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Good roleplaying and not-so-good roleplaying.

The roleplaying industry is a strange amalgamation of writers, gamers, idealists and money-grubbers. So are many roleplaying troupes. We all know a few people who still refuse to play anything but AD&D, second edition, and we all know those who love to create a dramatic (if not melodramatic) storyline with the intent of making all players gush with emotion. But what is roleplaying?

Roleplaying is, simply, the act of playing a role.

Seems simple, but it is often forgotten or overshadowed by the Narrator (Game-master, DM, Storyteller, whatever) who wishes to create the story to beat all stories, players who wish to create characters that can beat all other characters, and just plain immaturity.

Maybe I'm an elitist, but by the book, AD&D is not a roleplaying game. This is not to say that AD&D is not a good game; it just shows too much of its roots, the wargame. It is to modern, mature roleplaying what the Odyssey is to good literature; shallow, plot-driven, and power-oriented. AD&D is that game you played back in high school, when you found it cool that the DMG said you could play a monster race as a PC, and you decided to pick half-dragon or stone-giant. Or you let your players play one.

There's a reason that White Wolf puts a "For Mature Readers Only" warning on their books. Sure, some of the content might be disturbing, and perhaps the games sells better because of it, but the Storyteller system is not for people who want to ravage dungeons or fight off new and more powerful demons (or angels) intent on destroying the world. It's about personal, tragic, impending horror.

Good roleplaying starts and ends with the character. Any good actor will tell you that the show is more believable and therefore more enjoyable, impacting and memorable when the actors know, understand, and can think like their characters.

Good roleplaying can enhance any game, even AD&D. Try creating a real character with strengths and weaknesses, parents, family, religion, pets, philosophy, and anything else that makes a person real. THEN see how you react when confronted by that dragon/demon/Black Spiral Dancer/stormtrooper. With a subtle hint or a cattle-prod, perhaps you could convince your Narrator to create foes which are more real than "Generic Evil Dudes." Maybe I'm wrong, but I've often found it to be very rewarding to have my real character talk another real character out of doing something that is wrong, rather than taking his head because of it.

Then again, what do I know?