A classic question answered by many role-playing games (RPG’s) the world over. An RPG is about the only game I know that feels the need to constantly explain to new people the very nature of its own existence. Talk about a board game, card game, or video game and people get what you’re talking about. But an RPG apparently still needs to be explained despite the fact that Dungeons and Dragons has been around for over 30 years. I’m working on an RPG right now so here’s my stab at it.
Have you heard of video games?
Yes? Great. It’s like that. Well it’s like a non-electronic version of that. Instead of a computer program deciding how the world works, you have a person telling you how the world works. Instead of graphics on a television or monitor, you’ve got the limits of your imagination and an occasional visual aid. Role-playing games are about a group of friends getting together to go off an adventure. One person runs the game and decides what the story is, where it takes place, and the basic direction of the plot. The rest of the people are players. Each player has one character. Together, with a few game rules, they try navigate the challenges of the story and direct where the story will truly go by making decisions for their characters.
Why not just play a video game?
Do ya like freedom? Yeah, me too. No matter what you've see in sci-fi movies, they will NEVER make a computer system that is as limitless as the human imagination. Played World of Warcraft? I hear it’s a great game. Now when you've fought a big boss in WOW, have you ever lured him out of his dungeon onto a battlefield that’s more advantageous for you? Have you ever negotiated with the boss and asked him if there was deal that could be made instead of fighting? Did you ever herd hundreds of chickens at the boss to distract him? How about just slapping him with a fish to see what he would do or bash down the walls of his dungeon with your giant war machine? You may have done some of these things, but I doubt they were all options for every boss in the game.
In a table-top RPG, there are rules to determine how well something works, but nothing dictates what you can and cannot try. You will never tap a button and get the same response from a random person you are talking to in the world. The game master remembers what you’ve said, so everyone you speak to has something new to say…every time!
Designing adventures can take a lot of time. Sometimes it takes me 8-10 hours to design an adventure I’m going to run. However, I hear it can take like even longer…like years even for some game designers to design a whole sequel to their video game. In the time you spent waiting for a new video game to come out or the next WOW patch to be released, you could have possibly spent hundreds of hours playing brand new adventures in your favorite table-top RPG (provided you and your friends had the time to get together).
Game Together & Surprise Each Other
The best thing about RPG’s is that with so many players pouring their personalities and imaginations into the game, anything can happen. Surprises can lay around every turn. The more effort the players put in to making the game interesting, the more fun they get out of it. With such a creative, collaborative effort, there is no other game with all the possibility and fun of an RPG.