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Roleplaying Game? Sounds cool... but what is it?

A Roleplaying Game is a tabletop game that gives players the opportunity to take on the roles of characters. They are available in a vast variety of possible genres, including Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror and Superhero genres, and the possibilities are endless.

Roleplaying Games can be based on anything, from your favourite novels, computer games, films or period in history to games with an original story.

Roleplaying Games are usually run with 1 Game Master and 2 to 6 Players, but it’s possible to have a game session with as few as 1 Game Master and 1 Player or to have more than 6 Players join the game.

Getting started with Roleplaying

Usually, before beginning play, each Player creates a character or picks a pre-generated character from several available options. This gives the character a personality and background. This is supported by the character’s abilities. Most Roleplaying Games use character sheets to record specific vital statistics for each character. These are often expressed in numbers or ratings.

These serve as a mechanic to determine if a particular action succeeds or fails and, conventionally, the more skilled you are the better your chance of succeeding.

Rules and Gameplay

The Game Master is the only one in the group who needs to know the rules – Players can learn them as they go along, but are free to read the rules before starting a game session. The Game Master usually also has a storyline in mind. This can be totally made up and improvised, or written down in adventures or interlinking scenarios called campaigns. Published scenarios help, as they include background information, maps, statistics for characters the players might encounter, etc.

The Game Master also acts as the Player characters’ senses. He or she tells the Players what their characters see, hear, feel, taste and smell. He or she describes the scene like a writer would in a novel and plays as all of the characters, monsters and other things the Players’ Characters meet. Most Game Masters act their Characters out, perhaps by talking in a different way, exhibiting certain quirks or mannerisms, etc.

The Players react by saying what their Characters will do. They also act for their Characters, which might have a very different personality than their own. When a Player’s Character or a Non-Player Character (controlled by the Game Master) attempts an action that might possibly fail and that is important to the game or the storyline, usually dice are rolled, although some games might use cards or other ways to determine outcomes. Some RPGs just use six-sided dice, others use four-, eight-, ten-, twelve- or even twenty-sided dice (These polyhedral dice can be easily bought from sites like Amazon).

The Game Master interprets the results of the rolls and tells the Players what happens. It’s used to introduce an element of suspense and randomness, while still promoting clever thinking, tactics and using the abilities noted down on the character sheets…

Give it a try!

If you’ve never tried your hand at a roleplaying game, we think you should definitely give it a shot – most people really like the interactive experience, the inherent freedom of choice, the social aspect and the exciting storylines everyone at the table helps to create together.

It promotes creativity and helps to develop your imagination, while many roleplaying games sharpen your interactive and reading skills or knowledge of history, science, politics, and many other areas…


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