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Roleplaying Games: 7 Ways to Roll on a Budget!

The cheapest way to get in the game.

"Man holding blue piggybank" by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As the tabletop RPG Revival grows its numbers every day, it’s always good to look at ways to help introduce new players to the game. Here are seven tips to drop you in and get you or a friend rolling some die ASAP for little to nothing!


A Die-r Matter

The first essential component to any table top role playing game are the dice. It’s something that every player needs. However, rolling for initiative doesn’t have to be purely physical anymore. There are apps for your phone that will generate some some digital dice and even allow you to role multiple dice at once. These are fantastic especially when you get to higher levels and you are rolling tons of dice and causing masses of damage!

Here are a couple apps I find pretty useful along with two websites in the event that you don’t have a smart enough phone!

Android Apps:

  • RPG Simple Dice
  • CritDice
  • Dice Roller

Apple Apps:

  • Dice & Dragons
  • D20 Dice
  • Dice Ex Machina


A Taste of Tabletop

Another great item the internet has gifted us is the ability to try other people’s systems for free. You can usually find these in PDF form, and with the use of a laptop or tablet you can have access to an entire tabletop RPG. Whoever is going to be taking on the role of the DM/GM will probably need to spend some time acquainting themselves with the rules and basic dynamics of the game.

Here are two systems you can try FOR FREE to get you started!


Basic Dungeons and Dragons 5th Ed

If you enjoy these systems and decide you’re going to play them for a long time, I do recommend purchasing the full editions, of course!  Not only will you get a more colorful game, but it helps the creators!

Have Character, Need Sheet

As I see it, there are three basic options available to you to get your character sheets done:  

  1. Ask Google where you can find an editable PDF of the character sheet for the system you’re using.
  2. Look online for that PDF and transcribe it with a pencil and some paper. If you are particularly artistic, you can have some major fun with this and make it your own!
  3. Go to your local library and print it from there.

Depending on the game you’re playing, if you have a laptop and if you’re going to run a one off, you can always use Hero Lab. You can’t save your character, but it also works out the math for you and if you decide you’re going to play longer it’s a really good application; one I also recommend purchasing!

The Way You Look Tonight

One of the many great things about tabletop RPGs is creating yourself a character.  You can literally design yourself into anyone or anything that you want to be and make him or her look however you’d like. If you are not artistically inclined, you can Google your race, class, and gender and find a totally workable visual.  You can even print it out and attach it to a bit of cardboard to create a little pawn for him or her.  Alternatively, you can use things like Magic: The Gathering cards as artistic inspirations!

Field Of Battle

Creating an arena for your characters to play on can range from being extremely low-prep to incredibly detailed depending on the time and resources available. You can draw up whole maps on a large sheet of paper, but personally I like to use a whiteboard and some green painter’s tape.  This can be used multiple times, and I can always pull the tape off and use the board as intended!

The next step is to add the flavor. Creating maps can be incredibly time-consuming.  Pulling everything from one’s own imagination only increases the amount of time it can take.

One of the greatest things, though, is that we live in a world full of maps and most of these can be found online, at the library, or maybe even in the back of your car. These can be used to help create your city-scapes, taverns, space stations, and even the fields of battle you fight upon.  You can find map and terrain inspiration everywhere!

The Who

One of the biggest misconceptions with tabletop RPGs is that you need a mass of friends and tons of time every single week to play. Depending on what you’re doing or the group that you have, it really comes down to how big or small your party needs to be.  

If you ask me, the minimum number of people you need is three: one to DM and two to play. However if it’s just you and one other you can make it work, or if you have a larger group of friends you can stretch as far as you need to.  The biggest trick is just getting everyone together!  If you can achieve that, you should be good to go!

The Great Campaign Conundrum

Let’s say you’re past the sampling phase we talked about in #2 above and you want to get into an RPG for the long haul.  Depending on how creative you are this doesn’t have to be a conundrum at all!  You can build whatever you need using history, your favorite TV show, daily life, or any other means of inspiration.

If, however, you don’t have the time to do so or you find that your creative juices are running a little low, check out this website chock full of free campaign and adventure ideas to help you get started!

Sure, there are plenty of published adventures out there for you to try if you want to spend a few bucks.  But with a little bit of time and elbow grease, you can run with one of these freebies to your heart’s content!


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