What is a Roleplaying Game?
You have a problem. That problem is reality. Why must it always be just exactly what it is? The solution is as old as the first story ever told: Imagination.
We all have the potential for entire new worlds in our heads, a side effect of evolution and the development of a brain capable of solving very real problems in the world we happen to live in. But now that we no longer have to answer the questions “What can I eat?” and “What's trying to eat me?” we are left at the helm of an immensely powerful mind that can contemplate unseen realities in its spare time.
This isn’t new information, it isn’t groundbreaking when a writer creates a cast of characters and molds their lives along the path of a pre-made plot for our amusement. Homer was writing Greek hero fan-fiction before paper was invented, and the tales we tell have only gotten grander from there. But there is a practice we’ve all but forgotten, and it’s a good deal older than Odysseus.
ack when we still had wild things to worry about, and humanity would huddle around the fire to ward away the night, they would create stories together. Sure, the old man with the longest beard might lead the way, but the first myths and legends were a collaboration of many minds, and many ways of viewing the world.
At the heart of it, with all the rules and trappings stripped away, that’s what a role playing game is, the conscious decision by a group of people to sit down and tell a story together. Random elements, such as dice and cards, help to stir the pot and set the scene, but the game truly starts when the people involved decide to take an active role in their entertainment and set aside all limits but what their imaginations can conceive.
Of course this is all a fancy way of saying that a role playing game is just an extended conversation between friends but, in the end, who couldn’t get behind that?