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  • Writer's pictureJohn Dodd

Why roleplaying?

So one thing I've been considering for the past few years is why roleplaying. I mean, it takes significantly more effort to get a campaign going, there's rules, but there's nowhere near the amount of Errata that you get for even the most basic of board games. There are videos of people showing you how it should be done, but for the most part, they just set the expectation that you should be playing in a full production with trained voice actors and full stage shows in evidence.

So why roleplay?

For me? Because you get out of something what you put into it, one shot games are all well and good, a game of MtG on the computer is a fine way to pass the time, but it doesn't get you involved in the way that any game played with other people does. That for me is the definition, many board games are competitive, and that works, nothing wrong with that. But when you're roleplaying, you're making a story, and it's not just your story, it's everyone's story, and you have to work together to make the story the best one that it could be. It's possible to just look out for yourself, and sure enough, that might last a few months, and if everyone is doing that, then there'll be several players looking for new games at the end of those months.

While lockdown has been ongoing, many roleplayers have turned to online gaming to continue making those stories even in times when we couldn't meet in person. One of my gaming groups all but faded away in that time, but another has flourished, with the irony being that the group that all but faded away was the one that was in closest proximity, and the one that has flourished had people from everywhere in it.

I don't know if the games played would have been more real had they been played in person, but I did find that the old skills used at the table, emoting to the players, setting things for them to find, watching them work through things, worked just as well at the camera as they did in person. An unexpected bonus was that down a camera, I could find a reference, a piece of music, something that made the game more real, that much more easily, and it didn't disrupt the game because I was still working the camera rather than having to pause to look something up (RSA 2 typing remains one of the skills that I learned in my youth that I never thought would have so much use in later life), so when one of the characters found a powerful artifact and picked it up, one of the other characters, watching, asked what they saw, to which (having prepared this earlier) I replied "Something like this..." and sent them this down the private discord channel.

Was it exactly what they saw? Nope. Did they get exactly where I was going with the symbolism? Absolutely. New tricks for old dogs, and it's finding those new tricks to make things just as real, no matter what medium you're playing in.

Tomorrow: Alien: The Musical, how twelve players at a convention turned a quiet evening of horror gaming into one of the most memorable games ever played...

And the dice pictured at the top are mine, click on the image to find a set for yourselves, I'm not on commission, I just like shiny things.

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