The History of Role Playing Games

rpg history

Role playing has been second nature to man since ancient times. In-fact, a major branch of the arts consists of role playing and is known as the art of drama. Greek drama is one of the earliest known examples of role playing. The digital age brought role playing games (RPG) to the fore. Gaming itself was a major activity online, worth billions of dollars, and major portion of this consisted of RPGs. Any study of gaming must therefore include RPG. The history of role playing games is necessary to be investigated, in order to understand the fascination that RPG is held in around the world.

From The Beginning

Since the onset of online streaming, games have become even more lavish by the day with the creation of fantasy worlds peopled by realistic characters. Gamers have been able to satisfy their deep seated desires to Act in various roles. RPG is the abbreviation used universally to denote Role Playing Games, and it has a long history. In 1974, the first true RPG was launched by TSR. Dungeons and Dragons was the name. In the 1960s, the world was taken by storm by extraordinary stories by a quite, bearded Magician called JRR Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins and his nephew Frodo travelled through a fantasy world called Middle Earth, and these life-like stories captured the imagination of the reading public. At the same time, Gary Gygax presented Chainmail, a medieval recreation war game, with fantasy elements added in. Almost simultaneously, Dave Arneson released Blackmoor. Blackmoor incorporated concepts of modern games, such as, Levels, Armor Class, Dungeon Crawls, and Hit Points etc. These two games could be considered to be the forefathers of the modern RPG. Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) was the result of the collaboration of Gygax and Arneson, though initially they were hoping to sell only 50,000 copies. Of course, D&D exceeded this target many times over and updated versions are still believed to be in circulation.

The next step in the History of Role Playing Games came about in 1977. In this year, Simbalist and Backhaus released Chivalry & Sorcery (C&S), which was meant to compete with the then most popular D&D. This game was even more realistic than D&D. Tunnels and Trolls (T&T) was released by Ken St. Andre, in the mid 70s, and is an RPG that is loved and played even today. It may be noted that most of the RPGs of this era were basically Medieval Fantasies. But SF (Science Fiction) was also featured strongly. For example, 1977 saw the launching of Traveler from the GDW (Game Designers’ Workshop). Since then, strong series of support books and alternate rules have ensured that this game is still going strong today. Next, Chaosium created a storm in 1978, by releasing their RPG, RuneQuest. So popular was this RPG that it is still going strong, with RuneQuest 6 amidst a huge fan following. RPGs then began to proliferate, and now command much of the gaming market itself. But none of the RPGs have ever been supported like the Dungeon & Dragons series. TSR had released a continuously updated rulebook, called AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) between 1977 and 1979, and this boosted the sale of D&D enormously.

This series of books called the AD&D are now iconic for any Role Playing gamers to play any RPG. The Charts, Tables and Appendices are absolutely vital to any Gamer planning to play any RPGs. While AD&D 4.0 is the latest version, and is published along with D&D Magazine, the latest D&D RPG was released under OGL (Open General License) in 2000, showing its predominant position in this world.

The Best RPGs

Some of the best RPGs, at present, are:

  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
  • The Witcher 3
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Final Fantasy 15
  • Undertale
  • Dark Souls III
  • Fallout 4
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
  • Blizzard’s Diablo
  • Nethack
  • The Bard’s Tale
  • Star Flight
  • Ultima VI
  • Questron

In the mean time Japan has come up with some of the greatest RPG franchises, such as:

  • Pokemon (Game Freak / Nintendo)
  • Mother (Nintendo)
  • Ys (Nihon Falcom)
  • Mystery Dungeon (Chun Soft)
  • Dragon Slayer (Nihon Falcom, ported by Square For MSX, 1995)
  • Fire Emblem (Intelligent Systems/ Nintendo)
  • Suikoden (Konami)
  • Blood of Arcana (1999)
  • Double Cross (2001)
  • Night Wizard! (2002)
  • Alshard (2002)

In 2006, RPG Alshard (2002) was expanded into a generic Role Playing game system named Standard RPG System. In 2007, ‘Night Wizard!’ was adapted into an Anime Television series. World of Warcraft, along with Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic (LucasArts), are three of the most famous MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) RPGs in the world today. RPG has now moved from just the Gamers domain on-to the stage of World Entertainment.