What's your gaming philosophy?

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I used to play D&D a lot 20 years ago, and in the past year I've gotten into again with 4E.   It's certainly a much different game now, and by that I don't mean the obvious rule changes so much as the community of players and general attitude towards gaming.  I've played with four different DMs in the past year and each one had a tendency to create massive combats that took hours to resolve and/or verged on total party kills.   And this was expected to be fun by the participants.   I thought I was missing something; back in the day we would we would have lots of easy encounters mixed in with some occasional hard encounters, roleplaying, and puzzles.  Back then, people developed their characters, expanded their personality as they leveled up.  Today, people roll up new characters every  few weeks and don't care if their characters live or die.   Back then, a DM would run a campaign for several months; today, people will play one-shot delves or (if they're ambitious) only a single module, and then start over again with a new character afterwards.

Why?  Is it just our culture's obsession with short attention span?  (Since this post is longer than a tweet, people might not read it.)

Anyway, another observation is that there are two gaming philosophies:

1) This is a GAME.  So, emphasis on game balance, tactical rules, and players are looking for a fair chance of winning against the DM or against the module-of-the-week.  Character death or TPK is acceptable in that there's no long-term commitment to the character and the focus is only on this week's adventure.   Roll up new characters next week.  That new module that just came out sounds interesting, let's roll up new characters and try it.

2) This is FANTASY ROLE-PLAYING.  Like a great novel, comic book, movie, or TV show, characters are the main actors in a fantastic adventure, where they acquire possessions, develop personalities, level up, and become participants in the  politics of a fantasy universe.  Towards this, the characters will typically kick butt and take names, and character death is a tragedy.  And a TPK equivalent to a series being cancelled.

Personally I'm more inclined towards the second, but I have seen a lot of evidence that the first is more common now.  Organized play, character generation tools, meetups, conventions... these have all led towards the first philosophy.   But maybe that's because I just haven't found the right group yet.  Which of course is leading me to trying DMing and running a game the way I'd like to see it run, and see what happens.  But will I be able to find players with the second philosophy instead of the first?



You're either judging far too harshly or you've experienced some bad groups.

Our culture does not have an obsession with short attention spans. They just HAVE short attention spans.

I try to work in a few puzzles and some back and forth NPC talk, but sometimes I like my battles tediously hard. I want to force my players to use some skills.

One shot games just... well, I believe they suck, but it's preference. I like run on games. I like building storyline. I am part of today's culture.

I try to get my players to build character background, but some do not see it as a necessary task :\

Some people aren't good at roleplaying and just focus on rather trivial aspects of D&D. Optimizing characters - what good is it if you aren't enjoying yourself, if you aren't using your character to their full ability?

Character gen is good for helping newbies. It has little to nothing to do with their ability to role play.

If you can't find players that adhere to your strict philosophy, it would not be wise to force it upon them. DMs that tell you what style to play in every aspect of the term really get on people's nerves.
to be completel honest, i've heard your problem with the mortality and "Insignifigance" of story and character attributed many times to older editions of DND, the ones you presumably played. I've heard "save or die mechanics" and brutal DM's of the era generally broke games more often than they might now.


As for me though? i favor a story-driven, worldbuilding intensive, role playing game- that being said i like combat alot as well, you compared it to a Television series? well what's a good series without thrilling battles?

Personalities of characters are extremely important, especially now that mechanics don't interfere as much as i hear they used to- and in my experience i have to try very hard to kill characters with a "balanced adventure" i'll sometimes try hard to keep the danger level of the game from dropping too much, but they generally don't have too many problems with the things i throw at them.

Often times, our combats can be tedious and bogged down at times, but thats usaully because i devote so much time to over-the-top descriptions of their abilities, which often include deep feelings of the characters,memories of being taught the skill, as well visually impressive lightning shows. The players seem to enjoy my ability to make them feel like badasses, especially on a crit.

Is my group a little roleplay weak? yes, but thats just because we're all still new and exploring the territory, we only really started playing at the beginning of this past summer on a weekly basis. We've had plenty of great moments with role-play, heck, when someone was missing to waste time we played through instances from each character's backstories as vignettes. Their backstories are immensely important to the proceedings as well, deeply woven into my plots.


we're all seniors in high school, except for our rogue, who's going to be a freshman next year- so i guess we're the youth of DND... i can tell you our philosophy is not so shallow-centric, sorry to rant, i wasn't offended or anything, just wanted to let you know the spirit's alive and well in DND.


btw, i do suggest running one yourself, you do seem to have a knack for joining bad groups, hopefully your own game goes better! good luck, and remember to let the players know what they're in for before hand!

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/8.jpg)

Why?  Is it just our culture's obsession with short attention span?  (Since this post is longer than a tweet, people might not read it.)



D&D competes with many, many other forms of entertainment as compared to even just 20 years ago. Sometimes a faster, more episodic style of play suits a busier lifestyle with lots of other entertainment choices. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.

Anyway, another observation is that there are two gaming philosophies:

1) This is a GAME.  So, emphasis on game balance, tactical rules, and players are looking for a fair chance of winning against the DM or against the module-of-the-week.  Character death or TPK is acceptable in that there's no long-term commitment to the character and the focus is only on this week's adventure.   Roll up new characters next week.  That new module that just came out sounds interesting, let's roll up new characters and try it.

2) This is FANTASY ROLE-PLAYING.  Like a great novel, comic book, movie, or TV show, characters are the main actors in a fantastic adventure, where they acquire possessions, develop personalities, level up, and become participants in the  politics of a fantasy universe.  Towards this, the characters will typically kick butt and take names, and character death is a tragedy.  And a TPK equivalent to a series being cancelled.

Personally I'm more inclined towards the second, but I have seen a lot of evidence that the first is more common now.  Organized play, character generation tools, meetups, conventions... these have all led towards the first philosophy.   But maybe that's because I just haven't found the right group yet.  Which of course is leading me to trying DMing and running a game the way I'd like to see it run, and see what happens.  But will I be able to find players with the second philosophy instead of the first?



I like both and find they needn't be mutually exclusive. It depends on the campaign theme and style. That will suggest which method is best to tell that particular story. Sadly, not many people think about this very hard when starting a game and few actually discuss it with their players to get input to make a game that is fun for everyone at the table.

It's no different from, say, a movie versus a series. One begins and ends quickly and may not continue past that one story. The other runs for however long it runs and multiple stories are told with the same cast of characters. I'm currently running a campaign that just turned a year old, levels 1 to 17 (so far) with plans to go into early epic. That's my series. I'm also writing and running a side game from some other players, a pulp-action story spanning levels 6 - 9 because that's all the "room" I need to tell this particular story. Call it a mini-series. And when I run the odd module as a one-shot, then that's a single story like a movie.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I also prefer the second style you describe. Heck, it takes me six levels or so to even fall in love with a character. All of my favorites I have played at least that long.

Sadly I think there are quite a few gamers out now who follow or prefer the first style. Its often a old generation vs new thing, in my experience. However, I'm positive some players have never experienced a good game of your preference, and would prefer it too.

Our games in my early years were atrocious, but I loved them.

Finally, I do love a good one-off. We usually do them on special occasions, and with changes in the player lineup too.
It's not a new thing, you're just exposed to a wider community now.

There have always been people who have preferred hack and slash and random character deaths.

There have always been people who go for as much immersion as possible.

And, thankfully, there have always been people who prefer some of both, each in moderation.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

And, thankfully, there have always been people who prefer some of both, each in moderation.



Yo.

Truth be told, Coates, I'm not seeing your problem. The approach to how the game is played has been different, be it slightly or severely, with each edition change, and this is largely due to the generation that is playing the edition. 4e is in a generation where combat based video games and high action movies are not only common, but big. This will inevitably bleed into the style of play for many of the D&D players from this generation, much like how long character sagas of Tolkien proportions were big for the first few editions.

4e also has much cleanly defined mechanics, so combat is easier to run and make into a grand part of the game each time you start rolling the dice. It's not that the edition segregates the type of people that play it, more that the game itself has always does that. The developers even acknowledge as such when they talk about "types of players" in the DMGs. Some people prefer certain aspects of the game more than others, regardless of the edition in question. 4e just happens to make combat easier to manage than before, allowing the folks that like to hit things the most to have a better time than they might have in past editions.

Long story short, everyone plays the game differently no matter what edition you're playing, so don't sweat it. If you like to play a certain way, find a group to play as such with. That's always how it tends to work with groups in D&D.
I've had the exact opposite thing; years ago people used to approach D&D as a game, with lots of character death and expendable character. These days I mostly see people trying to make characters that matter and play story.

But that's because I changed groups. I'm pretty sure my old group is still happily hack&slashing their way through dungeons and this new group would still be doing freestyle RPG if I hadn't offered to DM 4e for them.

It's mostly just the people you've found. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I've had the exact opposite thing; years ago people used to approach D&D as a game, with lots of character death and expendable character. These days I mostly see people trying to make characters that matter and play story.

But that's because I changed groups. I'm pretty sure my old group is still happily hack&slashing their way through dungeons and this new group would still be doing freestyle RPG if I hadn't offered to DM 4e for them.

It's mostly just the people you've found. 

There is a term for lighter gaming with hack and slash, no 'deep' rping and all - beer and pretzels gaming.
Some people like novels.  Other people like short stories.

My gaming philosphy?  "If you're having fun playing the game, you're doing it right."
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Some people like novels.  Other people like short stories.

My gaming philosphy?  "If you're having fun playing the game, you're doing it right."


This, pretty much.
Ever feel like people on these forums can't possibly understand how wrong they are? Feeling trolled? Don't get mad. Report Post.

There is a term for lighter gaming with hack and slash, no 'deep' rping and all - beer and pretzels gaming.



We were too young for beer and pretzels back then And I still have a "no excessive drinking at the table" rule.

My gaming philosphy?  "If you're having fun playing the game, you're doing it right."



As a team player, I think I'd have to make a very minor change to it... "If everyone's having fun playing the game, you're doing it right."

But other then that, I fully agree with it. As long as everyone's having fun, the goal of the get together has been met.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Since this post is longer than a tweet, people might not read it.


I only read the first half of your post, but not because of any short attention span. Rather, you failed to engage me with your writing. Your experiences regarding old attitudes and new attitudes are the polar opposite of my own, so I don't relate to your experience. I find your tone, as I perceive it, to be slightly condescending toward the play-styles of others because they do not mirror your own, and I find that somewhat off-putting. That is why I didn't read your whole post: It didn't engage me.

That doesn't mean it was a bad post, but just that it didn't consist of content that interested me at the moment. As such, I skipped ahead to see if there was anything further down in the thread that could catch my eye, such as a post by Salla.

Similarly, those people you've been playing with might not be interested in your style of play, which may be more immersive and involved, but requires more investment of time and energy. There's nothing wrong with either style of play, and it's very important to realize that, but your style is going to clash with theirs, and that's something you might just have to accept.

In the same way your post failed to engage me as a reader, a deep, immersive, game of D&D might fail to engage your friends as players.
Ever feel like people on these forums can't possibly understand how wrong they are? Feeling trolled? Don't get mad. Report Post.

I only read the first half of your post, but not because of any short attention span. Rather, you failed to engage me with your writing. Your experiences regarding old attitudes and new attitudes are the polar opposite of my own, so I don't relate to your experience. I find your tone, as I perceive it, to be slightly condescending toward the play-styles of others because they do not mirror your own, and I find that somewhat off-putting. That is why I didn't read your whole post: It didn't engage me.

That doesn't mean it was a bad post, but just that it didn't consist of content that interested me at the moment. As such, I skipped ahead to see if there was anything further down in the thread that could catch my eye, such as a post by Salla.



Same here.

Also, I think I firmly fall under the OP's second category (Fantasy Role-playing). Certainly, I used organized play (Living Forgotten Realms at my FLGS) as a way to scratch the itch of not being able to actually play, but my game is very focused on the narrative, and my players are as as well.

But, while I've never played 1e or 2e-with-a-competent-DM, I find it odd that the OP looks to these as the halcyon days of character development when I've heard many a tale of a player not bothering to name his character until it survived a few levels. 

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I would fall into the second category. But, I like a mix of dice rolling and improv acting. I, too have seen players just create characters for a one shot game and then chuck them into the bin when the game is over. When I get time, I would like to get a long term campaign going again one day.
To make it short and sweet!
I love my game being 33% Fights, 33% Puzzles, 33% Roleplay and 1% of jokes related, or not, to the game! 

( But I must admit that since I play 4th, there are less puzzles and more fights and roleplay! )  
I'm playing: Abin Gadon, Halfling Bard Winston "Slurphnose", Gnome Sorcerer Pasiphaé, Minotaur Shaman Eglerion, Elf Ellyrian Reaver (Ranger) DMing: Le Trésor du Fluide (Treasure from the Fluid) Un Royaume d'une Grande Valeur (A Kingdom of Great Value) La Légende de Persitaa (Persitaa's Legend) Une Série de Petites Quêtes... (A serie of short quests) Playtesting: Caves of Chaos We're building the greatest adventure ever known to DnD players! Also playing Legend of the Five Rings and Warhammer Fantasy. Sébastien, Beloeil, Qc. I am Neutral Good and 32 years old.
I find that while your description of two major kinds of roleplaying experiences is pretty good that they aren't necessarily so separate as you say. It's possible to combine them and mold them and change them, to use one then the other, both at the same time.

I started 4th edition with the former, then I hosted the latter for a year, now I took a break and I'm back to the former again. 1st edition experienced the same sort of mix and match. Sometimes people just wouldn't even name their characters, as another poster mentioned, other times people would really get into the roleplaying. Roleplaying has been part of it from the beginning, although in extremely varying portions depending on the group involved. I love running tournament module fourth core one shots just as much as I love running an ongoing narrative driven, core cast, six-players-who-meet-every-tuesday kind of game just as much as I love running a megadungeon style site-based adventure with a rotating cast. They're all good fun.

For what it's worth, the popular opinion these days seems to be in favor of heavy roleplaying, core group, fixed cast, 1-30 (or at least 1-wherever they end up) style super campaigns, but that's anecdotal evidence at best.
In my opinion the design philosophy of 4E promotes the tactical wargame aspect over the roleplaying and storytelling aspect.

That's likely the reason you're finding these issues, were the groups you talked about playing 4E?

Pick an edition that you feel focusses more on actual roleplay and these problems will go away.

In my opinion the design philosophy of 4E promotes the tactical wargame aspect over the roleplaying and storytelling aspect.

That's likely the reason you're finding these issues, were the groups you talked about playing 4E?

Pick an edition that you feel focusses more on actual roleplay and these problems will go away.



Edition has nothing to do with it. My group and I have told great stories in all editions. Find a group that enjoys roleplaying and storytelling and you'll roleplay and tell stories, regardless of edition.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

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I agree with the Dungeon Master's Guide 1 and 2 in that there are more D&D gamer types than two, and that they cannot easily be reduced, since there is some overlap between some of them. Some people just want to have a good time with their friends, and don't care if that equates to roleplaying or miniatures combat. Others just want to watch the world burn.

I think that D&D in general over the years has attempted to draw in more and more players, and that it's just easier to expand on the part of the game that caters to people who like tactical war games, than, say, the parts of the game that cater to people who like cooking or designing clothes, because combat just feels like a more general part of the game. D&D as a system isn't supposed to be able to simulate real life in all of its aspects (mostly because it's supposed to be run with a fantasy setting), and this shows in the ways that the rules are designed. Devoting an entire splatbook to the culinary styles of the dragonborn empire of Akhosia, for example, probably wouldn't have the same impact on actual games, compared to releasing a splatbook that describes how to obtain, raise and train a dragon as a mount or pet. I'm not saying that the former wouldn't be an interesting read, just that some things aren't supposed to be prioritized as highly as other content.

I feel like it has been a choice on Wizards' part, when designing the game, to focus on making rules for combat and skill challenges and fluff for the settings. If you want to be a cook, nothing is stopping you, but there aren't any set rules for doing that, unless you refluff alchemy, rituals and wondrous items. Some people see this as a hindrance ("If there aren't rules for it, it can't be done") while others see it as limitless possibility ("If there aren't rules against it, it can be done").
I haven't really moved on to 4th edition (mainly due to money constraints) and so I'm currently running a 3.5 game.

However, I tend to throw both of the elements you've described into my games. I absolutely love role-playing and I really enjoy seeing how the players react to some of the things I have my NPCs do.

Example, someone managed to get a ring of color-spray at a "discount magic shop" meaning it was experimental, cheap, and probably going to have some weird side-effect. In this case, on the chart I made up, I ended up rolling "literal interpretation of spell". This basically meant that the spell would actually COLOR the target multiple hues, making them look like a walking rainbow.

So in order to test the object (which the shop offers free of charge), the shop owner called in a page-boy from the street to be the test subject. The PC then tested it on the poor boy, causing him to be knocked unconscious (as per one of the normal effects of the spell), but also his skin was now all the colors of the rainbow.

I'm now able to incorporate this into late events in the campaign.

Along with these kinds of fun RP events, I also remember enjoying battles..small AND big. It adds a bit of excitement to the whole experience and so I, personally, think the best games are those which incorporate both styles.

That being said, not everyone enjoys those styles.

In the main, I just try to make sure everyone at my tables is enjoying themselves. If they're not, I try to find out why not and adjust as is my job as the DM. A good DM will try to incorporate all players thoughts on play and make sure everyone is having a good time.

Have you brought these issues up with the DMs you've played with? They might not realize what kind of game you enjoy. Might be something to look into. 
Back then, a DM would run a campaign for several months; today, people will play one-shot delves or (if they're ambitious) only a single module, and then start over again with a new character afterwards.


I've played with four different DMs in the past year and each one had a tendency to create massive combats that took hours to resolve and/or verged on total party kills.


This is mostly a question of the group your playing with, some groups do a lot of role playing, other are nearly a boardgame. This has always been the case, I ran into groups like this for 2e, 3e and 4e. 4e does favor fewer, harder combat encounters, for a number of reasons, but it doesn't force it nor does it force an emphasis on combat in general.

As for which philosophy I favor, I like to balance between the two views. Without the game element, I find the role playing empty, as the choices don't really mean anything and the risks are fake. Without the role playing, the game becomes boring though, nothing more then an elaborate baord game. Any individual campaign I run might vary one way or another though, depending on what the players like and what suits the campaign.

Jay