May 24th, 2004

It's All Me

Characters are from Mars, players are from Venus

One of the ongoing complaints that periodically bounces around my gaming circle is the way non-physical stats work in RPGs. I know a couple of people who really like to play characters with high social stats, even though they aren't particularly good in social situations themselves. In a purely hack-and-slash game, that wouldn't be a problem. "You want to get the barmaid into bed? Roll against your Charisma. Natural 20? Sure, she not only comes along, she brings a couple of enthusiastic, attractive friends. Roll your stamina. Natural 20? You're the talk of the town for weeks to come."

But we tend to play fairly talky games, where players are encouraged to act out all potentially important interactions. And it's hard, when an impatient player has just spoken out of turn, saying exactly the wrong thing to a touchy NPC, to remember that he has the highest charisma in the party, and the player who's being polite and soft-spoken and deferential has the lowest. Especially when it happens every single game.

In theory, I should be telling the players that they aren't RPing their stats correctly. Maybe I should be encouraging player A to think about what he's saying and try again, or chiding player B for not being as abrasive and brusque as his stats say he is. But I hate interrupting a game for something like that, and no one likes to be told they're playing their own character "wrong."

Dealing with Intelligence-related stats can be even harder. When it comes to puzzles that can be solved via dice-rolling, or deciding which spells a character can have, or whatever, it's not a problem, but problems that have to be solved in-character are a different issue, because it's hard for the character to be smarter than the player. And again, if a smart player is playing an average to dumb character, it's hard for them to completely sit on the idea that may save the party, especially if the "smart" character hasn't come up with it.

One suggestion that I've heard a couple of times is that players of smarter characters should be allowed to collude with other players and take their suggestions, in order to bolster their own intelligence. This for me has its own problems, mostly because it makes gameplay stop, and it's a little annoying to give a player an idea and then listen to the character parrot it back. Still, it's a solution.

I'm wondering how other people handle this kind of thing. Has anyone come up with a good way to deal with characters that are, on paper, significantly smarter or wiser or more socially adept than the players can actually make them?
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    curious curious


I know just about every gaming shop has a used/bargain section with used/old games in it, but I was wondering if any of you had ever looked for role-playing books at thrift stores and whether or not you were successful.

I imagine they'd be a lot less common, but a lot cheaper than what's at the local comic shop.

Segregation! It's Not Just For The South Anymore!!!

So now that I have your attention with that subject line, I'd actually like someone's opinion. Should we start segregating players from each other?

A week ago I got caught up in an argument with someone over character classes and their worth and viability. I won't go into the details of the argument but at one point he started haranguing me about the fact that I had no idea what I was talking about because I hadn't really played anything else. I informed him that I had been RPGin since approx. 1981 and that I had pretty much played everything out there in one form or another.

The reason I bring this up is that I realized that he was just another example of this bizarre trend I see more and more of lately. The Fanatic. They are absolutely fanatical on the Good or Evil of the d20 based system. Either it's the end-all be-all of gaming or it's the worst thing to happen since Hitler decided he could get the Sudetenland for nothing down. What's weird is that they always bring up the same things for both their positions: Levels, Classes, and Hit Points. Despite the fact that ALL systems use varied forms of all three of these concepts, they ignore this in some sort of jingoistic frenzy that has eluded me to this day.

Please! Someone out there help me understand this! If you're like me then you've run into this enough times yourself to become really sick of it. If you're a Fanatic then you probably don't see the problem and are also insulted at the assault on your belief structure.

My plan is to just lock them all in a room with some CCGers and let them starve. But that's just me...
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    'Nothing Bad Ever Happens' - Oingo Boingo