About Me

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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What is tabletop roleplaying?

A lot of different people have different definitions, leading to all sorts of variations from traditions like D&D and GURPS to variations on the theme, like Microscope.  Everyone is, of course, right in their own way - and wrong to many others.  Lost Garden says that if we want to make our own game, we should "Knock a genre down to its most basic element", so allow me to explain what tabletop roleplaying means to me as I step into the world of making my own.

Tabletop?  Check.  Roleplaying?  Check.
Tabletop roleplaying?  You wish.
My List:
  1. It means sitting around a table with other people, engaged in the joint storytelling of ridiculously awesome (and probably cheesy) stories, and having social fun in the real world with real friends.
  2. It means two types of players:  Players that only play 1 character at a time, and a GM that plays everyone else.  (I do like Microscope's idea, but it isn't the same type of game for me)
  3. It means a game: rules are present, and realism is largely irrelevant.
  4. It means the GM can ignore or modify #3 in favor of improving #1, as long as it is done fairly (Rule 0).
  5. It means all players take equal responsibility for enjoyable play - and no one gets to be a dick (Rule 00).
  6. It means funny shaped dice and endless sheets of paper.  And pencils.  And lots of erasers.
  7. It means discovering new and interesting creatures, killing them, and taking their awesome loot.
  8. It means interacting with NPCs, reasonably in-character, and either befriending or outwitting them.
  9. It means anything that is complex or can't be talked-out at the table has a random resolution.
  10. It means some kind of magic - spells, gods, curses, the Force, psionics, bouncing-off-the-walls-kung-fu, whatever - I don't care much for playing in a mundane setting.
What would you add to this list?


  1. I think #1 on the list should be "Finding like minded people to play with".

    I know people who would prefer a more mundane grim setting than magic and fantasy. Likewise, they may prefer mechanics over imagination.

    I suspect as people grow older, they would be more inclined to enjoy your style of play. I know I do!

    1. That's fair, and no game can appeal to everyone. But if *I* make a game, I think I would make one we would hopefully enjoy!

  2. I tend to disagree. I was once told I should want to work with like minded people. It occurred to me, if I have like minded people, I don't need them - I already know their thoughts. Gaming isn't much different, different minded people make it interesting - as long as they aren't massive pricks, the game will be more interesting & fun.

    1. Diversity is good - but you still have to want to play the same game.


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