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View Full Version : Who here plays tabletop RPGs? If you don't, what would make you start?



Philosoraptor
10-22-2013, 01:44 AM
Hi, all! Just thought I'd take a very informal, totally unscientific reading of this forum's temperature on something that's very close to my heart both personally and professionally. Who here plays tabletop role-playing games? And if you don't, what might make you start?

I'm talking about games such as Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), Pathfinder, and Shadowrun to name some high-selling, established ones, or Fiasco to name a recent, really different one that seems to be doing pretty well for itself. For anyone not familiar with these games, they're a lot like the Final Fantasy games in some respects (the original Final Fantasy, in fact, was a fairly obvious D&D pastiche). Physically, it's usually a group of friends sitting around a table (or some online equivalent like a G+ hangout). In most such games, one player acts as a narrator and referee (this player might be called the Gamemaster, Dungeon Master or various other things) and each other player takes the part of one of the main characters. Unlike in most games, you're not competing against each other, there's no definite endpoint, and you aren't limited to a specific set of possible moves - you can do anything real people could do in the situation you're in (and some things they couldn't, like cast spells). That's one reason there's a human referee - to decide what happens if you do something really weird that the rules don't cover, or could handle more than one way.

Anyway, having said all that, it seems to me that interest in Final Fantasy and interest in these games should overlap a fair bit. Heaven knows I love both to pieces. What are people's experience with these games? Love 'em? Tried 'em and it didn't work out? Might be interested, but haven't tried?

I'm especially interested in that last category, actually - if that sounds like you, what do you think it would take to make you an active tabletop gamer?

Jessweeee♪
10-22-2013, 02:34 AM
For me it was just a matter of finding the right people. In college I was in an anime club and half of it was splitting off to form a DnD club that would be meeting at the same date and time. The way they described the game to me sounded like fun, but I knew I'd have a bad time because of a couple of the people there. One was a guy that just takes any multiplayer too seriously. You know, the guy that points blame and berates people when the battle goes sour. The other was a girl who didn't get along well with other girls in our group. When some girls find themselves as the girl in the group for too long they feel super un-special when other girls join in and try to compensate. Watching anime with them was great. But cooperative play? I think I'll pass.

Then my boyfriend hosted a laid back session of DnD with some people that put effort into it but still remembered that it was supposed to be fun and I had a great time.

Hollycat
10-22-2013, 02:34 AM
I wanted to try some tabletop games a while back, but I couldn't figure out how to make my own character and I couldn't find anyone to help me make one so I gave up

Jessweeee♪
10-22-2013, 02:38 AM
I wanted to try some tabletop games a while back, but I couldn't figure out how to make my own character and I couldn't find anyone to help me make one so I gave up

Yeah it was like hella complicated. I had to have my boyfriend help me with some books and then one of our friends looked at my character sheet and was like "you did this all wrong ha ha ha."

Vyk
10-22-2013, 06:26 AM
They are very complex. But in the end that's part of the beauty. I haven't played a tabletop style game in ages. I grew up playing D&D with my brothers and cousins. They were late teens, early 20's when I was like 7'ish. And they helped me get a handle on it, and I eventually grew to be quite competent. But as they got older, lives, and jobs and things tore their group apart, and I had nobody to fill that gap. Up until 3rd Edition D&D, I was buying my own rule books with allowances and such. And even now I get a random itch to buy stuff in that vein. But never have anyone to play with. Its too much work for any of my lazy friends to really be into...

But at the very least, I got my girlfriend to enjoy video games heavily based on these. Like Knights of the Old Republic, and more recently we've been playing Icewind Dale together. And she's played through about half of Bauldur's Gate Enhanced. And we'll probably play through either that or BGII Enhanced together

I've been really interested in that Android (and now PC) game, Knights of Pen-and-Paper I believe it's called. But I rarely get to muse about the idea of actually playing anything serious with anyone. So, like with everyone else, it's just a matter of knowing all the wrong people in this regard. But I get my fixes. I also thoroughly enjoy watching/listening to Spoony on YouTube talking about all his adventures (and misadventures) in Planescape and other D&D/pen-and-paper campaigns

LocoColt04
10-22-2013, 06:39 AM
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh man okay so


I was one of those guys who, for the longest time (like into my early 20s) always thought "man, I'm nerdy enough as it is, but I'll never be one of those basement-dwelling D&D nerds!!!"

I was an idiot. Please forgive me. The trick is reaching out and finding people who share your interests outside of the tabletop so that you can get a genuine connection. We had a Gamers on Campus club at my college, and I would always attend all of the videogame days and boardgame days, but never the tabletop days. I got dragged to one against my will and watched some of my friends play D&D 3.5e. I watched another group play Shadowrun. On the next tabletop day, I went of my own accord, and observed some more.

Turns out D&D (and other such systems) is pretty easy, and entertaining if you've got lighthearted people to play with.

I've been playing off and on for seven years now, and once a week for nearly three years straight. In my time, I've run two games and participated in half a dozen more. We've played D&D 3.5e, D&D 4e, Paizo's Pathfinder, Shadowrun, and CraftyGames' FantasyCraft (and a touch of SpyCraft 2.0 blended into one of the FC games).

The easiest system to be a Dungeon Master (henceforth DM) of is D&D 4e. It's very much like a videogame on paper - you have power cards that can be used in various circumstances, some of which only once or twice per battle, scene, day, etc. It's grid-based and strongly encourages the use of miniatures to visually play out the fights. It's simple, but not terribly condescending. I like to think of it as a beginner's guide to tabletop gaming.

Pathfinder is a great system because it took a handful of the neat things from 4e and blended them back into natural D&D 3.5e. It's unique, and fun to play, but the DM has a lot of work with regards to the scale of the fights, dungeons, traps, challenges, etc. There are so many options as a player though, so it's a great time if you're not the one at the helm.

But our last three games, including the upcoming one I'll be running in the spring? FantasyCraft. It's a wonderful system that rings true of 3.5e but with very simplistic mechanics. Building NPCs in the game is practically automatic - decide what they should be able to do, plug in some numbers, and adjust for level. They build themselves, so it makes DMing very simple. Plus, as players, there is still a ton of freedom with regards to race and class. And, if you can find an experienced DM, you can do what we do: take things that you love from other systems and find ways to balance and integrate them into the system that you enjoy playing the most.

NeoCracker
10-22-2013, 07:27 AM
You think DnD 3.5 has a lot of work? DM a game of Anima: Beyond Fantasy. The level of effort required on a DM's part is freaking insane. :p

But yeah, I game when I can, going to start a Pathfinder game soon, I just need to finish putting together my players first encoutner.

Shorty
10-22-2013, 07:44 AM
I've played a few rounds of D&D with some close family friends in the past and it was a lot of fun. I think it's just about having the right people. I've heard horror stories of nerds who take it too seriously to actually have any fun with it and who spoil it for the rest.

If I found a group of people who I enjoyed doing it with that I was close friends with, I'd be more inclined to do it.

Laddy
10-22-2013, 07:46 AM
I play loads. I even have a system and setting of my own we've played through here a few times with some moderate success.

Pike
10-22-2013, 11:31 AM
I play loads. I even have a system and setting of my own we've played through here a few times with some moderate success.

I like playing with Laddy and friends on roll20 :)

Bolivar
10-22-2013, 04:58 PM
Yeah our online games here were pretty tight, especially messing with Laddy's system.

The problem is as on the table the preparation is tough, maybe harder to get what you imagine your digital tabletop to look like actually on the platform. Using chat also slows things down to turn a multi hour session into a one-encounter deal whereas you can usually get in a couple in real life. I feel like webcams would be a big help but I dont know how feasible it would be with 4-6 people and a platform thats probably still in beta. One slight advantage to online is that it's slightly easier to get people together since we're at our computers anyway but assembling and keeping a real life group can be daunting.

As far as systems I like the usual 3/3.5/pathfinder mash up supplemented with house rules. 4 is easier in that its more video gamish, but if you're a DM you now have to keep track of the dozens of abilities your party has and make sure they're using them right and understanding them. Fighters should swing swords and that's that.

Nicolas
10-22-2013, 04:59 PM
You know, I'd love to play Tabletop RPGs... just need people to play with.

Tasura
10-22-2013, 06:01 PM
I've played D&D for years, and Pathfinder since it came out. Even some Dark Heresy and Call of Cthulhu.

Endless
10-22-2013, 07:15 PM
You know, I'd love to play Tabletop RPGs... just need people to play with.

My thoughts exactly.

Flaming Ice
10-22-2013, 07:40 PM
You know, I'd love to play Tabletop RPGs... just need people to play with.

My thoughts exactly.



Same here :(

LocoColt04
10-23-2013, 12:07 AM
Do I need to run a Skype game with a die-roller app? Hmm...

Jessweeee♪
10-23-2013, 01:26 AM
doookaaaallll

Pike
10-23-2013, 11:37 AM
roll20.net you guys. I'm serious. Lets you play online and works brilliantly.

Mercen-X
10-24-2013, 12:27 AM
My dad once played BattleTech/MechWarrior before I was old enough to understand it. Got my hands on a PC version of MechWarrior and due to my dad's knowledge of the board game (talking about needing things like HeatSynchs to keep my mech cooled) I was able to build a decent mech right off the bat despite not knowing much about the game myself (I didn't bother reading the manual).

As for playing tabletops myself... I have never, but I'm the guy that proposed on these very forums the concept of combining tabletop with console gaming. As in the RPG format involves actually physically picking up a character you designed yourself and moving them across a board and when a battle is invoked, it takes place on a large screen where you actively take part in the combat. Everything still runs more or less on the same odds as a roll of the dice, but you can better control the actions your character takes. I think the concept I liked most about this proposition was the idea that you could design your character anyway you wanted using whatever avatar you wanted. You could use a barbie doll if you so desired, but in the end it was down to the judges to decide what elements to incorporate into your statistics. But the fun part is that those same judges would customize an in-game avatar to match your model as closely as possible. Another option I suppose one could choose would be to use a simple token and instead come dressed up as the character you wish to play.

Philosoraptor
10-24-2013, 09:55 AM
Lots of interesting stories here! Glad I started this thread.


roll20.net you guys. I'm serious. Lets you play online and works brilliantly.

I'm somewhat familiar with roll20 but haven't really used it seriously. I'd be interested in trying it out, though I'm not sure I'd have time to commit to it regularly.

Philosoraptor
10-24-2013, 10:42 AM
Hey, just a few things I wanted to respond to from early in the thread. I may make more posts of this sort, I may not.


I wanted to try some tabletop games a while back, but I couldn't figure out how to make my own character and I couldn't find anyone to help me make one so I gave up

What game was it, and what made character creation difficult to figure out? I say this not to challenge you - I believe 100% that this is an accurate account of your experience - but to see if I can learn anything from your answer and somewhat to test a theory.



Yeah it was like hella complicated. I had to have my boyfriend help me with some books and then one of our friends looked at my character sheet and was like "you did this all wrong ha ha ha."This is interesting in that this is something of a stereotype of female gamers that I keep hearing about, yet my experience has been so unlike the stereotype that I take the stereotype so un-seriously it's actually jarring to meet someone who will admit to being an example of it. The biggest gearhead in one of my current groups is female - she wants to know a rule system well enough to write a dissertation on it before she'll do anything. Fortunately she has the mental jam to accomplish this in a couple of evenings. I've run games I didn't understand as deeply as she needs to understand a game just to make a character in it. Boyfriends are welcome to make suggestions but God help them if they go so far as to try to do it for her. (Though come to think of it, every guy she's ever been involved with has been a pretty serious gamer too.)

My question to you is much like my question to Hypo - what would have made the process friendlier, and better equipped you to do it without outside help?



The trick is reaching out and finding people who share your interests outside of the tabletop so that you can get a genuine connection. I just wanted to highlight this point (and I note with interest that others have said similar things). I think this is very important; as much as I love RPGs, I wouldn't particularly recommend spending an evening playing one with people you wouldn't willingly spend an evening with doing something else.

Organized play, where a store sets aside a time every week that people can just come in and play regardless of experience, has gotten very popular and some people swear by it - certainly store owners say it does wonders for their bottom line. As an aspiring designer and publisher I can't ignore that, but I personally view it as a very suboptimal gaming setup. My opinion is that it's a decent-to-excellent way to take your first steps into the hobby, and an... okay way for experienced gamers to try out a new system or to scratch the itch if they haven't been playing for a while and can't get a regular group together. Outside those situations, I really think bringing a home group together, consisting mostly or entirely of people you're already friends with, is the preferable way to do things if you can manage it.

(Interesting thoughts on the relative merits of some different versions and variants of D&D snipped. I will say I disagree with 4E being a significant influence on Pathfinder - I don't think this is any more true of 4E than of any of a dozen other tabletop games, and less than some. For one thing, most of Pathfinder was written before 4E was available to anyone outside Wizards of the Coast, and I don't just mean its 3.5-based core but also Jason Buhlman's house rules.)

TrollHunter
10-24-2013, 07:36 PM
I'ved played...
D&D 3rd edition, 4th edition, and basic (which is surprisingly very fun). I'll be playing 5th sometime soon
Also....
Shadowrun (Or, ShoppingRun. Buying crap in that game is just too fun)
GURPS (Played very little of this sadly. Didnt like the group I was in.

And so far, thats all. Though the list is ever growing. I ove me some RPGs.

I meet every weekend on my schools campus for 6 hours of good RPG action.

Jessweeee♪
10-25-2013, 06:03 AM
Hey, just a few things I wanted to respond to from early in the thread. I may make more posts of this sort, I may not.



Yeah it was like hella complicated. I had to have my boyfriend help me with some books and then one of our friends looked at my character sheet and was like "you did this all wrong ha ha ha."
This is interesting in that this is something of a stereotype of female gamers that I keep hearing about, yet my experience has been so unlike the stereotype that I take the stereotype so un-seriously it's actually jarring to meet someone who will admit to being an example of it. The biggest gearhead in one of my current groups is female - she wants to know a rule system well enough to write a dissertation on it before she'll do anything. Fortunately she has the mental jam to accomplish this in a couple of evenings. I've run games I didn't understand as deeply as she needs to understand a game just to make a character in it. Boyfriends are welcome to make suggestions but God help them if they go so far as to try to do it for her. (Though come to think of it, every guy she's ever been involved with has been a pretty serious gamer too.)

My question to you is much like my question to Hypo - what would have made the process friendlier, and better equipped you to do it without outside help?

The books just aren't very newbie friendly. It's like "ok obviously you're a pro now that you're actually dropping some cash for books here." Or maybe I'm just dumb. Probably both! Perhaps a simple google search would have yielded a very simple guide to it all but hanging out with my boyfriend and having him walk me through it seemed like a lot more fun. Really I think it's just a super complicated game, and it's very rewarding even if that does mean a bit of a learning curve. I hope I get to play again sometime with good people because we didn't get to go very far in that first session.

Another thing is the stereotype you mention, it's one more reason why I was okay with playing with close friends and not my anime club. I don't worry about it with close friends. They know I like to fix their computers and that I know every little detail and easter egg in all of my favorite video games. And even if they didn't my "nerd cred" is completely unimportant to them. In anime club there was just a couple of "special" people that would have treated like I was one of those non existent "fake gamer girls" for daring to play a game I know nothing about. Or maybe they wouldn't have, but they were condescending enough that I was legitimately concerned that that's how it would be :(

TrollHunter
10-25-2013, 07:36 AM
Another thing is the stereotype you mention, it's one more reason why I was okay with playing with close friends and not my anime club. I don't worry about it with close friends. They know I like to fix their computers and that I know every little detail and easter egg in all of my favorite video games. And even if they didn't my "nerd cred" is completely unimportant to them. In anime club there was just a couple of "special" people that would have treated like I was one of those non existent "fake gamer girls" for daring to play a game I know nothing about. Or maybe they wouldn't have, but they were condescending enough that I was legitimately concerned that that's how it would be :(

Oh man, I'm sorry your anime club is like that.
Our illuminerdy club, anime club, and tabletop rpg club absolutely love newbies and help everyone out.
Our goal is to spread the joy of nerd-dom and everything it entails.
Condescending people typically arent around for very long, or people tell them to stop being such pricks.
We do have an extremely elitist anime club on campus though... but no one speaks of it anymore. They are irrelevant.

Bolivar
10-25-2013, 03:29 PM
Character creation can be crazy hard, and I feel like your first time creating a character to a new game system can be a real confusing experience. I had to learn Pathfinder a bit when we did it here, and then me and Neo and a few other pretty much helped out the rest of the players to figure it out.

I had some real life friends who wanted to have a game try to make characters and the books and free sites made absolutely no sense to them at all. So I ran a game where I just put them in the middle of the action and asked them "What do you do?" If they tried to sneak around, I would tell them to roll their Dexterity score, then add plus 2 since it was their initial reaction, ie, their play style. Then I would give them the Stealth skill. I would let them have 2 or more abilities with bonuses if that was their play style and up to four skills. Then I would ask them what weapons they had and before you know it, they had almost a full character sheet just based on the choices they were making in the game. They also picked up incredibly fast on the combat mechanics this way. It was interesting and something I'd definitely recommend to get new players into playing RPGs right off the bat instead of hours of reading before they ever roll their first die.

Mirage
10-25-2013, 10:45 PM
Character creation is the most fun part about it all!

I play tabletop RPGs as often as I get the chance, which is annoyingly rare these days.

I prefer world of darkness, but have played pathfinder and 3.5 more, because it's what my friends play.

Araciel
10-25-2013, 10:48 PM
It's only a matter of time before I try to run another eoff pathfinder game over roll20.

It's just the scheduling that kills me - also it was all through chat instead of voice which was reallllly taxing. - next game I run I'mma veto text chat and do voice only.

Anyone interested, let me know and I'll try to figger it out.

i've played ttrpgs for like... 15 years... and been a DM (NO NOT GM CAUSE I'M OLD) for most of them.

Philosoraptor
10-26-2013, 12:30 AM
Some of this reminds me of something I found striking in a book called The Kobold Guide to Game Design. It's all about writing for RPGs and is written by insiders who have worked with WotC and/or Paizo and are good friends with (or in one or two cases, ARE) key people at those companies. And even this source describes the Pathfinder core rulebook as "newcomer-hostile".

So, at several of you but Jessweeee in particular, if that's the book you mean, then you're probably not the one with the problem :).

I hope this isn't too much pimping of my own forthcoming system, but this is an issue I am very interested in avoiding if humanly possible in my own products. I think good graphic design can go a long way. Those who had problems with this, would a streamlined visual guide to filling out the character sheet, say a diagram of the sheet with boxes and arrows and simple point-form instructions, have helped? Those of you who like it as it is, do you think this would hurt your enjoyment of character-building in any way?

Scotty_ffgamer
10-26-2013, 08:02 AM
I've only done a one-shot before. My old college roommate got a bunch of us together to do a one-shot Burning Wheel game (or a modification of Burning Wheel, I can't remember) for his younger brother's birthday. Doing tabletop campaigns are just too much of a time commitment for me, though, and all of my friends that do tabletop games are really into having long, intricate plots that require everyone to be there at a set time every week. If my schedule wasn't so unpredictable, I'd be interested in playing more. The one-shot was pretty fun.

NeoCracker
10-26-2013, 08:02 AM
Yeah, that game I ran went south fast.

Like, crazy fast. Our sorcerer blew his entire magic load in the first fight against Dire Rats, our ranger seemed insistant on using a bow in doors firing into melee, and the other guy was rolling like shit.

I've never seen such a fast TPK in my life. :p

My DM desire kind of died with that, but no one else seemed up to it at the time, so the game came to an abrupt end. :p

escobert
10-26-2013, 04:09 PM
I don't play them but I would give it a try. However, none of my friends are into that sort of stuff. They dont even read books :( There were a few kids in school who played Vampire Masquerade

Skyblade
10-26-2013, 11:59 PM
I tried a game here on EoFF. It was mostly fun. Then I got shot in the back (our Ranger claimed it was accidental, but given how much the character disliked humans, I'm not so sure ;)).

I'd certainly be willing to try again. The big problem is the time. The game is a fairly hefty chunk of time that you need to schedule for, get everyone together for, and be willing to work at over and over. It's fun, but way more time consuming than you might think.

Araciel
11-10-2013, 06:23 PM
I will try again soon - tuesdays may be the day based on new schedule.

Bolivar
11-10-2013, 09:04 PM
Start a thread when this becomes more of a sure thing and we'll run a Doodle to see what schedule works best!