Errata: Board Games for Roleplayers | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Errata: Board Games for Roleplayers

I’ve been pretty vocal before about my transition to boardgaming. Formerly a long time roleplayer, real life just got in the way to the point where I couldn’t reliably create stories for my troupe. We started board gaming on the nights when I was unprepared and, eventually, that just took over. And I’ve loved that hobby ever since. This week, we get a question from another long time RPGer.

RPGer asked, “I’m part of a roleplaying group and we get together two or three times a month depending on schedules. I’m a bit of a board gamer as well, and I thought I might get my fellow roleplayers interested. I especially want that for when real life gets in the way and we have a smaller than expected group. But so far I’ve gotten very little traction on the idea. What games would you recommend I bring?

First, be aware of their sensibilities. Some people just don’t like board games, and that’s OK. If it starts to feel like you are forcing it down their throats, even the best game in the world is going to start to feel like a chore.

And, before you go whole hog into boardgaming, you might have some success with some of the more clever RPGs that have recently debuted. Misspent Youth is a great game that a subgroup can run with easily. And, if you don’t want absences at all, you should check out Fiasco. Fiasco is a perpetual one-shot story machine with each encounter being very enjoyable.

But, assuming you want to introduce boardgaming, then there’s a few things you could do. Traditional “gateway” games may be a good choice. My own gateway that moved us away from RPGs was Settlers of Catan. I think Fresco also makes a good introduction to worker placement games and is easily upgradeable from gateway to a (more) sophisticated game through the included modules.

However, if there is resistance, you may want to go with something a little more thematic. After all, if they like role playing, they will probably enjoy putting themselves in the roles of a game.

If Warhammer is your poison, then Chaos in the Old World may work perfectly for you. Games with hidden loyalties, like Shadows over Camelot or Battlestar Galactica might work well. It allows the players to all act innocent even as one or more of them are evil. And, if you want to get away from the board entirely, The Resistance might be a good match that combines card gaming and roleplaying. Once Upon a Time, too, is a great diversion for story tellers.

Once you get your foot in the door with games, you can hopefully expand it a bit from there.

Got questions about strategy, specific games, or the hobby in general? Post them in the comments here, email me at geekinsight at gfbrobot dot com, or send them to @GeekInsight on Twitter and check back next week for answers!

There are 4 comments.

  1. Billy said on August 30, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Oh lord, on your recommendation we bought Fiasco and played it with two of my gaming groups, such a crazy, fun game! Love it so much. We actually started working up our own module for it.

  2. Patrick said on August 31, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Not to say it perfectly fills this role, but I’ve found that the Buffy boardgame can provide opportunities for light role playing over the course of the game, esp. if you are playing with fans of the show…

  3. GeekInsight said on September 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    @Billy. Glad to hear you enjoy it! You’ll have to let me know what your module is about.

    @Patrick. I haven’t played the Buffy game myself, but I can see how it would make good cross over material.

  4. Robert Bohl said on March 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for the mention. One of my goals when structuring the text of Misspent Youth was to write it in such a way that people picking it up for the first time could read through it and follow along as they read for the first time, and produce a successful play session. I was inspired to do this by my introduction to Memoir 44 and its implications for RPG design, as introduced to me by Judd Karlman. I think that RPGs should be pick-up-and-play just like board games are. It’s a weirdness that more aren’t constructed this way.

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