What is roleplaying?

What is roleplaying, you ask? You have never role-played before. No problem. SYDCON or EYECON is the perfect chance for you to start this fantastic hobby. Lets go over the basics.

What is role-playing? 

At it’s heart role-playing game (or RPG) is a collaborative story-telling experience. It is an imaginative and creative experience in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development. Actions taken within the game succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules. Games like “How to Host a Murder” or Theatre Sports contain similar elements to role-playing games. Think of it as a play where you make up the script as you go along.

Is this like Dungeons and Dragons?

Dungeons and Dragons is the most well known and successful role-playing game. However there is alot more to the hobby. Remember role-playing is collaborative story telling. It’s a book/movie/play where everyone at the table helps to write the narrative. This means role-playing games cover as many genres and styles as books, movies and plays do. This means role-playing is not only confined to the fantasy genre. It also includes science fiction, horror, crime stories, historical, superhero stories etc. Role-playing games have also been published for a number of well-known fictional properties, including examples such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So if you’ve ever wanted to star in a movie as a Jedi fighting against the Empire, role-playing may be the closest you’ll get.

But don’t you have to dress up and hit each other with swords? 

Not really. What you’re thinking of there is what called a ‘boffer live action roleplay’. Because it is very visual and can look somewhat over-the-top, this style of roleplay attracts alot of attention from the media. In reality, most roleplaying is done around a regular table (called tabletop roleplaying), wearing regular clothes. It’s more like a poker night than a medieval fair. You don’t need to dress up and you don’t need to talk in silly voices (although you can if you like). At SYDCON and EYECON we offer only tabletop roleplaying and freeforms (a type of live action roleplay that focuses on story and characterisation, without the hitting other players).

Pretending to be a knight or a jedi is what my kids do. Why are adults doing this?

True, kids roleplay all the time. The difference is that, in ‘true’ roleplaying games, the stories are generally more sophisticated, and we use clear rules for conflict resolution. So rather than me shooting you with my finger and saying ‘you’re dead’, i’m required to use a rule set (and often random number generation such as dice rolling) to resolve whether I manage to hit your character and if your character is actually dead.
As to why do adults do this, well it’s a creative outlet. It’s just fun to play a character different from ourselves. It’s also a chance to take part in telling a story, develop characters and generally have some fun. If you’ve ever enjoyed a story-driven computer game or dressing up for a party, you’ll probably enjoy role-playing. Arguably, role-players are all just frustrated actors who refuse to work to a script and want to make up their own character.

I’m curious about roleplaying. Can I just come and watch?

Unlike some other activities, it is almost impossible to understand the appeal of roleplaying without playing a session.  The analogy I like to use is watching a movie. Watching a movie is interesting and enjoyable, watching someone else watching a movie  (where you can’t see the movie) is generally boring and you don’t necessarily get a feel for what is happening in the movie. Roleplaying is much the same. To truly understand the appeal of role-playing, you just need to dive in and play a session.
Often the biggest fear of new players, and often the reason they don’t want to just get involved, is that they worry they will ruin the game because they don’t know what to do. Firstly, every session has a Gamemaster (GM) who helps guide the players and direct their choices. Secondly, role-playing has no winner or losers (it’s not a competitive game), everyone just works together to generate the best story possible. So as long as you come to the table willing to contribute, you’ll be adding to the game.

What do I need to play?

All you need is some dice. The type of dice used vary from game to game. However, most games use more than the six-sided dice you’re probably used to. Generally you need a 4,6,8,10,12 and 20 sided dice. You can buy these from any games store (see our links page for info on these). If it’s your first time and you ask us nicely, you may be able to borrow some dice.
For SYDCON and EYECON, you’ll also need $6 per 3 hour session you wish to play. This covers the cost of the venue hire/insurance/website for the convention. Other than that, the only other thing you’ll need is an imagination and a willingness to try something new.

Okay, you’ve convinced me to give it a try. How do I sign up? 

If you’re ready to get involved, check out our games page for details on the games we’re offering, and head to our registration pages to sign up for SYDCON or EYECON. If you’re having trouble deciding what to play, we recommend our special LEARN TO ROLEPLAY (L2RP)  sessions as a good introduction to the hobby (as these are specially designed for beginners). Or you can contact us at conorgs@sydcon.info for advice.
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