Content of the article: "“It’s what my character would do” in combat. A discussion."
So I had an interesting conversation with one of my players the other day, about how he sometimes realizes as a player a good decision to make in combat, but doesn't think his monk would notice, so he chooses to take less optimized actions. It got me thinking, is combat a place for "it's what my character would do"?
To me, I think combat is where an allowable amount of metagaming can occur. It is the part of the game that uses a very defined set of rules. It is also where the party does a lot of collaboration, and where your actions can affect others as well. I believe actively choosing decisions that could potentially hurt your allies can hurt the game.
Now, I'm not advocating metgaming such as "oh based on that description I know this a slaad so its definitely resistant to acid, cold, fire, lightning and thunder and wisdom is its weakest stat." I'm talking about playing strategically, like moving in a position to give the rogue sneak attack, or not standing in a group when fighting a dragon that you can logically assume is going to breath attack.
Here is the difference. Let's say you are playing a character, that you've decided is cowardly. Initiative is rolled, and you choose to run and hide behind a pillar. And that's what you do each turn, because it is "what your character would do" and now you get "fun RP moments after the battle." But this puts your party at a disadvantage being a member down, and there is a chance that the encounter itself is balanced around the idea that everyone is participating. Now, it is still ok to be cowardly. Heck it is still ok to go hide. But then from your position of hiding, you can sling spells, throw your dagger, fire a bow, etc. You can still be your character, but you are not being a weight to the rest of the party.
I think there are moments that allow for RP based decisions in combat. The man who killed your sister is standing behind his goons. I think anyone could expect you to rush through and maybe take a few AoO just so you can get up in his face and beat him down yourself. But in most cases, I think acting strategically should outweigh the roleplay in combat. Combat is already hectic and random, and I dont think putting others in bad situations for roleplay is worth it in the end.
So I want to pass it on to you. What do you think about "it's what my character would do" in combat? What have you noticed in your players? Do you take into account that players might intentionally make poor decisions when setting up encounters? I think it's an interesting discussion and would like to hear from you!
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