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What Part Does the Role Play in the Role-Playing Game?


When I play an a character in an RPG, I try to do what my character would do. Sometimes I know more or less about that up front (versus finding it out as we play). It’s caused problems in the past, so I try to be mindful now of what play is going to be about by avoiding games that are a poor fit.

Usually, that means playing someone other than myself. We did do a Call of Cthulhu game once where we were supposed to play ourselves. When things started going wrong, and I threatened an innkeeper to get information, I got told I wouldn’t do that. 🙃

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But Ido try to make decisions for the character based on what the character would do rather than what I would do. Basic stuff like not metagaming is, to me, an absolute baseline.

This is why I think peak design is finding ways to make the two of these, metagaming and playing to the character (eg roleplaying), identical.

The Tension Pool is still a great example of that. It doesn't matter if the players approach the Pool from either perspective, because how they're engaging it is identical. You're weighing the risks of your actions.

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