Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Why Dungeons and Dragons?

One of the classic covers from the 80s.
So you might be wondering why I decided to delve back into tabletop roleplaying. There are three big elements that appealed to me.

The first was the surprise and vitality of creating a story in a group environment. One of the biggest issues I have writing fiction is the lack of interest with the story after I finish writing the first draft. I find it very difficult to go back and edit and reedit the story. Part of the reason for this is that there are no further surprises in telling the story. With a tabletop roleplaying game you never know what can happen. You’ve got other players at the table playing a variety of characters that may do something you’d never expect. And a good DM will be crafting the story as it plays out around the character’s actions. So even if you think you know where the story is going, you are usually in for a surprise – not just as a player, but also as a DM. Because even though a DM is creating the adventure, the players always change everything.

Never argue with a well
armed rogue.
The second also goes back to editing. As a DM you tell the story a single time with the group of players (unless time travel is involved). There is no need to go back over the whole tale again to perfect dialogue or make sure a plot twist is foreshadowed well enough. This also means you need to be doing some of this on the fly while the game is happening. But that can be a thrilling experience. As a DM you don’t need to get every detail perfect for the game. But the game does encourage fleshing out aspects for the world for the players to discover. You focus on molding the tale to make it more engaging to all the players. It becomes a living thing, evolving over time and the need for editing is much much less.

The third reason to get back into the hobby is that the adventure results in immediate feedback as the story is told. The DM gets to see and hear immediately how the story evolution impacts the other players. You can tell when they engaged and having a good time, and you can tell when they are feeling like the tale is slogging a bit. This lets you adjust things on the fly, crank up the challenge or change up the way things are going if the players aren’t engaged. Best case scenario you everything trucking along because everyone is having a good time.

Don't even think about
tossing him.
As a player there is a lot of enjoyment when you are exploring the story, impacting it in surprising ways and engaging with other players to flesh out the story. As I mentioned before, it helps if you can easily imagine and put yourself into the character’s mind, but there are plenty of players content to just absorb the story and battle monsters when needed.

Each of these ended up enticing me to return to tabletop gaming. I ended up picking Dungeons and Dragons because it has the largest player base, the rules had been streamline in real attractive ways and I love a good fantasy adventure. So the time seemed to be right to try it again.


El Vox said...

I've never played, but have always thought there was something attractive about it, partly that it's played socially, which is always a perk. This is the sort of thing that would be a pretty big thing in smaller cities, and I guess it is. They play over at the local comic shop here, but I feel like an outsider and stranger as the people playing are so much younger. The other thing is, I don't know squat about it. Perhaps there's something like that for computer or a gaming console I should check out.

Richard Bellush said...

The graphics in our own heads are always the best.

Also, besides the social aspects, the tactile (even the olfactory) element is missing online. I like to play pool on a real table even though I'm nowhere near as good at it as I am on a digitally simulated one.

Roman J. Martel said...

Well my next post is going to explore how much the game changed from the last time I played it back in the 1990s. There are ways to play online and it is much more like a video game in some ways. But our local hobby shop does do Monday night D&D and it is open to new players.

I am playing online and I have to say at least a couple other players are about my age or even a bit older. I can tell by the movies and music they are referencing. :)