#RPGaDay2022 – Day 12: Why 2?

The #RPGaDay2022 prompt for today is: Why did you become a roleplayer? There isn’t much space in the infographic to differentiate between a person who has played an RPG, a person who has played one or more from time to time, and a person who makes time to regularly play RPGs. In fact, there is none. That ambiguity is what allows all sorts of amazing perspectives to shine through in response to a seemingly innocuous question.

For some people, it was the dice.

My response is based on two things, but as it has not been that long since we talked about one of them on the blog and the podcast, I will just resort to a short note and this link for it, to focus on the other part.

Short Note: Decisions

It is my contention, hopefully shared by many, that at their heart RPGs are about making decisions. Modern talk of “stories” and “storytelling” has become very grounded in real phenomena of play over the decades, but is not integral to the core experience of playing an RPG. We can play without a plan for it, and do not need to bear the stress of realizing it. Story can be the product of play, but it is just as satisfyingly a by-product of it. Regardless, I enjoy play that is focused on making decisions from a fictional point of view in a fictional setting and situation and so, the best place for me to experience that in a way that maximizes the fun and allows for camaraderie is to play RPGs.

Focus Section: Creativity

This is not something which I talk about a lot, but this is the other main lure of RPGs for me. Through most of my life, I did not see myself as a creative person. I identified more as being useful to the games for information handling, analysis, and those sorts of skills. I identify as logical, rather than creative.

However, the more I have broken down what happens when I play into its constituent parts, the more I have to acknowledge that while those logical and organizational elements are present, they are present as tools by which I engage as a creative person. The drive to imagine makes the most sense to me not through the vehicle of extensive preparation and planning, but rather through coherent and relevant frameworks for improvisation. My first inkling of this, in pure hindsight, is when I felt so much satisfaction from running mysteries in games like Call of Cthulhu, where interpretation of handouts and props cannot generally be adequately predicted and planned for, and so play can lead you to learn to let go of that approach and to instead improvise in accordance with the clues, the setting, and the genre.

At first, I could not see this process as improvisation, nor as creative. To me it was logic, governed by the dice, player decisions, fairness, and the setting.

When I figured it out, I understood why not playing was so troubling to me. I can get a fix of solving problems or handling demanding situations anytime. I don’t need the game for that. I do, however, need games for exercising creativity.

When I figured it out, it made play, and preparation for play, much more efficient and pleasurable. It also made my habit of imagining the ongoing events of the world apart from the players make sense and more valuable to me.

Why did I become a lifelong roleplaying gamer? It turns out, I am creative, and they are my outlet.

Who knew?

Tomorrow: How would you change your introduction to RPGs?

One Response to “#RPGaDay2022 – Day 12: Why 2?”
  1. The bigger question is why did I Restart playing RPGs, and it’s because of YouTube’er like yourself and Dungeon Musings reminding me how much fun it was… I had to come back

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