RPGs come in all kinds, but one particular distinction that bears paying attention to is if the game lends itself better towards mission-based play, or a more sandbox style approach.
Mission-based games are those that often have the player characters taking on a specific role relating to a group of PC types that are meant to achieve X goals via Y means. Games like these often invest a lot of time and effort playing up the group that the players are meant to be a part of, to instill a clear range of acceptable behaviors and actions. Some examples are:
- In Flames by Greg Saunders – Features the Player Characters as the Exiles, a group of individuals working for a being calling itself Ghede to fight against abusive individuals known as “Barons.”
- Eclipse Phase – At its default level assumes that the player characters are part of Firewall, a secret organization created to combat extinction-level threats.
- All For One: Regime Diabolique – Assumes that the player characters are all part of the Musketeers, fighting against the darkness that is sweeping over France.
- Part-Time Gods – Has various factions, but certainly no unifying group and “mission” behind their existence. The Player characters find themselves blessed (or cursed) with the divine spark of godhood and have to find out how to live in this strange new world of godhood.
- Legend of the Five Rings – Is a game that is definitely broad enough to accommodate various sandbox themes. While one could argue that a game about Duty, Honor and Sacrifice is bound to be mission-based, there’s arguably plenty of room for sandbox style play where one can track the life and significant events of the lives of the various Samurai.