What RPGs Do That Video Games Cannot


In Vampire: the Masquerade, the first level of the Dominate ability lets the vampire issue a one-word command, which the target instantly obeys. It might be 'sit', 'stay', 'fight', 'run', or any other one-word command. It's flexible genius, because it clearly defines what the ability does, but can still allow players to invent all manner of clever things outside of what the spell states.

GMs (or 'the storyteller' in this case) also have leeway to mess with the vampire.

He sits down, and continues shooting at you!

He stands there, bemused, as you walk out the door. You descend the stairs, then hear the guard above, phoning the police to come quickly.

You tell him 'fight!', then he turns from the police and punches you in the face.

He runs back, stops, and picks up a rusty pipe lying on the ground, then returns with the pipe raised over his head.

Computer games can't do that.

The Breakfast of Rocks

In one of my games, a troupe of guards entered a village where the baron was cursed to become an eternally-eating monster; he taxed the villagers almost to death to feed himself (and his monstrous family).

When the troupe entered the village at night, the villagers disappeared. Their children said they were out 'collecting rocks'. Most of the party understood the farmers wanted to stone them to death, as they feared anyone 'official-looking' would levy more taxes. One character did not understand this, and began making his own rock collection.

Skip forward a scene, and the party encounter the cursed baron, who rushed forward in a hungry rage, hoping to eat the player characters. The little gnome who collected rocks pulled them out and said 'breakfast is served'.


That stumped me for a moment. But it's dark, he's expecting food. I gave him a basic intelligence check, and the baron failed (the curse made him stupid).

He ate the rocks.

I decided that since rocks were listed as a weapon, with 1D6-1 Damage, they rocks should deal that damage. I rolled a '5'. He put the rocks into his mouth, and crunched down hard until his teeth cracked open. He spat tooth and blood onto the character, screamed in pain and hatred, and raised his broadsword.

Computer games can't do that.