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What kind of Role-Player are you?
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Joined: 07 Oct 2007
Posts: 639
Location: Gallifrey

Posted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:50 pm    Post subject: What kind of Role-Player are you?  

I have a feeling this may not fit in here, if so feel free to move it to the Open Forum.

So here's the deal, I'm one of those truly geeky people who has the nerve to meet regularly and play a Role playing game in real life. Not originally entirely of my own free will (I have some pretty persistent friends), though now I have more or less jumped on the Table-Top RPG bandwagon... or at least sort of.

My question to you now spawns from a persistent argument I have with my friends over how an RPG game should be run. I hold true that the most important thing in the game should be the story that the Game Master conceives, and the cinematic effects that enhance that story. While they more or less agree, they often get very caught up in the mechanics of the game!

I will often argue to reduce the mechanics (Rolling dice, calculating different parts of battles, rolling for different traits, and so on...) so as to improve the story. I do understand it is those things that add the "Game element" and chance, but to a certain point it just sucks all the fun out of it for me.

So I ask of you, my fellow IFian RP'ers, what kind of Role-Player are you? The kind that greatly enjoys the story, even at the sacrifice of chance here and there, or one who likes all the great mathy stuff that just makes the game just that much batter.

Just a quick note, don't feel restrained by the two choices I have given you here, feel free to pretty much use this topic to discuss anything concerning what sort of Role-Playing you enjoy...
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Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 1481
Location: Utah

Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:55 am    Post subject:  

The thrill of battle is in the danger of losing. When you are speaking of the mechanics of a TTRPG, you're usually talking about combat, and for that I believe it is of utmost importance to carefully gauge the odds of winning vs. losing and rolling the dice for almost everything. The occasional cinematic snippet is fine for flavor, but the math stuff is still the substance of the battle. You can make the result of a die roll into something cinematic pretty easy, actually. You just have to find the drama. If the brave hero charges straight into battle on his armored steed, you roll, and if he does well, his steed tramples the front line and his furious enchanted blade shines with the wrath of his ancestors. If the next role he does poorly, a fiendish orc dives under the swing of the sword and drives his poisoned spear into the hero's side. From victorious epic to a sad saga, all based on dice rolls.

As I see it, the only way to have a real genuine adventure is to have something at stake. The game element is very important because it makes a win or loss something meaningful. I also tend to make mortality very apparent in games I DM (I still like "DM" better than "GM"). A single cut is serious business. By necessity, my games have less combat. A group of adventures who spot an enemy patrol should not go straight into battle without considering the best course of action. If they have superior numbers and better weapons, sure, go after the enemy. If not, perhaps they should go back and get reinforcements, or maybe they can even the score by setting an ambush. The point is, there aren't any "hit points", a single strike can be fatal. So if the adventurers know they're putting their character's lives at risk, so they won't take the battle lightly. They may even be on the edge of their seats waiting for a next event, hoping they live to roll the dice just one more time.

The same effect is very difficult to achieve in storygames here in IF. Most often, the author will find a way to save the main character, and even if the character dies, most people won't feel like they really lost something, as they're only contributors and the characters that died aren't really owned by them. This is rather frustrating to me, actually, as I yearn for an adventure, and most participants just want a good story. But I digress.... I shouldn't turn the subject to City of IF storygames.

So the short answer to your question: I definitely think the mechanics are more important than cinematics in an RPG, but they don't necessarily have to replace the story.
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Joined: 13 Sep 2009
Posts: 2139
Location: Rising from the ashes

Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject:  

Great introduction to this thread and a very thoughtful reply there Lebby!

Well, to toss my dice into this conversation, I must say I come here with, in fact, an opinion. (Would you have expected anything else?)

I'm going to take the middle of the road. Both are important and equally so.

Where the mechanics are concerned, we often rp with detailed maps and the battles play out as intensive strategy games that can never be replayed or replicated thanks to the intricacy of the setup and the innate connection these scenarios have in the overall big picture of the plot. From Swarms of goblins to duels with villainous wizards, each is a major challenge and there have been many times when loss seems innevitable.

This IS the heart of the matter, imo. Without the plot, you cannot have meaningful battles. Otherwise it just ends up being a dungeon bash without any concern for the purpose or just adventure for the sake of adventure. With some great plotwork (I guess that's what we can call cinematics or storyline) you can achieve some amazingly tense moments where successes or failures in battle can actually MEAN something. It is not so much that the risk of failure must be intense but that the importance of success must be overwhelming. At that point, even the battle that, in retrospect, seemed a bit easy, was still tense because it was so important that success be had.

Thus my tales tend towards the massively epic. The price of failure is often one the world, perhaps the universe, or even all existence, would pay and the task is left squarely on the shoulders of the PCs. It is never so simple as 'go get that gold so we can overcome our financial woes' though it may start that way ;)

And without intensive 'mathy' stuff, the sense of reality and gauging of risk goes out the window so all that's extremely important as well. This is best handled by being rules-lawyerish and stubborn like mule. In all seriousness, the only way to manage all the numbers with any real sense of ease is through technology. Computers rock and they rock harder when you really know how to get the most out of them for RPGs.

Anyhow, perhaps someday I'll run something along those lines here and show y'all what I'm getting at. For now, however, I'm keeping THAT side of life offline. :D
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