Friday, January 2, 2009

Examining Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax, Part II

Preface: What Is Mastery?

Why read a book on Role-Playing Mastery? If you have spent hundreds of hours involved in role-playing games, you might think you are a "master" already. Well, you are no doubt good at what you do, and having fun at it, or you wouldn't still be doing it. But unless you are part of a small, active minority, you have far more to learn than you imagine. In fact, even if you are already one of the so-called hard core aficionados, many tricks remain to be learned, and the information that this book contains will be helpful.

That's the opening of the book. It doesn't coddle or welcome; it throws the gauntlet down. Some more quotes from this section:

Many games are mere pastime activities, but RPGs are enjoyable pursuits of a sought-after nature and are hobbylike, rather than pastime creations aimed at filling an otherwise empty period of leisure.

The road to mastery is neither smooth nor short, and a lot of work lies ahead of anyone setting out on the journey.

When you master role-playing, you become immersed in an activity that is peerless among leisure-time pursuits.

The creator of the hobby (we'll get to Arneson shortly, but can we agree that without Gygax and his desire to publish, this hobby wouldn't have gotten far?) would of course say that role-playing is the best thing since sliced bread, but he also says that it is time-consuming and difficult to get the most out of it.

There are those that would dismiss the book for its tone (and how dare Gygax consider himself a master... :P), but I suspect there are people who have no wish to feel that the fun they are having just might be intensified if they worked at it more instead of just having it as it came. And nobody likes being told, "There is more to do," when one is just trying to kick back their heels and relax.

But that's the point of activities, rather than watching television or other passive methods of relaxation.

I just read this book again this week after four or five years. I don't remember this being a total revelation, but no doubt it cemented ideas I'd already had about passive entertainment.

But this preface does concede the point that you don't just read this book to become a master of role-playing. Like a set of RPG rules, this book will merely tell you how... then you have to go out and do it for yourself.

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