What is a d20 Game?
At its core, a d20 game is a collaborative, team game, where all of the players create their own characters, and work together to complete adventures or stories that the ‘game master’ provides them. You don’t ‘beat’ your companions or the game master, and the game master isn’t trying to kill your characters, or beat you. It’s a collaborative story. A role-playing game played side by side with other people. You triumph, or die, together.
d20 games take a lot of time and effort to run, but the pay off can be enormous. These are the kinds of games, stories and experiences you remember fondly for years–sometimes decades. It’s a fun, social, memorable experience.
But, why is it called a d20 game? For the dice. These games are played with a collection of dice that have different sides than your standard six-sided die. There’s d4s, which look like little pyramids, d6s, which are your standard box-like dice, as well as d8s, d10s, d12s, and d20s. d20s are the dice rolled to determine success or failure in most circumstances. If you make an attack against an enemy, attempt to jump out of the way of a trap, or try to sweet-talk the guards into letting you go free, you roll a d20. These little dice will soon have a special place in your heart (or at least in your dice bag)!
There are a lot of different d20 games out there, some more popular than others. The most well-known (and the start of all d20 games!) is Dungeons and Dragons, which hs gone through many different versions of the rules over the years. My personal favourite is the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. There’s also Starfinder, a sci-fi roleplaying game, and many, many more, including A Game of Thrones and Call of Cthulhu. There are also versions of d20 games which utilize d6s instead of d20s, like The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game, and BESM: Big Eyes, Small Mouth (2nd Edition), which is a wonderful system for playing any anime you can imagine.