Tabletop role-playing game

Typically, RPG publishers have a very long life cycle once they manage to generate an initial successful game. TSR, the initial publisher of Dungeons & Dragons was an independent entity until 1997 when it was acquired by Wizards of the Coast, who was subsequently acquired by Hasbro in 1999. Many of TSRs contemporaries remain in business as independent publishers. The core design group of a publisher is often kept as a team within the new company for the purposes of continuity and productivity, thoughlayoffsare common after such mergers and acquisitions. For example, Wizards of the Coast experienced multiple layoffs in the wake of acquiringLast Unicorn Gamesand after its own acquisition byHasbro.

The Creation of Narrative in Tabletop Role-Playing Games

Market research conducted at Wizards of the Coast in 1999-2000 indicated that more than 1.5 million people played D&D on a monthly basis, and about 2 million people played all tabletop RPGs combined on a monthly basis. The success of the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons likely resulted in an increase in those totals.[citation needed]These figures for play are substantially larger than the figures for sales. In 2006, non-Dungeons & Dragons tabletop RPGs in the upper echelons of sales typically generated between five and ten thousand unit sales. Most commercially published RPGs aresmall pressproducts, having less than a thousand units sold.[citation needed]The technology ofprint on demandis strongly used in RPGs, since it reduces run costs for the typical small print runs.

As suggested by the name, TRPGs are played face-to-face (around a table, most likely), and involve players acting out a role. This acting is not always literal. Players do not arrive in costume or speak exclusively in-character something that differentiates TRPGs from live-action role-playing games (LARPs). Instead, players develop characters based on certain rules and are responsible for deciding what those characters do over the course of the game.

The largest publisher of role-playing games isWizards of the Coast, a wholly owned subsidiary ofHasbroand publisher ofDungeons & Dragons, the D20Star WarsRPG, and a number of smaller D20 titles. Most analysts giveWhite Wolfthe second largest industry market share, and the highest share in live-action games. Most role-playing game publishers are privately held companies and do not release sales figures, making precise estimates difficult. There has been no publicly available, systematic examination of point of sale data, limiting further estimates to a rough consensus between industry analysts whose conclusions are often controversial.[citation needed]

attendance at conventions and events; this is particularly common among live-action games.

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the so-calledthree-tier distribution model, under which the company sells products to distributors who in turn sell the products to retailers who sell to customers. This is traditionally divided into the hobby trade (used by the majority of print publishers) and the book trade (viable for a smaller number of companies able to absorb returns and provide sufficiently large print runs). The industry consensus is that hobby retail sales have greatly declined, with the balance of hobby games sales moving from RPGs tominiaturesgames andcollectible card games

Unlike other types of role-playing game, tabletop RPGs are often conducted likeradio drama: only the spoken component of a role is acted. This acting is not always literal, and players do not always speak exclusively in-character. Instead, players act out their role by deciding and describing what actions their characters will take within the rules of the game.[3]In most games, a specially designated player called thegame master(GM)also known as the Dungeon Master (DM) inDungeons & Dragons, Referee for allGame Designers Workshopgames, or Storyteller for theStorytelling Systemcreates asettingin which each player plays the role of a singlecharacter. The GM describes the game world and its inhabitants; the other players describe the intended actions of their characters, and the GM describes the outcomes. Some outcomes are determined by the game system, and some are chosen by the GM.[2]

In practice, even universal systems are often biased toward a specific style or genre and adaptable to others. For example, although the d20 system has sourcebooks formodernandfuturisticsettings, most published d20 system material stays withinDungeons & Dragonscombat-focused fantasymilieu.[citation needed]

A number of campaign settings have fused multiple genres into a single game[citation needed].Shadowruncombined fantasy withCyberpunk,Castle Falkensteindrew on fantasy andSteampunkelements, andTorgmashed up fantasy, science fiction, pulp and horror elements. Meanwhile,Feng Shuicombined Chinese historical fantasy with Kung Fu action tropes anddystopianscience fiction. InGURPS Infinite Worlds, the characters play Infinity Patrol agents who travel toalternate worlds, some if which include fantasy or steampunk as well as science fiction elements.

Main article:Statistic (role-playing games)

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needs additional citations forverification

Homebrewgames are game systems designed by amateurs, most often for use by one gaming group. The term refers to a groups GM making or brewing his or her unique set of rules to fit the campaign setting, or to appeal to the specific interests of the players. The term Homebrew can describe anything from customizing an existing commercial product (by adding or changing a few minor rules), to creating an entire standalone system. Most long-running campaigns will eventually develop into a homebrew state, as in house rules, misunderstandings or selective application of rule-system accumulates. A few homebrewed games are designed to be redistributed and modified by the use of open content licenses, such as theYags, andWikiRPSsystems. The decision to license the game under permissive conditions allows the cultivation of homebrew communities, similar to the ones found with popularopen sourceprojects.

The GM then begins the game by introducing and describing the setting and the characters. The players describe their characters actions, and the GM responds by describing the outcome of those actions. Usually, these outcomes are determined by the setting and the GMs common sense; most actions are straightforward and immediately successful.[2]For example, if a player has their character look around a room, the GM will describe the room; if they have their character leave, the GM will describe whatever they encounter outside the room.[citation needed]

List of role-playing games by genre

Dungeons & Dragons, developed in 1974 byDave ArnesonandE. Gary Gygaxand published by Gygaxs company,TSR, was the first commercially available role-playing game. TSR marketed the game as a niche product. Gygax expected to sell about 50,000 copies total to a strictly hobbyist market.[10]After establishing itself in boutique stores, it developed a strong, lasting fan base.

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electronic sales and distribution, either without any physical product at all (e-books) or through aPODservice. Once limited to small companies, this sales venue is now employed by publishers of all sizes.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The outcomes of some actions are determined by the rules of the game. For example, while looking around the room, a character may or may not notice an important object or secret doorway, depending on the characters powers of perception. This usually involves rolling dice, and comparing the number rolled to their characters statistics to see whether the action was successful. Typically, the higher the characters score in a particular attribute, the higher their probability of success. Combat is resolved in a similar manner, depending on the characters combat skills and physical attributes. In some game systems, characters can increase their attribute scores during the course of the game (or over multiple games) as the result of experience gained. There are alternate game systems which arediceless, or use alternate forms of randomization, such as the non-numerical dice ofFudgeor aJengatower.[4]

Kim, John.What is a Role-Playing Game?

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direct sales via the internet, through an online retailer or through the companys own electric storefront.

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Sacco, Ciro Alessandro (2004-03-04).The Ultimate Interview with Gary Gygax. Atlas of Adventure. Archived fromthe originalon 2004-05-30.

The termspen-and-paperandtabletopare generally only used to distinguish this format of RPG from other formats, since neither pen and paper nor a table are strictly necessary.[2]

Most systems are tied to the setting of the game they feature in. However, someuniversal role-playing game systemscan be adapted to any genre.Basic Role-Playing(1980) was the first of these, adapted from the fantasy RPGRuneQuest. The following yearChampionswas published; it was accompanied by a number of sourcebooks w (collectively called theHero System) allowing play in a wide range of genres. Thed20 system, based on the third edition ofDungeons & Dragons, was used in many modern or science fiction game settings such asSpycraftand theStar Wars Roleplaying Game.

Rilstone, Andrew(1994).Role-Playing Games: An Overview. RPGnet

During a typical game session, the GM will introduce a goal for the players to achieve through the actions of their characters. Frequently, this involves interacting withnon-player characters, other denizens of the game world, which are played by the GM. Many game sessions contain moments of puzzle solving, negotiation, chases, and combat. The goal may be made clear to the players at the outset, or may become clear to them during the course of a game.[citation needed]

Tabletop role-playing games have origins inwargaming. In turn, wargaming has roots in ancientstrategy games, particularlyChess, which originated from theancient IndiangameChaturanga. From the late 18th century to the 19th century,chess variantsevolved into modern wargames, most notablyKriegsspiel. More than a century later, theminiature wargameChainmail, released in 1971, eventually became the basis forDungeons & Dragons.[5][6]

List of designers of role-playing games

One of the first original role-playing games wasM. A. R. BarkersEmpire of the Petal Throne, first published in 1974, the same year asDungeons & Dragons. It introduced the fictional world ofTkumel, influenced byIndianMiddle-EasternEgyptianand.[11]It also introduced the game mechanic ofcritical hits.[12]Using these rules a player who rolls a 20 on a 20 sided die does double the normal damage, and a 20 followed by a 19 or 20 counts as a killing blow. According to creator Barker, this simulates the lucky hit on a vital organ.[13]The game influenced Arneson and Gygax, who was so impressed with it that his company TSR publishedEmpire of the Petal Thronein 1975.[11]TSR published Barkers game and setting as a standalone game, rather than as a supplement to the originalD&Drules.[14]

Most role-playing games require the participation of agamemaster(GM), who creates a setting for the game session, portrays most of its inhabitants, known asnon-player characters(NPCs) and acts as the moderator and rules arbitrator for the players. The rest of the participants create and play inhabitants of the game setting, known asplayer characters(PCs). The player characters collectively are known as a party.[citation needed]

Main article:Role-playing game system

Indiegames are produced by a self-identified independent games community, or individuals who identify with that community. Generally they are self-published or published by a collective group of small publishers. The indie role-playing game community often produces games with signature and idiosyncratic character. Some indie publishers often eschew the three-tier distribution model and sell directly online and atconventions, or directly to stores, but many do use distribution services. The line between indie publishers and mainstream publishers is hazy at best. Varying definitions require that commercial, design, or conceptual elements of the game stay under the control of the creator, or that the game should just be produced outside of a corporate environment, or be distributed without dependence on the industrys three-tier retail structure.

Where weve been and where were going.

Competition fromrole-playing video gamesandcollectible card gamesled to a decline in the tabletop role-playing game industry. The financially troubled market leaderTSR, Inc., which had suffered financial setbacks from overproduction, was eventually purchased byWizards of the Coast.[23]To better cope with the economics of role-playing games, they introduced a new regime ofopen gaming, allowing other companies to publish D&D-compatible supplements. Meanwhile, self-definedIndie role-playingcommunities arose on the internet, studying role-playing and developing several forms ofrole-playing game theorysuch asGNS theory, and critical reflection on role-playing games has become popular in Scandinavia leading even to a yearly academic conference.[citation needed]

Statistics recorded on a character sheet

Main article:Indie role-playing game

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Skills are abilities that only some characters possess, such as negotiation, horseback riding, and marksmanship. Game systems often define skills that are genre-appropriate. For example, fantasy settings generally includemagicskills, while science-fiction settings may containspaceshippiloting skills. However, some skills are found in several genres: a medieval rogue and a Wild West outlaw may both be very proficient at throwing knives, and a skill labeled diplomacy may benefit ancient Roman patricians or industrial tycoons of the 19th century equally well.[citation needed]

Role-playing games are produced under a variety ofbusiness models, which succeed or fail based on those models objectives. The smallest viable businesses are one person companies that produce games usingprint on demandande-booktechnologies. Most of these companies provide a secondary income for their owner-operators. Many of these businesses employfreelancers, but some do not; their owners complete every aspect of the product. Larger companies may have a small office staff that manages publishing, brand development and freelance work. Guided by a developer/manager, freelancers produce most of a game lines content according to a central plan. Finally, a few companies (such as Wizards of the Coast andMongoose Publishing) maintain an in-house writing and design staff.

Atabletop role-playing game(orpen-and-paper role-playing game) is a form ofrole-playing game(RPG) in which the participants describe their characters actions through speech. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on theircharacterization,[1]and the actions succeed or fail according to a setformal systemof rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom toimprovise; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.[2]

. McFarland & Company. p.6.ISBN978-0-7864-4451-9.

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Each game has asettingin whichadventuresandcampaignscan take place. Usually a campaign setting is designed for a specific game (such as theForgotten Realmssetting forDungeons & Dragons) or a specific genre of game (such as Medieval fantasy,World War II, or outer space/science fiction adventure). There are numerous campaign settings available both in print and online. In addition to published campaign settings available for purchase, manygame masterscreate their own.[citation needed]

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There are three primary types of campaign setting. The first exists ingenre- and setting-specific role-playing games such asWarhammerorWorld of Darknesswhich exist specifically within one setting. The second type of setting is for games that have multiple settings such as modernDungeons & Dragonsor those that were developed specifically to be independent of setting such asGURPS. The final type of setting is developed without being tied to a particular game system. Typically this last sort are developed first as stand-alone works of fiction, which are later adapted to one or more role playing systems such as theStar Warsuniverse orMiddle-earth.[citation needed]

A few games allow free-form character creation. Characteristics are simply assigned as a player sees fit, and the final result is submitted to the GM or group for approval. Free-form character creation can be implemented in any game system, but is only rarely the prescribed or assumed method.[citation needed]

Role players in a private game session

Characters in role-playing games are usually represented by a number ofstatistics. Statistics are an abstract measure of how successful a character is likely to be at a class of tasks. Many game systems make distinctions between two key types of statistic:attributesandskills. Some, such asBurning WheelandThe Shadow of Yesterdayinclude character motivations among these resources. These names are not at all consistent across different games, however.[citation needed]

Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games

Character point-based systems, such asHero System, allow complete freedom of concept. The downside is that, in many cases, character creation is much more complex, making the GM spend a lot more time examining and approving each character concept.[citation needed]

The use of the term world in describing a campaign setting is loose, at best. Campaign worlds such as theWorld of Greyhawkdetail entire cosmologies and time-lines of thousands of years, while the setting of a game such asDeadlandsmight only describe one nation within a brief segment ofalternate history.[citation needed]

The standard business model for successful RPGs relies on multiple sales avenues:

Game rules determine the success or failure of a characters actions. Many game systems use weightedstatisticsanddice rollsor other random elements. In most systems, the GM uses the rules to determine a target number though often the targets are determined in a more principled fashion. The player rolls dice, trying to get a result either more than or less than the target number, depending on the game system. Not all games determine successes randomly, however; an early and popular game without random elements isAmber Diceless Roleplaying GamebyErick Wujcik(1990).[citation needed]

Before play begins, players develop a concept of the role they would like to play in the game. They then use the game systems character creation rules to form a representation of their characters, in terms of game mechanics. The characters statistics are recorded on a special-purpose form called acharacter sheet. Some systems, such as that ofFeng Shui, require characters to choose from a set of pre-built template characters with only a small amount of customization allowed. Others, like thed20 System, usecharacter classesto define most character concepts, but allow some freedom with the statistics within those classes. Still others, such asGURPS, allow the player to create their own character concepts by freely assigning statistics.[citation needed]

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Another early game wasTraveller, designed byMarc Millerand first published in 1977 byGame Designers Workshop. This was originally intended to be a system for playing generic space-opera-themed science-fiction adventures (in the same sense thatDungeons & Dragonswas a system for generic fantasy adventures), but an optional setting called theThird Imperiumthat was detailed in subsequent supplements became strongly identified with the game. The changes in this setting over time, especially those involving the Fifth Frontier War as depicted in theJournal of the Travellers Aid Society, arguably constitute the first use ofmetaplotin a role-playing game.[citation needed]Meanwhile,Call of CthulhuandParanoiaoffered different role-playing experiences, in which the story arc of a groups investigation would lead to death and/or madness, or where comical infighting within a group would be expected and reinforced within the genre conventions of a darkly humorous future. At the same time, games using the fictional worlds ofStar Trek,DC Heroes, theMarvel Univer搜索引擎优化rThe Lord of the Ringsexpanded the range of possibilities for Table-top gaming. Games such asGURPSandChampionsintroducedgame balancebetween player characters; later,Vampire: The Masqueradeand similar games emphasized storytelling, plot and character development over rules and combat. More recently, rules innovations have combined with literary techniques to develop games such asDogs in the VineyardandPolaristhat rely on the contributions of players to enhance moral agency in a process of emergent storytelling.

Games are of indefinite length, from a single brief session (usually completed in a few hours) to a series of repeated sessions that may continue for years with an evolving cast of players and characters. Play is often episodic and mission-centric, with a series of challenges culminating in a final puzzle or enemy that must be overcome. Multiple missions played with the same characters may be related to each other in a plot arc of escalating challenges. The exact tone, structure, pace and end (if any) vary from game to game depending on the needs and preferences of the players.[citation needed]

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Game statistics are not a substitute for a character concept. For example, one Wild West gunfighter may become a quick drawing revolver marksman, whereas another with similar game statistics could be a mounted rifle expert.[citation needed]Many systems take this into account, requiring statistics to be described, such asDogs in the Vineyards Traits and Possessions.

The set of rules of a role-playing game is known as itsgame system; the rules themselves are known asgame mechanics. Although there are game systems which are shared by many games, for example thed20 system, many games have their own, custom rules system.[citation needed]

John WickChess is not an RPG: The Illusion of Game Balance, John Wick Presents (October 1, 2014)

Campaign settings exist for almost allgenres of fiction; however, because the worlds most popular role-playing game,Dungeons & Dragons, is part of the fantasy genre, fantasy is also the most played role-playing genre. RPGs of the fantasy genre are sometimes collectively called Fantasy role-playing games (FRP).[citation needed]

Character motivations are things that the character will fight for.The Riddle of Steels Spiritual Attributes,Burning Wheels Beliefs andThe Shadow of Yesterdays Keys are such features. They might reveal secrets the character has kept, aspirations they hold, or other characters they care about.[citation needed]

The History of TSRWizards of the Coast. Archived fromthe originalon 20

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The assumption of roles was a central theme in some early 20th century activities such as the gameJury Box, mock trials, model legislatures, and Theatre Games. In the 1960s,historical reenactmentgroups such asThe Sealed Knotand theSociety for Creative Anachronismbegan to perform creative history reenactments introducing fantasy elements, and in the 1970sfantasy wargameswere developed, inspired bysword and sorceryfiction, in which each player controlled only a single unit, or character. The earlier role-playing tradition was combined with the wargames rule-based character representation to form the first role-playing games.[8][9]

Slack, Andy (April 4, 2012).Review: Empire of the Petal Throne.

List of publishers of role-playing games

Most games follow the pattern established by the first published role-playing game,Dungeons & Dragons. Participants usually conduct the game as a small social gathering. One participant, called the Dungeon Master (DM) inDungeons and Dragons, more commonly called the game master or GM, purchases or prepares a set of rules and a fictional setting in which players can act out the roles of their characters. This setting includes challenges for the player characters to overcome through play, such as traps to be avoided or adversaries to be fought. The full details of the setting are kept secret, but some broad details of the game world are usually given to the players. Games can be played in one session of a few hours, or across many sessions depending on the depth and complexity of the setting.[citation needed]

Attributes are statistics all characters possess: strength, agility, and intelligence are common examples. These are ranked, often on a numeric scale, so that a player can gauge the characters capabilities. For example, a characters strength rating could be used to determine the likelihood that the character can lift a certain weight.[citation needed]

The players eachcreate characterswhose roles they will play in the game. As well as fleshing out the characters personal history and background, they assign numericalstatisticsto the character; these will be used later to determine the outcome of events in the game. Together, these notes tell the player about their character and his or her place in the game world.[2]

The range of genres represented by published settings is vast, and includes nearly all genres of fiction. While role-playings roots began infantasyscience fictionhas been used in settings such asTraveller,horrorformed the baseline of theWorld of DarknessandCall of CthulhuwhileSpycraftwas based in modern-dayspy thriller-oriented settings. The comic book and superhero genres have been utilized for games such asMutants and Masterminds.[citation needed]

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According to RPG designerJohn Wick, Chess can be turned into a role-playing game ifchess piecessuch as thekingqueenrooksknightsorpawnsare given names, and decisions are made based on their motivations. According to Wick,Dungeons & Dragonswas a sophisticated, intricate and complicated combat simulation board game that people were turning into a roleplaying game just like giving your rook a motive in Chess.[7]

In forty years the genre has grown from a few hobbyists and boutique publishers to an economically significant part of the games industry. Grass-roots and small business involvement remains substantial while larger projects have attracted several million players worldwide. Games industry leaderHasbropurchased Wizards of the Coast in 1999 for an estimated $325 million.[24]

Class-based systems give slightly more freedom but still require a player to choose from a set number of roles for their character. The characters powers are generally set by the character class, but the specific statistics are assigned by the player.[citation needed]

Some games, such asPolarisandPrimetime Adventures, have distributed the authority of the GM to different players and to different degrees. This technique is often used to ensure that all players are involved in producing a situation that is interesting and that conflicts of interest suffered by the GM are avoided on a systemic level.[citation needed]

Brief History of WargamingUniversity of Virginia

Template-based systems have the advantage of easy and quick character creation. It also provides the GM with the means to spend less time approving each character for play. The sacrifice is in flexibility and concept. Templates are essentially pre-built characters that are balanced against each other and pre-approved by the game companies.[citation needed]

Due to the games success, the termDungeons & Dragonshas sometimes been used as ageneric termfor fantasy role-playing games. TSR undertook legal action to prevent itstrademarkfrom becoming generic.[15]Dungeons & Dragonswas a subject ofcontroversyin the 1980s when opponents such asPatricia Pullingclaimed it caused negative spiritual and psychological effects. Academic research has discredited these claims.[16]Some educators support role-playing games as a healthy way to hone reading and arithmetic skills.[17]Though role-playing has been generally accepted in society,[18]the subject retains a level of controversy among some religious organizations.[19][20]This belief or attitude is by no means universal among religious organizations; there are faith-based role-playing games on the market[21]and religious role-players who disagree that these games are morally corrupt or occult in nature.[22]

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