What is a roleplaying game ?
First, let define what is a game!
A game is an activity where you seek entertainment, but you can also seek competition, like in e-sport.
You can play Starcraft for fun or to win, even to live if you earn enough money.
So, you always learn something in a game because you try to achieve something.
But, a game can be more or less competitive depending on what is at stake.
For a roleplaying game, the pen-and-paper version makes you sit at a table with your friends or strangers, one of you being the game master.
The game master will tell the story, arbitrate the rules and try to satisfy everyone.
The players will play their character, follow the rules, and try to take up the challenges that happen.
You will learn a lot about yourself (depending on the character you play, and if you are the game master, on the kind of story you imagine) and about others for the same reasons. However, it is not really a competitive game, no money or reward to win, only a good moment to share and a character to upgrade.
But even if a game is competitive and is your every day job, I think we can easily distinguish it from a job by the enjoyment you feel doing it, you have chosen it. Some moments may be boring or annoying, but most of time you are happy. We can compare play with art about this point, it is passion, not a day job.
So, a roleplaying game is not a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) like this one 😉
A roleplaying game is a game where you are all involved in a story created by the game master.
A player not only plays his character like in a video game, he will also contributes to the story. The actions of his character will influence the next part of the game.
A good game master is able to modify his story, or make believe it is different, so the players stay involved. But at the same time he knows where he leads them, it is sometimes quite hard to keep all this balanced.
The players have playable characters who will evolve during the game. They quite always become more and more powerful/skilled, but they also change or deepen their personalities.
A roleplaying game is fun, offers a giant playground to your imagination (far more than the video games), allows you to share a good moment with your friends (or to make new friends), and is also quite good for your relationship skills and your smartness.
In our society where everyone is in a hurry, it is also the opportunity to take a moment, 4, 6 or even 8 hours, and go in another world. It helps to put things into perspective.
I will now explain four different types of roleplaying games so you can understand all its aspects.
An adventure game is close to a roleplaying game but at the same time very different because you can’t modify your environment.
In a adventure game like Zelda, which is a video game on the Nintendo consoles, you are free of your action but limited by a framework.
Roleplaying games with a lot of rules like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder can easily become adventure games.
You play your character and try to take up the challenges given by the game master. Your aim is to succeed, get experience and gold pieces…
You will modify the world but only at the margins.
In a roleplaying game, you can modify everything. You don’t want to explore this dungeon but instead want to spy the local lord, it’s ok.
Maybe you want to meet the Gods and create a new world, why not, as long as your game master is ok with it.
Often, the more detailed is the rule system of your game, the more you can tend to an adventure game, which is not an inconvenient but only something to keep in mind.
In a game where you have 250 pages of rules and play with miniatures, it is quite hard for the game master to allow you everything you want, he has not a quad-core I7 processor in his brain 😉
About Savage Worlds, I would say it allows both way of playing, more adventure or more roleplay. You can play with miniatures and with all the rules, or you can play without miniatures and only use the essential rules, as you want.
Therapeutic roleplaying games aim to improve you in relational situations.
For example, you don’t know how to speak to your boss and it hinders you to get a promotion, a psychologist can help you with a therapeutic rolepaying game.
After having understood the problem, the psychologist creates a simulation where himself or another person will play your boss, and you will try to overcome your fear or mental block.
The simulation aims to be the closer possible to your real life, so you can use this training when confronted with your problem.
What is the link between hobby roleplaying games and therapeutic ones, you play a role and learn about yourself.
In a hobby RPG, you play a fictional character in a fictional world, and will learn a little bit about yourself.
Maybe you always play someone quite violent, no matter whether it be an elve archer or a nordic barbarian…
Maybe you always play a cunning character because you may be cunning yourself and don’t really know it.
In a therapeutic RPG, you play a role to learn, other persons play a role to help you, all this to modify your life in the real world, so you learn a lot about yourself. The objective is not to entertain yourself, so apart from the name, the link is quite tenuous between the two roleplaying games.
A rolepaying game for the professional world is also not about entertainment even if it is a good moment.
The objective can be closer to the therapeutic game, for example to help a boss, by playing the role of an employee, to better know how to manage his team, or closer to a hobby game, for example to strengthen a team with a collective game.
In both cases, we are anyway quite far from the hobby game because you have the constraints of time and usefulness. It needs to be quite short and productive for the company.
Erotic roleplaying game
I couldn’t write this article without bringing up the erotic RPG, you know, when you wear a plumber suit and your partner a nurse one… Yes, be a plumber is really dangerous 🙂
The erotic roleplaying games were surely the first ones in the history, even though they don’t have any link with the previous games I have written about.
An advice, if you write on your CV that your hobby is the roleplaying game, put a picture of a dice or precise that it is the hobby one, because the employer could think that you like to… ahem… 🙂
The world of the roleplaying games is a one of vast landscapes with an infinite horizon.
The hobby one is the most known and can be more or less an adventure one. It is split between video and tabletop games (real or virtual). The video games tend to be more adventure ones, but some tried to give you the feeling of a real roleplaying game like Baldur’s Gate.
The professional ones (therapeutic and for office) are not really known as roleplaying games. Few will link the both to the hobby roleplaying game, and as a consequence the hobby is seen as a useless activity, maybe below the video game which brings a lot of money, while he has several positive consequences for the people who do it. You can read my article « Why I play tabletop role-playing games? » about it.
So, I encourage you to play because we don’t stop playing when growing older, we become old when we stop playing 😉
I will not give you rules, but some ideas to make deeper characters for your game, and also think a little bit about yourself as a player.
You can also use the alignments of Dungeons & Dragons, which are useful to give a line to your character.
The edges and hindrances of Savage Worlds are good, and I believe you can think about it when you have already created several characters, and try to analyze your way of playing.
What kind of character do you like to play? And Why? In what kind of world?
How do play apart from your character abilities?
As for me, I prefer science-fiction worlds, I love technology, space exploration, aliens, post-apo…
No matter whether I play a smart, a strong or a dextrous character, I will alway tend to be quite direct, even hard, and will try to be important in the world where the story takes place.
In the real life, I am also quite direct and hard, so, behind a different character’s background, abilities and personality, there is my own mind which influences my way of playing.
Think about it the next time you create and play a character 😉