Yeah, I role-play. What about it?

An older character of mine, Argus, picked up a half-orc sidekick who took it upon himself to dress like my character. Awesome.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: my life is pretty unremarkable. I get up, I go to school, I come home, I go to work, I do homework, I watch TV, I go to bed … anyway, you get the idea. I get the occasional few hours for video games, a movie or time with friends, but, essentially, it’s all routine; and aside from the all-too-rare pseudo-celebrity sightings (holy crap, this guy in line behind me at the bank looks exactly like Eric Bana!), the monotony isn’t broken up with exciting happenings all that often. I’m not saying my life is on par with a 9:00-5:00 desk job or anything, but it does wear on me from time to time.

Which, as the title suggests, is why I role-play.

Now, don’t go misunderstanding me. I don’t show up at get-togethers wearing dresses and ordering people to refer to me as “Margaret,” it’s more subdued than that. In fact, its drastically less insane.

You see, I’m a gamer. My favorite PC game for a while now has been “Neverwinter Nights,” which is an interactive RPG derived from D&D dice-roll rules. Essentially, its Dungeons and Dragons in video game form (yeah, I know, yuck it up). It allows you to create a character (all basic D&D races apply: humans, elves, half-elves, half-orcs, gnomes, dwarves and halflings) in the Forgotten Realms universe and play out that character’s adventures in a series of quests. It was a phenomenal game at the time of its release, and it still garners a massive fanbase to this day.

A year-or-so after its release, people began playing online. Once you beat the campaign (and, in some cases, the two expansion campaigns), you could take your characters online and interact with other players from around the world. There were servers for everything: gladiator-style player-versus-player matches; epic storylines spanning hundreds of in-game years; servers where you would be required to eat, drink, sleep and (yes) poop in order to stay alive. The games were as many and varied as the geeks behind them, but there was one niche that I found myself fitting snugly into.

The role-playing servers.

In a basic role-play server, you become your character. You talk like your character, act like your character and react like your character. Allow me to illustrate to you the difference between interaction in a role-playing server and “interaction” in a non-role-playing server.


PLAYER 1: Good day, lad.

PLAYER 2: Aye, ‘tis a good day fer huntin’ goblins.

PLAYER 1: *chuckles lightly* That it is, my friend. Might I accompany you to the goblin caves? My sword-arm is swift and strong.

PLAYER 2: ‘Course! Just make sure ye stock up on potions this time!


PLAYER 1: lol watz up dawg?

PLAYER 2: nuthin watz up wit u?

PLAYER 1: omg my dad is madd0rz at me

PLAYER 2: WTF!? y?

PLAYER 1: dun no. lets go gain some lvls or sumthin

PLAYER 2: w00t!!11

So, you can sort-of glean from this why I prefer the role-play servers. That second exchange is exactly why I steer clear of massive online games like “World of Warcraft” and “Everquest” – you never really get that immersion quality while playing online.

“Neverwinter Nights” allows you to develop a persona from the ground up. Will you be a thief, a scoundrel-type character with little regard for others but an unhealthy infatuation for all things shiny? Or how about a handsome, dashing knight with platinum hair and a nauseating set of morals?

My current character, a stocky dwarven alcoholic called Brutus Belletor, is possibly my favorite creation yet. He’s crude and overbearing, oftentimes too crude for his own good, and yet his undeniable charm and loyalty to his friends gets him through the tough situations.

I think I enjoy the role-playing most not as a geek, but as a story-teller. I’ve been writing stories since before I can remember, and the ability to create a character and give it life through back-story and plot developments is fun and immensely enjoyable.

With role-playing, the game develops a whole new dynamic, one that transcends the simple, droning “kill these creatures, level up, kill those creatures, get a new sword” mentality that seems to surface in these online RPGs.

Like I said: my life is pretty monotonous. Why would I want monotony in my hobbies?

So, call me a nerd or a dweeb or whatever (actually, I don’t think the term “dweeb” has been used publicly since 1987), but I’m not ashamed to admit that, if only for a couple hours a week, I enjoy traipsing about the Forgotten Realms as an alcoholic dwarf with a penchant for splitting goblin skulls.


  1. Picture time!!!!




    Seriously, though, well, I suppose that was kinda serious, anyway. So, I go on SD.net today, check around the forum, it's where I get most of my news, and I check off-topic, and there's this topic that just started about role-playing. Then I come here, and BAM!, a blog post about role-playing. Are you on SD.net, Matt?

    Anyway, I know and inherrently understand that the average person doesn't really understand what roleplaying IS. Some people will automatically think you mean sexual roleplaying, and most others believe that something like, say, WoW, Diablo II, the Final Fantasies, actual campaign NWN, that they are what role-playing is, when they're really not. Why not? Well, several reasons, really.

    Reason the First: Limited to no meaningful choices available to the player. Consider, for instance, Diablo II "Do I kill these guys, or go over there and kill those guys then come BACK and kill these guys?" The player and his character is more or less set on a path that they can not stray from much, if at all. You can't help Diablo and his brothers return to the world in exchange for immortality or power, you can't help Fenthick escape and say you killed him because you know he is actually a good human (half-elven) being. This reason can also be called the inability of the PC(s) to alter the story by their actions.

    Reason the Second: Gross over-simplification of morality/consequences/available actions. Closely related to Reason the First, but dissimilar enough to warrant being a reason of its own. In a game like, say, KotOR, you are often allowed choices in your interaction with people and events. Ostensibly, there are good choices and bad choices. With very few exceptions, the evil actions consist of "Argh! I are brutal, I stab you!" You can not be a subtle, conniving, planning evil. Obviously this isn't going to be present with Reason the First at almost any time.

    Reason the Third: Character background, largely, doesn't matter. Let's say I'm playing WoW and I've got my character goin', say a Dwarven Priest, and I've got this long, comprehensive background on him. Stuff about his ancestors because, as a dwarf, he cares greatly about these things, why he chose to join a Holy Order when all his brothers became miners and fighters and archers and whatever. It doesn't matter, not really. Why? Mainly because of the above reasons.

    Okay, I'm very, very intoxicated and sleepy right now, so I'm just gonna start rambling. Railroading != RPG. If I am forced to go somewhere or do something, even if I feel it is not what my character would want to do, then I'm not playing a role-playing game. It just isn't. Speaking as a pen & paper RPG veteran I know that, in my experience as both a player and a GM/DM/Narrator/Keeper/etc., that the most memorable sessions, campaigns and adventures are the ones where the party goes a completely different way than was expected. Why? Because it sends a message the GM, "You don't own us, you aren't our boss!" I realize, of course, that in the P&P realm this isn't always possible and is often very frustrating, but it is also the cause of some of the best experiences. It also is a way for the PCs to actually alter the game world, assuming the GM doesn't make some cheap cop-out Deus Ex Machina or something. "Wait, Jeff!" I hear you saying, "In OC NWN the hero of Neverwinter DOES change the world of Faerun," NOTE: Screw accents. Screw 'em, "He does all that stuff and stops the great impending doom and yadda, yadda, yadda," First of all: That is actually an instance of the PC restoring the status quo, although this doesn't matter. Second of all: The people who wrote the game's storyline already knew how this was going to end. So it's not an unexpected change, which is the important thing. To me, at least.

    Long story short: Aside from things like PW RP servers for NWN, I refuse to acknowledge basically any video game as an RPG. Also? Call of Cthulhu = Awesome.

  2. Um... right. On that note, NWN pwns n00bs. And regardless of whether the campaigns are actually RPGs or not, they're still a ton of fun.

    I can't wait to get back on Thain (a server on NWN) when summer starts.


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