View Full Version : straight role-playing game?

2009-03-25, 11:09 AM
I am currently in the process of making a game world ext for DM my local group in a method of game which I have never heard of. I was wondering if anyone on here has ever played or dmed such a game and what their thoughts were on the style of play, or if any one else has any thoughts about the style of play.

to get on with the description of the game style it is entirely role-playing oriented in that the players make much fewer choices about actual character crunch.
-Each character starts as a level 1 commoner (think of it as level 0) they are not extraordinarily except for there stats and potentially feats.
-they must live through a initial encounter (I have chosen a zombie infestation as a fun way to force them to rp and think)
-based on their actions in encounter 1 I as DM choose a class that best fits their actions. As they level their actions in the previous level influence what they level in.
-level "2" i.e. their first class level is treated as level 1 for exp skill points ext so they get max HP 4x skill points (max ranks 4) and an ECL of 1 (they do not gain a feat as this was in the commoner level the commoner level constitute extra HP and a few skills learned before becoming an adventurer)

A few issues I have not yet figured out is how to...
-generate more innate abilities such as the casting abilities of a Sorcerer. I.E. should I randomly roll to see if a player has innate abilities and than in game have phenomena appear that may lead them to believe they have power or should I allow it to be a choice in character creation
-should I choose the feats or should I leave that up to the players to allow some control over the character (same question goes for skills)
-should I allow them to arranged generated stats or have them roll them down the stat line applying them in order rolled

the group I will be DMing this for constitutes
-1 who plays the same sort of character every game a big strong guy who hits things. He is prone to metagaming but his lack of out of game knowledge hurts the usefulness of this tactic
-1 with experience in the game who occasionally metagames but enjoys taking ridiculous classes for character concept (i.e. taking 1 level of dread pirate just for the name when we bought an airship in game)
-1 which enjoy role playing and have a moderate out of game knowledge who puts rping over power playing
-1 who likes to pick the most powerful route that supports his rping

now for a more general question (as it will have more effect on this game style than others this group has played)
how do you as players/dms deal with death in the party? Do you allow a instant reroll and let the player ignore the previous life and enjoy a new life, if so what is the level of the new character in relation to the other players? do you have the dead player sit and wait for a resurrection of some sort? If you do the second one how do you deal with a long wait to be resurrected does the player get a second character to run until his first is revived or is he/she forced to wait? for the above game style which do you believe would be the most enjoyable if you were playing.

2009-03-25, 11:20 AM
Thoughts? Sounds like pure, distilled suck to me. I wouldn't want to play or run that kind of game.

Bad enough that you have to start at a level I have no interest in (minimum 3rd for me), but then you've got someone else telling you what your character is. And you have to get through some pointless combat encounter as well.

2009-03-25, 11:36 AM
-based on their actions in encounter 1 I as DM choose a class that best fits their actions. As they level their actions in the previous level influence what they level in.

This seems like it would create a feedback loop of stereotyping, rather than foster roleplaying. For one thing, no one would be able to play a character with a long background (not a novel-length backstory; just something like "spent many years in study", like a wizard or monk). For another, you wouldn't be able to play any class slightly against its type. If you want to be a competent combatant who prefers to talk out a problem than resort to violence, sorry! you can't be a charismatic warblade with points in diplomacy, you get stuck as a bard or something.

Obviously, that might be mitigated by the DM's actions... but it seems like a basic problem with the approach. This kind of game would put me off, a lot.

(Perhaps it's mostly just the fact that it's described as "straight roleplaying". It seems to me to have relatively little to do with roleplaying. If it's just intended as an entertaining exercise in playing with one hand behind your back, it could be fun.)

2009-03-25, 11:42 AM
If you're gonna do it that way, you might as well just use the old-school D&D method.

First, roll 3d6 in order. Those are your stats. Then, roll a percentile die - you've got a certain percent chance (modified by your Int/Wis/Cha mods) to manifest psionic powers (or, in your case, sorcerer powers). From there, you basically just pick whatever class works for you. If you roll an 18 Wis, well, you're probably a Cleric, but if you get a high Int, you're probably a Wizard.

2009-03-25, 12:07 PM
If you want to get your players to more roleplaying, enforcing them to play a ecertain character is not the right idea - self developed characters are normally closer to the players and therefore easier to play out.

If you want to create the feeling that the characters are not alone subject to the whims and wishes of the players but that their development is at least partially based on their experiences and their environment try a Gestalt game where the players decide about one half of their character and you determin the other one, based on their descriptions, ideas and an out-played prelude game.
You can also give characters bonus ability points at chracter creation for good developed and well-written character backgrounds, as well as a penalty for obvious powergaming concepts. During the game, you can hand out bonus skill points for skills which are used especially often in an adventure, when a player earns them through good and passionate roleplaying.

remeber, to run a fair game the player who invests the most dedication to the game deserves the most benefits for this dedication.

2009-03-25, 12:32 PM
I agree with kamikasei in that these rules punish you for stepping out of the stereotype of what you want to be. I see that as something that seriously hinders roleplay. Moreover the DM has to make a LOT of completely subjective choices. One's behavior can probably be considered of a "trademark" of more classes (also since there aren't 4 classes like in the old times: there's a lot of them).
So... you clearly came out with a clever tactic to fight the zombies. Does it mean you are going to be a warblade? a swashbuckler? a duskblade? a wizard? they are all classes for which Int is important and there are many more. This means that the distinction is not very clear AND is crucially important having effects that as long as the whole campaign. If the player doesn't agree with you that is going to create a tension which is bad for the group

Some years ago I was playing a low level cleric in a long dungeon. The dungeon begun with an extremely tough combat encounter and I used up my few spells in it. Since the party was in good shape and time was an issue we went through with the result that I spent the next 3 sessions fighting and without casting a single spell (I had none left). At some point someone suggested that, on the basis of my actions, I should take a level of fighter as my next level...
Needless to say I refused, and argued that clerics do fight, especially when they have a martial god as mine did, and that I did not use my spells only because I had none left.
As for things like "roleplaying your wisdom score", they exist, but are subtle and should be evaluated on the long run, not over a single fight.

Another point is that this way of generating characters is somewhat random, so you'd be likely to have a vast gulf in power level between the characters.

The main point is still all the tension that will arise between you and every player who is not happy with your choices and between players who can become jealous that someone else had what they wanted and they didn't. All in a very weird roleplay situation where everybody is afraid of putting one foot out of the cheapest stereotype...

So no, just no.

About feats and skill points, you picking those too would be extremely bad, only it is so bad already that it doesn't really matter.

Ask your players though. They might be interested to try it short term.

2009-03-25, 12:54 PM
If I were going to run a game with those rules, which I wouldn't, I would do two things:

1) Ask the players if they are OK with it first, and

2) Have them each make three 1st level commoners for the initial battle. That way if one gets killed, and you make one a rogue, and you make the other a bard, they have some options. They choose one character to become their PC and the other(s) get NPCs or wander off to start their own career. It will make it a little more fun and give the players options.

2009-03-25, 12:55 PM
I don't really have anything to add to what kamikasei and Rad said, so I'm just throwing my ballot in with the people whoa re saying this is a bad idea. It might be fun as a throwaway adventure that doesn't take more than two or three sessions, like as a break from your normal campaign or something, but it would work very poorly if you're trying to make it a serious game. Also, as a player, I dislike having the DM make choices about my character for me, so when I DM I rarely restrict what's avalable to the players, in terms of creating a character, unless it's just completely contrary to what I have in mind (no, you cannot play a computer hacker in a game where computers don't exist yet).

2009-03-25, 01:43 PM
I agree that picking things for the players is a bad idea, as it's unlikely to match what they actually want. It'll be skewed by your perception. Beyond that it could work, but there's not much point to it.

2009-03-25, 02:04 PM
-they must live through a initial encounter (I have chosen a zombie infestation as a fun way to force them to rp and think)
The bolded part is the problem.

If you have to 'force' your players to do anything... you made Newbie DM Mistake #1: Expect or enforce that the players will react a certain way in any given situation.

Seriously, it is their characters, not yours. Stop trying to play puppetmaster, and take a chill pill.

2009-03-25, 02:44 PM
That's not encouraging role-playing, that's you playing the game for them.

Instead, let them start characters as normal, and then put them in situations where they can't fight their way through. Give them tough decisions to make, and point out (based on page-length character backgrounds that you were given beforehand) when a player tries to make their character act differently than they should. They have to confront an important family in the city to gain support for some city project, where combat is a guaranteed beheading. Or they have to get information about a crime lord and kill him, but they can't just go around the city killing people. They are forced to play out how their character would react to being surrounded by 60 evil-aligned bar patrons while trying to get information.

Then, after they've done some roleplaying for a while, then give them options for more typical settings, but keep giving them stuff that forces character development - tough decisions about something other than "Will charging get me killed." More like, "We can steal the amulet from this druid and save the prince, but the amulet's the only thing keeping the druid from dying as well." Or "We can bypass the ambush easily and get in a position to easily take them out, but by then they might have already captured the king." Give them tough decisions that their character sheets don't help with.

2009-03-25, 03:01 PM
I like the story concept--starting as Lv 1 commoners who only afterwards discover their powers--but disagree, as most here, with the mechanic.

I would have your characters choose what class they will manifest during character creation but have to roleplay how they begin their new path during the initial encounter (or maybe encounters) until they stop being commoners. You could also have, if it's realistic for the story, them start as youngish teenagers, then spend a few years training after they manifest their powers, and then emerge as the level 1 player class characters.

As for your question about how death is handled:
I am currently in two games. One has said that if we die, we will be revived, if not by the party then by the bad guys, and have to keep playing the same character. I am annoyed by this as I dislike the combat mechanics of my character and would like to design a new one. We lose 1 HD/level when we die unless True Resurrection cast, per the rules.

In the other game, we are high enough level that, in character, we'd never leave a PC dead. But we are allowed to make new characters and have the old ones leave. The DM simply requests that we think of a reason in-character and don't pull something absurd like giving our old character's stuff to the new character.
If we die (and are not True Resurrected), we lose a level. He rewards a lot more extra XP for being a lower level, though, so the level loss is covered quicker. One of our characters died around level 11; we'll level 17 now and he's only 1000 xp below the rest of the party.
Newly formed characters are the level of the highest level people in the party. Thus, there is a power-gaming reason to abandon a character who lost a level to death, but so far that hasn't come up often.

Tempest Fennac
2009-03-25, 03:06 PM
I agree with lsfreak's points, and I'd really hate playing in a game like that (I tend to pick crunch which suits my characters fluff, and I hate being told what to do). I don't get the point of people starting as commoners either due to how most classes need training and (while this wouldn't be a problem for me due to how I can never think of backstories) making everyone start as commoners really limits their backstories, which are going to have much more of an impact on their personalities then 1 fight.

Jeen, why would the antagonists revive you if the character didn't want to come back? I'm guessing the DM houseruled that it isn't up to the soul whether they return, right?