Smarty Pants Players

Smarty Pants Players - Board, Card, RPG Reviews - Posted: 16th Feb, 2010 - 8:08am

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31st Jan, 2010 - 12:51am / Post ID: #

Smarty Pants Players

Haven't been here for a long time but thought I'd drop in ask this since I usually get some worthwhile replies. Basically we had a live session of gaming a couple o weeks ago. One guy created a character with low intelligence but he played the character like he was a wiz and what got to me is the dungeon master didn't say or do anything to stop that. For me its like playing a weak body character and attempting to lift up everything heavy. I didn't want to say anything to start a fight but how would you guys have handled that?



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31st Jan, 2010 - 1:06pm / Post ID: #

Players Pants Smarty

I've posted in various places on some variation of this topic. I personally feel intelligence and analytical or strategic or just knowledge and abstract skills in general, are a constant question mark in roleplaying games.

I can be a personally physically weak player but have a high strength character, but even if I try to play him as Superman, his stats and dice rolls will likely put a quick end to that. There is no real way to argue that - if your Str is 3 out of 20, there's little room for argument, as Str and other similar and somewhat blatant and concrete aspects of a person, usually physical, are pretty obvious, to anyone. Endurance and Agility or Speed can be measured or estimated or classified, though it might take some effort and trials and stuff, to the point you could fairly accurately map what CON 14 means, in real world terms, because it's objective and empirical. A player who is very strong himself, but has a low Str character might feel constrained when his character keeps failing his rolls, but he also can't argue much - Str 3 is Str 3.

Intelligence, Memory, Deduction, Wisdom, Willpower and related skills such as Forensics, Invention, Science, Archaeology and similar things present a particularly sticky wicket. The typical happening is that players will bring in their real world knowledge, sometimes known as metagaming, either to intentionally sabotage or sidestep an in-game obstacle, or just because they consider their idea common sense, and usually the players' contribution is just general or so broadly applicable that the character could be familiar with such things. In this way, regardless of attribute stat or skill score, because of player knowledge of Ancient Laplander Horticulture or military experience in exactly how fast someone can break down or assemble a particular rifle, how far they go, how heavy they are, etc. Then they are able to circumvent or "skate" on some problems that should be at least unlikely to be easily solved by the PCs, yet thanks to "player intervention", the day is saved.

Players who are NOT as well versed in the things their characters are, are at a disadvantage, because though they may have Engineering 19, if the player themselves don't know how to apply it, then it's like they don't have it - the player cannot necessarily be blamed or expected to be able to know anything about engineering, not enough to come up with appropriate uses or applications of the character's skill - yet the people who DO know such things, AND have similarly skilled characters, are REALLY potent, and easily tend to outshine other players and characters, sometimes unfairly.

The funny thing, in a way, this very factor is THE Damoclesian consideration - it's a ROLEPLAYING game, so you are very much expected to play a role of someone who is not you, usually with different skills, abilities and knowledge, as that is the very point - it is essentially being an improv actor, without a script. At the same time, it is this aspect that allows us to develop these qualities, and become encouraged and inspired and evolve some of these things in which we have deficits, and the skills and stats which are superior to our own personal ones allow us to obtain the OTHER side of roleplaying, which is ESCAPISM, being someone else, with other properties, and being able to feel a sense of accomplishment when our 19 Int Wizard casts Fireball and takes out 5 orcs, which obviously we can't do - I don't know what ingredients or words or hand motions would be needed for that, but it's "coded" into the game and just "happens" because that's the virtue of the RPG and the type of character I chose.

And I feel this applies equally for social attributes and skills, and I've always had problems with most games' handling of these aspects. I may not be very good at Bartering, or Fast Talk or even Seduction, but if my character has it at high levels, it should be fairly academic as long as my make my rolls, right? Wrong, because I STILL have to come up with at least basic scenarios, quips, topics, approaches and conversation, in order to get the GM to apply my stats. Some people simply aren't up to or even ABLE to rise to that challenge; I know, as someone who has social issues - maybe I'd like to play a Don Juan type, but I really wouldn't know how in real life, yet I'm expected to exhibit this knowledge in game?

And alternately, if I know all kinds of things about computers, and a scene comes up where computer knowledge is required, but my character doesn't have HAVE a related skill, what do I do? I know the group needs this, it may even be vital or required, and nobody else may be able to make their rolls, if they have any - where does my responsibility lie? Do I break the Fourth Wall and start geeking out about tracing the ground wire and setting the jumpers on the hard drive and making sure the memory is seated? That would definitely work, and might even give me a special situational roll because the GM was impressed with my attempt or solution, even though I had no appropriate skill, usually because my idea was creative, and I AM "playing a role", even though it is technically not the one the character is considered to include.

Or do I stay clammed up and shrug apologetically and say "Sorry guys, my character's a dog trainer, he doesn't even have a PC"? and then the base blows up and we all die and the evil space gods take over the world? But generally, I'll just instinctively bring to bear what I know, from whatever source, because that's just how we think - we're presented with a situation or problem, and we rack our brains for some way to solve it, and come up with plans - whether or not our character has any such faculty to know such things is mostly irrelevant.

LARPs are an interesting example of some of these problems, and though I hate to be stereotypical, I think the quintessential situation is the player who isn't very good socially, or very generally physically attractive, but they have a character with a top notch score in those areas, and if they make their rolls or however that LARP resolves things, they can influence, charm or seduce an NPC or even another player/character - that player/character then has to act as though that person actually DOES possess these qualities and their actions DID succeed... I could tell even before I read the horror stories that this type of thing can easily lead to some very uncomfortable situations.

So in the post above, the player playing his musclebound mouth-breather like Sherlock Holmes is a tight rope to walk - I'd hope the GM would rein that in and say "Come on man, you know Og the Barabarian would have no concept of advanced military tactics or ancient Sumerian" or "You talk a good game but your character's Charisma of 6 says differently and you stumble over your words", no matter how compelling the player's effort, because he is supposed to be roleplaying his specific documented character, not just "a role" which can be whatever you want.

But as I said, we play games for entertainment, escapism and fun, so it is hard to harshly deny someone success or an impressive demonstration, because we are supposed to look and feel like heroes, people out of the ordinary, doing things most other people just can't match - and yet, if there are players feeling left out that just aren't getting to participate, either from bad rolls, lack of personal ability, or being overshadowed by more active, experienced players, it can quickly become NOT fun for them.

If I'm not having fun - why play? And I tend to look at it as the RPG truism that has developed: No gaming is better than bad gaming.



16th Feb, 2010 - 8:08am / Post ID: #

Smarty Pants Players Reviews RPG & Card Board

This is something I think most serious players come into contact with almost every time their characters have to make a decision or solve a puzzle. If you look threw literature and movies you will find even the dumbest heros seem to come up with solutions to problems. Mainly because the reason that character has common sense in that area can be made up.

Like if you are playing a dumb fighter but know as a person that a grease spell would be most effective. You can make it up that the dumb fighter knows this because it makes sense to him in battle tactics. If you know the answer to a puzzle that the others are struggling with and don't want to go out of character, you could reason that something in your players past makes him know the answer, or drop hints to the other players.

I know this type of person, they are always pointing out faults in logic of others yet always have some reason for their strange logic. Best thing to do is try and ignore it. If you let it get to you the game will stop being as fun. Or you could bring your confusion as to why the person is playing their character this way to the table. Ask them to come up with a good reason as to why they are playing the character like that in a certain situation. Force them to come up with an answer this way but in as friendly a way as possible. It may just add more depth to their character and possibly an inside joke or two. Possibly say something to the GM alone after the game.

In essence I don't think there is much you can do about this sort of thing without causing a scene. Just try and have fun with it and remember it's a game.

JPatt I have noticed that a dumb grin on a certain person makes people look down on them. However when a good looking person or charismatic person has that same grin it is considered cute. What I mean to say is even if you are not versed in seduction, a player with high charisma doesn't have to be. The person will make excuses as to why he or she are compromising their standards for the other person.

Rather off topic, but...
It's funny I see this played out like 20 times a day at least, it's a pretty sick human trait.


Also If you have a high engineering skill as a PC but no training in real life in that area, I feel the GM should make up a solution for you if the roll is high enough. Meaning no one really needs to know all the little parts of it. However if you roll a 20 it just works. The GM could say something like, "You tinker with the machine and all the pices fall into place." This way no one needs to know if the fan belt is hooked up the the accelerator module or whatever, it just works.

Then of course in life sometimes you just get lucky. Some call it fate others call it, luck. When even though you have no real idea what you are doing you seem to be drawn down a certain path and succeed easily. As gamers we all know that there are many variables that go into every action.





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