"The essence of a role-playing game is that it is a group, cooperative experience."

- Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons

What is a Role Playing Game?

Each player in a Role Playing Game assumes the role of an imaginary person - a character - in an imaginary setting.

This setting is presented by a referee, sometimes referred to as a GM (Game Master) or DM (Dungeon Master, for you old-schoolers out there).

The object of a role-playing game is to collectively build and imagine a story where the players inhabit the roles of the principal characters.

That story might be set anywhere:

  • in a medieval, swords-and-sorcery world of myth and magic
  • on the deck of a spaceship, hurtling between stars
  • within the court of a French noblewoman with revolution at her door
  • in the boardroom of your own corporation

The players choose what their characters do at any given moment during the unfolding tale.

What makes this a game is that any given intention has a chance of success and a chance of failure.

This chance is generated by the roll of assorted dice. The referee (GM) sets a target number based on the difficulty of the task and the character's relative aptitude to it. The player rolls. If the result is the target number or higher, the task is successful. Below the number, it fails.

That is the essence of how the game is played. There are many ways to play. But, if it's done well, no matter how it's done, the result is the same;

... a world is born.