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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 33 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Introductions to role-playing games: are they ever useful?  (Read 2476 times)
andrei
Member

Posts: 10


« on: January 23, 2012, 09:56:59 AM »

I think everyone who got into tabletop role-playing started off by playing computer RPGs, then went into the genre via D&D, Warhammer or perhaps the White Wolf books due the popularity of the computer games based on them. I would therefore expect nearly everyone to have a good idea of what RPGs are when stumbling on an indie RPG book. Is it therefore worth including a section entitled "What is role-playing?" in your books for the sake of new players, and if it is, how comprehensive should it be?

I personally think it's worth including both an introduction for players new to RPGs and a description of the 'special features' of one's own RPG. I've always been wondering whether I could do without the former to save space, though.
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pawsplay
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2012, 10:26:17 AM »

My view is that if you ever think your RPG will ever set foot in the mass market, you need one. PDFs on Drivethru? Not so much. But Lulu, POD, Paizo.com, are places where non-role-players might encounter your product. I remember a few years back, someone showed up on the Star Wars d20 forum on Wizards, completely puzzled by what he had found, but fascinated. Shadowrun originally didn't have a new players section; they had to write one for the new edition when it unexpectedly became a hit.

Rather than thinking of it as a wasted column or page, I would prefer to think of the introduction to RPGs as an art form, like the haiku, or the invocation to the Muses. It's also a chance to sell your own philosophy on the hows and whats of RPGs in an applied context.
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JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 500

also known as Josh W


« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2012, 05:43:45 PM »

You don't need to introduce people to role playing games, you just need to introduce them to your game! Defining an rpg is actually not needed at all, just define what it means to sit down and play your game and you won't have to worry about generalisations etc.

Personally, and this is only me, I'd rather show people what rpgs can be by having them learn this game, then learn about other games like it.
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Dreamscape
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Posts: 5

Biomanipulator


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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2012, 10:23:56 PM »

For hard copy on a shelf, the back cover blurb is the best place to introduce non-gamers to the concept. Pawsplay's 'haiku' approach would be best there.
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 547


« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2012, 11:30:28 PM »

You don't need to introduce people to role playing games, you just need to introduce them to your game! Defining an rpg is actually not needed at all, just define what it means to sit down and play your game and you won't have to worry about generalisations etc.

Personally, and this is only me, I'd rather show people what rpgs can be by having them learn this game, then learn about other games like it.

It's not only you.  I find the "introduction to roleplaying" in rpg usually banal and limited, and worse than useless: they are confusing. Why explain what is a poor-defined category of games.. and then explain that your game is particular for this or that reason?

I don't see any boardgame trying to explain "what is a boardgame", nor any computer game trying to explain "what is a computer game".

I think it's relic of the times of the "one true way", when people thought that all rpgs were really the same game, changing only setting and the way to roll dice. But now we know better.

All that wasted space would be better used to explain the rules of that specific game.
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2012, 07:52:38 PM »

Quote
All that wasted space would be better used to explain the rules of that specific game.
Aye, this will explain the game you've made more!

However, in writing a game myself I've found at some points you want to describe the process of the general area of what your imagining when at a particular juncture in the rules, and then also an idea of how to intigrate other players spoken fictions together and integrate these back into the rules through the options that the rules grant. Sometimes without an idea of what imaginative direction the author was thinking of when it came to certain rules, they'll just seem like rules and it just wont readily come into someone elses head what sort of fiction you should be thinking about in regards to them, in order to play the game.
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pawsplay
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2012, 08:34:26 PM »

[All that wasted space would be better used to explain the rules of that specific game.

I think an introduction to role-playing is specific to each game. If each game is a window into a different way of playing, then each represents a different potential introduction into the hobby. Where would Vampire be if White Wolf just assumed that all the D&D players would know what to do with it?... Look what happened, since in a certain sense, they did?
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dugfromthearth
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2012, 01:03:44 AM »

I believe that they are useful, but they are of limited use and should take limited space. You can spend a paragraph saying what it is - but introduce playing your game, do not generically introduce rpgs.

Something like:
In this game you will take on the role of a knight defending Camelot. Your abilities will be defined in the rules and you will roll dice to determine if you are successful in your endeavors. You will be rewarded with gold to buy better equipment, experience to increase your skills, and perhaps the love of a fair lady.

Not:
Roleplaying games were invented in the 1960's and most share  the same basic traits of having Player Characters, Non-Player Characters ...
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Catelf
Member

Posts: 169


« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2012, 03:35:28 AM »

I think they are a neccessity.
Why?
Ok, everyone that is already into it may not need it, but those that aren't?
Roleplaying requires free thinking, in a way that few other games need: Boardgames are often very structured, defined by their rules; Computer "Rpgs" are usually not really rpg's in the original(?) sense, unless they are MMORpgs or such, and even there, the limitations are built into the game; and if you go Roleplaying in forums, they frequently require players to write sentence after sentence in one reply, it is a whole different style of roleplaying!
They would need an introduction.
But also, they need examples of how the game is played.

So i'd rather do a different way than considering to remove it:
I'd try and work in all the other things that is important for a newcomer into the Introduction:
* Mood piece and/or storyline/setting description.
* What is a Roleplaying Game? , including references to pages that is important for getting started.
* Example(s?) of play.
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Hasimir0
Member

Posts: 38

Cogito Ergo Es


« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2012, 02:32:32 PM »

However, in writing a game myself I've found at some points you want to describe the process of the general area of what your imagining when at a particular juncture in the rules, and then also an idea of how to intigrate other players spoken fictions together and integrate these back into the rules through the options that the rules grant. Sometimes without an idea of what imaginative direction the author was thinking of when it came to certain rules, they'll just seem like rules and it just wont readily come into someone elses head what sort of fiction you should be thinking about in regards to them, in order to play the game.
Isn't it better if you simply describe how you envision the way your game should run (which is actually useful for anyone to know) by saying something genuine like (for example)
"this game should produce a regulated discussion among the participants, with specific rules to evaluate how far a given Player Character" (explain what a PC is) "can spit without biting his own tongue"
...Instead of the classic "A roleplay game is..." speech?

Besides, with soooo many people on the interwebs being such experts on what an RPG truly is or is not... isn't it better to avoid the use of such labels?
My game is A game.
It is a social game that requires from 3 to 6 participants to sit around a table and talk to each other following some rules to do it.
Every participant is a Player except one which is called Game Master and another which is called Food Keeper.
The game works like this... bla bla bla...

I also find this kind of "practical introduction" useful to explain the things we (expert roleplayers) always assume as a given ...  like ... what does this game MEAN in material terms when it says "play your Character" ? ... and stuff like that.

It sure is a big help for someone who just picks up your game without knowing what an rpg actually is...
And it can also be very useful for "expert roleplayers" that never played your game and need to understand what is what in your system ... to help them avoid playing the DitV GM like they would the GURPS GM >_<
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Alessandro Piroddi
Tactical Ops RPG : Blogger / G+ / Facebook
storyteller
Member

Posts: 11


« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2012, 01:20:23 AM »

I think its good to include a paragraph or two, if nothing else it exposes your philosophy on role playing and prepares the reader for your style and emphasis.
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My Precious
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2012, 06:49:51 AM »

I've always been partial to the "example of play" style of introduction. It would make it immediately apparent what an RPG is to those who don't know, and it would also show the particulars of how your game works.
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dindenver
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Posts: 1049

Don't Panic!


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« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2012, 11:37:35 AM »

Andrei,
  I like to put a brief "What is an RPG?" section in my games, partly for noobs, but partly to make sure that someone reading my book knows where I am coming from.
  You can say, "It is a Traditional, rules-heavy game with a lot of fluff and crunch" and some players will get it, or you can describe in broad strokes what players do in your game and everyone will get it.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
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David Artman
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Designer & Producer


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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2012, 10:44:33 AM »

I think everyone who got into tabletop role-playing started off by playing computer RPGs, then went into the genre via D&D, Warhammer or perhaps the White Wolf books...
Heh.... I got into RPGs when "computer games" were Adventure running on an IBM mainframe and "RPG" meant blue-book D&D or Traveller (outside of VERY rarefied communities, who had access to marvels like Blackmoor and Chainmail.

You don't need to introduce people to role playing games, you just need to introduce them to your game! Defining an rpg is actually not needed at all, just define what it means to sit down and play your game and you won't have to worry about generalisations etc.
This. Describe at a high level what players of your game will be doing, what someone walking up and observing for a few minutes would perceive (but in the second person, not third person, of course).

Then do it again (or at least do a HEAVY edit on it) without all the jargon you put in unconsciously. ;)

THEN take it to someone you have no doubt is clueless about RPGs and ask them what they think JUST the text describes, i.e., only let them see that section of the book... which BETTER be on, like, inside-left page 2 if it's to serve as entry point; otherwise, the suggestions above for doing it on one of the back panels is best. So maybe you have a "flavor" back panel that is highly evocative of the play; an intro back panel that talks about the act of playing; and a third panel with super-jargony summary for the experienced.

At the least, edit heavily and have a couple of test readers that aren't gamers (computer, tabletop, or otherwise).
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