Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy 40th Dungeons & Dragons

How can I talk about tabletop gaming and not include one of the most notable and expansive tabletop games spanning four decades? Dungeons and Dragons has been the quintessential pencil and paper roleplaying game for many of us growing up.

For those of you that don't know, or have only heard it's name whispered in hush tones of dark alleyways, Dungeons and Dragons is a complex role-playing game originally develop in 1973, released in 1974 that has undergone great changes with the times.

You start off, often, as a simple farmhand wielding a sword and shield, or perhaps the novice magician with mysterious powers, or the elusive ruffian with a penchant for danger. Through trials and dungeons, hardships and challenges you might emerge as a valiant knight, or a powerful arch-mage, or the king of thieves. How you get there is a story to be woven between the players and the dungeon master (or DM for short) who controls all the villains in the story.

There have been thousands of articles written about Dungeons and Dragons over the years, and there are still articles like this one being written, and there are thousands more to come, for this game has stood the test of time for many reasons. No story is ever the same. Different players add different sparks to the story, a twist in the plot from the DM can change the entire view of the heroes, there's no limit to what can be laid out before you, and that's the beauty of the game. It's limitless.

Don't like how the wizard can't use a great sword too? Change it, make it happen. So long as the players and the DM are in agreement for the story, there's nothing you can't do. Now many people will disagree, because there are rules and you have to be of a certain level to cast certain spells, or perform certain heroic feats, but as long as your group is having fun, that is the only rule that matters.

But I'd love to hear your thoughts! I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons in so form or another for 20 years, and I've done the silly game where everyone can just do as they please, to the tightly reigned in campaign that follows the rules to the letter, and some where the DM has made up new rules to allow very unique combinations of play.

Do you like playing by the rules? Or a more fast and loose system so long as everyone is having fun? Are the rules there to guide you, but not be rails?

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