A couple of years ago, Alpal showed me a game she got called Roll Player. Like many titles she would show me, Roll Player had completely flown under my radar. After playing it though, it got me excited enough to buy a copy pretty much on the spot.
The idea behind Roll Player is simple. As I have a history of playing various role-playing games, I tend to enjoy character creation. Well, Roll Player makes a game of the character creation process itself!
Roll Player has 6 character sheets, 73 coloured dice, and a lot of cards. These cards are used for the character class, alignment and backstory, and a market of goods. These goods are split between items such as weapons and armour, traits and skills.
This sounds like a lot to follow. The gameplay slows well and isn’t overwhelming at all. Setup though, especially for solo play, can be rather tedious. This is a large reason why I haven’t played it much.
But browsing Steam lead me to a nice surprise – I can play Roll Player digitally, and let the PC handle all the setup!
As I said, when playing Roll Player everything flows beautifully. Yes, there are races, attributes, alignment, and backstory goals to all keep track of. But you don’t have to refer to lots of books and tables like old-school role-playing games. Everything is laid out in front of you in a concise manner. On the digital version, this has been improved even more.
Your race from your character sheets shows any attribute modifiers. Your class has target scores for these attributes. The pips shown on the three dice make up this score, including any modifiers from your race.
Your backstory gives you a pattern you want to try and achieve. If you can place the coloured die in the position indicated, you score more points. And finally, your alignment reflects actions you have taken. At the end of the game, if you have followed the path chosen, you can get some more points or a penalty at the end of the game.
All this boils down to putting dice in the right spot to score bonuses. That’s it. Yes, it will take a couple of rounds to get used to Roll Player. It feels like a huge information dump. But by the end of the first game, you will know all the scoring tricks.
The challenge is in the drafting element of dice selection, and purchases in the market. For each round, dice are placed on a drafting board from the lowest to the highest value. From the first player, you then pick which die you want to place on your character sheet. Picking first gives you access to the higher rolls, better for boosting your stats.
The catch is that if you pick a lower-value die, you have a better chance of buying good items from the market. Market items can be armour set collections, where the more of the armour you buy the more points you earn. You can nab weapons that improve your stat scores, or skills that allow you to modify the board.
Again, it sounds overwhelming, but you only have a couple of choices in front of you each round. There is an overall goal and strategy, but at the time, there is only a small amount of choice. There isn’t a perfect scoring strategy either. There is a large random nature to Roll Player’s set-up. You are never guaranteed the same market items, and you will likely never roll the same way each game.
Being able to play a game on Steam solo in under 20 minutes has meant I played Roll Player a lot last week. 11 times, to be precise. There is a pass-and-play version, the solo variant, and AI opponents on the way. I played solo, but if I was going to play with Rabbit I would be more inclined to pull out the physical copy.
If you ever wanted to try Roll Player, I can strongly suggest nabbing a copy on Steam. The expansions (Fiends & Familiars, Monsters & Minions) aren’t on the horizon yet. I still need to play both, and one day I will try Roll Player Adventures as well.
Oh, as a small bonus, if you do play the physical version you can make your own character sheets!