Tabletop roleplaying games are a great way to have fun and socialize with friends. Because so much of the gameplay happens through player interactions and dice rolling, these are straightforward games to play over a video call. Let’s face it, that recently became a much more attractive quality in a game than it used to be. So if you want to know how to get started with tabletop RPGs, then here’s all you need to know.
What is a Tabletop RPG?
Role-Playing Games (RPGs) come in different varieties. What they have in common is that players take on the role of a specific character. They then play through a story making decisions for that character as they go.
In a tabletop RPG, this is all done through description. The players describe what their characters say and do. A Game Master (GM) or Dungeon Master (DM) controls the game. They describe the world, the nonplayer characters (NPCs), and they plan out the story.
What are the different sorts of RPGs?
RPG is a vast genre of tabletop games. You can find them based on pretty much any scenario you can imagine. There is a wealth of games based on fantasy worlds, like Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Sci-Fi themes are also easy to find, like Starfinder or Dr. Who Adventures in Time and Space. You can play as sentient mice in Mouse Watch or try to hang on to your sanity as you face the horrors of Call of Cthulhu, or if you want something a little more down to Earth, you can try to pull off a heist in Fiasco.
There are themed games to suit any interest. It’s often a good idea to start with a game that has a theme you enjoy.
How do you play an RPG?
RPGs work with a combination of game mechanics and roleplay. Each game will have a different balance of these two elements. If you’re not too comfortable with role-playing (RPing), then you might be better looking for a more rule-heavy game.
The game mechanics usually revolve around rolling dice. The score on the dice will be combined with your character’s stats. The total will decide if you fail or succeed at whatever you’re trying to do. There are variations on this, but that’s the general idea.
More involved games will have extensive rule books. There can be a surprising amount of depth to these games.
How do you roleplay well?
Role-Playing is one of the features of these games that most new players find daunting. No one expects you to come up with a unique voice or be an improv genius. All you need to do is think about how a person with specific characteristics might react.
A good tip is to listen to the other players and build on their ideas. Try not to derail things by coming up with the most’ original’ idea. Get a feel for the group first.
Just relax, have fun, and say the first thing that comes to mind.
What’s the difference between a one-shot and a campaign?
A one-shot describes a game that you can start and finish in a single night. These can be an excellent introduction to RPGs and often don’t require as much planning.
A campaign is a much longer game. These can run for as long as your GM is willing to keep planning the story. In these, you’ll create complex characters and guide them through many adventures as you explore the story you GM wants to weave. Usually, a campaign group will try to meet up once a week to play for a couple of hours.
What do you need to play an RPG?
Precisely what you will need depends on the game you pick. Most require you to have a pen and paper. In fact, that might be all you need.
Some will need you to find a collection of different types of dice. But don’t panic if you don’t want to go out and buy dice for a hobby you’re not sure about yet. You can just ask Google to roll dice for you.
You may also need a game board, miniatures, and a rule book.
What’s a one page RPG?
A one page RPG is a type of RPG you can usually find for free online. They are a straightforward sort of RPG. The rules can fit onto a single page.
These are a great intro to RPGs, as most are one-shots. My top recommendation is Laser and Feelings. It’s a fun, silly, and easy game.
Which RPG should you start with?
There’s a lot to choose from, but there are a couple of ways to narrow your choices. First, think about a genre that appeals to you the most. Options include – Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Vampires, Horror, Super Heroes. Next, decide if you want something with more RP, more rules, or a balance of both.
This will narrow your choices a lot. The next step is to find a group of people who want to play the same games as you.
How do you find a group?
First, ask your friends if they play any games. You might be surprised at how many people have a secret D&D group they never mention. The next stop is gaming shops. There are often notice boards that list groups looking for players. Online communities are a great option, as well.
You can even play these games online. Role Play Online is an old school option where you play through a message board forum. A more up-to-date option is something like roll20. You can find a group and play online with ease.
How can I find out more about RPGs before I join a game?
There are two great ways to learn more about an RPG you’re interested in. Podcasts are the first. There are loads of real play podcasts out there. You can listen to groups playing the game you’re interested in and get a feel for what it’s like. YouTube is the other way to watch people play. If you want to learn about D&D, I recommend watching some ‘Acquisitions Incorporated’. It’s a profoundly entertaining way to spend hours and hours of your life!