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Pen and Paper: Signs of Roleplaying Deprivation

Updated on June 19, 2013
But what happens when it stops!
But what happens when it stops!

When the mind or body is used to receiving a certain substance, it can become addicted. Take that substance away and the body will react. Alcohol, drugs, food; the body can go nuts when you deny it something it's grown used to having.

And it has been a long time since I've roleplayed.

Some might not see it as a big deal; to grow up playing in an imaginative world with characters that only exist in you and your friend's minds. But when that power of escapism and fun is taken away, the mind starts to go a little stir crazy. After all, the world you adventured in was all in your head, what do you tell your brain when it stops getting to go to that world?

If you, like me, have been suffering from extreme roleplaying deprivation, these symptoms might be signs that it's time to get out your dice and roll.

Reading Tie-in Novels

My uncles and I used to play a wonderful campaign set in Rokugan, the world of the Legend of the Five Rings. We used Savage Worlds to play, but the universe was strictly L5R. We haven't played that campaign or characters in years. Now, I'm reading the "it's okay but not great" Legend of the Five Rings: Clan Wars; a seven book series set in the same world. It's rough reading at times, with some good moments tossed around. What it's really doing is making me want to play again! The medicine is exasperating the condition!

With plenty of book series to choose from, this is an easy symptom to spot. Reading the Icewind Dale trilogy by Salvatore? Or a Pathfinder novel? Tie in series may not mean that you don't get enough roleplaying, but it could be a sign that you haven't been playing enough!

Oh no. Not again.
Oh no. Not again.

The Tabletop vs. Video Game Balance is Broken

After I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, there was a good time between my first game and the next campaign. Months, even. I was bitten by the bug instantly and wanted to dive into the world head first. The problem was, I didn't have the money, friends or experience to go all out. So what did I do? I go my mom to buy me Bauldur's Gate and I played that game non-stop. And its sequel. And its sister series, Icewind Dale. And every other rpg game I could find; from the Final Fantasy series to Ogre Battles 64: Person of Lordly Caliber.

Playing video games isn't a sign you need more roleplaying in your life, but if you have a balance that works in favor of the tabletop, it's a good sign. The less I get to play with dice and character sheets, the more Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft tempt me.

The First Dungeons and Dragons Movie Seems Like a Good Idea

It is not a good idea. Get help.

If that Beholder comes this way, I'm abandoning this whole party.
If that Beholder comes this way, I'm abandoning this whole party.

Things Start to Look...Different

The less time I spend away from the tabletop, my brain starts to get...funny. What might be one thing starts to remind me of something else, something inherent to roleplaying. It might be that seeing basic shapes just look like different dice or that certain animals look like monsters I've fought.

If you, or anyone you know, starts looking at all sea life as a Cthulhu monster, you might need to run back to the table and start fighting some Mind Flayers. Or it could be a sign you need to get out more. The signs are not always easy to read.

You Start Gaming Vicariously

To live vicariously is to experience things through other people and their actions. When my brother received a truck load of Power Ranger toys for his fifth birthday, I made sure I was there helping him understand the fun he was having. As gamers, most of our experience is vicariously, but it can be a sign you need to get into the game yourself.

It might start with harmless story sharing, or reading forums of past games. But then all you do is search for videos of people playing, listening to songs about the fun of gaming or rewatching the finale episode of Freaks and Geeks. What ever the reason, the point is you need to roll your own dice and do it fast!

Well, if I get the blue ones, I should get the gold ones over there, so they match. And the silver ones...
Well, if I get the blue ones, I should get the gold ones over there, so they match. And the silver ones...

Window Shopping

This works for any addiction but for gaming, it's more obvious. Many times, when I don't get to play as much as I would like, I find myself in gaming stores, just looking around, convinced I just want to know what's happening in the world of roleplaying. Then I start leafing through books, listening to customers talk about their last game and I leave with the purchase of new dice that I don't need.

Dice are the prime go-to. They're varied and essential, it's hard to convince yourself that you don't need to buy new ones. But when you haven't played in months, they become a treasured charm. Maybe if you buy some, they'll start a new game for you! Or your friends will be jealous and go get their own, then they'll want to use them and soon your playing again! Or maybe you just spent eight bucks on dice that will sit in a bag. If you're spending more time in the store that at the table, get a game going and hurry!

Do my eyes spy a four-side die?
Do my eyes spy a four-side die?

When was your last roleplaying game?

See results

Trying to Fill the Hole

I've bought Magic: The Gathering, I've researched Live Action Roleplaying, I've tried making up back stories for my soldiers in RISK. I just want to be at a table, rolling dice and taking out hobgoblins. But I can't, because I live in a far away land filled with snow and the Amish. I've played one game in the year of 2012. And so I fill the hole with anything I can but nothing fits in a dodecahedron-shaped hole except for a 12-sided die.

If you're suffering from the same symptoms, my heart goes out to you. There's a chance you too are facing a severe lack of roleplaying. Seek help, get your friends together and start playing again. The mind can only be away so long before it starts bringing dragons with you wherever you go.


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    • Amy Livingston profile image

      Amy Livingston 

      4 years ago from Highland Park, NJ

      Just in case you are still looking (or once again looking) for fellow gamers, we actually managed (after several false starts) to find a gaming group through the site It's definitely worth a try.

      Another little gamelet that can help tide you through the dry spells is Dungeon in a Tin, which you can find at You can print everything out yourself on a single sheet of labels. It's not real role-playing, of course, but it can satisfy the urge to "roll dice and take out hobgoblins."

    • Eric Mikols profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Mikols 

      5 years ago from New England

      I guess I could have put another sign being writing Hubs about the subject for days on end!

    • Porshadoxus profile image


      5 years ago from the straight and narrow way

      Loving it. Living it. :(

    • Procopius profile image

      James Thompson 

      5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      You are welcome Eric.

    • Eric Mikols profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Mikols 

      5 years ago from New England

      Thanks for relating! It's a hard time but I think I might be able to get something together soon. I'm craving a game in a serious way!

      I'm going to check out, so thanks for the suggestion!

    • Procopius profile image

      James Thompson 

      5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      I understand where you are coming from sir. I am about to lose my job next week (our store is going out of business) and I am worried that my new job will stop me from gaming. I have been with 2 gaming groups, 1 since 1999, the other since 2000, my job was Mon-Fri 8-5 so I could game on Tuesday and Friday nights.

      I suggest for gaming groups, local bookstores, video game stores or colleges if any. Hope you find a group that you like and can play as often as you want to.


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