Vixen and Vibe owe their origins to a forgotten reboot of DC’s ‘Justice League of America’
Chuck Patton/DC Entertainment
Throughout the long and illustrious history of DC Entertainment’s Justice League of America — a team that debuted in 1960 and has been in near-continuous publication ever since — one era in particular stands out for many comic book fans as the nadir of the concept, a time when an attempted reinvention failed to such a degree that the series was actually cancelled. But, thirty years later, that period has proven to be source material for the CW’s The Flash, Cartoon Network’s DC Nation and the upcoming Vixen animated digital series on CW Seed. Could this be the second life of the Justice League Detroit?
The “Detroit Era” of the Justice League was the creation of writer Gerry Conway, who wrote the Justice League of America series from 1978 through 1986. Late in his run, with the series beginning to be eclipsed in popularity by companion titles The New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes — both of which centered around teenage soap operatics — Conway decided to revamp the League by replacing established characters like Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman with his own, younger, creations.
“I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen at DC, which was a ground-level superhero team that was rooted in a neighborhood,” he’d explain to Back Issue Magazine years later. The result was a storyline that launched in 1986’s Justice League of America Annual No. 2, in which Aquaman disbanded the original League and created a new one that would be dedicated full-time to the job of saving the planet. “The world needs a committed fighting force,” Conway had him explain. “A team of full-time, active members, living together, training together — sharing a common purpose, a common duty.” That that description not only defined Conway’s new League, but also the Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes and competitor Marvel’s uber-successful X-Men, did not go amiss.
Conway’s new League — relocated from a satellite headquarters to inner-city Detroit — consisted of existing DC characters Aquaman, the Elongated Man, the Martian Manhunter and Zatanna, in addition to his own creations, Steel — an angst-ridden cyborg teen who visually resembled Captain America — teenage runaway Gypsy, supermodel-turned-crimefighter Vixen and the breakdancing Vibe. To say that it was an underwhelming line-up in comparison to what it replaced is an understatement; in a later letter column that appeared in the Justice League of America series, the editor described fan response as “moderate,” and that was undoubtedly the peak of excitement surrounding the change. Within two years, the series would end as a result of low sales, Conway having been replaced as writer some months earlier.
The final storyline in the series might point towards the feeling towards the “Detroit League” — whereas other superhero teams might come to an end with the heroes going their separate ways to allow them to be used again in the future, both Steel and Vibe were swiftly murdered in the final issues, with the other characters resigning in the aftermath and — with just a couple of exceptions — fading into obscurity for years afterwards. Within months, DC relaunched the Justice League series (ditching “of America” from the title for almost two decades) and the Detroit team became little more than a footnote or butt of many fan jokes about bad ideas and unsuccessful relaunches… until 2012.
That year saw the first signs that Geoff Johns — DC Entertainment chief creative officer and, notably, a Detroit native — had an affinity for the short-lived Justice League that existed in his hometown, with Vibe, arguably the most derided of all of the Detroit League thanks to his association with the short-lived breakdancing craze, receiving both his own series of shorts as part of Cartoon Network’s DC Nation block of programming and his own (short-lived) comic book series, Justice League of America’s Vibe. The character would later show up, in depowered, secret-identity form, as Cisco on the CW’s The Flash. Vixen, similarly, will become part of the Arrow/Flash universe with the recently-announced animated series for the CW’s online sibling CW Seed, overseen by Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim.
In fact, of the Justice League Detroit’s eight-strong line-up, only two members haven’t made it into a live-action spin-off or adjacent project (Aquaman, Zatanna and the Martian Manhunter all appeared in Smallville, with Aquaman obviously preparing for his own big-screen debut in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). That’s an impressive batting average for what was viewed by many to be a “failed” team — for DC characters, it beats the Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, Doom Patrol or almost any other super team outside of the “classic” Justice League line-up of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman and Green Lantern — and a testament to the fact that no character or concept is beyond salvation if someone is dedicated enough to make it happen.
Of course, now we need someone to work on getting Steel and the Elongated Man out of the comics and onto our screens. Surely someone can come up with a pitch for a detective who has stretching powers…?
We are selecting objects for a new permanent display of metalwork on the first floor (Lower Gallery). Whilst searching through the museum’s reserve collections at our off-site storage facility we found this wonderful board mounted with different types of mail armour. Mail is often referred to as ‘chain mail’ – terminology introduced by Sir Walter Scott in his 1822 novel “The Fortunes of Nigel”.
This assemblage was collected – and possibly arranged – by General Pitt-Rivers himself. Pitt-Rivers collected from many sites in London during the 1860s, often as part of early ‘salvage archaeology’ excavations during groundworks for civic construction projects such as the London Underground and the Victoria Embankment.
The pieces of mail are described in an early catalogue of 1874 as “Twenty fragments of Chain armour. European and Oriental”. The hand-written labels date some of them to the XVII (17th) century, and several are recorded as being recovered from the “Thames Embankment”. The board has clearly been put together as an exhibit rather than a cataloguing or storage device. We have no record of whether it was ever displayed at the Pitt Rivers Museum but it may well have been displayed in Bethnal Green Museum (now the V&A Museum of Childhood) and South Kensington Museums (now the V&A) where the General’s archaeological and ethnological collection was first shown to the public in London from 1874-1878 (Bethnal Green) and from 1878-1882 (South Kensington), before being donated to the University of Oxford in 1884.
The board was arranged to show a variety of different types and gauges of linkage variations within the single category of ‘mail armour’ – a neat demonstration of Pitt-Rivers’s concept of ‘typological’ arrangements. Some samples are of butted or ‘jumped’ mail, arranged in alternating rows with solid welded rings. Butted rings were the cheapest type of mail to make and buy, though the most vulnerable to a well-placed thrust from a sword or spear. Each ring is linked to four others in the European ‘4-in-1’ style.
There were also examples of what seemed to be imitation rivets – perhaps to give the illusion of quality or strength – plus large-gauge hooked mail with spiral links, which may have been worn by horses in conjunction with solid barding armour.
The different pieces of mail were fixed to the painted wooden board with metal staples. Many of the metal rings were suffering from corrosion and rust and some links were missing. When the items were sent to our Conservation lab, our conservator Andrew rearranged tangled links and cleaned the metal with a sponge and stiff brush.
Of the twenty small pieces, a handful demonstrating the different mail types were chosen for the new Metalwork display. One substantial piece of fine mail was arranged flat on the left side of the board, rather like a half-folded T-shirt, but in fact consisted of a tube that opened out into a flat piece. Perplexed, we consulted the experts. Staff at the Royal Armouries were very helpful and Thom Richardson, Keeper of Armour and Oriental Collections, suggested it was part of C17th-century pajama zereh (mail trousers), worn by an Indian Mughal warrior.
Next, Andrew considered how to create a mount that would both support the mail for display and illustrate how it would be positioned on the body. Using a template from the armour, and based on his own leg, he made a liner out of calico, and filled it with polyester wadding. After padding it out to form a rough leg shape, he then tacked the mail to the calico with cotton thread. Research indicated this is not too dissimilar to how the armour would have been worn, as it would originally have been sewn to fabric trousers. Mail armour can adjust to many shapes and is very heavy, so this mount should support most of the weight and hopefully help visitors understand how it was worn.
You can see just how much work has to go into preparing just a few objects. You will be able to see the mail armour, alongside up to 200 other objects, in the new Metalwork display on the first floor this summer. In the meantime, you can still find examples of full mail shirts, plus various other armours (plate, lamellar, brigandine) upstairs on the Upper Gallery or here on our Arms and Armour site.
From the Worm Ouroboros, by E. R. Eddison, which I have recently been re-reading. I love that book and it is, no doubt, one of the greatest books of fantasy/myth ever written. Pure poetry in prose, and often, outright song:
She took the heavy volume with its faded green cover, and read: “He went out on
the night of the Lord’s day, when nine weeks were still to winter; he heard a great
crash, so that he thought both heaven and earth shook. Then he looked into the
west airt, and he thought he saw hereabouts a ring of fiery hue, and within the ring
a man on a gray horse. He passed quickly by him, and rode hard. He had a flaming
firebrand in his hand, and he rode so close to him that he could see him plainly. He was black as pitch, and he sung this…
In keeping with the theme of the post immediately before this one something else that occurred to me this morning. My wife was talking about how bitterly cold it has been around here lately (in the past week and how cold it will be in the upcoming week, especially for South Carolina) when I blurted out, “yeah, it’s colder than a Siberian witches’ tit.”
Then I thought about why he used to say that. My father used to say this all of the time when it was really, really cold, it was his go-to phrase to express “absolute coldness.”
Now I have studied folklore since I was a teenager, and one bit of folklore that has fascinated me since I was a kid were the tales of Baba Yaga.
Baba Yaga is not Russian, she’s actually Slavic (probably) in origin (at least as Baba Yaga), and her tales are spread…
Back in early January, out of nowhere, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp posted previously unseen concept art for a new Alien movie that he’d been tossing around in his head. Needless to say, the art was received quite positively on the Internet, with images ranging from Ripley wearing a space jockey helmet to another one of Ripley and Hicks. (Needless to say, Sigourney Weaver, who Blomkamp just worked with on Chappie, is a big part of his vision.)
So, what exactly are these?
On Tuesday, I met with Blomkamp, who is promoting Chappie (the full interview will run closer to release), at his New York City hotel room and asked him about this art. As it turns out, there’s a very real possibility that Blomkamp may actually be making a new Alien movie, and it sounds like the ball is very much in his court.
Where did this Alien concept art you posted come from?
Basically, what happened was, when Chappie got heavily into post-production, I could take my foot off the gas a bit. I was thinking about what I wanted to do next and I’ve been wanting to make an Alien film for like years and years.
But you’ve never really said that before.
People have heard you say that you don’t want to make an existing franchise type movie after what happened with Halo, before District 9.
That’s still true, by the way.
So that’s why it’s surprising that you want to do Alien.
Speaking to Sigourney Weaver, when we were doing Chappie, she set off a bunch of thoughts in my head — I had come up with an idea that didn’t have Sigourney, it was a different idea. But I spent all of the shooting time with her, it was like, holy shit, that could actually be really interesting. When I came back to Vancouver, I had an entire year to work on Chappie. And when I wasn’t needed in the edit, I could think about Alien. So, I basically developed an entire movie and I did all of this artwork as well.
Is this an abnormal way to go about this?
It’s totally abnormal. But it’s for the reason that you bring up, if it’s going to happen, it has to be on my terms. So, I came up with it and I’m bringing this to you. It’s not like, “Would you like to do Spider-Man 36?” I still love it, I love the idea of the movie and I produced way more art than I put out.
The art was very specific, it looked like a complete story. Ripley is wearing a space jockey helmet.
It was a whole story. Then I just wasn’t sure if I was going to do another film, like, at all.
Sometimes Hollywood just sort of gets to me. I love movies, but Hollywood itself is a difficult animal to negotiate. So, then I was like, if I don’t do any, I should put some of this artwork out and that’s exactly what happened.
Is that you giving up on possibly doing an Alien movie?
It’s not really giving up on the idea.
People on the Internet responded really well to that artwork.
There’s a high possibility, a high degree of chance that it happens that I go back and try to get Alien made.
In case it never happens, why is Ripley wearing a space jockey helmet?
I can’t tell you! It might happen! It’s cool though; it’s really cool … I’ll decide soon.
Someone at Fox should listen to you about this.
That’s not the problem, actually.
What’s the problem?
Me. I’m the problem. Fox, they would make it. Like, tomorrow. They would make it.
So if you called right now and said, “OK, done.”
Yes. Then it would happen.
Would it be your vision, or do they have their own ideas?
No, I think it would work out.
Then just do it.
I know, I just have to mentally agree with that.
Then what’s the problem here? I assumed there were obstacles, like maybe Ridley Scott wasn’t on board.
Twice now I’ve tackled various map-making problems. On January 16, I wrote about creating a world map. Then on January 28, I wrote about creating the map of a country. Today I’m going to talk about creating a city map and (bonus!) designing buildings for fictional worlds.
Both of these topics are meant to be simple overviews to help get you started. There are lots of books and articles out there if you want to get into more detail, but it also starts to get pretty technical. For the most part, if you use a bit of common sense and put some thought into it, you should be able to create a city (and/or building) with few problems.
The old classic board game “RISK” has come back to life for the Xbox One. If you arent familiar with RISK here is what the game is about. Ubisoft’s Risk game introduces “Iris,” an artificial intelligence “whose mission is to give tactical guidance” through tutorials and feedback. She tell you that the world is at war and its up to you to take it all back. The entire world is up for grabs for claim as your territory but it all depends on strategy as any classic board game you should know that is it a must. Are you ready to take over the world?
I tried to play Seasons today. It seemed like a game that I would enjoy. Seasons has a decent rating on BGG as well. It has a 60 min playtime. I like that too, but felt like 2 hrs to set up and learn rules (which I still didn’t completely understand). To me it seems as if the designer(s) asked themselves, “How can we make Magic The Gathering into a 2-4 player board game and make it even more complicated?”. MTG is already way too complicated for me. I’m not going to say that Seasons is a bad game. I didn’t even play it. I’m at a point in my gaming where I don’t want to spend more time figuring out the game and setting it up then actual play time. If I played with someone that was an expert at the game, I would probably enjoy it. I feel…
I’m not new to the world of Terra Mystica. Although my strategic and tactical prowess on display would likely lead you to think otherwise, I have played my fair share of this mighty game and I thought it was about time I passed on the news of just how gosh-darn good it is.
Last year myself and a couple of other guys dipped our toes into this very deep and unapologetic spreadsheet-em-up in order to play in a local competition. We had several late nights playing the real cardboard version and the basic but otherwise excellent Java-based online version in preparation and in the end I managed to at least keep up with my opponents when the time came, not a win but I was still proud of my modest achievement.
Problem: Tiles have to be uniform and tessellating.
This one gets a little technical, so I’m gonna go ahead and hand it over to my assistant.
“In mathematics there are many types of tessellating patterns. Board games commonly use regular periodic tessellations, patterns that repeat and use the same shape. Hexagon and Square are the most popular tilings in modern board games, used by such major games as Catan and Carcasonne. Regular periodic tilings are often known as grids (square grids or hex grids) because the are homogenous regardless of scale. Notions of “direction”, “diagonal”, and “orthogonal”. However, asymetric non-periodic tessellations exist as well, and with them their own notions of “directional physics”.” -Mackenzie Cameron’s Assistant
A simple question: would Risk be as fun played on a grid? I submit that it would not! While Risk might suffer from tedious gameplay, it’s board is actually fascinating in all it’s little…
HabitRPG has changed my life. Let me tell you about my life. Back before I started doing HabitRPG, I didn’t even have a life. I was arranging houseplants for a living. The job description said that I watered and arranged plants, but that wasn’t true. I just arranged them. Mikey did all the watering. I had no friends, no ambitions. I had nothing. I had a crippling video game addiction and a rotating collection of free and discounted houseplants that I just kept drowning and replacing out of boredom and misdirected aggression.
That all changed the day I found HabitRPG. On that day, I knew that with enough incentivizing, I could do anything. I knew I’d found the tool I needed to turn my life around.
You see, I’ve had a controller in my hand since I was five years old. Success doesn’t even make sense to me if it…
When you hear about role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, you probably picture a dimly-lit basement filled with people in silly robes rolling dice, but there’s much more to it than that. Not only are role-playing games incredibly fun, but they can actually teach you skills you’ll use in the real world.
When I first heard about role-playing games, I immediately thought it was something that was just for the nerdiest of nerds out there. I could only imagine how ridiculous it would feel to sit around a table with other people and act like someone—or something—else, pretending to fight goblins and dragons. The entire premise just sounded way “too geeky” for me—even as someone who was way into video games and other “nerdy” things.
Fast forward a couple years, and I found that I was completely wrong. As soon as I took a moment to strip away the facade of monsters and swords, role-playing games revealed themselves to be something far more interesting than other traditional games. Behind the fantasy adventures was a fun social gathering that required you to think on your toes, solve problems, be creative, and ultimately learn how to become a team player. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s because it’s like every job out there. It turned out that it really wasn’t about the dungeons or the dragons at all—it’s about thinking critically and working like a team.
Now I indulge in role-playing games as often as I can. It’s nice to have an escape from the toils and troubles of the real world, but with every game session I play, I find that I actually learn something as well. Maybe it’s about myself and the way I think, maybe it’s something about one of my friends that brings us closer together, or maybe I just find a new way to look at something that I hadn’t thought of. I’ve learned that role-playing games are about more than playing a game, and more importantly, that they are for everybody.
Playing Cultivates Creativity
Creativity is the bread and butter of role-playing games. They have a certain quality that allows you to transcend typical game interactions. You have real freedom and the ability to move the story forward how you see fit. There are rules for each game, but they are merely the skeleton to whatever story you and your team want to create.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to activate our brains, and role-playing games do this incredibly well. When we tell stories—or experience them—our brains have to process language, the cause and effect of events, and also relate it to our own pre-existing experiences. While you’re playing a role-playing game, your brain is firing on all cylinders.
It’s good for you, the same way socializing or reading a book is good for you. In fact, as Jon Michaud of The New Yorker explains, reading comes with the territory:
…D. & D. is a textual, storytelling, world-creating experience, a great apprenticeship for a budding author. But, more fundamentally, you cannot play D. & D. without reading—a lot. Ed Park, in an essay on D. & D. (included in the anthology “Bound to Last”), celebrates the magnificent vocabulary of the game… Combined, the player’s manual, the Dungeon Master’s guide, and the monster manual (the core books of advanced D. & D.) add up to four hundred and sixty-eight pages of small-print, double-column text. I read them with studious devotion and headlong glee. Almost immediately, television all but disappeared from my life.
Before Michaud started playing, he spent his days watching TV while his grades were plummeting. As soon as the fantasy of D&D came into his life, however, that all changed. Michaud even goes so far as to say that Dungeons & Dragons “saved his life” because it got him on a better life track after reading more and finding something that excited him. Perhaps it won’t save your life, but it can still enhance it. As you play, you’ll develop creativity in a way you might not have experienced before. Whether you’re running the game as the “Dungeon Master”—controlling what happens to the players—or simply playing as one of the characters, your storytelling ability will increase.
Dungeon Masters—also called Game Masters in some games—must be particularly good storytellers. Even if you’re using a pre-made adventure with most of the work already done, you still have to be ready to come up with dialogue and personalities for the non-player characters, and be able to vividly describe the world your players explore. As a player, you have to find ways to make your character more interesting by creating personality quirks or a rich backstory.
Role-playing games force you to draw from what you know and create something that you and others can enjoy. A lot of famous creators have been influenced by Dungeons & Dragons as well. Comedian Stephen Colbert, writer George R. R. Martin, comedian Robin Williams, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and Community creator Dan Harmon all played at one time or another. Storytelling is the one of the most basic creative skills that you can draw on for so many other skills, and being a good storyteller can even make you a more charismatic person. Dive in to another world and see what kind of cool stuff you can come up. You might surprise yourself with what you come up with.
When you think Dungeons & Dragons, you probably don’t think social skills—but once again, that’s a stereotype that doesn’t necessarily hold true. Role-playing games are 100% social. You need to be able to talk to other people, express how you feel about certain situations, all in a group of people. Role-playing games come with a social network built directly into them.
Sure, to an extent, video games do the same thing—but it isn’t quite the same. Role-playing games bring the interaction right to your face, no screens between you. Plus, you get to hang out with your friends. Before and after a play session, you can catch up with what they’ve been up to and share what’s going on in your life. Once you know the rules for a particular game, you can easily make new friends too. You can hop into other game groups and make new friends; the process being easier because a giant plot of common ground is right out in the open. Making friends when you move can be really tough, but you can hit up a local game and hobby shop to see if there are any groups looking for more players.
This engrained social network can be particularly helpful for kids too. Making new friends can be more difficult for some people, and the forced social interaction of role-playing games can help them find people that share their interests. Additionally, kids and adults alike can use role-playing games to combat shyness. Players are given a mask in the form of their character that allows them to feel less vulnerable. Using my characters as a vehicle helped me feel more comfortable talking to others. Over time I got over shyness and felt comfortable cracking jokes and starting conversations on my own. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being shy, but for those that do want to get out of their comfort zone a bit, role-playing games can offer some help.
Playing Encourages Teamwork and Cooperation
Most role playing games don’t end in a “win” or a “loss”, but they still require teamwork. The events depend on players’ actions, just like any other game, and failure to work with other players will guarantee a not-so-fun time. Role-playing games are designed from the ground up to be cooperative and it can be a lot of fun to play a game where there are no winners and losers.
A lot of games strive to be competitive, but life can be competitive enough, and role-playing games provide a refreshing change of pace. Additionally, learning to be a team player is highly important in the professional world. You take on a role at work and do the things that you’ve trained to do, and it works the same way in a role-playing game. Your character normally has a particular skillset, and that fills a role on a diverse team. Just like at work, if you don’t do your job, the whole team can suffer for it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that role-playing games are as serious as work. They can just help you learn the basics of working with others. You get a feel for how you handle interactions in stressful settings. Maybe you’ll find that you’re a good leader, choreographing a perfect battle where nobody gets too hurt. Or maybe you’ll find that you’re more of a support-type, ready to jump to someone’s aid when they need it. Perhaps you can just think outside the box better than your peers, and figure your way out of complex situations. There are no good or bad roles, just the roles you can fill. By learning to play with a team, you can learn how to work with one.
Problem solving is what makes the world go ’round and role-playing games are filled to the brim with it. Layers upon layers of problems stand in front of you and your fellow party members. You could be trying to solve a riddle, while navigating a labyrinth, while deciding the best way to take out a band of goblins, while trying to solve a murder mystery, all while preventing a dark lord from taking over the kingdom. Talk about problems.
Role-playing games and their campaigns are problem after problem, all just barely solvable. As each event of your game unfolds, you’re forced to think on your feet and react. You develop some improvisation skill and feel a rush whenever your group finds a clever way to tackle a tough problem. In fact, some of your most memorable moments will likely end up being times that you felt like your back was against the wall, but you managed to pull through using your wit.
Learning how to solve problems develops your critical thinking and can help you approach problems in the future with the right mindset. In role-playing games you’re simultaneously the chess player and the chess piece. You learn to see problems from multiple perspectives and realize that there’s always a light at the end of the dark, goblin-filled cave.
Playing Is Fun
Seriously, playing role-playing games is an absolute blast. Try this: Imagine a time in your past that you did something that felt a little silly. Maybe you were at a party, or maybe you had a couple drinks and hit the dance floor at a wedding. Something you were worried about being embarrassed about it at first, but as soon as you gave in, it was some of the most fun you’ve ever had. That’s what role-playing games are like.
Half the fun is letting go of the heavy world around you and playing like you’re a kid again. You sit down at that table and suddenly you’re running around the playground, having adventures and saving the world. Can you honestly say that fun like that isn’t for everybody?
How to Get Started
Getting started can be the toughest part, but there are some things you can do to make it a lot easier. Unfortunately, there’s no way I could even come close to explaining how to play all of the role-playing games out there, but I can point you in the right direction.
First, you want to find a game that would interest you. The world of role-playing games can be very overwhelming, but it also means that there is literally something for everyone. If you like sci-fi, there’s plenty of that. If you like fantasy, there’s plenty of that too. Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Super heroes, Lovecraft, zombies, aliens, Star Wars, wrestling… You name it, there’s probably a role-playing game for it. Heck, I’ve even played a role-playing game based around the movie Mean Girls (and it was, like, so fetch). So don’t worry if Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t sound like your cup of tea.
Do some research and see what you can dig up. Google “[thing you like] role-playing game” and you might be surprised at what you find. Certain games are going to be more popular, however—which means it might be easier to join or start one of those game types—but see what you can find that excites you. If you’re not into the world the game is portraying, you’re probably not going to enjoy yourself. As far as recommendations go, check out Fate, Pathfinder, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Call of Cthulhu, and (of course) Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition. You can even get a large taste of what D&D is like without paying a cent. If you’re still lost, hit up a game and hobby store and ask around. You’re sure to get more recommendations than you’ll what to do with.
When you find something that interests you, see what materials you need. Most role-playing games require that you at least own a copy of its player’s manual. Some games may require additional books as well, so make sure you’re getting what you need. These books can be very expensive—usually $40 and up—and the go-to, Amazon, won’t necessarily hook you up. Shop around online and check local game and hobby stores to find the best deals. You can also find digital versions of almost every current game and those can be significantly cheaper. There are a few other things you’ll need to play as well:
DM or GM guide: The Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) usually can benefit from having this additional book.
Dice: You’ll usually need more than the standard six-sided (d6) dice. Some games require sets of their own special dice. Always check to see what you need.Character Sheets: You can normally find these in the back of the player’s manuals, but you can also find them on each game’s web site for free.Pencils:Not pens—especially if you’re just starting out.A table: The more space you have for books and character sheets the better. Some people like to use grid mats and figurines, but they aren’t completely necessary.People: Alas, you cannot play these games alone. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s not nearly as fun. Two people will work in a pinch, but a group of four or five tends to be way more fun.
Once you have all of those things, you need to read. A lot. Role-playing games require some investment. The rules for each game can be complicated, and even though you shouldn’t let rules be the focus of your game sessions, you should get a basic idea of how they work. If you know someone that knows how to play, ask them to teach you! They’ll likely be glad to show you the ropes. They may even have their own group and invite you to join, even if it’s just for a few sessions so you can learn.
In the same vein, it doesn’t hurt to ask around if you’re looking for a group to play with. If none of your current friends play, ask around your local gaming stores. A lot of stores have regularly scheduled sessions in-store, and it’s a great way to learn to play without having to buy a rulebook or convince your current friends to come play with you. At the very least, someone might be able to point you in the right direction. You can also find playgroups online. Web sites like Meetup.com can help you find other people in your area that are interested in playing the games you want to play. It never hurts to check out the forums of big role-playing game publisher web sites—like Wizards of the Coast or Fantasy Flight Games—in search of players, either.
Lastly, if you’re having trouble understanding how things work, YouTube is your friend. You can find countless videos of real gameplay and rules explanation for whatever game you’re interested in. Watch a few games and you’ll start to see how the flow of a game should feel. This can be especially helpful if you want to run the game too.
Role-playing games are fun, exciting, and can actually help you learn a thing or two. So get out there, find a group, and don’t let the concept overwhelm you. Ease into the games and you may even make some new friends along the way. Role-playing games really are for everyone, especially you.