When Did "Role" Enter the Game?
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    When Did "Role" Enter the Game?

    I know the idea that you would play a single character (as opposed to an army, or warband) was the new idea, but did the idea that a player would take on the "persona" of that character start with the original game or did that come later?

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    The concept of "roles" for each class was a cornerstone of the game from the very beginning. Different editions managed the roles in different ways, but it was there from the start.

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    I think it was there from the very beginning (pre-D&D), though D&D first put the idea on paper and got it published, kicking of the "roleplaying" hobby.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devyn View Post
    The concept of "roles" for each class was a cornerstone of the game from the very beginning. Different editions managed the roles in different ways, but it was there from the start.
    No I don't mean that type of role... I mean the acting the part side... Like you take on the personality of "Thorack the mighty" Speak in the first person, design a personality for him, etc...

    Was that part there from the get go? or was it simply a new take on the wargame (so you play one characetr as opposed to an army) and then people just started doing the other stuff so Gary et al said... hey that's cool... and put it in?

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    yeah, should have read more carefully.
    Last edited by Ktulu; Wednesday, 15th October, 2008 at 04:48 AM. Reason: I'm a goober.

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    Here's an article about Major Wesely's Braustein games, which took place before the creation of both D&D and Chainmail. ars ludi Note this one paragraph in particular. It's about Dave Arneson.

    "He lied, swindled, improvised, and played his character to the hilt. He came to the game with fake CIA ID he’d mocked up, so when another player “captured” and searched him he could whip them out. Other players were still moving pieces around the board and issuing orders like a wargame while Dave Arneson was running circles around them and changing the whole scenario. He was winning the game entirely by roleplaying."

    So it's safe to say, as poster above me have pointed out that role played indeed predated D&D.

  7. #7
    Whether it was in the original game or not depends on whether you ask Gary or Dave. That is all I know about that.

    I would think the implications of trying to be this person is clear since you must make every decision unlike a wargame where you are just making the choice of which combat technique to use.

    Since there must be something to connect the combats, the "role" or "persona" of the character came about naturally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scribble View Post
    No I don't mean that type of role... I mean the acting the part side...
    To the public: 1974

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by tankschmidt View Post
    Here's an article about Major Wesely's Braustein games, which took place before the creation of both D&D and Chainmail. ars ludi Note this one paragraph in particular. It's about Dave Arneson.

    "He lied, swindled, improvised, and played his character to the hilt. He came to the game with fake CIA ID he’d mocked up, so when another player “captured” and searched him he could whip them out. Other players were still moving pieces around the board and issuing orders like a wargame while Dave Arneson was running circles around them and changing the whole scenario. He was winning the game entirely by roleplaying."

    So it's safe to say, as poster above me have pointed out that role played indeed predated D&D.
    The interesting question would be, was Dave acting out the persona of a fictional character or simply superimposing his own personality on an avatar in a fictional world. I suspect that it was a little bit of both. I'm sure the idea of playing the part of an entirely fictional persona without regard for the player's own personality originated very early in the hobby, but I don't think it became a commonly accepted practice until much later. The first time I remember a distinction being drawn in any kind of official capacity is Lewis Pulsipher's article "The Vicarious Participator" in Dragon #74.

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    As I understand it, the Blackmoor players original thought of themselves as playing themselves. (Or a fictional version thereof.)

    I’m not sure if the distinction between playing a wholly fictional character or a fictional version of oneself really matters that much.

    A quick glance over the example of play from Book III shows only the ref and caller talking and no evidence of speaking first-person. I tend to think slipping into first-person was as natural a thing in the Braunsteins, Blackmoor, and Greyhawk as it is for us today. It wasn’t something that was started and caught on so much as it was just something that most people naturally did.

    I’d say many wargamers did at least proto-role-playing in how they played—taking on the role of a commanding officer. Especially when multiple games were strung into a campaign.

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