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Subject: Role-playing Games Are Great rss

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Jim Patching
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In my opinion there’s no gaming experience as fun, exciting and fulfilling as a good tabletop role-playing session. That includes board games, card games and computer games. So why don’t more people play role-playing games? Probably because there are few things as naff as a bad role-playing session and if you’re just starting out it’s infinitely easier for a role-playing session to turn out crap than good.

A lot of people might have decided that role-playing games just aren’t for them after one or two bad sessions, but I reckon there’s a role-playing game for everyone.

Here’re some suggestions that might help you to enjoy a role-playing game:

The first thing to do is to make sure you pick a game that interests you. Don’t think that you have to play Dungeons and Dragons because its name is almost synonymous with role-playing games. There’s nothing wrong with D&D if that’s your thing, but don’t go thinking that D&D = role-playing game. It’s a lot easier to get into an rpg if the genre is something you’re actually interested in.

Don’t think that the guy running the game is the only one who needs to put in any amount of effort to make the game good. The GM’s got a lot resting on his shoulders as an individual but the players as a whole have about half the responsibility. What I mean by that is don’t sit back and wait for the GM to draw you into the game with a sort of “ok, entertain me” attitude. Make an active effort to participate. Ask questions and generate discussion amongst the players.

Also, try not to talk over the GM at important parts of the game. In general it’s fine to chit chat, you’re there to be social and have fun after all. But as a GM, there’s nothing more frustrating than having your well-crafted descriptions go to waste. You end up with situations like this:

GM: You gingerly push open the old wooden door and it creaks ominously on its ancient hinges. Beyond it is a small room that smells rank. Animal furs cover the floor and there’s a table in the centre of the room with the remains of a meal on it. An orc dressed in filthy leather armour sits behind the table. He looks up at you, snarls showing broken yellow tusks and reaches for a rusted meat cleaver. What do you do?

Player No. 1: What? Sorry, we were just talking about last night down the pub. What’s going on?

GM: I said, you open the door and it creaks loudly. There’s a filthy guard room on the other side with an orc in it. He’s picked up a weapon and looks like he means business with it.

Player No 2: Sorry, I was reading the back of my beer. It says here that the Wychwood Brewery was named after the ancient medieval Wychwood Forest. What’s happening?

GM: You open the door, there’s a room with an orc. He attacks you.

Probably the hardest thing to do in order to make a role-playing game fun is to find someone willing to run it. I think it takes a certain type of person to make a good GM. You don’t really have to be a good actor or to be able to put on funny voices or anything like that (although it can help). What you do need to be able to do is to think on your feet and be flexible. I think you also need to be someone that takes enjoyment from seeing other people having fun. As a GM you can’t ‘win’ the game. The players can see their characters improve over time and they can successfully complete various missions, but the GM’s reward is to see everyone having fun playing their game.

Personally, I find it much easier to run a good role-playing session if I’m very familiar with the plot and what’s supposed to happen. I find it easier to deal with the weird and random things that players tend to do if I’ve got a good idea of how things are ‘supposed’ to go.

If you’re all newbies it can be tricky to get to the point where your role-playing games are good fun, but it’s well worth sticking at it and giving it a go.

For what it's worth, here're a few of my favourite rpgs:

Warhammer Fantasy Role-play - It's darker and grittier than D&D and has a more coherent setting. It's set in pseudo Tudor times rather than the traditional fantasy medieval setting too. Don't let the tabletop wargame put you off. Now published by Fantasy Flight.

Call of Cthulhu - this is my absolute favourite game to be a player in. Just don't get too attached to your character.

Pendragon - My most fun experience running a group of players through a role-playing game was The Great Pendragon campaign for 5th edition Pendragon
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Brian Moyers
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Great tips! I agree with you to and think that a great RPG session is the most enjoyable way to pass the time. I have nothing against playing a board game but the competitive nature of most really holds no appeal for me. I get no greater kick than telling a good story with a great group of players and that's really the key. A good group that gets along well can make ANY role playing game fun if they invest in it as you mention. Thanks for the tips!
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Alan Monroe
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Maksimov wrote:
I remember we used to play it in a dark room with just one (electric) candle to give us enough light to see our character sheets. The GM had this large loft bed


Sorry, but the only game I want to play in bed in the dark has nothing to do with Cthulu shake
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Michael Erb
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JavaJack wrote:
Maksimov wrote:
I remember we used to play it in a dark room with just one (electric) candle to give us enough light to see our character sheets. The GM had this large loft bed


Sorry, but the only game I want to play in bed in the dark has nothing to do with Cthulu shake


And everything to do with tentacles...


ME
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Patrick McInally
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JavaJack wrote:
Maksimov wrote:
I remember we used to play it in a dark room with just one (electric) candle to give us enough light to see our character sheets. The GM had this large loft bed


Sorry, but the only game I want to play in bed in the dark has nothing to do with Cthulu shake


Ya! I love building tents and forts in my bedroom too!
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Driver 8
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I'm sorry, but I've had one too many bad role-playing experiences to ever go back to them again. I'm a full fledged boardgamer now.
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Luca Iennaco
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I think RPGs can lead to more "extreme" results, at both ends of the scale: more fun, intense, memorable experiences than any boardgame OR more miserable, pitiful, waste-of-time experiences than any boardgame (there are a lot of cases falling between the extremes, but the "overall average enjoyment" of boardgames has benn higher for me).

Besides, I often have different people playing from an evening to the next one (and some periods are busier than others): it is very hard to run any RPG campaign in these conditions, but a series of boardgames fit perfectly.

Finally, I've found boardgames to be more varied than RPGs (RPG are still "only" and always an elaborated form of storytelling; boardgames go from abstracts to wargames, from eurogames to ameritrash, from dexterity to party games...).


[Note: I've played - and still play - any sort of games: board/video/roleplay/CCGs/etc. I do not think boardgames are "superior", they just proved the best for my needs, as today.]
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Club Squirrel
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I'm a RPGer through and through and just cannot wait for RPG-Geek to go live.

I've been playing RPGs now for 20+ years and are still gaming weekly, often twice weekly whereas my board gaming is infrequent if you don't count my weekly Star Wars Miniatures. But I have had every experience, good and bad. I've played one on one games, regular 4-5 player games and even participated in a giant 20 player game! I've had players in tears of joy and I've had players throwing their toys out of the pram. 70% of the time I GM, and I enjoy in immensely.

Personally I get enjoyment from RPGs from getting to run my own stories, and the challenges of GMing when the players drift from your pre-planned plot. And also as a Player in developing and growing RPG characters.

As for RPG vs Board Games, no I won't go there. They are different. They give differing gaming experiences and any argument on which is best is totally futile, you either like one or the other, like both or like neither.


Star Wars D6 - fantastic simple system, and great if you keep it simple. Our games only broke down after several years when we tried to make it complicated, our own fault really. There was a time I was GMing this five times a week - until I hit burnout that is!

Star Wars D20 RCRB - A great game and not too far removed from D6, although many will argue otherwise. I love D6 but now prefer to run this.

Star Wars Saga - the latest version. I've only just started playing this. Only tonight I was on the verge of delivering a TPK (Total Party Kill) when the player-characters starship was destroyed - but I was kind and had them escape.

Dungeons and Dragons - A very good system. I really enjoy 3rd Edition and have only played a couple of games of the new 4th. There are many setting with my favourite still the gothic horror of Ravenloft.

Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play - I actually prefer this over D&D, especially if I want to run a deep story. A dark gritty fantasy world that feels, from experience as Player & GM, more alive and menacing compared to D&D

Call of Cthulhu - Only played this a few times but a decent game system in a freakishly scary world.

Paranoia - do you want a laugh? Well you'd better get permission from the Computer first or you may be branded a commie mutant traitor! If there is a slapstick comedy RPG then this is it. Play it for laughs and you'll have a great time. How do I know you'll have a great time? The Computer says so

Shadowrun - dark gritty tech and fantasy in the future. Another great game if not a slightly overly complicated rules system - although it's a lot better with 4th Edition.

Judge Dredd D20 - OMG! Worst RPG experience EVER! I love Judge Dredd, I have a pile of graphic novels & comics. But you're going to have to try hard to enjoy this. In a small gaming group of a combined 100 years experience not one of us managed to wring any joy out of this game.

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Jack Bennett
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Nice to see someone else give a thumbs up to Pendragon, that was one of the best role-playing experiences I've had.

 
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Randy Miller
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The problem with role-playing games compared to board games is the commitment required. I'd like to start one of these for my game group, but don't really want to put in the time to prepare a good plot and all that, especially since I can't count on everyone else sticking with it and showing up two weeks in a row.
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Matthew Kloth
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My major problem with roleplaying is that I've never found anyone I like roleplaying with. It's easy to play a boardgame with somebody you think is a bore, or slightly obnoxious. It's horrible to play a roleplaying game with anyone you dislike even slightly.

I also don't like having one player have a disproportionate level of control (the GM), so that removes 99% of games. There are a few indie rpgs left, and I might play them except for the first problem. The people attracted to indie rpgs seem to be the fan fiction writing, melodramatic acting fringe culture weirdos.

I'd roleplay with zombie R.E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, but that isn't an option.
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Matthew M
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Ugavine wrote:


Shadowrun - dark gritty tech and fantasy in the future. Another great game if not a slightly overly complicated rules system - although it's a lot better with 4th Edition.



If by "overly" you meant "awesomely", and by "better" you meant "not at all better", then I'm totally with you.

-MMM
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Andy Leighton
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Ugavine wrote:

Judge Dredd D20 - OMG! Worst RPG experience EVER! I love Judge Dredd, I have a pile of graphic novels & comics. But you're going to have to try hard to enjoy this. In a small gaming group of a combined 100 years experience not one of us managed to wring any joy out of this game.


Yeah I heard it was bad. What a pity because the original GW Judge Dredd system wasn't too bad. It was fun for a one-shot or two as a change from the ongoing campaigns (Rolemaster, FASA Doctor Who, AD&D 2nd ed, and Other Suns).

Lately I have liked the look of Savage Worlds Of Solomon Kane (but haven't run it) and I will no doubt buy the new Doctor Who RPG (from Cubicle 7) when it comes out this year.

As many have said getting the right group is imperative. Also matching the game to the group is quite important. A game such as Savage Worlds requires a group who are willing to have a rather more descriptive style of play than just "I whack him with my sword again" to get the most out of it.
 
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Club Squirrel
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Octavian wrote:

If by "overly" you meant "awesomely", and by "better" you meant "not at all better", then I'm totally with you.

-MMM

Which Shadowrun rules system do you use? We're currently using 4th which is much smoother than 1st.


andyl wrote:
I will no doubt buy the new Doctor Who RPG (from Cubicle 7) when it comes out this year.

I'm with you there
 
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Matt Boggs
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I used to be an avid AD&D 2nd Edition player and DM. It was fantastic. However, the only person I could EVER enjoy playing it with was my younger brother. RPGs depend too much on who you play them with, and how similar your playstyles are.

I spent almost 15 years thinking that I'd never have an enjoyable board game experience after having played RPGs so much. Only in the last 2 months have I discovered how good board games are again.

So yeah, I agree with you that RPGs are fantastic... But only when you have someone awesome to play with. You can get away with playing board games with not-so-awesome people more than RPGs.
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Jim Patching
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Nikisknight wrote:
The problem with role-playing games compared to board games is the commitment required. I'd like to start one of these for my game group, but don't really want to put in the time to prepare a good plot and all that, especially since I can't count on everyone else sticking with it and showing up two weeks in a row.


Yes, that can be a problem. You can normally buy pre-made adventures but even then, it still requires a lot more preparation than a board game night.
 
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Michael Erb
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MusedFable wrote:
The people attracted to indie rpgs seem to be the fan fiction writing, melodramatic acting fringe culture weirdos.



Hmmm, ever think you might be the "slightly obnoxious" one at the table?

ME
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Matthew Kloth
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merb101 wrote:
MusedFable wrote:
The people attracted to indie rpgs seem to be the fan fiction writing, melodramatic acting fringe culture weirdos.



Hmmm, ever think you might be the "slightly obnoxious" one at the table?

ME

If I'm not playing in a way they find fun, then I'm sure I'm being "slightly obnoxious" in their eyes.

I need to find a Big Labowski RPG and some players. That's more feasible than dead pulp writers coming alive and playing with me.
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Lance
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My gaming group is a solid 50/50 boardgame/rpg group. We actually switch off every week.

Sadly, the new edition of DnD has made our RPG sessions feel like we are just playing boardgames every week anyway. I hope this changes once Pathfinder officially comes out this summer.

OP - great tips for enjoying a RPG session by the way. I am usually our groups DM so I appreciate the tip to the players to shut their mouths and try and spend 2 minutes listening to the guy who spent the last week coming up with this sessions adventures. All you had to do was showup with your character sheet and some dice, show some respect.
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Duclas Swanborn
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Role-playing games are great, but they do require a more rare type of people.

However, I think that not only the kind of people you play with is important, but also the time you choose to play.
For example: I experienced that the best sessions were held when I was absolutely sure none of my friends had anything to do the next day. Nothing is as hard as to incorporate as a player leaving much sooner than the others.

Going even more into details, I would have to say that sessions are best held after a short warm-up of some sorts to get most of the hot news already coverd (the "what happened in the pub last night"-news as mentioned before). Perhaps a quick boardgame, perhaps going out for a drink.

Which brings me to another point. Some beverages might actually help certain gamers to loosen up and really get into character (however, you don't want your elven mage to try and sing in the midst of a dungeon of peril)

But, as already demonstrated in this topic: atmosphere is really important for any session. While board games tend to please the eyes more than enough with good-looking cards, colorful playing pieces and an artsy map, the average role-playing session has it's players seeing a lot more of the room they are in.

Currently, I'm looking for a few items which could turn my room in a more suited place to play a cyberpunk 2020 session.

Advice is welcomed!
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Pokke
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Currently I prefer "Savage Worlds" (a generic system) and "Call of Cthulhu" (the old version). Usually I'm the GM but as mentioned above not all my gaming buddies seem to have time or fancy an RPG, so I basically have to force people to play with me. sauron

So, I downloaded "Fantasy Grounds" to play them online. Hard to be online at the same time when all the others are. Think Vassal with 5 or more players at the same time. Had both good and bad experiences there mostly depending on the GM.

What I really would like to find again is a good message based RPG. As in the good old days on Compuserve where you had a roleplaying forum. That was always good fun. If anyone can point me to such a site, much appreciated!
 
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Matthew M
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Ugavine wrote:
Octavian wrote:

If by "overly" you meant "awesomely", and by "better" you meant "not at all better", then I'm totally with you.

-MMM

Which Shadowrun rules system do you use? We're currently using 4th which is much smoother than 1st.



Much better than 1st, I'll grant you that. But 3rd is the best edition of Shadowrun. They stripped out too much of what made 3rd edition interesting in streamlining it for 4th. They also really fragged up the storyline.

The only good part about fourth edition is that I don't have to buy anymore third edition books because they stopped making them.

-MMM
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Neil Parker
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RPGs are great. I remember some good times roleplaying; my favourite campaign was under the Fantasy Hero system in a ancient Egyptian setting. Also enjoyed playing some cracking good campaigns using GURPS, Cthulhu and Warhammer systems.

I've found like many that roleplaying is a real mixed bag. Some groups are great, but others are less so - it comes down to a) the type of players (it doesn't take much to ruin a game) and b) how well the GM runs the show. I remember a group years ago where the group was fine to begin with but the GM lost interest and it spoilt the games when players acted like themselves - i honestly think that group would have made a fine group of Orcs!

I remember one campaign i played in using the Dragon Warrior system? (can't quite emember). The system i thought was awful, but we still had fun - because it was run well and played well.

Quote:
Don’t think that the guy running the game is the only one who needs to put in any amount of effort to make the game good. The GM’s got a lot resting on his shoulders as an individual but the players as a whole have about half the responsibility. What I mean by that is don’t sit back and wait for the GM to draw you into the game with a sort of “ok, entertain me” attitude. Make an active effort to participate. Ask questions and generate discussion amongst the players.



Agreed. I've seen it happen where players either deliberately or through their own negligence just not engage with the scenario - all that hard work wasted.

Although i don't roleplay anymore roleplay games still get my approval as a great pastime.
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Twinge
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Approximate levels of importance:

50% - Good GM (Split between crafting a good story and being able to respond to what players do)
40% - Good group of players that mesh well
10% - Game system used
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Luca Iennaco
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Twinge wrote:
Approximate levels of importance:

50% - Good GM (Split between crafting a good story and being able to respond to what players do)
40% - Good group of players that mesh well
10% - Game system used

I'd go with 75% GM, 25% players (a system you enjoy is just an added bonus); a bad GM will ruin the session for everyone, a single bad player may still be kept under control.
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