What is a table top roleplaying game?

Table top roleplaying games (TTRPGs) are games of collaborative storytelling, that work a lot like “let’s play pretend” but with rules. 

Most table top roleplaying games require nothing other than your imagination, a friend, a rule book, and some dice. As the field has grown, some games have been created that use blocks instead of dice or no dice at all; no rule book; no friends – but your imagination is still always required.

Most table top roleplaying gameplay involve a game master (GM) –known in some systems as the Dungeon Master (DM), Storyteller, or some other name– who’s role is to adjudicate the rules, set the stage of the story, and play the role of the minor characters and villains. Usually the other participants act of the roles of the Characters or the protagonists of the game. 

How long do table top roleplaying games take to play?

The amount of time table top roleplaying games last can vary, but generally takes around 3 to 4 hours (about the time it takes to play a round of golf). This time spent in a single day is generally called a “session” and are most frequently played on a recurring basis (weekly, monthly, etc). Sessions are often well extensions of the previous one, with the same characters and game master, and central story. These collections of sessions are often referred to as a “campaign”. A session that’s played once and is not intended to be extended is often called a “one shot”. 

Do TTRPGs have to be played in person?

Despite their name, present day technology means that TTRPGs do not need to be played in person. Many people today play online using a combination of tools: Discord, Zoom, and even specialized tools call VTTs (Virtual Table Tops). The makers of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast, have announced their intention to create a virtual table top system using the unreal game engine to support their latest release of Dungeons & Dragons (One D&D). 

Do you need miniatures to play table top playing games?

Miniatures or “minis” have been a part of table top roleplaying games for decades, but are not required to play, as they are in war games like Warhammer. TTRPGs are imagination based, but many people have enjoyed purchasing, painting and playing with miniatures as a part of their game. Thought of by many as an expensive style of play, when they are used, miniatures can often be mixed with dice, scraps of paper, rocks, or whatever a game master has lying around. For a true premium experience, you can mix the physical with the digital VTTs using a platform like GameBoard.

Are table top roleplaying games all wizards and dragons?

While the most popular TTRPG (Dungeons & Dragons) is a fantasy-themed game (aka, wizards, knights, and dragons) just about any genre you can think of (sci-fi, horror, zombie apocalypse, western, modern day, etc.) likely has multiple game systems designed to play to match that world. In fact many movies, books, comic books, and even video games have a table top roleplaying system that has been licensed and created (Fallout, Dr. Who, Starwars, Startrek, Marvel superheroes, the Dark Crystal, etc.). Because of the resurgence in popularity of table top roleplaying games, some TTRPGs are actually being released as movie franchises – the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons Movie being the most prominent example of this. 

What are some examples of table top roleplaying games?

The most well-known table top roleplaying game is Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), though hundreds of TTRPGs exist, produced over the years by dozens of publishers. Some of the other most common TTRPGs include Vampire, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, and many, many more.

How many people play table top roleplaying games?

The number of people who have played roleplaying games is difficult to know for certain, since there is no single game or central registry. However based on data released we know that tens of millions of people have played: over 40 million having played Dungeons & Dragons alone and the largest virtual table top provider, Roll20 has a user base of over 10 million people. These numbers are global, but the vast majority of books and platforms are primarily English-based, so the growth potential is significant.

Are MMORPGs the same thing?

MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games) aren’t the same thing as table top roleplaying games. MMOs are video games that are played online, and allow people to play together. Sometimes people in those games engage in roleplaying – collaborative story telling – that goes above and beyond what the game storyline allows.

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