Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Real RPGs

Yesterday i said that I would cover ALL RPGs... thats too many.... So I'm going to cover just the basic tabletop RPGs. Thats pretty much D&D. I mean sure, there are many, many other RPGs, but A) I've never played em and B) They're all based off D&D.

For my experience I've played in two 3.5 campaigns(1 current), a 4.0 campaign, and I'm DMing a 3.5 campaign. For about two or three sessions I also participated in a Star Wars 3.5 campaign which ended after those few sessions.

My first campaign was run by a good DM who had DM'd several times before. However, I was brought into the campaign pretty far in and my first ever D&D character was the level 16 Warmage. The experience was not an excellent one for me because casters are significantly more difficult to play than melee classes in tabletop RPGs. The 4.0 was my second and I played a warlock, from the beginning of the campaign. There, the DM was pretty awful starting us in the basement of a tavern killing rats- because it was 'ironic'.

The 3.5 campaign I'm currently in is the best by far. I've died twice, both with silly characters, one of which was ridiculously useless and another who was both useless and made for unnecessary complications for the DM. My third character has actually survived for a significant portion of time and may actually last the rest of the campaign.

The Star Wars campaign was enjoyable because, well, it was Star Wars. I played a Soldier, the equivalent of a D&D fighter. At level 3 (our starting level) I could do 3d8 three times a round, for a total of 9d8. A level 3 D&D character is expected to do about 2d8 or less damage in a round.

Finally, in my D&D campaign I have come to the root of what makes tabletop RPGs superior by far to single player video game RPGs and significantly better than MMORPGs. Its the adaptability and randomness available in the game. In single player RPGs like Dragon Age or the KotOR series, you can only do a limited number of quests. Sure there are a bunch of non-necessary quests, but there are certain things you must do and certain things you cannot do (like jump). In MMOs (Looking at WoW here) there is a lot more variety, you can level by grinding mobs, questing in one of many different areas, run instances or even do BGs. However in my campaign, if someone wants to do something the rulebook (or programming as the case may be) doesn't allow for, I can make up rules and let them cook food to gather up many Rhinoceros (Rhinoceroses?) and then tame one as a mount. I even made it so that in one particular quest the only way they could kill the zombie horde was by hugging them (grapple checks abound). Some games like Oblivion do allow a huge amount of open-endedness- but that is still extraordinarily constricting compared to tabletop RPGs.

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