Over the years I have played a number of rulesets with can all be labelled underneath the category of Role-Playing Games (RPGs). Some of the rules I have found super easy to follow, yet lacking realism (Tunnels and Trolls), while others so overly complicated that not even a degree would enable you to implement them smoothly (Rolemaster).
However, it was while I was listening to a recently subscribed to podcast that I actually realised that it doesn’t really matter about the rules at all!
While listening to a podcast.
One kind of podcast which I really enjoy listening to is the actual play genre. I first got into these with the Arcology Shadowrun podcast which I continue to enjoy – yes both the 5e and the 6e versions!
It was while trawling through my Twitter feeds that I came across a 5e D&D one which was about to be published. The Dark Fortune podcast is an actual play podcast from unMadeGaming – who is both a person and a company!
The podcast is following the adventures of a group of characters using the Humblewood expansion for 5e. I’m not completely familiar with the rules for 5e. I’ve DMed in in the past although never got completely to grips with the intricacies of the rules. But, as I listened to the most recent Dark Fortune podcast I suddenly had a eureka moment. The rules did not really matter at all!
Stuff the rules!
Throughout the episode I think the players and DM actually only rolled the dice about five times! These were mostly for saving throws with the odd ‘religion’ check. The majority of the episode was not taken with rolling dice but with actually role-playing.
It was then that the eureka moment hit me! Although the rules allow the players to interact with some of the unpredictable elements of the world, the main interaction is the role-playing and the majority of any gaming session is not actually taken up with rolling dice but with players acting as their characters.
Recently I played in a 5e D&D campaign on Scratticus’ channel on Twitch. The channel caters for newbies like myself when it comes to 5e D&D and this it certainly did do. However, I enjoyed the experience more because I was being allowed to role-play and present my second level fighter Marmaduke as a ‘person’ who was unique and had a wonderful personality. It wouldn’t matter which ruleset we were using, I could have ‘played’ Marmaduke in any setting using any rules. This was because he was created with role-playing in mind rather than a set of rules.
This might have been something which the majority of you have figured about ages ago. But for me it really was something which just dawned on me and it was a very pleasant realisation!
In order to finish this blog post, I wanted to provide you with a challenge. This activity is something which I am currently thinking about with both my limited characters and multitude of non-player characters (NPCs).
If you strip away the rules, does the character still exist? Or, is it just the rules which are making the character likeable or fun to play?
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