Diving into the Different Genres of Roleplay Gaming
Role-playing games, at the heart, are games played for fun with or without friends. It’s a way for escaping into a fantasy, Sci-Fi or other kinds of adventure. Their a ton of different types of role play that suit individual tastes. This quick guide is geared toward explaining what some of the most popular types of role-playing. This is not a complete list and we encourage you to research the areas you find most interesting.
Again, this guide is not suppose to be the end all be all of role-playing games. This is just a helpful guide to get you started on the journey. There is a lot to choose from when one is planning to go on an adventure. Good luck and remember, always bring a healer!
Tabletop role-playing is what you might call “traditional” role-playing. Game play happens around a table and includes a dungeon master, or DM, that weaves a story. Each person participates by creating a character, on paper, that is then weaved into the story. Essentially the DM creates a story with certain obstacles that the players must overcome and are rewarded for with experience points which they then use to make their characters stronger.
These campaigns could take an afternoon or months to complete and the group generally consists of the DM and 4-5 players, who take the role of a fighter, thief, mage, or healer. Of course these roles can vary greatly from game to game and encompass many different genres from fantasy to science fiction to horror even. At the heart of tabletop RPGs is a group of friends going on an adventure together. Some of the most popular tabletop RPGs are “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Pathfinder.”
Deck-based role-playing is very different than all of the others because technically it’s not really role-playing. Granted games like Magic the Gathering want people to get into the role that they are Planeswalkers “people with the ability to travel to different dimensions” and you use the deck of cards that you build to do battle with other Planeswalkers, or players, to see who is the best. Yes, there is a story about warring Planeswalkers but it takes a back seat to the deck building and game play.
This is how most deck based RPG’s are set up and you’ll find that they can be highly competitive. However there are other games that have tried to incorporate actual role-playing with card decks. Pathfinder has a deck-based RPG where the player has a character card, like a warrior, and they shuffle a series of decks then place them in front of them and the decks are random encounters with monsters or equipment cards that strengthen your character.
The goal of these games is to find the boss card, which is hidden in the deck, and defeat it. It is very linear game play but it can be more structured then traditional role-playing. With games like these, you don’t need anyone else to play with. Some of the popular deck based RPGs are “Magic the Gathering,” “Pokemon” and “Pathfinder.”
Text-based role-playing, whether online or not, is one of the oldest types of role -playing games and are still around to this day. One could say this type started with the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books then was transferred over to computers. Basically the player, usually from the first person point of view, would enter a castle or forest then they would be given a series of choices like “do you want to go left” or “do you want to examine the area.” Nine out of 10 times the play would meet a grisly end. It really didn’t matter because you could always start over and choose a different option.
With the advent of smart phone and gaming apps, text based role-playing has moved online and what was once a one person experience has grown. While the choices and game play are still the same, now players can interact with others in the game world and their choice can affect other players choices. Most of the games are played on smart phones because they are easy to make and some popular ones are “TORN City” and “Sryth.”
Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing, MMORPG, is pretty self explanatory. Millions of players playing a single game and running around doing quests, battling enemies and in some cases each other. This type of role play is very common. However, there are still single player role-playing video games, but even those have an online alternative. Two of the most iconic RPG video game franchises are “The Elder Scrolls” and “Final Fantasy.” Both started as single player RPG’s but each boasts hours of interactive game play and compelling stories for the player to get immersed in.
Now both of them have online games that boast millions of users. There’s one catch though, for most of these games you must pay a monthly subscription to play with your friends. Though they do give you the first month free. The one MMORPG that arguably rules them all is the World of Warcraft. This game set the standard for what a successful MMORPG should strive to be and is still going strong. Other MMORPGs include “Guild Wars,” “League of Legends” and “Kingdom Hearts.”
LARPing or Live Action Role-Playing is closely tied to the idea of tabletop role-playing but sometimes without a dungeon master and without dice. The participants take the role of their character in body and form by dressing like them and acting as their character during the adventure. One of the most mainstream LARPing games was “White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade,” in which the players would “Masquerade” as a vampire within a clan of vampires and they would fight other characters who were in opposing clans. LARPing can be really fun if you’re able to find a group of people that you are comfortable playing make believe with for a couple of hours. “Dystopia Rising” and “Alliance LARP” are just some of the active LARPing groups with chapters across the globe.
Cosplay is not so much about playing a certain game but more about the fabrication and the skill at which the player executes the look of a certain character from another popular media source like anime, manga or comic books. Cosplay is mostly about people wanting to emulate, by dressing as, their favorite characters from the stories they have read or the movies they have watched. Cosplay has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years and even has a show on the Syfy channel titled “Heroes of Cosplay.” One of the most prominent cosplayers is Yaya Han.