Thursday, February 19, 2009

What is D&D: General Commentary

There is a lot of yapping on the internet about the different versions and why one is better than the other. When one counts the major message boards and blogs available on the web, and how much traffic they see on a day in day out basis, it really is impressive. I am continually amazed on the number of folks in our hobby, and the number of passionate and diverse opinions that are out there. Some posters put together well thought out positions and their posts show a deeper understanding of rules and the mechanics behind them. Some posters reply with more emotion than cold analysis. Some posters are trolls stirring up the pot. Some folks just get carried away on a topic, and keep it going well past its due date. Some folks let it get to them, and some let it roll off their backs. In my opinion, it’s all good. I love the banter. It creates for spirited debate, and good work comes out of this discussion. But through all this, I think it is good to take a step back and ask, what is D&D, and why do we like it.

Over the past week or two I have been blogging on this topic, in an attempt to create some thought on the topic. I have covered adventure design with respect to AP’s and Sandboxes, and what is the nature of characters with my Superman and Indiana Jones post. I have also blogged a bit about mechanics and rules. I have done all this, in order to spell out some ideas that have been running through my head on the topic. I do think that regardless of the editions or the rule sets that folks like, there is an underlying core enjoyment of the game, that continues to attract gamers.

I believe that there is a fundamental essence that brings everyone together. Computer games are fun, and I have played my fair share, no doubt. At this moment I do not play the big MMOG’s, because if I started, I probably would not get anything else done. It is with mixed feelings that I actually write that, but I trust that my readers know what I mean.

One of the things that I think computers and online gaming will never replace is the face to face game experience and the up front and personal aspect of the game, and I think I am not in the minority on this. I know that when I see the sweat drip off my opponent’s nose, it is a good game! I don’t see that in a computer game. I live to see my players jump up and down with excitement and cringe when something bad happens to them. I love to see the belly busting laughter of the group when a character walks through a door and a bucket of poop falls on his head from a goblin trap. This really happened in my last campaign, and it was a high point of the entire campaign. It was really funny stuff. For me, as an old timer with a family, this is my Saturday night poker game, and I hope I can continue to roll the dice for many more years to come.

So, I think we do need to take time and step back and ask ourselves, what is D&D, and what is the core essence of the game. D&D is a little different than T&T or Rune Quest, or Role Master. Some of this is because of rules and mechanics, some of this is the fluff behind the rules, but I think there is something more. Now I do not pretend to believe that D&D is the best role playing game out there. Even if we have alignment across all gamers that this was true, there is still something to be said for mixing it up and playing something different every now and then.

With that, I will close today’s entry. I will continue to ponder the roots of the game, and continue to define the essence of the game and how it is changing. For I still believe that regardless of how the game changes, there is still something special that makes the whole thing run, and we should not lose that in the midst of this change.


Badelaire said...

I've little to add except a hearty "well said". Beyond the blogging and ballyhoo of it all, at the end it's friends having a good time, end of story. Always glad to see reminders of that out in the blogosphere.

Mr Baron said...

Thanks for the comment. Some folks really let this stuff get to them. I think it is very encouraging to see the number of folks get passionate about this hobby of ours. Of course some folks get carried away, but these things happen.

In any event, I am looking forward to mixing it up at Gencon 2009, and hopefully engage in some entertaining banter about random topics and such.