How the Game is Played
So, what is all this “roleplaying” business about, anyway?
How is the game played? What are the specifics?
To start with, roleplaying games (RPG’s) are story-telling games.
They rely on the imaginations and cooperative interaction of the players.
In the context of the game, each player (excepting the GameMaster, or GM) is represented by a specific persona or ‘character’, or more specifically, a ‘player character’ (PC). This designation distinguishes his character from any of the myriad other ‘characters’ which may be portrayed from time to time by the GM, called Non-Player Characters (NPC’s).
Each player’s character really represents nothing more than an impromptu play-acting role, similar to that of an actor in a drama, except the player speaks up on behalf of the character as he sees the need – making up his own “script” for his character as the game goes on. Un-like the actor, the player simply describes the character’s actions (as opposed to physically acting them out) as he wishes his character to accomplish them, interacting with the other players’ characters and the GM’s NPC’s as he believes his character would, given the setting and situation in the gameworld as described to him by the GM.
It is the interaction of the characters just mentioned, both PC and NPC, provides the meat of the game. Interacting with the other players’ characters can sometimes be an adventure in itself. All of this interaction and description requires a basically impartial third party to keep the environment running smoothly.
The first requirement to roleplay successfully is for the participants to want to make the game work and to have fun with it.
Like watching any science-fiction or Swords & Sorcery movie, or reading any books of the same genre, the players must ALL willingly suspend their disbelief and try to get into the game, its spirit of adventure, danger, mystery, the characters’ pains and pleasures, joys and sorrows, as the GM establishes for them in the background briefing he provides for each to show them where they fit in the gameworld and with one another.
It is generally assumed that the players who make up characters and show up to play are all willing to do so, otherwise, why would they have wasted their time making the characters in the first place?
Before the players gather for a game, they must each make sure that they have read the rules with enough depth and attention that they are at least familiar with them and where the ones they may need can be found so they may reference them during play – OR that they have their characters ready in hand, if the GM intends to teach rules as he goes in order to speed things along. Sometimes it is easier to learn while playing than from reading cold text. Applications of the rules to situations the players care about during play generally make the knowledge of the rules stick better in their memories. Diving into a new game on the spur of the moment is not an uncommon occurrence among adventure gamers but, whenever possible, being familiar with the major points of the rules and the general manner in which they are set up from the start will always make things go that much more smoothly and easily.
Once the GM is ready to go, the players’ characters are all in order, and the players have all gathered together to play, how is it done?
Essentially it is one big, meandering, extended conversation, as mentioned previously. BUT that statement doesn’t really do anyone much good, no matter how true it may be – too vague. Just saying it is a long series of statements like “This is the situation …”, “Well, I do …”, “Then this happens in response …”, “Then we do …”, “And so-and-so does thus n such back …”, and so on and so forth, doesn’t mean a whole lot, either, although it is just as true and provides a little more detail. To give a more meaningful definition of roleplay, one of the audio-tapes of the author’s own play-testing game has been rendered into the form of a script so the player can read exactly what the flow of play in a roleplaying session is like, and imagine what it must sound like.
An Example of Roleplay
The evening (or afternoon) is young, the soda-pop is cold, the chips are crispy, the pizza is hot, and the paper and pencils are plentiful, as the players all gather around the table to roleplay.
As stated, what follows is an excerpt from an actual game, but first some background to put the story elements in context.
The example comes from a marathon roleplay session in the middle of an epic series of adventures (a campaign) also created by the author and called “Legacy of the Demon Princess” by the players. Yes, she (or rather IT) was most certainly one of the Bad Guys. The name for the campaign arose both from the fact that the story hinged upon an ancient demon who possessed the princess of a great and powerful kingdom once upon a time and from the fact that the demon’s target at the time of the game being played was a PC named Cebra who was a princess herself. Cebra is a Wizard primarily a Namer Magister with a degree in natural Philosophy (Master Namer by formal university study), with a definitely leaning to Virtue, and thus one of the Good Guys.
Her travelling companions are Prince Aslan Silvermane V, a snowy-furred pumatharan Huntsman and his identical twin, the dangerous and unpredictable gladiator Warrior-Prince, Milan who seek together to wrest the Eye of Targos (the centerpiece of their birthright) from the demon who had stolen it generations ago; the mysterious ebon-furred pumathar Nigramous (He Who Does the Running Through) who is a Sacred Knight of the Black Orders (unbeknownst to the rest of the party), a conflicted soul who has some difficulty living up to the evil standards of his diabolical order; and the fragile and lovely young irdan Wizard Crystal who leans heavily towards Divination, primarily a Sybil sent by the master Seers of the school to which she is still beholden, who have an axe to grind for the particular demon on which the campaign hinges, having destroyed a citadel and sacked one of their libraries of it’s secrets.
Up to the point where the text begins, the demon’s trail has led the party on a merry chase through flood (a watery death-trap) and fire (the wrath of a powerful djinn efreet) in trying to find her … his … ITs whereabouts and the Eye of Targos, stolen from the Clan Sword of the ruling house of the Isle of Targos some 400 years ago, when the demon broke the sword with a curse. The party has spent many months in research through the ancient scrolls and tomes of the princes of the desert and the city-states that ring the sprawling sands, putting together a list of the demon’s most likely incarnations and an account of the exploits wrought over the course of those incarnations, trying to trace the reasons behind his last chronicled actions and also to find the location of the final resting place of his last victim, which they suspect will also be the last repository for the demon’s essence, a clever trap for some worthy adventurous tomb-robber to allow the demon a new lease on mortal life.
The PC researches have revealed that the demon lived beyond “the edge of the world”, on the Isle of the Endless Sky. They have discovered that “the edge of the world” is, in fact, the edge of a wide plain or “sea” of glass, perfectly smooth, fused sand many feet deep going on for miles in all directions. Of the island they seek, on which a deserted city is rumored to have stood, they have not been able to deduce even a general location to fill in on the map they have slowly been working on rendering over the course of their months of research and travel.
The following text begins the adventure in which they find their target, the Isle of the Endless Sky, after which came the final adventure in which they finally faced the demon and did battle with it.
Because the characters’ and players’ names are swapped back and forth interchangeably to indicate the subtle shifts into and out of character during play, as the players pause to interact with the GM to exercise their skills and clarify details, the following cast list is provided for the reader’s reference.
|The Players||The Characters||Their Trades||Their Races|
|Bryan||Sir Nigramous||Sacred Knight||Human|
GM : You arrive at the edge of the glass. It looks like a sea, reflecting the sky like a mirror. It is like standing on the edge of the world. Do you want to halt, or do you want to keep on going?
Eileen : What time of day is it?
Eric : This is a very good question. Before we get to the edge of it, as a matter of fact, looking out over a few dunes …
GM : What time of day did you leave Jaf’nabad?
Rick : Morning?
Bryan : Morning, I think.
Rick : Oh, I would assume that we would probably have rested. It took us a total of 24 hours to get here.
Bryan : Yeah, 12 hours to get to the temple …
Rick : 12 hours to get to the tomb, so I’m sure we would have rested …
Eric : Let’s try to pace ourselves so we get there at sunset, at the Sea of Glass.
GM : No problem. You already knew about how far it is. That means you ride all day, about 10 hours the first day, stop and rest, stop in the middle of the next day at the tomb, and at sunset you set out again.
You get to the Sea of Glass and it is just dark. The first stars are coming out and you see the heat rolling off in waves…
Aslan : ‘Zounds …
GM : … as if it truly were a sea.
Eileen : Sounds like … we should take a nap until midnight.
GM : A wind coming at you …
Milan : Yeah …
GM : … a hot scorching sirocco.
Cebra : Stay away from here …
Milan : Its really hot.
the GM : I [Aslan] back away from the edge, too.
GM : It’s like standing in front of a blacksmith’s forge.
Aslan : I am uncomfortable with this.
Cebra : Move back about 15 miles …?
The party does not respond to her.
GM : You noticed that for the past 40 miles, the terrain slowly went from cacti to nothing, from scattered tufts of arid grasses, yucca plants, cacti, sagebrush, and tumbleweed to nothing. It takes about an hour, maybe 2, for the temperature to become bearable at close quarters.
Rick : Okay.
GM : You notice by now that the sands are cooling faster than the glass, and the swiftly rising hot air off the glass is pulling a constant breeze of somewhat cooler air off the desert behind you.
the party : I tell ye what, what say we cross here now and get to the island, then we will have need of rest.
Cebra : Yea, but we are in need of rest before we away.
Milan: Let us rest now.
Aslan : Rest now?
Milan : Aye, wait till the glass cools down some more before we make the crossing.
Aslan : We cannot abide here too long. We have yet to find the island.
Milan : If we assay the glass now … it be an oven.
GM : By Aslan’s reckoning, it’s nine o’clock at night, It’s been 2 hours. The glass is cool enough to stand on with heavy soled boots or shoes, maybe 120° and the air is very, very dry.
Aslan : Let’s rest until about midnight.
Cebra : Midnight.
the GM : You said it’s cooled down now?
Eileen : Its 120°, you have …
Aslan : Well, I say we shall have to sleep at some point, or we will be so fatigued we will start reeling like drunkards.
Milan : Would ye rather just rest until midnight, sleep ‘til midnight? From the time we arrived here until midnight?
Aslan : Aye, that would give us about 6 hours.
GM : Okay, that’s that.
Nigramous : So, do we assay to ride across to the island, or whatsoever?
Aslan : Certes!
GM : How do you plan on finding it?
Eric : We’re going to look, first of all.
GM : Okay. You can’t see it.
Eric : Okay.
Rick : Its dark now.
GM : Not only is it dark, but the island is a long way away.
Bryan : Oh, wow! We’ll be able to see the stars and sky in the glass!
Aslan : The island looks just like its floating in the cosmos.
Nigramous : If we sack the stronghold, we can make it our quarters!
The GM pulls out a map.
GM : Did you stop at the nearest shore of the glass sea? I mean, it goes like this (gesturing). Did you go all the way up?
Eric : I assume we went straight from Akhmûn-Ra’s tomb, in a line.
GM : Straight north?
Rick : Well, it wouldn’t be straight north, it would have been straight in the line on which we were headed.
He indicates a straight line from Jaf’nabad to the tomb and beyond.
GM : No problem, no problem …
Eileen : Now we do have a map!
GM : Yes, you do have map. Now it’s a matter of orienting yourselves on it. The cardinal directions aren’t marked.
Aslan : Well, our direction sense might be …
Aslan : … might be a wise maneuver.
Milan : … handy.
Aslan : Will ye seek it out or shall I?
Cebra : Akhmûn-Ra’s tomb isn’t on the map. Palm Shadar is.
Milan : We could both assay it.
Eric : Okay, I attempt to sense direction and orient myself, AV6.
He rolls d100.
GM : What did you roll?
Eric : 47.
GM : Yup, you succeed.
The GM takes the map and marks the party’s location and the cardinal compass points.
GM : There, look along the southeast shore.
Eric : That little circle?
GM : Yes.
the party : We are here. Gee, that’s funny – the island doesn’t seem to be marked on this map.
GM : It wasn’t.
Aslan : It wasn’t? Sadness.
Cebra : But Cruellonchi knows where it is.
Milan : It almost seemed larger.
Aslan : … Okay.
then to Crystal,
Well, would ye mind overmuch sending your hawk up a brief flight above to gain a better vantage point and see if ye might sight the island through his eyes from here?
Crystal : Of course!
Cheryl, to the GM : I [Crystal] collects her hawk and takes its hood off. I’m settling down to borrow its sight, that’s Divination, taking my time, I’m doubling whatever the casting time for Common magick, base AV12. I’m not sure what it’s STA is, so I don’t know what the minimum Potence is, but I want to make sure I encompass its full range of sight, so I want to make sure I fully encompass its AWA in the Potence, also.
GM: Tying it off?
Cheryl: Sure, no need to carry it. I’ll take whatever duration that gives me, I’m sure it will be plenty.
GM: Good … your hawk has a STA of 2, which means that one point of Potence gets you a Potence of 1 in the manifesting dweomer, too, so it really is a matter of matching the hawk’s AWA. That is 22, which gives you a DV of 17 (16.5), but that is halved because you doubled the time you took. What’s your AV?
Cheryl: Ummm … there it is, AV9.
GM: Now, let’s see. Roll.
Cheryl grabs her dice and throws them,
GM: With the extra time you took, you needed a 51 or better. You got it. Don’t forget to mark your SP’s, the charm and also the Art.
Cheryl: Done! I send it aloft, to circle around to see what we can …
GM : How high? [to the other players] It doesn’t look like it is climbing very high, maybe 100 feet.
to Crystal : Higher, if thou wouldst, Lady Crystal – mayhap have it ascend to 400 or 500 hundred feet?
Crystal : That high? Wherefore?
Aslan : So ye two can sight the island.
Cebra : The higher up ye climb, the farther out ye can see!
Crystal : Oh! Surely!
to the GM : I bid it climb higher, about 450 feet.
GM : You look long and hard with the hawk’s extraordinary sight, but you see no trace of the island. However, in the distance, you do see small, slim shapes that could be ships etched in silver moonlight moving across the surface of the glass.
Cheryl : I [Crystal] bid the hawk slowly spiral back down to me.
to the party : I saw nothing that looked like the island, but I thought I caught a glimpse of some small shapes that could have been ships, moving upon the glass.
Aslan : ‘Zounds!
Milan : We could search out the ships. They might know whither lies the island. If they sail the glass, they should know how best to navigate it.
Aslan : Yea, verily. I know not if we truly want to find the ships, though. They might not be kindly disposed towards us.
Milan : BUT we have one of their men with us.
Aslan : Oh that’s right, I keep forgetting he is with us. He doesn’t say much, does he?
Eric gives the GM a meaningful look.
Cebra : You don’t ask him much, do you?
Milan : He’s a man of few words.
to the bedraggled, sun burnt
Sailor [GM] : Do ye have any idea where the island might be? Or where ye have sailed from – or landed?
The GM shrugs on the Sailor’s behalf, then gestures towards one side of the shore on the map.
Sailor [GM] : This area looks familiar, belike, but it has been a long time. I think I came down t’other side of the glass sea.
Milan : What time do the ships usually make port?
Sailor : Just before dawn.
Milan : Just before dawn?
The GM nods on the sailor’s behalf.
Sailor : Some of them run the day, betimes.
Having had a small dose of the heat from off the glass at sunset, and the desert, the party is appropriately boggled.
Aslan : ‘Zounds!
Cebra : How?!
with a smile : With great care.
Milan : They have ways and ways of doing. They’re protected with magick, belike. He said there were runes and symbols and the like carved into the hulls of the ships. They have magickal protections of some sort. The people that lived on the island had to have some sort of mystical protection, withal.
Aslan : Well, if we go to the island at night, we’ll be …
Milan : I wonder if the protection still stands guard …
Aslan couldn’t resist a chance to needle his sister to repay the interruption,
Aslan : Maybe it wore off and they were all reduced to a vapor.
The whole party looks at Aslan askance while he snickers. Eric shrugs.
Aslan : Could be.
to the Sailor : Did ye not say that there were slits cut in the glass from the runners on the ships?
Sailor : Nay, not slits so much as long shallow scratches.
Milan : Mmmm … but I don’t want to have to follow anything out there.
Nigramous : Let us simply ride out there.
Crystal, impatiently : Why do we not just ride our steeds over?
Cebra : They are working to decide which direction to proceed.
Aslan : Aye, t’is a big sea and only one island in it somewheres, and we know not where it lies.
Crystal, ignoring his patronizing : So let us simply ride out to the middle-most part!
Eric and Rick turn back to the map.
Milan : This be the largest portion of the sea.
Aslan : Yea.
Milan : So, I say we ride the shore up here.
Rick points at the map.
Milan : Well … it could be down there, but …
Aslan : You just want to ride the shore up to the middle or thereabouts and have a look?
Milan : Verily. Yea, ride the shore up there and see if we can sight anything from there.
Aslan : Indeed.
Rick points to the map and looks at Eric.
Milan : See you, if we stand down here, we shan’t be able to see anything over here.
Aslan : Sooth. As you say, then, let us do that.
Eric brings the map up to the GM.
Eric : So, we want to ride up to about here.
GM : That’s about 40 or 50 miles, at what – about 25 miles per hour?
Eric : 2 hours later …
GM : 2 hours later …
Eric : … we are here.
GM : Okay.
Rick : We are keeping track of the time of night.
GM : It is about 2am, according to the stars in the sky, then. Mark down another SP for each of you. The moon is partially out, and all of you can see the glass is a medium to light gray in the moon glare for the 3 miles or so you can see across this level plain.
Aslan : Sounds like we are in need of another aerial scouting trip. Lady Crystal, may we impose upon ye?
Crystal : Certes!
to the GM : Same as before, I settle down with my hawk and pull his hood off, communing with it, I send it up until we see something or we get to about the same height we did before, about 450 feet.
GM : I need you to roll d100 for me, Cheryl.
Cheryl grabs her dice and throws them,
Cheryl : 19!
GM : Alright, when you get to about 300 feet …
The GM gestures towards the map,
Somewhere out that way there’s a darker blotch out towards the middle of the sea on the horizon.
Cheryl : Bingo! Which way is that from where we are? North, south, east, or west? This way?
Cheryl points to the map.
GM : No, more north. It looks like north-northwest.
Cheryl : Does it appear to be moving or is it stationary? We wheel and circle to watch it for a moment.
GM : Stationary. Don’t forget to mark the Skill Point down for your Sentry Perception skill, as well as the points for your magick skills.
Cheryl : I don’t have that …
GM : Perception skills are Open Skills, you’ll earn the Sentry skill eventually by doing things like this.
Cheryl : I [Crystal] will call the hawk down and let the party know what I found.
to the party : Ride we out there?
Milan : Can you estimate how far away it is?
Aslan : From her altitude and the fact that it still appeared on the horizon, indeed, I believe so.
Eric, to the GM : My AV is 8, guess-timating how far away it is.
The GM, deciding on a fairly high DV for attempting such a task at night over a 20-mile + distance by only partial moonlight decides on a DV of 30, which yields a 28% chance of success.
Eric rolls the dice.
Eric : 22!
GM : It is roughly 20 miles, or so. Don’t forget to mark down your Skill Point.
Aslan : It should be but a score of miles away.
Milan : So it’s …
Nigramous : … a little less than an hour’s ride.
Milan : … roughly about 2am. The sun doesn’t come up until …
Aslan : We’ll get there about 3am.
Milan : Well, the sun comes up until about … when?
Milan : In case we have erred! In case this is not what we seek!!
Cebra : 5am.
Aslan : 5am. The sun comes up about 5am.
Cebra : So we shall have enough time to get back … very nearly.
Milan : At 3am …
Aslan : So, what do we want to do, just ride out, get a sense of the place and return here?
Milan : Well, should we arrive there about 3am., and it be not our goal, we shall have an hour to scout the place out from there and another hour in which to return here. If that IS what we seek, we will have no worry.
Aslan : Then we must away with us, and hope by the gods we are inside when the sun comes up.
Milan : Verily.
Nigramous : Well, it is like be about an hour after sunrise before the sun gets hot.
Aslan : What about the reflection, though?
Milan : Indeed. The question is, how long will it take to heat up?
Sailor : Beggin’ yer pardons, the heat really begins to build within the half-hour, and it is completely unbearable within the hour.
Milan : So we will have maybe a half-hour after the sun comes up.
Aslan : Yea. Do you want to simply go forth there tonight and have a look around the island, then come back to wait until tomorrow night?
Milan : It depends on the lay of the island and any buildings standing thereon. If there be walls around it, there is a very good chance that we will be protected through the day. There’ll probably be no air at all out on the glass for a man to breathe.
Cebra : Breathing would seem to be extremely difficult.
Sailor : Take a deep breath and feel your lungs sear.
Aslan : We’ll have to just go and reconnoiter tonight and go back tomorrow night.
Cebra : Locate it and not assay to do anything?
Aslan : Just determine if it has any defenses, fortifications, if there is anybody there.
Milan : Yea, we shall have near a half-hour to map the lay of the place.
Aslan : We should be able to ride around it.
GM : Well, I guess you are going to ride out there?
GM : You see no one. You ride out there …
The GM holds up an illustration of the approach to the location.
… and this is what you see. An enormous citadel towering far above you with a city of broken buildings sprawling at its feet.
Eric : There does appear to be a wall about the city, though. And a gate.
GM : Yes.
Eric : Oh! While we’re here do I see any signs of … boat traffic?
GM : Cast about and see.
Eric : How long does it take to track?
GM : For something like this, three or four minutes – no more than 5 minutes.
Eric : Excellent! AV6.
Eric rolls d100.
Eric : 26!
GM : No problem. Yes, you do, but its very, very scant. If there has been traffic through here it hasn’t been much and it hasn’t been very recent. Don’t forget to mark down your Skill Point.
to the party : Good. The ships do not come here, or haven’t come here for quite some time. Good. I was hoping they would not. The last thing we need is to get into some battle and have these vartlets come up from behind and hack us to pieces.
Nigramous : So, shall we return?
to Crystal : Hmmm … Would you be amenable sending your hawk to swoop over the city and scout it from above, Lady Crystal? Ye can see if there are any other buildings also intact.
Crystal : Sure!
Cebra : How about, while she is up doing that, we take one good hard look at the city through the Stone of Truth …
Aslan, delighted : Yea! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!! Huzzah!!
Cebra : … see what is really here, what it really looks like.
to Eileen : You pull the stone out of its pouch and look through it, and all is exactly as it appears to be.
Cebra : Hmmm … All is exactly as it appears.
to the GM : How far are we from the city?
GM : You’re there, at the shore. The expanse of sand and dried, burnt grass is only a narrow margin. The desolate expanse of black, tumble-down ruins starts immediately at your feet. The only sound you hear is the wind sighing through the towers. You see the ancient, sun-scorched glass and hear the sound of the wind. All is just as it appears.
Eileen : I guess the question I am asking is, are we on the glass or on the sand?
Eric : We are on the glass, still.
Eileen : We are still on the glass.
Eric, grinning : I am.
Eileen : Okay.
GM : I need you to roll dice for me again, Cheryl.
Cheryl grabs her dice and throws them,
Cheryl : 19!
Knowing full well ahead of time Crystal would scout the location by air with her hawk either on her own initiative or on request by the party, the GM hands Cheryl a “bird’s eye” illustration of the island.
to Cheryl : This is a picture of what you see.
The GM takes a moment to relate the points of reference between the aerial view and the ground view already passed around until he is sure she understands what she is looking at.
the GM : Can I reveal magick?
GM, smiling : Your character can do anything you like, but where? The AoE your magick can cover has limits even if you are the one setting them.
Eileen : Well, that’s at least a ‘maybe’.
Eileen rolls d100,
Eileen : 42, AV4. I don’t know what I’m supposed to roll, but I don’t think that’s it.
GM : We’ll see – how big an AoE do you want to affect, and is that High Magick or Common?
Eileen : Oh, dear. Let’s see … I want the AoE centered on the gate in the wall there, and about 100 yards across, we are not in battle so I don’t need to push myself with High magick, so Common will work fine, and I want to manifest a POT of 10.
GM : Alright. The GM takes a moment to consider.
The minimum Potence for a radius of 50 yards with your 16 MGA is 2, that’ll get you a POT of 1, add 9 to make 10. You need 11 POT to cast and achieve that POT of 10 in the Reveal. That lies within the POT of the Ambience in the area, so no additional time is needed to gather the mana for the spell.
You aren’t using any particular forms of mortal mana, your birthsign has no effect for another few weeks, and no Resonances are involved, and you haven’t taken the time to research Correspondences, so I’ll waive those both for and against this time. I need you and Cheryl to take a look at those later.
The base DV for Common Sphere Divination magick in spell form is 1/4th the 11 POT, which comes to 2.75, or 3.
That gives you a 51% chance of success – so, yes, that 42 does grant you a successful casting. The AoE of the spell reaches from your feet to the gate and 150 feet beyond that, and stretches for 150 feet to either side of the gate, and within that area you sense no magick at all. Don’t forget to mark down your Skill Point.
Cheryl : I’m just going to describe what I have seen to the party when the hawk comes to hand again anyway, so you can just go ahead and speak for me.
to the party : About three-fourth’s of the buildings have fallen in. All the wood you can see is completely desiccated and sand-blasted, and most of the walls collapsed. Where all the buildings were located and their general shapes and ground floor plans are still visible. Some corners, arches and doorways, even a column or two still stand, here and there. However, the entire citadel is built of such massive pieces of stone that the whole thing seems to be still intact.
It is all as still as a tomb. Eerie. Not one living thing moves here, to our eyes.
Otherwise, the only real point of interest we saw was a courtyard enclosed in high walls. In the center is a triangular dais with three steps up to each side. On each corner of the dais stands a statue of solid carven crystal frosted by the blowing sands, four times the height of a man, maybe taller. Set flush into the center of the dais is a circle of pure white marble.
Aslan : Bastet’s Tail! Welladay, now that is where we will want to go.
Belay that, wait a moment, was not the demon’s tomb on top of a hill?
Milan : Nay. Up on top of the city.
Cebra : High above the city
Aslan Up above the city. As you say.
Crystal : I thought it lay upon a hill, as well.
Cebra : Nay, Lady.
Milan : It be in the top, the highest tower of the citadel.
Crystal : If’n those crystal statues mark it, it be upon the tallest tower, on the right.
And on it goes.
The dice, also mentioned in the Introduction, are one of the “mechanical” conventions of roleplaying, described under the heading “The Dice”.
This example was chosen to illustrate character interaction, not as an example of stealthy breaking and entering, or escapes from dread perils, or hacking and slaying the monsters or Bad Guys, although that occurred in the same game soon after the example, when it was discovered not ALL of the city’s denizens were gone, even though none were still among the living. All of which normally punctuates the story lines of the games, spicing up the plot and increasing the intensity of play.
The gaming group was a little over-anxious to get their two-cents’ in and stepped on one another in trying to talk all at once now and then, went in for a few too many side comments and occasionally got a little off-track, BUT they are a good group in general. In the end, when edited down to just the gaming, some pretty nice roleplaying was revealed.
Because one of the Wizard players got carried away with the moment and didn’t bother with determining the parameters for her spell, a brief diversion into mechanics was required. This is unfortunate, but sometimes unavoidable. The players of such characters must understand their magickal actions require more consideration to implement than just grabbing a sword and rushing at a foe, however. The GM should NOT have to go through that process every time the player wants to cast a magick just because it is “too much work”. There are plenty of other types of characters to be played if the player is not willing to do the work that magick requires. It is structured the way it is so the player has maximum control over the effects of his magicks in the game, but also in order to make sure that the player’s understand how tightly interwoven a part of the gameworld magick IS, that it can be affected by many factors at any given time. Those things should be checked before ANY magick is attempted. They should be used to plan the best times to cast magick whenever possible.
Playing a roleplaying game is much like living a favorite fantasy novel and writing it at the same time, with the GM providing all the scene and mood descriptions and the actions and reactions for all the characters not portrayed by the other players (like the sailor prisoner in the passage above). It is the PC’s themselves who are the main characters involved, the heroes. The players are the ones who decide how the tale unfolds and how it is resolved (to a great extent), as they deal with the twists and turns of the plot, writing the tale as they move through it. Indeed, there doesn’t have to be an end at all to the greater storylines, the campaigns. When there is, the players can always do their best to try and make it the ending that they would like best.
As the game progresses and the players gain experience, the characters begin to evolve. The players gradually gain a better sense of just who their characters are. The characters grow over time and start to assert their uniqueness and develop quirks and foibles of their own, and the players become more comfortable seeing the gameworld through their eyes. As the personalities gain definition and the images the players have in their heads solidify, the players are better able to portray them more truly and accurately. This bond makes playing the characters most satisfying. In the end, each player gets out of a roleplaying game what he puts into it. At best, he gets what everyone else puts into it, too.
In truth, with a character in hand, a player should be able to mix into any roleplaying game and have a great time knowing no more of the rules than he could glean from reading the Introduction and the example of play above, whether the player has created his own character or it was taken from the sample characters in the back of the book, or made up for him by someone else. The GM is always there to help the player, direct him to the information he needs on the Character Record Sheet when he needs it (if he doesn’t have a copy of his own to consult), to call for dice rolls when necessary and teach his preferred method for rolling dice and reading them, and the other players are there as well to direct him to the passages in the rule book he may need to consult from time to time, at least until the player has gotten some experience under his belt.