Sunday, June 14, 2009

more musings

Just as an update to my last post, it was revealed to me during my Online DND campaign with the Fancy Bastards ( that there are over 30 race choices and more than 15 classes in 4.0 dnd.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On Roleplaying Stereotypes

I've been playing RPGs on the computer and console for many years, but only playing paper and pencil dungeons and dragons for oh maybe 6. Its been only recently, the past few campaigns or so, including those played at college where I've taken a more active interest in Roleplaying my character.

In the first campaign I ever dilligently roleplayed for the Dungeon Master asked me if I had rp'd before because I was pretty good at it (the dm was a big RP game runner, World of darkness and other such white wolf games). I honestly had not, but I replied, "I have a very good fantasy/sci-fi background which I use to build a characters personality"

now why would I start off this post about RP stereotypes whith such a story? Well it relates to an almost constant argument I have with a friend of mine down here that i play DND with almost every week. Since 4th edition DnD has come out, we've bickerd back and forth about the removal, reversal, and other such changes to the classic archetypes many of us learned the game with.

I personally dont take issue with the game mechanics changes. Hasbro/Wizards is trying to take a brand with bad connotations and a small player base and bring it to the mainstream. And to to that they've done things such as, remove negatives stat bonuses from character races, introduced more varied races and classes, and made precedent for almost any wacky/inane combination you can think of all in the name of increasing the player base by "upping the fun" As I said, this doesn't bother me. What does bother me is that such mechanics allow for people to go against what I will call the RP Stereotypes.

What is an RP stereotype by my definition? Its an idea, an archetype, widely held, usually inspired by fantasy writing or older versions of rpgs. Example: All drow can assumed to be evil. All undead can be assumed to be evil. Orcs are dumb, Elves are frail. And nowaday's new players dont have that sort of indoctrination into such archetypes, primarily because they aren't included in the game mechanics. All player races have no negative stat bonuses, so you have no idea what a races weakness is. There is an epic destiny (read, prestige class) where you become a lich (specifically an archlich) so as you may fight evil for eternity. I use that example specifically because I have a major problem with it. The process of becoming a lich is a process by which a wizard of the day would shed their humanity, literally and figuratively.

To rant about another problem I have in this vein, there are so many new wild and crazy character races, they just aren't feasible. The idea by my understanding is that the character races are supposed to be common enough that those cultures can raise "heros." Humans, elves dwarves, all make sense, but shifters, genasi, devas, and goliaths? They just dont fit into my (now admittedly antiquated) world view.

Dont get me wrong now friends, I'm not angry enough to stop playing. Its just that it kinda rubs me the wrong way. In the effort to essentially make more money, the publishers are contradicting the source material, going against the established narrative.

These are just my jumbled thoughts.