Encourage Role-Playing?

Role-playing is a hobby and it is a hobby that can be played in numerous ways.  I like role-playing a character more than rolling the dice for a character because that allows me to escape into a different perspective and a different world.  But it is also true that role-playing was born from tactical tabletop gaming heavily involved in dice rolling.  Some of those players came across too because they wanted the battle to be part of a greater story but they much prefer the rolling of dice.  So where do I have the right to encourage them to role play?  They get their enjoyment from a different facet of the same game.

dice in pedagogy of teaching programming
Dice, dice, dice, dice – everyone loves dice

I read a blog today that has a great idea in it about tying the experience (XP) system of his game to a set of “deed” cards in an effort to encourage the type of play that he wants in his game.  The players get dealt a hand of cards and they complete the deeds on it to gain experience.  A really neat idea and I like it a lot.  But at the same time that I am looking at the highlights of these cards I am also considering the way that this pushes out those people who don’t like the role-playing side of things.  In every game that I play I have someone that prefers the mechanics of the game to the role-playing (except possibly the 13th Age game I am in) and I feel enforcing a system such as this to encourage what I want from a game is a bad move.  I would lose players.

I once had a DM when I was playing 2nd Edition AD&D who decided to make XP all about Role Playing.  There would be fights and treasure and all the normal stuff but he awarded us our XP on the basis on how we played the character.  He was atrociously tight with experience BUT that said he never put a proviso on what he meant.  There was no review at the end where he said good or bad role playing and the idea was there for all of us to play by so in this style he encouraged us to get into our characters without stipulating precisely what “good role-playing” actually looked like.  I know for sure that this would make a lot of people shudder but it worked.

I agree that I should be able to try to encourage role-playing in the game but it needs to be done in a broad style rather than assigning things that are specific to a set deed.  Maybe if the cards could offer up some tasks that enhanced the role-playing as opposed to the idea of a specific deed.  I am not sure what the answer is here and I would be interested to find out if you would include this style of tool in your game.  The blog can be found here and is written by Brad Wylie!  Download the deck and let him know what you think!  Keep rolling…

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