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Role Playing (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Explaining Role-Playing Games To the Uninitiated? 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-like-poker-but-with-more-dragons-and-less-violence dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As a kid in the late 1970s and the 1980s, Dungeons and Dragons, as well as many other fine tabletop roleplaying games, figured heavily in my life. From learning about various forms of governments (theocracies, oligarchies, etc.) and Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology, to what N.B. and et al. mean, to the social glue that enabled people like me to get together, write cool adventures, problem-solve, and have a blast doing it all, role playing games were a powerful force in my life. The thing is, I still enjoy playing them. A lot. I get together once a month with friends and we play for sometimes up to eight straight hours of epic battles, puzzles, legends, lore, and camaraderie. All of this, unfortunately, seems totally alien to someone who did not grow up with RPGs and who has never experienced the sheer joy of a dungeon crawl. Have you ever had to explain to your spouse or significant other why you value gaming so much, or why it is ok to spend a hunk of time with other gamers? How do you begin to relate it all to them?"
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Ask Slashdot: Explaining Role-Playing Games To the Uninitiated?

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  • Need an excuse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deltaspectre (796409) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:00PM (#41114891)
    Are you trying to get your spouse to let you pull the trigger on the Reaper minis Kickstarter [kickstarter.com]?
    • by dadioflex (854298)
      Re: Reaper Minis - I was kinda glad this was popular when I heard about it on Penny Arcade (I think) but hell it's gone REALLY popular now. Stupid popular. I'd pledge myself but I prefer the blocky feel of old 80s Games Workshop figures to this. Early Citadel figs looked like this with lots of detail on spindly figures. The GW figures, which were I think the first to use plastic multi-part casting, were bolder and consequently easier to paint and still look good. Not crazy about what they're doing now. Oh,
      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        Most of the big order pledges (Vampire level ROCKS!) aren't shipping until March. Hopefully they can figure things out by then.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by RobbieCrash (834439) *
      Goddamn you.
  • by drolli (522659) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:01PM (#41114909) Journal

    Dont explain it. EIther your s.o is tolerant enough or not. Thats it.

    • Well, failing that, you could try a potion of wisdom for them and a ring of charisma for you. Or a bit of Domination. You know, if they're into that kind of thing. ;-)

      (But yes, if you're with a non-gamer then sometimes it's hard for them to see the attraction, even though they might consider things like acting in a play or reading fiction entirely normal. There's no frame of reference there.)

      • Re:Dont. (Score:5, Funny)

        by Culture20 (968837) on Friday August 24, 2012 @06:18PM (#41116153)

        Well, failing that, you could try a potion of wisdom for them and a ring of charisma for you. Or a bit of Domination. You know, if they're into that kind of thing. ;-)

        "When we were dating, you told me you were a Dungeon Master. I thought you meant something entirely different." - Your S.O.

      • Re:Dont. (Score:4, Funny)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday August 24, 2012 @07:08PM (#41116721) Homepage Journal

        Well, failing that, you could try a potion of wisdom for them and a ring of charisma for you.

        I just ordered a cock-ring of charisma from a company in Thailand.

        As a dedicated gamer, the possibility that it will get any use beyond holding a napkin when I have my Thanksgiving Hot Pockets is rather small.

        • by dissy (172727)

          Wow, now that's what I call a kink!

          Not often do you hear "thanksgiving", "napkins", and "cock rings" in the same sentence.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            Not often do you hear "thanksgiving", "napkins", and "cock rings" in the same sentence.

            Don't forget "hot pockets".

            That's the coup de grace, right there.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      This.
      If you can tolerate her blowing $100 a month shopping at outlet stores buying shirts/shoes/pants they she doesn't need (she already has two closets full of them), then she can tolerate your once-a-month D&D tournament.

      But I have to admit I find the words "dungeon crawling" and "fun" to be incompatible. I've never understood the appeal of RPGs even when I sat-in on friends' games. I can tolerate Final Fantasy or Skies of Arcadia but only because they have strong storylines (like a playable movie).

      • by Trilkin (2042026)

        A response as written by someone who has no idea what a role-playing game is, especially if they're calling campaign sessions 'tournaments.'

        • by FreekyGeek (19819)

          True, I'm afraid. Clearly poor cpu6502 has never had the pleasure of being in a really GOOD gaming group, just one of the unfortunate majority of them run by morons, for morons. A good game master makes ALL the difference between a boring dungeon crawl and a roleplaying epic adventure that you will be reminiscing about decades later with your friends. When done badly, RPGs can really suck. When done exceptinally well, they can be far more memorable and personal than any other form of entertainemnt - boo

      • Why did you had to ruin a perfectly good answer with your chauvinist tirade?

        Also, maybe you should pay more attention to the summary. Final Fantasy is not a "tabletop roleplaying game", OP is talking about a very different kind of RPG.

        • I used to play NetHack a lot. The only time I sat in on a live D&D game, my Level 1 character got eaten by baboons after about an hour...

    • by godrik (1287354)

      That is completely orthogonal to the question. I do not give shit about dress code, pretty purses and fine jewelery. But I do understand why my significant cares about it and thinks it is important. She explained to me why she cares about it. It is important in a couple to be able to understand why she likes something. And it is important that she understand why I like something. I do not expect her to care about RPGs, programming and video games. It would be fine if she did not understand, but it is so muc

      • Could you share her reason she cares about such floofy things? I've always wondered, myself.

        From my perspective it all seems to be about who can spend more money on their outfit, like a prestige thing. I don't think the "hottest, newest fashions" really look "better" than the stuff on clearance.

        Is this the case? Or is there a genuine art appreciation or something similar behind it? At least I could respect it slightly more if it's the latter.

        • by godrik (1287354)

          There are multiple aspects to "fashion".
          The most important one is personal. Selecting the right clothe is part of a form of discipline: I will shave even if I'll stay home. Similarly, she will pick the right clothe. Some people are not ready to go out/do something before they mediate, before they have coffee. It is somewhat the same.
          Part of it is artistic and it is difficult for me to fully understand it because I see clothe as "tools" and not as "art".
          Part of it is social, both "inward" and "outward". Prop

          • by mattack2 (1165421)

            "Clothes" is a noun. "Clothe" is a verb.

            It seemed like a typo at first, but you used "clothe" multiple times as if it were a noun.

            Yes, this is a nitpick, but the wrong word choices makes interpreting what you're trying to say more difficult.

    • These days, when most gamers hear RPG, they're thinking something you get at a dropsite in an FPS, not something where you use a Dx20.... unless you prefix it with MMo.

      Maybe calling an RPG a Theater Sport and giving more thought to the acting and costuming would help people understand it. I think the days of "RPGs promote Satanism" are well and truly dead; it's just that most people associate RPGs with EverQuest and WoW, or Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, rather than the original Choose Your Own Adventur

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        it's just that most people associate RPGs with EverQuest and WoW, or Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, rather than the original Choose Your Own Adventure style activity.

        Wouldn't the best description now be something on the order of "it's like World of Warcraft, but without a computer, so the players use their imaginations to 'see' what is happening"?

        Or, "it's kind of like 'Farmville' but instead of pretending to be a farmer, each player pretends to be a heroic knight/space explorer/hitman/soldier/whatever".

    • by Auroch (1403671)
      OR ... show them the final part of the final episode of freaks and geeks. Where they educate james franco on the details of D&D.
    • A few years ago, my wife didn't play a lot of board games (she could demolish me at Scrabble, didn't like Risk, didn't play cards much), but she knew I'd had fun playing Settlers of Catan with some of my friends who liked it, so she got me a set for my birthday (and also made a cool hexagonal tabletop out of translucent acrylic, which fit the coffee table and gave us a good playing surface.) And we played a few games, and then a few more games, and she's gotten hooked by the whole mostly-Euro board gaming

  • by 0racle (667029) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:01PM (#41114913)
    My fun involves killing orcs. Seriously, you have to explain why you play games to people you know?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:02PM (#41114923)

    Serial improv within (usually) numerical/statistical constraints.

  • by OakDragon (885217) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:02PM (#41114929) Journal
    Please don't start with the example of "remember when we were kids, and we played Cops & Robbers?". I've heard well-meaning role-players start with this, and it just seems to me that it infantilizes the experience.
    • by cretog8 (144589) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:09PM (#41115061)

      Sorry to hear it sounds bad, because I think that's the best explanation if not the best sales pitch. While people play for different reasons, I think the most common element is the fun of playing make-believe. The trouble is for many people (including me) as we grow up we lose some of our ability to do ad-hoc make-believe. We want to be able to have some restrictions on what's appropriate in a given game, how to get around the [I shot you! Did not!] problem and so forth. So, D&D-style RPG's provide enough framework that we can play make-believe even with more adult minds.

      We can argue for a lot of the benefits that come from that (good social interaction, creativity, maps, math, blah-blah) and all of that's fun, but why RPG's instead of book clubs, poker games, or jam sessions? I think it's the make-believe.

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      Besides, that's military reenactment; ya run around in army gear firing blanks for 2 minutes and then argue for 1/2 hour if someone got hit. JUST like when we were kids.

    • by mark-t (151149)

      Then I believe you just might be taking the game a tad too seriously.

      It's play. Period. The only maturity prerequisite is really from an educational perspective: that a person be able to read on their own, and be able to add and subtract.

    • It's like acting out a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.
  • You don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobbieCrash (834439) * on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:03PM (#41114951)
    You can explain 'til you're blue in the face, but they'll never get it. You're weird, it's what they like about you. It's fun, and they'll either see you play it and be interested, or shake their heads and walk away and tell the dog they don't get it either.
    • Tried to explain D&D to my father in the 70's (started playing just after the first ed. of the monster manual, the first hardback book, was released), he could not get it even if I grabbed him by the collar, drove him to Minnesota (or wherever), and sat him down in front of Gary Gygax and had the creator of the game himself exaplin it to the old man. I also tried to explain how computers worked to no avail. He went to his grave believing the cpu did some kind of table look-up to perform a basic calculat
    • by Hatta (162192)

      That's the exact reaction I have when I ask someone to explain what's so exciting about watching a bunch of grown men chase a ball around.

  • by Kintanon (65528) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:03PM (#41114953) Homepage Journal

    Role Playing Games are really just a framework of rules that you all agree to in order to tell a story. One person takes on the role of Narrator (The DM) and the others take on the roles of main characters in the story. It doesn't have to be a fantasy based story, it could be anything. But the joy is in taking an initial vision and writing the story together as you all experience it. It's just a more interactive version of reading your favorite book. Almost everyone that enjoys some kind of media has wished at one time or another that they could be part of the story they are watching. Role playing games are a way to make that desire a little more real.

    • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:44PM (#41115661)

      That's similar to how I describe it to people.

      I usually summarize it as a cooperative storytelling game, with rules to help create dramatic tension and resolve conflicts. Styles of game vary greatly among different groups, but generally tend to frequently resemble characteristics of board games, other storytelling games or exercises, improv theater, acting, or video games (I usually focus on a reference point that is most familiar to the person I am speaking to in order to compare and contrast).

      I tell them that each player, except one usually, makes the decisions for one character in this story. This other player will be a "Game Master" (whether D&D or not, I suggest not using the word "Dungeon Master", or other silly game-themed title) who will act as a narrator (or director, emcee, referee, etc).

      I tell them that these stories take place in specific settings. For Fantasy, Lord of the Rings (which nearly everyone is familiar with the movies) is often a good example for setting. Though, I tell them that if you can find a genre in film or books, then there will be a role-playing niche for it too.

      Sometimes I give a disclaimer that there is a huge variety in the way the games are played, and that while some examples of the stereotypes do exist, that it is by no means universal. In any given subculture, whether based on interest, hobby, profession, religion, or politics) there will always be members that will make the rest of the group look bad...

      But most importantly... Try not to have this talk within ear-shot of one of those gamers that make gamers look bad... On more than one occasion, I have had someone show interest in role-playing games, but then get immediately turned off because some overly-opinionated gamer who decides to chime in with his opinion regarding some gaming holy war...

    • by fm6 (162816)

      I understand the appeal of RPGs, and if people have fun playing them, good for them. But let's not pretend that stringing together a lot of semi-random events is storytelling. Telling a story is an art form with discipline and direction.

      I have to admit that a lot of SF and Fantasy these days reads like an RPG log. But that's not a good thing, unless you view reading as a form of self-hypnosis. From where I sit, there are way too many books that go on for thousands of pages without really going anywhere.

      • by mvdwege (243851)

        While it is possible to run a session by stringing together random encounters, and while that can be immensely fulfilling in its simplicity, it is by no means the only play style available.

        A good GM has a storyline in their head, based on the characters available (both the non-player characters run by them and the player characters). Given a storyline and interactive characters, a good role-playing session is at least equivalent to a rousing pulp story.

        There's of course extremes; pretentious games that pret

    • Um, no not really. That is one way to do an RPG.

      For me and my group the story is what happens when you look back at what you just did.

      I don't Narrate. I DM. I kill, maim, and destroy.

      Save or Die is shit that happens.

      After all, it's just graphite and wood pulp.

      3d6.

      In order.

      For the reall fucking hard core.

  • Only your the actor and the director is insane and drunk and on drugs just like the movies or Broadway. And just like in the movies and Broadway you are their for their amusement as they play God. Your playing a part and things may or may not go your pay way, that's partly up to the dice and partly up to how well your fellow players work together and handle things. The parallels are common which is why many actors and theater types are / were gamers over the years.

    Like many things done well it can be a lot

  • It's like a child's game of 'let's pretend' for grownups who like lots of pieces of paper, dice and rules. :-)

    • by Gilmoure (18428) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:43PM (#41115645) Journal

      It's like accountants who like to play "Let's pretend!"

      • It's like accountants who like to play "Let's pretend!"

        When it comes to charts and tables, D&D's got nothing on Rolemaster [wikipedia.org]; truly a game that only an accountant could love. They don't call it "chartmaster" or "rulemonster" for nothing after all.

    • You're right: you could explain it as a courtroom if you really wanted to...

      Of course, in a courtroom, the Judge is an external arbiter, the jury is the dice, and you have two DMs (prosecution and defense) and two teams.

      Could make for an interesting RPG setup actually... one person to record the transcript, one person to interpret the rules, a group to find on "fact" (or just use the dice), and two teams, each with at least one strategist and one tank.

      • The first game of this series could be called Patents & Copyright -- play as the RIAA and your grandmother.

        And this just made me think of another comparison: debate club. Works pretty much the same way as an RPG, but without the dice, and a moderator instead of a DM.

  • Instead of unrehearsed singing for your own entertainment, you're writing and acting out an unrehearsed dramatic or comedic story for your own entertainment. The DM is the director, the players are actors, and they all collaborate as writers.

    But rather than explaining what it is to someone, just have them tag along. Bring a book in case they get bored, but they might just want to join in next time.

  • I did RPGs for a short time in graduate school, many years ago. I was interviewed for a friend's security clearance, and at some point RPGs came up. I tried my best to explain RPGs to the nice government lady. Afterward I heard that my friend got no end to grief because Ms. gov't lady came to the conclusion that playing Champions entailed dressing up as superheroes and running around Washington DC acting out comic book stories. This is not something a person with a clearance should be doing, apparently.
  • And then lend them your copy of "The Gamers: Dorkness Rising".
  • I don't think explanations work with this topic. It's not like there's a lot to explain. The issue is experiencing roll playing games. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an experience is worth a lifetime of explanation.

    You can read about the Grand Canyon on Wikipedia and look at thousands of pictures, but until you've stood on the rim at Sunset you have no idea what it's like to stand on the rim at Sunset.

  • Explaining can be misunderstood, boring and confusing. I just had her join us in one of our sessions. I told her that there would be snacks, pizza, soda and beer. I also told her that she could just sit there and watch or leave if she wanted (no hard feelings) or that she could join us by quickly making a character for her. She chose to simply observe, eating her pizza and sipping soda, and she left early, but in the end she had understood that, all in all, its just a game. She also loves table-top games, s

    • Explaining can be misunderstood, boring and confusing.

      So can "experiencing," and moreso.

      • That's why the "leave whenever you feel like it" clause is key. You just need to be dealing with someone who respects you enough to not worry about hurting your feelings by leaving, or they'll stay long past when they're bored (or worse, play even though they don't like it), and resent you for it.

        • I missed that part, leaving the door open for something my brother did last year during the first (and last) PnP game I'd run in 10 years.

          He brought his fiancee. In the same car.

          The bitching and moaning meant they'd barely cleared two rooms of "Sunless Citadel[0]" that session before we just called it.

          [0] Oh, shut up. The group was my brother and 5 newbies who's interest in RPG came from the "MMO" variety. I wasn't gonna make a whole thing from scratch until I saw they would finish that one.

          They didn't.

  • by Chelloveck (14643) on Friday August 24, 2012 @05:32PM (#41115477) Homepage

    It's like fantasy football, without the football.

    That comes from the observation that fantasy football is just D&D for people who spent their high school years beating up those of us who played D&D.

    If you want a more serious answer, role-playing is cooperative storytelling. The rules exist to give a framework within which the story can be told, and to help determine the outcome of character interactions.

    Really, though, it's not the kind of thing you can explain to someone who doesn't get it. It's like sports. Many of us on Slashdot are baffled by sport fans. We can't imagine why anyone would want to watch the game on TV, let alone paint themselves in team colors and go sit on a cold bleacher seat to pay $7 for a cup of pisswater beer. But we each probably have someone we love who does enjoy it. Or if it's not sports, it's My Little Pony fandom, or hunting, or cycling or fixing cars or playing music. Think of something you simply can't fathom. Then assume that's what RPGs are like to your spouse or whoever. If they don't get it then there's no point in trying to make them. Just say, "It's an excuse to go hang out with my friends for a few hours every week." and leave it at that.

  • My wife and I have a friend who's into D&D and wants to play. She's interested because she's a geek, but has never played before. I've been pushing it off coming up with lame excuses mostly because I didn't want to hurt anyones feeling strait out. But a day or two ago I was forced to explain. First D&D requires dedicated planning with a regular group. Having someone who wants to be the DM who regularly cancels for what I'll call "medical" reasons isn't going to make for a good group member or even
    • Count me as another who would never have had time for RPGing (at least not in a consistent campaign) as an adult, and went over to boardgames. People expect different things from RPGs, though, so you shouldn't be surprised some GMs don't enjoy players drinking during play.

      But why D&D based boardgames? I mean, Lords of Waterdeep is OK, but especially original or well-balanced it is not. It's not 7 Wonders, to put it like that. Man, I kicked ass with Rhodos last thursday.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      My group split into two groups: the parents and the childless. It's much easier that way, because the parents all have the same schedule mostly, and the childless can change their schedules around gaming sessions for the most part. Summer schedules get a little wonky, but hey, it's summer. Get some sun.
  • If you have the patience and visual imagination to enjoy RPGs, they're self-explanatory. If you don't (and I have to admit I don't), then they're simply boring and any explanation of them is even more boring. So save your breath to blow on your 20-sided die.

  • Why would I go out with someone who didn't even know what RPGs were? I'm not even that much of a pen-and-paper gamer these days, but still. If a person doesn't even know what an RPG is, there are probably other things that person also doesn't grok that would make us not particularly compatible. Both of the decent-length romantic relationships I've had (that is, the one I'm in now and one previous) were with people who had, at the time I met them, DM'd games far more recently than I had.

    My mom, though, I've

  • Education and problem-solving are great ways to explain the merits of RPGs. For me, it opened windows into design and, eventually, software design.

    In elementary school, I taught myself to research, spending hours in the public library pouring through books on swords and other historical weaponry aspiring to add them to D&D. From this, I learned to love research and history in general.

    This also taught me about the necessity of balance; a weapon, spell, race, or class that was too powerful would be

    • Okay, so I explained the merits in my parent post. Now on to how to explain the genre itself.

      I typically describe paper/dice RPGs as unbounded versions of video game RPGs. In a video game, if you are stuck in a hedge maze, you have to navigate your way out. In a paper/dice RPG, you can cut through the shrubbery, or if it's too stubborn, you can climb atop it and survey the maze. If confronted by a superior foe, you are forced to run or else die in a video game, but with a paper/dice game, you could ta

  • Its a game. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Friday August 24, 2012 @06:04PM (#41115957)
    Its a game where you all make up a story as you go along - one person knows what the general plot is going to be and everyone else gets to make up the details as they find out more of the plot. To keep things interesting no one has absolute control over what happens. Players suggest what they think should happen and dice are used to see if it pans out exactly the way they wanted. The bits you aren't in control of are compelling for the same reason a movie or a book are compelling and the bits you do control are satisfying for same reason any creative act is satisfying. There may be more to it but anything else might be more difficult to relate.
  • Just tell them its analog World of Warcraft. Everyone knows what WoW is.

  • Show them the "IT Crowd" episode entitled "Jen the Fredo".

    Besides being one of the best geek sitcoms ever (and conveniently on Netflix) that episode I think does a perfect job of demonstrating the appeal of the pen-and-paper RPG.

  • Or like an improvised play. Or like a half-written thriller novel, where you're trying to work out how it might have ended. Depends who I'm trying to explain it to, and why.

    I got a job once because on the interview form, where it said to state an achievement I was most proud of, I listed a 3.5 year RPG campaign that I wrote from scratch, designed the system for and GM'med every episode on a weekly basis. When they asked me about it, I explained how this involves system design, small-team leadership, g
  • The games run most smoothly when there is no competition between players. That's the highest selling point to parents. Plus they're low cost hobbies (~$100 initial expense for the entire group, and decades of fun can be had with those materials; you spend more on the doritos).

    In terms of describing them; just say it's cops & robbers for grown ups. Remember when cops and robbers stopped being fun? It was right around the time when some kid figured out the "Nuh uh! you missed!" line. Role playing g
    • by neminem (561346)

      I disagree completely with your first statement. Two of my best memories of campaigns I was in in college were: one, when our characters finally discovered what we as players had suspected, that one of our party members was totally evil and messing with our plans for his own luls, and knocked him unconscious and threw him off a cliff, and two, when a lycanthrope bit half our party and turned them temporarily evil. I got to be a whiny 13 year old thief who now temporarily wanted to murder everyone - how is t

      • by Culture20 (968837)
        It's awesome once or twice (I have similar fond memories from when I was a kid), but imagine if every game session was a deathmatch or a game of paranoia (but not officially Paranoia [wikipedia.org]). Gets old quick. Older gaming groups tend to tell the meat-space trolls to take a hike.
        • by neminem (561346)

          Oh, I wouldn't want every session to be like that - I remember those two sessions specifically because they were exceptional, and hilarious. (I actually wouldn't -mind- playing a game with D&D 3.5 rules but intentionally deathmatchy sometime, but I agree it wouldn't be at all like playing proper D&D.)

          And yes, Potato (the nickname of the player who asked that DM whether he could secretly be evil) was -totally- a RL troll. But the good kind.

  • Explain to your wife that people play games (all kinds of games) together in order to make a human connection. Whether it is golf or poker or mahjong or softball or Risk or bridge. So, at root, one participates in a role playing game for the same reason that one plays any game. To be with other people and get beneath the surface, to challenge onesself and take the measure of others. But in a kind of simulation of life. Your social ass is on the line, but not totally on the line. (And any serious golfer or

  • Improv acting with dice. We're heavy on the characters and story, and will cheerfully ignore the rules when it makes for more fun. Some people hate those kinds of games, though.

  • Role playing games are a form of social interaction for people with vivid imaginations and half decent math skills. It's a balance between left-brain logic (the gaming system) and right-brain creativity (the gaming story), which is why role playing gamers find it so mentally stimulating.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday August 24, 2012 @06:30PM (#41116271)

    Why do some people spend hours playing sport on Saturday afternoon? Why do some people go to the pub on Friday night? Why do some people spend a day watching the superbowl with their friends? Why do some people spend 4 hours going to dinner and a movie with a group? Why do people go on ocean cruises? Why do people play scrabble or monopoly? Why do people have dinner parties?

  • You enjoy it, you're not cheating on her, you're not spending huge amounts of money, and the time you spend isn't causing you to neglect your relationship with her, right?

    Who you spend your time with is an indication of where you are investing your intimacy, so it might feel threatening to her that every month you choose to spend 8 hours of free time with some people she doesn't know or understand, excluding her from the group.

    Next month invite the group to your house so she can see what it's all about. Do

  • A bunch of kids get together who wish they were going off on vacation.

    Each kid pretends they have a different make and model of car, except one is appointed car god, to decide who gets what, and what the outcomes are.

    They each roll dice many many times, and the outcomes for certain sets of dice rolls will decide how powerful their car will be, such as structural strength, speed, maneuverability, luck, and reliability against breakdowns, and how much money they will get to buy equipment enhancements fo

  • If so a rough approximation is role playing is FF where each character is controlled by a different person and things are decided using dice and/or well placed bribes to the DM/equivalent. If not: explain it as a board game with dice. Random stuff happens depending on where on the "board" you decide to go and the result is determined by the role of a dice (almost always except for things like Settlers of Catan).

  • When you were a child you played cowboy and indians or cops and robbers. Eventually the argument broke out "I shot you\no you didn't" and thus the first rules of RPGs was born. The actions were abstracted into semi-random determinations. You got two dice out and the highest roll wins.

    Once that was done, like any game objectives were added. Rules were added to support resolving objects. RPGs progressed.

    Then we needed a narrative to tie together the objectives and quests were born.

    The rest is refinement to th

  • Role Playing is something you do as an escape. If you're the kind of person that's looking for that you'll find it on your own. If not, you'll probably never find it, or want to...
  • I remember in the '90s overhearing a conversation between two RPGers at my college, waiting for the bus. There was a business-major looking guy in a suit next to them reading a newspaper.

    The two nerds are talking about how the Cyber Adepts created the internet to control the world, so it's ironic that the internet is actually diluting their power.

    I don't play RPGs, but most of my friends do so I recognize the talk as being about a game. The guy next to them, however, obviously does not know so he seems slig

  • If you're sadistic you can hand them Playing at the World [amazon.com].

  • by jjp9999 (2180664) on Friday August 24, 2012 @11:40PM (#41119493) Homepage
    I'd just tell them it's interactive storytelling. The person in charge sets down the general framework, the people in it act and react as closely as possible to how the characters they portray would act, then you use dice to help even out the ideas of chance and likelihood of something being possible. It's one of the most creative ways people can interact, since you're collectively creating stories within a world that you also partially or fully created. Or you could just tell them you're playing pretend, but its better than the way a lot of guys spend their time together.
  • After years of trying to explain it to people, I finally found something that usually works.

    It's like an improv play where you play the part of a member of a group of heroes and we have rules to determine what you can do. If you've ever seen kids playing cops & robbers (cowboys & indians, or whatever), and two of them are arguing if somebody got shot or not, you'll understand why we have rules to determine if you are successful or not. Also, RPGs have a referee (names vary) that acts like the play d

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