Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

5 August, 2019

Tabletop RP
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:45 PM

Let’s take a look at tabletop RP a bit as he start to look toward MMO RP. This is something I know more about since it was my first real RP love.

Let’s descend into the realms of nerdery, papers, pencils, and dice!

Old school is best school

Tabletop RPGs are old. Very old. Older than me, and I’m ancient by internet standards. But this has some advantages, because it’s given RPers who play tabletop RPGs a lot of time to think about roleplaying.

And it wasn’t always swords and fireballs. David Wesely created a game called “Braunstein” that was about people trying to run a city with players heading up different factions. This was roleplaying in its purest form: playing a role that isn’t you. As I’ve posted before, this lead to games like Blackmoor (based on Chainmail rules but adding a lot of innovation) and then that lead to Dungeons & Dragons that kicked off the tabletop industry we know today.

And they’ve developed over the years, from games that require you to understand things like riddles to proceed, to games where you use game mechanics to help shape the store in your favor.

A lot of variety

Even though we tend to think of RP as magical and medieval, there have been a wide diversity of games, settings, themes, whatever. From science fiction combat, to urban fantasy, to even angels and demons. There’s been all sorts of games out there, and the diversity gets wider when you consider small indie one-off games; want to play as a cat protecting your humans? You can!

This is something I think we lack in a lot of other RP areas, the sheer variety out there even before you get to home brew stuff that people throw together on the fly. I think this tends to make tabletop RPers a bit more flexible than others. Because when you have a single game where you can encounter tribal lizardmen, cyber ninjas, and virtual popes with the same character, it makes you think creatively.

Thinking and plotting

People get very serious about their tabletop RP. When I was in university and Usenet was a big thing, I fell into a lot of discussion groups about tabletop RPGs. For example, I remember discussions about people who like to develop a character at the start compared to those who like to develop a character in play. And lots of frameworks to describe how people played.

And a lot of this has shown through in how games play. The FATE system shows what happens when you give players the ability to adjust the story directly rather than just only being able to affect the actions of a single character. Some games show what it’s like to be more abstract instead of having a lot of detail and a thousand different charts to look things up.

All these elements together mean that you have a wide body of work to pull from, and lots of thinking that went into it.

So, what do you think? Do you see overlap between tabletop and MMO roleplaying?


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