Question 1: What do you love about RPGs?
A few things spring to mind.
First and foremost the imagination and creativity of it all. From a GMing perspective I have to come up with things for the players to do every session. Or at the very least (and unless I’m using a pre-written scenario) I have to construct the initial framework that they’ll wilfully choose to ignore in favour of some ludicrous tangent… And then there’s all the people and places they meet along the way. Or trip over whilst heading at speed in any direction opposite to that of the prepared adventure.
As a player I’m responding to those creations from another GM, or another game background, and then working with my fellow players to come up with imaginative ways to abandon the carefully laid plans of the GM and have the characters go off and start a commune in the Outer Hebrides. Or, you know, staying on mission and putting our minds to work solving the actual mystery/puzzle that’s been presented to us.
In either case, as player or GM, I do very much enjoy the meanderings and strange encounters of characters inhabiting different time periods or exploring strange civilisations and societies. And it never ceases to amaze me that some off-hand remark or riff on a round-the-table joke can suddenly develop into a major and ongoing facet of a background.
I can’t think of any other form of entertainment that involves that level of mental engagement, that stretching of the creative muscles or that level of immersion in the theatre of the mind.
Also, I love the simplicity of it all. Of course it can be as complicated as you want it to be, and can involve figures, and floor-plans and moulded scenery and elaborate props…but it can also just be a group of people sitting around a table with some pencils, paper and dice (if that) and talking their way into other worlds and other lives.
“This merchant isn’t buying your story about where you got the goods. His bodyguard is starting to look jumpy. What are you going to do?”
And then of course there’s the whole social aspect of gathering together to game. I’ve occasionally dabbled with online stuff, but for the most part my gaming for the past several years has been face-t0-face around a table. In the old days of school and college, gaming was something that happened day and daily for years. But people grow up (sort of) and have responsibilities, and other commitments, so it’s cool that we can still meet up on a regular basis and adventure much like we did in the past. I don’t see any reason to ever stop.