This came up on the GM’s Journal last and this week (Episodes #112 and #113 on Patreon) and I wanted to share the thought more widely: Are you still roleplaying while fighting a tactical combat?
The question arose from my reading this sentence in the Starfinder Core Rulebook:
Anytime you’re speaking for your character or describing her actionsStarfinder Core Rulebook, page 9
but aren’t in combat, you’re roleplaying.
It might just be how I am reading it but turning up, as it does, in a section about the four elements of Starfinder gameplay, the inference is that you don’t roleplay during combat. That struck me as weird.
Roleplaying is when we make decisions and take on the part of the character in our fantastic world. We step into their fictional life and try to see their situation through their eyes. For me, the goal is to be in-character – and thus in role – as much as possible.
When combat breaks out, I will try to make decisions in role as my character. I don’t stop roleplaying during combat. I might even choose to act out my character’s moves (like, pointing my imaginary gun at the GM and making “pewww pewww” sounds) or their words (speaking in first person).
Thinking about this, while I have certainly played in a manner that meant I stopped roleplaying my character during a tactical combat – by which Starfinder seems to mean a fight scene played out on a battle grid with tokens or miniatures – and have made the optimal move tactically rather than the decision my character would take if I maintained the role, I don’t think this is the only way to play during combat.
Personally, I like to maintain my role even during a tactical combat. This sometimes annoys other players who have different goals at the table – for example, those folks who want to win the combat more than they want to maintain their character’s role. But my point is it’s a choice.
While I am enjoying Starfinder and in no way dissing the game, it did strike me as an odd sentence in a rulebook designed to introduce the game to new players. I can’t help wonder if I am alone in feeling that it’s a weird dichotomy for a roleplaying game.
Let me know what you think.