The New Year is just around the corner, just brimming with potential. So I thought I would post something aimed at potential new gamers! I am amazed at how popular tabletop RPGs have gotten during my lifetime. People love to play, as well they should. And the industry is booming with more games and expansions and accessories coming out all the time!
That being said, roleplaying games can sometimes be intimidating for people that have never tried it before. Sure if you have a local gaming store to get plugged into or a cousin that is a long-time gamer, getting plugged in is easy. But if not, even if you have a group of friends that would enjoy playing together, it is hard to know where to begin.
I tried to ask Google for advice on getting into RPGs for beginners, but all I got were a lot of links to using RPG Maker to make electronic games. Very cool, but not helpful to my question. Shouldn’t there be an easy way to learn how to get into the hobby?
My own journey from buying my first RPG book to playing my first game took me about 10 years, so I definitely do not recommend that path. Instead I would recommend a game with simple mechanics that has a good system for conflict, encourages storytelling, and is set in a world that has its own video game: Dragon Age.
What? Not FATE Core or FATE Accelerated???
For those of you that listen to the Podcast (high fives to all of you!), it may come as a surprise that I am not pushing FATE in this post. After all, we play FATE exclusively on the podcast. Why would I recommend anything else?
FATE is a wonderful system and a lot of fun to play. At the time of this post, however, there is no real quick start guide to the system. More importantly, the game is not designed to be an introduction into roleplaying but rather a system to expand roleplaying experience.
Let me take a moment to clarify. I love FATE because of its limitless possibilities as a system. The Fate Point system is an especially easy way to give a mechanic that allows the players to do whatever they want. Aspects allow for an unlimited number of class options. Stunts allow for a limitless set of ways to boost and power your character. Let the imagination run wild!
But if you have never played an RPG before, exactly how useful is a limitless system? You have never done anything like this before. How are you supposed to make a choice from unlimited possibilities?
Try to pick a number between 1 and 10,000. How fast did you pick? Now that you have your number, what are you going to do with it? Was it a good choice? Well that depends on the standards, and since I haven’t told you any then you basically have to make up your own. Which is great, but then what’s the point of picking a number if you could do that any time for yourself?
Confused yet? The point is that FATE is a great system, but you really need to have some practice playing an RPG before you can get a lot out of it. Or at least you need to be playing with someone that has RPG experience and can help you and give you answers, like 42.
Dragon Age RPG Pros
So what makes Dragon Age the tabletop RPG a good choice for your first RPG experience? First of all, it is really REALLY easy to start. You need some 6-sided dice, which are the easiest of all dice to come by, and you can print the Quick Start guide for free. Boom, you have everything you need!
Second, the people at Green Ronin that designed this RPG game specifically had it made to introduce people to tabletop RPGs. So they made a game with a fantastic learning curve that works well for gamers with no experience in tabletop RPGs intentionally. A new character can be created in 5-20 minutes, the skills are easy to figure out, and even the bonuses are clearly outlined.
Third, the basic setting is very easy to understand. The designers knew that people were enjoying the console games and hyped about the Lord of the Rings movies would be a big appeal for people to try a medieval fantasy game. And hey, the last Hobbit movie just came out so the hype is still good. Trying to understand a fun but complicated setting like Shadowrun is HARD because there are few reference points outside of the game. Not so with Dragon Age.
Dragon Age RPG Cons
Granted there are some challenges that could be hard to overcome in a Dragon Age RPG. The setting is a dark fantasy, and not everyone wants to deal with those dark choices. For you, I would say go ahead and skip those choices and story parts. They are there to add flavor to the setting, but really if you want a different flavor then feel free to change it.
And on that note, not everyone that wants to play a Tabletop RPG is familiar with the Dragon Age video games. That is fine too! I realize that there is a rich background of setting details in the video game, but you should not feel like you have to pull that in to your first session of a game. Just a little bit at a time, like the video games do, works just fine. Or you can take the advice above and skip over those backgrounds in favor of what your group comes up with.
Every company that produces an RPG system wants to have more people play their games, and there are MANY Quick Start guides out there. If you are not intimidated by complicated mechanics or have a specific movie that you want to play out as an RPG (Star Wars, Serenity, etc.) then by all means go ahead and give those games a try! It may be more of a challenge, but don’t let that intimidate you if you don’t want it to!
Clearly this is just a basic outline of thoughts to encourage you to try Dragon Age if you are new to gaming. There are a lot more details we could go into on how to run a game, how to head off potential problems, and tips for players and game masters alike. If there is any interest in these topics, I will be happy to talk about them in details.
Also, if you want to see Dragon Age RPG in action, check out Tabletop on the Geek and Sundry YouTube page. They have a well-done 2-part series on playing a game of Dragon Age with the guy that actually made the game. I won’t comment on the maturity of the players, but it is a great video to see the game actually being played.
If you do try Dragon Age RPG, please let us know what you think about the game!