Have you ever been watching a show, and said “Why did they do that?”…. Or watch Captain Kirk, beam down to an Alien planet, and of course get himself and the crew into trouble, and say to yourself “He should of done this…..”?
Role Playing games have a long history, and it is even possible that they evolved out of traditional children’s games such as “Cops & Robbers”, and “Cowboy’s and Indians”. Modern Role-Playing games add a level of sophistication and depth to those games with their a consistent system of rules and a more or less realistic campaign settings.
“Paper & Pencil” Role Playing Games, are quite simply “Let’s Pretend, but with rules”. Rules, that everyone agree to before hand, and that have a “moderator” or “Game Master” that acts as a moderator between the “fantasy” world, and the players. Most Role Playing games are handled like Radio drama, or Audio Plays, everyone is simply discussing their actions, and speeches… The Game Master describes the game world, and it’s inhabitants, while the players describe their intended actions, and they go back and forth.
But you may have already played a Role Playing Game, or at least a version of one…
The video game industry has also co-oped the Role Playing Game description, but due to their linear nature, the player only has limited choices, and often the player has to confine their actions to follow the “script” that the game designer made for the game, if they wish to win the game.
BioWare is a excellent publisher with good history of creating excellent Role Playing inspired video games. For example:
- Baldur’s Gate & Baldur’s Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast
- Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn & BG2: Throne of Bhaal
- Neverwinter Nights
- Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide
- Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark
- Neverwinter Nights 2
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
- Jade Empire
- Mass Effect
- Mass Effect Galaxy
- Dragon Age: Origins
The Baldur’s Gate series are based on the Dungeons & Dragon’s Forgotten Realms Setting, and the D&D 2nd Edition rules. The NeverWinter Night series of games were also set in the Forgotten Realms Settings, but the mechanics were based on Dungeon & Dragons’s 3rd Edition (or 3.5 Edition).
Most role playing games share common concepts.
- The players all have a set of “Player Characters” that they will play in the game. The players are responsible for fleshing out their character’s fictional background. Following the rules of the setting, they will assign their characters attributes (eg. Strength, Agility, Intelligence, etc) that helps define their character, and are used in the game to determine the outcome of events in the game.
- There is a method to determine the victor in tests of skill, combat, etc.
- The Game Master (aka Rules Master, Dungeon Master, etc) is the moderator, and the last word in any debate. The Game master’s job is to make a fun, and entertaining game, but one that is challenging to the players.
One Paper & Pencil Role Playing system that I is called “Savage Worlds”. Savage Worlds, is a fairly generic system, that emphasizes ease of use, and simplicity over sheer number crunching. Pinnacle, the publisher of Savage Worlds, has released a variety of settings for Savage, including:
- 50 Fathoms
- Necessary Evil
- Low Life
- Deadlands: Reloaded
- Tour of Darkness
- Weird Wars
- Solomon Kane
One source of Adventures, and plot points, that I have used is “12 to Midnight”. 12 to Midnight has published many Suspense/Horror based adventures, that fit nicely into a pseudo-Chtulhuian adventure series that I had been running.
- Last Rites of the Black Guard
- Weekend Warriors
- Innana’s Kiss
- Jerry’s Midnight Tales
- Fire in the Hole
- The Beast Within
- Chickens in the Mist
- Green’s Guide to Ghosts
- Fear Effect’s
Many of their products are available for Modern-D20 (ie. Generic D&D 3rd Edition/4th Edition), as well as Savage World’s…. And their products are now available at many Local Game Stores…