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  1. #1
    Chapter Master
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    Wondering about RPGs

    Hi all,

    I've had a complicated relationship to role playing games over the years. I'm wondering if I could get some advice from more seasoned players.

    I have been thinking quite a bit lately about 3d modeling some role playing scenery and dungeon decor, but since I haven't role played for years I don't know what I would do with it...

    RPGs are a kind of game that I want to like. Conceptually they are more appealing to me than other miniatures games. Especially those with really vibrant worlds full of background and character. Trouble is that the last time I actually enjoyed a role play gaming session was when I DMed for my younger brother and our cousin thirteen years ago. For the next 4 years after that I continued trying to get into the spirit of the game but I always had a really hard time getting out of my own head. Then I stopped trying altogether after I had a falling out with one of the regular players.

    Nowadays, actually speaking the words "I attack the [monster]" or "I cast magic missile" put me outside of my comfort zone.
    As neat as the setting and the magic is, I'm not doing those things. I'm sitting in a chair rolling dice while I hmm and haa about mundane things like whether the dungeon walls are brown or grey, whether I want my character to use a maul or a morning star, whether the DM actually has any idea about where the story is going, or I might be silently judging another player at the table for running the campaign right off the edge of a cliff, and taking everyone --including the DM -- with him.

    Oh. Eureka moment. I just realized that the biggest problem might have been that one guy the whole time.


    I'm interested in playing but I have a habit in real life of being paralyzed with indecision. I'm the kind of person that takes forever at the grocery store to compare prices, size, packaging, brand, ingredients list, and then once I've finally narrowed it down I realize that I've spent half an hour agonizing over a twenty cent difference between two loaves of bread. Or whether to buy large vs extra large eggs. (How many calories do they have? Which is better for baking? Is one of them lower cholesterol? Should that even matter?) And do I buy salted or unsalted butter? I just don't know... (I'm exaggerating a little bit, but that's certainly how I felt at the grocery store when I moved out and started buying my own food.)

    There's nothing quite so daunting as a DM asking me, "what do you do?" My inner dialogue looks like this: "I dunno?? What is there to do? Everything? Nothing? I could... uhh... Do I have any spells? I'm in a room... Hmmm... In a room... Is there something I'm missing? What's the point of any of this? Guess I'll just sit tight and wait for someone to make a decision. Maybe if I just sit here and no one says anything, the DM will give me more info." And then a battle starts (because why not) and even though I would prefer a good story with drama and consequences, irony or foreshadowing, ethical dilemmas, etc. I'm relieved that fighting skeletons/goblins/whatever at least gives me some concrete, simple goal to work towards. But it's really not what I hope for in a game. If I wanted that I could just play any old skirmish game, I don't need to dress it up with character sheets.

    How can I enjoy role playing?

  2. #2
    Chapter Master Asi the Red's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Aurora, IL

    Re: Wondering about RPGs

    Disclaimer: I usually DM, it has been many years since I've played a Player Character.

    In my grade school and high school days every character I played, regardless of what kind of class they were or what their name was, eventually ended up with a personality that was very much my personality. Granted it was someone with a very much me personality thrown into situations I had never been in, but I could ask myself "If I was a hero in this situation what would I do?" and then react to the situation.

    In college I played characters that were less just a fantasy version of me and more of a character that I thought would be fun to make a story around. I moved from asking myself what Hero Me would do in this situation to asking myself what Allister N'dim, ley-line researcher and master of transmutation magic, would do in this situation. Disassociating myself from the character I was controlling made the game more interesting - it turned it from a fantasy about Me being a hero into a story-telling game where the DM was telling a story about XXXX but I was telling a story about Allister inside of his story about XXXX.

    You may find that going from a literal to narrative approach could help, switching from "I cast Magic Missile" to "Allister makes a series of flowing arcane gestures with his hands, his cloak snaps open and a volley of brilliant emerald beams lance out at the orc shaman, the shaman takes XXX damage."
    It could also help to sit down and write up some motivations for your character, adjectives that describe him, make up some NPC's that are important to his story (the DM can work your NPC's into his story as motivators for your character to take action).
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  3. #3
    Chapter Master Kahadras's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Leeds, UK

    Re: Wondering about RPGs

    For me the whole joy of RP is building the character. Sometimes I'll just come up with a basic concept and just see where the story takes him or her. Other times I'll have a well thought out background for a character and just see how well they bounce off the rest of the party and the world in general. I'm not a big fan of 'kick the door in' style campaigns as there's no real time for anything other than 'rollplay' (as one of my friends call it). By far my best memories from RP nights are the interactions between characters. Dusk and Honour standing in a musty old library arguing over damaging the books. An unarmed Jack Wade staring down the barrel of a Peacemaker trying to talk his way out of a very sticky situation. Felix becoming so fed up of the haunted house that he decided to steal everything not nailed down from it.
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  4. #4
    Admin blackcherry's Avatar
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    Feb 2007

    Re: Wondering about RPGs

    I'm in the same boat as you Scaryscarymushroom. Always wanted to like it, but have struggled to stay engaged. What I find is that a well constructed setting and building my character helps immensely, along with having a good group to play with. Bog standard Robert E Howard stuff gets me snoring, but if you are in a world with something that feels more believable, or have the setting be a sci-fi one and I'm hooked.

    I remember spending time drafting up a barbarian who is monumentally stupid and clumsy, but who none the less managed to win the day with low cunning and luck. It fit the kind of humour I like (which helped ease me into things) and meant the group I played with had more fun, without it spilling over into the worst type of unfocused mucking around group.
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  5. #5
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Hasselt, Belgium

    Re: Wondering about RPGs

    If you're having a hard time staying focused or getting into character, maybe you're more cut out to be a DM/GM?
    I know I vastly prefer running the show than acting in it
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  6. #6

    Re: Wondering about RPGs

    I find your post really interesting scaryscarymushroom. I did read it as soon as it was posted as roleplaying is my pet area. I will be popping a reply on in the next couple of days when I've mulled over. Its an interesting problem that I can relate to.
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  7. #7
    Chapter Master Harry's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Re: Wondering about RPGs

    Is it the role playing you like or the dungeon bashing?
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  8. #8
    Chapter Master
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    Dec 2010

    Re: Wondering about RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry View Post
    Is it the role playing you like or the dungeon bashing?
    It's more the idea that I could use it to tell a more complicated story. As far as dungeon bashing, I could take it or leave it. But if it's all dungeon bashing then I'd rather do something else.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Wirral, England.

    Re: Wondering about RPGs

    Without wanting to assume, Mushroom (I'm simply going off wat you put above) - the problem might just be the game/system. My assumption was you were playing D&D? (I say this as you mentioned stuff like magic, being in a room and a fight starting).
    There's nothing wrong with D&D incidentally (it can be used to tell great stories), but it does lend itself very well to a dungeon bash style. I would recommend 6th ed. Call of Cthulhu. If it's being played (and run by the Keeper) in the spirit of the source material, combat is an actively stupid thing to get into and will get you killed in short order - investigation and gathering clues and information is the order of the day, as is preserving your investigators sanity. it's a game that practically demands character interaction, a good Keeper can do amazing things with it, and in any case has some phenomenal published scenarios (arguably THE best ever printed in the form of the epic Masks of Nyarlathotep).

    On the other hand, it could equally be down to the GM. They might not even necessarily be bad, but if they don't GM in a style that's right for you, you will struggle to get mch out of the game. I'd suggest talking to the GM about it if possible (and the rest of the group) and seeing what yo all want out of the game. I garantee you no two groups are the same so it could be worth considering other options if it looks like it won't work out for you 9obviously this depends on how many groups there are in your vicinity of course).

    A gaming group that gels, with an engaging story is, quite simply, the most enjoyable, most rewarding hobby there is, so do stick at it a bit longer!
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