Tabletop Role-Playing Games: Begin Your Quest!

Become Heroes Through Pixels and Paper!

James Haberstich, Editor, Staff Writer

Have you been bored out of your mind during this pandemic? Have you binged through all of the shows and movies in your watchlist? Have you been scouring the internet for days or even weeks trying to figure out what to do with all of this extra time inside your house? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have something that might pique your interest: tabletop role-playing games.

What exactly is a tabletop role-playing game?

A tabletop role-playing game, or TTRPG, is a collaborative storytelling game where one player, the game master, acts out the world and everything inside it, and the other players take on the role of heroes, called player characters, who explore the world, doing quests and slaying monsters. The game is played by rolling a die (or sometimes several) and adding the number to a corresponding number on a character sheet or monster stat block. The best part of these games is that creativity and imagination are heavily rewarded. Characters can try multiple solutions to a given problem, with the only limiting factor being a bad die roll.

The cover of the Player’s Handbook for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition. Photo credit to dnd.wizards.com.

There are many genres of TTRPGs.

Within each genre (things like fantasy, sci-fi, and horror), each game has its own set of rules and different settings. I usually play fantasy-style games such as Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition and Pathfinder, but there is a game out there for everyone! Characters will start at level one, but as they progress, they get stronger and will face even harder challenges as they continue their journey. These games are usually played at a table, with friends, family, or possibly strangers (if you’re playing at a game store or similar location), but with circumstances such as a global pandemic, there are other ways to play!

The logo for Roll20, a website that features a virtual tabletop. Photo credit to roll20.net.

When you cannot play in person…

In my case, I have friends that live quite a distance away from me, which means we cannot always get together in person to play. Fortunately, the Internet allows people to connect from anywhere, and playing TTRPGs is no exception! If you are interested in giving these games a shot, I recommend starting with Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, as it is the easiest system to pick up. The game’s basic ruleset is available online for free, which means both game masters and players can create their own stories with little effort! Now, as far as a table to play on, and the dice, we have Roll20! Roll20 is a website that simulates a virtual tabletop where you can play TTRPGs with others with no paid subscription required. It simulates dice rolls, keeps track of character sheets, and even allows for in-game audio and video chats. Plus, if you do not have many friends to play with, the online community on Roll20 has many open games for you to join!

I hope you take the time to check out TTRPGs, as they can be an absolute blast! I have made many great memories with my friends and family creating stories, slaying monsters, and finding valuable treasures, and I hope you do too!