Last night I had my bi-weekly table top RPG session with a number of peeps online. Does it still count as a table top if it’s all on a website instead? I’m going to say so. We started about 9 months ago playing a short campaign in Pathfinder, and then we moved to a Fate campaign, which just changed into a modified Numenera game. Really, though, the system doesn’t matter.
You see, Table top RPG’s are not about winning or losing. They’re about creating a narrative. Over the course of hours, weeks, months, and even years, you and your group of friends create an epic story that you build collaboratively using random and non-random events.
It starts with character creation. You create a character that has certain attributes. You create their history. You decide what their motivations are. The others create their characters too, and then you bring them together, and let your imagination run wild. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s really an embodiment of the adage: “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.”
It doesn’t even need to be a lot of work. A really simple game of this type is called “Everyone is John” (free PDF). To play, you need at least three people with great imaginations. One of them is the GM (stands for Game Master). He controls and describes the world. The other two take turns playing the different personalities of the player character, a guy named John. You decide ahead of time what you’re skilled at and what you want to accomplish. When the game starts, the gm places the character somewhere and then the player takes over.
When I played it the first time, I decided my skills would be ironing, writing letters, and playing darts. Based on those skills, I decided I wanted to iron a shirt, write a letter to my mother, and win a game of darts. The GM started the game by saying “You’re wake up in an alley, covered in trash.” Then I got to play by saying things like:
- “Stand up and brush my clothes off.”
- “Go to the end of the alley.”
- “Ask someone where nearest post office was
Then I would roll a regular dice. If it was a one or two, I would fail, and control of John would pass on to another character who would find themselves in my position. If it was a three or four, I would succeed with failure. For example, maybe I would stand up and brush my clothes off, but then fall back down. If it was five or six, I would succeed. It’s pretty simple.
The key to playing, though, is imagination. There is no game board. There are no complex rules. The game can only be as fun as you make it. If you really buy in and go for it, the results are absolutely hilarious. I highly recommend it!