First-Time DnD'r: Player Clash?

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Hey all, I'm new to DnD, but my girlfriend and I found out a friend used to DM, and got a couple other friends interested.

Our DM has been clear that based on his personal preferences, and our inexperience playing, he is hoping for a flavorful, story-driven RP experience more than just encounters and mechanics (though he promises to try and give us our fill of that, for the players who want it).

Last night we played our second real session, finishing up an encounter and moving forward. This is where things took a strange turn:

My character is essentially Tom Bombadil from LotR, and as such, when the last two Kobolds threw down their weapons and starting whimpering, I healed them, gave them food, and rolled a 34 diplomacy check to move them to "neutral but suspicious". The night essentially became entirely RP, and long story short, I talked fast enough to make one Kobold friendly and got us in to meet the High Priest.

At this point, our mission being a simple "clear out the Kobold infestation", I rolled a crit bluff check to convince them to leave (which failed, apparently Dragons have a pretty badass hold on their cult). The thing is, I thought it would improve my chances to speak in Draconic, and since only my girlfriend speaks Draconic out of the group, I wrote the message to the DM. This upset my friend greatly, because he felt that I was "taking control of the game" and that I was keeping things from the other player "for no reason". He argued that it wasn't worth the flavor to keep secrets unless they were important, and that by doing this I was preventing the other players from being involved. I had the rest of the conversation out loud (but still in Draconic) and frequently asked for input on what to ask next or what sort of direction to lead the Priest.

I regret upsetting my friend, and I did sort of control the evening since nobody else could do or say much while I was trying to talk our way out. My girlfriend backed me up on my flavor call, saying my friend got upset over something silly and that what I did made sense. My friend still insisted that players should only hide player knowledge if it was "player against player" type information, an everything else should be shared.

Was I wrong to use a note to the DM in this instance? If I was, how can this be handled in the future? If I wasn't, how can I do things like this later on without upsetting people?

Thanks for any advice!
Etiamnunc sto, etiamsi caelum ruat.
Was I wrong to use a note to the DM in this instance? If I was, how can this be handled in the future? If I wasn't, how can I do things like this later on without upsetting people? Thanks for any advice!

I'd say it was unnecessary and as it upset your friend it was not the best thing to have done. You didn't know it would cause an issue, though, and when you learned that it would cause an issue, you changed your behavior, which I think is appropriate.

Just because another character doesn't speak Draconic doesn't mean the player of that character should be left out of the loop. Trust players to roleplay their characters using character knowledge, and keep everyone at the table involved.

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

Imo, it's a pretty reasonable choice. That said, it's definitely a playstyle choice particular to the kind of group that wants to up the immersion level. Your friend was right that it does reduce his ability to appreciate the game, and personally I'd say that it's unnecessary. While your friend's character wouldn't know what you were saying (unless your character was translating off-handedly to him), it can be fun to appreciate the game as the omniscient player as well as role-play a limited-perspective character. As long as he doesn't have trouble creating that divide between in-character and out-of-character knowledge, it's reasonable to want to experience the whole game, rather than just what his character can perceive.


Edit: Ninja'd xD 
The situation as you present it seems like an example of a very common situation. One player wants to handle a situation a particular way, but that way does not involve the other players to the degree they would like. This gives the impression that the one player is "driving" the game, making all the important decisions and taking all the important reaction. If the player isn't aware that he or she is doing this, the DM should take steps to make sure everyone is involved, though unfortunately the easiest way to do this tends to be to block the one player's idea in favor of something (typically combat) that everyone can participate in equally. And sometimes even the DM doesn't realize that the other players are being marginalized, or doesn't know how to involve them without blocking the one player, and so defaults to just not involving them.

Ideally, you would be aware of what you are doing as a player. It seems that you became aware after the issue was raised, and changed your approach, so good for you. I don't know what the DM was thinking about the situation. Speaking as someone who wasn't there and in the moment, the DM might have been well served to turn the effort to convince the dragon into another kind of adventure. Yes, the dragon can be convinced, and all the players need to do is deal with a problem for him. A single roll needn't be enough to short-circuit a scenario, unless the players and DM have a particular interest in ending a scenario quickly.

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

Thanks, guys! I suppose it stemmed from mine and my girlfriend's enjoyment of being "in the dark" about things that our characters don't know, so that we can feel more like we are in the story. It does seem a little silly though, when we can instead discuss everything as players and know what's going on outside the game.
Etiamnunc sto, etiamsi caelum ruat.
Thanks, guys! I suppose it stemmed from mine and my girlfriend's enjoyment of being "in the dark" about things that our characters don't know, so that we can feel more like we are in the story. It does seem a little silly though, when we can instead discuss everything as players and know what's going on outside the game.

Making player knowledge as close as possible to character knowledge seems like it would make the player feel more like they were actually in the game world. That's called "immersion," and I think most players strive for it, but the see the player/character information parity as the primary way to achieve it. It's really only one way, and it's not a way that very well accommodates the overall needs of playing a game with one's friends.

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

That makes sense. I'm glad I'm at least not totally off my rocker for trying this. I'll continue to stay in the dark myself when I can, and just involve myself with the best information I have, but I'll be more careful to include people who prefer having player knowledge.
Etiamnunc sto, etiamsi caelum ruat.
In my view, the best and most inclusive path to character immersion is to work toward being immersed in the scene. If you do this, you step out of the limits of your character and that particular mode of play. You also reach character immersion by extension of being immersed in the scene. To achieve this, sometimes this includes using metagame knowledge to help build the scene such that it includes other players and the tension and challenge you hope to overcome together.

My recommendation is that, wherever possible, compartmentalize information you as a player have from that which your character has, BUT consider using the knowledge you have a player to make the scene more tense, exciting, and fun for everyone involved.

The scene comes first. Your character comes second. Try that and watch how the game comes alive!

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

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That makes sense. I'm glad I'm at least not totally off my rocker for trying this. I'll continue to stay in the dark myself when I can, and just involve myself with the best information I have, but I'll be more careful to include people who prefer having player knowledge.

You miss my point. Keeping yourself in the dark is not particularly likely to increase your or anyone else's actual enjoyment of the game as a whole. I've seen efforts along these lines lead to players obstinately refusing to actually engage in the adventure, because their character wouldn't understand the need for it. At some point, the player knowledge of "I'm playing a game, and it needs to be fun, involve everyone, and keep moving" needs to be used, even if the character really is utterly clueless.

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

That makes sense. I'm glad I'm at least not totally off my rocker for trying this. I'll continue to stay in the dark myself when I can, and just involve myself with the best information I have, but I'll be more careful to include people who prefer having player knowledge.

You miss my point. Keeping yourself in the dark is not particularly likely to increase your or anyone else's actual enjoyment of the game as a whole. I've seen efforts along these lines lead to players obstinately refusing to actually engage in the adventure, because their character wouldn't understand the need for it. At some point, the player knowledge of "I'm playing a game, and it needs to be fun, involve everyone, and keep moving" needs to be used, even if the character really is utterly clueless.



Ahhh, ok. I see what you mean here. It seems obvious that the game itself is more important than immersion, but I guess I didn't see the line where trying too hard started to encroach on that.
Etiamnunc sto, etiamsi caelum ruat.
Ahhh, ok. I see what you mean here. It seems obvious that the game itself is more important than immersion, but I guess I didn't see the line where trying too hard started to encroach on that.

You've already seen part of that line for your group.

The line is different for everyone. If your friend's interest was being maintained in other ways, it's possible he wouldn't even have noticed what you were doing. Just be aware of balancing immersion with making the game fun. For instance, sometimes it's fun to have characters use player knowledge ironically. If you were telling the dragon "in Draconic" about your allies, and one of your allies said to another, "He better not be talking about us" that's kind of funny, don't you think? Or if your character praises the rogue for being such an upstanding guy, when you know that the rogue has been stealing from your character. Or, when you can clearly see what the DM's plan is and could short circuit it trivially, but instead you deliberately take in-character actions that make the adventure more exciting and adventurous, even though it would be easy to find reasons why your character wouldn't do that.

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

Thanks for your help! Hopefully by next week this will have blown over and I'll be able to keep these lessons in mind. =)
Etiamnunc sto, etiamsi caelum ruat.
Thanks for your help! Hopefully by next week this will have blown over and I'll be able to keep these lessons in mind. =)

It might help to lay out some ground rules for the group. Put group involvement at the top, but try to find a compromise that gets you some of the immersion you want, and also lets you give up some immersion to make the game more fun overall.

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

I've seen efforts along these lines lead to players obstinately refusing to actually engage in the adventure, because their character wouldn't understand the need for it. At some point, the player knowledge of "I'm playing a game, and it needs to be fun, involve everyone, and keep moving" needs to be used, even if the character really is utterly clueless.



Interestingly (or not, as the case may be), I saw this happen in a game in which I play recently. In the face of escalations as the campaign is drawing to a close, a player decided that he just couldn't figure out a reason that his character would stick around. He even sent an email to the effect that he needed help figuring out why his character would stay. I sent him the following ideas:



  • Save the world

  • Save the town

  • Save his friends

  • Save his love, Sue Ellen, from herself

  • Save the innocent

  • Protect his personal interests, whatever they may be

  • Stick it to the villain by stopping his plans

  • Die as heroically as his drunk-ass twin brother, Steve

  • Use this as a stepping stone to go into the Outer Planes after the campaign is done

  • Get revenge

  • Prove himself a hero

  • Test his mettle against the forces of darkness

  • Acquire wealth, fame, glory

  • Fulfill his part in the Prophecy


While I suspect he had other reasons he couldn't or wouldn't directly express for his supposed conundrum, he ended up dropping from the game despite being given all these perfectly reasonable angles over what amounted to struggles with character immersion, ostensibly. He decided that his character just wouldn't be interested in any of those above reasons and immersed himself right out of the game.


A cautionary tale, to be sure.

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

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

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

It's funny you mention it, because as Tom Bombadil (True Neutral, mostly indifferent to everything), the DM's first question to me during character introduction was "Why would you go on an adventure?"

To which I replied, "Because I just happened to be around and thought it might be interesting/that I may as well lend a hand since I was there." But that would definitely be a slippery slope with my character, since he's not prone to leaving his house or getting involved. I'll definitely be careful.
Etiamnunc sto, etiamsi caelum ruat.
In general there are lot's of situations in D&D where only a part of the party is actively involved. Languages is one limiting factor, but a Rogue trying to open a lock or hundreds of other situations might also apply.

Keeping all players involved helps move the game along and adds to everyone's enjoyment, even if it makes the immersion a little less.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

In general there are lot's of situations in D&D where only a part of the party is actively involved. Languages is one limiting factor, but a Rogue trying to open a lock or hundreds of other situations might also apply.

Those situations can and should be minimized, and everyone should be kept in the loop about them. If opening a lock takes more than a little description and a roll, there should be other things going on. I think that's part of why 4th Edition encourages mixing traps with combat. I do the same with skill challenges, mixing them with combat, traps, or other skill challenges.

Keeping all players involved helps move the game along and adds to everyone's enjoyment, even if it makes the immersion a little less.

And it won't even necessarily decrease the immersion significantly, and might actually increase it significantly.

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

Hate to say it.... but this is a situation of:  RPG players in general.....  This is my personal opinion and my experience gaming/D&D over the past nearly 20 years - EVERY group I've been a part of, EVERY group....  there's been at LEAST 1 person or friend who is immature and can't handle the game....  They're great when things are going well, but as soon as something happens that they're not used to (like this paper being handed to the DM privately), they're up in arms, thinking the other players are after them or leaving them out for some reason.....


Similarly, if the storyline isn't going their way, or how they want it to go, they can also be whiny and annoying...



I guess, bottom line, it's player personalities....  Some people, in life, not in gaming, know how to handle situations, and some people, in life and in gaming, just can't grasp the concept....      
Hate to say it.... but this is a situation of:  RPG players in general.....  This is my personal opinion and my experience gaming/D&D over the past nearly 20 years - EVERY group I've been a part of, EVERY group....  there's been at LEAST 1 person or friend who is immature and can't handle the game....  They're great when things are going well, but as soon as something happens that they're not used to (like this paper being handed to the DM privately), they're up in arms, thinking the other players are after them or leaving them out for some reason.....


Similarly, if the storyline isn't going their way, or how they want it to go, they can also be whiny and annoying...



I guess, bottom line, it's player personalities....  Some people, in life, not in gaming, know how to handle situations, and some people, in life and in gaming, just can't grasp the concept....     

Such players are not constants in my group. It doesn't seems statistically likely that they would be part of every group that you've been a part of, unless there was something you were bringing with you from group to group that was causing this.

Why shouldn't players react strongly when they encounter things during their relaxation time that they're not used to encountering?

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

Emotion = fine.


common sense = fine.



Over-reacting when a player privately converses w/ the DM via hand-written notes = whiny like a baby.



I'm not saying every person in the group would behave in this manner, but it rarely fails, a group of 5 players/friends, if they all know each other or not, rarely lasts forever, and many times it's because there's a member who just doesn't quite get it... Not the game itself, but I guess, the fact that it's a game, not real life....           
Emotion = fine.


common sense = fine.



Over-reacting when a player privately converses w/ the DM via hand-written notes = whiny like a baby.

Nothing about what was posted indicates an overreaction to me.

I'm not saying every person in the group would behave in this manner, but it rarely fails, a group of 5 players/friends, if they all know each other or not, rarely lasts forever, and many times it's because there's a member who just doesn't quite get it... Not the game itself, but I guess, the fact that it's a game, not real life....          

It's a real life social interaction and if it's not fun it becomes a waste of personal time, and that's going to rankle anyone.

No one has the right to force anyone else to act a certain way, such as not passing notes, or using (or not using) player knowledge. But with a group of friends it's okay to ask that things be handled a certain way if handling them in another way detracts from the fun. Sounds like this group has found a compromise. So, good for them.

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

Hate to say it.... but this is a situation of:  RPG players in general.....  This is my personal opinion and my experience gaming/D&D over the past nearly 20 years - EVERY group I've been a part of, EVERY group....  there's been at LEAST 1 person or friend who is immature and can't handle the game....  They're great when things are going well, but as soon as something happens that they're not used to (like this paper being handed to the DM privately), they're up in arms, thinking the other players are after them or leaving them out for some reason.....


Similarly, if the storyline isn't going their way, or how they want it to go, they can also be whiny and annoying...



I guess, bottom line, it's player personalities....  Some people, in life, not in gaming, know how to handle situations, and some people, in life and in gaming, just can't grasp the concept....     

Such players are not constants in my group. It doesn't seems statistically likely that they would be part of every group that you've been a part of, unless there was something you were bringing with you from group to group that was causing this.

Why shouldn't players react strongly when they encounter things during their relaxation time that they're not used to encountering?

Cent: Why shouldn't players react strongly when they encounter things during their relaxation time that they're not used to encountering?

 - Maturity?

I don't really see what the need for passing the note was, myself, but the simple explanation that he was speaking in Draconic and why should have been sufficient. It may have been that the note was just the final straw for the guy, if the original poster had been game-hogging (even if it was unintentional) and the guy over-reacted because his relaxation time is preciousssss, Smeagol, preciousssss. No judgment. Everybody has a bad day.
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.
IS: Die as heroically as his drunk-ass twin brother, Steve

 - YES!
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.
IS: Die as heroically as his drunk-ass twin brother, Steve

 - YES!



That one was my favorite too since Drunk Steve was my character. He was a minion.

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

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

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I guess he'd never enjoy playing Paranoia, heh.
I think the reaction was probably born out of previous bad experience.  Game long enough and you run across the same bad habits from often transient gamers.  
I've seen efforts along these lines lead to players obstinately refusing to actually engage in the adventure, because their character wouldn't understand the need for it. At some point, the player knowledge of "I'm playing a game, and it needs to be fun, involve everyone, and keep moving" needs to be used, even if the character really is utterly clueless.



Interestingly (or not, as the case may be), I saw this happen in a game in which I play recently. In the face of escalations as the campaign is drawing to a close, a player decided that he just couldn't figure out a reason that his character would stick around.



This is more related to the above, than the OP, but I suffered a similar experience that I'd like to share. I had a player who really struggled to harmonise with the rest of the group and the way we played. As a symptom of this, they were unable or unwilling to find a motivation for their character within the current story, group or milieu.

After the third or fourth failed character, I tried my very best to put across that, as a player, the ultimate goal of a character's motivation is really to involve yourself in the group and the group's story. If you're playing a character whose motivation has no parallel to the story the group is telling, you will find it extremely difficult to maintain that motivation. You really need to step outside of your character and think: "How can I make it work?". Otherwise, the only real alternative is that the character leaves the group or, worse, chugs along not really involving themself. After it was suggested that the player's latest character would not have a motivation and it should be for me as the DM to provide one, like the quoted, I instead sent the player a breakdown of how I would find the motivation with the characteristics and background of the old character already developed while being mindful of the current story, group and milieu to try and spark their own ideas:

Show



Things we know about the character


I am a diplomat.


I can speak many languages.


I am tactful at handling people.


I am uppity about doing hard labour or labour below my station.


I have been hired by the Kingdom of Cormyr to serve Lord Morahan.


I have joined up with a band of adventurers also in service to Lord Morahan.


I am in the lair of an evil cult.



Answering questions (Made up to fit the current milieu and task at hand)


Why was I hired to serve Lord Morahan? I am untested and the Kingdom wishes me to prove my talents where they are most needed — in the harsh, unfriendly landscape of the mountains.


Why have I joined up with a band of adventurers? I was sent as my first task to negotiate the release of hostages at the ravine. While there I discovered a band of adventurers also in aid to Lord Morahan. Lord Morahan has tasked me with assisting the party in their quest to discover the truth behind the evil at the ravine.


Why am I in the lair of an evil cult? I have been hired to serve Lord Morahan and this is how he would have me serve.



What do I want to achieve? (What is in the back of my mind when coming up with my motivation)


Stay with the party. This is a must, without it I am trying to play on my own with a group of people.


Develop my character.


Role-play my character's individuality (traits, personality, abilities).


Have fun!




What is my motivation? (Train of thought)


"Why have I been sent to this desolate rock and given this abhorrent task? I am a diplomat, not a scout."


"Perhaps the kingdom does not believe I can succeed, or even survive. Perhaps Lord Morahan has simply lost his mind."


"But... this is my first task. A task set by the royal family itself. If I turn back they will say I failed and I will never work in Cormyr again."


"I will show them! I will prove my worth by turning an evil cult with only my words. Let's see the best of them say they did that."


"I will open trade routes and see this place thrive. I will find allies or I will make them.  I will negotiate with the mountain itself. I will end wars that have lasted a lifetime. Then perhaps I can get out of this muck."





Unfortunately, this resulted in the opposite effect and the player decided they would be best off having a character with the motivation: I am an adventurer.
Nah dude, don't pass notes but the dm over reacted
Well, fortunately the resulting fight passed very quickly, and subsequent weeks of sessions have mellowed everyone a bit. After several player/DM conversations that were private by necessity, with different players each time, the player who was upset the first time said he had come to grips with the fact that he can't know everything going on all the time (which is what he wanted, and why he got so upset), and all of us have learned what sort of instances require separation of player/character knowledge, and what can just be shared because it is minor.
Etiamnunc sto, etiamsi caelum ruat.
Well, fortunately the resulting fight passed very quickly, and subsequent weeks of sessions have mellowed everyone a bit.

Glad to hear it.

 After several player/DM conversations that were private by necessity, with different players each time, the player who was upset the first time said he had come to grips with the fact that he can't know everything going on all the time (which is what he wanted, and why he got so upset), and all of us have learned what sort of instances require separation of player/character knowledge, and what can just be shared because it is minor.

A player can know everything, and player/character knowledge separation is never required. In fact, sometimes player/character knowledge sharing is required. But I'm sure you'll work out a fun approach for your group.

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

For players who are comfortable keeping player and character knowledge separate when neccessary, note passing makes them uneasy. So only use it in situations where you want to put them off balance. One example would be the classic trope--one member of the party has been replaced with a Doppelganger. It was more fun for my party to play throught this without the knowledge of the swap (or the second swap that occurred when the player Doppelganger successfully got another PC alone.) They were entirely reliant on their characters and rising suspicions and when it all fell apart, it was a hilarious revelation.

So if it makes it more fun for your players, use notes, but in general you should trust that players will keep character knowledge unsullied by the stuff they hear at the table. 

The base contention sounds like a player involvement issue, which is a delicate balance. When you sense players losing interest, some delicate DM scrambling is required. Put the player in the spotlight on hold for a moment and give the bored player(s) something to do.

Player 1: In the third segment of my bluff, I will invoke the ancient history of...
DM: Hold on a sec...(to Players 2 and 3) While the dragon listens bemusedly to the bard's tale, one of his servitors takes you aside and mentions that the dragon is quite impressed by acrobatic feats that involve personal danger. If you two want to cook something up, I'll announce you when the bard stops singing.

Or you could have a cryptograph ready to hand over. As the bard goes on and on, your gaze wanders to the runes carved into the ceiling. You would have to have prepared a couple of these sort of puzzles with useful information in them, so this sort of approach would be encounter-dependent.

It really comes down to how you think the sidelined players would like to be engaged. If it's Exposition Time, the guy who loves combat might appreciate being asked to describe his most awesome fight. The guy whose wizard wants to accumulate lore might be asked to fill in the tale of a legendary artifact. The trick is including these things in the main narrative in a fluid way.
One example would be the classic trope--one member of the party has been replaced with a Doppelganger. It was more fun for my party to play throught this without the knowledge of the swap (or the second swap that occurred when the player Doppelganger successfully got another PC alone.) They were entirely reliant on their characters and rising suspicions and when it all fell apart, it was a hilarious revelation.


I'm all for situations like this.
It should be a testament to the groups roleplaying participation that a doppleganger should have little chance in the group. With the roleplaying of the player who is now playing the doppleganger, detection should be easy.
But however these things play out, its all great roleplaying times.

 
The first player-Doppelganger in particular did a great job of roleplaying. During the span of a bathroom break, he read a brief on the goals and fears of the Doppelganger and when we started up, his character suddenly had a sensible reason why the party should wander off the road and into the trackless swamp. And spread out. One of those moments where the DM is working hard to maintain his poker face.