A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    I don't agree with this. Why would it be rude? Why would it be bad for roleplaying?
    I think there is a large difference between in character and OOC. In character, if you want to play that the character has some secrets, great I will respect it and make sure I play my character as lacking that information. But if you are saying OOC you just sat down at the table and refused to share anything in a player to player conversation, at least I woudl wonder if you really wanted to play at all.
    *It isn't realism, it's verisimilitude... seeming to be true within the context of the game world.

    "D&D does not have SECRET rules that can only be revealed by meticulous deconstruction of words and grammar. There is only the unclear rules prose that makes people think there are secret rules to be revealed."

    Consistency between games and tables is but the dream of a madman - Mastikator

  2. - Top - End - #32
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    I don't agree with this. Why would it be rude? Why would it be bad for roleplaying?
    Not even giving your name when prompted is generally rude - it implies the relevant parties aren't in speaking terms. It's not bad roleplaying as any general rule, your character might have a legitimate reason to be rude, a lot of tabletop players are just unable or unwilling to handle anything beyond uncomplicated co-operation.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Forgot two variants from my previous post: games where I as a game master didn't know private character information until end of the game, and games where I as a game master didn't even seen the character sheets. (If you wonder how this works, it's possible to set up random character generation so that each player has a valid character, without the game master seeing who has what kind of character.)
    I have done some DMing but i haven't seen the player character sheet. I know vaguely what character they are playing. But not exact details.

  4. - Top - End - #34
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by dafrca View Post
    I think there is a large difference between in character and OOC. In character, if you want to play that the character has some secrets, great I will respect it and make sure I play my character as lacking that information. But if you are saying OOC you just sat down at the table and refused to share anything in a player to player conversation, at least I woudl wonder if you really wanted to play at all.
    Your party doesn't need to know you are a Cleric of Pelor. You can just tell them that you will be playing a religious healer type of character who worships the God of the Sun. No one at the table needs to know your stats or feats.

  5. - Top - End - #35
    Spamalot in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    I don't agree with keeping the GM in the dark - the more details they can have about the party, the more personal the stakes and challenges can be. But I do acknowledge there are campaigns/systems where that kind of double-blind play can work and even be dramatic/intriguing.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by dafrca View Post
    I think there is a large difference between in character and OOC. In character, if you want to play that the character has some secrets, great I will respect it and make sure I play my character as lacking that information. But if you are saying OOC you just sat down at the table and refused to share anything in a player to player conversation, at least I woudl wonder if you really wanted to play at all.
    It's not a matter of "refusing", really. I can't remember us ever asking about each other's classes and feats. Histories, personalities, goals, and beliefs, yes...and the players often discuss these things freely even when the characters keep them private. But the topic of builds just never comes up, unless in the context of helping a novice design their first few characters.

    Edit: ...or in the context of brainstorming mechanical ideas with a player, even if they're not a novice. The only character in our old Pathfinder Steampunk campaign whose class and archetype I knew for sure was our roboticist...because several of us worked together to design a custom Summoner archetype to fit the flavor of the character and the game world. (Summoning magic is not a thing there, but could be reflavored as loosing jury-rigged clanks on the world!)
    Last edited by mucat; 2021-11-30 at 05:06 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #37
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    What I prefer to do is describe my character and present the name (maybe as a table tent). This way people can piece together a mental picture of what I look like based on the description and can easily refer to me via character name to assist with roleplay. I also describe the ROLE my PC will fill in the party. Such as frontline defender, melee aggressor/attacker, ranged attacker, assault caster, utility arcane/divine caster, skills guy.

    By using this language we don't pigeon hole the table into the archetype patterns of (using D&D) Fighter, Barbarian, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric. Instead a frontline defender could be a sword and board fighter, a paladin, a gun wielding soldier, a heavy armored cleric of war, or a dozen other builds. But had you said cleric that forces most tables to lean towards the ideas of spell support, minor healing, backup frontline. They will be disappointed when the cleric never or almost never casts a spell or buffs anyone else.

    Also notice assault spell caster isn't marked divine or arcane. I only list divine or arcane when I play a utility caster due to the limits and types of buffs in games like D&D. I need my table to know if there are tactical gaps in the parties ability.

    I ask the playground, why pin yourself to the word fighter when as a platemail wearing frontliner you could easily be a pally, cleric, fighter, or special archtype of another class that grants armor prof?

  8. - Top - End - #38
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Your party doesn't need to know you are a Cleric of Pelor. You can just tell them that you will be playing a religious healer type of character who worships the God of the Sun. No one at the table needs to know your stats or feats.
    But the point is, that is sharing things about your character with the other players not keeping it all a big secret.
    *It isn't realism, it's verisimilitude... seeming to be true within the context of the game world.

    "D&D does not have SECRET rules that can only be revealed by meticulous deconstruction of words and grammar. There is only the unclear rules prose that makes people think there are secret rules to be revealed."

    Consistency between games and tables is but the dream of a madman - Mastikator

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post

    I don't agree with this. Why would it be rude? Why would it be bad for roleplaying?
    Experience.

    Every single time the player refuses to give his or her character's name, class, and race that player was a donkey cavity. Name a stereotype, that's the player. Steals from the party. Lone wolf drama queens. Unhelpful. Greedy. Selfish. Not all of these at once but meaning that player will play against the party or despite the party. I've had it with these types of players. I will call them out on it. If they change their way, great. If they leave the group, great. If I have to leave the group, great.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Your party doesn't need to know you are a Cleric of Pelor. You can just tell them that you will be playing a religious healer type of character who worships the God of the Sun. No one at the table needs to know your stats or feats.
    I didn't say anything about stats or feats. Name, rank, serial number.

    Name, class, race. That's it. A generic idea of whom I'm playing with.
    Last edited by Pex; 2021-11-30 at 06:24 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
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  10. - Top - End - #40
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    I didn't say anything about stats or feats. Name, rank, serial number.

    Name, class, race. That's it. A generic idea of whom I'm playing with.
    Which is exactly why I don't like people sharing race and class information.

    Sure, when the party meets up and everyone asks for a name, I agree not giving a name is a warning sign (sometimes). Of course I've also made characters who have multiple names, so the fact that I tell everyone my name is "Michael" doesn't really mean much.

    But with class and race I find there are a lot of annoying assumptions that other players make about someone else's character based on race and class. A lot of dumb and borderline racist assumptions based on race. And a lot of dumb assumptions based on class. Clerics must be healers, druids must be good with nature checks, wizards must be smarty-pants, rogues must be thieves. To make it worse, when anyone played against type those aforementioned other players were often offended that their stereotypical assumptions were broken.

    Which is why I'd still rather someone introduce their character as "short, stout and bearded" but not explicitly call id as a dwarf (unless they want to). And certainly id as "clean-cut holy man" rather than "cleric". My experience tells me the guy who describes himself as a healer of the people is more likely to actually have healing spells and enjoy that role, rather than the guy who identifies as a cleric.

    But hey experiences differ.
    Knowledge brings the sting of disillusionment, but the pain teaches perspective.
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    "...yeah, but it makes me feel better."

  11. - Top - End - #41
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Which is exactly why I don't like people sharing race and class information.
    [snip]
    But hey experiences differ.
    I wished I could play in your kind of game. Sadly my experiences have been closer to Pex's experiences.

    Almost every time I have sat at a table/joined an online game where a player did the "I'm not going to tell" game they ended up messing up the game. Now in game, I get it. Sometimes a little PC level mystery can be fun. But OCC I have not had the kinds of experiences you refer to False God. Trust me though, I wish I had.
    Last edited by dafrca; 2021-11-30 at 08:53 PM.
    *It isn't realism, it's verisimilitude... seeming to be true within the context of the game world.

    "D&D does not have SECRET rules that can only be revealed by meticulous deconstruction of words and grammar. There is only the unclear rules prose that makes people think there are secret rules to be revealed."

    Consistency between games and tables is but the dream of a madman - Mastikator

  12. - Top - End - #42
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by dafrca View Post
    I wished I could play in your kind of game. Sadly my experiences have been closer to Pex's experiences.

    Almost every time I have sat at a table/joined an online game where a player did the "I'm not going to tell" game they ended up messing up the game. Now in game, I get it. Sometimes a little PC level mystery can be fun. But OCC I have not had the kinds of experiences you refer to False God. Trust me though, I wish I had.
    I just primarily don't want people to do it during play. I want people to role-play those elements. I want people to think of their characters in terms of their backstories and personality, not their jobs. I mean, we don't walk up to each other and say "Hi! My name is Frank the American accountant!" We walk up to new people and say "Hi! My name is Frank!" The fact that we're American (like the fact that our character is an Elf or Dwarf) is given away by the descriptice elements. Player Dave: "A short stout man with a long red beard approaches you and says 'My name is Beardfist Thunderbeard, and I hear you be needin an axe!' as he slams his heavily armored hand, and surprisingly large axe on your table."

    So we've established a name, a description and manner of speach which probably means a dwarf but not necessarily, and an appearance that suggests a fighter-type, as well as a weapon for an approach to gameplay. He might be a fighter, but that really doesn't matter. The evidence we've been given means he'll probably approach combat via the axe, which tells us far more about the character and how they will play at the table than "fighter" or "barbarian" or "paladin" would.

    These cover all of Pex's desires, but don't shorthand creative character building into bland mechanical elements "Beardfist, Dwarf, Fighter with big axe."
    Last edited by False God; 2021-11-30 at 09:31 PM.
    Knowledge brings the sting of disillusionment, but the pain teaches perspective.
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  13. - Top - End - #43
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    I just primarily don't want people to do it during play. I want people to role-play those elements. I want people to think of their characters in terms of their backstories and personality, not their jobs. I mean, we don't walk up to each other and say "Hi! My name is Frank the American accountant!" We walk up to new people and say "Hi! My name is Frank!" The fact that we're American (like the fact that our character is an Elf or Dwarf) is given away by the descriptice elements. Player Dave: "A short stout man with a long red beard approaches you and says 'My name is Beardfist Thunderbeard, and I hear you be needin an axe!' as he slams his heavily armored hand, and surprisingly large axe on your table."

    So we've established a name, a description and manner of speach which probably means a dwarf but not necessarily, and an appearance that suggests a fighter-type, as well as a weapon for an approach to gameplay. He might be a fighter, but that really doesn't matter. The evidence we've been given means he'll probably approach combat via the axe, which tells us far more about the character and how they will play at the table than "fighter" or "barbarian" or "paladin" would.

    These cover all of Pex's desires, but don't shorthand creative character building into bland mechanical elements "Beardfist, Dwarf, Fighter with big axe."
    It does get a little funny that if you know the system well enough in a class and level game you could probably make some pretty accurate educated guesses as to what class someone is just from the most basic description.

    He's got two shortswords and a pet dog? Almost certainly a Ranger.

    Plate armor and a longsword, but a holy symbol? He's probably a paladin, unless he's a cleric with a god or domain that gave him longsword proficiency, cuz what kind of idiot would burn a feat on martial weapon proficiencies as a cleric?

    Two-handed weapon and medium armor? Probably a barbarian, because most of the time a fighter would offset the loss of a shield by upgrading to heavy armor unless he's getting his AC mostly from dexterity, in which case you'd think he'd pick a chain shirt.

    They're obviously not always going to be true, though, because one of my favorite characters in 3.5 was a wizard who presented himself as a swashbuckling adventurous rogue but hadn't even cross classed until like level 10, and yes I DID use a rapier even though I wasn't proficient in it. Because that was the kind of guy Lord Kalsimore was, it didn't matter to him that he was taking absolutely silly penalties to his already wimpy BAB. He just wanted to look COOL, and it did help that his highest stat was dex and not int.

    It's especially easy to understand once you know that I made Wisdom his dump stat, and played him as such.


    Also, I strongly encourage giving your monks pointy hats, quarterstaves shaped like walking sticks, and long white beards, if for no reason than just to **** with people.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-11-30 at 11:24 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #44
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    I just primarily don't want people to do it during play. I want people to role-play those elements. I want people to think of their characters in terms of their backstories and personality, not their jobs. I mean, we don't walk up to each other and say "Hi! My name is Frank the American accountant!" We walk up to new people and say "Hi! My name is Frank!" The fact that we're American (like the fact that our character is an Elf or Dwarf) is given away by the descriptice elements. "
    That may be true in social interactions but forming a party to on a dangerous expedition is different. Let’s take Frank and put him on a mission to retrieve an artifact missing in Deepest Darkest [Exotic Jungle] full of savage animals, strange tropical diseases, unexplored regions and dangerous local tribes.
    ‘This is Frank, he’s the guy funding the expedition and he’s coming with us. He’s been there before and knows the ins and outs of the local bureaucracy and can arrange the financed”.
    “Hi I’m Bruce, I run a safari hunting business. I know the locals and the dangerous animals. I’ll be arranging security as well as scouting”.
    “Well my turn, I’m Alice. i was a combat medic in the Army then out myself through med school. I did my internship with MSF. I haven’t been to [exotic jungle] before but I know how to patch people up in the field.”
    “I’m Suzy, I’m the field archeologist for this jaunt. I mostly run the machines you see behind me, the real brains and expertise is my professor but he doesn’t do field work anymore, so I got sent.”
    “So who are you?”
    “Not telling you my name”
    “A bit odd, but what are you brining to the team?”
    “You’ll find out when you need my skills and expertise”
    “You do know we are going to be risking life and limb, it’s kind of important we can trust you. Why do you want to join the mission?”
    “I have my own reasons”
    [Hasty muttered conversation]
    “Yeah Mysterio, thanks for coming in, but I don’t think it’s gonna work out. Maybe next time”.

    Just because the character may not refer to their class and feats the same way as the player does does not mean that the character
    - does not have a meaningful job title from which their class can be established.
    - is unable to explain what their skills and abilities are in a way that other players can understand and have their characters respond appropriately.
    - has a good reason to fool the other party members as to their true nature
    - will not have an ax put through their head once the subterfuge has been discovered. Because frankly if you do that you are setting yourself up for extremely prejudicial responses from every character in the party who feels betrayed. In fact I’d say you are manipulating the players, relying on them to reign in their characters to prevent your character from getting murdered and for the campaign to continue on.

  15. - Top - End - #45
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post


    I don't agree with this. Why would it be rude? Why would it be bad for roleplaying?
    I wouldn’t put it in terms as strong as Pex did but I do think it’s best to approach every aspect of an RPG with an attitude of openness and transparency, unless you have a really good reason not to. It’s social activity after all.

    The other thing is there’s a style of play, which I’m partly invested in, that encourages working together on the meta level to create a story everyone is happy with. When playing this way it really is best if everyone knows at least the main things about the other characters, mechanically, since you might actually that information to make decisions. Even if you’ don’t go fully into “writers’ room” mode with everyone making suggestions for the other characters, you’re also not totally siloed off in your own character with zero need to know what the other characters are in game terms.

    On the same lines, with all respects, a lot of the posts here seem to make an implicit assumption that the character concept and the mechanical features are entirely separate. Games designed for the play style I outlined above tend to buck this assumption and give you mechanical features that describe not just what your character can do but who they are. Eg if you play a mage archetype you might have an ability that grants you and another player mechanical rewards when they follow your advice. That’s an incentive and an invitation to treat that pc as the wise mentor of the story, and it helps if all the players know about it so they can lean into it and sort of milk that mechanic for story potential. And I’d argue this logic can extend to D&D as well. If a player is a Ranger that’s a mechanical feature but it also tells you something about the character, and other players can interact with them accordingly.

    I know that’s a bit of a ramble but I hope it makes sense.

  16. - Top - End - #46
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    During one-shots with pregen characters, they are secret, as it is assumed that the GM might have planted seeds of potential divergent interests or backstab in the character's sheets. Alternatively, the character sheet might be split into a "public" and a "private" part.

    During standard campaigns, it is usually assumed that the character sheets are open for the "technical side" (we often catch mistakes in the others' character sheets, like forgetting to update some values when level up, or misunderstanding some of the rules at character creation, etc).

    Non-technical side (backstories, etc) usually falls under the "theoretically open, but in practice peoples don't look at it and prefer asking questions to the player about it". If there is a need for secrets (like secret background only available to the GM, etc), we usually don't put it on our character sheet and keep it on private notes.

  17. - Top - End - #47
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    That may be true in social interactions but forming a party to on a dangerous expedition is different. Let’s take Frank and put him on a mission to retrieve an artifact missing in Deepest Darkest [Exotic Jungle] full of savage animals, strange tropical diseases, unexplored regions and dangerous local tribes.
    ‘This is Frank, he’s the guy funding the expedition and he’s coming with us. He’s been there before and knows the ins and outs of the local bureaucracy and can arrange the financed”.
    “Hi I’m Bruce, I run a safari hunting business. I know the locals and the dangerous animals. I’ll be arranging security as well as scouting”.
    “Well my turn, I’m Alice. i was a combat medic in the Army then out myself through med school. I did my internship with MSF. I haven’t been to [exotic jungle] before but I know how to patch people up in the field.”
    “I’m Suzy, I’m the field archeologist for this jaunt. I mostly run the machines you see behind me, the real brains and expertise is my professor but he doesn’t do field work anymore, so I got sent.”
    “So who are you?”
    “Not telling you my name”
    “A bit odd, but what are you brining to the team?”
    “You’ll find out when you need my skills and expertise”
    “You do know we are going to be risking life and limb, it’s kind of important we can trust you. Why do you want to join the mission?”
    “I have my own reasons”
    [Hasty muttered conversation]
    “Yeah Mysterio, thanks for coming in, but I don’t think it’s gonna work out. Maybe next time”.
    I'm not sure why you're responding to me with this "Mysterio" example. I clearly don't support it as I write in the rest of my post you didn't quote. The rest of it is fine for a more interview-styled group get together, though my experience with those has generally been poor in the past.

    Just because the character may not refer to their class and feats the same way as the player does does not mean that the character
    - does not have a meaningful job title from which their class can be established.
    - is unable to explain what their skills and abilities are in a way that other players can understand and have their characters respond appropriately.
    - has a good reason to fool the other party members as to their true nature
    - will not have an ax put through their head once the subterfuge has been discovered. Because frankly if you do that you are setting yourself up for extremely prejudicial responses from every character in the party who feels betrayed. In fact I’d say you are manipulating the players, relying on them to reign in their characters to prevent your character from getting murdered and for the campaign to continue on.
    I'm really not sure what any of this is on about. I favor meaningful, flavorful descriptions of characters, just avoiding shorthanding creativity with Pex-style "Name, Race, Class". Because, again, classes are game abstractions, they're not jobs the same as "Archeologist", though some games may make them real-world concepts. And saying your "race" is just a way to skip player descriptions by relying on other peoples assumptions about how your race looks and behaves.

    I want people to roleplay, and I don't want people to operate off of pre-build assumptions about races and classes.
    Knowledge brings the sting of disillusionment, but the pain teaches perspective.
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  18. - Top - End - #48
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post

    I'm really not sure what any of this is on about. I favor meaningful, flavorful descriptions of characters, just avoiding shorthanding creativity with Pex-style "Name, Race, Class". Because, again, classes are game abstractions, they're not jobs the same as "Archeologist", though some games may make them real-world concepts. And saying your "race" is just a way to skip player descriptions by relying on other peoples assumptions about how your race looks and behaves.

    I want people to roleplay, and I don't want people to operate off of pre-build assumptions about races and classes.
    I'll agree on the job/class thing, I prefer to introduce my character based on what they consider their actual IC job to. Caravan guard, fur trapper, priest, etc. Sure, some of them are more obvious than others, you wouldn't see a lot of artificers working as caravan guards, a lot of paladins working as fur trappers, or a lot of rogues working as priests, but its definitely a possibility though. There's a certain amount of OOC character build info that's genuinely going to bleed through into the game worlds because they're demonstrable and could even be scientifically evaluated, defined, and categorized if you wanted to. Spell levels are obviously a clearly defined concept in universe, for example, otherwise how could a scroll merchant know to charge one price for a first level spell and another for a third level spell as defined in the rulebook? My homebrew settings for d&d style class and level systems usually feature a ranking system in whatever organized schools of magic that exist, they'll call you an Initiate of the Fourth Order or something, because you can cast fourth level spells. But that definitely doesn't extend to OotS level system savviness, and calling yourself a power attack fighter smacks of that. And it gets kinda funny when I introduce my character with the word "warrior" and someone at the table says "you know that's meant to be an NPC class right". Like, bud, I didn't mean I was a Capital W Warrior, I meant I am a man who does war. Thus, a warrior. Or a wilderness scout that's not a Capital S Scout. We can use other words.

    I'll disagree on the race thing, though, unless you're specifically a really off the wall race that isn't something the average person would plausibly be aware of. At that point you're just delaying the inevitable click when people puzzle out what race you're describing.
    The pre-assumptions and biases are absolutely part of the world, and I've kinda taught my players to look at the races specifically through the lens of the settings I've made which is cool. But I'll definitely give you the point that "oh he's a half orc, probably not an arcane caster then" is not a fair assumption for people to be jumping to based on your race alone.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-12-01 at 10:25 AM.

  19. - Top - End - #49
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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    I'm really not sure what any of this is on about. I favor meaningful, flavorful descriptions of characters, just avoiding shorthanding creativity with Pex-style "Name, Race, Class". Because, again, classes are game abstractions, they're not jobs the same as "Archeologist", though some games may make them real-world concepts. And saying your "race" is just a way to skip player descriptions by relying on other peoples assumptions about how your race looks and behaves.

    I want people to roleplay, and I don't want people to operate off of pre-build assumptions about races and classes.
    I have the opposite position. I find meaningful role playing much easier when I can base it (both my own RPing and my understanding of the other characters) on a set of core concepts that are provided by the game and immediately understood by everyone at the table. Ive heard it called “silhouettes”. If I’m a ranger that means something in the world of the game - not just the setting but the implications for our shared narrative. The other players can act on that understanding. Once we start playing I can still surprise them - and myself - by discovering all the things that make my ranger unique, but it’s incredibly helpful to have that solid foundation to start from, in my view.

  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    When my PC meets their PCs, I describe what they can see. "Telerion is an elf, wearing green, carrying a rapier and a bow. He has no armor, but he is wearing a pair of bracers. His bow, rapier, and bracers are high quality -- evidently masterwork. He looks quite fit and graceful." [I did not say "CON 18 and DEX 16", and there was no immediate indication of his 18 INT. The bow and bracers were magic; the rapier was not. He was a 3rd level wizard, but didn't wear robes and had no wand, so it didn't come up until he started casting spells.]


    When my northern Ranger Gustav was told to lead a party of southerners through the Great Blue Forest, he didn't tell them all about himself, and it took awhile before he started treating them as worthy adventurers. At one point early on, he said, "My job is to protect you from the Forest. Or to protect the forest from you. I don't know which yet." We worked together any time we were attacked, and slowly grew to believe in each other. [If they had tried to burn the forest down, he'd have had to try to stop them, but they don't work against my interests, either.]


    When Ornrandir, my 2e wizard / thief, joined the party, he didn't go up to the paladin and say, "Hi, I'm a thief."


    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    In my experience it is extremely risky to have PCs with secret allegiances or motives that do not align with the interest of the party, ...
    Agreed, 100%. But the risky part isn't secret allegiances or motives. The risky part is a player who doesn't align himself with the interest of the party. I have no problem with secret alliances or motives that do align with (or are not opposed to) the interests of the party.


    In a game set in the American west, I announced that I was designing a character based on a TV Western. I showed up with Cali Yang, a half-Chinese philosopher / martial artist, clear based on Kwai-Chang Kane from Kung Fu. But he wasn't. In the fourth session, he needed to take off his disguise, and revealed that he was really Cal Young, a disguise-artist federal agent based on Artemus Gordon from The Wild, Wild West.


    Gwystyl, my gnome illusionist did not tell the party about his quest when he joined them. That eventually led to the following conversation:

    Mycroft: So you're on a quest?
    Gwystyl: That's right.
    Mycroft: What are you supposed to do?
    Gwystyl: No idea.
    Mycroft: Well, who put you on the quest?
    Gwystyl: I'm not sure.
    Mycroft: We, what's it for?
    Gwystyl: Couldn't tell you.
    Mycroft: Then why don't you abandon it?
    Gwystyl: How? Until I know where I'm supposed to go, I have no idea how to turn off that path.

    Meanwhile, he stays with the party, searching for more information about his Ancestral Relic, which is tied to the quest. So he's investigating any old stories, ruins, etc. that he can.

    These kinds of things aren't risky, because I do not play them against the interests of the party. They are role-playing ideas.
    Last edited by Jay R; 2021-12-01 at 11:47 AM.

  21. - Top - End - #51
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Pex's Avatar

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    Nov 2013

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    During one-shots with pregen characters, they are secret, as it is assumed that the GM might have planted seeds of potential divergent interests or backstab in the character's sheets. Alternatively, the character sheet might be split into a "public" and a "private" part.
    Being a one-shot is not an excuse to be a donkey cavity, and it is absolutely worse when the DM encourages or instigates such shenanigans. This may be fun for you but not for me. I need to trust the DM as much as the players. If the DM plays adversary the game is over before it began.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

  22. - Top - End - #52
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Oct 2007

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    For most campaign premises, it makes sense that the PCs would know each-other's skillsets, although that's not the same as their classes per-se. But for ones that start like "You're people who didn't know each-other who've been thrown together by this emergency" - then yeah, find out IC.

    That said, in practice we usually discuss when creating characters and so usually everyone does know what classes people are. But even then, I find something like "I'm going to be a front-line tank" or "I'm going to be mainly a spy/scout, but decent in combat against living foes" to be more useful information than "I'm going to be a Cleric" or "I'm going to be a Psion" respectively.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-12-01 at 08:05 PM.

  23. - Top - End - #53
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Dec 2018

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    That may be true in social interactions but forming a party to on a dangerous expedition is different. Let’s take Frank and put him on a mission to retrieve an artifact missing in Deepest Darkest [Exotic Jungle] full of savage animals, strange tropical diseases, unexplored regions and dangerous local tribes.
    ‘This is Frank, he’s the guy funding the expedition and he’s coming with us. He’s been there before and knows the ins and outs of the local bureaucracy and can arrange the financed”.
    “Hi I’m Bruce, I run a safari hunting business. I know the locals and the dangerous animals. I’ll be arranging security as well as scouting”.
    “Well my turn, I’m Alice. i was a combat medic in the Army then out myself through med school. I did my internship with MSF. I haven’t been to [exotic jungle] before but I know how to patch people up in the field.”
    “I’m Suzy, I’m the field archeologist for this jaunt. I mostly run the machines you see behind me, the real brains and expertise is my professor but he doesn’t do field work anymore, so I got sent.”
    “So who are you?”
    “Not telling you my name”
    “A bit odd, but what are you brining to the team?”
    “You’ll find out when you need my skills and expertise”
    “You do know we are going to be risking life and limb, it’s kind of important we can trust you. Why do you want to join the mission?”
    “I have my own reasons”
    [Hasty muttered conversation]
    “Yeah Mysterio, thanks for coming in, but I don’t think it’s gonna work out. Maybe next time”.

    Just because the character may not refer to their class and feats the same way as the player does does not mean that the character
    - does not have a meaningful job title from which their class can be established.
    - is unable to explain what their skills and abilities are in a way that other players can understand and have their characters respond appropriately.
    - has a good reason to fool the other party members as to their true nature
    - will not have an ax put through their head once the subterfuge has been discovered. Because frankly if you do that you are setting yourself up for extremely prejudicial responses from every character in the party who feels betrayed. In fact I’d say you are manipulating the players, relying on them to reign in their characters to prevent your character from getting murdered and for the campaign to continue on.
    I think most parties start at level 1. You are describing level 4-6 characters. My rogue/bard character was mostly falling of a stage trying to dance. When they met her. She has one level UA rogue (No sneak attacks, but feats like a fighter) and was still very much trying to figure out who she is and what she wants from life. Now nearly a year later she is level 4.

    Yes she did tell her name, but other then that not much, since there really want much to tell. I think my part thinks I'm fully bard with suicidal tendencies.

  24. - Top - End - #54
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Dec 2019

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    I think most parties start at level 1. You are describing level 4-6 characters. My rogue/bard character was mostly falling of a stage trying to dance. When they met her. She has one level UA rogue (No sneak attacks, but feats like a fighter) and was still very much trying to figure out who she is and what she wants from life. Now nearly a year later she is level 4.

    Yes she did tell her name, but other then that not much, since there really want much to tell. I think my part thinks I'm fully bard with suicidal tendencies.
    This is technically not a D&D subforum, but even within confines of D&D I think the consensus that 1st level characters are supposed to represent functioning self-supporting adults, of at least average abilities, or possibly above average. Being incompetent either stems from choosing wrong benchmarks, or sometimes from dysfunctional rules.

  25. - Top - End - #55
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by gijoemike View Post
    What I prefer to do is describe my character and present the name (maybe as a table tent). This way people can piece together a mental picture of what I look like based on the description and can easily refer to me via character name to assist with roleplay. I also describe the ROLE my PC will fill in the party. Such as frontline defender, melee aggressor/attacker, ranged attacker, assault caster, utility arcane/divine caster, skills guy.

    By using this language we don't pigeon hole the table into the archetype patterns of (using D&D) Fighter, Barbarian, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric. Instead a frontline defender could be a sword and board fighter, a paladin, a gun wielding soldier, a heavy armored cleric of war, or a dozen other builds. But had you said cleric that forces most tables to lean towards the ideas of spell support, minor healing, backup frontline. They will be disappointed when the cleric never or almost never casts a spell or buffs anyone else.

    Also notice assault spell caster isn't marked divine or arcane. I only list divine or arcane when I play a utility caster due to the limits and types of buffs in games like D&D. I need my table to know if there are tactical gaps in the parties ability.

    I ask the playground, why pin yourself to the word fighter when as a platemail wearing frontliner you could easily be a pally, cleric, fighter, or special archtype of another class that grants armor prof?
    Despite the bow slung across his back, my 10' scaly, winged guy in robes says he prefers to take things head-on, tooth to claw.

    I remember when people playing MtG used to ask, "what colour(s) are you playing?", and were quite confused when my blue deck didn't have any of the classic blue spells.

    Being me, I'm only likely to give you OOC information when your own assumptions will mislead you, as a lesson about assumptions, and about asking the right questions.

    Of course, in character, my character is probably quite proud of being a Planar Shepherd, or a Knight of the Round Table.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-12-03 at 09:23 AM.

  26. - Top - End - #56
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Feb 2016

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Despite the bow slung across his back, my 10' scaly, winged guy in robes says he prefers to take things head-on, tooth to claw.

    I remember when people playing MtG used to ask, "what colour(s) are you playing?", and were quite confused when my blue deck didn't have any of the classic blue spells.

    Being me, I'm only likely to give you OOC information when your own assumptions will mislead you, as a lesson about assumptions, and about asking the right questions.

    Of course, in character, my character is probably quite proud of being a Planar Shepherd, or a Knight of the Round Table.
    So you're a pvp metagamer.

  27. - Top - End - #57
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2020

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Nah, Quertus is, based on his other posts, well within the trend of playing characters as bunch of co-dependents who must toe the Party line like it's 1984. He just sometimes uses what little goodwill his group has to exercise rudimentary free will.

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