Tabletop Thoughts


About talking and rolling the die.

Posted in General thoughts by Aleksi on 03/01/2010

How should social interaction be handled in roleplaying-game, is a question that I see being talked a lot in the Internet. It’s also a topic in witch I have some pretty strong opinions so I decided to make it my first real thing to talk in this blog.

Let me start with saying that I belong in the group of people that rolls dice (and makes players roll) in in-game social situations. That doesn’t mean that all in game talking will be replaced by dice rolls. Actually no in-game, in-character talking should be replaced by dice. I believe that dice in rpgs should never remove roleplaying. (And for me, short description of what is roleplaying ones character is all description of what character does or says.)

So to move on, I have often seen an argument that goes something like: “Why do some people roll die, why can’t they just roleplay those situations out?” Those kind of questions have left me wondering are there really people who doesn’t roleplay at all when they roll the die? I don’t always expect or even want great deal of passion and creativity put in roleplaying for every roll, but I don’t accept that player rolls the die, without explaining the characters actions behind the roll. Other thing that I sometimes wonder is that why those questions, that I mentioned earlier, are always about social situations, why nobody asks why people don’t roleplay fight scenes out. As I see it they are both perfectly possible to just roleplay.

The thing I have here is that I have certain reasons when I, as a GM, ask player to roll dice. I want die rolls when character does something where it tries to achieve something where outcome is unsure and failure could be interesting opinion. So if social scene or conversation in game has those elements I will ask a roll from the player (here and in this whole blogpost roll means anything from one dice roll to deeper conflict mechanic). Let’s use a example. Player character is a noble who is wondering why local baron has been collecting more and more taxes lately. Character meets baron at a party and while chatting with him tries to find out reasons for barons behavior. I would say that this could be perfect place for dice to come in play and based on the result given by dice I as a GM can roleplay baron accordingly either giving information to the player character or not.

Let’s look that situation again, but now from the standpoint of somebody who doesn’t use rules in that kind of situations. I believe that no matter how much anybody says that they roleplay the result of the situation of based on GM;s metagame-decision, even when GM doesn’t actively realize that himself. In situation where player tries to get information from a NPC GM has three opinions. Either he gives the information as long as player even asks it (in-character off-course). GM might decide that NPC doesn’t reveal his plans, then it’s all the same what player says, it still goes nowhere. Third opinion is that GM makes it a puzzle, NPC reveals information if player character ask the right questions, says the right words or does the right things. I believe that there are playing using those three methods in social situation without realizing it and calling their way roleplaying. Of course there is roleplaying involved, but there is also the metagame level of GM deciding how to act, so only thing that separates it from using the dice is that in their way the metagame element is hidden and it might be that nobody realizes it’s existence.

So I say that people should stop talking like using dice mechanics and roleplaying ones character are total opposites when they clearly are not. I believe that best gaming will be had when both are used, when roleplaying leads to die rolls and those steer the roleplaying interesting and maybe unexpected direction. And I don’t want to exclude one type of scenes from mechanics because of some arbitrary reasoning.

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Another rpg blog is here.

Posted in Meta by Aleksi on 03/01/2010
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Greetings potential reader. This is the first post of my new blog Tabletop Thoughts and it will be about who I am and what I’m going to do with this blog.

First, some words about me. I’m a Finnish university student and I go by the name Aleksi in real life and Apsup on the Internet. I have been playing roleplaying games since 2004, or somewhere around there. At quite an early stage I was also placed on the game masters throne. Since starting the hobby I have seen both sides of the table in many different gaming groups, playing different games.

So what plans do I have for this blog then? I chose the name “Tabletop Thoughts” because I want to share my thoughts regarding tabletop rpgs. I try to keep my thoughts mostly system generic, but I will be using examples from actual play and specific game systems. Truth be told, I’m not really sure what I will be doing with this blog but a few things are clear. First of all, this will be purely about rpgs I have other places to talk about other stuff so here you will see purely roleplaying-centred writings. Secondly, I won’t be doing actual play posts or reviews in here, maybe in some other place, but not here.

So that’s the short introduction for my blog. Now go and read some of the real posts to really see what I’m doing here.