What makes D&D a bad roleplaying game?

41 posts / 0 new
Last post
I have heard several time that if you want to roleplay D&D is not your game. There are much better systems for that. You are simply in the wrong place! (It is a problem I have quite frankly never had, but some people seem adamant exists).

Why is that and what could make 5e better at it then previous versions? 
The people who say that are people who either are bad at roleplaying, or who dislike the game part of roleplaying games (There are lots of people who fall into the latter category).

The biggest thing you can do is not to interfere with it and write your game in a manner which is condusive to players putting themselves into the shoes of their characters, rather than thinking about them as seperate entities. 
Since I really haven't had a problem with any version of D&D as a roleplaying game I won't argue with that, but if there are mechanics other systems put into play to make it easier to roleplay I would have absolutely no shame in stealing them.
I've encountered this with other fandoms, quite often from the WoD fans (I'm a fan too, btw).  But, I'm not going to start a war here.  I think it's a matter of perspective.  "D&D", and while I'm at it, "roleplaying" is subjective.  For some, it means interacting with townsfolk, others its about commanding and cooperating with your companions during epic fights, and for some its about hiding a dark monster on the inside while preventing said monstrous urge from tearing you apart.  Perhaps its a superiority complex of "we're better than you".

The Knights of W.T.F. may as well be ghosts, but the message still stays;

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
  • PRAISE THE SUN!
So what I am getting is there is really nothing mechanical about it, it is just your favorite flavor verse mine kind of mentality?
Some games use mechanical rewards for players who accurately play a character element they chose.


To use a 4E example, you might get to recharge an encounter power when you do an impressive job roleplaying your alignment.

Off the top of my head, World of Darkness, HackMaster, and Mouse Guard all have this sort of mechanic.  In my experience I've found that it doesn't really make any difference.  People who want to roleplay their character will roleplay their character.  People who don't might pay lip service if they think they'll get a reward for it, but they won't really do anything significantly different.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
I think that D&D, in pretty much every incarnation, has got a reputation for being more combat oriented then some other systems. While I do believe that this is generally the case (aside from DM fiat how do you get XP in 3.5? Combat), I don't believe that combat precludes the inclusion of roleplaying and storytelling.
I am a rabid White Wolf fan, and usually my WoD games are a lot of people talking with the threat of violence where my D&D games are structured to be more combat oriented. In both cases, I'm still trying to tell an entertaining story and I still want roleplaying to occur. (Though of course I've had very combat heavy WoD games and very talky D&D campaigns). 
It just boils down to the irritating mentality that some people have of thinking that if you're not doing it the same way they are, you're doing it wrong.
Oh... if it is just that kind of stuff... I give extra actions points and exp for rp. Not terribly different?
There's some mechanical qualities about it. Like I mentioned above, D&D from 3rd onward really only give XP for comabt. True, 4th gives it for skill challenges, but those still tend to be heavily influence by dice over roleplaying. (at least by the book, iirc). Also the vast majority of abilities that classes get deal with aspects of combat so that sometimes leads to the illusion that fighting is the only aspect of D&D (or at least the most important). 
Basically, role play is what you make it.  I have 3 groups I play with, and I would DM each differently.  

One group is casual, but it is my theatre friends.  We use rules as needed, but most of the time is spent on character development and the telling of the story with few dice rolls and combats (indeed, they somtimes completely avoid entire combats thanks to the bard's use of diplomacy and magic).  Fro them, 3.5 rules can be a bit overwhelming, so we fly by the seat of our pants and I alter rules as needed to simplify things (we almost went 2E).

One group is about fun.  We tend to roleplay more fun and ridiculous characters, with overdramatic plots and an emphasis on glorious combat.  For this, 3.5 works great.  We enjoy the options available and the customizability of our characters.  If somebody wants to do somthing crazy, there is a rule for it.

One group is a powergaming group.  We focus more on making our characters better and actually defeating the biggest monsters and bypassing the biggest obstacles possible.  We use Pathfinder for the most options and the most powerful characters.

Each group plays the game completely differently, and I want a system that can accomidate all 3.  So far, 5E looks simple enough for my first group and fun enough for my second group (particularly with improvizational rules).  My 3rd group is hard to tell since we don't have character creation rules, but it seems promising from that angle.

For all 3 groups, xp is gone.  We level as appropriate in the story. 
Games have rules, those rules inform how the game is played, even how it should be played. Simple game design theory. If you want something to work a certain way, you put a rule in stating that's how things work. If something is ancillary or unimportant to the game, there are no rules for it. Possibly even rules against it. The various rules stack up and create the game as a whole and what the game does, what is important to it, and what doesn't matter to the game system. All simple game design theory. The game encourages what it promotes; what it rewards happens more often than what it doesn't, or penalizes. The game is its rules. What does the game reward? That's what the game is about. 

Apply that to D&D. The game is an action-adventure fantasy game that rewards players for slaughtering monsters, looting their bodies, and advancing to slaughter tougher monsters. Lather, rinse, repeat. There are no real rules for roleplaying, there are no real rewards for roleplaying--certainly not compared to the monster mash treadmill. Minor quest rewards or gathering gold instead of killing monsters is present, to a point in some editions, but comparable rewards or rules for roleplaying simply don't exist in D&D.

Apply that to say Fate games. You are rewarded for engaging in roleplaying through your aspects, even gaining resources for bad things happening to your character. They have rules for social and mental conflicts as well as physical. These can be just as deadly or serious as any physical fight. The game is designed to encourage roleplaying, it's build around roleplaying. The more you roleplay the more cool things you can do because it rewards game resources for roleplaying. 

Yes, you absolutely can roleplay with D&D, but it's ancillary to the game itself. The game is about combat. Nothing wrong with that at all. I've played D&D for 28 years. But the game isn't designed for roleplaying, it's designed for combat. Again, nothing wrong with that. Just different design goals yield different games as a result.

For the record, I really can't wait to see the more narrative and roleplaying heavy modules for this edition. I hope they do them justice.
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge
Blackbriar put it about 800x better then I did, but that's pretty much what I think also.

D&D totally allows for as much (or little) roleplaying as your group wants to put into it, but it doesn't give any systems to really facilitate it and doesn't give you any type of mechanical award for doing so.  
The issue is that, as originally conceived, DnD was not a roleplaying game as it's been understood for the last 20 years, but something closer to a boardgame with continuity.

Numerous "traditional" or "classic" DnD mechanics carry with them a foundational assumption that the characters are not fantasy heroes with a story to tell but rather disposable game pieces with a treasure chest to loot, and as a result roleplaying in DnD requires fighting against the system and the old fanbase in myriad ways, both major and subtle.
Really, I have never had to 'fight the system' I just added to it (like I said exp for rp, actions points, randomly made up rules for drinking games, etc.).

That said I wouldn't complain at all about a module that had ideas on that front.
So what I am getting is there is really nothing mechanical about it, it is just your favorite flavor verse mine kind of mentality?


Partially that, partially logical fallacy.

Picking on WoD just for the sake of example, the thinking goes like this:
1. If I can roleplay in Vampire, and if Vampire has rules for roleplaying, then I need rules in order to roleplay.
2. D&D does not have rules for roleplaying.
3. Therefore, I cannot roleplay in D&D.

Nobody expresses it like that, of course (only logicians think in these kinds of terms, and no logician would be caught dead making such as simple inductive mistake), but that's the general pattern of assumptions that goes on in my experience. 

The flaws in premise 1 are obvious when spelled out like that, but unless you think about it in a certain way, they're much harder to spot. Combine that with a little bit of confirmation bias, and you've got a recipe for "D&D sucks! You can't roleplay in it!" 

Also, for what it's worth, I think I've found a new litmus test for anyone complaining about D&D. I show them this xkcd strip before I start arguing with them. If they laugh; good to go. If not; walk away.
So what I am getting is there is really nothing mechanical about it, it is just your favorite flavor verse mine kind of mentality?


Partially that, partially logical fallacy.

Picking on WoD just for the sake of example, the thinking goes like this:
1. If I can roleplay in Vampire, and if Vampire has rules for roleplaying, then I need rules in order to roleplay.
2. D&D does not have rules for roleplaying.
3. Therefore, I cannot roleplay in D&D.

Nobody expresses it like that, of course (only logicians think in these kinds of terms, and no logician would be caught dead making such as simple inductive mistake), but that's the general pattern of assumptions that goes on in my experience. 

The flaws in premise 1 are obvious when spelled out like that, but unless you think about it in a certain way, they're much harder to spot. Combine that with a little bit of confirmation bias, and you've got a recipe for "D&D sucks! You can't roleplay in it!" 

Also, for what it's worth, I think I've found a new litmus test for anyone complaining about D&D. I show them this xkcd strip before I start arguing with them. If they laugh; good to go. If not; walk away.



Straw man. And I groaned. 
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge
There's some mechanical qualities about it. Like I mentioned above, D&D from 3rd onward really only give XP for comabt. True, 4th gives it for skill challenges, but those still tend to be heavily influence by dice over roleplaying. (at least by the book, iirc). Also the vast majority of abilities that classes get deal with aspects of combat so that sometimes leads to the illusion that fighting is the only aspect of D&D (or at least the most important). 


While I know the illusion is still going strong, in 4e I've found that the paradigm has shifted a bit.  Players are rewarded for success, not just just for fighting.  I didn't really realize this myself until the last time I DMed a 4e campaign.  Players can recieve experience for combat, but it is granted for overcoming the challenge, not for killing the enemies.  If they are routed or tricked, or otherwise bypassed, the assumption is that the party still recieves experience.  Skill challenges are another possible experience, and honestly, I laughed when I read "at least by the book."  A pretty serious amount of "the book" on Skill Challenges is just emphasizing that rolls aren't everything and you should run it organic to the situation, freely allowing good, creative ideas even if a roll isn't appropriate for them.  And in any sense, the Skill Challenge is another area where experience is rewarded for success.  Finally, the purest form of experience for success is the quest system.  The DM(or the players themselves, with DM permission) can set the players a quest.  This is basically just a goal, and you get experience for meeting that goal in accordance with how difficult it was(which is determined by the DM, but with reasonably good guidelines).  The overall effect is that my players were spending about half of each session in combat, but it was only about a third of their total experience.

And this was before I had the brains to actually pick up DMG2, which has relatively solid guidelines for rewarding experience for roleplaying. 
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
I tend to think of WoD as being a bad system for roleplaying because they tell you how you have to do it.  That's like RP training wheels.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I generally think that D&D is great for roleplaying.

There are a few cases when I think it is not. 

The problems arise in a few cases when the rules walk too far on the side of game theory rather than immersion, i.e. the impossibility to wound a character beyond what 8 hours of rest can fix.

Since everything is fixed with a short rest, wounds are trivialized in a way that interferes with roleplaying in my mind. I have played RPGs where one hit can get your wound infected and then having you slowly die. Those games make for excellent RP as you fear for your character and others fear for you, but they can be annoying from a game perspective if you die too easily.

Also, when rules constrict you rather than help you, they interfere with roleplaying at times in D&D. Rules should never be the limit of what you can do, it should be advice on how to do the most common things.

  


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




Games have rules, those rules inform how the game is played, even how it should be played. Simple game design theory. If you want something to work a certain way, you put a rule in stating that's how things work. If something is ancillary or unimportant to the game, there are no rules for it. Possibly even rules against it. The various rules stack up and create the game as a whole and what the game does, what is important to it, and what doesn't matter to the game system. All simple game design theory. The game encourages what it promotes; what it rewards happens more often than what it doesn't, or penalizes. The game is its rules. What does the game reward? That's what the game is about.

Apply that to D&D. The game is an action-adventure fantasy game that rewards players for slaughtering monsters, looting their bodies, and advancing to slaughter tougher monsters. Lather, rinse, repeat. There are no real rules for roleplaying, there are no real rewards for roleplaying--certainly not compared to the monster mash treadmill. Minor quest rewards or gathering gold instead of killing monsters is present, to a point in some editions, but comparable rewards or rules for roleplaying simply don't exist in D&D.


Apply that to say Fate games. You are rewarded for engaging in roleplaying through your aspects, even gaining resources for bad things happening to your character. They have rules for social and mental conflicts as well as physical. These can be just as deadly or serious as any physical fight. The game is designed to encourage roleplaying, it's build around roleplaying. The more you roleplay the more cool things you can do because it rewards game resources for roleplaying.


Yes, you absolutely can roleplay with D&D, but it's ancillary to the game itself. The game is about combat. Nothing wrong with that at all. I've played D&D for 28 years. But the game isn't designed for roleplaying, it's designed for combat. Again, nothing wrong with that. Just different design goals yield different games as a result.


For the record, I really can't wait to see the more narrative and roleplaying heavy modules for this edition. I hope they do them justice.



Fun fact: if you take a child, and pay them an allowance based on them doing chores, and take another child, pay them an allowance wheter they do their chores or not, and encourage them to do their chores because it is what you are supposed to do, when they get older, the child who was NOT paid to do their chores is more likely to continue to do their chores than the child who was paid to do their chores.


If you take this same principle, and apply it to Fate, then you find that it actually discourages people from roleplaying for the sake of roleplaying, because you're tying it to a reward rather than letting it be its own reward. So, in other words, the very thing you praise is actually bad.


Roleplaying is its own reward and is an enjoyable thing to do, regardless of the mechanical rewards tied to it - it is the players (including the DM) who make roleplaying worthwhile, not the underlying mechanical system.

So what I am getting is there is really nothing mechanical about it, it is just your favorite flavor verse mine kind of mentality?


Partially that, partially logical fallacy.

Picking on WoD just for the sake of example, the thinking goes like this:
1. If I can roleplay in Vampire, and if Vampire has rules for roleplaying, then I need rules in order to roleplay.
2. D&D does not have rules for roleplaying.
3. Therefore, I cannot roleplay in D&D.

Nobody expresses it like that, of course (only logicians think in these kinds of terms, and no logician would be caught dead making such as simple inductive mistake), but that's the general pattern of assumptions that goes on in my experience. 

The flaws in premise 1 are obvious when spelled out like that, but unless you think about it in a certain way, they're much harder to spot. Combine that with a little bit of confirmation bias, and you've got a recipe for "D&D sucks! You can't roleplay in it!" 

Also, for what it's worth, I think I've found a new litmus test for anyone complaining about D&D. I show them this xkcd strip before I start arguing with them. If they laugh; good to go. If not; walk away.



That's pretty fair.  Another way to put it, to pick on WWGS, again, can be summed up as "bad rules make good games."  It's prettymuch the premise of Storyteller.  Make bad enough mechanics, and players will RP like crazy to avoid actually having to resort to those mechanics for resolution.  

I think what it comes down to is that there is, indeed, a play style that prefers to use RP (that is, the DM's opinion about your RP) as a substitute for resolution mechanics.   A game /can/ force that style of play, either by building "RP rewards" into the system, or by simply being mechanically unworkable and presenting RP-based resolution ("story mode") as an alternative.  D&D has been more or less conducive to that style at various points in its history, but never pushed it so hard as Storyteller.

Want to see the best of 4e included in 5e?  Join the Old Guard of 4e.

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

Roleplaying occurs in the conflict, the struggle of a game.  I'm a huge WoD fan (I run an Awakening Game everything Thursday and I've run every single core nWoD game, even Promethean.  Rewards for roleplaying in nWoD are seen in the power systems.  In Vampire you get your power through blood.  You must have a "herd" or "hunt" for blood.  This requires either roleplaying or combat.  Since combat means you'll be injured, it's better to roleplay.  It rewards roleplaying, diplomacy, subterfuge, and stealth (if you're a Nos).  Even WwtF (new Werewolf) rewards roleplaying since Essence (their power) is gained from power nodes (Locus) in their territory.  That is less about combat and more about roleplaying.  Making alliances, divvying up duties, and working as a team (pack).  In Promethean (which is the most difficult for players and my favorite) your experience is gained from your personal journey to becoming human- watch someone die, go on a date, get shot, etc.

D&D was never really a combat system so much as it is an adventure system.  DnD rewards adventure more than combat.   Your power is gained from adventuring, traveling to strange places to gain treasure, spells, and usually defeating a monster.  In 1st Edition the reason Gygax gave experience points for Gold Pieces was to limit the combat rewards.  If your group could get a hundred thousand experience for finding and stealing an powerful sword then you didn't have to kill anyone in order to be rewarded.  It was never well received but all editions have played with non-combat experience, 4e doing it the most with Skill Challenges and Quest Rewards.

The conflict and struggle of the game occurs based on the choices players make.  Mechanics affect choice.  They inform the players on the risk vs reward.  For a D&D character, adventure is what they're good at and killing is the obvious choice. 
 
While I know the illusion is still going strong, in 4e I've found that the paradigm has shifted a bit.  Players are rewarded for success, not just just for fighting.  I didn't really realize this myself until the last time I DMed a 4e campaign.  Players can recieve experience for combat, but it is granted for overcoming the challenge, not for killing the enemies.  If they are routed or tricked, or otherwise bypassed, the assumption is that the party still recieves experience.  Skill challenges are another possible experience, and honestly, I laughed when I read "at least by the book."  A pretty serious amount of "the book" on Skill Challenges is just emphasizing that rolls aren't everything and you should run it organic to the situation, freely allowing good, creative ideas even if a roll isn't appropriate for them. 



Ah, good to know. It's been a while since I read the 4th ed books so I was just relying on memory.  


Fun fact: if you take a child, and pay them an allowance based on them doing chores, and take another child, pay them an allowance whether they do their chores or not, and encourage them to do their chores because it is what you are supposed to do, when they get older, the child who was NOT paid to do their chores is more likely to continue to do their chores than the child who was paid to do their chores.


If you take this same principle, and apply it to Fate, then you find that it actually discourages people from roleplaying for the sake of roleplaying, because you're tying it to a reward rather than letting it be its own reward. So, in other words, the very thing you praise is actually bad.


Roleplaying is its own reward and is an enjoyable thing to do, regardless of the mechanical rewards tied to it - it is the players (including the DM) who make roleplaying worthwhile, not the underlying mechanical system.




The problem is, if your study was a good study, it still isn't valid here.

It sounds like the point is that once the reward stops the behaviour stops. If you are playing FATE the reward doesn't stop. so it's only true if you are using FATE to transition to D&D.

Even in that case at the point of transition you are, at worst, where you would have been starting with just D&D.

More likely your players now have experience thinking in character that they wouldn't have had if they hadn't played FATE first.

Also FATE isn't just about a direct reward like money for doing something. It's also about gaining control over the story in ways that normally can't occur because of how the DM player roles are structured in D&D. 

Mind you, since I started playing FATE i've introduced many of those philosophies into my other games cause they are pretty portable. 

But someone who's only played D&D might not think of some of the story control mechanics in FATE, which are core to the game.

It's not impossible for someone to play D&D with the RP ideals of FATE.

I'm not even saying the RP Ideas from FATE are better than just freeform RPing with no mechanic incentives; however, it would be a big leap forward for someone who's only played D&D to develop a similar system without having heard of it.

I think what people gripe about is the Idea that D&D is the face of RPing to the world at large. Yet, without adding your own stuff--or learning elsewhere--it offers very little in the way of storytelling control for players (not story telling in the sense of players making decisions for their characters; rather, in the sense of players making decisions about the scenes they are in)

 
I find people tend to roleplay as much as they want to.  Trying to make people roleplay more than they want to with XP incentives doesn't make them enjoy the game more.
While those two types exist - I disagree with what seems like snide condescension from Titanium_Dragon about a topic he's not interested in trying to see from any angle other than his own.

I do not hate "the game" and just want to roleplay. I want to make roleplaying part of the game.

I can do combat without rolling too - I can declare my character jumps over a ravine - or climbs a cliff - or Saves. vs. Petrification - or any other mechanic that crowds combat.

I could have - and have had - purely narrative combat. Totally fair - where there wasn't a single argument brought on by childish egos. So - I don't "need" rules for fairness - because I've got friends, and those friends are well adjusted human beings (my own snide condescending paragraph for the day).

====

I will say it again.  D&D excells at Man vs. Other. It's roots are from a tactical board game.

It occassionally does Man vs. Nature - especially in games like Dark Sun.

It is inept at doing anything close to Man vs. Self.

====

I could not care less about your own self-aggrandizing tale about how your character had such a tragic past.. but OH! He's a hero - and he overcame it because he's awesome. PRAISE!

What I "would" find interesting - is if your character had some physical representation of his "tragic past" - and overcame it through rules just like combat is detailed.

In the second example - I can be involved in your characters story. In the first one - you're just talking about how special you are.

It's trite and boring and you should write a book if you think your super fabulously designed character is so interesting and others should gawk over it.

====

I'd like a game that reflects Man vs. Self better - and D&D is not that.

It's a dungeon crawl game you can roleplay in - or not. Just like Monopoly or Chess. I've seen people play D&D completely mechanically.

There are other RPGs - where that would be far less "doable".

===

In closing - I don't care how someone plays. D&D is a great game for many people. 

However - for certain genres - I wouldn't touch it.
This all dependson what we define role play as. If your dnd session is people playing a bunch of dungeon raiders looitng ruins, guess, what, you are role playing a band of dungeon raiders looting ruins. In this sense, playing mario bros. is a role playing game because you are playing the role of a plumber trying to rescue a princess. In this sense almost anything counts as a role play game.


I generaly think of role play as being able to make choices, being able to affect the world and my characters fate though the things I do, and direct the story. So, if a dnd game is a giant railroad (in my experince, most 4e games have been this), or if it is just dungeon crawling for the sake of dungeon crawling (several of my older edetion dnd games were like this), then its not really role playing. Even role playing video games would fail to be true rpgs according to this difentition, since your choices are allways limited, and you usually never have more then 2 or 3 types of endings. With this kind of deffinition, I have played wargames (40k and warhammer fantasy) that were role playing games, because the players gave the army generals names and character, they had stats, decisions helped shape the fate of the war, and there were consequences for getting your general killed in the course of the war campaign. It is also why I tend to like sandbox campaigns and having very loose story structures in my dnd games. I basically populate the world with itneresting characters, places, and oppertunities for adventure, and let the players motives take over from there. I want them to chose which leads to follow, which places to explore, which npcs to allign with or swear enmity twords without it resulting in the campaign coming to a halt or the cultists succeding in destryoing the world etc.


Or, maybe role play only counts if there are no mechanical randomnessness to mess you up. So, basically, only acting counts as role play, and you can only truly act if you have no restrictions, beyond initial character concepts, but even these are probably not written in stone.


So, what counts as a role play is kind of arbitrary in my opinion, and dosnt really matter any way. If I like one style of game, and its fun, the last thing I should do is let some one else come along and say "that is not true role playing, cut it out!" These games are for fun, and so the quest for the true role play experince is misguided. The quest is for what is fun!


That being said, putting in mechanics to reward/punish role play I think tends to not go over so well. Consider old alignment restictions on paladins. You break the role of the paladin by doing a cahotic act and boom, you could lose your powers. Some people like this, alot don't. And to be honest, not having those restrictions opens up the role play possibilities by being able to make non LG paladisn with different and more interesting backgrounds. Hackmaster's honor system is also an example of rule incentivs for role play backfireing (in fact, that was kind of the gag in KODT strips that is based on). When you follow your alignment and role play your quarks and flaws you get rewarded with honor points, which gives you re-rolls duirng the game and stuff like that, and you can burn those points for bonuses etc. The problem I ran into was players asking me what they have to specifically do to get more honor, and so they ended up not role playing so much as just trying to munchkin the rules to get advantages. So, I think the looser the rules, the more easy it is to role play becuase you don't have to worry about min max bonsuses/penalties. If tere is no incentive either way, then you can go ahead and role play as much or as little as  you like, and you can go in what ever direction you like with it. Of course, that dosn't meant there are not story consequences for how you role play.      


  
Roleplaying derives from story. If your game is about a bunch of guys fighting a dungeon of monsters that can't be reasoned with and only dealt with via a sword, then yes... your roleplaying will suffer.

But rules won't make roleplaying better. It just encourages more rollplaying. The more you bind PC and NPC action to the roll of the dice instead of roleplaying on the part of the PC and DM, the less roleplaying you get in game. The problem is that psychologically die rolling for that stuff makes you feel helpless, detaching you from your character.

When your character is forced to do something because the NPC got a good roll or because he failed his save vs. alcoholism, it takes another aspect out of the PCs hands and further, it makes the character feel less responsible about it. After all, it's really the same as if your character got hit with dominate person and is suddenly someone else.

Really, the best way to encourage good roleplaying is having a good DM.
I'll take a 1sq shift here and add is this RP between players, PC & NPC or pure character imersion?

I'll just look at the PC & NPC interaction for RP

Here are a few thoughts....
Really old-school--NO rules for interaction
Old-school--Chart for CHA based NPC reactions. Player makes rolls to move the reaction of the NPC up or down
Some what new school--Skills used to influence NPC (CHA based)-- Leadership or Diplomacy used for NPC interaction
New school--Skills or ability used depending on the system and DM, good RP may lead to auto success.


 The Burning Wheel system has something Duel of Wits, I do not have XP with this. If some one does can they chi8me in?
MY DM COMMITMENT To insure that those who participate in any game that I adjudicate are having fun, staying engaged, maintaining focus, contributing to the story and becoming legendary. "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gary Gygax Thanks for that Gary, so now stop playing RAW games. Member of the Progressive Front of Grognardia Suicide Squad
Easy test. The closer your game is to what most would consider a readable novel, the more you're roleplaying. The more you speak as your character, the better. The more backstory plays a part of the present game, the better. The more description given at the table by the GM and players the better. I'm not saying it has to be a good novel, or a publishable novel, just something that would e recognizable as a story with distinct characters. If your game reads more like a play by play of a soccer match with swords and blood, you're not roleplaying, you're wargaming. 

Each is good for what it is, and each can be really fun. But let's not pretend that one is the other. 
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge


 The Burning Wheel system has something Duel of Wits, I do not have XP with this. If some one does can they chi8me in?



To oversimplify, each side of an argument gets a semi-random amount of points (like Hit Points) for their side.  Then each side secretly plans three different "maneuvers" (point, counterpoint, obfuscation, yelling and cursing, etc) from a list.  Maneuvers are revealed and a bit of RP happens based on the outcome (there's a matrix of sorts that breaks down what happens when say, one guy makes a "point" and the other "obfuscates", for example).  And then one or both sides lose some "argument" points.  Move on the the next planned "maneuver", and then the next, and then start at the top of the round again until somebody gives up or runs out of points (there aren't a lot of points, either, maybe 3-8, usually)

Two things that make this not suck:

1. Technically, this is just about winning an argument, especially in the eyes of an audience.  It's not mind control.  You can't make the other guy do anything.  You can't even make him agree to anything.  But it will be obvious to all who are there who won the argument.

2. It's very hard to get out of a Duel of Wits unscathed, and if you lose any points at all, even just one, you and the other player have to work out a compromise roughly equivelant to the ratio of points lost.  So it's very "organic" that way.

Not everybody likes it, but it's good at what it does when used properly.
The argument is made by people who have only foggy personal definitions of what roleplaying, as it is used in terms of roleplaying games, actually means. They tend to latch onto activities that are merely tangentially related to roleplaying as being the activity itself. Things like speaking in character, for instance. That's merely communicating what your character is doing in an entertaining way - it's not roleplaying. The roleplaying inheres in your decisions and how you make them, not the methods you use to communicate the result.
I think WoD is presumed to be a RP'ers table top game because WoD is much more about story, setting and the characters with combat being a fairly uncommon activity, were as D&D is predominantly about scouring dungeons and killing baddies. Certainly you can RP in both and have a lot of fun doing so, but to suggest that D&D is designed for roleplayers more than WoD, is just ignoring the obvious.

Neither is the better system (though I personally prefer 'new' WoD over D&D, though I've been DMing D&D far, far longer) but both have their strengths and weaknesses. If you really enjoy RP, chances are you'll be more drawn to WoD than those who are in it for the fun combat, which tend to be D&D players. That said, you can certainly have a blast RP'ing with the right group in D&D, just like the combat in WoD can be fast and visceral with the right group.

I tend to prefer WoD because it brings out the writter in me, coming up with devious stories of personal horror. But my group plays both, and enjoys both for a variety of reasons. We also like to RP sometimes in D&D (4e to boot).
The argument is made by people who have only foggy personal definitions of what roleplaying, as it is used in terms of roleplaying games, actually means. They tend to latch onto activities that are merely tangentially related to roleplaying as being the activity itself. Things like speaking in character, for instance. That's merely communicating what your character is doing in an entertaining way - it's not roleplaying. The roleplaying inheres in your decisions and how you make them, not the methods you use to communicate the result.

Well said. Speaking in character may add to the overall immersiveness of the roleplaying, but as long as the player is basing his actions on the knowledge, morals, values, biases, and perceptions of the character, THAT is roleplaying.  You could refer to the actions of your character in the 3rd person, and you would still be roleplaying. Roleplaying is simply putting your self (not yourself, your self) in the shoes of someone else, seeing the world through their eyes, etc. I am the narrator of the story (game) as told from my character's perspective. The DM is the narrator for every NPC and monster. Just because my character is a raucous barbarian doesn't mean I have to be. I am not an acteur (haughty-taughty french actor [I am french-canadian, so I know about these things]), I'm a roleplayer. If my not speaking in character breaks your suspension of disbelief or somehow ruins your fun, maybe you're not playing the right game. I'm playing a roleplaying game, and doing it properly, what are you doing?
If my not speaking in character breaks your suspension of disbelief or somehow ruins your fun, maybe you're not playing the right game. I'm playing a roleplaying game, and doing it properly, what are you doing?



No True Scotsman roleplays without speaking in character!

I think what you meant to say was, "If my not speaking in character breaks your suspension of disbelief, or somehow ruins your fun, maybe we're not compatible gaming partners". 
The argument is made by people who have only foggy personal definitions of what roleplaying, as it is used in terms of roleplaying games, actually means. They tend to latch onto activities that are merely tangentially related to roleplaying as being the activity itself. Things like speaking in character, for instance. That's merely communicating what your character is doing in an entertaining way - it's not roleplaying. The roleplaying inheres in your decisions and how you make them, not the methods you use to communicate the result.



Fate is a perfect example of a RP game that has one of its major system rely on making decisions from your characters point of view.  Fate points are the grease that makes the game's wheels spin and they are earned and spent based on playing your character as the character.  This is what I am talking about when I talk about systems that are good for RP.

D&D isn't a "bad" RP game, it doesn't punish you for acting as your character or sharply limit what your character does or is (beyond raw alignment).  It is however RP agnostic, it doesn't matter whether you RP or not the game remains entierly the same.   
Fate is a perfect example of a RP game that has one of its major system rely on making decisions from your characters point of view.  Fate points are the grease that makes the game's wheels spin and they are earned and spent based on playing your character as the character.  This is what I am talking about when I talk about systems that are good for RP.

D&D isn't a "bad" RP game, it doesn't punish you for acting as your character or sharply limit what your character does or is (beyond raw alignment).  It is however RP agnostic, it doesn't matter whether you RP or not the game remains entierly the same.   


I think this is a good point, and it is made especially good because it includes a shout-out to Fate, a truly excellent system.  Unlike Fate, MouseGuard, and other narrativist games, D&D's design philosophy has been pretty consistently "RP agnostic".  The one exception being in its occasional mentions of roleplaying XP.

That does raise a bit of a puzzle, though.  If D&D's style is agnostic, what makes a game actually bad?  After all, there is unlikely to be any system that explicitly punishes you for roleplaying, the way Fate explicitly rewards you for it.  So I think we should say that a system is bad for RPing when a rule incentivizes you to act in a way that is counterintuitive or contrary to the way you'd expect your character to act.  For example, the rules for the 3e monk class incentivized you to stand still and full attack all the time, when you'd expect monks to be highly mobile warriors, and the rules for the 4e rogue class incentivized you to dump Intelligence, when you'd expect rogues to be clever characters.  Call this "indirect badness".  And as we've just seen, it is very possible for parts of D&D to be indirectly bad for RPing even when it doesn't directly punish you for it.  But there is a bright side to this.  We can also see that D&D can be indirectly good for RPing even when it doesn't directly reward you for it, by making sure that the rules are consistent with your intuitions and your expectations, so that you are rewarded for acting in character.  For example, limited magic makes 3e wizards very cautious about using it, while unlimited magic makes 3e warlocks profligate.  (Please don't take this as an invitation to discuss whether these systems are good or bad as gameplay mechanics; I am merely using them to illustrate this point about rules and roleplaying.)
Fate is a perfect example of a RP game that has one of its major system rely on making decisions from your characters point of view.  Fate points are the grease that makes the game's wheels spin and they are earned and spent based on playing your character as the character.  This is what I am talking about when I talk about systems that are good for RP.

D&D isn't a "bad" RP game, it doesn't punish you for acting as your character or sharply limit what your character does or is (beyond raw alignment).  It is however RP agnostic, it doesn't matter whether you RP or not the game remains entierly the same.   


I think this is a good point, and it is made especially good because it includes a shout-out to Fate, a truly excellent system.  Unlike Fate, MouseGuard, and other narrativist games, D&D's design philosophy has been pretty consistently "RP agnostic".  The one exception being in its occasional mentions of roleplaying XP.

That does raise a bit of a puzzle, though.  If D&D's style is agnostic, what makes a game actually bad?  After all, there is unlikely to be any system that explicitly punishes you for roleplaying, the way Fate explicitly rewards you for it.  So I think we should say that a system is bad for RPing when a rule incentivizes you to act in a way that is counterintuitive or contrary to the way you'd expect your character to act.  For example, the rules for the 3e monk class incentivized you to stand still and full attack all the time, when you'd expect monks to be highly mobile warriors, and the rules for the 4e rogue class incentivized you to dump Intelligence, when you'd expect rogues to be clever characters.  Call this "indirect badness".  And as we've just seen, it is very possible for parts of D&D to be indirectly bad for RPing even when it doesn't directly punish you for it.  But there is a bright side to this.  We can also see that D&D can be indirectly good for RPing even when it doesn't directly reward you for it, by making sure that the rules are consistent with your intuitions and your expectations, so that you are rewarded for acting in character.  For example, limited magic makes 3e wizards very cautious about using it, while unlimited magic makes 3e warlocks profligate.  (Please don't take this as an invitation to discuss whether these systems are good or bad as gameplay mechanics; I am merely using them to illustrate this point about rules and roleplaying.)



Taking that a step further to explore the RP ramifications of the rules as they stand is a bit... disconcerting. Even your old-school, lawful good paladin is a murder hobo wandering from monster den to monster den slaughtering anything before him, searching the pockets of the dead for coins, and stripping anything of value from the corpses. Despite any other RP considerations, that's the core of the character, that's what these characters do day in and day out to advance themselves in the world. And this is a hero? That sounds more like an angst filled WoD game than a fantasy hero. This kind of behavior in a fantasy novel would place the character solidly in the "villain" camp. Notice too how even D&D novels skip over this kind of stuff. 
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge
Taking that a step further to explore the RP ramifications of the rules as they stand is a bit... disconcerting. Even your old-school, lawful good paladin is a murder hobo wandering from monster den to monster den slaughtering anything before him, searching the pockets of the dead for coins, and stripping anything of value from the corpses. Despite any other RP considerations, that's the core of the character, that's what these characters do day in and day out to advance themselves in the world. And this is a hero? That sounds more like an angst filled WoD game than a fantasy hero. This kind of behavior in a fantasy novel would place the character solidly in the "villain" camp. Notice too how even D&D novels skip over this kind of stuff. 


I haven't read any D&D novels, so I'm afraid I can't notice anything about them.  But I don't see how what you say is a ramification of the rules.  The rules for the paladin have always been truly "agnostic" about whether he uses his powers to wander around killing random monsters or whether he follows a more exalted path.  That's always been up to the DM's selection/design of adventures.  For that matter, I don't see how being an itinerant monster slayer is all that inconsistent with our expectations of paladinhood, seeing as how knight-errantry is a huge thing in medieval romances, and the monsters in question are invariably presented as being, well, monsters, terrorizing the livestock and eating the peasantry and whatnot.

EDIT:  Oh, were you stressing the looting part of it?  That actually has bugged me since I started playing the game.  I don't have a good answer to that other than to say "I deemphasize/discourage it when I DM", which of course is a bad answer.
I think that WoD games help foster roleplay because restrictions breed creativity. When you see an improv comedy show, it's rarely the case that the cast will just come on stage and try to be funny with no structure. Usually improv comedy takes the form of little games with rules, often with topics seeded by the audience. Vampire doesn't let you be a guy who's just kind of guy with a sword and maybe orcs killed your family. That's not an option in the system. The system makes you be a vampire to begin with, but it doesn't stop there; it makes you be some kind of specific vampire that has really severe personality traits all over the place and it makes you do certain vampire things because if you don't bad stuff happens.

And then ten minutes later it tells you you have developed acute paranoia.

I'm not saying that it's impossible to build and play a boring Vampire character - I've seen people do an admirable job of just that, and many more characters that are obnoxious and one-dimensional. But if your character creation process makes you pick a bunch of pretty outrageous traits, then pretty much anyone is going to have more to go off of than if it just makes you pick between hitting people with a sword and hitting people with an axe. People are not on the whole very good - without some practice - of putting together character descriptions and backgrounds that will encourage themselves to roleplay. And yes, all but the most diehard dungeon thespian benefits from a little extra encouragement, and pushing a bunch of hooks and restrictions onto the player is great encouragement.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Since 1st ed. as a DM I have always awarded players RP XP in trickles, 5 xp here 15 xp there dependent on the overall effort put into it. I use it as a motivation tool for when you have a couple boring players at the table that don't really care to roleplay there pc's or are just to nervous to. I also trickle xp for finding alternate ways in handling situations rather then fight it or smash it to pieces, of all the many years dming these two things have worked wonders on the table and after a couple levels has gotten the whole group into roleplaying machines ;)

To many times at the start of a campaign have I seen the players start of in chatty off topic or out of character chit-chat and the xp reward for good roleplaying does work wonders after everyone notices Mark who plays the halfling rogue is closer to level 2 then they are because he is staying in character.