Sometimes typing these up feels like writing essays. Funny enough, as a kid, I hated writing essays. This, on the other hand...I admit I had fun typing up this one.
So hopefully I'm not being graded here...
So, this is an essay about...Role playing.
Consider this scene:
In Mistress Si'Mone's Dungeon, Skyrizzi the thief listens at the door, but hears nothing. "All clear," he whispers.
So Vraylar the Dwarf and Sir O'Tezla of Primalast burst in...but immediately three ogres surround them! A roll indicates they have been surprised. "It's an ambush!" Vraylar cries. "Nothing on my skin, that's my new plan," Skyrizzi says to the game keeper, as he sneaks around the monsters' flank preparing for a back-stab attack. Eloquiss the mage barely has time to ready his fireball spell. Humera prepares a spell to lower their foes' ability to fight infections. Meanwhile Vraylar and O'Tezla prepare for some intense sword-playing action.
Several die rolls later, the three ogres have been vanquished. Vraylar and O'Tezla have wounds that need tending, so Humera the priest casts Cure Serious Wounds on each of them. Eloquiss gives each a healing salve, and after a search of the area, Skyrizzi discovers a pouch containing 124 gold pieces, and a jeweled amulet with mysterious properties that even Humera's arcane knowledge cannot fathom. (However, he soon realizes that Abbvie may be able to help.)
If only making money was that easy in real life. So, what's all this about?
When we were kids, we loved role playing games. I still have the old hard-cover editions of the Players Handbook and Monster Manual- the vintage first editions (the one with the big orange statue thing on the cover of the Players Handbook) and a pile of those polyhedral shaped dice somewhere. It's probably all boxed away at my parents house. Maybe I'll dig it out next time I'm out that way. We had hours of fun, after school, weekends, evenings with too much soda and popcorn (When we were too young for adult beverages. In college, standard gamer's fuel was Pabst and microwave corner-store burritos.) Though, through often questionable interpretations of the rules, our youthful characters almost inevitably grew to be hundredth level demi-gods with super powers, who could kill red dragons with a wave of their hands, because...why not, we were kids and it was fun to play super-heroes.
At some point though, typically when we got to high school, Dungeons and Dragons almost immediately became deeply uncool. Even a lot of the kids who had loved playing it as seventh and eighth graders now found it "nerdy." It was always weird how that happened. One minute it was what all the cool kids did, the next minute, if you liked D&D, you were some kind of geek, a social reject who wasn't cool enough to hang with the cool kids anymore. Some of us though, we still remained "closeted" Dungeons and Dragons freaks.
By college and beyond, occasional D&D campaigns would happen among various groups of friends. Only a few things were different. For one, we didn't care if we were "geeky" in fact, by college a lot of that stuff had kind of blown over anyway. Our game groups were a mix of the stoner types, hippie types, metalheads AND even a few of the more stereotypical nerds- all mixed together. The games were different too. It was more ROLE playing, becoming engrossed in the story line and the actual plot. The "Dungeon Master" (or game keeper, whatever they call it now) would put more work into actually coming up with a plot, and other fictional people for the players to engage with and interact with. And so, the characters got to do more than just roll a die once in a while. You were actually doing more real "Role Playing." In fact that was one reason a lot of our teenage and pre-teen D&D games got boring- "open door, kill monster, get treasure, repeat until you've cleared out the entire dungeon." It eventually became nothing more than just a die rolling contest. Playing it as a grown-up was more of an interactive storytelling experience, where everyone could really get engrossed in the whole plot and it wasn't just pointlessly hacking your way through a dungeon filled with random monsters.
The only problems that would ever arise is that sometimes the game would be so popular among our social circle, that too many people would want to join in. An ideal gaming session should be four to six players, certainly no more than seven- and a game master. Any larger than that, and the game sessions would devolve into nine or more people all jabbering at the Dungeon Master at once, or arguing with each other, and after a three hour session, barely anything would be accomplished in the plot- maybe we'd get through one battle scene, and that's it. So one lesson we learned- if you guys ever decide to get into role playing games; keep the group size manageable. 5-7 players (including the dungeon/game master) is perfect.
Way back when we used to play, and this hasn't been since around 2000-2001 or so, the game was still in it's second iteration of the rules. I believe now it is on it's fourth or fifth iteration of the rules, and the game is so changed that I bet even Gary Gygax (the guy that created the game in the early 1970s) probably wouldn't even recognize it. If I was ever to join in a game today, I'd probably have to re-learn the game all over again. For one thing, from what little I do know of the "New" system, there is a character class called an "Ardent." Like, we had wizards, thieves, fighters, priests, druids, even Paladins...but what the heck does an "Ardent" do? Use his mind powers to slay "Apathetics?" And is "Apathetic" a character class now, too? Or what about a "Constipator" or a "Phallatizer?" I dunno- fifth edition rules are weird. If my Stage Six Ardent now needs to only score an 8 on the QR Code to impact a Vulnerability Class C Half-Wookie Constipator, who is at Status 19, then I guess my character is pretty powerful. Or something.
But if you have no idea what I'm talking about, then don't worry, neither do I... I don't know Fifth Edition rules!!
Or, if you find role playing games just aren't your thing, then I promise I'll talk about something else next time. I briefly dated a girl who said she used to make fun of Dungeons and Dragons players during game sessions, to the annoyance of the people who actually playing. (They forgave her though, because she was really beautiful.) To each their own.