If 4e isn’t a role-playing game you’re doing it wrong

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32 Responses

  1. I’m no fan of 4e but to say you cannot role play in it is rubbish. However, I do think there are a few more barriers to it than earlier editions.

    The big one I’m finding is the speed of combat. It does take longer in 4e than earlier editions and that leaves less time for non combat interaction. We play a 3 hour session once a week. We know that if we want to get two encounters done in a session, we cannot hang around. This does have a negative effect on the time spent role playing.

    The other is that everything is more codified than in earlier versions of the game. As you rightly point out, it is the interaction between player and GM that is essential and 4e that can often be reduced to: “GM, can I do X?” [GM looks in rule books] “Yes / No [ Delete as appropriate]“. All games suffer from this and it is down to the GM but 4e does seem to emphasis the mechanics of the game.

    A topic that came up the other night in our game was XP awards. In all early editions, GMs were encouraged to award XP for role playing and for other ad hoc situations. Does this advice still exist in 4e? We had a quick look in the DMG but did not find anything about it. Such ad hoc rewards are vital to encouraging players to to role play and need to be encouraged.
    .-= Chris Tregenza´s last blog ..Bad Ways to Die =-.

  2. Mike says:

    i salute you sir, you have an excellent well thought out post that is not a point of view but a fact in my opinion.

    I felt there was more notes on roleplaying in the 4e PHB, than in the 3.x books.

    Again, great post, it should be copy & pasted into every single players handbook from this day forward.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Word of the day is Initative. =-.

  3. Greywulf says:

    @Chris Yeh. The combat grind is definitely an issue, but y’know what – I’m beginning to realize that’s a myth too!

    Y’see, somewhere between 3rd and 4th Edition, the definition of what an Encounter is has changed. A 4e Encounter is more like two or more 3th Edition encounters all happening at the same time.

    In 3e, we’d toss four Kobolds into a room and call it an encounter. Now, we’d have 8-12 and run it without breaking sweat. That’s three rooms-worth of Kobolds all milling around, and they all get a turn to fight.

    If we could fit five encounters in a 3-hour session in 3e, it’s no surprise we can barely squeeze three encounters in 4e in the same space – that’s rough the equivalent of about NINE 3e encounters!

    So, I’m learning not to sweat it.

    Run mainly Easy Encounters with fewer foes, and you’ll fly through the combat just like in the good old days. Toss in a few Normal Encounters at milestones and make the end battle a session-filling Hard Encounter and I think you’ll find it runs just fine with plenty of room for good ol’ role-playing goodness along the way too :D

  4. Anarkeith says:

    Nice post, GW. Too often of late I’ve seen 4e players start describing their action with the phrase “I roll…” Last night I suggested to my fellow players that they should describe their action of choice, and then ask the DM if a specific roll is appropriate (as a way to use those skills you’re so uber with.)

    Example: We’re looking at what is described as an ancient, unusual tower. Non-role-playing response: “I roll a history check, what do I know?” Role-playing response: “I wonder if the architectural style of the tower suggests a specific era, or purpose? ”

    As a player I know what my strengths are, and I look for stuff in game that will allow me to use them, but how I ask the DM is what role playing is all about, in my opinion. It gives the DM direction and adds flavor. That can be part of gaming no matter what system you use. I think that’s the distinction between role playing and spamming the “x” button to hit. When we “roll play” instead, we’re doing little more than playing a computer or console game.

  5. Rognar says:

    This whole debate over role-playing vs. roll-playing is as old as the hills and completely pointless. Every role-playing game ever published can have as much role-playing in it as you want. Hell, it you want to adopt foreign accents and try haggling with the banker, you can even incorporate role-playing into your next game of Monopoly. Role-playing requires absolutely no formal rules at all. Just do it.
    .-= Rognar´s last blog ..What Kind of Undead are You? Turns out I’m a lich. =-.

  6. Thasmodious says:

    Couple of things in response to Chris:

    “The other is that everything is more codified than in earlier versions of the game. As you rightly point out, it is the interaction between player and GM that is essential and 4e that can often be reduced to: “GM, can I do X?” [GM looks in rule books] “Yes / No [ Delete as appropriate]“. All games suffer from this and it is down to the GM but 4e does seem to emphasis the mechanics of the game.”

    I don’t think this holds up to examination. 3e was the edition that stated as a design goal ‘a rule for everything’, covering all the corner cases (and Pathfinder has restated this design goal as well). 4e doesn’t have a lot of rules and systems for things, skills, skill challenges and a table that lets the DM come up with appropriate numbers for anything the player tries. The DMG goes out of its way to encourage the DM to “say yes”, utilize pg. 42 for mechanical support, and let the players do anything.

    “A topic that came up the other night in our game was XP awards. In all early editions, GMs were encouraged to award XP for role playing and for other ad hoc situations.”

    Unless I’m mistaken, the first time this was actually encouraged in the core books was in 2e, not all early editions at all. In OD&D xp came from treasure, period. And 4e awards XP for quests, not just defeated monsters. The Quest rewards cover XP awards for story, character development, plot advancement, etc.

  7. Scott says:

    Chris, I feel strongly that the notion of combat and role-playing being mutually exclusive is a myth just as harmful as saying that you can’t role-play in 4th Edition. It isn’t a combat game during combat and a role-playing game the rest of the time. It is a role-playing game at all times, and some of the time (or much of the time) you are fighting things.

    The idea that combat is a barrier to role-playing needs to give up the ghost.
    .-= Scott´s last blog ..The Hook Mountain Massacre Conversion PDF v0.1 =-.

  8. Steve says:

    As 4th ed is clearly heavily influenced by mmorpg’s i wonder if that has an effect on the player base (mmorpg’s don’t have much rpg about them).
    Clearly the rp in a rpg comes from the GM and players rather than the rules.

  9. Leonardo says:

    Hi!
    Nice post… I always said that any RPG can be convert in a strategy game with the players do´n´t want to Role Play!
    I really like the 4E and also play with diferent groups… one of them realy play it more near boardgame than RPG.

  10. Elda King says:

    Great post. However, it’s sad that most people who read positive posts 4e are those who already like it and not those who really need “enlightening”.
    The only point I disagree is the comparison between PHB and DMG. All the core books – and most supplements – lacked fluff. Severely. But the DMG was the book that disappointed me the most – I was expecting a deeper description of the Points of Light setting, a good discussion about different kinds of adventures, world creation, a section about creating villains… Not just the rules (thought great rules) and tips on how to DM.

  11. Matthew Lane says:

    Ok. Now you have finished writing such an eloquent statement, i’m going to have to tell you, with all respect why you are wrong.

    To start with 4E does not fit into the roleplaying game set of games. It fits into a wierd hybrid transitionary state somewhere between Roleplaying Game & Tabletop War Gaming; doing neither well.

    Now, i can only speak from my own experiences but after playing 4E for a year i have found it too be quite bad, when it comes down to the actual roleplaying. Now you stated that “What makes it a role-playing game is the interaction between the players and GM” & while i don’t diagree with this statement, i would like to elaborate on it.

    What this statement should have been is “What makes a role-playing game is the interaction between the players and everybody else via the GM, under an internally logical system of consistent rules.” This is where 4E falls apart. 3.5 had one thing that 4E has failed to produce on multiple occasions. INTERNAL CONSISTENT RULES!

    Now i’m not talking about rules balance, i am talking about rules that make sense within the meta-fictional context of the reality you are trying to play in. By this i mean, having NPC’s who don’t just stand around waiting to give you quests all day & villains who have reasonable motivations & are proactive enough that they get on with there evil plan & don’t just stand around in area 6b waiting for you to come and kill them.

    With out these things players have nothing solid to bounce roleplaying off of, mainly because they don’t care. why would they care, the plight of an NPC means nothing to them. This is where skills like Profession came into play. They may not have been used by PC, but they should have been used by NPC’s. The fact that NPC’s had other functions made them seem more real to players. Likewise many skills have nothing by combat uses listed, completely leaving you in the air for roleplaying applications of skills (hence the STABLE part of my statement).

    Too once again extend on this theory i will use something i have come to call “Introduced Roleplaying,” 3,5 had this in bucket loads. Lets look at the druid for instance.

    3.5 Druid has an entire page on “playing” a druid. This section gives the powers & views of the Druid. It gives everyone a stable basis on which to build and modify a druid character without stopping creativity. It gives you a entire page, which includes a section on why they adventure, how different races approaches being a druid & most importanly what a druid fights for.

    4E, gives you a paragraph that is nebulous in its context & basically is there just to make the class sound cool, by listing the powers you get as a druid. Where is the secret langauge of the druids, where is the druids code, the motivation, the reasons for adventuring? Where is the Introduced Roleplaying?

    The druid isn’t the only place where internal logic has been dismissed or forgotten: Look at the paladin for instance… um an unaligned paladin? What the heck. look at Familiars for another one that drove me crazy: They were destroyed not by the fact they became a multi feat tree power, but by one sentence & i quote “unless otherwise noted, a familiar cannot pick up or manipulate objects.” Well their goes one of the 2 primary use of familiars.

    You also said “Here’s a random dungeon courtesy of the awesomely brilliant Demonweb Random Dungeon Generator.” At this point i shudder. I always hated that program & worked hard on creating a story for my players, not just a random set of rooms to kill stuff in, after all this is D&D, not diablo or WoW. Maybe its just that my group of players had higher standards for our gaming then other groups, but this is the kind of mindset that led to 4E.

    you continue to say “This is something I’ve used for those times when I want to run a quick zero-prep dungeon.” We had something like that too, it was called dungeon magazine, which until 4E contained some truly brilliant nuanced adventures (along with some real crap too).

    After that you went and showed the difference between a 4E encounter and a 3.5 encounter. Even though neither of these had any of that thing we are talking about… you know ROLEPLAYING. Both were just oppurtunities to kill stuff for treasure. As far as roleplaying goes one was not any better then the other.

    “If you play it like a tactical wargame then that’s what it is. Play it like a role-playing game, and it’s a role-playing game – and a damned good one too at that” Where to start with this statement… OK… i can play chess like a roleplaying game, it doesn’t make it a roleplaying game. Solid Role Playing Mechanics & non combat support make a roleplaying game. Internally consistent rules that mesh well with a the meta-fictional reality you are trying to represent makes a roleplaying game.

    “If they want to negotiate with the Kobolds and perhaps gain a hint or two at what to expect deeper into the dungeon, they can. Nothing in the rules says you’ve GOT to fight.” No, it doesn’t say you can’t fight, but with the focus on killing everything to death in 4E, no module has yet to give that as an option. In fact all modules i’ve seen seem to consider every enemy to be a psychotic bearly cognisant automaton that lacks for an actual motivation for doing the things they do; which would make the whole talking to enemies thing next to impossible. Bad guys need more of as motivation then “We were black and eat babies for breakfast. We’re evil.”

    “I’d say that 4e D&D has one of the best combat engines ever designed for an RPG – with or without battlemat.” I’m not sure i understand what you are saying here. If your saying you can play 4E w/out a tactical map, you are smater then i am. If your saying its the best combat system i would have to disagree. Its repedetitive & at times nonsensical.

    In conclusion i would say the lack of fluff & consistent roleplaying skill rules in 4E hampers roleplaying & makes everyone involved (players, GMs & writers) significantly lazier then previous editions. You can roleplay in 4E, but that roleplaying will rarely stand up to rule application & will have no real effect in-game.

    -M

  12. Noumenon says:

    I’ve tried those random generators too, and I guess I would say they’re “not D&D.” Just like if you reduced Street Fighter to the square polygons that represent where characters can be hit, it wouldn’t be Street Fighter.

    I couldn’t generate any enthusiasm at all for playing a dungeon with no story behind it — there isn’t a Duergar Warrior in room 3, there’s a to-hit number and some hit points, and it’s very unsatisfying to fight and to DM.

    That might be different in 4E where a duergar at least will have duergar-ish abilities that differentiate him from other warriors.

  13. Greywulf says:

    Great feedback, folks! Interesting too see the split between people who “get it” and folks who don’t. Interesting, but not surprising.

    @Anarkeith I like! I find that my players describe their actions in role-playing terms more when playing Mutants & Masterminds than they do in D&D. Must think more on this.

    @Rognar Agreed. Which is why saying “4e isn’t a role-playing game” is such a futile thing to say.

    @Matthew Thanks for the detailed reply. I agree that the PHB should have contained more solid role-playing guidelines for all the classes – and more role-playing guidelines as a whole for that matter. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a role-playing game because it hasn’t got them. Heck, my own Microlite20 is just 440-ish words long and contains no fluff at all – but it’s still an RPG in every meaning of the words.

    Similarly, I like that there’s no class restrictions in the Core Books at all; that allows me, as GM and World Builder in Chief to set my own guidelines according to the needs of the setting. If I want only Lawful Good Paladins, so be it. If I want True Neutral Druid, I can – or, for that matter, have True Neutral Paladins and Lawful Good Druids. Or have only Elves be Rangers. Or whatever.

    In 4e, the rules don’t place restrictions; that’s the GM’s job to help shape the campaign world. That’s how it should be, and I feel that’s one area which Third Edition got wrong.

    And when it comes to inconsistent rules – 4e is FAR more consistent that (for example) 2nd Edition AD&D or Palladium, and I don’t hear anyone claiming they’re not role-playing games :D

    The point I’m trying to make is that you could take a generic random dungeon – or a published adventure, or one from Dragon mag, or wherever – and run a session with it full of actual, real, role-playing full of character choices and intrigue. It’s the same in 4e D&D as it has been in any prior edition.

  14. alexandro says:

    @Matthew:
    The problem is that 3.x shoves the assumption that you are playing in Greyhawk down your throat, making it pretty damn hard to dissociate this content from the rules-content (no, druids in this setting do NOT have the kind of motivation and roleplaying advice you find in the PHB).

    Your argument would only make sense if you would deny that GURPS or HERO are roleplaying games.

  15. Thasmodious says:

    I don’t think Matt’s argument makes sense in any context. I don’t even know of a 3e fan out there who would claim that one of the system’s strengths was internally consistent rules. Half the edition is a hobbled together set of subsystems to handle corner cases which cause new corner cases which cause new subsystems which cause new corner cases… Internal consistency is simply not there (see polymorph for a start). Even the briefest scan of the optimization boards would show you that internal consistency quickly fell apart in 3e and there were tons of rules loopholes for things like infinite profit, infinite stat boosts, the old bag of weasels…

    Greywulf, you are a kinder man than me. I would not have granted a response that began “To start with 4E does not fit into the roleplaying game set of games” with even a modicum of respect from which to form the basis for a reasoned reply that you know will hit a brick wall of unreason anyway. There is little in that post that approaches evidence or reasoned discussion.

    For example, I would love to see where the rules text of 3e supports any of the following, and the text in 4e that takes these positions (don’t worry, I won’t be holding my breath) -

    “By this i mean, having NPC’s who don’t just stand around waiting to give you quests all day & villains who have reasonable motivations & are proactive enough that they get on with there evil plan & don’t just stand around in area 6b waiting for you to come and kill them.”

  16. Noumenon says:

    To clarify my position, I should say that I generally believe that D&D is not a roleplaying game.

  17. Random Visitor says:

    For what matters, I just came back from a DnD 4E session, we played 5 hours, of which 4 hrs were spent RPing, and 1 hour fighting (damn insubstantial wraiths!)

  18. Elda King says:

    @Matthew: I agree that more fluff would be great, but disagree with everything else you said.
    I believe that giving a druid a fixed code of conduct, or an alignment restriction to the paladin, hinders roleplay more than helping; the best would be to encourage the players to create his own character, personality, and morality.
    Are you sugesting that Profession and other such skills are needed just for NPCs? Heck, most NPCs don’t need even a character sheet. If the DM say “Tom is a blacksmith”, it’s done. Why bother about skills? If he would engage in a blacksmithing competition with the players, it would be ok, but it’s a very specific case to worry about.
    Also, if familiars are meant to have uses, it sounds like anti-roleplay to me. Familiars can help wizards, but it’s their flavor the mechanic should reflect and not their usefullness.
    And, if you think 3E is more consistent than 4E, we understand consistency as very different things. For me, the less sub-systems the more consistent…

  19. Steve says:

    My last post was a bit long so I’ll try to be concise.

    I played 1st/2nd ed that I picked up at a charity shop. But then I started on “Dragon Warriors” before that. I hate the introductions of 3rd Ed – although people seem to have just accepted that now and brushed that under the carpet. Let’s just say that while I accept that the rules are there to be ignored – when I take away all the new additions that just don’t work for me so I can focus on the character and pace of the game the way I want it — there are hardly any rules left to follow and combat is just a predictable stat fest where the only thing that’s *really* changed is the fact that negative armour classes are no longer a good thing. :-)

    One thing I will pick at – since 3rd edition, my players aren’t animated anymore. They don’t stand up or lean back in their chair and simulate the swinging of an axe. They pick up a d20 and say “I’m going to use my whirlwind attack feat”.

    So, with all my 2nd Edition books being lost in the wars of moving house a long time ago – I began my my quest for a —–>system<—– that would offer the players some rules to follow so that they could feel as though they were really customising their characters the way they wanted instead of getting handouts from the rulebook – I remembered the title I enjoyed playing and had never had the chance to GM for. The game that really set the standard for how descriptive I was going to be in my D&D games, because of how vicious the combat could be and just how tense things could get. The real threat of death and atmosphere that such a threat could create.

    Rolemaster.

    But it's important to tell you now, the game is what you make it. Borrow things. Roleplay it. Use your imaginations and have FUN.

    My new Rolemaster campaign, kicked off recently has Dragonborn and Wolfen as playable races. The world is what me and my players make it. Not what any ruleset says.

    (Note to the uninitiated: If you haven't got a grounding in Rolemaster, pick up "Rolemaster Express" to start and stick with the Rolemaster Classic products. It will make your life easier. Honestly :-) )

  20. Elton says:

    @ Steve: Rolemaster.

    My new Rolemaster campaign, kicked off recently has Dragonborn and Wolfen as playable races. The world is what me and my players make it. Not what any ruleset says.

    Oh, boy, Steve. You hit me in the HEART! Someone else who loves Rolemaster! :D
    .-= Elton´s last blog ..Team Dystopia’s Contest =-.

  21. Paul says:

    I don’t have a big stake in this battle, but I will comment on Matthews comments about internally consistent rules. I think that what he’s talking about is not internally consistent rules in the sense of rules that are consistent with each other, but rules that are consistent with the game world. In the first sense, I think that 4e does have rules that are consistent with each other – more so than previous editions of D&D. In the second sense, I think that 4e’s rules are not as consistent with the game world as many of the rules of previous editions were. There’s a good discussion of that here, where the author uses the term “dissociated mechanics” to describe this lack of connection between real, game-world level stuff and the rules:

    http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/dissociated-mechanics.html

    The other thing that’s relevant here is the concept of an affordance. There’s a discussion here that uses that term in the context of RPGs:

    http://www.emacswiki.org/alex/2009-05-24_Old_School_Affordances

    One of the links on there has a description of what an “affordance” is:
    http://www.communitywiki.org/cw/WhatIsAffordance

    ““Affordance” is a term used by perceptual psychologists. Affordance is what an object suggests to us. For example, if you see a bench, you might think to sit down on it, or to lie down on it. Some doors have a panel on once side, and a handle on the other. If you see the panel, you think to push it. If you see the handle, you think to pull it. Perceptual psychologists use the phrase “object affordance” to talk about how objects make us think to use them.”

    How does this apply to gaming? Well, going to Anarkeith’s comment, I think that the fact that there’s a knowledge:history in a game “affords” the behavior where people say, “I make a knowledge: history check.” It doesn’t prevent people from saying, “I wonder if the architectural style of the tower suggests a specific era, or purpose? ” but because the “knowledge:history button” is there, its easier to just push it.

    So, back to 4e as a roleplaying game. I wouldn’t argue that it’s not a roleplaying game. But, I would say that the combination of the super-detailed combat rules, the dissociated mechanics, skill challenges, etc. all “afford” playing the game in a manner that does not line up with a lot of people’s expectations for a roleplaying game. In essence, its (very subtly) discouraging of that kind of play.

    -Paul

  22. Steve says:

    2 Steves cool, my rpg is half Steves, we rule.

    Anyway 4th ed DnD combat defintately has a tabletop tactical feel to it (together with its mmorpg feel) that has a certain historic irony. full circle?

    Not really role playing is a style of gaming, its perfectly possible to role play a wargame although seldom done because you play wargames for different reasons than you play role play games.

  23. Bob says:

    “By this i mean, having NPC’s who don’t just stand around waiting to give you quests all day & villains who have reasonable motivations & are proactive enough that they get on with there evil plan & don’t just stand around in area 6b waiting for you to come and kill them.”

    What do either of these examples have to do with any particular ‘edition’ of a Role Playing Game?

    This is half assed trolling, AT BEST.

  24. Nick Wedig says:

    “There should be a discussion about personality quirks and traits. Five pages spent on actual role-playing and less space spent listing 1,001 different ways to hurt people would have made a world of difference.”

    Like, say, pages 18 to 24 of the Player’s Handbook, which detail mannerisms, personality and thinking about how your character would react to differing situations?

    What you ask for is already in there.

  25. Greywulf says:

    @Nick Indeed there is, and it’s woefully inadequate. The majority of these pages discuss alignment and the gods – something which should really have been in…. oh, I dunno, a Religion section, maybe. For everything else, there’s about two paragraphs per heading. Role-playing itself just gets three paragraphs. Personality:two. Social interactions, Decision Points and Dire Straits: one and a paltry list each. Mannerisms:three and Appearance a whopping four short paragraphs.

    That’s hardly going to set the D&D world on fire. Given that this IS a role-playing game, you’d think they would spend more than fifteen paragraphs in the PHB talking about it, especially as compared to the thousands of paragraphs, charts and tables spent dealing with combat.

    There’s no surprise people come away with the (wrong) impression that this is a fighty-fighty game.

  26. Thasmodious says:

    I think you over state the case just a bit there. There’s only 30 pages in the PHB devoted to the combat system. Counting the Powers section would be akin to counting the Spells section in 3e, which is fine, but then both books are almost entirely about combat.

    There’s just not much to explain in lengthy, boring written sections about roleplaying – pretend to be your character, that’s about it. Think about their looks and personality, add some personal touches, and stay in character during the game. One just doesn’t need the detail of the other, and I think implying that roleplaying should carry equal page space (or near to) to combat is a bit misleading. Not to mention the information that is in the 4e PHB is a lot better than what is in the 3e PHB. At least the 4e PHB starts off detailing that D&D is an RPG and what that means and how to build a character with these elements in mind.

    I think a lot of looking back is done with rose-colored glasses, where we imagine details that just weren’t there. There aren’t lengthy treaties on how to RP in the OD&D pamphlets, nor in 1e, yet we managed anyway. The PHB has always been primarily about making characters, mechanically, with much shorter notes about aspects like roleplaying and personality. To say that there isn’t a whole lot of space in the PHB devoted to roleplaying and storytelling is true, but to imply that this is a change from older editions is misleading.

  27. Greywulf says:

    @Thasmodious At no point have I compared the 4e PHB’s coverage of role-playing with that found in previous editions (or lack thereof). I think that’s a long-time weakness of the Players Handbooks as a whole, but 4e D&D’s distinct over-emphasis on combat and general writing style has thrown that into sharp contrast. I’ve seen new players look through the book and come away with the overwhelming impression that D&D is about combat and nothing else.

    It’s not surprising why. There’s barely a chapter in the 4e D&D which isn’t in some way combat related. At least 3e had many spells that were non-combat or had out-of-combat uses. The 3e equipment lists alone made for fascinating reading whereas the 4e ones in the PHB are cursory at best; there’s no flavour to them. The closest the 4e PHB comes to non-combat is the piss-poor Rituals section which barely merits even being called an appendix, let alone a chapter.

    Now, I love 4e D&D. It’s a terrific rule system and it’s great fun to play. Some of our best Role-Playing sessions (with a capital R and a capital P) have been with this system and I rate it’s character generation as being one of the best and most flexible class-based systems ever created.

    But the PHB? Not a great ambassador for the game.

  28. Thasmodious says:

    “I think that’s a long-time weakness of the Players Handbooks as a whole”

    That’s fair.

    I don’t think, though, that much detail on roleplaying is needed. While I am not playing old school games I am an old school player and we certainly figured out roleplaying on our own back in the day (when we had to walk uphill, in the snow, both ways to our games). I just don’t think much more is really needed than “be your character”.

    Maybe what you are missing is less details on roleplaying and more fluff, the 4e PHB is certainly about as fluff free as you can get. I like that personally, but I can see how that might give a new player the wrong impression. While the PHB is his introduction though, one of two other things is required to play the game – an existing group or a new group in possession of the core books. An existing group will indoctrinate said newbie into their playstyle, whatever that is, while the DM of a new group will have to read the DMG and be exposed to all those details about making flavor in that book, which is a nice primer on DMing a game that is not just a series of combats.

    In general, I like 4e’s approach of sticking to the crunch in the PHB and leaving the fluff to the settings books. One setting a year or so over the course of the edition and that’s 8-10 settings packed with all the fluff and flavor a group will need. I think that’s a pretty solid approach, even if the PHB loses some bathroom readibility.

  29. Steve2 says:

    @GreyWulf – The PHB has nice little fluff sections on each of the races and tips on how to play the particular race you want to be. As people have said, the PHB has never really contained the greatest deal of fluff in any incarnation at all. I don’t think anybody can really claim to have ever sat down with just the PHB on its own and no other source material and then found themselves enlightened in the ways of Roleplaying.

    Generally, the more imaginative side comes from the DM initially and the other players follow suit. Frankly, D&D4 doesn’t really do it for me as it’s a feat/power/racial power fest and my players are now old enough that their imaginations are on the decline and they’re more likely to ask “What can the rules give me?” – In an effort to discourage that and play it old school, I abandoned D&D and went for Rolemaster, as I said in my last post.

    With the addition of the Combat Companion for that in recent years – I can now make my players go off on personal quests to find NPCs that will train them in specific styles and usage of a weapon rather than just ploughing points in to a weapon as before. Gives a nice feeling of there being legendary martial artists etc in the world.

    Thing is, with D&D4 – there’s really nothing to stop you doing this either. You can make somebody find some crazy drunken dwarf and challenge him to a fight before they learn the whirlwind attack or similar. The problem is that a lot of players will simply go “Yeah okay, I do that – do I have it?” when the GM makes such a suggestion. Followed by “Okay what do I roll?” when you mention actually having to challenge the dwarf.

    Roleplaying is a rare thing and you all know how great it can be when it works. You’re describing a cavern ceiling and for some unknown reason your eyes are actually looking up and you start pointing at the details that aren’t really there. But that’s got bugger all to do with the rules.

    The issue most people actually have with 4E is not this aspect because you can role play anything if you want – it’s with new rules and mechanics and those are really outside the scope of this discussion. I’m afraid for me, it’s the way people get up after being knocked out- inches from death they come back better than before they hit the ground. Or the way in which Elves now seem to teleport – or Gnomes turn invisible when they’re hurt etc etc. I just don’t like the way it’s going but as I said – that went for 3.5 aswell. So I’m left with either 2E or Rolemaster. But this is really outside the scope of the “4e is still a role playing game” discussion.

    BTW, there’s a Shard behind you.

  30. The first thing I ask a new player is WHO their character is. If they start rattling off stats, I stop them and ask again.

    I think part of the perception is the marketing for 4th attracting more video game players, and the increased prevalence of such people. It’s up to us to show them the difference.

    My first experience with D&D, I DM’ed for a bunch of noobs. I took 4 years of 3.5 experience, flipped through the PHB1 and 2 for about 20 mins, the MM and Draconomicon for 5 and half and hour respectively (I like dragons, so sue), then got my setting in my head.

    We didn’t role a single die for the first 45 mins. Everyone was totally into the story, figuring out what their character would do in the big city I’d given them to explore. They asked me at the end how long I would DM for, and if they could try next. We kept the game up for as long as schedules would allow, and one of my newbies took over for my first 4e game as a player.

    As a DM, this is one of my best success stories.

    Roleplayers need to start demonstrating and converting more, not falling to the elitism I see all the time in my line of work (at a FLGS).

  1. August 31, 2009

    [...] quarta edição resolvi traduzir um post que encontrei na internet no blog Greywulf’s Lair: If 4e isn’t a role-playing game you’re doing it wrong! Resolvi traduzir este post porque a opinião do autor coincide com a minha opinião sobre alguns dos [...]

  2. July 12, 2011

    [...] [...]

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