About traditional Role Playing Games

Fantasy role playing games, also called "RPG" (abbreviation for "role playing game") are a wonderful hobby - a kind of a complex parlor game...

Okay - you could have asked wikipedia - but you are seeking my wisdome. So I will explain to you, what the phenomenon "fantasy role playing game" is about. First of all let me say that basically four different kinds of RPGs exist. I will mention them briefly and then I will describe the fourth kind ("Pen-and-Paper") a little better.

  • Computer-RPGs with singleplayer mode:
    • These are singleplayer computer games. In them you solve riddles and fight battles with monsters - in some cases there are also complex dialogues with game characters that are controled by the computer (examples for such games are: "Ultima", "Neverwinter Nights", "Gothic", ...)

  • Computer-RPGs with multiplayer mode:
    • MUD - a "MUD" or "Multi User Dungeon" is a text-based multiplayer-RPG (without graphics)
    • MMORPG - a "MMORPG" or "Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game" is a computer-RPG with many players and graphical display (examples: "Ultima Online", "Everquest", "World Of Warcraft", ...)

  • LARP:
    • A "LARP" ("Live Action Role Play" or "Live-RPG") is a kind of game that is similar to amateur theaters in wich you dress up and use makeup and coulisses in order to simulate a medieval, fantasy or science fiction world. There are two kinds of actors or players in such a LARP - the players (PC - "player characters") and the non-player-characters (NPC), who play the extras and enemies for the players. When fighting scenes take place, non-lethal foam-latex-weapons are used and realistic body armor is worn like chain mail, helmets or leather armor.

  • Pen and Paper RPGs:
    • This kind of RPG is a special form of a parlor game for that you invite some friends to play it in a group around a table or during a picnic in order to wander through an interactive story.

In the following text the "pen and paper rpg" will be explained in more detail:

Simply said this is a combination of theater (without costumes or stage), a dice game and a strategy game. There are two kinds of people taking part in the game: the "players" and the "game master". The players are casting a specific "role" (for example someone could cast the "thief" or a "fighter" or a "magician" or a "space alien" - there are a lot of possible roles but also some well-known standard characters). The game master on the other hand is responsible for the guidance and description of the story - the game masters know all important places, persons and the solutions for the riddles.

But the story doesn't simply run by the script, there are often very spontaneaous twists in the storyline with many unforeseen actions and meetings and therefore the game is extremely flexible and highly interactive. That means: You aren't reading a book or watching a film - but you create your own story - all that you do can change the current situation.

Because only few game masters are extremely creative and spontaneous there are many stories (sometimes called "adventures") already prepared. Many of these prepared stories can be downloaded from the internet (mostly "fan work") or you can buy stories with high quality prints in a shop. A prepared adventure contains normally some interesting descriptions of characters, riddles and places and side-plots (can be compared to "bonus levels" in computer games).

There are many well-established Pen-and-Paper-RPGs. Probably the oldest game is the US-american D&D ("Dungeons & Dragons"). It has been developed during the 1970s and uses the 20-sided dice as tool among some more tools. Up to now there are many different worlds, books, computer games and movies for D&D.

There are a group of further Pen-and-Paper-RPGs - also in the area of science fiction or modern times (parallel worlds for the present or near future). One dark sci-fi-universe is described by the game "Shadowrun" (an alternative future for the beginning of the 21st century - with orcs, trolls, elves, dwarves and magic in it - an alternative without magic or orcs is presented by the game "Cyberpunk").

An interesting thing are the so-called "universal systems" - these are collections of game rules that are not tailored to a specific game universe. Typical examples are "GURPS" or the "D20-System" (wich is used by the latest version of Dungeons & Dragons). "Lost Planets" ("Sternenschwarm" in german) is such a universal system too - for instance it presents several options (for example you can decide whether to play with magic or to leave it out). Furthermore there is already a game universe wich can be played with this universal system - the galaxy "Starswarm" wich itself is quite "universal" too with many different planets - worlds where the people still live in the stone age or medieval times and worlds where people already live in the near future...

So I hope I was able to answer as many questions as possible. If there are still things to clarify you can send me an email.





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