Types of Role-Playing
There are many venues of role-playing:
Tabletop/Pen & Paper RPGs
Tabletop/Pen and Paper RPGs , such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder RPG, or The Hero System include a set of rules to create characters and abilities. They also cover challenges and rewards for players. Players gather at a friend’s house, sit around the table and role-play their characters through adventures with one designated person calling the shots – using the rules and describing the game world and characters in it.
He/she paints the picture for the players to decide what actions they may do and how they interact both with each other and the non-player characters (NPCs) in the game world. For the players, there is no script, they act out their role and try to say and do what they feel their characters may decide, based on their character’s abilities and role.
Text-based rpgs use forums or chat clients (MUD, MUSH to connect people and their characters for role-playing. An example of this is the ongoing collaborative space opera OtherSpace space rpg at jointhesaga.com. While for some it seems “retro”, it is a classic example of role-playing via text, telling a story and role-playing a character in a game world.
Live Action Role Playing
Live Action Role Playing games, or LARPs, take it a step further in immersion. Players not only get in character, but sometimes also dress as their character. Much of it is very similar to tabletop games, but you are actually at a location and can move around to different scenes or players/NPCs. There is no script to this as well, characters have the game’s rules, their abilities and act as their character would.
Although newer, MMORPGs touch on all the above in some way, shape or form. MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, which have players playing from many parts of the world. Players create a character and log into a persistent virtual game world hosted by the game’s publisher. There they go through quests and activities, achieving goals and gear to empower their character for further challenges. There are storylines set in game and the players are a part of it in some capacity.
Some players add further depth to their gaming experience by acting in character, creating a role and acting it out while they play the game. Some MMORPGs have dedicated servers for role-playing, others are on their own or have to find other groups within the game to role-play with.
They all share the basics of storytelling through a continuing storyline or series of adventures that can develop the characters over time. And have fun – that’s very important. It is a bit more complex than playing cops and robbers, but the core idea is simple.