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Games

Whatever it is, I don’t like it

07.21.08 | Comment?

A giant dragon looms over the D&D room at GenCon 2007. Photo courtesy Paulmed @ Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Sharealike 2.0Unless your geek rating is particularly high, you probably missed the tiny ripple in the Force associated with the release of an all-new edition of Dungeons & Dragons several weeks ago. The release (and run-up over the last few months) has caused a stir among gamers because it made many changes to the rules. Some people loudly proclaim that the 30 year old game isn’t really D&D, it’s just a game that happens to go by that name. They claim that the rules have been heavily influenced by online games, with renewed emphasis on combat.

To my surprise, I discovered that I don’t really care.

I don’t care about D&D, that is. I fell out of love with the game roughly six years ago, and even though I have played it since then, the old spark was gone. Dungeons & Dragons is more than a system. It’s a style of gaming in a fantasy setting. It’s the game that coined the term “dungeon crawl”, meaning going from location to location (be it rooms in a dungeon or clearings in a forest) exploring and fighting. That style of play can be summed up as “beat up monsters and take their stuff”. Oh, freeze your tongues. Yes, I know there have been countless campaigns that don’t revolve around the acquisition of power and wealth. I’ve just never played in one.

I’m not even disparaging the acqusition of wealth and power. Heck, sign me up for some! But in the D&D games I’ve played, the acquisition of power seemed the central pillar from which everything else was supported. Think about it. In any edition of D&D, the system is based on the idea of overcoming obstacles to gain experience points to gain a level to gain skill/feats to get better at overcoming obstacles to gain experience. Roleplay is something that’s done between episdoes of combat. In that regard, maybe the new edition of D&D is just embracing its true nature.

I’ll admit, there are times when think about what I consider neat concepts for fantasy campaigns. For instance, I think it would be neat to have a campaign in which all the heroes were the same class or race. For instance, a group of paladins. I also think it would be neat to play a group of Warforged mercenaries in the Eberron setting. That being said, the first time I encountered a dungeon crawl I think the game would be over for me. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy tabletop combat. I just don’t want it to be the foundation of the game.

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