November 19, 2009

Roleplaying or not?

Filed under: Concepts — anteolsson @ 21:16
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

lately I have had thoughts and discussions around roleplaying in a roleplaying game and I have had the chance to test some of these thoughts in a recent game of Sventh. I have also had some discussions about rules and what role the player should have towards the rules, this as well I have tested in a recent gaming sesseion.

The discussions were about how much any rules actually add to the game experience for the player. Is it fine for the player to look up the character sheet each time he wants to act? Is it fine to just stick to the rules as a player? For some it probably is but I think for most it will probably be more fun to do whatever feels right to do or whatever comes to mind. For example in a combat sistuation, should the player only use special attacks and the like that are listed on his character sheet or should the player be able to do whatever he see fits without it being included in the character sheet or in the rules? If he should, then should he cunsult the game master or any rules if he does not understand fully what a special attack does or how it works?

I think the above questions has been answered for me in the last days and after the last game, and the conclusions are the following:

1. A player should never ask the game master about the rules.
2. The player should never ask the game master if he can or cannot do certain things.
3. The player should avoid deciding actions via looking at the character sheet, the character sheet should only be consulted. An example of that is: The player walks on a straight dungeon hallway but in the end of that hallway there is a big hole in the floor that is deep enough to not go into to. The hole stretches for about two meters where the floor starts again. Here the player should not look at the character sheet to see if his character can jump or has a special ability that makes him able to jump, because of course he can jump. The player should instead face the situation and then creatively deal with it. How can he get over the hole? Is there anything in the vicinity, a wooden plank, a bench? If not, then maybe decide to jump over. So the player states the action of jumping over the hole. The game master then decides what abilities that the player should include in the role and he comes to the conclusion that the player will probably use his Strength and Agility to jump and then he asks the player if he wants to run and then jump or just jump.  The player says he will run and jump if he wants to be safe or he decides to jump from a static position if he wants to show off how well he can jump. When the reasoning has come to a decision the game master notifies the player that he needs to roll 1d10 and then add his Strength, Agility and his Movement Speed to the result.
4. Anything is possible to do as a player, it is up to the game master to decide how the rules should be utilized in any action.
5. The game master is the one who should know the rules.

Discussing all these thoughts about playing a role playing game eventually leads to the actual Role Playing. The line between just playing the game and role playing the game is very blurry. One could argue that the character classes and special abilities of the character that the player is playing must be honored because that is what the character you are playing knows, the character does not know what you as a player knows. Just as this is a valid argument you can stretch it and say that just as I am able to reason about what I can do, so can the character I am playing do as well. A mage might not be very good at doing round house kicks while jumping from a table but none the less he can at least try. And as it is the Game Master who should decides what dice needs to be rolled and what abilities that counts as modifiers he should see that physical abilities as Agility and Strength should be included but also the characters experience of doing flying kicks in the air, and/or the characters expierience of close combat fighting in general. A mage is typically not well versed in any of these things so the risk is big that he will fail with the flying round house kick and maybe even fall prone to the ground while doing so. Nonetheless, if a mage attempts to do this I am sure it will be amemorable moment and lots of fun and that is the most important.

If you have read this far then you will learn what has changed in the rules of the game Seventh.

1. Every character starts with the most fundamental things that builds up any character. These fundamental things are divided into Physical Abilities, Mental Abilities, Senses and Adventuring Skills.

Physical Abilities:

Mental Abilities:
Intelligence (Reason)

Physical Feeling
Remote Feeling (Clairvoyance)

Adventuring Skills:

2. When you create a new character all your fundamental statistics starts at a value of 0(zero). Zero reprecents the average abilities values the human race (or whatever fantasy race you like) has. If you want to customize you character you need to lower one Ability in order to increase another Ability. So for example if you want to have a very intelligent character you need to lower one or many of the other abilities.
This not only puts your character in the shoes of a non-hero but also makes it possible for you to create a character has Character. I mean, if you lower many abilities in order to increase one or two very high, you have automatically created a character that is very specialized and depending on how you interpret what it means to, for example, be really weak (low Strength) but be very determined and driven (high Will) you will have some interesting fights.

3. Character classes, or Adventuring Professions as I almost rather call it, will remain, and will be updated, but your character does not start with knowing a Profession. Instead the character needs to learn a specific profession via adventuring. A mage could probably learn the mage profession from studies and at mage universities and whatever comes to mind. There are million ways in getting to know a prefession.

4. A guideline to if you want to role play the character you are playing is to interpret your Ability Scores to start with. These values tells you a lot if you get to know what each Ability stands for. Later on you can also interpret the Classes your character have in order to see what your character would do. The world view your character has can be any world view, but good role playing most probably keeps this world view consistent for the character.


That is all for now. Thanks for reading




  1. Interesting read!
    I my mind, this brings up another interesting question (not necessarily related to Seventh) about role playing games without any (player-) statistics *at all*. Would that be feasible? I think this question is the extreme version of rule 5 (“The game master is the one who should know the rules”).

    Comment by Jäns — November 19, 2009 @ 21:34 | Reply

  2. I think that is possible yes. But you will have to keep everything about the role you are playing in your memory and it gets difficult to share it. I am sure even professional actors keep some kind of character sheet with them just so they get a good feel of who they are playing.
    So the game master can either ask the player to make all Rolls without modifiers or the game master asks if how Agile or much experience the player character has with horses, for example, and then make up the dice roll as it goes. But I think this would be difficult and become very inconsistent, but on the other side it might be good memory training.

    Comment by anteolsson — November 20, 2009 @ 08:20 | Reply

    • Hmm, and if you have a small paper stating what your character is about (but without any statistics), I guess we’re down to Risus with its clichés.

      Comment by Jäns — November 20, 2009 @ 16:41 | Reply

  3. I guess that’s right. I can sense a distinctive difference between playing Risus and Seventh and I guess that is a good thing as it shows that they serve different purposes for playing a game.

    Comment by anteolsson — November 22, 2009 @ 10:40 | Reply

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