I wanted to talk about something that we’ve talked about in our interviews, but we haven’t really talked about personally, that is tabletop RPGs. I want to talk to you about my five top reasons to play a tabletop RPG. Let’s go.
They’re cheap entertainment. So first of all, there are lots of low cost, if not actually free, rules available online. You can legally download a PDF, load a dice rolling app on your phone, and you have the primary equipment required to play a tabletop. Even if you do buy the physical or digital books, the cost per hour of entertainment is really low. For example, my husband’s getting ready to run a Star Wars Saga Edition game this weekend. He paid $40 for the book in 2007. He and his friends have had hundreds of hours of entertainment from that one book, making the cost per hour of entertainment literal Pennies. You’re not going to find a movie ticket cheaper than that. Now, caveat to that, I say they’re cheap entertainment until you start buying minis and paint free minis and terrain, and then you get into the addiction that is buying dice.
They teach social skills. You know, it’s funny to me that games that were presumably played by loser nerds with no friends require you to have a social circle in order to play them. A group of kids, teenagers or adults gather around a table to tell stories and have fun together requires a degree of cooperation and improv. Everyone needs to be listening, paying attention, and contributing their part when appropriate. I think there’s a lot of people who could benefit from learning to wait their turn in line and initiative order might help with that.
There are so many options. So, yes, we know Dungeons and Dragons is the big 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to RPG, but there are so many more options beyond DND, and there are systems beyond a D 20 even. So if you like Star Wars, there’s an RPG for that. Star Trek RPG, Doctor Who RPG, Firefly RPG, steampunk? Airship Pirates by Abney Park has you covered. Can I go on? I could go on. I’m not going to go on. I could be here all day. But the list continues. And sure, some of the games that are made by independent creators may not have the polish and the support of some of the bigger games, but they’re still an enjoyable game if that’s the game you want to play.
They help us remember how to use our imagination. We get so much content handed to us that it’s easy for us to forget how to pretend. We can get so used to having things handed to us that we forget how to make our own stuff. You want to be a princess, a queen? Slap that crown on your head. Do not hit yourself in the face with it, because that hurts. This thing is actually metal, and it’s kind of pointy, but you want to be royalty, pretend to be royalty. RPGs can help you do that. They force us to imagine these fantastic scenarios with characters who can’t be real in places that might have never existed, and they animate those in our minds. So even if your group of friends is using professionally painted miniatures and Dwarven forged dungeon tiles, you still need to imagine the bob and weave of combat, the distant rumble of the approaching armies, and the silence of the aftermath. This is to say nothing if what every GM does when building a world and then molding it around their players characters to make it more immersive and believable. But even with all of that creativity, all of that attention to detail, the game and the characters are not under anyone’s control. Not fully. The dice giveth and the dice taketh away. Sometimes it hurts.
Bottom line, games are made to be fun. Everyone has a different idea of what fun is, and that’s great. Chances are you can find a game and a group that matches your description. So days, weeks, even years of playing a session, you can find yourself reminiscing with fellow players about the time that you’ve broke into the Imperial base and stole the plans for the Super Star Destroyer prototype, or when you’ve fought another party member’s crazy ex boyfriend just before the dragon is out to town. These memories in game are unique in that it wasn’t your character who did those things. It was you. And it was a lot of fun. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to get ready for.
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