The Difference Between Board Games and RPGs

Justin Alexander hits the nail on the head:

The reason we look for verisimilitude in the rules of a roleplaying game and not in the rules of Monopoly is because we don’t play roleplaying games as if they were a round of Monopoly.


Personally, I look at the rules of a roleplaying game as the interface between me and the game world. I want those rules to be fun and interesting, but I also want them to be transparent: My primary interest is interacting with the game world. If I wanted to interact with the rules of a game, I’d play a boardgame like Monopoly or Arkham Horror.

So if the rules in a roleplaying game get in the way — either due to a lack of verisimilitude; or because they’re boring; or dissociated; or too complicated — then I’m going to be unhappy with those rules.

Comments (2)

Andy (May 23rd, 2010)

To me, the major difference between a board game an and RPG is the amount of story, not the verisimilitude. In games like Monopoly or Arkham Horror (more so in the latter), there is a story element, but it’s not nearly as much as is found in RPGs. In RPGs, you have characters, and you have a world.

The moment you lose the characters, you lose the RPG.

I don’t even think player choice has everything to do with it, because I could play a game with pregenerated characters, removing my ability to create a character, but it would still be roleplaying. I don’t think that roleplaying depends on whether you get to choose your role or not.

Tourq (May 24th, 2010)

I was going to say that rules don’t matter to me, as long as the GM and the other players can commit to the game and playing their characters. However, after thinking about it, the rules are really very important to my game. It’s hard to focus on the game if the rules are a constant distraction.


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