Actually, it’s more like a phrase. The phrase is ‘role playing game”, and I rather doubt anybody has designed or written a role playing game. They’re more adventure guides. Which is to say, guides to having adventures in imaginary worlds. And seeing as they are guides to what is happening in that imaginary world, you can’t even call them stories.
The thing to keep in mind on Adventure Guides is that they don’t really have rules. That is to say, what mechanics they have are descriptive, not prescriptive. When a velocity is given for an object that is not how fast a rule says it can go, that is a description of how fast it does go. Under a different set of conditions it could be faster, or slower.
Also keep in mind that with descriptive laws you really can’t cheat. Relativity in part describes how fast an object can go in our reality. You can’t accelerate past the speed of light, you don’t have infinite energy and that is what you need to get to the speed of light. A mechanic says your character takes 1d6 times an exposure roll of 1d6 in damage, that he takes between 1 and 36 points of damage depending on luck and how he lands. There will always be times when a person falls 100 feet and gets minor injuries (a total of 10 points), while another falls just 10 feet and suffers the 36 points of injury.
But Besides That
What an Adventure Guide really provides is a set of guidelines for describing an imaginary person and his imaginary world. That’s all it needs to do.
It’s basically what any “RPG” does, presents a setting where adventures can take place, and a set of mechanics describing those involved in the adventure and how they can participate. Whether it’s John Wick presenting Houses of the Blooded or Ken St. Andre and his Tunnels and Trolls, both are presenting a guide to playing a role in a make believe land, and the land to adventure in. That’s all adventure guides need to be, and should you require the restrictions most often found in a game, that’s your problem.
Give it a Shot.
Try them as guides and see how it works out.