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A Beginner's Guide to Tabletop Roleplaying Games!

Started by KatieHal, September 18, 2012, 08:30:17 PM

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Inspired by a discussion GrahamRocks and I started having in another thread, this seemed worthy of its own thread altogether. A bit of what inspired it:

Quote from: GrahamRocks! on September 18, 2012, 04:19:33 PM
Quote from: KatieHal on September 18, 2012, 02:32:44 PM
Graham would be a knight/cavalier/paladin, yeah. One who doesn't min/max and throw all their stats into strength and con, as well.

D& It can be fun. But it can be a lot of number crunching and boredom, too. I'm an avid roleplayer, and while I got my start in D&D like many, I'm not really interested in it anymore. I've come to enjoy systems with less crunch and more character-focused mechanics (Unisystem and 7th Sea are my personal favorites). D&D also moved into the figurine-based gameplay in 4th edition which I don't enjoy at all. I don't want to count out spaces in my turn in battle like it's a board game. I want cool descriptions of slashing the bad guy with my sword, grabbing a curtain, swinging across a room and blasting someone with a spell. I don't want my adventure to be a series of rolls that add up on tests to see if advance the plot to the next point. I want my decisions in who my character is and what I do in a situation to shape the story that comes. And if I happen to miss the battle that could've happened, I don't want it to necessarily mean that we're done an hour early.

I RP with a great group of friends with great imaginations and improv experience, I know I'm spoiled. But for me, D&D doesn't deliver what I'm looking for anymore.

It CAN be good--great even! It depends on you and your group. But, overall, just be aware that if it's not your thing, there are a LOT of other RPGs (and other groups) out there, too. :)

(Also, most gaming stores have places for looking for/recruiting for groups. Also try craigslist, or find a local forum or email list for the same, see who's recruiting, or also looking for a group, etc.)


What do these terms mean?

Hmm... is it even possible for a group to play, say, an earlier edition of the game provided they have it? For example, what if I said, "Hey, can we play AD&D?" or is it, "No! There is a new edition out, you are forced to play this new edition! Forget about the older stuff right now!"

If it's possible to do the former then that might actually be really fun!

So to answer of these:

First up. In D&D, there are a set of basic stats that make the basis of your character's abilities. Other RPGs have similar ones with varying names.

Strength (Str): how strong you are
Constitution (Con): how tough you are
Dexterity (Dex): how fast you are
Intelligence (Int): how book-smart you are
Wisdom (Wis): how street-smart you are (or, how much common sense you have)
Charisma (Cha): how persuasive, able to lead, and likeable you are

In D&D, and other systems, but D&D's the focus here, you also pick a race and class. For example, a Human Fighter, Elven Mage, Halfling Thief, etc. Your race and class will give you bonuses to some stats and negatives to others. A Human is usually without either of these, but a Fighter will have more Strength and Constitution to reflect his training. A Mage will have higher intelligence but lower physical stats, to reflect theirs. A Thief will have a higher Dex, etc. Additionally, you end up having a bank of numbers to pull from to otherwise raise these stats when you create your character.

Min/Max: (I fixed they typo of 'minx') This is when a player puts points into their character's stats in such a way as to emphasize their strengths, and minimize weakness they plan on never using. So, let's go back to that Human Fighter. I make this guy because I want to hit things hard and kill 'em easy. Fighting my way involves more strength and con, so I maximize or "max" those. I don't plan on using Intelligence much or Wisdom, so I'm going to not bother with those, or maybe even pull numbers from there to bring up the other stats--in other words I minimize or "min" those.

Min/Maxing isn't on it's own necessarily bad, but it's often used by players to make a one-note character, and rather than playing out the fact that their Fighter is stupid as a bag of rocks, they just ignore the Intelligence factor altogether. (Doing this is also often called being a "munchkin" or "powergaming", which aren't good things to be known as.) (Also where the card game Munchkin gets its title, though that game pokes fun at this and is silly fun.)

Playing older rulesets: Yes, absolutely! People do that frequently, as well as creating house rules to adjust the system(s) to their liking.

The opinion above is indeed just mine--I kind of "grew out" of D&D and found other systems I liked better, as well as not liking the direction that 4th Ed has gone in overall. I know it's fully possible to have a grand old time in D&D still (a friend of mine has been playing an awesomely epic D&D campaign for years), it's just not what I'm up for in most cases.

It's very easy for a D&D game to become a numbers game, where everything revolves around the almighty die and squeezing out every bonus you can manage, because of the way the game is built. I've come to enjoy systems with a little more freedom in that regard, ones that actively encourage getting into character as a part of the system rather than just something extra. Unisystem, one of my favorites, involves taking "Qualities" and "Drawbacks" as part of character creation, things that describe who you are, your personality, background, hang-ups, fears, etc, in addition to what you are & what you can do, and you get rewarded for playing those up during the game, for example.

Katie Hallahan
~Designer, PR Director~

"Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix." Christina Baldwin

I have a blog!


Which is why settings like World of Darkness and Exalted exist! :D <3 Exalted!!

I played a sorcerous winged snow leopard whose ambition was to educate the world... I may or may not have used Stormwind Rider to generate a water spout and defeat an invading force of terrestrial exalts thereby acquiring a small cult. ::) Silly dragonblooded, knacks are for Lunars. :P ::)
Noli me tangere! Nescio ubi fuisti!
Don't touch me! I don't know where you've been!

Marquess of Pembroke
Duke of Saxony in Her Majesty's Court
Knight of the Swan for Her Imperial Highness

...resistance was obviously useless against a family that could invent italics.

"Let the locative live."


Ah, Exalted.  I played a Sidereal of Secrets.  My friends got arrested in Yu Shan because some assassins attacked them, and I had to go to court to bail them out.

There's a lot of game systems out there.  I would suggest trying a Beer and Pretzels type game just to get used to the idea of creating a character.  I'd suggest Kobolds Ate My Baby if you can find it.  We've had some wacky times with that, and yet every game I've played involved some form of arson.
I have my cake and eat it too, until it's gone.  Then I can't do either.

Aww!  You have the Sword of Hugging +3!  All of your attacks deal affectionate damage!


You mentioned a game called Pathfinder, LadyTerra. What exactly is that? Isn't it a spinoff of something else?


Pathfinder is basically DnD 3.75. It's a little bit more condensed and more balanced than 3.5 and I honestly really like it. XD
I'm a princess even if my kingdom is pixelated.

Official Comfort Counselor of the TSL Asylum © ;D

It's funny how you find you enjoy your life when you're happy to be alive.


Never played Pathfinder, but I've heard people enjoy it. Or Exalted.

Lately, I've mostly played Unisystem (or its variant, Cinematic Unisystem), Roll & Keep, and Cortex.

Katie Hallahan
~Designer, PR Director~

"Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix." Christina Baldwin

I have a blog!


You know, I've been thinking... I think a Paladin WOULD fit Graham very well actually! By the time TSL comes, he knows a bit of magic with the Amulet, and the Ranger talks about the Silver Cloaks who could do wonderous things like heal people, create things and go into dreams and are in a war againt Evil. Isn't a Paladin like this too?

Although I actually am wondering now, say I'm playing DnD and I start up a Paladin character. Do I HAVE to be Lawful Good from the get-go? or could I say I was for example Neutral Good intead? I know that I won't get as much (if any) power if I played another alignment, but still! I have a sword, and I know how to use it! Even if my powers are revoked from me, I can still dish out damage!


There's really no point to playing a Paladin that's not Lawful Good. At that point, you might as well play a Fighter with a strong sense of right and wrong. Also, keep in mind that Lawful doesn't mean that you have to follow, say, the laws of the town, but an internal structure. Does things he says he will, etc. You can really go either way, but playing a fallen Paladin is...not very effective. XD Especially since you don't have any of the magic or anything if you've fallen, so it's sort of missing the point of your first paragraph.

Besides, you'd have to spend a lot of time roleplaying shame, and that doesn't sound like the King Swayze way. :P
I'm a princess even if my kingdom is pixelated.

Official Comfort Counselor of the TSL Asylum © ;D

It's funny how you find you enjoy your life when you're happy to be alive.


It's been a while, but I feel like Lawful Good might be required for Paladins in D&D? They strongly tend towards it, at least.

Graham, hm...yeah, Lawful Good fits him. I was gonna say his kleptomania hurts the case, but he's pretty good about making fair trades for items that actually belong to people (well, good people at least).

Katie Hallahan
~Designer, PR Director~

"Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix." Christina Baldwin

I have a blog!


Like I said, an internal set of values. XD

And yeah, Katie, in DnD, Paladins HAVE to be Lawful Good or they're considered "fallen" and lose access to any of their Paladin powers, since they use divine magic and have to pray for it every day. That connection is severed and so they're pretty much just fighters. I think they even lose their mount. XD
I'm a princess even if my kingdom is pixelated.

Official Comfort Counselor of the TSL Asylum © ;D

It's funny how you find you enjoy your life when you're happy to be alive.




Pawdugan fan, huh?

...Y'know, I was going to post the video that got me thinking about this, along with three quotes from the comments that really stuck out to me... but the site wouldn't let me! I'm not sure if it was the quotes or the link to the Counter Monkey video, but I kept getting an error!


@ Katie

To quote The Narrator from KQ2+:

*use "Hand" on flowerbed on Grandma's windowsill*

"You aren't a thief, Graham! You would never take something that didn't belong to you, unless you had a good reason."

I love that narrator so much! He's funny, dramatic, well-acted, AND snarky! Amy too, of course!


It's that "unless he had a good reason" thing that makes Graham less "lawful good". If he were truly lawful good, he would strictly never steal -- if not because it was the law, but because it was an ethical or moral code he had set for himself. IIRC, truly "lawful" characters don't have exceptions to rules.

In my opinion, Graham is more "neutral good" -- which bars him from being a Paladin. He's good, seeks the greater good, he does have a personal code he follows as much as he can -- but he also knows that in dire circumstances, sometimes you just have to break the rules.
(Whereas a chaotic good character wouldn't have any rules to break, they'd be seeking out the greater good any way they could all of the time.)
"If your translation is correct, that was 'May a sleepy hippopotamus lie down on your house keys,' but you're not sure. Unfortunately, your fluency in griffin-speak is too low."

We're roleplaying in the King's Quest world: come join in the fun!