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Roleplaying Boons & Conditions


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Hello all! I'm excited that we finally have a forum thread to discuss roleplaying.

In combat roleplay, I often find it difficult to describe boons and some conditions. Obviously, some, like bleeding, burning, or poison, are fairly cut and dry, but more nuanced effects can often be difficult to describe in Roleplay without it feeling to 'game-y.' How do you write your character using boons and conditions? Does your character create them using magic, or do you mirror these in-game effect relying on clever prose to reflect a character's mundane or martial skills?

I am curious to see your ideas and suggestions! As a Guardian-main, boons are such a major part of the game, so it's something I'd like to translate more into roleplay.

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I personally think that they are just attitudes and mental things! Like the condition "Torment" is like going crazy because there is a demon in your brain. In the same way "Might" is just a state of mind where my character is filled with rage and power. I think that this approach is a good half-way between magic and non-explanatory boons :).

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Posted (edited)

Ok, now that I am awake, I can provide a more serious response. Here it goes:

To begin with, boons and conditions are mechanical abstractions of the effects of various abilities and spells that you come across in each profession. They are, if you will, words in a "language" that allows the 9 professions to interact with each other and the various monsters and magics found in the world of Tyria in gameplay terms.

 

This language, by all means, should be translated back to roleplay for a more immersive writing experience, but if you think about it, it's simpler than it is - you just don't have to translate the implied [relative] realism to mechanics at all! This requires that you go profession by profession and examine how the skills and traits that apply boons and conditions are flavored ((skill names, the lore of the given class - I assume OP is well-aware of the latter, or can research without having to open a whole different section of discussion over it)), and simply deduct. 

An easy example: There are a number of Guardian shouts that provide protection and/or stability. We know that in the canon of Guild Wars, shouts (or more simply, an individual's voice) can command magic through things as mundane as motivation, morale, inspiration. When a Guardian shouts "Hold the Line!", it's not just a simple command, but a voice imbued with a subtle force of magic that gives the Guardian and their allies the willpower to not falter, and that will manifests as magical protection. The enemy's weapons and spells will be less effective against you.

Conditions can work the same way. What is taunt? Well, it's a taunt. Your opponent is saying / doing something that enrages you to the point that you charge at them mindlessly even when you really should run in the other direction. Torment, as Janitsu commented before, can be interpreted as a "demon of the mind", or to be more visceral, as a curse that constantly inflicts pain on your character's nerves, to the point where it manifests as physiological harm. It can be best compared to the hexes of GW1.

Confusion is similar - your character's awareness/ability to perceive reality is manipulated (either by Mesmer's chaos magic, a Thief's poison, or an Engineer's alchemical concoction), and as a result, when you cast your very dangerous spells or launch your deadly attacks, you might end up hurting yourself with them.

Immobilized is quite easy to explain too, as it is usually applied by skills that have themes of physical binding in them. I.e.: the Ranger's entangling vines, the Guardian's chains of light from scepter 3, the Elementalist's earthen schackles summoned from the ground beneath you. But likewise, immobilize, if nothing else works, can also be written as a curse that makes your character believe they can't move.

 

Following the logic of those, might can be a literal boost to your physical strength / magical prowess by any form of empowering magic, and fury a mental state that allows you to fight with greater passion / zeal / anger in order to deal heavier strikes.

There are many, many ways to roleplay boons and conditions, you just have think of them less in the form of their mechanical abstractions, and more as simple effects of the various abilities that cause and inflict them.

Hope this helps.

Edited by Adamixos.6785
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These are all really good ideas and suggestions! I've soft of waffled on it myself, sometimes using one or the other (usually depending on my level of laziness in the RP scene >>;;)

I admit, there is something fun about treating boons as a type of universal enchantment that can be created, stolen, ripped, or corrupted in a standardized way across professions and characters. It's also definitely nice to have a clear-cut idea of how two such characters might interact, especially when RPing when unfamiliar with one another's styles.

Still, it's cool to imagine how the boons might take effect outside the parameters of the game. Guild Wars 1, without boons and conditions, had each individual skill providing a hyper-specific buff or debuff, making it clearer how it functioned from a narrative perspective. 

I have always been impressed with the boon and condition system from a gameplay design standpoint, and I just love to see how it is explored from a narrative design standpoint. ❤️

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Play them exactly like magical effects in tabletop.  Specifically pathfinder 1/2e or D&D 3.5e.  They don't specifically change your character's appearance (Unless they're an illusion of sorts.) but they do alter your character's abilities.  This can be flavored in any way.  Like how quickness from a Firebrand is different from quickness that a Chronomancer may put out.

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