Dear Lady Gamer

by Tonya Foust

Dear Lady Gamer,

What is the difference between a CCG and an RPG?

Lost in Cards

Dear Lost,

There are many differences between a CCG (Collectable Card Game) and an RPG (Role-Playing Game). Wikipedia has these definitions for a CCGs and RPGs.

CCGs, such as Magic The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon, are all based on purchasing specific cards to build a deck that will be used in play. In each, the player is only allowed a specific number of cards in her deck. The purpose is to defeat their opponent using just the deck in hand. They are not allowed to add or substitute cards during play. In games such as these, the more cards the player has and the rarity of each card makes the collection valuable and allows the player more diversity in building her play decks. Hence, the “Collectable" portion of the title.

Conversely, RPGs can be played with a minimum of preparation. Most games begin with a group of people gathered together to enjoy an evening of fun. An RPG game can be set in any type of environment and involve almost any type of setting. Games such as Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), GURPS and Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM) offer the players many different worlds and setting in which to adventure. In an RPG, one person is designated the Game Master (GM) - sometimes called the Storyteller - and that person is the controller of the world. They are the ones who give the players direction, play the NPCs (Non-Player Characters) and let the other players know the consequences of their actions (both good and bad). Rather than the cards used in CCGs, an RPG uses books, paper and pencil to keep track of the statistics and events related to each Player Character (PC). The PCs grow in strength and abilities as the games progress and more adventures are undertaken.

As a twist to the whole CCG vs. RPG question, a game called Dragon Storm combines the mechanics of both. Dragon Storm by Black Dragon Press is an RPG where all of the rules and attributes for the PCs are on various cards. The player builds a character using the various types of cards, and the GM builds her encounters using various GM cards. However, this is where the similarity ends. This is a role-playing game. The players are encouraged to stretch their imaginative wings to resolve the issues they encounter. The cards are only used to emphasize an ability, e.g. a character wishes to cast a spell, or add to their tracking ability.

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