The meat of the RPG is actually playing it. RPGs are great ways to expand your imagination, interact, form friendships and generally have a good time adventuring with your friends.

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Setting Up & Managing Time

Different groups have different preferences on how they actually set up their games, both location and time wise. Though there is some variance, there are a few things to consider.


RPGs are a time consuming affair. The usual game can run about 4 to 5 hours for a complete adventure, but some groups do marathon runs of up to 10 hours. I saw with about 5 people (4 players and a GM), 4 hours is a comfortable size of game time.

Something else you should do is set up a consistent time you should play, much like any organizational meeting. This way, people will know when your game is, and how to plan the rest of their week for it

Setting Up

Players of all ages enjoying a game of D&D

You should be comfortable when you play an RPG. The best thing is to find a spacious table with comfortable chairs, in a place that is well lit and generally quiet. Some people play in their homes, some in libraries, some in game stores and some in pubs. Just make sure your group agrees on the location, so everyone can be satisfied.

Refreshments, such as snacks and drinks, and atmospheric additions, such as music and props, are great additions to a game. The first will satisfy hunger and thirst, and the second will put the players in the right mindset for the game.

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GM vs. Players

There are traditionally two kinds of participants when you play an RPG. One focuses on constructing the world, progressing the story, playing the monsters and making the adventure, while the other travels through the world, discovers the story, fights the monsters and lives the adventure. These two roles are the Gamemaster and the Player.


The Gamemaster, or GM, has various names. Dungeon Master, Refree, Judge, Master, Overseer, etc., are all names that the Gamemaster have been called, but they all have the same role. The GM's job is to actually make the adventure the players will journey on. There is generally only one Gamemaster, as multiple ones can spread work too thin or cause confusion. Gamemasters set up the traps, tricks, treasures, treacheries, and all other types of T words that the players ill encounter. If you are the creative type, you will love being the GM. But be prepared to expect the unexpected, because players don't always do what you plan. You should be the Gamemaster if:

  • You want to create an adventure.
  • You like telling stories.
  • You can be well-organized.
  • You can adapt to situations quickly.
  • You like being the "bad guy".
  • You like thinking up fantastic locations and people.


The player, or more often players, form the muscles of the RPG if the GM is the spine. Players are individual characters in a world, adventuring for gold, glory, fame, justice, retribution, revenge or any other multitude of things. As long as the GM allows it in the confines of your world, you can be it. You can watch as your characters meet new people, grow stronger and go on many quests. Players live vicariously through their characters, and entire worlds can open up for them. You should be a player if:

  • You want to experience the adventure.
  • You like focusing on one character.
  • You want to save the world.
  • You like discovering and exploring.
  • You like to act and be other people.

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Roleplaying Tips

Not everyone will get the handle on roleplaying right away. Indeed, some people may just be plain bad at it. Here are some general tips to get new roleplayers off the ground.

  • Find your own style.

    Some people like to really become their characters, saying things like "Where's the danger?", and some people just like to say what their character is doing, simply saying "My character asks where the danger is." How you portray your character is completely up to you, and it may take some time to get into a proper groove.

  • Be familiar with the rules.

    Some rulebooks have a lot of rules, and often, the GM doesn't expect you to know all of them. However, you should be at least familar with them. Asking rules questions often slows up the game, but if you know the answer, play can speed along. It is a good idea to at least have one person at the table, beside the GM, who knows the rules very well.

  • Be nice. Afterall, it's just a game.

    Like any game or sport, tempers can flare during an RPG. A confused rule here, a smarmy comment there, and the next thing you know the table is flipped over. Remember, it's just a game, and the point of a game is to have fun. If your current mindset isn't allowing that, step away from RPGs for a while.

  • Have fun with it.

    Afterall, you are most likely a wizard who can cast fireballs. RPGs are a way to relax, socialize and be entertained. Joke around and have a good time, because that is what you are there for.

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Gamemaster Tips

Gamemastering, at times, can be a complicated job. You have to keep track of monsters, non-player characters, items, villages, towns, quests, villains, organizations and anything else that could be in your game world. However, once the pieces fall in to place, being a Gamemaster is extremely rewarding and a great test in creativity. Here are some tips for the green-horn Gamemaster.

  • Plan ahead, but not too far ahead.

    You should have general plots, enemies, locations and quests in mind, but don't try to plan out everything. Nothing is worse than spending months planning an entire game world, but the players never leave the one country they started in. I find it best to have general ideas, and think of specifics before each adventure. Your players will appreciate it, and you won't get bogged down in a creative stupor.

  • Don't be afraid to adapt.

    Your players won't always do what you want them to do, and that's perfectly fine. The difficult part is not forcing them into a series of linear events that they can't control, a much maligned act known as "railroading." Do you want your players to explore the ruins, but they want to go to a castle instead? Let them go to the castle and explore around. Even if you might need to improvise a bit, it will make for an overall better game.

  • You can screw up, it's fine.

    GMs, though they have a lot of power, are not without fault. You might make the players fight an enemy that is too tough for them, give them a puzzle that is too difficult to solve or put them at a dead end they can not get around. People make mistakes, so just own up to it. Give them fewer or weaker enemies, give them a hint about the puzzle or give them a push in the right direction. If you don't, games can drag out and get boring quickly, and your players will lose interest out of frustration.

  • Know the rules.

    Players look to you as the wellspring of game knowledge, and that is a legitimate thought. You should know most, if not all, of the main rules of the game. Knowing all the possible sourcebooks is almost impossible, but you should be able to recall the base rules. There are things called GM screens out there, that have the most major rules on a stand up board for you to look at while you play. These are very useful if your memory isn't the best, but you should be prepared to send down rulings quickly.

  • You have to have fun too.

    Players are not the only ones who can have fun. The GM is there for the game as well, and they aren't just a robot creating the story. If you are not having fun as a GM, it might not be the best role for you. GMing isn't for everyone, but as long as you are having fun, you'll do fine.

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