6 votes

Humans have been telling stories and using dice for thousands of years, so why did it take us so long to combine them into role-playing games?

1 comment

  1. ohyran
    I think the author is making a few key mistakes about technology: the core issue is that many technological advancements only makes sense to do if there is a point to them. My favourite example is...

    I think the author is making a few key mistakes about technology: the core issue is that many technological advancements only makes sense to do if there is a point to them. My favourite example is Heron of Alexandria who invented the steam engine, set it up so that it could move other things (which was fairly non-complex) and who lived in a country which had an actual rail system already invented for short-stretch transportation. The reason it took almost 1800 years to add that to a locomotive was because they didn't need to. There was plenty of slaves milling around who could do the pushing quicker, cheaper and better. So it was just a silly toy.

    Second a roleplaying game is such a wide array of things and the definition of what is a RPG and what is improvisational theatre (or other things like "communal story telling") isn't very clear. A lot of RPG's now are somewhere in that gap, some being without a gamemaster/DM.

    Also, one of the replies he got: that there just isn't a point in documenting RPG-like endeavours (or a possibility if you don't even have a good way of documenting things) seems pretty apt but added to that we simply don't know. I mean take myths and fables. There is an idea that they, because our current society is focused on "The Creator" (and all the sub-archetypes like "The Lone Genius" etc), must have been invented and told by a storyteller who was so good they where repeated indefinitely and perfectly by a lot of people basically just acting as the medium through which the story was told. Which aligns well with Christianity, Islams and Judaism's view of their own shared myths which needs "The Storyteller" and a perfect, never changed, core story to make up its fundament (even if we know that for example the Bible is a very living project with edits to it happening in different scales over and over).

    But at the same time we do what humans have always done - replay the myths as little acts with masks, playing the gods as they act out the myths (in Europe having little kids playing Joseph, Mary and Jesus (and a sleaugh of side characters who are slapped on after the fact) in a manger happens on its set ritual date every year with the same structure just like any form of seasonal ritual where "we are the gods" is the main feature).*

    Who's to say that our myths, and fables aren't the product of shared storytelling? "I'm Gilgamesh! I draw my sword and ready my self for combat!" or at what point does something cross the line between "silly makebelief" and "a proper roleplaying game"? I mean I remember as a kid going "well I am batman and I'll beat you up!" and the other person replying "Then I am the incredible Hulk and I throw you over a mountain!" and then trying to one-up each other.
    Or that act of playing out a possible scenario with each other - "So what will you tell her?" "It's over I am leaving you" "Ok but what if she then says: why? We're planning to move in together!?" "Then I will just explain..."

    I just think that "What is a RPG?", "Why is a RPG", and critically "Why write down a RPG session" needs to be adressed before being able to answer the core question. (seriously, I mean with podcasts it makes a bit of sense to document your gaming, but imagine reading a 200 page tract with a blow for blow of a D&D session, ooof the pure boredom - also since that is how some Fantasy books came about (although heavily edited), who's to say we aren't rereading that epic gaming session when Mary Shelley hosted a game night at her house with two friends?)

    /* just as an aside - there is a video of a - well antisemitic cult leader like dude - who makes his 16 year old son play the role of Jesus nailed to a cross and his daughter play Mary griefing and they all seem so in to it, the roles - that it reminds me more of "being ridden" by a god, spirit or archetype than just acting out the story. (Also sidenote: that video is creepy af in its own way, so not linked)

    4 votes