Monthly Archives: October 2013

Roleplaying 102 – Ask Yourself Why

I suppose that one of the first questions that might follow “What is roleplaying?” is “Why should I roleplay?” All things considered, this is a fair question. After all, most people lead busy lives and so taking an evening out to partake in a shared story can be a pretty large time commitment, even more so if you’re the GM and each session requires a large amount of preparation (although this does change from GM to GM and from game to game).

So why should one choose roleplaying as a hobby? I’m going to be honest and admit that these are my reasons, and what works for me might not work for you, so it might be worth taking them with a pinch of salt.

My main reason is the narrative. I’m an unashamed bibliophile. I love stories, always have, always will and the idea that my own actions can determine the course of the story is quite an exciting one for me. Psychologically speaking, this is probably because I feel a lack of control in my own life, but who wants to read a psychological profile on a gaming blog? Not this guy. I like being able to influence the outcome of events through my clever (and not-so-clever) thinking as a player, as well as tell great stories as a GM. For me, the pinnacle of GM-ship is the feeling you get when you finish the session (either for the evening or a one-off) and your group announces they really enjoyed what happened during it. Roleplaying allows people to develop their sense of narrative, improving their skills if they write, act, direct etc. As a form of creativity, it’s surprisingly wide-ranging.

I also roleplay for the self-discovery it enables. I, and I know I’m not alone in this, use roleplaying as a way of exploring different facets of my psyche. I’ve used characters to help me understand my conflicting ideas about personal religion (a priest confronted with the Cthulhu mythos), my introversion and how it dictates my behaviour in public (a hunter/guide forced into Dragonblooded politics) and my struggles balancing both a responsible life and my love of outdoor pursuits (a medical student who runs the rooftops of Cardiff by night). There are many more characters I’ve played and many more aspects of myself I’ve analysed than I could go into here without boring you, but you get the picture. As well as this, sometimes I just take existing characters in popular culture and explore them through the lens of whatever system and campaign I’m playing in at the time. Some of my fondest memories come from doing that.

While I do have more than three reasons, the last one I’m going into here will be the ‘transferable skills’. Buzzwords ahoy! While it is a hobby, and a sometimes marginalised one at that, it can be useful in many respects. Inter-character dialogue? That promotes interpersonal skills as well as developing empathy.  Skill checks? That can help with memory. Random/scripted encounters? That there promotes teamwork, strategic thinking, the ability to plan successfully and a few other things. Depending on how you approach the hobby, you can also develop IT skills, organisational skills and character references.

This isn’t to say that you don’t need work experience though. Your entire C.V. shouldn’t be based on your hobby, but it does allow you to practice certain, useful skills, in an out of the ordinary environment. While this might seem a bit odd for a gaming blog, what I’ve been trying to explain here is that roleplaying is in no small part one of the reasons I’m more confident in social situations now than I was a few years ago. It’s a way of meeting new people, making new friends, and creating new memories around a single, bonding interest.

I hope that’s given you some reasons as to why you should roleplay, but if not, don’t worry about it. I know that roleplaying isn’t for everyone. If you have any questions, or want to share some of your own reasons for starting, or continuing, the hobby, feel free to email me or leave a comment below. Also feel free to leave comments critiquing my writing style, as I’m quite new to this, I want to know what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong.

Thanks for reading.

– Bubbles/Ryan

Roleplaying 101 – Intro to the Hobby

What is roleplaying? Open any core rulebook for a roleplaying game and you will probably find a variation upon this question within the first few pages. It is a good question. For many of us, roleplaying is a hobby, for some it is a competition and for all it is (hopefully) good fun.

But what is it? What are the details? Why should I choose to roleplay over other forms of indoor entertainment?

Obviously, I cannot answer for all members of the roleplaying world, all of my reasons and experiences are purely subjective, but I hope that they will help you, dear reader, to understand what it is.

I realise that this page is on a roleplaying website, so you probably already have a slight interest in the hobby, but as it is the first post not related to the podcast, I felt it a logical starting point.

Roleplaying, then, is a form of collaborative storytelling. Typically, one member of the group assumes the role of Game Master (GM), Dungeon Master (DM) or Storyteller (ST), as well as various other titles including; Evil Overlord and that sadistic maniac. The GM’s role is to create the basic elements of the plot, to portray almost all the characters involved in the story, to serve as adjudicator in times of rule disputes and, most importantly, to make sure everyone has fun.

Everyone else takes on one or more characters (usually only one), typically those that the GM is not portraying, and acts out or describes the character’s actions and speech within the confines of the game. The players’ roles are usually to turn up, bring snacks, act appropriately and again, make sure everyone has fun.

The synthesis of these two things, the plot and the characters, produces a shared narrative experience in which anything is possible. My own personal experiences have ranged from the downright terrifying occurring in a mundane setting to the absurd in a fight for survival and I have been fortunate enough to join a gaming group that regularly produces moments of such pure awesomeness and camaraderie that I was inspired to create THWR in the first place.

I am not going to say that roleplaying is by any means easy. I frequently encounter barriers that my introversion and lack of self-confidence create and I have seen very high levels of roleplaying in a competitive atmosphere, and there are moments when, as a GM, the players completely derail the plot you’re trying to create and it can be difficult to work around the derailment but it is rewarding.

And of course, roleplaying is literally playing the role of someone else. It is a form of creative expression and enjoyed by amateur actors (and some professional ones) the world over.

So what is roleplaying? Roleplaying is collaborative storytelling and a combined narrative experience as well as incredibly rewarding and, for me at least, the only regular form of social contact I have with anyone other than my partner.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

– Bubbles/Ryan

Looking to the Future

Alright. I promised an update on what was happening and here it is.

My plans for the podcast are as follows;

The podcast will now have two-part episodes, this is mostly to help with the ease of accessing it. It also means that there is, seemingly, more content.

This means that rather than one hour long episode, there will be two roughly 30-40 minute long episodes. Don’t worry, there will still be the same high quality entertainment that you probably haven’t come to expect.

This has the add-on effect that show notes will be shorter, which I will try to supplement with a short piece of related fiction. That isn’t a promise though.

As some of you know, I graduated and am no longer living anywhere near my group and we are currently playing over Skype which is not ideal for recording purposes as my voice will cut out any audio from the group. This means that it is unlikely that we will record any new material for the podcast as it stands now. Fear not, there will be (hopefully) audio content once the recorded campaign ends.

This, again hopefully, will be in the form of an audio drama. I am working on one with John and I am also working on one myself, and this can be considered a casting call of sorts. I have no previous experience in this style of writing but I have plenty of enthusiasm. The setting is, to begin with, just a generic fantasy world as can be found in many a game as I feel this will be of interest to as wide an audience as possible. So if you know anyone who would be interested in voice acting work and is happy to do it for free, leave a comment here or email us, our address should be somewhere on the site. I hope.

With regards to the actual content of the site, I’m going to try and update it at least once a week with written content, in addition to the podcast. I’m happy to post guest submissions relating to the hobby, those should also be sent to the address for this blog/site/thing.

These changes should begin within the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Bubbles/Ryan