What do you think of when you think of a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG)? To the uninitiated, a TTRPG might just be that dorky game teenage boys play around the kitchen table on the weekends while drinking soda and eating pizza. While that is a stereotype of a TTRPG-player, TTRPGs are actually well-loved and played by all kinds of people.
Most people are probably familiar (or have at least heard of) Dungeons & Dragons, which is still one of the most, if not the most, popular TTRPGs. In recent years, the game has started to lose the “nerdy” image it carried for so many years, especially with the wide appeal of high fantasy series like Game of Thrones.
But, a TTRPG doesn’t have to be Dungeons & Dragons, nor does it have to be high fantasy. There are now a wide range of indie TTRPGs, which have been developed by independent publishers and creators from all over the world.
What is a TTRPG?
TTRPGs are collaborative role playing games for 1 or more players. While each TTRPG has its own set of rules and its own stories, many TTRPGs use similar game mechanics to push the story forward.
Most games have a Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) who acts as a narrator, plays NPC characters, and leads the rest of the players on their adventure. This role is incredibly important, especially when people are just beginning their journey into TTRPGs. Since the DM/GM guides the players, they have to react to different decisions the players might make about their actions, their characters, or the world around them.
The players in TTRPGs often explore unknown worlds to accomplish a common goal. Being able to embody and play as their character throughout the session adds to the fun. In essence, the players work together through an interactive story! The players can’t just do whatever they want, though. The choices they make are impacted by their characters’ skills, abilities, and knowledge.
TTRPGs utilize dice to test and check skills. Passing a skill test means that a player can take an action, but not passing the skill test means they are not able to. This can greatly impact the game, depending on what the goal of the tabletop roleplaying game is.
In recent years, there have been more and more TTRPGs that forgo some of these “traditional” mechanics. Solo journaling games have been increasingly popular, as have games that use a standard deck of cards to put characters into situations. There have also been a number of GM-less games to come out.
3 Tips for Playing a TTRPG
If you’re new to playing TTRPGs, the idea of getting into character and learning all these new mechanics can be overwhelming. These three tips for playing a TTRPG will help you get started!
1. Be okay with being uncomfortable
For many players, one of the hardest things about playing TTRPGs is playing as a character. It can feel uncomfortable or embarrassing to “be” someone else, especially if you’ve never done anything like this before. Being okay with being uncomfortable can help you get out of your shell and have a great time experience!
2. Prepare your character ahead of time
Don’t show up to your first game session with a character! Before your first session, start working on creating your character. This process can sometimes take an hour or two, especially if you’re getting ready for a multi-session campaign. Lots of tabletop gaming groups have character creation sessions, which are focused on just this.
3. Play a few one-shot TTRPGs before committing to a large campaign
TTRPGs aren’t like board games. One TTRPG “game” can last several multi-hour sessions. By starting with one-shot TTRPGs and smaller campaigns, you can get a feel for TTRPGs and see what kind of campaigns you enjoy and what kind of characters you enjoy playing as.
Choosing a TTRPG
Like we said earlier, there are so many more TTRPGs than Dungeons & Dragons. While Dungeons & Dragons continues to be a popular choice, we recommend exploring the wonderful world of independent tabletop roleplaying games to see what is out there. With so many games, you are sure to find something that closely aligns with your interests or the type of gameplay you like.
Tiny Library is a popular game with Peregrine Coast Press shoppers because it is so versatile and truly has a game for everyone! Tiny Library comes with 50 single-card RPGs by lots of different creators.
Don’t have many people to play with? Runecairn from By Odin’s Beard is a great option because it is designed for two players, one Warden and one Adventurer. This game takes place in a Norse fantasy setting, which is hard to pass up!
For the writers at heart, solo journaling games might be your new favorite thing. In Transmission for Them, you play as someone sending their final transmission to a lost love. Each prompt asks you to reflect on your character’s life, experiences, and of course, love.