A role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game and abbreviated to RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of structured decision-making of character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.
There are several forms of RPG. The original form, sometimes called the tabletop role-playing game (TRPG), is conducted through discussion, whereas in live action role-playing games (LARP) players physically perform their characters' actions. In both of these forms, an arranger called a game master (GM) usually decides on the rules and setting to be used, acting as referee, while each of the other players plays the role of a single character.
Several varieties of RPG also exist in electronic media, such as multi-player text-based MUDs and their graphics-based successors, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Role-playing games also include single-player role-playing video games in which players control a character or team who undertake quests, and may include capabilities that advance using statistical mechanics. These games often share settings and rules with tabletop RPGs, but emphasize character advancement more than collaborative storytelling.
Despite this variety of forms, some game forms such as trading card games and wargames that are related to role-playing games may not be included. Role-playing activity may sometimes be present in such games, but it is not the primary focus. The term is also sometimes used to describe roleplay simulation games and exercises used in teaching, training, and academic research.
Both authors and major publishers of tabletop role-playing games consider them to be a form of interactive and collaborative storytelling. Events, characters, and narrative structure give a sense of a narrative experience, and the game need not have a strongly-defined storyline. Interactivity is the crucial difference between role-playing games and traditional fiction. Whereas a viewer of a television show is a passive observer, a player in a role-playing game makes choices that affect the story. Such role-playing games extend an older tradition of storytelling games where a small party of friends collaborate to create a story.
While simple forms of role-playing exist in traditional children's games of make believe, role-playing games add a level of sophistication and persistence to this basic idea with additions such as game facilitators and rules of interaction. Participants in a role-playing game will generate specific characters and an ongoing plot. A consistent system of rules and a more or less realistic campaign setting in games aids suspension of disbelief. The level of realism in games ranges from just enough internal consistency to set up a believable story or credible challenge up to full-blown simulations of real-world processes.
Role-playing games are played in a wide variety of formats ranging from discussing character interaction in tabletop form to physically acting out characters in LARP to playing characters virtually in digital media. There is also a great variety of systems of rules and game settings. Games that emphasize plot and character interaction over game mechanics and combat sometimes prefer the name storytelling game. These types of games tend to minimize or altogether eliminate the use of dice or other randomizing elements. Some games are played with characters created before the game by the GM, rather than those created by the players. This type of game is typically played at gaming conventions, or in standalone games that do not form part of a campaign.
Tabletop and pen-and-paper (PnP) RPGs are conducted through discussion in a small social gathering. The GM describes the game world and its inhabitants. The other players describe the intended actions of their characters, and the GM describes the outcomes. Some outcomes are determined by the game system, and some are chosen by the GM.
This is the format in which role-playing games were first popularized. The first commercially available RPG, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), was inspired by fantasy literature and the wargaming hobby and was published in 1974. The popularity of D&D led to the birth of the tabletop role-playing game industry, which publishes games with many different themes, rules, and styles of play. The popularity of tabletop games has decreased since the modern releases of online MMO RPGs.
This format is often referred to simply as a role-playing game. To distinguish this form of RPG from other formats, the retronyms tabletop role-playing game or pen and paper role-playing game are sometimes used, though neither a table nor pen and paper are strictly necessary.
A LARP is played more like improvisational theatre. Participants act out their characters' actions instead of describing them, and the real environment is used to represent the imaginary setting of the game world. Players are often costumed as their characters and use appropriate props, and the venue may be decorated to resemble the fictional setting. Some live action role-playing games use rock-paper-scissors or comparison of attributes to resolve conflicts symbolically, while other LARPs use physical combat with simulated arms such as airsoft guns or foam weapons.
LARPs vary in size from a handful of players to several thousand, and in duration from a couple of hours to several days. Because the number of players in a LARP is usually larger than in a tabletop role-playing game, and the players may be interacting in separate physical spaces, there is typically less of an emphasis on tightly maintaining a narrative or directly entertaining the players, and game sessions are often managed in a more distributed manner.
Tabletop role-playing games have been translated into a variety of electronic formats. As early as 1974, the same year as the release of Dungeons & Dragons, unlicensed versions of it were developed on mainframe university systems under titles such as dnd and Dungeon. These early computer RPGs influenced all of electronic gaming, as well as spawning the role-playing video game genre. Some authors divide digital role-playing games into two intertwined groups: single player games using RPG-style mechanics, and multiplayer games incorporating social interaction.
Single player role-playing video games form a loosely defined genre of computer and console games with origins in role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, on which they base much of their terminology, settings, and game mechanics. This translation changes the experience of the game, providing a visual representation of the world but emphasizing statistical character development over collaborative, interactive storytelling.
Online text-based role-playing games involve many players using some type of text-based interface and an Internet connection to play an RPG. Games played in a real-time way include MUDs, MUSHes, and other varieties of MU*. Games played in a turn-based fashion include play-by-mail games and play-by-post games.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) combine the large-scale social interaction and persistent world of MUDs with graphic interfaces. Most MMORPGs do not actively promote in-character role-playing, however players can use the games' communication functions to role-play so long as other players cooperate. The majority of players in MMORPGs do not engage in role-play in this sense.
Computer-assisted gaming can be used to add elements of computer gaming to in-person tabletop role-playing, where computers are used for record-keeping and sometimes to resolve combat, while the participants generally make decisions concerning character interaction.
One common feature of many RPGs is the role of gamemaster, a participant who has special duties to present the fictional setting, arbitrate the results of character actions, and maintain the narrative flow. In tabletop and live action RPGs the GM performs these duties in person. In video RPGs many of the functions of a GM are fulfilled by the game engine. However some multi-player video RPGs also allow for a participant to take on a GM role through a visual interface called a GM toolkit, albeit with abilities limited by the available technology.
Another standard concept in RPGs is the player character, a character in the fictional world of the game whose actions the player controls. Typically each player controls a separate player character, sometimes more, each of whom acts as a protagonist in the story.
In contrast to player characters, non-player characters (NPCs) are controlled by the gamemaster or game engine, or by people assisting the gamemaster. Non-player characters fill out the population of the fictional setting and can act as antagonists, bystanders or allies of the player characters.
But roleplaying is not purely educational. It's also one of the most creative possible entertainments. Most entertainment is passive: the audience just sits and watches, without taking part in the creative process. In roleplaying, the "audience" joins in the creation, may introduce huge impact to the project. The GM is the chief storyteller, but the players are responsible for portraying their characters. If they want something to happen in the story, they make it happen, because they're in the story.
As suggested by the name, TRPGs are played face-to-face (around a table, most likely), and involve players 'acting out' a role. This acting is not always literal. Players do not arrive in costume or speak exclusively in-character — something that differentiates TRPGs from live-action role-playing games (LARPs). Instead, players develop characters based on certain rules and are responsible for deciding what those characters do over the course of the game.
In some ways, the emphasis on character development has impeded progress in storytelling with RPGs. The central premise of these [computer RPGs] is that the player steadily builds his abilities by acquiring wealth, tools, weapons, and experience. This emphasis on character development tends to work against the needs of dramatic development - dramatic twists and turns clash with the prevailing tone of steady development. Fortunately, this impediment is not fundamental to the RPG genre; it is a cultural expectation rather than an architectural necessity.
Although Werewolf is a game, it is more concerned with storytelling than it is with winning. Werewolf is a tool enabling you to become involved in tales of passion and glory, and to help tell those stories yourself.
A roleplaying game is a storytelling game that has elements of the games of make-believe that many of us played as children.
The Role-Playing Game (RPG) is one of the major genres of games, and has proven an extremely portable concept - from the physically embodied live action and tabletop formats to the various digital, mobile and even enhanced and augmented reality formats.
A live action roleplaying game is a cross between a traditional 'tabletop' roleplaying game and improvisational theatre.
The LRP player, like a stage actor, is a person who under-goes a transformation into a character. The character’s costume and accessories, or kit, aids this transformation ... Physical structures may be used as game locations, and sometimes even purposely constructed to enhance the game world ... Players frequently use physical artifacts as props and tools in their role-play, primarily to back up their character roles.
"Live combat... requires the players' abilities to perform an action. You want to hit someone with a sword? You have to actually hit the player with a prop representing a sword, usually a padded weapon. ... Simulated combat is more abstract. It uses an external method that does not rely on player ability. For example, if you want to hit the other person with a sword, you may have to make a rock-paper-scissors challenge.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
...the participants sustain these temporary worlds for a few hours or several days
However, the majority of players in MMORPGs do not role-play at all, but self-play, that is, play as being themselves without adopting a fictional role.
Media related to Role-playing games at Wikimedia CommonsBASH! (role-playing game)
BASH! (which originally stood for "Basic Action Super Heroes") is a popular superhero role-playing game written by Chris Rutkowsky and published by Basic Action Games. The game system is designed to allow players to create virtually any type of hero or villain desired.Fantasy Grounds
Fantasy Grounds is a virtual tabletop application, which contains a set of tools to assist players of tabletop role-playing games playing either in person or remotely.Judges Guild
Judges Guild is a game publisher that has been active since 1976. The company created and sold many role-playing game supplements, periodicals and related materials, but became best known during the late 1970s and early 1980s as one of the leading publishers of Dungeons & Dragons related materials. Its flagship product, City State of the Invincible Overlord, was the first published RPG supplement to feature a fully developed city environment. The supplement was followed closely by numerous ancillary cities, maps, and other materials published by Judges Guild.Live action role-playing game
A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called gamemasters decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play.
The first LARPs were run in the late 1970s, inspired by tabletop role-playing games and genre fiction. The activity spread internationally during the 1980s and has diversified into a wide variety of styles. Play may be very game-like or may be more concerned with dramatic or artistic expression. Events can also be designed to achieve educational or political goals. The fictional genres used vary greatly, from realistic modern or historical settings to fantastic or futuristic eras. Production values are sometimes minimal, but can involve elaborate venues and costumes. LARPs range in size from small private events lasting a few hours to large public events with thousands of players lasting for days.Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are a combination of role-playing video games and massively multiplayer online games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual world.
As in all RPGs, the player assumes the role of a character (often in a fantasy world or science-fiction world) and takes control over many of that character's actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player online RPGs by the number of players able to interact together, and by the game's persistent world (usually hosted by the game's publisher), which continues to exist and evolve while the player is offline and away from the game.
MMORPGs are played throughout the world. Worldwide revenues for MMORPGs exceeded half a billion dollars in 2005, and Western revenues exceeded a billion dollars in 2006. In 2008, the spending on subscription MMORPGs by consumers in North America and Europe grew to $1.4 billion.World of Warcraft, a popular MMORPG, has over 10 million subscribers as of November 2014. World of Warcraft's total revenue was $1.04 billion US dollars in 2014. Star Wars: The Old Republic, released in 2011, became the world's 'Fastest-Growing MMOG Ever' after gaining more than 1 million subscribers within the first three days of its launch.Miniature model (gaming)
In miniature wargaming, players enact simulated battles using scale models called miniature models, which can be anywhere from 2mm to 54mm in height, to represent warriors, vehicles, artillery, buildings, and terrain. These models are colloquially referred to as miniatures or minis.
Miniature models are commonly made of metal, plastic, or paper. They are used to augment the visual aspects of a game and track position, facing, and line of sight of characters. Miniatures are typically painted and can be artfully sculpted, making them collectible in their own right. Pre-painted plastic figures, such as Clix miniatures produced by WizKids, have also become popular. The hobby of painting, collecting, and playing with miniatures originated with toy soldiers, though the latter were generally sold pre-painted.Player character
A player character (also known as PC and playable character) is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.Video games typically have one player character for each person playing the game. Some games offer a group of player characters for the player to choose from, allowing the player to control one of them at a time. Where more than one player character is available, the characters may have different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses to make the game play style different.RPGA
The RPGA (also called the Role Playing Game Association and the RPGA Network at various times), was initially part of the organized play arm of TSR, Inc and then Wizards of the Coast. From 1980 to 2014, it organized and sanctioned role-playing games worldwide.Role-playing video game
A role-playing video game (commonly referred to as simply a role-playing game or an RPG as well as a computer role-playing game or a CRPG) is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character (and/or several party members) immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games (including Dungeons & Dragons) and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.Tabletop role-playing game
A tabletop role-playing game (or pen-and-paper role-playing game) is a form of role-playing game (RPG) in which the participants describe their characters' actions through speech. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a set formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.Unlike other types of role-playing game, tabletop RPGs are often conducted like radio drama: only the spoken component of a role is acted. This acting is not always literal, and players do not always speak exclusively in-character. Instead, players act out their role by deciding and describing what actions their characters will take within the rules of the game. In most games, a specially designated player called the game master (GM)—also known as the Dungeon Master (DM) in Dungeons & Dragons, Referee for all Game Designers' Workshop games, or Storyteller for the Storytelling System—creates a setting in which each player plays the role of a single character. The GM describes the game world and its inhabitants; the other players describe the intended actions of their characters, and the GM describes the outcomes. Some outcomes are determined by the game system, and some are chosen by the GM.The terms pen-and-paper and tabletop are generally only used to distinguish this format of RPG from other formats, since neither pen and paper nor a table are strictly necessary.Tactical role-playing game
Tactical role-playing games (abbreviated as TRPG) are a genre of video game which incorporates elements of traditional role-playing video games with that of tactical games, emphasizing tactics rather than high-level strategy. In Japan, these games are known as "Simulation RPGs" (シミュレーションRPG, abbreviated as SRPG). The format of a tactical RPG video game is much like a traditional tabletop role-playing game in its appearance, pacing and rule structure. Likewise, early tabletop role-playing games are descended from skirmish wargames like Chainmail, which were primarily concerned with combat.