Gamer Quest: Happy 40th Birthday D&D, part 1

I’ve traditionally used ‘Game Producer Quest’ to talk about everything. But on reflection, I’m thinking it may be more beneficial to mix it up a tad, so the few (literally a few) that come across this blog know what they’re getting as soon as they get to the title. ‘Game Producer Quest’ is about game production, ‘Home Cook Quest’ is about making Japanese curry from scratch, ‘Gamer Quest’ is about games, etc. As opposed to ‘Why is this called Game Producer Quest when this guy is talking about the Boston Celtics?’ Actually, to be honest, I should probably re-haul this blog one of these days, make it look more attractive, etc.

So with that preface out of the way, 2014 is Dungeons & Dragons 40th Anniversary. Fans have been posting video’s, blogs, and tweets  about what D&D means to them, a brief story about a meaningful experience with the game, etc. Here’s my submission into the revelry.

I have two older brothers; we began playing D&D together when I was seven years old, starting with the original 1983 Basic Red Box. On one hand, seven is a tad young to be playing tabletop RPG’s, but I was always mature for my age and a wiz at simple math, so there was actually very few if any problems with the content.

Naturally, the experience was extremely fun, and helped to nurture both my imagination and my love for games of all types. Like many, I love video games, but I also love board games and tabletop RPG’s. Even if I never play it, I have no problems investing in a tabletop RPG, just to read the systems and get ideas on game design and the like. Come to think of it, many games (either RPG’s or having RPG elements) owe thanks to D&D, as many of those systems / design ideas come from tabletop RPG’s.

Most people talking about D&D’s 40th have spoken of a specific experience playing the game. I won’t necessarily talk about a specific moment, but rather a general observation that I find amusing. I’ve been a lifelong comic book nerd as well as a gamer, so all my D&D characters tended to have ridiculous, superhero names, like “Golden Sword,” “Shining Star,” or “Silver Sun.” In hindsight, it was silly, even ridiculous, but it was also fun. And in my defense, I was a kid!

I guess I’ll also share one of my favorite character ‘archetypes.’ I’m probably mis-using / butchering that word, but c’est la vie. As I tend to collect tabletop RPG’s, I remember picking up the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, which had the Monk class. This lead to the creation of a character that never saw play, but has seen numerous versions created throughout the years in multiple RPG systems: Kirok, Disciple of Kirk-Fu (or Shat-Fu if you prefer.) Check this and this out if you need a laugh. Anyways, as he leveled up, his title would change to ‘Master of Kirk-Fu.’ I can’t help but think a womanizing monk (it doesn’t matter if you’re an elf, dwarf, half-orc, halfling, gnome, dragonborn, or attractive even; as long as you’re female, you’re fair game in Kirok’s lusty eyes) with fighting abilities that look ridiculous, yet are somehow inexplicably effective would be fun to play. Clumsy dropkick to a kobold? Check. Double sledgehammer to the kidneys of an Ogre? Check. Chop to the back of a Dragon’s neck? Check. Roll a natural 1 on any of these attacks, and your party will likely shake their heads in disgust as you attempt your patented drop kick, only to completely miss and fall on your arse. Alternatively, roll a natural 20, and the rest of the party will stare in awe as they wonder how something so extravagant, unorthodox, and ridiculous can be so effective!

I think there’s a simple beauty in D&D and tabletop RPG’s in that they not only nurture the imagination, but also provides an outlet for creation of some sort. Not everyone can create incredible art, digital or otherwise. Not everyone can compose music, whether you’re writing down the notes or composing by ear. But anyone can pick up 1-2 pieces of paper, follow some rules, roll some weird looking dice, and create a fantastic character that can be heroic or silly, villainous or sneaky. The best part is that you’re only limited by your own imagination.

Me personally, I’m looking forward to 5th edition D&D when it releases this summer. My guess is that the release will coincide with this year’s Gen Con in August, but then again, I’ve been wrong before.

So for the gamers out there who play nothing but video games, you probably owe it to yourself to check out D&D, or some tabletop RPG that strikes your fancy. There are so many to choose from nowadays: Pathfinder, 13th Age, Numenera, Dragon Age RPG, the upcoming Firefly RPG, etc. There are RPG’s of nearly every genre and flavor you can think of, and at least one of them will likely tickle your fancy. And with modern technology, you can play with your friends over the internet, so it’s more accessible than ever before.

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