You traverse through the murky swampland, picking up muck in your boots and a faint whiff of decay in your nostrils. A glistening door shimmers in the distance not tethered by any frame. It looks shiny. It looks inviting. The key in your pocket glows. Will you use the key?
As any roleplay savvy player will tell you, there is always two absolutes in this type of situation. The first being that the key in question was requited for a reason. The second being that the intention is to further the plotline, inevitability to move along the player to a desired point in the story.
Roleplaying can be an experience that feels validating in the nature that it is stepping outside of a comfort zone to portray a character contrary to who you are. Alternatively, if you aren’t into moving outside the flow of your typical personality, then there is the option of playing idealized version of yourself. The perfect “you” in your mind. These types of mentality make for intriguing dynamics among groups and a varied selection of character traits. The fun of adventuring in a world complete alien to yours comes in part from those that you interact with and how they carry themselves in the setting.
While the players dictate the tone, the overseeing dungeon master dictates the pace and the setting. In a way, it is a construction of one unified story among many contributors. None hold authority over the others, only the ideas with which the team shares to make a fully formulated world. It can be a harmonious experience or a chore, depending on the will of the dungeon master and the level of experience of the players.
From the humdrum backdrop of everyday life to the fictional fantasy lands of magic, everybody wants to feel like they are consequential. Failing that, you want to know that what is happening around you is the cause and effect of your collective group being set free upon the land.
Where DMs and players can falter is in conflicting perceptions of what they are getting into. On the one hand, a dungeon master may feel the need to have the story told their way. On the far end, you have individuals playing that may feel like their character is of such great importance that they should be the focus of the campaign. The healthy middle ground in between is where you get the best results. A competitive nature is essential for story progression in a role-playing game. Even if you play a pacifist character, if you aren’t striving to be the best pacifist there is, then you really aren’t that invested in moving forward.
It’s a dance of different minds trying to match each other’s rhythm. If they don’t co-operate they misstep and trip over themselves. There’s never a notion of falling out of sync, when you are moving to the same tune.
Choose your players carefully. Let them breathe. Choose your dungeon master wisely. You’ll have to trust in his treatment of your characters.
When courtesy is forgotten, stories become one-sided and predictable. Nobody is entertained, because we all know that we could have done better overall. There is a statement saying that, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. In the scenario of forging a campaign, it can be a potent deterrent for animosity among world creators and those invited into their world. An ideal match is not always going to happen, but it doesn’t mean that the fault is ever squarely at the feet of one party. In the rare case that it is, the problem presented can be altered by illustrating alternatives to the traditional method the person is used to.
We get caught in habits. We stubbornly stick to them, because that is the way we have always done and to diverge from that is to go into uncharted waters. Role-playing is intended as an exploration outside the norm, learning your faults and flaws of how you make your world or your character is all apart of the process. A united front of willing, receptive and attentive members is an essential element to a fantastic role-playing group. We don’t all achieve it, then again we aren’t all RPG nerds either. For the future and those in love with playing orcs, dwarves or goblins, there will always be a new world to create, it’s important keep in mind that we are building it together.