Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Gang plays DND

at 6:30 PM
Your favorite members of the blogging team - and also your least favorite member - got together this past weekend with friends, girlfriends, and their girlfriend's weirded-out roommate to play a rousing game of DnD, DM'd by yours truly. Let's start with some quick hits:

1. Yourself brought a real samurai sword to the apartment.
2. Yourself chopped off a lot of dicks.
3. Yourself chopped off in-game ducks.
4. That was a misspelling of dicks but I think it's funny to leave it.
5. We ordered a gigantic pizza. Seriously, thing was comically massive.

And that brings us to what is far too often the least fun part of DnD: actually playing it.

Here's a link to the one-shot we played. It left a lot to be desired, but there's enough to pick and choose from that something reasonably inspired could be cobbled together given the time and inclination. I had one of those.

I liked the idea: a Lovecraftian-horror with a solid mix of city exploration and dungeon crawling. Descriptions were often cringe-inducingly written and the enemies uninspired, though, and there weren't many realistic ways offered for the player characters (PCs) to become involved with the mystery afoot.

The combat was particularly boring, but for a group with 3 (count them, 3) heroes who had never rolled a d20 before (what choices in life have I made that lead me to saying what I just said?) it was probably good that nothing was particularly flashy. DnD combat can be obnoxiously boring if players aren't moving at a reasonable pace, and this is more of a challenge if the folks playing only have a basic conception of the rules, if that. I've been playing for a bit now (seriously, what choices?) and I still couldn't tell you what 5 percent of the spells in the game do with any accuracy. I would have to just make shit up going off the name. Example: Shocking Grasp. Stuns enemies as player quickly takes hold of something with surprising strength. 1d6/caster level. Nailed it?

Ezio provided some killer character sheets, the highlight being a particularly strong set of names. Julius Gumbersnatch, Bjorn Svenson, Edgar Hearthsbane (I'm just getting this joke), and Cecelia Sneakerton (I got this one before) rounded out our cast of heroes, gallivanting the realm heretofore. These names really set up our newbies for their first taste of playing a role. 

Now, role playing well is significantly harder than it seems at first glance; no one is good at it because, like being a quality DM, it takes effort and commitment that most normal human beings don't want to put into a game. Fair enough. But you don't need to be a Thespo-mat 9000, you just have to have the slightest bit of imagination.  The collective storytelling aspect of DnD, the aspect that makes it worthwhile in my mind, is only as good as the creativity each person brings to the greasy, sticky table. Typically players dream up a character fantastic and alien in some way to themselves. But ultimately, in my experience, it's too easy to slip back into playing yourself: that is, making decisions as they seem logical to you, the player, rather than the character you've invented. It makes sense. It's hard as hell to make difficult decisions thrown at you in the game without the added mental screen of pretending to be someone else entirely. It takes a couple serious doses of imagination and a spoonful of human empathy to do this realistically for any length of time. It would be like continuously doing improv in character. Which is why my preferred method, one I'll term "degrees of Andrew M," is to draw from aspects of your personality but not rely on its entirety as a crutch. I won't pretend I can put myself in the shoes of the female rogue with attitude!! but I sure as hell can play the fitness-nut cleric who sins despite his faith, or the hard-drinking but loyal knight-errant. 

Maybe I'll actually get around to writing a decent one-shot. If I do, I'll post it here! In the meantime I found the whole 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars on youtube!

Yourself here! Just thought I would add the ending that our particular party experienced upon confronting "The Horror at Dagger Rock", as I later related it to a DnD-vet friend. It would help if Andrew had remembered to mention that my character was named Rupert. Anyway, it went something like this....
[wavy shimmering effect, fade to black]

-The Bride of Dagon bursts forth from the water, towering over the disorderly adventurers. She screeches: "Who dares enter the domain of Dagon?"
-At the prodding of Rupert the Cleric, Bjorn the Barbarian hurls a dick in her general direction, missing wide right.
-The Bride of Dagon stares on with menacing impatience, waiting for the answer to her question.
-Irritated with Bjorn's inability to roll a fucking die, Rupert empties his gold pouch onto the floor and fills the sack with ten dicks. He swings it around his head, but it slips from his hand and slams into the wall behind the party with a sickening squelch.
-The Bride of Dagon, furious at this insolence, casts Mind Control on the entire party.
-After a momentary struggle, the adventurers find themselves feeling warmly toward the Bride, even seeing in her a sort of maternal figure.
-The Bride of Dagon commands the adventurers to join in the ceremony of worship taking place beside her resting pool.
-The adventurers don the indicated ceremonial robes and join the cultists in their ritual.

1 comment:

  1. Make the next one shot about the lyrical content of Queen's "Ogre Battle". "Once upon a time an old man told me a fable / when the piper is gone and the soup is cold on the table / and when the black cerow flies to find a new destination / that is the SIGN"

    how come we never use my ideas
    i say "let's do Honey I Shrunk the Kids" you guys say "no too hard"
    i say "let's do Console Wars where we all play as failed consoles form history like Sega CD and Dreamcast and 32X and Sega Saturn and we have to battle against Apple Goons to save Xbox One" and you guys say "no what"

    come on

    my ideas are so good