RPG Quest: Role-Playing Games

World of Warcraft, one of the most popular role-playing games, was featured as a sporting event for the first time on Sunday, July 28, 2007 when CBS televised an hour-long special on the Louisville World Series of Video Games competition. Viewers watched as two teams of three players seated at laptops engaged in virtual combat and cast healing spells. On that day, role-playing games won their place along-side traditional sports!

Length of Program

60 minutes to 8 hours.

Note: Free play will require a shorter length of time, while a tournament may require an entire day.

Program Description

RPG Quest may be presented as a single program, or it may be repeated weekly or monthly.The simplest way for libraries to host RPG Quest programs is to invite teens or a role-playing group in your community to bring all of the equipment needed to play, and lead a game such as Dungeons & Dragons. Then all the library needs to provide is a meeting room and refreshments, and a hosting librarian!

To help you understand role-playing games and plan your event, this program includes five formats for role-playing games that teens may play at your library RPG Quest.

  • Paper and pencil games (also called tabletop games)
  • Board games with miniatures (game pieces designed to represent the characters)
  • Live action role-playing games
  • Collectible card games
  • Online role-playing games

Libraries may offer a single game at the RPG Quest program, such as Dungeons & Dragons, or a variety so that teens can choose a game, join a group, and play. If teens play a variety of games, one group might play a card game such as Magic: The Gathering while another group plays Dungeons & Dragons or another paper-and-pencil game. Another group may play a board game with miniatures. Live-action role-play could occupy another group if the meeting room is sufficiently large and safety guidelines are discussed. If technology allows, some teens could play free or subscription-based electronic games. Players may rotate to a different game after each break.

Some games are available in multiple formats. For example, Dungeons & Dragons is the best-known and best-selling role-playing game. It is available as a board game, an arcade game, a video game, and a text-based and a graphic-intensive online game. It was originally published as a small box set of three booklets in 1974. As it grew in popularity, card games, board games, and magazines were published, an animated television series and a film series were released, and online multi-user text-based games and then graphic-based games were developed with the advent of the Internet. Other games have progressed similarly. World of Warcraft and EverQuest, two very popular games that are primarily known for their massively multiplayer online role-playing game versions, also have tabletop versions.

If your library offers wireless Internet, teens may bring laptops and compete in online role-playing games to which they subscribe, such as World of Warcraft.

Libraries may purchase and install copies of World of Warcraft on library computers. Teens with subscriptions may compete by logging into their accounts, enabling teen World of Warcraft subscribers to play on library computers rather than having to bring laptops. World of Warcraft now has a voice chat feature built into the game so that players may speak with each other. If teens want to use this feature, ask them to bring computer headphones with them.

If you have never hosted a role-playing program at your library, you may wish to read “Dungeons and Dragons: Adventures in the Library” by Nicole Price (VOYA, February 2005) which is online at http://pdfs.voya.com/VO/YA2/VOYA200502DungeonsDragons.pdf. This article describes a successful Dungeons & Dragons program at the Foothill Library in Glendale, Arizona. It mentions controversy that has arisen regarding Dungeons & Dragons. A section below provides links to additional articles that will help you become knowledgeable about controversies concerning Dungeons & Dragons, make an informed decision about whether or not to host the game in your community, and address complaints or challenges that may arise.

Developmental Needs and Assets

This program may fulfill the need for positive social interaction with adults as teens interact with the library staff and adult volunteers, and these adults may be seen as role models. As librarians and friends encourage the teens to play well, they may help raise their personal expectations. Teens may learn that they live in a caring neighborhood and that the community values teens, and they may experience empowerment and achievement. Teen volunteers may learn that they are valued resources who can provide service to others. The need for structure is supported as teens learn the rules for the role-playing games. Teens may experience positive peer influence and positive social interaction as they play games and socialize at breaks. Teens use their time constructively and participate in creative, imaginative activities. Teens’ safety is supported in the library setting.


Planning with Teens

Teens enjoy many role-playing games that are available in a variety of high and low tech formats requiring varying levels of technology. Ask your teen advisory board, teen volunteers, and teens in your community to help plan the program, and ask them to assist with the program. Ask them which games and formats they would like to play, and plan your program based on their interests, your budget, and your library’s technology. The teens’ assistance will be invaluable, especially if you are unfamiliar with role-playing games. Teens may be surprised that an adult wishes to learn about role-playing games and will enjoy being the knowledgeable “expert”. Here are some questions you can ask teens that will help make your program a success.

  • What role-playing games do they play?
  • What formats do they like, e.g. card games, board games, online games?
  • Which games would they like to play in the length of time allotted to the program, e.g. one hour or more? How can games be shortened if needed? Are there good stopping points, or shortcuts?
  • Which games are best for free play, and which are played competitively?
  • Would they like to play in a tournament?
  • How would they like the room set up and decorated?
  • What about snacks?
  • Do they have favorite books based on role-playing games?
  • What are the best local or online sources for purchasing games and accessories?
  • Would they like to bring their laptops and play subscription-based games?
  • If so, would they like to set up a tournament of a subscription-based game, such as World of Warcraft?
  • What supplies are needed for each of the games, such as game boards, miniatures, dice, and cards?
  • Would they like to bring their favorite games, manuals, supplies, and accessories to the program?


Librarians may also ask teens about technology required to play the games.

  • What computer equipment is needed for the games?
  • Do CD-Roms need to be purchased for the computer-based games?
  • Are subscriptions required for online components of the games on CD-Rom, or are they free?
  • Do programs need to be downloaded for online games?
  • Are subscriptions required for the online games, or are there some areas that are free and others that require a subscription?
  • Then, ask them what they can bring and what the library needs to supply.

If you will use library computers for online games or games on DVD, discuss this with your technology staff. Request their assistance if programs need to be downloaded and/or installed before the program. Free downloadable games and free trials of subscription games can be very large files and may take a long time to download, so install those in advance.

Bookmark games if teens will play online games on library computers. Prepare a printed list of games and URLs if teens will use the library computers, or if they will bring personal laptops and use the library’s wireless network.

Ratings for Games and Parental Permission Slips

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates interactive entertainment software. ESRB does not rate online role-playing games, live action role-playing games, card games, or online-only games, such as text-based MUDs.

In many cases, ESRB ratings for PC versions of role-playing games are available. All games listed in this RPG Quest program are rated as “E” for Everyone, “E10+” for Everyone 10+, and “T” for Teen, provided that an ESRB rating is available for a PC version of the game. It is recommended that librarians check ratings on the ESRB web site at www.ESRB.org/index-js.jsp and offer only games that are rated as “E”, “E10+”, and “T”.

Parents may not be aware that ESRB ratings exist and may not know the ratings for games their preteens and teens play at home or in the library. Many preteens and teens play RPGs and video games at home that are rated “M” for “Mature”, sometimes without their parents’ knowledge. For example, Halo is a very popular role-playing game that is rated “M” due to violent content. Controversy has arisen in some communities when parents discovered that their preteens and teens played Halo at the library.

To avoid controversy in your community, include the names of the games that teens will play and the ESRB ratings, if applicable, on your flyers and publicity. In this way, teens and parents will know in advance if games they enjoy and/or games to which they object will be offered. Require signed parental permission slips if teens will play any game that is rated “M”. You may also request parental permission slips for unrated games, particularly if you feel that parents in your community may object to games featured in your program.

Dungeons & Dragons: Understanding the Controversy - and the Value

The first game that many people think of when they hear the term “role-playing games” is Dungeons & Dragons. As mentioned in the introduction to this manual, it is possible that your library may encounter some concerns from the community about the RPG Quest program, particularly if teens play Dungeons & Dragons. You may wish to discuss the potential for controversy in your community with your library’s administration, boards, and/or community members.

To avoid controversy, clearly announce which games will be offered, provide the ESRB ratings, if available, and the dates on which the games will be played. This will alert parents and teens who object to a particular game or type of game so they may choose not to attend. If a variety of games will be played during a single program, an announcement will let parents and teens know that there will also be games that they will enjoy.

The Christian Gamers Guild at www.christian-gamers-guild.org/ and Religious Tolerance.org at www.religioustolerance.org/d_a_d.htm discuss controversies concerning Dungeons & Dragons. The information they provide may assist you in making an informed decision about whether or not to host the game in your community and how to address complaints or challenges that may arise.

Game Manuals and Accessories

At the program, provide the games, manuals that accompany games, and pamphlets or “game modules” with details about specific episodes of a game at the program. Many games require special dice with a different number of sides than typical dice, and/or cards and miniatures, and these should also be provided. There are many ways to acquire games and supplies for your program. You may purchase games and supplies if your library budget permits. You may borrow them from teen volunteers or staff members who enjoy role-playing games. You may also ask teens to bring their favorite games to the program.

Most of the board games that include miniatures can be expensive, so ask teens to bring games they own or see if your local gaming store or supplier will loan or donate them for the event. You may also contact comic book stores and bookstores that sell role-playing games and accessories and ask if they will donate or loan supplies or equipment. Additionally, you may contact companies that make and distribute the games and ask if they are willing to donate games or accessories.

Contact these companies well in advance. Ask shop owners or game distributors to provide posters for the event, either to display or to give out as door prizes. If you are unable to obtain donated posters, you may be able to purchase a few game-related posters. If you borrow materials from more than one person or shop, make a list so you will be able to return items to the correct owners.

A good way to create added enthusiasm and gain assistance monitoring the games is to invite representatives from local game stores to attend the program. Storeowners may also have recommendations of local teens or college students to contact to assist with your program. Acknowledge and thank all of your sponsors, contributors, and volunteers during the RPG Quest program and introduce all who are present. Send thank-you notes after the program to let local shops know how much you appreciate their help and their contribution to the success of your program.

If the library owns any manuals, game modules, or strategy guides for role-playing games, gather them in advance and display them at your program. If you do not already have any gaming books, you may want to purchase or borrow some from local shops to use as references during your event. If local bookstores are helping you, ask them to bring books to display to familiarize teens with what is available.

Display novels based on role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and World of Warcraft. A list of fiction titles based on games is available on the Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki at www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=Gaming_fiction. School Library Journal and VOYA also list fiction titles to accompany articles about gaming in the library.

On the Day of the Program

Set up games at various stations on tables, sections of floor, etc., and provide each game’s appropriate accessories. Some of the games are best played on tables, while teens may prefer to play other games on the floor. Assemble some pillows, carpet squares, or rugs so that the teens do not have to sit directly on a hard floor for an extended period of time. You may put tablecloths on the tables, but be sure that the cloths are secure so that items will not slip off the table. Plan to have plenty of teen volunteers at the program and ask them to help set up the room.

When teens arrive, ask them which games they would like to play. Some games require teams or have a maximum or minimum number of players, while other games have fewer restrictions. The number of people who can play online games will depend on the number of available computers.

You may need to randomly assign teens to groups. An easy way to do this is to set out jars for each type of game, let teens put their names in the jars of games they wish to play, and then draw names to assign them to groups if applicable.

Today’s teens have been gaming since they were very young and will pick up games quickly with a little coaching. Many of the role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, and Magic: The Gathering may seem complicated to adults who have never played them, but many teens will have no problem after a brief explanation from fellow teens, reading the rules, or reading help files. Teen volunteers who are experienced gamers can share their expertise with teens who are unfamiliar with the games and can get a competition going if a game starts to drag.

Door Prizes

You may wish to provide door prizes such as games, game manuals, game modules, accessories such as miniatures and dice, cards, novels based on some of the games, t-shirts or bookmarks with artwork from some of the games, or coupons from a local shop. Plan a break at least every hour to allow teens to get something to eat or drink and visit with each other. Draw for door prizes periodically throughout the program, perhaps during breaks, rather than at the end of the program. Acknowledge and thank any businesses or contributors as you award the prizes. Leave at least one or two of the door prizes until the end of the program to encourage some of the teens to stay the whole time.

Books to Display or Booktalk

Note: In addition to the titles below, consider displaying books from the gaming fiction list based on the Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki at www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=Gaming_fiction.

  • Advanced D & D Adventure Games: Dungeon Masters Guide by Gary Gygax.
  • DragonLance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and various additional authors.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Complete Arcane (A Player’s Guide to Arcane Magic for All Classes) by Richard Baker.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Master’s Guide (Core Rulebook II, v. 3.5) by Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Monster Manual (Core Rulebook III, v. 3.5) by Monte Cook, Skip Williams, and Jonathan Tweet.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook (Core Rulebook I, v. 3.5) by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.
  • Forgotten Realms novels by various authors, including many by R. A. Salvatore.
  • GURPS For Dummies by Stuart J. Stuple, Bjoern-Erik Hartsfvang, and Adam Griffith.
  • Head Games by Mariah Fredericks.
  • Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever, v. 1-8 illustrated by Gary Chalk, v. 9-28 illustrated by Brian Williams.
  • RuneScape: The Official Handbook by Tracey West.
  • Star Wars Role-playing Game Core Rulebook by Bill Slavicsek, Andy Collins, and Jo Wiker.
  • WarCraft: The Sunwell Trilogy (v. 1: Dragon Hunt; v. 2: Shadows of Ice; v. 3: Ghostlands) by Richard A. Knaak, Illustrated by Jae-Hwan Kim.


Ask teens to help design flyers to advertise your RPG Quest program. If you would like teens to bring games, add that to flyers and announcements. For games such as Dungeons & Dragons, invite teens to prepare customized character descriptions in advance. If you plan to allow teens to bring laptops and play subscription-based games, ask teens to bring their computers. If you are seeking teen volunteers, include an announcement and ask teens to contact you in advance if they would like to help plan or set up for the program. If any local shops have agreed to donate or loan gaming equipment to the library for your event, acknowledge their help on the flyers. Although this is a lot of information to include, trust your teens’ creativity. They’ll design outstanding flyers.

Post flyers on bulletin boards at your local bookstores, comic book stores, game stores, bookstores that host gaming groups and/or sell gaming books and supplies, and at other places frequented by teens in your community. Give local shops stacks of flyers if they are willing to distribute them. Place flyers in the teen area of the library. Ask teen volunteers and advisory board members to help spread the word to other teens that the library will be holding an event they may enjoy.

If your flyers are ready before the school year ends, contact your local school district to see if they will allow flyers to be distributed at local schools. Depending on the school district, you may need to send a flyer to a central office for approval before distributing copies to students.

Announce the event on your library’s web site. Add links to shops that are helping with the program if they have web sites. Acknowledge them by name and include a brief description of their locations if they do not have web sites.

If your city’s parks and recreation department has a web site listing local events, ask if they will add your event to their announcements. Contact other community organizations with websites listing local community events and request that your event be added.

Contact local television and radio stations and ask if they are willing to air public service announcements (PSAs). Many stations will require at least a few weeks’ notice, so check with them early to become familiar with the timeline and appropriate procedures and contact information. Write a short PSA announcing your event, typically less than a minute, and send it to the media outlets.


Post game-related posters on the walls. Display game pieces, including some miniatures or some oversized dice and cards. Make collages from game advertisements and hang them in your library. At the end of the program, give away the posters as door prizes. Ask teens for additional ideas for decorations and let them get creative.


Serve punch or lemonade in a punch bowl with ice cubes shaped like dice or cards, or serve soft drinks. Serve snacks such as chips and cookies, or fruit and vegetable trays. Do not leave dips such as ranch dressing out for too long. If you will host a longer program, keep dips in a bowl of ice or serve refreshments that will not spoil. Serve the refreshments in stages, leaving them in the library’s refrigerator until you are ready for them. This will prevent spoiling and ensure that there are refreshments near the end of the program. Provide simple colored napkins, plates, and cups, or use game-themed party items. Provide plenty of napkins so players don’t damage cards and books.

Games and Activities

Formats for Role-Playing Games

Some online role-playing games, such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest, require paid subscriptions and individual copies of the game for each computer. You may invite teens who already own these games to bring their laptops to the library. Teens who do not own laptops but have subscriptions to games may log in with their individual subscription accounts, provided the library buys a few copies of the game and installs it on a few library computers. Some online role-playing games, such as World of Warcraft, offer previews, so it may be possible for a few teens to play without a subscription. However, downloading free trials of these games may take quite a while.

Both the text-based and the graphical online multi-user games tend to be fairly detailed, and it is easy for players to lose track of time. When you are getting close to taking a break or ending a session, you may want to make an announcement so that players of these games have the opportunity to get to a position where they can save in case they want to start playing again from home later.

Many games are suggested by title below. Descriptions of the games follow in a separate section.

Pen-and-Pencil Games and Board Games and Miniatures

Paper-and-pencil games are also referred to as tabletop role-playing games. Players of paper-and-pencil role-playing games often prepare settings, adventures, quests, and/or characters in advance.

Prewritten adventures in pamphlets, books, or in starter kits are available for some of the games. For example, Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game includes a few miniatures, some pre-developed characters, and one or two pre-written adventures or quests. Experienced players typically create characters before the game begins. Players may also create characters by rolling dice to determine characteristics.

Typically one player with a special title is in charge of the game. In Dungeons & Dragons, the person in charge of the game is called the “Dungeon Master.” In other games, the person in charge is called a “Storyteller.” This person typically designs scenarios, campaigns, adventures, and quests in advance.

Some paper-and-pencil games require miniatures to represent the characters. An example of a board game with miniatures is World of Warcraft Board Game. Other games such as Dungeons & Dragons allow optional use of miniatures.

Collectible Card Games

Collectible card games are played using specially designed sets of cards. They combine the appeal of collecting with strategic game play. The rules describe the players’ objectives, the categories of cards, and the basic rules by which the cards interact. Players select which cards will compose their deck to strategically take advantage of favorable card interactions, combinations, and statistics. Collectible card games have also been developed that are played over the Internet. For more information on collectible card games, see Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trading_card_game.

Many teens are familiar with Wizards of the Coast’s popular Magic: The Gathering and other role-playing card games. Munchkin is a parody of role-playing card games that appeals to teens who enjoy humor. It is a good choice for a library program since it is very fast-paced and relatively inexpensive and can be played in about one hour.

Live Action Role-Playing Games (LARPs)

LARPs evolved in the 1970’s when players desired to make tabletop role-playing games more physical. In LARPs, each player’s actions directly represent the character’s actions. In some LARPs, players create their own character, and in others, a game master creates one for them. LARPs may use historical settings or settings from science fiction or fantasy literature such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Similar to improvisational theater, LARP players may wear costumes. Characters may act out battles and, in some cases, wield simulated weapons. For more information, visit the following web sites.

How Stuff Works
NERO LARP Member Resource Site
Unsolicited, but Useful, Advice for LARPers
Live Action Role-Playing Game at Wikipedia
List of Live Action Role-Playing Games at Wikipedia
Online Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) Role-Playing Games

With the advent of the Internet, single-player games were taken to the next level, and MUDs were born. They combine elements of role-playing games, combat video games, and chat rooms. Many MUDs are international and allow players to chat with people in various time zones throughout the world. Some are hosted in the U.S. Others originate in Europe and are in various languages. They became one of the earliest online venues to meet people, chat, and hang out. Although some MUDs have evolved from text-based to graphic environments, many players still prefer text-based environments just as many readers prefer books to television.

MUDs are often set in fantasy worlds populated by elves, goblins, dwarves, and other mythical creatures and races. Similar to their single-player predecessors, the general goal of MUDs is to role-play a medieval, mythical, or futuristic character and acquire equipment and money that enables players to slay monsters and solve quests. In these text-based virtual games, players use their imaginations and visualize characters, settings, and events, similar to the experience of reading a book. Players read descriptions of rooms, objects, events, characters, and creatures and interact with each other and their surroundings by typing commands. Players may select characters from various classes, including warriors, priests, mages, thieves, and druids with specific skills or powers. In some MUDs, players just fight monsters that are part of the game. In other MUDs, players fight each other. Games in which players fight each other are typically referred to as PK MUDs or player-killer MUDs. Free online MUDs such as Darker Realms are a good choice for teens to play in library programs since no software needs to be downloaded or purchased.

MUDs do not require downloading, but they do require access to the Internet and some form of telnet. It is possible, but not required, to download special telnet programs or MUD clients. If you have Mac computers, you simply open Terminal and telnet to the appropriate address. Windows also has a terminal emulator that can be used to telnet and connect to a game, but it is somewhat less cooperative. It is possible to telnet using an Internet browser by putting the telnet address in the address bar. Many MUDs also offer Java applets on their websites so that players can easily connect to the games without having a good telnet application and without needing to know anything about connecting to games. If your library still has any dumb terminals, you can also use those to connect to MUDs and similar games.

ESRB ratings are not provided for MUDs. People of all ages play MUDs. Some are more suitable for teens than others. A few MUDs have websites that are blocked by Internet filters due to content that is considered inappropriate for minors.

If you are unfamiliar with MUDs in general or with a specific MUD, it is recommended that you log in as a guest and review the game to decide if it is appropriate for your event. Also, review general rules for Internet safety with the teens who play MUDs so that they do not give out too much personal information.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG)

MMORPGs are online role-playing video games that allow far more players and are more graphic-intensive than MUDs. MMORPGs are extremely popular, and there are millions of players worldwide. Almost all are subscription-based and require purchase and installation CD-Roms. Players log onto servers in order to play. Two very popular MMORPGs are World of Warcraft and EverQuest.

To learn more about role-playing games, see White Wolf Online: What is a Role-Playing Game? at www.white-wolf.com/gettingstarted/index.php?line=rpg.

Suggestions for Games to Play

Pen-and-Pencil Games, Board Games with Miniatures, and Tabletop Games
d20 System
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (2000-present)
The d20 System is a set of game mechanics that is the basis of various Dungeons & Dragons games. It is named after the 20-sided dice that are used in the game. d20 is designed to be a flexible system and to support a wide range of genres and time periods for play. Sourcebooks exist for d20 Future, d20 Modern, and other genres such as horror or post-apocalyptic sci-fi. For more information, see the Official d20 System web site at www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/welcome and Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D20_system.
Dungeons & Dragons
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (1997-present)
(ESRB Rating for video game and PC versions: T)
This is a paper-and-pencil version that uses three core rulebooks (the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide) and a series of character sheets to keep track of the characters. The current version of the game is 3.5. There are various versions of the game with different sets of rules. Be sure that all the rulebooks that you provide are from the same version of the game. If teens attending have previously played the game, you may ask for their preference on version. A simple D&D rulebook is the Core Elements: Toolbox Edition at www.zombienirvana.com/core/CEToolbox.PDF which can be provided to teens at library programs. If you would like to learn more about the history of Dungeons & Dragons, links to articles with additional information are included at the end of this chapter.
Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
(ESRB Rating for video game & PC versions: E & T)
This set comes with some miniatures and with booklets of rules and character sheets for each character. This may be a quicker game for teens to play than some of the others. The latest version was released in 2006. Wizards of the Coast at www.wizards.com features information about Dungeons & Dragons, including downloadable character sheets at www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dnd/charactersheets. The Tools Archive at www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/tools has a special dice roller, enabling teens to play the game without owning specialty dice.
Generic Universal RolePlaying System (GURPS)
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Gurps is a “universal” roleplaying system that is designed to adapt to any imaginary gaming environment using a set of core rules. Similar to the Hero System described below, players are assigned a specified number of “character points” at the beginning of the game with which they may build characters with various attributes (strength, dexterity, intelligence, health), skills, and advantages. Additional points may be earned during play. This is a popular, flexible approach to developing characters for role-playing games. For more information, see Gurps Fourth Edition at www.sjgames.com/gurps/Lite/ and Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurps.
Hero System
Publisher: Hero Games
(No ESRB Rating)
The Hero System is a point-based role-playing game that is the foundation for many other role-playing games. Players use common six-sided dice and a pool of points to flexibly create worlds and characters with various abilities. For more information, see Hero Games Online Store at https://www.herogames.com/viewItem.htm?itemID=223351 and Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_system.
Lone Wolf
Publisher: Mongoose
(ESRB Rating for Video game versions: T)
Information about the tabletop version of this popular game may be found on the Mongoose web site at www.mongoosepublishing.com/home/series.php?qsSeries=24. The tabletop and electronic versions of Lone Wolf RPGs are based on a series of game books that are similar to Choose Your Own Adventure books, with the addition of a random number table to determine the outcome of battles and a backpack to store collected items. The game books are single-player, and the newer tabletop version is multi-player.
(ESRB Rating for Video game versions: M)
Publisher: FASA Corporation
Shadowrun is a futuristic cyberpunk-urban fantasy RPG. It is set 63 years after a great cataclysm has brought magic back to a world that had embraced technology and the merging of man and machine into “cyberware.” Characters include humans, elves, trolls, dwarves, orcs, gnomes, giants, etc. After the cataclysm, the “enemies” are global corporations, dubbed “Megacorporations”, “Megacorps”, or simply “megas” or “corps” who have more political, economic, and military power than the nations. For more information, see Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadowrun.
World of Warcraft Board Game
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
(ESRB Rating for PC versions: T)
This is a board game version of the World of Warcraft role-playing game. This game is fairly expensive, possibly due to the number of miniatures included, so it may be best to see if someone can donate or loan it to the library.
Card Games
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
(No ESRB Rating for any format)
Munchkin is a popular card game with a humorous take on role-playing games. It is based on the concept of munchkins, immature role-players, playing “to win”, and a game typically lasts about an hour. Munchkins is a spin-off from The Munchkin’s Guide to Powergaming by James Desborough and Steve Mortimer, a gaming humour book. For more information, see Munchkin Playtest Review on Role Playing Game Net: The Inside Scoop on Gaming at www.rpg.net/news+reviews/reviews/rev_7373.html.
Magic: The Gathering
(ESRB Ratings for PC versions: E, T)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Magic: The Gathering is a collectible card game that can be played by two or more players, each using a deck of printed cards. Players role-play powerful wizards and use magical spells, items, and fantastic creatures depicted on the Magic cards to defeat their opponents. Magic: The Gathering may also be played online. For more information, see Wizards of the Coast: Magic The Gathering.com at www.wizards.com/magic/. See also Online Guide to Playing Magic the Gathering: Rules, Cards, Tips & More by Jerome Ballesteros at http://hobbies.expertvillage.com/interviews/magic-the-gathering-video.htm which includes videos of how to play the game.
Free Online Multi-User Dungeon (MUD)
Darker Realms
(No ESRB Rating)
Media: Web Interface
Darker Realms, created in June 1990, is one of the oldest MUDs in America. It is a free online role-playing game with a medieval theme and does not require players to download or purchase anything. All that is required is telnet, and if a user does not have that or does not like the version of telnet on his or her computer, there is also a Java applet on the web site that allows the user to connect to the game. Darker Realms was initially hosted on a mainframe computer at Texas A&M University; students played at computer labs in the middle of the night. For more information, visit Darker Realms at http://darkerrealms.org/dark/.

For a searchable list of MUDs, see The MudConnector at www.mudconnect.com.

Free Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs)
Gaia Online
Media: Download
Platforms: PC
Founded in 2003, Gaia Online is an online community open to teens age 13 and up. It includes games, message boards, and a virtual economy. Members can hang out, chat, create avatars, and use "Gaia Gold" to outfit their avatars with clothes and accessories. Gaia Gold is earned by engaging in many activities, including Gaia's selection of games. All areas of the site are free, unless members purchase site merchandise or special collectible items. Gaia Online is the largest forum on the Internet with over a million posts daily. For more information, visit Gaia Online at www.gaiaonline.com.
Monster and Me
(No ESRB Rating)
Media: Download
Platforms: Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista
Players must create an account for Monster and Me and then may play for free. Players can fight alone or team up with friends to battle the monsters that roam in this mystical Eastern land. They can catch pets, raise them, and evolve them to create the ultimate fighting machine. Away from the battlefield, players can get married and choose a honeymoon, build a dream house fit for a hero, and more. For more information, visit Monster and Me at www.monsterandme.com.
(No ESRB Rating)
Media: Web Interface
Platforms: Java, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X
RuneScape players may create an account and play in free worlds without obligation to buy anything. Some parts of the game require subscription. It is one of the most popular online games in the world. The setting is the fantasy realm of Gielinor, which is divided into several kingdoms and regions with different types of monsters, materials, and quests. Players create onscreen avatars that travel by foot, teleportation spells and devices, and mechanical transportation. Players may embark on quests and interact with other players through trading, chatting, or playing combative or cooperative mini-games. For more information, visit RuneScape at www.runescape.com.
Star Wars Combine
(No ESRB Rating)
Media: Download
Platforms: Windows, MacIntosh, Linux/Unix
The Star Wars Combine is a free MMORPG developed by and for Star Wars fans. Players must set up accounts. They create avatars with various careers and skill levels and then explore vast galaxies and interact with other players. For more information, visit the Star Wars Combine web site at www.swcombine.com.
Teen Second Life
(No ESRB Rating)
Media: Download
Platforms: Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP 2, Windows Vista, Mac OS X (10.3.9 or higher), Linux, I686.
Second Life is an Internet-based virtual world in which Residents develop avatars and then meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, explore, and create and trade items including virtual property and services. Teen Second Life was developed in 2005 for teens ages 13-17. Teens may register for free. However, a cell phone with Short Message Service (SMS), a PayPal account, or a credit card are required to register. Teens are transferred to the main Second Life grid when they turn 18. For more information and to play, visit Teen Second Life at http://teen.secondlife.com. Also see Wikipedia articles at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_Second_Life and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life.
Online Subscription Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs)
EverQuest: Trilogy
(ESRB Ratings for Video, PC, and online versions: T)
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
EverQuest: Trilogy is an online subscription-based game. For more information, visit EverQuest at http://everquest.station.sony.com.
World of Warcraft
(ESRB Ratings for PC versions: T)
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
This immensely popular game requires purchase of a CD-Rom and an online subscription. A free trial is available. Expansion packs are also available. Visit World of Warcraft at www.worldofwarcraft.com for a beginner’s guide and more.
Libraries may purchase and install copies of World of Warcraft on library computers. Teens with subscriptions may compete by logging into their accounts.
World of Warcraft now has a voice chat feature built into the game so that players may speak with each other. If teens want to use this feature, ask them to bring computer headphones with them.

Web Sites

Core Elements: Toolbox Edition
This simple 17-page D&D rulebook can be provided to teens attending library RPG programs.
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast has information about Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars role-playing game, D&D Miniatures, Dreamblade Miniatures, Magic: The Gathering, Duel Masters Trading Card Game, Neopets Trading Card Game, Axis & Allies Miniatures, Star Wars Miniatures, and more. It includes information about the games, manuals describing rules and other details, message boards to discuss the games, novels set in the game worlds, etc.
Wizards of the Coast: Dungeons & Dragons Character Sheets
This Wizards of the Coast page features downloadable character sheets that may be used in Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games.
Wizards of the Coast: D & D Tools Archive
The Wizards of the Coast “Tools Archive” features an online dice roller that makes it possible to play without special dice. There is also a “Character Name Generator” that is useful if players need help naming their characters.

Professional Resources


“Dungeons and Dragons: Adventures in the Library” by Nicole Price. VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates). February 2005. (Vol. 27, Issue No. 6, pgs 450-453)
In this article, Ms. Price describes role-playing programs she hosts at the Foothill Library in Glendale, Arizona. The article is available online at http://pdfs.voya.com/VO/YA2/VOYA200502DungeonsDragons.pdf.


Mazzanoble, Shelly. Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Game. Wizards of the Coast, 2007.
This book explains the game to girls and attacks the stereotype that everyone who plays D&D is a geeky guy. This could be useful to female librarians who want to get a better feel for the game before hosting an RPG game night, and it might also be good to display for some of the teen girls who are not initially playing the tabletop games.
Slavicsek, Bill and Richard Baker. Dungeons & Dragons for Dummies. For Dummies, 2005.
The For Dummies books are popular books that give introductory material on various topics. This book explains D&D to the layperson and could be useful reading for librarians who want to host D&D but have never played the game.

Web Sites

Christian Gamers Guild
This web site includes an educational section under Chaplain’s Corner at www.christian-gamers-guild.org/chaplain/index.html with articles and links to web sites about role-playing games and Christianity. The articles discuss various aspects of “Faith and Gaming”, including the dangers of mislabeling role-playing games as evil. They also provide suggestions for how role-playing games may be used to promote Christianity. Some of the articles also address complaints about violence in games, including video games.
Demion’s Game Book Web Page: Lone Wolf
This web site provides a complete listing of the books in Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf series, one of the most popular game book series ever published. Background information is provided for people unfamiliar with the series. There is also information about the illustrator, publisher, and publication date for each book. There are also links to the books that have been converted to an online format.
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
The ESRB rates interactive entertainment software. ESRB does not rate online role-playing game. However, many role-playing games are available in multiple formats and some formats may be rated.
How Stuff Works.com: “How LARP Works” by Tracy V. Wilson
This article includes information about LARPs, photographs, examples, history, links, and more.
Magic: The Gathering on Fireshui
This website includes many articles with information about how to play the game, how to build a good deck of cards, and information about new decks.
The Mud Connector
This site presents a huge list of MUDs, searchable by categories such as anime, fantasy, science fiction, futuristic MUDs, player-killing MUDs, non-player-killing MUDs, etc. Some MUDs are listed as social MUDs. Similar to chat rooms, the primary goal of social MUDs is just to socialize. MUDs that are adult-only are included, and you may wish to view those lists so that you do not accidentally recommend a MUD that is inappropriate for teens.
NERO LARP Member Resource Site
NERO is a large medieval fantasy LARP. The website provides details about NERO events, local chapters, rules, etc.
Project Aon
This site provides free downloads of Dever’s Lone Wolf series with the permission of the author and illustrators. The series ceased publication in 1998, and a dedicated fan base established Project Aon in 1999.
Religious Tolerance.org
This site describes role-playing games, explains some objections that have been raised, and clears up some misinformation. The web site includes a link to an article, “Dungeons and Dragons and Other Fantasy Role-Playing Games”by B. A. Robinson, and provides addresses for groups for and against Dungeons & Dragons and other games that provide additional information.
Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA)
This web site provides information about how the SCA is organized, SCA events and activities, links to the various SCA kingdoms, and more. The SCA is one of the originators of LARPs.
Unsolicited, but Useful, Advice for LARPers
This website provides information about the logistics of hosting a LARP, costumes, pitfalls to avoid, etc.
What is a Role-Playing Game? on White Wolf Online
This web page describes role-playing games as storytelling and compares them with childhood games of make-believe.
Whatis.com: What is MUD?
This site provides a brief explanation of MUDs and compares them with newer Internet phenomena.

Craft and Game Materials

Articles about Dungeons & Dragons

Archives: The History of TSR
Wizards of the Coast provides a timeline from 1966 to 1999 with information about Dungeons & Dragons, various versions of the games, and the development and dissolution of companies that developed and published Dungeons & Dragons
“Dave Arneson Interview” by Allen Rausch.
Rausch talks with Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, about how he met Gary Gygax, how they developed Dungeons & Dragons, his contributions to the game, what he is currently doing, and what else he has done since the 1980’s.  Arneson discusses how he decided to focus on individual characters rather than a whole army and the importance of this idea in the development of role-playing games. He also mentions that, at one time, he went to schools and talked about how role-playing could be used educationally.
“Gary Gygax Interview: Part 1” by Allen Rausch.
Rausch talks with Gygax about gaming, the development of Dungeons & Dragons, authors that influenced him, how Dungeons & Dragons became popular, and controversy in the early 1980’s. Among other things, this interview addresses claims from the early 1980’s that the game promotes witchcraft and/or suicide. Gygax discusses how the media distorted the facts and did not retract incorrect information.
“Gary Gygax Interview: Part 2” by Allen Rausch.
Gygax discusses the current incarnation of Dungeons & Dragons, the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, an online game being developed, and some of his other projects, including books he is writing.
“Magic & Memories: The Complete History of Dungeons & Dragons” by Allen Rausch.
http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/538/538262p1.html (Part I: Companions & Chainmail)
http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/539/539197p1.html (Part II: Mazes & Monsters)
http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/539/539628p1.html (Part III: Tyrants & Wizards)
http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/539/539972p1.html (Part IV: Repairs & Resurrections)
http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/540/540509p1.html (Part V: Atari & Eberron)
Allen Rausch’s excellent series of articles on the history of Dungeons & Dragons was prepared for Dungeons & Dragons 30th anniversary in 2004.  Rausch provides very detailed information about the origins of the game, conflicts and controversies, different publishers, and changes in the game’s rules. 
“Magic & Memories: The Dungeons & Dragons Index” by GameSpy staff.
Game Spy.com (Aug. 13, 2004)
As a celebration of Dungeons & Dragons’ 30th anniversary, GameSpy presented a series of articles about the game’s history. The Index helps navigate through the articles.
"What Happened to Dungeons and Dragons" by Darren Waters.
BBC News (April 26, 2004)
This article provides some history of the game and mentions controversies that arose during the height of the game’s popularity.
Page last modified: August 12, 2011