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Author Topic: My play style  (Read 2077 times)
Aaron Baker
Member

Posts: 28


« on: June 27, 2010, 06:22:57 PM »

Per: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=29929.0 I am starting a new thread to discuss my play style and experiences.  I think I should start a new thread, because this thread will be about my play style, to give folks an idea of where I am coming from in gaming, and I would still like to discuss if I am in the right place (which I will continue to question in the other thread).
That said...
Hmm, I am a bit of a twink with role-playing pretensions, but at least I strive to be a real gamer.  To give an example, my favorite character in 3.0/3.5 was a cleric of Kord, with strength and good as domains I think.  I was not, for the most part, a "CODzilla," but I also was not much of a healer, and I was definitely optimized for combat.  The party joke was that if someone came to me with a limb lopped off, I would tell them to rub some dirt on it, but I don't think I ever inflicted much damage hitting (literally) someone with a healing spell.  I probably did more damage than anyone else in the party, and frequently had the spell or ability that saved the day-clerics are awesome!
That said, the character took the leadership feat and saved up quite a bit of gold (not spending his share of the treasure on items for himself) to set up a temple to his faith, and spent about half of his spells to help others instead of himself.  I remember a battle against vampires, where I had two spells to enchant a weapon so that it had a chance to instant kill undead on a hit.  The party warrior and the barbarian got the spells, while I kept people warded from vampires (got 2 good turns in).  I guess I create powerful characters to stay alive so I can role-play, if that makes any sense?
2nd ed I played Arletta Eru-Denai, drow thief/mage (dual classed thanks to a friendly DM).  Took the fencer class to get a fighter thaco with the rapier, so when the rest of the party hit 6th level and I reached 4/5, I had a fighter's attack and damage, thief skills and backstab, and fireball.  Then we had the event that caused the DM to say "I will never use flavor text again."
The fighter in our party was a halfling named Ferd, and when we took a goblin captive who had come from the direction of his lands, Ferd asked the goblin if he had seen other halflings.  The goblin said "Yes, Yummy."  Ferd felt that he needed to go home to check on his family, and my character insisted on following (risking the aid the surface elves had promised the renegade drow).  If my character had not done this, we probably would have gotten a new fighter as Brian's character  changed, but instead the entire party abandoned our mission and tracked across the wilderness, 2 months game time and 6 months of real life, we reached the village, and the DM was tearing his hair out the entire time.
In Gurps I have several mages I played, and a few fighters.  The top two were a pacifist healer mage who took out 50 bandits with a sleep spell (almost killing himself and passing out to do it, but it kept the pyro and the fighters from a mass slaughter), and a princess mage who had a half value enemy in the agents of her kingdom who sought to kidnap her and bring her home (half value because the enemy sought to kidnap instead of kill).  Most notable experience in her career was when I fought a samurai toe to toe and won, and later realized that ambidextrous didn't actually give me one attack per hand per round (oops).  Oh, that character was also the one who realized that a wyvern was an "animal with IQ below 6," and therefore I could shape-change into one...another twink move on my part.
White wolf...lets see.
VTM, played Fabio Lanzoni, which eventually became a minor bloodline.  Basically a malkavian, and tremere, and a nosferatu all learned mask of 1000 faces and telepathy, and formed a group mind.  I played one of the three, with the other 2 as NPC's who lived in other cities (and kept playing new additions, making older ones NPC's), I had to deal with  all of the flaws, and had to pay out of clan for the essential bloodline disciplines until the ST finally said that I had a bloodline with Telepathy, Obfuscate, and one discipline from the existing clan...
There was a storyline about this device that extracted more blood from prey-but was addictive and killed the prey.  I had a ventrue need for virgin females, protector beast, and caregiver nature, when I found out that the device killed anyone it was used on (and therefore consuming the blood I was addicted to meant killing women), I got my clan leader to stake me...
Werewolf played a silverfang who was originally supposed to be kinfolk (not expected to change).  His promised bride was killed by shadowlord, and his rage caused his first change.  He was raising kinfolk wolves in Alaska, mixing new wolf and even dog bloodlines in hoping to end the inbreeding.  He also spoke often and loudly that he could forgive the shadowlords if they would fight the worm, but he demanded that silent striders renounce their  prophecy that the Garou would lose.
I also played an Uktena Ragabash Lupin who had 5 dots in football and none in combat skills.  We had a mission to kidnap an agent of the wyrm, and when the party was ambushed I just grabbed the guy and ran.  The warriors came back bragging of their kills and saying the mission failure was not important-then they saw our target tied to a chair with my character smiling at them.  I had evaded every attack by using football skill (carrying a "ball," and dodging "tackles").
Favorite mage was a virtual adept who used correspondence and a few other dots to never be where an attack occurred, I had portable hologram generators...can't remember any good stories atm.
Hope that is a good start, I will talk about my DM/GM/ST/etc skills tomorrow.
I like Gurps best, but can find very few games of it.  DnD is good, but I don't like 4th ed (haven't played it, but when I read it I didn't like it).  I like the older white wolf, but the new stuff annoys me-I am capable of handling 13 clans or 12 tribes, so the simplification was unneeded and felt paternalistic.  Don't play much else, rifts a few times, paranoia, rolemaster, shadowrun, and star wars.  I tend to pick what I like out of those and put it in GURPS...


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Aaron Baker
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2010, 11:11:26 AM »

My DM style...
I tend to not do enough prep work, making up for it with a strong improvisation style and skills.  I seldom have firm ideas of what my villians will actually do in the long run, instead giving them motivations and letting them come up with short term actions towards their goals, frequently heavily influenced by the PC's.
I took over a group that had just recovered a magical gem for the wizards guild, and decided to remind them to research who they were working for.  They got their reward, then found out that their employer was unknown in the wizards guild...
Then they found out the employer worked for Iuz (playing in Greyhawk in a large town near the Furiandy/Iuz border).  They were asked to reinforce a garrison under attack by Iuz (an attempt to just weaken the foe, not re-start the war YET), and proceeded to find the garrison under attack and sorely pressed.  The party focused on destroying the attacking force, paying no attention to the casualties of the 1 HD guards they were reinforcing.  After the battle the commander thanked them for their help, and asked them to escort the few survivors of the garrison back to town.  OOC I told them they had failed the mission miserably, since their goal had not been to kill the attackers, but rather to protect the garrison, 75% casualties including 50% killed in action wasn't much protection.
The gem the party had recovered had been used in the attack (it stored spells and allowed up to 20 area effect spells to be released at once as a much larger area of effect), and had taken out about 30% of the garrison, the party was not able to recover it, and declined to follow up on it.  One NPC they had met went and recovered it for them, and had them help him destroy it.
At that point the players agreed to shift to a new location, with about half of them making new characters.  The town I put them in was in the old duchy of Tehn, and was claimed/threatened by Tehn, Pale, and Iuz.  The party had to deal with several threats from Iuz, and received "help," from the Pale.  My intent was to make the party play all sides against each other, or to openly side with Tehn (they had already rejected working with either Iuz or the Pale).  At one point a major Iuz force (most of their forces in the area) threatened the town, this was when they received the 200 Palish paladins, and hired a mercenary force of barbarians.  I didn't give them enough clues that the mercs were actually Iuz plants, oops.
They asked Tehn for aid, in exchange for pledging fealty, and Tehn stripped the garrison of Redwall, sending a major force which could defeat the Iuz forces.  Unfortunately, this was exactly what Iuz intended, and the garrison found itself pinned in the Party's town as two other major Iuz armies (one from the south, one from the west) encircled redwall and cut off the Tehn army.
The party found a way to teleport (and at this point I switched back to player, and another player became DM) the army to Redwall, but the new DM decided the teleport was a trap, and we had to fight our way out (luckily doing so much damage to the attacking forces that despite basically losing our infantry force Iuz was forced to withdraw).
An earlier group, two completely different experiences.  First the party grew in power (from 1st level to 12th, with some moves towards godhood, and with the party carving several small nations out of wilderness that they ruled without any fealty to another land).  At one point they fought a war against the drow, and at that point we agreed that the party was frankly too powerful.  I should note that while the party level was 12, they were very good socially, and had many allies who made their characters much stronger than level alone would indicate, including the fact that they raised a clutch of dragon eggs...
So I determined to give them more of a challenge, I decided that while the wild north was relatively Chaotic Good, the south was more Lawful Evil.  I created three great nations, roughly based on Germany, France, and England, who were at peace because of the dominance of the middle ("French,") nation.  The french nation was ruled by the queen, an 18th level cleric of Loviatar (goddess of pain and torture), the Germanic nation to the west was ruled by a feeblemind, and the English nation to the East was ruled by a Madman who sought to build a ship that would dwarf modern aircraft carriers.
The party found themselves fighting bugbears at level 1, and through tactics, luck, and sheer terror managed to survive, that set the tone for the game...
Later they said aloud that the queen was not to their liking, and were surprised when the town they said this in was razed to the ground and bounties were placed on their heads...
Hope this helps.
Aaron
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Larry L.
Member

Posts: 639

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2010, 09:50:02 PM »

Hi Aaron.

Well... that's certainly a lot of information.

I have no idea what anybody is actually trying to say with the phrase "a real gamer." It sounds to me you're as much of a gamer as anyone else. What would cause you to think you are some sort of inferior participant in this hobby? Do you personally know one of these "real gamers"? Is there some sort of secret initiation ritual bestowed by the King of Gaming at GenCon?

You mentioned you're thinking about designing a "generic" system, so let's focus on that.

What is it about a generic system that appeals to you?

If GURPS is your favorite, what specifically keeps you from playing GURPS all the time? It sounds like when you GM, you usually run some version of D&D. Or maybe you're running a GURPs-based game with the Greyhawk setting?

What's wrong with the games you're playing now that inspires you to make something better?

Again, try to back up your answers with an example from a game session you played. "Well, there was this one time I was playing GURPS, and it was fun because..." "Well, there was this one time I was running Vampire for a bunch of guys I met at the bus stop, and it was disappointing because..."
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Aaron Baker
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2010, 04:31:55 AM »

I guess since in real life people don't "combat optimize," I have this goal of creating "real," characters and so when I make a twinkish character I don't feel like I am role-playing, but instead feel like I am, if not cheating, at least not playing well.
I agree in concept that as long as everyone is having fun, it doesn't matter what your play style is, but I am a perfectionist, always chasing the "platonic ideal," and so I seek to play real characters, without worrying about the best stats-and when it is time to create a character I always fail.
Anyway...
I pretty much always end up playing DnD or White Wolf because I can't find a group to play Gurps with, that said, it does seem like Gurps players are an odd breed.  I don't know what it is about the system, but I just haven't been in a Gurps group that played a consistent game for months or years like I have with DnD or White Wolf.  There is a weakness in Gurps, what I call the 16 skill fallacy.  If you get every skill up to 16 (with high IQ/DX or both), then you very seldom fail.  Then get your defense skill similarly high, and combat becomes "roll to attack, roll to defend, defense success," ad infinitum.  Waiting for a critical success (admittedly 16/216) or critical failure on defense (4/216) to come along is boring, and there isn't much to show for higher skill.  I remember playing a fencer who had a 15 defense roll fighting an armored character.  I could only do one damage when I hit, and he couldn't get passed my defense.  Finally I got a critical hit and rolled "ignore armor," so my full damage went through... but that battle took 3 hours for a one vs one fight!
The solution I found was starting characters at 25 points (normal man) instead of 100 (game default) or 200 (what a group I used to play with liked).  But good luck getting players to agree to start characters at that low a power level when they have created a lot of 100 point characters...
DnD seems to keep "breaking my heart," in gaming.  I started with the boxed sets (red, blue, blue green, black, and gold), somehow missed most of ADnD 1st, found 2nd to be pretty nice but with so little ability to make a character your own ("quick, tell me the difference between the 2 fighters in the party," "Um, one has a shield and the other uses a two handed sword?").  3rd ed was a huge leap forward in that, but had a lot of balance issues, and prestige classes and multi-classing were broken.  I really wanted to have my Cleric take a prestige class, but they all required losing spellcasting ability, which is pretty much for a cleric or mage the same as telling a fighter that the presige class reduces weapon damage!  4th ed abandoned everything they gained in 3rd ed.  I mean, if a 1st level mage and thief can beat up all comers in a bar brawl, something is wrong!
What I want is something level based that gives characters more freedom, but that still has the ease of use and "fun," of DnD or other level based systems.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2010, 05:08:34 PM »

I guess since in real life people don't "combat optimize," I have this goal of creating "real," characters and so when I make a twinkish character I don't feel like I am role-playing, but instead feel like I am, if not cheating, at least not playing well.

That's because, in real life, more happens than just combat.  Whereas often in RPG, combat is the only thing that really happens.  And if that's the case, you'd be mad NOT to combat optimise; any sub-optimal decision is just an affectation.

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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
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Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2010, 08:48:20 PM »

Quote
I guess since in real life people don't "combat optimize," I have this goal of creating "real," characters and so when I make a twinkish character I don't feel like I am role-playing, but instead feel like I am, if not cheating, at least not playing well.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

It staggers me how gamers not only think they have a philosophy that encompases all, but they think so enough that they will actually place social sanction (and perhaps even sever friendships) on people because they know "what's right". It probably aught to be called fiction lawering - I wonder if that pivotal 1983 point in the hard look at D&D article was actually fiction lawyers suddenly becoming aware of and homing in on en masse on the activity called roleplay.
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dugfromthearth
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2010, 09:31:12 PM »

I guess since in real life people don't "combat optimize," I have this goal of creating "real," characters and so when I make a twinkish character I don't feel like I am role-playing, but instead feel like I am, if not cheating, at least not playing well.

That's because, in real life, more happens than just combat.  Whereas often in RPG, combat is the only thing that really happens.  And if that's the case, you'd be mad NOT to combat optimise; any sub-optimal decision is just an affectation.

I would quibble with that reply.

In games often lots of things really happen, but only combat can kill you or determine the final outcome.
You go to a town and have to investigate.  The GM makes sure that you find the clues you need to get to the final encounter.  Failing a persuasion check causes some slight delay but isn't fatal.
But when you fight the big boss, failing in combat is fatal.

I have been gaming for 20+ years and almost never have I seen a scenario where it was not resolved through combat.  The absolute worst was in GURPS Vampires which spend endless time talking about how it wasn't just combat but roleplaying and such - then their scenario literally said that there was nothing the PC's could do to avoid it coming down to a big final battle.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2010, 05:00:54 AM »

In games often lots of things really happen, but only combat can kill you or determine the final outcome.
You go to a town and have to investigate.  The GM makes sure that you find the clues you need to get to the final encounter.  Failing a persuasion check causes some slight delay but isn't fatal.

Well, there you go.  If a "persuasion check" is so nominal and unimportant, then I'm not sure it "really" happened.  It was just a bit of showbiz razzmataz along the way.

Contrast this with a situation in which, say, social actions can get you thrown in jail for life or executed, or ordered to commit seppuku.  In these conditions social skills become just as vital as any combat skill.

Point is: a lot of games are indeed built the way you describe, with the primary action being combat, and everything else being trivial.  As I said, that's rather different to real life, and it causes people to optimise for it, not because they have a desire to be "unrealistic" or to create "unbalanced" characters, but becuase it is the only thing which matters and the only thing that will be rewarded.

The broader question then is: SHOULD games be built to work that way?
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
dugfromthearth
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2010, 12:44:00 PM »

I think the issue in game design is that all combat is important and not all other interactions are.  So combat rules are made detailed and other rules are not.  And since other interactions are not detailed they aren't seen as important.

A character enters a city and asks for directions.  If the GM requires a roll, it is a simple roll and you get information or you do not.  It isn't a 5 minute interaction with choices (do I compliment him first, does he hesitate and I try again, etc).  I doubt many players would want every such interaction to be complex.

Then the character meets the judge and asks for a pardon or they will be hanged.  This is a life and death situation.  But since the rules just have you make a single die roll, the GM is loathe to have the character just be able to get out of trouble with one die roll - they require a combat or chase to get away.

What would be needed would be a system to allow for simplistic social interactions (or climbing, or whatever) generally, but then a more detailed system for critical times. 
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2010, 10:23:23 PM »

But this is a circular argument.  If you construct an RPG so that there is only one thing that is important, then sure that is the only thing that is important.  I mean, failing to grow enough crops to survive the winter can get you killed; getting lost in the wilderness can get you killed; saying the wrong thing in the wrong place can get you killed.  RPG's, as a rule, fail to address issues of these sorts, and exist primarily as combat systems.  That's a problem, not an automatic or necessary property of RPG's.  Take a look a more widely based designs like HeroWars conflict resolution system that, sure, concentrates a fair bit on derring do and whatnot, but as a system is easily translatable to dealing all of the issues I mentioned in just as much detail, if you wish, as is applied to combat.

My point remains that if the only thing that matters is combat then you are providing a heavy incentive for players to build characters that are exclusively based on combat.  Almost all "orthodox" RPG systems do this, and consequently also produce a fairly narrow experience of play, one that moves from combat encounter to combat encounter.  If you want more rounded, human-like characters, you need a more rounded game.  One way to get a more rounded game is to start from building a resolution system rather than a combat system.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
dugfromthearth
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2010, 03:23:02 PM »

I agree.  Most games consist of non-combat rules and then combat rules.  Having a resolution system instead allows more things to be played out in detail and therefore be fun and important.
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