Roleplaying games are games of the imagination played by a group of people, usually on a regular basis. (Those computer adventure games called 'roleplaying games' are a pale imitation of these, which lack the very things that make roleplaying games so wonderful. Roleplayers can't really complain about computer gamers stealing their term, since we stole it from psychologists in the first place.)
In a roleplaying game, a bunch of people collaboratively create an adventure story, but one where no one knows how it's going to end -- so it's halfway between creating the story, and living it out. One of us (usually Frank) is the Gamemaster, and creates a world or setting (just like an author about to write a fantasy or science-fiction novel), and populates it with people, beings, and events. Everyone else creates a character in that world, essentially one of the heroes of the hypothetical novel. Then the Gamemaster describes a situation the characters are in, and their players decide what they do in that situation. The Gamemaster determines what the result is, as well as what all the other people and beings in the world are doing, and describes the resulting situation. When this is repeated enough, the result is an interesting story, and much fun had by all.
Frank is the author of the following roleplaying game products, which are available for free here:
Prism: a free roleplaying game you can use for just about any kind of game.
Prism Skill Trees: Updates to Prism including skill trees and other features for v2.
Lens of Pvara: a worldbook for the world of Columbia Games' Hârn fantasy world, for Prism.
Edison's Optics: a steampunk genre/worldbook (for the world of Space: 1889TM or other steampunk settings) for Prism.
Small Spacecraft Combat Rules: Independent from Prism, but they also work together.
RealTime: Playing Against The Clock , the only roleplaying game played in real time. Inspired by the hit show 24 and the movie Nick Of Time. It's a very rules-light game with an emphasis on pulse-pounding action and time pressure.
Stonepunk: a rules-light game set in the "modern Stone Age". This game was intended to be used for action and adventure, not for sitcom comedy, but the association with the world of The Flintstones convinces most readers that it couldn't be played 'straight'. It seems the whole setting is inextricably tainted by the ghost of Jackie Gleason. Thus, Stonepunk has been abandoned.
Duel Of Swords: Actually this was written by an unknown party or parties back in the mid-80s and used on Q-Link, but this is Frank's write-up of those long-forgotten rules. They simulate fencing without dice, and using an incredibly simple and easy to learn set of rules that nevertheless provide significant strategic richness and room for skill.
See also software for roleplaying games from the Download page.