Tuesday, June 2, 2015

True Roleplaying requires emotional connection

Awhile ago, I posted this.  Basically, my definition of a roleplaying game.  I got a bit of constructive criticism at the time... and rightly so.  It was lacking.

Sure, casual roleplaying could be defined by taking on a role.  And doing it solely for the noble purpose of having fun qualified it as a game... yet many of us know deep down that something's missing from that equation.  That's not "true roleplaying" or truly what a roleplaying game is. *

I read a post from this thread last night about Necrozius' review of How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss:

So I started reading the book and I love it so far. I even screencapped a paragraph or two and sent it to my friends because it resonated with me so much. Some of the tips were pretty good, like making three traits for each element of a scene, and I already find myself reflexively thinking "now I need three traits for this" every time I introduce something into the game. It also inspired me to make this thread since it talked about the nature of roleplaying.
Haven't finished it yet, but it was enough for me to go and order all of the other books on a whim.  ~  mAcular Chaotic

And it took me to a thread where I ended up posting the following...

I've seen roleplaying defined as a few things, and as the key to having fun and being immersed. 
There's the common trope of acting; you disappear yourself inside another character. 
Then there's simply playing out how you'd act if it was basically you with a few differences.
I feel like most people just say "roleplaying" when they mean one or the other, which can create some misunderstandings. Which one are you supposed to be doing? When a new player asks "how do I play?" what are you supposed to say?  ~  mAcular Chaotic

First off, that's really cool that How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss got you thinking and posting about this subject. 

Second, for someone just starting out and asking that particular question, I'd go with option #2. They should try to play a character roughly similar to themselves. 

The more experienced the roleplayer, I think they can make their own decision on how much to act, disappearing inside a role, etc. Also, if it's only going to be a one-shot, acting could be a fun diversion. Committing to a particular role - a character that isn't a bit like you - can be exhausting and tedious session after session after session.

At the end of the day, it's a personal choice. However, there must be an emotional connection between the player and the character for "true roleplaying" to take place. What do I mean by emotional connection? If something emotionally charged happens to the character, the player has to be able to feel something: anger, joy, fear, love, blood lust, empathy, sympathy, a vibration, resonance, understanding... something. If that emotional connection isn't there, then one's roleplaying is no different than pretending to be Ms. Pac-Man, eating pellets and evading ghosts.  BTW, getting excited about your high score doesn't count.  ~  VS

That's it.  Feel free to comment, critique, or congratulate.  ;)

Thanks for reading,


*  Admittedly, the phrase "true roleplaying" leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some gamers.  Totally understandable.  "Actual roleplaying" might have been a better term, because I'm not trying to tell anyone how to roleplay or that such-and-such a method if superior to any other method.  Discovering its essence - the thing that makes tabletop RPGs different than playing a video or board game - is my goal.

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