A love letter to TTRPGs

Posted by Jesper on June 30, 2024

While I mentioned my passion for tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) a few times before on this blog, I never dedicated a proper post to them. Let’s fix that!

In their essence, tabletop role-playing games are a kind of game where you and a few friends sit around a table and tell a story together. Traditionally, each player except for one embodies a single main character of the story, while one player (variously called the Game Master, Dungeon Master, Referee, Storyteller, Master of Ceremonies, or many other things) takes the role of all other characters and the world. The rules of the game help the players to create their characters and the game master to create the world.

Much of the actual game happens through a conversation between the players, describing or enacting how their characters respond to the situation they are in. The rules describe how to handle uncertain situations that can come up in the game, such as sneaking past a guard, piloting a spaceship, banishing a ghost, swinging a sword at an orc, or guessing a person’s secret feelings. However, unlike a typical board game, many things that happen in the story never require any of the game’s rules!

Why do I believe that TTRPGs are such a great and unique way to spend your time? Why would you play one, instead of - say - watching a series or going out for a beer? There are endless possible reasons, but here are my main ones:

It’s hard to imagine another hobby that combines all of these aspects! In this world that sometimes feels like it’s nothing but gloom and doom, I feel there’s something special about a group of friends sitting around a table using their shared imaginations to come up with new worlds and stories.

In case you are curious or even eager to get started playing, here are a couple of games I can recommend:

Of course this list heavily reflects my personal tastes, and you might enjoy something grittier such as Mörk Borg, something more futuristic such as Scum and Villainy, or something more gay such as Thirsty Sword Lesbians.

Note that I am not recommending what’s definitely the most well-known TTRPG, which is Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). One reason is that it already gets plenty of attention. But another reason is that compared to all the games above (except maybe Avatar Legends) it is just way way more complicated and time-consuming. I enjoyed playing D&D for many years, but now I have counted enough hit dice, 5-foot squares, spell slots, attribute points, and saving throws for a lifetime. I find that by having simpler rules, other games actually make more room for the parts that I enjoy the most: playing characters and telling stories. Still, there is plenty of fun to be had with it, so if a D&D group is all you can find then just go for it!

Finally, let me close this post with an open invitation to play a TTRPG together. Playing a game together with someone you haven’t played with before is always a great way to be surprised by new ideas and perspectives. I would be honored if you’d join me on an adventure! Just reach out to me in person, over email, or over on Mastodon at dice.camp.