Role-Playing 102

What is Role-Playing and Why Should I Do It?


Role-playing can become a broad topic quickly if I don’t define it here and now. Strictly speaking, you don’t have to be doing any of the in character dialogue and such you might think of to be role-playing.

Role-playing is any time you are taking on the role of a person other than yourself. It can mean talking in character and acting out scenes through dialogue, but that isn’t the only way to role-play in Dungeons and Dragons. All that is required is that you are making decisions based on what your character would do rather than what you would do.

This can be as simple as continuing to use an axe despite finding better swords for your Barbarian because they just prefer axes. It can mean paying up for the nice rooms at the inn because your character prefers luxury or privacy. It doesn’t have to be a big choice, it just has to be what your character would choose to do!

Why Role-Play?

That’s really the burning question. What’s the point?

I could tell you it’s fun, and I obviously think that’s true or I wouldn’t be writing this article. Letting yourself go for awhile and trying to think like someone else is a liberating experience.

Maybe it’s not for you. It isn’t for everyone, nothing is. There is value in role-playing, though – more than enough to merit a try if you haven’t given it a good shot before. I don’t just mean entertainment, either.

Role-playing develops your empathy and understanding of how other people think or why they might feel the way they do. Any tools that can do this are crucial to our unity and survival as a human species. That’s a grand statement, and I stand behind it 100%. Maybe it’s a little grand for a fluffy Dungeons and Dragons article, but there it is.

When you create a character who isn’t like yourself, it forces you to try to understand why people who think differently than you might feel the way they do.

Social Practice

The other reason I stand so strongly behind role-playing is because I believe it can give those with social anxiety or other similar social obstacles a place to practice socialization.

Role-playing in TTRPG settings has already seen study for it’s therapeutic benefits. Role-playing already has long been a part of therapy models through the years, so it’s far from surprising. The theory goes that a game of Dungeons and Dragons, or other similar TTRPG, provides a safe environment in which to practice social skills.

So it’s good for the world, it’s good for you, and you get to watch your friends attempt to talk in funny voices sometimes… what’s not to love?

If you haven’t ever given role-playing a shot, I encourage you to take the plunge. Benefits aside, you might be surprised how fun it can be!

Coming Up in this Topic —


Role-Playing 201: Incorporating the Fundamentals of Improvisation into Role-Playing

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