CAS

CAS

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Some thoughts on roleplaying...




Some thoughts on roleplaying...

...Then the key element is a decision on what is a game mechanic and what is not. The numbers are necessary, and I wouldn't play a version of D&D without dice. One of my favorite quotes comes from an old Dragon where someone commented on the Amber diceless RPG. They said (something like this) "When they told me to leave my dice at home I decided to stay home with them."

If you see the stats such as Int and Str and Wis, and Chr, etc... as nothing more than numbers and bonuses to be applied in a bookkeeping fashion, then you are doing yourselves an incredible disservice. AD&D isn't a board game, it is something much, much more, and the central mechanic of this game is roleplaying.

The roleplaying is the pure magic of the game, it is what players and DMs alike tell stories about. It is what sets a spark, then a fire to the souls of the players and makes this something more than casual entertainment.

***

DMing is like driving a car. You learn it and at first you are conscious of your foot on the brake, the accelerator, when to signal, how to park, but as time goes by all the mechanical aspects become second nature and you concentrate on other things, your ride is smooth and easy, you know when to brake and how much pressure to put on the pedal, you signal without having to think about signaling, you park without stop and start and stop and start... as a DM you reward actions that need to be rewarded with an appropriate reward, you apply fair bonuses for character actions without needing a chart and a table to tell you how much, you have an idea on how to play a smart monster and how to play a dumb one...

But if you get caught up in nothing but the numbers and keep your players from experiencing what it is to be someone dumber or stronger or smarter or just completely different from who they are in real life, and instead make it all about the numbers, well then...

DMing can be like driving a car, but keeping it all by the numbers is like making your players do nothing but take the written test.

***

AD&D is anything you want it to be, but its intention was to be a roleplaying game. (Read through the 1e players handbook introduction and you will see what I mean).

But hack & slash is pretty boring after awhile for most people. Wargamers tend to avoid hack & slash in favor of strategy and tactics.

All gaming is about fighting paper tigers, whether it is a tiger with fur or a tiger of steel... whether we push miniatures across a map or cardboard counters or use no map or counters at all. What makes that paper tiger real is the imagination, and with that imagination we roleplay. Sometimes we roleplay humans, sometimes elves or dwarves or other fantasy creatures, sometimes we roleplay with a god's eyeview of some battlefield during WWII or the Civil War or ancient Rome, but even the most diehard wargamer roleplays to some extent, or they would be playing chess and not a wargame.

Sometimes we roleplay as if we were kids again and swatting down tall weeds with a stick and think we are wadding into battle. Sometimes we build snowmen to knock them down, or fight with plastic guns in a game of got you first, but it pales... sadly for most of us it pales. We slay no real tigers, we take no real treasure, we hack and slash with words and numbers and pencil marks on a sheet of paper, and most of us want more...

The amazing thing is that there is more, more than can be believed, so much more it can only be imagined, and the door to that realm is opened through roleplaying, very easily opened. The paper tigers begin to color, the lines move, they stir from the page, a paw reaches out and touches the ground, claws flex like knives made of bone... the tiger's head appears, the mouth opens to a world of fangs and lolling tongue, red and hungry, and the roar of that beast shakes the soul of the brave... and the paper tiger becomes real.

This beast will not be slain through numbers or dice, will not be charmed by a pencil scratching on a page. The tiger is real, the sword in your hand is real and sharp, your neck prickles, your stomach turns with fear, and you step forward, and the game begins...

You're reading about how to change a tire, but after awhile you just know how to do it.

But if you want to read more about how to drive the car:


"The Game

As a role player, YOU become Falstaff the fighter. You know how strong, intelligent, wise, healthy, dexterous and, relatively speaking, how commanding a personality you have.... You act out the game as this character, staying within your "god-given abilities', and as molded by your philosophical and moral ethics (called alignment). You interact with your fellow role players, not as Jim and Bob and Mary who work at the office together, but as Falstaff the fighter, angore the cleric, and Filmore, the mistress of magic!..."

PHB Pg#7



Remember the DMG is not the domain of the players; it is an instruction manual for the DM. The numbers are there to provide structure, but the flesh of the game, the blood and bone, the magic of the game is imagination. There is a much, much greater experience out there for players and DMs alike than just dealing with the numbers. AD&D is more than a written test, get on that bike, (no helmets please) and let the wind hit you and the feel of the engine and the road.

4 comments:

  1. The genius of tabletop roleplaying is that it is a pen & paper virtual reality that a referee can use present a variety of experiences for his players. What made Gygax and Arneson work so great is that they found a practical way of doing this that just about anybody can lean and use.

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    1. This discovery is a momentous event. It is a groundbreaking tool in the exploration and development of the imagination and the imagination is the source of all creativity. Certainly there existed sparks of this kind of thing before Gygax and Arneson, but they built the first kiln, the first forge, and wrote the book for others on how to do it.

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  2. This says a lot of good things. Bookmarked!

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    1. Thanks! I'm collecting thoughts and old forum posts of mine and this stood out.

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