WHAT ARE TABLETOP ROLEPLAYING GAMES?
Let's give you the basics so that you're ready to jump in and have fun.
You may hear the terms "RPG," "roleplaying" and "adventure game" used interchangeably. All of these are referencing a style of game that focuses on character immersion and storytelling and is typically played while sitting around a table.
Character immersion (or roleplaying) is when you submerge yourself into another persona or perspective. The immersion may be slight. Perhaps in real life, you enjoy playing music and writing poems. For your roleplaying character, you develop a persona who also enjoys music and poetry. Or the immersion may be severe. For your roleplaying character, you develop a persona who lives in the wild and struggles to understand culture and society.
Storytelling is, well, it's telling stories, but what makes it wonderful and distinct in roleplaying games is that it's communal storytelling. It's a joint effort between the game director (or game master) and the players. Even in video games with preset characters, the player still makes the choices for how the character is controlled and the actions the character takes. The player helps guide the story.
In tabletop roleplaying games, the game master creates a story framework, filled with foes, puzzles and diplomacy, and then the players create their characters and play out the details of the full story. The game master and players work together to build a story and memories that are distinct to that group. You can even play the same adventure with two different groups and have significantly different experiences. It's a joy to experience.
WHY SHOULD YOU PLAY ROLEPLAYING GAMES?
Do you already play board games with a regular group? Fantastic, your group would love playing a roleplaying adventure.
Do you love playing roleplaying video games that allow you to customize your character creation and control your character's development and choices? Fantastic, you would love playing a roleplaying adventure.
Do you enjoy some board games and video games (but not really your thing) but do love joking with your friends and sharing silly stories? Guess what? Fantastic, you and your friends would love playing a roleplaying adventure.
Because a tabletop roleplaying game is built upon a group of friends telling a story together, any group with good chemistry can enjoy playing.
WHAT DO I NEED TO GET STARTED PLAYING?
Tabletop roleplaying games carry a stigma of requiring a high buy-in. Do you need rule books and maps and miniature figurines and hours of preparation and then hours of playtime?
Yes, you may eventually decide that you want to invest that kind of time and money into roleplaying games (welcome to the club). But if you're just getting started out and you're not familiar with roleplaying games, keep your costs low.
- Look into free adventures online. Good news: if you sign up for our newsletter, we've done the legwork for you and provide premade characters, map tiles (that can be easily printed) and full notes for a 2-3 hour adventure.
- Recycle pawns and tokens from other games. Don't go buy a bunch of minis for your first adventure. Start by reusing the figures and tokens in the board games you own. Even the old classic board games have game pieces that work great for tracking characters on the map.
- Play the adventure alone to see how it works. Spend an evening reading through the rules, organizing some characters and playing through a couple chapters of an adventure (we recommend trying out the free adventure you get when you sign up).
- Invite 3-5 friends to join you. Plan a weekend afternoon or evening where your group of friends can meet at someone's house, enjoy some snacks or a meal, and play through an adventure. Don't feel the need to play a full adventure. You may play a few chapters and feel satisfied. Stay flexible so that the game is tailored to and fun for your specific play group.
- Learn what worked and what you want to change. Want to know a beautiful aspect of tabletop roleplaying games? You can change and add any rules that your group agrees on. They're called "house rules," and while they may cause problems with traditional board games, house rules help you and your group adjust the adventures to suit your desires. Remember: roleplaying is built upon shared storytelling, which means you, your players and even the rules can improvise and shift to meet the group's needs.
- Start writing your own adventures. Once you feel comfortable with the rules and lore, create a custom adventure. Borrow from the adventures you played. Blend in the story tropes, challenges and foes that you want your group to face. Create an adventure that is distinctly yours.