Tabletop RPGs

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The other day, while I was staying at my brother’s apartment, a few of his friends came over, bringing with them one of those RPG boardgames. Apparently they were going to continue with a game they played before. I declined their invitation to play, preferring to just watch.

Truthfully, I was a bit confused on what was going on. I would follow for a while, but then zone out. They all seemed to be quite engaged in their game. It seemed fun, so I’d like to learn a bit more about them.

So, are these complex boardgames fun? Are they worth buying, and how long would they last?

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Pen and Paper games aren’t exactly board games, per se. Generally they just use graph paper and/or a chess board + miniatures to simulate a map.

And, if you’re going to learn one, I’d suggest you look into D&D 3.0/3.5. Since D&D is into its 4th edition now (Which is bad, by the way) the older books should be cheaper.

Of course, if you don’t have any friends to play them with, it’s rather pointless.

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No idea if they still bother with these, but there used to be solo modules.

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The closest analogy I can think of to offer a video gamer is that they’re a lot like a group of people playing a game like Skyrim (or your Elder Scrolls of choice) with one player taking on the role of ‘the computer’, controlling all the monsters, NPCs, writing the story, etc. That’s kind of dumbed down, but it’s a start.

How long do they last? Impossible to answer. My gaming sessions are all day affairs (usually noon to 8-9 PM), once every few weeks. But each session is just a piece of the campaign. I’ve been running this campaign for about twelve years, although it’s really been two 5-6 year campaigns in the same world, about 30 in-game years apart.

Are they worth buying? Also hard to answer. It’s a great hobby, but usually someone has to buy the books, and it’s really hard to advise someone to buy the books if they don’t have any experience playing. Maybe try talking to your brother about setting up a little game with you to get you a taste of it? But I have probably $200 or so in D&D books, then some in Mage and Exalted and I don’t regret a penny—like I said, it’s a long-lasting hobby. But you also need people to play with, so either you need to get your friends interested, or you need to find a group to play with.

Since D&D is into its 4th edition now (Which is bad, by the way)

Gonna have to play devil’s advocate here. I don’t like 4E either, but I’ve talked to a lot of people that do, and many of them are new to the hobby. If nothing else, it seems pretty good as a way to transition from other gaming hobbies to PnP gaming. Especially given it’s basically set up as an MMORPG. I may not like it, but I wouldn’t push people away from it either, especially since it’s out there and available. Of course, D&D Next is in the works too, so, /shrug.

the older books should be cheaper.

I wish. At least around here, it’s pretty hard to find core 3.5 books, and they’re an arm and a leg. Probably because there was a backlash from the 3.5 players switching to 4E, then changing their mind and going back to 3.5. There just aren’t that many core books out there these days.

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There are also online groups that play via e-mail, message boards, and IM/chat clients.

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Well it depends on how and what you play, and if you have a good dungeon master if you get D&D.

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Around here the old books are almost all in the 10-15 range. (And about 2-5$ for the paperback mini-books).

The issue with D&D 4.0 is that it’s too much like an MMO; and really lowers the bar of entry. They made it so that there’s far less room for content; and more room for imbeciles to play.

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D&D is a great game. D&D 4.0 is made to appeal to casual gamers. 3.0/3.5 is the way to go.

To start playing, you will need the following:
1) Dungeon Master’s Guide (called the DMG), originally this was ~ $35
2) Player’s Handbook (sometimes called the PHB), originally around $30
3) a set of polyhedral dice (these are dice with more sides than a standard ‘square’), typically around ~$5-12

That’s the bare minimum you need to play. After that, I would recommend picking up
1) the Monster Manual (called MM or MMI in print), originally ~ $30.
2) I would also recommend at least one other player in your group get a copy of the Player’s Handbook

Finally, regarding game length. You can literally sit and ‘play’ for as long or as short an amount of time as you want. Play for 30 min, play for 6 hours. Up to you and your group. The beauty is that your ‘game’ can run as long as you want, so when you stop playing for the day, its basically like pausing a video game. The game doesn’t have to end, just your game session.

Also, D&D is set in a fantasy setting with mythic beasts and magic. There are other genres of role playing games out there as well. You can play in the far future, in a steam punk setting, postapocalypse, Orwellian dystopias, high-tech cybernetic laden eras, Robotech-esque anime-style settings, alternate histories, alternate regions of the world, and various historical time periods, etc. Whatever you can image really.

I hope you get into it, and I hope you have a lot of fun!

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I’d advise you to make sure the game you choose, no matter what one it is, is part of the D20 system; since they’re all (theoretically) capable of being crossed over and integrated.