When I say "role play," most Christians see drunk teenagers wearing cloaks and swords roaming the woods at midnight chopping up virgins and summoning demons with a ouija board.
That may happen. I wouldn't know. I wouldn't take part in such an event. Too much like theater.
When I say "role play," I mean no more than seven people sitting around a large table with a map, dice and a rulebook playing a game far more interesting than Monopoly.
Here's a run-down:
The GM (Game Master) creates a story, usually a quest involving a search for treasure, the overthrow of some evil power and often the rescue of innocents along the way (sounds a lot like a video game, doesn't it?).
The players (no more than six or it just gets dull waiting for your turn during battles) create characters who join this quest. My group was very serious about character creation. Our characters had backgrounds, life histories, spouses/siblings - all sorts of things that might be used by the GM as part of the plot.
The actual effect of the game is to create a story. The GM provides the plot, the players provide the action and dialogue and plot twists, and together you create something you want to talk about for years (and no one else wants to hear).
For example, Kirk was the first character I role-played. He had a great respect for bears. Our GM forgot about this and used bears as guards for a cave we had to enter. The bears were killed. Kirk was so devastated he left the party and went on a quest of absolution to cleanse himself of the evil. Result: Kirk was no longer in the game.
(The GM was quite annoyed, but, hey, that's what Kirk the character would have done. Galena was created as a result, and I love her, so it's all good.)
The story took a different turn because of the background of the character, and we ran with it, and got a great new story.
I used to take notes, write them up in "cool" form and bring them back for everyone to read at the next game. That was fun, too.
I miss my group, but in the years since we dissolved, I started writing my own stories about those characters I created. That led to Star of Justice, and I can't be upset about that.
Now you know what I mean when I say "role play."
And I only wear my cloak at RenFest.