Several games are commonly confused with Role-Playing Games. Here is a list of game styles and pointers to try and steer you in the right direction.

I very much welcome suggestions for links to other pages. Please be specific as to what you want and where you want it, and email to

+Role-Playing Games: According to the One True Way, RPGs are played by a bunch of people sitting around a table with plenty of paper, dice, munchies and imagination. There are, say, 3 to 6 players and one game master (although I have taken part in 15 players and 2 GMs extravagances). The game master controls the game, tells the tale and fleshes out the world on request. The players try to steer their characters through that world and tale. Success and brilliance come from player involvement in a seemingly real and unconstrained world and a well-built story line. Games last from 3 to many hours, split in several sessions.
Back to our Stafnord RolePlayers home page
See A roleplaying encyclopedia at Edinburgh University Roleplaying Society

+Board Games: Little relation to role-playing games as the flat cardboard world seems too artificial, constraining, small... But you can get through a game in one to a few hours.
See The Game Cabinet with info on board games from around the world

+Card Games: Little relation to role-playing games as the cards create a complex but constrained tactical competition between the players. We'll mention the currently very popular Magic, and Talisman and Cosmic Encounter (two combinations board and card games.)
A trading card game magazine: Vaultmag
A Cosmic Encounter FAQ

+Computer Games: Technical realities limit the range of actions and speech a player character can attempt, but you can play all by yourself, and when you feel like it. More properly called adventure games.
See Games Domain for lots of computer game links

+Interactive Fiction: The term is differently abused by different people, covering computer adventure games and live-action role-playing games and also more general litterary attempts as books, computers software, theatrical events, etc...
See Interactive Fiction Page

+Play By Mail, Play By Email: When lack of interesting partners, or lack of time become critical, role-playing games can be played at a distance, using mail or email.
See PBEM gamer's list
See Play by Mail (PBM) Games Homepage

+MUDs, Multi-User Dungeons: While these computer environments implement a limited and constrained world, they allow in it many humans. The resulting complexity, and potential reality of interactions, bring these fairly close to role-playing games while the (crude) user interface still tends to get in the way.
See The MUD Resource Collection

+LARP, Live-action Role-Playing Games: Very close to basic role-playing games. Instead of living the whole adventure only in imagination, you actually also walk, talk, and sometimes fight through it. A set of conventions permit the use of magic, and safe fights.
See LARP pointers
See A Swiss group (in French)

+Miniatures or figurines: Figurines are very useful to help visualize complex combat situations in conventional role-playing games. Some game systems put the emphasis on figurines, dioramas, and tactical situations rather than adventure and human situations. Some people spend a lot of time painting their figurines into works of art.
See Ed's Miniatures Gallery
See Miniature Wargaming Rules

+Wargames: Little relation to role-playing games. The interest is with strategy and tactics in fictitious or historic battles. Uses paper counters, or armies of painted figurines on paper maps or elaborate dioramas.

See Colonial-era Wargames
See the Web Grognards wargaming site (warning: graphics heavy).