Thursday, March 3, 2011

Off Topic Thursday: Role playing games

As astute readers of my blog might already have gathered, I am somewhat of a nerd, not that it neccesarily should come as a surprise to anybody, what with my constant movie-related blabbering, or the fact that I do indeed have a horror movie blog, for that matter. Well, as a geek is want to do, I do quite enjoy roleplaying games.

"What, like Final Fantasy?" Is a question one might get while presenting such an interest, and honestly, I'm not really sure what to answer to that. I mean, strictly speaking, Final Fantasy is of the RPG genre, although it really doesn't reflect the role playing experience all that well. This isn't to say that I haven't played games with people who seemed to believe that the Final Fantasy mold was the only way to role play, but let's not talk about that, because I'm pretty sure that'd lead me into a rant about game protagonists, and that's probably better suited for another OTT.

Anyway, the kind of games I am talking about are the likes of Dungeons And Dragons, Fate, Call of Cthulhu, D20, and the like. We're talking good old fashioned pen and paper roleplaying, in which a small group of players match wits with a player/game master, who tells the story, keeps track of the rules, resolves combat and in general puts up with the other players' shenanigans. Yeah, I tend to GM a bit, can you tell? It can be kind of hard work to run a game, because you have to make a story that's flexible enough to survive whatever shenanigans your players come up with while still having a point and, hopefully, both challenge and engage the players. Sure, you could also improvise, if you're good at that, but I'm not... so I  plan profusely.

GMing in general has its high and low points. Sure, it's pretty annoying when your players attracts a sudden and unwarranted hate at a NPC you were planning to use later and fills him up with holes in all the wrong places, or insist to try peddling gnomish Kama Sutras to everybody they meet (long story), but at the very worst, you'll have a funny story to tell your fellow geeks later, and hell, if you're good at improvising (that is: If you're not me) you could make something interesting with it. Of course, for every moment of random NPC hate, there generally is a few moments of greatness. It's hard to put your finger on, but when you really have a grip on your players, and have managed to pull them into your world, you can screw with their mind like nobody's business.

As a horror fan, I find the opportunities endless in this respect, thus my love for the Horror-based Call of Cthulhu board game, but even if your interests doesn't lie in scaring the living daylights out of people, you can do some really nice storytelling when people are in the zone, as it were. Also, a very nice part of roleplaying is that the GM isn't the only one to create a story. Sure, the GM makes the framing story and supporting characters, but the players come up with the main characters, and what is a good story without a good main character?

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