Today on Save Vs. Rant, we’re going to discuss a fairly broad category of game: those with RPG elements. These games are a sort of gateway between RPGs and pure tabletop games. What makes a game with RPG elements so interesting to the tabletop game hobby is that they act as a sort of bridge between the relatively accessible world of tabletop board and card games and the comparatively daunting world of true roleplaying games.
We could not have possibly given a rundown of every game experience with RPG elements in the course of a single season of our podcast, much less a single episode. While we touched upon a few of our absolute favorite examples (and HeroQuest was there too!), there are many, many more that we didn’t have time to cover. In this blog post, I’m going to mention a few.
Arkham Horror doesn’t feature persistent characters in the sense that there’s iteration between games, but the same recognizable characters are not only featured in a variety of Fantasy Flight’s Call of Cthulhu-themed games, but with the introduction of the Personal Story mechanic in the Innsmouth Horror expansion, each investigator has not only their own play style and feel, but also a unique story to play out. This sort of character persistence invites attachment, and character attachment is a big part of roleplaying games.
Some consider all tactical wargames a sort of RPG experience. We at Save Vs. Rant tend to want to see more RPG elements than simply moving around, killing monsters and collecting treasure. Even so, games like Super Dungeon Explore and Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft make excellent introductions to the elements common to modern tabletop fantasy roleplaying.
For exploring the social aspect of RPGs, Cutthroat Kingdoms is an intriguing option. While a lot of games feature negotiation skills, in Cutthroat Kingdoms, deals made between players are treated as new rules of the game, lending gravitas to negotiations.
The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, created by Paizo, features not only set dressings and lore familiar to players of the Pathfinder RPG, but features persistent characters and scenarios with both escalating difficulty and rewards.
Games that blend traditional board game and RPG elements are a fantastic stepping stone between the genres for players who may be intimidated by roleplaying games. Even for those players who never make the plunge into full blown roleplaying games, these gameplay elements can present an exciting change from the typical tabletop game experience.