Introduction to Role Playing Games
This section is primarily written for people who are new to tabletop roleplaying games. If you have previous experience playing such games, you’re probably familiar with the information in the next few paragraphs, and can skip to the next section without missing too much. If you’re new to the genre, however, or feel like you need a refresher course, read on.
Roleplaying games, in their broadest sense, are simply games in which a player assumes an alternate persona and directs that persona through a series of challenges and opportunities, known to most of us as “adventures.” Your attachment to and assumption of this persona may or may not be serious or even particularly well thought out; those of us who have experience in online RPGs have probably run into a dark elf warlock, master of evil and scary energies, who wears a pink bathrobe and answers to “Holden Magroen” – or, at least, a similar character. Still, even joke characters count as alternate personae, albeit usually shallow ones.
Tabletop roleplaying games, such as Legends, have a few more distinctive traits. Computer roleplaying games tend to feature one-size-fits-all quests and storylines that are scripted to allow for relatively low levels of player choice, predicted and programmed in by the games’ creators. In contrast, tabletop roleplaying games almost always include a “Game Master” (or GM) – a human referee who describes the world and the responses of people and monsters to the players’ choices. Tabletop roleplaying games therefore allow much more space for creativity and player choice. Of course, tabletop RPGs do not necessarily have to take place in person, around a tabletop. Many players participate in play-by-post forum games or via instant messaging, voice chat, or specially-designed virtual tabletop software.
In a tabletop roleplaying game, you are one of at least two (and usually no more than seven or eight) participants. One of them (possibly you) is the GM, and the rest are players. The GM, as mentioned above, gives the players information about the world around them, and the players make decisions about what their characters do with that information. Beyond this, roleplaying games are just as diverse as the groups of people who enjoy them. Some games focus on intense tactical detail in the tradition of the war games from which RPGs developed, while others are essentially improvisational theater in which the actors – the people around the table – attempt to portray their characters based on complex motivations, friendships, and antagonisms. A lot of games just focus on the player characters doing cool stuff.
No particular style of game is inherently superior to another, and we designed Legends to accommodate games that focus on many different thematic elements. That said, we do have some fairly strong opinions about game design, and there are a few behaviors and gaming styles out there that we explicitly don’t support. We’ll cover that in the next section.