Sunday, June 1, 2008

It's the End of the World as We Know It (Now, where's my dice?)

Do you feel it?

Place your hands on the keyboard and sit still for a moment.

There, feel that?

That, my friend, is a disturbance in the internet. The quivering tension of a thousand forum servers groaning under the weight of postings more numerous than there are stars in the sky.

What could be causing all this electronic chatter? Simple.

Saturday, a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons will be released.

I will freely admit it. I play D&D and have since I was 14. For those of you who don't really know what Dungeons & Dragons is, I will give a brief explanation. You other geeks can count your dice until I get done explaining things.

Dungeons & Dragons (and other games like it) is a role-playing game, or RPG for short. RPGs often use dice, like board games, but there is no "board" per se. Each player creates a Player Character (or PC) to control in the game "world". These characters are usually comprised of numbers that reflect the characters skills and abilities. One player has no character to play. This player is referred to as the Gamemaster. (or Dungeon Master, or Referee) He is in charge of the game world that the players are about to adventure in. He plays enemies, allies and occasionally, inanimate objects the player's characters will interact with. It is his job to create an objective, or adventure, for the players. He describes what characters can see, hear, smell and touch around them. The players, in turn, tell the GM what they want their characters to do in reaction to what the GM has described. Rules and dice are used to determine the outcomes of what the players want to achieve.

Nearly anything can happen in an RPG. The game is really only limited by the time the players have to play and their imaginations. This kind of interactivity and creativity really is unmatched in other forms of entertainment and is the reason why I'm still playing them.

Okay, educational section over.

Saturday, the 4th edition of the D&D rules hits the shelves. Thousands of players will be snatching up Player's Handbooks, Dungeon Master's Guides and Monster Manuals. Thousands of others will firmly refuse to spend money on a new edition, claiming the publishers are merely trying to make money off of them. (Make money? What a ridiculous reason to get into publishing...) Thousands more will loudly claim to refuse to spend their money and then go and do it when they think no one is looking.

Despite all the online fury, I don't see any horrible fallout or problems with a new ruleset. D&D's publishers, Wizards of the Coast, have revised the ruleset to make it more accessible to younger players, which is a good decision. But you would think, by reading the internet forums dedicated to D&D players, that the End of the World (or a Great New Golden Age, depending on who you ask) is upon us! I've seen talk of the danger of a new edition (What, someone will get a 4 sided die in the eye?) or what it will do to the roleplaying industry. (You can tell when you've crossed the line into geekdom when you refer to your hobby as an industry)

What will I do? Probably wait and see what comes about. I have plenty of rulesets that I can use to run my games with. But, the reason I have plenty of rulesets is that I like to buy and read them for enjoyment. So, I may end up buying into the new rules at some point in the future.

But regardless of what ruleset people use to play them, RPG's are an enjoyable pastime that you can take with you your whole life. I've played with gamers as young as 8 and as old as 80 and have met some fantastic people along the way. It may not appeal to everyone, but to those it does: Keep your dicebag ready, and "When in doubt, roll and shout!"


Mrs. Davis said...

But you have a Wii now. Wouldn't you rather play Wii golf? Heh.

(I just kicked Jim's butt in bowling.) 2008

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