Reading the title you may be thinking that I am going to talk about how characters evolve in a narrative in roleplaying games, but if you remember last week’s article you may note the subtle queue in my use of RPG instead of “roleplaying game.” That’s right; today I am going to talk about different styles of stat/ability progression in RPGs along with minor discussion on the role of progression in narrative.
I have written a few reviews for digital roleplaying games (RPGs), but in many cases I find the label is completely inappropriate. When I think of a “roleplaying” game, I think of a game in which I take control and can make important narrative choices. But most digital RPGs don’t let you make narrative choices at all. For that reason I would say that the label of RPG has come to be associated with a mechanic which is common to most RPGs, but isn’t the attribute that makes them RPGs. The mechanic in question is that of leveling up, and I hate it*.