Role Playing Related Fiction by The Company of Strangers  

Roleplaying: A Tutorial: by Ian Redditt

It has come to my attention that many people do not understand the secret mysteries of Role Playing Games. They are convinced that players of Dungeons and Dragons and other such games are somehow less hip and cool than themselves. In an attempt to dispel this absurd assumption, I thought it would be helpful to offer a brief tutorial about just who and what role-players are all about.

First, let me clear up all the proverbial "parent questions." Role Playing Games do not use a board. They do not use spinners, little houses, or electrified tweezers. They can last anywhere from 3 hours to 10 years. You can play them with any number of players. There is no way to "win." No one actually crawls through a sewer, "hit points" have nothing to do with acupuncture, you can't cast spells out of the Players Handbook, and they have nothing to do with Satan! OK, maybe a little to do with Satan. But just for luck.

Basically, role-playing is about assuming the persona of a "character," frequently of a different gender, race, or even species from you, and describing the behavior of that character in an imaginary setting. Other players in the game play their own distinct characters, which all interact with each other and the rest of the imaginary world under the direction of a referee or moderator. Try to imagine a game of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" played by a transvestite high school debate club on peyote, and you'll have a rough idea what it's like. But with graph paper and more Mountain Dew.

There are many different varieties of these role-playing games. In fact, it has been said that there are as many different games as there are genres of literature: fantasy, western, science fiction, horror, etc. All of them can be fun, though it must be admitted that role-playing the "bodice ripper" genre, especially in an all-male group, can be a trifle disturbing.

Player: "I attempt to quench the fires of her passion with my turgid pleasure rod!"

Novel Master: "You need to roll a 15 or more for that."

Player: "I got a 9."

Novel Master: "She laughs at the inadequacy of your manhood and flees your bedchamber to take pleasure in the arms of another man."

Player: "DAMN this system is realistic."

It's a common misconception that role-playing games are difficult to get into in the first place. This is utterly false; generating your first character is simplicity itself. For example, in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Edition 3.5, one merely needs to roll 4 six-sided dice, noting the total of the three highest dice while discarding the lowest, repeated a total of 6 times, and then take the resulting numbers and arrange them in the order of your choice to represent your character's primary characteristics or "stats" and then, using those stats as a guideline, to choose your character's race (which may of course influence the aforementioned stats) and then choose a character class that would benefit from those stats, and then once the stats and class has been chosen, use a simple mathematical formula of (class total) + int. bonus x4 to determine your character's starting skill points which may then be allotted to your class specific skills as you ... hey, where are you going? Come back! WE HAVEN'T DONE YOUR SPECIAL FEATS YET!

Not all role-players are men, though it is true they almost all look like men. The rare few attractive exceptions are our Queens, and we worship them with the blind hormonal intensity of naked mole rats.

Contrary to popular belief, role-players do not have bad hygiene. Their potent musky odour is a defense mechanism, designed to compensate for their complete lack of claws, fangs, speed, or ability to catch any form of ball.

Not all role-players are pale, friendless virgins. There are Black and Asian role-players as well.

Should you, for some inexplicable reason, decide to seduce a role-player (perhaps there is a bet involved, or you need a kidney), they can be rendered pliable to your advances with a few simple words. Use them only with great care however, for once the gamer's primal reflex has been activated it results in a single-minded torrent of speech that only death or unconsciousness can stop. Those words are, of course, "Tell me about your character."

Not all role-players live in their parents' basements. Most still live in their old bedrooms with the Star Wars sheets, bookshelves full of gaming manuals and trading cards, and their lucky crusty washcloth under the bed. Only the really cool ones have their own basements.

Never touch a role-player's dice. They believe that their felt bags contain not only their plastic polyhedrons but also their very souls; this is powerful nerd juju, not to be trifled with lightly. (As an aside, for most gamers this is the only bag of theirs that is ever felt.)

Role-playing does not lead to delusional behavior or fits of psychotic rage. Being teased unrelentingly about being a role-player however, being stuffed into lockers and laughed at when you ask someone on a date and being knocked in the mud and having your special omelet pan stolen and being taunted in the showers and I'LL KILL YOU ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS DIE *blam* DIE *blam* DIE *blamblamblam*

And finally, role-players do not drink human blood, despite what the angst-filled Goth wannabe "Vampire" players (curse you White Wolf games!) might want you to believe. Like most modern North Americans, their diet consists of the five basic food groups: the Salt group, the Sugar group, the Grease group, the Caffeine Group and the Alcohol group. Gamer scientists are expected to develop the deep fried chocolate rum-and-coke any day now.

So now that you know a little more about these mysterious beasts that call themselves role-players, please try to show some care and respect for them. Many authorities consider them an endangered species, for they have an astonishing array of natural enemies and their rate of reproduction is tragically low. Remember, role-players may be near the bottom rung of the social spectrum, but they are not the lowest form of life. There are, in fact, two groups of people more sad and pathetic than they are.

But don't feel too bad, random internet surfers. At least you're better than the Star Trek geeks.


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