The RPGA, or Role-Playing Game Association was an "elite" (read: retarded) group of screaming dipshits masquerading as an Organized Play group that ran "official" events for Wizards of the Coast back in the glory days of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. They were known for having bullshit rules that were intended to maintain DM Fiat rather than good storytelling or development, a userbase that was renowned for screaming bloody murder about anything non-core (if you dared to bring up the Expanded Psionics Handbook, alternate settings, or - god help you - house rules to cover blatant bullshit like the Rope Trick Bunker of Doom, then you were guilty of extra heresy and were to pay the price for it). RPGA DMs were utterly humorless and were likely to go Black Leaf on your ass (in real life) if you pissed them off. It's sad, too, because there's some legit (if rare) good to emerge from the RPGA as well.
Thankfully, due to the fact that the RPGA was one of the worst things ever conceived by a company in the history of man, it provided some of the best and most hilarious targets of field-tested lulz you will ever see in your entire life.
Fifth Edition did not see this miserable wretch of a group return, possibly because of the taint surrounding the name. Instead, Wizards brought about the Adventurer's League to do their Organized Play business.
Synopsium and Origins
The RPGA started as a means to field-test official game modules, host official events, and even have several tournaments (yes, we're serious) regarding the "official" settings at the time, which meant Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk. d20 Modern was insanely rarely run in it, even though there was overpowering demand for it - the RPGA's core, after all, was organized by Wizards of the Coast, so naturally they promoted the settings they wanted to do well a fuck of a lot more than the settings that players actually enjoyed (see also: WOTC's pathological inability to sell Ravenloft (after suing for the rights, winning the suit, then failing to actually do anything with them no less), Spelljammer, Dark Sun, three of the most popular settings in the history of PNP RPGS). On the plus side, the events of the RPGA led to some successful player groups down the line, and there was some cool prizes (mostly things iike points for discounts on books and shit), but the main reason the RPGA existed can be boiled down to three reasons:
- A potential way for WOTC to advance its products and advance the plot in its settings (which never happened, before or after the Edition jump, unless you count those depressing Forgotten Realms fans who probably need a pillow after that ass-fisting).
- An Interesting, half-decent way to meet new DMs/Players, all whilst potentially winning cool stuff. Of course, a lot of this was off-set by the fact that an overpowering number of the people /tg/'s neckbeards met in the RPGA joined the RPGA specifically because they didn't have the social skills to find a regular, consistent game, something that, even by the neckbeardy standards of /tg/, is not hard to do. Seriously, it was hit-and-miss. You'd meet a few cool people there, and the rest of the place was populated by people strongly resembling Chris-Chan.
- Blatant E-Penis flogging. If you participated in official events, you would see utterly-humorless players and DMs who were ALL ABOUT their DCI score. Picture arguments over gamerscore on XBox Live. Now make it centered around D&D. You can now take pride in that you will never, even should you LARP from now till Velocirapture, ever be as soul-scarringly nerdy as the mental image you just imagined.
Naturally, whilst reasons #1-2 are pretty valid reasons (flaming stupid aside) for RPGA membership, that last one basically guaranteed that for as long as the group existed, it would be mercilessly trolled by /tg/, and left a burning pile of hilarious FAIL. Even if you didn't consider reason #1-2's failings (which were many).
Why It Sucked (and still does)
Elitism run berserk. Even by the standards of /tg/.
One of the most infamous examples of the RPGA's idiocy was its entrance exam. This was an annoying, incredibly wonky test filled with a bunch of obscure, bullshit information that even the most neckbeardy of Neckbeards would be hard-pressed to know back in 3.0/3.5 without consulting a pile and a half of books. The quiz itself was online, and you had to score 100% in order to pass it. There was a second, similar exam, for "Senior GMs" who wished to run things at RPGA events. Humorously, the exam itself was, for the most part, unnecessary - any moron wandering up and attending the event could join the RPGA, no questions asked, just by paying the admission fee and getting a card, making this little entrance gap somewhat pointless. No real explanation for this was ever really given; the most common believed reasoning for the quiz was that at the time, lots of people were joining and never actually becoming involved in the RPGA, and - this is the funny part - apparently having all of those inactive members doing things like be on a player list and able to participate in the RPGA community if they so chose was dipping into resources and budgets, so they had to put a stop to it.
Fuck. The Quiz wasn't retired until Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, too.
...And the rules. Sweet sexy hermaphroditic Jesus, the RULES. Some highlights:
- No Evil Characters. At all. Ever. If you did an evil act, you were reported. Not only could you not not be an evil alignment - you could not worship an evil deity, even if its worshippers included neutrals (such as Vecna, Wee Jas, or Nerull). If a character committed an evil act, such as attacking another player character, the DM was required by the RPGA to report it directly to an RPGA bigshot, called a Triad. If the Triad decided this act indicated a change of character alignment to evil, then the character would be permanently removed from the campaign with no ability whatsoever for appeals. Many of the RPGA's brain-genius operators exploited this, using Charm spells/helms of opposite alignment/lycanthropes vs. low-level characters to fuck over players they didn't like, or to defend players they did. See Examples of Play. Later on, you weren't allowed to run Chaotic Neutral, either, since a time-honored practice of /tg/ veterans was to run CN mercs and rogues who were only in it for the cash, working out interesting situations and webs of intrigue as the campaigns progressed (often winding up with players backstabbing one another). RPGA DMs did not approve of this. Or attempts to go off the rails in a boxed-set adventure. This rule is in force to this day - WOTC, much as TSR did under Lorraine Williams, just don't like evil.
- Although D&D 3.0/3.5 was designed for characters up to 20th level and even beyond, characters automatically retire at 16th level (originally it was 18th). Conveniently, this prevents any spellcaster from getting the usual arsenal of make the world blow up spells that causes spellcasters in 3.x to be D&D's easymode, while at the same time ensuring that unless they salvage lots of good magical gear, warrior-types will be useless in contrast by virtue of never having sufficient money to upgrade (offset by the fact that they'll at least be able to find decent gear). Mind, characters in RPGA events are persistent, provided you keep them in the same universe (so Greyhawk characters could be used in other Greyhawk settings, but not FR), meaning that it was possible for a character to get stronger along a career, but you'd still be auto-old-folks-home'd the second you reached 16th level.
- All new characters must start at 1st level. Always. No matter what. Originally only races and character classes found in the Players Handbook were allowed - no prestige classes, no splatbooks or expansion books. This only ended much later, about the advent of 3.5, wherein the Complete series books were considered to allow players to play non-Prestige Classes included in those books, like the Hexblade and Warlock. Unless the module specifically called for it, non-standard races were never allowed, unless a player got some kind of special benefit to do so, such as an infamous /tg/ player who in Forgotten Realms got a card to create Kobold character and then proceeded to run Pun-Pun, getting himself banned from the event.
- To try and maintain "some balance between the characters and adventure encounters, and also some fairness in the powers and abilities of the characters", some character classes, all of the prestige classes, numerous magic items, many weapons, and several spells were banned from play. Additionally only new items, spells and powers found in books published by Wizards of the Coast were allowed in the campaign, and only if the campaign specifically called for it.
- To prevent characters from going through enough adventures and the like to actually get decent prizes out of the WOTC, the RPGA featured a time unit system (each Adventure costing 1-3 time units, and sometimes more), and each character could only participate in 52 time units of events per year.
- If a character died and the player was unable to resurrect them during or following the adventure for any reason (expense+teammates raiding your body, your corpse being destroyed, etc), then that character was removed from the campaign. A dead character could not be resurrected or otherwise brought back to the campaign at a later date. Abused ruthlessly by dick RPGA GMs. You have no idea.
- No mature setting stuff, homebrew, or third-party books produced under license. Before or after the 3.5 jump.
These are just a few of the big rules, but there's a shitload more.
It's worth noting, now that we've mentioned Ravenloft, that you understand one little facet of it. The company that secured the rights to Ravenloft was sued by WOTC, who claimed that it had put out Ravenloft material first. Ignoring, for a moment, that this company had several Ravenloft books out and that WOTC never had any, Wizards of the Coast did, indeed, eventually release Ravenloft stuff - but only for the RPGA.
And it was for fucking Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. Raptor Jesus wept.
As bad as the RPGA was during 3.X era with this (and it was awful), and as bad as they were with banning people, the RPGA was still ten shitloads worse during the days of 2nd Edition. But that is a horror for another time.
Suffice to say, they, like the faggots that ban 99% of the shit in a game of Super Smash Brothers and claim that it's a superior fighting game now that they've rendered maybe 4% of the cast viable (when the real reason is that they lack the testicular fortitude to play something more manly), are not playing the same D&D as the rest of us, and they deserve to be ruthlessly mocked and trolled for much the same reasons.
Leaping Wizards - The RPGA in a Nutshell
The Spoony One from The Spoony Experiment was an RPGA DM once, and ran a few adventures at an RPGA event once which he kindly recounted for us on an episode of his show, Counter Monkey. The adventure called for a potential random encounter with a trio of level 1 NPC wizards, all with Magic Missile - a laughably easy encounter by 2nd Edition standards, since they had one level 1 spell per day, and even if they hit the same target for max damage, it wasn't very likely they'd kill it. Spoony, a bit miffed that the bulk of the adventure thus far had been specced in such a way that it was easymode the entire way thus far - especially when half the group ran highly optimised Clerics, causing them to steamroll encounter after encounter - decided to set up the encounter so that it actually had something resembling a challenge to it - one Wizard took Sleep, one Charm Person, and one Ray of Enfeeblement. Cast in this order (and with a masssive amount of luck), the first disabled four people (including the clerics), the second sicced the party rogue on the fighter (who pretty much one-shotted the guy), and the last fucked up the last man standing so bad he became overencumbered. Two wizards kept wailing on the warrior while the third murdered the clerics in their sleep. The ambush from these three Wizards caused the deaths of roughly half the party. The RPGA overseers at the event were furious with the fact that Spoony caused PC deaths, and called him to task for changing their spell loads, and they revoked Spoony's GM privileges.
Trolling the RPGA
Trolling the RPGA is fun and easy, and if you hate the sort of faggotry they've inspired over the years, there's plenty of ways to do something about it. Here's a few of /tg/'s time-honored favorites:
- Join the RPGA, then play a Capstone character. This only works in some events now that 4th Edition's arrived, but the general gist is to run a character with a 100% EXP penalty. This is not hard to do, but the general idea is to run a character who starts in one class, then at a given point, starts multiclassing out the ass. The idea is that by level 15, you have a character with a 100% EXP penalty and who cannot gain levels, but can run around forever securing more and more treasure, items, and wealth. This inspires much delicious anger from RPGA DMs.
- Play a pacifist monk who lights himself on fire, any character with Vow of Poverty from Book of Exalted Deeds (if you can slip it past), a Diplomancer character, or any class build that's hard to play but is certifiably capable of driving DMs into explosions of white-hot-rage because you refuse to fight your way through an encounter.
- Play anything remotely approximating this, or something openly racist or xenophobic.
- Find a way to play any "power" build using regular classes and allowed spells to rape every single encounter. It isn't hard. If you have some benefits or the campaign allows it, you can always run Pun-Pun.