I received this as a DM from a player, and I thought it might be useful to discuss it on the open forums:
"How does the team generally want PCs to handle IC write ups of NPCs in dungeon runs? Say, prisoners or corpses. I know you all don't want to say each time who is rescuable and who is not, but sometimes the NPC description can imply something. For example one recent NPC was hanging from a tree thing and her description said "she appears to be in need of help" - does that imply cutting her down saves her even when that seems to mechanically make the body vanish and there is no actual dialogue?"
My answer: It's true there are strict rules in place about players not roleplaying the NPCs, and they're important, but there are a lot of little gray areas like this in the game where I think there can be a little wiggle room. As a player I try to come up with an explanation that fits as closely to what is seen in game as possible, and I try to react the way my character would react also.
In the example above, I would think it a bit too much to RP that cutting her down saves her. I'd be more inclined to RP that the PCs cut her down, but that it was too late for her, and she was already dead. Similarly in one FOIG place there are burned people staked down, and they are moving. I always RP that those people are dead and the twitching is due to some magical effect, because otherwise my characters would try to free them and heal them, which it is not possible to do.
If prisoners are freed, and there is a dialogue and they disappear after thanking their rescuers, then I think it's fine to write about that and say they were grateful and were escorted out, or that they were given invisibility potions so they could make their way out (if the PCs trash the potions). I would keep it vague and not go into detail about what the prisoners said and did. I do recall one place where the PCs cannot get the prisoners to leave, which is very frustrating!
When creatures and enemies are killed, the bodies of course disappear and are replaced by little piles of remains. It is usual to RP that this does not happen ICly; the actual bodies stay there. However, sometimes there are descriptions of what happens when something is killed, such as "melts into a puddle of goo", or "returns to its home plane"; in that case, RP that that's what happens. It's okay, too, to RP what you are doing to the bodies.
I have my characters break torture devices and cell doors if they are breakable, and if they're not I either RP that I disabled them, or I RP that I tried to break them but they were too sturdy to break in the time available.
It would be great if all the gray areas could be cleared up, so that instead of "she appears to be in need of help", it would say "sadly she is beyond help", but there are always so many things to work on that these things have to wait. I think certainly little problem areas like that should be brought to the attention of the team so we know about them and can put them in the queue.
Basically, I don't mind if players make a little bit of unimportant stuff up for the sake of good RP as long as they don't go too far. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and conservatism, though, because it's easy to go too far.
Other thoughts are welcome!
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