What is a Role-Playing Game? (RPG)

A role-playing game (RPG) is where a bunch of people sit around a table and tell a story together, but with rules and dice.

One person acts as a “dungeon master” (DM) or referee. This person describes the setting, side characters and events.

Everyone else are player characters (PCs). They react to the situations thrown at them by saying what they want to do and roll dice to find out if they succeed.

Put simply...

  1. The DM describes a scene.
  2. Players decide (and declare) what their character does.
  3. They roll dice to see if it works.
  4. DM describes the consequences.
  5. Rinse and repeat.

What Kind of Stories are Told?

There are a lot of RPG settings out there.

  • There's fantasy (like Game of Thrones).
  • There's space opera (like Star Wars).
  • There's investigative horror (like X-Files).
  • There's cyberpunk (like Blade Runner).
  • There's one where you play incompetent criminals like a Coen Brothers flick.
  • There's even one based on Mexican soap operas!

Buuuut... the first (and most popular) RPG of all time is Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).

In D&D, the players are "adventurers" seeking treasure in a fantasy setting (castles, dragons, and magic spells).

What is an Adventurer?

While "modern" D&D is about heroes saving the universe from evil villains...

I like to run my games the "old school" way.

Old School D&D is where adventurers are misfits, outcasts and scoundrels who can’t get a “regular” job in the feudal system and have resorted to...

  • Robbing graves with deadly traps
  • Treasure hunting in abandoned ruins
  • Stealing from dragons and powerful wizards
  • Chasing rumors of secret caches of wealth
  • Hunting monsters for money

In other words, this is high-risk work done by desperate people for high-rewards.

It also makes for sillier game where players can die in dumb ways.
Which I love. And why I keep a running tally of all the PCs I've killed.

But players can also play smart and survive!

Found in:

RPGs Notes


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