Crit Fail Ate my Character: Let’s Talk Tabletop!


Video games are nice but every once in awhile it’s fun to sit down make an absurd character. In doing so you and your friends have a good ol’ romp through whatever game you are playing while meeting fun and interesting NPCs that you may or may not horribly murder all while making the DM panic because one NPC you killed was the plot important one. Whoops!

So gather around you wizards, rogues, and fighters and grab a cup of ale and let’s talk about tabletop games. Just please don’t start a bar fight.


I’ve never really had the chance to play many tabletops, but I’d really love to get into them. Is there anything you’d recommend for a complete beginner? I’d love to say I’m down to just jump into D&D someplace, but, yknow. I don’t wanna be that noob.


I’m putting together a trial campaign using a new ruleset called Catalyst, by The setting is post-apocalyptic in theme, caused by an invasion of demons from a hell-like alternate dimension.

Since it’s a test campaign I’m doing a 1v1 as the DM with a friend of mine. He’s playing a recluse who believes hiding in the middle of nowhere will be better for his survival than trying to help maintain what’s left of society. So I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from The Long Dark, The Road, The Last of Us, etc. Skulking around encampments trying to steal supplies because your last attempt at foraging flopped, that kinda thing

Still building up my assets and session notes.


I love tabletop games, and have been playing for about 6 years now. Favorite system is either D&D 5 or Pathfinder, although I have dabbled in a few Star Wars systems and Shadowrun, although those groups tended to implode for various reasons ranging from “the DM moved to another city without telling us,” “the DM took a job in another state for the summer” (I will admit that one was me) or “oh shit, the DM is 2 hours late again, we give up.”

Good times.


My regular group switched to Dungeon World (from 5e DnD) this week and it’s a wonderful experience. It’s helping my otherwise stale player characters have life as they try to roleplay bonds & fulfill alignments. The moves encourage more engaging storytelling, and everyone is excited about their character sheets.
I’m worried I might make too many references to Friends at the Table for our next session. Going to try and coerce them into causing an avalanche to get the river flowing again.


I just re-listened to season one, I forgot how good Austin is at DMing. That podcast really opened my eyes to rules-light systems, I’d only ever done very mechanically heavy, huge prep time campaigns before that.


I’m kind of hoping maybe we can start a new “FATAL & Friends” type thread here, I might actually even contribute this time! (for those not aware, it was a thread where people did writeups of obscure, foreign, out of print, or just particularly bizarre/awful RPG books back on SA.)


Don’t be afraid to be a new player! I highly recommend playing with someone who’s familiar with whichever system you decide to play, though. If you’re thinking of organizing your own game sessions, it’s important to feel relaxed and gauge everyone’s playstyle. Every party plays differently, there’s not a “wrong” way to play, but it’s entirely defined by who you’re with.
If you’re a Player, read the rules specific to your character & basic structure of the game and you’ll do fine.
If you’re the Game Master, read most of the rulebook, have a rough idea for a story, and you can get by without much prep. You can find games at local shop which can rent out rooms for public sessions, or you can play with online friends with roll20 or other Internet role-playing services.
Stay inspired and friendly and you’ll have fun.


I would suggest try something like Dungeon World as baby’s first trip in to tabletop. It’s complex but not as overly complex say DnD or Pathfinder. Don’t even try Shadowrun unless you want DEEP HURTING.


If you want hard-mode you could try GURPS 3E Aerial Combat

EDIT: or lose friends & dignity and try F.A.T.A.L.


Speaking of bizarre… Did anyone in those posts ever mention Fiasco?

I saw a copy of it at one of my local game stores and it looked really interesting but it says it’s designed to allow people to roleplay stories like “Fargo”, “Burn After Reading”, “Bottle Rocket”, etc… I can’t imagine trying to run a campaign where the party’s motivation is a soiled area rug.


I play a fair bit of tabletop stuff. I’ve GMed Mouse Guard and Firefly, and I do weekly sessions of Shadowrun, and I’ve done a lot in Spirit of the Century as well as the Dresden Files RPG, as well as a bit of Pathfinder, DnD, and a few other things. I love GMing and I love pulling stunts like having one player play both their character and her clone without telling the others, and managing to lay the politics of the setting just right so that the mission caused party infighting that resulted in at least one death.


Somewhat important clarification: Fiasco isn’t a standard RPG - it’s more like a long form improv game. There’s no GM, no party, and the narrative is formed, opened, and shut within two hours.


You could check here, it’s uh, relatively up to date?


Thanks for the recommendations! I really like the more social aspect of tabletops, from what I’ve seen. Hopefully I’ll be able to pop in on a game one day soon!

One game I’ve played that I really liked is Shadow Hunters – it’s your usual hidden information game, but it was super fun to play and bounce around your secret objective.


Oh man I’ve been in a table top gaming group for about 8+ years now and I’ve seen so many good systems. Some of my favs, besides D&D 3.5 ed are: Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Runequest and 13th Age. Some of those are so hard to find groups for but I’m glad I’ve had the good fortune to have DMs who know systems beyond D&D and it’s many offspring.


A new FATAL & Friends would be nice, as would Murphy’s Rules.

Also, for tabletops to introduce new players to, definitely consider Ryuutama. It’s light on rules and is really forgiving, so players don’t have to worry about not knowing the mechanics and ending up useless, and it does a lot to encourage good roleplaying. It’s basically a ridiculously charming anime fantasy Oregon Trail tabletop.


Improv and RPGs are almost identical for the right kind of group. I like to think of RPGs as collaborative storytelling, with rules to help guide players into a certain kind of experience.

Single-session RPGs like Fiasco are wonderful. Going to have to plug more Friends at the Table games and recommend TechNoir & The Quiet Year for single-session experiences. Fiasco is a must-play; boomtown is my favorite playset.


One time I sat down and read FATAL because having a highly curious nature I just had to take a peek on how deep this rabbit hole went.

Don’t do that. Bad, bad idea.


I used to be really big into D&D and other crunchy/tactical RPGs, but now I don’t have infinite free time any more and vastly prefer story games like FATE.

The story games branch of tabletop RPGs are really fun and interesting to me, because they are typically built in a way that doesn’t try to simulate “acting directly in the world” like a video game, but instead exists to facilitate meaningful interaction with “the fiction” and collaborative effort between the GM and players to make an interesting narrative.

Also, they’re usually a lot easier to prep for, and often actually actively discourage much preparation due to how easy it is for players to introduce new and definitely true facts to a situation, so most of your GM homework boils down to “Here’s a thing your characters have a reason to get involved with” and maybe some vague cliff’s notes in case the players fail to get a foothold on the scenario, or details of specific setpieces that you definitely want them to end up at eventually.