One of the comparisons I’ve made between D&D 4th edition and Pathfinder for a while is that Pathfinder tends to be more conducive to role playing and 4e tends to be more conducive to roll playing.
What is the difference?
Role playing = The focus is on the story and the interaction between PCs and NPCs in order to advance the story in some way. This behavior is ideally done through verbal exchanges and does not involve rolling any dice. This can occur in combat or out of combat but is generally more associated with out of combat since combat tends to drive behavior towards…
Roll playing = The focus is on the game mechanics and applying specific rules to the resolution of a challenge or obstacle. This can occur in combat or out of combat but is generally more associated with combat. “Roll playing” obviously derives from the ubiquitous game mechanic of resolving something through rolling various dice.
One reason 4e has a reputation of being more “roll” than “role” play is because of the richness of the tactical options available in 4e when compared to Pathfinder. Just the sheer availability of combat goodness tends to encourage play to migrate towards combat.
So, all of that is to lead up to discussing our 4e game session last week, which was almost entirely a session of role playing. We had just leveled up to 21st level, which meant we were moving from paragon to epic level. That, of course, meant we had just completed a major story arc and had to set up a new story arc, travel a long way, do some shopping, talk to some powerful NPCs, etc.
And I enjoyed the heck out of it.
It is possible that others at the table may not have enjoyed it as much as I did. I hope not, but I suspect that to be the case.
Still, I was quite happy to see that role playing is really not much different in 4e than in PF when the opportunity presents itself. I suspect our next session is going to be quite combat heavy though…