"True to Life" Experience in an RPG
by, 07-01-2011 at 01:15 PM (2984 Views)
Is it hard to find "realism" or "true to life" experience delivered in an RPG? First - do you want it?
I think, first of all, it depends on the game you're in, and what expectations you were given, before you joined. If you joined with the promise or idea that it would be "true to life", regardless of what the genre/setting was, then yes, it definitely should be as close to what you expect as possible.
However, the player also has a lot to do with this, in not making assumptions, and is responsible, if verisimilitude (quality of realism) is high on his or her priorities, for asking the GM specifically about the level of reliable and consistent realism, in knowing what the player can expect. No GM can be "perfect" in his or her delivery of "product" every time, but a GM should be honest and if they really can't say they know how well they're able to deliver a certain experience, that should be their response: "I will try my best to give my players X, but I'm pretty new to GMing" or something along those lines, and it is up to the player to take the risk or not.
The player can also talk the level of realism over with other players before the game starts for the first time, if able, finding out their preferences, and seeing which way the game overall is likely to lean, as a group full of people that enjoy high-impact, low-maintenance action movie games are unlikely to be too keen on counting every bullet or making sure they have enough food and water for every day.
That said, in respect to the last point, some games lend themselves more to "true to life" than others, as a general rule: superhero games, being usually comic-book based, are highly stylized and though they vary, sometimes don't even bother with much gear or character development at all, making a lot of broad assumptions, in favor of the "four color/two-dimensional" flavor of the world of superheroes. Gritty supers are popular also, though, and some will be more to some players' tastes than others, and will be much more unforgiving and strict in not just day-to-day inventory but also more abstract things like moral codes and collateral damage.
The same goes for any genre; modern, future, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, horror or anything else. It is best for the player to research the game system being used if possible, to see what level of realism it "natively" supports, which, while it isn't a guarantee, is at least a starting point to help judge the probability of finding a game with a desired level of realism.