stevekenson: (go-play)
[personal profile] stevekenson
Not that today was a lazy Sunday: I was up early (stupid body clock) and spent a good part of the day proofreading and answering emails. No, what I realized is lazy today is my attitude towards Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition, after our monthly D&D game today.

When it comes to the game, about all I can be bothered to do is show up and remember to bring my character sheet and dice, and at least a couple of times I haven’t even properly managed the “character sheet and dice” part. Not that I’m not having fun (I am) but I confess to basically zero interest in keeping up with all the latest game system releases, reading about ways to improve or optimize my character, reading articles or sourcebooks, or generally being involved in D&D anywhere other than at the game table. I have no idea about my character’s backstory; even the fact that he has a name is largely a concession of tradition and convenience.

Not that I’m knocking any of these things. They’re not bad. I actually really like being able to approach our D&D games as more of a problem-solving board-game where we pour over the battle grid, looking for the best places to maneuver our little plastic figures: how to grab that flanking bonus, set things up for the Dragonborn Cleric to “Split the Sky” or for my Eladrin Wizard to unleash a Fireball. We enjoy being able to banter about comics, TV, movies, and our lives in-between rolling dice and taking our turns, because game day is also our primary hangout day. Our D&D game is fun, but low-key, low-commitment fun.

It’s interesting that D&D 4E has provided this experience for me in ways other games do not. In most RPGs, a lot of thought goes into the design of my characters, as if I were creating them for a novel rather than as game-pieces. Some might only be sketched-out initially—our group is known to have games not “stick” sometimes, so it’s unwise to get too invested too soon. Even still, a pretty complete picture emerges. I likewise put a lot of thought into character design from a game system perspective, making sure game traits fit fictional viewpoint and vice versa and that the character will be both fun and interesting to play on multiple levels.

With my Eladrin Wizard, I glance at the Player’s Handbook (maybe Arcane Power) when we’ve got some spare gold or we level up, just to “shop” for a new magic item, feat, or power, and that’s pretty much that. I do have a Paragon Path picked out for 11th level (Wizard of the Spiral Tower was basically made for my character) but that’s about as much advance planning as there is. Our relationship is very “casual,” very no-strings ... we just seem to have mutually agreed to have a good time and not worry about it, my character and I.

I’m sure there are other reasons for my laziness: I’m a good deal busier than I ever was when I created and played my most lovingly detailed characters. I work in the RPG biz and design stuff all day, so I might not be as motivated for a creative outlet as I once was. I’m older and ostensibly more mature, certainly less given to trying to live vicariously through my paper-and-dice fantasy life. Still, D&D takes it to a whole new level. Fortunately, our able Dungeon Master is very interested in the game, and I’m sure his extensive preperatory work is one thing that allows me to just kick-back and coast when it comes to enjoying the game.

It’s exciting when the dice fall in the right way and everyone is firing on the right cylinders to bring off a great battle-plan that wins the day. Our D&D game is definitely fun, but it’s a lazy kind of fun.

Date: 2010-05-16 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] righteousfist.livejournal.com
Very well described, Steve. I AM enjoying my 4E game...but I am making a Pathfinder character right now, and find myself actually AGONIZING over choices, and how they'll affect my character.

Feels strange. But kinda good.

(Half-elf cleric of Desna, in case anyone cares).

Date: 2010-05-17 06:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saxon-pagan.livejournal.com
We had a nice game this weekend, but what I'd hoped would be an exciting cliff hanger (since Heartland is going to interrupt our gaming) sort of fizzled. I know that just happens sometimes, but it's always dissapointing when it does.

Date: 2010-05-19 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] guyinsf.livejournal.com
I would say that's a very accurate description of my experience with DnD4. There are days when I'm more into the roleplaying and days when I'm not. Of course, this can be greatly influenced by how inspired I am by my character choices, the DM, and other players. ...but, generally speaking, I appreciate and enjoy the pure strategy game aspect of the combat. Whether or not I prefer it to the heavier roleplay moments varies by the day and my mood. I tend to get cranky if we go for too long without some of both. 

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stevekenson

July 2011

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