Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Multiples Of Twelve

One of my dreams has come true. It was a dream largely inspired by this, but I have spent most of my life looking forward to it. What is this dream? To play Dungeons and Dragons with a legitimate group.

It's no surprise that any college would have such a group, and last Friday* I was lucky enough to find them. Disclaimer: despite the criticism that's about to follow, I still think I'm lucky to be in this group, think they're awesome, and am really looking forward to our next session.

Before we'd rolled a single die, I started to get the feeling this wasn't going to be the utopia I'd been imagining. The first hang-up was that our DM ("dungeon master" for you noobs, the most important person at any playing session) didn't go to our college. Apparently the guy organizing things here knew him from home, and figured it would be easier to play with an absent DM than find a new one? Um...okay. The next oddity to arise was that no one seemed to know anything about computers. What the hell kind of nerds was I playing with? (Also, how did they expect to pull off this absentee DM thing without any modern telecommunication expertise?). The problem was solved by yours truly who had to walk them through getting Skype accounts so we could talk to our DM through a better system than the speakerphone mode on cell phones.

Another disclaimer: if you don't know anything about D&D, much of the rest of this won't make any sense. Hopefully my righteous rage and geekiness will be funny anyways.

One of the very first steps in creating a character to play is getting their "ability scores" (these include strength, dexterity, intelligence, etc). There are six in all, each requiring a number between 3 and 18, which is gotten from rolling dice (specifically, rolling a typical six-sided die three times, or 3D6 as we say in the biz). The method I usually use involves rolling four dice and discarding the lowest to ensure that my character isn't totally impaired. The people I was playing with would roll the typical 3D6 six times, then discarded the lowest five. For each score. The result was awesome ability scores and, in turn, tons of bonuses for pretty much everything.

The kicker came at the end of our session, when our DM awarded us all a level up (for one, that's way too fast, plus he obviously didn't judge the quality of our play separately). On top of that, he doled out random magical weapons as rewards. I hate that. Enchanted weapons are not for new characters, nor should they be treated as trinkets without cool backstories. These silly, generic +1 weapons are just there to make characters a little better but not more interesting. Grr.

This approach is something typical of what we call a "munchkin". Munchkins are people who want to have extremely powerful characters 1) without having 'earned' it, and 2) at the expense of good role playing. Both of these things are anathema to me ("anathema" is my word of the month so I've been dying to use it, I'm not sure if this is right though...). I have a massive pet peeve about getting things you don't deserve (in life in general), and have an even massiver (yeah, I said it) peeve about D&D characters doing it. Having a weak character sucks, but you should have to go through it to help build their character and learn to appreciate power when you get it. That's my take anyways.

When I first started playing D&D, I was very young. My immaturity led to "slasher" campaigns that had nothing but fighting. As I grew out of that and towards the role-playing side of the spectrum, I developed a disdain for anyone who played slasher style games. Hence more munchkin hating. I don't hold all this against most of the people there because they're new and don't know better, but the other two I have a bit of a problem with. Knowing me, this is going to result in my chafing against all munchkiny things, so my character will suck in comparison.

*I know today is Friday, but I started writing this post on Tuesday or some such

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