use some writerly technique or cinematic cut to skip over dialogue that doesn't add anything to the story, but for the purposes of what I'm talking about, anything that involves some sort of fortune test to determine what happens that does involve a potentially important plot point in the transcript of play deserves to also have dialogue as part of that transcript.
 

With that in mind, I'll try to tackle the argument you develop, although hopefully you already see why I can't respond usefully to every detail of your your argument despite it's elaborate structure, because the assumption it's based on doesn't really reflect my position.
This is a pretty big shifting of the goalposts from “acting” to “should provide concrete dialog, in some form.”  You’re able to dismiss large parts of my argument because you assign them to the performative aspects of acting while you try to focus on the provision of dialog – a distinction you may have intended all along but have failed to illuminate until now.  And, to top that off, you dismiss some of my arguments because you can assign them to performance and ignore that they are still talking to your dialog points.
 
 
Here you introduce a concept close to my concept of "reification" of the action.  You want to reify the character through its representation.  And while that's a slightly different idea than I've been using, it's congruent and I don't disagree with it as a goal of role-play.   If no one could ever say what character you were playing, or if the character seemed to have no fixed identity beyond that of a playing piece, I think we both agree that's inferior role-play.   Indeed, in point two you outline something similar to my argument by noting that the performative acts you care about can indeed increase character fidelity if done well, which is a parallel structure to my argument and honestly I think if you accept that then you ought to have no particular quibble against my argument.
Yes, but CAN doesn’t imply MUST, or even ONLY.  May be sufficient but not necessary is something I keep saying. 

However, you then go astray by focusing on the visual and audible elements of a performance, which as I said for me aren't crux of the matter.  My argument applies equally if we are playing some sort of MU* or PBEM game were we can only communicate by text.   Nor for that matter am I particularly concerned about first person or third person.  What I am concerned about is the generation of actual dialogue.  For example, I don't consider, "Good morrow, Captain.  I am Sir Reginald, and as you may have discerned, I am a Knight Templar of Holy Aravar the Traveller." and "Sir Reginald says to the Captain, "Good morrow, Captain.  I am Sir Reginald, and as you may have discerned, I am a Knight Templar of Holy Aravar the Traveller." to be very different.   Indeed, while the first person construction is preferred in longer conversations, the third person construction has it's place at the table.   For example, you might use it when it's not clear whom you are addressing, or to serve as a cue to end OOC discussion, or in an early session of play as a courtesy to reinforce the name of the character to your new comrades and to get the other players to begin to think of you primarily as your character for the duration of play.   However, both the first and third person constructions of dialogue are very different than the proposition, "I introduce myself to the Captain.", and at my table, that would often by rejected as an invalid proposition and as a GM I would follow up, with a prompt like, "Ok, tell me what you say.  Introduce yourself to the Captain."   If the player is nervous and stumbles about doing this, that doesn't really present a problem.   We have his character sheet to help inform us how charismatic Sir Reginald actually is.   But not having dialogue introduces at times unsolvable problems for me as a GM, as I'm unable to determine the content of the player's action, and further produces and inferior transcript of play and an inferior experience of role-playing.  
 
So you see, what we are comparing isn't really a novel and a movie, but a novel without dialogue to a novel with dialogue, or a movie without dialogue to a novel without dialogue.  You might be able to think of a few movies or novels that use clever writerly techniques of narration to achieve effects that might be difficult to achieve with dialogue, but you'll be hard pressed to think of beloved stories that dispense with it entirely, and I think you'll agree that the vast majority of the most beloved stories feature dialogue.  Heck, even the ones with just a single character tend to feature a lot of monologues, either spoken or internal, because verbal communication is so extraordinarily important.
This is the goalpost shift, and, honestly, I think it cuts against your argument.  If it’s only dialogue that matters, then the manner in which that dialog is delivered should have no bearing on the representation of character.  And, yet, If I deliver the line, "Good morrow, Captain.  I am Sir Reginald, and as you may have discerned, I am a Knight Templar of Holy Aravar the Traveller," in a bored and sarcastic tone vice a cheerful and friendly tone, then a difference is had.  You’re trying to argue that the only relevant part of acting to your argument is the delivery of dialog, but this is flat out untrue.  Tone, mannerism, etc., all matter as much, as they change the intent and even message delivered.  You cannot separate dialog from acting as you’ve done and have it retain meaning.
 
You also address the poor dialog here, and say it does not matter so long as the player provides some dialog.  I, again, disagree.  What you’re doing here is ignoring poor dialog and inserting some imagined delivery and speech to get to the player’s goals.  All you’ve done re: in game dialog is force the player to accede to your preference and then, if the performance does not align with the character or the player’s intent, you actually ignore the performance and just deal with the stated intent.  You discard your own requirements.
 
And, I run into this quite often with one of my players, who can describe how their character acts in character well, but becomes flustered when having to put it into dialog and often reverts to aggressive or dismissive words in that frustration.  I do not require that they provide dialog – they choose to often because they’re working on this for themselves – because I, so often, must ignore the provided dialog and instead adjudicate the intent.  This directly cuts against your argument that dialog improves roleplaying.  It does not in this case, and you haven’t shown that it improves roleplaying in the best cases, either.  That you prefer it just means that you appreciate roleplaying with good dialog, but it doesn’t mean that this is universal or objective.
 
 
You are I think coming toward the same conclusions I have made but from a different direction.  Remember, what I said is that all things being equal, we should tend to prefer the procedures of play that most closely resemble the things we are simulating.   That there are things we cannot closely simulate with a conversation I immediately conceded.  Indeed, I right at the beginning brought up something very close to the dragon example to explain why although we would prefer to act out conversations, there are elements of a fantasy game - in my example I noted combat - where we would prefer some other device for representing them.  So if you are reduced to describing a sound you can't in fact produce, that's OK.  But, this still doesn't justify a proposition like, "I try to persuade the Baron." or "I introduce myself to the Captain" over actually producing dialogue.  Even bad dialogue is more like dialogue than the absence of dialogue, and even bad dialogue and acting would be preferred to the absence of it on the additional grounds that you will never "get good" without practice.
This is handwavy. The division isn’t between a well delivered flowery introduction and a bald declaration.  You’re taking the best of yours and putting against the worst of the others.  If the declaration was, “Bob the Bard introduces himself to the Baron, using his knowledge of the nobility to recite the Baron’s lineage in glowing terms, and presenting himself as a humble supplicant for favor.”  This works better for me than a partial, back and forth switch between dialog (that may be badly formed and delivered) and declarations of the things the player doesn’t know (presumably the Baron’s lineage).  It’s also, in my opinion, closer to what’s being simulated, which is Bob the Bard’s impressive knowledge of nobility and his ability to easily manipulate the vain.  The player may not have these qualities at all. 

(Not that I accept that "closer to what's simulated" is the desirable goal.)
 
And that’s not even getting into the fantastical.
 
 
This assertion fails not just because it's not really acting that I'm concerned about, but because even if it were true the very same objection could be raised to playing a character without dialogue.  Playing the character without dialogue will not stop the PC from reverting closer to the player over time.   In my experience a minority of players can play a character that isn't basically themselves.  But this isn't a real problem - most real people are interesting in themselves - and the character will still be more interesting with their own dialogue than they will be without it, even if the player is basically just saying what they might think in the same situation.  
This is valid, but it was your conjecture that acting improves roleplaying without qualification.  Showing that this is untrue in regards to your assertion is not rendered a less effective argument if it’s also untrue in regards to other assertions.  Examine: if the claim is that the sky is red, showing that it is not is not defeated if the counterargument is that the ocean is also not red.

Finally, there is a false comparison that I think you are making throughout your argument where you are insisting that there may exist some version of the preferred thing - a thing you yourself admit preferring - which is so bad that it is inferior to the best version of the non-preferred thing.  Essentially you are saying that the acting may be so bad that the player would be better of not acting.  Or if we apply this to what I have been saying, that the dialogue may be so bad that the player would be better off not using dialogue.   I have a host of objections to this claim.   First, it is like claiming that since it might be the case that an assault rifle could be jammed or corroded, that soldiers ought to prefer going into battle with high quality butcher knifes.   But this is ridiculous not only because assault rifles are so obviously superior as weapons to butcher knives, but also because the same objection can be made to the butcher knife itself.  It could be broken or dull.  In the same way, if a player's dialogue is terrible, there is no reason to assume that their non-dialogue is going to be inherently superior role-play.   
The argument isn’t the assault rifles are inferior to butcher knives, it’s that a jammed and corrodes assault rifle IS inferior to a functional butcher knife.  I don’t have to show that your assertion is wrong in all cases (and I’ve clearly not made this argument), I just have to show that your universally stated assertion is wrong in at least one case.
 
Bad acting being inferior to not-bad declaration is sufficient to defeat your statement that acting is the height of roleplaying.
 
Secondly, I object to the argument because settling for not playing in a skillful manner because you aren't skillful, guarantees you'll never become skillful.  I've had at least a half-dozen shy nervous players over the year begin to come out of their shell and eventually have shining moments of awesome sauce producing  moments wonderful dialogue.  It's not necessarily a steady path to greatness and often they'll go back in their shell from time to time, but it's ridiculous to just say, "Well that player can't role-play so they shouldn't even try."   And thirdly I object to the argument because for the most part the contrived situation just doesn't come up.  Even the player's nervous attempts to speak in character are better than nothing.  Even putting one's foot in one's mouth still makes for more interesting play than declaring moves instead of roleplaying. 
Well, as I don’t define “roleplaying” as synonymous with “providing dialog”, sure.  I also having said that acting isn’t fun, or enjoyable, or something that shouldn’t be encouraged if the players enjoy it.  So, now that we’re done with the strawmen, all you’ve said here is that practicing something means you can improve in that something.  This is trivial, and does absolutely nothing to bolster your claim that acting improves roleplaying.  It also doesn’t go to any of my points, as I’ve not made the argument that practice doesn’t lead to improvement, but that acting is not the pinnacle of roleplaying.
 
Finally, I reject this argument because I strongly believe that there is a great deal of symmetry between what is good play for a GM, and what is good play for a player, and in my experience all these things people are claiming to prefer as play for their player because they aren't comfortable with it, is rarely what they prefer from their GM.  Sure, there are times as a GM when you might decide that the details of the conversation aren't important, and it's best to just give a summary of what an NPC says, but as a GM I long ago learned that the impact of the scene framing "The jester tells a funny joke." is vastly different than framing the scene with the jester actually telling a funny joke and nothing could change that.
Oh, I strongly disagree with this.  I am a GM mostly, and I bounce between description and dialog all the time, but the crux of my job isn’t dialog, it’s description.  The jester telling a joke, for instance, strikes me as badly off as an example.  The point of the scene I’m framing is not the joke the jester is telling, it’s something else, and the jester’s joke is a minor detail to that point.  Wasting time actually telling a joke, which may or may not be found funny by the players (and, given my propensity to Dad jokes, likely the later, although I’ll be amused), actually acts to obfuscate the important points of the scene I’m framing.  I can hardly think of a better example of where dialog actively harms the play of the game but yet may greatly aid the enjoyment of the performance of the GM.  It so well illustrates the underlying premise of my point – that acting is your preference because you enjoy it (doing it and observing it) and that this doesn’t mean it’s the best for roleplaying in general.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Wow. it just never stops does it.

A. It doesn't offend me therefore it's not offensive.
If you have to invent something that doesn't exist, like a real world connection that isn't there, how is it offensive?

Did I miss any of the typical arguments? I probably did. I'm just too disgusted frankly to bother to look any harder.
Not looking is probably why you are making connections that don't exist.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I grew up in a very, very religious community. I think delusional is a strong word but I do think Celebrim is hitting on something that is real. There does seem to be a religious like impulse in the chasing of perfection here. And there is an ultimate evil that we are trying to purge (even when, as you yourself point out, it isn't fully evil itself, it is just imperfect---referring to your Tolkien example). And it does seem like the moment people disagree they start getting viewed as if they are the evil itself as well.
Yep. As soon as I pointed out that [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION] is jumping at shadows, he demonized me and then left the thread to get away from "Satan."
 
This is a pretty big shifting of the goalposts from “acting” to “should provide concrete dialog, in some form.”
I didn't move the goal posts. You did. At no point did I ever include acting, accents, or mannerisms in my discussion until you brought them into it. When I provided examples, it was always contrasting dialogue with its absence. How can you accuse me of moving the goalposts? At this point you are arguing with yourself, and you don't need my help for that.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
I didn't move the goal posts. You did. At no point did I ever include acting, accents, or mannerisms in my discussion until you brought them into it. When I provided examples, it was always contrasting dialogue with its absence. How can you accuse me of moving the goalposts? At this point you are arguing with yourself, and you don't need my help for that.
You clearly said "acting" in your earlier posts. If you had a narrower definition, that was the time to present it. If you wait until a response addresses "acting" to clarify, that's moving the goalposts.

And, to boot, dismissing the entirett of my argumeny because you don't nean funny voices us ignoring that the performance of the dialig is still critically important -- sarcastic vs bored vs excited all change the exact same dialog to very different meanings. Try "I believe you," each way for reference. This means even your ckarification of "dialog" is incomplete.

That said, I addressed the just dialog aspects and the complete performance aspects above, so adjust as needed to whichever you mean at the moment.
 

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