A multitude of games have cropped up over the years, some using a universal rules system, others sporting unique systems all their own. The big name games in the industry, the ones that have seen years of publication, usually, have had their core rules systems go through many revisions, overhauls, reboots, mutations, and editions, each with their own fandom amongst gaming tables everywhere. With open gaming licenses readily available, and the advent of organizations like Kickstarter, anyone willing to put in the time (lots of time) and resources (lots of that too) can make a game of his or her own. Nearly any genre, and I mean almost anything you can think up, has a game or a rules system to cover it. Now, more than ever, the RPG industry offers games in almost every flavor to suit a gaming group’s palette. Many groups play a home-brewed system that is all its own, and to learn those games, you’ll have to play in them yourselves. Fun can be had with most, if not all systems, and if you play long enough, chances are that you’ll end up liking more than one game. For a first time gamer though, the question might arise, “Which roleplaying game is for me?”
A better question to ask when looking for the right game to play might be, ” What do I like?” Well, that’s an easy one! If you’re into medieval fantasy stories, video games, or movies, then oh man, there’s a game out there for you. Chances are that you’ve heard of Dungeon and Dragons, but there are hundreds of tabletop RPGs geared toward the fantasy genre. Star Wars fan? Covered (check out Star Wars Edge of the Empire, and my other blog posts titled Tales from Teemo’s Folly). Super heroes? Check. Whether you want to play dragon hunting knights in a high fantasy world, or survivors of a Mad Max type setting, struggling to find supplies, there’s a game or rules system out there to fit your needs.
Do some research on the games that you might think are interesting. Ask someone at your local game shop about what they like to play. You might find out that a roleplaying game has already been made based on your favorite movie or TV show. Even if you can’t find a game based on your favorite whatever, there exist numerous universal roleplaying games, which are rules systems that can be tailored to any setting you desire. Whatever it is that you like, try and find a game that mirrors your interests. Who wants to play in a game they don’t care about?
Another thing to consider when you’re shopping around for a game is the cost. I’m not going to lie, some of these books aren’t cheap, with what goes into producing an RPG. With some games you’ll need more than one book to play, so double (or triple) ouch. On the bright side though, unlike a video game or novel, the RPG you’re buying could be played for as long as you and your friends want. Indefinitely . Many gaming companies publish a simple rules lite version of their game that is usually affordable, or free, which is a great way to see if their rules feel good to you. Many companies offer free, or next to free, PDF downloads of their games. While I will always prefer reading from a book rather than a tablet or computer, I have to admit that it is nice to save the space an RPG collection can take up. I like to support my local game shops as much as I can, and they can be helpful when you have questions about what kinds of products are out there as well. Some really great deals can be found online as well, for used books or supplies. Used book stores are another great place to find games for the right price. With a little shopping around, you should be able to find the game you’re looking for at a price that you’ll feel good about.
Much of what I’ve written assumes you already have a group of people willing to game with you. If not, that’s no big deal, because there are plenty of ways to meet people who share a love of the hobby. Your local game shop may host various games a week. Talk with some of the guys running the games, because they might be looking for a player or two. If those games are full, there’s usually some type of message board hung up somewhere in there, where gaming groups can post messages about needing new players. Of course, use common sense when meeting strangers for the first time. Bring a friend along, and if you feel you uncomfortable don’t hesitate to leave.
Maybe there isn’t really a gaming presence where you live. Don’t fret, so long as you have the interwebs (I assume you do, if you’re reading this), you can still play. Many people play RPGs over the internet, using services like Google+ and Roll20. There are tons of games posted, for a variety of times, and many of them welcome newcomers to their groups. Ask them questions as to the games they play and give one of them a shot. You’re not married to the groups you play in, so after an earnest try, if it’s not working out, politely leave. That being said, consistency is key to playing in a good game. If you agree to make a character, try to make it on time, and give it an honest shot.
Here’s a list of roleplaying games, and links to their websites, to a few of my favorite games, and a website with PDFs of hundreds more:
Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers or Hyperborea, http://www.hyperborea.tv
Star Wars Edge of the Empire, https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/star-wars-edge-of-the-empire/
Classic World of Darkness, White Wolf Games (If the current World of Darkness interests you, give it a gander too), http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/
Dungeons and Dragons, http://dnd.wizards.com
Savage Worlds (This is an awesome universal system that has been a blast to play! Did I mention that the core rule book, brand new, is only 9.99?) https://www.peginc.com/product-category/savage-worlds/
A great resource for PDFs, http://www.drivethrurpg.com/index.php
I hope this might have helped someone out. If so, give us a like. I know I’ve missed a bevy of games that I just didn’t have the room to list above. So tell us, what’s your current favorite tabletop RPG, and why. Leave your ideas in the comments below. Check out our other posts if you have a moment. Tales from Teemo’s Folly is a narrative fiction based on one of our current Star Wars Edge of the Empire games. Take a read if you’d like to get inside the head of someone whose playing it. Be sure to check out our partner blog, http://theborderkeep.com, as well, for great tips on running RPGs.
And, as always, thanks!
Written by James Blackburn III