Hamsterprophecy: Prevision

It\’s All About Pen, Paper and People.

Prospectus: How To Roleplay

Posted by Nathan P. on July 18, 2007

A Beginners Guide to Roleplaying


  • A Brief History of the Hobby
  • Definitions of Roleplaying
  • Good Terms and Ideas to Know
  • What’s In This Book

Picking A Game

  • What’s Out There?
  • Genre, Style and “Footprint”
  • Free Stuff
  • Conventions and Low/No Commitment Gaming Gatherings

Creating A Group

  • How Many People Do I Need?
  • Where Do I Find Them?
  • What If None Of Us Know What We’re Doing?
  • Do I Need the Same Group Every Time?
  • Playing On-Line

The Group

  • Where Do We Play?
  • Talk To Each Other
  • Who’s Responsible for the Fun?
  • What If We Don’t Have Fun?
  • I Want To Change/Leave/Add to the Group

The Game Master

  • The Game Master Is Not A Person (He’s A Set of Responsibilities)
  • Games With A Game Master
  • Games With Distributed Game Mastering
  • How The Game Master Contributes to the Fun

Playing A Character

  • How Do I Make a Character That Is Fun?
  • Do I Need to Play the Same Character All the Time?
  • Where Can I Get Inspiration for my Character?
  • I Don’t Understand All of These Numbers
  • What If I Don’t Like My Friend’s Characters?
  • What If I Don’t Like My Character?
  • How You Contribute to the Fun

Shortform Play

  • What’s Shortform Play?
  • What Games are Good for Shortform?
  • How Do I Get the Most out of Shortform?

Longterm (Campaign) Play

  • What’s Longterm Play?
  • What Games are Good for Longterm?
  • How Do I Get the Most out of Longterm?



  • The Internet
  • Your Local Library
  • The Local Favorite Game Store
  • Other Resources



7 Responses to “Prospectus: How To Roleplay”

  1. “The Game Master: It’s a lot of responsibilities!”

    I’m a zealot, but I’d just talk about the authority pieces and then give examples of how they are often distributed, with the GM being a very popular one with cool variations from system to system.

    Those responsibilities are part of social cooperation, which is its own thing, maybe part of “the group”.

    Many of your points posed as questions would make good sidebars.

  2. misuba said

    I have a feeling that any version of the chapters “Creating a Group” and “The Group” that doesn’t address the difference between normal social contexts and the more proscribed ones in RPG culture, plus the effects of people’s preconceptions about RPGs on the inside and the outside, may be harmful as well as unsuccessful.

  3. Misuba has a point, but I wonder if it’s more helpful to be like “inter-player relations and expectation are often fucked up” or just promote a better, healthier way of doing things.

    Oh, and speaking of the latter, Flight 4 is out.

  4. Leonard Balsera said

    Good start, but I want to add that you probably need to go even more basic than this in one section – like, all the way down to, “how do I know when I’m supposed to talk” and “what do I say when I contribute” and stuff. Basic scene framing, “how do we decide what happens next”, “who decides that”, etc etc.

  5. Linnaeus said

    Failing to acknowledge the entrenched position and long historical dominance of games with a GM would do a disservice to your readers. It would set up false expectations that everyone plays with several variations on how these responsibilities are distributed, when most groups have a default position, somewhere toward the powerful-GM end of the spectrum, that they stick to across games.

    Point out unequivocally that this situation is not the only, or necessarily best, way to play, and that different distributions of these authorities work better with different games. Also say that new games are experimenting with ever more radical distributions or authourity.

    But acknowledge what mode (or cluster of nodes) is currently dominant among roleplaying groups.

    As for social relationships, just point out that it is like any group activity, and should involve healthy communication and relationships. They can feature unhealthy personalities and relationships, like any other group activity, but this is a product of the people playing the game, not the game itself.

    Save the “hippie” axe-grinding for forums and game designs. This is a product that is, if I am not mistaken, intended to help people new to any aspect of the hobby. Write it that way.

  6. Nathan P. said

    Thanks for the comments, guys.

    Product, huh. Hrm. Don’t mistake this for something that I didn’t pull out of my ass just before heading off to DexCon.

    Jason, you are a zealot.

    Leonard, that stuff is the province of an individual game, methinks.

  7. Linnaeus said

    It’s still the product of your labour, whether you sell it or not šŸ˜›

    What, me? Rationalize? Never heard the word before!

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