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Thread: What makes roleplaying fun for you?

  1. #1
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    What makes roleplaying fun for you?

    Quite close to four years ago, I made a thread called 'Any tip and tricks to promote the "In character" part of roleplaying?' But since then I have became more aware of how many different ways one can be "in character" and several meanings of "immersion"; not all compatible with each other.

    So I feel I might lose out on quite a bit of interesting information and tricks. Either because I have the wrong assumption of what somebody mean (I thought the person meant immersion while it was immersion ) or that neither I or anyone else knew enough to form the right question. Some of us might have skills we consider ourselves to be unrelated to roleplaying, but might improve someone else's game style.

    So instead of asking specific questions about certain topics I want to ask a broadstroaked "In what way is roleplaying fun to you?" seasoned with a few points that might be of help.

    So... How do you prefer to play? Or as the GM, what player style do you prefer when running i game? Do you prefer several styles?

    Just a few options. But feel free to expand on them, write up new one, or describe it in a different way

    First point, I don't have a good name for. But might fit the "big model" or GNS...
    * Creating a story together.
    * Having the focus on the character, and how the character interact with the world.
    * Focus on overcoming a challenge or competing.

    Point of view:
    * Using the first person view and talk as the character, and referring to the character as I.
    * Using a third person reference to the character.

    The character structure:
    * The character is a fairly blank slate, personality and background-wise, at the start of the game and is developed from there.
    * The character have a quite extensive background and detailed personality, to have a momentum into the story.
    * The background and personality is irrelevant (for example, if the focus is on player skilled problem solving).

    The adventure structure:
    * Preplanned event structure
    ** Linear
    ** Multi-path linear
    * Sandbox
    ** Passive sandbox where the world reacts on the characters.
    ** Active sandbox, where there are multiple active NPC's trying to achieve conflicting agendas (referred to as Fish Tanks in Sweden).
    * Theme parks (multiple smaller adventures that are linear, but the player can pick the ride they want in a sandboxy fashion).

    GM/player "powers":
    * The player controls their characters and the GM controls everything else
    * There are rules for how the players can influence the world out of character, usually as long it is not yet set in the scene.
    * GM-less

    Rule strictness and structure:
    * Ruleless, or very light rules that are not strict.
    * Quite rule light systems that are easily (or even required) adopted and improvised.
    * Rules? You mean that bunch of suggestions? Even if there is a thick rule book and dices, the importance of the flow of the game and the story outweights both of them.
    * Few rules. But dices lands where they land.
    * Rule heavy with the intention to simulate the setting.
    * Rules heavy with the intention of balance, structure and fairness.

  2. #2
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    So, to answer the questions myself.

    My main drive to roleplay, either as a player or as GM, is to explore things. It might be something with the cultures in the settings, a mentality of my character, or something else. I actively has to remind myself that roleplaying are escapism to some and I might have to be selective on topics. Either because it might be a tad sensitive, or because people might find it boring.

    I really like the GM/player division where the GM is everything else but the player characters. If there are some form of meta points (hero/force/plot/whatever points) I want them to either be directly connected to the character by increasing/decreasing odds, removing some damage, etc; or that the GM decides how they effect the setting (as in "buying" a chance to escape). Those games with a lot of "power distributed to the players" are just not my cup of tea.

    I also have a strong preference for systems that not force me into any mold, no matter how much I can "dual class". I want to have a worked out background and personality for the character, and using the "fish tank" setting so "the story" is emerging from the contact between player characters and the world. The background and personality of the character is to give it a direction and momentum.

    When it comes to rules, the main priority is that it has to go fast. But within that constraint, I usually prefer systems that are as detailed and simulationistic as possible as a backbone, then winging it with wild improvisation.

    With all that said, the only game I'm currently running is a fairly linear one-on-one, face-to-face, Pathfinder game. For you who are not familiar with Pathfinder, it is sometime referred to as Dungeons and Dragons 3.75. So basically, the game is quite the opposite of everything I mentioned above and I'm still having quite fun.

  3. #3
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    I have a strong dislike of "class and level" systems, even CODA. I find these tend to force you into a staright-jacket, character-wise. I much prefer "stat and skill" based games, with or without advantages/disadvantages. I find it much easier to breate a character that makes sense to me and therefore to stay in character.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Owen E Oulton View Post
    I have a strong dislike of "class and level" systems, even CODA. I find these tend to force you into a staright-jacket, character-wise. I much prefer "stat and skill" based games, with or without advantages/disadvantages. I find it much easier to breate a character that makes sense to me and therefore to stay in character.
    Thank you for your answer

    How about the other points? Do you for example have a preference when it comes to "adventure structure"? For example, using a three act model, or where the stage is set but any planning beyond that is just a few guesses in what direction things might go?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt. Lundgren View Post
    Quite close to four years ago, I made a thread called 'Any tip and tricks to promote the "In character" part of roleplaying?' But since then I have became more aware of how many different ways one can be "in character" and several meanings of "immersion"; not all compatible with each other.
    To be honest, I initially hesitated to respond to this thread for two reasons: first, the sheer size of the inquiry was a bit off-putting, and second, because I don't think these things can be pigeon-holed quite as neatly as you hope.

    At the risk of sounding boastful, I tend to be a fairly flexible and dynamic Gamemaster, responding to what my players prefer on a case-by-case basis. That makes it hard to select "just one" of the answers below.

    "In what way is roleplaying fun to you?" - For me, it's an intellectually stimulating way to pass the time with people I (generally) dearly love to be with. The rewards are both intellectual and social/emotional.


    First point, I don't have a good name for. But might fit the "big model" or GNS...
    * Creating a story together.
    * Having the focus on the character, and how the character interact with the world.
    * Focus on overcoming a challenge or competing.
    Yes- all of the above. Our missions vary from session to session: our powergamer gets his hack-n-slash against legions of redshirts/Jem'Hadar one session, our resident Vulcan gets the highly-stylized symbolism of telepathic mindscapes in another.

    That way, no one is bored in every game...

    * Using the first person view and talk as the character, and referring to the character as I.
    * Using a third person reference to the character.
    We use both- and alternate seemingly at random.

    The character structure:
    * The character is a fairly blank slate, personality and background-wise, at the start of the game and is developed from there.
    * The character have a quite extensive background and detailed personality, to have a momentum into the story.
    * The background and personality is irrelevant (for example, if the focus is on player skilled problem solving).
    My personal philosophy is that one must understand where he has been to know where he is going- as a general rule, each character has a basic background/history, but we (generally) don't bother mapping out mundane details such as the name of the third great-grandmother's second kitten, the one that broke the orange flower pot containing chrisan- chrysanth....mums.

    Again, it depends largely on what the player wants to do.

    The adventure structure:
    * Preplanned event structure
    ** Linear
    ** Multi-path linear
    * Sandbox
    ** Passive sandbox where the world reacts on the characters.
    ** Active sandbox, where there are multiple active NPC's trying to achieve conflicting agendas (referred to as Fish Tanks in Sweden).
    * Theme parks (multiple smaller adventures that are linear, but the player can pick the ride they want in a sandboxy fashion).
    Again, it varies.

    Given enough time to prepare, I prefer multi-path linear, while being ready to ad lib if/when the characters go off script. Generally, my players get well-rewarded for coming up with a simple, straightforward solution that I've overlooked.

    On the other hand, there's been many, many, many times where I've given them a problem (Klingon invasion, missing targh in the wilderness, ship in distress), a set of tools, and simply turned them loose to see where they end up.

    And there have been several occasions where I've allowed the players to turn a serious, high-minded game of diplomatic intrigue and cloak-and-dagger espionage into high (or low) farce simply because that's what my group needed that particular week.

    GM/player "powers":
    * The player controls their characters and the GM controls everything else
    * There are rules for how the players can influence the world out of character, usually as long it is not yet set in the scene.
    * GM-less
    As a general rule, I as GM set the stage and control all the minions- but I'm not above taking notes or handing over an NPC to follow a moment of inspiration from one of the players.

    At one end, it can lead off into a story tangent that becomes an arc in its own right, at the other you wind up with Mogwai mountain-climbing up the Captain's leg during tense negotiations with the Romulans.

    Either has its uses.

    Rule strictness and structure:
    * Ruleless, or very light rules that are not strict.
    * Quite rule light systems that are easily (or even required) adopted and improvised.
    * Rules? You mean that bunch of suggestions? Even if there is a thick rule book and dices, the importance of the flow of the game and the story outweights both of them.
    * Few rules. But dices lands where they land.
    * Rule heavy with the intention to simulate the setting.
    * Rules heavy with the intention of balance, structure and fairness.

    I'd have to say my technique is middle-of-the-road. If you use too few rules- and ad lib too much- it harms suspension of disbelief, and the players have a hard time knowing what they can do. Too many rules and the system bods down under it's own weight and a three-minute combat round winds up taking six hours to play.

    I tend to use the basic rules set, but heavily adjust the circumstance bonuses based on my understanding of the event. Or to put it another way, the dice fall where they land, but I've got my thumb on the scale.

    One other thing: my philosophy is also most swords cut both ways: if a player is cheerfully playing his character and taking the good with the bad, the universe tends to respond to the character on those terms. If a player attempts to rules lawyer or book-bully me into compliance with his wishes, the universe can be just as unforgiving.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by selek View Post
    To be honest, I initially hesitated to respond to this thread for two reasons: first, the sheer size of the inquiry was a bit off-putting, and second, because I don't think these things can be pigeon-holed quite as neatly as you hope.
    Thank you for your answer. Can't say I expected many, or any, answer that could be pigeon-holed. But the list do work as a reference point (and I do tend to break things down in parts when analyzing ).

    Given enough time to prepare, I prefer multi-path linear, while being ready to ad lib if/when the characters go off script.
    When having the time to prepare, do you mostly plan against one particular goal; or where it is more than one end (beyond the succeed/failed ends)?

    ...or handing over an NPC to follow a moment of inspiration from one of the players.
    This sound interesting. Could you elaborate?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt. Lundgren View Post
    When having the time to prepare, do you mostly plan against one particular goal; or where it is more than one end (beyond the succeed/failed ends)?
    I actually try to work from the other end, planning the likely courses of action (and thus solutions) stemming from the problem, rather than toward a particular goal.

    This sound interesting. Could you elaborate?
    Two incidents come to mind (both involved the same player):

    The first was an NPC helmsman "Fritz" whom the captain began scapegoating (for comic relief). After the fourth or fifth incident in which "Fritz" got smacked upside the head for a disaster befalling the ship, one of the players (Mike) handed me a note saying that "Fritz puts on one of the old Imperial Prussian Army Helmets (as seen in the closing credits of Hogan's Heroes) with the spike on top".

    We ran with it, and all had a good laugh. Later the same player approached me to actually play "Fritz" which led to a tangent in which the character had barricaded himself somewhere in the bowels of the ship and was turning systems on and off at random and with Mike "calling over the intercom" looking for his "Eva darling!"- all in an horrendous pseudo-German accent.

    The Judge Advocate inspector aboard was not as amused as were the players...

    The second incident involved the Mogwai (the species, not Gizmo) from Gremlin and Gremlins. Somehow or another, we wound up with one of these things aboard ship (Mike could do their trilling/song perfectly), as the captain was prepared to negotiate a tense stand-off with the Romulans.

    Before communications were opened, the Captain boasted he was going to "lay down the law with those pointy-eared b------s" and that "no one and nothing could stop <him>".

    As the negotiations began in earnest, and the Captain went into a particularly preachy monologue, Mike handed me a note saying that "the mogwai is dressed in short green lederhosen, alpine cap- and is mountain climbing up the captain's leg".

    When I laughed out loud and nodded agreement, Mike began yodelling- in a Moqwai voice, perfectly in character, perfectly in pitch.

    Which is all the more amusing because at that point Mike was a six-and-a-half-feet tall, four-and-a-half-foot-wide block of combat-ready Marine.

    Needless to say, we didn't get much negotiating done with the Romulans.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by selek View Post
    Two incidents come to mind (both involved the same player):
    Sounds great. Have it only been used, or ended up, as comic relief; or have it worked in other situations as well?

    Now, I'm going to be stuck the rest of the day with the image of a Mogwai climbing up a Starfleet captains leg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt. Lundgren View Post
    Sounds great. Have it only been used, or ended up, as comic relief; or have it worked in other situations as well?

    Now, I'm going to be stuck the rest of the day with the image of a Mogwai climbing up a Starfleet captains leg
    It has worked in other situations as well, though none spring as readily to mind (and that image is pretty darn memorable).


    The Serenity RPG actually has a plot-point mechanic that allows the player to actively change the situation:

    One example would be spending three or four plot-points to "discover" that the sheriff of the town the heroes are visiting is an old war buddy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by selek View Post
    The Serenity RPG actually has a plot-point mechanic that allows the player to actively change the situation:

    One example would be spending three or four plot-points to "discover" that the sheriff of the town the heroes are visiting is an old war buddy.
    To me, there is a difference between sending a suggestion by note to the GM and being able to "buy" a certain change.

    Personally, when I have used games with a plot-point system (which isn't often) I have used it so the players can influence the result of dice rolls, and possibly "buy some luck/get a break". But not let the players be able to decide on what kind of luck/break it is. More "hero points" than "plot points"

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    The Serenity rules made it clear, the GM gets final say on whether or not the player can change the situation. If the player's idea would mess up the story, the GM has the option of telling the player, "Sorry, not this time." It's a good system that keeps the players involved and rewards their own creativity. Of course, it works better for some groups than others.
    + &lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;<

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    The Serenity rules made it clear, the GM gets final say on whether or not the player can change the situation. If the player's idea would mess up the story, the GM has the option of telling the player, "Sorry, not this time." It's a good system that keeps the players involved and rewards their own creativity. Of course, it works better for some groups than others.
    That some things might work better for some groups than others is kind of the point of the thread Hearing about different ways to do things might give new ideas.

    When it comes to plot points, for some apparently, even hearing another player tossing up an idea might break their immersion. To others, tossing in ideas and influencing seems to be the main reason they like roleplaying. So that the GM gets the final say might not cut it for some, but it can be from either direction. But I guess the odds of getting one of each in the same group is quite slim

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    In my opinion, the primary job of the Narrator/GM is to reconcile the action at the table and between the players, and the rules mechanism.

    Each player comes to the table with different expectations and differing goals. The rules are (at best) a type or example of how to handle things- by definition, they cannot be exhaustive and cover every option and possibility.

    Like the control rods in a reactor, the Narrator/GM serves to regulate the reaction at a constructive (rather than destructive) level.

    It's a balancing act- and a good Narrator has a number of tricks, tools, and techniques at his disposal- not the least of which are flexibility and the ability to think on his/her feet.

    It's been my experience that a lot of novice players (and novice GM's) believe it is the Narrator's job to provide a good story.

    It is my opinion that the Narrator/GM has only to provide a good premise and a bit of initial direction- the story is a collaborative effort created by the group as a whole.

  14. #14
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    First point, I don't have a good name for. But might fit the "big model" or GNS...
    * Creating a story together.
    * Having the focus on the character, and how the character interact with the world.
    * Focus on overcoming a challenge or competing.
    The first two, yes. Not so much the third. For me, the best part is the collaborative storytelling. The challenges are there to be overcome, and there will definitely be challenges, but it's more fun for me to overcome them to get to the next bit of the story.

    Point of view:
    * Using the first person view and talk as the character, and referring to the character as I.
    * Using a third person reference to the character.
    Bit of a mix of both. I can't say there's any science behind which I do - just what seems appropriate in the moment. Although I have to admit, I sometimes use the "The <insert NPC name here> agrees with you and points you to the local inn" type comments to "hurry things along"...usually when players are obsessing over some trivial detail.

    The character structure:
    * The character is a fairly blank slate, personality and background-wise, at the start of the game and is developed from there.
    * The character have a quite extensive background and detailed personality, to have a momentum into the story.
    * The background and personality is irrelevant (for example, if the focus is on player skilled problem solving).
    Mix of the first two - hate the last. We tend to create a "skeleton" of the background together (I almost exclusively GM these days), and then fill it in as we go. If I'm using a canned adventure, I always add character arcs into the story, often replacing NPCs and scenarios with something specific to one character or another.

    The adventure structure:
    * Preplanned event structure
    ** Linear
    ** Multi-path linear
    Yes, but flexible. If the characters head in direction X when I was planning for Y, I can easily reshuffle things on the fly so that they get all the information/encounters/whatever they need to complete the adventure.

    * Sandbox
    ** Passive sandbox where the world reacts on the characters.
    ** Active sandbox, where there are multiple active NPC's trying to achieve conflicting agendas (referred to as Fish Tanks in Sweden).
    * Theme parks (multiple smaller adventures that are linear, but the player can pick the ride they want in a sandboxy fashion).
    Sandboxes work for me sometimes, usually in a post-apocalyptic type setting (such as Twilight: 2013), but most of the time, I like to have an idea of a story to hand onto the adventure.

    GM/player "powers":
    * The player controls their characters and the GM controls everything else
    * There are rules for how the players can influence the world out of character, usually as long it is not yet set in the scene.
    * GM-less
    Definitely the first. I'm a bit of a control freak regarding the world - PCs' actions definitely have consequences, but I like to decide on what those consequences are.

    Rule strictness and structure:
    * Ruleless, or very light rules that are not strict.
    * Quite rule light systems that are easily (or even required) adopted and improvised.
    * Rules? You mean that bunch of suggestions? Even if there is a thick rule book and dices, the importance of the flow of the game and the story outweights both of them.
    * Few rules. But dices lands where they land.
    * Rule heavy with the intention to simulate the setting.
    * Rules heavy with the intention of balance, structure and fairness.
    This is probably where I'm the most scatterbrained!

    My games definitely use the rules, and I have no problem with rules-heavy systems, but I also happily ditch rules or make them up on the spot if it pushes the story forward.

    What we're currently playing and what I like to play might help to clarify the sort of GM I am, I guess.

    We're currently playing two Pathfinder campaigns - one is an adventure path ("Carrion Crown"), the other is a sort of sand-boxy adventure with an over-arcing storyline ("Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale"). At present, we're only playing Pathfinder because getting the group together is tough and with "canned" adventures we can play pretty much at the drop of a hat.

    I've frequently played: D&D in all its incarnations (tried 4E, hated it, never went back to it), right from the old 1st Edition AD&D up to 3.5. Haven't played it since Pathfinder, though.

    Some of my favourites that I've played a lot of: Star Wars (SAGA, d20 and d6), 2300AD, Traveller: TNE, Star Trek (CODA and ICON), Twilight: 2013

    Some I love but get to play either rarely or virtually never: Lord of the Rings (CODA), Buffy

    Hope that helps!
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