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The Seer Vitz

Roles, Rolls, and Rules: A Look at the Various Ingredients of a True RPG

Thoughts of the Great God James, as told to James A. Vitz

There are three types of attitudes towards role-playing: rule lawyers, roll players, and role players. In many situations, these three different attitudes can all work together, but from time to time they will come upon certain disagreements. They have different outlooks on what makes the RPG most interesting.

The Rules Lawyer believes that the best time in role-playing can only come if all of the rules are established. This type of attitude will result in a player who knows the ins and outs of all the rules, and knows exactly how the rules can be broken to enhance his or her character. This player most likely will be a min/max'er, a player who carefully plans out the benefits one gets from having certain abilities with certain ratings.

The Roll Player believes that the key ingredient to a good RPG is using the dice. They would rather have a lot of opportunities to use the dice (such as in combat situations) than have a well-developed plot. They can generally get along with the Rules Lawyers because the more rules there are the more chance that the dice will be necessary. They believe that the aspect of luck is one that is very intricate to having a successful RPG.

And finally you have the Role Player. This type of player does not care about the rolls and the rules as much as he/she cares about the role his/her character plays. This type of character may know the rules, but usually does not study them to find their weaknesses and benefits. This type of player very likely uses dice but would also very likely be happy with little action and much in the way of plot.

Out of the three player attitudes, the Role Player will most likely have the least fun if he is stuck with one of the other two types. The Rules Lawyer will be constantly stopping the game to point out that there is an error in the rules or that he/she thinks that the GM is in error. The Roll Player will be constantly slowing down the plot by lengthening other action sequences. The Role Player will want to get on with the plot, while the other two will not care much about the plot, only about themselves.

However, seeing that it is role-playing that we are talking about, I believe that the Role Player has the best fix on the situation. He enjoys the game for the ideas, not for the rules or means to follow the rules. He won't mind as much as the others if the GM decides to try something new that doesn't involve as much dice rolling. This is the type of mentality that all true role-players should strive for. The attitude of the Role Player!

James A. Vitz
RPG Columnist