RPGs: A Cure for Late Winter Boredom
January 19, 2012
Towards the tail end of winter, I—like many people—begin to catch a little bit of the old cabin fever. But what can I do when I’ve exhausted my DVD collection and I’m just too antsy to sit and read? Especially when you’re watching your budget, it can be hard to find good entertainment that doesn’t break the bank. It’s often around the cold, dark days of January when I fall back on one of my favorite hobbies: roleplaying games.
Now, you may ask yourself, "What are roleplaying games?" It’s a good question. While roleplaying games (or RPGs) have a strong following, they aren’t exactly a common hobby. A simple definition of an RPG is a game in which the players (usually anywhere between 2 to 6 friends) create characters and assume the roles of these characters to play out a story or scenario in a fictional setting. Unlike writing fiction or conventional acting, the plot of the story is usually not decided before the game begins. The purpose of the game is to role-play the successes, failures, and interactions of these fictional characters to weave together a compelling story.
Most RPGs use a system of rules and guidelines to determine the success or failure of a player character’s action. The exact mechanics of these rules vary from game to game, so I won’t take the time to ramble on about such things here. Instead, I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite games that you can check out for yourself! If none of these catch your fancy, your own bookshelf may be a surprisingly good place to begin looking for alternate RPG inspiration. Many popular books, TV shows, and movies (H.P. Lovecraft’s Tales and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, amongst many others) have inspired RPGs of their own.
But, onto my favorites. Some of these you may have heard of—others, probably not. But if you’re interested in roleplaying games, I encourage you to look beyond these few suggestions and see what you can uncover for yourself. Whatever you do, remember to have fun!
Dungeons & Dragons
In many ways, D&D is what most people think of when they imagine roleplaying games. The Dungeons & Dragons line offers players several fantastical worlds in which to set their stories, many of which are inspired by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. You’ll need two books to get your own game started: the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Vampire: The Masquerade
If you like the Twilight series or Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, I suspect you might like this game. Vampire allows the players to create and play vampire characters in a world not unlike our own. If you’re more of a werewolf fan, fear not! You can play those too.
Inspired by Journey to the West, Homer’s The Odyssey, and even the classic anime Ninja Scroll, Exalted is more influenced by Eastern mythic traditions than many popular RPGs. Fans of our manga and anime collections here at MCPL may find that Exalted is right up their alley.
If this blog has inspired you and you just have to play right now, Lady Blackbird is an excellent, extremely easy game that can be downloaded for free online. It even comes with pre-written characters and a scenario, which will save you the time of coming up with such things yourself.