RPG Reinvention


Again and again I see these posts at places like FaceBook in which the poster frets and fusses about some rule in his favorite role playing game and I have to ask myself, why is this a problem?

It’s a problem because it’s a role playing game. It has to be balanced, and that means it needs artificial constraints to ensure everybody has a good time, that everybody has an equal chance to win. I say “stuff that.”

The trouble is with treating RPGs as games, and games by tradition have to follow certain rules of design that don’t really apply to role playing guides. I say it’s about time we reinvented RPGs, and that starts by renaming them “guides.”


What is a guide?

Well in this case a guide can be described as a guide to a subject. Something that can be used as a set of directions to and descriptions of an imaginary location occupied by imaginary people. Think of them as guides to imaginary lives, and lives as we really should all know are just too complicated, too damn big to be decent games. There’s just too much going on.

But as long as we insist on calling RPGs role playing games we’re going to see a need to call them games, when calling them guides is just much more liberating. So the first step in reinventing RPGs is to start calling them role playing guides.

That’s my advice, a flat out change in what we call them. The courage to let them be what they are, and they are guides when you get right down to it. Guides to imaginary worlds, guides to living in those worlds, and guides to who lives there besides you. Above all else, guides to adventure.

Rethink your hobby, re-frame it. Just re-invent. You’ll live, even if it kills you.

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