At Ryan Macklin’s suggestion, I listened to the Jennisodes interview with Bill White. You should too—Bill’s an interesting guy, Jenn’s a good interviewer, and it will make you full of warm fuzzies. What struck me particularly in the interview, though, was Bill’s explanation of Jeepform. For those who don’t know, Jeepform is a Scandinavian form of role-playing that, in Bill’s words, puts technique before rules. I’ve never had direct experience with it, only with people talking about it, and until Bill put it that way, I found it somewhat inscrutable.

I just have a few quick thoughts on the matter that I wanted to air.

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Role-playing can be, like acting, that particular strange mix of enervating and energizing. You do it, it gives you a thrill, but you feel a bit wrung-out afterwards. And that’s not surprising! You’ve been performing, and performing improv no less, in front of a bunch of people for a few hours. We never do warm up exercises before a game,[1] or anything like that.

We do have some scaffolding, at least: rules and fortune mechanics do a good job of helping us particularly at those moments when we throw up our hands and say “who knows?” We have games like Ben Lehman’s Hot Guys Making Out that wisely exhort us to give ourselves a moment to think.[2] We have a small and intensely sympathetic audience. But it can still be hard.

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  1. Which is something I’d love to try, some time, actually. []
  2. Some of the best advice for any game is in the preview edition: “Each turn, don’t be afraid to just play from the gut, but also don’t be afraid to take some time to think about what you want your character to do.” []
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