After Conception, we’re always full of roleplay fervor. I went scouring on the internet to see if I could find the RPG version of Boardgamegeek; wouldn’t it be cool to have a huge site like that only for roleplay games, with subforums for every system, DM-only threads to exchange stories and advice and bitching about players, players sharing diaries, and advice and also bitching… All of the roleplaying world flocking to this great big site of likeminded geeks.
Turns out, there is no such thing. There’s a few small sites where D&D addicts bicker about rule interpretations. There’s a lot of forums that have roleplay threads where you actually do your roleplaying in the forum. There’s all kind of splinter stuff, but few of it interesting and nothing approaching a Grand Unified Theory of Gaming. Well you know what I mean.
I did find some nice blogs, the first of which was the RPG Solitaire Challenge. A competition to make roleplay games that you can play on your own.
When talking about a role playing game, it’s a bit problematic to think about playing one alone. With war games it is commonly done, not rp. How can one play a role if there is no one else there to witness and respond to it in kind? But playing a role is not impossible alone. And it is not the only element of role playing games. There are many other things which make up this kind of fictional play, that are equally as integral and pleasurable.
Interesting, right? The competition entries mostly turn out as solo dice games or story building games. Dice gaming and writing a novel are not my idea of fun roleplay. The fun of roleplay is still very much in the fact that someone/something responds in kind. That’s why I liked the Choose your own adventure entry. You need to print out the entire file (2 digital pages on one paper page works nicely) in order to play. It asks you not only to make choices but also fill in the story with drawings, additions, quotes, letter contents. But then the story still continues the way it was written. There’s a feeling of interaction that I enjoyed.
An example from the game (spoilers below!): At one point you get a small description of the town you’re visiting, along with an assigment
As you neared the town, you saw its skyline. Ancient spires towered above cobbled streets, antique and timeless. Sketch this skyline briefly.
So I do. I draw small cottage shapes, tall spire shapes and, for the hell of it, a big building that looks like a traffic cone in profile.
Imagine my happy suprise when the next page starts with
What, however, most caught your eye? Was it the highest spire (6), the hidden streets (7) or a strangely-shaped building (8)?
How cool! I’m getting a good illusion of interaction here. I play on in the story, adding my own story to it. For a while, my story and the hardwired story really work well together. I put a twist on the tale, and turn the monster that has been stalking me into a monster ‘that eats my regrets’. It seems the game supports this move, since it nexts asks if the monster’s nature terrifies or comforts me. I explain that it comforts me, and the game goes on to ask me about memories of the past, that I turn into memories of regret. Turning this monster story into a pensive reflection on the tragedy of human being. Twang!
Unfortunately, near the end the story assumes the monster can only be malevolent. I escape, but it goes on to hunt others. That’s when I felt my story started chafing against the reigns a bit. On the upside, I got to draw my monster.