Table top role playing games (TTRPGs) refer to the class of activity first developed in 1974 with Dungeons and Dragons. By a quirk of fate, D&D has been a victim of it's own success when it comes to branding as the term "Role Playing Game" has come to mean several things that are in imitation of it. Role playing in the more general sense has come to refer to most activities where one is playing the part of someone other than themselves but is not reading off of any script. These more general role playing games can happen in just about any situation and context. Some of the major examples are: Live action role plays where all actions are fully acted out and participants are running around, online role play where participants act as characters often by posting in some fictional context, and role playing computer games which exported many of the mechanics such as classes and hit points into one player games. All of these things are role playing games but they are not really descendants of D&D.

Table top role playing games are by and large games where people play out scenarios as fictional characters under the adjudication of a game master using the resolution mechanics proscribe by the game system. Any of those elements can be omitted but more than one missing is likely to create definitional arguments. Typically, players sit around acting out their characters speech and declaring their actions while rolling dice (often polyhedral) with a game master narrating the events and outcomes beyond the players immediate control. In recent years video conferencing services such as Zoom has allowed for geographically disparate players to meet up and fully dedicated platforms such as Roll20 provide the same functionality with the addition of integrated dice rollers and battle maps. By that same token, streaming sessions over platforms such as allow broadcast of games in real time which has allowed shows like Critical Roll to go out to the whole internet and garner fairly large and scarily dedicated fan bases. While table top role playing games remain a nerdy, niche hobby the age of digital distribution has allowed both rules systems and examples of play to reach far beyond the friendly local game store and permeate into the general culture. This has significantly decreased the barrier to entry and brought a lot of new people to the hobby. While a few gate keeping curmudgeons bemoan the dilution of the hobby the majority of role players look forward to the hobbies continued growth.


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