By Nordin Kole
Dungeons & Dragons has a market share of more than 95% in the tabletop RPG market. This isn't necessarily due to their quality compared to the other games, they haven't won or even been nominated for an ENnie Award, the highest honor in the industry, in years. To shine a light on other games and game designers, Roleplay Universe was created.
Void | 2020 | Graduation Work
The goal of Roleplay Universe is for tabletop RPG players to try new games. This is achieved by creating, what is essentially, a party game. Here players interact with simplified mechanics from existing games, functioning as an introduction of sorts. Each of these mechanics is labelled with a symbol, which connects it to a database of games on www.roleplayuniverse.nl, a site linked with the QR code on the box and pack of cards. The site functions as a hub to pull in new users and inform then on the philosophies that Roleplay Universe praises.
How does the party game work? First of all it is a card game where there are 5 types of cards, 3 of which introduce mechanics from games big and small to the player in a simplified session, 1 which describes a simple plot to inspire the Game Master (the one who runs the game) and 1 which holds extra information for some of the 3 mechanic cards. Players draw 1 Basic Resolution Mechanic card, 2 Advanced Resolution cards and 1 Character Creation Mechanic card from the deck. The mechanics described on these cards interlink, to create a very basic playable game. Each of these cards have symbols for player types right next to the title, which come into play on the site.
On the site you can find a database of games, with non-judgemental reviews. On all of these games you can find two to four symbols resembling the player types associated with the game. This way users can connect the mechanics they like with games that fulfill a similar function. On the site there is also a test to see which player type best fits a user's preferences. The research has shown that the target audience feels particularly drawn to tests of these types, so including it on the site draws in an audience that might not have interacted with the physical product otherwise.
The game itself has two form variations, a boxed variant with everything needed to get started and a variant that is just the pack of cards to generate a game. The boxed variant is an ideal gift to anyone that is involved in the hobby. In addition to the Roleplay Universe card game it contains dice, tokens and a pack of cards, all of which can be used in existing games. The pack of cards variant is a cheap option which can benefit from being played, marketed and sold on conventions, where the offerings are usually almost twice as expensive than what Roleplay Universe can be offered for. On top of that, both variations may come in different genres that speak to different people. One genre might be science-fiction, the other can be fantasy, as shown in the prototype,
A generator based on the cardgame is also featured on the site where it can be tested for free. This can convince people to buy the physical game for themselves to use with friends, where the game truly shines.