Dungeons & Dragons
Is anyone playing? Apparently there’s a split between the critics and the lay gamers. What I read didn’t seem particularly appealing to me. I’m a really old-school D&D, Gold Box, Caves of Chaos, House of Amber dude. (Yeah, I know. Lotta schools in there.) I liked the first Dragon Age, but at some point, I felt like I was just killing x numbers of mobs to x place. I wanted to feel more in control of the narrative, and my character. I’m also not a fan of the linear.
This is the place where table-top beats pc/console. I don’t know how you program that open human element. I’m thinking about running Neverwinter Nights with my son, because it just takes too long to set up a good table-top game. And yet “long” is kind of what I liked about D&D.
I’ve never played Dragon Age or Dragon Age II (though both sound pretty fun). Actually, I haven’t played more than five minutes of a video game in probably over two years, and I haven’t kept up with video game news very much either (so it’s a good thing we have Jaybird!). Truth be told, I don’t really miss video games that much, even though I have fun when I do play them.
I remember being pretty excited when I first heard of World of Warcraft. Immersive fantasy adventuring sounded pretty fun. I’d seen other MMORPG’s advertised but didn’t really pay much attention to those until WoW was released. It looked amazing – but it really wasn’t. I didn’t have anywhere near as much fun with WoW as I did with the old Might and Magic games. And those weren’t nearly as fun as paper and dice RPG’s.
The first time I played D&D was in fourth grade in Canada, which is also the first time I discovered that there were dice with more than six sides (and that they came in all sorts of colors and designs). I didn’t have D&D books and didn’t know much about it, so I quickly began making up my own games, and for years afterward – even after acquiring AD&D manuals and some other games – I fine-tuned the rules to those games. I wanted the perfect combat and magic systems. Malcontent that I am, the ones in D&D didn’t make sense to me. (Why should wearing heavy armor make it harder for someone to hit you? It should make it harder to be wounded by a hit, but easier to be hit in the first place…and so on, and so forth).
I never quite crafted the perfect system, and I’m sure I never will (I haven’t played actual D&D in at least a decade now) but I can say that the paper and dice experience just can’t be grafted over onto video games. Table-top games are to video games what books are to movies. You can enjoy both, but they’re not the same thing. Books and RPG’s take more time than their on-screen counterparts. More importantly, D&D requires a level of commitment and trust that a video game simply doesn’t ever demand (my high school theatre teacher would always complain about D&D saying of the DM that “He’s just making it up as he goes along. He’s cheating!” But of course, that’s also the point…). The collaborative, imaginative aspect of traditional RPG’s doesn’t translate into even the most stunning 3D graphics.
I miss the table-top games a lot more than the video games. Maybe this is just nostalgia, but nostalgia is a powerful thing.