Roleplaying games allow you to create your own character and an entire imaginary world where you can be a magic user, a spy, a detective or even a super hero. Some games are “hack and slash” where you save the day by disposing of slews of monsters. Some are solving problems and coming to a peaceful resolution.
NOTE: This badge program focuses on tabletop games.
1. What is a roleplaying game?
A roleplaying game is a game where the players create player characters that interact in a fictional setting. Some may be “tabletop” where you play through discussion while some are “live action roleplay (LARP)” where you physically perform the characters’ actions. Roleplaying games can be played digitally as well. Find out more about roleplaying games.
2. History of roleplaying games.
Roleplaying games started out as a tabletop game. Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) was inspired by fantasy literature. It started in 1974. Unlicensed electronic versions of the game were developed the same year. These influenced what would become a very diverse industry. Learn about the history of roleplaying games.
3. How do you participate?
When you are first starting, you’ll normally play the easiest character available and one or two experienced players will help you. Some GMs will have characters they’ve already created to give you. Some will ask you to create your own. Depending on the game mechanics, you will then play the character per the game system. Talk to someone who has played and ask about their experiences as a player.
4. What is a game master?
One person acts as the game master (or GM) and will create scenarios for the characters to work through. They can use pre-made games or their own creations. It is the responsibility of the GM to maintain game flow as well as be very versed in the mechanics of the chosen game. This allows the play to seem more like real life.
5. What are game mechanics?
Each game type has a system that determines how the game will be played. You need a framework or it will become chaos. This includes how characters, monsters and villains are created. The game mechanics dictate what dice are rolled and what they mean within the game setting. By everyone conforming to the game mechanics, it creates a consistency in play. Learn about the game mechanics for a roleplaying game.
For example, when you play D&D each player and monster in an encounter rolls a d10 (ten-sided die) to determine the order in which each person will act. So, if the monster is on one it can choose to attack a character (again usually determined by a die roll). Each additional person then takes their turn in order. Without this order, the GM would be overwhelmed with everyone’s actions at once.
6. Fantasy genres.
The fantasy genre has the most games from which to choose. You’ll notice that they’re often based on books, movies and folklore. Try one or more of these games. Here are a few to get you started, but don’t feel constrained to this list.
- Ars Magica
- Dungeons & Dragons / Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (D&D / AD&D)
- Game of Thrones
- Lord of the Rings
- Wheel of Time
7. Science fiction genres.
The science fiction genre is also quite large. Much of this is based on books and movies as well.
- Babylon 5
- Conspiracy X
- Star Trek
- Star Wars
8. Horror genres.
Horror games deal with any subject in horror from vampires to zombies and more. Try one or more of these.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Call of Cthulhu
- World of Darkness (full line)
9. Action genres.
Action genres include adventure, espionage and military scenarios. Try one or more of these.
- James Bond 007
- Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes
- Top Secret
- Twilight 2000
10. Historical genres.
Historical or period genres are based within a more historic setting or a specific setting found within literature. Try one or more of these.
- Boot Hill (wild west)
- Dogs in the Vineyard (Utah pre-statehood / Mormons)
- Pendragon (Arthurian legend)
11. Humor genres.
You can have a game without humor. Some are almost completely humor, though you might find some not quite to your taste. Try one or more of these.
- Ghostbusters RPG
How can you have a roleplaying game without the possibility of superheroes. If this is your thing, here’s a couple you might want to check out.
- DC Universe
- Marvel Super Heroes
- Silver Age Sentinels
- Teenage Mutant Turtles & Other Strangeness
13. d20 system.
The d20 system is a derivative of the third edition of D&D that came out in 2000. It used an Open Gaming License so others could release modifications and / or supplements to the system without paying for use of the game system. This was important as many GMs created their own materials, but couldn’t share them because of licensing. If you see the “d20” in the title, it conforms to this system.
14. Find a game.
Find a group of gamers in your area. You might find a group via the Internet, local hobby stores or local book stores. Where do they play? Why do they play there?
15. Play or observe a session.
Even if you don’t play, sit in for a while to see how the game is played. It can be very interesting, not to mention entertaining.
GenCon is the largest tabletop game convention in North America as determined by attendance and events. Not only can you find roleplaying games, but you’ll also find LARP, board games, miniature wargames, collectible card games and strategy games. It started in 1968 by Gary Gygax who later helped create D&D. Today, you can go to Indianapolis, Indiana. It is typically held in August. Learn more about GenCon.
NOTE: Roleplaying games I have personally played include:
- Dungeon & Dragons / Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
- Top Secret
Additionally, I have reviewed the rules and, at one time or another, thought of trying these:
- Fairy Meat
Sites to Explore