How do I even play forum D&D??

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Offline furryoldlobster

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How do I even play forum D&D??
« on: April 24, 2016, 08:43:15 PM »
Here I will provide information on how to play Dungeons&Dragons: Claytonia Ed., as well as do's, don'ts, general suggestions, and FAQs.   

So you've go character, you're sitting at your keyboard, and you're ready to play.   

... what? 

Well this version of D&D isn't quite the tabletop version.   Its been modified to be more approachable and streamline to play better on forums.   In a way it is group storytelling.   The Dungeon Master (DM) offers a situation.   The players react to the situation and attempt actions.   Depending on their abilities (and how well they roll the infamous d20), players will succeed or fail to varying degrees, ranging from heroic to hilarious.   Participants are encouraged to give description, characters thoughts, and dialogue in order to expand the story and create a more in-depth avatar.  The DM will take this information to further the story and thicken the plot. 

Although the DM has a general idea of what should happen in the campaign, he cannot control the players.   If someones wants to attempt to assassinate a Non Player Character (NPC), he or she can attempt to do so.   Don't expect the DM to stand idly by though.  The DM can and will react to any situation.   

D&D, like quite a few role playing games, relies on dice.   The majority of time will be spent rolling a twenty sided die (or d20).  Everytime your character attempts just about anything short of talking, roll.   Need to do a spot check to look around the immediate area? Roll a d20.  Trying to climb a tree?  Roll that d20.  Trying to hit an enemy?  Roll that d20.   Depending on your roll, your stats & bonuses, gear, and luck, the GM will measure how successful you are.   The in game play would look something like this:

Elle attempts to climb the tree to get a better vantage point

Climb Tree

Lets say Elle rolls a 17.   This would be plenty high enough to climb a tree.  If the roll is lower (like 3-5) she would most likely be unsuccessfy.

The same applies to combat.   Before you even damage an enemy, you need to attempt to land a hit on the enemy.  Lets say Elle wants to hit the tree with her 1d4 blade  Roll d20 to hit.

Elle swings her blade at the tree:


Elle needs to roll a certain number (or above) to land a damaging hit to the tree.  If she does hit, then she will do 1d4 damage.

I will now offer some tips for anyone hoping to participate in role playing games:

Do stuff

Job One for you as a player is to do stuff; you should be thinking, at all times – “What are my goals? And what can I do to achieve them?” You are the stars of a very personal universe, and you are not going to get anywhere by sitting on your arse and waiting for adventure to come and knock on your door.
Investigate stuff. Ask questions. Follow leads. No-one needs you to point out that this is an obvious plot thread while you do it. Mix up scenes, talk to people, get up in their grill. If you’re not playing the sort of character that would do such a thing, find something you can affect, and affect it.
If you keep finding yourself pushed to the back of scenes and twiddling your thumbs – why is such a boring character hanging around with the sort of people that Get Shit Done?
Be active, not passive.

Realize that your character does not exist outside of the things you have said.

You can write as many pages of backstory as you like, mate, but they don’t factor in one bit to the game unless you show them happening. Are you a shrewd businessman? Cool. Do some business, shrewdly, in front of everyone else. Are you a hot jazz saxophonist? Play the saxophone. Are you a wild elf struggling through social interactions with civilized people? Struggle through those interactions! Don’t go off and sit in a tree, you slouch!
This ties back into the first point, really; you only exist through your actions. It is not the responsibility of other players to read your backstory, and their characters cannot read minds. Well. Some of them can, but you know what I mean. They shouldn’t have to.
So display your talents, your traits, your weaknesses, your connections. Take every opportunity to show, and not tell, the other people at the table what your character is about.

Don’t try to stop things

Negating another player’s actions is fairly useless play; it takes two possible story-changing elements and whacks them against each other so hard that neither of them works. For example, your fighter wants to punch some jerk, but your monk’s against it, so he grabs the fighter’s hand. In game terms, nothing’s happened. All you’ve done is waste time, and we don’t have infinite supplies of that.
Instead, go with the flow. Build. If the fighter wants to break someone’s nose, what happens after that? Does your monk rush to help the jerk up? To admonish the fighter? To apologize to the jerk’s friends, before shit really kicks off? To save the fighter in the big brawl that ensues, even though he was going against your will? Or to throw the biggest guy in the tavern right at him, to really teach him a lesson? Those are all examples of interesting stories. Stopping him from doing anything whatsoever isn’t.
Don’t negate, extrapolate. (See, that rhymes, so it’s easier to remember)

Take full control of your character

“My character wouldn’t do that” is a boring excuse, a massive NO to the game’s story on a fundamental level. It’s a point-blank refusal to participate.
Instead of being bound by pre-conceived notions of what your character would and would not do, embrace complications and do it, but try to work out why. Why is your Rogue doing this mission for the church? Does he have ulterior motives? Is it out of a sense of companionship with the rest of the party? Characters in uncomfortable situations are the meat and drink of drama.
(Do you remember that great story about that hobbit who told Gandalf to fuck off, and sat at home picking his hairy toes all day before his entire village was swallowed up by the armies of darkness? No. No you bloody don’t. So put on your backpack and get out there, Frodo)
If you keep finding yourself having to explain your actions, or not wanting to go along with group decisions because of your character’s motives… well, sweetheart, maybe your character’s motives are wrong. They’re not written in stone. The group’s the thing, not your snowflake character, and if they’re not working, drop them off at the next village and maybe try playing someone more open to new ideas. Maybe work with the group to build a character that fits in.
Your character is part of the story; this is not your character’s story.

Don’t harm other players

Oh ho, here’s a jolly thief that nicks stuff from the other party members! And their Sleight of Hand roll is so high that no-one will ever notice! Gosh, what a jape.
Fuck that guy. No-one likes that guy.  If you steal from other players, you are exerting power over them in a really messy, underhanded sort of way. If they find out, what are they going to do? Are you going to force them to escalate? Is it fair if they kill you for it? Is that fun for them?
Similarly, attacking other players is awful, too.  I am hard-pressed to think of a way where such a thing improves the game; if your group is fine with it, discuss it beforehand.
There are a whole load of things out there to steal from and beat up and kill that won’t get offended when you do it to them, so go bother them first.

If you make someone uncomfortable, apologize and talk to them about it.

I have a rule in my games, and that rule is: “Nothing fucks anything else.” Simple. Clean. Elegant. No sexual conduct; it’s weird, often. I’ve had seduction attempts, obviously, and that’s fine. I’ve had characters deeply affected by rape. I’ve even had someone negotiate time with a skin-thief alien to reanimate a cat for the purposes of sexual pleasure as part of a heist. But, and this is the crucial thing here, nothing fucked anything else “onscreen.” And if you’re thinking, “Ha ha, okay then, but is fisting all right?” then get out my game, sunshine.
And that’s the point; in situations like the ones we find ourselves in on a weekly basis, it’s easy to make people feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s as blatant as discussing dead babies or bestiality; maybe it’s something much more benign, like being rude or chatting them up in-character.
If you think you might have upset someone, then ask ’em, quietly. And if you have, apologize, and stop talking about that particular thing. It’s not rocket science; that’s how existing as a functioning social human being works, and somehow because we’re pretending to be a halfling for a bit, we often forget how to do it.
So, you know, be nice. Be extra nice. No-one’s going to think any less of you for it.

Be a Storyteller

The World of Darkness books call their GM a Storyteller, because they are very obviously unable to call a spade a spade. But they have a point; a GM is telling stories. It’s easy to forget that the players are doing that too.
So put some effort in, eh? Say some words. Develop a character voice and stance. Describe your actions. Work out a level of agency with the GM so you can chip into wider descriptions, or just make assumptions and describe it and see if it sticks. A good GM should go with what you’re saying, anyway, unless it really goes against their plan.
Similarly, brevity = soul of wit, and all that. A good GM doesn’t monologue, or have their NPCs have long discussions, or make players sit back and watch while their world plays out. So know when to shut up, and to keep your descriptions short – unless you’re an incredible storyteller, of course. But short and punchy is always better than long and flowery.

Embrace failure

Failure can be embarrassing. I know that I get pretty heated up when the dice don’t favor me – when I’ve spent ages waiting to have my turn in a large game, say, or when I’m using some special power, or when I’ve been talking a big talk for a while or described some fancy action – and I use some pretty bad language, too. And not “fun” bad language, like we all do when we’re gaming. Like threatening “is this guy okay” bad.
And that’s not cool. I need to learn to treat failure as a story branch, not a block. Why did I miss? Why didn’t my intimidation roll work? Why didn’t I pick the lock? Why was I seen? Who worked out that I’m the traitor? What other options can I explore?
Some systems build this in by default – Apocalypse World, for example – and they give you the ability to somehow affect the world whenever you roll the dice, not just fail to affect someone’s Hit Points. That’s great! We need to get ourselves into that mindset by default. We need to view failures as setbacks and explain why our character didn’t achieve their goal, and we need to understand that failure is not the end of the world.

Play the game

This is a game. This is not a challenge that exists solely in the head of your GM. This is not your character’s personal story arc. This is not your blog. This is not an excuse to chat up one of the other players.  This is a game.
We have signed up to play a game together. We are all telling a story with each other, to each other, and the story comes first. Step back from the heat of combat; step back from your character’s difficult relationship with their half-Drow mother; step back from the way that the Paladin’s player keeps stealing your dice.
This is a game. Respect the other players. Respect the story, and act in service of it. Respect that you will not always get your way, and that not getting your way can be interesting.
Do what is best for the game. Do what is best for the story. Be active! Be positive! Be interesting! Change things! If you can’t walk away at the end of the night with a good memory, with something that you could talk about in the pub in years to come, then everyone at the table has failed.

*there is more to come in a bit*
« Last Edit: April 27, 2016, 11:34:43 PM by furryoldlobster »
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Offline Tslat

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Re: How do I even play forum D&D??
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2016, 09:37:45 PM »
Well written
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