Defining TTRPGs and the the International Roguelike Development Conference's "Berlin Interpretation"

Agreed about the LARPs - there is plenty of overlap with the RPGs played at the tabletop.

That said, there are plenty of GMless games (such as The Quiet Year, Dream Askew/Apart and the whole genre of Belonging Outside Belonging games) that have specific mechanical interaction, but no dice or competition, but they're classified as roleplaying games because of the elements of play and interaction used to create a shared fiction. For that matter, there are plenty of GMed games where there is no competition, or the competition is illusory. So I don't see competition as a necessary part of TTRPGs.
 

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Note competition was not an element in my statement. I do think interaction with other people, while not strictly necessary, is an important element of it (while acknowledging the issue about solo roleplaying--which often has, effectively, an NPC emulator so the player at least has something to bounce off of).
 

Note competition was not an element in my statement. I do think interaction with other people, while not strictly necessary, is an important element of it (while acknowledging the issue about solo roleplaying--which often has, effectively, an NPC emulator so the player at least has something to bounce off of).
I was splitting my response between you and @GMMichael - apologies for the confusion...
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Some people seem to want to define roleplaying game along the lines of area control board games. Some people prefer roleplaying game be used for a larger category like board games or video games. I personally prefer the later with something like adventure roleplaying game be used to describe the PC group working together to complete adventures sort of play most folks on these boards are most familiar with.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
That said, there are plenty of GMless games (such as The Quiet Year, Dream Askew/Apart and the whole genre of Belonging Outside Belonging games) that have specific mechanical interaction, but no dice or competition, but they're classified as roleplaying games because of the elements of play and interaction used to create a shared fiction. For that matter, there are plenty of GMed games where there is no competition, or the competition is illusory. So I don't see competition as a necessary part of TTRPGs.
Who is classifying these GM-less games as role-playing games? Who's classifying games without competition as games? As I mentioned earlier, you can call your own product a "game," but that doesn't make it so.

Moving all the black chess pieces isn't a game. Playing chess against yourself is a game, but just barely. If the meaning of "game" is in doubt here, then "Defining TTRPGs. . ." just isn't going to happen.
 

Who is classifying these GM-less games as role-playing games? Who's classifying games without competition as games? As I mentioned earlier, you can call your own product a "game," but that doesn't make it so.

Cooperative games are not a new concept. Sometimes they're indirectly competitive, but sometimes they just have a collective win/loss condition.

I also fail to see why, even if its the common case, a GM is a required component of a roleplaying game.
 





I'm not familiar with either game but if one is putting themself into the headspace of, for example, a thousand year old vampire (Nandor!) and thinking through scenarios of some sort, I certainly consider it roleplaying.
There's a lot more exercise of personal creativity and decision-making than any single-player CRPG like Dragon Age or Mass Effect. You end a session of The Wretched with an artifact of roleplaying - of your personal created experience - that you would not have had without the game.

Like this.
 

I'm not familiar with either game but if one is putting themself into the headspace of, for example, a thousand year old vampire (Nandor!) and thinking through scenarios of some sort, I certainly consider it roleplaying.

As noted before, if you go down that road far enough, most wargames are roleplaying games. I suspect that even while trying to avoid too much gatekeeping that's a bit farther than you want to go.
 

There's a lot more exercise of personal creativity and decision-making than any single-player CRPG like Dragon Age or Mass Effect. You end a session of The Wretched with an artifact of roleplaying - of your personal created experience - that you would not have had without the game.

The question I have at that point is, is writing a character sketch a roleplaying game? I don't think so, and this seems like a guided writing exercise more than anything else.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
I hate to use the term gate keeping, though that is where a lot of these discussions seem to go. With the setting I made, the audience is largely under 40, and non-western; a decent amount of Russians and Japanese represented. I am very happy for it, I mean I could say more ... I do want it to be for Americans, and westerners too, and some of the biggest fans are British, and German. How to broaden the appeal is something I am always interested in.
 

I think its a legitimate concern; for all that the term gate keeping is overused, its really easy to definitionally exclude whatever part of the RPG hobby you don't like, and is sometimes not even done with deliberate intent so much as people who have a very specific and narrow idea of what an RPG is (usually, but not exclusively, heavy traditionalists).
 

I started this thread to see if we can get one or more definitions on a local level. Call it the "'Berlin Interpretation' Interpretation."

There can be lots of definitions and interpretations out there! Most of the world interprets "RPG" to be a single-player, GM-less experience - run by a computer.

So trying to gatekeep the term "RPG" is not just pointless, but decades too late anyway.
 

I started this thread to see if we can get one or more definitions on a local level. Call it the "'Berlin Interpretation' Interpretation."

There can be lots of definitions and interpretations out there! Most of the world interprets "RPG" to be a single-player, GM-less experience - run by a computer.

So trying to gatekeep the term "RPG" is not just pointless, but decades too late anyway.

If you think that would even slow people down, you're an optimistic sort of person. :)
 
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So to the original question: what are qualities of an RPG.

The way I see it there are two main operatives in the term RPG. Role and Play. Game is redundant, play implies a game (and vice versa.)

This leads me to the following definition:
One or more players take on a role and play with it in a fictional setting. (I think a fictional setting is inherent to the nature of play.)

To this you can add, well, almost anything:

Playing pieces.

Playing boards for those pieces.

Stats. Which is to say mathematical models that model aspects of the play space that can be used to interact with other models within the play space.

Rules that govern the types of interactions available within the play space and how those interactions are carried out.

Rules that define the diegetic limits of the play space. By which I mean game worlds and the "physics" by which they operate.

Rewards systems.

Randomisers. Dice, coins, random number generators, the I-Ching. Used to add or heighten already existing dramatic tension.

A defined end to the play. Win/Loss states. The end of a series of events/scenes/tactical decisions/story elements.

Adjudicators.

A player in a position of official opposition. By which I mean the traditional GM. Someone who's role is to provide drama. This position can be given to different players at different times. This position is granted by some non-diegetic consideration, eg. the rules.

Players taking oppositional roles (on a temporary basis?) as suggested by diegetic concerns. Can range from the very simple "You killed me with a fireball. My next character is going to kill you!" to designing characters with the intent that they shall provide one another with dramatic tension.

Art.

Costumes.


Beyond things that can define the actual play we can get into things like fandoms and such forth. The social aspects of it. But that's probably getting off base.


Aside: I also think that aspects of playing a role can be (easily) imported into other games. In post #14 Endroren mentions playing traditional board and war games from within assumed roles. I've done the same with Diplomacy and Empires in Arms.
 


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