Even though I have not had time to play one in over a decade I am still fascinated
by roleplaying games and actually buy quite a few of them. But why buy role
playing games when there are dozens (approaching hundreds) of free role playing
systems available on the Internet?
The pen and pencil RPG market has always been relatively small compared to
other traditional publishing enterprises, so designing a system and profitably
publishing it is an iffy proposition at best. Instead, a lot of folks are putting
the roleplaying games they have designed on the web as free downloads. As with
anything free, the quality varies widely, but on the whole I am impressed at
how professional and playable many of the free games are.
So where do you find free RPG systems? There are several directories on the
- Uncle Bear’s has an extensive
list of free RPGs by categories with brief descriptions
- The Free
RPG WebRing is (surprise) a web ring of sites that host free RPGs
Unfortunately it us hard to find many reviews for free RPGs. Brian Gleichman
is trying to do something about that situation — on his site he posts a
new review of a free RPG on a monthly basis.
Another thing the Internet is doing is allowing for small independent roleplaying
game companies to sell their wares. The best example of this is Microtactix.
Microtactix sells a variety of products from a downloadable generic roleplaying
game, Simply Roleplaying,
to an entire line of cardstock miniature towns and people (again, in a form
that users download and print off).
I bought a copy of the Simply Roleplaying core book a few weeks ago
and while I have not had time to go through it thoroughly enough to do a review,
I was very impressed by the way it was packaged with multiple formats, and a
lot of extra goodies in the ZIP file. The whole package came across as very
professional — well worth the $9 I paid.
One of the reason I have not played a role playing game in years is because of the logistics of it all. Finding mature individuals worth gaming with is one problem, and actually finding the time to set aside several hours to do so is another. Fortunately, just as the games and game companies are moving onto the web, so is the actual playing of games.
Many folks out there are playing RPGs online through e-mail or on web-based discussion forums. PBEM.Com is the best resource for getted started in playing RPGs over the Internet. They typically have over 500 announcements of games looking for players as well as extensive material on how to get started in e-gaming from both a player and a game master perspective.