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Role-playing for the uninitiated


            Participating in an RPG session is not as difficult as you would think, although to truly understand the subtle interactions of you, the Player, and your character, will require a great deal of concentration, imagination, and cognitive reasoning skills to result in an enjoyable experience.  To put it simply, this takes practice, lots and lots of practice


            Think back to your younger days, back to when you and your childhood friends would play ‘Cops and Robbers’, or ‘Cowboys and Indians’.  You would lose yourself temporarily to an imaginative world of dark streets, back alleys, and the eventual shoot-out at the ‘Robbers’ Hideout’.  Or, conversely, being transposed into the ‘Wild West’, at ‘Fort Tree house’, defending hapless settlers from the suction-cup arrow wielding peril that was ‘Big Chief Redman’ and his scout ‘Little Running-Nose’.  Ah, the pure exhilaration of unadulterated, imaginative play.  Needless to say, these were the types of games that children played before Nintendo, and Playstation, and dare I say it, Pee-wee League Soccer.


Now, in our older, wiser (but not always more mature) years, we find ourselves lost in a world of REALITY.  Reality, as in jobs, schooling, bills, annoying neighbors (both being annoyed by them, and in annoying them), and everyday life.  Some of us are fortunate enough to find time to lose ourselves in a really good novel.  But most likely just ‘veg out’ in front of the idiot-box, watching idiots act like idiots.


            Sometimes, there occurs a situation where one would say, “I would have done that a little differently.”  Or, “What would happen if…..?  An answer to those statements could be found by role-playing.  The genre of the game should be relevant to the question at hand, for example: a dispute in tactics between Patton and Rommel of WWII could be answered by a sand-table exercise, with each side playing out both the historical account of tactics, and any new tactics that could be presented. In role-playing, the player-character, (hereby referred to as the PC) interacts with, and is an integral part of the storyline.  This storyline is presented by the Games-Master (GM), or in the case of Wizards of the Coast’s D&D, the Dungeon Master (DM).  The GM also coordinates the actions of Non-Player Characters (NPCs), ‘bit actors’, in all regards.  As the storyline is presented and progresses, PC interactions dictate the final outcome of the storyline.  Situations become more lifelike through decisions made by the PC, those decisions being extensions of the will and psyche of the player.  In essence, the entire gaming campaign becomes a giant “What if…..?” scenario, with outcomes, resolutions, and inevitable consequences being met by the interactions, decisions, and actions of the PC.