So I used to play RPGs a lot back in the day, but then life, work and the usual dull stuff got in the way and it all fizzled out. Now I've seen this site my interest and memories have returned and I think I should try to start playing again.

I think the problem is twofold: firstly I have to remember how to play, and find out what kind of games are played today. Second, find people to play with. I used to use some websites attached to games shops and cards in the window-type stuff, but there doesn't seem to be nearly as much gaming going on as there was.

So, what tips do you have for getting back into it after so much time, and what are the best ways of finding gamers to play with

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    \$\begingroup\$ See related: Where can I find other RPG players? \$\endgroup\$
    – yhw42
    Nov 29, 2010 at 19:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ What games did you use to play? What kind are you interested in playing? If you gamed before you know whether you want D&D or Traveller or Call of Cthulhu or Hero System (a whole lot of the old games have new revs). \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Nov 29, 2010 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ the best game I played was a cyberpunk scenario - in the local pub. (we forgot the dice you see, so .. well, long story). Otherwise, I've played a lot - CoC, RQ, classic Traveller, D&D, and a heap more. \$\endgroup\$
    – gbjbaanb
    Dec 1, 2010 at 23:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm in the same situation as the person who asked this question - I'm in my late 30's, going to a gaming group at a local college feels a bit odd and I haven't (yet) had luck finding a group to play with via Meetup or a local game store - do you have any other suggestions? I'd probably like to find a group to play 4th ed with here in SF but am flexible - though I've only tried 3rd ed (or 3.5 not sure) once before and didn't really like it). I didn't play much in college (early 90's) then got into MtG and some live action games (mostly World of Darkness) in the mid-90's and early 2000's b \$\endgroup\$ Feb 1, 2011 at 22:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShannonJohnClark - I migrated this to a comment because it's not an answer to his question. It's not quite a comment either but maybe you can edit it into one? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 1, 2011 at 22:58

4 Answers 4


Your local games store is usually your best bet. Since a certain company encouraged game stores to provide in-store gaming space back in the early 90s they've become the center of the gaming hobby in many places.

Also, the social networking "Meetup" sites seem to be populated with gaming groups inviting people in.

If you are in the Long Island, NY area you are welcome to join in any of the games I run (Currently Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green and Dresden Files).

Good luck in your search.


It Will Come Back

Gaming isn't a skill as much as it is a process. The skills are acting, mathematics, language, and carousing... the game itself is just a process, and that will come back readily. Every "ex-gamer" I've met who decided to try again was back into the flow within the first few minutes. Ex-Game-Master isn't so easy... but Ex-GM's who come in as players often are back in the swing even faster.

Option 1: Find a group

Using either a local meetup board, or a local gamer board, or your local game store, put up a notice you're looking for a group. Be prepared to learn a new game engine... and in some cases, a whole new way to approach the gaming.

Option 2: Make a group

Find some brave friends, a set of rules you can run, and pick a time and date, and, with no obligations to continue, give it a go.

Option 3: Find a Con or Demo

Find a convention. Sit and watch a few sessions, and then see what's open. Local cons are actually better than big ones - most of the people will be fairly close, and if you are fun to game with, you'll get invites.

Demos at local stores may not be common, but ask the store to let you know when there is going to be a demo. Show up, play, and see if the others there are fun to play with.

What's Changed in gaming???

Very little, and yet, everything.

There are a lot of free games on the net, download, print and play.

A number of games still follow the dungeon crawl, "Kill them all and take their stuff" (KTAATTS) mentality. Many now have a focus more on story-support.

Mechanics now have a much wider range of both complexity and styles of resolution. Some you resolve the action; others whether or not the intent is accomplished, others still who gets to pick the outcome.

Likewise, there are more kinds of dice now.

  • The Standard Die is still the six-sided cube, either numbered or pipped.
  • The standard polyhedral set is still 1d4, (1 to 4)d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, 1d20, and may have a 1d10x10.
  • Fate and Fudge based games use "Fudge Dice": d6 marked "–" on two sides, "+" on two sides, and with two blanks
  • Funky polyhedrals are available in 1d3, 1d7, 1d14, 1d16, 1d24, 1d30, 1d50, and the infamous Zocchihedron 1d100 "golf-ball" Fantasy Flight's Warhammer and Star Wars use standard shapes, but with unusual markings. The dice tend to be a group asset.
  • A few have no dice. Some use cards in place of dice, others use pools of points, several use variations on Rock-Paper-Scissors (or Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock) others still use no randomization at all.

Lots of people use computing devices now - spreadsheets for character generation are common, many games are sold in PDF in addition to or in place of physical books, and dice-rolling programs are readily available.

Further Thoughts

Pretty much any system you used to play is likely to still be out there. The best advice on getting back to gaming is "to do it, just do it."

The variety of systems available now may suggest that you should see if you can try some one-shots. Another good reason to go to a local convention.

Don't be afraid to fail - if you find a group, but the group isn't fun, try a different one.

And, as Dave Hallet notes:

The upshot is: if you want to find games that feel just like the ones you used to play, it won't be hard: nothing has really gone away. On the other hand, there are a lot of choices that didn't exist even a few years, and many of them are worth checking out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. The upshot is: if you want to find games that feel just like the ones you used to play, it won't be hard: nothing has really gone away. On the other hand, there are a lot of choices that didn't exist even a few years, and many of them are worth checking out. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2010 at 0:00

Remembering shouldn't be too much of a problem. Once a Role-player always a role-player. The core game mechanic today is much the same as was whenever. Some minor changes in things but overall it hasn't changed much. Identify a conflict, figure out what you want to do about it, and see if you did it using the most logical options/skills/weapons/powers available to your character. As noted below the method of resolution will differ from system to to system.

As for what is 'played today', I have never gamed on that basis. I play what I find to be fun. If I'm playing what is fun for me then everyone else seems to have fun too. Or at least they are more likely to. Never go just by what is 'popular', but by what you want when it comes to RPGs.

As for finding players. Is there a Friendly Local Game Shops (FLGS) near you? If so go there and hang out. Try some evenings and some weekends. It won't take long for you to find a few kindred spirits. You can even set in on a session or 2 as a refresher and maybe find a new gaming system you enjoy.

From there it is just a matter setting up what you want to play and times to play it. Good Luck - P.S. I am in the Western PA area north of Pittsburgh.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Dude, you need to look at what's out there... many games have moved VERY far away from the dungeon crawl mode of play, and mechanics to match. D&D hasn't, but D&D isn't the only thing going. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Nov 29, 2010 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking that things have moved on from D&D, Runequest and Cyberpunk games I used to play. Eg. are they orientated towards the younger gamer or is there still a good mix. \$\endgroup\$
    – gbjbaanb
    Dec 1, 2010 at 23:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sort of. Aramis is right in a way, there many more mechanical choices today in the various systems, but the core of all RPGs is still: identify a problem, come up with a solution then execute the solution and see what happens. Whether you roll dice, bid, debate, role-play or whatever it is still a problem-solving genre. That is why we like it so much. We get to fix things. As for moving on, always play what you enjoy. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2010 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ace The core of traditional games still work that way, yeah. Almost definitionally so. There is way more under the sun these days than traditional task-based systems. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 29, 2011 at 2:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep, great point, but every game I've encountered has the conflict - solution - execution model embedded in it somewhere. The enviornment and method of execution differs from system to system, but the base mechanic is always the same. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 29, 2011 at 12:54

D&D is very dominant these days. If you wanted to buy books and read them before joining people, D&D would be a safe place to start. I think 4th ed is more popular than 3.5, but my sample size is limited to people who prefer 4th.

Check out if any of the game stores near you run D&D Encounters or Living Forgotten Realms campaigns. Those are officially sanctioned games. I suggest them because the adventure modules are about 4 hours long, so it's pretty easy to join up with a group for a session or two at a time. If you meet players you like, ask if they're doing any other games outside of LFR or Encounters.

Another option is to try a local college. Many of them have gaming clubs. From what I've seen, it's not uncommon for non-students to show up at these clubs. They may prefer board games at club meetings, but you'll at least be meeting gamers and can eventually join their tabletop games.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Pathfinder, which is derived closely from D&D3.5, is apparently doing as well as, if not slightly better than, D&D 4E in sales. But hard numbers are hard to come by. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Feb 2, 2011 at 0:00

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