sThe absolute best times that I have had with roleplaying games has been when it was a creative and collaborative experience. My connection is with people and stories, not game system or settings. The best stories that I could tell have to do not with the time my dice rolled really well and a thing happened. They’re about how the gamemaster, or one of the players, interpreted the die rolls in a way that made the story better. The things that I miss aren’t the epic campaigns or even the characters I got to play. It’s the people I had the privilege to hang out with.
My Connection is with People and Stories
The absolute worst game sessions, to me, are character generation nights. Everyone is sitting around with their head in a book. I feel like we’re taking final exams in school. There’s no interaction, no real collaboration. This is bad enough when you know the members of a group. Sit in a room full of strangers you just met and ignore each other while you pick abilities and crunch numbers. Creepy, okay?
After that are the sessions where someone is sidelined. Their character is out for some reason, so the player just sits there like they’ve been put in time out. Okay, they might be waiting to be brought back in, or working on a new character. They are still not participating with the group. The only thing that sucks worse is when I’m the person in the metaphorical penalty box.
This is why I willingly make heretical statements about roleplaying. I do not care about the rules. The fine points of the setting and its canon are only there to serve my creative needs as a storytelling. What other people do in their games is only of the slightest passing interest to me, because those aren’t my buddies, that’s not my game, I’m not collaborating with those players.
As a creator, these views have obviously influenced the kinds of games I produce. I write more about telling stories and facilitating collaboration than I do with crunchy system foofawraw and worldbuilding fiddly bits. Even the worldbuilding stuff I write tends to focus on “and this is what your players can do with it, and here’s how you can get a story out of it”. But as I often say, the game isn’t the book. It’s what happens at the table.
About Dancing Lights Press
Dancing Lights Press publishes story games that embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation. Our print books are affordable, at $10 or less. The 6×9 digest format makes them convenient to carry around. The spotlight belongs on the creativity of the players as they converse and collaborate on plot, worldbuilding, and character development. Roleplaying is an activity, not a book. Our titles are merely part of the delivery system.