Inspirational Gamers: RPG Communities

Roleplaying games have been a part of my life since I was 14 years old. My first introduction to the genre was Baldur’s Gate, and then Neverwinter Nights grabbed hold of me from there. I had played RPG games on console before, but they’d always been solo endeavors. I remember getting Neverwinter Nights and being so excited that I could play a game with my best friends. Years of stories were crafted, characters made, and memories shared. These experiences lead me to find tabletop RPG’s with my friends Matt [ A Fistful of Dice ] and Darrin. We started playing home group tabletop games after that.

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I got inducted via Pathfinder and have, since then, never looked back. Now there are so many different RPG’s out there to experience, it’s hard to even know where to begin or how to get involved. I know the feeling, and it’s not fun. You’re a player on the outside wanting to find a community you feel will accept you into the fold. It’s what we all desire as gamers, a community that embraces our eccentricities and makes us feel loved and valued. Today I want to shed light on some truly inspirational friends that I have made over the past few years.

Each of the following communities has something to offer, and they all are filled with exceptional human beings. They aren’t only wonderful role-players, but the point of entry for getting involved in the community is really easy and they’re all willing and able to help. You have a place where you can learn new games, mechanics, foster creativity, and grow as a gamer. I’m going to go through each one of these and touch briefly on why I feel they exemplify accessible gameplay communities for those wanting to get into roleplaying games.

In this generation the concept of the standard “home group” table is hard to come by. These communities give those who can’t find that outlet an opportunity to do so.

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A group formed by four of my best friends, Absolute Tabletop, is a community that embraces creativity. They are a third-party publishing company for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons supplements. They’ve just recently started, but in a year’s time, they’ve created a devoted community that thrives on inclusive, creative and productive tabletop culture. They acknowledge all players of all skill levels, and promote teaching the game to anyone willing to learn.

The brain trust that is Absolute Tabletop: Tabletop Terrors’ Tim and James Kearney; AFistfulofDice‘s Matt Click, and BeABetterGameMaster‘s Michael Barker are exemplary stewards of what this hobby is meant to promote. They define the family like quality that I feel every tabletop experience should be. They are not only DM’s and players, but they’re quite good at teaching others how a game system works. They do so each in their own way, but their styles mesh so well, and it makes the point of entry like walking into a new home.

The people in the community are active, loving, and embracing of all skill types. They foster creativity in a way I haven’t seen before in most online communities. You don’t have to be a part of Absolute Tabletop to feel like a part of Absolute Tabletop. The group is composed of players of all walks of life and play styles. It’s ideally for those wanting to get into 5th Edition, but so many of the topics presented are system agnostic. Feel free to grab a character sheet, a handbook, a drawing pad, whatever floats your fancy – and Absolute Tabletop will embrace your talents and interests.

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This was the first group I was ever introduced to when it came to online gameplay. Up until the Tabletop One-Shot Group, I was only ever playing home games with Matt and the rest of our crew. The One-Shot Group has had it’s ups and downs for me, but what I love about them is that it’s a space where you can taste all the options available in the RPG community. Not everyone is going to want to play Pathfinder, nor 5th Edition. Sometimes we find ourselves longing for game systems that challenge us. We search for new mechanics and new ways to play so that our gaming variety expands and we learn new experiences.

If this something that inspires you I urge you to take a look at it. Headed by the wonderful gentlemen: Ian Christiansen, Andrew Knapp, and Lee “Juce” Patterson. Each one of them has a deep passion for the roleplaying community. They keep the community a fun, inviting, and accessible homestead for learning new games. They promote players trying new games and inspire others with their Youtube channels and their gameplay. Each player in the OSG can find something that interests them without much struggle. Timezones can sometimes be a pain, but for the most part, you’re going to be able to find a game any time of day.

If you’re into gore: Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Fate of the Norns, and Savage Worlds.

If you’re into fantasy: Pathfinder, 5th Edition, Adventures in Middle Earth, Mouseguard, etc.

If you’re into sci-fi: Fate, Call of Cthulhu, Numenera, etc.

It really doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, the OSG has something to offer everyone. The point of entry is really small. Anyone and everyone willing to play is welcome, as long as you adhere to being a respectful, creative, and open minded gamer. Feel free to join and just hop in. There will be a game for you waiting, and hopefully you’ll find fellow gamers who will become life-long friends.

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A group founded by my friend, Jarin “DnD”, this is the pinnacle of tabletop accessibility. I remember when Jarin joined the OSG for the first time and mentioned that he wanted to bring a group together. He wanted to showcase that tabletop gaming could still be achieved by players with disabilities. This group immediately tugged at my heartstrings and I admire Jarin for all of the work and effort he and his fellow admins. have put together.┬áHe is constantly updating Power Up Gamers, giving feedback, providing numerous games, and giving a look into how to run games in a more accessible fashion.

He delivers reviews and discussions on how to provide a more accessible atmosphere for all gamers. This is especially helpful for┬ádesigners, like myself, who want to build new experiences. The group is open and willing to bring in any players. Everyone has their own play style and Jarin recognizes this. Some players may need to take more frequent breaks, some may have trouble communicating their character’s actions, but whatever your play style Power Up Gamers accommodates it.

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If you are a fan of Star Wars, I highly, highly, emphatically suggest you hit up Tides of Change. This group, headed by Andre Martinez, is a Star Wars fan paradise. Andre and a number of exceptional DM’s have taken the mantle to provide a community for those who love all things Star Wars. You can play using the Fantasy Flight Games set of games that span the vast timeline of Star Wars stories. There is clearly something for everyone here.

You want to play a Sith? Play a Sith!

You want to be a droid? Be a Droid!

Want to be a Wookie bountyhunter fighting against the Rebel Alliance? BE A WOOKIE!

The possibilities are endless and the gaming community here doesn’t care about the depth of your knowledge. They are willing to take you as you are and indoctrinate you into the lore. They see all players as valuable and know how important the Star Wars franchise is to countless others. I haven’t had a chance to be in a Tides of Change game yet, but if you want a bit of Force in your life, this is definitely the place to start. If you want to see how some of these games work check out my buddies: Jarl DM, MikethePiper, and Red Dice Diaries.

They have dynamite games that show off the game system in a brilliant way.

These are all of my current favorites, and there’s at least one group you can jump into. I hope that by showing these, players who are still anxious about getting involved in a game will see there’s no fear here. I’ve spoke at length about how tabletop gaming is beneficial and therapeutic for many players, and so, if you’re worried at all that you can’t roll with the best of us – don’t be.

We are all gamers here, and we all love this hobby – one dice roll at a time.

Inspirational Gamer of the Week: Justin “8-Bit Animal” LeGrande

Today on this weeks’s Inspirational Gamer of the Week, I decided to focus my attention on a very important topic that is near and dear to my heart. I recently watched a video from a gamer named Justin LeGrande, or otherwise known as 8-Bit Animal, and his video touched my heart with his message and so I figured that I would share it with my audience.

Cyber-bullying, or Online Discrimination is a huge problem within our online gaming communities. I can personally say that’s why I practically despised the movement to online gameplay when most games started importing multiplayer aspects to their games just so they could say that they were online compatible. I’ve had countless times where I’ve personally felt the sting of online harassment, and it’s one of the few reasons why I refuse to ever wear a headset again. A headset, while it may be useful in some games, is practically a gateway to getting bullied and harassed.

What makes it worse, is that I typically don’t talk back – which only allows me to listen to the slurs of vulgar language, discriminatory conduct, and depravity that are passing through the airwaves during matches. I’ll give you an example:

Recently I was playing the Uncharted 3 Multiplayer on my PS3, and while I didn’t have a mic on, one of my anonymous party members did. Now the voice was obviously that of teenage kid, probably no more than 12 – 13 and so his comments shouldn’t get to me right? He’s just a kid, and I don’t know this person – so why should his words affect me? Well – unfortunately, they can and do for many gamers around the world. I personally have been picked on enough, that I can shove words like ‘retard’, ‘gimp’, etc. in one ear and out the other.

This kid was reaming on me, because I kept trying to save his butt, but in the process kept dying. Now I’m pretty good at the Uncharted Multiplayer. I won’t lie, I’ve got quite a few hours of that game under my belt, but when a teenager calls you all sorts of discriminatory names without knowing who you are at all – it really devalues your gaming experience and makes you not want to play anymore. This is exactly what Justin gets at in his video, and that’s why I love him for it.

How can we allow this to continue?

We have to be able to stand up for gamers, especially gamers who don’t have the courage or the ability to stand up for themselves. I love his advice on trying to make sure that you have a dedicated group of players and friends who know you well enough that discrimination won’t be an issue. I love all of my fellow gamers no matter what race, creed, orientation, etc. I’m a fan for all, but what I’m not a fan of is disrespect and grief for just being a fellow gamer. It’s uncalled for and rude behavior that drives me away from online gameplay constantly.

Now sure, there’s ways to prompt that gamers be banned and accounts pulled – but that’s not what I’m asking for either. All I’m asking for is a sense of understanding, and some maturity on the part of my fellow gamer. We have to start being aware that the millions of players around us on these online servers come from ALL walks of life. They may be homosexual, bi-sexual, black, white, disabled, etc. and guess what?

IT SHOULDN’T MATTER!

It shouldn’t matter if a 19 year old GIRL gamer who’s paralyzed in a wheelchair can headshot you in Halo Reach 3 times before you even change your clip out – but apparently it’s heinous in the eyes of bigot gamers who feel that the anonymity of online gameplay gives them the right to say horribly outlandish things. I find these actions appalling and that’s why I’m so admiring of 8-Bit Animal for his inspiring message.

Justin,

You are an amazing gamer man, and I appreciate all of the sentiments and ideas that you’ve bestowed upon our gaming community. You have my fellow gamer support and I applaud you for such a stand up message. I hope more and more people begin to think and act like you when it comes to online gameplay, because seriously, the online market needs to change. Discrimination will always be a factor, but hopefully, we can at least get word out enough that we lessen the impact of the words in question and hopefully get fellow gamers thinking about their actions.

To all my fellow gamers,

Please heed this man’s wisdom. Acknowledge that just because a gaming console or PC gives you the anonymity to be an avatar or portray someone else it doesn’t give you free reign to abuse your fellow gamer. Griefing is a form of cyber-bullying and it’s been happening now for far too long. There are far too many children and adults plagued by these anonymous discriminatory actions not to do anything. To joke around in a group of close friends may seem acceptable, but to do so spitefully and rudely on an open forum like a gaming site or server can cause detrimental damage to the receiver. Please think about your actions and, when all is said and done, it’s almost best to say nothing than to say anything at all.

If you’re an advocate in the fight against cyber-bullying, if you feel like all gamers should have a peaceful environment to play within, then I urge you to check out more information on cyber-bullying here:

Stop Cyberbullying

The more we get acquainted with the actions that we take that are abusive, the quicker we can become aware of the steps needed to stop these interactions. I pray for a day when cyber-bullying isn’t an issue, but until that day, the best step is to be made aware that it is one. On the site there’s also a game available to play too called Alex WonderKid Cyber Detective.

I haven’t downloaded it yet [ and I assume it’s PC only ] but it’s supposed to help students learn about the dangers and issues involved with cyber-bullying and discrimination.

Thank you Justin and I hope that your message helps touch countless other gamers!

– Chad