I have mentioned several time before that I am into gaming, but date I have only written about videogames, and while I do have a great love for them, they are not the only kind of games I enjoy. Second on my list, though it is losing ground to the third, are role-playing games. That’s write old fashioned pen and paper gaming, where all of the visuals are either homemade or in your head. The third type on the list, which is gaining quickly on second place, if only because there is more opportunity to play them, are board games. Everyone grows up playing at least one board game or another, and many people grow up playing many, they are a fun and cheap way to spend time with the family and one of the things I look forward to about becoming a parent is getting to introduce board games to my future children. The same could be said about role-playing game in my opinion, they are fun, exciting and exercise your imagination. While I will get into all the things I think are great bout board game, including my favorite games, in a later post, I think I will spend some time first telling you about role-playing games.
I was first introduced to the idea of role-playing games, as most people my age, through movies, they were often portrayed as a gateway activity to other more serious and evil behaviors. People who played D&D were Satan worshipers and playing with fire. This thankfully a few that is quickly losing popularity and I hope will be fully dispelled the world over. After all what , really is the difference between spending all your time playing pretend with your friends, and say rooting for your favorite football team, practically nothing accept the social norms associated with each.
The basic premise behind RPGs is storytelling, the whole idea is to work with your friends to create an interesting and exciting story as a collaboration. The setting is almost irrelevant, the in game story that is, the most important thing is that you are with people you like, the rest comes down to preference. And as far as the paraphernalia goes; the dice, the maps, the figures, the character sheets, and drawings, these are just tools to help everyone share a single vision of the events as they play out. There is one exception to that list and that is the dice, the dice are important for a very different reason. The dice are their to bring in to the story the element of chance, luck, and misfortune. As human beings we are naturally terrible at imagining randomness.
In our minds randomness is simply a even spattering of all options, this is why we will even impose patterns on truly random systems, we say the a team is due for a win, or that a certain set of lottery number are hot, that a slot machine is primed. the truth is that in a random system that has six options, it is just as likely that in a hundred iterations never show one, as hundred iterations show all a single result. So as you are telling a story it is important, for the sake of realism, and believability that you not always be successful, so that when you sometimes see something incredibly rare, it is actually rare.
The first time that I ever played a Role-playing game was one weekend when I was at my friend’s house and a blizzard snowed us in, there were three of us, and Tristan, whose house it was, had been reading about how to run a Dungeons and dragons game. So we decided to roll up a few quick characters and give it a go… it was terrible. Tristan was a new Dungeon Master (DM) and a control freak to boot, so he didn’t appreciate or attempts to improvise. And my other friend, Alex, like to push peoples buttons, so as you might imagine thing disintegrated quickly when Alex tried to pick a fight with everything that was described and we were quickly killed, another set of character later we decided that it might be more for to go outside and build a snow fort. It was a number of years before I would give RPGs another chance.
The Next role playing game that I played was one that my friend, Jorden, had bought online at a discount, Deadlands: The Weird West. This game has a fantasy western theme, which is set in a version of America where a large supernatural event tips the balance of the civil war back toward the Confederates, and leads to not only a much more drawn out war, but also the advent of magic and various steam punk technologies. It is all in all a very fun setting to play in and it was with these sessions of Deadlands, that I found my love for role- playing games.
The major difference that I grew to realize, between the two games was not the particulars of the game mechanics, though Deadlands was definitely more streamlined than D&D 2nd Ed., it was the people I was playing with. Jordan, who DM’ed had more experience with running RPGs, and was also much more laid back and able to roll with the curve ball we, as players, through at him. Also we, being me, my brother, Jordan, and another friend EJ, had fewer personality conflicts. That is to say we were all more or less happy to be hanging out and cracking jokes and telling a really cool story. This is why I feel that the people in your group are by far the most important element to consider when playing a RPG.
If you are thinking about starting a campaign in some RPG, don’t just play with anyone who will agree, you should know them well enough to know if they are going to start making racist comments “in character”, or if they are going to constantly be picking fights with the other Players. That be clear, though, I am not saying you all have be best friends, or that you all have to have the same personality, in fact some interplay conflicts can make a story all the more dramatics and interesting, but if you have a combination of personalities that lead to real world fights, that are being taken seriously by one or more of the players, you should probably think about changing the group dynamic somehow.
I have played a number of other RPGs since those days, and have read about dozens of others that sound like great fun. The reason that I say that it is losing ground as my second favorite style of gaming is because it is prohibitively difficult to accommodate my friends schedules in order to actually play a regular session. But if I had the time I think it might even be my favorite type of gaming, as it incorporates just about all of my interests; writing, drawing, sometimes sculpting, it almost always revolves around some kind of fantasy story, and you get to hang out with good friends all the while. I would recommend role playing games to anyone who likes being creative, and telling stories, or just playing pretend.
And that’s my take on role-playing games.