That yes, they are games, but they have damn all to do with role playing. You can role play in one, but that’s not really what they’re for. What they are for is achieving goals, the role playing is just something you can do but don’t really have to. Your play can be entirely mechanistic, emoting is entirely something else.
My experience in this matter goes back to 1976, when my prestidigitator (now a word) character found himself faced with a dragon. Knowing I was out matched I backed off. The greatly amused dragon let him go, knowing full well that a 1st level MU was just no challenge. (Then there was the fact the DM playing the dragon was greatly amused.) A bit later I talked a balrog into almost killing the dragon for me (I lied outrageously), which lead to my PC getting tons of loot and 8 7th level dwarven henchmen (different mechanics concerning henchmen back in those days).
My experience was, it matters more how you handle a situation than what you can handle. And that your goal is really to amuse the guide.
Years later I read about an encounter in the adventure Necropolis for Mythus. (Spoiler) The encounter involved a demon driven insane by long incarceration by the big bad in a room in a crypt. Said demon really had no trouble taking care of the party, but he was more interested in using them to stymie his foe. So he told them how they could escape, and what they needed to do to defeat the villain Rahotep. Note that they could escape his room, he just couldn’t.
From these two incidents I learned that you can handle matters differently, and that how you handle things can profit you. You have more tools than just your weapons, and more alternatives than just mindless violence. And I first learned this when I was 20, an age when boys are nitwits by and large. To put this simply, this is why I much prefer to treat them as guides to adventure, because that’s really what they are. Adventure Guides is what I’d rather call them, for in my experience treating them as such works a lot better than insisting on them as games.
So use your initiative and be flexible. You’re there to have fun, not to slavishly follow some thoughtless regulations.
I’m getting close to 3,000 subscribers to this blog. But seeing as they are excessively shy they haven’t told me why. What the heck am I doing right?