So you and your friends have decided to try out pen and paper roleplaying games, You have the essentials, Pringles, pizza, enough sweets to make a make your dentist weep, funny looking dice and now all that is left is the small detail of what game system you’re going to play.
Picking your first roleplay game can be a daunting prospect on both sides of the table because even a cursory glance on the internet will show hundreds of roleplay systems all proclaiming to have a robust system perfect for your RP needs and this problem persists for much of your time within this gaming world of ours. Finding games for different genera, levels of flexibility and narrative over mechanics. In time and experience of different systems you’ll find the system that suits you for either running games or playing in them, I’m just here to give my recommendation for the different stages of your gaming life.
First time – Apprentice gamer
Like many firsts this is likely to be awkward not really knowing what you’re doing and asking if it’s good, but like them other firsts it’s good to push through. If you are a player then hopefully you’ll have an experienced Game Master (GM) and if you are the GM then hopefully you’ll have some experienced players who will help you along a little bit. It is however possible, as it was for me, to be completely new to RP and running a game with new players so here is my first recommendation.
Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition by wizards of the coast
Now anyone who is an experienced roleplayer is probably screaming at the screen at the moment but bear with me for a moment because I have my reasons for this recommendation. 4th edition of D&D was made to more mimic the modern computer game style of roleplay games such as world of Warcraft, a slightly bizarre evolution as WoW owes
a significant proportion of its existence and mechanics to the early D&D games, and this was disliked by many experienced players, some going as far as to claim it was no longer even a roleplay game with its very heavy focus on combat over social intercourse.
4e gives the GM and players who are new to the game something that they find very comforting, structure and control, as a new GM you may be a bit overwhelmed in dealing with players and the many curve ball decisions that they throw you, especially if they are your friends and more willing to take a few liberties. The ability to use the rigid rule structure to take control of the situation can be a great asset to both sides of the table.
With a slightly insane amount of supplements, from different settings such as Eberon to more equipment. I have moved on from 4e, however I truly think that it is a great place to start and perfect to get your pc gaming friends into RP.
Also for the rest of your life when you tell people you do roleplaying they will, after assuming you mean the other kind, ask “oh like dungeons and dragons?”.
Basic roleplaying system by Chaosium
One of the simplest and most flexible generic roleplay systems that has been adapted into a variety of other games that you can buy off the shelf and gives you the
power to use any setting you like whether it be from a book, movie or your own design. The system can be understood rapidly with the rudimentary understanding of mathematics with a percentile system meaning that you don’t have the annoying and usually complex task of calculating probability based off dice rolls when an unusual action is taken.
The system comes prebuilt with a variety of weapons available ranging from a caveman’s big stick to a futuristic plasma cannon as well as vehicles, horses and ships. And if you can’t find it in the books then odd on someone has made an adaptation online.
This system is much better fitting for the creative GM who wants a robust yet simple system for reasonably quick moving game that will fit to a setting that they have created.
This will not be the last time this system appears on my list.
My first experience with this experience was visiting my friend at Uni and joining in with a variant of this system, I loved the ease of use and how I could simply slip into the game (though part of this must be thanks to the GMing ability of Lily), my first game I ran in this system was based upon the Temeraire book series by Naomi Novik with my university gaming society, I had 7 players as we were running low on GMs, where the players were dragon captains in the British Arial core during the Napoleonic war, I don’t think that the game would have been possible with my slightly inexperienced skills without the system as robust as BRP especially with the players asking to do some fairly insane stuff, one of the characters ended with the other players putting him into a mental institution… things got dark.