Recently I've gotten back into playing Dungeons and Dragons. For those of you staring blankly at the screen, Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop fantasy role playing game. (Not the sexy kind, for you random perverts who may have accidentally wandered on to my blog...an actual turn-taking, dice-rolling type of game.) Each person plays a specific character with different abilities, personalities, races, and classes/jobs. Another person is the Dungeon Master (DM) and they are basically the storyteller, other characters or bad guys, and the referee/rule keeper.
My first introduction to D&D was as a young child. My Dad started out playing the original game with friends and family and when I was old enough, I went along with him. I poured over my his manuals and papers - especially the Monster Manual - and the game really intrigued me. I mainly watched, but occasionally played a monster or sidekick. When I was in High School, D&D became popular again amongst my group of geeky-minded friends. However, many of them became so concerned with the rules and legalities that it no longer became fun. I drifted away from it and basically forgot about D&D until some of my cousins started playing at a local library group. I couldn't join them since they meet during the week (and it's quite a drive) so another one of my cousins and I started talking about starting up our own little group within our family. I have four cousins who play, along with my Dad who DMs. (Hopefully I will eventually be able to DM as well...I just have to find some time to do some more studying and brushing up on my skills.)
So why do I play? I've had several people tell me recently that they can't believe that I as a mother and wife would be such a "geek." (They obviously do not know me very well. I have a whole section of posts on here related to the subject of geekery.) They cannot understand why I'd want to sit around for hours playing a game where you just roll dice and make up stories. I think they don't realize that D&D is a lot more than that, at least to me:
- Dungeons and Dragons requires imagination. Your characters are explorers in a relatively unknown world, who get to go on fantastic adventures. You meet strange and sometimes scary creatures. Yes, we are sitting at a table, rolling dice, writing things down, looking at books or pictures...but we're also imagining those worlds and creatures in our mind's eye. We're discussing what we would do in that situation, given our resources. We get to make choices based on those and see what happens.
- In addition to requiring imagination, D&D also requires that you play a part, or act. Your character is going to have certain abilities or weaknesses and you get to act out what they do accordingly. You also learn to expect the unexpected. The character I've been playing recently is a rogue, or thief. She's pretty dexterous and nimble, but the dice aren't always in agreement. Upon sneaking through a castle, my rogue decided to quietly sneak into a room. I rolled a critical failure (i.e. a ONE) and ended up blowing the door open, somersaulting into the room, and alerting everyone in there to my presence. Not quite as stealthy as I had planned....
- Throughout the game you get to solve problems, puzzles, or riddles. The quest you're on may require you to get information from someone, follow a map, or find a hidden treasure or tower. You may come up upon a trap and have to figure out how to get around it or through it. Or you have to figure out how to outsmart or out-move a creature blocking your path. You also learn battle/combat strategy - how you can use your abilities best, help out your fellow comrades, or how to overcome your weaknesses.
- My cousins are getting older and although we all grew up basically within blocks of each other, we're spread out more now. We all have our own families, responsibilities, and activities so we don't get to see each all that much, sometimes only at holidays. This is a wonderful time for us to get together, visit with one another, and have fun.
- The "have fun" part I mentioned? Yeah, we have a lot of that. We laugh, develop inside jokes, sometimes do completely off the wall things, and just enjoy playing the game together. After we got home from playing at my parents house one time, I was having this horrible pain in my stomach. I realized that part of it was probably from the seventeen cans of pop I consumed (a slight exaggeration), the pizza, the pretzels, the chips, the cake, and seven hundred cookies. (Probably not an exaggeration on that last one, though....) But it didn't feel like that type of pain really. I finally realized it was from laughing! Seriously...I pulled a muscle, laughing!
- My eldest son has started playing with us. I like having him join in because it reminds me of me as a little kid. He doesn't get it completely but I love his enthusiasm. He's already a pretty imaginative kid and he really enjoys being with the "big kids" and getting to play along. I'd rather him sit and play with us and use his imagination rather than mindlessly sit in front of a television set.