Friday, March 6, 2009

Why don't you play RPGs?!

According to the poll I ran on this blog, most readers are boardgamers. This got me to thinking.

Roleplaying, to me, is one of the most creative, well-rounded, and engaging forms of gaming. I'm surprised more people don't do it.

So, I'm posting today to give you an opportunity for some feedback. Please leave a response in the comments. Here's the question:

"Why don't you play tabletop RPGs?"

If you already play RPGs, don't answer. I'm trying to figure out the reasons people have for avoiding roleplaying. The way I see it, most of you are already geeks, like me. You already enjoy sitting at a table and gaming with friends for hours. What keeps you from crossing that line from board games into RPGs? Please be specific and personal. What are your personal thoughts on this? Would you be willing to play, given the opportunity?

Speak up! Comment below! Thanks, dear readers!


brab said...

I'd love to play some RPGs, but I don't because of time and commitment. Time, because I would want to play RPGs in addition to boardgames (I could trade some boardgame time for RPGs, but would not want to replace them altogether). Commitment, because RPGs often (always?) require the same players to meet regularly, which is quite difficult to achieve. I can play boardgames with different groups of people each time, as one game is very limited in time.

TimothyP said...

Thanks for posting, brab! Your points are very good. It brings up good issues to address later.

dtcarson said...

I have played in-person RPGs in the past, and always had fun.
Main reasons I don't know:
* I have no creativity, so I'm not a very good DM/gamemaster/campaign creator etc.
* Buying campaigns and the materials can become expensive.
* Time--a session can last one hour to 12 hours, and I just can't do that anymore, much less get others to commit. I have enough trouble getting my wife to play a 2 hour game of Arkham Horror. Plus the prep time for the DM.
* I don't really have a solid group of people who can commit to play, that I would like to play with. Since half the fun in tabletop RPGs is the group interaction, it really has to be the right group/people, and my social circle has changed drastically since I gamed in college.
* Video games and to some extent certain board games do a reasonably good job of replicating certain aspects of the tabletop RPG gameplay experience.

My boy is getting a little older now, and I'd like to share with him some of the things I used to enjoy; maybe I'll look back into it and see if we can get the whole family gaming.

mentis said...

Lack of time to play and lack of time for preparation. The only RPGs I have run recently are with the children and that is infrequent. The last game that I ran with a group was nearly 10 years ago (my wife co-wrote and co-game mastered that RoleMaster game - it was truly awesome but it took up ALL of the gaming time for several months).

Another member of my game group ran a couple short-lived RPGs that I played in a few years ago, but time was the limiting factor again (we split the game group time between RPGs and board games for a few months). It just feels that you get so much more impact for the time with boardgames, you can have much more variety of games in the same amount of time.

With all that said, I am buying the current Mongoose Traveller releases to add to all my CT, MT, GURPS, and T20 Traveller material. I am even tempted to run a game -- if I can just find the time.

Russ Williams said...

I like boardgames more. RPGs take more time and require more acting and improvisational skills than most people I know have. I played them years ago (D&D, CoC, etc) and eventually decided that they never lived up to the promise, for me.

Anonymous said...

I did play RPGs a lot as a teen, but we had a regular group of 4-5 people and played various systems with each of us being GM in one of them. It was fun.

But now, my only regular gaming partner is my girlfriend, so it's hard to play RPGs. We've tried Mythic and might still try again. It's nice, but more often than not we'd rather play a board game. Another interesting game we played was Universalis. It's a nice game because it allows some form of role playing where we both can participate on equal grounds...

Maybe we'll play RPGs again when our sons grow a bit more :D


Anonymous said...

I used to play RPG's, and then ran into a series of bad groups and groups that had different ideas about what/how they wanted to play vs. my ideas. It's a lot harder to get like-minded people together, and it take a lot more time to make it all work, as opposed to board games. That said, I'll probably give it another try soon.

Charlie said...

I play RP boardgames like Runebound and Descent, as well as Talisman but I'm not into all that acting and free gaming and no real way for one to win...aka where there is no player vs. player action. There is no real competition there, no immediate goals to win and no overall end goal that you can do to actually win the game. RPG's aren't games which one specifically plays to much as to play to play.

I like the interaction, the competition, and using your mind within the rules to figure out strategies to try to beat the other players.

I don't believe RPG's to do this.

Plus, most times I've tried to play with someone who likes RPGs it turns out extremely boring to me, and not all that interesting.

I really enjoy games like Bridge, Poker, Risk, Axis & Allies, and other such games. RPG's overall don't have that much in common with games that I enjoy, which may also be a reason I don't enjoy them as much and find them boring.

The closest I've gotten to those types of games which I've enjoyed are the above RP Boardgames that I've stated above.

Anonymous said...

I played RPGs for 26 years. I stopped a couple of years ago when it became obvious that I'd never find a group where everyone agreed on the rules. Even if they agreed on what game to play, everyone wanted different interpretations, different styles, different attitudes. After all that time, I wanted to move on, and all the people I found to play with wanted to stick to what were to me very old fashioned and outdated games & play styles.

J C Lawrence said...

Much like Diplomacy, I have a hard time with RPGs and for similar reasons. I find the concept of the games intellectually fascinating but the actual practice uninteresting and mildly dreadful. In short I can think of no reason I'd actually want to play them, but am very glad they exist.

Raydancer said...

My reason for not playing RPG's is pretty much identical to brab's.

Anonymous said...

I find that the process of making characters, fleshing out plotlines, judiciously plagiarising from familiar sources, drawing maps and visual aids, and generally immersing myself into the 'theme' of ones' chosen RPG to be the joy of it. You are by definition 'taking on a role to play'.
However.... As many other viewers have noted, this requires some synergy on behalf of your fellow players, and most importantly a director type personality in the GM. Poorly prepared, quiet, rulesmongering GM's can demoralise otherwise brilliant roleplay sessions. I've often found actors and theatresport wannabes make great roleplayers, conversely these same people find some board games excruciating!
Boardgames too, require a certain synergy to coalesce into an enjoyable experience. The need for rules (and following them) can create harmony or dissent, all dependent on the character of your group.
As with most community experiences, the group and the event deem the game of choice. Thus the chosen one has a full weight of responsibility!
A regular RPG group that enjoys storytelling to the nth degree, will probably balk at a 1hr Gen Con scenario or a session of tigris and euphrates, yet will love pirates cove or TI3, you often have to second guess your group!
In summary, we all sit down with games to 'PLAY'. How we like to play with others is the key to organising the best experience with your chosen group.
Keep playing... something!

Eric Dion Baker said...

I don't play RPGs anymore for the same reason I no longer play Magic: the Gathering (MtG) - the occult themes. I *loved* MtG and even though I don't play it anymore, I still believe it is an ultimate & classic game, ranking right up there with chess. I enjoy the concept of D&D, but it's the occult/demonic themes that make these games unattractive and something I don't want to expose my children to. I have made personal and faith-based decisions to step away from these games due to their themes, which is unfortunate in a way b/c they are really great games. I fully admit that the fantasy themes are perfect for these games, and it seems that games not designed with the fantasy theme are just not as good, from a gaming perspective, not necessarily theme.

For example, I remember Top Secret and Star Frontiers. Intended to be D&D w/different themes, but the playability was not there. Same with the VS. System game and MtG. Comic book characters provide a great theme, but the game itself was not good - and nothing comparable to magic.

So for me, if there was an RPG that didn't have the occult themes, I would love it, and could support it. The same goes for a MtG game with a different theme as well.

TimothyP said...

Thanks for posting, Eric. I can certainly see where you would be bothered by the themes of D&D. It sounds like what you don't like is the setting as written. My recommendation to you would be to find a system you like and play in a fantasy world of your liking. In my group, we're just now trying Questers of the Middle Realms for the first time - it's an RPG based on the PDQ system and it is intended as a parody of D&D. It's been very fun so far with the little time we've had to test it out. Also, you might like to try Spirit of the Century. If you're trying to avoid the theme of magic altogether, just play without the magic or create your own explanation for how the magic works, without putting the power of evil behind it. Everyone in my group is a follower of Jesus, and we've all found ways to appreciate roleplaying various themes and systems without crossing moral boundaries. Email me anytime if you'd like to talk about it in more depth.