What’s the Difference?

As those of you who know venerable old me are well aware, I don’t really do board games. If I played a board game I really enjoyed, I’d work out how to change it into an RPG. I can’t think of a board game that wouldn’t be better as an RPG. So, as board games get more involved and detailed, I was thinking, what’s the difference between a board game and a role-playing game?

I understand there’s a new board game popular with this site’s followers, called Guild Ball. This always makes me smile, because many years ago I wrote my own role-playing system, only for private, non-profit use. The characters, and all the important NPCs would belong to Guilds, and be identified as such. One of the ways to progress in the Guilds would be to excel at the Ball game, played by all the Guilds. Luckily, I named that ball game Whoseball. For its rules, I borrowed heavily from ‘Salute of the Jugger’, which I was very fond of. If you’re not familiar with it, Rutger Hauer stars, go find it, especially if you like Guild Ball. So one of my friends played a character who was a bit of a star, and played for the Thieves Guild team. Because he got into it, I wrote game mechanics whereby you could have percentile skills like throw, tackle, pass etc. We never actually did it (to date), but we could have played a game of Whoseball in full. I would have used figures, and drawn up a board. The figures would have moved, according to dice rolls. Sounds familiar? But here’s my point, the freedom of an RPG. Jon, my friend, was a real tart. If he had a goal-scoring opportunity, he would have taken a negative modifier to blow a kiss to his girlfriend in the stands as he scored. His girlfriend, a very violent Elf with incredible mood changes, might have thought that was aimed at someone else. She would then have invaded the pitch, murder and mayhem on her mind. So you would have had a high level Elf thief, very capable, fighting her way through a group of professional tough sports stars, to reach Jon. Jon may be a tart, but he’s no fool, he’s legged it by now. Picture the scene. That, my readers, is the difference between a board game and an RPG.


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