Reading Your First RPG Rulebook

If you are new to Pencil and Paper roleplaying games picking up one of the 400+ page rulebooks can be daunting.  Don’t worry, you won’t be reading this left to right top to bottom! You’ll be on your way to blasting fireballs and slaying dragons soon.

The Player’s Handbook

Step 1: Breath (and consult other warriors if necessary)

Don’t worry about more experienced players not liking you if you don’t know all the rules. RPGs are very social games. The more heroes there are in these worlds, the better the game is for everyone! We want to see your character because only you can add that to the game. Meetup, Facebook and Warhorn can be great places to find games. Furthermore each game publisher has resources for finding organized play.

Step 2: Races, Classes and “the Chill”

Raia, a mighty technomancer from Starfinder

In games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Starfinder and other D20 inspired systems, your Race and your class will be the most important choices you make for your character. Don’t worry about trying to “maximize” your stats. This is a role-playing game, not a straight wargame. Get a grip of what the general “vibe” of each character choice is. Rogues like dexterity and intelligence. Playing a clunky and brutish Orc as a rogue may not work so well. On the other hand, classes that value strength will work well for orcs.

What you are looking for here is that feeling of “that’s cool!”  Does the idea of summoning nature’s power as a Druid send a chill down you spine? Or in StarFinder, can you visualize a ruthless Android Operative? Finding your class is a bit like Harry Potter holding his wand for the first time. Once you find that niche and you are off and running to making a good character.

Step 3: Don’t miss the story for the rules

Flip over the sections in the book that describe the story setting. You will be more inspired to make a character to fight for this realm and learn the rules of the game if you have a sense of what sort of strange and wondrous place your hero lives in, and what he is fighting for! What riches can your character find if successful? What factions are warring for influence over the starfleet? Dungeons and Dragons is about Dungeons, epic heroes, monsters and FIRE BREATHING DRAGONS.   Not mere stats.

Step 4: Step Through The Character Creation Process

There will be a section near the beginning that numbers out each step of how to make a character. If you feel ready, go ahead and step through it. If you want some guidance on choices you can either A. Play a pre-generated character for your first game and use what you learn to guide making your custom character later or B. skip to step 5 before making your character. Don’t worry too much about being “wrong.” If you are playing at home, you and your GameMaster can figure out rules for adjusting characters as you learn. Many organized play systems allow you to adjust your character freely at low levels. And even if you feel the need to start over you won’t lose much experience when you are just starting out. Experiment! That’s how you learn.

Step 5: Familiarize Yourself With Combat

This is one where sometimes it may be better to just play a pre-generated character with people who already know how to play and learn by doing as combat rules can seem daunting at first pass. That being said, sometime in your evolution as a player you really should read through how combat works. There is strategy to it! Learn the effects of catching the enemy of guard, the importance of positioning for maximum strategic impact, how to avoid attacks of opportunity and the like. In the game it is good to have a healthy dose of caution. Let the “tanks” (characters with high HP and/or self-healing properties) go first. Stay hidden and quiet when possible…until its time to strike! Also know that there is no shame in using diplomacy or trickery instead of brute force. In fact Gamemasters respect more creative players who refuse to be simple “murder hobos” hacking and slashing their way through things.

Step 6: Have Fun!

Roleplaying games are only limited by your imagination. Find a group and give it a go! Your characters name will soon be whispered of in myth and legend…

For more resouces check out Paizo.com, and dnd.wizards.com.

And since I am Lawful Good here is the legal stuff:

For the picture of Raia:”This blogpost uses trademarks and/or copyrights owned by Paizo Inc., which are used under Paizo’s Community Use Policy. We are expressly prohibited from charging you to use or access this content. This [website, character sheet, or whatever it is] is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Paizo Inc. For more information about Paizo’s Community Use Policy, please visit paizo.com/communityuse. For more information about Paizo Inc. and Paizo products, please visit paizo.com.”

For the DND Pictures:
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