Octopath Traveler Teaches Us How to Be Better at Tabletop Gaming

Octopath Traveler is a JRPG that wears many hats, including being a teacher with lessons on how to be a better tabletop gamer.

Octopath Traveler is an amazing series. With its stylistic graphics and intense gameplay, it has become part of a kind of renaissance for RPGs, and it’s a great time to be a fan of this particular genre. But when I played Octopath Traveler, I was struck by something else. It was an element that I found when I was impressed by the characters within the story.

All the characters are obvious archetypes with stories riddled with the usual tropes. Therion is a thief with a secret heart of gold, Cyrus is an oblivious super genius, and Olberic is the stoic no-nonsense blunt instrument. What made these characters work was a combination of acting and some of the swerves the stories take. But what I ultimately took away from Octopath Traveler (apart from a hell of a good time) is a greater appreciation for storytelling when it comes to tabletop gaming.

I came to this realization when I had crafted a character for my gaming sessions with my friends. I had subconsciously enhanced him by playing Octopath Traveler. The way the game is structured gives a tutorial on building classes. Each character is focused on one class, one speciality. This gives you the opportunity to see how these kinds of character archetypes work. After all, even though Octopath Traveler is an exemplary title, there are a lot of elements within the game that have been around since the beginning of the genre. Then, when you’ve got a strong enough grasp on each character class, whether it be Ophilia’s Cleric job or Olberic’s Warrior job, fans of TTRPG have a lot to be inspired by here.

Octopath Traveler is a JRPG that wears many hats, including being a teacher with lessons on how to be a better tabletop gamer.

Then comes the Shrines that allow for the fabled secondary jobs, which give players a taste of multiclassing in TTRPGs. Trying to figure out the various combinations and which will make for the greatest character is absolutely brilliant. My partner and I actually sat down one day, discussing multiclassing and jobs for hours on end, culminating in her building a chart. That sense of depth transfers effortlessly to TTRPG.

Within the game mechanics, there are also inspirational lessons. With each unique skill that the characters of Octopath Traveler bring to the table, there is a reward/risk situation. The game gives you a percentage chance, similar to what happens when you roll the dice. These various situations dotted throughout Octopath Traveler can give TTRPG players inspiration for when they put their characters into cities and towns. How will you handle a man who wronged many people? Perhaps you’ll use a Warrior skill and duel him. When you need a particular item will you use a Thief skill? Or will you go the more noble path and use the Merchant skill, buying the item instead?

Octopath Traveler is a brilliant title, one that is built on the foundations of the greats. It transcends the genre in what it has done for me and possibly for others out there. It is a perfect teaching tool for young gamers looking to learn more about the genre, and also an excellent resource for seasoned players looking for inspiration. I highly recommend Octopath Traveler for those looking for a creative kick in the butt.

About the author

Graham Day
Graham has been writing online for close to a decade. This includes writing about games, books, films and so much more. He loves stories of all kinds across every form of media. For the Escapist he tries to come up with his own unique angles on the stories we adore. He was born in Dublin, Ireland and has been an actor, an amateur animator, writer and artist. He also runs his own website based in Ireland.