Friday, August 22, 2014

5ed Inspiration is the Carrot, How about a Stick?

Inspiration is a 5th edition D&D mechanic to "reward" roleplaying. [You may lose inspiration to have advantage (roll d20 twice take best result)].  I loath roleplaying rewards. They inhibit actual roleplaying and have everyone instead doing all sorts of unintended consequences just to get the reward. Getting even farther out of character and into meta-game land.

Roleplaying is it's own reward.

Chasing after mechanical effects is not roleplaying. It's forcing this bland stereotype "ideal" into every situation until one is rewarded with inspiration. Then they forget about any RP until they've used that inspiration and need to "earn" it again.

I (suspect) not every table devolves into that. But that is the social pressures this rule pushes people towards. Why do that? If people like to roleplay, they'll do it. Given an environment that is conducive and not punishing to RP and it will occur, naturally. I'm personally not much of a voice/acting type roleplayer. But, I do strongly like to be "lost in them moment" to "live in the fantasy world" and not meta-game or break the fourth wall. All these things are conducive to roleplaying. Whereas yelling across table you're at 3 hitpoints and need healing, or mentioning in every other sentence cause you're CE you steal from party or kill baby orcs, or whatever other infantile idea you have of what "evil" means. [ranty aside cause I'm in ranty mood: real evil would make the game so dark and distasteful, few would enjoy playing it].

Punishment (negative reinforcement if you want to pretend to be PC) is far less prone to unintended consequences than reward systems and seems more effective in my experience. Or, possibly, I'm just a dick.

The Furies

Players (not characters) earn a Fury token every time they:

 - directly mention a game stat; Hit Points Alignment, Ability Score, class ability Spell slots, levels, XP, etc
 - cheezily attempt to circumvent above by saying shit like "I feel like I'm at 1/2 my regular health"
 - other actions deemed by Referee or Player as "meta-gaming" or "breaking the fourth wall" (perhaps only repeated occurrence after 1st warning & explanation)

Exceptions for direct responses to Referees questions, explicit rules questions/clarifications.

Unlike Inspiration, Furies accumulate. The Referee may take back a Fury at any time to give character player is controlling disadvantage [roll 2 d20 take worst result].

Players will fucking hate this. So much, I'm sure that I will soon not have cause to pass out Furies. The table will shift from "game talk" to "in character talk". People will feel comfortable roleplaying if they want. And some might even fall into it without realizing. Ideally, play emphasis will shift from mechanics, fighting, accumulation of more mechanical benefits to "adventure" and pursuing in character desires. At least a Referee can dream.

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