punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Character Building - 3d6 (plus mods)

I think I was 21 when I figured out "character building" didn't involve dice. After playing D&D (Dungeons and Dragons for those of you who did NOT grow up in the 1980s) since 1976, I learned data analysis, graphing, mapping, and leadership skills. I would say D&D gave me far more than a gaming experience: it gave me a social life and skills I should have been getting from adults, but wasn't.

That being said, I totally burned out from gaming after I got married. I used to think I knew why this was, but in the last few years, I haven't been as sure. I went from theory to theory because I couldn't stand gaming of any kind for the longest time, and D&D was certainly the top of the list. I burned out because I had so many bad players was one theory. Then the idea that "when I got married and had a social life, I no longer needed gaming," was another. "Maybe it's a control issue," was one of the later ones that crept along in my self-analysis. This caused great consternation to my goodly partner in marriage, who loves games! So over the past few years, I have slowly been getting into gaming again with her help and help of our friends Sean and Jeni. I started with "Apples to Apples" and "Lunch Money." There had always been talk about me starting a game again, and finally, last night, I started being a DM again. All we did was make characters, and I was stunned how much came back to me, after a gap of nearly 15 years. Oof course, I had forgotten a lot, but thanks to my DM Screen (handmade using posterboard, colored pencils, and graph paper), and my extensive documenting through my own adventures (which was because I thought one day, they'd get published), I was able to get up to speed in a matter of days of restudying. Or at least have a clue where to go if I forgot something.

I have one adventure that I will use for their first game next Thursday. It's not only their level, but one of the easiest maps and plots I even did in a neatly wrapped bundle. I wrote it for an RPGA tournament in Baltimore that I never got to. It was my best cumulative work, and I thank my 18-year old butt for being so thorough. I left note on how to play out certain battles, plus clever notes that thought ahead of what would happen if the characters did NOT do something expected, like a "default mode." I laughed because I program computers in a similar style, and it's funny to see I was thinking the same way: "If some idiot enters in a non-number, default to number 5..." and "If the player still decides to try and kill the God's messenger, knock him and the whole party unconscious and they will wake up in a swamp missing one item each." In the computer world, they call this a LART, "Loser Attitude Readjustment Tool." In D&D, we called it "the Ethereal Mummy," based on an example in one of the books where a user is hit by a mummy that appears out of nowhere, causes damage to the troublesome player, and then vanishes before anyone can do anything about it. Now THAT'S character building!

Come to think of it, role playing gaming is very similar to working with computers and users. Huh.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000237.html
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