- On Preparation”>On Preparation
- Again it has to Be?
- The Neighbors”>The Neighbors
- A Matter of Time”>A Matter of Time
- The Mycroft Holmes”>The Mycroft Holmes
- They Did What?”>They Did What?
- Fancy Meeting You”>Fancy Meeting You
- Are You Sure?”>Are You Sure?
- The RPG as Story”>The RPG as Story
- On a Consequence”>On a Consequence
- The Price”>The Price
- Who Said You Were Useless?”>Who Said You Were Useless?
- The Neighbors”>The Neighbors
- We’ll Take the Niggers and the Chinks…”>We’ll Take the Niggers and the Chinks…
- Things I get in the Mail”>Things I get in the Mail
A story is simply an account of what happened, what has occurred. Even when expressed in the present or future tense it is an account of what was.
In addition, a story does not have to be about the fictional, factual events can be part of a story as well. What makes a story a story is that what is related did happen.
And you can’t change the events in a story. Not and have it be the original story. Wicked by Gregory Maquire is his retelling of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of OZ from the viewpoint of the Wicked Witch of the West. That the viewpoint is changed makes it a new story.
Life is spontaneous. Life cannot be planned for in any real way. It most certainly cannot be plotted as a story can. Life happens, and there is no way to fully prepare for it. You can to some extent, but there will always be a good chance the unexpected will happen.
The same holds true of what happens in an RPG session. You can make plans, but there is nothing guaranteeing maters will work out as you planned.
Events in an RPG may happen. They may even happen as you expect them too, but they don’t have to. What happens in life happens by chance, and there is always the chance that things will happen you did not expect.
The Disadvantages of an RPG as Life.
A lot of preparations for one. For another you need to be prepared for things happening you didn’t expect. The Chief of the Nazgul backhanding Merry before the hobbit can strike with his dagger for example. That can’t happen in the story, for Merry’s blow has already occurred. In life it could happen because Merry’s strike hasn’t happened yet.
Uncertainty is the big disadvantage here, and the only thing you can do is to accept it. You can do some preparation, but for the most part all you can really do is roll with the punches and be ready to adjust to the changes they cause. And always keep in mind that a surprise could be used to your benefit.
The Advantages of an RPG as Life
The flexibility for one thing. You don’t need to plot or plan the events that are supposed to happen; and happen in a certain way. Instead you can make any scheme you may have vague; more a suggestion than a requirement; and adapt to what does happen.
In addition, you don’t need to make your players do anything specific. They don’t take a plot hook, then let the bad guys assume that they did and mess with them. Or maybe a sibling/friend/neighbor needs some help. All the more reason to get the players’ characters involved in the local society.
But the most important advantage, in my opinion, is that you get the players more involved in the campaign. More invested, for now they have a freedom the characters in a story cannot have, and so can have a greater impact on the world they adventure in. The players don’t need to take power, now they can share power with the GM, and in that way they will help shape the world of the RPG.
So I say try treating RPGs as presenting life, even though it be a fictional life. More freedom, more possibilities, more engagement of the players and of the GM. That’s my take. What is yours?