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I'm looking to build a list of books, movies, or other forms of narrative media which are not specifically game related, which serve as good introductory examples of tabletop RPGs to outsiders and especially prospective or new players.

The list should include media which depicts actual (if perhaps slightly inaccurate) tabletop gameplay. So, this by nature excludes any form of computer RPGs. Also, I'm really looking for stuff that's not wholly indigenous to the gaming community, so gaming magazines, websites, and blogs would probably not quite fit the bill here.

This is also meant primarily to include media which uses the tabletop RPG as a prominent element in the story. A single, short scene in a feature-length film is generally not sufficient to leave a lasting impression on someone who's not particularly looking for it.

To start off, one good example I have had the pleasure of personally enjoying is:

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

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I amended it to "narrative media". That should more clearly exclude blogs, magazines, and such. – SevenSidedDie Nov 5 '10 at 23:29
@SevenSidedDie Good move, thanks. – Iszi Nov 6 '10 at 0:23
This ENWorld discussion about E.T. also mentions the movie Cloak & Dagger, but since I don't know it personally I'll leave that as a gimme for another answerer. :) – SevenSidedDie Nov 6 '10 at 0:43
@SevenSidedDie My wife loves that movie. One of her favorite childhood movies. I'm sure we've got it around here somewhere to review. Then again, it's probably on VHS, and I don't think we've got a player lying around anymore. – Iszi Nov 6 '10 at 5:32
I think this is a good community wiki question, so have changed it. I think it's well in scope, so don't support closing. And let me remind people that you shouldn't use downvotes when vote to close, flag, or whatnot have been used. And please consider explaining your downvotes and not just pooping on people w/o comment. – mxyzplk Nov 6 '10 at 15:53
up vote 5 down vote accepted

(Aggregated prior answers to Community Wiki)

When adding to this list, please remember that it should only include items which feature a tabletop RPG as a prominent element in the story - not just as a part of one or two short scenes.


TV Series/Episodes:


Other Printed Media:

Online Media:

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There's Wil Wheaton's "Titansgrave - Ashes of Valkana" YouTube playthough: – Vatine Jul 22 '15 at 13:19

Available for purchase both as a download and a DVD, McNary's Of Dice and Men (2014) is about a group of gamers. Originally a play, it has been produced for the screen.

Although it shares the same title, McNary's film is unrelated to the Ewalt's book Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It (2014).

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This was put on at PAX 2010 to massive acclaim. – SevenSidedDie Nov 12 '10 at 17:38
Please move/copy this to the CW post above. – Iszi Nov 16 '10 at 15:35

The short novel: "Quag Keep" by Andre Norton is all about roleplaying games, from the point of view of the characters in the adventure. The characters all have 'strange bracelets with dice in them' on their wrists, and they know that when the dice spin, something is about to happen. This book shows some of the mechanics of role-playing games and it's not a bad story either. This book was out of print for years, but was recently re-released bundled with "Return to Quag Keep" which isn't nearly as good.

The Sword and the Chain, the first book in the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg gives another nice perspective on RPGs, from both the player's and the character's perspective. This one is probably better than Quag Keep for demonstrating RPGs.

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Another example, if you can find it, is a movie called THAC0. It is very old movie but very good for explaining how the game actually plays at the table regardless. This is a trailer for the movie but I have yet to find the real thing yet, sorry. If I do I will let you know.

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Please move/copy this to the CW post above. – Iszi Nov 16 '10 at 15:35

There is a short but reasonably realistic example of tabletop roleplaying in E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. It occurs in the first scene at Elliot's house; his teenage brother and friends are playing a fantasy game at the kitchen table.

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Short scenes are nice, but I'm really looking for something in which the game is a prominent feature. I'll update the query. – Iszi Nov 6 '10 at 5:34

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 22 "Chosen"...

Andrew, Giles, and one of the potentials sit down and play some 3.X. It's a short clip, but very well done. The books are visible, it's clear they're using minis, and the narrative works.

(That Joss Whedon was a Gamer in college helps immensely.)

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Short scenes are nice, but I'm really looking for something in which the game is a prominent feature. I'll update the query. – Iszi Nov 6 '10 at 5:34

The King of RPGs graphic novel is about college kids playing RPGs

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