Mike, Dustin, and Lucas listen intently to Will's description around the table littered with books, papers, and data.
Suspense builds as the group's plight goes from encountering simple troglodytes to the expected but feared emergence of the terrifying Demogorgon.
Between desperate commands of possible strategies, the mage shouts louder than the rest of the adventurers:
The dice flies across the table and into the basement where the kids played Dungeons & Dragons.
This is how Stranger Things, one of the most famous series of today, begins its first season.
Since the 80's RPGs have become more and more famous and this opening scene demonstrates very well what a regular game is like.
But not every RPG is like that.
There are several systems with different rules and styles of playing in addition to the classic we already know, each with its advantages and innovations.
In this article, you will discover 9 different ways to play RPGs, what they are, and examples of games to try them out!
Different RPG styles
With the advancement of the hobby, many RPGs took different paths than usual.
Of course, they are still considered the same game, but the experience gained from comparing them is entirely different at every level, which can bring surprises but also disappointments.
That's why it's valid to categorize their various styles, not to separate them, but to help those who want to know them and prepare for what they will find.
How I made this list
There is no definitive list of all RPG styles, as the market for this segment is constantly expanding.
This list was created from the grouping of games and themes that emulate a certain "style". It could be the inclusion or elimination of a position at the table such as the figure of the Master / Storyteller or even a specific way of playing, as is the case of LARP or Hexcrawl.
There will certainly be one or another system that will completely fall outside the scope of this list, but they are isolated cases, points outside the curve.
So now that we have a definition, let's get to the styles!
What is Classic RPG
The classic style, as the name implies, was the beginning of the RPG as we know it, created with the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons.
Its game is formed by players playing characters within a group and a single narrator who interprets everything around and who gives the basis of the story that the team will experience.
In this style, the importance of the Storyteller is fundamental, being the driving force for moving the story while creating the narrative hooks and dangers that the group will respond to.
The Classic RPG is still the most famous in the world and what we see in representations of the hobby in pop culture, as in the presentation of this article in Stranger Things.
Examples of Classic RPGs
D&D, GURPS and Storyteller are the triad of classic RPGs and even today perfect examples of classic systems.
What is Collaborative RPG
Collaborative systems emerged by sharing tools that were previously exclusive to the Storyteller.
This way the system takes the pressure off the GM while giving new potential for players to interfere with the story beyond the control of a single character, but also with plot and scene changes.
Over time this degree of collaboration has reached levels where some games have completely abdicated the need for a fixed Narrator, giving the group full control of the narrative, being all players and narrators at the same time.
Examples of Collaborative RPGs
FATE and its infinite versions and related scenarios was what changed the genre, bringing a narrative potential to players hitherto ignored, even though it has bases in the Classic RPG.
What is Solo RPG
Created shortly after the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons, but only popularized in recent years, the Solo RPG takes away the need for a group in RPG games. That's right, you play alone.
The basis of the solo RPG are systems of rules and tables that give the player, even alone, a base to create stories and random events.
This set of rules is called Oracle, and they serve both for games made specifically for this and to adapt traditional systems to this style, creating a useful tool for those who don't have (or don't want to have) groups or want to test systems and scenarios by themselves.
Examples of Solo RPGs
The world's most famous solo RPG is the North American IronSworn, winner of an Ennie as the best game of the year.
What is Hexcrawl RPG
Hexcrawl exists even before the classic RPG in the form of war games and board games, and it was adapted for our hobby, just like many old game tools also ended up being in the time of the first Dungeons & Dragons.
When we talk about Hexcrawl in RPG, we are talking about games focused on travel, resource maintenance and discovering regions from hex maps.
Many would say that Hexcrawl is a way of calculating and organizing trips, but its structures, systems and audience are so specific that they become a style that focuses much more on the trip and what will be found than on the objective that made it go forward.
Examples of Hexcrawl RPGs
Forbidden Lands is one of the most famous hexcrawl-focused RPGs currently, bringing maps and books full of mechanics on this style.
What is Dungeon-Crawling RPG
Technically similar to Hexcrawl, but instead of focusing your adventure on exploring an open map, we focus on closed and dangerous environments, the classic Dungeons.
This style is also focused on resource management, but his focus is much more specific and deadly, as the games take place in inhospitable environments and full of monsters, traps and, of course, treasures and magic items.
Classic RPGs were heavily based on dungeon crawl at the beginning of the hobby, but because there are games entirely focused on this model with a captive audience and different from Hex, it was put separately.
Examples of Dungeon Crawl RPGs
Four Against Darkness is a Dungeon Crawl RPG full of fans and supplements internationally.
Live Action RPG - LARP
What is Live Action RPG - LARP
The most different among the aforementioned styles, LARP combines RPG with theater and social event, uniting groups of players totally focused on the interpretation of their characters, including clothing and locations prepared for the game to take place.
It's an immersive and unique experience, the closest a player can get to being their character — attracting diverse audiences, from regular gamers to actors, costume and cosplay aficionados in general.
It is worth remembering that even though it is vividly interpreted, the game still has rules and narrators scattered throughout the event and that, as well as at the tables, the physical, mental and social safety of the members is the top priority of any LARP.
Examples of Live Action RPGs - LARP
LARPs can spawn from any game or theme. There are great medieval events around the world.
What is Written RPG
Popularized at the beginning of the internet where emails and forums were still the main method of online communication, the written RPG was widely used and still has captive fans.
Their play style is typically narrative focused on long, novelized descriptions of text, together creating a long and lasting narrative without relying on urgency or the real-time presence of a group.
Most use simple systems, some without any random factors like dice or cards, with only the Storyteller's common sense as a guideline. Groups tend to be small and narratives long thanks to the delay between posts.
Examples of Written RPGs
Like LARP, the written RPG is a style which encompasses any other game, since it is the way of playing that prevails and not its tools.
What is a Gamebook
Books divided into hundreds of small scenes interconnected by decisions, where it is up to the reader to decide which path to take, which may result in its success or a tragic end.
Game books were the gateway for many older players and are still released today, although they have lost ground with the advances of cell phones and the internet in general.
Its game takes place solo and usually has a high replay factor thanks to the difficulty of beating its stories. Get ready to make maps, organize gear and die many, many times in these little books packed with content and good ideas.
The Fantastic Adventures series is by far the most famous and enduring series to date. Its game books are iconic and marked a generation.
What is Electronic RPG
Video Games and RPGs have been together for a long time, from the first dungeon exploration games to the huge open worlds of today, this is probably the most played style in the world and could not be missing from this list, although it is noticeably different from the rest.
Electronic RPGs have their own universe with their own characteristics. Action, narrative, first or third-person styles… The important thing is that the origin of so many wonderful games is linked to our hobby and can even be fed back, like the many examples of books that emerged from famous games like Dragon Age RPG, for example.
Examples of Electronic RPGs
Elder Scrolls, The Witcher, Dragon Age… We can also consider classic examples such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, there are literally thousands of titles available on the most varied consoles, each with its own stories and peculiarities.
Which RPG style to choose?
Whatever you want!
Currently, there are accessible systems, often for free, that allow anyone to start playing and with the ease of communication of social networks and programs such as WhatsApp, Discord and others focused only on RPG, it has never been so easy to find a group to join.
For those who don't have time or feel shy to form groups, Solo RPG is a great tool, there are players who actively prefer this style even though they can play others, and we have the largest community of fans of the style in the world, so give them a chance.
If you don't like role-playing so much and want something more straightforward, Dungeon Crawlers can be used as hobbies and board games in a team or alone.
Each player will have their own style, whether it's the most classic or the most different, try everything you can and don't be afraid to take risks — there's an ever-increasing universe of games and styles for you to have fun with RPG, no matter what style you choose.
Do you have any recommendations?
Did we miss some kind of RPG? And recommendations, do you have any?
We want to know! Please don't hesitate to leave a comment!