Some call them tabletop role-playing games, others pen and paper role-playing games, either way, this classic form of gaming is making a huge comeback thanks to pop-culture references and a new age of writers and designers from the original generations of players creating new worlds and adventures to explore.
The new age of tabletop RPGs is here, driven by classic titles like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder RPG, and bolstered by brand new creations in themes which expand far beyond the realms of fantasy, to offer a diverse range of games that can suit all audiences.
If you’re the one who’s looking to start an evening of gaming with tabletop RPGs, you will most likely be the one who plays as the Game Master for this first run. So, the advice here will be angled more towards that side of the table.
Find the games that will intrigue your group
You’re going to want to do a bit of research to find the games that will appeal to your particular group of friends the most as it’ll help to ease you all into the style of gaming. Luckily, unlike when tabletop RPGs initially became a craze, we have the internet that’s filled with conversations and blog posts to help you quickly find a bunch of games that may be right for your group.
Now, tabletop RPGs span many genres. There is, of course, in-depth high fantasy games like Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons – which isn’t still the same publication from 1974, the 5th Edition was released in 2014 – quick mystery games like One Night: Ultimate Werewolf, horrors like Call of Cthulhu, and themed games like the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings/Middle-Earth creations.
There is plenty of information online to help you find games that suit the amount of time that you have, how detailed you’d like to get, and the number of players that can play the game at any one time. But the best place to go is still your local game store. The people who work in the stores will, more often than not, know the form of gaming well and be able to advise you on the best games for you.
If you’re not too sure if you’ll be in this for the long run, there are some free offerings around the web, including the Dungeons & Dragons free basic rules handbook.
Over to you, Game Master
Once you’ve found the right game for you and assembled a group to play, it’s time to put a bit of work in, to prepare for your role as the Game Master. You’ll most likely want to start with the standardised, formulated version of the game rather than develop your own – which is something that Game Masters of some experience like to do to deliver a unique story and customised challenge to their group – and use pre-set characters and attributes if possible.
Before everything gets underway, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with the game’s story and most importantly the format of its play. You can do this by learning from someone else who has played tabletop RPGs or by watching one of the many videos for beginners online, but the best way to start is by reading the first few parts of the material, getting to grips with the rules and the formats, and then padding your knowledge through videos. You don’t need to read the whole manual front to back and know the results of every dice roll in every encounter, but getting a feel for the game and understanding the playthrough is important.
Once you have an idea for how long the game will take and how the game is played, drop your group a message, arrange a time, and delve into the exciting worlds of tabletop RPGs!