11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer

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I came across this the other day. It's postworthy. Read it and, if you agree, share it with your players. I think it's excellent advice and addresses many of the problems DMs face in a succinct and understandable way.

lookrobot.co.uk/2013/06/20/11-ways-to-be...

(Note: This is not my own blog and so I'm not self-promoting. I should note it has some colorful language in it.)

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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Five, Six and Eight are absolutely golden.

Within; Without.

I had a talk on my RPG society forums with my friends about this the other day. Here was what I posted (edited for language ). I think I stole the sentence about the horse from Iserith?

1) Yes, definitely. Also, talking about possibly doing stuff in the future and concocting 7 different plans for it does not count as doing stuff. I'm in a group that once spent 3/4 of an hour to decide whether or not to go left or right at a lake. When we could see the other side. They both led to the same place.

2) Yep, this too.

3) I actually do agree with this one :P This is a perfect example of following the "Yes, and..." philosophy and not blocking. Blocking is not fun. Inter-party conflict is cool-blocking is not. There are so many other ways that the monk/fighter scenario could be played out, which don't involve the monk going "No. Stop that."

4) Again, I absolutely agree with this. This is also to do with not blocking and actually getting stuff done. Saying "Well, my character wouldn't do that" does not advance the story IN ANY WAY. Instead, find a reason why your character WOULD do it, but perhaps be uncomfortable with his actions, leading to a wonderful thing called character growth.

5) I guess this one's all about what the players are cool with. I rule that if an offensive action is directed at another player, the receiving player dictates what happens. No dice involved. But, if in session 0 it's been established that inter party fighting is fine and everyone agreed, then there's not much problem. Though, I still doubt many players would be thrilled to find out they had their throat cut in their sleep because another character didn't like theirs.

6) Yes

7) Yes.

8) Definitely, yes.

9) Yes, The DM is not the sole storyteller. The entire table tell the story. Every action you take contributes towards the story.

10) This is the big one. I think a fear of failure is to do with a lack of trust in the DM. You need to trust that he or she won't kill you for trying something just because THEY can't see it working, or it wasn't how they intended for you to defeat the obstacle. Failure can and should be interesting. If it's not interesting, it's not contributing to the story in any meaningful way. Things like calling for a ride check when no-one is under any stress, then going "Har har, you fell off your horse!" when someone fails. These GMs are idiots. One school of thought is "If you can't make both success and failure interesting, don't roll." Unfortunately, I think it's ingrained into a lot of people that any time you do an action relating to a skill, a roll must be made. One group I play in (the lake group, surprise surprise) loves to spend ages poring over every possible plan they can think of. Better I think would be to go with the first vaguely plausible one, and trust the DM to not go "Welp, that's a stupid idea. You all die."

11) Well yeah.

Here's a link to the discussion of said thread if anyone's interested. Colourful language descriptions abound. rawsoc.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t...

"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

Checked out some of the comments in the thread you linked... there are so many people in this hobby ready to block other players. It's sickening. They live for it, I think, then fall back on "Well that's what my character would do" as a reason to be a jerk. How about you imagine a way to not block while still maintaining your character concept, genius? It's called "imagination."

What's really funny is that these guys who block typically talk the most about "roleplaying" and "character development," but often do neither very well because they do not allow the occasion for drama to arise. Because they block and deny. If you don't block or deny, but rather come up with justification, you actually experience character development. Whoa.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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I am certainly trying to follow these suggestions for better roleplaying.
I typically DM, but I just started a SW SAGA game online with some friends.  
First sessionI made my character with High Defenses and High attacks, partly to see if I could and partly because they system allowed for it.  
There were some cool parts that came out of it: Wookie with body armor and a jeptack who fought unarmed = Wookie Rocket punch!
However, I never got hit and I never missed.  That wasn't fun to me so I toned it down for the next session, rebuilding the character to make for something that wasn't Superman.
I took risks, I tried to get action going wherever I could.  One of the other characters is an ex-Stormtrooper, and I decided that my character hates stormtroopers.  But he'll work with this guy because that's what we players agreed upon by joining the game.  
This character has very little backstory or history.  We'll make it up as we go along.  I just know that he'll atone for any dark side transgressions by visiting orhpanages and letting the kids braid his wookie-fur.  That should be funny and takes almost zero time away from the game.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />What's really funny is that these guys who block typically talk the most about "roleplaying" and "character development," but often do neither very well because they do not allow the occasion for drama to arise. Because they block and deny. If you don't block or deny, but rather come up with justification, you actually experience character development. Whoa.



I think part of the problem with these particular people is that they all live and play together, so they're used to the same style of game with the same people playing in the same way. Hence, when my post challenged their ideas they all banded together to defeat the enemy (me). I haven't actually played in their game-it might be fantastically fun for all I know-but the way they talked there, I have no inclination to ever join, when I can play with people who aren't so opposed to keeping the story moving.

"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

I shared this article with my players on our FB group. So far it has been received very well.

I think part of the problem with these particular people is that they all live and play together, so they're used to the same style of game with the same people playing in the same way. Hence, when my post challenged their ideas they all banded together to defeat the enemy (me). I haven't actually played in their game-it might be fantastically fun for all I know-but the way they talked there, I have no inclination to ever join, when I can play with people who aren't so opposed to keeping the story moving.

I'd love to join in on that thread and back you up, but I don't have the time or the stomach for it right now. Fight the good fight.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I think part of the problem with these particular people is that they all live and play together, so they're used to the same style of game with the same people playing in the same way. Hence, when my post challenged their ideas they all banded together to defeat the enemy (me). I haven't actually played in their game-it might be fantastically fun for all I know-but the way they talked there, I have no inclination to ever join, when I can play with people who aren't so opposed to keeping the story moving.

I'd love to join in on that thread and back you up, but I don't have the time or the stomach for it right now. Fight the good fight.



Yeah, I don't think anyone is going to be changing any minds in that thread. I have an "old skool" player who is still adjusting to our new fangled hippie style of play, but he is having fun and I believe is beginning to understand why we shy away from some of those old skool gaming tropes.

On the other hand I had an old skool player who hated my games, protested constantly, worked against other players and protested "this isn't D&D" because it was different than his preferred style of play. Nothing would have changed his mind and he doesn't play with us anymore.
I think part of the problem with these particular people is that they all live and play together, so they're used to the same style of game with the same people playing in the same way. Hence, when my post challenged their ideas they all banded together to defeat the enemy (me). I haven't actually played in their game-it might be fantastically fun for all I know-but the way they talked there, I have no inclination to ever join, when I can play with people who aren't so opposed to keeping the story moving.



I wrote the article, and thanks for standing up for it! I, uh. I can't say I agree with all their points. Most of their points. Any of their points. Really.

Still, spirited discussion and all that, good good. Point 3 barely made it in to the final draft, as it happens. It's mostly cribbed from Playing Unsafe.

Thanks for checking in, mate. Nice article and I'm sharing it with a lot of my players on Roll20. It's stuff I've long been saying, but never really put together in one place in a succinct and entertaining manner. So it's really a big gift to me!

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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It strikes me that, in a way, it's almost like they are playing by a set of "rules" that are not in the rulebook.

[spoiler The "Rules"]
I get the same feeling, for example, from the fellow who replied to a thread about dragons using weapons to "block" the original poster there, and say "Dragons can't use weapons because it's not logical!"  There was a similar thread where a party jumped the tracks at the railroad station and went sight-seeing to look at an Ancient Red Dragon the DM dropped in his sandbox campaign, and the DM couldn't understand why the players weren't impressed by the TPK because dragons have to kill PCs to death, any other option is "not logical":  it's against whatever unwritten rules he felt everyone must obey.

It's in the same sort of spirit as "my Rogue must steal from the party, not doing so isn't logical/in character/whatever!  It's against the rules of Role-Playing!"  Or, "my sea-sick fighter would never get on a sailboat and go on the adventure you planned, so he's just going to sit on the dock looking sour while everyone else has fun, until they get a clue and come back and do what he wants to do!" Or, "my pacifist Monk totally negate's the Fighter's punch at the bar and stops anything interesting from happening, because that's how it has to be!" Or, "my Paladin must be the party's Morality Police, and kill anyone who doesn't conform to death!  It's in the rules!" Or, "your Paladin must be tricked into losing all his Paladin powers!  It's in the secret rules!" "Dwarves and Elves never get along!" "I have a Chaotic Evil gnome, he's going to piss on the King's leg!" "The town guards have to bully the party around while they wander aimlessly around the town looking for something to do that doesn't involve NPCs insulting and ignoring them!" "Goblins are always stupid, Orcs are always Proud Warrior Race guys, Elves are always obnoxious tree-huggers, Dwarves speak with corny fake Scottish accents, and my Drow has to be an angstly, dual-wielding, special snowflake Ranger!"
[/spoiler]

Suggest alternatives to a vocal segment of the hobby, and you're going to wind up with a lot of resistance.

Resistance, because you're effectively ripping their weird, Kafkaesque, unwritten rules out from under them:  rules that basically come down to blocking anything that isn't a worn-out stereotype that has long been stripped of any meaning, context, or external reason.

In such hands, it becomes less a game about imagination, about fantasy, about unlimited possibilities, and turns instead into an ultra-orthodox religious sect whose rituals must be observed according to the letter of an arbitrary and hidden doctrine with an origin and context lost forever to time, and slowly mutated over generations of oral tradition into its own pocket universe, isolated from changing languages, changing cultures, changing technology, and changing ideas, and diverted inwards away from question into its own circular logic, as its mysteries become the bludgeons used to beat the new converts into submission and drive away any question about the authority and learning of their High Priests.

I might hesitate to cause problems for a real religion.  But this is a mutated form of a work of imagination, based on a collection of other works of imagination, based loosley on storytelling traditions of vanished cultures.  And so, that is a boat I actually look forward to rocking
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I love reading what you write, YronimosW.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Thank you
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Well said!
Killer article. Thanks for writing it (PapaSquinty) and sharing it (iserith). +1 karma to both of you!
"I have a Chaotic Evil gnome, he's going to piss on the King's leg!"



I know a few people that think that's how all CE characters are. Do whatever, as long as it's evil, just because.

Good stuff in that list.
Checked out some of the comments in the thread you linked... there are so many people in this hobby ready to block other players. It's sickening. They live for it, I think, then fall back on "Well that's what my character would do" as a reason to be a jerk. How about you imagine a way to not block while still maintaining your character concept, genius? It's called "imagination."

What's really funny is that these guys who block typically talk the most about "roleplaying" and "character development," but often do neither very well because they do not allow the occasion for drama to arise. Because they block and deny. If you don't block or deny, but rather come up with justification, you actually experience character development. Whoa.


I agree with most of the points, but number 3 ('don't stop other people') I'm not so keen about. Mostly because I see a lot of situations where 3 and 5 ('don't mess with other people's stuff or HP') come together at the same time.

I think 9 is particularly helpful. It helps to ground that while you are playing a game, you're also playing a roleplaying game. Tactics are good, and moving the story forward, but so is actually having a character to be in that story.

Good points, a bit too generic to my taste, but that is the nature of blogs and short articles.

For example, my biggest beef with point 3 is that it is too generic or vague. I agree that blocking is not good, but I would want to add that what the monk did in the example is not by definition blocking and it most certainly does not mean nothing happens. After all, it might lead to great character development between the monk and the fighter, the NPC might still take offense and for all we know the fighter might actually wanted to be "blocked" because he went for point 2 but did not want to fall into the traps of point 3 and 4 himself*. That is not even assuming the example Zippy mentions about how the fighter is being a jerk that does not follow the 11 points and as a result is attacking the NPCs.

And as always, these points only work if everybody follows them and nobody is acting like a jerk. Personally I would assume that to be a given, but then I read about a discussion about low level characters visiting ancient red dragons or gnomes throwing pies in the face of an emporer and I wonder. If you do this as a player, aren't you being a jerk for testing your own character's mortallity within the campaign? Aren't you breaking the rules by definition?

* You could argue that he still fell into the trap of point 3 and 4, but I have seen this happen often enough where nobody at the table minds and if that is the case, who cares? ;)

The example for 3 IS blocking, because nothing happens except an argument. An argument is much less likely to be interesting because there's no incentive for either character to give ground. The same reasoning that made one character stop another's actions will lead to neither side backing down: "My character wouldn't allow that." In order for that scene to go anywhere, one of the players has to make the same kind of decision that the monk character was unwilling to make in the first place: to allow another character's motivations to win out.

However, if the established plan was not to take the action that the monk was stopping, the it's the other player who is blocking. There should still be no in-character action taken to prevent it, but it's valid for the players to say "Hey, remember we agreed on this play. Let's stick with that."

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The example for 3 IS blocking, because nothing happens except an argument. An argument is much less likely to be interesting because there's no incentive for either character to give ground. The same reasoning that made one character stop another's actions will lead to neither side backing down: "My character wouldn't allow that." In order for that scene to go anywhere, one of the players has to make the same kind of decision that the monk character was unwilling to make in the first place: to allow another character's motivations to win out.

However, if the established plan was not to take the action that the monk was stopping, the it's the other player who is blocking. There should still be no in-character action taken to prevent it, but it's valid for the players to say "Hey, remember we agreed on this play. Let's stick with that."

Unless of course, the fighter is a character with a temper who uses the opportunity to highlight point 2 (act), but, wanting to prevent his character dictating events for the rest of the group, is all too grateful for the intervention by the other player. For all we know, the fighter takes a few breaths after being blocked by the monk (who might have won initiative and rolled higher on the attack roll) and is then grateful towards the monk, well aware of how a villainous NPC tried to exploit a weakness of his character.

Sure, I am making all kinds of assumptions about the example (assumptions which barring jerk players are actually fairly common in my experience when something like this happens at the table), it is the vagueness of the situation that makes me dislike it as an example in the first place. Not to mention that you are making assumptions as well, since you have no idea whether all we get is an argument. Even if all we get is a discussion, there is no guarantee it will be boring and does not lead to anything interesting such as for example great character development for both PCs involved.

It is not that I disagree with the fact that blocking is bad, it is. It is just that blocking is a very fluid concept, highly dependend on how the involved people deal with the situation and their expectations of the game. Spending more space on what IMO is a bad example* then the actual thing is just not doing the argument much good in my opinion. Although, my replies are not helping in this regard, so I will shut up now ;)

* I have seen the described situation happen a *lot* at convention games and in virtually all those cases it was a direct result of the "fighter" actually falling into the trap of point 4 or the player wanted to be a jerk and irritate the rest of the group. Sure, you should resolve the issue out of the game, but I have dealt with instigators before and sometimes ignoring them is the best sollution for all involved (as long as you don't ignore them most of the time).
I agree with most of the points, but number 3 ('don't stop other people') I'm not so keen about. Mostly because I see a lot of situations where 3 and 5 ('don't mess with other people's stuff or HP') come together at the same time.



Two wrongs don't make a right.

I'd add if you have agreed as a group to play a game without character-vs-character conflict as discussed in #5, or have agreed to play to fantasy heroic themes where the adventurers are comrades and allies fighting against an external threat, or are simply playing a game like D&D which doesn't support character-vs.-character conflict mechanics in any way, then someone who "messes with other people's stuff or HP" is blocking. They are breaking their agreement or negating existing fiction which states that you don't do those things. Unacceptable.

It is not blocking to say "no" out-of-game to someone who is blocking you in-game. Discuss the block, fix it, move on.

For example, my biggest beef with point 3 is that it is too generic or vague. I agree that blocking is not good, but I would want to add that what the monk did in the example is not by definition blocking and it most certainly does not mean nothing happens. After all, it might lead to great character development between the monk and the fighter, the NPC might still take offense and for all we know the fighter might actually wanted to be "blocked" because he went for point 2 but did not want to fall into the traps of point 3 and 4 himself*. That is not even assuming the example Zippy mentions about how the fighter is being a jerk that does not follow the 11 points and as a result is attacking the NPCs.



He's blocking. It's unacceptable. Here's a definition of blocking since there seems to be some confusion as to what that is. It's a specific thing:

Blocking is the opposite of saying "Yes, and..." It's also called "denial." This destroys or stops the addition of new information or negates what has already been established. Blocking is a way of minimizing the impact of new information. It is also a method for a player or DM to play it safe and avoid vulnerability by seizing or maintaining control. Blocking at its simplest levels involves saying "No" or avoiding a subject. At a more advanced level, blocking is something that keeps the action from moving forward or the characters from changing.

And as always, these points only work if everybody follows them and nobody is acting like a jerk. Personally I would assume that to be a given, but then I read about a discussion about low level characters visiting ancient red dragons or gnomes throwing pies in the face of an emporer and I wonder. If you do this as a player, aren't you being a jerk for testing your own character's mortallity within the campaign? Aren't you breaking the rules by definition?



I don't see the problem with low-level characters visiting ancient red dragons. They just probably won't be able to fight it directly. Throwing a pie at the emperor may be blocking as well, if the party had other designs they discussed beforehand or if the group agreed prior to play that slapstick wasn't a feature of their heroic fantasy game.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

He's blocking. It's unacceptable. Here's a definition of blocking since there seems to be some confusion as to what that is. It's a specific thing:

Blocking is the opposite of saying "Yes, and..." It's also called "denial." This destroys or stops the addition of new information or negates what has already been established. Blocking is a way of minimizing the impact of new information. It is also a method for a player or DM to play it safe and avoid vulnerability by seizing or maintaining control. Blocking at its simplest levels involves saying "No" or avoiding a subject. At a more advanced level, blocking is something that keeps the action from moving forward or the characters from changing.

It might be me, but by that definition what happens in the example is not by definition blocking. Note that the example has the monk blocking the attack not saying it never happened at all, so that does not remove the fact that the fighter struck. We have no idea whether it minimizes the impact, and it certainly establishes facts about the fighter and the monk. It is certainly a very common scene in movies where one hero prevents the other hero from doing something foolish, like striking an officer, and which many players have no problem with at all. I certainly find it a very far stretch to say that the action prevents the scene from moving forward or that it keeps the characters from changing since the example never mentions what happens after the event. Nobody said it never happened, or the NPC ignores the event.

In fact, by your definition and my experience at the table with situations like these (which are surprisingly common, especially at convention games), the example is actually more often about the fighter blocking the monk than the reverse. The fighters action is often the result of a player being stuck on "that is what my character would do" and the action itself leads to heated out of character debate that stops the game moving forward for a long time during the player arguments. Which for me only highlights the fact that as presented it is a bad example.
Unless of course, the fighter is a character with a temper who uses the opportunity to highlight point 2 (act), but, wanting to prevent his character dictating events for the rest of the group, is all too grateful for the intervention by the other player. For all we know, the fighter takes a few breaths after being blocked by the monk (who might have won initiative and rolled higher on the attack roll) and is then grateful towards the monk, well aware of how a villainous NPC tried to exploit a weakness of his character.



Then the fighter establishes what he attempts to do and how the monk intervenes. The monk responds with "Yes, and..." as in "Yes, and I stop the fighter's fist an inch from the jerk's face. I notice the fighter's momentary anger, then relief that I saved him from himself. We share a moment and the fighter knows I'm always looking out for his best interests, even when he's not."

That's how you do that.

It is not that I disagree with the fact that blocking is bad, it is. It is just that blocking is a very fluid concept, highly dependend on how the involved people deal with the situation and their expectations of the game.



It depends entirely on established context and previous agreements.

* I have seen the described situation happen a *lot* at convention games and in virtually all those cases it was a direct result of the "fighter" actually falling into the trap of point 4 or the player wanted to be a jerk and irritate the rest of the group. Sure, you should resolve the issue out of the game, but I have dealt with instigators before and sometimes ignoring them is the best sollution for all involved (as long as you don't ignore them most of the time).



Blocking is dealt with outside the context of the game.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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It might be me, but by that definition what happens in the example is not by definition blocking. Note that the example has the monk blocking the attack not saying it never happened at all, so that does not remove the fact that the fighter struck. We have no idea whether it minimizes the impact, and it certainly establishes facts about the fighter and the monk.



We lack context to be certain, but at most tables, I'd put money down that it's blocking. This a very common occurence at tables who don't understand what blocking is and why it's bad. I think you're reading a bit too much into this.

It is certainly a very common scene in movies where one hero prevents the other hero from doing something foolish, like striking an officer, and which many players have no problem with at all. I certainly find it a very far stretch to say that the action prevents the scene from moving forward or that it keeps the characters from changing since the example never mentions what happens after the event. Nobody said it never happened, or the NPC ignores the event.



The actors in that movie have agreed to that conflict. The actor throwing the punch knows the other actor is going to stop him. You can do this in the game by agreement or by establishing that fiction yourself and collaborating with "Yes, and..."

In fact, by your definition and my experience at the table with situations like these (which are surprisingly common, especially at convention games), the example is actually more often about the fighter blocking the monk than the reverse. The fighters action is often the result of a player being stuck on "that is what my character would do" and the action itself leads to heated out of character debate that stops the game moving forward for a long time during the player arguments. Which for me only highlights the fact that as presented it is a bad example.



The fighter would be blocking if there was agreement not to strike the prisoner.

The example is perfectly fine because if you don't know if an action you're about to take is blocking, you ask if it's okay or you don't do it.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Discussion aside, I want to thank you for sharing the post. I've sent it to my buddies, and I know at least a couple of them (who see themselves as veteran roleplayers) who would really benefit from it. 
Point three basically goes like this:

[spoiler Scenario One:]


  • "Do you want to you want to go down to the pub for some adventure?" 

  • "Yes, and I'm going to get stewed!"

  • "Yes, and my character doesn't think it's a good idea, but finds himself there anyway."

  • "Yes, and my character, slurring his words, starts a bar fight!"

  • "Yes, and my character groans, 'I just knew something like this would happen!'"

  • "Yes, and my character smashes a chair over the head of that big ugly guy in the corner!"

  • "Yes, and my character says 'wait! Don't - oh, no, nothing good can come from this!"

  • "Yes, and that big guy punches my character in the nose, and knocks him out!"

  • "Yes, and my character, later, after bandaging up your character, tells him 'you know, you really ought to do something about your temper while drinking... some meditation could help with that!'"

  • "Yes, and my character would normally disagree, but man, does he have a splitting headache!  That meditation thing seems like a good idea, this morning!"

  • "Well, first, you will need to go out in the wild and find your spirit totem..."

  • "Yes, and some aspirin!"

  • "Yes, in fact, I have some right here!"

  • "And, on the way to the woods, I grumble and complain a lot about my headache, and about the biting insects, and about the goblin war party blocking the path, and..."

  • ...and so on...


[/spoiler]


[spoiler Scenario Two:]



  • "Do you want to go down the pub for some adventure?"

  • "No."


Scenario 2B:



  • "I... um... try to talk you into it?"

  • "No, my character wouldn't do that."


Scenario 2C:



  • "OK, what do you want to do?"

  • "I don't know."

  • "Maybe we can go talk to that DMPC over there in the corner?"

  • "My character knows better than to talk to strangers.  My character is going to go read a book in the wizard's library, wanna come along?"

  • "No, my character doesn't read."


[/spoiler]



In the first scenario, "Yes, and..." causes a chain of events to happen, each one building on the other.  The PCs are driving the story forward in whatever direction their imaginations take them in.


In the second scenario, "No!" just keeps shutting down possiblities... it's the party that doesn't do anything, unless the DM can somehow force things forward by finagling together some convoluted plot-hook that nobody in the group can figure out how to say "No!" to.  The story just sort of stutters haltingly forward along the paths of least resistance whenever it can.



In a way, it's probably no wonder a lot of groups depend on "ROLL-playing":  "Roll for initiative!  There are violent monsters swinging a sword at you!  There is no choice about it:  if you don't fight back, your character will die!  You are forced by life-and-death situations to move from one encounter of death to the next!  Don't stop, don't rest, keep moving forward!"  The combat doesn't really leave a lot of room for players to do much hemming and hawing and saying "no, my character doesn't do that", "no, that's not how dragons talk", "no, Orcs are always chaotic evil and would never do that", "no, in chapter 18 of the fifth book in the series it says Y is located west of Z", and so on.  In short, take away the combat in some of these groups, and everything grinds into a messy halt as the players and DMs start jumping at chances to say 'No!' to each other....


[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Madfox, you're correct.

Iserith's and Centauri's points and examples pretty consistently hinge on assuming behavior comes from a negative mind-set basically all the time.

Your point is entirely valid about players discovering things about their characters through play. After all, if combat is NOT initiated against a target, the first person to throw a blow has "BLOCKED" the non-combat approach any previous player has taken part in, no?

When the players do not take things personally and make decisions AS THEIR CHARACTERS while respecting the difference/seperation between their characters and themselves, there's nothing wrong with the example of the monk & fighter. "No wait!" has happened plenty of times in games at my table and because the players respect each other and are mature adults (and because their characters are assumed to be cooperating) the "No wait!" comes from a place of cooperation and/or assistance.

Nothing wrong with any of that. Does it require everyone to be on the same page and to be genuine about what they're doing? Absolutely. Does that take time and effort? Yup. Does it just reinforce that there are really no simple answers to some things? Heck yeah. That's what makes'em worth it though.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Unless of course, the fighter is a character with a temper who uses the opportunity to highlight point 2 (act), but, wanting to prevent his character dictating events for the rest of the group, is all too grateful for the intervention by the other player.

That's great if it's set up by the players. Then it's not blocking.

It's hard not to act without dictating events for the entire group, which is why it's so common for players not to act at all. They don't want to be "that guy," the Leroy Jenkins. When people are familiar with "Yes, and..." and back peoples' play instead of blocking them, then no one has to worry about "dictating events." Everyone can do it, and expect everyone to back them up.

For all we know, the fighter takes a few breaths after being blocked by the monk (who might have won initiative and rolled higher on the attack roll) and is then grateful towards the monk, well aware of how a villainous NPC tried to exploit a weakness of his character.

That's not the way to bet.

Not to mention that you are making assumptions as well, since you have no idea whether all we get is an argument. Even if all we get is a discussion, there is no guarantee it will be boring and does not lead to anything interesting such as for example great character development for both PCs involved.

The only reason there wouldn't be an argument is if one of the players was able to do what the monk player was unable to do, which is to go along with another player's character for no other reason than to keep the game moving in an interesting way.

It is not that I disagree with the fact that blocking is bad, it is. It is just that blocking is a very fluid concept, highly dependend on how the involved people deal with the situation and their expectations of the game.

Sure. But handling well a situation in which one's action is blocked or negated is not easy to do. In improv, only the best improvisors can handle block and be blocked and make an interesting scene out of it. Players, in my experience, can't do it at all. Blocking is best avoided entirely. If you want an interesting argument scene, work it out as players in advance.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

For example, my biggest beef with point 3 is that it is too generic or vague. I agree that blocking is not good, but I would want to add that what the monk did in the example is not by definition blocking and it most certainly does not mean nothing happens. After all, it might lead to great character development between the monk and the fighter, the NPC might still take offense and for all we know the fighter might actually wanted to be "blocked" because he went for point 2 but did not want to fall into the traps of point 3 and 4 himself*. That is not even assuming the example Zippy mentions about how the fighter is being a jerk that does not follow the 11 points and as a result is attacking the NPCs.



He's blocking. It's unacceptable. Here's a definition of blocking since there seems to be some confusion as to what that is. It's a specific thing:

Blocking is the opposite of saying "Yes, and..." It's also called "denial." This destroys or stops the addition of new information or negates what has already been established. Blocking is a way of minimizing the impact of new information. It is also a method for a player or DM to play it safe and avoid vulnerability by seizing or maintaining control. Blocking at its simplest levels involves saying "No" or avoiding a subject. At a more advanced level, blocking is something that keeps the action from moving forward or the characters from changing.


That definition doesn't seem to help what he was talking about. Let's consider both options:

Option 1: Fighter goes to punch man, monk stops it.
Result: Monk and fighter can have a discussion showing off their respective personality traits of the character. The pacifist monks shows off his pacifist-ness, athe fighter shows off his temper, before realising he was being naughty and thanks the monk. Third man reacts and story moves on. New information on the reliance between fighter and monk is generated by the players.

Option 2: Fighter punches man, monk helps up man.
Result: Fighter shows off his agressiveness. Monk shows off his tenderness to others. Third man reacts (in a different or larger way) and story moves on. New information limited to how the third man reacted and where the story will go now.

In both instances the story can continue. In both instances the new information is generated. In both instances subjects are not avoided, and in both instances the action still moves forward.

Stopping the punch isn't blocking. It's how it's reacted to by the rest of the table.

Then the fighter establishes what he attempts to do and how the monk intervenes. The monk responds with "Yes, and..." as in "Yes, and I stop the fighter's fist an inch from the jerk's face. I notice the fighter's momentary anger, then relief that I saved him from himself. We share a moment and the fighter knows I'm always looking out for his best interests, even when he's not."

That's how you do that.


I think this illustrates (for me) that blocking again is not necessarily the action, but how it is reacted to. I believe some things are definately blocking, but a lot of it comes down to the situation and how others respond.

You also mention getting prior approval a lot for actions. Is it case of in your ideal games that players will sketch out the scene and the outcome, and then start over and do it this time 'in character' or 'in detail'?

"No wait!" has happened plenty of times in games at my table and because the players respect each other and are mature adults (and because their characters are assumed to be cooperating) the "No wait!" comes from a place of cooperation and/or assistance.

I'm fairly happy with no wait myself - especially if it results in a better combined idea, rather than the first one someone suggested (perhaps in jest, or selfishly, or because they wanted to go to option A while most others wanted option B). I know this breeches a lot of other topics, such as whether or not players are jerks, or samitarians, or 100% following rules about being good RPers.

Sure. But handling well a situation in which one's action is blocked or negated is not easy to do. In improv, only the best improvisors can handle block and be blocked and make an interesting scene out of it. Players, in my experience, can't do it at all. Blocking is best avoided entirely. If you want an interesting argument scene, work it out as players in advance.

Blocking in Improv is fairly common. My better half spends a lot of time doing impro comedy & impro scenework, so I tend to see a lot of it from both experienced and less experienced people. Blocking (in impro) is when an idea is negated without an alternative introduced. So the wife saying 'lets jump in the car and go to the shops' and the husband replying 'we don't have a car' is blocking, but if the husband then continues on 'we don't have a car, we have a hovercar' or 'we don't have a car, you lost it in that blackjack game' isn't blocking - it's moving the scene forward in an alternative direction. Heck, experienced players often negate ideas to make the scene more interesting by either suggesting an alternative or increasing the stakes.

That said, DnD and Impro are different beasts. Both include a lot of improvised content, but in the latter you rarely get to pause to think or retract your actions. In the former you also have a large element of uncertaintly, wherein the latter you know 95% if you go to stab someone then they will (play) die.

Of course, the term blocking is bandied about a lot in impro like in DnD so to some it is very different to what others define it as.
Stopping the punch isn't blocking. It's how it's reacted to by the rest of the table.

If you want to look at it that way fine, but it's just moving things down the line. The reaction to the "blocking" player's choice might relieve the block, or it might block further. Great, but if the "blocking" player didn't block in the first place, there'd be no risk that the block would devolve into argument or any other problem. And "character development" or whatever good people think might come out of blocking can still happen. Nothing requires blocking.

You also mention getting prior approval a lot for actions. Is it case of in your ideal games that players will sketch out the scene and the outcome, and then start over and do it this time 'in character' or 'in detail'?

That's my ideal, though I've never exactly brought that about. I did have one game in which a player insisted that his character would fight a newly introduced PC. I implored the player to devote his creativity to reasons why he wouldn't fight the new player's character. This was all prior to the action being taken.

I'm fairly happy with no wait myself - especially if it results in a better combined idea, rather than the first one someone suggested (perhaps in jest, or selfishly, or because they wanted to go to option A while most others wanted option B). I know this breeches a lot of other topics, such as whether or not players are jerks, or samitarians, or 100% following rules about being good RPers.

But there's no end to the "No, wait." Players devolve so easily into the endless "improvement" of a plan, assuming they can even agree. "Yes, and..." also allows for improvement, but it moves things forward.

Blocking in Improv is fairly common. My better half spends a lot of time doing impro comedy & impro scenework, so I tend to see a lot of it from both experienced and less experienced people. Blocking (in impro) is when an idea is negated without an alternative introduced. So the wife saying 'lets jump in the car and go to the shops' and the husband replying 'we don't have a car' is blocking, but if the husband then continues on 'we don't have a car, we have a hovercar' or 'we don't have a car, you lost it in that blackjack game' isn't blocking - it's moving the scene forward in an alternative direction.

This is extremely risky, even for experienced players. They've made the other player look dumb, in an effort to promote their own idea. If they wanted there to be a hovercar or a lost car, then they should have taken the initiative and established that. They'd better hope that their fellow player could do what they couldn't and accept this new tack, or that scene is going nowhere.

Heck, experienced players often negate ideas to make the scene more interesting by either suggesting an alternative or increasing the stakes.

Very experienced. Most RPG players don't have that level of experience, and aren't aware that arguing and blocking isn't what they should be doing. After all, their favorite characters do it.

Of course, the term blocking is bandied about a lot in impro like in DnD so to some it is very different to what others define it as.

Definitions are always risky. The point is the outcome. If a choice a player makes hinders, negates, or undoes a choice another player has already made there's increased risk of bad feelings, reduced creativity, and argument. No potential good from that choice is worth that risk.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I did have one game in which a player insisted that his character would fight a newly introduced PC. I implored the player to devote his creativity to reasons why he wouldn'tfight the new player's character. This was all prior to the action being taken.



Would it not have been better to say "Yes, and how do the two of you resolve their conflict?". Perhaps they fight to a draw and learn to respect each other? That seems like a much more interesting story than Bob wanders up to the campfire and becomes instant best friends with the whole party.

Heroic fantasy is full of conflict between protagonists, it'd seem odd if we can't build that kind of story.

You also mention getting prior approval a lot for actions. Is it case of in your ideal games that players will sketch out the scene and the outcome, and then start over and do it this time 'in character' or 'in detail'?

That's my ideal, though I've never exactly brought that about. I did have one game in which a player insisted that his character would fight a newly introduced PC. I implored the player to devote his creativity to reasons why he wouldn't fight the new player's character. This was all prior to the action being taken.
I'm fairly happy with no wait myself - especially if it results in a better combined idea, rather than the first one someone suggested (perhaps in jest, or selfishly, or because they wanted to go to option A while most others wanted option B). I know this breeches a lot of other topics, such as whether or not players are jerks, or samitarians, or 100% following rules about being good RPers.

But there's no end to the "No, wait." Players devolve so easily into the endless "improvement" of a plan, assuming they can even agree. "Yes, and..." also allows for improvement, but it moves things forward.


So you like the pre-planning because it allows for a better scene as the players can improve their plan ... but you don't like mid-scene planning because it allows for a better scene as the players can improve their plan? I imagine how you or the players finish the 'initial sketch' would be similar to how we finish the 'no wait' part.

Very experienced. Most RPG players don't have that level of experience, and aren't aware that arguing and blocking isn't what they should be doing. After all, their favorite characters do it.


Which is why we should strop trying to draw parallels between impro and DnD. They're different beasts. They have similiarities, but as you would agree now that it isn't yourself or Iserith talking impro, just saying "they do this thing for impro" doesn't mean it's awesome for DnD.

The point is the outcome. If a choice a player makes hinders, negates, or undoes a choice another player has already made there's increased risk of bad feelings, reduced creativity, and argument. No potential good from that choice is worth that risk.

As others have mentioned, pretty much any choice a player makes is going to hinder or change other people's goals. It's part of playing a multi-person game. If the thief says 'I unlock the door' then they have negated the rest of the party from solving the obstacle or interacting meaningfully with the door.

Making choices shouldn't be frowned upon, especially when the goal is the move the story forward. As long as the party as a whole is okay, or the single player's action isn't entirely selfish, I think it is an acceptable action to take. They may have chosen an alternative path, but that should be built upon rather than frowned at (or I guess in your terms when the path is changed you should "yes and" rather than "block" a 'block'). I guess I don't just understand the 'you have to make choice and you can't make choices that might in some way impede other possible futures' rhetoric. I think part of the problem is that it has been abstracted or generalised too much, which just makes it meaningless or contractictory.


For example, my biggest beef with point 3 is that it is too generic or vague. I agree that blocking is not good, but I would want to add that what the monk did in the example is not by definition blocking and it most certainly does not mean nothing happens. After all, it might lead to great character development between the monk and the fighter, the NPC might still take offense and for all we know the fighter might actually wanted to be "blocked" because he went for point 2 but did not want to fall into the traps of point 3 and 4 himself*. That is not even assuming the example Zippy mentions about how the fighter is being a jerk that does not follow the 11 points and as a result is attacking the NPCs.



He's blocking. It's unacceptable. Here's a definition of blocking since there seems to be some confusion as to what that is. It's a specific thing:

Blocking is the opposite of saying "Yes, and..." It's also called "denial." This destroys or stops the addition of new information or negates what has already been established. Blocking is a way of minimizing the impact of new information. It is also a method for a player or DM to play it safe and avoid vulnerability by seizing or maintaining control. Blocking at its simplest levels involves saying "No" or avoiding a subject. At a more advanced level, blocking is something that keeps the action from moving forward or the characters from changing.


That definition doesn't seem to help what he was talking about. Let's consider both options:

Option 1: Fighter goes to punch man, monk stops it.
Result: Monk and fighter can have a discussion showing off their respective personality traits of the character. The pacifist monks shows off his pacifist-ness, athe fighter shows off his temper, before realising he was being naughty and thanks the monk. Third man reacts and story moves on. New information on the reliance between fighter and monk is generated by the players.

Option 2: Fighter punches man, monk helps up man.
Result: Fighter shows off his agressiveness. Monk shows off his tenderness to others. Third man reacts (in a different or larger way) and story moves on. New information limited to how the third man reacted and where the story will go now.

In both instances the story can continue. In both instances the new information is generated. In both instances subjects are not avoided, and in both instances the action still moves forward.

Stopping the punch isn't blocking. It's how it's reacted to by the rest of the table.

Then the fighter establishes what he attempts to do and how the monk intervenes. The monk responds with "Yes, and..." as in "Yes, and I stop the fighter's fist an inch from the jerk's face. I notice the fighter's momentary anger, then relief that I saved him from himself. We share a moment and the fighter knows I'm always looking out for his best interests, even when he's not."

That's how you do that.


I think this illustrates (for me) that blocking again is not necessarily the action, but how it is reacted to. I believe some things are definately blocking, but a lot of it comes down to the situation and how others respond.

You also mention getting prior approval a lot for actions. Is it case of in your ideal games that players will sketch out the scene and the outcome, and then start over and do it this time 'in character' or 'in detail'?

"No wait!" has happened plenty of times in games at my table and because the players respect each other and are mature adults (and because their characters are assumed to be cooperating) the "No wait!" comes from a place of cooperation and/or assistance.

I'm fairly happy with no wait myself - especially if it results in a better combined idea, rather than the first one someone suggested (perhaps in jest, or selfishly, or because they wanted to go to option A while most others wanted option B). I know this breeches a lot of other topics, such as whether or not players are jerks, or samitarians, or 100% following rules about being good RPers.

Sure. But handling well a situation in which one's action is blocked or negated is not easy to do. In improv, only the best improvisors can handle block and be blocked and make an interesting scene out of it. Players, in my experience, can't do it at all. Blocking is best avoided entirely. If you want an interesting argument scene, work it out as players in advance.

Blocking in Improv is fairly common. My better half spends a lot of time doing impro comedy & impro scenework, so I tend to see a lot of it from both experienced and less experienced people. Blocking (in impro) is when an idea is negated without an alternative introduced. So the wife saying 'lets jump in the car and go to the shops' and the husband replying 'we don't have a car' is blocking, but if the husband then continues on 'we don't have a car, we have a hovercar' or 'we don't have a car, you lost it in that blackjack game' isn't blocking - it's moving the scene forward in an alternative direction. Heck, experienced players often negate ideas to make the scene more interesting by either suggesting an alternative or increasing the stakes.

That said, DnD and Impro are different beasts. Both include a lot of improvised content, but in the latter you rarely get to pause to think or retract your actions. In the former you also have a large element of uncertaintly, wherein the latter you know 95% if you go to stab someone then they will (play) die.

Of course, the term blocking is bandied about a lot in impro like in DnD so to some it is very different to what others define it as.




I'm sure that "My Monk stops the Fighter" can work out in the end for an interesting, or at least an acceptible, scene.

But, it usually only works because the Fighter's player is a good sport and says "Yes, and my Fighter does something else instead, assuming the rest of the group lets me...."

If the Fighter says "No, you don't stop my Fighter..." and the Monk then says "I do stop him..."  "No you don't..."  "Yes, I do...", a DM would then typically step in and say "for Pete's sake!  Roll for initiative... the Fighter won initiative, he punched the bar guy out, and you all get thrown out of the bar.  Now, let's get on with the story.  The mysterious stranger is waiting for you outside, and seems to want to talk to you."  (The dice and DM being about the only real differences between improv and D&D....)

[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I'm sure that "My Monk stops the Fighter" can work out in the end for an interesting, or at least an acceptible, scene.

But, it usually only works because the Fighter's player is a good sport and says "Yes, and my Fighter does something else instead, assuming the rest of the group lets me...."

If the Fighter says "No, you don't stop my Fighter..." and the Monk then says "I do stop him..."  "No you don't..."  "Yes, I do...", a DM would then typically step in and say "for Pete's sake!  Roll for initiative... the Fighter won initiative, he punched the bar guy out, and you all get thrown out of the bar.  Now, let's get on with the story.  The mysterious stranger is waiting for you outside, and seems to want to talk to you."  (The dice and DM being about the only real differences between improv and D&D....)



Right. It's just not worth the risk. Players are better off just simply not blocking. You can still accomplish all that lovely character development people think is accomplished by stopping the fighter another way.

An action was negated - that's blocking. That it may turn out well after the fact doesn't mean it wasn't blocking. For the purposes of acting, blocking can be useful (especially for comedy) when skilled actors do it. For the purposes of this game, you're better off in my view not doing it at all. Let everyone do what they set out to do and add to it.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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I did have one game in which a player insisted that his character would fight a newly introduced PC. I implored the player to devote his creativity to reasons why he wouldn't fight the new player's character. This was all prior to the action being taken.

Would it not have been better to say "Yes, and how do the two of you resolve their conflict?".

Possibly. What I actually said at the time did not preclude that option. This was also years ago, and so I would encourage the other player to say "Yes, and" to the one with the issue, but I can't say it for them.

Perhaps they fight to a draw and learn to respect each other?

The rules probably would not have resulted in a draw. A draw would have had to have been agreed to by the characters.

That seems like a much more interesting story than Bob wanders up to the campfire and becomes instant best friends with the whole party.

That's not the only other option.

Heroic fantasy is full of conflict between protagonists, it'd seem odd if we can't build that kind of story.

We can. But they don't arise from the players trying to get their way, but from the players cooperating and compromising.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

So you like the pre-planning because it allows for a better scene as the players can improve their plan ... but you don't like mid-scene planning because it allows for a better scene as the players can improve their plan?

That's not what I'm saying.

I don't like "planning" that involves "no, wait, let's do this." I don't care when it happens. Any idea can be made to work, so saying "No," or "Yes, but," instead of "Yes, and" means taking a working plan, and either tossing it or retracting it, rather than making forward progress. Blocking paves the way for argument and endless discussion, not for moving forward.

I imagine how you or the players finish the 'initial sketch' would be similar to how we finish the 'no wait' part.

It's not, because we're not "No, wait"ing, we're "Yes, and"ing.

Which is why we should strop trying to draw parallels between impro and DnD. They're different beasts. They have similiarities, but as you would agree now that it isn't yourself or Iserith talking impro, just saying "they do this thing for impro" doesn't mean it's awesome for DnD.

I think you misunderstand. This isn't theoretical. We've done this. Lots of other people have done and are doing this. People have been doing this for years without having words for it, because it's about trusting each other and backing their plays.

D&D may not be improv, but it shares enough similarities that many of the same techniques work in both.

As others have mentioned, pretty much any choice a player makes is going to hinder or change other people's goals. It's part of playing a multi-person game. If the thief says 'I unlock the door' then they have negated the rest of the party from solving the obstacle or interacting meaningfully with the door.

I'm talking about stated goals. Choosing a course of action means other courses can't be taken, but if no one suggested those other courses of action before the stated course of action, then no one's action is being blocked. Yes, the opens the door to the fastest person always getting their way, but it's easy to say "Next time, please wait a moment to let someone else try." If that's agreed to and not followed, then the person is blocking.

Making choices shouldn't be frowned upon, especially when the goal is the move the story forward. As long as the party as a whole is okay, or the single player's action isn't entirely selfish, I think it is an acceptable action to take. They may have chosen an alternative path, but that should be built upon rather than frowned at (or I guess in your terms when the path is changed you should "yes and" rather than "block" a 'block').

I agree.

I guess I don't just understand the 'you have to make choice and you can't make choices that might in some way impede other possible futures' rhetoric.

I don't understand that either. That's not what "Yes, and..." is about. It's not about impeding possible futures, it's about impeding what someone else has already said.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Was this exchange:

I guess I don't just understand the 'you have to make choice and you can't make choices that might in some way impede other possible futures' rhetoric.

I don't understand that either. That's not what "Yes, and..." is about. It's not about impeding possible futures, it's about impeding what someone else has already said.



In reference to this below?

The example is perfectly fine because if you don't know if an action you're about to take is blocking, you ask if it's okay or you don't do it.



I'm a little confused as to where we were talking about not blocking things that haven't been declared. If it's something I said, I can clarify. But otherwise, Centauri is correct here.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Blocking is dealt with outside the context of the game.

Sure, but sometimes doing so during the game slows things down to a crawl or serve no purpose at all. I prefer to keep such discussions out of my limited gaming time, and when it is about convention games, I am not going to go to extreme lengths to train the players.
Blocking is dealt with outside the context of the game.

Sure, but sometimes doing so during the game slows things down to a crawl or serve no purpose at all. I prefer to keep such discussions out of my limited gaming time, and when it is about convention games, I am not going to go to extreme lengths to train the players.

No, when you're gaming with strangers, there's not much to be done, and not much worth doing. I avoid convention D&D for this reason. No one ever bothers to do the least bit of level-setting.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Blocking is dealt with outside the context of the game.

Sure, but sometimes doing so during the game slows things down to a crawl or serve no purpose at all. I prefer to keep such discussions out of my limited gaming time, and when it is about convention games, I am not going to go to extreme lengths to train the players.

No, when you're gaming with strangers, there's not much to be done, and not much worth doing. I avoid convention D&D for this reason. No one ever bothers to do the least bit of level-setting.

It is certainly a two-edged sword. Some of my best games were convention games, and so were some of my worst. In the end, I have learned a lot about D&D and RPGs at conventions, especially about how the game rules interact with players ;)

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