Getting Players to Roleplay

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Hi guys,

I'm a new DM and new to DnD as a whole, i managed to convince my family to have a go and so far we've played 3 sessions it took some time for them to grasp the game mechanics but i think they have finally started to understand that side of the game really well, i've got another session coming up on Sunday and my question is how do i get them roleplaying? So far they just play the game as a game but i really think they would get more out of it by embracing their characters and roleplaying with each other and the NPC's so does anyone have any tips on how to kick start this as i have no clue! 

Thanks

JS  
Lead by example. Don't pressure them. Make encounters about interesting choices, rather than always just about killing the other side.

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

Not everybody is comfortable roleplaying, even less when they begin.


As said above, just lead by example ... if they are into it, they will follow (maybe not next session, but sooner or later).

-Ask me about Sketch Combat.
Hi guys,

I'm a new DM and new to DnD as a whole, i managed to convince my family to have a go and so far we've played 3 sessions it took some time for them to grasp the game mechanics but i think they have finally started to understand that side of the game really well, i've got another session coming up on Sunday and my question is how do i get them roleplaying? So far they just play the game as a game but i really think they would get more out of it by embracing their characters and roleplaying with each other and the NPC's so does anyone have any tips on how to kick start this as i have no clue! 

Thanks

JS  

I've found starting goofy and moving into more serious roleplay seems to ease folks into it.  Most of us are a bit shy to try it for the first time, but if its as easy as ordering an ale at the tavern or harassing the horrible bard on stage that may help them ease into it.

Maybe look into doing a skill challenge with them.  Especially one where they have to pass checks while talking to an NPC that they need information from.  These are covered in great detail in the DM guide 2 If I remember right.  There are several pre done adventures that have them as well.  The one that immediatly comes to mind is in keep of the shadowfell they have to talk to a knight to learn the history of the place. 

Good luck, the game is so much more immersive once people start to "be" their characters :D
Watch some Acquisitions Incorporated videos on youtube with them. Wil Wheaton once said that he HAS TO role play because his dice rolls are so lame, there would be no other way to have fun.
Thanks folks, 

I try to lead by example by acting out my NPC's as much as possible i just find they ask and answer questions in their own voice and style, i thought of maybe sitting them down before the session and discussing their characters from a purely personality perspective to maybe get them thinking about who their characters really are, i dont want to make them uncomfortable or dissuade them from the game i just want them to have a go and see how it goes. Thank you for the suggestions though i will definately try out a few conversational skill challenges and maybe just prompt them every now and then during combat discussions like " how would your character say that?" etc.

I've said it before but this community is really lovely compared to most online communities and i'm very grateful for the help!

JS  
Watch some Acquisitions Incorporated videos on youtube with them. Wil Wheaton once said that he HAS TO role play because his dice rolls are so lame, there would be no other way to have fun.

I have watched those myself and they are brilliant, its what got me to pick the game up in the first place! i think i will post some links to them on our group page and hopefully they will take a look. Thanks! 
Watch some Acquisitions Incorporated videos on youtube with them. Wil Wheaton once said that he HAS TO role play because his dice rolls are so lame, there would be no other way to have fun.



Also Wil's show, TableTop on geekandsundry.com - the Dragon Age episode is a good example. The funniest bit is that Wil's trying to roleplay because his dice rolls suck and his character ends up not being able to do anything successfully, and his friend keeps telling him to shut up with his story because he wants to roll his own dice.
Also,
If a player role-plays a way that they want to do a skill check and the explanation is quite entertaining, I'll often reward the role-playing with an automatic success (or sometimes an automatic crit if the detailed explanation really wows me and the other players).
They're already roleplaying because combat is roleplaying.

What you mean to say is you would like them to engage in more in-character interaction. The way you do this is you ask them directly to do it and provide examples as to what you mean, then ask if they're interested in giving it a try. Be prepared that they might not be interested in it at all. Or maybe not interested right now as they focus on building up some system mastery.

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 | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | 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!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

They're already roleplaying because combat is roleplaying.

What you mean to say is you would like them to engage in more in-character interaction. The way you do this is you ask them directly to do it and provide examples as to what you mean, then ask if they're interested in giving it a try. Be prepared that they might not be interested in it at all. Or maybe not interested right now as they focus on building up some system mastery.

Thats exactly what i meant thank you, i think that direct approach will be the best approach and i will be bringing it up on Sunday.

Thanks again to you all for the help!  
Embrace any roleplaying they do, and start by thinking of "roleplaying" as any decision a player makes that the character might make, even if that choice is also the choice the player would make. This is why combat, as iserith points out, is roleplaying.

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

My players were also focusing more on the meta of the game than RP until we reached some skill challenges, which they found they really enjoyed. Maybe injecting some skill challenges/non-combat encounters that force them to try to roleplay might help them practice.
My players were also focusing more on the meta of the game than RP until we reached some skill challenges, which they found they really enjoyed. Maybe injecting some skill challenges/non-combat encounters that force them to try to roleplay might help them practice.

Interesting. I don't think of skill challenges as themselves enhancing roleplaying, but providing a framework for pacing, adjudication and rewards. I'm glad to hear they helped your group's roleplaying, though.

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

Thanks folks, 

I try to lead by example by acting out my NPC's as much as possible i just find they ask and answer questions in their own voice and style, i thought of maybe sitting them down before the session and discussing their characters from a purely personality perspective to maybe get them thinking about who their characters really are, i dont want to make them uncomfortable or dissuade them from the game i just want them to have a go and see how it goes. Thank you for the suggestions though i will definately try out a few conversational skill challenges and maybe just prompt them every now and then during combat discussions like " how would your character say that?" etc.

I've said it before but this community is really lovely compared to most online communities and i'm very grateful for the help!

JS  

Acting out character voices and mannerisms can be very intimidating to players.  I've had the best luck with asking leading questions about the character's likes, dislikes, emotional state at the time, etc. in relation to specific occurences, NPCs and the like.  I find that the more the players get to know their PCs the more likely they are to move toward those other aspects of roleplaying.

Also, I wouldn't be too discouraged with newer players in the beginning stages of a campaign.  A lot of times the characters are a bit of a blank slate as party dynamics, etc. get hammered out in game.  You have to remember these guys and gals sat down to play a game, and were probably mostly concerned with the mechanics.  Once that starts to get easier for them, it will likewise be easier to see their characters are real people with goals, opinions, habits, and all that jazz.
Interesting. I don't think of skill challenges as themselves enhancing roleplaying, but providing a framework for pacing, adjudication and rewards. I'm glad to hear they helped your group's roleplaying, though.



I guess they felt it was "easier" than following combat rules (as I mentioned/we discussed in the thread I started). Our skill challenge involved talking to a dragon and convincing her to hand over an arcane item that would be safe with the party, and taken to a trustworthy person to keep or destroy. We used modern speak, but spoke in the first person as if they were the characters talking to me as the dragon. After the game, most of them expressed how much they enjoyed that skill challenge more than the combat encounter that happened afterward. 

I think the trick is, if the players are concentrating too much on meta during combat, then give them more obvious opportunities in between or in place of other combat scenes to RP. 
skill challenge wouldn't really "enhance" roleplaying but they can fascilitate it

with my group I usually feel like I have to put peanut butter on their gums to get them talking, and then toss them a scooby snack if they act in character, they are a difficult bunch, the keeping silly approach works somewhat for the less enthusiastic, it certainly has curbed my DM style to tend toward the silly just to get them going at all
I think the trick is, if the players are concentrating too much on meta during combat, then give them more obvious opportunities in between or in place of other combat scenes to RP.

My theory is that people see failure in combat as death, and the loss of their character, if not ejection from the game altogether. Non-combat scenes don't tend to have that kind of a potential failure mode, and lots of them are interesting even if (or especially if) the players fail. If you can do that with your combat encounters, in my experience people stop the irritating metagaming (i.e. trying to mitigate problems) and engage in the fun metagaming (i.e. trying to creating interesting problems).

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

I think a lot of hestitation with in-character interaction also comes from a lack of fictional context and the perception that the player should be cautious about declarations.

Think about it: If you don't have a clear picture of what the scene is, the goals, the stakes, the context, etc., you simply might not have enough information to be able to contribute meaningfully to the scene. You might not care about it, understand it, or have already accepted the perceived outcome and there's nothing really more to add. The DM thinks you should be interacting in-character like crazy because, well, you're not fighting at the moment, right?

Take the ubiquitous quest-giver scene, for example: The usual scene is the NPC downloading information to the PCs ahead of their departure on an adventure. Since the general assumption is that the PCs will take the quest, what is there really to talk about in-character that will make a lick of difference other than add some flavor (maybe)? Whereas in ashesnhale's dragon scene, there was something at stake and whadyaknow the players interacted in-character. A lot of DMs have scenes that are just filler (tavern scene, anyone?) with nothing really at stake and then expect the players to care enough to launch into intense in-character interaction and development. In my experience, ain't gonna happen. They need more fictional context. They need something to care about. Help them figure out why they care and why it matters and I bet you see a change.

As well, given that many players and DMs see a separation as to who controls and is allowed to establish the fiction (the traditional "DM over here, players over there" paradigm), many players may simply be shy about jumping in with new information that hasn't previously been established by the DM, even if they really need it to interact more freely. Will the DM allow me to create this thing that I think is cool and gives me some fictional context to interact in-character more fully? Do I have to ask for permission first? Is my idea stupid or does it contradict the plot the DM has planned? "Ah, screw it, I'll just be quiet." In my personal experience, when players realize that I don't follow this paradigm and they can say and establish whatever they want provided it doesn't contradict existing fiction, there is a huge amount of in-character interaction as a result. They can't be wrong, so they don't mind jumping in there with whatever they think would be interesting.

Food for thought, anyway.

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 | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | 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!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I'm in the same boat when it comes for looking for in-character interaction, but I'm usually more interested in how the party bonds within itself than with situations or NPCs. And it honestly confuses me why this doesn't happen automatically. Or rather, the idea that before that can happen, there needs to be a reason for it other than its own sake. I mean, don't real people converse without an impetus?

For example, in a 4e game I experimented with a rough version of Robin Law's DramaSystem. Characters established emotional needs, and then got into a kind of verbal bartering match with other PCs with needs of their own. There were some grumblings that it was forced, awkward, and rigid, but they admitted that because there was a driving force behind the roleplay, they were more driven to do it. In other words, outside of a compelling reason, it just didn't happen.

Now, I understand how stakes and whatnot make it easier to do this, as they provide a goal. But to my ears that sounds like saying that the only reason you would ever delve into a dungeon is if something inside it were gonna blow up the world. That can certainly push you into it, but I'd hope it wouldn't be strictly necessary.
I mean, don't real people converse without an impetus?

No. And when one person doesn't understand another person's impetus for interacting, the situation is very awkward. We tend to view that person interacting with us as a little bit strange.

For example, in a 4e game I experimented with a rough version of Robin Law's DramaSystem. Characters established emotional needs, and then got into a kind of verbal bartering match with other PCs with needs of their own. There were some grumblings that it was forced, awkward, and rigid, but they admitted that because there was a driving force behind the roleplay, they were more driven to do it. In other words, outside of a compelling reason, it just didn't happen.

Don't drive people to roleplay.

Shoot, I'm concerned now. I Kickstarted Laws's Hillfolk, which is based on DramaSystem. I haven't read it over yet, but it seemed intriguing. Based on what you say above, I'm not so sure.

Now, I understand how stakes and whatnot make it easier to do this, as they provide a goal. But to my ears that sounds like saying that the only reason you would ever delve into a dungeon is if something inside it were gonna blow up the world. That can certainly push you into it, but I'd hope it wouldn't be strictly necessary.

I don't follow you. People need a reason to do things, even if the only commodity they're risking is time.

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

I think the reason why there is a perception that skill challenges require more roleplay than combat encounters has to do with traditional combat encounters being about bringing team monster to 0 hp.  Players play their characters tactically, and there is little differentiation between what the player wants -- the monsters to be dead -- and what the characters want -- the monster to be dead.  In a skill challenge, there's a bit more room.  The players want fun and for the plot to advance.  They want to succeed at the skill challenge, sure, but there's a little more shades of gray to play with and multiple outcomes to consider.  For a lot of well-planned and conceptualized combat encounters this will also be true, but I don't think it's as true for the default style of combat encounters. 
I'm usually more interested in how the party bonds within itself than with situations or NPCs.



Me too!

And it honestly confuses me why this doesn't happen automatically. Or rather, the idea that before that can happen, there needs to be a reason for it other than its own sake. I mean, don't real people converse without an impetus?



It happens because as much as DMs love to pretend that the players are the characters and that there should be no daylight between the two, there simply is. The sooner DMs accept this as a fact, the easier it is to get around all these issues, especially as it relates to concerns over metagaming or in-character interaction or what have you.

So if you want it to happen, you have to set the stage. I do this by direct questioning a la Dungeon World's bonds system before, during, and after play. I also do this to bond them to specific elements of the adventure scenario. Once they've been established, they tend to get explored. Players that are used to this (like my regulars) do it unprompted now.

Now, I understand how stakes and whatnot make it easier to do this, as they provide a goal. But to my ears that sounds like saying that the only reason you would ever delve into a dungeon is if something inside it were gonna blow up the world. That can certainly push you into it, but I'd hope it wouldn't be strictly necessary.



This is where my questions to bond the characters to the adventure scenario comes in. Yes, Titivullis Rex is trying to unleash the forces of hell on this world and it's on you to stop him, but you hate or fear him for other reasons related to your childhood... why is that?

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 | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | 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!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Embrace any roleplaying they do, and start by thinking of "roleplaying" as any decision a player makes that the character might make, even if that choice is also the choice the player would make. This is why combat, as iserith points out, is roleplaying.

I tend to be of the 'combat isn't roleplaying' school, but I think it may be more accurate to say that combat is an opportunity for roleplaying, but players (and DM's) don't always take full advantage of that opportunity.

Consider these two exchanges:
EXCHANGE 1
DM 1: An orc attacks you with his axe. He hits your armor class and does 5 points of damage.
Player 1: I attack the orc with my sword. I hit AC 17.

EXCHANGE 2
DM 2: With bloodshot eyes wide with hatred, the mighty orc let's out a mighty, deep roar, hefting a long-shafted and rust-riddled axe, you can smell the stench.. rotten leather, sweat and a sour inhuman filth. "Hu-monnn akk-zar-doth!!!!" (HE hits, 5 points damage).
Player 2: Aiiiii!!!! Blighted creature! This razor in my mailed fist is called Widow-is-Weeping, but none shall weep for thee, I grant it! Have at thee! Yaaaah!!!! (17).

I suppose both exchanges could be called role-playing since both players did make a decision that their character chooses to engage in the combat, but DM2 sets a more interesting tone and player 2 not only follows suit, but is probably having more fun and also making the game more fun for those around him/her.

---
I agree, OP... set the example. Some players will follow that lead once they see that you're not shy about it. Give it time. Some people tend to take themselves pretty seriously and yelling Aiiii!!!! and Yaaaaahhhh!!! makes them feel self-conscious. But the inner child in people wants to yell Aiiii!!!! and Yaaaaah!!!!

Fair warning... I've run across a small handful of players who never get past the "I attack the orc with my sword. I hit AC 17" phase. They seem to be having great fun, though; if it isn't detracting from your fun, play on.

Such players might be less self-conscious and provided better dialogue if they play in 3rd person. The less emotions-on-the-table response makes it less self-conscious for a shy player, but the player can still derive enjoyment. They're screaming "Aiiiii!!! and Yaaaahhh!!!" on the inside!

Player 3: My fighter, Sir Knightly screams in pain and attacks with his sword, the one he named Widow-is-Weeping, and tells the orc no one will weep for him as he attacks... rolling a 17 and doing 11 points of damage if it's a hit.




A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Oh the tavern scene!
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I tend to be of the 'combat isn't roleplaying' school, but I think it may be more accurate to say that combat is an opportunity for roleplaying, but players (and DM's) don't always take full advantage of that opportunity.

Consider these two exchanges:
EXCHANGE 1
DM 1: An orc attacks you with his axe. He hits your armor class and does 5 points of damage.
Player 1: I attack the orc with my sword. I hit AC 17.

EXCHANGE 2
DM 2: With bloodshot eyes wide with hatred, the mighty orc let's out a mighty, deep roar, hefting a long-shafted and rust-riddled axe, you can smell the stench.. rotten leather, sweat and a sour inhuman filth. "Hu-monnn akk-zar-doth!!!!" (HE hits, 5 points damage).
Player 2: Aiiiii!!!! Blighted creature! This razor in my mailed fist is called Widow-is-Weeping, but none shall weep for thee, I grant it! Have at thee! Yaaaah!!!! (17).

I suppose both exchanges could be called role-playing since both players did make a decision that their character chooses to engage in the combat, but DM2 sets a more interesting tone and player 2 not only follows suit, but is probably having more fun and also making the game more fun for those around him/her.



"Roleplaying" isn't a matter of talking, acting, or using colorful narrative. Those are all forms of roleplaying, just like combat is. You just prefer one over the other, which is cool. It's kind of problematic though when people say stuff like "I prefer roleplaying, not combat." Or "roleplaying, not 'roll'playing." (Ugh.) It's divisive for one, and late at night when I have my tinfoil hat on, I imagine that the reason why so many DMs have boring non-combat scenes is because "they prefer roleplaying, not combat." They forget that what makes any scene good is tension, even if there's no chance of bloodshed. They reduce their combat and simultaneously get rid of tension from all other scenes which would otherwise help to bring out the in-character interaction.

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 | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | 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!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

No. And when one person doesn't understand another person's impetus for interacting, the situation is very awkward. We tend to view that person interacting with us as a little bit strange.



I mean, technically speaking yes, sane people need reasons to do anything. But I meant more, "don't real people converse just for the pleasure of each others' company, or to bond closer", etc. Not because something from the outside presses in on them.


Don't drive people to roleplay.


I will drag these trousered apes into sophisticated gaming even if it kills them!

Shoot, I'm concerned now. I Kickstarted Laws's Hillfolk, which is based on DramaSystem. I haven't read it over yet, but it seemed intriguing. Based on what you say above, I'm not so sure.



Heh, few reasons for that.

1. In my attempts to put more energy into it, I tried (amateur) ballroom dancing with another person as part of the roleplay.
2. Most of the group probably weren't used to RP'ing in the way of vulnerability; they lean towards badass lone wolf types most days, I suspect. Trying to come up with an emotionally incomplete character was likely a foreign concept to them.
3. The rigidity complaint is a permutation of one that tries my patience. Basically, if they and I agree to do something they only pretend to want to do, they argue that system reinforcement or writing it down curbs their creativity, i.e. "I would do it so much more if only I had no expectations to."

I don't follow you. People need a reason to do things, even if the only commodity they're risking is time.



Again, more than the simple pleasure of the thing is reason enough, not outside compulsion.

Going out on limb here, but I think there may be better games for you, mangoman72, than D&D (of any edition) for the kind of deep introspection you're hoping to achieve. You might find some indie games out there that hit closer to what you're looking for. D&D's awesome at what it does best - heroic fantasy adventure - and mediocre at everything else without a lot of extra effort. A lot of the *World games (Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Star Wars World, Tremulus, and all the gazillion other hacks) are good at encouraging that sort of interaction as a main feature of the game. It's worth a look.

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 | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | 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!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I'm feeling a bit loopy, so pardon me if I'm off with this one, but try to reward your players when they do cool stuff.

One thing I have in my game is a deck of cards called the "Player Reward Cards".  Basically every time someone does something in character that is either so awesome that we all stop for a second and mention it, or if someone does something in character that makes us all stop playing and start laughing, they draw a card.  Cards have one time use effects that tend to add little things to the roleplay or combats.  When a player uses a card they have to come up with a good enough description to be able to use it.

A simple example would be Blurred Movement.  The mechanical effect is you can add your dex mod to a skill check or attack roll.  In order to us it, the player has to describe what they are doing to make it look/feel interesting and amazing.



A more complicated example (and one that can lead to a lot of table roleplaying) is Inspire.  Inspire has a built-in roleplay requirement and the table are they ones that can help you make the speech / determine whether the speech was cool enough to get the effect from it.

 
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@matyr, I really like the reward card idea.  I think I may have to write some up.  What do you do if say the fighter who doesn't have a dex mod draws the Blurred Movement card?
Roleplaying doesn't have to involve voice acting.  It can simply be you doing things that are "in character".  Examples:
DM: "Ok, with the orcs hot on your tail, the tunnel opens up into a grotto with glowing lichen on the wall."
Paladin: "Guys, maybe we should ditch the treasure so we can run faster.  Better broke than dead."
Wizard: "Glowing lichen?  I stop and scrape some off and save it in my empty potion bottle."
Paladin: "WHAT!??!!?"

DM: "You sneak into the room without detecting any traps.  You see an altar with a glowing dagger on it.  The dagger has gems in the handle."
Rogue: "Can the rest of the party see me?"
DM: "No."
(Rogue passes a note to the DM.)
Rogue: "Ok, I go back and give the all clear."
DM: "As the rest of you enter the room, you see a an altar with a steel dagger on it.  The dagger looks oddly familiar..."
Paladin: "Wait a second...."


DM: "As you peer over the balcony, you see the cultists all gathered below.  The Lich King draws a serrated blade and sacrifices a lamb..."
Druid: "Huh?"
DM: "He cuts the lamb's throat and..."
Druid: "Screw it.  I charge."
Paladin: /facepalm 


In the middle of a fight our party leader died.  I was playing a bard, so instead of attacking, I played Taps.  DM gave me extra XP for it. 
"Therefore, you are the crapper, I'm merely the vessel through which you crap." -- akaddk
I mean, technically speaking yes, sane people need reasons to do anything. But I meant more, "don't real people converse just for the pleasure of each others' company, or to bond closer", etc. Not because something from the outside presses in on them.

No, I don't think so. But even if they do, that's not something that is going to tend to make for an interesting or compelling game.

But maybe I'm misunderstanding. Can you give me an example of what you hope to see the players do?

2. Most of the group probably weren't used to RP'ing in the way of vulnerability; they lean towards badass lone wolf types most days, I suspect. Trying to come up with an emotionally incomplete character was likely a foreign concept to them.

Ever considered why?

My theory is that "emotionally incomplete" characters in their favorite shows and movies do "stupid" things. If you have a need, you can be manipulated. If you're a lone wolf, no one can make you do anything because you (supposedly) don't have any skin in the game. You fix others' problems, you don't have problems of your own, and you certainly don't put others in danger because of your vulnerabilities.

It's known as deprotagonization, and players who aren't bought in to getting their characters into interesting trouble avoid it like the plague, even without realizing it exists as a concept.

3. The rigidity complaint is a permutation of one that tries my patience. Basically, if they and I agree to do something they only pretend to want to do, they argue that system reinforcement or writing it down curbs their creativity, i.e. "I would do it so much more if only I had no expectations to."

Yeah, that's a weird one for me. I think I've seen it in other places. People do things in a story game that gets them advancement, but which they don't think fits their character, or which they feel "expected" to do. The way I see it, you're free to do whatever you want, but sometimes the game makes certain things easier. If you don't do those things you're playing in a harder mode, but you're still playing.

Again, more than the simple pleasure of the thing is reason enough, not outside compulsion.

Again, I guess I need an example of what you mean.

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

No, I don't think so. But even if they do, that's not something that is going to tend to make for an interesting or compelling game.

But maybe I'm misunderstanding. Can you give me an example of what you hope to see the players do?



All right. I'll go with the harder one. You play videogames? In an RPG series that usually begins their titles with "Tales of...", there are these prompts that occur while traveling around called skits. These are short, typically humorous scenes where the characters converse unprompted. The content varies, but the only constant is that it won't be anything earth-shattering. You just see the characters, being themselves, providing tidbits of their personality, the world at large, etc.

To use a general example, in a text-based RP I was in, one of the characters threw a Christmas party for everyone else. Again, characters socialized, shared their personalities and discussed the goings on of the world, made a few plans, but again, nothing major. It was, for its inhabitants, a normal Christmas party.

It was enjoyable to soak in the characters and their dialogue and thoughts, even when it came to relatively mundane topics. Every small thought they shared gave just a bit more insight into their personalities. I guess this is where I'd part ways with those who'd insist that the time spent around a table be on Important Things. It's nice to see the characters in a low key environment, now and again. Though, if the characters weren't very good or mere extensions of the players, then I could see how it would get tiresome.

Oh, and now I'm starting to see how giving command of context to the players is so important. Hard to talk about a world you're not allowed to define.

Ever considered why?


Certainly. I figure it's the same guardedness that min-maxers show in grid combat, amplified by having something much more precious to guard: their pride. If the character reflects on the player, and if the player plays PCs that are idealized versions of himself, what would that say if his PC did something embarassing? Besides getting drunk and other acts of murderhoboism, natch. I'll have to remember that de- word too.

Yeah, that's a weird one for me. I think I've seen it in other places. People do things in a story game that gets them advancement, but which they don't think fits their character, or which they feel "expected" to do. The way I see it, you're free to do whatever you want, but sometimes the game makes certain things easier. If you don't do those things you're playing in a harder mode, but you're still playing.



Sort of. Imagine this exchange:

Husband: We should have "relations", winkwink
Wife: Oh, definitely. We are married, after all.
Husband: I'm glad you agree. How about tonight?
Wife: Oh no, that won't do. I have to feel it; I have to be in the mood. You can't put a schedule on love, after all. It'll happen when it happens.

When push comes to shove and vague aspirations are met with serious intention, you get this withdrawal that's oh-so frustrating. Such was the case when people were "forced" into filling out the drama map.

@matyr, I really like the reward card idea.  I think I may have to write some up.  What do you do if say the fighter who doesn't have a dex mod draws the Blurred Movement card?



Whenever a card is drawn the person who drew it has dibs.  They can also gift that card to another player (although no player may have more than 1 card).  If nobody can use it effectively they can redraw once.  The second draw has the same rules, but no chance to redraw.

I've never run into an issue with players not being able to use the cards. 
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@mangoman72,

what I am getting from your last post is that you feel the players should be interacting as their characters on a casual/informal basis at times.  While this can be and is enjoyable, D&D does not cater to that type of interaction.  Yes, it does happen, but not all the time.

For example, if the party is traveling to a location, they are obviously not doing so in total silence, but at the table the group does not have to converse to portray that.  In all candor, all that does is slow down the pacing of the game and getting to points where the group interacts with the plot that has developed.

I'm not saying that all in-character conversation is not important and should therefore be should be shut down as quickly as possible.  What I am saying is that those "cutscenes" are best narrated rather than spoken line by line.

For example, after a combat situation, the fighter having taken a bad wound, the cleric goes to heal him.  What I getting what you want is something along the lines of:

Fighter: "Ugh, I could use a little help here!"
Cleric: (player says) I walk over to the fighter and inspect his wound.
Fighter: "Come on already.  Do that mojo you do!"
Cleric: (smiling broadly) "You big baby, it's just a flesh wound."
Fighter: "yeah right like you could have taken that shot and lived."
Cleric: (sighing) "oh alright"
Cleric: (player says) I stand up, pull some herbs out of my healing kit, grasp my holy symbol and utter the words, "by the power of my deity, I heal thee."  I then lay my hands on the wound and it closes.
Cleric player rolls the necessary dice and the fighter is healed for X HP

When something along these lines is more than adequate:

Fighter: "Ugh, I could use a little help here."
Cleric: (player says) OK I cast cure light wounds.  (dice rolling insues).
DM or Cleric (whoever wants to narrate): After a jab at his manhood and his less than witty comeback, I cast the spell necessary to heal his wounds, my hands glow with a white light, and his wounds close.

One takes over a minute, the other takes 10 seconds, but both convey some of the personality of and relationship between the cleric and fighter.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
I'm feeling a bit loopy, so pardon me if I'm off with this one, but try to reward your players when they do cool stuff.

One thing I have in my game is a deck of cards called the "Player Reward Cards".  Basically every time someone does something in character that is either so awesome that we all stop for a second and mention it, or if someone does something in character that makes us all stop playing and start laughing, they draw a card.  Cards have one time use effects that tend to add little things to the roleplay or combats.  When a player uses a card they have to come up with a good enough description to be able to use it.

A simple example would be Blurred Movement.  The mechanical effect is you can add your dex mod to a skill check or attack roll.  In order to us it, the player has to describe what they are doing to make it look/feel interesting and amazing.



A more complicated example (and one that can lead to a lot of table roleplaying) is Inspire.  Inspire has a built-in roleplay requirement and the table are they ones that can help you make the speech / determine whether the speech was cool enough to get the effect from it.

 

I like this idea! I usually just resort to a quick experience point bonus for those "moments of glory", but I think I'm going to yoink this and start using Player Reward Cards. I'll ask my players what kind of rewards they'd like to see.

A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
@matyr, I really like the reward card idea.  I think I may have to write some up.  What do you do if say the fighter who doesn't have a dex mod draws the Blurred Movement card?



Whenever a card is drawn the person who drew it has dibs.  They can also gift that card to another player (although no player may have more than 1 card).  If nobody can use it effectively they can redraw once.  The second draw has the same rules, but no chance to redraw.

I've never run into an issue with players not being able to use the cards. 

Very cool.  Thanks for the additional rules.  I will be using this as well.
I tend to be of the 'combat isn't roleplaying' school, but I think it may be more accurate to say that combat is an opportunity for roleplaying, but players (and DM's) don't always take full advantage of that opportunity.

Consider these two exchanges:
EXCHANGE 1
DM 1: An orc attacks you with his axe. He hits your armor class and does 5 points of damage.
Player 1: I attack the orc with my sword. I hit AC 17.

EXCHANGE 2
DM 2: With bloodshot eyes wide with hatred, the mighty orc let's out a mighty, deep roar, hefting a long-shafted and rust-riddled axe, you can smell the stench.. rotten leather, sweat and a sour inhuman filth. "Hu-monnn akk-zar-doth!!!!" (HE hits, 5 points damage).
Player 2: Aiiiii!!!! Blighted creature! This razor in my mailed fist is called Widow-is-Weeping, but none shall weep for thee, I grant it! Have at thee! Yaaaah!!!! (17).

I suppose both exchanges could be called role-playing since both players did make a decision that their character chooses to engage in the combat, but DM2 sets a more interesting tone and player 2 not only follows suit, but is probably having more fun and also making the game more fun for those around him/her.



"Roleplaying" isn't a matter of talking, acting, or using colorful narrative. Those are all forms of roleplaying, just like combat is. You just prefer one over the other, which is cool. It's kind of problematic though when people say stuff like "I prefer roleplaying, not combat." Or "roleplaying, not 'roll'playing." (Ugh.) It's divisive for one, and late at night when I have my tinfoil hat on, I imagine that the reason why so many DMs have boring non-combat scenes is because "they prefer roleplaying, not combat." They forget that what makes any scene good is tension, even if there's no chance of bloodshed. They reduce their combat and simultaneously get rid of tension from all other scenes which would otherwise help to bring out the in-character interaction.

I think us folk who see a distinction between hacknslash and role-playing (role vs 'roll'-playing to use the trite terminology) is that, to us, the basic elements of a dice-rolling exchange that combat often defaults to (even in the best of games, with the most creative of players) are as much roleplaying as if you are playing chess and take your opponents piece.

The excitement of combat, the tension, is greater when the set of statistics becomes more than just a set of numbers, but a representation of something more... a vibrant personality, a character whose fate rests on those dice rolls. But simply rolling a dice, to us, isn't role-playing (at least not in the vital sense that we hope for that term to mean).

I think you're misunderstanding something. Combat is still a large portion of our games; it's visceral, exciting, and the player characters are at risk - creating lots of tension. It is in the non-combat portions of the game where personalities tend to develop and in the combat portions of the game, those developed personalities should be displayed (through talking/acting/colorful narrative); instead EXCHANGE 1 takes place.

Every game is going to have moments that look more like EXCHANGE 1... those of us who find EXCHANGE 1 somewhat dull and want to foster something more like EXCHANGE 2 or EXCHANGE 3 need some sort of way of distinguishing between them. Saying that 'combat isn't role-playing' might not be exactly true in the strictest semantic sense (choosing between doing combat or running away is roleplying, if the decision is based on what the character would do in that particular situation), but (to us, we see) there is a significant world of difference between the level of role-playing involved with players who tend to be like Player 1 in the above exchanges; such players are often just as unlively out-of-combat unless you manage to draw them out of their shells in some way.

So, our definition of role-playing does involve talking/acting/colorful narrative. We want to encourage those things. We have found that once players get past EXCHANGE 1 type play, they tend to enjoy themselves more and also it makes the game more enjoyable for us and everyone involved. Perhaps it is indeed merely playstyle preference... but being our preference we'd like to find ways to encourage it.

If our definition of roleplaying is too narrow, it is only because it is those specific aspects within the broader term 'roleplaying' (that tend to not exhibit themselves in combat/hacknslash that we are interested in and trying to encourage and also because there isn't currently a specific term for that particular subset of role-playing other than to call it 'role-playing'. Since those specific elements: talking/acting/colorful narrative and most importantly character development, are the only elements worthy of our attention, we stick with the common-knowledge term and see it as a distinction from combat - even iconceding that you can have roleplaying within or apart from combat.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Sure, I know why people refer to a particular form of roleplaying as if it were the only form of roleplaying. I used to do it myself. You might even be able to find a post where I did just that a few years ago on these very forums. Then Centauri helpfully corrected me.

It's just not helpful to the broader discussion in my view, even with your reasonable explanation. I can't hope that everyone will be specific with what they mean in this regard, but I'll address it wherever possible for clarity.

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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All right. I'll go with the harder one. You play videogames? In an RPG series that usually begins their titles with "Tales of...", there are these prompts that occur while traveling around called skits. These are short, typically humorous scenes where the characters converse unprompted. The content varies, but the only constant is that it won't be anything earth-shattering. You just see the characters, being themselves, providing tidbits of their personality, the world at large, etc.

Yes, I play video games, but not like that. That was awful. Corny, sexist, overly dramatic and badly acted. I think it's clear why someone would be uncomfortable improvising something like that.

I'm not familiar with that game, or games like it, but as bad as that dialog is it does seem to lay out a narrative direction. It's exposition, mostly. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the "tidbits" get at least loosely tied back to the plot of the game? As in who's in the party, who the enemies are, and the like?

Video games encourage the separation between character interaction and combat. Interaction like that doesn't happen in combat, because it can happen in combat, because the game isn't programmed that way. Earth-shattering events, if any, are scripted. I'm not for unexpected character death in games, but many people are, so in certain fights the characters are going to see their allies, friends, relatives or love interests cut down, which could make for a very dramatic scene during combat, and dramatic in a cool sense not an eye-rolling personal-drama, "ooh-does-he-like-me" sense.

Even without death, there's danger, and if one has established relationships in the game, even to a minor degree, one can easily see a character taking reckless risks to help out another character. Or putting them in a bad spot if it's a more antagonistic relationship.

To use a general example, in a text-based RP I was in, one of the characters threw a Christmas party for everyone else. Again, characters socialized, shared their personalities and discussed the goings on of the world, made a few plans, but again, nothing major. It was, for its inhabitants, a normal Christmas party.

It was enjoyable to soak in the characters and their dialogue and thoughts, even when it came to relatively mundane topics. Every small thought they shared gave just a bit more insight into their personalities. I guess this is where I'd part ways with those who'd insist that the time spent around a table be on Important Things. It's nice to see the characters in a low key environment, now and again. Though, if the characters weren't very good or mere extensions of the players, then I could see how it would get tiresome.

I've heard of things like this. Ugh. Why? Maybe I just haven't seen or heard of good occassions of this from what I've seen, things like this tend to devolve into weird flirting, and pointless posturing. Of course the characters are extensions of the players. And that's why it's awkward.

Oh, and now I'm starting to see how giving command of context to the players is so important. Hard to talk about a world you're not allowed to define.

Exactly. One of the most fun groups I was in was a team of Royal Eyes agents in an Eberron game. Just prior to the start of a mission, we were strategizing in character and one of us established that our last mission had gone badly and someone else established that it had involved an out-of-control lightning rail. Not "earth-shattering" as you say, but it established more about our characters and the world.

But it wasn't a scene, and there was no posturing by the characters. Combat in that game tended to focus more on our individual character personalities than our relationships to each other, but the combat was also pretty straightforward and was fairly independent of anything having to do with our character relationships. But not all combat has to be that way. I've been in combat encounters that were more compelling and informative than that "skit."

Ever considered why?

Certainly. I figure it's the same guardedness that min-maxers show in grid combat, amplified by having something much more precious to guard: their pride. If the character reflects on the player, and if the player plays PCs that are idealized versions of himself, what would that say if his PC did something embarassing? Besides getting drunk and other acts of murderhoboism, natch. I'll have to remember that de- word too.

Exactly. And if they play the moody withdrawn character it's because they retain control and can't be flirted with, or forced to flirt, or have any kind of interaction they can't just step away from.

Husband: We should have "relations", winkwink
Wife: Oh, definitely. We are married, after all.
Husband: I'm glad you agree. How about tonight?
Wife: Oh no, that won't do. I have to feel it; I have to be in the mood. You can't put a schedule on love, after all. It'll happen when it happens.

When push comes to shove and vague aspirations are met with serious intention, you get this withdrawal that's oh-so frustrating. Such was the case when people were "forced" into filling out the drama map.

I get that you're just using an example, but you can see why that kind of interaction might be too emotionally risky and uncomfortable to follow through on, right?

What you seem to be frustrated by is "blocking." Blocking usually happens when someone doesn't want to take risks, such as being in an uncomfortable scene like the one above, or because they think their idea for their scene or character is right and they don't trust the ideas of others. Blocking is minimized when everyone feels safe to take risks and when trust is high. Find that environment.

You said you took a ballroom dancing class. Try taking an improv class.

Sure, I know why people refer to a particular form of roleplaying as if it were the only form of roleplaying. I used to do it myself. You might even be able to find a post where I did just that a few years ago on these very forums. Then Centauri helpfully corrected me.

The biggest issue I see is that it tends to come down to people wanting others to entertain them. They want people to roleplay so the game is more fun for "everyone." Fine. You roleplay the way you enjoy and make the game more fun for "everyone." Don't worry about what other people do, and don't expect them to entertain you. Entertain yourself and do what you feel is right to entertain others. You're not entitled to be entertained by them, though if they choose to try to entertain you, great.

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

All right. I'll go with the harder one. You play videogames? In an RPG series that usually begins their titles with "Tales of...", there are these prompts that occur while traveling around called skits. These are short, typically humorous scenes where the characters converse unprompted. The content varies, but the only constant is that it won't be anything earth-shattering. You just see the characters, being themselves, providing tidbits of their personality, the world at large, etc.

Yes, I play video games, but not like that. That was awful. Corny, sexist, overly dramatic and badly acted. I think it's clear why someone would be uncomfortable improvising something like that.

I'm not familiar with that game, or games like it, but as bad as that dialog is it does seem to lay out a narrative direction. It's exposition, mostly. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the "tidbits" get at least loosely tied back to the plot of the game? As in who's in the party, who the enemies are, and the like?

Video games encourage the separation between character interaction and combat. Interaction like that doesn't happen in combat, because it can happen in combat, because the game isn't programmed that way. Earth-shattering events, if any, are scripted. I'm not for unexpected character death in games, but many people are, so in certain fights the characters are going to see their allies, friends, relatives or love interests cut down, which could make for a very dramatic scene during combat, and dramatic in a cool sense not an eye-rolling personal-drama, "ooh-does-he-like-me" sense.

Even without death, there's danger, and if one has established relationships in the game, even to a minor degree, one can easily see a character taking reckless risks to help out another character. Or putting them in a bad spot if it's a more antagonistic relationship.

To use a general example, in a text-based RP I was in, one of the characters threw a Christmas party for everyone else. Again, characters socialized, shared their personalities and discussed the goings on of the world, made a few plans, but again, nothing major. It was, for its inhabitants, a normal Christmas party.

It was enjoyable to soak in the characters and their dialogue and thoughts, even when it came to relatively mundane topics. Every small thought they shared gave just a bit more insight into their personalities. I guess this is where I'd part ways with those who'd insist that the time spent around a table be on Important Things. It's nice to see the characters in a low key environment, now and again. Though, if the characters weren't very good or mere extensions of the players, then I could see how it would get tiresome.

I've heard of things like this. Ugh. Why? Maybe I just haven't seen or heard of good occassions of this from what I've seen, things like this tend to devolve into weird flirting, and pointless posturing. Of course the characters are extensions of the players. And that's why it's awkward.

Oh, and now I'm starting to see how giving command of context to the players is so important. Hard to talk about a world you're not allowed to define.

Exactly. One of the most fun groups I was in was a team of Royal Eyes agents in an Eberron game. Just prior to the start of a mission, we were strategizing in character and one of us established that our last mission had gone badly and someone else established that it had involved an out-of-control lightning rail. Not "earth-shattering" as you say, but it established more about our characters and the world.

But it wasn't a scene, and there was no posturing by the characters. Combat in that game tended to focus more on our individual character personalities than our relationships to each other, but the combat was also pretty straightforward and was fairly independent of anything having to do with our character relationships. But not all combat has to be that way. I've been in combat encounters that were more compelling and informative than that "skit."

Ever considered why?

Certainly. I figure it's the same guardedness that min-maxers show in grid combat, amplified by having something much more precious to guard: their pride. If the character reflects on the player, and if the player plays PCs that are idealized versions of himself, what would that say if his PC did something embarassing? Besides getting drunk and other acts of murderhoboism, natch. I'll have to remember that de- word too.

Exactly. And if they play the moody withdrawn character it's because they retain control and can't be flirted with, or forced to flirt, or have any kind of interaction they can't just step away from.

Husband: We should have "relations", winkwink
Wife: Oh, definitely. We are married, after all.
Husband: I'm glad you agree. How about tonight?
Wife: Oh no, that won't do. I have to feel it; I have to be in the mood. You can't put a schedule on love, after all. It'll happen when it happens.

When push comes to shove and vague aspirations are met with serious intention, you get this withdrawal that's oh-so frustrating. Such was the case when people were "forced" into filling out the drama map.

I get that you're just using an example, but you can see why that kind of interaction might be too emotionally risky and uncomfortable to follow through on, right?

What you seem to be frustrated by is "blocking." Blocking usually happens when someone doesn't want to take risks, such as being in an uncomfortable scene like the one above, or because they think their idea for their scene or character is right and they don't trust the ideas of others. Blocking is minimized when everyone feels safe to take risks and when trust is high. Find that environment.

You said you took a ballroom dancing class. Try taking an improv class.

Sure, I know why people refer to a particular form of roleplaying as if it were the only form of roleplaying. I used to do it myself. You might even be able to find a post where I did just that a few years ago on these very forums. Then Centauri helpfully corrected me.

The biggest issue I see is that it tends to come down to people wanting others to entertain them. They want people to roleplay so the game is more fun for "everyone." Fine. You roleplay the way you enjoy and make the game more fun for "everyone." Don't worry about what other people do, and don't expect them to entertain you. Entertain yourself and do what you feel is right to entertain others. You're not entitled to be entertained by them, though if they choose to try to entertain you, great.

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