Sunday, November 24, 2013

The line between Role-Playing and Play-Calling

When it comes to playing games like AD&D 1E is that being an RPG (Role Playing Game) many, if not most, of the adventures are written so as to be Role-Played out.  Imagine that.

But, Role-Playing has an elasticity of it's own when it comes to defining the term.  To some, it means becoming a Type 1 Shakespearean actor and assuming the identity of the character in question.  To others it means taking a Type 2, "HI, I'm Bob, now I'm Falstaff the Fighter." outlook where the delivery of dialogue and role are more laid back and generalized.

Then, for many, there really isn't any "Role-Playing" happening at all.  These are usually the Play-Callers.  It is more like having a narrator describing the the goings on of the scene.  "My Fighter, Falstaff tells the store owner that he wants to buy a sword and a s quiver of arrows."

As a DM,  I have no real problem with either of these types of Players.  Well, truth be told, the all out actor does get on my nerves after the first five minutes or so.

When it comes to running games though, the DM/GM can face a minor dilemma when setting the stage, so to speak, in an adventure.  There are some published modules out there that one can tell the author really foresaw or intended for there to be a lot of dialogue and one to one interaction between PC's and NPC's.

The Role-Player Will usually get all excited and champ at the bit when these moments come up because this is what the game is all about for them.  Play-Callers get bored in these moments because there's really not much for them to "do" in these situations besides wait out the interaction.

I have been reading "& Magazine" recently, catching up through the past issues and I have noticed that for the most part, the authors and contributors are really into creating interactions for Role-Playing throughout the magazine.  Often using mini stories to present the information.  I get it, that's fine, interesting from a Fantasy reader's POV.

Another thing the magazine does a lot of is to present new spells and enchanted items, etc... for readers to implement into their own games.   More often than not, the presentation is set up so as to make the accumulation or acquiring of said items a mini-adventure in itself.

When I read these articles,  I think to myself, this would be a petty cool solo adventure for a PC to go on in between larger adventures or as part of training to level up.

Then  I also stop to consider how will a Role-Player take to this as opposed to a Play-Caller?  Half of the deal involves me as the DM Role-Playing the NPC part of the interaction.  Personally, as DM and especially as a Player,  I am much more comfortable as a Type 2 Role-Player or as a Play-Caller.  How much do I want to make the interaction drag out?

Let's be honest here, Role-Playing can be quite fun and add a lot to the story and experience of playing the game.  It also can add a lot of time to a game session and if there is a limited bloc of time available, most cuts take out the most elaborate Role-Play interaction segments of the game.  That's just the impact of time management in the game.

I can say from the experience of playing the game as DM with a 12 year old boy and a 14 year old girl that when they allow themselves to relax enough to get into the Role-Playing and interaction things can get very interesting and fun (and funny), yet more often than not, in the interest of keeping the game a bit more fast paced, they tend to do half Type 2 Role-Play and half Play-Call.

Next post, I'll bring up solo adventures and dealing with minutiae and details of acquiring/making specific items.

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