What is Roleplay?
What is Roleplay?
There is an excellent explanation of roleplay at Uncle Figgy's guides (http://members.aol.com/essuncius/intro3.html). In summary roleplaying is literally playing a role. A Roleplaying game is one which provides a background, and the the players invent fictional characters that they play in the game. There are usually between one and four players. One other person does not make up a character. Instead they are the "Gamesmaster", who writes the game, and decides what happens in the world the fictional characters encounter.
Why are statistics and dice used?
The characters may have different abilities to the person playing them, so statistics are used to represent how good the character is at an activity, and dice are used to determine if a character does well (Normally by rolling under their statistic). e.g.. A character has a piano skill of 5. When giving a performance they roll a six sided die (d6). If they score 1-5 they have given a good performance. If they score 6 they have given a bad one.
Which dice are rolled and precisely how this works depends on the game.
What about those latex weapons?
Those are used for Live Action Roleplay. This is where, instead of rolling dice to decide, the characters actually act out their roles. This type of roleplay needs more players than tabletop.
Why is this fun?
How many times have you read a book and decided you can do much better than the characters? Ever watched a horror movie and become exasperated at the apparent stupidity of the characters? Have you ever become frustrated at the limits of a computer roleplay? Table-Top is more versatile. Your character can say and do whatever they want, and your opponents will respond to it. As a result it can be much more challenging than computer games and much more reactive.
Where do I start?
One of the reasons roleplay is an overlooked hobby is that there are very few games for beginners and Malefex isn't really designed for them. However a personnel recommendation goes to Advanced Fighting Fantasy for its simple system. (Ever played a Fighting Fantasy Gamebook?) though this can be hard to obtain. Try Puffin books.
The best way to get involved is to join an existing group. uk.games.roleplay is an excellent resource on the UK gaming scene. There is also Raven, an organisation set up to encourage British roleplay.