Portal:Role-playing games

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The Role-playing Games Portal
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Showcased content about role-playing games

Many RPG systems use dice rolls or other random elements.

A role-playing game (RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.

There are several forms of RPGs. The original form, sometimes called the tabletop RPG, is conducted through discussion. Several varieties of RPGs also exist in electronic media, such as multi-player text-based MUDs and their graphics-based successors, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Role-playing games also include single-player offline role-playing video games in which players control a character or team who undertake quests, and may include capabilities that advance using statistical mechanics. Media attention has both increased sales and stigmatized certain games. In thirty years the genre has grown from a few hobbyists and boutique publishers to an economically significant part of the games industry, though grass-roots and small business involvement remains substantial. Games industry company Hasbro purchased fantasy game publisher Wizards of the Coast in 1998 for an estimated $325 million.


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A D&D game session in progress

Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as D&D) is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997. It was derived from miniature wargames with a variation of the Chainmail game serving as the initial rule system. D&D '​s publication is widely regarded as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry. Dungeons & Dragons has gone through several revisions. Parallel versions and inconsistent naming practices can make it difficult to distinguish between the different editions.

D&D departs from traditional wargaming and assigns each player a specific character to play instead of a military formation. These characters embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. A Dungeon Master serves as the game's referee, while also maintaining the setting in which the adventures occur and playing the role of the inhabitants. The characters solve dilemmas, engage in battles and gather treasure and knowledge. Dungeons & Dragons is known beyond the game for other D&D-branded products, references in popular culture and some of the controversies that have surrounded it.

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The Cowardly Lion, illustrated in the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Credit: W.W. Denslow

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is a role-playing video game for the Nintendo DS. The game is an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, using its characters, locations and plot.

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Did you know...

  • ...that Schmidt Spiel & Freizeit GmbH wanted to take Dungeons & Dragons under license, but then decided that it would be too expensive, so they asked Ulrich Kiesow to provide an alternative. Kiesow proposed his private game, Aventuria which was renamed The Dark Eye (German original: Das Schwarze Auge) and would become one of Germany's most famous role-playing games.
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Selected biography

Gary Gygax at Gen Con Indy 2007

Ernest Gary Gygax was an American writer and game designer best known for co-creating the pioneering role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) with Dave Arneson. Gygax has been described as the father of Dungeons & Dragons.

In the 1960s, Gygax created an organization of wargaming clubs and founded the Gen Con gaming convention. In 1971, he helped develop Chainmail, a miniatures wargame based on medieval warfare. He co-founded the company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR, Inc.) with childhood friend Don Kaye in 1973. The following year, he and Dave Arneson created Dungeons & Dragons, which expanded on his work on Chainmail and included elements of the fantasy stories he loved as a child. In the same year, he founded The Dragon, a magazine based around the new game. In 1977, Gygax began work on a more comprehensive version of the game, called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Gygax designed numerous manuals for the game system, as well as several pre-packaged adventures called "modules" that gave a person running a D&D game (the "Dungeon Master") a rough script and ideas on how to run a particular gaming scenario. In 1983, he worked to license the D&D product line into the successful Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series.

After leaving TSR in 1985 over issues with its new majority owner, Gygax continued to create role-playing game titles independently, beginning with the multi-genre Dangerous Journeys in 1992. He designed another gaming system called Lejendary Adventure, released in 1999. In 2005, Gygax was involved in the Castles & Crusades role-playing game, which was conceived as a hybrid between D&D's third edition and the original version of the game conceived by Gygax.

Gygax was married twice and had six children. In 2004, he suffered two strokes, narrowly avoided a subsequent heart attack, and was then diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, from which he died in March 2008.

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"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." - Gary Gygax

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