For some time now, I’ve wanted to write a post about Dungeons and Dragons. Actually, about role playing games in general since I migrated towards Pathfinder after Fourth Edition left me cold (yes, I’m fickle, I’ll own that. But if you want to bait-and-switch my pen and paper game with some sort of bizarre attempt to replicate the video gaming experience, so be it. I’ll wield my Sword of Fickleness +3 and sever the ties between my wallet and a company like a hobgoblin hacking limbs off peasants.). But I’ve been stumped about what to write. So I’m gonna amp this up with a lot of memes. A lot.
The internet is chock-full of people who can debate mechanics and tactics with a ferocity to rival any courtroom drama. Although I can rules lawyer with the best of them and go full John Marshall on any munchkin, I don’t enjoy it. My real life is about arguing and debating, my fantasy world is about riding unicorns and leading armies. I don’t like mixing the two (although now I have this image of charging out against an army of orcs and hurling Monster Manuals towards them with grim intent; it’s funny in my head) because the result is the gaming edition of Marbury vs. Madison, and I horde all the power to myself. But I digress.
No, seriously, I digressed. And that cat-thing creeps me out. Seriously creeps me out. If it came strollin’ through my door, I’d grab my shotgun and start putting all the slugs in that freaky little long-furred tub of Grade A nightmare fuel.
I considered writing about my experience as gaming as a female, but the truth is, I don’t think that’s really impacted me–my gaming buddies tease that they forget my characters are women until I turn to the DM and ask, “So, the guard captain you just introduced, how hot is he?” And then the guys are all, “Wait . . . your character’s gay? Oh, never mind, you’re a chick–we forget.”
Really, though, all the guys I game with are chill. Ok, I did have one guy tell me that I play paladins wrong, but I think that’s because he always played paladins and anybody, regardless of gender, was going to play them wrong. He seemed a little concerned when I countered with, “I am a paladin,” while gripping my pencil like a dagger. He then felt it necessary to express some concerns about what his friend was marrying; but hey, I detected evil. What else was I supposed to do? Ignore it?
I got into gaming later in life; I was twenty-two when the Melion’s Then-Fiance-Now-Spouse introduced me to the world of D&D in an effort to stop me mocking him. Look, I’d read those Chick tracts–if I didn’t save him from the fiery clutches of Satan, who would? And the best way to save people is to berate them for their hobbies. That’s how to win hearts and minds.
So one day, the Melion’s Then-Fiance-Now-Spouse, in what was probably a plea for the poor man’s sanity, suggested I at least try the game before going into Righteous Indignation Mode™ over his beloved childhood hobby. Despite Jack Chick’s graphic warnings, I decided I’d give it a try. After all, what harm could one game cause?
And that’s how it started. One day, you’re hesitantly rolling up a set of stats, the next thing you know, you’re fantasizing about ripping open a blue dragon and reveling in the glorious warmth of its viscera raining upon you. No, that’s not a metaphor. It’s also a weird look inside my head. Hey, you were warned. I don’t call this blog “Delusions of Sanity” for nothing.
From a writer’s perspective, gaming provides an excellent opportunity to hone one’s creative skills. My problem, however, is that I am determined that the story will go where I want it to go. The. Story. Must. Happen. As. Melion. Says. For obvious reasons, that can make for a less-than-enjoyable gaming experience for your players. So gaming has really helped me think outside the box (ugh, I dislike that term, but that’s what I’ve got and that’s what I’m using), which has helped me learn to let my stories go where they want to go. It’s rather liberating, in its own way.
Can I say that gaming has had a profound impact on my life? Probably not. But I will say that I learned a great deal about myself through gaming. I’ve learned how I see myself and how I see the things which matter to me. It’s funny how in a game where nothing is really at stake, a character will still refuse to sacrifice the innocent villager because the player finds it abhorrent. No real villagers are in peril, no actual death or suffering is happening, but I just cannot bring myself to let the random unnamed NPC die even though it would make the quest easier. Nope. I just can’t. I’m that Lawful Annoying.
Unfortunately, I’m now addicted. I’m constantly hounding the Melion’s Spouse to create yet another gaming session. And when he makes silly excuses (Really? Since when was “being tired” an excuse? Or you “have homework”? Good grief, man, this is our marriage we’re talking about!), I have a list of game ideas all ready so I can run a game at the drop of a hat. To be honest, gaming as a couple is an interesting activity. In part because we’re students, so we don’t have a lot of money and gaming’s an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon together having a good time. And because it’s fun to create a story that’s a collaboration between the two of us.
Plus, now we have those crazy in-game stories that gaming groups laugh about for years to come. You know, like the time the rogue rolled a 1 on his sleight of hand check, so he tried to pick the noble’s pocket, but instead dropped his own pants in the middle of the market place? Or the time one of the characters failed a fortitude save on some psychotropic plant and spent the rest of the game rolling on the floor making pterodactyl noises while thinking she could taste sounds? Yeah, those things that only people who were in that gaming session will understand. The Spouse and I have quite a few of those.
I’ve also learned to not laugh at people’s hobbies just because I don’t understand them.
Also, after writing the caption for that meme, I realize there’s a good chance I’m also a crappy person. Today has not been a day of happy revelations.
Anyhow, that wraps up today’s meme-infested post. I’m always happy to share gaming stories if there are any gamers who want to tell me their stories down in the comments. And I don’t doubt I’ll be writing about gaming in the future (possibly in a post with more substance, if you can believe it). In the meantime, may your d20s all roll crits and may your rogue not lose his pants.