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TABLETOP SYSTEMS

or
When I was your age, video games were called books!

What do we even mean by roleplaying game?


What first hit us about D&D?

Each of us plays a single character Open-ended world, defined by the GM, not a closed system as in a boardgame. Really lousy rules and lack of setting demands GM creativity. Clearly points you to hack-and-slash, but other possibilities quickly arise.

RPG?
Innumerable games in many media since, but: You always play a single character (at any given time) Almost always, characters gain in power (primary motivation for play). Almost always, characters can group (if only with NPCs). Imaginary setting: even if of real world, player characters are portrayed as extraordinary:

Heroic, superhero, spies, possessors of secret knowledge, etc.

Non-Computer Games are


games which operate within a fixed system that requires players to understand them AS a system, make judgments, and keep track of the game state.

Second Person p. 107

Tabletop RPG is:


A game in which the participants assume the

roles of fictional characters. Participants determine the attempted actions of their characters based on characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise. Their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.

Why do we play these games?


Glen Blacows player types: Power gamer, wargamer, story-teller, roleplayer Ron Edwards GNS Theory: Gamist, narritivist, simulationist The Bartle Player-types: Achievers, explorers, socializers, killers. Nick Yees research: desire relationships, immersion, grief play, achievement, and leadership.

We do we play (cont)
Fullerton et al: competitors, explorers, collectors, achievers, jokers, artists, directors, storytellers, performers, and craftsmen. Marc LeBlancs categories of pleasure: Sensation, fantasy, narrative, challenge, fellowship, discussion, masochism Beyond a certain point, hard to really say anything other than diffrent strokes for diffrent folks.

But.
Strong emotion bond to your character. Immersion in an imaginary world. Sense of empowerment. Social interaction?

Its about the books


For each tabletop role-playing game system, there are one or more books.

*This is the exception to the If it isnt interactive, write a book rule Im always on about.

Nearly every one of them


has an introduction section explaining what the purpose of a tabletop RPG is. contains the specific core rules and mechanics of the game. provides an overview of the game world. provides instructions on character creation and a character sheet template and provides everything else needed to play the basic version of the game.

Three types of books:


Core Books (Core Rules, Rule Books, etc.)
The main book with the rules. Sometimes this is split into two books like D&D or Burning Wheel

Source Books
Additional books that provide further elaboration on the game world. This can be additional character information, additional settings, advanced rules, or scenario ideas.

Scenario Books

(Adventure Books & Modules)

One or more pre-designed adventures or storylines for a gamemaster to play with his or her players.

Some Vocabulary:
RPG: Role Playing Game

LARP: Live Action RPG


PC: Player Character NPC: Non-Player Character GM: Gamemaster DM: Dungeonmaster (D&D) D2, D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20, D100: Dice

where X equals the number of sides

Its all about the System


D6 or D20? Other?

Dice Pool or Single Roll?


Diceless? Simple or Complex Math involved? Simple or Complex Rules involved? Which Rules Version? Which Source Books? How Long will each session take? How Long will the campaign take?

The Basics
Most role-playing games are conducted like radio drama: only

the spoken component is acted. Some use markers, maps, and complicated models for various reasons. In most games, one specially designated player, the game master (GM), creates a setting in which each player plays the role of a single character. The GM describes the game world and its inhabitants; the other players describe the intended actions of their characters, and the GM describes the outcomes. Some outcomes are determined by the game system, and some are chosen by the GM. There is a variety of role-playing game in which players do perform their characters' physical actions, known as live action role-playing games (LARP).

Source: Wikipedia

The Dice:
In most RPG systems, most non-trivial actions require dice rolls. Most RPGs roll a fixed number of dice, add a number to the die roll based on the character's attributes and skills, and compare the resulting number with a difficulty rating. However, in some systems the character's attributes and skills determine the number of dice to be rolled.

Source: Wikipedia

Dice Pool:
Dice pool systems generally use a single type of die, the most common being six- or ten-sided dice (d6s or d10s), though in some games a character's Attributes or Skills may determine the size of the dice in the pool, as well as their number (Deadlands is an example). While such games may require different sized dice for different rolls, the dice in a given pool are usually all of the same size (Serenity is an example of an exception to this).
Source: Wikipedia

Its all about the Campaign


Modules/Scenarios or Freeform it? Rail Campaign or Player-Led? One-shot or extended campaigns? Party size? Lone wolf it? Time and Place? (Setting) Pre-set or Original World? Starting Character Level? Character Generation Method? Will you Physrep?

Its all about the character


Level

Traits
Stats Attributes

Characteristics
Skills Hit points Condition Defense Rating Equipment

Feats Talents Languages Beliefs Instincts Life Path Encumbrances Advantages Disadvantages Quirks

Initiative Ability Action Points Movement Senses Race Alignment Class Attacks Powers

Four Basics:
Qualities Abilities Statistics Personality
(Yes, sadly this is optional)

Four Basics:
Qualities

(appearance, race, ethnicity, class, origin, etc.) Statistics


Abilities Personality

Four Basics:
Qualities Statistics

(core stats, general mechanics) Abilities


Personality

Four Basics:
Qualities Statistics Abilities

(unique game-changers) Personality

Four Basics:
Qualities Statistics Abilities Personality

(flair! & RP!)

The catch:
Munchkin: Plays in an aggressively competitive manner within

the context of the game to amass the greatest power, score the most "kills," and grab the most loot, no matter how deleterious their actions are to role-playing, the storyline, fairness, logic, or the other players' fun.
Min-Maxer: Lives by the decision rule used in decision theory,

game theory, statistics, and philosophy for minimizing the maximum possible loss by calculating possibilities mathematically.
Twink: Power levels a character, through the assistance of a

higher level character or the use of otherwise unattainable high level equipment; or the process of keeping a video game character at a low level while using in-game currency, earned by a high level character, to provide it with superior equipment.

Tabletop RPG is:


A game in which the participants assume the

roles of fictional characters. Participants determine the attempted actions of their characters based on characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise. Their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.

HW:
Begin looking for a tabletop RPG system

(not a board-game) you want to do an indepth review of for D2. It cant be one of the ones we will do at length in class. (If you are poor, check the blog later on for some free game downloads.) Look over the following two web comics and comment about them on the blog: DM of the Rings (shamusyoung.com) Darths and Droids (darthsanddroids.net)