Monday, July 28, 2008

Materials Needed for Play

To begin playing, you just need these rules, three or more six-sided dice, pencils, and scratch paper.


For those readers who don't know, a roleplaying game (RPG) is one in which a referee (the Game Master, or GM) guides several players through an ladventure,L in which they play the parts of fictional characters (Player Characters, or PCs). The Hellboy Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game is lPowered by GURPS,L meaning that its rules are closely based on GURPS, a popular general-purpose RPG system which is also published separately.

Some readers may be unfamiliar with lpencil and paperL RPGs such as this, but may have seen the term attached to computer games. The two have much in common, but are different in important ways; you don't need a computer to play this game. Others may have run into ideas similar to RPGs elsewhere; they can be compared to group storytelling sessions, certain kinds of wargaming, and even improvisational theater. don't worry; you don't have to be an actor or a great storyteller to play RPGs. Nor do you need to be a tactical genius, although some tactical questions may arise in play, and some players may have a flair for it.

It's important to understand that RPGs don't have winners and losers. The idea is not to reach any single fixed objective, but to tell a good story. Admittedly, in Hellboy's universe, the PCs will often be struggling against dark forces which could destroy the world, and failing to defeat those forces would be very bad I but even the GM isnJt setting out to make that happen. Rather, the idea is to set challenges for the PCs which can be overcome by cleverness, courage, and skill. Even if one or more of the PCs dies, it's not a disaster for the game. It may be annoying for the players, who often invest a lot of effort and thought in their creations, but sometimes, well, heroes do die, especially in the tough, rather horrific world of the Hellboy stories I and a heroic death can make for a very good story in itself. A PC who gives his life in a good cause will often be remembered with more respect and affection than one who wasnJt played as a hero. On the other hand, some PCs are flawed and imperfect; that makes for good stories too, as they either overcome their flaws or work around them.

It's also worth emphasizing that this is a book about fictional characters in a fictional world. It describes supernatural powers and beings; whether you believe that such things exist, what youJll find in these pages is fantasy (though partly based on real-world beliefs and ideas). You wonJt learn how to work lrealL magic in this book, and anything that happens in a game is just that I a game.

In other words, a roleplaying game is a unique and special form of entertainment, which permits a group of players to give their imaginations a workout while creating something new.