When I first started playing Dungeons & Dragons in junior high school, it was mind-blowing just to be able to take on the role of a Corum (yes, I was that unoriginal) a sword-wielding fighter who took on orks and skeletons. Leveling up and making Corum increasingly powerful was very gratifying. At a time in my life when not all that much made sense, D&D gave me the ability to confront and overcome challenges using my knowledge of the game, my wits, and the assistance of my friends. That was all I needed from Corum.
As I moved into adulthood, the lens through which I viewed RPG characters changed. It wasn’t anything conscious, but as the range of emotions I was allowed to express in my daily life became constrained, I found myself increasingly interested in exploring the inner lives of the characters I played. Read more
As I devoured Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks last weekend, I wondered what had kept me from reading the book much earlier. It had been well reviewed by geeks and non-geeks of all stripes. The author, Ethan Gilsdorf, was born a year before me. Like me, he had spent the bulk of his teenage years playing Dungeons & Dragons. The stars, as they say, were aligned. So why had I waited so long to read the book?
A while ago I asked people on Google +, Reddit, and Tumblr when they were introduced to tabletop roleplaying, who introduced them, and which game they first played. The results of my thoroughly unscientific poll showed that while D&D is the single biggest onramp to tabletop RPGs, its dominance in that regard has declined over time. Now let’s take a look at some of those games other than Dungeons & Dragons, and the people who bring newcomers into our hobby.
An Unscientific Poll
Since the beginnings of tabletop roleplaying, it’s been a pretty safe assumption that most roleplayers got their start with Dungeons & Dragons. But there have been a lot of games over the years, and some of them have been explicitly focused on attracting newcomers. Is D&D still the point of entry for most of us?
On A Roll: Level Up Your RPG conveys a wealth of hard-won knowledge about how the social interaction of roleplaying can make or break the games we play, and about how to be a better player and gamemaster (storyteller in the book’s parlance). If roleplaying games are an important part of your life and you wish you were having more fun playing them, you owe it to yourself to read this book.
Forget the Stereotypes, Here’s Some Reality
We’ve been told over and over again by popular media that those of us who play tabletop RPGs are all the same. These interviews, first published in the spring of 2014, give the lie to that glib assumption.