What in the world is a TTRPG? An introduction to tabletop role-playing games




Tabletop role-playing games are gaining popularity in the gaming community. Most people only consider the big three when they consider TTRPGs, Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and War Hammer. While these are the AAA games of tabletop, there are also many other smaller, lesser-known TTRPGs. Let’s talk about your options and how to get started with your very own TTRPG.


Let’s talk about your options and how to get started with your very own TTRPG

Our first big contender, the game that is said to have started it all, Dungeons and Dragons. D&D came about in the ’70s by way of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Gygax is considered to be the father of role-playing games. The Dungeons and Dragons game has several editions available for play, the latest, 5E is the most user-friendly version. This version simplifies character creation and streamlines combat for a simpler and faster D&D experience. Another popular version is 3.5. This version is similar to another TTRPG, Pathfinder. This version of D&D has a more diverse set of skills and more options when it comes to combat and character creation. For beginners, 5E is going to be the easier version to learn and a lot of veteran players also prefer it due to the streamlined adventure-based system. Some 5E premade adventures include  Edge of the Endless SeaTrillium: City of Enchantment, and  Into the Deep Dark

Dungeons and Dragons often make sure of wargame miniatures to represent PC/NPC’s (player character and non-player characters). D&D miniature painting is a fun and personal part of character creation for most players. Miniatures such as this  beholder, courtesy of Nolzur’s marvelous miniatures, are iconic and since the D&D miniatures unpainted are most popular, customizing them to fit your campaign is easy. If you are painting your miniatures, you can pick up a  miniature paint set, compliments of Nolzur’s marvelous pigments. These paints are a fan favorite and work with a pathfinder miniature as well as a Warhammer 40k miniature just as well. 

Speaking of pathfinder, it is next up in our list of AAA TTRPG’s.  Pathfinder is a response to a poorly developed D&D 4th edition. Fans of D&D were resoundingly disappointed with the 4th edition, thus was born Pathfinder, created by Pazio. Pathfinder plays in a similar way to D&D’s earlier editions. The game expands on character creation, giving the player complete control of the PC creation. Pathfinder has since expanded and given us a huge variety of character races and classes to choose from. While Pathfinder and D&D may seem intimidating, there are a variety of pages on social media where you can find a DM/GM (dungeon master/game master) or veteran player who’ll show you the ropes. Pages are set up to find players near you or online. Most veteran players are excited and eager to show beginners the ropes. Also note that Pathfinder has a second edition, though most players have yet to move from the 1st edition.

Both D&D and Pathfinder have the option to homebrew. This means that your DM can make up the story and the world it takes place in. This opens up a number of imaginable scenarios and makes these games playable as war games, horror games, or even city building or exploration type campaigns. There are also resources and materials online that detail using these TTRPGs for children. Superheroes and My Little Pony are commonly used in these games. 


The last title gracing our AAA list is Warhammer. The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying game is a brutal one that mirrors the violence of the war game. While both D&D and Pathfinder are based on the D20 system, Warhammer uses a D100 system. This allows for extensive injury and death to PC’s early on in-game. Another difference is that typically PCs in both D&D and Pathfinder are considered heroes and have elevated stat blocks higher than a normal villager. In Warhammer, you play a typical villager with no extra strength, speed, or magical ability. There are also several online communities you can reach out to if you are interested in playing Warhammer, both the TTRPG and the fantasy battle game that focuses more on war and leading troops. As is the case in D&D and Pathfinder, Warhammer 40k painting is also a thing. 

Other TTRPGs come in a variety of flavors.  Starfinder, also made by Pazio, takes it to the skies and brings us space settings for our campaigns. Starfinder focuses more on the technology one would associate with space and will have more space-themed races and campaigns. In the same genre, you might also get your alien and tech fix with this   Dr. Who RPG  where you play as part of the Black Archive, an organization in charge of cataloging and protecting alien artifacts on earth. 

When it comes to TTRPGs based on video games you could find that  A Witcher's Journal is for you. This TTRPG introduces new lore and monsters. It is based in the golden age of witchers. This system has an in-depth murder mystery and investigation system. If you enjoy tracking man-eating monsters through the woods, this may be the TTRPG for you. 

No matter which TTRPG interests you, there is a community out there waiting. Social media platforms have become a staple of the tabletop gaming community. New players are joining all the time and veteran players are eager to teach you the ways of their world. No matter your age or experience you are only a few steps away from starting your first adventure. 

1. Pick your poison. If you want to start out with a smaller game like the Dr. Who RPG then all you need is the book. Same thing if you want to start out with pathfinder or D&D you’ll want the core rule book. 
2. Grab your extras. For most games, this means miniatures and dice. You only technically need one set of dice, but you’ll quickly find that having multiple sets is more convenient and who doesn’t want an entire horde of colorful click-clack-math-rocks?
3. Gather your friends, either in real life or on the internet. 
4. Set the date and get together


What in the world is a TTRPG? An introduction to tabletop role-playing games

Written by: Melissa Crosby


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