If all this seems rather overwhelming, read on for a concise beginner’s guide to what roleplaying actually is, as written by our erstwhile President Gareth Williams.
Roleplaying games (or RPGs) are a type of game that normally involves players being characters in a story, acting through what it is they want to do. Normally, one person will be the game master (GM), and take control of most of the world. The GM tells a story, and the players are characters in that story. It is up to the players to decide what they want to do, and that’s how the game becomes interactive.
If it’s a little difficult to get to grips with this definition of roleplaying, think of it as if everyone is actors playing characters in a film, with one person taking on the combined role of director and supporting cast. The only major difference is the actors also get some say in what happens during the story. It’s also just as important to talk about what roleplaying isn’t:
- Roleplaying isn’t just about acting. Whilst being good at acting can help with getting into character it’s not necessary to be a good roleplayer. It’s more important to be prepared to be in character than to be good at accents or dialects.
- Roleplaying isn’t just about rolling dice. Rolling dice is one way to determine how events go, but it’s never the only method. Sometimes good roleplaying in itself will work better than roll-playing.
- Roleplaying isn’t just about combat. Combat will come into many different games; some will have more than others. However very few games will focus on combat solely with some combination of this, investigation, and social scenes.
If all this seems complicated, don’t worry. Roleplaying isn’t something that everyone knows how to do perfectly from the start. The other players and the GM at your table will help you to get to grips with it. The most important thing to remember when it comes to roleplaying is that everyone is coming to the table to have fun, so it’s everyone’s job to help make that happen.