Between Two Worlds: A Rhetorical Analytical Framework for Tabletop Roleplaying Games

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Bennert, Richard D

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Abstract

This thesis explores the role of rule systems in the rhetorical creation of meaning in Tabletop Roleplaying Games (TRPGs). It posits a new analytical framework, fusing Burke’s Dramatistic Pentad with Bogost’s Procedural Rhetoric within a variation on Gary Alan Fine’s Frame Analysis of the TRPG play session. Five selected TRPGs are examined through close reading, observation of play, and talk-aloud protocols, focused on the creation of TRPG characters. The framework demonstrates how rule systems serve as a symbolic bridge between the player and the character, and how the selection of symbols shapes and alters player exigencies and character outcomes.

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Keywords

Rhetoric, Tabletop role-playing games, Frame analysis, Dramatism, Procedural rhetoric

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