Role-playing games are cool now, they say…but they are not cool. They are for nerds. Here are my top five.
1. Dungeons and Dragons – the first edition.
The red cover with a dragon on. The monster manual. These were all classic books that we loved and read very often. I used to painstakingly copy pictures from them. D and D is still my first role-playing game of choice, I play it with my kids because it’s the only one I know and, yet, even after all this time, I still don’t really understand the combat rules.
Think of all things that D and D gave the world. Magic missile, the mystical D20, beholders, rakshashas (pinched from Hindu mythology, says Wikipedia), that cartoon from the eighties, search the room for traps.
2. Middle Earth role-play
MERP was great because of the upgraded combat system and not just because it explored Tolkien’s world. With the percentile dice anyone could kill anything and there was a really funny critical hit table at the back of the book. It’s here I first learned abouyt Uruk-Hai.
3. Star Wars Role-play
I’m a mid-level Star Wars fan but I liked this game because we all understood the combat system which used loads of six sided dice. The lazer combat was fair and, in our game, we had our own space ship. I played a ‘quixotic Jedi’ – someone who thinks they’re a Jedi but they aren’t and this was enormous fun. It seemed the rules encouraged characters to be flawed in some sense and this added to the game. We got to role-play and not power-game.
4. Dragon Warriors
This was a paperback book. The rules were dead simple and I understood them quickly. Without lots of tables and charts to follow we were able to get on with the business of role-play and fighting and creating our own world.
I was so young when I first played this game that I learned the word ‘Paranoia’ from it. Set in a dystopian future reminiscent of Huxley’s Brave New World, you played a human who was assigned a colour. The aim of the game was to kill your mates and advance up to the colour bands. Back-stabbing and argument generating, Paranoia was like a microcosm of the current UK political system.