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 How do you explain a pen and paper game?

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Pepper
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PostHow do you explain a pen and paper game?

My gaming is no secret, and as much as I would love for all of my friends to roll dice with me, they don’t. I have several who have never and will never play any sort of pen and paper game. They have played RPGS and various types of FPS. I have had friends dress up in costume and go to Ren Faires where they make up characters but have also never played D&D.
Every time I explain I am going to my bi-weekly (lately its monthly) game I get the same question, “Is it like a board game?” and when I answer with no it’s a pen and paper game I am met with blank stares. The next question is always “Well do you act it out?” again this is met with a no. This is where it gets confusing. How do you tell a person you use your imagination? I try my best to spell it out. We use dice and minis. Usually our GM explains what is going on and what we see while they are drawing the board. We have a list of skills, spells, items and actions we can do. It all sounds very complicated and convoluted coming out of my mouth and then the glaze comes over their eyes.
I love my time spent around the table. I want everyone to enjoy it too; I just don’t know how to encompass it. I tried once to explain it like writing a book with a group of friends, except you are all playing a character. You all have your own emotions and reasons for things and your own skill set, and you roll dice to see how effective you are, still the glassy eyed stare rears its head.
I think honestly it’s the dice that confuses everyone. They all think of a regular issue six sided die, and then get a perplexed look when I explain we use a 20 sided one, and a 10 or a 12. Dice aren’t something that is interchangeable in most people’s world; it’s what you use for a board game so clearly this is a board game. In short I like to call my pen and paper game night, my wardrobe, because honestly it takes me to another world.
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How do you explain a pen and paper game? :: Comments

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Re: How do you explain a pen and paper game?
Post on Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:52 pm by Boose
I've tried to use the "it's like telling a story while it's happening" and then I explain the GM's role, which usually follows with "So you tell the story then?" "Well, no. The GM is there to help the story along and make sure everyone is following the rules." And then they don't understand how the players know where to go next. "Well, the GM usually has an outline for what's going to happen." "Then...you are telling the story." And this loop continues until one of us gives up, agreeing that they will never truly understand what happens around the table.

I think that people simply don't understand that it's not Monopoly or Risk or Candyland. Nothing is set in stone, and they don't get the flexability of such a thing.
 

How do you explain a pen and paper game?

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