RPGs have many fans – from teenagers to adult players – and have nothing to do with the computer. They teach openness, develop imagination, improvise skills and creative approach to problems. They show the consequences of choices and help to “practice” social situations that we may encounter in our everyday lives. What are they about and is it worth encouraging the juniors to join them? Interview with Airis Kaminska, the Game Champion at BT Orion Rpg camps.
What is RPG?
RPGs – from the English role playing games – are often referred to in Polish as feature, narrative or imaginative games. It is about telling stories together according to pre-established rules, often written in the form of a handbook. It’s like a waiting improvised story where each player is responsible for one of the main characters. Players decide during the game what their characters say and do. The rest of the world – descriptions of places, events, people encountered during the game – is the responsibility of the narrator most often called the Game Master (MG). It is in his imagination that the foundations of the story are created, the life of which is later given to common improvisation.
RPG systems vary from classic fantasy systems such as the joyful Dungeons and Dragons and the more gloomy and still popular Warhammer in the U.S. to systems supporting horror stories (e.g. the “Dungeons and Dragons”). “In the past, the artist presented stories such as “Zew Cthulhu”, “7th Sea”, “Monastyr”, to various systems in more contemporary reality (“The World of Darkness”, “Tales from the Loop”). There are systems that tell about other cultures (“Legend of Five Circles”, “Honor and Blood”), historical (“Grey Ranks”) or about different visions of the future (“Cyberpunk”, “Neuroshima”). But the types of RPG systems are the subject of the river, so maybe I will finish the calculation.
The system, that is the world created for the needs of the game?
The system is a combination of mechanics and description of the world in which the game will take place, i.e. all the information needed to start the game, contained in the manual. Sometimes the creators use worlds we already know to create the RPG system, giving us the opportunity to play in Tolkien’s Downtown or in a distant galaxy from Star Wars. However, we do not play with characters known from books or films, playing stories already known to us, but with new characters, invented by us according to the rules given in the manual, who will experience completely new adventures.
Of course, playing in a setting-house known from literature or cinematography is not a rule. Very often we get to know the world in which the game takes place by reading the textbook and, well, playing.
What does the game look like?
The game can be played in any imaginary world and in any mood – there are hundreds of RPG systems, and nothing stands in the way of inventing your own. Players can really leak out in who they are going to die of. It is worth emphasizing that the role of players is crucial, they are not actors, playing the roles assigned to them by the Master of Games, but the main protagonists of the story, and it is their decisions and ideas that determine how the story is going to unfold.
For example, the player could create a figure of a young pilot from the planet Cularin, who travels by space ferry between the planet and its two moons on a daily basis and dies of boredom, dreaming of an adventure. Our remote – let’s call him Aidan – learns that his best friend Tia (another player) has just received an inheritance message. It is said that she inherited from her deceased grandfather the most modern spacecraft she could have imagined! The problem is that the whole thing smells like a fraud from afar, because both Tii grandparents live and are doing well… and the ship is located on the other side of the galaxy, in a place of very bad fame. Will the characters decide to check what’s behind the strange news? Will they go on a long journey to find a solution to the riddle? Who will they meet along the way and what will be the final outcome of the story? It’s fully up to the players.
One game, called a “session” in Rpg jargon, lasts several hours and can be a closed story, but more often than not it is only one episode of a longer story, called a “campaign.
Usually, in disputable situations, when fighting or overcoming various challenges, mechanics are used. Simply put, it consists of bone projections, often in an unusual shape, e.g. with four or ten walls. What is important is that the game is not about trying to find a winner, as in the case of board games. The same act of playing and emotions evoked by a story created together are the main goals of the game.
I have always been puzzled about what such multi-walled cubes can do. Is the game accompanied by other “gadgets”?
Very often, a role-playing game is accompanied by music that illustrates scenes and enhances emotions, as is the film soundtrack. Some use figures and a tactical map to illustrate the situation during the fight, others bring various props to the RPG session, often