What is an Organized Tabletop Roleplaying Game?

By Jason Neigh

Most people are familiar with tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs) and especially with the internationally published Dungeons & Dragons from  Wizards of the Coast or  Pathfinder from Paizo; there are home groups of friends playing ongoing campaigns of various RPGs around the world all the time.  However, fewer people are aware that some publishers have organized playgroups, for example:  D&D Adventurers League and the Pathfinder Society. Events for these groups exist in game stores, libraries, colleges, conventions, and even some home games are operated through them.

In the simplest terms, an organized play group forms to allow many players a simple way to play continuing characters together at any open group adventure.  This is most common at gaming conventions because it is where their structure is most efficient. Pre-written adventures from the organization are designed to be self-contained and played in about 4 hours with the characters not expected to stay together at the conclusion. 

Organized playgroups are not exclusive to publisher-backed groups. Other play groups have developed on a smaller scale.  A chronological series of examples: CosWorld, Caladonia, and Kysie, Returned were the result of a pair of conventions held by the  Circle of Swords Gaming Guild in Butler County, Pennsylvania.  Cos-Con is held in the Spring and its “sibling”, Sib-Con in the Fall.

For many years the world of Kysie was home for the adventures of the gaming group CosWorld, a part of the Circle of Swords until it was retired in a seemingly fatal collision with a comet.  Player characters were able to escape the destruction by travelling to another world, known as Caladonia.

Several years after it was destroyed, Erik Fry asked a simple question: “What if Kysie wasn’t destroyed by the comet?” This led to many discussions about what it’d be like a decade later, why it still exists, and what happened to the characters we know left?  All of these ultimately created Kysie, Returned

In 2016, Erik wrote and ran the first adventures while Kysie returned to the gaming table with a mix of past and new players.  The following year, at the first Slippery Rock-Con, I became the second writer and Game Master (GM) for the group to share the table responsibilities and allow us to support twice as many players simultaneously.

This series of articles will discuss organized roleplaying, with a specific focus on the development, play, and growth of Kysie, Returned.  My next article will address why and how you should (not) be involved with organized play; from views of the player, GM, and organizer.

Thank you to Jason Neigh for writing this article and allow us to post it. 

You can check out more about Kysie, Returned at http://www.kysie.org/