Just what RPG's (Roleplaying Games) are?

Whether it'd be to refer to tabletop games, video games or explosive weapons, it is very, very likely that you've been exposed to the term, but, have you ever wondered what does the term RPG stands for? in case you were wondering, we're not going to talk about Rocket Propelled Grenades, we're talking about Role Playing Games.

For some of us the answer might be really obvious, they’re those games where you as a player take the "role" of a character inside a fantastic made-up world where you face challenges, meet lively non-player characters and fight-off evil while you level up to gain new skills and abilities, but most importantly, tell your own epic story. However, for some other people that could sound pretty much like gibberish nonsense, so, let’s take a step back in time.

Back in 1974, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson imagined a game that was based off miniature wargaming, which was popular at the time, but where instead of commanding units in a military formation the players could create characters that would embark in an adventuring journey inside a fictional world of sword and sorcery in search for treasure and glory. In this game, called Dungeons & Dragons, a Dungeon Master (DM) acts as the main storyteller and referee for the rules while the player characters (PC's) form an adventuring party that drives the story forward by interacting with the game world and overcoming challenges and enemies, gaining experience points (XP) that allows them to become increasingly powerful in the process. Following on D&D's initial success, hundreds of roleplaying game systems with different characteristics and themes have been published and this idea has even permeated into other media like television and video games.

Nowadays there are lots of different types of Role Playing Games, but we could narrow them down into three distinct categories:

  • TTRPG's (or Table Top Role Playing Games) like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder and our own Legends of Elden Roleplaying Game are played around a table and use rulebooks, character sheets and polyhedral game dice to tell a story in a collaborative way over the course of one or several game sessions.

  • Video game RPG's like Final Fantasy, The Elder Scrolls or Dragon Age are played in a video game virtual environment and can feature single player story arcs or massive multiplayer quest lines.

  • LARP's (or Live Action Role Play) are played by actual people generally dressed up to match the theme of the story.

Regardless of the medium in which they are played, what makes an RPG an RPG, is the fact that the storytelling takes the spotlight, the players take the role of a character inside the story and that these characters exhibit growth over the course of the story.

If you would like to know more about TTRPG's check out drivethru RPG and explore their vast catalogue of games.

Editorial design, fiction writing and tabletop roleplaying games

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