Roleplaying games allow participants to take on the roles of fictional individuals in a variety of settings. The plot elements and supporting cast (also called “NPCs”) are managed by the “gamemaster,” while each player concentrates on the actions of his or her character. As the story unfolds, the player-characters attempt to accomplish an objective either through force of arms or more subtle means. If the players participate in a series of connected adventures, then they are part of a “roleplaying campaign.”
Why RPGs Are a Game of Chance
When players engage in combat or use skills, the outcome isn’t predetermined in most roleplaying systems. Instead, various dice are rolled and compared to their character’s level at the appropriate skill or attribute. Since the outcome can range from a critical success to a dismal failure, roleplaying games definitely meet the criteria for games of chance.
Major RPG Genres
Numerous genres exist within the hobby, but most will contain one or more elements of the following:
Anime/Cartoon — Captures the look and vibe of animated movies and TV shows, especially those created in Japan.
Horror — The emphasis of this genre is on the supernatural and horrific creatures.
Fantasy — Containing numerous sub-genres, the fantasy category is most often associated with settings that feature knights, wizards, and rogues.
Sci-Fi — Campaigns set in the future and/or containing advanced technology make up this genre.
Modern — Any roleplaying campaign set in the modern era falls into this genre, regardless of what other elements are present.
Pulp — This genre is often associated with exotic locations and low-tech adventure although some versions feature superpowers and space exploration. Pulp campaigns are often set in the 1920s or 1930s.
Western — Usually set in the last half of 19th century America, this genre allows players to take on the roles of characters associated with the Old West.
Superhero — Players take on the roles of comic book characters and battle the forces of evil.
Notable Roleplaying Products
Hundreds of new roleplaying products are released each year, but the following have stood the test of time and become synonymous with the hobby of role-playing.
Dungeons & Dragons — First published in 1974, this fantasy RPG remains the product most associated with the roleplaying hobby. The publication of D&D marked the beginning of the modern age of roleplaying.
Pathfinder — Published in 2009 as a revised version of 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons, it has since become the most popular fantasy product on the market.
Mutants & Masterminds — This d20 superhero game has become the top-selling product of its kind thanks to superior production value and numerous supplements.
Deadlands — This horror/western hybrid is set in a world where magic exists, the Civil War never ended, and dead men sometimes rise from their graves.
Call of Cthulhu — The most famous of all horror role-playing products, CoC is based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft and pits players against eldritch monstrosities from beyond the stars.
Roleplaying games are a great deal of fun, and they also serve to teach skills such as problem solving, social interaction, and critical thinking. While players are often stereotyped as geeks and losers, role-playing fans come from all cultures and economic backgrounds. If you’re in search of a new hobby, pen-and-paper roleplaying is worth checking out.