If you’re reading this then you too probably love Role-Playing Games. I’m not talking about those computer games where you are given 3 different answers to a question but the game still goes down the same path. I’m talking about table-top role-playing games with paper, pencils, and dice. (Although some of my younger players now bring laptops to the gaming table!) Ah, the smell of a fresh boxed set campaign setting split open with fresh polypropylene polyhedron dice rolling about the table while players finish filling out their crisp character sheets. Soon those sheets will have holes worn in the HP box where the pencil eraser has dug a groove big enough to shove your finger through. The gear section will be a list of hundreds of items that the character couldn’t possibly be carrying, but that’s what magical bags of holding are for. Pass the greasy chips and the horribly enamel eating caramel colored carbonated beverages, it’s D&D. One of the three reasons I’m alive.
Let’s dig right in with a brief history lesson starting with 2nd edition AD&D. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition, although highly beloved to me- was confusing as hell. Thac0? What the heck does that mean? To-Hit-Armor-Class-Zero. Try explaining how the combat rules work to new players and they won’t even want to play anymore. The game sessions we played were amazing (and lasted 20 years!) and the classes cool, but it was lacking in certain areas such as customization of ones character and rules that didn’t make sense regarding skills (non-weapon proficiencies). 2nd edition was also around for a LONG time. From 1989-2000 2nd edition dominated and TSR reigned. Then came Wizards of the Coast and their card game Magic the Gathering.
Magic the Gathering was such a successful game that Wizards of the Coast not only dominated the entire gaming industry but took the crown from the company that started it all; Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s TSR was sold to Wizards of the Coast in 1997 for $25 million. Wizards revised the rules of D&D while retaining many of the key players from TSR (RIP) and moved them to Renton, WA. (Luckily I live in Western WA so my friends and I used to dumpster dive at Wizards of the Coast and save artist sketches and prototypes for maps, magic cards, and D&D products.)
In 2000, 3rd edition came out; Followed by 3.5 in 2003 which made some revisions to the rules to make the game smoother. This game has been played by nerds the world over and caused even us old hardened gamers of yesteryear to fall in love with Dungeons and Dragons all over again. The best thing about these new rules is that some gamers get so obsessed with the them that they memorize them and can recall various obscure rules at the drop of a hat. (We have such a player in my gaming group named Alex.) What a pleasure it is to DM a game where when a rule comes into question, Mr. Alex instantly has the correct response for the situation at hand.
I am a strong advocate of “role-playing” rather than “roll-playing” and when the rules don’t make sense or get in the way of the story I am all for throwing them out the window. What Dungeons and Dragons (or any RPG for that matter) is about is losing yourself in another world and enjoying the creativity, the role-playing, and the fantasy. It gives one the opportunity to play a character that they might not normally be comfortable portraying in everyday life. You can be an evil tyrant, a pure priest, or an honorable warrior. Anything is possible in D&D and anything can be attempted in this game. There is no end unless your character dies.
People look at me weird when I say I play Dungeons and Dragons. I think it’s my age, most folk can never believe that an adult would continue to play a “game”. I truly believe that this game has kept me fresh and alive. It gives me a creative outlet (outside my band) to act and play the role of many different characters. I also get pleasure out of seeing players get actively involved in the game at the table. The best is when my players get up and start jumping around getting completely lost both in the game and their characters. Many popular actors such as Vin Diesel & Wil Wheaton are D&D players and still play to this day.
I’m not done yet, I’ll continue to both play and blog about D&D until the day I die.
“Here’s to Derris Strongsword, Alin Durqua, Taku Okimiya, and Iendelle Greenbottle!” (Jonathan raises his mug of Dwarven Ale and promptly dumps it all over his non-existent Dwarven beard)