In twenty years I’ve never spent much time thinking about the RPGA. My adventures in the roleplaying universe have moved in parallel to the rises, dips and turns in the venerable organized play organization. This past weekend I went to the Council of Five Nations at the behest of a friend to try the RPGA out. Sixteen hours later, I’m excited to have gotten my feet wet and am anticipating future participation as both a player and a GM. It’s great to get a chance to play for once, which I rarely ever get to do. I played a Wizard in the Living Forgotten Realms setting since no one in my group plays a wizard, and I wanted to get a chance to see what the class is all about. I’ll talk more about this later, but I found the class to be a pleasure to play.
So, for those who have yet to participate in the RPGA, here’s what good about it?
It’s Free. Just go to a con, sign up and play. You can get an RPGA number and that’s all it takes. No membership fees means you lose nothing if you can’t participate or don’t like it.
Take one character everywhere. The structure of the RPGA ensures that characters will be made to a certain standard across the board. That means it’s no problem to take your character to someone else’s RPGA game, and no problem with their character coming to yours. You can take the same character to conventions and play all weekend, as your schedule dictates. It’s a great way for strangers to play together with as few arguments as possible.
Structured play. RPGA adventures will have a skill challenge or two, some combat encounters, and some basic roleplay opportunities. The adventures are designed to fit within a four hour time span. There are standardized ways to assign treasure. Every time you participate in an RPGA adventure, you know what to expect. This format allows for tons of variation, so you don’t have to worry about playing the same adventure with different set pieces, but there’s an advantage to knowing that you’re not going to bring your uber-buff fighter into an intrigue-filled game, or vice versa.
Lots of games. From cons to open games run from the home, there are a lot of opportunities to play. You can even set up RPGA games for on-line play. It should be much easier to find a game.
Say bye bye to prep. If you’re GMing RPGA games, you have a whole stock of adventures at your disposal. Just familiarize yourself with the adventure and you’re all set.
So is RPGA just another another way to say “Paradise”? Unfortunately, nothing in this world is perfect. some of the negatives:
No time for roleplaying. you’ll get to do some roleplaying for sure, but the adventures are structured to be plot-driven, not story-driven. This is a sacrifice that has to be made in the time limit of a convention RPGA game, but possibly something that can be opened up for a home game.
A tendency to min/max. being combat-driven, the RPGA games are going to encourage people to min/max. I don’t think you can truly avoid this, but you certainly need to prepare for it.
Paperwork. I’m not so sure I can call this an outright flaw, but the paperwork that must be filed after each game for the GM and the players is a bit of a bringdown. Again, I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker, and is definitely required for the concept to work at all, but be prepared to acclimatize to it.
Overall, I’m not sure the format is for everyone, but the price point is perfect and is worth a try. I definitely am enjoying it thus far.