Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why Roleplay?

There are so many options available to the modern fantasy loving nerd: movies, books, tv shows, video games, strategy games, card games, table top miniatures... so why do we keep coming back to the pencil/paper RPG?

I am writing this blog because I want to explore the flip side of d20, the side that often gets left behind in favor of stat blocks and character optimization. Don't get me wrong, I love the crunchy stuff too, but I think it's only half the picture. Or, maybe this is a better way to say it: if all d20 roleplaying had to offer were the stat blocks and character builds, I think we'd all have abandoned it long ago for video games, stratagy games, movies, books, etc. But we haven't. And I want shed a little light on why. 

In my opinion, a pencil-paper style RPG remains special because of it's potent cocktail of three things: uncertainty, camaraderie, and, the best of the bunch, free will.

By uncertainty, I mean that the future is a blank slate. Books, movies, and video games have endings that existed before you ever began reading/watching/playing them. In roleplaying campaign, however, players begin a story that is not just unfinished but one that will depend upon the player’s own actions to help determine the course and ultimate resolution.

By camaraderie, I mean that players experience this story together as a group.  You and your friends get to stand shoulder to shoulder, stare into the abyss of hell, and then piss on its raging fire.  Good roleplaying campaigns generate “war stories” that you and your buddies will talk about for years.

By free will, I mean players are totally in charge of their own action. When faced with a problem, they can try anything they want! Take a ship across the ocean to do some magical research? Why not! Burn down a house to distract the local police? Nothing stopping them! Run for public office just to rally community support and piss off the main bad guy? Absolutely! While success is never guaranteed, thinking outside the box is more possible here than in any other form of entertainment.

More to come...

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