Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dungeons & Dragons

The game has a sort of enduring quality about it. I'd always wondered at how something that was so obviously a waste of time managed to continue to commercially succeed. I hadn't really given it much thought until this morning.

Y'know those "get to know your Friends" app games on Facebook? They utterly fail to enlighten me about the people I hang out with when compared to sitting at a Dungeons and Dragons table. Can you really tell a lot about a person by whether they decide to be an Elf or a Gnome, a Fighter as opposed to a Paladin? Not really. What about Alignment? Is the person who chooses to play Neutral Evil and the person who plays Chaotic Good saying anything about the person they truly are inside? Nope.

The people who play multi-class or dual-class characters? Getting warmer I think.

Leaders and Followers? Sure, any social situation will root out those people whether it's a Super Bowl Party or the original Undermountain Module.

Imagination? Duh. Obviously someone who is a sinking pit of banality would have no use for such a diversion.

Like no other diversion, Dungeons and Dragons showcases a person's ability to be humble. They spend a great deal of time developing a precious character, that is to take part in the story, and be entirely at the mercy of a single potentially angry Dungeon Master. People who lack humility are far and away the most difficult people to have at a D&D table. The twin sister to humility is clarity, especially as it relates to one's self.

No one who lacks great personal clarity will be able to suspend their own belief either as a Player or a Dungeon Master and play the game well. When I rate myself in either role, the moments where I saw myself most clearly was when I was able to best pretend to be someone else with the greatest skill. This made me ponder the part of Dungeons and Dragons I like best. Storytelling!

Far and away, the best stories I've ever told, came from a mindset that was humble to an audience who likewise possessed a similar clarity. That feeling of wellbeing seems to amplify to all involved in ways that really dispel why humans gathered around campfires telling stories to begin with. Really there was never any true doubt to the motives for storytelling, but I spent a long time being blind to the truest benefit.

As fun and colorful as online games can be, they utterly lack the human closeness that comes with building the warmth of a good story, around the fire of even better friends.


  1. I've been interested in the game for a long time, probably since Matt introduced me to it one afternoon over a decade ago. I've purchased and pored through books from several editions of the game, created many characters, and participated in a few sessions here and there, but never really found a group of people to game with. I think I have a hard time opening up to the story and the character when surrounded by strangers. My self-consciousness is crippling to me.

  2. I had no idea you had such ambition Chris. I remember playing Talisman with you and Shiloh in the basement of my parent's house. Those are treasured memories.

  3. Some of my best memories are playing D&D with friends. :-)
    I sometimes miss the all nighters, chugging sodas, chowing on pizza and wondering where we'd be when the sun rose.