We can be Heroes, Part 2: There is No Way We Would Get Away with This!


This is the second part of our “We can be Heroes” Series and I am going to start off with the same questions that I began with before we flip things on their head. Did you ever think about how much power we have as a participant in a Role-playing Game? We can be Heroes every time we pull out our character sheet and prepare to roll some dice. We can also be absolutely villainous. Hero or villain, it all boils down to one fact: we are ultimately more in control of our destiny in a RPG than we are in real life. Have you ever realized how preposterous that is? There is no way we could act like we do in an RPG in real life and I will list examples of why. RPGs do not equal reality, so the next time someone tells you that they want to talk about realism in RPGs, point them over here.

Adventurers Do What They Want

RPG players do exactly what they want and they don’t give a hoot about what everyone else thinks. Imagine trying to do that in real life. There is no way we would get away with it. Real life is a series of complex calculations that we perform based on our surroundings, knowledge of regional and moral law, social queues we take from others, and our own comfort levels. We never truly do what we want without reservation in real life, we choose a course of action that best suits the situation at hand. Those of us that run willy-nilly over the societal constraints around us are looked on with fear. In reality, we like that people perform predictable behaviors. We don’t want people to act without fear of consequences.

Adventurers Turn Heads

When players walk into a room, set foot in a city, arrive at a ball, or pull out their money purse at a merchant, people take notice. In real life, nothing is further than the truth. People generally do not notice the person next to them. To make someone really take notice of you, you have to be the “I do what I want” sort of person we described in the section above. You need to look and act differently in a very real way. It can’t just be something loud, because people can tune out loud, it needs to be something disruptive. Game players do a lot of very disruptive things, so people take notice, and even when they don’t they get noticed by fact that they are plot points.

In reality, most of us don’t want to be noticed, we want to go about our business and be left alone. That should probably happen a lot more in RPGs, we should just be part of the landscape until we start building fame and celebrity status around ourselves. In most cases, unless you are of Robert Downey Jr or Taylor Swift status, even if you are walking down the street, no one will know the difference. Think about a world where mass media outlets are not present, it is even more likely that simple clothing will let you walk around unnoticed.

Adventurers Activate an Incompetence Aura

Every time Adventurers arrive in a new region, people become incompetent and need their help. This bugs me to no end. People get by regularly without any interference from Adventurers. They can farm, perform their jobs, feed their families, and help others without the assistance of an Adventuring Crew. What sort of quests would we have if we did really important things? What new sort of nuance could we engage in if we didn’t need to rescue someone’s sheep or fight off bandits at every turn? Those are some extraordinary circumstances that probably require some assistance, but do you notice how they always pop up around adventurers? How many bandits does a town need to suffer from before they just get fed up and fight back? Real bandits strike sparingly or they perform mafia tactics; they don’t hit a town repeatedly and predictably.

Adventurers should be searching for treasure, trying to find a big score, or exploring uncharted territory. We should not be doing fetch quests or handiwork, unless of course, the group desires that sort of experience. The mundane and the ordinary tasks in life somehow become Adventurer problems when they arrive and that is ludicrous.

Adventurers Solve Problems, Promptly

All of the above points are linked by one fact: Adventurers Solve Problems. It is true that they sometimes make them as well, but Adventurers are the best at getting things done. If you got a problem, they’ll solve it. Where do I begin with this? No one has that sort of power and power is what we are talking about here. Adventurers of any economic level, skill level, and disposition can approach a problem and get to a resolution in record time. This does not happen in reality. In reality we suffer from constraints all around us, timetables we cannot control, and factors that force a chain of events that cannot be avoided. We all wish we could do this sort of thing, but it life doesn’t work that way for all the reasons we have already cited in the above examples.

Real problems cause us to lose sleep at night. The things that we put on our To-Do-List are usually too big of a project to take care of in a short time. If they didn’t, they would only be a speed bump or a hurdle. Real problems take time, take trial and error, and take a sense of direction.

Adventurers are Heroes…

We get to be Heroes every time we play an RPG and it is liberating, empowering, and intoxicating. In tabletop games, more-so than video games (but not excluding them), we have a new story in front of us and no boundaries to what we want to do. Those boundaries that are in place are only other problems to solve and since we are problem solvers, we will eventually find a way to overcome them. I can build an empire, save a city, protect a dying species from extinction, and go where no one has gone before, but these are all incredible aspects of playing a game. We must not forget that fact. Each time we start to get too wrapped up what is real in a game, step back and think about what you are saying. We play games to escape reality and have fun. If we had to live by the rules of life, we would probably figure out a different game to play

I love the sense of adventure and exploration that we are given, when I try to compare it to other aspects of entertainment, there is no comparison. I have just proclaimed from the rooftops about how unrealistic our RPGs are, but that is how I want it to be. I love playing Roleplaying Games and while I might try to tweak some aspects of gaming in my group to become more closely aligned with real world reactions, I am not going to go full realism, not ever. I love the way we are playing and I celebrate the fact that we get to do this. It is “liberating, empowering, and intoxicating” as I said above.

To all of you out there, embrace the unrealistic, go play a Hero and have a ton of fun. Friends don’t let friends talk about realism in gaming.

-Turk Zapt


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *