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Which do you prefer more: Roleplay or Combat in Tabletop Games?

Hey Guys, Emp here!

So today, I had a debate with a few IRL friends on if they preferred a more combat heavy story with minimal role play, or if they preferred a more role play story with minimal combat. And, I got very varied answers. So, I wanted to extend this to you guys as well (as I know you guys are very different as well), and spark some conversation! So, you fans of URealms and to a further extent GM's, which interests you more: A heavy combat campaign, where there's role play in between, but a majority of the campaign is combat based? Or do you prefer a campaign with heavy roleplay, with some combats as well, but having a majority of the campaign be roleplay? (This isn't specifically to URealms, but moreso about any Tabletop Game) I specifically as a player love roleplay, as it's essential to fleshing out your character. While I'm also a fan of combat as well, I feel like roleplay leads to more memorable moments, and that is what I remember 2 years after a campaign. To this day, some of my online friends and I reference the silly URealms campaigns we did so many years ago to this day. 

Anyways, I'm really interested in what you guys have to say! I look forward to the conversation down below! 


  • edited April 2018
    I really love a more roleplay heavy campaign as I enjoy the witty humour and lore that can be established. Escaping an encounter with diplomacy is always more enjoyable, to me, than combat. After a bit of combat my attention starts to wonder unless it is a very high stakes or intense fight like the Maelstrom as a dragon one or the Murder Bros. Of course, that is just me and I get people like different things so I am cool to sit through some very long combat encounters if that is what other people enjoy. :peace: 

    Edit: forums are back so here you go!
  • When I am DMing I love a more RP heavy campaign. I make a lot of characters for my players to interact with and its fun to see how everything works out.

    When I'm playing I want a balanced, but weighted towards combat campaign. I want the character I designed to have his time to shine but I also want to show off the neat combos I came up with.
  • edited April 2018
    i have more of a mix taste, in season 2 Den of Devils was my favorite and it was more combat heavy. but in season 3 so far my favorite is Senate of Deadlantis with has a heavy roleplay focus. so for me it seems to be more about how its structured then if its about roleplay or combat. when it comes to when i my self play i have very much the same tast, im playing and GM warhammer fantasy roleplay and D&D right now and and its often more about the structured and mod then roleplay or combat.
  • Well the important part is always to cater to the players at the table. Which can really only be done by asking them. And if there is a mixed opinion in the group, say, some want RP-heavy, some want combat, then the only reasonable thing is to do a healthy mix.

    Or perhaps, find ways to integrate RP into Combat, or Combat into RP. 

    To elaborate on that, an example of integrating RP into Combat could be something like, for instance,  Having a ditzy NPC getting into trouble during Combat, and the Party must protect them as best they can while fighting. Or integrating Combat into RP can be something as simple as "To infiltrate this seedy tavern, someone in the party must prove themselves in the underground pit-fight".

    As for my personal preference, I'm usually a mix of Combat and RP, but leaning towards RP. I tend to mostly be in the GM role though.

    I did once have an amazing session where I planned for a bunch of combat-encounters, but the Party roleplayed their way out of every single one. I felt really bad and tried my best to force combat, apologizing to the players after the session "Hey I'm sorry there wasn't really enough combat", but they told me they loved it. They wanted to roleplay their way out of tense situations, and got through a whole campaign without really using their weapons once. 
  • When I'm GMing I usually go about 2/3 RP 1/3 Combat, and that's usually how my non-GM games go  too since RPing is what builds the world up on the players' side rather than you, the GM, just going "This is how everything is".
  • When I GM, I try to get them all to roleplay for one or two acts, but they tend to give up just because they like the combat and making those great combos
  • Asking this question here, you're almost always going to get the answer of "I like a balance, but on the whole prefer roleplay", because that's what makes someone have the personality to GM. For the most part, if someone prefers combat, they don't want to design the combat encounters, because knowing how everything is balanced takes the sense of power and tactics out of it (that being said, I do personally enjoy designing combat encounters, but that part isn't comparable with RP, because it's something you do on your own, not with friends). The better the GM, the more in depth they know what will happen in the combat, and so the less they will enjoy it. Meanwhile, if a GM doesn't enjoy the RP, they're never going to write a story that ties the combat together, because that involves thinking in RP terms.
    Of course, being a very nice community of people, particularly one that is united by a set of combat-focal rules, no-one is going to dismiss combat entirely. Hence the answer will always show some balance.

    So, basically, your sample group is pretty bias. That doesn't mean that no-one exists that will disagree, but that's what you're going to hear the majority of the time here.

    Personally, I vary up what I run on a regular basis, but I never have less roleplay than a fifty/fifty split between roleplay and combat, as far as time investment is concerned. For me, if I wanted to play a combat focal game, I'd play a videogame. It'd be faster and less effort. But having the option for combat in a roleplay focal setting adds a level of tension that doesn't exist otherwise.
  • @TheMadLibrarian I disagree on the "The better the GM, the more in depth they know what will happen in the combat, and so the less they will enjoy it." part. I always have in-depth combat scenarios and I always enjoy 'em as that's what truly allows you to combine RP and combat by having a genuinely difficult fight with certain RP nuances that allow the players to exploit and get ahead in that way. - Balancing RP and Combat is what truly brings tactics into it.
  • Combat center will a lot of rp between due to at times some of there spells feel useless if it just a rp campaign 
  • As a GM, I'd say the proper ratio is about 77/23% roleplay to combat (Not even fudging those numbers for the joke, that's the exact spread I try for), Roleplay is, while less taxing mechanically, also more taxing for the GM mentally as they keep track of all the characters.
    That being said, RP allows for all the characters to shine in their own ways (unless they were built by a min-maxer, in which case they don't deserve to shine ever.), even while accomplishing their objective.
    Combat is required, like, in all honesty if you run a campaign without a single combat encounter everyone will hate it, including you. Though statting can be difficult (and with the parties I run I need to stat out roleplay encounters in case the mage of the party decides to obliterate everyone because an NPC misheard him (no seriously I've had that happen, there was a half-deaf character who thought the mage insulted him, and then everyone in the room died.)), it is rewarding.

    As a player I also lean towards RP, because most of my characters in any setting are... well, not the best at combat, but they've got a gimmick. And most of the time that gimmick works in RP too.
    That being said, others probably have a different mix they like.
  • As a GM I personally prefer Roleplay. For me even the most well thought out and planned combats that's more than just 2 dudes smacking each other can get quickly boring. But with RP there are so many different things the players can get into and can happen I feel that's where any Game like DnD and URealms starts to shine. At my table I mostly have a lot of artsy types. Bunch of film makers/scriptwriters so I can tell they also prefer talking their way through most things (Not saying they don't enjoy combat as it is fun every now and then) that being said I do have one or to more logic focused people and even they prefer RP. I'm not saying there's no point in combat because there very much is, a huge point in fact, I just feel RP has more potential which is why I like it more.
  • I used to be far more RP leaning as one of my first tabletop sessions was 95% combat and when I first got into watching Urealms the RP was by far the show's greatest asset. However I've grown a lot more and from playing fan Urealms games I've come to realize that every campaign is doomed to fail if you only focus on either combat or RP. It's either nothing but a series of dragons and mobs to beat up with a party of other non existent forgettable characters who all end up being mercenaries since that's the easiest plot device. Or you go on the *extreme* spectrum where there is either no combat or RP only combat. It may start off interesting and fun, but eventually every player's nerves will be frayed and will end without any feelings of accomplishment. Remember, only a sith deals in absolutes.

    So yes, the cliche of having balance between the two is true. However for the GMs making the campaign I would advice to heavily lean on either combat or RP while still making sure there is ample content for the less focused of the two. This comes down to GM preference and the type of campaign you are planning to run. If you are making a campaign about the players being a part of a Mafia Family, I better be fighting the law, defending the Family from rival gangs, or doing some risky shake downs while busting some kneecaps But if you forget about the pretty vital plot line that the players are a tight nit Mafia Family and everyone is just doing there own thing, well I'm not sure why you decided to have this story.

    Urealms itself has some fine examples of vastly favoring one playstyle, while still catering to the other. Den of Devils is one of the big boy "We fight everything campaign" while still having a massive amount of interpersonal character relationships during combat no less. Although keep in mind this was built on the backs of previous campaigns and characters that had already been established, and half the player characters came out really weak  since the development wasn't really there (probably more player fault though) The Senate of Deadlantis was nearly all RP driven, yet gave all the player characters extremely interesting and satisfying roles to play before and after the birth of magic. *Side note, if you want players to RP more you have to give them direction. For the love of god don't just do "Okay you made camp do RP" please...* That and a very lengthy combat that acted as the crescendo to everything before hand. Without this combat it would have just been a lot of talking back and forth.
  • Alot of it has to do with the group youre in. I used to prefer combat because even though i had fun roleplaying my characters my group wasnt the best and it wasnt as fun as id hope making me lean towards combat heavily to the point most of my fun came from it and id be bored until the next fight usually about a 2-4 hours of an 8 hour session would be spent fighting depending on how diplomatic we were feeling. However when I joined my deadlands group a few months ago weve been doing much more roleplay and only doing at most a 10 minute fight in a 3 hour session and I've never had more fun in a table top group then i have been having with this group
  • I usually try and mix roleplay into combat when i'm a player by using improvised weapons and my surroundings (for example: fighting an entire battle while dangling from a chandelier.) 
  • I feel that my friends say they are more roleplay orientated, but whenever we play they seem to be more combat orientated as they don't typically know what to do when they have to roleplay. It might be my fault as a gm when I gm urealms for them, but they seem to do it as well when somebody else gms for pathfinder or dnd. They typically won't speak in character and will just describe what they do, such as saying "My character say that he would like a drink" instead of saying in character "Mr. Barkeep, could I have a glass of your most expensive ale?" I feel like I do a good job in roleplaying, and I love more roleplay intensive games, but I also enjoy combat. I'd probably prefer campaigns with a balanced mix of both combat and rp.
  • I also definitely agree with what @Emperor says about rp being what is most memorable down the line. I remember once play a human bard a couple years back, and I drove my gm off the rails as I played heavy metal on my didgeridoo for a group of porcupines, which lead to them bringing my party to their underground town of anthropomorphic porcupines who listen to heavy metal. I was then taken to their porcupine high council to show off my music. The council was unimpressed because I played a didgeridoo instead of their city's instrument, the electric porctar(a spiny electric guitar powered by magic), so my character asked them to teach him their ways. The council told my bard that he would have to outplay their best electric porctar player in a musical battle to the death to learn, and obviously I agreed. I get in the arena we were "battling in" and I casted discern next of kin to learn about my opponents father. I then casted a disguise spell to disguise myself as the opponents father, which not only demoralized my opponent, but also hyped up the crowd, because apparently the opponents father was the former champion who was defeated by my opponent in a musical contest and was then killed after losing, so the crowd thought the father had returned after death for the ultimate rematch. After multiple skill checks, my bard defeated the champion and became the porcupine city's new champion. I then got porcupine quill and the ability to play the electric porctar and became a celebrity among the anthropomorphic porcupine community. This remains one of my proudest dnd moments ever.
  • That might be one of the oddest paragraphs i have ever read @NeroFireKick
  • @UnluckyBimi Oh sure, but this idea very much falls into the "combination of RP and combat" bandcamp, and still matches the general case I suggested pretty well. Which... seems to have been 100% accurate, so far. I don't think we've had one GM yet that's suggested using a balance in favour of combat over RP? I might have missed someone, there's a tonne of really in depth responses.

    @NeroFireKick I've had a couple of players like this over the years, and they seem to fall in to two groups.
    The first group (which, in my experience, are less common) generally have a dissociative style of play; They do not want to think of themself as being their character, and tend to get less emotionally invested in their actions as a result. They seem happy to ropleplay, but often end up playing characters that lack passion, because it is difficult to be passionate about someone else's feelings. You can usually coerce these players to roleplay in the more traditional sense by having one or two people at the table that play as their character enthusiastically, and I generally find most of them enjoy the game more this way.
    The second group rarely take roleplay actions at all, and generally try to take a back seat to other personalities at the table, opting for the "I don't need to pay attention until my turn in combat" approach. If there is a way to get a player who plays with this attitude to actually engage at the table, in roleplay or in tactics, I've honestly never found it. If you have a lot of players that fit in to this group, I'd definitely suggest dabbling with new players. There's a good chance that you'll find someone else simply more rewarding to GM for.
    (To clarify, I understand that there's a lot of people who will argue against the idea of dropping players whose style you are aversed to, and I feel like we've had the argument over whether that's the correct thing to do or not here far more than enough to start it over again. I'm just suggesting what works for me with players that fit this general description)
  • I prefer a mix of roleplay and combat, but heavily favor combat so far since my players are very new to tabletop gaming, but as I've been introducing more and more rollplay opportunities, my players have begun to prefer roleplay 

    @NeroFireKick I've found that straight up asking your players to talk in character and dropping reminders when they lapse/you begin a new session works very well. Designing and GMing a campaign is a lot of eork
  • edited April 2018
    I've found I moreso enjoy the RP parts of tabletop games, even if I get super nervous/aren't that good at them. I still enjoy combat, but it's more of a 75/25 split for me. Maybe 70/30
  • Actually had this discussion on "my" server the other day. RP over combat no doubt. Combat is fun but it needs some weight behind it, a reasoning to it. This is the case for most media (not counting like Devil May Cry) just by the simple fact that knowing motivations and what the result of a battle might bring creates excitement. 
  • rp is tad more fun... but doing some bullhunk stuff in combat is still fun
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