|You can almost see the dice |
roll in your head!
As a gamer I, as most of us have, ran across the old "What Is Role-Playing?" blurb at the beginning of a core book. I know it's somewhat necessary since folks new to the hobby need some kind of explanation (my first instance coming across it was in the Holmes Blue Book my friend purchased at Waldenbooks in the day). This little blurb, which can go from a couple paragraphs to most of a page can be humorous at best, tedious and stupid at worst.
I've also had to try my hand at explaining role-playing to someone unfamiliar with the game. Let's just say those moments have not been my best.
So when I cracked open my RC, my eyes fell on this section. I was amazed. It was the best description of a role-playing game I've come across. Now I may be a bit biased as I am also an OTR fan but even if I was not, it's still great:
Before television, there was radio. Audiences earlier in this century sat in front of their radios and thrilled to the exploits of bigger-than-life radio heroes. Since it was radio, they couldn't see what was going on, but they didn't need to—all the action was described by dialogue, narration, and sound effects, and was translated by the imaginations of the listeners into scenes they could see, experience, and remember.
Role-playing games are much like radio adventures, except for one important detail: they're interactive. One player provides the narrative and some of the dialogue, but the other players, instead of just sitting and envisioning what's going on, actually participate. Each player controls the actions of a character in the story, decides on his actions, supplies his character's dialogue, and makes decisions based on the character's personality and his current game options.
If I first heard about this type of game, I would have got it instantly, even if I never listened to old time radio. For the younger among us, you could substitute "podcast" or "audio drama" and it'd still work. This is now my default explanation for "What Is Role-Playing?" Oh Gygax/Metzer/Allston, you've done it again!