(From the now offline AegisWeb site I used to manage but with new updated information)
What are Table Top Role-playing Games?
Heck, what are Role-playing games?

To define what a role playing game is we first look at what it is to play a role, what a game is, then tie the concepts together.

It might be surprising for many to learn they may have been playing role-playing games far longer than they realize.  Many girls even discover quite quickly that they have innately been enjoying them when they were young.

Defining: Role-playing
Have you ever…
… played cops and robbers?
… played cowboys and Indians?
… pretended to be something else be it astronaut, fireman, policeman, soldier, monster, singer, actor, superhero, knight, teacher, your mom or dad, or whatever else?
… played house?
… attended a party in costume?
… said "If I were him I'd do it this way …"?
… answered the question "What would you like to be when you grow up?"?
… acted in a skit, play, or movie?
- played a computer game?
… imagined you were a character from a fairy tale, novel, or movie?If you've ever done any of these you have already played a role. The very essence of playing a role is simply pretending that you are someone or something else in an imaginary world often other than reality.

Defining: Games

When kids play cowboys and Indians you will all too often hear "I shot you!" to which comes the reply "No, you missed!" and the argument continues. When in a costume party or pretending to be an astronaut one's pretense usually serves no particular end, the fun is simply in being. When acting in a play one is bound to a script.

Unlike acting in a play Games give players the freedom to take the character where they wish, in which case it more resembles improvisational theatre. Unlike the aimless play in costume, Games have a point or objective whether it be the achievement of a goal or simply the telling of a compelling narrative. Unlike the cowboys and Indians of younger days, Games come with rules to determine success or failure of actions.


Putting it all together: a Role Playing Game is an interactive exercise where players pretend to be their characters, making decisions regarding their character's actions in order to achieve an objective or tell a story. Rules assist in resolving actions and defining the imaginary world, be it realistic or fantastic, that the characters inhabit.

If you said Yes to any of the items listed above, then you probably realize that roleplaying games are very easy to get into and do not require any previous experience to enjoy.

In a TYPICAL role-playing game:

A typical roleplaying game group consists of at least two people. One is generally known as the Game Master and the other is the Player.

While some games have more unique or interesting twists to their rules, a typical roleplaying game as the Player portraying a specific character in a game, and the Game Master handling everyone else and the very world the game is set in.


The Game Master (or Storyteller, Dungeon master, Holly Hock God, etc) is the one responsible for setting up the world and the story or the objective. The GM manages all the characters and objects existing in that world except for the characters run by the players. The GM with the help of the game rules also manages the flow of events by determining the results of actions the players' characters take. Simply stated, the GM becomes the RPG world.

The Players each take on the role of one character of that game world. You can think of that character as the player's playing piece. Each player declares actions their characters would take according to how they deem the characters would behave given the situation existing at any time. Putting it in a movie analogy, the players play the lead characters of the movie, except they do not follow a script, instead reacting to events as they happen.

However, later versions of role-playing games have challenged even this normal format.  In some games, like John Wick's Houses of the Blooded, the players co-write the story with the game master as they use their wagers in the game to add facts that cannot be disputed by other players.    There are also games now which eliminate the need for an actual game master and instead have all the players work together in keeping the game going.  Games have explored many forms of challenge resolution, with the most common being via dice, but others going different directions (i.e. Tarot cards for Psychosis, playing cards for Castle Falkenstein, or wordplay for Amber.)

Ultimately, Table Top role-playing games in my opinion will always have an advantage over computer games that call themselves role-playing games.   With the infinite budget for special effects and graphics present (your brain), the always existing aspect of socialization and interaction with others, the creative challenge that the game requires its players always present, and with the simplicity of how a game is set up at its most basic (you can actually have a game with no sheets, and just a coin to act as your "randomizer") table top gaming will always be a hobby and passion of mine which I will love to share and teach others to try.

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