Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Introduction

An RPG, or Role-Playing Game, is a phenomenon started by the 1974 box set edition of a game entitled Dungeons and Dragons. The game exploded, and is still widely played today, albeit in its fth edition. Similarly, other Role-Playing Games have recently been growing in popularity, such as Path- nder and Call of Cthulhu. But why? Why has the Role-Playing Game genre succeeded?

 

First, we must look at what an RPG really is. In an RPG, you create and embody a character. You de- termine their abilities, their features, their personalities and their backstories. There are very few limits on what you can create. Then, character ‘sheet’ in hand, you and 4-6 (ideally) other players gather around a table. One of these players, the DM (Dungeon Master), creates a story. The rest of the players act as the characters in her story, reacting as they believe the characters they created would.

In my mind, this is so appealing for two reasons; rstly the sheer amount of possibilities, and secondly the ability to explore the psychology of someone outside yourself. As to the amount of possibili- ties, players can create according to their wildest imaginings and move freely across a wide world full of intricate detail. There is no limit on their freedom of movement (Within the bounds of reason and internal consistency). Instead, they are free, even encouraged, to explore their own stories and their own adventures. Role-Playing Games also allow players to explore the inner lives of people

who aren’t them. They act not as they would but as their characters would in any given scenario. (See chapter 4 for a wonderful example of this.) This builds writing skills (teaching young writers to always take motives into account and to really imagine why a character would do something), and, more importantly, it builds empathy.

 

But what does all that have to do with this chapbook?

 

For the Republic of Childhood’s rst ever week long summer camp, we did as follows. The seven participants of the camp played through a Role-Playing Game adventure, with me serving as DM. They each created characters and acted as those characters in a story. The twist; after every two hours or so of play, we would take a break from the game and they would write about the events of that session from their characters’ perspectives. What you are about to read are the masterful results of that writing from two of the participants. In order two best convey the story, the chap book will switch between the two character’s perspectives, so you can see every event from two angles.

 

It certainly was an honour running this camp. I had the immense privilege of watching seven young people grow over the course of ve short days, and the results were wonderful. Each of them, during the week, became incrementally better role-players and writers. I don’t doubt many will go on to write stories and run games of their own.

 

So, without further ado; The Power Red as Blood.

Aidan Wilson, 14
Co-Founder of the Republic of Childhood