(Most of this OP stolen from Vanguard's Old Roleplaying Thread
Welcome to the Critical Failure's General Roleplaying Thread. It's where we talk about playing Elves, Wizards, Vampires, Cowboys, and Robots. It's where we come to argue about our favorite games. It's where we try to make a better game, sometimes.
It's a safe place. Except when the Gamemasters here decide it isn't and you forget to check for traps.
It's where we don't talk about Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. They do that over here.
What Is A Roleplaying Game?
A roleplaying game is a more structured version of what you did when you were young. Part improv-theatre, part board game (though usually without the board), it typically involves a group of people taking on the role of one of more characters and acting out their actions in a shared fictional setting. Most games designate one player as the Game Master, who arbitrates the rules, describes the setting, and narrates all of the non-player character's actions. Additionally, most games use a chance-based method to determine the outcome of conflicts and actions, dice being the most common.
Not All Games Are Created Equal
We are truly living in a golden era of roleplaying games. With so many options, it can be hard to know where to start and which game is the right fit for your group. Before going to your friendly, local game store (FLGS) and plunking down on the hot new game of the week, it might be useful to start by sitting down with your group and discussing the kind of game you want to play. Is there a particular setting you want to explore? Genre? How rules-heavy do you want the game to be? All of these are important questions and there are no right answers. Each group is different and you will likely have to experiment before finding what works.
Additionally, this thread is full of people with a wide variety of gaming tastes and tons of experience. Use us a resource! It's more than likely someone in this thread has played whatever game you're interested in and can answer any questions you may have.
Below are the definitions for some common and not so common terms you might encounter in this thread.
: Character generation; the act of making a character for a game
: Rules, mechanics; the opposite of Fluff
: Math and/or rules-intensive; the opposite of Fluffy
: Game master; see also Judge, Dungeon Master
: Setting/ambience; the opposite of Crunch
: Relies on fiction for explanation more than numbers; the opposite of Crunchy
: In-Character; typically used in PbP games, this designates that a character is acting
: When a player makes in-game decisions based on information their character does not have
: Non-player character; everyone who is not controlled by one of the players at the table
: Out-of-Character; typically used in PbP games, this designates table chatter and things not said by the character
: Old School Renaissance; refers to games and/or playstyles that emulate the experience of the early editions of Dungeons & Dragons
: Play-by-Post; games played via message boards
: A game that has rules to facilitate storytelling
: Total Party Kill; when every single player character is killed during an encounter
Games, Games, and More Games
: Rules Light
: Rules Heavy
: Storygame Elements
In the 13th Age of the world, adventurers seek their fortunes in the Dragon Empire while powerful individuals known as Icons pursue goals that may preserve the empire from chaos, or send it over the edge.
Players decide which Icons their characters ally with, and which ones they oppose. These relationships, along with a personal history and a unique trait chosen during character creation, help define an adventurer’s place in the world of 13th Age and lay the groundwork for epic stories that emerge through play.
There are also fun new rules for hitting orcs and making them go splat.
Burning Wheel is a fantasy roleplaying game first published in 2002. Since then, the game and its supplements have gone on to win critical notoriety, a handful of awards and respect from the RPG community. In 2011, we published the latest edition, Burning Wheel Gold. There are 3200 copies of the current edition of Burning Wheel in print, but over 12,000 copies of the game overall. There are three supplements for Burning Wheel: the Monster Burner, the Magic Burner and the Adventure Burner. There are also two setting books, Jihad — an homage to Dune — and The Blossoms Are Falling — an historic setting for Heian Era Japan.
Burning Wheel uses a simple D6 die pool system at its core. Grab a handful of dice equal to your skill or stat. Roll the dice. Any 4s, 5s or 6s that result are considered successes. You need a certain number of successes to pass tests. The system builds on that simple core to create deep, dynamic results.
During play, the GM challenges a player’s Beliefs. The player overcomes these challenges and drives the story by testing his character’s abilities. A test can be resolved in a single roll or decided in an extended conflict, social or martial. The GM doles out the consequences for failure based on what the player was trying to accomplish. You want to find a woodsman to guide you through the forest — make a Circles test. If you fail he’s suspicious of thieves so he’s shooting first and asking questions later. You want to get some gear — make a Resources test. If you fail you can’t afford it but your rival comes forward with the offer of a loan and a suppressed smirk. You want to convince your enemy to let your friends go — engage him in a Duel of Wits. Structure your argument well, because if you fail, he might just convince you to take the place of your friends in exchange for their freedom. You want that bastard dead? Draw your sword and take him out in a blow-by-blow melee — Fight! Don’t fail this time, though, because it might be your last. You the player decide how far to take it. You reap the rewards and weather the consequences.
In this game, the consequences for failure lead to the next conflict. There are no dead-ends in Burning Wheel, unless it’s a dead-end alley with your enemies lying in wait. The story told is about the path that gets you to your goals. Whether the game is political, military, or a classic sword and sorcery adventure, you decide. You write your own Beliefs about what you want and Instincts that describe how you react. You advance your skills to help you get there and you earn traits that describe how you come out on the other side. One way or another, when you play Burning Wheel, you’re playing with fire.
You’re no hero.
Dungeons & Dragons
You’re an adventurer: a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen-slayer, a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets. You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons, and the vanquished. There are treasures to be won deep underneath, and you shall have them.
Return to the glory days of fantasy with the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game. Adventure as 1974 intended you to, with modern rules grounded in the origins of sword & sorcery. Fast play, cryptic secrets, and a mysterious past await you.
+ Ω §
The first Dungeons & Dragons game was played back when Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson chose to personalize the massive battles of their fantasy wargames with the exploits of individual heroes. This inspiration became the first fantasy roleplaying game, in which players are characters in an ongoing fantasy story. This new kind of game has become immensely popular over the years, and D&D has grown to include many new ways to vividly experience worlds of heroic fantasy.
The core of D&D is storytelling. You and your friends tell a story together, guiding your heroes through quests for treasure, battles with deadly foes, daring rescues, courtly intrigue, and much more. You can also explore the world of Dungeons & Dragons through any of the novels written by its fantasy authors, as well as engaging board games and immersive video games. All of these stories are part of D&D.
We have a dedicated thread for Fifth Edition here.
Combining high-action dungeon crawling with cutting-edge rules, Dungeon World is a roleplaying game of fantasy adventure. You and your friends will explore a land of magic and danger in the roles of adventurers searching for fame, gold, and glory.
Iron Kingdoms RPG
Dungeon World’s rules are easy to learn and always drive the action forward in unexpected ways. A missed roll is never a dead end—failure introduces new complexities and complications. Life as an adventurer is hard and dangerous but it’s never boring!
Designed to be ready for you to hack, remix, and build new content, Dungeon World includes systems for changing everything to suit your group including creating new races, classes, and monsters.
It is a land like no other, a place where steam power and gunpowder meet sword and sorcery.
The Iron Kingdoms possess a rich history—and a tumultuous future—full of unique monsters, deities, heroes, and villains. Immerse yourself in the detailed world of gritty conflict and sorcery with the Iron Kingdoms RPG. Unleash the power of mechanika, the fusion of magic and machine. Take on the persona of unique character classes, like the gun mage who combines powerful magic with a deadly acumen for firearms or the steamjack-commanding warcaster. Travel through a fantastic world that takes classic fantasy concepts and gives them a new twist with a high-octane rush of steam power and industrial engineering.
Prepare yourself for an experience like no other.
The world of the Iron Kingdoms awaits!
Lady Blackbird is on the run from an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe. She hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to take her from her palace on the Imperial world of Ilysium to the far reaches of the Remnants, so she could be with her once secret lover: the pirate king Uriah Flint.
HOWEVER, just before reaching the halfway point of Haven, The Owl was pursued and captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, under charges of flying a false flag.
EVEN NOW, Lady Blackbird, her bodyguard, and the crew of The Owl are detained in the brig, while the Imperial commander runs the smuggler ship’s registry over the wireless. It’s only a matter of time before they discover the outstanding warrants and learn that The Owl is owned by none other than the infamous outcast, Cyrus Vance.
How will Lady Blackbird and the others escape the Hand of Sorrow?
What dangers lie in their path?
Will they be able to find the secret lair of the pirate king? if they do, will Uriah Flint accept Lady Blackbird as his bride? By the time they get there, will she want him to?
Go. Play. And find out.
Enter a fantastic world of adventure!
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game puts you in the role of a brave adventurer fighting to survive in a world beset by magic and evil. Will you cut your way through monster-filled ruins and cities rife with political intrigue to emerge as a famous hero laden with fabulous treasure, or will you fall victim to treacherous traps and fiendish monsters in a forgotten dungeon? Your fate is yours to decide with this giant Core Rulebook that provides everything a player needs to set out on a life of adventure and excitement!
This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 10 years of system development and an open playtest involving more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into the new millennium.
Adventurer is a dirty word. You’re a scoundrel, a villain, a wastrel, a vagabond, a criminal, a sword-for-hire, cutthroat. Respectable people belong to guilds, the church or are born into nobility. Or barring all that, they’re salt of the earth and till the land for the rest of us. Your problem is that you’re none of that. You’re a third child or worse. You can’t get into a guild—too many apprentices already. You’re sure as hell not nobility—even if you were, your older brothers and sisters have soaked up the inheritance. The churches—they’ll take you, but they have so many acolytes, they hand you kit and a holy sign and send you right out the door again: Get out there and preach the word and find something nice for mother church. And if you ever entertained romantic notions of farming, think again. You’d end up little more than a slave to a wealthy noble.
3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars
So there’s naught for us but to make our own way. There’s a certain freedom to it, but it’s a hard life. Cash flows out of our hands as easily as the blood from our wounds. But at least it’s our life. And if we’re lucky, smart and stubborn, we might come out on top. There’s a lot of lost loot out there for the finding. And salvage law is mercifully generous. We find it, it’s ours to spend, sell or keep.
Torchbearer is a riff on the early model of fantasy roleplaying games. In it, you take on the role of an adventurer seeking his or her fortune. To earn that fortune, you must explore fornlorn ruins, brave terrible monsters and retreive forgotten treasures. However, this game is not about being a hero. It is not about fighting for what you believe. This game is about exploration and survival. You may become a hero. You might have to fight for your ideals. But to do either of those things, you must prove yourself in the wilds. Because there are no jobs, no inheritance, no other opportunities for our deadbeat adventurers. This life is their only hope to prosper in this world.
3:16 CARNAGE AMONGST THE STARS is a high-octane Science-Fiction role-playing game for 2 or more players. Your Space Troopers will kill bugs all across the Cosmos. You'll advance in rank, improve your weapons, slay civilization after civilization, and find out who you are through an innovative 'Flashback' mechanic. Terra's plan is to kill every living thing in the Universe to protect the home world. See where your tour of duty in the 3:16th Expeditionary Force takes you and your friends. Revel in the kill-happy machismo and enjoy a campaign of Carnage Amongst the Stars. Featuring a stunning cover by Paul Bourne, and interior art by writer/games designer Gregor Hutton, 3:16 is a bloody triumph of games design.
Your mind is software. Program it.
Your body is a shell. Change it.
Death is a disease. Cure it.
Extinction is approaching. Fight it.
Eclipse Phase is a game about Transhumanity and the horrors, conspiracies, and hard times that your character lives in. Set in a place where people have abandoned Earth thanks to the nanobots called Titans, you now spend your days living on space stations, colonized planets, and space ships. Usually you are called to help some shadowy organization called Firewall protect the solar system from some terrible threat, but you may also belong to another organization that wants something else. And when you are tasked to do something that may pit you against one organization or another, the game really gets interesting.
You are really made of two parts, one is called your Ego and it's your personality and all the things that make up you. The other part is your Morph, which is your body. In EP, death is not final for your character, however, it isn't without penalty. Anything you have done since your last "save" could be lost, and your character might wake up in a new morph, weeks later, wondering what happen the reason you died and what will happen to you now. The whole group dying is not only enjoyable, but is sometimes the best option for your character.
There are cracks in the world. They’re slender, dark, and often cold, but they are the only things that keep you hidden. Keep you alive. They are the shadows of the world, and they are where you live.
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire
You are a shadowrunner, thriving in the margins, doing the jobs no one else can. You have no office, no permanent home, no background to check. You are whatever you make yourself. Will you seek justice? Sow seeds of chaos? Sell out to the highest bidder? It’s up to you, but this much is certain—if you do nothing, the streets will eat you alive.
You can survive—even flourish—as long as you do what it takes. Sacrifice part of your soul for bleeding-edge gear. Push the limits of your will learning new and dangerous magic. Wire yourself into the Matrix, making your mind one with screaming streams of data. It’ll cost you something—everything does—but you can make it worth the price.
Participate in grim and gritty adventures in places where morality is gray and nothing is certain. Ply your trade as a smuggler in the Outer Rim, collect bounties on the scum that live in the shadows of Coruscant, or try to establish a new colony on a planet beneath the Empire’s notice.