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June 12, 2004: R is for RPG

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Richard has been running an ongoing Dungeons and Dragons game now for nearly two years, with the same group of players. It’s always lots of fun, but it’s been hard sometimes getting the group together and sometimes there have been weeks or months that go by before we can continue. So for some reason he decided that he wanted to run a one-shot game – something that we could all do with just one session of game time instead of trying to gather everyone together time and time again. And to make it even more fun, he decided it was time to return to the D&D genre of old, and make it a dungeon crawl. Or in other words, we were actually going to be playing our characters through a real dungeon, instead of traveling from town to town, or fighting monsters in taverns and dark alleys and castles like D&D usually is.

He’s spent weeks preparing for this, poring over his gaming books at nights while I worked on my pretty purple sweater, mapping out his maze of caves and tunnels and figuring out the plot. He put out a call to everyone he knows to see who was interested, and we ended up with six people in the game. Since I had no preference what type of character I would play I told him to just figure out what the party needed once he was done collecting the information from everyone else and tell me what I would be. Hence, I got to play a cleric for the very first time in my life.

Everyone came over this afternoon, and gaming started at about 2pm. We gamed. We talked. We ate food (Richard made amazing stuffed peppers for the two of us since we’ve been back on the Quick Start program for Weight Watchers). We gamed and gamed and gamed some more. And when it was all over and people were starting to nod off at the table we realized that it was almost midnight and we were only halfway through what was supposed to be a one-shot game.

But it was so much fun we’ve extended the one-shot to a two-shot, and scheduled a follow-up game to finish it all off the first Saturday in July. It’s been a very long time since any of us have spent an entire day gaming like that, and it was a bit startling to realize that we’d been at it for over ten hours straight. It certainly didn’t feel like it had been that long.

I know that for a majority of people, role-playing games make absolutely no sense, and they cannot even begin to imagine why anyone would bother spending an entire day hunched over a table, rolling dice and referring only to numbers on a sheet of paper to invoke a world of fantasy so very different from our own. And I realize that some people will never really ‘get’ it, just like I am never going to get why on earth anyone would find watching a bunch of grown men run around a field chasing funny-shaped balls, or swatting at tiny balls with sticks, or smacking each other in the face while wearing ridiculous costumes, remotely amusing. To each his or her own.

It’s this sort of thing that reminds me why I love role-playing games like this so much. To get a group of friends together who are all interested in playing a fairly intricate game of ‘lets pretend’ – who all have that vested interest in suspending belief in the real world long enough to create characters who interact with each other, and have personality quirks that we players do not, and to make it all, somehow, work.

This has been an entry for Alphabytes.

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