We play games of collaborative storytelling in realms that exist in our collective creativity. Through the gamemaster and players' shared imagination and the fateful roll of the dice, we explore worlds of wonder, woe, and whimsy. Nobody, including the gamemaster, knows how a game session will pan out. Teamwork is encouraged but not guaranteed. Your party can be a team of valiant heroes, mutated masterminds, scheming scoundrels, or doomed survivors.
Pen-and-paper tabletop gaming is a family-friendly, socially cohesive form of escapism that lets loose the leash of our ego and allows us to think outside the bounds of our everyday experience. Creativity is the mind's laboratory, and imagination trains our psyches to adapt to the unknown.
Collaborative social role-playing games are a safe place to explore this most human and increasingly rare of experiences.
And by the way, it's a whole lot of fun.
Outside of a bored [sic] meeting, how often do you share the company of other people, collectively engaged and concentrated in the same cognitive activity? The speed of life seems ever increasing, and as we're swept up in the race for efficiency and productivity, we often forget our humanity. Collaborative role-playing games exist for this reason.
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The data on screen time is clear, and we seem to be raising a generation of hikikomori. Attentiveness and social skills are dwindling, and social games are a great way to practice both.
Apart from simply being an alternative to looking at a screen, RPGs also provide children the opportunity to assume the role of Game Master and hone leadership and organizational skills that will serve them through life.
You play a fictional character, whose personality, quirks, motivation, and entire being exists in your mind and whose measurable features (strength, spells, etc.) are tracked on their character sheet. Everyone else around the table does too, and their characters interact with yours based on situations initially presented by the Gamemaster, and subsequently by the organic emergence of the narrative.
More technically, in adult sessions we use a virtual tabletop displayed on a large screen to accurately portray tactical combat scenarios where necessary. We do not use miniatures or printed out maps. Kids are encouraged to draw their own maps based on a primer or the gamemaster's description.
In most role-playing games, the character sheet you're initially handed seems a bit intimidating (especially D&D 5th edition), whether it's already filled in and especially if it's blank. Any gamemaster worth their salt should walk through it with you during one of your first couple of sessions. It is close to impossible to know all the rules and lore. Don't worry about it. If everyone (including you) is having fun, you're doing it right.
Singular: dice. Plural: dice. Also known as "math rocks".
"An advantage roll means rolling two dice and using the die with the higher result."
The "d" means "a die with this number of sides". The number after it is how many sides it has.
So, "roll a d20" means "roll the die that has 20 sides on it". The result is whatever number is facing up.
Most d4s do not have a "top" side, so instead the number at the top is the result. (Though some have their results at the bottom. Just read the one that's upright.)
Most dice sets include two d10s: one with sides labeled 0-9, and the other 00-90. The "0" here means "ten", and the "00" means "zero". When rolled together, they have 100 permutations. The correct way to read them is a highly controversial debate which I won't get into here.
"Two d-eight plus three" means "Roll two eight-sided dice, add their results, then add three".