Why Role-Playing Games are Better than Fiction

The trouble with fiction is that you usually know that the hero will be safe in the end. When you watch Star Trek, however much danger Captain Kirk seems to be in, you know isn't going to die really. He will always escape.

In fiction, the GM (author) just makes up what happens. You know that it's been fixed by the author, and there's no risk to the hero. In an RPG, on the other hand, the character is at risk. You know that if you go into combat and get unlucky rolls, you can be killed. This makes it tense in a way that fiction can never be.

Anything in an RPG that takes away this risk destroys the whole point of role-playing. Every time a game gives PCs Luck Points to give them a second chance, every time the GM fixes the plot or reduces the strength of the opposition to make sure that the PCs win, this makes the game less like role-playing and more like fiction. These things move RPGs away from the strengths of RPGs: they dilute away what RPGs are best at.