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Roleplay games explained

Whenever I’m inclined to tell someone I roleplay–which is very rare in non-nerd circles–I usually get the same reaction. “Oh really,” they say with a condescending smile and hair flip, “what, do you run around casting spells?”

No. No, I don’t.

Roleplaying is pretty misunderstood by the general public, and they’re missing out on a lot of fun just because of the stigma. In this blog, I’ll explain to you the different types of roleplay games (RPGs) I’ve been involved in, occasionally to my shame.

LARPing

Live Action Roleplaying, or LARPing, is like the ugly cousin of roleplaying. You can’t really deny that it’s a part of the family, but you’re quick to tell anyone that you never have anything to do with them. These guys are the ones who run around with swords and wizard costumes and throw crap at each other.

Not many people realize Civil War reenactments fall into this, ahem.

I inadvertently did this type of RPG when I was a kid, I will admit that. Just because I thought it was cool to run around the forest with a bow doesn’t make me weird, okay? This is a no-judgment zone.

Tabletop RPG

The kind of roleplaying I do is called tabletop. It’s still super nerdy, don’t get me wrong, but it’s extremely fun if you go about it the right way. The plot of the game is controlled by a Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM), usually, and all of the other players act out characters in the adventure or “campaign.” Generally, there’s no dressing up, and we don’t act out what our characters do. When your character does something, you describe it through speech.

Character stats are all generated usually through dice rolls and written down on a sheet of paper. You can be one of a myriad of different races like elf, human, dwarf, orc and so on, depending on the game. And yes, the elf is always, always made fun of. It’s a rule.

If you have some friends who’d like to play, you can easily do it over Skype or even in online chat rooms if you’re better at writing than speaking–AKA if you’re a nerd. You’ll need a DM or GM guide, various kinds of dice and the latest edition book of whatever type of game you want to play. You can also easily find story ideas online if you want to be DM–your first time will always suck, promise.

By Sargoth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Sargoth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The top three types of tabletop games, according to me, are Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder and Warhammer. D&D is the most general, Pathfinder is pretty much D&D and Warhammer is the grittiest world that’s most likely to kill your character off, which makes it my favorite.

Miniatures

Warhammer is possibly better known as a tabletop miniature wargame. This is the ridiculously expensive type of roleplaying where, instead of just buying a couple of pricey books to play, you have to buy and paint miniature figurines. Not only that, but you have to buy enough for an army.

You can imagine where this could get fairly expensive. One guy offered me his set for $200 at a bar once, and I was drunk but not crazy so I turned him down. To tell you the truth, that’s actually an excellent deal, from what I’ve seen.

One of my friends got into this game pretty hard, so I got to play with the two armies he bought. Now, it’s pretty good fun, but it’s nothing to write home about. I wouldn’t recommend this for newcomers.

Video games

Then again, there are also video games that allow you to roleplay. This is probably the most acceptable type of RPG because, “I’m not really roleplaying, I’m just clicking buttons!” Everyone plays video games, right? So what if I control every detail of my character, down to how wide his or her cheekbones are and how glossy his or her lips are?

Made her look as much like Ellen Ripley in "Alien 3" as I could. Not too shabby.
“Dragon Age: Inquisition.” Made her look as much like Ellen Ripley in “Alien 3” as I could. Not too shabby.

The best example I can think of for this is Skyrim and anything BioWare has come up with–Mass Effect, cough cough.

Anyway, that’s all she wrote. There may be other types out there, but I’ve personally not experimented with them. Go forth and be whoever you want to be…even if that is an elf.

About Marina Head

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