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View Poll Results: What is Role Playing to you?

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39. You may not vote on this poll
  • Pure social interaction, hack & slash is not Role Playing

    0 0%
  • Intrigue, plotting and socializing only, no combat

    3 7.69%
  • The best Role Playing happens best under character stress in combat

    1 2.56%
  • All character interaction, including combat

    33 84.62%
  • Gimme my dice, I just want to kill something...

    2 5.13%
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Thread: What is Role Playing to you?

  1. #1
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    What is Role Playing to you?

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    It is impossible to include every option, so please select the one fits your description best.

    Then if needed give more detail in a post.

  2. #2
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    Escapism

  3. #3
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    I think that the best Role Playing happens under character stress like combat, political intrigue and being on either end of a nefarious plot.

    Forced social interaction without anything driving it is like being in a chat room.

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    "The best Role Playing happens best under character stress in combat"

    I've heard that sentence before, and, even after eliminating a redundant "best", I still have trouble parsing it.

    Do you mean roleplaying within a combat situation beats other types of roleplaying? Because, tactical decisions aside, every RPG combat I've been in has been all about die rolling, totalling modifiers, and so forth, which in my book isn't roleplaying. If you think I put tactical decisions to one side cavalierly (badabing!), that's probably because I've never been that excited about the role of tactician.

    Or do you mean roleplaying has to have the threat of combat in order to be effective? That's still a bit limiting. What about a detective story in which the goal is to catch the culprit, and combats are either incidental or an indication that you've done something wrong? (Robin Laws' Esoterrorists explicitly designates characters as investigators and not combatants, and in Call of Cthulhu going mano-a-tentaculo with a Mythos creature is legally considered suicide.) One can image roleplayers with other goals, such as exploring a territory, navigating some messy political intrigue (""Affair of the Necklace", anyone?), or stealing some priceless artifact without even getting seen, let alone attacked.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

  5. #5
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Do you mean roleplaying within a combat situation beats other types of roleplaying? Because, tactical decisions aside, every RPG combat I've been in has been all about die rolling, totalling modifiers, and so forth, which in my book isn't roleplaying. If you think I put tactical decisions to one side cavalierly (badabing!), that's probably because I've never been that excited about the role of tactician.
    From what you've described, you and other players you know shut up during combat and just role dice and announce numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Or do you mean roleplaying has to have the threat of combat in order to be effective? That's still a bit limiting.
    In real life people perform differently under pressure than without. It has been my experience that the best one liners and unique approaches to problem resolution come about when there is some danger, external threat, or goal to be achieved in a timely manner.

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    What about a detective story in which the goal is to catch the culprit, and combats are either incidental or an indication that you've done something wrong? (Robin Laws' Esoterrorists explicitly designates characters as investigators and not combatants, and in Call of Cthulhu going mano-a-tentaculo with a Mythos creature is legally considered suicide.) One can image roleplayers with other goals, such as exploring a territory, navigating some messy political intrigue ("Affair of the Necklace", anyone?), or stealing some priceless artifact without even getting seen, let alone attacked.
    I'll take the challenges of combat and intrigue driven plots any day.
    Last edited by Ed Zachary; 06-03-2007 at 03:35 AM.

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    Okay, now. Let's tone it done a bit. No need to make it personal. Everyone's tastes differ. There isn't a right and wrong way to roleplay. What matters is that you and the people you are playing with have fun. If you enjoy the tactical side of roleplaying and you only need or want a smattering of story as a backdrop, more power to you. RPGs were born, after all, from strategic games. And if you're a die hard Amber fan or a staunch in-character roleplayer, that's fine too! Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, I'd imagine, and with varying inclinations and predilections towards one or the other.

    Roleplaying has come to collectively refer to more than just improvisational acting. I think it is disingenuous, therefore, to say that there is one "best" way to roleplay. There may be one way that you enjoy more than any other, but I don't think that gives anyone license to snub their nose at people that play their game differently. It's simply a matter of personal taste.

    That's in my never-to-be-humble opinion, anyway.
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    Friends + BBQ + Beer^3 + <INSERT GAME OF CHOICE> + Laughter = Role Playing.

    Damn the torpedoes and worrying too much about things! If everyone goes home smiling because they had a good time, and talking about what they did in context of the game, and what they want to do next session, I declare Victory, grab another beer, and chase my wife around the bedroom.

    --
    Grimwell

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by grimwell View Post
    I declare Victory, grab another beer, and chase my wife around the bedroom.
    Okay. Seriously, I did not need that mental imagery!
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  9. #9
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    Caveat: As Farcaster said, if you prefer RPG adventures to be a series of combats strung together with a plot, that's fine. It just doesn't float my boat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Zachary View Post
    In real life people perform differently under pressure than without. It has been my experience that the best one liners and unique approaches to problem resolution come about when there is some danger, external threat, or goal to be achieved in a timely manner.
    No disagreement here. I guess your statement, perhaps just to me, implied that only potential or actual combat produced good roleplaying. In an investigative plot the goal is to expose the thief/murderer/eldritch horror, perhaps to keep others (NPCs) from harm. In a spy plot the real goal is to discover the evil mastermind and thwart his plan; combat can be a tool to that end, but so can stealth, psychological manipulation, and sabotage. In another standard plot, the PCs have to get some dingus from point A to point B; the safest and sanest course would be to avoid combats, although somehow that never happens.

    Even in a court intrigue, the stakes could be loss of position, exile, or even execution for one's patron; maybe the new court favorite would bring corruption, oppression or war to the kingdom. (I mentioned "the affair of the diamond necklace", which seems silly now but in those times made Marie Antoinette even more of a villain in many eyes. It was yet one more reason for the French Revolution. And Dumas made it seem exciting.)

    PCs have more to lose than their lives or their blood: they can have jobs, social positions, relationships, reputations, their freedom, their way of life, their principles, their own self-respect. An adventure can come from threatening one or all of those things.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

  10. #10
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    For me the key aspects of good role playing are:
    * Create an interesting character and breathe life into it.
    * Find a reason to work with the group, not against it.
    * Do creative things and play off other characters and NPCs.

    The "create an interesting character" part is obvious, and most of us don't have an issue with that.

    Finding a reason to be part of a group and working towards its success can be a problem for some. When different individuals create a handful of interesting an unique characters, their interests and goals will vary greatly. It is the responsibility of the players to find reasons for them to work together. This isn't real life, it's a role playing game. If you can't find a reason to work with your friends, then why bother?

    That leads to to role playing interaction between the characters. What I dislike about some games is that you get some individuals who always want to run off and do their own thing by themselves. That requires one on one DM and player, while the others watch TV or play video games. Yeah that can be important at times, but not when a group has gathered together.

    Looking back on some of the evil groups that I had been part of, we were very successful in being a group. If I had to guess why, I'd probably say that it was survival (hard-ass DM), and that we determined that we'd each be more successful if we worked together when we gathered for an adventure. Sure we plotted against each other during down time, occasionally sacking a citadel, killing a minion, or getting an NPC to do similar. But our rule was that you do not kill another player's character, and if you don't pull your weight in the group you're gone. In that, we found a reason to be a group, and had a great time.

    I've also come across players who are stubborn and inflexible, and see the role playing of their character without concession to be their goal. That means not taking steps to become part of the group. If fact you get the distinct feeling that they are actively working toward being disruptive. I've had occasions to meet with such players in person, and they were usually voted out of the group after or during the first session by the players. Some times it takes a bit longer to identify them.
    Last edited by Ed Zachary; 06-04-2007 at 07:34 AM.

  11. #11
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Caveat: As Farcaster said, if you prefer RPG adventures to be a series of combats strung together with a plot, that's fine. It just doesn't float my boat.
    That depends what the combat is about. It can be plot driven, or a mindless hunt for treasure.

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Even in a court intrigue, the stakes could be loss of position, exile, or even execution for one's patron; maybe the new court favorite would bring corruption, oppression or war to the kingdom. (I mentioned "the affair of the diamond necklace", which seems silly now but in those times made Marie Antoinette even more of a villain in many eyes. It was yet one more reason for the French Revolution. And Dumas made it seem exciting.)
    Yes, that's why I enjoyed playing Lasombra and Tremere in the old Vampire game by WW. They were more intrigue driven than combatant thugs.

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    PCs have more to lose than their lives or their blood: they can have jobs, social positions, relationships, reputations, their freedom, their way of life, their principles, their own self-respect. An adventure can come from threatening one or all of those things.
    Exactly. Without any sort of external threat or reward, you might as well be role playing in a chat room.

  12. #12
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    That depends what the combat is about. It can be plot driven, or a mindless hunt for treasure.
    What if I've come up with treasure hunts that tend to be plot and character driven? Can't I have a game where the plot serves the character, not the other way around?

  13. #13
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    I joined one play by post game, and over the nearly two months I participated we did nothing but role play uneventful travel, uneventful meals, and uneventful night watches. That to me would be chat room role playing with fantasy characters, rather than an adventure. While we did get to develop personalities, we did nothing but chat. Sometimes the DM would disappear for periods of time and player questions went unanswered, not that those questions were important because nothing ever happened and the checks were for naught.

    In the play by post game I'm putting together I've already designed the first five encounters. Four of five should be resolved by role play negotiation, but they do have the potential to degrade into combat should the players chose to or completely botch the negotiation. The one combat encounter should be easily resolved, but has the potential to get deadly should the players make some wrong choices.

    I'm still hoping to get three more players to fill out the group, so I hope that some others may join.

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    The freedom to not be lead around by the nose in modules is roleplay to me. The situation you run into in so many adventures/modules is that the DM reads through the module like a script, and there is no room for interaction in the world outside of that script.

    The very best game I have EVER played in was in the forgotten realms setting. The DM had us take back a castle, and while there was a plot to the overall adventure, and clear goals, and a dramatic landscape to the adventure, the characters where free to do what they wanted to do, the DM would ask for time in events where we went completely off the map, but otherwise, he had everything very well planned and laid out. To the point where you could close your eyes and vividly imagine the finery of the castle while you sat in the company of the baron and his concubine, or to the seedy underside of the city and the thieve's guild. He helped the players to very quickly create their own individualized personalities for the characters and he had ideas at character creation for a forward going story for each character. If a character wanted to do something, and had the resources to get it done, it was just put into the game. Of course there could be reprecussions for this, but that was the back and forth of the interaction with the characters and the true roleplay. If I hadn't moved out of Houston, I imagine I would still be playing at that guys table.

    The question that many DM's and GM's fail to ask is.... "What do you want to do now? " rather than, "Do this and then do that", and forcing the game.
    Last edited by Traxxus; 06-19-2007 at 05:05 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Zachary View Post
    we did nothing but role play uneventful travel, uneventful meals, and uneventful night watches.

    Quote Originally Posted by Traxxus View Post
    The freedom to not be lead around by the nose in modules is roleplay to me.


    These two statements highlighted something for me about the way I feel about gaming. I tend to look at roleplaying as part collaborative story telling and part strategic gaming. Running a game is, to me, is like writing a story. By that token, there'd be nothing interesting about a book at was all character development and no story. At the same time, two-dimensional characters can make even the best storyline flop. In my games, there are plenty of encounters, but never truly random ones. If it doesn't advance the plot or enrich the characters, then it doesn't belong. (In my never-to-be-humble opinion, anyway)

    As to modules, I think the problem is that it often has that feeling of a story that has already been written. It's not very much in that spirit of collaborative story telling if someone, the DM or some module writer, has already etched the story in stone ahead of time. To be certain, having a framework is important, but I think the game looses something if the end is already set and written. The story must live and breathe. It must give the players the freedom to participate and not just be spectators, otherwise, it is little more than a glorified choose-your-own-adventure book of days gone by.
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