RPG with Friends, Family, and Strangers


Dr. Lisa Su states that “Gaming brings people together.”

There are benefits and drawbacks of playing RPGs with people we know versus people we don’t. There are advantages and disadvantages to gaming with the people we are closest to, and the people we’ve never met. This article discusses playing RPGs with friends, family, and strangers.

RPGs with Friends

Playing with your besties is usually the easiest way to go. There’s a standing Friday or Saturday night game at your favorite bar or basement, so no one must think of where to go or what to do that night. It’s already pre-planned!  Here are the pros and cons of playing RPGs with your friends.

Advantages to RPGs with Friends

  • I know this firsthand. RPGs have brought me closer to friends, especially during difficult times. RPGs can build relationships within a campaign.
  • A cohesive group is stress-relieving and a lot of fun to play.
  • Having an establish playing time (weekly, monthly, etc.) will keep players in touch with each other.

Disadvantages to RPGs with Friends

  • Conflicts can happen and players can have hurt feelings. It’s worse if players take sides.
  • Gaming only with friends prevents others from joining the RPG circles.
  • It can be awkward and affect the friendship if one or more of the players leave the group.

RPGs with Family

At a family gathering, especially if members are stuck inside due to inclement weather, RPGs can be a lifesaver. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of gaming with beloved family members.

Advantages to RPGs with Family

  • A good RPG session can replace awkward conversations, steer away from sensitive topics, and avert unnecessary family drama.
  • The rules in RPGs use a lot of math, which is a great review for all participants.
  • A good storyline is a good opportunity for bonding with family members. Nothing keeps the family together quite like a good RPG battle!
  • This is a great multiage activity, as 9-year-olds can play along with grand and great-grandparents! Both tweens/teens and seniors can be hard to entertain, so it’s a great time to introduce them to RPGs.

Disadvantages to RPGs with Family 

  • Time constraints can prevent a good gaming session.
  • Figuring out who will be the DM and which game and version to play could be problematic.
  • If there are too many players, it could be difficult for the DM to handle.
  • Unless characters are created in advance, learning the game can be challenging.
  • Some family members are hesitant/reticent to use technology like D&D Beyond, so, you may want to team up a non-techie person with someone who is comfortable and patient.

RPGs with Strangers

            This one is a tough one for me, but recently I’ve had a change of heart. A couple of people who I didn’t know previously joined one of my groups. It turned out to be a great experience! Here are the good and the bad when gaming with strangers.

Advantages to RPGs with Strangers 

  • Gaming with strangers livens up a session and a potentially stagnant campaign.
  • Strangers in RPGs can quickly become friends.
  • Unless one of the strangers is a rules lawyer, strangers are usually easy to play with, as they want to fit in.
  • If you are gaming with strangers at a Con, if the game is not going well, you can always leave.

Disadvantages to RPGs with Strangers 

  • When bringing a new player into the group, the dynamic changes, and not always for the better.
  • If the player does not fit in well with the group, it can be an uncomfortable experience.
  • If you are gaming with strangers at a Con, it’s four hours of your life you won’t get back.

Do you prefer to play with family, friends, or strangers? Please share your experiences!