RPG

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Role-Playing Game, a game where the 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). Now this traditional form is generally called "tabletop RPGs". The ruleset usually takes a form of a book where setting and mechanics are described. Setting might be detailed and is most often rich and fantastic (Tolkienesque worlds dominated the landscape), but still the most of content is left to the imagination of the players, especially to the "Game Master" or "Dungeon Master". This GM/DM 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 classic elements are numerous tables of probabilities for many actions potentially of importance for players (fighting tends to be of primary focus), these chance situations are often 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. An important value usually present in classic RPGs is the Experience Points (XP), gathered during the game, that allows players to develop (upgrade) their characters to their liking.

Modern RPGs often leave that rigid scheme to explore a much more diverse range of topics and solutions, and we currently may have Micro-RPGs (e.g. one A4 page), DM-less, dice-less (e.g. token-based), existential, erotic, and also musical titles (see below). TTRPG is growing as a business, the most work is for writers, but sometimes composers may have also something to do. For example, some pre-made adventures (available for purchase by game-masters) provide composed background music for players enjoyment and immersion.

Even more than in board games, in tabletop RPGs there is a growing interest in using ambience sound and soundtracks, from media files or with specialized apps. These general usage projects are enumerous, but so far don't seem to venture more active arrangement, staying in the area of pre-made tracks. As for the performance-side the field is naturally dominated by voice acting.

Examples

Actual Play is a type of media where people play games of RPG as a live/edited podcast/video. These are some good places to see how a classic or modern RPG is played.

  • One example is Adventurers & Artists podcast, where the D&D session is accompanied by live non-idiomatic music. Here is the first episode of filmed game series, which is a continuation from games staged live (the video intro presents the backstory).

  • If you prefer to listen to music in popular genre, BomBARDed will have you covered. This one is audio only, but should be easy to follow also for people who don't know RPG. Here is the first episode: https://bombarded.podbean.com/2017/08/ The second episode will present a fight done by in-game characters. The music here is rarely improvised.

Musical RPGs

There are also RPG systems that use music-making as their mechanics

  • Hard to be the Bard — a set of materials for a campaign for D&D with tips and tracks to run it as a musical, in a shop that specializes in such materials:

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/370349/Hard-to-be-the-Bard--A-musical-campaign-in-the-Feywild

Library entries inspired by RPG

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

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)


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