Our History

Read about our rich legacy of over 30 years of running tabletop roleplaying games for both youth and adults

About us

The Roleplay Workshop was created in 1989 to use the strengths of tabletop role play gaming to work with adolescents. As a teacher at Archway School in Oakland, Becky began creating the world of Abantey as a personal project. When her students found out what she was working on, they wanted to participate. She ran games as an extracurricular activity for several years, and eventually opened an independent business with both summer and school year programs.

In 2005, the programs expanded to offer evening gaming for older teens as well as adult program alumni. Over the years, the adult program has expanded, introducing not only non-alumni to our game, but also adding other role play systems, including CyberPunk, Serenity, and Burning Wheel.


An amazing audio piece for KALW by one of our alumni, Rafi Ronquillo.


A video about The Roleplay Workshop created by one of our amazing alumni, Cody Flowers.


Read real testimony from parents and students from our youth program.

From Players

Abantey was the first camp I went to where being smart and a little weird was just normal.

Rayna L. October 30, 2016

You make friends with your party, it is never boring because you never know for sure where your choices or your party’s choices or the GM will land you and it is fun. It doesn’t get any better.

Sarah L. October 30, 2016

The Roleplay Workshop taught me more life skills than any other program I was ever a part of – without ever knowing I was actually being taught. As a teen I learned to work together with others to solve things that as an individual I could not solve myself. As an employee, the Roleplay Workshop taught me to how to be a leader and, most importantly, it taught me responsibility. In a safe and understanding work environment, I got the skills I would need to get, and hold, a job in the outside world.

Forrest J. October 30, 2016

I have to say that my time at Abantey was a huge transformation for me. After working as an assistant I realized a certain amount of responsibility. I ended up leaving the program due to my schedule but I definitely grew as a person. I think that one of my favorite things about the program is the mixture of a role playing game and the sports that they play after lunch. Not only is it fun but it teaches the students that they need to balance their lives with nutritious diets and exercise.

Aidan Meyer October 30, 2016

I consider my time at Abantey — both as a student and as staff — to be one of the formative experiences of my adolescence. It taught me new perspectives and modes of thinking that broadened the way I tackle problems and approach the world as a whole. And I had a blast doing it.

Eric Livak-Dahl October 30, 2016

Becky is as creative as she is conscientious in making the Roleplay Workshop an incomparable experience for all its participants. As a past participant and staff member, I highly recommend the program to parents/kids/teenagers interested in a completely unique experience that combines learning, hands-on teamwork and fun!

Elliot Pepper October 30, 2016

I was playing a game with Becky, and in describing something my character was doing I unconsciously started to switch out a larger word in my head for another simpler, less precise word. I had picked up from various social pressures that I wasn’t supposed to be smart (in general, but especially as a girl), and I had responded by changing how I talked without even realizing it. Becky was (is!) a wonderful role-model who showed me that it’s a good thing to be a smart woman, and provided Abantey as a place for me to develop the self confidence to show others. I finished my sentence, probably missing a beat, with the original word, and made a point of never censoring my intelligence again.

Lucy Gelb October 30, 2016

Abantey is the only program I’ve ever experienced that offers the adventures of fantasy with a game realistic enough to be believable, but creative enough to allow you to do anything reasonable that you can imagine. It allows you to create a character and follow them through the amazing adventures of their lives while training and learning. I wish I could put into words all that Abantey can offer your student. Abantey is built on a foundation of physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and the other sciences. The students create characters that tax their imaginations and creativity as well as their mathematical skills–from probability to computation. The students then have to interact, cooperate, and problem solve to work with the other students to accomplish a goal. It not only works on natural and social sciences and math, it works on social skills and simple everyday decision-making. Abantey was not only my favorite activity for much of high school, it was the single program which gave me the desire to learn. It motivated me to challenge myself with Advanced Placement science courses and it enabled me to directly apply what I learned. I cannot think of a better program for students. It was a great after school and weekend activity that I enjoyed more than any other and at the same time it was a major cause of my academic motivation and success. I cannot stress how much Abantey is to thank for my successes.

Seiji Carpenter October 30, 2016

Abantey has helped me greatly. I have learned to work better with people, improved my problem solving abilities, and, it’s lots of fun. As I got to where I am now, I started learning leadership skills. The longer you stay in the system, the more you learn.

Ben Gratch October 30, 2016

I have learned a great deal about responsibility from Abantey, as well as how to relate to young kids and to other employees. Because of the nature of the game, I also have had a lot of practice in such subjects as math, biology and geology.

Chris Schoch October 30, 2016

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From Parents

I will continue to recommend the Roleplay Workshop because I’m certain that Abantey provided a very important developmental framework for Gabe analytically and ethically which contributed to his ability to make good choices for himself and to be a positive leader.

Edie M. October 28, 2016

This is one of the best after school, summer and school holiday programs out there. Our son started when he was 8 or 9, he’s 15 now. He still enjoys the small groups, honing his math skills, teamwork and lots more. Becky, Steve and crew are great with kids and love to teach. I’d recommend this program to kids who enjoy stories, creating characters etc.

Nancy T. October 28, 2016

My teenage son has participated in The Roleplay Workshop over the past 7 years. Over these years, he’s attended ongoing Saturday sessions, school holiday workshops, summer camps, camping trips – never losing his enthusiasm for the game. The creator and director Becky Thomas has crafted an extremely creative, interactive game where kids have great fun and at the same time improve their social skills – learning about communication, cooperation and consequences of behavior. This is a win-win for both kids and their parents! Becky is very tuned-in to kids of all ages. Her background as a teacher is evident by the way she treats the kids – she has expectations of responsible behavior and the kids live up to her expectations. And they still have fun! I highly recommend The Roleplay Workshop for anything from the after school program to summer camp. Becky is even available for one-on-one tutoring in math and science. What a great resource for families with school age kids.

Cynthia K. October 28, 2016

Becky is brilliant, and has created a wonderful role playing game and educational environment that has positively affected the lives of countless young people. My now-college son participated in the Roleplay Workshop for over six years, and it was one of the most important and formative experiences of his youth. He learned to be imaginative, collaborative, and responsible, and had the time of his life, too! He also made wonderful friends, both boys and girls, kids who shared his interests and sense of fun. I am so, so glad we found the Roleplay Workshop, and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Toni L. October 28, 2016

In this era where parents are looking for safe after-school alternatives for kids, Rebecca offers a refuge filled with characters and missions in her challenging interactive storytelling game. She has guided shy kids to be appropriately assertive and aggressive kids learning to “tone it down”. She’s helped young people with attention disorders learn to concentrate and sparked imaginative kids who are frustrated with school. My son learned to work collaboratively and Abantey gave him an awesome creative outlet.

Barbara G. October 28, 2016

The absolute best thing I can imagine for teens. Becky, Steve, and all of young leaders are awesome!

Sean N. October 28, 2016

The program is super engaging and creative. Becky and staff enrich the creative minds of the lucky youth who attend the program. Not only are the kids engaged, but they learn collaborative problem solving and critical thinking skills. An amazing antidote to screen and boredom.

David W. October 28, 2016

My son enjoys the after school program with a bunch of kids from school, and is looking forward to summer camp with a friend. He loves it! He gets more excited about this than video games, and that it really saying something, since this is about the only thing he’s into that doesn’t involve a screen. Abantey involves math, writing, and lots of creativity. It’s also a great way to make friends and build social skills. There are always day camps during school breaks and if that doesn’t match with your schedule, Becky will even organize something for kids on their own holidays.

Whitney W. October 28, 2016

Absolutely the best camp for a kid who likes to be creative and stretch his imagination! The workshop is an amazing place for children to be creative while learning school skills like math and having fun. They learn life skills of working with others and strategizing. Again all while having fun. They don’t even realize they are learning anything. My son went on weekends and summers for 4 years and still talks about it fondly. Two years after his last sessions at Abantey, he has taken up drawing to make figures for a Roleplay game, has worked with friends to develop a whole Roleplay game and has started a Roleplay club at his high school to continue developing his game. I can’t thank Becky, the owner, enough for nurturing him and his creativity. She and her staff are exceptional. We are trying to figure out how to squeeze a week or two into his summer schedule to attend; we will figure it out.

Linda B. October 28, 2016

My 16 year-old twins have been loving Abantey for 4 years now. Becky and Steve are great with the kids and the game is very exciting. If your child (age 12 and up) loves fantasy, adventure, and roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons, then they will probably love Abantey. Abantey is an interactive storytelling game that: a) teaches students math, science, and problem solving skills, b) allows youth to work through complicated mysteries to create their own story, c) teaches youth personal responsibility both in the game and in real world using fantasy scenarios, d) allows youth to experiment, succeed, fail, and learn in a safe environment that teaches about real life consequences, and e) is *completely* computer and technology free with a focus on interaction between players and making new friends,.Abantey was created by a classroom educator, but my kids think it’s just plain fun.

Toni B. October 28, 2016

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