Welcome, Adventurer! The Fountain of Knowledge
You have ventured from the
safety of your village on a quest for knowledge. Knowledge of what
you are not sure, but there is a fabled fountain in the middle of the Plains
of Despair, and that is your destination. According to the ancient
legends, one must take but one drink from this fountain, and knowledge
and understanding of the great mysteries of life and the universe will
be revealed. So you packed up your meager belongings... some clothes,
a little food, and of course your trusty blade, and set off. You
met many people on your journey. Some became friends, others were
bitter enemies trying to use you to gain more information on the legendary
fountain. You've avoided hoards of barbaric goblins, and even bested
the ogre king in single combat so that you could enter the burning heat
of the Plains of Despair. Your journey has been long, hard, and often
miserable, but now you stand before the deep blue waters of the magical
fountain. Golden light bathes the granite shrine, cast by the magical
glowing orb atop the fountain's pedestal. The magic of the shrine
seems to crackle around you as you climb the three short steps to the fountain.
Knowledge awaits you. You have but to drink...
What is Role Playing?
Very simply, role playing is to
take on a different persona and play out events as though you were that
character... much like a play or a movie. Think of your favorite
TV show, your favorite movie, or even a favorite book. They're full
of characters that could be role-played. The movie or book becomes
the characters world or setting, and in no time, you can immerse yourself
in that setting. This is the heart of role playing games. You
start with a character concept that interests you... would you be a warrior
in a fantasy land, questing for the Fountain of Knowledge? A comic
book superhero, forced to lead a double life as Greg the copy boy by day,
and Captain Courageous by night? Maybe an international spy in a
modern, high-tech setting similar to James Bond catches your fancy?
Or what about a space pirate, marauding the galactic shipping lanes and
preying on star merchants? Anything you can imagine is possible.
So how do I get started?
Well, the first thing you need
other people to play with, unless you enjoy writing and want to make up
your own stories (which is ok too, but that's writing, not role playing).
A good place to find other gamers is at your local hobby store... most
hobby stores have bulletin boards where gamers can post notices about what
kinds of games they're interested in.
Once you have found a group,
somebody is going to have to be the leader. This leader goes by many
names, but is usually called the Game Master (or GM for short). This
is the person who designs the world that the other players' characters
live in. The GM also comes up with adventures, and plays the parts
of all of the people in his world except for the other players' characters
(henceforth refered to as PCs which is short for Player Character).
These characters that the GM controls are the equivalent to 'extras' in
a movie. They're not usually vital to the plot, but are there to
offer assistance, whether that be information, or to sell the characters
weapons, or whatever. The GM has full control over everything in
his or her world. It's a demanding job (believe me, I know) but it
can be very rewarding too.
The group probably has a GM
and world style picked out already, but if not, these things should be
decided so everyone knows what sorts of characters fit into the world.
At this point, the GM has a lot of work to do. Setting up a campaign
is usually the hardest part of GMing, as there is a lot of work to be done,
and the GM must do a lot of thinking and brainstorming. The players
have it much easier. Each player will need to come up with a good
character concept, then take that concept and turn it into a well-developed
character. After deciding on a background and a profession for your
character, you can generate the character's stats and you're off and running.
Below are a couple of links to pages that will help you develop a campaign
or a good character background.
GM's Campaign Questionaire
Some of my all time favorite
RPGs have been Rifts, Dark Conspiracy, Star Wars, Dangerous Journeys (Before
it was bought out by TSR and promptly swept under the carpet, never to
be seen again) and Champions.
I also like Steve Jackson's GURPS
system, in certain genres. If you're looking for a detailed, robust,
and fairly realistic gaming system, I highly recommend GURPS.
I am currently running a Champions
campaign for some friends. We've been playing since about July
of '98. I've moved out of the town that they're in to the big city
of Denver, so now we just play over the Internet, and then not very often,
but I've put quite a bit of time into it. It's a "Superheros in Space"
type of campaign which has, so far, been a lot of fun. Fredd Gorham
(who's done work for Hero Games, Marvel Comics, Steve Jackson Games, and
some others) has done some professional character sketches of a couple
of the main characters, which I have posted on the campaign pages as well.
You can see some of his other work here.
Role Playing Online:
If you are looking for an on-line
role playing system, I ran across one called WebRPG.
It's fairly unique, and while it requires some setup work on the GM's part,
it's still a neat concept. It includes support for everything from
online character sheets to maps with movable tokens. It also includes
support for sound effects. The system is designed more for a group
that might sit around a table as opposed to the older, text-based MU*s
which are set up for dozens to hundreds of players at one time. You
might want to look at this system if you're interested in online RPGs.
MUSHes, MUDs, and other Multi-User text-based systems:
Some friends of mine and I have
also been running a MUSH (text-based role playing environment) for about
five years now, which could be considered an ongoing campaign. The
MUSH set in the Star Wars universe, in a small star cluster on the edge
of the galaxy known as the Minos Cluster. If you've never been on
a MUSH or similar system, it's a text-based multi-user role playing environment.
There are several flavors of it (MUSH, MUX, MUSE, MUD, MOO, etc.) but they're
all pretty similar in concept and collectively known as MU*s. They're
also quite addictive. If you don't mind wasting a lot of time, you
can have a look at our MUSH by starting up a telnet session to
1138 and follow the login instructions from there. It's probably
going to look pretty jumbled up if you use raw telnet... when it connects,
the login screen comes up and is a pretty good ASCII drawing of a star
destroyer, but if your terminal isn't set for the correct width (I want
to say 80 columns, but I can't remember if that's quite right), it's not
going to be recognizable. See MUSH Clients below. MU*s are
a little different than standard roleplaying systems. There is much
more responsibility placed on the players to generate their own situations
and role-play them out. There are usually a number of GMs (Commonly
known as Wizards in MU*s), but players always outnumber wizards by a large
margin. What generally happens in a MU* environment is the players
go about their business and on occasion the wizards will run an adventure
(Usually called a Quest or a TinyPlot). Even though there's not usually
an active GM, they're still a lot of fun.
If you decide you like MU*ing, you'll
find quickly that a raw telnet session is a pretty ugly way to go.
There are several "clients" available for MU*ing. If you're using
Microsoft's Windows, the best one I've come across is called
If you're using UNIX/Linux or OS/2, download its predecessor, TinyFugue.
If you use MacOS... I guess you're on your own. I'm not sure what
kind of clients are out there for Mac's. I would maybe plug "MUD
Client" into your favorite search engine and see what you come up with
there. If any of you Mac users have a good one, let me know about
it and I'll put a link to it here as well.
If you want to try out MU*ing
but don't care for Star Wars, there is a large list of MU*'s called Amberyl's
Automated MUSH List. You should be able to find just about any
genre you like here. World of Darkness (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage,
etc) is by far the most popular, but there's something there for pretty
much any gamer.
Hopefully I've given you enough
information to set you on your first steps in a journey into your imagination.
When it's all said and done, you will have created your own story... your
own saga even. If nothing else, it will have provided you (hopefully)
hours of entertainment, and given you the same good memories that a book
can give. With some thought and a little imagination, you can take
a piece of paper and some ideas and mold them into a character with more
detail and history than the best novels out there. It will be better
because it's all been decided by you and the people you play with.
The longer you play, the more detailed your character gets, the more adventures
you have with the character, and the more fun the character is to play.
Good luck in your endeavours, and always remember: When you have
occasion to run away from a nasty beastie in an adventure... you don't
have to outrun the beastie, you just have to outrun the crabby old dwarf
in your party! (And if the crabby old dwarf in the party happens
to be your character, I recommend heavy armor and a sharp
battle axe... because you're what's for dinner!) Good luck, and happy
You are adventurer number
your mark at the Fountain of Knowledge.
Allies and enemieswho
have passed by!
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