How far will you go to get what you want? The RPG Sorcerer by Ron Edwards is built to help you to examine and explore this theme. It’s high up on my wish list of games to play, & after having read it a few times it certainly seems to be able to push in that direction. This premise is something that is highly compelling, especially because the farther you are willing to go to get what you want, the more likely you are to be uncomfortable with your willingness to do so.
Cool stuff, but exploring a premise or a theme is only one of the ways that we engage in examination in RPGs.
We look about all the time. What’s in the room? I examine the corpse. I open the desk and see what is inside. I go the library & make an investigation roll to see what information I can dig up on the cult. I question the shopkeeper. Does it look like he’s telling the truth? I attempt to hack into the mainframe in order to find out any information on the super virus. Some of us really enjoy this nitty-gritty detailed examination of the environment and the elements in it.
Often the entire setting is open for exploration. What’s behind that Next hill? What is the colony on Ganymede like? What is the hierarchy of this corporation really up to? Is that abandoned derelict ship really abandoned? What’s in that cavern? Let us venture were no civilized man has gone before!
For some of us the examination of what it’s like to be this character in this setting in this situation is of primary interest. Stepping out of ourselves and into their shoes we can explore the experience of being that person and we can explore the genre through that character. This can be extraordinarily compelling and satisfying.
Role playing games aren’t therapy, but as a side effect we can often find ourselves in the position of examining our reactions to the experience and to the events of the fiction. Bleed out can occur, where you begin to feel the emotions of the character. You can also have your own reactions to the events of the fiction. Sometimes you find a line where you realize something made you uncomfortable or had an unexpected impact. In a very real way, RPGs can help us examine who we truly are.
For me this is a very exciting topic. Part of the joy of the human experience is the ability to examine and explore. To find out what is really going on. The thrill of discovery. The quest for truth. Pushing the envelope. The courage to question established doctrine or beliefs. The scientific method in action. Walking just a little farther. The exploration of the unknown. The examination of riddles and enigmas.
Why not engage in a hobby when we get to do that all the time as a a matter of course?