Roleplaying games or RPGs have been around for a while and have become increasingly popular. Often, they involve taking control of a character of your creation and guiding him through various challenges with your friends. Remaining in-character, or speaking and acting as if you were your character, is vital to the experience. In Achaea, the top MUD I play by Iron Realms Entertainment, I play Raslazel – a six-foot cat that can transform into animals.
Their popularity has led to the development of several sub-types that I’ll discuss here.
Pen-and-paper (tabletop) RPGs (Dungeons and Dragons, Shadowrun) rely on a master set of rules, character sheets, dice and a game master who controls the scenario as it unfolds. Bestiaries and various other supplementary guides are available for the popular titles to enhance the experience. These are, by far, the most social experiences you can have because you can look your friends in the eye while playing your characters.
Console RPGs (Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest) are video games in which you take control of, usually, a party of characters and guide them through one or more predetermined storylines. They’re generally single-player, require a large time investment to finish and require a lot of grinding. Many have great replayability, however. I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy VI.
MMORPG (World of Warcraft, Warhammer) is a bit of a misnomer. In many cases, these massively-multiplayer online games involve little to no roleplay, merely hack-and-slash combat and out-of-character chat. For that, though, they’re fun and there are generally roleplaying guilds that welcome new members.
LARPing is fun. For the uninitiated, a LARP is a live-action roleplaying game. Often, these involve several minor storylines played out among the characters that culminate in a massive battle fought with specially-made pvc and foam swords and coloured paper for magic spells. It’s a real blast if you can find a group.
MUDs (multi-user dungeons) are the predecessors of modern MMORPGs. These text-based worlds provide rich environments and lore, bashing and PvP and often have enforced roleplaying. You roll your character, describe him and live his life surrounded by others who are there to do the same with their toons. These are my favourites and I’m very biased.