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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

“Roleplay” is to Storygame what “Hexagonal Grid Movement” is to Roleplaying Game

“Roleplay” is to Storygame what “Hexagonal Grid Movement” is to Roleplaying Game

I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that there are moments in storygames where roleplaying happens.

Even where roleplaying is explicitly required by the system and not just something peripheral or optional like someone playing pretend with their monopoly piece or chess men.

But that doesn’t make a Storygame an RPG.

The better way to understand it is like this: In RPGs, there are moments when you have to use combat mechanics, movement rules, weapon vs. armor types, etc.; some RPGs might even require the use of miniatures and hexagonal grids. However, this doesn’t make an RPG a Wargame.

Why not?
 Simple.  In a Wargame, those elements: the combat rules, movement, terrain, miniatures, grid; the combat simulation in other words, are THE WHOLE POINT of what you’re doing.
In an RPG, they aren’t, they’re just a peripheral part, and the whole point of what you’re doing is to ROLEPLAY a character in an emulated world.

In a storygame, likewise, little moment of (even obligatory) roleplay might happen, but its not the “point” of a storygame. The point of a Storygame is to create some kind of a story (or to put it like the pretentious story swine do, to “address a theme”); the roleplaying is purely incidental.

Ultimately, the most key point of what the problem is with thinking of storygames as the same hobby, and why they are absolutely something different from RPGs, is found in the statement: “I don’t care if my character dies if its better for the Story”.  That’s never, ever, something that belongs in an RPG, and is not a part of RPG play at all, but is absolutely the basis of all Storygame play. So all those “little bursts of immersive roleplay” storygamers claim might happen in some storygames ultimately don’t matter for shit, because everything, including the immersion itself, gets sacrificed at the altar of what some ass thinks would make a “good story” (even if said “ass” is yourself).


Currently Smoking: Mastro de Paja Apple + Dunhill 965

(Originally posted October 1, 2012, on the old blog)


  1. Have you played many "story games?" Because most of the times I've played, there's been more actual roleplaying than in any RPG I've played since 1977. For the most part they focus is almost entirely on the characters.

    And what's with the "swine" thing? I found your blog and was enjoying your posts until that comment. Why the hostility? Did a "storygamer" run over your cat or something?

  2. I think we might be having different understandings of what "roleplaying" means. Because you can "focus" on characters in the sense of focusing on a character in a novel or a tv show; that's a kind of role-play, to be sure. But "Roleplaying" in the RPG sense is IMMERSION; and immersion requires being submerged not just into your character but into a credible "virtual world" (that isn't something malleable that's just there to fit the needs of "story") and that's what storygames don't actually connect to RPGs.

  3. Okay, I get it that as your personal definition of what makes an RPG, and I can respect it, but why is someone who enjoys a less immersive experience a swine and an ass?

  4. Enjoying a less immersive experience doesn't make someone an ass or a swine. Its when they try to misappropriate the RPG hobby and make it fit that agenda that they become swine.