Legends & Lore: Roleplaying in D&D Next

Legends & Lore
Roleplaying in D&D Next

By Mike Mearls

D&D started out as a roleplaying game, and D&D Next plans to embrace the concept of roleplaying your character. How? Mike shares some of the current thoughts of the D&D Next team on the topic of roleplaying your character.

Talk about this column here.

This Week in D&D

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Waiting for the balance brigade demanding to balance roleplaying. Not bad ideas seems a litle bit inspired by the DMG2 from 3.5 but a bit less codified. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

Not a fan of Inspiration Points but it sounds like an easy dial to flip.



I am qouting myself in case the twin thread is removed before this thread. 

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

Ugh. I think Inspiration ties Dis/Advantage for "worst idea of Next". Well, maybe it's not so bad, since it seems fairly easy to remove. These "roleplaying mechanics" are a contradiction in terms, and I can only hope they bury it back in some dark corner of the DMG instead of putting it up in the character creation section of the PHB where everyone will assume it's mandatory.

The metagame is not the game.

I doubt my group will make much use of this, but it could be interesting in a reccuring villian fight where the PC is weaker but makes up for it with inspiration points.
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
I'll have to see how the inspiration mechanic actually works before passing judgement on it, but I fully support randomized tables to generate background info.
Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon
Super dig randomized BG tables. Inspiration sounds like a carrot. It gives a mechanical reward for good RP. I'm not opposed to it. I tend to dig a few fate/action pointy rewards. As long as they propel the fun forward. I'm interested in seeing the modules that build on it.
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
I'd be more of a fan of Inspiration if it brought a unique (or at least different) mechanic with it for its execution. As it is, it looks mostly like a way for story and 'in-character' players to cash in on the same edges that tactical 'clever' players gain. More ways to gain advantage, less useful it becomes and all that stuff. (not that it's a bad thing to offer a carrot to story players, but at this point it sounds like it would be easier to just give everybody a feat option called "Advantage. You have advantage on all D20 rolls.")
I'll probably end up using everything described in this article.

Sounds neat.
Technically, D&D started out as an extension of a miniatures skirmish game, but whatevs.

 
Waiting for the balance brigade demanding to balance roleplaying. 



Frankly, this feels like Mearls has balanced roleplaying. When the reward is always Advantage, then it encourages DMs to not give too small a reward (+1 to one skill check once) nor give too great a reward (Raise Dead as a Standard Action). The only uncertainity is convincing the DM to say "yea" to your acting.

If Lawerence Olivier and Rob Schneider are both playing Bards and get the same reward for doing their best job acting out their PC, you've eliminated the out-of-character influences on the game's narrative. Lawerence's epic speech may make the group weep and Rob's rambling stutters may induce groans, but if the DM considers both of them to have been RPing appropriately, the better RPing will get the same reward as the worse RP.

Some people may like this, and some may not. But IMO it certainly promotes a flatter variance on what rewards a DM will give a player for RPing.     

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

I like inspiration.  It reminds me of a mechanic from Exalted.

I don't think it pushes towards flatter results.  I think, if anything, this is a succesor to the "reward good Roleplaying with XP" houserule that always used to be used.  That rule is problematic because it means different people have different XP totals, which is something we wanted to do away with in 3.5e (but couldn't because of Level Adjustment), and something that was entirely done away with in 4e's rules as written. 

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

When you have your character do something that reflects your character's personality, goals, or beliefs, the DM can reward you with inspiration. The key lies in describing your action in an interesting way, acting out your character's dialogue, or otherwise helping to bring the game to life by adding some panache to your play. By demonstrating that the events in the game are critical to your character's goals and beliefs, you can allow your character to tap into reserves of energy and determination to carry the day.

You can spend inspiration to gain advantage on a check, saving throw, or attack attached to your action.

So they are bringing in artha from Burning Wheel. I've heard tons of good things about BW so I take it a lot of people would enjoy this type of mechanic. It should be pointed out that in BW each character's Beliefs and Traits are not nebulous things that the player merely mentions, they are hard coded into the character when it is created. Further, the point of this system is not simply to enourage players to roleplay, it is very fundamental to the intended playstyle. That is, the GM is supposed to constantly challenge the characters' Beliefs in order to force the players to make painful decisions.

The system they seem to have in mind is much less significant and is just a roleplaying nudge. I'm not sure this would really enhance things much, it seems they should be more ambitous since it would be optional.
Sounds like what is done in a lot of other RPGs, nothing new there.  At least it isn't www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Fortune_Cards_%284...

Never liked a little role-playing somehow giving in-combat advantages later.  Seems like a carrot to get RP to happen.  Would be better to make the game more conducive to it instead.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

This mechanic is not new as I seen it in other tabletop rpgs. 

But what I like about inspiration points that you can use them in times you want
to really success a check or attack because you are in a critical moment. About to sign an
important agreement between two parties and need to roll a check that could effect the
course of this campaign? Better use that inspiration point.  
This is an alternative to awarding xp for good roleplaying.   2e had some rules for awarding xp for good ideas and roleplaying.    It sounds like mearls is working on the dmg.


I've seen this mechanic in other RPGs.


I hated it there and I hate it here.  Roleplaying does not need rewards, nor does it need rules.  Roleplaying is its own reward, and one person's 'good guidelines' is another persons's 'another person dictating my character to me'.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.

I hated it there and I hate it here.  Roleplaying does not need rewards, nor does it need rules.  Roleplaying is its own reward, and one person's 'good guidelines' is another persons's 'another person dictating my character to me'.



Can't be that bad. I seen players bribe the DM for roleplaying rewards with cookies(or whatever snacks laying around). 


Can't be that bad. I seen players bribe the DM for roleplaying rewards with cookies(or whatever snacks laying around). 




These two sentences do not go together.


You say "it can't be that bad" and then give an example of it being exactly that bad.


The existence of rewards for good RP makes players feel insulted when they don't get them, and then they will do stupid things like bribing the DM.  And the DM feels pressure to give out the RP rewards because he doesn't want to insult his friends by saying they're not RPing well enough.  The whole idea is fundamentally stupid and it warps the dynamic of play.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
I like Inspiration a lot as a roplaying reward. It reminds me of Monte Cook's Praemal campaign's Heroe Point that Chris Perkins discuss in Dungeon magazine 75's Editorial. It encourage engagement and participation which can only help and benefit campaigns.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Interesting idea, but it should be a module, not baked into the core rules.

The existence of rewards for good RP makes players feel insulted when they don't get them, and then they will do stupid things like bribing the DM.  And the DM feels pressure to give out the RP rewards because he doesn't want to insult his friends by saying they're not RPing well enough.  The whole idea is fundamentally stupid and it warps the dynamic of play.



The system is not perfect, but hopefully the Pro outweights the Con. 

I have always disliked these systems as despite the best intentions of the developers they always seem to favor the PLAYER who is high charisma or who has a high knowledge of the lore of the location in question.

Alternatively it degenerates into doing silly stuff to try and game the GM.

The system is not perfect, but hopefully the Pro outweights the Con.



The only 'pro' is that it might pressure players who wouldn't RP on their own into RPing more.


That's not a pro.  People should be roleplaying because it's fun and because they have fun doing it.  They shouldn't feel forced into it because the system tells them they're bad if they don't.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
This seems nice for those who might want to use it, and easy to strip out for those who do not. Personally, I like this kind of stuff and am glad to see its inclusion.

That's not a pro.  People should be roleplaying because it's fun and because they have fun doing it.  They shouldn't feel forced into it because the system tells them they're bad if they don't.



Not like they can be penalize for poor roleplaying. I don't see the problem being rewarded with
good roleplaying. That's like adding icing on the cake. The reward for roleplaying is good, but to
be rewarded for it is even better. 



Roleplaying is its own reward, except for when someone at the table is tired and says 'blah blah blah, nu, roll already!'
Ugh. I think Inspiration ties Dis/Advantage for "worst idea of Next". Well, maybe it's not so bad, since it seems fairly easy to remove. These "roleplaying mechanics" are a contradiction in terms, and I can only hope they bury it back in some dark corner of the DMG instead of putting it up in the character creation section of the PHB where everyone will assume it's mandatory.



i agree completely.

also i would note that the kind of roleplaying that is talked about here is actual play acting,
whereas i get the feeling most groups adopt a more descriptive form of RP.
as with my group we try to express the appropriate emotions for our chars, but we do not act them out.
such as: 'my char sees that happen and it totally pisses him off so he does X'.

mannerisms and the like simply do not enter into it.


my favorite tool for character development are the backgrounds, specialties and feats.
as i browse trough those and pick what i want to be good at i think about how my char
got these skills, and what the combination of them might suggest for my character.
or vice versa i have a general idea for a char and flesh out the details as i find the
feats etc. to match that idea.


check out the Homebrew Campaign Setting i'm working on, my customised character sheet for the final package, and a numbered index for all the bestiaries.

Inspiration is something many DMs already do when they award advantage or other benefit because of a clever idea or roleplay.

Where normally the reward was spontaneous on the instant, Inspiration will allow it to be used in a short moment later rather than immediatly.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I use this type of system already.

It's usually the table at large the awards the token (i.e. everyone is clapping at a decision made, everyone bursts into laughter, everyone is shouting encouragement, etc.), but I also offer one when I see players make decisions that were obviously very difficult for them to make (i.e. they take a 'character' action as opposed to a 'game' action, etc.). 

Danny

I use this type of system already.

It's usually the table at large the awards the token (i.e. everyone is clapping at a decision made, everyone bursts into laughter, everyone is shouting encouragement, etc.), but I also offer one when I see players make decisions that were obviously very difficult for them to make (i.e. they take a 'character' action as opposed to a 'game' action, etc.). 



There are some good examples. 

Can't wait to play my paladin in 5e, because I roleplay him in comedy kind of way. 
I had a group in Con laughing in tears for 10 minutes while the other tables where staring at us. 


they take a 'character' action as opposed to a 'game' action


I agree; in fact, this is what I would interpret the intent of the Inspiration rules to be.

I don't think there would be any reason to award Inspiration points for role-playing "in character", if doing so is the most advantageous or mechanically beneficial thing to do anyhow; but, doing so at the expense of doing what would be most advantageous or mechanically beneficial, is certainly worth as much reward as any min/maxing CharOp that results in those types of advantages or mechanical benefits.


As for the rest of the article:
I like what was stated about random tables for character creation options. I've always thought that character creation should include as much dice rolling as the rest of the game. 
I'm kind of surprised that the initial reaction to this article is so tepid. (Mixed to be sure, but not overall that positive, at least from what I can tell.) I thought that people were into the idea of mechanically hooking in RP elements. Is that wrong, or is it just this particular iteration of such rules that people don't really like?

It also kind of feels to me as though putting in a more nuanced, textured system of what a character is like kind of makes the shallow old alignment system feel even more unnecessary. 
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
I thought that people were into the idea of mechanically hooking in RP elements. Is that wrong, or is it just this particular iteration of such rules that people don't really like?

Probably some of both. There are a lot of people who are strongly against any sort of "roleplaying mechanics" - (I can't believe you were an orphan who is secretly king of a small country; you would have been much stronger if you'd chosen the circus performer background) - but this particularly implementation also mixes in Inspiration as a director mechanic that gives the player control over the world beyond what the character can control.

Those are two tangential gameplay elements that are strongly disliked by different (but overlapping) types of players, so there's no wonder that so few are happy with this combination.

The metagame is not the game.

I wonder if the bard's inspirations will offer the same benefits that Inspiration does? (I.e. advantage on a check, saving throw, or attack.)


Actually—now that I've just said that in a single sentence—it might be oddly confusing if the whole schtick of the bard is 'inspiration' and the whole schtick of reinforcing RP is 'inspiration'.  

Danny

I have always disliked these systems as despite the best intentions of the developers they always seem to favor the PLAYER who is high charisma or who has a high knowledge of the lore of the location in question.

Alternatively it degenerates into doing silly stuff to try and game the GM.



...either that (or perhaps in addition to that) the player that happens to be married to the DM....  Again this is an example of a decent (but actually fairly old in TTRPGs outside of DND) idea with an iffy execution at best.

TBH, I'd rather see this sort of thing left entirely up to the individual DM.  Whose to say what's "good RP" and what's not outside each individual table?

-Polaris
As for the rest of the article:
I like what was stated about random tables for character creation options. I've always thought that character creation should include as much dice rolling as the rest of the game. 



Down that road lies 1e Traveller where you could DIE during character creation.  Not only that but in almost all the versions of traveller (save GURPS traveller), how well you played the 'character creation game' was as important (if not more so) than how well you played the rest of the game.

-Polaris
I thought that people were into the idea of mechanically hooking in RP elements. Is that wrong, or is it just this particular iteration of such rules that people don't really like?

Probably some of both. There are a lot of people who are strongly against any sort of "roleplaying mechanics" - (I can't believe you were an orphan who is secretly king of a small country; you would have been much stronger if you'd chosen the circus performer background) - but this particularly implementation also mixes in Inspiration as a director mechanic that gives the player control over the world beyond what the character can control.

Those are two tangential gameplay elements that are strongly disliked by different (but overlapping) types of players, so there's no wonder that so few are happy with this combination.

That makes a lot of sense. For some reason, when I read the article, my reaction was along the lines of "This is a big deal. This sounds like what a lot of people have been waiting for", so I was kind of suprised by the reaction. This is why I'm no TTRPG creator, I guess.

Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.

I don't think there would be any reason to award Inspiration points for role-playing "in character", if doing so is the most advantageous or mechanically beneficial thing to do anyhow; but, doing so at the expense of doing what would be most advantageous or mechanically beneficial, is certainly worth as much reward as any min/maxing CharOp that results in those types of advantages or mechanical benefits.



I agree, which is why I think that, instead of giving you Advantage, it should remove Disadvantage for you, or remove advantage against you. 

The best RP moments are when you and your PC do the tactically worst thing for the narratival best reasons. Luke throwing away his lightsaber in Return of the Jedi, for example. Those moments shouldn't be punished, and having a way to remove a significant penalty would give players the courage to do those memorable scenes more often.

If you give a bonus for doing crazy things, people are going to play their PCs crazy. They'll make PCs with a background in randomness, so as to make it easy to justify that free Advantage. But if it removes Disadvantage, that makes the crazy action equal with the sane action, and that removes the push to be crazy. You're as likely to succeed doing something in character or out of character, so the system isn't pressuring you to leverage Inspiration. It's there when you want to do something crazy in-character, but it's not tempting you to be crazy and justify it as being in character.     

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

Giving yourself advantage when you have disadvantage DOES remove the disadvantage...  Giving your opponent disadvantage would be an interesting bennie too.

But this does sound like a fairly bog-standard bennie system.  It's not sounding especially interesting or innovative.

Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Why do good things need to be "innovative"?

Sometimes other games got the idea done first and did it well and there isn't any reason to innovate on it. 
Because unless it's doing something new and different, why not just play the old thing that did it already?
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.