“Nightfall, and as the three moons rise above the clouds and ascend into their place in the heavens, their eyrie blue light casts its shine onto the land below. Shadows come alive and dance in their power and the hunters wake from there slumber, readying themselves for the feast ahead.
Coming through the great wood are a group of hooded figures there torches burning bright in the darkness that surrounds them . They are on a mission.
Although they have never travelled this part of the kings road before, there are secure in the knowledge that their friendship will keep them safe on this, there most dangerous adventure yet.
Up ahead in a small clearing they see the woodman’s tavern and inn, a small two-storey building that offers warm ale and hot food to travellers of the road. A stable stands to the right of the main building where the horses snorts can be heard cutting through the silence of the forest.
Putting out there torches the group make their way to the tavern door, there breathe like the smoke of a dragon in the cold night air.
Pausing at the tavern door our adventures scan the area all appears normal..or is it ?
The door opens and the warm light and sound of laughter fill the night air as the group enters in single file, unsure of what lies before them.
At the back of the tavern is a large fire, with a group of men sitting beside it, ale in hand and grabbing the serving girls, as they walk past, mercs no doubt. Otar the bar keeper stops wiping the mug in his hand and nods towards a table in the corner, where a group of hooded figures sit.
Making their way over our adventures feel the eyes upon them as the tavern grows silent. They arrive at the table and a motioned to sit down by a single figure at the top of the table .
“Adventures” the hooded shape says in a voice that sounds like it came from the stone pits of the south “thank you for embarking on this epic journey”, Slowly the hooded figure reaches into its robe and produces a small leather sack, and from that sack they produce four small cubes. Flickering in the candle light of the table, you see that all the cubes are the same size and seem to have strange marking upon them.
“Now you” as the hooded figure passes the cubes to the person on their right and says:
“roll these 4 times to get your STR, DEX, CON, WIS,INT And CHA, then subtract 10 and add pi ”
Agggh role-playing games aka RPG (not to be mistaken with the weapon favoured by militias all over the word) where would we be without them, and so here we go into my second offering in the “A Tribute to” series, I have decided to cast my watchful eye over the Role Playing Genre. A genre I truly hold close to my heart.
Role playing in its traditional “pen and paper form” has been around since the mid 60’s but if we think of role playing games the first one that springs to the mind of most people is Dungeons and Dragons which was first published in 1974!!.
If you look at some of the pen and paper RPG’s that came after that and look at when they were first published. It shows that this a genre that is steeped in history and is still going strong today for example Call of Cthulhu (1981), Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game (1983), Rifts (1990), Vampire: The Masquerade (1991) and Feng Shui (1999) and that’s only a small drop in the rpg ocean without going into the modern day stuff!!
The great thing about RPGS is they put you right in the middle of the action; it was you and your friends trying to make your way through a GM’s often warped and twisted world.
There are no rules, if you want to punch a person in the face because you don’t like there answer you could, or in the case of one session I was involved in I witnessed (with my minds eye) a player morphing into a dragon and doing something indescribable in a crowed tavern that still has me scared to this day. Nearly fell on the floor laughing at the time, as even the GM was struggling to keep it together.
And this is where pen and paper RPG’s will always be better then there pc / game console / movie counterparts, they just gave you the tools, the bare bones, it’s up to you to use your imagination, and if you don’t like the story write a new one.
But we cannot do that with RPG Games, if the characters, the world and the idea behind the game are great but the story is a steamy pile of green runny banta poo, then that’s it were snookered. This is probably the only genre where graphics will take a second place to the story.
Throughout the ages, there have been many truly excellent RPGs made for gamers that have replay ability, unfortunately there have been some utter crap created as well. Luckily, for us the ones that worked have gone on through the ages and still as good today are as they were when they were first created.
However, you cannot have success without having some sort of payback and this is where we come into a small snag. Nearly everything out there has an element of role-playing in it, what was once a safe corner of the gaming world reserved for uber nerds, has now been thrown in to a spotlight, and is this killing a much loved genre?
The main advantage games have over movies(or any other form of entertainment) is that we want and will sit through a 30 to 40 hour long story. We want to feel part of the universe we are exploring; we want to enter that cave with the dead bodies outside because we know there is something cool in there. This you would say is playing right into the hands of the RPG developers, right! Somewhere that has limitless potential, massive worlds, gripping adventures and you can experience this with your friends… So why are we not falling over epic RPG titles?
Well there are a few reasons for that: there just too expensive and time consuming to create and role-playing still conjures up a world of slow moving, dungeon action. Titles such as Mass Effect and Fallout have moved the perception on leaps and bounds by adding in the action and drama of a FPS but staying true to its core RPG background. But there have been so many bad “RPG” titles made that the crap still floats to the top.
And this is where the MMO’s come into their own, weather its marching through a medieval land or putting your underpants over your trousers and jumping over buildings in a single bound there is a MMO out there for everyone. While they offer all the freedom of a traditional RPG, with constant character development and upgrades and new missions available via download they do have a Darkside.
They can be complete addictive and swallow people into the virtual world and a never-ending story, we have all see the news reports of people feeding their kid’s cat food because they cannot leave there game.
But is that not what we want out of our RPG’s (not the kids bit obviously) but a story that grabs you and won’t let go?
So next time you’re in work / college / school and someone says were going to be role playing a scenario today ask them if you can be a shape shifting mage or a Juicer and see what happens..
There are some classic RPG’s out there for gamers who could not be arsed thinking or writing for themselves and here, they are:
Akalabeth – World of Doom
Just because it was one of the first of its kind, and the original dnd footage is nowhere to be found like they said in the twilight zone do not adjust your set..It was that bad, well it was 1979!!
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic
Dragon Age : Origins
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
A Bards Tale Vol 1
Vampire the Masquerade; Redemption
Final Fantasy 7
Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within
If I missed your favourite, or you would like to and a title to the list please leave a comment. And no Leisure Suit Larry is not a role playing game..