Fantasy wargaming is the ancestral hobby to role-playing games. An outgrowth of historical wargames using miniatures, it came to be distinguished by two characteristics. First, nonhistorical or even nonhuman troop types were used, such as Tolkienesque orcs or dragons. Second, players sometimes chose a specific heroic character as their avatar. The original Dungeons & Dragons can be categorized comfortably as both a fantasy wargame and role-playing game. Eventually, with the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons, role-playing games became a distinct hobby.
Most surviving fantasy wargames, such as Warhammer Fantasy, have a fairly "historical" bent in the sense of focusing on large numbers of figures, formations, morale, and the like. However, Mage Knight and Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures mark a resurgence in the field.
The distinguishing characteristics of a role-playing game are the player's adoption of a specific character as their persona and the idea that a character can take any plausible action rather than just specific maneuvers delineated in the rules. Traditional wargames have neither of these traits. Fantasy wargaming, as defined in the early 1980s, included many activities that would now be considered role-playing games.