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

The lessons I learned at The Roleplay Workshop as a player covered topics from the conventional–statistical analysis, physics, and storytelling–to the transformative–resilience in failure, improving from mistakes, and, most importantly, working with others towards mutual success.  It’s an experience I would be lost without and I can’t recommend it enough.

Marco G. October 30, 2016

I grew up attending The Roleplay Workshop and I can’t possibly express how positive an impact it had on me. Becky and the others immediately made me (a very shy 11 year old at the time) feel not only comfortable, but welcome.

I looked forward to every session during the summer; getting to game every morning and play frisbee in the park every afternoon left me with some of the best memories I have. The confidence and social skills I built up at The Roleplay Workshop have served me for the last 12 years (dang it I’m getting old).

Hudson O. October 30, 2016

As an alum, I couldn’t be happier. I learned a lot… especially with regards to math/statistics, problem solving, and increasing social skills. We’re not running around killing bad guys, we’re facing problems where fighting might not be the best option. Plus it’s in a really cool location and we got to play ultimate frisbee during our lunch breaks. Love this place.

Daniel L. October 30, 2016

I spent several years at The Roleplay Workshop starting when I was about 10 and they were first getting started. It had a profoundly positive impact on my life. It taught me a great deal of social skills and provided a fantastic creative outlet. Much love to Becky and Steve for creating such a safe and encouraging environment for budding young minds.

Jordan B. October 30, 2016

I was among the first teens lucky enough to get to experience The Roleplay Workshop, back in 1990-1992 when Becky had recently developed the game. Learning how to roleplay taught me so much and gave me the opportunity to improve my storytelling, problem-solving and math skills… not to mention my self-confidence. Best of all, I got to express myself creatively in a highly supportive environment, have an enormous amount of fun while learning great skills, and make wonderful lifelong friendships. I look back fondly on my years playing Abantey and wish that I lived close enough to Oakland to send my own child to roleplay workshops here someday.

Tekla R. October 30, 2016

I’ve participated in Roleplay Workshop programs for about ten years. I started as an elementary school student attending the summer and winter break sessions, and now I play in one of the weekend game groups for adults. I highly recommend this program to adults and adolescents who are interested in storytelling.

Abantey is pretty different from the typical RPG experience because it only exists as part of a single, small, local business. All Abantey games are run by a few select people who have the ability to coordinate with one another, led by the amazing Becky Thomas, who designed the game system and created the fictional universe in which the game takes place. The great advantage of this is that all the games take place in one huge, internally consistent world. Events in one group’s game, including the decisions of the players, can be integrated into a larger storyline that influences other groups’ experience. Advanced players can even be involved in events that affect  the future of the entire world. Part of the game manual is devoted to major historical events and legends of the world, most of which come from actual games and many of which were written down by the players themselves. For me, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of Abantey.

Playing Abantey has also been a beneficial social experience for me. As a shy teenager, my afterschool game group was one of the only environments where I felt comfortable with a group of other adolescents.

Hannah D. October 30, 2016

Just great learning and fun! The best summer camp for your child, by far! Just straight awesome!

Ben J. October 30, 2016

I’ve grown up going to Abantey every summer and pretty much every other weekend for almost 8 years now, and I have no regrets whatsoever. The whole thing is incredibly fun and is run incredibly well by Becky, Steve and all the other staff. Even beyond being the best activity of its kind (and maybe even of any kind) out there, it’s taught me a lot about interacting with other people and being more independent. So thank you Becky and all the other GMs for drawing me out of my shell and giving me a pastime much better than video games.

Charlie C. October 30, 2016

Abantey is a great workshop for all roleplaying game fans, especially middle school aged.

Alexander October 30, 2016

The best weeks of my summer were spent at Abantey! An amazing camp, with amazing people! Abantey: The Roleplay Workshop was one of the greatest things I was ever forced to do by my mother. I fell in love with the game and with the people. I made friends at a camp for the first time ever, I learned critical thinking skills that I use every day. I’m 20 years old and I still love Roleplay Workshop. I was introduced to the world of roleplaying games with this camp and continue to play them now, making friends, going on amazing adventures, and telling stories.

Dina October 30, 2016

From Parents

My bright twin boys love The Roleplay Workshop. It is highly educational as well as multidisciplinary but they just think it is fun.

Jan G. October 28, 2016

My son loved Abantey. Really immersed in the game —couldn’t stop talking about it when I picked him up from camp!

Michelle G. October 28, 2016

My son is going back for his second time this summer and can’t wait. He loves The Roleplay Workshop – including all the math, detailed “world” rules and information he learns and the game itself. Each game lasts one week, and each table has one game team. It’s similar, I think, to D&D, with heavy science and math and a lot of fun too.

His creativity, critical thinking and sense of adventure are all activated during the camp. He’s also getting better at frisbee (they take the kids out once a day for a long break to work up a sweat at a local park).

I will be signing my kid up for extra weeks this summer. Just fantastic.

One note, it’s mostly boys. Seems to not be as exciting to girls, but when girls sign up, they get the best characters. And of course, rule the board since they are natural strategists. – Jenny S.

The Roleplay Workshop has been the perfect extra-curricular activity for my 17 year-old as he has a very creative intellect and he is not particularly into team sports.

This program provides the socialization and teamwork you get from team sports, while building on problem-solving/mathematic skills and allowing the kids to be creative. My son has been attending for 6 years…even though we moved from Oakland to the suburbs a couple years ago, my son still wanted to continue, going two Saturdays a month and summer camps.

Only negative I can come up with is that parking can be difficult on Piedmont Ave…

Becky and her crew are terrific.They are dedicated to providing a safe, fun atmosphere to help kids mature outside of a school environment. I know some people perceive role playing games as some bizarre thing that nerdy kids do but when done well, as this outfit does it, it can be a very valuable experience. Do your kids a favor and get them off the computer and over to the Roleplay Workshop!

Daphne A. 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.

Olivia T. October 28, 2016

My son has been involved with these workshops — both afterschool and summer programs — and they have been great. They are well-run and he’s had a lot fun. Highly recommended.

Joan W. October 28, 2016

My son has attended The Roleplay Workshop (Abantey) for the last 2 1/2 years, since he was 10, and absolutely LOVES it.  He goes as many weeks in the summer as he can and also on Saturdays and holidays during the school year.  It is a truly a unique and creative camp – which is not captured by the rather serious name of “Role Play Workshop”  and  I just feel so fortunate that it is practically in our backyard.  If your child likes imaginative play, and/or likes to make up games s/he will really like this.  The kids create their own characters and go on missions in a wholly created, very imaginative world.  And it’s all done with an aim to emphasizing positive values and problem solving.  Math and other skills are slipped in too.  I agree with another reviewer that Becky, the long-time director, is brilliant with kids and teenagers.  The kids love and respect her.  I can’t say enough good things about this camp.  During the summer, the kids also go to the park at lunch and play ultimate frisbee so there is also time for running around.

Karen K. October 28, 2016

The Roleplay workshop is simply an excellent program. My son loves and it always asks to come back. Also, he has learned many leadership skills and made new friends.

Elizabeth C. October 28, 2016

My twelve-year-old son has been “doing” Abantey after school and on school holidays for  a couple of years now. He loves it! He fantasizes about the adventures all week in anticipation of the next session. A boy who “hates” teachers, he idolizes the camp director, Becky, despite the disciplined behavior she expects of her charges. I think this program appeals to kids who like video games, as well as imaginary adventures.

Hannele J. October 29, 2016

Direct from my teen – “It was really fun and I really enjoyed it” – can’t get any better than that. Great real time fantasy role play game that has nothing to do with computers.

Hilary G. October 29, 2016

Fantastic opportunity to be with others and think while playing!

Marina October 29, 2016