GMs, why do you think your Players play TTRPGs instead of MMORPGs?

thaen
thaen

GMs, why do you think your Players play TTRPGs instead of MMORPGs?

What do you as a GM deliver that they can't get in the MMORPGs?

Obsidian Portal Developer

«1

Comments

  • twiggyleaf
    twiggyleaf
    Posts: 1,901

    I think the most obvious thing is human contact - not just from the GM perspective, but the whole social interaction that you get round a table.  Even, when playing ONLINE in this way, one tends to know the people you are playing with quite well.  

    Of course, I speak as someone who mainly enjoys playing at a physical table, and as someone who has never really seriously taken part in any MMORGP.  However, as a player, I would always prefer there to be a real human adjucator as GM.  Perhaps I am just "OLD SKOOL".  I can't help it.  I like the flexibility offered to the game by the presence of a good human GM.

     

    "I met a traveller from an antique land....."

    CotM May 2016: Mysteria: set in Wolfgang Baur’s MIDGARD.

    Previous CotM Aug 2012: Shimring: High Level Multiplanar Campaign

    Inner Council Member

  • Frak_Lou_Elmo
    Frak_Lou_Elmo
    Posts: 170

    I havent played MMORPG's since the first expansion of WoW, but being commercial games I feel they tend to be designed to make people play more for loot, power upgrades and action, and keep you coming back for that stuff. There's very little actual roleplay. Even if you get a roleplay heavy group of friends together you are limited to NPC's which are pre programmed.

    with a TTRPG you have a human in charge of the story, which makes it much more realistic in terms of how players interact with a world, even if you play over discord or similar. I haven't played on an actual physical table for 4 years now, only over the web, but still just hangnig with friends and seeing their faces as they roleplay seems infinately more fun than listen to them shout raid instructions at each other while watching some avatars jump around my screen. 

     

     

     



    twitter: @Frak_Lou_Elmo

  • ragnarhawk
    Posts: 145

    As @Frak_Lou_Elmo said, the limits of preprogrammed responses are certainly a strong contributing factor in my head, although I did very much enjoy my time playing City of Heroes, I was sometimes frustrated by the limited options that I had for dealing with some situations/NPCs

  • Keryth987
    Keryth987
    Posts: 992

    My players play both.

    We've played TTRPGS as a group since the 90s.

    We have a guild in Wow that is named after the adventuring group from that very first campaign and is one of the older guilds on our server, even though it is mostly us now as none of us really does the endgame grind ting.

    We've also played or play SWTOR, Champions, STO, D&D Online, Neverwinter, and amny others

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    Wow, those are some good answers.

    Sounds like the main differentiator between TTRPG and MMORPG is some version of "flexibility", not "pre-programmed", and not "limited options".  Meaning that TTRPGs allow for creative or surprising solutions that often come about through roleplay (or maybe just a wild unexpected combat maneuver involving barrels of highly alcoholic dwarven spirits and a flaming throwing axe)?

    As a GM, what are some examples or ways to lean into this ability of TTRPGs?  Do you have any checklists or rules of thumb that you use to keep this door open or to hint to the Players that they might try something creative?  Or do you give out spells and items that have odd abilities that can be combined in interesting ways?  Other ideas?

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • Keryth987
    Keryth987
    Posts: 992

    @Thaen You should keep in mind that most MMO's have thriving RPG communities who make their own stories. WOW and SWTOR, for example, bith have them, and I do NOT mean ERP

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    @Keryth987, could you elaborate?  I'm not sure I'm getting what you're trying to point out.  (Ha!  I had to google ERP ... interesting.)

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • Keryth987
    Keryth987
    Posts: 992

    Easier to simply point you HERE

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    @Keryth987, thanks for that!  That guide is pretty long, so I read the first few pages, and I think I got the gist.  It sounds like on WoW you can indeed role-play and there are other players that create backstories and act out storylines that you can interact with.  So if your Players can get their role-play fix on MMORPGs, why do your Players play TTRPGs and not just stick to MMORPGs?  (I'm trying to tease out what makes TTRPGs attractive ... why it is that Players want to play TTRPGs?  And then try to lean into making that reason even better and more consistently present.)

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • Keryth987
    Keryth987
    Posts: 992

    Well, for my group, its the social interaction. The IN PERSON social interaction. None of us really LIKED having to use Roll20 during the lockdown and actually felt it took something AWAY from our game.

  • Abersade
    Abersade
    Posts: 279

    "Shiny rocks go click clack."

    To actually answer your inquiry though, the level of dynamicism available when a game has a human "at the wheel" far exceeds what is available in any MMO at this time. Things get a bit trickier to answer when one considers roleplay groups who play together in MMOs who have a dedicated storyteller/GM, there I would think that it boils down to what is most familiar and comfortable for the group in question. Meaning, if a group of roleplaying friends already play WoW together they may decide to try actually roleplaying using that format because the system itself is familiar. As the group grows and more players are added they would join because of their presense already in said MMO, they wouldn't be likely to purchase the game just for the express purpose of roleplayiing I wouldn't think.

    I know for a fact my oldest kid basically has a roleplaying group in WoW that he runs as a storyteller while using the game engine as the system, ref: https://crimsondominion.obsidianportal.com/. While he likes TTRPGs the group all already own/subscribe to WoW.

     

  • Abersade
    Abersade
    Posts: 279

    Personally I would find running a game in an MMO in this fashion far too limiting, mainly because I couldn't adjust anything engine-wise. I think it would work great though if everyone just wanted to roleplay as the heroes of Azeroth or something, what better way to picture the setting than to actually be in it after all.

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    Ha!  I had to google "shiny rocks ...".  Apparently, I'm a meme dunce.

    @Abersade, that's really interesting about your son's Campaign!  Just so I understand, from the Homepage of his Campaign:

    "Right in the right eye * (Accidentally attacked a Black Dragon, threatening to kill the party, he now looms outside the town)"

    Is there actually a Black Dragon in the game?  Can the Characters actually kill it?  If they do, does it respawn?  Do the RPing Characters then just ignore the respawned Black Dragon as if it's not there and the quest is completed?

     

    @twiggyleaf, @Frak_Lou_Elmo, @ragnarhawk, @Abersade,

    "Dynamicism", "flexibility", not "pre-programmed", and not "limited options" all sound like the same quality to me.  (Anyone feel free to disagree if that doesn't sound right to you.)

    As a GM, what are some examples or ways to lean into this ability of TTRPGs?  Do you have any checklists or rules of thumb that you use to keep this door open or to hint to the Players that they might try something creative?  Or do you give out spells and items that have odd abilities that can be combined in interesting ways?  Other ideas?

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • weasel0
    weasel0
    Posts: 433

    For me, and possibly most others, it's about the direct human contact.  More specifically with friends. Often it's not even about the game being played(though I do personally get bothered if the generic hanging out overtakes whatever the activity is, ttrpg, board game, cards, whatever). The taking of 8 hours to do something that probably should have been done in 2 because 3/4 or the table is hanging out instead of really playing is a pet peeve of mine. We're all friends and hanging out is sweet....but... we chose a reason to hang out and I kinda wanna do that thing.(don't invite me to go bowling if once we pay and change our shoes no one is gonna take their turn to bowl but just sit and chat.)

     I've never sat at a rando table that didn't have a friend invite me to, that wasn't filled with other friends of theirs or also myself. (Partly due to never having attended a con where that's pretty much the whole point(funds reasons mostly)). I'm sure there are a great many people who have become friends with a lfgs rando pickup group or at least some of the table members but my work schedule and limited free time don't avail me to seeking them out so I rely on friends and invites. Plus they'll know if I'll fit with the established group before they invite me. 

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    @weasel0, are you saying that in an MMORPG you don't get direct human contact even when playing the game with a group of friends?  Have you ever played a TTRPG over Skype or other video chat?

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • Abersade
    Abersade
    Posts: 279

    @Thaen

    I can't speak for the specifics regarding my son's game as I'm not part of it. That said, there are a number of dragons in the game that line up with several (Red, Bronze, Green, Black, and several others that could serve as stand ins) of the dragon species in D&D so it's entirely possible that he's using in-game instance bosses as NPCs, just working through the dialogue as a storyteller/GM would prior to getting close enough to aggro the boss.

  • weasel0
    weasel0
    Posts: 433

    @thaen 

    MMORPG- by definition, unless you're in a lan lab no, and even then, it's still the screen you're interfacing with. Don't get me wrong, it's fun but it isn't the same as face to face.

    Joined WoW just after battle grounds was added and stopped just after the lich king was added. Played at ff11 for several years.

     

    I haven't tried vid chat for ttrpg though have tried e-table tops but the games always fizzeled. Either will work, but it isn't the same and I don't think anyone would argue it is.

  • ragnarhawk
    Posts: 145

    Actually, I prefer the virtual table tops.  The travel time to get to in-person games often caused delays and disruptions, and those are significantly minimized when you are playing virtually.  Admittedly, I am a bit of a hermit, but I have rarely enjoyed playing in person more than playing in a VTT.

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    Ha!  weasel0, I'm glad ragnarhawk said it first because I'm the same.

    No travel there, no travel back, no clean up, and all my snacks and books right where I know to find them?  Sold!  : ) 

    I find the actual VTTs a bit cumbersome, and prefer "theater of the mind" combat, but for me playing over Skype is definitely better than playing "in person".

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    I'm surprised there haven't been any replies on the question of "ways to lean into this ability of TTRPGs".  Does that mean it seems like a dead-end question not worth considering?  Or that ready answers aren't coming to mind?  Or that it's buried in this post and I should create a new post just for that question?  : )

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • Abersade
    Abersade
    Posts: 279

    @Thaen

    I guess I'm not really understanding the question. I'll take a crack at answering what I think you are asking at any rate.

    When I played AD&D the system was limited enough that on-the-fly adjudication of actions that weren't spelled out explicitly in the rules came up pretty frequently and was usually resolved with an ability score check or two. Interestingly I think the fact that the system wasn't as rule heavy as say D&D 3.5 actually contributed to players taking more creative actions and risks.

    In 3.5 it feels like there's pretty much a rule for everything, and I think that may be one of the potential failure points for the system overall. I love me some structure, don't get me wrong, but D&D 3.5 is a bit much in that regard. Please note, I say that while also openly stating that 3.5 is my D&D edition of choice, sunk-cost and all that rot.

    My main point: If you want to REALLY lean into the TTRPG realm's ability to actively embrace and celebrate player creativity you need a game system that encourages creative thinking. My suggestion on that front would be to check out the old WoD Mage: The Ascension magic system, because holy crap could that system be twisted to fit just about any idea possible. The Paradox spirit aspect of it truly forced the players to think about what they were doing and how.

  • Abersade
    Abersade
    Posts: 279 edited February 17

    Heck, I'd almost argue the point that as a primarily combat focused system D&D editions prior to 5 might even discourage creative solutions due to a perceived lack of efficiency. Why try to drop barrels of burning pitch when a fireball scroll will do? Players who think of creative ways to solve problems may not even suggest them if they can't think of an in-game way to make them work thanks to what my group refers to as "D&D Physics": the clashing of D&D rules and how we humans generally understand physics to work.

    Maybe 5 is like that too, I don't know. I've heard that strides have been taken to more actively encourage roleplaying as opposed to just murder-hoboing but I don't have enough experience with that edition to say.

    Post edited by Abersade on
  • weasel0
    weasel0
    Posts: 433

    It also depends greatly  on the type of people on the group. My peeps were all about the big bonus numbers to attack and damage in one way or another. Because no one im wants to be the useless person and laying the smack down is always satisfying. 

    Having a bunch of traditionally anti-social/awkward people attempting to roleplay situational things doesn't always lend itself to the most successful of attempts. And no one wants look stupid so there then lends an over reliance on single social skills(dnd anyway) of diplomacy or intimidation because that's all there is whereas battle has scores and scores of options.

    I believe if people want to the traditionally awkward or simply the number crunchers to get more into the social flow, why not design just as in-depth methods/rules for social encounters.

    Older versions of dnd and many OSRs have them. Dancing techniques, a dozen types of knowledge arenas, a variety of speaking skills; diplomacy, intimidation, oration, debate, and others. 

    Combat has dozens of options of melee weapons and ranged weapons, mundane and magical offensive and defensive options. Feats, tricks, abilities, and other enhancements and customizations. 

     

    Many, even most game systems do basically nothing to facilitate role ideas or interactions. And when they do, they get derided and too crunchy or rules heavy. But I'll be damned about the screwball and illogical ways I've seen people attempt to figure out how to do social interactions without the aforementioned rules guidance. 

     

    But I seem to have gone fully rant mode there so let me see if I can reel that one back in. Depending on the group, it may very well end up no different between mmo and tt if all anyone sees in the game is the combat options. Most MMOs have fairly non-compelling, board room approved drivel that eventually retcons, undoes, and/or outright ignores lore.

    I don't see TTs having that issue especially when a dm is creating it with the players but many games seem to rely on DMs magically having this skill set instead of having tools for them to run with.

     

    But that's just one increasingly lawn gaurding, cantankerous, grognard ranting. 

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    @Abersade, thank you for noting that the question is hard to understand!  Yes, I take your point about the rules actually being restrictive here.  5th edition feels even more restrictive to me than 3.5 did, since much of the spells in 5e are "for combat use only", and not interesting extended effects that could be repurposed to other uses.

    In that case, what is the dynamicism you were saying you like about TTRPGs (vs MMORPGs)?  Can you give an example of dynamicism in a TTRPG to pin it down?

     

    @weasel0, that's a great point.  I'm not saying to push anyone or any group into something they don't find fun ... like pushing an anti-social person into role-playing.  I'm asking, whatever your group finds fun about TTRPGs ... how can you turn up the volume on that? 

    4 of the answers here were "Dynamicism", "flexibility", not "pre-programmed", and not "limited options".  If I'm designing an encounter, what are some things I can do to make sure I leave open the door for that? 

    For example, if it's a dungeon crawl, and it's a 20x20 room, and there's one door in and one door out, and there is a group of goblins the PCs are going to be attacked by ... how can I make sure that this wouldn't be the same encounter as if it were being played in an MMORPG? 

    Can I add some relationships between the goblins?  Maybe one or two are protective of another one, so if that protected one is attacked, the other two attack the attacker in a rage?  Or maybe it's the opposite and two of the goblins are feuding over something and just as likely to take swipes at each other as a PC?  Or maybe one of them stays back and rifles through the other's packs during the battle, and if the PCs point him out, some of the goblins will peel off and concentrate on him for a bit.

    Maybe there's some battlefield terrain or feature that can be used to the PCs' advantage.  Like a human-chest-deep pool of water, which would put the goblins under water if they tried to follow.  Or a cage that can be closed/locked.  Or a perch of some kind that can be taken and held by an archer or spell caster.

    Maybe one of the goblins has a pet lizard or something that it has trained, and taking the trainer out of the fight leads to the lizard just eating anything near it ... PC or goblin.  Or maybe the trainer has a way of "painting" targets, like throwing a ball of fabric soaked in pig's blood at a PC to get the lizard to attack that PC next.  If the PCs can get the fabric ball and throw it at a different goblin, then the lizard will attack that goblin instead.  Or maybe the trainer just has a bag of lizard treats, and he tosses one to the lizard after every command that is followed, so if the lizard treat bag can be taken, the lizard will get mad at the trainer for not getting rewards for its actions anymore.  (Making this work might mean the lizard needs to be too strong for the PCs to combat it directly.)

    But it can be hard to come up with stuff like this on the fly, so I was hoping to create some kind of cheat sheet or checklist that a GM could use to try to increase the number of options that a PC could take in an encounter beyond just attacking what is in front of the PC.  I want "my character attacks what is in front of him" to feel like a cop-out choice to make, and the Player is instead looking around for what better options there might be.

    I made this example a combat example, but similarly, in a role-playing encounter, I want a Player to have options beyond just rolling Diplomacy.

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • weasel0
    weasel0
    Posts: 433

    @thaen

    I think I see what you're aiming for which is a blending or inserting of role play elements into the encounters(combat in this example) for players to try and bounce off of.

    One would hope role play encounters would have these elements built into them as details such as combat often has weapon flourishes or injury descriptions thrown at them all the time.

    I personally think it's a matter of having a headspace with it. And much of that can be learned depending on what modules you've seen over the years. One of my favs was a module where kobolds had been robbing carts and so had a small maze of crates built in their lair. When you first find them their initial state is completely distracted from any alertness due to rummaging through aforementioned crates. 

    Now you have an interesting layout, but also have(if any player is thinking) a destructible environment...that is also part of their reward structure if it survives.

    I find smaller companies and fan made modules have a higher likelihood of having these kinds of details as it doesn't have to make its way through a board room or five sub-committees for approval.

    As to having a list of these ideas... I may have to go find some now. Or a generator. But even just keeping in mind "how do I insert something interesting here?" would help doing things like this. 

     

    And as to other parts of rules and the coverage thereof: it depends. Like I said about dnd, since 3.5(when i started) they've had a chapter, maybe two that talk about social encounters vs five that are combat, arcane, divine, items, feats, etc that are either only combat encounter or are 97% combat encounter. Flipping though feats, how many are combat focused/combat usable vs social? As time rolls on the social actionable portions of the games have just disappeared or been "simplified" to basically nothing other than sense motive, diplomacy, and intimidate. 3.x had a couple dozen skills. I'm not sure how 4th worked because I never got to play it but 5th has 16? Some of the more crunch of old school style have scores of skills. Skills are nearly always social applicable if not focused.

    I always liked the old school Hackmaster for this. They had pages and pages of skills. Kenzerco rpgs in general have a lot of skills in the games. But if you spell it out for players as an option, make it a part of character creation, they are likely to use it. As a GM, if it's built into the game and npcs, you're more likely to use it. Now to be fair, the OG list from the old HM was overboard, but the whole game was a legal enforced parody that was rock solid if you checked under the hood based on all ADnD and 2nd. The current version is much more sensible but still has a wide variety of skills built in to give characters depth where non role focused groups wouldn't give it second thought. But as those groups(as mine is) are numbers based groups, when they have and see those numbers, they go looking for opportunities to use them. 

  • GamingMegaverse
    GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,957

    So as someone who has run his main campaigns (outside of in-person conventions) online exclusively I can tell you why I personally do TTRPG and not MMORG. 

    The campaigns I run, and also play in, are player driven- in other words, the GM creates a basic outline and the players create the details- as I have said before, the players have created most of the adversaries, most of the story, and all of their own histories/backstories.

    In MMORG it is all reaction- which is fun, and has its place, but even high end computer learning only reacts, it does not allow creation by the players.  This is why I prefer TTRPG.

    Just trying to help out.

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    As to having a list of these ideas... I may have to go find some now. Or a generator. But even just keeping in mind "how do I insert something interesting here?" would help doing things like this. 

    @weasel0, if you do find a list, or a generator, I'd love to know about it!

    @GamingMegaverse, do your Players directly create the adversaries, like roll up their stats ... or is it more like they choose where they want the story to go by paying more attention to particular adversaries vs other adversaries?  And do you have to do anything to encourage the Players to create histories/backstories, or are these the types of Players that already want to do that naturally?  Even if they are, do you do anything to encourage the Players' participation?

    Obsidian Portal Developer

  • twiggyleaf
    twiggyleaf
    Posts: 1,901

    After reading through all of these replies, I nominate "FLXIBILITY" and "HUMAN CONTACT" as the two main stars of the show.

    smiley

     

    "I met a traveller from an antique land....."

    CotM May 2016: Mysteria: set in Wolfgang Baur’s MIDGARD.

    Previous CotM Aug 2012: Shimring: High Level Multiplanar Campaign

    Inner Council Member

  • GamingMegaverse
    GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,957

    @thaen The players sometimes create everything, including stats, but most times they create the ideas (I think that there should be someone who is hunting my character for x, my character has stolen from y).  As far as history/backstory, it is a requirement, but I never need to ask any longer- they just run with it.   The player does not get to play until there is a backstory, and everyone understands that the gm (whether it is myself or another in the group) will work that into the story.

    Just trying to help out.

  • thaen
    thaen
    Posts: 942

    That's awesome that you have such involved Players!  I've played in groups before where it was hit or miss whether they would even bring their Character sheet ... which had nothing more written on it than the 6 ability score rolls ... and the rolls weren't even assigned to any particular abilities yet ...

    Obsidian Portal Developer

Sign In or Register to comment.

July 2022
Signs and Portends

Read the feature post on the blog
Return to Obsidian Portal

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Discussions