Monday, June 22, 2020

3D6 Six (Seven) Times

D&D is a strange game.

Yes, that a silly way to start a post (assuming, of course, my readers are non-outsiders, people who don't inherently consider D&D "strange" based on their own ignorance and inexperience). 'Sure, JB, but in what way do you mean? There are multiple angles you could be taking. Care to elaborate?'

*sigh* I know. Let me start over.

D&D is a strange game for the way it preys on your mind. I think "prey" is the correct term here...it's almost wolf-like the way it stalks your thoughts, and consumes them, even as you should be thinking about other things. The last day or four I've been trying to put together some semblance of a Marvel Super Hero game for my kids (that deserves it's own post) and yet I keep finding myself surfing electronic copy of various D&D articles, books, and periodicals considering what I could be doing with Dungeons & Dragons instead of focusing on what I should be doing...like my taxes, for example.

But that's how it is. It's something I love. And because I love it, I am compelled to think about it, consider it, obsess over it, even when I am not playing it. No other game does that...not with the same damn consistency...and I have played many, many role-playing games over the years.

Football, maybe. The NFL and the Seahawks in particular have at times over-taken all else in my mind. A few hobbies here or there...but really nothing like D&D. The game is so cerebral, so mentally-driven, and oh-so-controllable in every facet, unlike so many things. You can't will your team to victory from the stands (I know...I've tried). You can't keep your own body from (eventually) failing on the fencing piste. You can't move the stars in an astrological chart.

Control. I think that's the important bit. Perhaps D&D appeals mainly to folks who wish they could control their lives, their destiny, their world more than they really can. You may not be able to get that golf swing right, but dammit you'll build your dungeon exactly the way you want it. You'll redesign spell books or combat or how hit points are generated exactly to your specifications. Change up saving throws till they're frigging perfect.

Except, of course, that there's no such thing, right? Pound down one gopher and another one pops up. Fit one peg in the hole and something else gets displaced. About all you can do (if that) is sand down the edges so the pegs move a little smoother.

OR you can simply accept that which it is, and work with it. After all, it's already "perfect." If it was any different from what it is, it wouldn't be "it" anymore, it would be something else. Sorry, Plato, the allegory does not hold: we are already outside the cave, trying to make shadows instead of enjoying the sunlight.

I'm going back to the beginning...back-back-back to the very beginning. As much as I can, anyway (*sigh* why is it so haaaaard? Control is an illusion!). I will be sure to let folks know how it turns out. I'm curious myself.

That is all.

18 comments:

  1. I just know that in two weeks you'll be writing a post about whether or not clerics should be able to turn undead ...

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    1. : D

      Really, really doubtful.

      BUT if I do end up writing something like that (or equally ridiculous), I heartily endorse you giving me a hard time for being an idiot and telling me “I told you so.”

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  2. Your title inspired a thought that might be applicable to the "ground up" rethink of D&D you seem to be considering. When rolling those six or seven 3d6, assign in order, what if that established more than just your attributes? What if the rolls also generated part of your starting equipment, wealth, perks like favors owed or d20 rerolls from dumb luck or other elements of the PC? You could even build a 3-18 chart that spells them out, giving better perks/gear/contacts/etc to the low results as a consolation prize for a low attribute while maybe even giving very high attribute rolls small drawbacks - bad luck, NPC enmity, a curse of some kind. Not only would it be a token nod to "character balance" (which is always illusory, but some people really seem to worry about it) but it might actually speed up character generation while also adding more variety in starting PCs.

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    1. The "seventh" 3D6 is the roll for starting gold, which in the past I have used as a "multi-stat" ability to determine both social standing and starting equipment based on class (umm...the blog post on this is from a few years back and I've since ceased this mechanic). Others have tied a lot of "extra bits" to a person's ability scores...for examples, I'd check Alexis's work at The Tao of D&D, like this one:

      http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/2019/03/charisma-breakdown.html

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    2. There's this tiny Polish RPG, Fajerbol, doing just that. You roll six times and these six numbers decide your attributes but also your race, class, starting equipment, physical appearance, suggested demeanor, place of origin, religion and a starting quest (!). The game begun as a parody of OSR tropes, but became an unexpected hit on its own merits.

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  3. After run all editions, homebrew original, change this and that im just pick 1e and embrace the game the way it is as written by Gygax. I'm just quit to try change things in order to achieve the perfect elegant game.The number of player in my table just grow and everybody loves the thing. This make me focus more in dungeons and general settings and to not overthing
    about the flaws of the core design. Man, for real 1e is The King.
    I thing too much time not playing make us DM burn out on thinking about other stuffs than not the next session.

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    1. Long live the King.
      : )

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    3. I’m not sure that’s what he was proposing. Just stating he’s come to a certain “angle of repose.”

      (I can see how that might be dander-raising)
      ; )

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    4. Sorry for the typos. To be clear i'm not proposing anything, just stating what's going on with me on the game now because i have empathy on the subject and realize myself on this sometimes.

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  4. It occurred to me recently that we (those of us in the thrall of D&D) are lotus-eaters. Tell me we aren't. Please.

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  5. One could argue that it's also to do with something deeper, something more inherent to what human beings are: we're pretenders. It's in our nature - it's how we grow and develop (mentally and emotionally). We use our imagination to choose a thing we want to be and pretend to be that thing until we become it. So, naturally, we're drawn to a game that fulfills those same subconscious impulses.

    Then there's the exploration aspect. Another deep-seated human need is to explore and understand, to use our imagination to consider possibilities beyond what is and to pursue them. D&D and other RPGs leave limitless room for such discovery, and we just can't help delving deeper and deeper (pun possibly intended) into their depths.

    Or it could just be because it's a lot of fun to play. ;)

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  6. I agree that we D&D players do like control. When I read your comment I remember that the game despite the random die rolls has a written framework that you the player can comfortably work within and evaluate your chances. In real life there's more chaos, the rules are hidden or not spoken about and you've less chance that they are fair.

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  8. I get you. I have played at least a dozen game systems through a full campaign, and I have read many dozens of games. I have discussed gaming as an abstract with dozens if not hundreds of people.

    But it is D&D that I go back to. It has a perfect marriage of mechanical bits, implied world building (that leaves the freedom to define the parts how you like), role playing opportunities in a variety of play levels, etc, etc, infinitum.

    It is something of an obsession for me. In fact that obsession is why I decided not to pursue it professionally. Whether or not I have the chops, I am happier never having to be "done" with a project. I am happier to be perpetually honing my home brew, etc.

    In fact I have to say sir, your own work has made this somewhat worse.

    For which I thank you.

    (Robin Goodfellow, from Patreon)

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    1. Um...how has my work made this worse? Do you mean I've fueled your obsession?

      [just wondering...I'm not offended by the comment, just perplexed]

      Regardless, I appreciate your kind words and your support/patronage.

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    2. Sorry, that was obtuse. I was joking it fueled my obsession, though honestly, no one author can be held guilty of that.

      Still have enjoyed the three book I have read that you have written.

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