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Published:August 29th, 2008 08:37 EST
Media Is The Masses: Rolling for initiative

Media Is The Masses: Rolling for initiative

By Sean Stubblefield

In my world, RPG is not a rocket propelled grenade; it stands for Role Playing Game (though, perhaps ironically, the former definition for RPG may come into play during the latter definition). The title of this post refers to the act of players rolling dice to determine who goes first during a turn in a role playing game.


The mainstream notion of role playing games tends to be Dungeons & Dragons, but there is so much more to RPGs than that... crossing and incorporating multiple genres.


Role playing games are essentially a medium for telling stories, and-- being a lover of storytelling and fiction-- that`s the element I enjoy most about them.


Since I have no talent for narrative fiction--and thus no means of writing it, this has enabled and provided me with an opportunity to not only co-create a fictional story narrative, but do so by participating in the story.


But there is also the social aspect-- cavorting and carousing with friends in a reality and circumstances you wouldn`t normally be able to in real life, and the psychological-- portraying and interacting with unusual and diverse character types. You not only get to play a character, you create it! And gaming is a marvelous bonding experience in the "real world". RPGs can also be another great kind of cross media, multi-tiered method of storytelling, because fictional realities like Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books, Buffy and Bablyon 5 may be continued in a game format.


A well run campaign with skilled, imaginative and passionate players is a glorious achievement! The power and pleasure of creation-- the crafting of an awesome story-- is a remarkable and non-trivial rush that I highly recommend. It doesn`t always happen, but when it does, it is amazing to witness/experience. I`ve been a part of many excellent stories that I wish could have been preserved beyond the game. The best, most invigorating games present a mission, quest, adventure and mystery. The least interesting facet of an RPG for me is first person shooter sessions. Simply running around killing things and blowing stuff up get lame real quick.


My first real exposure to role playing is a game called Star Frontiers, in which I concurrently handled two characters in a futuristic sci-fi Star Wars-ish environment:


a bounty hunting/detective duo styled after Han Solo and Chewbacca. Since then, I`ve been Starfleet officers, a Jedi, super heroes, a clone citizen of Alpha Complex, a Ranger, a member of a secret society, a cyber punked shadow-runner, a wandering sentinel, an FBI agent, a super soldier, and my favorite " a mutant para-military former security officer turned superhero dealing with the paranormal.

Never did my gaming actually involve Satan, devil worship or satanic ritual-- although I did encounter Lucifer in the form of a recurring non-player character during a campaign.


And while he was a bit devious and mischievous, he wasn`t even particularly evil. Role playing games: tool of imagination, not the devil.