Role-Playing Games

Role-Playing Games!  Not the computer kind, I speak of the kind with sheets of paper and dice and what the hell is the appeal?  I have spent and continue to spend far too much time in Game Mastering – running these imaginary scenarios so groups of players can pretend to be cool heroes and do interesting stuff.

It is the very pinnacle of escapism and such a big part of my life, I must write about it from time to time on my bloge.  All of these posts will be tagged “Gaming.”  I’m starting with a series about ways players can screw up.  In fairness, I should eventually get to an article or two about my failures as a GM.

There’s different interfaces for RP in this modern age.  Luddites can use books and papers, chill in someone’s basement with the wood spiders.  If you’re using the internet, you can recreate the Luddite experience through services like Skype.  A more common way to do things, I think, is PbP (Play by Post) or using a chat interface.

That’s what I use.  It has an awesome advantage:  The text record cuts down on the need for GM notes.  About ten years ago I got into RPing regularly after a long time without.  I found that I needed a record of game events, and it quickly became a total mess.  With a text record, I can Ctrl-F a relevant term and find out about any past events I please.

The other thing about text-based RP that is interesting: it becomes more like writing prose.  “Live Action” RP, or LARP, is basically improvisational acting.  Text-based RP is a lot more to my liking, as an act and as an art.  And the extent to which it is like writing invites comparison and criticism from a literary point of view.

All that said, I’m going to try to dispense with terminology and explanation of the basics on future posts.  I’ll start making them soon.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    I’ve started using recently, It has a lot of nice features like maps and the ability to build in dice rolls.

  2. Great American Satan says

    Wow, roll20 really hates my ad blockerz. I’ll look at it later, thx for the link!

  3. Baji-Naji says

    Roll20 is the bees knees. Plus their resident GM is amazing (look for Roll20 on Twitch).

  4. Great American Satan says

    Whaaaa now I’ve tried it on two different computers with different setups, turned off all my adblockers, and it’s still busted. What must I enable? I keep poking.

  5. Baji-Naji says

    Not sure what’s happening your end. Adblocking doesn’t affect my viewing, whether enabled or disabled.

  6. says

    Great American Satan (#2) –

    Wow, roll20 really hates my ad blockerz.

    It may not be ad blockers. I’ve seen numerous sites that bans certain IP addresses or entire countries simply because a few spammers. All I get from Roll20 is:

    curl -F file=@users.csv

    As for RPGs, I haven’t played any in 25+ years due to lack of interest, though not a lack of positive memories or experiences in playing. It just fell off the map over time.

    One thing I and other GMs in my area did (my idea too) was to “pre-roll” long lists of numbers via a computer program and print them on dot matrix paper – a hundred d4, a few hundred d6, etc. The page would be behind a screen, used instead of rolling a die because players know something is – or isn’t – happening when they hear dice roll.

  7. Great American Satan says

    That’s exactly what I get! I’ve never had another site assume I’m a spammer. Ugh.

    Anyhow, thanks for the comments. Ah, dot matrix paper. What memories. I liked making long paper springs out of the sides of the sheets.

  8. usagichan says

    I was unable to access, but had no problem with Is it the same thing? Looks right from the descriptions…

    It’s a long time since I GM’d any paper and pencil games, and I often thought that a set of computer tools to support the Pen and Paper game would be a cool thing to develop. But like the Novels I was sure I’d write, I just never got around to doing anything on it. Nice to see there are people with more drive than I had out there…

  9. brucegee1962 says

    Ah, maybe it was .net. Sorry — like I said, I only just started using it.

  10. Great American Satan says

    Usagi – good catch! Also, I wrote a novel once, haha. If I ever get around to a revision of a few clunky chapters, I’ll make it available.

    Throwaway – On one of my rare opportunities to play in someone else’s game, we used maptool and it was very crashy. That was maybe 4 years ago. Is it more stable now? Might have been the GM was trying to do something too ambitious with it, but he’s a pretty technically sharp dude, so I dunno.

    Bruce – NP, yo.

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