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View Full Version : "We need more DPS": necessary roles in the party



AvatarZero
2010-08-04, 04:29 PM
Most RPG characters can't do everything. In theory, if no one player character can do everything then everyone will be able to contribute and enjoy the game. RPGs tend to limit PCs to a single skill set so that the party will have to work together to fill every necessary role.

So what are the roles in an RPG? There are four basic combat roles that most RPGs use, tabletop and computer: Tank/Fighter/Defender, DPS/Thief/Striker, Healer/Cleric/Leader, AOE/Wizard/Controller. Are games less fun when one of those is missing? Are all four really necessary?

What are the roles in an RPG? What do you need to have in a party to succeed? What do RPGs think we need when in practice we really don't? What new roles have emerged as RPGs have developed as a hobby? Do non-combat situations have defined necessary roles in the same way that combat situations do, or can one person do everything? Does that make non-combat less fun?

Your thoughts?

Panigg
2010-08-04, 04:36 PM
In an pen and paper RPG you don't need to define any role at all, if your DM is cool with it. But it's not that easy for PC. You need some kind of predictability for the designers to make the game work.

You could play DND with random characters and I bet it would be more fun than with a highly crafted and finely tuned ones. As long as the DM doesn't overdo it with monster power and skill challenge DCs.

But the PC gaming? I don't know. Usually you either take the damage, so you want to be able to absorb as much as possible, or you deal the damage, so you want to dish out as much as possible.

Rogue like chars that disable traps don't work, since you're probably going the run the instance several times, where in a p&p your most likely to only run it once or if you do it twice you'll have forgotten the traps already.

On that subject I like the char creation of all flesh. It's a bit low level but a couple of friends played it in a very late stage, attaining superhuman abilities.

You can create your character with that system.

For example I created a hunter/trapsmith that lived in a part of the wods nown as the grey woods, where a leaking magic source was causing the local wild life to mutate. Of course that made their organs super expensive. After having spent too much time in that wood the character mutated as well, attaining the grim visage of a ghul-like being (-7 attractiveness) while gaining most of the physical benefits of living in the woods (+5 hard to kill etc).

It was interesting to play a char that looks like a monster but is really a loving father and husband that just wants to get enough money for his wife and son by hunting in that cursed forest.

dps
2010-08-04, 04:39 PM
So, you rang?

Kylarra
2010-08-04, 04:46 PM
So, you rang?This amuses me on some level.

In many RPGs thief-types are your controllers, usually having debuffs, while wizards are your glass cannon-DPS types. /tangent

The value of each role depends on the relative damage:hp ratio of the game, and the skills allowed.

Debuffs/buffs are useful in longer battles, but less so for shorter ones and grindy-type aspects where immediate damage is more useful and the debilitation/boost doesn't have time to add up.

Xefas
2010-08-04, 04:51 PM
You're describing "D&D", not "RPGs". "RPGs" are "Role-Playing Games" all they need to be "RPGs" is Roleplaying. They don't need "combat" in the way D&D has. They don't need "classes" or "roles".

All you need is a few interesting characters and an interesting setting to have a great RPG experience. You don't even need rules of any kind to roleplay. They help (occasionally), but aren't necessary.

Keld Denar
2010-08-04, 05:01 PM
I remember reading something about a group that ran a publish 4e module with 5 strikers. The result was something along the lines of "stuff died...fast. If we didn't kill it in 2 rounds, it was probably too late and people would start dropping fast."

Which leads to the conclusion: "Anything is possible with enough Dakka!" WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kurald Galain
2010-08-04, 05:06 PM
Which leads to the conclusion: "Anything is possible with enough Dakka!"
There is no such thing as enough Dakka.


Anyway, it strikes me that in many RPGs and fantasy stories, you have the Mental Char, the Physical Char, and the Social Char. That's three roles, that tend to be necessary in most stories.

Keld Denar
2010-08-04, 05:09 PM
There is no such thing as enough Dakka.

Ah, so you've descovered Article II of the International Treatis on Dakka. Congratz!

Lord Vampyre
2010-08-04, 05:10 PM
Anyway, it strikes me that in many RPGs and fantasy stories, you have the Mental Char, the Physical Char, and the Social Char. That's three roles, that tend to be necessary in most stories.

This is pretty much the way White Wolf has set up their Storyteller system.

Orzel
2010-08-04, 05:43 PM
Well since you ask for RPGs and not just D&D, I'll name the roles of my homebrews that use unconventional roles.

Sunken City has:
Aura Killer (guy who destroys magic auras and can shut off magic)
Minion Killer (guy who destroys minions)
All Purpose Killer (guy who destroys everything else)
Batman (guy who doesn't suck when magic is shut off)

This is because the damage need for efficiency in Sunken City is low. Combat and skill conflicts are stalemates until someone fails to counter an attack. So each member must must specialized enough to have a counter for any conflict ready at all times.

Fifth Earth has:
Pilot (pilots the vehicles)
Hacker (technological skillmonkey)
Shield (puts up da shields)
Meat (doesn't gets OHKO)

Damage in Fifth Earth is so harmful that tanking and healing is useless. Avoiding hits is the key to victory. It's up to the Pilot and Hacker to keep the Meat from ever getting shot at more than 10 times and the shield has to negate 50% of the hits.

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-08-04, 06:04 PM
when playing 3.5 my group has noticed that the only thing we actually NEED, is someone to step up and be the leader to keep us on track. all the other nitches are optional and what is selected will mold the campaign somewhat.

AvatarZero
2010-08-04, 06:26 PM
I remember reading something about a group that ran a publish 4e module with 5 strikers. The result was something along the lines of "stuff died...fast. If we didn't kill it in 2 rounds, it was probably too late and people would start dropping fast."

Which leads to the conclusion: "Anything is possible with enough Dakka!" WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think that's interesting. The standard quartet of combat roles work well in RPGs with low damage denomination, such as most MMOs. When it takes 50 hits to kill an enemy, you need someone to survive the hits that enemy sends your way, someone to actually land the hits, someone to shift the odds by making the enemy weaker or the party tougher/less damaged, etc.

If it takes one good hit to drop an enemy, then you pretty much only need one combat role, the Hitter. Everyone's combat ability is based on if they can deliver that hit, and if so, how fast. The quick, the useless, and the dead. I have an image of an elf wizard in a cowboy hat, hand over wand holster, hummingbird familiar in the background. Actually, that isn't too far from the way wizards work already.

I wonder how fun that would be. People do seem to love GURPS, Exalted and computer games like Counterstrike. (Not often about the combat, perfect defenses, being unkilled at the end of each round.)

Aotrs Commander
2010-08-04, 06:47 PM
I think the question needs to have better defined boundry conditions, as it really depends what sort of game you are dealing with. Call of Cthulu, I imagine, has a rather different set up to Rolemaster or to D&D. As does sci-fi to fantasy or to wild west or steampunk games.

In very broad terms, a combat group (e.g. a party) should be balanced to have a varying set of attack capabilities to deal with threats at various ranges. They will probably require some sort of technical expert (e.g. scholar, trap-finder, scientist, technician, possibly pilot) depending on what technical challenges they are likely to encounter. Some sort of ability to recover from damage is important though what level this is will be defined by genera and game power (it might be cleric, it might be chief medical officer or a guy with some surgrey training and some drugs...) A scout of some description is also an asset. You might also require a social character or there may be a place for a support character with some ancillary or party-assisting abilities (e.g. bard or marshal in D&D.)

Generally, either the technical experts or the artillery or scouts will be fragile, so the party will probably need some way of protecting them (the simplest is by putting heavier combatant in the way).

So long as the party is overall capable of fulfilling the basic requirements, I don't think character classes need to be totally tied in to one role.

(I don't entirely agree with the WoW or 4E method of assigning a specific role to a specific character class; it all feels a bit more forced than it should be; though for WoW, it is somewhat justified, however, for their desired result.)

AvatarZero
2010-08-04, 07:27 PM
I think the question needs to have better defined boundry conditions, as it really depends what sort of game you are dealing with.

As broad a definition of game as possible. If you can find player roles in Minesweeper, that'd be interesting to me.

Of course I'm mainly thinking about games where many people work together to overcome challenges within a set of rules, which apparently isn't the way some people define roleplaying. I personally can't imagine playing a game that didn't have some sort of challenge to overcome and without wishing to imply that my view is objectively right, I'm pretty sure the definition of "game" involves some sort of goal and rules.

There's also the common issue of trying to share importance between the players to facilitate fun, either as a way of controlling/rationing out the spotlight (often manifesting as who the DM is talking to at a particular moment) or by making sure that all players feel like they are contributing/succeeding/necessary.

So, there are combat roles when combat is drawn out and detailed. There are certain non-combat roles, where a given skill set can be satisfied by a single player character, often because of a difference in the ease of increasing the necessary attributes (ie. anyone can put ranks in Spot, but only a few characters will be able to put ranks in Spot, Listen, Move Silently and Hide while having decent DEX and WIS mods). Defender, Controller, Striker, Leader. Buff, Debuff? Combat, when fighting can be handled by one guy. Scout, Face... possibly just Skill-Monkey when one character can handle every utility ability.

Most popular games that aren't DnD don't have the same class system. This is probably due DnD being the default RPG, and every other game having to offer something distinct to stand out. Do these same roles still manifest in games with less rigid character generation or less of a focus on overcoming challenges?

More importantly, do character roles make games more fun? Should they be rigidly enforced? What are your experiences?

Dairun Cates
2010-08-04, 07:36 PM
Honestly, not to be brief and snarky, but the number of party roles are incalculable and the necessary ones are literally zero with a good GM.

Obviously, with a pre-written module, you'll usually need certain roles. For the most part, this literally boils down to SOMEONE needs to be able to kill bad guys. Healers, casters, tanks, trap-finders, etc. are all recommended, but from a very real standpoint, you can still beat the module without them. None of them are necessary. You can even get by without a healer. It's just literally necessary that your party is diverse enough to survive. Actually measuring that is a theory experiment that turns into a nightmare.

With a non-written module, it's honestly even less defined, a good GM really should cater to the tastes of their players. If the players ALL like social situations, there's literally no reason the party even has to have combat capability. Likewise, if a party solves everything with fists, diplomacy is hardly required. A campaign generally focus around what the PCs do well. In that sense, if you tailor the challenges properly, there shouldn't be a party configuration possible that's incapable of surviving. They may still die, but they did have a chance.

Milskidasith
2010-08-04, 07:39 PM
In an pen and paper RPG you don't need to define any role at all, if your DM is cool with it. But it's not that easy for PC. You need some kind of predictability for the designers to make the game work.

You could play DND with random characters and I bet it would be more fun than with a highly crafted and finely tuned ones. As long as the DM doesn't overdo it with monster power and skill challenge DCs.

I highly doubt random characters (which can't really work, but your meaning) is more fun than playing what you want to play.


For example I created a hunter/trapsmith that lived in a part of the wods nown as the grey woods, where a leaking magic source was causing the local wild life to mutate. Of course that made their organs super expensive. After having spent too much time in that wood the character mutated as well, attaining the grim visage of a ghul-like being (-7 attractiveness) while gaining most of the physical benefits of living in the woods (+5 hard to kill etc).


Not sure what those stats are in D&D 3.5, which seems to be what you were talking about.

GoodbyeSoberDay
2010-08-04, 07:43 PM
Those are definitely D&D-styled roles, which carry over to many CRPGs and MMOs because D&D carried over to many CRPGs and MMOs. The roles are very well-defined in 4e, and while you can get away with not having a role or two, it starts breaking from the designer's intent (especially sans-leader) and things get precarious, or based on good DM encounter-building.

I know this is a sore point for some, but one of my favorite parts about 3e is that some characters (usually spellcasters) are capable of covering multiple traditional roles out of the box. Sure, it's overpowered, but it also facilitates unorthodox parties and playstyles.

The Glyphstone
2010-08-04, 07:44 PM
I highly doubt random characters (which can't really work, but your meaning) is more fun than playing what you want to play.



Not sure what those stats are in D&D 3.5, which seems to be what you were talking about.

He said 'all flesh', which I'm guess is All Flesh Must Be Eaten, a zombie apocalypse RPG.

fryplink
2010-08-04, 07:49 PM
I think that's interesting. The standard quartet of combat roles work well in RPGs with low damage denomination, such as most MMOs. When it takes 50 hits to kill an enemy, you need someone to survive the hits that enemy sends your way, someone to actually land the hits, someone to shift the odds by making the enemy weaker or the party tougher/less damaged, etc.

If it takes one good hit to drop an enemy, then you pretty much only need one combat role, the Hitter. Everyone's combat ability is based on if they can deliver that hit, and if so, how fast. The quick, the useless, and the dead. I have an image of an elf wizard in a cowboy hat, hand over wand holster, hummingbird familiar in the background. Actually, that isn't too far from the way wizards work already.

I wonder how fun that would be. People do seem to love GURPS, Exalted and computer games like Counterstrike. (Not often about the combat, perfect defenses, being unkilled at the end of each round.)

Example, compare Runescape pvp ( you can kill enemies of similar power in one/three hits in the big leagues, the debuff spells are NEVER used except to fluff out the magic skill) and Guild Wars pvp (can still kill enemies more quickly, but when alliance battles last 20 mins, a de-Buffer is a legimate character) {I felt like re-iterating}

anyway as you continue in guild wars, you eventually need healers, and tanks to keep enemies off healers, and DPS and nukers to kill enemies, and more tanks to protect the dps and nukers, and healers to cover the new tanks, and so on and so forth (or this was how guild wars was when I played it)

So my assumption is that the longer combat takes (as in step number, not time, DnD combats are pretty short step wise, so in combat healing is bad) the more important roles other than Area effects and Dps become. Look at RTS (an RTS is pretty much being in control of a party of crazy size for and inordinate number of steps), where sometimes a well placed economic or combat debuff can be better than fielding 120 Imperial Redcoats

Saph
2010-08-04, 07:54 PM
Star Wars Saga has a really interesting set of roles. We found characters tended to naturally fall into one of three types:


Combat Guy: High HP and a whole lot of weapons, mainly big guns. Best ranged attacks of the party, highest average DPS, and good durability.

Skill Monkey: The one who handles anything technical (especially computers and mechanics), and can do face-work (deception, persuasion, etc). Can handle a gun, but really shines out of combat.

Force User: Relies on Force powers and a lightsaber. Has access to tricks that nobody else does. Can often use Force powers to cover some of the abilities of the Combat Guy and the Skill Monkey (Jedi Mind Trick substitutes for Persuasion, Force Slam substitutes for grenades) but will have gaps (can't hack a computer, for instance).


Then you get hybrids, such as the Noble 1/Jedi 6 or the Scout/Soldier, and anyone can be a good pilot. You can get by without any of the three roles in a pinch, but most missions are much easier if all three are covered.

Milskidasith
2010-08-04, 08:01 PM
Example, compare Runescape pvp ( you can kill enemies of similar power in one/three hits in the big leagues, the debuff spells are NEVER used except to fluff out the magic skill) and Guild Wars pvp (can still kill enemies more quickly, but when alliance battles last 20 mins, a de-Buffer is a legimate character) {I felt like re-iterating}

anyway as you continue in guild wars, you eventually need healers, and tanks to keep enemies off healers, and DPS and nukers to kill enemies, and more tanks to protect the dps and nukers, and healers to cover the new tanks, and so on and so forth (or this was how guild wars was when I played it)

So my assumption is that the longer combat takes (as in step number, not time, DnD combats are pretty short step wise, so in combat healing is bad) the more important roles other than Area effects and Dps become. Look at RTS (an RTS is pretty much being in control of a party of crazy size for and inordinate number of steps), where sometimes a well placed economic or combat debuff can be better than fielding 120 Imperial Redcoats

This theory would work if buffs/debuffs were not only necessary to many D&D characters (granted, by being mostly out of combat things), but the key method of taking people out of fights.

Trying to simplify game design to being entirely based around one system is useless. The reason debuffs in runescape suck is that they take time to go off, probably don't hit, and if they do, don't cause enough. The reason healing and debuffs and such in Guild Wars work is not because there is more time, it's because they affect more relevantly, and, while more time does mean long term debuffs/buffs have more time to hit, that's only part of the reason; if a debuff just caused -1 damage dealt per hit, unless it was instant cast, it would be essentially worthless.

The reason debuffs and buffs work in D&D is because they rapidly swing the fight; you can get people to be capable of hitting, or incapable of being hit, or bring four hit kills into two hit kills, or allow tactical mobility, etc. They are useful, even in the short timespan. The reason healing, save the Heal spell, is not good in combat is not because it lasts too little time; indeed, that would make burst healing, as in D&D, even better than in combats that take a long amount of time. The problem is that the amount you can heal in combat is far less than you can deal in combat, and you can block more damage to your allies by killing people faster.

fryplink
2010-08-04, 08:12 PM
This theory would work if buffs/debuffs were not only necessary to many D&D characters (granted, by being mostly out of combat things), but the key method of taking people out of fights.

Trying to simplify game design to being entirely based around one system is useless. The reason debuffs in runescape suck is that they take time to go off, probably don't hit, and if they do, don't cause enough. The reason healing and debuffs and such in Guild Wars work is not because there is more time, it's because they affect more relevantly, and, while more time does mean long term debuffs/buffs have more time to hit, that's only part of the reason; if a debuff just caused -1 damage dealt per hit, unless it was instant cast, it would be essentially worthless.

The reason debuffs and buffs work in D&D is because they rapidly swing the fight; you can get people to be capable of hitting, or incapable of being hit, or bring four hit kills into two hit kills, or allow tactical mobility, etc. They are useful, even in the short timespan. The reason healing, save the Heal spell, is not good in combat is not because it lasts too little time; indeed, that would make burst healing, as in D&D, even better than in combats that take a long amount of time. The problem is that the amount you can heal in combat is far less than you can deal in combat, and you can block more damage to your allies by killing people faster.

hehe, I did mention it was a theory (or did I say assumption? you know what they say about that). It was more of a general statement, in that it can help. Admittedly time is not the only factor, but for example in runescape the debuffs would be used if a) the Debuffs where a little more effective at the levels you acquire them[how the heck is -5% of 1 useful in a system that doesn't round?!?] at and b) the combats lasted long enough for -X% defense to be meaningful


But back to roleplaying, DnD healing was probably a bad example and my theory (or assumption) is flawed and limited. It would be more appropriate to say that number of steps is a factor or even the floor, while the ceiling is decided by other things. If combat is too short Debuffs won't be of much use, but if it lengthens (the number of "rounds" to a combat) it comes down to the system

I want to re-iterate that this was a theory (maybe assumption was the wrong word?), and is most defiantly very flawed.

Tinydwarfman
2010-08-04, 09:17 PM
I find d20 modern has fairly good base classes for this kind of stuff, even if I don't like that much else about it.

I find roles tend to vary widely on setting and time-frame. The further into the future you go, the more priority is placed on ranged weapons as the primary method of combat, effectively cutting out the "big burly tank" and Assassin archetypes as viable combat roles. But nevertheless, here are my main types and sub-types. Of course, and real character is generally a mix of these.

The Tank:
- he is almost always big and male, and he can take a Lascannon to the chest. High tech version generally dodges or has ridonkulously good armor.

The Glass Cannon:
- Rogue/Assassin melee character, hits big and fast, gets smacked down hard. Depends on the setting, but his archetype can stay viable with tech.
- Mage ranged character, hits big, of variable speeds, generally has limited resources for balance.
- Sniper, shoots the things with a ranged weapon/is specialized for killing in high-tech settings.

The Utility:
- Guy who uses magic to do everything not extremely well because magic can do everything in theory.
- Guy with the skills. A mundane utility who can climb up the wall instead of flying over it, organize transport instead of teleportation, or interrogate instead of mind-probing. Gets much more realistic besides the mage with more tech.

The Support:
- The guy who doesn't fight directly, but generally helps his teammates or uses others. Classic fantasy is a priest/healer. Future tech might be an engineer with combat drones.

Common Variations/Combinations:
The Face - Utility who solves problems with his gorgeous smile. Or money.
The Minion Master - Usually support, guy who commands his own little party.
The Gadget Guy - Utility/Support who makes things out of combat. Artificer/Inventor.
The Make-you-suck-er - Dedicated debuffs. Generally support, could be an ultimate fighter who like to batman his enemies instead.
The Magical <insert anything here> - Everything gets better with a little magic. Spellblades, spelltheives, spelltanks galore.
The Ultimate Fighter - Tank/Cannon who is the all-round king of combat, but doesn't do much else. Warblade. High tech version might be the heavy weapons guy.
The Sneak - Cannon/Utility. Typical rogue, typically shady.
The Team Player - Utility/Support. He buffs allies, solves problems, but if he's on his own without much warning, he's probably screwed. D&D Wizards do this pretty well. Bards also.
The Combat Buffer - Tank/Support. Typical Cleric. Nonmagic types might use moral.
The Self Buffer - Typical Cleric/DBZ spends 5 rounds charging up to become an engine of destruction. Future-tech might involve genetic enhances of some type, or a Venom-like serum.

Can't think of more right now.

Of course, as to our original question, nothing is needed. Only wanted. You don't need utility when you're a soldier. You don't need a Tank when you're infiltrating the pentagon. In these kinds of games you instead have specialized roles for the kind of job. The Tank, Support and Cannon roles are all for combat oriented games.

Mark Hall
2010-08-05, 11:38 AM
One thing I've pointed to is the Firefly crew; very good for Star Wars games.

Leader/Jack of All Trades: Mal
Beat-sticks: Zoe, Jayne
Healer: Simon Tam
Pilot: Wash
Gearhead: Kaylee
Misc Skills: Shepherd, River, Inara.

This is a good sci-fi mix. It can't do everything (they don't have a dedicated computer hacker, for example), but who they have determines what kind of jobs they take.

Tengu_temp
2010-08-05, 12:04 PM
The only role that's really necessary, and even then not in all systems, is the healer - someone who can quickly bring the party back to full health between battles, and sometimes in the battles themselves. Everything else depends on the campaign, but generally PCs should be able to pull their own weight - someone who's completely incompetent at everything, contributes nothing and only causes trouble for the rest of the group is bound to become an annoyance.

Ormagoden
2010-08-05, 12:13 PM
I remember reading something about a group that ran a publish 4e module with 5 strikers. The result was something along the lines of "stuff died...fast. If we didn't kill it in 2 rounds, it was probably too late and people would start dropping fast."

Which leads to the conclusion: "Anything is possible with enough Dakka!" WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Four white mages? That's impossible!

Erom
2010-08-05, 12:21 PM
I remember reading something about a group that ran a publish 4e module with 5 strikers. The result was something along the lines of "stuff died...fast. If we didn't kill it in 2 rounds, it was probably too late and people would start dropping fast."

Which leads to the conclusion: "Anything is possible with enough Dakka!" WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, I feel like people pigeonhole 4e into "Oh, it has these ROLES and you need a BALANCED party and it's so LIMITING" but I've run official modules successfully with _very_ weird parties and it works out fine.

All-striker is a fun one - it's rocket tag! Combat goes FAAAAAST and victory and defeat are a hair away from each other.

I think All-Controller is the only single-role party that didn't work out very well. All defender and all leader played similarly (eat the damage and grind your way through) though the all-defender team did a bit better since they didn't have to spend actions to recover, their defenses were more passive.

Go Team Cleric was a fun session. Very organized military feel too it - the group stayed close and moved as a unit, forcing the enemy back and taking and holding each room in the dungeon rather than focus firing one enemy at a time. A lot of focus on geography.

valadil
2010-08-05, 12:27 PM
This is too genre specific to answer. Fantasy works well with fighter/thief/mage/healer. Other genres don't have dungeons full of traps and treasure, so the thief niche is invalid. Some genres lack magic, eliminating mages. Healers remain, but usually have a first aid skill rather than being devoted to the task.

There's almost always room for a tough guy. I've played RPGs without fighting, but they're few and far between. Social/face characters seem welcome in any game too. Magic or not, I think you can always end up with the smart character who uses his knowledge.

Tinydwarfman
2010-08-05, 12:58 PM
The only role that's really necessary, and even then not in all systems, is the healer - someone who can quickly bring the party back to full health between battles, and sometimes in the battles themselves. Everything else depends on the campaign, but generally PCs should be able to pull their own weight - someone who's completely incompetent at everything, contributes nothing and only causes trouble for the rest of the group is bound to become an annoyance.

Not so. This is only in combat-oriented games. In many skill based games you never even need healing. And in many settings healing is only handled out of combat in hospitals or such.

Dairun Cates
2010-08-05, 01:22 PM
Four white mages? That's impossible!

If we're talking about FF1 there, someone's done it with ONE. People are weird.

But yeah. I agree that it's very genre and game specific as well. From a tactical standpoint in the beta for Pirates vs. Ninjas, it's become clear that there's actually two distinct flavors of striker units. There's the 1 on 1 specialists and the 1 vs. Many specialists. The 1 vs. Many specialists do excellent when surrounded with lots of slightly weaker foes while the 1 on 1 specialist obviously does well against one slightly stronger target. Consequently, the same character actually performs noticeably worse in the opposite scenarios. The 1 vs. 1 specialist wears down too fast to take out multiple targets while the 1 vs. Many specialist just doesn't have the firepower to take down single foes without falling down.

The funny thing is that being a 1 vs. Many specialist actually doesn't necessarily mean AOE specialist in this case. A lot of the builds that take on lots of people just have really good dodge and single target abilities that are just efficient.

...And that's just scratching the surface of the party roles that have essentially come up. A lot of traditional roles have gotten split up drastically. For instance, a party might contain someone specializing in:
-Multiple target buffing
-Single target buffing
-Self-buffing
-Multiple target debuffing
-Single target debuffing
-Life Tanks
-Dodge Tanks
-DR Tanks
-Will Tanks
-Precision Attackers
-Massive Damage Attackers
-Continual Damage Attackers (This one is significantly less defined).
-Will/DR negation Attackers
-Multiple Hit Attacks
-Counter Attackers
-Tactical Controllers
-Awesome Point Controllers
-Field Controllers/Item Breakers
-Life Healers
-Damage Negation
-Awesome Point Batteries
-Summoners (This one is also not heavily represented).
-Last Man Standing (work best when they're the last party member).
-Skill Monkeys

...And that's not even really all of them that've come up. Especially when most of the attacker can get divided single and multiple target versions. Of course, most people choose to wear 2-3 of these hats depending on how many character points they have, but you actually can get away with most of those by themselves as a legitimate character. The thing is, those aren't traditionally party roles in most systems as they're too specific, but that's kind of how it's come up here. It's pretty interesting.

...But yeah. That's why I agree that it depends on setting and system as well and why there's just too many to list everything.

Amphetryon
2010-08-05, 02:14 PM
For my games, I tend to want to see someone fill the following 'roles' in one way or another:

Beatstick - Someone who does a reasonably good job of hitting things and being able to absorb hits, or at least divert enemy attacks away from other party members and toward the Beatstick. There are lots of potential ways to do this.

Skillmonkey - Someone with a good array of abilities based around fine motor skills and dealing with traps.

Healbot - Someone who, somehow, someway, either in combat or out of it, gets other characters back to health or restores damage not related to HP.

Knowledge-monkey - The brains of the outfit. Someone who knows something about most things and who is likely to be called on to deal with logic puzzles. Many games do like D&D and link this to arcane magic.

Mystic - Someone in tune with secrets that Mankind Was Not Meant To Know. Throws fireballs or creates forcefields or otherwise produces effects that are beyond the normal tech level of the game's normative NPCs. As indicated above, this role and Knowledge-monkey are often intertwined.

Face - Social character who is the one most likely to serve as the mouthpiece of the group.

Nature-dude - Someone in tune with the natural world (whatever "natural" means in the game's context) who communes with spirits or talks with animals or what have you. Often this role is in charge of tracking the enemy through unfamiliar terrain.

arrowhen
2010-08-05, 03:04 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.

CarpeGuitarrem
2010-08-05, 03:25 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.
/thread right here

Tyndmyr
2010-08-05, 04:06 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.

This is more descriptive of the parties Ive ever been in it than any other description thus far.

Sometimes, I play all four roles.

Mark Hall
2010-08-05, 08:37 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.

Yeah, that's a win.

ericgrau
2010-08-05, 09:37 PM
In 4e they say the roles clearly: defender, controller, striker, leader. Usually 1 class per role.
In WoW they are: healer, tank (same as defender), DPS (same as striker). Sometimes 1 class per role, or some classes can do 2 or 3.
In 3e they are: DPS, controller/utility and skillmonkey. Most classes can do multiple roles.
Alternatively they are fighter, wizard, thief, cleric, and any different parties might need to find replacements for "missing" classes.

Healing does exist in 3e and 4e and it is useful but it is not a main role. There are ways to get it as a minor secondary class ability, which is sufficient, or through magic items like wands or potions. Likewise defense is useful but not a role in 3e. In 4e and some later 3e books that let the tank draw aggro it is a role. Controller is an optional but useful role in 4e. In 3e OTOH many encounters like ghosts need their special tricks to be beaten.

AvatarZero
2010-08-06, 03:51 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.

Damnit, so that's where I've been going wrong! I've been mixing Rules and Smartassery!

Xefas
2010-08-06, 04:01 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.

So much win.

Subotei
2010-08-06, 05:20 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.

Genius. I have played all in my time...

thompur
2010-08-06, 05:54 PM
Okay, I'm an idiot. What does DPS stand for?

Shyftir
2010-08-06, 06:03 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.

You are my new favorite person, may I sig that?


on topic:

Damage Per Second

Roles are very mutable obviously.

Take the steam game Alien Swarm 4 classes, really only three roles.

Class : Role

Officer : Kill stuff (BA shotgun, some skill with demolitions)
Special Weapons : Kill Stuff (BFGs)
Tech : Hacks various electronic systems (sometimes required)
Medic : Keep everybody alive (needs no explanation)

Obviously Officer and Special weapons are both warrior types, they kill stuff. Tech's are a need for some situations just to be able to complete the missions. Medics are interesting because they are useful but not always needed. That game forces the roles as part of the class, but you can do some missions with nothing but "warriors." It's a play style thing not a forced thing.

This same is true in D&D. I've played the "healer" by being a divine character with an attack focus and carrying lots of wands. (Note: still a cleric just a self-buff, beat face style cleric.) I was able to heal out-of-combat very well and in-combat in emergencies and still managed to be a solid source of damage. I've seen rogues function as the healer with a good UMD. ROles are useful we all know that but you don't NEED anyone role to be filled out perfectly to function. This is not true in say WoW, in which you have to have a tank/heals/dps set up. (Crowd-control, used to matter as well, but it was always as a side thing done by all roles.

arrowhen
2010-08-06, 06:03 PM
DPS = "damage per second". It's an MMO term that'll earn you a disapproving scowl if you use it at my table.

Milskidasith
2010-08-06, 06:07 PM
DPS = "damage per second". It's an MMO term that'll earn you a disapproving scowl if you use it at my table.

Why, exactly? Would you prefer you use DPR because that's more accurate, hate MMOs, or because you don't like people talking about game concepts at the game table?

arrowhen
2010-08-06, 06:32 PM
MMOs are fine (I play a little WoW myself), but they're very different from TTRPGs and I don't think they really need to share terms more than necessary. Similarly, it bugs me when WoW players talk about "rolling" a character. ;)

oxybe
2010-08-06, 08:06 PM
generally the "roles" necessary depend on several variables that culminate in "what kind of game are you making"?

in a combat-heavy game, you'll want the players to spread out their abilities and cover their bases: long range, mid-range, close-range, support (ally support or enemy debuff), ect... can adapt to a wider array of combat situations so you don't get hosed because the enemies decided to jump on griffons/grab a hoverboard/etc... and gun you from above when all you have is 4 bricks and a healbot.

in a game where combat is less emphasized you'll probably want: the face, the technician/professor, the sneak, the cop, ect... a party that can cover a wide swath of skill sets and resources. the face handles discussions and schmoozes at the bar, the sneak can infiltrate places and ask his contacts for leads, the technician/prof can research/develop stuff at their college, the cop can act as the tough/combat guy and get the party through some red tape, ect...

again, the focusing on "roles" is there to allow the party to access a wider array of abilities/talents/etc... and adapt to any given situation with greater ease.

to use Team Fortress 2 as an example, while you can technically make a team full of heavies work and it is a sight to behold, it's a team full of large, slow moving targets with 0 maneuverability when using the primary weapon. easy targets for a team with a sniper or spy and someone like demoman/soldier or a good pyro player to provide support/harass/trap.

a wide variety is a good thing. it also allows the gm to throw a wider variety of encounters (both combat and non-combat) at you without railroading you through the answer because no one took skills in "Computer Use" and the PCs are completely unable to google up basic script kiddie hacking tools so they can grab the encoded files off the Harddrive they stole or "Oh noes! the enemies are slightly outside our melee reach! one of our many weaknesses!".

i've got nothing against one-role parties, a group full of melee glass-cannon striker guys or nothing but faces can be fun but i generally find it boring since it gets hard to shine or do your own thing when the other 3 guys can also probably all do it with only a small margin of difference.

Kurald Galain
2010-08-06, 10:31 PM
The four essential party roles are: Bad Ideas, Smartass Comments, Rules Minutiae, and Snacks. As long as those are covered, they can play whatever the heck theu want.

So, respectively, fighter, rogue, wizard, and cleric.

Dairun Cates
2010-08-06, 11:23 PM
MMOs are fine (I play a little WoW myself), but they're very different from TTRPGs and I don't think they really need to share terms more than necessary. Similarly, it bugs me when WoW players talk about "rolling" a character. ;)

Tabletop gaming has LITERALLY nothing to do with psychology and visual design theory, but you guys throw the word "gestalt" around all the time, and it's being used far more incorrectly than DPS is being used there.

Honestly, everything borrows from everything, especially within a medium. Video game RPGs were practically built on original D&D, it's natural to follow that D&D and tabletop games of the like can actually borrow from video games. Using the terms doesn't insinuate exact similarity. Instead, using similar terms allows for a mental metaphor that can help others to grasp more complicated details in a much shorter period of time.

Besides, a good number of tabletop groups use terms that don't originate as tabletop terms in their groups all the time without realizing it. Think of the number of military terms that are honestly used eventhough Tabletop RPGs don't REALLY have much in common with real military strategy and battle (attrition rarely has much to do with D&D because attrition warfare is BORING). Blitzkrieg, flanking, Coup de grace, choke points, etc. These are traditionally military terms. They've been adapted. Really has nothing to do with becoming something else though. It's a case of using well-defined terms from another system to help define terms in another. So, DPS really only is a MMO term as long as you insist it is.

arrowhen
2010-08-07, 01:19 AM
Tabletop gaming has LITERALLY nothing to do with psychology and visual design theory, but you guys throw the word "gestalt" around all the time, and it's being used far more incorrectly than DPS is being used there.

Hey, don't blame us, blame whoever wrote Unearthed Arcana. It's a terrible choice of game terminology. "Wisdom", the stat that has pretty much nothing with being wise, and "armor class", which doesn't classify your armor, aren't much better. :D


Honestly, everything borrows from everything, especially within a medium. Video game RPGs were practically built on original D&D, it's natural to follow that D&D and tabletop games of the like can actually borrow from video games. Using the terms doesn't insinuate exact similarity. Instead, using similar terms allows for a mental metaphor that can help others to grasp more complicated details in a much shorter period of time.

Besides, a good number of tabletop groups use terms that don't originate as tabletop terms in their groups all the time without realizing it. Think of the number of military terms that are honestly used eventhough Tabletop RPGs don't REALLY have much in common with real military strategy and battle (attrition rarely has much to do with D&D because attrition warfare is BORING). Blitzkrieg, flanking, Coup de grace, choke points, etc. These are traditionally military terms. They've been adapted. Really has nothing to do with becoming something else though. It's a case of using well-defined terms from another system to help define terms in another. So, DPS really only is a MMO term as long as you insist it is.

DPS is "damage per second" to MMO players, "Department of Public Saftey" to residents of many U.S. states, "Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc." to stock brokers, "Detroit (or Denver, or any number of other places that start with the letter D) Public Schools" to education professionals, and a meaningless string of random letters to many others.

I don't have a problem expecting people to learn official game terms like "flanking" or "coup de grace", but I think it's ridiculous to expect someone to learn the jargon of a completely different hobby in order to talk about D&D.

Milskidasith
2010-08-07, 01:37 AM
DPS is "damage per second" to MMO players, "Department of Public Saftey" to residents of many U.S. states, "Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc." to stock brokers, "Detroit (or Denver, or any number of other places that start with the letter D) Public Schools" to education professionals, and a meaningless string of random letters to many others.

I don't have a problem expecting people to learn official game terms like "flanking" or "coup de grace", but I think it's ridiculous to expect someone to learn the jargon of a completely different hobby in order to talk about D&D.

It's the jargon of D&D. It's used in D&D to represent things in D&D. Especially when you argue that the same abbreviation can mean different things to different groups, it makes no sense for you to say "But this group can't use this term to mean X."

Not only does everything borrow from everything else, you're using such borrowed terms in your post. Jargon, presumably, originated as a term for the language of a specific group and got used by other groups. Jargon is now, rather than being a more specific term, being used for other things. Likewise, saying "it bugs me" is hardly dealing with the feeling of being around bugs, but yet you still use the term. Yes, these aren't the best sounding examples, but that's only because you are so used to them.

The English language evolves, groups take terms from each other (the easiest example being memes), and things change.Much like "laze" became a verb despite being based on an abbreviation (which later became a word), and "impact" became a verb for hitting something, "DPS" is now a basic term for damage over time. Likewise, the terms we are used to (or not) now will change into the future. Getting annoyed by such things, especially when the terms are being used for near exactly the same thing (damage over a certain amount of time), just seems pointless.

EDIT: Also, flanking and coup de grace are as much jargon from other things as DPS is. Yes, they are in the official books, but they're still terms that originally came from other groups. Just because it came from the WotC writers doesn't make it any less an example of taking terms from other groups that fit fairly well and using them for your purposes.

Tinydwarfman
2010-08-07, 01:40 AM
I don't have a problem expecting people to learn official game terms like "flanking" or "coup de grace", but I think it's ridiculous to expect someone to learn the jargon of a completely different hobby in order to talk about D&D.

If people don't know what it means, why the hell are you using it in the first place? And really, his point was that it actually isn't the jargon of completely different hobby. What term do you use to talk about how much damage you do in a round? And why is it any better than DPS when so many people already know what it means?

Math_Mage
2010-08-07, 03:18 AM
If people don't know what it means, why the hell are you using it in the first place?

To be fair, I think that was his point. Why use the term DPS in a different context?


And really, his point was that it actually isn't the jargon of completely different hobby. What term do you use to talk about how much damage you do in a round? And why is it any better than DPS when so many people already know what it means?

Well, the term DPR is much more likely to be developed organically from the context of D&D itself, rather than being 'ported in from WoW.

But really, I think y'all are stirring up flames out of twigs. What price arrowhen's dislike of the term to your games? Do you fear his hypothetical disapproving scowl so much? :smalltongue:

arrowhen
2010-08-07, 03:30 AM
If people don't know what it means, why the hell are you using it in the first place? And really, his point was that it actually isn't the jargon of completely different hobby. What term do you use to talk about how much damage you do in a round? And why is it any better than DPS when so many people already know what it means?

On the exceedingly rare occasions that I need to talk about how much damage I do in a round, I'll probably say something like "damage per round". Clear, concise, English words whose meaning is perfectly obvious in the context of a discussion of D&D mechanics and it only requires one more syllable than "DPS".

I don't use the term "DPS", and would encourage others in my group not to use it, precisely because people don't know what it means. MMO players know what it means, because it's an MMO term, but tabletop roleplaying games aren't MMOs and I would no more assume that the people I was playing D&D with would have any reason to understand MMO terms than I would assume that they understood hockey terms or music theory or stellar astronomy.

In fact, even using a very liberal definition of "MMO" -- going back to the text-based MUDs of the early 90s -- out of the scores of people that I've played live, face-to-face tabletop roleplaying games with, maybe five of them had any experience at all with anything even vaguely MMO-like and only one of them was a WoW player. So the assumption that MMO terms are common and familiar enough to be useful to D&D players is, in my personal experience anyway, just not true.

Admittedly, it's a silly thing to get worked up about, but it touches on the thing that absolutely infuriates me about this hobby: the common assumption that because someone plays roleplaying games they automatically subscribe to the whole stereotypical range of "gamer lifestyle" activities. It's gotten to the point where if I happen to meet a D&D player under the age of 25 or so (sorry, kids, I know you're not all like this!) I'm actually very hesitant to mention that I play D&D as well, because more often than not it means they'll immediately start yammering on about World of Warcraft, anime, and comic books without even bothering to stop and ask if I have the slightest idea what they're talking about.

Which I suppose is better than it was back in the 80s, when people would assume that my playing D&D made me a devil worshiper with no social skills who was likely to commit suicide when my character died (thanks, Tom Hanks! (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084314/)), but it's still damned annoying on a personal level and more importantly in my view, detrimental to the growth of the hobby.

Telok
2010-08-07, 05:43 AM
Funny thing, I've only noticed the talk of roles (as opposed to role-playing) in the last five to seven years. Pretty much since MMOs really took off. 4th edition is also the first time I've seen distinct roles for characters in D&D. Sure it was always easier for the DM if someone played a healer type, but it wasn't a role that the game was built around.

I've played many different systems and none of them had explicit roles for characters. Much of the time classes or templates would prefer a paticular role, but nothing ever straight-jacketed you into something. Until 4e, in which your characters role is even more defining of what you can do in the game than your actual class is.

Mark Hall
2010-08-07, 09:08 AM
Funny thing, I've only noticed the talk of roles (as opposed to role-playing) in the last five to seven years. Pretty much since MMOs really took off. 4th edition is also the first time I've seen distinct roles for characters in D&D. Sure it was always easier for the DM if someone played a healer type, but it wasn't a role that the game was built around.

I've played many different systems and none of them had explicit roles for characters. Much of the time classes or templates would prefer a paticular role, but nothing ever straight-jacketed you into something. Until 4e, in which your characters role is even more defining of what you can do in the game than your actual class is.

I've seen it far earlier; it was an ongoing concern in making parties for the 1e computer game "Pool of Radiance", for example.

Prior to 3e, however, "role" tended to be synonymous with "class". Fighters and Paladins were tanks, sacks of HP, or bricks. Clerics and Druids were healbots or band-aid boxes. Wizards were glass cannons. Thieves and Rangers were scouts, skill monkeys, or PMDs. Bards and multiclass characters were either a blend of the above, or just jacks-of-all-trades.

Philistine
2010-08-07, 09:47 AM
I've seen it far earlier; it was an ongoing concern in making parties for the 1e computer game "Pool of Radiance", for example.

Prior to 3e, however, "role" tended to be synonymous with "class". Fighters and Paladins were tanks, sacks of HP, or bricks. Clerics and Druids were healbots or band-aid boxes. Wizards were glass cannons. Thieves and Rangers were scouts, skill monkeys, or PMDs. Bards and multiclass characters were either a blend of the above, or just jacks-of-all-trades.
+1. Earlier editions didn't talk about Party Roles because they didn't have to: it was such a fundamental assumption that it went unquestioned (and usually unmentioned). That is, until 3E changed the game mechanics in ways that rendered half the traditional party obsolete - that's when (and why) you start getting discussion of 'What Roles Does a Party Need?', because some of the old roles were rendered irrelevant and/or impossible, and 'What Role(s) If Any Does This Character Fill?', because it was no longer obvious just from the choice of class.

If anything, I'd say that the focus on Party Role makes 4E (and MMOs) more like old-school D&D, philosophically, than 3E ever was.

Telok
2010-08-07, 10:35 AM
+1. Earlier editions didn't talk about Party Roles because they didn't have to: it was such a fundamental assumption that it went unquestioned
....

If anything, I'd say that the focus on Party Role makes 4E (and MMOs) more like old-school D&D, philosophically, than 3E ever was.

I cannot quite agree with this. People tended to adopt these roles, but the characters were not designed to them. A fighter could be anything from an steel-clad knight to a near-naked barbarian with musketeers, duellist nobles, and tribal jungle warriors in between. The wizard and cleric could be defensive, offensive, utility, mixed, and just plain weird if the player really wanted to. What I see more and more in 4e is a definition of a character's role in what they aren't allowed to do. Mind you, the hybrid system and (maybe) the Essentials reboot/add-on are helping with this, but 4e is still the first version of D&D to define 'fighter' as a damage sponge with the ability to actually defeat enemies as a secondary ability.

That's just D&D. In most other games there is even less of an emphasis on a character's "role in the party". Players usually tend to focus on roles, but the characters are not as heavily restricted by the game rules as by player preconceptions.

<<post subject to editing and/of follow-up, making chocolates>>

MightyTim
2010-08-07, 11:22 AM
After reading through the 4e PH1, I had an odd desire to build a party consisting entirely of Warlocks. With all the permutations of Deceptive and Scourge and the 3 Pacts, you can almost fit the traditional party roles with just that one Class.

Kurald Galain
2010-08-07, 11:31 AM
you can almost fit the traditional party roles with just that one Class.

How does that work? Warlocks can neither play defender nor leader, and are not considered strong strikers either.

MightyTim
2010-08-07, 11:50 AM
How does that work? Warlocks can neither play defender nor leader, and are not considered strong strikers either.

Probably not as well as I initially envisioned it. I did make an Infernal Pact warlock that, by Paragon level, got temporary hit points just about every other turn and had more than one immediate interrupt ability to reduce/nullify damage if he got hit by something particularly powerful.

This was before I'd become aware that Warlocks weren't able to deal quite as much damage as some of the other strikers.

arrowhen
2010-08-07, 11:54 AM
+1. Earlier editions didn't talk about Party Roles because they didn't have to: it was such a fundamental assumption that it went unquestioned (and usually unmentioned). That is, until 3E changed the game mechanics in ways that rendered half the traditional party obsolete - that's when (and why) you start getting discussion of 'What Roles Does a Party Need?', because some of the old roles were rendered irrelevant and/or impossible, and 'What Role(s) If Any Does This Character Fill?', because it was no longer obvious just from the choice of class.

If anything, I'd say that the focus on Party Role makes 4E (and MMOs) more like old-school D&D, philosophically, than 3E ever was.

The only difference is that the modern party roles are strictly combat oriented, while in older editions they weren't. Thieves, for example, often didn't do much in combat other than hide in the back and shoot their bows or lurk around the edges of the fray looking for a chance to backstab someone, but their trap-handling skills ranged from handy to absolutely vital, depending on how trap-happy your DM was. As one thief player I used to game with was fond of saying: "my job is to get you guys to the fight in once piece; you're job is to keep me alive once we get there!"

Dairun Cates
2010-08-07, 01:01 PM
On the exceedingly rare occasions that I need to talk about how much damage I do in a round, I'll probably say something like "damage per round". Clear, concise, English words whose meaning is perfectly obvious in the context of a discussion of D&D mechanics and it only requires one more syllable than "DPS".

Well, not all uses of the phrase RADAR are talking about about "Radio Detection And Ranging" devices, but we use the term anyway. You CAN say "Radio Detection and Ranging" or "Enemy Detection and Ranging", but it gets exhausting to read and say. Admitedly, DPS doesn't save AS much time as some examples, but the fundamental concept is there. A lot of people know what you're saying without being MMO players or knowing the abbreviation. After all, I don't play MMO's myself, but I know what the term means.


Admittedly, it's a silly thing to get worked up about, but it touches on the thing that absolutely infuriates me about this hobby: the common assumption that because someone plays roleplaying games they automatically subscribe to the whole stereotypical range of "gamer lifestyle" activities. It's gotten to the point where if I happen to meet a D&D player under the age of 25 or so (sorry, kids, I know you're not all like this!) I'm actually very hesitant to mention that I play D&D as well, because more often than not it means they'll immediately start yammering on about World of Warcraft, anime, and comic books without even bothering to stop and ask if I have the slightest idea what they're talking about.

Which I suppose is better than it was back in the 80s, when people would assume that my playing D&D made me a devil worshiper with no social skills who was likely to commit suicide when my character died (thanks, Tom Hanks! (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084314/)), but it's still damned annoying on a personal level and more importantly in my view, detrimental to the growth of the hobby.

The honest problem I have with this is that you're getting upset over gamer stereotypes while reinforcing the big one that's causing problems nowadays. Elitism and entitlement. Now, this may not be your intent, but an attitude and phrasing like that comes off to people outside the hobby as almost smug or superior sounding. You bring up things like age and way of play like they really matter to the medium in the long run.

After all, you don't want people to stereotype you for YOUR hobbies, but in the same paragraph, you mention that you hesitate to mention your hobby to people under 25 because of a genuinely unfair stereotype. And honestly, even if they're like that, shouldn't you of all people be sensitive to the idea of "different strokes for different folks" since your hobby made you an outcast and stereotyped in the 80's? Is it really so bad if someone likes those things together? Are you going to spite the innocent people you're mistaken for just because someone ELSE is ignorant enough to make assumptions?

Point is, my graduate studies are in creative mediums, and the truth of the matter is, no matter WHAT way you choose to amuse yourself, you can learn something and get useful phrases and habits from just about any other hobby. The people out there that are creating worthwhile works don't just focus on one thing. They learn outside their box.

And I guess that's my problem. It's not that you refuse to use the term. It's that you'd SCORN someone else for using it. It's really not befitting of some of the good attitudes of the people inside the hobby to exclude and scorn people on such petty things.


The only difference is that the modern party roles are strictly combat oriented, while in older editions they weren't. Thieves, for example, often didn't do much in combat other than hide in the back and shoot their bows or lurk around the edges of the fray looking for a chance to backstab someone, but their trap-handling skills ranged from handy to absolutely vital, depending on how trap-happy your DM was. As one thief player I used to game with was fond of saying: "my job is to get you guys to the fight in once piece; you're job is to keep me alive once we get there!"

On a side note, I'd argue that despite that example, earlier editions WERE still more combat-oriented than later editions. After all, why is the thief important? For disabling something that can kill you. You don't play a thief in second edition for social prowess necessarily. You play them for essentially running a scout role on a metaphorical battlefield.

Now, I've never gotten my hands on first edition to test this, but I do hear that first edition really was just ludicrously combat-focused, and 90% of the detail really went into combat.

Of course, that never stopped people from roleplaying. Lack of detail and lack of freedom really aren't the same thing and often can be quite the opposite.

EDIT: On another side note, I do get some of what you're feeling. I'm a long time video game player, and when the Playstation generation started coming in, the older gamers got left behind for the interests of the new crowd. Genres I really couldn't care for popped up like a virus and people that typically beat up the kids that played video games were playing. So, you try to hang onto your old ways to keep your way alive.

Honestly, in the long run though, it didn't really matter. It's just a natural cycle. Eventually, every group in a given hobby feels alienation before they eventually reintegrate into the whole. That's what's happening with tabletop gaming right now with some groups. Heck. I even love some genres I used to hate because they took the best parts of my favorite old stuff and mixed it with the best parts of the new stuff to make something new. First person shooter RPGs? Actually kinda fun.

Milskidasith
2010-08-07, 01:17 PM
The only difference is that the modern party roles are strictly combat oriented, while in older editions they weren't. Thieves, for example, often didn't do much in combat other than hide in the back and shoot their bows or lurk around the edges of the fray looking for a chance to backstab someone, but their trap-handling skills ranged from handy to absolutely vital, depending on how trap-happy your DM was. As one thief player I used to game with was fond of saying: "my job is to get you guys to the fight in once piece; you're job is to keep me alive once we get there!"

As a complete side note, that design strategy isn't really interesting to me. In games where one player controls everybody, yeah, hyperspecialization is perfectly workable, and even desirable because you can tweak yourself (well, your party) out to be viable in any situation, but in a game where each person controls one character, being near worthless in some situations makes those situations boring, although good times to take a snack break, at least.

The Big Dice
2010-08-07, 03:02 PM
Here's the thing. These days, the roleplaying hobby is torn between two poles. On one extreme, you have MMO games. All about the combat, the grind and the raid. Get that loot and level up so you can get more loot and level up some more.

At the other extreme we have the LARP. Or at least the US version of the LARP. In Europe, LARPing is as much about dressing up and hitting each other with rubber swords as it is about "subtle and sophisticated roleplay."

The kind of LARP that's the big influence on certain types of RPGs is the kind that's basically improvised performance. Be it a WoD or L5R or any of a dozen other games that emphasize character over action. "It's all about the narrative" and "narrative, narrative, narrative" could be the key phrases for this approach.

And neither style of play is inherently better than the other.

But the thing is, as tabletop roleplayers, we're unable to defend ourselves, either from the MMO, use an acronym and optimise as best you can crowd. And we're equally unable to defend ourselves from the LARPing, talk up a storm and never break character no matter what extreme.

What people seem to have forgotten is, our hobby is better than either of those approaches. One paradigm takes away the heart, the character interaction and development. The other takes away the teeth, the ability to smack the taste out of the mouth of your enemy.

Modern D&D is utterly hung on the notion that there are certain functions that have to be performed in combat, and that roleplay is simply the bits between fights. Hence the use of Skill Challenges. Which seek to reduce the need to interact with people or the environment to the level of a few dice rolls.

Which is where the source of the problem is. D&D seeks to reduce characters to the sum of their functions in combat. Or at least the current iteration of D&D does. Ironically, BECMI D&D with it's limit of only four character types plus demi-humans is much more flexible in letting players choose their role. Both in and out of combat.

There's a lot of talk along the lines of "1e was this" and "2e was that" but those games weren't what a lot of people think they were. What they weren't is anything like 3.5 or 4th edition, except in the most superficial of ways. Games like Swords and Wizardry come close to capturing the feel of old school games. But I would reccomend hitting up ebay for either the Rules Cyclopedia or the Frank Mentzer Basic/Expert sets. They turn up at reasonable prices and are well worth checking out.

BUt to get back on topic, the only neccessary roles in a party are the ones the players want to fill. I think everyone would agree that the purpose of any ald all RPGs is to have fun. And I'd honestly say that the GM that can't arrange suitable situations for the group of characters sat round the table with him might want to consider getting a system that allows for the kind of play he's trying for.

Dairun Cates
2010-08-07, 03:33 PM
Here's the thing. These days, the roleplaying hobby is torn between two poles. On one extreme, you have MMO games. All about the combat, the grind and the raid. Get that loot and level up so you can get more loot and level up some more.

At the other extreme we have the LARP. Or at least the US version of the LARP. In Europe, LARPing is as much about dressing up and hitting each other with rubber swords as it is about "subtle and sophisticated roleplay."

The kind of LARP that's the big influence on certain types of RPGs is the kind that's basically improvised performance. Be it a WoD or L5R or any of a dozen other games that emphasize character over action. "It's all about the narrative" and "narrative, narrative, narrative" could be the key phrases for this approach.

That is honestly such a gross oversimplification as to almost be just flat-out offensive. It's like saying that D&D is basically just about sitting around a table and pretending to be Gandalf, Aragorn, and Frodo and that's it.

As for the rest of your post and "protecting" yourselves from MMO gamers and World of Darkness nerds, I think you're mistaking correlation with causality. MMO's and LARPing didn't bring optimizers and heavy roleplayers to gaming. Check out early Knights of the Dinner Table comics. There's references to these kinds of players YEARS before society took its first foray into either. If anything, those kinds of players exist because of D&D and similar tabletop games and not the other way around.

Also, what you're describing is actually an academic study on the desire between ludology (a love of game mechanics) and narratology (a love of roleplaying and narrative). Some people throw in simulationists around this board too, but most published academics on the topic put that on the spectrum as nearing ludology. It's not something that's unique to tabletop gaming and it's not something that was brought over. It's an inherent psychology in game players and how people choose to enjoy entertainment. MMOs and LARPs didn't infect your game with these players, they've ALWAYS been there.

EDIT: Also, before you compare your hobby to the greatest thing since sliced bread, you should actually try other things. Especially one's that were actually SPAWNED from your hobby of choice. They're not pale imitations, they're just something new (much like books, radio, and TV).

The Big Dice
2010-08-07, 07:17 PM
That is honestly such a gross oversimplification as to almost be just flat-out offensive. It's like saying that D&D is basically just about sitting around a table and pretending to be Gandalf, Aragorn, and Frodo and that's it.

As for the rest of your post and "protecting" yourselves from MMO gamers and World of Darkness nerds, I think you're mistaking correlation with causality. MMO's and LARPing didn't bring optimizers and heavy roleplayers to gaming. Check out early Knights of the Dinner Table comics. There's references to these kinds of players YEARS before society took its first foray into either. If anything, those kinds of players exist because of D&D and similar tabletop games and not the other way around.
I guess you skipped the bit where I said that all styles of play are equally valid. Then again, I remember when Pools of Radiance was going to kill off tabletop gaming. And then there was Magic, and then World of Warcrack. And it's fairly obvious that none of them did kill things off.

However, a guy called Mark Rein-Hagen did have a huge polarising influence on roleplaying. Before he came on the scene, you had RPGs and that was that. Some had different focuses from others, but Mr Rein-Hagen was the person who popularised the conceits of storytelling, roleplaying as performance art and encouraged people to break the wall between player and GM.

You can agree or disagree as much as you like about what style of gaming you prefer. But without Mark Rein-Hagen, you wouldn't have anything to argue about. Without White Wolf, there would simply be 'roleplayers' of various types. Without the elitism that polarised groups inevitably feel.


Also, what you're describing is actually an academic study on the desire between ludology (a love of game mechanics) and narratology (a love of roleplaying and narrative). Some people throw in simulationists around this board too, but most published academics on the topic put that on the spectrum as nearing ludology. It's not something that's unique to tabletop gaming and it's not something that was brought over. It's an inherent psychology in game players and how people choose to enjoy entertainment. MMOs and LARPs didn't infect your game with these players, they've ALWAYS been there.
If you'd actually read my previous post, you'd realise that what I said was the tabletop hobby gave rise to both LARP and MMO style gaming, and now plays second fiddle to both. In many ways being split between the two extremes. The truth being that most players fall somewhere in the middle.

As for ludology vs narratology, applying studies based on video gaming totabletop roleplaying is a flawed undertaking. Especially as tabletop gaming is the root source of several concepts on both sides of the ludology/narratology division. Ideas like characters that increase in power during play and resource management are both found in pre home computer roleplaying games.


Also, before you compare your hobby to the greatest thing since sliced bread, you should actually try other things. Especially one's that were actually SPAWNED from your hobby of choice. They're not pale imitations, they're just something new (much like books, radio, and TV).
You mean things like LARP (both cosplay and rubber sword play), MMO, solo CRPGs, JRPGs, PBP, chat based RP (moderated and unmoderated, freeform and with rules system both as player and GM) and various other aspects of the gaming hobby, not limited to but including miniatures wargaming in both fantasy and science fiction settings?

I've been doing this for 26 years now and I think I've got a fairly good idea of what I like and what I don't like.

Milskidasith
2010-08-07, 07:19 PM
Isn't GNS generally considered a gross oversimplification in and of itself, Dairun?

Dairun Cates
2010-08-07, 08:23 PM
Isn't GNS generally considered a gross oversimplification in and of itself, Dairun?

Yeah. It is. Like I said, GNS is actually typical of forum discussion, and the actual academic papers only use it as a theorhetical example. The typical attitudes we're seeing (heavy gameplay and roleplaying) do fit in there.


I guess you skipped the bit where I said that all styles of play are equally valid. Then again, I remember when Pools of Radiance was going to kill off tabletop gaming. And then there was Magic, and then World of Warcrack. And it's fairly obvious that none of them did kill things off.

You actually said they were equally valid to each other and then said roleplaying was a better medium.




If you'd actually read my previous post, you'd realise that what I said was the tabletop hobby gave rise to both LARP and MMO style gaming, and now plays second fiddle to both. In many ways being split between the two extremes. The truth being that most players fall somewhere in the middle.

I did read the entire post. You may think you insinuated it, but you actually said nothing of the sort. You just talked about how both were feeding into modern roleplaying sensibilities.

The Big Dice
2010-08-07, 08:36 PM
You actually said they were equally valid to each other and then said roleplaying was a better medium.
Roleplaying as a medium is a different debate in and of itself. Much as I hate to quote mysef, what I said was "And neither style of play is inherently better than the other.

But the thing is, as tabletop roleplayers, we're unable to defend ourselves, either from the MMO, use an acronym and optimise as best you can crowd. And we're equally unable to defend ourselves from the LARPing, talk up a storm and never break character no matter what extreme."

And if you cruise a few roleplaying forums, that pretty much sums up the split in tabletop roleplaying schools of thought. Which, oddly enough, isn't the subject of any academic studies. For the most part, academia thinks roleplay is a therapy or training tool. At least when it's not in the context of video gaming, which is where the money, and therefore the study is.

25 years ago the story might have been different, but the fact is that tabletop roleplaying is now in the same category as tabletop wargaming: it got left behind by the rest of the gaming world, even though it still has dedicated adherents.


I did read the entire post. You may think you insinuated it, but you actually said nothing of the sort. You just talked about how both were feeding into modern roleplaying sensibilities.
What part of stating that a hobby is unable to defend itself from the people who are puling it apart is insinuation?

Leolo
2010-08-08, 01:27 PM
I do not like self - restricting on combat roles because it also restrict the game experience. Yes - having a 4E party with only one role is not a perfect group constellation.

And in every system there will be situations where you miss something in your group. Even in storytelling campaigns without rules there will be missing group roles from time to time.

It is part of the game. And it is fun to do something outside of stereotypes.

arrowhen
2010-08-08, 03:59 PM
After all, you don't want people to stereotype you for YOUR hobbies, but in the same paragraph, you mention that you hesitate to mention your hobby to people under 25 because of a genuinely unfair stereotype.

I don't hesitate to mention my hobby to young people because of a stereotype, I hesitate because of my direct personal experience over the last couple of years with young people who conformed exactly to the modern "gamer geek" stereotype and were genuinely confused to find that I didn't.

And my hesitating to talk to them isn't any kind of value judgment against them. People are free to like whatever they want to like. My hesitation is just that -- me hesitating as I try to decide if I really want to get into another conversation where my side of it is comprised mainly of phrases like: "No, sorry, I don't watch anime", "Nah, I haven't read any comics since Sandman", or, "Actually, I don't even own a game console anymore." And I really don't ever again find myself struggling to come up with a polite answer to the question, "Are you sure you're really a gamer?"

I should note that the problem seems at least partly geographical. When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I saw a huge amount of diversity in the RPG players I encountered -- I'm talking lawyers, bikers, teachers, ironworkers, dudes in punk rock bands, windsurfers, semi-professional skateboarders, a phone sex operator, and Gods know what else. Playing RPGs might have been an obscure hobby, but it was still just a hobby, no different from gardening, fantasy football, or watercolor painting.

Here in the South, on the other hand, they take their identity politics seriously. As far as I can tell, folks here don't just pick up hobbies, they make lifestyle choices and face enormous social pressure to conform to the rigid boundaries of that chosen lifestyle.


And I guess that's my problem. It's not that you refuse to use the term. It's that you'd SCORN someone else for using it. It's really not befitting of some of the good attitudes of the people inside the hobby to exclude and scorn people on such petty things.


I dunno, maybe I've been using overly harsh wording. I'm coming down with a cold, so maybe that's making me sound more grumpy than I mean to. I wouldn't scorn anyone for using MMO terms at the D&D table, it's just... OK, my girlfriend and I are hockey fans. While the two of us might find it useful to use hockey terms to discuss D&D concepts, it wouldn't be useful for us to do so in a group situation unless we knew that the whole group were also hockey fans. All I'm saying is don't assume that my being a D&D player also makes me an MMO player and I won't assume that your being a D&D player also makes you a hockey fan. Either case is an unwarranted assumption, and those aren't usually good ideas.

arrowhen
2010-08-08, 04:30 PM
However, a guy called Mark Rein-Hagen did have a huge polarising influence on roleplaying. Before he came on the scene, you had RPGs and that was that. Some had different focuses from others, but Mr Rein-Hagen was the person who popularised the conceits of storytelling, roleplaying as performance art and encouraged people to break the wall between player and GM.

You can agree or disagree as much as you like about what style of gaming you prefer. But without Mark Rein-Hagen, you wouldn't have anything to argue about. Without White Wolf, there would simply be 'roleplayers' of various types. Without the elitism that polarised groups inevitably feel.

Long before the World of Darkeness games came out there were endless arguments about "roleplaying vs. rollplaying", "hack and slash" vs "story", "my group is awesome because we have 200 pages of house rules to make everything more realistic" vs. "my group is awesome because we played for three whole sessions without rolling a single die!" and so on.

I'd argue that any polarization wasn't so much a result of the WoD games themselves, but of the WoD games coming out at a time when people were starting to use the internet and having conversations about gaming with players who weren't a part of their local gaming culture.

Before the internet, most people's exposure to different playstyles was limited to their own group, a handful of other local groups (if they lived in an area that had enough players to support multiple gaming groups), and the endless arguments in the letters column of Dragon magazine. When players started going online and talking to people around the world, they got to find out how other people all over the world were playing and often the answer was "completely differently".

The WoD games might have provided a convenient rallying point for people who preferred a more "story oriented" playstyle, but they didn't create that preference. (Nor, for that matter, did they do much to provide that playstyle. Sure, they had long introductions that said "This game is totally different from D&D. It's all about telling a story, man!" but once you flipped past the preachy introduction and the long sections of overwrought fanfic, you still had a 100 pages of rules about things like burst vs full auto weapons fire and the like. Don't get me wrong, I played the heck out of those games back in the day, but they were never anywhere near as revolutionary as they claimed to be.)

The Big Dice
2010-08-09, 04:48 PM
The WoD games might have provided a convenient rallying point for people who preferred a more "story oriented" playstyle, but they didn't create that preference. (Nor, for that matter, did they do much to provide that playstyle. Sure, they had long introductions that said "This game is totally different from D&D. It's all about telling a story, man!" but once you flipped past the preachy introduction and the long sections of overwrought fanfic, you still had a 100 pages of rules about things like burst vs full auto weapons fire and the like. Don't get me wrong, I played the heck out of those games back in the day, but they were never anywhere near as revolutionary as they claimed to be.)
I'd say the appearance of OWoD games, along with the elitism they brought, combined with the fact that the internet was gaining massively in popularity at the time, was a huge factor in making what you could call the ropleplaying divinde ino somehting real rather than something on a letters page.

Personally, I always found games like WoD, Ars Magica and so on to be quite emo and more than a little pompous. Especially as I was moving from Cyberpunk to GURPS at around the time they were becoming popular. Story was something that I always felt grew naturally from the nature of the roleplaying game, not someting that had to be preached and prattled on about.

Now it seems like there's a split between the market leader, which it could be argued is a game, but not a roleplaying game, and everything else in the marketplace. Though I am very fond of the idea that a game system is simply the vehicle, it's up to the people using it to decide where it goes.

Endarire
2010-08-10, 07:04 PM
In combat, there are 3 roles:

-Damage Dealer. You deplete enemy HP, grant them negative levels, or inflict instant 'death' effects. A Damage Dealer has some overlap with a Damage Mitigator, especially if the Damage Dealer can reliably inflict 'deadly damage,' or enough to kill foes outright.

-Damage Mitigator. You control the battlefield, bolster allies, and hinder enemies to reduce the amount of damage and status effects your team absorbs..

-Damage Recovery. Replenish hit points and remove status ailments.

Out of combat, there are 3 main roles:

-Socialite. You convince certain beings to do things they normally would not, and usually things that are in your favor. Sometimes, Socialites also handle information gathering. Socialites are often undervalued and may feel useless if the campaign isn't social-heavy.

-Minesweeper. You ensure traps don't hurt the group as much. Often, groups without a minesweeper will encounter (almost) no traps.

-Santa Claus. You make items. Usually, you make them for the party at a significant discount. Your value depends greatly on the amount of resources you save your party and your item selection.

Milskidasith
2010-08-10, 08:06 PM
In combat, there are 3 roles:

-Damage Dealer. You deplete enemy HP, grant them negative levels, or inflict instant 'death' effects. A Damage Dealer has some overlap with a Damage Mitigator, especially if the Damage Dealer can reliably inflict 'deadly damage,' or enough to kill foes outright.

-Damage Mitigator. You control the battlefield, bolster allies, and hinder enemies to reduce the amount of damage and status effects your team absorbs..

-Damage Recovery. Replenish hit points and remove status ailments.

Out of combat, there are 3 main roles:

-Socialite. You convince certain beings to do things they normally would not, and usually things that are in your favor. Sometimes, Socialites also handle information gathering. Socialites are often undervalued and may feel useless if the campaign isn't social-heavy.

-Minesweeper. You ensure traps don't hurt the group as much. Often, groups without a minesweeper will encounter (almost) no traps.

-Santa Claus. You make items. Usually, you make them for the party at a significant discount. Your value depends greatly on the amount of resources you save your party and your item selection.

These are incredibly broad generalizations that don't even hold true, especially because "damage recovery" is a purely out of combat role (in D&D, anyway) unless you are woefully underoptimized/playing a healer, or you have a way to burn an action to remove a bunch of save or suck status effects from your allies. Even further, the roles aren't even really separate; a damage dealer is going to be, if they're doing their job right, also hitting the allies with save or sucks, damage mitigators probably have ways to hit enemies, crafters can check for traps, talkative people can craft, etc, etc.

More generally, I'd say the roles are these:

Competent for the job at hand: They can do something relevant to the situation.

Not competent for the job at hand: They can either do nothing relevant to the situation, or their contribution is at such cost that it would be better for the group that they didn't (e.g. a fighter who would get killed going up in melee, but deal 10 damage to the creature, may be capable of contributing damage, but it wouldn't be good for the group for him to do so).

That's really as narrowly as you can define them, and even then there are fuzzy areas.

Icewraith
2010-08-10, 08:37 PM
I'd say those generalizations, while technically true, are too broad to have any meaning.

"Sucks" and "Doesn't suck" aren't exactly exclusive to... anything really.

I lol'ed at Santa Claus though.

Milskidasith
2010-08-10, 09:51 PM
I'd say those generalizations, while technically true, are too broad to have any meaning.

"Sucks" and "Doesn't suck" aren't exactly exclusive to... anything really.

I lol'ed at Santa Claus though.

That's the exact point I'm making. His generalizations are still to vague to reasonably distinguish classes, but also manage to have too much room between each other. There just isn't any clear cut distinction in 3.5 where you can say "he deals damage, he uses crowd control, he is a healbot" unless all of your PCs are really focused on one thing (and in the case of the healbot, focused on one sub-optimal thing).

arrowhen
2010-08-11, 01:36 AM
I'd say the appearance of OWoD games, along with the elitism they brought, combined with the fact that the internet was gaining massively in popularity at the time, was a huge factor in making what you could call the ropleplaying divinde ino somehting real rather than something on a letters page.

In my experience, elitism was present in the hobby long before WoD came out. "Basic is a children's game; real men play Advanced!" "D&D is antiquated and unrealistic -- it doesn't even have rules for how fast you can dig holes! GURPS is far superior." "You're still playing in Greyhawk? <i>Real</i> roleplayers are creative enough to make their ownsettings!" And on, and on, and on...

And when WoD came out, the only "roleplaying divide" I saw was among internet fanboys -- and the occasional hardcore Vampire LARPer who'd sneer at any game that involved sitting around and rolling dice, but even those were rare. In my local gaming culture, at least, just about every WoD player I knew had a shelf full of D&D books too, and I knew a lot of groups who'd alternate between their WoD campaigns and their AD&D campaigns. WoD might have been a bit more popular among them, but that was just because it was the hot new system in town... and because you could sometimes get cute girls to play with you, which just wasn't happening with AD&D ;)

The Big Dice
2010-08-11, 01:02 PM
In my experience, elitism was present in the hobby long before WoD came out. "Basic is a children's game; real men play Advanced!" "D&D is antiquated and unrealistic -- it doesn't even have rules for how fast you can dig holes! GURPS is far superior." "You're still playing in Greyhawk? <i>Real</i> roleplayers are creative enough to make their ownsettings!" And on, and on, and on...

Before WoD, any divisions were purely among players, not publishers and writers. The people making the games were writing the kind of things they wanted to play and letting the players decide how they were going to play them. Yes there were debates and arguments (I still say Shadowrun isn't a good cyberpunk game because it's tainted with magic and other fantasy elements :smalltongue: ) but for the most part, the designers stayed out of these.

After White Wolf made their mark on things, the situation changed. Suddenly, games had to be "about something" and certain writers brought a highly pretentious style to published RPGs.

It went from "real roleplayers do X!" to "real roleplaying games are about acting and theatricality and exploring the subconcious of a fictional character." When in the real world, people were going "How hard is it to rip the door off the car and eat the girl inside?"

And worst of all, for a while RPGs started being all about the metaplot. So if you didn't play the right card game, or missed buying a particular supplement, or simply went off on your own tangent with your PCs as the stars of the show, later products became less and less useful to you.