Tabletop: The Sky Is Not The Limit
I am a big fan of creativity in games. The more options that I have, the more fun that I have diving into it. I can lose hours in character creation alone. Tabletop roleplaying games provide the best medium for me to disappear into another world. They are like a gateway drug to creative thinking.
Video games, while I do love them, are very linear. As Pellius discussed recently (via The Neverwinter Vault), video game editors are fantastic, and do provide a way to create and share your own content. However, they are still very limited. No matter how complex you make a campaign in a game like that, it will still be very restricted. It does not allow for sudden changes in gameplay.
This is where my love for tabletop rpgs lies. You have the option of breaking up that straight and narrow path. Granted, side quests can and definitely do happen in video games, but they are still structured. It’s usually “go gather said item, rescue some idiot, fume and scream like an angry drunken pirate while escorting some slow ass useless npc…” Whatever it is, it will be a point A to a point B. That’s it.
Some companies (I’m looking at you Bioware) do go the extra mile and create a variety of paths to increase the replayability. That is appreciated. Greatly. However, I still vote that tabletop rpgs win for creative endeavors.
There are rules. Yes. However, those rules are more like guidelines. Use those for stats, randomizing combat, and any other technical aspect of your game. Everything else? You get to make it up. Hell, even the rules/guidelines are subject to change. Don’t like a rule? Make up a new one to fit your playstyle. House Rules are always the best (or worst depending on how much it could royally screw over your character…).
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about games like Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire: The Masquerade. I play both of these, with a huge emphasis on the latter. I love vampires. Not the pathetic sparkly wannabe emo bullshit kind, but the “I’m a motherfucking monster and will drain your fucking soul” kind. Dark and deadly is way more fun. (The only reason a vampire should sparkle is if they have just eaten a stripper…)
Now, I have been running a V:tM campaign for over four years. I have a triple layer city the size of Los Angeles and surrounding area. The story involves three planes of existence, and a fuckton of “quests” and secrets to explore. It also contains over 230 fully fleshed out characters for the player to interact with. That number is a rough count and it grows every week.
I’m not saying that everyone goes to that extent when creating a campaign, but that’s how I do it. I can’t stop creating. This is the fun of tabletop rpgs. You are only limited by your imagination.
My love for expression via these type of games extends to the players as well. While I do take the wheel and control the campaign, I am absolutely ecstatic when a player throws a wrench into the works. (For those of you who know the Wildstar crew, think about how excited Cougar gets to fix server problems. That should give you an idea…)
You can plan as much as you like, but you have to be prepared to “go off script”. If a player ventures into an area that you didn’t have created, or starts talking to a random NPC and asking too many questions… Well, you’ve got to come up with stuff on the spot to keep the game going.
Holy shit is that fun. Veering off script is probably my second favorite thing about tabletop rpgs.
I could go on and on, but I’ll just stop here. I’m sure that I will ramble on about these types of games a lot in the near future. In fact, it seems highly encouraged.
However, it is now time for some link pimpage:
If you’ve never heard of the Vampire: The Masquerade, then that sucks. You should go check it out. It was originally published by White Wolf, and is currently being published via Onyx Path Publishing. There is also a LARP version available if you are so inclined to run around with your fangs out: Mind’s Eye Theatre
If you want to buy stuffs and try your hand at being undead, you can do so via DriveThruRPG:
Check out the quickstart guide here. It’s free.