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(Actual) Rules For Role-Playing?
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:36 am    Post subject: (Actual) Rules For Role-Playing? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I was wondering if any of you wonderful people had encountered or read any (actual) rules for role-playing?

In my experience, limited though it is, most RPG books tend to be tonnes of setting fluff, some rules for task or conflict resolution (what dice to roll, what modifiers to add, what stats are used, etc), and tables or charts or lists of spells, items, monsters, etc etc etc.

I briefly mentioned Ron Edward's Sorcerer in a thread here and the folks there seemed ambivalent towards the game at best. I haven't even played the game, but in it are a handful of rules that are the only actual rules for role-playing that I've ever seen:

    * A dramatic or appropriate quip while announcing the task: +1 die
    * Announcing a task generically (“I swing at him!”): –1 die
    * Repeating a simple task after failing: –1 die (cumulative)
    * Especially clever version of the action: +2 dice
    * Especially stupid move: –2 dice
    * The announced action moves the plot along significantly: +2 dice
    * Obstructive, petty announced action: –2 dice


Glancing through my 5e D&D DMG and PHB, there seem to be a total of 6-7 paragraphs that talk about role-playing, but none of them are actually rules. They are more like guidelines and amount to: "Don't forget to emote!"; "Speak in-character for immersion!"; "Be descriptive!"; etc.

Another rule that I've seen is the "Say 'Yes' or roll the dice." from Dogs In The Vineyard and The Burning Wheel. Dogs In The Vineyard's rules also grant players bonus dice for weaving their unique traits or skills or history into their actions or the story.

My 2e VTM book doesn't appear to have any such rules either. A lot of guidelines to be sure, a lot of suggestions and 'best practice' recommendations, but my role-playing would seem to have no impact on my character's 'Computer' Skill outside of a very broad, general sense i.e. scene A led to scene B and I got a bonus during B because of some action I took in during A. I may also influence the StoryTeller to give me an easier Difficulty on a particular task based on my role-playing, but there are no rules binding him or her to do so, meaning it is up to their discretion, i.e. it is based on their skill as a GM and their personal quirks and enthusiasms.

Does anyone else have any cool rules they know of?
Is there any sort of compendium or reference for rules like these?
Also, why don't more RPGs use non-dice mechanics? Why not cards, chips, or tokens? Why are the mechanics primarily rolling dice and not bidding chips or playing cards or passing a token from player to player? Anyone want to link some good threads discussing these kinds of things?


Last edited by ArmorClassZero on Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cool description for mechanical bonus, generally called 'stunting,' originates in Feng Shui, iirc. An infamously poor version of it was a cornerstone of the Exalted game line.

As far as that sort of thing goes, there was the Trouble mechanic from Orkworld that had some juice. When a character expressed overconfidence, they were awarded a Trouble die, which the MC could use to drop some extra difficulty on them for tempting fate, but overcoming trouble let you roll the die for extra xp. Kind of a 'set your own difficulty level' mechanic. It's a shame the associated game was cold boiled ass.

People use dice instead of cards because a deck of cards is easy to rig and easy to foul up by losing a few of them, and also the deck becomes more predictable as it depletes and a good shuffle takes more time than just rolling again; you see it in a few things, mostly as a gimmick.

People use dice instead of chips or tokens because they want a randomizer, not a currency.

Most games use dice because D&D did it and most games are still D&D hacks (or hacks of D&D hacks).
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GâtFromKI
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Many games give you a bonus when you "activate" a flaw of your character.

Many games give a circumstance bonus when you make a cool description.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In 1st edition AD&D, you would require extra training time if you played outside your expected role, explicitly so cowardly fighters or overly combative magic users would be tied up longer between adventures. The full rules for 1st edition aren't anything people used, but officially it meant if you didn't roleplay right, Gary wouldn't let you play that character as often.

Also, if you played outside your chosen alignment, you would lose fuck tonnes of XP, and not be able to gain XP, and yeah, people hated all those rules and they went away and everyone was just happier.

Having the GM penalise people or reward people for being more into playing a certain way or not, really it's just a failure of the game mechanics to encourage the desired play as a normal optimal choice. Not like "describing your actions like that novel I read, only spontaneously, for hours", but in the sense of "the characters act in a thematically pleasing way."

I mean, it's cool if you have a group of professional authors playing at your table, or whatever, those rules in post 1 here, probably playtest OK, but no, not for the rest of us.

--

So, if you want fighters to stand up front and be brave and charge in to defend their allies, that should just be the best way for them to stay alive and win fights, mechanically. It only rarely has been through the editions, but it totally should be, then people would fucking well just play them that way. That's a kind of roleplaying the rules should support.

And if you just say "I hit the orc", then that's fine, because the next player gets to speak, and you've given them more time if they happen to be better at that. Yay.

--

Also, people coming up with quips and stuff, when they swing their sword at Orc #4 is OK, but stupid and terrible by the time Orc #30 turns up, let alone fifteen levels later against Storm Giant #4. No one is that funny, no should they be asked to be. Stunting rules read like they're a good idea and then you play for a year and actually you don't because it's just terrible, none of that shit lasts. "Be original now" is not cool in an RPG for normal people.
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GâtFromKI
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

tussock wrote:
Having the GM penalise people or reward people for being more into playing a certain way or not, really it's just a failure of the game mechanics to encourage the desired play as a normal optimal choice. Not like "describing your actions like that novel I read, only spontaneously, for hours", but in the sense of "the characters act in a thematically pleasing way."

Agreed.

It works when the player can activate the flaws of his character to get a bonus, and when the MC may ask but the player may refuse with no penalty. It does not work when the MC can use the RP system as a reward/punishment system.


tussock wrote:
Also, people coming up with quips and stuff, when they swing their sword at Orc #4 is OK, but stupid and terrible by the time Orc #30 turns up, let alone fifteen levels later against Storm Giant #4. No one is that funny, no should they be asked to be. Stunting rules read like they're a good idea and then you play for a year and actually you don't because it's just terrible, none of that shit lasts. "Be original now" is not cool in an RPG for normal people.

It's not a good thing in D&D, because D&D is based on easy fights and attrition. Hence the PCs use the same move again and again.

It works in other contexts - when every fight is special snowflakes, every move can be special snowflakes as well.


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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think there has been a misunderstanding...

I'm looking for rules that apply to the meta-game of role-playing.

tussock wrote:
Having the GM penalise people or reward people for being more into playing a certain way or not, really it's just a failure of the game mechanics to encourage the desired play as a normal optimal choice.

GâtFromKI wrote:

It works when the player can activate the flaws of his character to get a bonus, and when the MC may ask but the player may refuse with no penalty. It does not work when the MC can use the RP system as a reward/punishment system.


Yet most of the RPGs I've encountered work exactly in the way you guys dislike (which I dislike too) - there are very few hard-and-fast rules that restrict the GMs power, and most games simply leave it to the GMs discretion, meaning that the GM, often implicitly, penalizes or rewards people for playing the game a certain way, based on how said GM wants to game to play out, as seen by how he responds to the PCs inputs and actions. I've played DnD games where the GM, for one reason or another, basically said, "No, I don't like that you're trying to do that, you can't do that," and shut-down my role-playing, and there were really no rules to prevent this sort of power-trip other than the suggestive "best practices" of "don't be that guy".

Likewise, we get into these weird scenarios where we've got a low INT, low WIS fighter guy at the table, but the dude playing said fighter is clever, and is often helping solve puzzles the DM throws at us. There are no rules in DnD for handling this sort of thing where a player's out-of-game knowledge or intelligence impacts the in-game world. There are no rules for role-playing a dumb barbarian. There are tonnes of rules for calculating said barbarian's resistance to psionic attacks and mental domination effects. You get my drift?

There are A) rules for calculating stuff -- Add your STR + Weapon Damage + Relevant modifiers...
And there are B) rules that facilitate stories starting -- CharGen chapters abound! Look at all those Traits and Feats and Backgrounds you can assign to your PC...
Then there are C) rules that control story flow and pacing, the narrative structure and authority -- which is what I'm after and seems to be the rarest kind of rules in an RPG.

Edit: Going back to DnD, it seems to be mostly A with a little bit of B and virtually none of C expect in the broadest possible sense i.e. you could argue that combat and a PC's combat effectiveness is totally a way of controlling the story flow and pacing...


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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's generally agreed that tables will determine what is appropriate. For example, at some tables, everyone speaks in character. At other tables, people instead describe what their character does, like: "Alazorn takes the proffered goblet and drinks deeply."

Most tables mix and match to a fair degree.

The game can't really make you play your character in a way that you don't want to, so table consensus is really what you need. There are a number of gaming books that talk about these options in greater or lesser degree.
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K
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Procedurally creating good adventures and good gaming sessions is one of the holy grails of gaming. No one has done it.

There are rules for doing it badly. Older versions of DnD were famous for charts and charts for everything from room contents in a 15 level dungeon to prostitute randomization.
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virgil
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Isn't that akin to people trying to generate fiction writing AI?
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
Yet most of the RPGs I've encountered work exactly in the way you guys dislike (which I dislike too) - there are very few hard-and-fast rules that restrict the GMs power, and most games simply leave it to the GMs discretion, meaning that the GM, often implicitly, penalizes or rewards people for playing the game a certain way, based on how said GM wants to game to play out, as seen by how he responds to the PCs inputs and actions. I've played DnD games where the GM, for one reason or another, basically said, "No, I don't like that you're trying to do that, you can't do that," and shut-down my role-playing, and there were really no rules to prevent this sort of power-trip other than the suggestive "best practices" of "don't be that guy".


While it's technically true that handing GMs tools with which they can be assholes (tools they will use and which may be less dickish than what they came up with on their own) may lead to their being less of an asshole than if you tell them not to be assholes at all (a rule which they will ignore completely), your fundamental problem is still that your GM is an asshole with no respect for a player's right to determine their own character's actions. Trying to solve a GM who discards rules that get in the way of their power trips by making more rules is never going to solve the fundamental problem, even if you do come up with a ruleset that permits enough power-tripping to satisfy them while leaving players with relatively more freedom than if the GM were left to their own devices.

Worse still, rules that facilitate GM power-tripping encourage GMs who are new or unfocused to behave like assholes when they otherwise would not. There are plenty of GMs who wouldn't tell a player what their character's motivation and goals are, but are still going to hand out dice penalties for "especially stupid moves" or "obstructive, petty announced action" based entirely on who's sucked his dick the most, because the rules instructed him to do that and he lacks the skill to apply such broad, subjective guidelines in a fair and transparent manner. "Don't railroad the PCs" is a way lower bar for a GM to clear than "judge the cleverness or stupidity of any action a player might think up." Most GMs, even counting only GMs who run the game in good faith, are going to end up handing out bonuses based on how charming and persuasive the player making a case for it is, regardless of whether the action makes any goddamn sense at all, because the GM lacks relevant expertise and probably doesn't have super great epistemology for meta-level competency in this kind of thing.

Good roleplaying is hard to cultivate and easy to destroy. The only mechanics I've ever seen that actually encouraged roleplaying were mechanics that gave players the same incentives their characters would have. Adding in some kind of bonus for being well-dressed and recently bathed encourages characters to spend money on good rooms at the inn whenever they can afford it, rather than bringing the net worth of a small city into town in a wagon, exchanging it all for magic bling and hirelings, and then sleeping in a gutter. Likewise, mechanics that allow anyone to hand out a bonus to another character, with some kind of per-session limit to prevent players from giving each other bonuses all the time, can encourage players to play in a way that's engaging for everyone else at the table, rather than encouraging them to play in a way that amuses the GM, specifically.
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souran
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Many games offer an incentive to roleplay. 5e offers the inspiration mechanic to roleplay to your characters traits. Exalted has stunts. Silcore offers a roleplaying bonus die that can be used later. Both new and old vampire offer the ability to recharge willpower for playing to your nature and flaws.

It is pretty easy to create incentives to roleplay positively. One thing I think that the OPs post is complaining about is help adjudicating what is good roleplay and worthy of this sort of bonus. While I know that it is anathema to this forum, I really don't see how role playing incentives can be formalized any better than "impress the DM and other people at your table" which means that what is worthy of bonus dice at one table will be considered the minumum of acceptable engagement with the game at another.

Another aspect of this is that while it is easy to incentivize positive character aspects it is very hard to incentivize flaws in a way that makes people not avoid the situations all together. I have seen lots of characters in games with point builds where they are alcoholics who never go to bars or things like 2E players option where you could get points for an allergy to a food (like shellfish) in a game that basically never tracked what constituted the specifics of peoples meals.

Alternatively, some people will pick massively disruptive flaws and play them continuously simply for the havoc it creates. This is basically the MO of every Malkavian I have ever met. When played like this a character will expect to be rewarded for being a massive douchebag, and his flaws will mostly seem like penalties to the rest of the party instead of handicaps for that player.

Effectively incentivizing role-playing is basically the whole grail of rpgs and no game is really particularly close to being really good.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
Likewise, we get into these weird scenarios where we've got a low INT, low WIS fighter guy at the table, but the dude playing said fighter is clever, and is often helping solve puzzles the DM throws at us. There are no rules in DnD for handling this sort of thing where a player's out-of-game knowledge or intelligence impacts the in-game world. There are no rules for role-playing a dumb barbarian. There are tonnes of rules for calculating said barbarian's resistance to psionic attacks and mental domination effects. You get my drift?


Yeah, don't see how you can resolve that, the PC is run by the player, and thus as smart as the player is, except in informed abilities like how many languages they know. Likewise, you could get a supposed genius that never acts particularly cleverly or wisely.

I do recall way back when, as a player, coming up with a solution to a problem, but the DMPC solved the problem using my solution cause he was OtT awesome and would have thought of it by himself, rather than me. Which sorta makes sense, but was annoying.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
I think there has been a misunderstanding...

I'm looking for rules that apply to the meta-game of role-playing.

...

Then there are C) rules that control story flow and pacing, the narrative structure and authority -- which is what I'm after and seems to be the rarest kind of rules in an RPG.


Right, cool. Spotlight time and author rights. Big games totally have that.

1st edition AD&D having a party "caller" to declare everyone's actions, the DM is the rules, and play for everyone else, by the book, involves getting the caller to not fall into any of the linguistic traps set by the DM on the way to getting the party to the treasure, also rolling dice for your PC and henchmen.

3rd edition D&D having the DM set encounters and then roll dice for the monsters as each player activates in turn using the rules that apply to their character abilities. A lot of the rules for social and exploration stuff are a bit shit, so often you'd be better just using MTP, but whatever, by the book you roll diplomacy and get a friend who gives you stuff so long as it doesn't cost them much, and you can argue with the DM about what that means, but the DM controls the NPCs so good luck with that.

Also, fighters can hit things, and wizards can choose what plane of existence the party will be on today, so different types of authorial powers by class. Smile

Other games give way more authorial control to the players, with tokens or specific character abilities or whatever. You might get an assassin ability that lets you start the scene in the courtroom having infiltrated the king's guards, like Lando in Return of the Jedi. Or you can just declare that the fight is over and the bad guys surrender, because you have a higher number for that in a "game" like Amber diceless (if you're pretty sure you've played out the fight scene already).

--

But games do need a rules arbitrator. That's normally the GM, because they nominally design the scenes and run the PC's enemies in them, and sometimes need a little wiggle room in the rules if they fuck that up (or the guidelines suck, like Dragon CR) so things don't assplode and kill everyone before it's dramatically appropriate to do that.

And then, like Chmomile said, once you've got a rules arbitrator, they can fuck over any rules for giving players authorial control any old time. Like, sure, you can plane shift to avoid the Ogre fight, but there's still Ogres to fight, only now they're fiendish Ogres with double hit points and immunity to whatever you try casting first because the DM put a bit of thought into that encounter and you're going to fucking well play it, m'kay. NoNoNo
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erik
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:09 am    Post subject: Re: (Actual) Rules For Role-Playing? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
the only actual rules for role-playing that I've ever seen


As people have noted there's a bunch. Lots of games give rewards to encourage certain role playing choices. Feng Shui, Hollow Earth Expedition, World of Darkness, DCC, etc. Most tend to have a pretty gentle hand otherwise it's a shit show. What is going to be fun and enjoyable can vary wildly person to person.

ArmorClassZero wrote:

Also, why don't more RPGs use non-dice mechanics? Why not cards, chips, or tokens? Why are the mechanics primarily rolling dice and not bidding chips or playing cards or passing a token from player to player? Anyone want to link some good threads discussing these kinds of things?


Dice are awesome because they are fast random number generators, and they are fair. Potential for distraction aside, even phones aren't as good random number generators since you tend to have to make a few taps and that's not as fast as just grabbing a die and rolling it. When you get to online games dice rollers are the bomb because they're as fast as dice.

Cards, bidding, passing tokens... all slow, and frequently reward people with system mastery, so not as fair as dice. And there is serious potential to design shitty systems since these can get a bit more complicated.

Having chips to spend is just a way to make tactile the spending of points. Some games do this, and their execution isn't terrible. But it is usually a minor mechanic and not the meat of the main game engine.

Cards are useful for things like Vancian spell systems, but those are player aides, not really game mechanics.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Check out Tenra Bansho Zero, every player has a pool of narrative power points to insert their PC in a scene or change NPC attitudes ("actually we trained under the same master so we have a friendly rivalry") and death is a player choice thing. At the end of the session players also vote for the best Role Player and they get more narrative power points for the next game.

This RPG is meant to play like chapters of manga, the creator is a manga artist/writer, concept artist, and sculptor.
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OK, thanks everyone for the responses.

If anyone is inclined to respond to this thread at a later date (necro) feel free!
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GâtFromKI
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
Likewise, we get into these weird scenarios where we've got a low INT, low WIS fighter guy at the table, but the dude playing said fighter is clever, and is often helping solve puzzles the DM throws at us. There are no rules in DnD for handling this sort of thing where a player's out-of-game knowledge or intelligence impacts the in-game world. There are no rules for role-playing a dumb barbarian. There are tonnes of rules for calculating said barbarian's resistance to psionic attacks and mental domination effects. You get my drift?

No.

If the MC throws puzzles at the PCs, then it's solved by an Int or Wis check - and the dumb fighter is very likely to fail. But that's not very fun, and usually the MC throws the puzzle at the players - and the smart player solves it.

In other words : the MC asks for a non-RP task, it's solved in a non-RP way. Seems legit.
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm coming back to this because I wanted to refine the question I was trying to ask:

What do you mean by role-playing game?

And following that:

What rules do you think encourage, facilitate, cultivate the kind of role-playing you want to see in your games?
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A role playing game is a tabletop or lightly computer assisted game that draws significant mechanical DNA from either Dungeons and Dragons itself or its various nth-generation descendants. Because when I say "role playing game" I'm not trying to assert my favorite sub-genre's dominance, I'm trying to communicate an idea to other people.

Generally speaking, the only thing you can do to encourage roleplaying as a designer is to get out of the way, regardless of what kind of roleplay you're looking to cultivate. Players and GMs can encourage roleplay, designers by and large cannot. Want to immerse players in their role? Their character isn't deciding what tactics to use based on a desire to impress an unseen omniscient entity into granting him +20% odds of success. Want to get players to help craft the story? Granting bonuses or resources based on contribution is a great way to get tons of irrelevant details and plot threads that no one cares about, which will either be ignored or be developed solely by whatever proportion of people at the table actually like doing that, so you may as well let those people just take care of things start to finish. Want to convince someone to become more active at something they usually aren't? That's an interpersonal goal that isn't going to be solved by any bullet pointed list of game mechanics.

There are certain edge cases where a mechanic can help with a certain kind of roleplay. I mentioned mechanics intended to align player goals with character goals before, and that is one of them, usually to get players to consider some kind of instinctive urge like that for soft beds or good food (or, if they're a vampire, an unholy lust for human blood) which they're immune to no matter how deprived their character gets. These are rare instances, though. Generally speaking, the way you encourage roleplay is to say "hey guys, let's try more roleplaying."

In theory, you can start with the results a certain system produces and work backwards to figure out what your goals are in order to declare they've been met, but that's obviously disingenuous and we all know that no one actually sets out to create a system which forces people to half-ass some playacting they don't care about just so they can get to the parts of the game they actually like.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

For my part, role-playing games are that which occupy the space between tabletop game (board/card/other) and improv theater. It's a pretty big space.

The rules that best shape behavior are incentives, both long-term (xp) and short term (expendable bonuses).
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The thing I don't understand is... if the rules (i.e. what make it a game) aren't specifically geared towards role-playing (the improv, or acting-out), does the label fit?

In this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERc0-mp75oY) these nerds put forward the idea that very little / next to nothing about D&D is actually geared towards role-playing. All the rules essentially amount to rules for a tactical miniatures game version of WoW, which having played D&D, I find to be pretty accurate. They go on to say, "You can role-play Monopoly if you wanted, since it has the same mechanical support for role-playing as D&D - nothing."

Say what you will about these nerds, their statements seem to be pretty accurate IMO. Incentives shape behavior, but there seems to be nothing in the rules of D&D (to say nothing of many other RPGs and D&D hacks) that actively encourages RP. You don't have to RP a Fighter any more than you have to RP the would-be monopolist in Monopoly, you make moves that would give you the best outcome, which in itself is not role-playing but just 'gaming', right?
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It depends what activities you count as role-playing. People identify a lot more with even a fairly flavorless D&D character than they do with the Monopoly shoe, because the shoe is a very abstract token with no mechanical distinguishing features from e.g. the hat, while a D&D character has a whole bunch of rp prompts in just the six stats, and that's before you get into everything else on the sheet and also off of it. Many times I have handed someone a D&D pregen and they have, unprompted, immediately begun creating a backstory for them.

D&D might not have rules for role-playing, but the context it creates is highly conducive to role-play even before you get into actual play and questions like 'do we accept surrender' come up.
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"Now that we've determined that up to π angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine the specific number (or fraction) of angels dancing?"
"What if angels from another pin engage them in melee combat?"
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The claim that rules that incentivize roelplaying would be great assuming they exist is very different from the claim that there exists a set of rules that can actually do that. No one's arguing that the things you're looking for wouldn't be nice, just that they can't plausibly exist. If there existed a set of simple rules to follow that would allow you to strongly incentivize people who otherwise have only very mild or no interest in doing a thing to do significantly more of it, every business in the world would be all over that. A pretty unyielding rule of business is that, despite what a billion management guru charlatans claim, if you want people to care more about doing a thing, you need to pay them a larger amount to do it. I'm pretty sure the amount of your RPG budget set aside for player salaries is $0.00, so you either find people with a higher baseline interest in roleplaying, try to persuade people to roleplay more as their friend rather than trying to legislate it as a game designer or GM, or just accept that not all of your friends are really into this as much as you are.
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think a role-playing game is or should be: engaging in improvisational story-telling, with a set of agreed upon rules for 1) managing who has narrative authority at any given time; 2) resolving the intra-story conflicts that emerge from the shared creative experience (e.g. saving throws, stat checks, etc) and, 3) resolving / managing the extra-story conflicts that may emerge (i.e. what devices (rules) are acceptable or necessary for driving the plot forward, maintaining some semblance of story structure). All with the goal of having fun AND (ideally) telling an interesting and thought-provoking story.

This definition is open to change or refinement, but that's what I'm working with. By that definition, we can see that D&D has the rules for 1 and 2, but not a lot for 3. There are tons of implicit 'common courtesy' / 'social contract' rules, but there is this common problem of, to quote Chamomile:

wrote:
tons of irrelevant details and plot threads that no one cares about, which will either be ignored or be developed solely by whatever proportion of people at the table actually like doing that, so you may as well let those people just take care of things start to finish


Which is, it seems to me, the case of the Dungeon-Master Express™ going full-steam ahead on the one end, and the case of the Fish-Malk / Chaotic Neutral / LulzSoRandumb player on the other end. There is nothing in the rules that forces players to go on 'The Adventure', nor should there be, but likewise there is nothing which prevents any and all players from throwing up their hands and saying, I'm not going into that dungeon, I'm going over there instead outside of the implicit social contract that sitting down to play the game entails, which makes Chamomile's point a moot one:

wrote:

try to persuade people to roleplay more as their friend rather than trying to legislate it as a game designer or GM


I don't know why someone would sit down to a RPG and then not try to RP. Yes, good RP'ing is a skill that has to be learned and cultivated like everything else, but wouldn't good rules, clearly written, and competently followed, result in the act of improv story-telling mostly independent of a player's actual story-telling ability. I mean, if there were actually rules for this sort of thing in D&D's Dungeon Master's Guide, wouldn't a cursory attempt to follow those rules make even novice story-tellers appear like up-and-coming Matthew Mercers?

Chamomile wrote:
If there existed a set of simple rules to follow that would allow you to strongly incentivize people who otherwise have only very mild or no interest in doing a thing to do significantly more of it, every business in the world would be all over that.


The simple principle is that what people find FUN they will do significantly more of, and that something being fun is its own reward. Fun is subjective, obviously, but when someone wants to do something in spite of the barriers that thing presents to them, they start the feedback loop of making it fun. I think telling cool interesting stories is fun, but I've role-played D&D (or "role played" I should say...) with people who were not at all concerned about 'the story' or even having any input on 'the story', what they thought was fun was what I call min-maxing or spec'ing their builds or whatever. Other people were more concerned about how many laughs they could get from the other players than 'the story' or tactical miniatures aspect.

I don't see why rules for cooperatively creating a story are implausible. It might not be fun for everybody, but it should be doable. And if following the rules resulted in the creation of a story, and the act of creating that story (i.e. following the rules of the game) resulted in an enjoyable experience (i.e. it was fun) then win-win, right?
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mercer does not, as far as I'm aware, tell a particularly good RPG story; he just tells it in a professionally-trained voice. I stopped watching Critical Role precisely because the narrative was poor.

Now, you are actually not very clear with your terms, but I think there are games like you're talking about. Polaris and Heroine spring to mind. The big issue is that they basically tell one story each. 'Heroic Adventure' is simply a much larger story space than 'Ice Elf Anakin Skywalker' or 'Wizard of Oz/Labyrinth/Mirrormask.'
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"What if angels from another pin engage them in melee combat?"
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