What is Role-playing?
Have you ever read an adventure
book and imagined that you were the storys main character? You lived in the same
setting, experienced the same events and overcame the same obstacles that that character
did. You suspended reality for a time to live in another world. You were imagining
yourself in another role.
Role-playing is very much like that. In a role-playing
game (RPG) however, you are free to choose the game setting yourself instead of having a
book decide the background. You can choose another time or another place in the real world
in which to live, or even create your own imaginary world if you like. Science may give
way to magic and potions, or be enhanced through the addition of star flight and time
travel. Fantastic creatures, robots or alien races may exist side-by-side with Humanity.
The world in which you imagine yourself determines the
types of characters you might choose to play. In a historical setting, your character will
be one that actually might have lived then, a gladiator in the Roman Empire or a Viking in
the days of Eric the Red for instance. No matter what the setting however, you can
generally choose to be a hero or a villain and be strong and healthy or cunning and wise.
You might even be of a non-Human race or possess super-human abilities.
Regardless of who you are, you are the one who
determines your own fate. You are not bound to the text in a book, but write your own
story. You make the decision to try to save the damsel in distress or start the war or
point your ship toward another star system to explore it. Perhaps you will gain wealth and
power and prestige or end up marooned in uncharted space.
In an RPG, you usually play only one of several
characters, where each interacts with the others, help each other and work toward the same
goal. One character might be the captain of a starship, and others might be engineers,
navigators and other crewmembers, for instance. Or one might be a noble warrior leading an
army, while others might be infantry, archers and cavalrymen.
How players have their characters interact with the
others in the game depends on their characters background and beliefs. An elf might
prefer the company of other elves and distrust dwarves. The British sea captain would act
differently when among pirates than he would his own crew. Many times, interaction amongst
the players is at least as much fun as finding that buried chest of gold at the end of the
And this is the best part; a book will run out of
pages, but the role-playing game doesnt have to end when the adventure is over. That
chest of gold might be cursed or a Spanish galleon might intercept the ship on the way
home, giving the characters new goals that lead to other challenges and possible rewards.
At the center of the game is the storyteller, the game
master. He is the one who guides the players on their adventures. He determines the
difficulties that the players face, as well as the rewards that they might receive. He
doesnt force the story in any particular direction, but paints the background that
makes it complete. The game master usually has a great deal of experience with the game
system and seamlessly hides the mechanics of the system in order to let the players focus
on the story
and the fates of their characters.
More on getting into the fun in my next article, maybe
Enjoy your stories, wherever they lead you.