a definition of role-playing

Travis S Casey casey at nu.cs.fsu.edu
Fri Jun 6 09:12:02 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Well, not exactly wanting to feed the fires, but wanting to get my
two cents in, here's my take on role-playing:

Role-playing a character in an RPG is simply playing that character
as if he/she were a real person in a real world.  Anything else you
add on is simply excess baggage; a method of role-playing, if you

The contrary position to role-playing is what I would call
rule-playing:  playing your character as if he/she is simply a
piece in a game.  (Note that this is *not* the same as powergaming;
many rule-players are new to RPGs and simply don't understand that
they're not supposed to "play the rules;" after all, they've done
that in all the other games they've played.

So, what's the game designer's responsibility?  There are three main
paths that are usually taken.

1 - Try to make the rules as close a fit to the "reality" of the
    game world as possible.  The idea in this case is that if
    the rules perfectly represent the game world, rule-players 
    will be forced to role-play at least somewhat.

2 - Decide that the rule-players are going to rule-play no matter
    how perfect you try to make the rules.  Use means external to
    the game reality to control rule-players.

3 - Don't have any rules.  Have all decisions made by a GM or by
    mutual agreement of the players.

Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages.  IMHO, which
method is "best" is almost a religious question; it depends on what's
important to you.
       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <casey at cs.fsu.edu>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
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