Friday, August 28, 2009

Storytelling/Acting Roleplaying and D&D

What is Storytelling? What is acting in the realm of Roleplaying games? Why is it that I'm so hung up on 4th edition?

4th edition is a rework of 1st Edition and a lot of people have taken a liking to it. A lot of people do not feel that it is really D&D. Even myself haven't bought the books and learned the new set of rules beyond character generation (and a lot of the mystique and the magic is lost). The old D&D is over, much of the gambling chance has given over to choosing "cewl" superpowers and customizing your character.

In the OLD DAYS when I had D&D Basic, you created your character by rolling dice. 3 six sided dice to be exact. You created your character, defined his role, and then played him in the scenario according to your role. In the NEW DAYS, a character that is created with dice, randomly created, is unacceptable in the RPGA's living campaigns.

Plus, you don't tell your people what your role is, you just tell them what kind of role you serve in combat in an RPGA scenario. From my point of view, D&D has devolved into a sport. You play your role, you have fun. What happened to roleplaying in D&D?

For me, it's all about the story. 2e provided a way for the story to be followed. AD&D 2nd Edition had lots of options for character generation and optimization for a storyteller/actor game. You actually acted your role in a second edition game. And the DM would tell sweeping stories, most of the time with combat involved. You had character development in 2e. "Cewl" superpowers aren't at all important. After all, campaigns ranged from Crusader Europe to homebrews. Even wierd campaigns, like Eberron, could have worked out in 2e.

Can you roleplay in 4th Edition? Yes. But I'd like to see more options supporting storytellers/actors in 4th edition. More accomodations, more of the fun. More of the mysterious. Points of light? BAH! Commandos with superpowers who go hog wild only seeking to defeat the monsters in a scenario? Not for me thanks.

I want my character to grow and develop. When I play, I want to take on the role of my character, whether he is Cymbeline, MacBeth, Robin of Locksley, or Richard the First. I want to play underpowered characters when appropriate, and godlike characters when I choose. Give me the options to play the roles of a lifetime. Whether it is a craven noble who takes all the credit, even when his companions drag him into a dungeon (I actually did create a noble in D&D 4e, I just DIDN'T want to play by the rules. Because, frankly, D&D 4e character creation rules suck sparrow eggs and howl at the moon!).

Okay, that's my new rant.

NEXT: The New 4th Edition,
What would I change to create options for storytelling fun.


greywulf said...

I thought pretty much the same - right up to the point where I actually sat down and played it :D

I think the main problem is that (unlike the DMG) the Player's Handbook isn't a well written book at all - it over-emphasises combat above anything else with comparatively few direct references to such things as "role-playing" or "storytelling" at all. That's a shame as all you need to be able to craft a great tale is there - a solid skill system, great character options and no such thing as a "bad" character choice. In many ways it's a much better system than Third Edition, especially when it comes to modifying the rules to best suit your own ideas.

One of these days I'll set up an online game of 4e D&D just to show how it *should* be done. Want to take part? :D

Elton said...

As long as you let me play the character I want to play and not make me play a character like all the Power Gamers would try to convince me to play.

You should see my threads on Wizards of the Coast's forums. First they try to convince me to play 4th, then they try to convince me NOT to play 4th. People at Wizards of the Coast are strange, strange, strange!

greywulf said...

Sure! Tell me what character you'd like and I'll help you build it. 4e's character generation is surprisingly flexible.

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