How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

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Rug
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How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by Rug » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 11:19

I like pretty much everything about the RPG genre at an intellectual level. A game with a good story that is slowly revealed through the playing, the new world to explore, the people to meet along the way ... But I always struggle to play them "properly", and I need to get help.

I can read a million posts talking about Tanks, Squishies, Crowd Control, Healers, and Damage Dealers, along with discussions of the merits of all the various Classes and Builds, and I sort of understand it. But when faced with the choices at each leveling up I have no guiding principles - I basically just guess and plonk the points anywhere with no cohesive plan. I'm just guessing.

So can anyone point me at a good resource that will tell me what (for example) a Tank needs, and indeed how best to use him/her in combat ? A good generic guide would (I hope) really help... I never played the tabletop variety, so I missed out on the opportunity to be mentored by more experienced players.

I looked for such a guide, but my google-fu wasn't up to the task.

Please help. I can sense this whole sea of goodness out there, but sadly I'm mostly lost in the fog.

Thanks in advance.

Rug
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by RegisterMe » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 11:47

hmmm, well, the details will vary depending on what sort of RPG system you are playing, but very generally:-

* Tank - MMO derived word that means a character designed to take a lot of damage and / or get the focus for enemy damage dealers. Typically you should be looking for armour, hit points, damage mitigation and some kind of ability to taunt / attract enemy aggression. In a classic DnD system this would equate to strength, constitution and possibly dexterity, with heavy armour and shield proficiencies and some kind of taunt. The role of the class is to get the enemies to focus on it so that your other characters are free to do whatever they need to do. Think Gimli.
* Squisihes are likely to be magic based glass cannons that are vulnerable / fragile. What they can't do is go toe to toe with enemies (that's the tank's job). If they're some kind of mage archetype you will probably look to focus attribute points on intelligence (or whatever boosts spell availability or damage). It's kind of a superset though because characters could be pure dps based, or have more utility / crowd control abilities, or have a mix of the two.
* Healers - typically wear medium or heavy armour, sometimes use shields, and are designed as front line healing support with a bit of damage thrown in. Wisdom is normally the main stat for this kind of class, and they are normally clerics (think magic user who's power is provided by the gods). but constitution and strength can also be important.
* Damage dealers - quite a board categorisation in that you could be talking some kind of rogue (stealth and dex based damage dealing), ranger (ranged direct damage dealing, likely dex and constitution), or a dps focussed mage (see above).
* Crowd control - typically magic users of some type (see above) but where their emphasis is on... crowd control :). Managing the battlefield with stuns, snares, debuffs (eg blinds). This reduces incoming damage and increases your opportunity to dish damage out.

Take some kind of arbitrary vanilla six member RPG party and you might have:-

1. A dwarven tank who wades into battle soaking up hits and getting the focus of all the enemies.
2. A human cleric who focuses on keeping the tank up.
3. An elven mage who is part dps part utility, doing some damage and a bit of crowd control.
4. A halfling thief who focuses on sneak attacks during combat, but also learns how to pick locks, and detect and disarm traps.
5. A ranged dps character who snipes from the back.
6. Could be another tank, or a support class like a bard, or a tank / healer hybrid like a paladin or.....

As these characters level up invest attribute / skill points in enhancing their ability to fulfil these roles (eg new spells, an extra attack, more damage dice, a disarm skill...), minimise / mitigate weaknesses and or add some utility.

When you start a new combat situation your tank would look to get the attention of as many enemies as possible whilst your mage might blind an enemy archer and your ranged character started to put the hurt on an enemy mage whilst your rogue tried to get in place for a backstab on that same enemy mage. Basically you're looking to manage the encounter such that you minimise the damage you take and the risks that you run and you maximise the damage the enemy takes and implement tactics that put the enemy at the maximum disadvantage.

Does that help?
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Rug
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by Rug » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 12:16

Yes, it helps - particularly the final paragraph. Thanks for taking the time.

I think I probably need to sit down and read a bit more about the Might/Constitution/Intelligence/whatever stuff, and how these apply to the game in question. That, and watch a few videos of people actually controlling a fight (and ideally talking about what they are doing) rather than continuing with my somewhat laise-faire tactics !

Specific good examples always welcome. :)

Rug
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by RegisterMe » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 12:25

Typically that's fairly straightforward. You could see something like the following:-

More strength - greater damage with melee weapons, greater ability to deal with encumbrance (ie wear heavier armour at less penalty and / or carry more stuff)
More constitution - additional hit points gained each level, more damage mitigation, better resists etc
More intelligence - more mage spells when you level and / or more powerful spells
More wisdom - more cleric spells when you level and / or more powerful spells
More dexterity - more crit chance, more chance to pull off sneak attacks / backstabs, higher chance to hit at range, and at high levels a buff to your armour class (dodge etc)
More charisma - a dump stat :lol:

Take what I am saying with a pinch of salt though - it's going to be very game / RPG system dependent.

One other thing, you might also need an "off tank". That's like a secondary tank to tie up more enemies. This role is often fulfilled by a well armoured cleric / healer type or a hybrid like a paladin or druid. It depends a lot on what game we're talking about. Baldurs Gate and Mass Effect are very different beasts......
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by RegisterMe » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 12:37

Oh yeah, one other thing. A good rule of thumb when approaching a combat encounter is to prioritise targets as follows:-

1. Healer types.
2. Mage / crowd control type.
3. DPS.
4. Tanks.
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by Golden_Gonads » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 13:26

If the healer dies, it's the tanks fault. If the tank dies it's the DPS's fault. If the DPS dies it's the healers fault. And everyone will blame everyone but themselves.

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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by RegisterMe » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 15:36

Golden_Gonads wrote:
Thu, 14. Mar 19, 13:26
If the healer dies, it's the tanks fault. If the tank dies it's the DPS's fault. If the DPS dies it's the healers fault. And everyone will blame everyone but themselves.
Less of an issue when you are responsible for all of them :) .
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fiksal
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by fiksal » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 15:51

What specific games are we talking about?

Video game RPGs, table top RPGs? DnD, Pathfinder, Vampires?

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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by pjknibbs » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 15:59

fiksal wrote:
Thu, 14. Mar 19, 15:51
What specific games are we talking about?

Video game RPGs, table top RPGs? DnD, Pathfinder, Vampires?
Yeah, this is kind of critical. All that stuff about tanks, DPS etc. only really applies if you're playing an MMO of some sort--single player RPGs rarely require such distinctions, because you're controlling everything yourself.

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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by Mightysword » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 16:51

pjknibbs wrote:
Thu, 14. Mar 19, 15:59
fiksal wrote:
Thu, 14. Mar 19, 15:51
What specific games are we talking about?

Video game RPGs, table top RPGs? DnD, Pathfinder, Vampires?
Yeah, this is kind of critical. All that stuff about tanks, DPS etc. only really applies if you're playing an MMO of some sort--single player RPGs rarely require such distinctions, because you're controlling everything yourself.
That's also important in some SP, especially the one where you play large party. It might not be a strict "holy Trinity" but in those game you also have distinction of front like fighter vs glass cannon damage dealer.

But year, either you play enough games and picking enough experience to just know, you'll have to be specific about the game in question. Because even the same concept does not necessary translate into the samething across different game. For example, in most RPG a "tank" is normally someone with high HP wearing heavy armor, but the way the Pathfinder rule is interpreted in its CRPG version and the end game is set up with a bunch of enemies using touch attack, the best tank is one that doesn't wear any armor at all!

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Morkonan
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by Morkonan » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 19:16

Rug wrote:
Thu, 14. Mar 19, 11:19
I like pretty much everything about the RPG genre at an intellectual level. A game with a good story that is slowly revealed through the playing, the new world to explore, the people to meet along the way ... But I always struggle to play them "properly", and I need to get help.

I can read a million posts talking about Tanks, Squishies, Crowd Control, Healers, and Damage Dealers, along with discussions of the merits of all the various Classes and Builds, and I sort of understand it. But when faced with the choices at each leveling up I have no guiding principles - I basically just guess and plonk the points anywhere with no cohesive plan. I'm just guessing.

So can anyone point me at a good resource that will tell me what (for example) a Tank needs, and indeed how best to use him/her in combat ? A good generic guide would (I hope) really help... I never played the tabletop variety, so I missed out on the opportunity to be mentored by more experienced players....

The only rule is to "Have Fun." Every single rule in a Pen&Paper RPG revolves around that.

Want to be a Halfling Warrior? Go for it. An Orc mage? Do it! A Dwarf Crossdressing Priestess Who Think's He's Irresistible? That would be awesome! Do you see what I'm getting at? All of this is geared towards providing elements for the players to use to have fun with.

"What would happen if...."

^--- That is the premise of any tabletop RPG session, no matter the rules system.

To discuss specifics wouldn't really be warrranted unless one is intimately familiar with the rules system in question, but that's all unnecessary. The only thing that is necessary is that you understand you're expected to play "a character" and your vision of that character and how you portray it is all that matters. Well, you do have to learn how to play with your fellow players so that they enjoy your company and all, but any roleplayer will appreciate a well roleplayed character, even if they invent ways to kill off your current character because they're annoyed by it. You'll just be rolling up a new one right there on the spot. :)

Here's how you play a "Tank" sort of character. Ready? OK, here it goes...

"How do you think a Tank character should be played?"

There, that's it.

Sure, a big beefy tanky sorta character might need to be big, beefy, and tanky in order to be effective. But, that's not always "fun." So, I'll choose a Gnome Fighter, instead. They didn't have a breastplate in my size, since I'm a female gnome with size 86 DDD breasticulars, so things kind of drag on the ground a bit and the chainmail hauberk underneath gets caught in my feet. You'll have to carry me if we have to run, by the way. But, I'm STRONK! I've got a fifty-eleven Strength because everyone knows Charisma is a dump stat... I'm also barely more intelligent than a bag of bread, since I wanted to be STRONK! That means you might have to convince me pointing my halberd (Yes, a properly fashionable gnome female fighter prefers to use a halberd in combat) towards the enemy is A Good Idea ™. I'm not really nimble (*See "STRONK!") but I'm decent enough at what I do, which is absorb and deal damage, to be highly valued amongst my peers. The ones that aren't dead. I mean, the one's that I successfully kept alive through our adventures together. Uh... That one guy, that one time, that lived.

While not everyone enjoys a twisted sense of humor in their tabletop RPG experience, the above is just an acceptable example of what the whole thing is about - It's about playing a game of "What would happen if..." and then filling in the blanks. Rules don't matter. Gear doesn't matter. What matters is having fun with your friends and creating a shared experience.

Practical Matters: There aren't "Tanks" necessarily in P&P RPGs. Some might allow for that, though. But, that's more a convention of MMORPG mechanics and making a PC game "work" for that kind of experience. These days, with better AI, better engines, etc, MMOs can deviate from the "Classic Three" formula of Tank, DPS, Healer. P&P RPG never really used that kind of a formula, even though it was certainly the first go-to response when players built/build a party.

Damage mitigation is key for a "Tank." Since Evasion Tanks aren't easily possible, you'll need good armor, excellent to outstaning and remarkable hit-points and very good mitigation and resistances to common "direct damage" causing ailments and the like. Poison, fire, cold, eletricity resistances, etc.. Whatever the system provides for. In a P&P RPG, everyone is expected to pull their weight. "Taking Damage" is not, necessarily, a role that is expected of players. "Dishing out damage or supporting those who do" IS. Without doing damage yourself, if you have stacked up everything in favor of being a "Tank" then you'll need ways to "Taunt" the enemy, maybe debuffs like hamstringing them, bashing, pushing them around, etc... But, to be honest, that's pretty darn boring - It feels good to forcefully touch a goblin's face with a halberd.

All you have to do is have fun. That's all the tools are there to provide for you. The DM/GM is just there to help interpret the rules and to provide you with an additional set of "What would happen if..." starting conditions and to help develop the game as it goes along. Sure, there's a story, but the story is always, ever, told by the Players. Yes, a DM/GM has a story in mind, usually. But, a good one knows that the best storywriters are the Players, themselves, and will gladly toss away mounds of predrawn dungeons and mountains of paperwork and scribbles just because the players have discovered something to do that is more funnerer for everyone involved.

Gnome. Fighter. Female. Big Breasticulars. Oversized breastplate she can't wear very well. Can't run very well, due to her feet getting tangled up all the time in it. But, she's STRONK and effective at what she does. Armed with giant-big-hugenormous halberd once used by a giant... No, she does not have "Vertically Challenged" issues. HOW DARE YOU ASK!

/rollforinitiative

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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by jlehtone » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 20:48

Morkonan wrote:
Thu, 14. Mar 19, 19:16
The only rule is to "Have Fun." Every single rule in a Pen&Paper RPG revolves around that.
That. (Even when your every single character fumbles and dies on first putative fight.)

There were no "tanks" back in the day. Just:
Real Men,
Real Rôle-players,
Loonies, and
MUNCHKINS
http://www.firedrake.org/roger/rpg/munchkin.html

Rug
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by Rug » Thu, 14. Mar 19, 23:46

To clarify, it's computer games I'm really asking about here. I think if I were playing a table top game then I'd have people to ask for help directly...

And I appreciate that each game will likely have a different set of spells/armour/epic weaponry etc so specific advice is not possible, but was hoping that I could get some general pointers along the lines of those registerme has been kind enough to provide.

I just get the impression that everyone just naturally knows what to do to build a balanced team and control them against all comers, but I just get lost in the choices and would probably have any of you shoving me aside, grabbing the mouse and shouting WTF are you thinking you fool!

To be more specific, I'm playing pillars of eternity (first one) on story mode, and the fights are not a pushover for me by any means...

I'm having fun, but I don't know if I'll be able to beat the tougher beasties even on this difficulty unless I can get more of a grip on how to play smarter.

Were you all just born knowing how to do this stuff? Am I too old to learn? As I say, this style of thing really appeals, but it's a bit like I'm looking through the sweet shop window, not quite able to get to all the goodies.

Rug
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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by Mightysword » Fri, 15. Mar 19, 00:06

Rug wrote:
Thu, 14. Mar 19, 23:46
I just get the impression that everyone just naturally knows what to do to build a balanced team and control them against all comers, but I just get lost in the choices and would probably have any of you shoving me aside, grabbing the mouse and shouting WTF are you thinking you fool!

To be more specific, I'm playing pillars of eternity (first one) on story mode, and the fights are not a pushover for me by any means...

I'm having fun, but I don't know if I'll be able to beat the tougher beasties even on this difficulty unless I can get more of a grip on how to play smarter.
If you can beat the game, it shouldn't really matter. Very few CRPGs is designed in a way that would allow the player to build themselves into the ground unless they do something really extreme. Especially if you play on easier difficulty, as long as you follow some "common sense" (i.e investing in STR for a fighter), you'll get through it even if you gonna struggle a bit. Sabotaging your own character is one thing, but having unwittingly players build something so bad that they can't continue the game after certain point is not considered to be a good design by most developers. ;)

I have to ask though, what gives you the impression you're struggling? I hope it's not from someone on the internet because ... like I said as long as you're making it through and not getting frustrated, you are fine. The problem when you discuss it with other people on "how to do it properly", there is a fairly good chance you're talking to people who are min/maxing.
Were you all just born knowing how to do this stuff? Am I too old to learn? As I say, this style of thing really appeals, but it's a bit like I'm looking through the sweet shop window, not quite able to get to all the goodies.

Rug
Not really, my most recent CRPG is Pathfinder Kingmaker, and despite my well of knowledge from prior games, I still struggled on my first run on default difficulty. And by struggle I mean I sometime get out of a fight with by the skin of my teeth, and it can take dozens of reload until I beat an challenging side boss. Still, I beat the game and had fun. These days though, I know how to build a character that can literally solo a pack of end game mobs by him/herself, and even the toughest boss is killed with ease. Is that the level of play you're asking for advise?

Mostly it just comes down to paying attention to the rule sets, in CRPG usually means stacking your build in one area instead of trying to be the jack of all trade. Want a good tank? Then don't worry about how much damage your tank can do, but how much damage reduction he can take, and concentrate on whatever stats/skill/feat that will improve that specific area. Don't let you fall into the trap of "I want a good tank but ... I want to do SOME damage as well". Not saying you can't do something like that, but if you just starting out and learning the system, it helps you take note and understand how it works. This way while might not have the "best" build, you will still have something solid. A piece of advise though, while it does give you some satisfaction after reaching a high level of mastery, it also takes away the other kinds of fun. So the journey of discovering it is where you make your money worth. IMO anyway. :)

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Re: How can I learn to play RPG games properly ?

Post by Morkonan » Fri, 15. Mar 19, 17:39

Rug wrote:
Thu, 14. Mar 19, 23:46
..To be more specific, I'm playing pillars of eternity (first one) on story mode, and the fights are not a pushover for me by any means...

I'm having fun, but I don't know if I'll be able to beat the tougher beasties even on this difficulty unless I can get more of a grip on how to play smarter.

Were you all just born knowing how to do this stuff? Am I too old to learn? As I say, this style of thing really appeals, but it's a bit like I'm looking through the sweet shop window, not quite able to get to all the goodies.

Rug
Ah! You''ll want some Pillars of Eternity specific information for that. I haven't played it, but in general:

Survival is about mitigating incoming damage for long enough so that your outgoing damage ends the current threat before you die. :)

But, how that all happens is heavily dependent on the game. Typically, Armor has effects against physical damage. Certain character stats have effects against magical, poison, environmental, etc and armor or items can improve that and give special "Resistances." Weapons are designed to "do damage" so they'll have corresponding stats, like how much "base damage" they can do, which may be multiplied by several factors. There will be special abilities like magic or racial traits or class abilities that can apply damage/protection or even healing and resistances against certain types of damage. "Buffs" are temporary spells/abilities that improve a character in some way, either in combat or even with just run speed. "Debuffs" against characters are bad, usually spells or abilities used by enemies to reduce stats, resistances, armor, etc..

Some guides:

https://guides.gamepressure.com/pillarsofeternity/

https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/xboxone/2 ... faqs/74194 (This looks pretty comprehensive. I like Gamefaqs, but when did friggin' gamespot take it over? Or, am I going senile?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u96bzh-3Eyk (quill18 has a basic guide series on Pillars of Eternity, probably worth watching.)

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