The Sims as a Tabletop RPG Gateway


My 12-year old daughter, the geekier of my two kids, has begun experimenting with tabletop RPGs. Over the holiday break I decided to spin up the Sims 4, a game she's pretty obsessed over. I played the Sims once a gazillion years ago - I think the one I tried was the Sims 2 if I recall correctly.

For those totally unfamiliar with the franchise, the premise is it is a life simulator type of RPG. You create one or more characters or "Sims". Your Sim has various traits that you can decide and by completing various aspiration quests you can build up more traits. You manage money, your Sims' social lives, hygiene, careers, relationships, eating, bladders, etc. 

One thing I found as I build up a household is how much of the skills a player develops in playing the game are applicable to a tabletop RPG. I've built up a household from a single Sim who got married, had four kids, a cat, and a dog. The initial stages of play are like a low-level D&D game - living in a crappy house or apartment, probably controlling just a single Sim, etc. As the Sim forms relationships, advances in his or her career, has a family, etc., the game begins resembling domain play as you juggle the resources of the family - keeping spouses relationships' solid, attending to kids' physical and social needs, maintaining a career, not getting out of shape, etc.

Unlike your typical tabletop RPG there's not really combat (your Sim can get into a fistfight) but social interactions, whether trying to secure votes for a politician or get into a romantic relationship, are very much akin to your typical tabletop RPG combat in the strategies one must follow.

It's of course not a perfect mapping into tabletop RPG, but I could easily see a Fate or Apocalypse World Engine life simulation where the characters live out gonzo social lives in communities with nary an orc to be seen (though possibly a vampire or alien...)


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