Adventures in a Decaying Empire
Role-Playing Games (RPGs) are a distinctive off-shoot of the early 1970’s wargaming scene. The concept, revolutionary at the time, was that instead of playing an entire army, corps, company, what-have-you that you would instead control a single person (later known as a Player Character) and team up with other players to complete missions. That is to say you assumed the role of a single soldier and tried to complete missions and keep him alive.
This all started out with Dave Arneson’s Braunstein games in the (just barely) pre-D&D era, but really came into their own after Gary Gygax published the fantasy supplement to his medieval miniature wargame Chainmail. Gygax and Arneson were members of the same wargaming club, and began to collaborate to make a set of rules for a fantasy medieval miniature wargame- this would eventually become Dungeons and Dragons.
Nowadays there are, quite literally, thousands of RPGs on the market, everything from the newly released 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons to the online based “World of Warcraft”. Role-Playing Games cover every conceivable genre, from their original fantasy base, to science fiction to espionage to super-heroes to high school students to gritty post-apocalyptic realism.