So we agree that we embrace all styles of roleplay.

Recently I answered a question and made a remark about "good roleplaying" or "good roleplayers" being people that would play a role, seperating character knowledge from player knowledge. Now, telling people whether something is good roleplaying obviously is pretty judgmental and I would not consider a playstyle good or bad roleplaying. They are all equal. If everybody has fun, no harm no foul, right? However, I do consider "playing a role" to be fundamental to role playing. If no roles are played, in my mind it's a tabletop or boardgame. Both great fun, but not role playing. Because no role is played.

So where does a playstyle start? Really acting it out in costumes would certainly a playstyle of roleplaying and playing table tennis with a hardcover version of the rulebook would not be roleplaying at all, despite literally using the rules. But between the comic extremes, where is the line, when is something actually role playing (compared to lets say a tabletop skirmish game) and when is doing something a playstyle, one of the many variants of roleplaying?

Would you consider keeping character and player knowledge separate a key feature, too?

(not considering games where meta gaming actually is part of the game, or where your "role" is to be yourself)


3 Answers 3


The relationship between the players and the characters does fall under playstyle. There are playstyles in which metagaming of the kind you say is not “good” is accepted, and there are RPGs in which it’s even built into the rules. These are still all RPGs in some sense — just perhaps one that isn't recognisable to everyone coming from a different playstyle.

So yeah, I can see why saying that “good roleplaying [is] separating character knowledge from player knowledge” would be seen as a shot across the bow for other playstyles, even though it was unintentional.

It's not a problem though, so much as a learning opportunity. Today you (and perhaps some of the present audience) learned that there are valid playstyles that don't consider that idea as axiomatic, and now we can proceed with more perspective.


TL;DR I'm frame challenging your meta but your original answer's fine.

It doesn't matter where "playstyle starts."

We aren't "accepting of all playstyles, but eager to hassle people over their choices about gaming that don't fit into the definition of playstyle." Therefore which of these decisions we categorize as "playstyle" instead of "social preference" or whatever other category is irrelevant to how we should treat other folks on the SE. So given this frame I am not eager to define playstyle, because that would imply that elements outside that definition are OK to not respect in others, which is false.

It's OK to say what you think is good.

Now, on the other hand, people are way too sensitive about this, and all you really need to do at most is stick an "IMHO" in front of that statement in your answer- you value separating player and character knowledge and you believe good roleplaying does that. That's cool; "respecting all playstyles" sure as heck doesn't mean you can't talk about yours! Especially in your own answers. It's one thing if you're heckling someone else's answer in comments - "No! You're wrong! The only good roleplay is...!" But if someone doesn't like you saying "good roleplaying separates knowledge/values fun over rules/is where you lose yourself in a role and wake up in Baltimore without pants" - tough nougat. You're stating your preference, and late 2010's tumblr whining notwithstanding, sharing your opinion does not equate with attacking someone else's opinion.

But other people are free to civilly try to change your mind.

Of course, other site folks are welcome to downvote an answer if they feel it's not correct, and best as I can tell the commenter in question, Anne, did not even downvote but left a perfectly civil comment saying "hey that's not good to everyone..." and when rebuffed said,and I paraphrase, "it's just a word it's fine I don't care, just trying to help you see another perspective." So I don't see anything wrong with any of the exchange, either on your part or her part - civil exchange of ideas FTW. There's no comment fight, no flags... Nothing which I would consider an escalation of any sort.


We accept all playstyles here. That doesn't make them all equal, and that doesn't make all aesthetic choices made in playing or constructing an RPG of equal value.

Some theories of aesthetics hold that what constitutes good art is merely a matter of taste-- that is, that it is entirely subjective and, in fact, all art is in some sense equal. Other theories hold that there are real differences in the value of different works of art, and that those differences are in some sense knowable. There are also people who claim that there are or may be differences, but that the differences are inherently completely unknowable.

While all of these meta-aesthetics are accepted here, our policy of tolerance means that expressing any of them should be done carefully. Our goal is to avoid belittling, invalidating, or dismissing people, and to avoid doing that to anyone's belief set without significant justification is an important part of presenting such a question, answer or comment. That doesn't mean, for example, that the idea that freeform play is inherently inferior to structured play (or vice versa) is wrong, it just means that you aren't allowed to express that view without meeting a higher bar for topicality and support.

  1. For example, I might ask "What is X group's position on structured roleplaying?" and you, being a part of that group, might respond "We believe structured roleplaying is inherently inferior to freeform roleplaying because of X, Y, and Z.". That's fine.
  2. However, when someone asks "How do I structure my roleplaying?" and you respond "Don't! It's bad!" because you think it's an X Y problem where the querent refuses to provide the X, that's not-okay. It's basically a mild form of systemic oppression, which is what we are trying to avoid.

    There are groups that think various methods of RPGing are better than others for whatever reasons, and there are groups that think all methods are always exactly as good, and we want to be a place where as many of these groups' participants can come to ask questions and get good answers as possible.

Our position on playstyle is that proselytizing is not what this site is for. If someone indicates that they want to play or are playing a game a certain way, telling them to instead do it differently is outside of the solution scope unless it is really and truly directly related to the question being asked.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that I think you are confusing "all playstyles are welcome" with "all playstyles are equal." This means that when you accept our nice-sounding policy, you are setting yourself up for failure because anything that is clearly not an equally valid choice to you must, then, not be a matter of playstyle. This limits your conformance to our policy to a tolerance of playstyle decisions that you see as equally valid, which sort of defeats the entire point of the policy.

Furthermore, while our policy is about playstyle differences, because those in particular draw a lot of loud and vexatious discourse, the principles actually apply equally well to most matters of aesthetics in RPGs. The best way to go about supporting the goals of that policy is as follows:

  • Don't casually dismiss anything, regardless of how you feel about it. If you can't avoid casually dismissing something when posting about it, avoid all Q&A where you would end up doing so. Casually dismissing someone's position is a violation of our Be Nice policy.
  • If you're going to say something or someone is wrong, bad, evil, etc, be really extra careful. Make extra sure you support each and every aspect of each such claim, and that they are all necessary to your answer and pertinent to the question. Avoid doing any of these things in comments (if it's important enough that you really should post a comment, it's likely important enough you should post a meta instead. Example). If you do it in a question, make sure they are all central to the question, make sure the question is not just a veiled attack on someone/thing but an honest effort to learn, and don't support your accusations, since they had better be what you are asking about, and supporting them just leads to comment arguing.
  • If you think something is an X-Y problem, check yourself. In fact, you should probably post a comment before answering, in this case: "It seems like you're asking about Y but really you want to solve X. Would an answer that solves X without doing Y be acceptable?" Be extra careful about this when the problem is a gm-techniques or group-dynamics thing.
  • If you think something is an X-Y problem, where Y is something well-scoped and answerable, but X is something like "get my players to have more fun" or otherwise patently overbroad/opinion-based/etc, don't frame-challenge with an answer addressing X. If 'X' isn't something we think it's okay to directly ask about, it's not something that you should be treating the querent as indirectly asking about either, because we have good reasons for disallowing those sorts of questions. If you really think that the querent doesn't realize the situation, a comment on it might be appropriate, but probably not.
  • If you know you have problems with a subset of the RPG community, don't answer questions primarily for and by that group. If you hate optimizers, don't answer optimization questions. If you hate D&D 4e, don't answer questions on it. Answering out of hatred is just not a good idea. This is related to not casually dismissing things.
  • If someone posts a wrong-headed comment on your stuff, saying something like "no sane GM would allow [your suggestion]"or whatever, flag it for deletion, don't respond. Engaging leads to pointless arguments. Ignoring it leads to someone else engaging, more pointless arguments and your answer getting drive-by downvoted and/or not drive-by upvoted or your question getting not drive-by-upvoted and/or closed on fictitious grounds.
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a long read but insightful. It reminds me of the advice to use “I messages”. We have an accidental parallel here, where contentious statments should be backed up with citations and/or personal experience — which when followed, effectively frames contentious statements as about the writer instead of portraying them as objective facts imposed on the reader. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 21:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .