Role-playing games are filled with rules, sometimes spanning dozens of different books and supplements. However, most games lead off with some note in the preface that highlights the most important rule. This is Rule 0, and it’s usually there so everybody remembers to have fun. What Rule 0 is, though, varies from game to game and person to person.
Thanks to its roots in pulp fiction, the fantasy gaming genre goes very well with comic books. Sure, the mechanics and the fiction don’t always line up, and yes there are a fair share of duds out there. But overall, comics based on popular role-playing games is a consistent, if not high-profile, part of the industry.
There have been a lot of good fantasy RPG comics, from the fun albeit rough in quality Advanced Dungeons & Dragons series of the 1980s to 2016’s extremely fun Pathfinder: Worldscape, which mashed up the Pathfinder RPG with classic heroes such as Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and Red Sonja. But my personal favorite RPG-based comic is the series that ran in the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition days.
As a tabletop gamer from the early 1990s, it’s a little weird to me that the hobby is so mainstream these days. Most people know of Dungeons & Dragons or a similar game, and shows like Community celebrate the hobby. It wasn’t too long ago that playing D&D meant you were in league with Satan.
I’m serious – if you played a role-playing game in the 1980s or 1990s, your parents probably worried at some point or another that you were getting involved with Satanism. Just as heavy metal supposedly had satanic lyrics if you played the album backwards, D&D was believed by many to be a tool of the occult.
How did this get started? As with most cases of moral panic, it began with adults scrambling to explain senseless tragedies.
Once upon a time, I had a column called Beer and Pretzels on Sidekickcast.com, where I shared my thoughts on the wonderful weirdness of role-playing games. All was well for a good long time, but then some dastardly hackers ruined everybody’s fun.
Fortunately, the Sidekickcast has returned in a new form, this time with a broader focus as Panic in the Skies. And I’m happy to say that my contributions to that group has also returned. My first blog entry, detailing the wonderful surprises hiding in RPGs, is now online.
For more than 15 years now, one of my main GMing strategies when I run a D&D or Pathfinder campaign has gone something like this:
- Give the PCs the deck of many things.
- Wait for them to draw from it.
- Have fun with the results.
If I ever doubted that the deck of many things is the greatest magic item in the game, those doubts were dispelled at my last Pathfinder session.
Originally posted on Sidekickcast.com
Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition introduced the Open Gaming License, which made huge chunks of the D&D rules open to third parties. It created thriving adventure lines, such as Dungeon Crawl Classics and even allowed the creation of competing games, such as Pathfinder. But by far one of the most simultaneously awesome and horrible products that emerged as a result of this license is the Book of Erotic Fantasy.
According to the introduction, “The Book of Erotic Fantasy is a sourcebook that deals with the topics of sex in the world of fantasy roleplaying games, written with the adult player in mind.” Depending on who you talk to, it’s either one of the best third-party supplements out there or one of the worst.
I tend to use Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder interchangeably. In a lot of ways, they’re the same game – after all, Pathfinder is directly derived from the 3rd edition D&D rules. At the same time, both games have evolved in different directions and provide a distinctly different feel at this point. If you’re looking to start a game using one of these systems, which do you choose?
There are endless arguments online about which fantasy RPG is better than the other, and the unfortunate habit that gamers has is the tendency to promote one game by tearing the other one down. That’s silly, because there is no clear-cut answer as to which game is better – they’re both excellent options, and there’s no reason you can’t play and enjoy both. But if you’re trying to pick one or the other for a specific campaign, which game suits your chosen style better? That’s what I aim to discuss here.
Originally posted on Sidekickcast.com
Thanks to whatever weirdness inhabited the heads of Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, fantasy gaming has some really bizarre stuff baked into its history. I’ve gamed long enough to use a lot of that weirdness (including my personal favorite, the deck of many things), but there’s still so much more out there. Here’s a quick list of some of the fun items in Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder that I’ve always wanted to slip into an adventure but have never quite been able to make fit.
If you’re a fan of role-playing games, you probably got introduced to the game through a little thing called Dungeons & Dragons. It may have come by a different name back then, such as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but the general gist remains the same. In my unscientific study, about 99% of gamers were found to have come into the hobby via some iteration of D&D.
I’ve hopped around a lot in the RPG hobby, and while I got off the D&Dtrain, my current game of choice, Pathfinder, is an extremely close cousin of the world’s first role-playing game. While there are a lot of reasons I tend to stick close to the D&D tradition, one of the major ones is the oddball humor that the game’s history is steeped in.
I like a good beer and pretzels game, where the play is fairly casual and the jokes are frequent. And when it comes to D&D-style fantasy, the jokes have been baked into the game for decades now.
Gender identity is currently a big issue in the United States, with progress toward acceptance of all identities proving to be a slow, bumpy process. Despite a long period of time when Dungeons & Dragons and its kin were hesitant to discuss anything that might offend parents, the RPG industry seems to be slightly more progressive than mainstream American society on this matter.
That said, in fantasy gaming this subject has gone from accidental misrepresentation to a verboten subject to something that is openly accepted. Here’s a quick overview of gender identity in fantasy games from the 1970s to now.