Few clubs and organizations on campus can proudly state their boundaries of creativity as being nonexistent. The University of Maine Role-Playing Games Society — RPGS for short — is one of them.
UMaine RPGS began in 2006 when three friends joined together to create not just a club, but a network of members who could use role-playing games as a way to temporarily escape the everyday stress of school-related work. Despite their eventual leave from the club upon graduation, the bond between two of these three friends has since remained — they just recently married.
The term “role-playing game,” or RPG, dates back to 16th century Europe, and isassociated with early theater improvisation. There are several types of genres and ways to play, but, according to UMaine RPGS President Chelsea Ketchum, the club generally plays either “tabletop role-playing” or “live action role-playing,” or LARP, games.
“In tabletop, you sit down, write stuff down and roll dice to determine what actions occur,” Ketchum said. “[LARP] is a lot more character-based — inventing characteristics and interacting with other people’s actions. If there is conflict, cards are drawn instead of throwing dice.”
Ketchum was the club’s secretary for two years and vice president for one before assuming her role as club president.
As for a general idea of how game playing occurs, a “gamemaster” or “dungeon master” is chosen at the start of every game. This role entails creating the actual game, picking the setting and plot and controlling characters that others will interact with.
“About half the people are playing games in the club and the other half are playing games and running games of their own,” Ketchum said. “We spend a lot of time bouncing ideas off each other and reflecting on how well a particular idea went.”
In-game settings range from fantasy, futuristic, cyberpunk, modern day with magical twists and even to settings that include giant robots.
Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s 1974 creation of Dungeons & Dragons is the world’s most popular and recognizable RPG. This game is one reason why many enter the RPG world at first and also why they continue to play.
UMaine RPGS likes to think it is one of the more welcoming clubs on campus.
“[RPGS] is both a stress reliever and great way to make new friends,” Ketchum said. “If people don’t know anything about a 50-sided dice or a 4-sided dice, that’s okay.”
Ketchum said there is crossover with other groups on campus. Integration between UMaine RPGS and Gamers’ Guild — an on-campus video game club — has already begun, and the club’s vice president has already scheduled times to sit-in on Gamers’ Guild meetings on a monthly basis. UMaine RPGS also prides itself on being close with the LGBT club, noting some of their own shared membership in both clubs.
Current ongoing games within UMaine RPGS include a Pathfinder game and a Kult game. Both games are full, but sit-ins are welcome and encouraged for new members.
“It’s a way to express your creativity with people that understand,” Ketchum said.
UMaine RPGS meets on Sundays at 2:45 p.m. in the Senior Skulls room on the third floor of the Memorial Union.