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Reference System vs. Free Roleplay

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource' started by JaMojo, Mar 4, 2014.

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System vs. Free Roleplay?

System 5 vote(s) 33.3%
Free 10 vote(s) 66.7%
Moderators: Penguinator, Ramza
  1. JaMojo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2014
    star 1
    So, I've read some parts of a few RP's on here and I noticed that they didn't really seem to follow a System (d20, d6, other).

    I think that a system is much better than free roleplaying for many reasons. First and foremost, combat is actually relevant. I think that without a system, the GM just arbitrarily decides whether your blaster shot hits the enemy or not. I saw a conversation on another website about how a non-Force User would defeat a Force User and the answer was, "Just role-play through it". If I'm at all creative, I could just make up crap that would allow me to win. It's completely unfair, "I Force Push you into the wall and you die." With a system, it's not arbitrary who wins, it's fair. The same applies to other fights even if you arn'e against another player. Combat doesn't seem fun when you know the GM is deciding whether or not you are going to win because you will always win or the GM doesn't have a story anymore. You take damage because the GM is trying to keep it "fair" but it isn't. Your character skills aren't defined and it's easy to "roleplay" through something. You convince someone of something in game because you, as a player, are good at writing or explaining things, not because your character is good at it.

    I realize that a GM still has to keep the party alive with a system, but combat and using skills is more rewarding. You succeeded at doing something (hacking a computer, shooting someone in the head, etc.) because your character is actually good at that, not because the GM likes you. It minimizes the metagaming and easily over powered characters. It takes more effort for the GM, but I think it's what makes a GM good.

    Best game game I ever played in was so good because the DM was an absolute master of the system he was using.

    What do you guys think? Can you prove to me that I'm wrong?
  2. Heavy Isotope Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 2013
    star 3
    I suppose you'd have to blend the two, free is more for creating narrative where system is for actual gameplay. In a player v player face off, the system form should surely and most fairly decide the winner, but in Player v environment battles a narrative (free) form should be allowed and up to the GM's discretion if they are 'godmoding.' So for PvP a system is best if you record, set up, and take into account the actual skills of the characters and not the writing of the player. In the case of Player v DM (the GM/DM playing the part of a critical villain or hero) then it should also be left to a system unless the GM has it specifically in mind that the character should fail or succeed.

    A good DM/GM can make any either work masterfully, I favor free narrative over leaving it just to chance and stats. But I concede that in dealing with player conflicts that a system is necessary.
  3. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    Well, who makes the stats of your opponent in a system? The DM, is it? So he decides what your chances are and then leaves you with the illusion of "chance" by letting you roll against an opponent who has an 80% chance of loosing against you anyway. Or he puts up a 60% against you villain and if you beat him anyway, he simply sends in the next one. He can design them to counter all your strength and exploit your weaknesses or . . . not. You got weak armor, then this guy has strong damage and you will loose when his first blow comes through. What does it help you you have a sixty percent chance of winning each round? At some point he wins one and you are a goner.

    So . . .whoever guides a game by system or not . . . if he has any clue what he is doing, he decides about the outcome of battles. Which is good. It helps telling stories.

    But I agree, . . . keeping players alive takes the suspense out of a game. Which is why I never was a fan of keeping any player alive :p

    As always my completely subjective opinion.
  4. Mitth_Fisto Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 6
    Very insightful. I like the points you make here Fins, and I can attest to your not showing favoritism in game :p

    I know that dice games can be fun from my limited one time stint here on the temp boards when Saint opened a second game. It has a bit of a steep learning curve as well. Now I think that here probably beyond encounters being dice driven a blend could be a fun way to go, but ultimately it comes down to a good GM / DM and whether or not they allow your characters to die. Something I actually left a game once for was I had a padawan attack a lartie that was trying to shoot him down as well as four troopers already on the roof. I didn't die, I left the game telling the GM to kill me off. Now had I won by the luck of the dice? I would of stayed, because I knew it could by chance kill me off whilst cleaning my lightsaber. So for me, I like both, but would have to go with Free with a good GM, although I would be more than glad to play a dice game here.
  5. greyjedi125 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2002
    star 5
    I've enjoyed both forms of RP to a great degree and I won't get into extensive reasons, such as Final fantasy, World of Warcraft, Vampire The Masquerade, Star Wars, D&D and Traveler, just to name a few. AS many stated both have advantages and disadvantages, but ,my love remains with D6 systems and D20. Simply because of the social aspect. Nothing beats having friends come over for a good 4-6 hrs of battle mayhem, murder mystery, political intrigue or simple in-game socialization. It's a kind of magic that cannot be replicated online ( though they are coming closer as the folks in D20 have shown). So my vote goes to any GM who knows his system and knows how to manage a fair and balanced game. The sounds of Hans Zimmer while going into a dungeon, or battle or...you name it! Priceless...!

    It's a matter of preference. Both are exemplary!

    [face_peace]
    Last edited by greyjedi125, Mar 4, 2014
  6. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    That isn't how opinions work. :p

    I'm really fine with either, both approaches have their strengths, weaknesses, and assorted complications. A good GM can emphasize the first, downplay the second, and smooth over the third. Certainly I think there's a sort of tactile thrill involved in dice based combat, but combat is not the end-all-be-all of a roleplaying game. I don't understand the skill complaint at all because, frankly, any GM who allows a player to succeed at something their character should not in any way, shape, or form be able to pull off, or permits a player to write a character that can conceivably handle any possible problem, isn't doing their job. There's nothing unique to die rolls that prevents that.

    Also, in regards to a specific point:
    I disagree.
    [IMG]
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  7. greyjedi125 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2002
    star 5
    LOL@Ramza! ( you just reminded me of an awesome pic I need to find involving GMing, death and Ch'thulu) LOL!! *brb gonna hunt it down!

    EDIT:
    Found it. Please forgive the expletives.


    Language Warning

    (Mod edit if necessary.)
    Last edited by Ramza, Mar 4, 2014
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  8. greyjedi125 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2002
    star 5
  9. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    I think it also depends on how you got into roleplaying. From the responses here, it looks like a good many people have had experience of D6 and D20 dice games, and had fun with them.

    I encountered free form roleplaying on these Boards long before I ever encountered games where the GM's introduction involves the sort of stats setup recognisable to dice players, and frankly, I've picked up a SW novel in Munchen in Germany, and had an easier time coping with the foreign (to me) language, compared to dice stuff.

    JaMojo, your world is like Kryptonite to me. :p

    Great pics, Guys!
    Last edited by Sith-I-5, Mar 4, 2014
  10. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Hooooookaaaaay.

    This'll probably turn out a long reflection in some ways, which is perhaps not inappropriate since once Tide of Flames is done, I'm also done with the RPF and with the boards full stop - RL has other plans for me.

    I'm one of the exceptions to the norm here because ToF is D&D 3.5 with some houserules, which I DMed with a lot of help from a guy named @LightWarden who is around here somewhere. Off and on the campaign has been running for over six years, which includes Light carrying the can for three long months when I dropped out due to personal issues of the time. At the risk of schooling, I'd say I picked up a few insights on playing in systems versus playing in freeform, which is the norm here. Here's what I guess would be the most germane, more from a DM's perspective with some applicability for a player.

    (1) It depends hugely on the system you're using.
    (a) ToF's six year duration has as much to do with D&D 3.5's focus on turn-based combat as anything else. The nature of the game means -- even on more rocket-tagging-inclined sites like Giant In The Playground -- battles take a long time to resolve, because you can't just say "Okay, Bob, what do you do?" and get an immediate answer; there can be a delay of minutes to up to a week on a reply. I both am glad and regret that I took a full roster of eight players for the game, mainly because on one hand it gave us a myriad of interesting people to play with but at the same time it exacerbated delay issues during combat in particular, if not more generally where a dice roll was required from everyone playing.

    (b) Admittedly this is as much my fault as the system's own, but D&D itself played around a tabletop is just unwieldy when you get over four players plus a DM. Like I said, taking eight people was prone to exacerbate the issues when you take it into an online forum like this when a conversation is painfully linear. And beyond that, taking eight people was more or less compelling us to heavily redesign encounters.

    (c) D&D 3.5's own design flaws become glaringly apparent on a long play like this. And bear in mind our campaign is nowhere near the upper levels of level 18 or 20 or so. Even around the single digits, action advantage is very difficult to deal with once a party has a clear lead over anything level-appropriate the DM throws at them, particularly when the party is double its normal size. I think a larger party doesn't just double the action advantage available to a party; it quadruples it, especially if the party has White Raven Tactics available, in part because the party can default back to just dogpiling one opponent at a time and the opponent succumbing due to sheer hitpoint damage output. In addition, 3.5 is (or should be) subtitled "Caster Edition", and magic thereby begins to render the entirety of other classes insignificant, even at these levels. Because of all of these factors, as you get to higher and higher levels, an ironic thing happens: combat actually starts to resemble freeform roleplay combat -- in that the outcome is more or less a foregone conclusion from literally the moment the initiative order is established and pretty much requires DM Fiat to inject any randomness in the result. Single round combat resulting in one side getting utterly squashed in the space of six seconds might be the consequence of Great And Powerful Magic, but I don't think it's that much fun. It has no suspense, it injects no dramatic question into the combat of "Will the cleric do enough damage to the hobgoblin to stop him blasting the rest of the party?", it just becomes a mathematical formula, a shrug, and onto the next encounter. D&D 4.0 apparently takes a radically different approach to encounter design, so bear in mind these are criticisms of a particular version of D&D.

    (d) Returning to my premise - it depends on the system. D&D 3.5 is popular mainly because it has massive options for customisation, and it's widespread. There will probably be better systems for onlin forums like this, but I'm not experienced with them. The main takeaway is that you have to carefully consider whether the system you're using is practical to use online, and be careful whether any changes you have to make to that system to get it working online don't make it unwieldy or impractical.

    (2) It depends hugely on your players.
    (a) As a preface, there’s an important insight to understand in relation to all RPGs: the rules of a RPG -- whether freeform or system-based -- are not rules of physics or rules that are meant to conform to any objective picture of reality. They are the terms of a social contract which the players and DM all agree to abide by in order to enjoy themselves. It is no different to a sports game. Take a soccer match: the only reason players don’t run out of bounds after the ball and keep playing on has nothing to do with whether it is possible or impossible to kick a ball outside the white line. The rule exists solely to put a boundary on the game and allow all the players to operate in the closed world of the pitch. In the case of a system-based RPG, to minimise appearances of arbitrariness between the players, there are extensive rules on how encounters will turn out, typically dependent on how specialised a given character is at the given task. This is where you get your satisfaction that a system-based RPG allows you to delineate who’s objectively good at something and who is not – because the rules exist largely for that purpose, setting out in stone the terms of the social contract. Freeform-based RPGs maximise the possibility of arbitrariness between the players in order that encounters should not become a foregone conclusion and so a character may not just be reduced to the sum of his modifiers. But in either case, the useability of the rules, whether freeform or system, depends always and everywhere on the willingness of a player to be aware of and abide by that social contract which the rules create.

    (b) Let’s look at system-based stuff first, and let's be honest. The term "munchkin" exists for a reason, and it's not merely The Wizard of Oz. If virtually any RPG is played using mathematical determinants, there will somewhere be a way to twist those determinants in a player's favour, in a way the DM did not anticipate, in a way the rules did not intend, and in a way so as to put other players on a lower pedestal. If you're DMing this sort of player, and you don't want that sort of play going on in your game, then you really have three choices: either you start the Munchkin Arms Race by throwing vastly overpowered opponents at the munchkin, which is arguably unfair; you kick the player out; or you talk to the player and arrive at a gentleman's agreement that he'll not use the Chain Gating Solars trick despite it being rules-legal. One munchkin can ruin an entire campaign if given sufficient slack and sufficient resources, and if you have to start arbitrary houseruling to hold that player back, it sort of conceptually defeats the purpose of a set of rules to begin with. If you have a player in a system-based RPG who is breaking the game due to rule loopholes, you have the weak position to put that "the rules did not anticipate that, therefore I'm not going to allow that option." It's a weak position, though, because the player can then insist that the game "must” have been "designed" to have that loophole there, and you're at an impasse.

    (c) With freeform, problem players sort of occupy the other end of the same continuum. In freeform RPG there is no lengthy set of criteria to put to the problem player. Freeform roleplay depends wholly on a one-line social contract: that the players will restrain themselves from doing things that do not break the suspension of disbelief required to keep the game going -- for example, the DM blowing up your X Wing under you and you immediately pronouncing you survived it because "I had a field." (Frankly, that approach is just the unsubtle version. More savvy problem players will simply write up a long and beautiful piece of introspection, Force-guided, of course, that he senses the explosion coming ... and turns on his field.) To restrain such a player, you cannot resort to an objective set of criteria for whether the game’s social contract allows that sort of behaviour. You are resting solely on the DM’s subjective judgment in that respect. To make matters more complicated, the arbitrariness of a freeform game can also easily mask that, in the midst of concern for your own character, what seems a reasonable course to you is unreasonable when viewed objectively and thus not actually keeping with the spirit of the game. Or indeed -- as is common, and another reason why freeformers often don't like system-based gaming -- the person will have envisioned a particular character arc which they are determined to play out, and either your ruling against an action or indeed page 47 of the rulebook is getting in the way of that arc. And again, your choices are stark: start targeting the problem player with fiendish schemes to challenge his player; kick him out; or talk to him and arrive at a gentleman’s agreement that no, his forcefield does not allow him to survive suborbital explosions.

    (d) Therefore you have a very neat complementary phenomenon: in freeform games, the problem players are much more likely to be unaware they are breaking the social contract (i.e. being so wrapped up with their character they write him such that it’s impossible to kill him, regardless of the context), with a smaller contingent who deliberately do not abide by that contract (i.e. they write highly implausible modes of survival or evasion). In system-based games, the problem players are deliberately not abiding by the social contract (i.e. the munchkin who knowingly stacks modifiers so as to kill anything that moves) with a very small contingent not being aware of the social contract (which is usually remediable by a quick “Well, page 47 says you can’t do that.”)

    (e) So what the hell do you do?

    (f) Address your system’s weaknesses. For system-based stuff, allow more freeform in matters where it conceivably doesn’t matter (roleplaying Diplomacy, for example); for freeform stuff, lay down the law sternly and accept no argument that your fiat is other than law -- no except. In both cases, you must be reasonable and you must make it known from the start so the players know what they're getting into. And if you’re in either of these worlds as a player, understand the limitations of each one before you go in.

    (3) Roleplaying is about interactions with others. It is not about winning.
    I’ve said this before. This is probably what system-based RP is weakest at, because it strait-laces roleplaying for the sake of objectivity and non-arbitrariness. But it applies in both worlds, because a system-based RP’s rules are there only to deal with contentious transactions; a system-based RP’s rules exist primarily to make the players – not the DM – feel like they’re being dealt with fairly by the social contract entered into. The traditional leeriness of freeformers for system-based RPG springs from a hesitation against being “restricted” in what their characters can do or can’t do, or in stuff being “complicated” or “math based”. But at its core, in either world, the greatest interactions and greatest moments in roleplaying come neither from rolling that natural 20 at the appropriate moment or from the end of a long fanfic, er, internal monologue in which your character changes his mind: roleplaying is a social game, and the best interactions happen between you and your fellow players.

    (4) DMing is ultimately about the presentation of choice. The consequences of those choices are much less important.
    This is partially drawn from the Angry DM, though Robert McKee’s “Story” (itself a modern adaptation of Aristotle’s Poetics) lends some support to the idea. Ultimately, the real dramatic question, the issue that holds an audience to a story, comes from the suspense before the following question is answered: How will the character react to the choice put before them? The problem of railroading arises when the players sense there isn’t a real choice that’s being given to them – that the outcome is the same regardless of which of the choices is taken. This is often a dead story mainly because the main attraction for roleplaying has much more to do with being put in a position to make a real choice that functionally affects how the character’s life turns out. Remember all the Internet memes regarding Mass Effect and how “your choices had a meaningful effect on the story?” That would mainly be because, despite being given a myriad of choices as to whether your team of characters lived or died, at the end of Mass Effect 3 there ultimately wasn’t a real and marked difference. As Neo very, very sagely said: “Choice. The problem is choice.”

    Getting back to RPGing, though: invariably your campaign will wind up as a series of choices for the characters to make. It is far, far better to emphasise the decisionmaking process in your campaigns than the way that decision pans out. For example, the brainstorming session when the players are asked to come up with ways to defend a city. I personally have found those sessions much more interesting than the actual carrying out of the plan.

    You must, of course, honour the decision – and the best way to do that is to try and alter your scenario depending on how the characters handle a matter – but once the decision is made, and your characters are doing things according to that plan which you judge (on the rules or on your own assessment) they aren’t likely to fail at, don’t force the characters to roll constantly about whether they succeed at a task. Just assume they do and move on to the next choice to be made. And bear in mind you don't have to have the characters' choice turn out the way the character thought it would as such: McKee tells us that it's the gap between the expected result of a character's action and the actual result of what takes place that engages us in an audience; it immediately summons our curiosity and our imagination to close the gap involved.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Mar 5, 2014
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  11. SirakRomar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2007
    star 4
    I strongly believe GMing or DMing or whatever you call it is about storytelling. That again is ... simplified ... about producing interesting situations challenging the Hero aka as DRAMA. The question is, what do you need to do so. My very personal impression is combat is the simple and uninteresting form of drama. Look at our consens "masterpieces" around here and you realize their greatest moments did not involve fighting (exceptions exist).

    Therefore I believe strongly that the truly great game needs a truly great story and a GM with an instinct to challenge your character on a personal level and not only his lightsaber skill.

    The best Star Wars example ... which lightsaber fight was ever as intense and thrilling as a great and tragic seduction to the dark side.

    EDIT: And to clearify my point, there is nothing wrong with a System. It is just probably not what will make a game good.
    Last edited by SirakRomar, Mar 5, 2014
  12. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    The thing about treating DMing as storytelling is that, in most cases, it isn't actually storytelling.

    Stories as conventionally told have a beginning, middle, and end, and storytellers conventionally have complete control over the direction of the story and over the characters - indeed complete control and a powerful structure beneath the story itself are essentials for a memorable one. RPGs are perhaps the opposite. Theoretically at least it doesn't matter in the slightest whether you as a DM want to tell a particular story or not, because the players -- whether of their own volition or because "the character demands it" -- are perfectly free to say "Nope, we're not gonna follow that trail of bread crumbs, we're turning around and heading for the nearest tavern to get drunk."

    Generally, of course, the players will either understand without it being said -- or because you'll fess up and admit to them -- that unless they do at least follow the first set of crumbs, you're not prepared for them and you won't be able to take them through the adventure you'd intended on running. But the same phenomenon arises throughout the RPG: the players really have no conceptual compulsion to follow the plot trail and are at liberty to draw all over the walls of your story's universe. That's not really a story. It's a narrative: ultimately, wish fulfilment. It is purely playing in a fictional world, doing things you could not do in the real world.

    More significantly, stories usually have definable protagonists who change in some fundamental way across a story precisely due to the choices and challenges that are put before them by the plot. That pattern, those choices, and those challenges are all set and written by the storyteller. That's not the same thing as what happens in a RPG. The RPG's party might qualify as a plural protagonist in that it suffers together and benefits mutually from the choices made in the story, but in system-based games the character's change is generally only mathematical, and only addresses characterisation -- his outward components, not the internal makeup of the character's personality. In freeform games I'm old enough and with enough chips on my shoulder to assert that most characters don't actually change across their stories - not really. Perhaps some of the characterisation changes - you pick up a scar here or there from your intermittent duels with Darth Implausible on one of Iego's Moons - but I've found it rare indeed that a RPG character actually changes fundamentally across the life of a campaign, be it freeform or system-based. This is partially not the player's fault. For a character to change it requires a structure and a defined arc, and it's damn near impossible for a player to credibly present an arc for his character when he has no idea what the DM is going to throw at him next.

    What I think I'm coming to realise is that what we do in RPG is not really storytelling, but cooperative narrative. It's an enormously fun cooperative narrative, I should add; there's no doubt about that. Roleplaying is (meant to be) inhabiting a character, and we have all done this since we were children, from the moment we put the cowboy hat on or held a tea party with our dolls or hooked up the cat to a generator--

    --Yeah, anyway. The point is, playing those sorts of games is what we're doing here, the difference being that we play the games mostly in the mind and imagination. But even as children we would not confuse playing astronauts and aliens with sitting down to listen to our Mum or Dad tell us a story. It's a very different experience. It's not storytelling per se; it may not even be close to storytelling.

    My thinking's not finished on this, and admittedly some of these ideas are only things I'm realising now, but I think there's something significant in that.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Mar 6, 2014
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  13. SirakRomar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2007
    star 4
    Well, I would disagree Saint, also this depends on the GM ... all freedom Apside a GM should know his heros well enough to predict their options. But even if we assume, that they had complete freedom (and isn't it very very strange how they almost never disturb the narrative) that is a character - ONE character - in a galaxy ruled by the GM and the GM only. RPs are shared narratives, the GM is a storyteller nevertheless - just one with limitations when it comes to the core of the story where an additional storyteller adds his perspective.

    Concerning characters who do not change I can only respectfully - and you know I respect you greatly - disagree completely.

    Games like ManCubs or SotS (yeah I take the argument-by-classic route here, hehe) were actually ABOUT character development. In both games not one character was left unchanged by the events that the GM introduced. It is not necessary for a character to change, but I realize, that a lot of popular games were about character development.
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  14. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    I actually believe how much you tell your story or provide a background for the player to tell his . . . is personal taste and style.

    I agree with Sirak on character development, though. We had quite a few characters here - especially long running ones - which went through a lot of development. We have great characters who never change, too. I always perceived character development as a desire of my players, though. They always seemed to jump at the chance when presented to them.
  15. JaMojo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2014
    star 1
    I think that is the best single line in this thread so far. Saintheart, I think you make a great point about the social contract between a GM/DM and players being the system or not if freeplay. Also, the point about presentation of choice is great advice for any GM.

    I'm about to start a campaign that I hope will go on for a long time and the 3 character sheets I have so far (out of 4 players) are combat oriented characters. This is where choosing to use a system or not depends on your players. I think it it much more rewarding for my players to have a system to run combat through because then it truly matters how the build their characters and they enjoy that. The reason they enjoy this is because of their background in roleplaying, I have other friends who prefer no system, but also wouldn't make a character quite as combat oriented. In this case, the system isn't what makes it great, the story is, but it does make it more enjoyable to play for these players.

    In regards to the characters not changing, I think that is the GM's fault. I'm sure we've all played games where there were players who didn't change much from the beginning to the end, but I think it's because they didn't have anywhere to go except forward in the campaign. Their only motivation was to reach the next section, or just have more fun playing. As a GM, I think it's important to make your players give their characters personal goals before the campaign even starts. If your backstory is that you got kicked from your home world in disgrace, maybe you have a goal of finding redemption with them at some point. That gives your players motivation to do something other than just focus on the story of the campaign and makes them care about their characters. For players who aren't focused on their character's development, offer rewards for completing personal character goals.
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  16. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    I don't think GMs need to set personal goals for players. Just letting them have the freedom to do so, and time to do so, should achieve the same thing.
  17. Space_Wolf Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2007
    star 3
    I can't answer on the pros from the free roleplay side, because I've never played a game like that. It has either been DnD, Pathfinder or Wizard of the Coast's Star Wars RP game.

    I find I like the idea of a system better than free RP because it gives me a framework when it comes to creating characters and going through combat. When I look at characters that are in free from games, I see that people tend to come up with similar characters all the time (and sometimes, the back story can go into Mary-Sue/Gary Stu territory because someone always tries to make their character more powerful than everyone elses. I was going to take part in a free form Star Wars game once, until someone wanted to use a character with Sith abilities, gave her a ridiculous back story where she was somehow connected to all the major Sith since Darth Bane (or something like that) and was like a zillion years old. (This was daft, because it was a Rebellion era game that we were planning). In the end, the game never even started because no one wanted to play a game with her character in it, but because the forum was small, no one wanted to play the game because the character was rejected. A game is supposed to be fun, but you can't really start out with a character that is perfect in every way and becomes the star. (Save it for badly written fan fic, if people must create characters like that).

    I like system rps because they give you a framework to base characters on and govern the outcome of the game. It makes it more random. Even a character that does have special powers can make mistakes that causes them to fail and I think this is more likely to be achieved with with a dice roll, and it balances the game out. The only problem I can see with playing a system game online is setting things up so that dice can be used, and that people have their own copy of the handbook so that they can choose the type of character they want to play, what equipment and spells, etc, that they want the character to have.
  18. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    Something like this is not a "failing" of freeform. The GM or DM gets to run the YES/NO triage in relation to the game they plan on running.

    Is the fact that this being is a zillion years old going to break my game? Y/N

    Also, just because a character's background features something, that does not mean that they are allowed to get away with everything they want. Sure, you can have this Sith in your family tree, but as long as it doesn't manifest itself as anything more than your top saying "I'm related to Darth Bane, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt", then we haven't got a problem. But I'm not having any truck with Force Hallucinations.
  19. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Me neither, it would probably get terrible gas mileage.
    Last edited by Ramza, Mar 12, 2014
  20. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
  21. SirakRomar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2007
    star 4
    I don't know ... the major point against system around here is ... it is slow. Sometimes ridicilous and unbearable slow. Suspensewise what works great at a table is simply broken when it comes to playing in forums. If that issue can be overcome, it really is a matter of taste.

    Anyway the example above is not a freeform problem. It is a GM problem. Bad characters happen, GMs job not to approve them.
  22. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 6
    I'd amend that to "bad characters happen, it's the player's job to prevent that," because really, all characters begin with equal storytelling potential.

    As to the system-based vs. open debate...it's apples and oranges. Most "games" around here aren't really "games," are they? They're co-operative and collaborative written narratives. System-based games are no less narratives, but they're conducted and created in very different ways, and everything is quantifiable and beholden to number. They're both massively appealing to me for very different reasons.
    Saintheart and Heavy Isotope like this.
Moderators: Penguinator, Ramza