I have been involved in role-playing games for about 15 years. Now, not all of those years I was actively involved in playing, but I was always hearing about games that were going on and talking about role-playing. So it is difficult for me to look back and figure out what a new person to this type of gaming would want to know.
So I asked my best friend, the best friend that I kept role-playing a secret from for many years. Because she now knows the truth (I am a pretty big geek) AND because she is the most questioning and examining person I knew, I gave her the task of asking me questions about role-playing that she was curious about. Today, I will reveal 5 questions, but I do have more for another post. (And I am pretty sure these answers will lead to more questions… and down the rabbit hole we go.)
1. How do you win?
Ah yes, the eternal question of winning. My friend ranted about knowing how to win other games, “I, mean, do you want to collect the most money, not land on a snake, or what?!” I think perhaps it would be easier to answer the opposite question and work back from there.
How do you lose? I am pretty sure a good way to look at loss is in a TPK (total party kill). That means that everyone who is currently playing in the game dies. There is now no team memory of what goals your group had for them to complete. That is a loss. If a couple people die, you can usually carry on, albeit in a different way.
So winning is a group thing. It is not really an individual thing. There is usually some goal in the game, like overthrow tyrannical baron or save Bobby from the villain Bartholome or save your hometown from goblin attacks. These goals are woven into a story so your characters in the story are motivated in some way to help. So I would say completing these goals are winning, but often there are other things that come up during your adventure that may become new secondary goals to complete after your first goal. It is similar to real life. For example if you look at my life, would you say that I have lost or won? Maybe some things are awesome, but other things am still working on. Say I have a decent job, but it is going nowhere. So my goal may be to look for a career that has some type of advancement. But that doesn’t mean that I ignore other things that could be important in my life to change like buy a house. These goals that you can ‘win at’ are sometimes cut and dry or they can be fluid.
Summary: If you are still alive and somehow working towards your goal(s), you are winning (in gaming and in real life).
2. How are teams picked? Is it always teams?
In general, you are all one team. It is a cooperative-type game. The person who set up the adventure, the GM or Game Master, is the one that plays all the ‘bad guys’ so you aren’t usually against your own group. You play together and you win together.
3. How are characters picked?
Characters can be made very randomly (with dice rolling and tables of information as your guide) or as a discussion with the GM or a combination of both. In any group, you usually want someone who is tough, someone who can heal you, someone who has some magic or an extraordinary ability, someone who is agile and can fight from further away, someone who is a leader, or someone who is smart. Usually your character is a mix of a couple of these things. But if something seems to be lacking in the group, your GM may suggest you play that missing piece.
But the most interesting stuff, like the characters personality are all your own creation. It’s acting and improv at its finest.
4. What type of traits do you want in teammates?
In general, what I want in other player characters are interesting people to interact with. I tend to really enjoy that aspect of role-playing. I also want people that help instead of hinder while reaching our goals.
5. What are different types of character traits?
There are as many character traits for characters as there are for you. Some things are written out with your character, but other things are more fluid. So you may have numbers that tell you how strong, how smart, or how perceptive you are, but there may not be anything that talks about how funny or how serious you are or how well you work with others. Those things come out when you play.
That concludes the first 5 questions I will look at, but stay tuned for more questions next week on Thursday.
Vanessa is a sarcastic, 30-something wife and mother. She likes things and stuff, but not simultaneously. She thinks everyone should be roleplaying.
You stated, "But the most interesting stuff, like the characters personality are all your own creation. It’s acting and improv at its finest." ... but that's not always true. Many games dictate portions of the personality mechanically, some even do so randomly (EG: Pendragon as initially written).
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