There is little, possibly no hope left in me that discussing role-playing as phenomenology has been time well-spent. "Sporadic cynicism" indeed. But every so often something happens to disperse it. In this case, it's Dustin DePenning, author of Synthicide, whom you may have watched in play with me over in Actual Play.
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What is this table-top role-playing thing? How does it work, what does it do, what kind of designs do which things? I've got some ideas, and so do you. This is where we talk about it - like this!
Some of my posts here present a concept, game title, or a historical hobby event for discussion in the comments, so join in with a will. You'll also find interviews and conversations.
I'm also recording what I guess I call "labs," which are organized and prepared at the Patreon. I run them on Mondays using Discord, and anyone pledging there can participate when they feel like it.
It is crazy how common and how widely-developed craziness is, in role-playing. As much as world-building, as much as combat options, as much as magic systems, this is a definite feature of the hobby with its own schools and aims. It is clearly a primary path toward characterization, character development, player agency (through its managed lack in many cases), and emergent plot.
Ken Oswald is a game and comics retailer in Alabama, who'll be giving an ambitious introduction to role-playing later this summer, He contacted me for sort of a brainstorm, let's compare notes session. The question is, how might a non-role-playing, or sorta-semi, heard-about-it audience be best oriented? Without manipulating toward specific products, and without falling back on the familiar hobby framing-terms.
Earthsea was clearly on everyone's mind in early role-playing. Due to rambling, I didn't include some of the time we spent realizing how many systems and settings dipped into its terms and the organization of magic.
I like those diagrams so much that I feel lonely about it, and I was getting so irritated with being too personally talky during labs. that I was pleased to find the solution to both. "Bring your own," I said, and led a little curriculum through making them.
That's four role-playing games, from 1984, 1998, 2003, and 2012. Each one is strikingly different from other games of its respective publishing era - at the very least interesting and ambitious, and in my view, worth a lot more than "at the very least."
This is an excerpt from my conversation with Ken Oswald, who contacted me regarding a bunch of role-playing topics. He was especially interested in the references he'd run across about Sean Demory's 2002 game le mon mouri, so here is the bit where we went through its system diagram and talked about its content.
The one thing I regret is not making up twenty characters across seven game titles and launching into fervent play right away. This was so much fun.
Oh golly, let’s see a bunch of guys over-share about how much their characters have been having sex!! ... for those few of you remaining in the room, you’ll see us talk well beyond the boilerplate. Sex has been freed-up in role-playing over the last decade and a half. This seems to have freed us as well into dialing-back and modulating how it plays into everything else, to find some new things this medium-and-activity can do.
Here's a conversation with Ivan, following up on his comments (and video) in the Finding D&D series. I split the last bit off to join the SFTV RPG seminar too, so this was sort of an all-over-Adept-Play discussion. It's divided roughly into some "how we met D&D" talk, thoughts on fantasy in role-playing and fantasy vs. role-playing, essentialism's virtues and limitations, and a little bit of rather good contrasts in views about playing on purpose.