So you want to learn how I’ve slaughtered dragons, conquered galaxies, and made my legend? Well, you’re in the right place.
RPGs are games where you assume a character within a world and basically have an adventure. So far so video game; however where tabletop RPGs differ is that instead of being rendered at 60fps on your screen, they take place in the minds of your friends and yours. This lets you do a more epic story about saving the universe than any videogame, as well as craft the sort of tight-knit stories that only exist in the best of fiction. Before you get on with making your own stories, you’ll first need to gather around 2-4 friends. I know, I know, but it’s definitely doable. While most people will be playing their characters, one person will be in charge of portraying the world itself. They will be the aptly named ‘Gamemaster’.
Once you’ve got your group together and you’ve decided who’ll be the Gamemaster, you’ll want to sit down and have a chat about what genre and type of game you want to play. Since many games have a setting baked into them, your choice of genre will have an impact on what game you end up playing, and the same with whether you want a mechanically heavy or light game. Because this can be a daunting decision, and for the sake of brevity, I’m going to suggest two of my favourites.
My first suggestion is Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, the big daddy of tabletop RPGs and arguably the first one. D&D is a fantasy game where each player is a fantasy trope such as a Dwarven Cleric, or an Elf Ranger. Though it can be quite a complex game at times, it does a decent job at easing you into it, only reaching stupid levels when you’ve already played a bit and have a grasp of the basics. D&D’s big draw, however, is its name. It is much more present in media than any other RPG, and that means that it probably has a higher chance of convincing your potentially hesitant friends to jump in and have a go.
My other suggestion is Fate Accelerated Edition, a streamlined and rules-light system that focuses much more on the narrative you construct and who your characters are rather than whether you have a +1 or a +3 in athletics. With its easy-to-teach and easy-to-learn rules system, FAE is perfect for people new to RPGs. It is entirely genre independent, so it can be used to play a Guardians of the Galaxy style romp as well as for defeating dark wizards at the hands of teenagers.
No matter what you want to play, there’s going to be an RPG for it. You can forget your looming deadlines by slipping into the messy lives of teenage monsters or by being female pilots during WW2. In fact, RPGs are my favourite way to shirk off my responsibilities, slipping into the worlds where I have achieved so much. And given the current state of the world, who doesn’t need that from time to time?