New Adventures in Tabletop Gaming: What the Hell to Play?

Welcome to the first of what will be a run of features based on my new adventures in tabletop RPG gaming. Over this run of articles I hope to take you along for the ride as I attempt to embrace a world that I never quite reached as a child and share the stories formed from the journey.

But first things first, how about a little backstory?

As a kid I was a sucker for tales of great adventure and fantasy. Whether from the worn pages of a much loved book or the wonder of a primitive video game, if it had swords and warriors and wizards and dragons, there was a fair chance I’d be along for the ride.

I would frequently be off on adventures formed in the imagination when life’s mundanity took hold. Long car journeys spent gazing out of the window at the passing countryside and picturing heroes riding bold on horseback through the distant wood, and countless school lessons where maths and history made way for scribblings of goblins and elves.

This naturally translated beautifully into me stepping foot into the world of the tabletop RPG, and the only place to start was of course that mainstay of the gaming genre, Dungeons & Dragons. I had heard the name, gazed at the artwork and figurines in magazines and even watched the cartoon, but to actually get my mitts on it was still to come. The game arrived one Christmas morning, a beautifully decorated red box, wild dice of varying sides and everything I needed to embark upon some adventures with friends. I was finally set to experience this new world of fantasy and nothing could stand in my way.

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So it seems a real shame that as I write this close to thirty years after the event that I am yet to play a tabletop RPG. How this happened I don’t really know. I guess as a kid I had too much other stuff going on to really tackle the intricacies of a sizeable rulebook, I’d flit from obsession to obsession on an almost weekly basis, or maybe I just lacked the patience to set up a gaming night when there were footballs to be kicked, tarzan’s to swing on and BMX’s to be ridden. Whatever the reason, it just never happened.

But now I have vowed to return. To pick up where I never even started and get involved in some RPG goodness. God knows how this one will pan out. I do know I still go through phases of being obsessed by something until I’m just not anymore. Hopefully though this one will last at least until I get a decent run of articles from it!

In my head I see game nights by flickering candlelight as a storm rages outside and wild stories of adventure and daring fill the air and dance around the entranced players. In reality it may be more like games by glaring bulb light as an annoying bloody draught slips through the door and stories of what’s happening on Facebook fill the air as I try to stop players looking at their phones, but only time will tell. What is for sure, is that this will be either a wonderful or a woeful experience for all.

Last year I began to read comics again. It was daunting due to the sheer volume of weekly releases and incredible talent on offer. Coming back to tabletop RPG gaming has proved similarly daunting. The initial question I face is, “Where the hell do I start?” I needed something that offers depth but is equally welcoming to newcomers. Something we can dive into and learn as we play without getting bogged down by the enormity of the rules.

I have a few options at my fingertips via a friend and some of my old RPG treasures recovered from the depths of a dusty loft, almost an adventure in itself I might add, certainly full of giant spiders anyway.

I emerged to the dining room table with a healthy assortment of possibilities. The list reads as follows:

  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • Dungeon World
  • Pathfinder
  • Dr Who
  • GURPS
  • Call of Cthulu

Having scoured the internet for recommendations I found that Dungeon World and Dr Who actually came back as a positive place for newbies to cut their adventurous teeth. So with that in mind I settled on Pathfinder.

DandD_2

I think I was just drawn to the writing, the artwork and the fact that it came with a stack of additional goodies and adventures, but something about Pathfinder resonated with me. It felt old school but in a fresh new and exciting way. Perhaps next time I’ll be talking about the issues of trying to run before you can walk in RPG gaming, but right now it feels a good fit for what I hope to achieve.

And that’s where I’m at. Tonight my players will gather to create characters, I’ll continue to devour the rulebook and the adventure, as they say, will be afoot. Hope to see you for the story of how that first session unfolds.

In the meantime, if any avid players happen to read this and have recommendations on a good starting point, alternatives, or even just tips for creating a good and enjoyable gaming night I’d be all ears.

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