You should be playing D&D (Or Pathfinder, Dread, Of Mice & Mystics, Edge of the Empire, etc.).
Tabletop role playing games (RPGs) are making a resurgence. I’m currently playing a Pathfinder game as a half-orc druid who adventures with a gnome oracle, a half-elf ranger, and a half-orc barbarian. You may have played as a kid, but there are so many reasons to pick those dice back up!
A lot of roleplaying games require thinking on your feet. You’ll need to act in the moment, sometimes very quickly, especially if you’re the Game Master (GM). Also, you’ll end up looking at problems in a completely different way!
Tabletop RPGs are basically collaborative video games. Instead of staring at a computer by yourself, you can gather your friends, order a pizza, and save the world together! You also learn the importance of teamwork… you might only be good on the fringes of a battle, but when you have to help the king negotiate peace with a violent invader, you’ll be glad you’re doing the talking and not the half-orc barbarian.
3. Become Someone Else
I’m a short, scrawny kid who’s lived in the suburbs or city his whole life. But the moment I pick up my character sheet, I become a savagely wise half-orc druid, a cunning halfling ranger, or a tightly-wound elf wizard. It’s all the fun of acting with way less performance anxiety.
4. Epic (and Small) Scope
Because the game is entirely driven by the players and GM’s imaginations, the scope can be as big or as small as you want. You can span continents, delve into the depths of the ocean, or travel to different planes. Alternately, you can stay in one village and protect it from any threats. There are a ton of world-building resources out there that let you live in this world in a way that movies, video games, TV, and even books can’t.
Your character and world can be literally anything you want. You aren’t limited to the preprogrammed options of a video game, or a writer’s description. Since the rules are more like guidelines, if you dream something up, you can make it happen.
7. Hilarious Critical Fails
To do most things in the d20 system the most popular games are based on, you have to roll a twenty-sided side (a d20) and apply a bonus to it, with the goal of hitting or exceeding a target number. In combat and sometimes in skill checks, a 1 means automatic failure. It is usually accompanied by some sort of disastrous result. For example, I once rolled a 1 while trying to play the flute. With a -1 Perform skill, it was a zero, and the result sounded something like this.
8. Glorious Critical Successes!
The reverse side of critical failures are critical hits and successes. In battle, getting a critical means the monster is in for some serious damage. For skill checks, it means that unless the task was incredibly difficult, you probably pulled it off. There is nothing more thrilling than seeing that “natural 20” come up on your die, especially since it’s usually accompanied by a description of your deeds worthy of song.
9. Cool Dice
LOOK. AT. THE. PRETTIES. Also, a full set of polyhedral dice is way more fun to roll than a six-sided die. Your dice are your lifeline in these games, so it makes sense that a lot of gamers spring for cool designs or innovative materials. (I really want a wooden set for my druid!)
10. Different Versions
Games that have been around for a while, like Dungeons & Dragons, have many different versions, so you can choose the kind that best suits your needs and play-style. 3.5 was and remains one of the most popular styles (even launching a modified version, Pathfinder). The 5th Edition, or 5e, simplifies a lot of the more complicated mechanics, but bumps up the roleplaying, making it much more integral to the game. We do not speak of the 4th Edition. Many games are under the Open Gaming License, so you could even create your own set of rules.
It’s a wonderful time to be alive. Between digital tabletops like Roll20, apps like Lion’s Den, and play-by-post on social media sites like Facebook, there’s no end to the possibilities of making regular gaming part of your life in the 21st century.
12. Online Communities
A lot of resources have popped up for RPG players. In the old days, you’d have to beg a friend or develop drawing abilities if you wanted a picture of your character or a visual account of your adventures. But on the character drawing subreddit, you can post to ask artists to draw/paint/sculpt your character! All work is pro-bono and it’s really cool to see how people interpret your character to bring them to life! Also really cool is Your D&D Stories, a blog where you can submit your fun adventures and have them drawn out like a comic book!
13. Critical Role
D&D is coming back in a big way, and this is best exemplified by the show Critical Role, which streams live from Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel every Thursday. It’s basically a bunch of voice actors playing D&D’s 5th edition, led by Matthew Mercer, one of the best GMs ever. The wit and enthusiasm of the cast makes you forget that it’s almost entirely unscripted.
14. Water Cooler Conversations
Every time you meet fellow RPGamers, your discussion will lead to swapping stories about all your crazy adventures, like the time it took us nearly three hours to solve a puzzle whose solution was “Take item, leave,” or the time you avoided most of an adventure because you randomly bought rope and a grappling hook during character creation.
A lot of D&D campaigns are set in a medieval Tolkien-esque world, but they don’t have to be. There are a lot of sources of inspiration in the core game, and there are many other great roleplaying games in different genres.
16. Books Are Sexy
You’re on this site. You know it’s true. There’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hands, flipping through the pages, hearing the flip-flip-flip as you went somewhere the GM didn’t expect.
17. Learn the Difference Between Wisdom and Intelligence
They’re two different stats in most games, and we should make more of a distinction in real life. As this Reddit thread makes clear, intelligence is knowing tomatoes are a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put tomatoes in a fruit salad.
18. Life Lessons
D&D taught me that you can’t always get everything you desire for free. I wanted my character to have the best armor ever, but the better your armor is, the harder it is to move, and you take penalties to your movement skills when wearing better armor. Unless, you know, you’re able to spend a lot of money on premium equipment. Kind of like life.
19. Get Good at Getting What You Want
As in anything where you’re splitting treasure and one person is setting the rules, you can bet there’s going to be squabbling, and drastic measures taken to be the very best. Bargaining, negotiating, begging, bribing, and finding loopholes to squeeze out every single bonus can be a lot of fun. The adventures are always the highlight, but sometimes, so are the deals you have to make in order to take those sweet gauntlets from the Party Treasure Pool.
20. Follow in the Footsteps of Those That Came Before
When I was helping my friend create her first character, her dad commented that it felt like he was a kid in the ‘70s again. D&D is 42 years old, so you are joining the noble ranks of many nerds before you. In fact, the basic rules of the game are still the foundation for many video game RPGs today, including Skyrim and Mass Effect.
So what are you waiting for? Get rolling!