Preparing for The Game - An Interlude - D&D Part 1
~note - part 1 was written last week~
I write this as I am preparing for a good game of Dungeons and Dragons.
I am taking a moment to recognize just how many hours of fun, imagination and socializing has come from this; really just a game of words. No more visuals than an occasional illustration from the Monster Manual or a hand drawn map come into this game. It’s something that is absolutely spectacular. It is all based upon numbers, written rules and what you can come up with on the spot. There are no screens, computers or controllers. Pencil, paper and dice create the ultimate table top.
A lot of preparation does go into this game. As I said above, there are rules... A LOT of rules. I mean, 3 official books worth. And if you include the current fifth edition campaign sets… there’s a lot of books. Generally speaking, there are some basics to go by; and if you buy the 5e Starter Set you see that there isn’t much more than two pamphlets, dice and character sheets to run a very fun game, full of hours of entertainment. So, the rules thing may be based a bit on perspective. But, that’s my point, really. All of this is coming from one person (me, since I DM) reading the books. I swear it. None of my players OWN or have even read, beyond some player specific sections, ANY of the books. We rolled characters, went over combat and out of combat rules, studied the class/race abilities and went to town. How crazy is that?
While this isn’t much of a blog post, more of an interlude I suppose, the reason why I write this is because I am just overwhelmed by the amount this game has influenced my friendships over the past few years. This is my fourth campaign that I have been running for more than just a few sessions, and even while some players skip the occasional game, or we all miss a week, in general it is an every week game that has been running for months. I'm sure I would be running a second game if all our schedules would have worked out.
I wish I could show everyone what happens to the players when they play. It all becomes real and vivid, even though nothing is taking place beyond what we say. I don't use game maps, just maps that hang on the DM screen for reference. Yet, it's all so real.
When a PC goes down, we all actually worry. And while players may not believe it, I worry most of all. For two reasons: 1. I am afraid that they will think I have done it on purpose; perhaps they'll be mad at me, or think I have it out for them. 2. A PC death means A LOT more work for me. I have to figure out how and why the group meets the new character, what to do with the old body and soul (yes, people can come back from the dead or be met in other realms in this game). And beyond all that, something that comes AFTER the fact to me is: what if the player was so attached to their PC that, if they die, they no longer want to play?
I want my players to succeed more than they want to succeed. Success generally means fun, but it also means my story and my part in the game is moved forward. I don’t hate the fact that sometimes my players get stuck in a dungeon for multiple games, I mean I made it and they are exploring every nook and cranny. No, even a month’s worth of dungeon delving can be fun, but I like it when every week I have to further the plot. When my players enter a new town, or meet a new villain, that is when I am at my happiest. When my players finish a section and leave the game saying, “I can’t wait to see what happens next week” and “I hope X happens” or “I can’t wait until I get to do Z”, it’s a real joy.
Bringing all of this together, I have been wondering if maybe I should start writing specifically about our game. It is so interesting to all of us, maybe it would be interesting to others? I guess we'll see about that. For now, I just want everyone following these silly posts to be informed that although D&D may have a stigma, some of those stereotypes aren't true. As someone who has been playing for some years now, I have noticed this game to be coming into fashion a bit. Whether that is thanks to the internet letting everyone know how much fun it can be through podcasts, online videos and blog posts, or if it is due to the fact that fifth edition seems to have opened the tabletop rpg up to casual and intense players alike, I am not sure. Either way, I am glad because it means more people to play with and more resources to pull from.
Thanks for hearing the rant.
--DM f.h. out