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    Default Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    How do you do it?

    One way I've found that (I think) works pretty well is to use this analogy:

    It's sort of like playing on the Xbox. You have one guy who's like a combination of the Xbox and the game disc - he creates the world, sets up the storyline, and controls the bad guys for the players to explore and fight against and talk to.

    Then you have the rulebooks, which are also sort of like the game disc. They tell the players what sort of characters they can play - if they can be a ninja, a mecha pilot, or a sauve secret agent - and what sort of abilities those character types have.

    And finally, you have the players themselves, who play the game with pencil, paper, and dice instead of a controller.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    I haven't used this one yet, it's still in beta.

    "Well, there's a few parts.

    First, there's the DM. He's an evil bastard who wants you to suffer and die, but he'll do it by the rules so your agony tastes better to him.

    Next you have the rules. Now, these are set up to give the DM the power to crush you like the tiny little insect you are, but give you an exoskeleton so you can pretend to fight back.

    Then you have the dice. Your dice pretend to work for you, but they're in league with the DM and love to give you a critical failure when you need a critical success the mot.

    Lastly, there us. The players. Not only do we have to survive everything he throws at us, but we have to turn it back on him and destroy everything he holds dear: namely, the plot."

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Hobby? This is my life!

    No I just stress it's a group game so I get to chill with friends.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    I've never actually run into one that wanted it explained, however I think you have a good analogy going there. I, if I used that analogy, would describe the DM as the gamedisk, and the rule books as the XBox.

    If pressed, I think I'd describe it more as storytelling.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    That's a bit of a strange analogy.

    Forum-based roleplaying is easy to explain, since it's basically communal fanfic.

    With pen-and-paper roleplaying, it depends on whether you use miniatures or not.

    If you use miniatures, you can also explain it quite simply: It's like miniature wargaming, but your focus is on a single character rather than an entire army, and it introduces non-combat elements.

    If you don't use miniatures, then it starts getting a bit more abstract. I guess you could explain it as radio drama with dice. 'course then, your audience probably isn't familiar with radio drama...

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    I have likened it to acting. They are the players (and all the world's a stage). I actually wrote quite a bit on a similar subject: In defense of pure-text online RPs. I think I made that at these fora, actually, in the PbP section.
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Fundamentally, any role-playing game is no different than the games of Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians you played as a child. The rulebooks and dice are just there to resolve the inevitable questions of "I shot you!" "No you didn't, I shot you first!" "No, you missed!".
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    D&D is "Cowboys and Indians" or "Cops and Robbers" for grown-ups. The players are one group, the DM and the world he controls are the other, and the rulebooks are there for the inevitable moment of "I shot you!" - "Nuh-uh, I shot you first!"

    Or, for a more general idea of what roleplaying is, just tell them "Okay - you wake up in a dark room with no windows and a door that's slightly cracked. Who are you, and what do you do?"


    EDIT: Gah! Ninja'd by Chronos, with the exact analogy!
    Last edited by RTGoodman; 2008-01-27 at 09:23 PM.
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    I would probably describe it thusly:

    "It's like a fantasy book. The DM's the author, he (or she) creates the world, the plot, the situation, the rules, etc. The players each control a character and how they interact with the world. The dice keep it as a game: they determine how successful your characters are in whatever they try to do."

    The quick version:
    "It's like a fantasy book, except you decide what the characters do... Somewhat like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, yes, but multiplayer."

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    "Its just like a video game or MMORPG, except that it is played with multiple people in person with people you know, so its a lot more fun and actually more sociable."

    And similar to above "It's like writing a collaborative story or play. The DM is the main story writer, coming up with the plot and the world. Although it is realistic, because each of the other players is responsible for understanding and playing their one character like an actor and also no matter how much the forces of fate would demand it otherwise, chance ocassionally takes over."

    It's like any other game, except that it never ends, can be as good as you want it to be, and is limitless in its creativity. Besides those things, just a regular game.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    It seems we're getting several different basic approaches, and I think the reason for that is because we're targeting our explanations to different non-roleplayer groups.

    For the bulk of today's youth, we have the video game analogy.

    For the wargamer, we have the wargaming-but-with-non-combat-rules explanation.

    For the thespian, we have the acting analogy.

    For the bookworm, we have the novel analogy.

    For the total non-geek, we have the cops and robbers analogy.

    It depends on the audience.

    And isn't it nice we have a hobby that brings together video-gamers, wargamers, thespians, bookworms, and even the occasional non-geek (who doesn't stay that way for long)?

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Actually, NEVER liken it to cops and robbers to outsiders. That's like, the best way to not be taken seriously =/

    Use movies, and you get to be um, who's popular. Johnny Depp, Steven Seagal, Keira Knightly, etc.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Rutee View Post
    Actually, NEVER liken it to cops and robbers to outsiders. That's like, the best way to not be taken seriously =/
    Since when has D&D been something to take seriously?

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    Since when has D&D been something to take seriously?
    Since people figured out how to make money off it.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders


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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    Since when has D&D been something to take seriously?
    There are many, many different playing styles, and I for one see that it could be taken seriously as an exercise in creativity, acting, and writing. Together, you can create an epic tale just as deep and thought-provoking as any novel. Each character can be deep, personal, with their own goals, motives and desires, with unique skills and outlooks. You can consider the studious wizard who seeks arcane power but doesn't understand social situation, or the lone wolf rogue who desires to make amends for his past, or the cunning warrior who cleaves into the enemy with wreckless abandon.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeejimbo View Post
    There are many, many different playing styles, and I for one see that it could be taken seriously as an exercise in creativity, acting, and writing. Together, you can create an epic tale just as deep and thought-provoking as any novel. Each character can be deep, personal, with their own goals, motives and desires, with unique skills and outlooks. You can consider the studious wizard who seeks arcane power but doesn't understand social situation, or the lone wolf rogue who desires to make amends for his past, or the cunning warrior who cleaves into the enemy with wreckless abandon.

    Cleavage... tee hee Roy has boobies.
    .....Words fail me on the utter win the juxtaposition of those two bits of text :P

    But yeah, that's pretty much what I'm going for.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Yup. THAT's the way to get the game taken seriously.

    I've been asked a few times, since I'm in some high-level classes with geeky people that hear alot about D&D, but have never played it. I find that the bookworm/fantasy novel approach makes it easiest to understand.
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Rutee View Post
    .....Words fail me on the utter win the juxtaposition of those two bits of text :P

    But yeah, that's pretty much what I'm going for.
    I haven't had the fortune of playing in a serious game, except in free-form forum-based RPs. My group isn't inclined to it, especially because I make such good comic relief.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eighth_Seraph View Post
    I've been asked a few times, since I'm in some high-level classes with geeky people that hear alot about D&D, but have never played it. I find that the bookworm/fantasy novel approach makes it easiest to understand.
    In my computer science classes, I think most of us have played D&D, though I'm not sure. 2/3 of my past roommates also played D&D.
    Last edited by mikeejimbo; 2008-01-27 at 10:08 PM.
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Haven't had to use them, but I like the ultra-defensive;

    It's like Yahtzee, but with more rules.

    and

    It's the same as any video game, except instead of a computer, you have a person, which can do a lot more.
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeejimbo View Post
    I haven't had the fortune of playing in a serious game, except in free-form forum-based RPs. My group isn't inclined to it, especially because I make such good comic relief.
    It's funny, the least serious games I've been a part of have been free-form forum-based RPGs. Most people I've known equate the lack of combat mechanics with "Heck yes! I'm going to be freakin' awesome and do all sorts of awesome stuff and the only thing that can stop me is a flat-out ban from the site!"

    It gets worse when your RPG is focused on PVP combat. I played one forum-based freeform PVP game in which almost no PC took a hit in three battles' time.

    I've mostly stopped playing freeform games since then.
    Last edited by Ascension; 2008-01-27 at 10:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    "Okay, first take a worm. Except it's giant. Alright, toss it in the air and wait for it to come back down. But surprise, it's now a doorway, and you just fell through it. So climb up the nearest steps, but you end up in some sort of Escher like room. Now spin around five times and proclaim your love for cake. Then hit yourself on the head and repeat."

    What? That's what MY gaming sessions are like, anyway.
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Iames Osari View Post
    Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders --How do you do it?
    Don't bother. Just banish them.
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascension View Post
    It's funny, the least serious games I've been a part of have been free-form forum-based RPGs. Most people I've known equate the lack of combat mechanics with "Heck yes! I'm going to be freakin' awesome and do all sorts of awesome stuff and the only thing that can stop me is a flat-out ban from the site!"

    It gets worse when your RPG is focused on PVP combat. I played one forum-based freeform PVP game in which almost no PC took a hit in three battles' time.

    I've mostly stopped playing freeform games since then.
    Both the most and least serious I've been in were free-form. And PVP with them doesn't really work too well.

    I'm also in an ongoing freeform RP based off of Watership Down, and that is taken extremely seriously. It's like a sequel in itself. Come to think of it, I should check what my character is supposed to be doing.

    I guess they're not entirely freeform - they have rules like "No playing someone else's character" and "No being really powerful."
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    The cops-and-robbers analogy is typically the one I reach for. I find I use it less to explain the concept of the game as I do it's appeal. A lot of people who ask me seem to have the impression that D&D is like DOOM on paper with a Lord-of-the-Rings flavor. They get the mechanics (roll dice, kill fantasy-type monsters, etc.) but don't understand why it would be compelling. The connection that people seem to miss is that the game isn't about any particular story or setting; to them, D&D is boring because they're not especially interested in the fantasy genre. You can tell them about things like races and classes and, if they're not into fishing treasure out of dank dungeons, it will still all sound like sitting around a table, pretending to be the Pac-Man family. When I tell someone, "Remember playing cowboys and indians, how it used to be a great game until you started arguing with the kid down the street about whether or not they can shoot you through the stack of imaginary barrels? D&D fixes the arguing part." they seem to understand instantly. I think we all know how fantasy can be fun; how could you appreciate anything fictional otherwise?
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    It's a better game of pretending!

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Talya View Post
    Don't bother. Just banish them.
    FINALLY! I've been waiting for someone to make an Outsider joke for ever!Well, one and a half hours, anyway.

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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Bag_of_Holding View Post
    It's a better game of pretending!
    I've actually also heard it argued that it's a worse game of pretending because of all the rules. I mean, if you could get kids to not have the "I shot you, no you didn't" arguments, then they'd be perfect.

    I think the introduction to FUDGE says something to this effect.
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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    "It's a role-playing game, just that you do the math. It's meant to be played by a group of people working together. Each player can create a character that he or she can typically customize into what he/she wants. Another person, the Dungeon Master, controls the environment and acts as a referee."


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    Default Re: Explaining the Hobby to Outsiders

    Actually, NEVER liken it to cops and robbers to outsiders. That's like, the best way to not be taken seriously =/
    Well, a lot of outsiders have the problem that they take the game too seriously. Likening D&D to something which the non-gamer has surely played as a child might hopefully defuse some of that.

    "Okay, first take a worm. Except it's giant. Alright, toss it in the air and wait for it to come back down. But surprise, it's now a doorway, and you just fell through it. So climb up the nearest steps, but you end up in some sort of Escher like room. Now spin around five times and proclaim your love for cake. Then hit yourself on the head and repeat."
    That sounds more like the fantasy game in Ender's Game than D&D.
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