December 29, 2019

What Playing Tabletop RPGs is Actually Like

I’m continuing the #newbieTuesday thread from last week on correcting some of the perception v. reality issues prospective players have about playing stories via role playing games.

It may seem super basic to some, but I’m going to literally describe what it’s often like, sitting at the table, playing a story with your friends.

At the head of the table sits the GM, the person who runs the story. Oftentimes, the have a GM/DM screen in front of them (see our October 10th post!) but you can always see their face but not the dice they’re rolling.

Sitting around the table with you are your fellow players. They oftentimes have a set of dice, a character sheet, and a pencil/eraser. Some have other RPG accessories (see our October 3rd post!) they must use such as dice towers, special dice, or figurines.

The typical sequence of events is that the GM will set the table for the players but giving them all the context they need to proceed such as the setting, sights, what their characters may hear or smell, or even what they might be experiencing. Once they’re done, the GM will let the players know in one form or another its the players turn to act. Based on that context, the players will decide what it is they want to do.

There are many, many approaches to being a player – far too many to cover here – but, suffice it to say, the players tell the GM what their character will attempt to do in response to the context of their setting. If there is not a 100% chance the character will be successful with that action, the GM will have the player roll to dictate what happens.

The player rolls the dice, adds their skill in whatever action they’re taking to the roll, the total of which the GM will compare to the difficultly to succeed in the attempt. The GM will narrate what transpires and the scene will continue to resolve itself in this manner.

Strings of those choices, actions, and reactions form story beats which form sessions which form campaigns. Of course, I’ve somewhat oversimplified how this whole playing stories thing works, but, work it does! Please consider StoryTogether to be a resource for anyone interesting in getting starting playing. We’d love to help!