In this video, I discuss what I like about the tabletop RPG hobby. Synopsis below.
1. It’s Creative
Playing RPGs is essentially storytelling, or “make belief” for grown-ups. As a player, you get to embody your character, which is likely quite different from your own personality and skillset. And as a GM, you get to embody an entire world, including all the Non Player Characters in it, with their own personalities (regardless of whether you’re into doing voices or not - both are totally fine playstyles)!
When done right, gameplay is likely open ended, with room to think outside the box. While there are clear rules, unlike a boardgame, there are no limits to the things you can do (as long as they are plausible within the fiction, i.e. “narrative permission”), and good GMs will find ways to adjudicate whatever you come up with. And that’s just the gameplay itself. Outside the sessions, there’s a lot of room for creativity as well:
You might be coming up with your own campaigns or adventures, or you might be reading published adventures and thinking about how to best insert those into your campaign. If you’re into miniatures and terrain, you might be spending time on crafting and painting. If you’re playing in a VTT, you might be setting up exciting battlemaps with lighting and such. Either way, there’s a lot of room for creativity both during and outside your RPG sessions.
2. You can play all your life
You can start as a teenager, or even earlier, with one of the kid-friendly systems. You can continue to play as an adult - and don’t let anyone tell you that RPGs are only for kids! In fact, I would go so far to say that most adults could greatly benefit from playing RPGs. I know I’ve developed valuable skills as a side effect of organizing and running RPGs, which have been helpful in my professional and personal life. I for one am fully planning to keep playing when I’m old (or rather, even older :) ).
3. You can play wherever you are, either in person or online
If you live in a large city or metropolitan area, there are likely plenty of people to play with. You can either play at someone’s house, or if that’s not an option, there may be game stores, libraries, cafes, bars, or other public spaces where you can meet. If not, and if you don’t want to drive far to play in person, playing online may be a great option.
Online play has been pretty well supported for a while now, with a bunch of options to choose from depending on your preferences. In recent years, the Pandemic has prompted a lot of groups to move online; gave rise to lots of evolution in that space. I’ll go more into various options in future videos.
4. There are many, many types of games
While the term Tabletop RPG is often synonymous with D&D (the same way that Tissue is synonymous with Kleenex), there are a ton of games out there, which:
Span different genres (e.g. fantasy, sci-fi, horror, urban fantasy, mystery, cyberpunk, wild west or weird west, post-apocalyptic, and countless sub-genres). Fantasy alone can be subdivided into Epic Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, to name but a few subgenres. Same with Science Fiction, e.g.: Soft/Hard Sci-Fi, Space Opera, Steampunk, Mecha, Planetary Romance, etc. There are crossovers as well, e.g. Science Fantasy is a popular hybrid between Fantasy and Sci-Fi that combines advanced technology with magic and other fantasy elements.
The games also offer different mechanics, such as various dice. E.g. D&D and many other systems primarily rely on the d20; other systems might use a d6 or dice pools consisting of all kinds of dice. Some systems use Cards, either as the primary resolution mechanic, or for a particular subsystem (e.g. Initiative in Savage Worlds). Some games even use Jenga towers!
Last not least, games offer different areas of focus. One way to look at this is the Gamism/Narrativism/Simulationism breakdown. I may discuss more in a future video or post, but here’s a brief synopsis: Gamism is about providing interesting challenges to the players, which they need to overcome. Narrativism is about telling an engaging story. Simulationism is about providing a detailed world and simulating what would happen. Games likely exhibit all of these aspects to varying degrees, but depending on where they fall on the spectrum, they will provide a very different experience that may appeal to different players.
And I’m sure there are many other ways we could categorize all the games out there. The bottom line is that there are a ton of different games out there, and with that, many different experiences to be had. We really are living in the Golden Age of RPGs! This allow groups to find what they enjoy most, or switch it up periodically.
5. There are many ways to play
This is kind of related to the previous point. Contrary to what many people make you think, there’s no right or wrong way to play! The same game (say D&D 5e) can provide totally different experiences, depending on what your group is into. If you enjoy the gamist side of it, lean into that - character builds, tactical combat, puzzles, etc. If you enjoy storytelling experience, lean into that instead. You can go for high immersion and drama, or you can lean back and have a more lighthearted experience (some refer to this as “beer and pretzels”). Better yet - mix it up, either within the same system, or by trying different systems.
As long as you’re having fun, you’re doing it right!