Saturday, July 1, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "How I Got Started"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).

Day 1- How I got Started
            I got started in Dungeons and Dragons via what I would consider a typical arc.  I was a fan of horror (here is a blog on my affection for Goosebumps books) and fantasy (here is me talking about Xanth) as a kid and early teen.  My budding interest in genre conventions coupled with my knack for math drew the attention of a few of my teachers who introduced me to Magic the Gathering (I have tried to integrate some ideas from Magic into DnD).

I am gonna briefly talk about a different fantasy game first.
F-ing Swerve!
            Magic is a collectible card game in which you are a wizard who is battling another wizard with spells and monsters.  Understanding the odds of drawing a particular card, managing risk, and managing resources were all aspects of the game and I attribute to it my almost intuitive understanding of statistics beyond my usual knack for math.
            Anyway, I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons by a fellow teenager when I was 15.  I was at Books-A-Million one Sunday looking at comics and saw some guys playing Magic, they invited me to play and I said, “Sorry I don’t typically roll with my deck.”  That was meant to sound silly.
            I began hanging out with those guys on the weekends at the bookstore to play Magic and invited a few more people out to play.  After a month, one of them decided to introduce us all to DnD and it went from there.  It is funny to me in hindsight how little I really understood about the game, and since this was pre-internet, or at least all the really useful parts of the internet like Wikipedia, Youtube, and other places that would serve as nerd reference sites in the age to come I couldn’t really learn except for reading and doing.
            These days there are online demos, message boards, and any number of cliques that will help you learn, and a bunch that will treat you like shit and turn you off the whole internet.  But back then I just had to read the 3rd edition book I bought, while the guy who introduced me to it was trying to have us play 2nd edition and all the wires getting crossed.

For all the reading I did in this thing it was mostly the fluff and story aspects.
Even after playing 3e and 3.5e for 10+ years there are still numerous spells and rules that I do not get.
            There was also the terrible and contrived writing I would suffer from.  Basic missions and I didn’t really know how tough monsters were or how to set up interesting challenges.  On the other side when I was playing the story was frequently so epic I had no idea what I was supposed to even do, an alcoholic half-orc blackguard did not have much to offer when the mission was, “stop a wizard from controlling an army of dragons from taking over the world and rewriting reality”.
            It is a testament to how fun and freeing the game can be creatively that I stuck with it thru the difficult early part to move on all the way to now.  A present in which I write about the game habitually and make effort to find venues for play beyond just going along with those that are offered.
            A great deal of my creativity has been shaped Dungeons and Dragons.  A lot of my abilities in mathematics has been given endless practice by all the casual uses of math.  My ability to quickly play the part for interviews, group discussions, presentations and other professional venues for talking to people about who I am and what I can do, that was learned from playing Dungeons and Dragons all the time.  In real life, I don’t have a character sheet, but when someone asks me who I am and what I can do I am better at presenting that information in a consistent and tight fashion than I would have been had I not been making characters and playing them for fun all these years.
            I often recommend Dungeons and Dragons as fun, but frequently market it to other people based on the academic aspects of the game because I think those have had a real positive impact on me and could have similar effects on others.
Coming Tomorrow
            I am going to talk about my favorite edition of the game.

            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

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