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Roleplaying Game Basics
Steps
1. What is a roleplaying game?
A roleplaying game is a game where the players create player characters that interact in a
fictional setting. Some may be “tabletop” where you play through discussion while some
are “live action roleplay (LARP)” where you physically perform the characters’ actions.
Roleplaying games can be played digitally as well. Find out more about roleplaying games.
2. History of roleplaying games.
Roleplaying games started out as a tabletop game. Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) was
inspired by fantasy literature. It started in 1974. Unlicensed electronic versions of the game
were developed the same year. These influenced what would become a very diverse
industry. Learn about the history of roleplaying games.
3. How do you participate?
When you are first starting, you’ll normally play the easiest character available and one
or two experienced players will help you. Some GMs will have characters they’ve already
created to give you. Some will ask you to create your own. Depending on the game
mechanics, you will then play the character per the game system. Talk to someone who
has played and ask about their experiences as a player.
4. What is a game master?
One person acts as the game master (or GM) and will create scenarios for the characters
to work through. They can use pre-made games or their own creations. It is the
responsibility of the GM to maintain game flow as well as be very versed in the
mechanics of the chosen game. This allows the play to seem more like real life.
5. What are game mechanics?
Each game type has a system that determines how the game will be played. You need a
framework or it will become chaos. This includes how characters, monsters and villains are
created. The game mechanics dictate what dice are rolled and what they mean within the
game setting. By everyone conforming to the game mechanics, it creates a consistency in
play. Learn about the game mechanics for a roleplaying game.
For example, when you play D&D each player and monster in an encounter rolls a d10
(ten-sided die) to determine the order in which each person will act. So, if the monster is
on one it can choose to attack a character (again usually determined by a die roll). Each
additional person then takes their turn in order. Without this order, the GM would be
overwhelmed with everyone’s actions at once.
7 7
00
88
7 777
0000 0000 00
5 5
88
1 1
1 1
0000 0000 00
8
555
111
Roleplaying
Game Basics
Roleplaying games
allow you to create
your own character
and an entire imagi-
nary world where
you can be a magic
user, a spy, a detec-
tive or even a super
hero. Some games
are “hack and slash”
where you save the
day by disposing of
slews of monsters.
Some are solving
problems and com-
ing to a peaceful
resolution.
NOTE: This badge
program focuses on
tabletop games.

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Project
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6. Fantasy genres.
The fantasy genre has the most games from which to choose. You’ll notice that they’re
often based on books, movies and folklore. Try one or more of these games. Here are a few
to get you started, but don’t feel constrained to this list.
• Ars Magica
• Dungeons & Dragons / Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (D&D / AD&D)
• Game of Thrones
• Hackmaster
• Lord of the Rings
• Warhammer
• Wheel of Time
7. Science fiction genres.
The science fiction genre is also quite large. Much of this is based on books and movies
as well.
• Babylon 5
• Conspiracy X
• Ringworld
• Star Trek
• Star Wars
8. Horror genres.
Horror games deal with any subject in horror from vampires to zombies and more.
Try one or more of these.
• Bufy the Vampire Slayer
• Call of Cthulhu
• Chill
• Nightlife
• World of Darkness (full line)
9. Action genres.
Action genres include adventure, espionage and military scenarios. Try one or more
of these.
• James Bond 007
• Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes
• Top Secret
• Twilight 2000
10. Historical genres.
Historical or period genres are based within a more historic setting or a specific setting
found within literature. Try one or more of these.
• Boot Hill (wild west)
• Dogs in the Vineyard (Utah pre-statehood / Mormons)
• Pendragon (Arthurian legend)
11. Humor genres.
You can have a game without humor. Some are almost completely humor, though
you might find some not quite to your taste. Try one or more of these.
• Ghostbusters RPG
• HackMaster
• Toon
12. Superheroes.
How can you have a roleplaying game without the possibility of superheroes. If this
is your thing, here’s a couple you might want to check out.
• DC Universe
• Marvel Super Heroes
• Silver Age Sentinels
• Teenage Mutant Turtles & Other Strangeness

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13. d20 system.
The d20 system is a derivative of the third edition of D&D that came out in 2000. It used
an Open Gaming License so others could release modifications and / or supplements to
the system without paying for use of the game system. This was important as many GMs
created their own materials, but couldn’t share them because of licensing. If you see the
“d20” in the title, it conforms to this system.
14. Find a game.
Find a group of gamers in your area. You might find a group via the Internet, local hobby
stores or local book stores. Where do they play? Why do they play there?
15. Play or observe a session.
Even if you don’t play, sit in for a while to see how the game is played. It can be very
interesting, not to mention entertaining.
16. GenCon.
GenCon is the largest tabletop game convention in North America as determined by at-
tendance and events. Not only can you find roleplaying games, but you’ll also find LARP,
board games, miniature wargames, collectible card games and strategy games. It started
in 1968 by Gary Gygax who later helped create D&D. Today, you can go to Indianapolis,
Indiana. It is typically held in August. Learn more about GenCon.
NOTE: Roleplaying games I have personally played include:
• Dungeon & Dragons / Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
• Chill
• Nightlife
• Top Secret
Additionally, I have reviewed the rules and, at one time or another, thought of trying these:
• Fairy Meat
• HackMaster
• Toon
Sites to Explore
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-playing_game
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_role-playing_games_by_genre
www.ogmiosproject.org/articles/rpg_intro.html
www.wizards.com/dnd/feature.aspx?x=new/learntoplay
www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/article/srdarchive
www.gencon.com
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