View Full Version : Role-playing clarification

04-02-2009, 06:28 PM
I put something in my blog too about this, but maybe I'll get more feedback in the forums.

So last night during the big hoorah, somebody mentioned if you want a quick and dirty game you play 4e, but if you want in-depth role-playing you play 3.5.

First off, are they trying to say simple is bad and complex is better?? I guess if you like a challenge, but why over complexify things? I say stick with the KISS method.

Second, how does 3.5 have any more "in-depth" roleplaying than 4e. The role-playing aspect of any game is up to the players and the DM.

There is some mechanics in the RP aspect of the game, but I don't see how they are different between the two different systems. I don't see how 3.5 is this deep misunderstood genius and 4e is a shallow doofus (with respect to its RP features).

Explain this one to me, I really mean it. How does 3.5 have better "role-playing" than 4e? Why is a more complex system better? Why don't people have the gaul/creativity to push past what is in the books, and make the game the way they want it to be?

Even if (and that's a big if) 3.5 does have better RP, why not integrate that into the nice clean balanced mechanics of 4e?

I really want these questions answered. What I don't want is a bunch of people saying 4e sucks, 3.5 is great, or vice versa. This isn't a topic to argue one edition over the other.

Main thing I want to know is "how do you justify that 3.5 is better for 'role-playing' than 4e?" I honestly don't see it.

So leave out the bias and the emotion, I just want to know the supporting evidence of a statement like this.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
04-02-2009, 06:34 PM
It really is only about preferences and loyalties. We see this argument with every new edition. When 5E comes out in a couple of years, and it will, we will see this very argument rear its head again.

Genzodus Thoth
04-02-2009, 06:49 PM
The simplified response to your question is that in 4E, no matter how many books are released, you're limited to X number of character options, while 3E has a freeform class system and an overabundance of options, not including 3rd party books. Ultimately, this makes 4E characters easier to build, but 3E allows for a much greater number of character concepts and game settings. While some will argue that that's all fluff and a good roleplaying group can do anything, it requires that much more effort to play a low-magic or similar style game in 4E.

04-02-2009, 07:13 PM
Persoannly I don't like to play the same type of character twice. I have played all the classes out of the PHB and all of the races. However, 3.0/3.5 allowed you to play monsters - does 4.0 allow that? Talk about how much more facinating the role playing gets when when of the party can eat another of the party.

04-02-2009, 08:26 PM
I've noticed in preparation for my next D&D 3.5 game that I'm going back more and more to my 2e books to find more non-combat based items. There are so many more items alone in 2e that the possibilities are seemingly endless. And while I know some are going to try to say that you will see more over the length of the system, I've found that the focus has dipped more and more towards combat and less away from role playing. Case in point, there are MANY different fairly common items in 2e that were completely scrapped in 3e or turned into a "wondrous item". There are over 6300 different items listed in the 4 volume Encyclopedia Magica for AD&D and I think you'd be hard pressed to find 2000 in all the 'official' 3e stuff combined. I'm not saying that more is better I'm just saying that with more stuff/spells/options/whatever you can have a greater diversity and it probably even encourages it.

04-02-2009, 11:34 PM
:deadhorse::deadhorse::deadhorse::deadhorse::deadh orse::deadhorse:

04-02-2009, 11:45 PM
Several things kind of jumped out at me that made me struggle with roleplaying in 4e.

1) The elimination of Vantican Spell-casting: Most were happy with this change but quite a few spells had real non-combat applications. And while rituals were suppose to replace it, I had yet to have any of my players utilize them.

2) The push of roleplaying mechanics on to the skill system. None of the powers and class features you choose from actually enhances roleplay. They are all combat related. Even your feats are based on mostly combat or power features. Your left with using skills--and even then they introduced skill challenges. Some argue 3e was like that as well but I keep finding things that show otherwise.

3) The necessity of a grid. I never needed one for 3e but 4e was a requirement. So I spent most of my time placing minis on a board and thinking tactically rather than dramatically.

The truth is that I have yet to PLAY in a 4e game. I only DM'd a 4e campaign (and I got flak from a 3e loyalist that made the enjoyment sour). If I can play with another DM and see how they do it, I might have a different impression.

I also found 1e material very useful in my 4e game.


04-03-2009, 12:05 AM
It really is only about preferences and loyalties. We see this argument with every new edition. When 5E comes out in a couple of years, and it will, we will see this very argument rear its head again.

5e :whoo:

04-03-2009, 01:09 AM
Just to take 4E's side for roleplay....

Characters in 4E are essentially a stack of powers that can happen X times in Y period. Daily powers, encounter powers, at will powers, etc. The powers themselves can be very flexible, as there is essentially a formula behind it that says "Strikers do (X) damage, Leaders do (Y) damage and affect someone nearby" etc.

So you can take existing powers, tweak them some, change the flavor text, and suddenly it's something different. Playing a naval game and there aren't swashbuckler class options? Make one. Decide what role the swashbuckler would fill and then start pathing out the powers.

Yes, that's a combat focus, but that's what powers are for. Swashbuckling out of combat needs few rules.

Which is where I think 4E shows its true elegance. The system is there to handle combat and challenges, and gets out of the way for non-action play (which is where I don't need the rules).

04-03-2009, 06:10 AM
The system is there to handle combat and challenges, and gets out of the way for non-action play (which is where I don't need the rules).

Generally that's a good principle for a RPG. My problem with D&D 4e is that the vast preponderance of rules and systems revolve around combat. Powers -- the bulk of the PHB -- and nearly all Feats matter only during combat. While I can appreciate the simplification of the skill system, skills seem biased toward immediate, "adventuring" goals. Much ink is spilled on how various powers and feats push and pull figures on a tactical map, and the "stacking" of bonuses based on what powers and feats are currently at play in combat.

Compare other systems, from venerable Basic Roleplaying to relative newcomer Spirit of the Century, where the combat rules are a special case or extension of general conflict resolution rules. A few indie systems like Prime Time Adventures and HeroQuest remove all distinction between physical conflicts, social conflicts, and tasks involving inanimate objects.

My experience with 4e was a fun role playing experience marred at least once per session by placing my miniature on the battle map and deciding each turn which among my nearly identical "powers" I would use to attack.

Getting back to the original point ... you can "role play" in any system, with sufficient dedication among the players. Whether the mechanics of the system augment the experience or "harsh the buzz" is up to each group.

04-03-2009, 08:47 AM
thanks everybody. And again, I never meant for this to turn into a 4e vs 3.5 argument. I just wanted to know how role-playing in 3.5 could be better than 4e.

what do you mean by free-form class system?

I understand, but this seemed like a new argument for 3.5, but didn't make any sense to me

which group of feats in 3.5 didn't deal with combat? It's been a while, but my impression is a lot of feats dealt with some class feature, which was combat related.

Again thanks, but I do have one other question. Is there any of these things that can't be fixed with a bit of hand-waving on the DM's part? I understand some don't want to, but it seems like it can be done. I'm just curious.

My motivation for this is not to convert people to 4e, but to guide people to not be so hard-lined 3e. I say take the strengths of all of them and make an awesome system, but that's my opinion.

04-03-2009, 09:06 AM
which group of feats in 3.5 didn't deal with combat? It's been a while, but my impression is a lot of feats dealt with some class feature, which was combat related.

Just looking at the d20 SRD, I see:

A bunch of feats that provide skill bonuses: Acrobatic, Agile, Alertness, Animal Affinity, Athletic, Deceitful, Deft Hands, Diligent, Investigator, Negotiator, Nimble Fingers, Persuasive, Skill Focus, Stealthy, Track

Item Creation feats: Brew Potion, Craft Magic Arms And Armor, Craft Rod, Craft Staff, Craft Wand, Craft Wondrous Item, Forge Ring, Scribe Scroll

Feats involving other creatures: Augment Summoning, Improved Familiar, Leadership.

The skill bonus feats seem redundant, especially if one consolidates a bunch of skills. I actually like what 4e does with skills, with some qualifications.

Genzodus Thoth
04-03-2009, 12:12 PM
Basically, the 3E class system was a mess of "what do you want to do?". While in 4E, you pick a class, then at the next tier pick one of two specializations, 3E let you do something like: Abjurer 1-5, Geometer 1-2, Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil 1-3, Geometer 3, IotSV 4, Geo 4, IotSV 5-7, Geo 5, Abj 6-8. Bam, there's my 20-level build (I think; might have been different, never got around to playing it).

04-03-2009, 04:46 PM
5e :whoo:

I am skipping 4.0 and I too cannot wait for 5.0:biggrin:

04-03-2009, 08:32 PM
Oh, I remember 4th Edition...those were the good old days...back when men were men, goblins were goblins, and +3 bonuses were +3 bonuses....
How they explain magic with quantum mechanics is really cramping my style, and the super-techno-battlemage really got nerfed...total MMO style...wtf, jeez...

04-03-2009, 09:47 PM
A good roleplayer could roleplay Scrabble, frankly.

Debates like this are circular and pointless, imo.

04-04-2009, 08:42 AM
A good roleplayer could roleplay Scrabble, frankly.

Debates like this are circular and pointless, imo.

Scrabble is too rules-heavy.

In all seriousness, though, people can and have "role-played" with an impartial referee and/or a single d6. We use rules to simulate and enable certain experiences. Debates about different rule sets, if and when egos and blind loyalties are set aside, help buyers decide whether a particular set of rules helps or hinders the kind of experience players want.

Different editions of D&D feel different ... as do Spirit of the Century, GURPS, BRP, Cyborg Commando, or whatever. D&D 3.x tries to do everything, so a DM has a good chance of shaping the rules to fit his or her play style. D&D 4e has a very clear focus and scope, so moving outside that scope must rely on role-playing, judgement, and ad-hoc die rolls. Whether one or another is "true role-playing" is a silly argument, but whether each approach sounds like fun to each person is the whole point of gaming.

04-05-2009, 06:56 PM
Scrabble is too rules-heavy.

You made my day :)

04-05-2009, 11:50 PM
Scrabble is too rules-heavy.Damn you, man!! Do you know how much diet cola beverage hurts when you blast it out of your nose?? :lol:


04-06-2009, 03:26 PM
I laughed more at your post than the orginal!

John Wolf
04-15-2009, 02:37 AM
It'll be awhile before I go over to 4E. I started playing AD&D2E, then D&D3E came out. Everyone was like wow look at this lets switch over. Same with 3.5E. Now 4E out, soon 4.25, 4.5 and 4.9, then 5E will come out, next year. Its like the argument on how Humans should have stayed in the trees and never left the forest, infact some would argue we never should have left the water to begin with. Pick the edition you like most and stick with it, adding homebrew rules and borrowing rules from other editions as it pleases you.

04-16-2009, 12:34 PM
My personal observation is that it matters not what version of the game you are playing, roleplaying is the interaction between the characters. Some folks are better at it than others, which may or may not come from more experience in playing.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
04-16-2009, 12:39 PM
I have my favorite edition(we all do), which i've mentioned elsewhere. It's true what you say, cplmac, it really is the comaraderie that makes the game great.

04-16-2009, 11:02 PM
I'll not only second (third??) that, but add to it...

It doesn't matter what GAME OR SYSTEM you play, it's the camaraderie that makes it great!!

04-17-2009, 10:18 AM
Yes, Malruhn, that is exactly to the point. I guess that I didn't word my previous post to say just that. Thanks for the addition.