Roleplaying games



On these pages I hope to talk about one of my favorite subjects:
Multi-user roleplaying games. whew. that's a mouth full. Three words really. Or four if you prepend on-line to it. Of those words roleplaying is the most important. It means that you act out a character like in a play or a novel. Only here there are no annoying directors and scriptwriters to tell you how your character should behave or feel. You make up the story as you are part of it.

Mostly this is done in some kind of game setting. Or perhaps we call it a game to prevent outsiders from make derogatory remarks. Just because it is not real that doesn't mean it can't be serious. But somehow those that do not share our passion for acting out fantasies feel they have to make snide comments and urge others to live in their narrow minded dreary world. Oops. Now I too am doing it. The point is that acting out a character in a play is great fun. Sure it can be escapism, but there's nothing wrong with a little escapism every now and then. Because the character you're playing is so close to you often have to think how things are in relation to yourself, and the emotions involved are often very intense for the player as well as for the character. In this there is little difference with life acting.

If you are new to roleplaying you might want to check out the Survival guide for help on how to get started on a roleplaying game. Or you can skip the next topics and go straight for the related topics.


Roleplaying games

There are many computer games marketed as roleplaying games.
In general they allow you to customize your hero and run her through a gameworld in an attempt to solve a series of puzzles and finish a quest. The roleplaying in this is rather thin of course, especially when compared to the kind of things I prefer to call roleplaying. There is a character you can identify with but everything is still very much 2nd person. A good roleplaying environment attempts to make it as much first person as possible, to strengthen the link between player and character. Needless to say that I won't talk much about those single user games.

Those simple computer games also miss out the one aspect that makes it really great fun: multiple players at the same time. In a simple game your hero is pitted against the monsters the game sends at her. In multi-user games you have to deal with the characters of other people. That adds a variety no single-player game can ever hope to achieve. And it allows for social interaction, romances, feuds, anything realy. All the things that make acting out worthwhile. There's no substitute to people when it comes to enact people. Besides you can do a lot of fun things with people that you would feel silly doing to a computer screen or cardboard figure. Like chatting, or heavens forbid ;) gossiping. With other players you can share losses, have others admire your accomplishments or you can simply hang out and have a good time together.


Types of roleplaying games

Categorizing roleplaying games is difficult, I'll leave that to those technically minded. But if I'm allowed I'll split roleplaying games in two broad categories it would be the destinction between on-line and off-line games. The first is done by connecting players to a computer program somehow. The players type in commands to tell their character what to do, and they see what the other characters in the same location do and say. The second is done usually with a board or card-like game. Players come together to play a game that involves a fair amount of rolepaying.
The on-line version has the advantage that you are very much involved first person. It's awfully easy to ignore that you really are sitting behind a keyboard and typing a conversation. The off-line games have the advantage that you are actually meeting people. Often that adds a certain flavour to games, and it alows you to have fun together outside the game as well as inside it.
Actually now I come to think of it there's a third category (which proves that I really shouldn't bother with all this definition stuff): live-acting roleplaying. Here a group, and sometimes it's a huge group, is brought together and they're set a task or quest. The difference is that this time they -are- the character. No typing, no boards and dice, but a real forest or something and real actors to play the opponents. You don't hear or read stories of what is happening, they happen to you there and then. If you are to fight you are to fight for real (or rather as real as can be without actually hurting the other). Games like these are awesome but unfortunately they're also quite difficult to organize, or expensive to take part in. If you ever get a chance though, take it!
A less expensive, and less game-like, form of live-acting is what is commonly known as living history. Here a group of people re-enact a historical period or event, e.g. life in the 17th century frontier villages or the battle of Waterloo. This too is great fun and most organisations are happy to welcome new members.


More information

Anyway, enough talking, lets go on to the more interesting collection of pages were you can read about material I have collected, or better, where you can participate in the discussions and chatting. I'd love to hear from you!

  • get on-line: discussion of and pointers to multi-user online games.
  • dungeon: discussion of various roleplaying games.
  • !Overlord: Information and discussions about developing roleplaying muds.
  • light, camera, action! life acting, how's and where's. And what's fun about them.
  • book stand: the many stories that inspired roleplaying games.
  • get a life: now's your chance to hit back at those that claim you should do something usefull instead of gaming.
  • now we're talking: the discussion pages. A bulletin board and newsgroup in one.
  • Survival guide: If you're new to roleplaying you might find the information here of some use in getting involved in a game.


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