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Author Topic: "What Is A Roleplaying Game?" Essay -- Is this rig  (Read 2239 times)
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« on: May 11, 2004, 09:43:49 AM »

As I've stated in previous threads, I'm starting a local roleplaying club.

I'm writing a small essay for my club newsletter that will explain what an RPG is to those outside of our hobby.  This essay will be a sidebar in each issue of the newsletter, which will be free and distributed through our local retailers.  It's my hope that the local retailers will point interested people outside of the hobby to our newsletter for a description of what roleplaying games are and those people will then contact our club.

I'll expand this essay in the future and turn it into a pamphlet that our club and the local retailers can present to interested people outside of the hobby.  

Please read this essay and let me know if I have my facts straight and have included all the relevant details.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Roy


WHAT IS A ROLEPLAYING GAME?

A roleplaying game is an interactive form of entertainment where a group of participants (usually called players) each control the actions of a different fictional character and explore an imagined situation created by another participant (usually called a gamemaster or other colorful title).  An agreed-upon set of guidelines (usually called a game system) governs the social interactions of the participants and helps them determine how a given character's actions affect the imagined situation.  The participants take turns acting and reacting until the imagined situation has been resolved.

Although the term "game" implies competition, most roleplaying games actually feature a cooperative relationship between the participants.  A participant's enjoyment usually comes from imagining the details presented during play, contributing to those details, and socially interacting with the other participants.  Roleplayers often say the only way to win is to have fun playing.

Roleplaying games are really just a structured way of playing "let's pretend".  It's kind of like playing with action figures where you take some cool characters, put them into interesting situations, and decide what happens.

While all roleplaying games share similarities, there are a lot of differences between them.  

Some roleplaying games take place within a setting created by the game designer, others take place within the setting of popular TV shows (such as Stargate SG-1 or Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and still others require the participants to come up with their own setting.

Most roleplaying games have the participants roll dice to see if a character's actions were successful, but others have the participants flip coins or make the best poker hands from a deck of cards.  Other roleplaying games have the participants roll dice to see who has the right to narrate the outcome of a situation and let the narrating participant decide if the character succeeds or fails.  Some roleplaying games don't use any random element.

Many roleplaying games suggest one person become the group’s gamemaster, but others encourage the participants to share that role.  Most roleplaying games have the players each control one character while others feature a shared pool of characters that each player can choose from.

Although I've done my best to give you a good idea of what roleplaying games are, not everyone will agree with my definition.  For example, some people argue that single-player computer games are roleplaying games even though you play them by yourself.  I'll leave it up to you to decide what a roleplaying game is to you, but the definition I've included here is the one our roleplaying club supports.

If you have any questions, or would like to try a roleplaying game, please contact me.  I'm always eager to discuss my hobby.
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1121

student, second edition


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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2004, 10:21:15 AM »

Hey Roy:

I think it's a pretty good explanation for the curious non-gamer. One thing you might want to consider revising, though:

Quote
Many roleplaying games suggest one person become the groupís gamemaster, but others encourage the participants to share that role.


I'd suggest a quick explanation of what a "gamemaster" is or can be (e.g. moderator, facilitator, arbiter, etc).

Otherwise, well done.
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Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2004, 11:09:44 AM »

Matt,

Thanks for the suggestion and the kind words.  I'll work that in to the final draft.

Roy
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2004, 01:52:45 PM »

Personally, I would get rid of the stuff in parenthesise (sp?) It interupts the  flow of the text and makes reading a little difficult.
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Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2004, 04:06:59 PM »

Quote
Although the term "game" implies competition, most roleplaying games actually feature a cooperative relationship between the participants. A participant's enjoyment usually comes from imagining the details presented during play, contributing to those details, and socially interacting with the other participants. Roleplayers often say the only way to win is to have fun playing.


I'm going to suggest you describe it as co-operative puzzle solving and mental sparing, if you want suggest a gamist style. The idea of sparing (and puzzles) is not so much to beat someone but to sharpen the mind. When played in a group, it also means you can be appreciated and appreciate your friends for how sharp yours or their mind is. And typically its the GM presenting these mental puzzles to players, not to beat them but to spar with them.

In a past post of mine, I wrote three one sentence descriptions of various play types, to help convey RP to newbies or anyone. It might help.
One liner GNS
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2004, 07:29:00 PM »

Thanks for the feedback.

Noon, I'll check that thread out.  Thanks for mentioning it.

Roy
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timfire
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Posts: 756


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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2004, 06:10:40 AM »

Quote from: Roy
Most roleplaying games have the participants roll dice to see if a character's actions were successful, but others have the participants flip coins or make the best poker hands from a deck of cards.  Other roleplaying games have the participants roll dice to see who has the right to narrate the outcome of a situation and let the narrating participant decide if the character succeeds or fails.  Some roleplaying games don't use any random element.

The above paragraph sounds very definitive, rather than sounding like you were just listing possibilities. I mean, it sounds like RPG's only use dice, coins, or poker hands. I would change it to sound more open. For example:

"Most roleplaying games have the participants roll dice to see if a character's actions were successful, but other methods are sometimes used, such as flipping a coin or comparing the best poker hands from a deck of cards.  Some roleplaying games have the participants roll dice to see who has the right to narrate the outcome of a situation and let the narrating participant decide if the character succeeds or fails.  Still other roleplaying games don't use any random element."

[OK, that first sentence is a tad wonky, but you get the picture,]

Also, I would move the "let's pretend" paragraph up a spot, so that it's above the "gaming" paragraph.
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2004, 07:07:24 AM »

Thanks, Timothy.  Very good point.  I appreciate the help.

Roy
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M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2004, 08:52:55 PM »

O.K., I've refrained from doing this, and maybe I should still refrain; but for comparison you might read through http://www.mjyoung.net/rpg/Multiverse.html">What is an RPG?, the section of Multiverser that addresses this.

For what it's worth, it's an appendix, intended for people who are not familiar with the form, and not stuck up front where it doesn't belong.

Hope it helps.

--M. J. Young
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Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2004, 10:06:12 PM »

Hey, M.J.!

Thanks for the link.  I'm not sure why you were refraining from posting it, but I'm glad you changed your mind.  Thanks again.

Roy
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