What is Roleplaying?
Simply put, roleplaying is a social activity where a group of people get together to tell a story. One member of the group, often call the Storyteller or Gamemaster (GM), lays out the setting of the story, including some elements of the plot. The rest of the group (referred to as players) each create and control one of the main characters. So why do people enjoy roleplaying? There is no simple answer, but below are some of the reasons to try roleplaying.
Whether the story is an epic tale on the scale of The Lord of the Rings, or simply the chronicle of the day-to-day survival of a band of misfits, being involved in its creation is very rewarding. The best thing is that you don't have to do all the work, and the ending is guaranteed to be a surprise.
Every character has a background and a personality. The challenge is to try and figure out what your character would do in all of the situations they find themselves in. Psychology, anyone? Play the characters well and the story takes care of itself.
Those blessed with some dramatic ability can take this a step further. Rather than just telling everyone what your character says, why not act it out? With players like this, roleplaying becomes impromptu voice acting. The GM is the narrator, and also plays the extras. Of course there's no script so, just like those improv skit shows, you'll have to figure it out as you go...
In many ways, roleplaying could simply be considered make believe for grown-ups. For the young at heart, it can be a lot of fun to pretend you are someone and somewhere else. Whether it's an assassin in a post-apocalyptic world of darkness, a novice mage in a land of high magic, or a freedom fighter in modern Chechnya, letting your imagination take you away can always be great stress relief. Escapism at its very best.
Any roleplaying story has obstacles created by the GM to give the players something to do. For some roleplayers, the challenge of outsmarting the GM is half the fun. Depending on the setting the players might have to figure out a complex logic puzzle before they can get to the ancient artifact, negotiate an international peace treaty or do some detective work to figure out who killed the maid.
If a character tries to somersault over a burning car or survive a bar fight, do they succeed? This sort of thing is often decided by the roll of a die, with a set of rules. So, if you ignore everything else, you could view roleplaying as a complicated and dynamic board game. Create the ultimate character and rule the universe! Or not. Certainly a lot more interesting than snakes and ladders.
When it all boils down to it, roleplaying is all about having fun. Get together with a bunch of friends and spend an afternoon joking around.