How u mine 4 rpg?

(mid 1999)

As near as I can tell, I wrote this sometime in mid 1999. It's rather an embarassing piece of my writing, but somewhat entertaining, I think. All I ask is that I not be held responsible for opinions on games that I held oso many years in the past. Heh.

"What is roleplaying?">

Or, "I've been bumbling through life without a clue," adapted from a conversation with a friend of my mother.

Roleplaying is, at its most basic form, a game (hence, "roleplaying game," or "RPG"). You, as the player, take on the mentality of a character of your own design, and direct its actions through a world created in the space between the players' and GM's minds. Your character has certain stats and abilities, determined at character creation, which evolve according to your actions and the plot.

"Wait!" you cry, "WTF is this GM thing you mentioned?" It stands for "Game Master," a derivative of "Dungeon Master," from ye olde Advanced Dungeons and Dragons days. "GM" is the name given to he/she who runs the game. Your GM becomes your god, in a very real sense. The GM comes up with the plot for your game, controls all the NPCs (non-player characters) that you encounter, and guides you through their world.

"How do they do that?" The GM describes the action and scene as it happens, leaving the rest for your imagination to color in. You control your own character's actions, whether they be piloting a ship through a wormhole or slicing off the Emperor's head. The GM reacts to what your characters do, seeking to weave them into the story in his/her head.

"So, how do you play? Isn't this just acting?" Well, sort of. Roleplaying IS a game, utilizing dice and stats to determine whether your character can do an action. Depending on who's running the game and who's playing, an rpg can range anywhere from a dice fest to an informal acting session. That part is up to you. The actual dice mechanism varies from game to game, and a large part of finding a game that you like is finding one whose system you like.

"What is it like?"

Or, "How the hell do you act? What is it like?" adapted from the same conversation.

First rule of being a successful roleplayer: Be Creatively, Yet Constructively, Silly. Sure, you want to advance the plot, and seriousness definitely has its benefits, but the game won't be fun without Seth complaining "We can't stop here! This's bat country," Aaron scribbling "1D4 + FUCK" on the map, and Kevin bellowing out "I'M PRACTICING BEING SUBTLE!!!!" You're doing this for fun, remember? Joke.

More seriously, reacting to situations in character isn't as hard as it may seem. Just think: What would you say if you saw a huge ice elemental bearing down on... well, perhaps that's not the most general example. But anyway, quite often, novice roleplayers simply choose a character that's similar to themselves, and play off their gut. Once you've learned a system and have nothing else to think about, designing a character more different from yourself becomes more interesting and feasible.

When in doubt, the option of retreating from playing a role into playing a game is always there. While distasteful to most seasoned roleplayers, allowing the dice to speak for you is occasionally a comfort, especially when you don't know the people around you well enough to casually call Vinnie the Bounty Hunter to sit and spin on a certain digit.

But where's the fun in that? Insult him. Just make it amusing and in character, and all shall be fine. Sometimes the greatest lines in your roleplaying history come from novice players (the classic in one of Mark's campaigns: the paladin who walked up to a horde of goblins, and when they asked what he wanted, boldly declared "We're here to kill your wizard."). Moral? Roleplaying is whatever your character makes it to be. Talk. Carve a place for yourself in this imaginary world.

Who knows, someday you might have a pass through the mountains named after you.

"Shut up already"

Or, "How many games are there? Can anyone try it? Should I? It almost sounds like I'd like it," adapted from the same conversation (I blinked pretty hard at that point).

Interested in trying roleplaying out, but not sure if "the game" is for you? Remember, there's many games. Pick one, any one. There's a roleplaying game suited to every style of play imaginable. There are futuristic, medival, political, swashbuckling, and plainly boring games. Finding people you like to play with is the difficult part, but finding a game? Easy. Which brings me to the point of this paragraph. A brief profile of games that I like.

I've been roleplaying for a scant five years now. This places me as a baby; many guys that I roleplay with are not only older than me, but started roleplaying much younger. Many of them started out playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, some of them starting before they hit double digits in age. I've always sneered at them, because I thought AD&D was dumb. It's medieval hack-and-slash, with more focus on your character's Dexterity stat and what nifty item you got from the orc you killed than their personality.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

A few months ago, I was approached (in a computer lab of all places) by some members of the Husky Paintball Club. We chatted for a bit, and they tried to entice me along on many activities (it was actually really funny). Suddenly, they invited me to roleplay. Interested, I asked them what system. When they replied AD&D, I laughed, but agreed to try out one session. One session, playing with four guys who I didn't know, has turned into one of the most enjoyable campaigns I've ever played. Sure, I still think AD&D is a stupid system. It's complicated and can be a little silly, but it has its merits. And, most importantly, playing AD&D with Drory, Aaron, Joe, and Mark has taught me the most important thing about roleplaying: It's not the system that matters. Good companions can make an enjoyable game out of yes, even AD&D. Even an AD&D game that's run at 9:30 AM on Saturdays (I still think they're crazy for that—roleplaying is meant to be done at 2 in the morning, buzzed on sugar). Anyway, I'm getting long winded. Point: I do recommend AD&D. I even like it a little.

And now, on to bigger and better games. Well, okay, not bigger. And I suppose better is only a personal judgement. Deadlands is a rpg placed in a Wild West setting. Cowboys, Indians, fancy-pants gamblers, they're all here. Plus some poker hex-slingers, undead monsters aplenty, and even a couple undead player characters. It's great.

I started playing Deadlands a couple months before my run-in with the HPC. I didn't expect to like it much, because, well, I hadn't played it before. You'd think I'd start learning about having that sort of attitude. Deadlands has an interesting system, utilizing not only dice, but poker chips and decks of cards. It took some getting used to, but the added randomness gives the game a nice twist.

Deadlands marked a very big step in my roleplaying life. Until I began playing it, I'd never before played a game that used guns. I still prefer games with a lower technology level, and the character I made for Deadlands was originally supposed to be a knife fighter. Murphy's Law of Roleplaying reads: Your Character Will Nearly Always Turn Out Opposite To What You Originally Intended. Callie's Colt-45 and Winchester rifle became her best friends. I still don't like guns in roleplaying that much, but I must say that blowing a hole in someone, even if it's only in your imagination, can be quite satisfying.

My great love, however, is any system that I get to use a sword. It's ironic, I suppose, that my AD&D and Deadlands characters ended up using a bow and guns, respectively. The last game I'll talk about should make up for that. Legend of the Five Rings is the darling of my roleplaying career. Set in a medival Japan, L5R brings intrigue, swordplay, magic, and a delicious sense of honor together in a truly awesome blend.

Can you tell I like it?

For roleplayers interested in Japanese culture, L5R is a must-try. While the rules bend reality quite a bit, the setting is perfect for, well, pretending to be a samurai. The system is, for the most part, clean. Only ten-sided dice are used, combat is uncomplicated, and the limits to court activity are set only by your own eloquence. I've tended to play female samurai, but characters range from warriors to spellusers to dedicated courtiers and merchants. It's so great! Unfortunately, it's hard to explain, especially well enough to do it justice.

I've participated in many L5R campaigns, and played multiple characters. I've enjoyed it thoroughly every time (even the time that my character had to kill herself in the first session). L5R is the one game that I'm not all too picky about who I want to play with. Certainly, there's people that I prefer not to be in the same room with, but a game that we're mutally passionate about can smooth a lot of sharp edges.

Roleplaying, the salve for all wounds. Or something. Enough of my rambling: go check out the rest of this portion of my site if you're interested in more in-depth information about my personal experience with the king of time-sappers.