Role-Playing Game, a game where main focus is assuming the role of a fictional character.

Basic introduction

RPGs exist now in many mediums, but it originated in pen-and-paper form (Dungeons & Dragons, 1974). The ruleset takes a form of a thick book where setting and mechanics are described. Setting might be detailed and is most often rich and fantastic (Tolkienesque worlds predominate), but still the most of content is left to imagination of the players, especially to the "Game Master" or "Dungeon Master". GM is the player that acts out as 'the world', provides the story (pre-made scenarios might be used), makes decisions for NPCs (non-player characters) and resolves random events. Often a person in this role is practically a facilitator of the game session, although possible actions and influence depends also on the game system.

As for mechanics the central elements are enumerous tables of probabilities for many actions potentially of importance for players (fighting tends to be of primary focus), these chance situations are resolved with use of many different types of Dice where results are compared with values from character sheets.

Basic (shortened) rules of D&D are freely available, so you can see an empty character sheet at the page 177. Sheets describe basic statistics like strength, intelligence, charisma etc. (exact set depending on a system), skills and collected or equipped gear. Important value usually present in RPGs is the Experience Points (XP), gathered during the game, that allows players to develop (upgrade) their characters to their liking.


If you would like to see how RPG is played, one of the best places to do it is to have a look at Adventurers & Artists podcast, where the RPG session is accompanied by live non-idiomatic music. Here is the first episode of filmed game session, which is a continuation from games staged live (covering the backstory that is presented in the video intro).

RPG inspired music games

RPGs are very rich, it's worth to get inspired by them and it's possible in many aspects.

Stay in Character — "character" sheet and upgrades,
Attack of the Rhythm Dancer — fantasy setting, fighting, role-playing,
Into the Labyrinth — one player as a Dungeon Master and other players as "adventurers".

With Feeling!

Here is also an RPG system that uses music-making, a work-in-progress (currently), by Raymond Vermeulen: http://raymondv.xyz/WithFeelingPlayfulExperiencesPlaytest.pdf

See also:

Agenda — player's typology derived from RPG theorizing

Improvisational theatre — similar in opening the narratives, especially when you consider LARP subgenre (Live Action Role Play)

Mark for clarification

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