2012 How I Play
I come to role-playing to tell an epic story, whether I am a player or the DM. I like random or creative fights and the occasional dungeon crawl, but at the end of the day I play games to tell a story. My PCs have real motives, connections, and backstories. I enjoy relationships, story, and puzzle solving. So those are the elements I present in my games.
When I play a character, it is not me. I like to create motivations, know where characters are coming from, and make decisions accordingly. I will often make decisions I would never personally make, or that my personal knowledge of the game and the world would lead me to believe are a bad idea. If, for example, my character has never dealt with a certain monster before, I would play my character as not knowing its weaknesses. I expect and prefer these same concepts from my players. And I often reward players for playing characters over themselves.
The most important element of the game for me is relationships. The core of D&D is the party itself. If my other party members have put work into their characters, and playing them accordingly, I’ll usually have a good time. I also have relationships with characters in my backstory and NPCs that I like the game master to work into the story and conflicts. It helps me feel connected to what is happening and where my character will go next.
In Vampire, the city is full of relationships to have with other players. One of the things I prefer about the dynamic of VtM LARPing over tabletop is that, since there are so many players and no “Party,” my character is able to interact with characters that make sense for them. In D&D, I occasionally find my character working with people that my character would avoid or kill. Because of this, when I run D&D, I go out of my way to make the party make sense to each other. I also will often… allow party members to kill each other. As a PC, I have killed other party members before, if I sincerely believed that there was no other option.
Finally, I like to be presented with puzzles. But when I say puzzle, I mean a situations that I need to solve using out of the box thinking and creativity. This can be anywhere from a real riddle or puzzle blocks to a complex combat. I find power choices and tactical positioning a very interesting puzzle, it’s why I play warmachine. I also like to approach an open-ended situation where I can use combat, stealth, or diplomacy to solve the problem. So when I DM, I let the PCs think outside the box and solve the situations I present however they see fit. However, I also believe in a challenge. So I will often present enemies who cannot be killed by a frontal strike or enemies who cannot talk or think rationally. I welcome new paths and solutions, but I like to promote creative thinking.
There are a lot of ways to play D&D. Some groups like to hang out and talk while others enjoy dungeon crawls and combat. What I like is difficult games that require original thinking and an emphasis on relationships between the party and the world. So that is how I run my games.