December 29, 2019

The Perception of Tabletop RPGs vs. the Reality

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, barriers to entry for folks who’ve never played a tabletop role playing game before is the gap of perception between what playing stories is actually like vs. what the uninitiated believe it’s like. The next several #newbieTuesday posts will aim to correct some of those misconceptions.

The first issue I hear brought up surrounds the act of role playing and the “constant” pressure to use of one’s creativity. First and foremost, despite its name “role playing”, because of the Golden Rule of RPGs (“Do What’s Best for the Players at the Table”) you do not actually have to play a role. Meaning, should you wish, you can just be yourself without any facade or character. Any group of decent people, especially for new players, will not only understand this decision, but support it.

Fear of on-the-spot creativity is also something, very much akin to playing a role, I often hear from prospective first time players. I believe both of these things are intertwined which is why GMs playing with first time players need to invest story resources to help develop confidence in both these areas.

To be clear: no one, at any decent table, will force or expect you to paint a verbal Michelangelo your first (or any) session you play. The best RPG atmospheres are chill, accommodating, fun, hilarious, and, at times, moving. If there are parts of that experience, whether it’s playing a character and/or being creative, just know at the end of the day, being yourself is enough!