I currently live in Germany, and if everything goes OK, will stay there till June 2018. I am here to learn German language, and I am thinking about doing so via playing RPGs. It also seems to be a good way to make some contacts here.

The problem is that my German is currently pretty bad. I don't have any certificates, so I don't know my exact level, but some online tests reveal my skills to be slightly under the B1 level threshold.

  1. I am not sure if I will be able to play well myself: if I don't understand a lot of words, I will likely make a lot of stupid moves, sometimes I will need much time to understand what was said.

  2. I don't want to be a burden for my group. I don't want to anger them with having to clarify everything 10 times and repeat everything 100 times before I understand it, or with stupid moves that may lead to a party wipe because I activate some trap in a dungeon.

So, what level of German language do I need to play with native speakers? How can I overcome possible difficulties with the language?

I am going to mostly play online, as I live in a small village where I do have internet access, but seemingly no gaming groups around. If I find some gamers, I will probably attempt to play with them.

I would like to see answers from people who have either:

  • Played with native speakers, being non-native speakers themselves
  • Played with foreigners, being native speakers themselves

The language in your experience does not necessarily have to be German.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ OT: Which city in Germany? Maybe someone from your new home town reads this and is looking for a player... \$\endgroup\$
    – Thomas
    Jul 15, 2017 at 11:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ A small village near Walsrode, in Lower Saxony. I doubt that there are any role-players here. I doubt it very much. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2017 at 12:36

1 Answer 1


I live in Germany, I am native German, and occasionally play Pathfinder, in a college environment with several non-native speakers.

I can't say what level of competence you need based on a school test, but my experience showed me some interesting points:

  • When rules are concerned, we often speak "Denglish" (German-english-blend), because a lot of specific terms we quote from the (original) english rules.
  • a student from China who had some real trouble with German entered the group and we switched to english play. He wasn't quite happy with that, so bought himself the Lord of the Rings on German. In the following month we slowly shifted to a 'german dominated' play style, using occasional english to substitute for words unknown.
  • I am in a long time Chat based RPG round of mostly German players. Up until mid last year we had a member on the US east coast, who had taken German as a college class as far as I know. I don't know if they ever took a formal test, but over the 4 years we played together, we rarely encountered language barrier problems. There was the occasionally "Was heißt noch gleich 'flower' auf Deutsch?" (for the Germans in reverse: What's 'Blume' again in English?), and we often gave them some help on sentence structure in the beginning, but that's about it - Rule discussions were done with the "Denglish" anyway.

So, some words of advise based on that:

  • Look for an RPG group or club around the universities - the people in them speak a good english and quite some would take the little inconvenience of speaking english to get a new member.
  • There are several websites in Germany that try to connect player groups. Some examples:
  • Local game stores often have a black board listing open groups or clubs. If your town doesn't have one, most of the large towns do. You might need to google for the shops (the term you might want to search for is "Fantasy shop")
  • Try your German, if you don't know the word just substitute in English or ask for it.
  • Germans know their language can be hard to master, and often can be quite forgiving.
  • Take a game that has its rules puplished in both English and German. Reading the rules side by side could help you.
    • This also means to some extent: Fingers off German native RPGs like "Das Schwarze Auge", which is notoriously famous for having some of the most complex rule texts that highly rely on German semantics and no good English translation.

Addition after learning where:

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow. Thank you! That's very cool, as both of RPGs that I am going to choose from (Pathfinder and VtM) have a German version available (at least I remember seeing the books). I would like to ask you then if German translations are actually good, as Russian versions of those games are very famous for being be very inaccurate, inconsistent and badly written. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2017 at 12:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ The german translations for PF are quite good, for the old VtM it is... decent. The V20 is much better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jul 15, 2017 at 12:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy added some info on RPG in WAlsrode, as that is (according to your info) close to you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jul 15, 2017 at 12:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, I like the point about reading German-language rulebooks. Any material specific to the game/genre in question will help with the specialized vocabulary. Thinking of verbal comprehension, do you know of any German language game gamer videos? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Jul 15, 2017 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TimGrant I have played video games with Germans a lot, made a lot of fun, didn't see any serious problems, but in a video game it is much easier to comprehend what's going on. Also you don't really need a lot of special vocabulary compared to what I had to learn in English when reading Pathfinder or Vampire: The Masquerade books. For example, "attack of opportunity", "spell slot" -- I have no idea how is it called in German, but, thanks to Trish's advice, I will hopefully learn it via books. In Mount&Blade: Napoleonic Wars it was just military orders, for example. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2017 at 14:00

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