Confessions of a D&D Newbie


Recently, I've found myself in the unusual situation of being an experienced gamer with little experience in the game my primary group is playing - and that game happens to be D&D. Many gamers take D&D experience for granted in their new players, which can cause groups to run into trouble when that isn't the case for some players. These are a few of my experiences as a D&D newbie; knowing about them may help you when dealing with new players.

I have something kind of embarrassing to admit to all of you: I don't really know that much about D&D. Sure, I own the books and have played a few sessions and small-scale games here and there at conventions (as well as racking a fair bit of experience with the Star Wars d20 system), but due to falling in with gaming groups who spent most of their time in the old World of Darkness, I managed to spend the first ten years of my gaming career with hardly any "table time" as a D&D gamer. It wasn't until my primary gaming group recently began a large-scale D&D 3.0 campaign after more than seven years of playing in the Storyteller system that I was forced to step outside of my "roll Dex + Firearms" comfort zone and begin to explore the wide world of the world's first RPG.

As the campaign began, I didn't see any reason for concern about the change in systems. Epic fantasy settings aren't normally to my taste (I much prefer a modern fantasy, horror, or sci-fi game), but with a group as good as mine I figured I would get past my lack of experience quickly and soon be just as comfortable in D&D as I was in WoD. So I'm quite surprised to note that about three months after the beginning of the campaign, I'm still getting acclimated to the game system and finding my feet as a D&D player.

I don't think my situation is all that unusual.

Although you might be surprised to learn about my lack of D&D experience, I don't think my situation is all that unusual. Many segments of the gaming community still take D&D/d20 familiarity for granted, but a growing number of gamers - often women and younger players - are coming to gaming through a path that started with something other than rolling 3d6 for stats. Even otherwise experienced gamers can be clueless when it comes to D&D - and chances are that if you're at all serious about keeping a D&D group together in the long term, you will eventually have to induct someone into your group who's barely played the game before. In the interest of making the gaming hobby more welcoming for everyone (and helping you to keep new players once you've attracted them), I though I'd talk here about a few of the aspects of D&D that I've struggled with, and how you might approach them as a player or a DM if you ever find yourself with inexperienced D&D players who feel the same as I do.

Character generation and advancement. One of the hardest things for me to get accustomed to in D&D has been the need to look ahead to the future while building a character. Certainly it's a good idea to think about your character's future advancement in every game, but it's much easier to wing it from week to week in a game system like WoD, buying up skills or powers as demanded by the situation and not thinking too far beyond your character's immediate needs. Not so with D&D. The less flexible system of level-based advancement means that a bad build starting out is likely to screw your character over for the entire duration of the game, unlike WoD where it's easy to go back and pick up missing skills once you realize you need them. What's more, it was hard for me to remember that I had to be looking ahead to my prestige class while generating a first-level character, in order to make sure I would have all the prerequisites to do what I wanted later on. Although 4e looks as though it may ameliorate some of these problems, D&D's character creation system still strikes me as rather unforgiving of mistakes, which can be off-putting to new players. So make sure to give your new D&D players as much guidance as they want or need during chargen, and to offer suggestions about how to optimize their characters (without taking over their concept, of course). If you're a DM, you might also want to consider touching base with your players after the first session, and letting them shuffle skill points or even feats around if it turns out that what looked good to them on paper doesn't translate so well around the table.

Systems in general. d20 is a fairly straightforward system, all things considered, and from what I've seen of 4e so far it's been streamlined even more. Yet it's still easy to feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities for races, classes, and feats, particularly if you're bringing third-party sourcebooks into the mix. The same goes for combat; going from WoD's rather simplistic fighting system to the world of miniatures, hex mats, flanking, and attacks of opportunity proved very jarring and confusing for me, particularly since the number-crunching bit of gaming has never been my forte. When dealing with new players, then, it's best to go slow to avoid confusing them. That's not to say that you should dumb D&D down, but you should definitely make sure that your new players have a solid grasp of the "attack bonus vs. AC" basics before complicating the issue with things like grapple checks, crazy spells, or environmental modifiers. I'm also very grateful for the fact that my current DM has extensively limited our choices by going so far as to give us a list of allowed races and classes and to not permit anything else. You can always add in more options as the campaign progresses and evolves, but I know that it really helped me to pick between only about 8 races and 10 classes instead of wading through dozens of sourcebooks looking for the perfect combination.

Personally, I'm not a fan of D&D's alignment system

Alignment. This is a thorny issue even for experienced D&D players, and for newbies it can be downright incomprehensible. Personally, I'm not a fan of D&D's alignment system; though I understand its tradition and its place in D&D, coming from a fairly freeform WoD background it strikes me as an overly limiting and reductionistic way of defining a character. (I have similar gripes about the "virtue and vice" system used in the revised World of Darkness, but that's an article for another day.) But all personal gripes aside, I think I would have found alignment much easier to adjust to if its importance (or, in the case of my game, the lack thereof) had been made known right away. Most of the D&D material I had read prior to my new campaign spoke of alignment as a crucial part of the character, something that should always be on your mind as you roleplay. In practice, the truth was very different.

For example, in my current D&D game, the DM's world has nine gods, each controlling one alignment - gotta love the classics! The gods and the church exercise a huge amount of control over the gameworld; in fact, a major part of the campaign's backstory has to do with a failed revolt against the church on behalf of arcane magic wielders, and the devastating consequences of the resulting war. After reading up on how the gods were so powerful that they could literally call down lightning on blasphemers at any minute over any incidents of deity-related trash-talk, I came to the first session ready to play my Lawful Good fighter to the hilt. No gods would be smiting me that day, even if I had to play my character like she had a gigantic stick up her ass in order to accomplish that! So I was quite confused when my DM asked me a few sessions later, "Why are you so worried about keeping within your character's alignment? You can lie and stuff if you want. It's not like you're playing a paladin." I was extremely surprised to learn that despite the dire and inflexible-sounding backstory of the world, the experienced D&D players in my group still saw alignment as a guideline, and that I didn't have to worry about any smitings anytime soon. Again, this could be a personal shortcoming rather than a universal issue experienced by new D&D players, or just a case of poor communication, but it certainly never hurts for a DM to make his alignment-related preferences and attitudes known explicitly to the whole group.

Setting and world. This brings me to my next point: Defining and describing a colorful and detailed game world is good. Not only does it aid in good roleplaying, it cuts down on the confusion detailed in the previous two sections by giving your players a good idea of what to expect and what characters will be a good fit with the story you're trying to tell. My gaming experience means that while I can churn out a character for a modern-day setting quickly and reliably, and have a good time playing her. Not so in D&D; I found it challenging to come up with a character concept who would avoid the traditional fantasy cliches while also being fun to play and fitting into the setting and story. DMs, this is where clearly defining the history, culture, and facts of your game world, perhaps by writing up a document that contains this information, will really help your players. It will help everyone, not just new players, to have access to a ready-made source of character concept ideas by understanding the different factions and groups that populate your game world.

Experienced players might also want to think about a implementing sort of "adopt a newbie" program. If you notice that your new D&D gamer seems overwhelmed or confused about what sort of character to play, offer to tie your character concepts together and play friends, siblings, or partners in crime. This makes it easier for new players to make a character that fits with the setting, as well as provide them with a ready-made source of character interactions. (And just for the record, this advice works for pretty much any game, not just D&D!)

Player expectations. In D&D as in any game, it's important for the DM to consider what the players want and try to give it them. But it's equally important for players to come in with a good understanding of what the campaign will be like, so they don't end up angry or disappointed to be playing something different from what they wanted or expected. Sometimes, the chasm between expectations and reality ends up impossibly large, and it's up to the group and particularly the DM to bridge that gap. When my group embarked on its D&D endeavor, I assumed that the campaign wouldn't be very different from our past WoD games - deep, talky, immersive, light on combat, heavy on character interaction and plot investigation. Imagine my surprise, then, when our characters spent at least as much time in the first session fighting two jackals as they did talking to each other, and post-game discussion trended more toward "this cool feat I'm going to pick up next level" than the ins and outs of the plot, as it previously had. The truth is, each game system encourages a certain style of play. This isn't a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a fact that gamers often overlook - and assuming that switching systems wouldn't also switch the group dynamic can lead to problems further down the road. Make sure that everyone, especially less experienced players, knows exactly what they're getting into before the game begins.

Overall, my experience as a D&D newbie has been mixed.

In the case of D&D, this often means making new players aware of the importance of proper character design, and how what works for one game often doesn't work for another. In the World of Darkness games (the new ones in particular), it's often prudent to spread your skill points around broadly, making your character a jack of all trades. Most of you already know that following the same strategy in D&D is a recipe for disaster, or at least an extremely underpowered character. So much of the enjoyment of D&D is combat-based, and nothing leads to frustration more quickly than trying to have fun in a new game with a character who simply was not built to work with the game. I was fortunate in that I'm an experienced gamer in general, and my forays into Star Wars d20 enabled me to make these mistakes earlier on (in the form of a comically inept Jedi Guardian), so my current fighter is pretty good at what she does. Still, as mentioned before, not everyone is so lucky, and a little guidance throughout the process of character creation is likely to save your new players a lot of grief further on down the road.

Overall, my experience as a D&D newbie has been mixed. I'm happy and excited to be trying something new, but it can also be frustrating to feel as though I'm coming in half-blind and crippled because my gaming journey started in a different place. With any luck, the next time I talk to you about D&D, it'll be from the perspective of a totally happy and experienced player. I'm definitely in this game for the long haul; it's just going to take some time to get to where I'm going. Until then, I'd love to hear your suggestions in the "comments" section about what you've done to help new D&D players find their feet in a new system. Together, we can continue to make gaming a little more welcoming for everyone, regardless of where they got started.

Good article, and timely, in my case, as I'm soon going to be introducing my little brother and sister to the game and could always use advice on where to start out. For the record, and at the risk of taking Lorthyne's empty fan-boy post, D&D 4e is much better for the problems you addressed than 3.5 was. In particular, you don't have to look ahead quite so much, and many of the future changes are intuitive to your earlier choices and remain consistent with the character.

The only advice I can give on bringing new players in is to make sure you design the story around their characters (as well as everybody elses). People like their characters to be important, and everyone wants to complete the story arc you started with character creation. But, to me, that's just good advice for any and all GMing.

Yeah, expectations are key. They can ruin a game or make it worthwhile.

Good article. Alignment's suck. I actually liked the virtue/vice system. At the risk of derailing this article, you wanna tell me what you don't like about it? Sounds like a good discussion to me.

Well, I was thinking about discussing virtue/vice and morality systems in a future article, Tzuriel, so I won't say too much here in detail. But the basics of my gripe are that virtue/vice is too limiting in that it tends to produce the same few personality combinations over and over again, and that it's extremly Western-centric to the point of being almost totally illogical for characters who come from a non-American or European culture. I'll move that idea to the front of the queue so you can get a better idea of my opinions soon. (c:

3.0 is nowhere near "the world's first RPG". Not even close. Try OD&D, Classic D&D or AD&D and you'll be closer to the mark.

I know, Tas - I was referring to D&D in general with that comment, which is, technically speaking, the world's first RPG (unless you want to say Chainmail was, or something).

"So I'm quite surprised to note that about three months after the beginning of the campaign, I'm still getting acclimated to the game system and finding my feet as a D&D player."

I can certainly relate. I have had a similar experience just moving between versions of D&D. The volume of material is daunting as well: skills, magic items, spells, and classes are nearly limitless. I also find that the system is geared towards the tabletop minature action and I must "translate" my narrative descriptions of what my character is doing into gamespeak.

Thanks for the article. It is very useful.

I do not have the time to elaborate right now, but it seems to me that several of the issues presented originate from playing in a fantasy world, or one which is very different than our current world, for the first time and are not stemming from the system (take the smiting, for example).

zipdrive - you're probably right on that. I mentioned my lack of epic fantasy gaming experience as a contributing factor as well, but could probably have stood to give it more emphasis. Actually, I do like the d20 system for certain types of games because it does many things well - but I think I'll always prefer a modern setting to a high fantasy one.

I always try to talk about four things pre-campaign:

1. Alignment: Like you said, the sourcebooks make this into a big issue, and not every DM cares. I'm pretty liberal about alignments, I jsut go with the fact that if you're an alignment-based class, you've got to have some sort of code of Ethos, and some rules you won't breach under any circumstance. But I explain this in advance to any clerics, paladins or monks in the campaign, because I wanna be nice about it. And I know many a game-runner who fails to share my liberal ideals on this subject.

2. Home Rules: Even if the player's familiar with some of them or the system, I bring these up ASAP. I recommend this rule regardless of system.

3. World/society: High fantasy worlds have their own mix of ideals and societies (even standard forgotten realms has some truly unique views about everything), so I try to share the relevant ones of the area they're in and their race's society to some extent. This will always screw people up if it's not properly addressed. I tend to talk up the settiing on Chargen nights, and I also like to oversee chargen anyways. However, I encourage the other palyers not knowing what the others are capable of, unless they happen to be connected. I liek your adopt-a-player strategy, this makes it much easier on the newbies and saves the DM some headaches.

4. Magic: Since magic is one of the more tricky areas in DnD, I avoid giving it to newbies, preferrign hey take eitehr a martial classe or a skill-monkey (rogues at first-level are usually not too bad, epsecially if you tell the rogue in advance what are some good starter skills for you campaign).

Some other thoughts:

First, prestige classses are nice, but you may not want to shoot those out in the first campaign. This goes double for new players who ae totally enw to rpgs as opposed to jstu being new to dnd. They're very complicated, and very, very much a proudct of thinking 5-6 levels in advance--which can give a new guy a case of overwhelming (It did me, that's for sure.)

Second, always discuss combat's level of improtance to your player. Most of the tricky parts of DnD are combat, but there are many otehr thigns to do in the world, depending on how it's designed. I'm as low-hack as dnd gets when I run the game, more interested in seeing players fiddle with the world then bash the skulls of enemies in. I totally wanr them in advance how much combat thre will or won't be, because I liek to let players think this through.

Third, Troubleshoot fast and quick. This isthe DM's biggest job, especialliy in DnD. It's eaiser to fix problesm sooenr than later, and you can always create and in-game explanation for why soemone got erfed, plussed, or otherwise tweaked, if it's dramatic enoguh for other palyers to notice.

Fourth, as an add-on to the adopt a player strategy, I recommend the player is adopted by soemoen who is very good at building characters, almsot to he point of optimizing. This is because the new player, if they're relaly inteesed is going to not only know what's good, but why it's good. And the mentor player needs to be able to explain it in simple, basic terms.

Fifth, allowing slight meta-gaming in order to keep the newbie alive is not a bad plan. I think few things are more discuouraging to a new player then to die in the first 45 mintues or so. Even this happens in DnD quite a bit, it's still very frustrating and unpleasant to new players. This is especially bad if they die on acocunt of a rookie mistake. so feel free to pull someone aside and wanr them that theyr'e about to do something very, very ill-advised. Mainly because rolling up a new charrie is not the best intro to a game.

Kindly yours,

Good article! I played a little D&D with my fellow beginners in junior high school, but when I came back ten years later and played it again with a group who’d been playing it together for years, all the math, paperwork, and constant combat was very intimidating. I got confused fast, and by the end I was so lost that I had no idea what figurine on the table represented what person in the battle. The rest of the group seemed disgusted with me. It did not make me want to play D&D again.

I, myself, prefer to play with people that have no D&D experience at all. While using the d20 system I prided myself on being able to say, "trust me...this is *not* D&D", and so I didn't want those D&D players at my table.

I'm not trying to sound snobbish...but in all honesty I've always found there to be something rank and boorish about D&D veterans. Rude barbarians, rife with stats and equations sure to make even a mathmetician shake in his slippers. Not that I'm casting judgement...a great many marvelous things have been accomplished by barbarians throughout the history of our world. But I can't help but think to myself, "how did time pass these creatures by? And at what point did we slide backwards from the Renaissance to a previous era where might makes right, and damn the consequences?"

Setting and genre surely. That must be to blame. A setting or genre wherein combat prowess makes the measure of a man must surely engender these careless brutes. Instead of picks and cleavers, they come to the fight armed with esoteric mathematical malfunctions intended to bludgeon the uninitiated into submission and force them to face the fact that *we are legion...just look online at the message board stats and quail at our passing!*.

A "level dip" here, an "optimised build" there...and the circle of doom is complete. Take your "character", and your petty "social skills" and your over-hyped "suspension of disbelief" and jump into line with all those people over their playing WoD games. Only real men in here...real men and their math and pounds of dice, and the women that love them even after a long weekend at GenCon or Origins. Their musk is a mark of pride, and you can see readily the bloodlust in their eyes as they approach the table, ready to hack whatever comes before them into a gross pile of misunderstood human slag.

And I'm not speaking in character here. I've seen my fair share of D&D newbies chewed up and spit out in the wake of these big headed vikings, spreading chips and high sugar soda around them as though they are salting the earth to prevent future generations from sowing seeds in what they see as *their* land. All of this before the GM even says, "so there you are...what do you do next?"

Perhaps I'm too harsh, but it's not like I'm new at this. I've been around long enough to see with my own eyes that the guy that gets the subtle run-off from a table of proper *roleplayers* is usually a D&D veteran. More often than not, he sees it as "I left that group because they didn't *get it*. Good ridance then and OK for now, I'm off to storm a fort with my 'clan'". Meanwhile, the rest of the group is left sitting in the wake of his departure, covered by a thin film of sweat and realizing how close they came to total annihilation at the hands of an unstoppable juggernaut of destructive main force that cares only for his own survival...his own mark..his own place in the great Wheel of Terror inspired by Ancient Tradition and Lessons Learned from Editions Past. The danger passed, they heave a collective sigh of relief and get back into character, praying to their heathen gods of Charisma and Long Drawn Out Conversations With NPCs that that never happens again so long as they shall live.

A nervous look spreads from one end of the table to the other as they shudder slightly at the proximity of it all. the reality of the situation they just avoided by a hairs breadth. Now roll for initiative, and hope that the term "dump stat" is never uttered at their table again.

Stereotypes exist for a reason; generalizations are based on empirical data in 75% of situations even though 94.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot to support what is essentially a difference of opinions that can't be supported by numbers.

And really, that's the crux of the thing. That's the whole nut right there. Some of us realize that even if it *can* be supported by hard numbers, and squares on a grid, and lead figurines, and shaky mathematics leaning against decades of ingrained entropy...that doesn't mean that it *should*. Yet, these adherants to "the new math" would have it otherwise. They would take our homes, rape our land, and then bomb us back into the stone age.

And if we're still standing afterwards...then I guess we can join the group afterall, as long as we remember where our place is...right beneath them on the gaming foodchain; right between The Society For Creative Anachronism and LARPers, clutching our character prehistory to our chest like a shield, waiting for the hammer to fall.

Then again, I'm a GURPS GM now. So *of course* I would say all of this. "Down with the typical!" I say, while the barbarians yell from the next room "Pipe down over there! And send in more whiskey and rye! We're about to roll to confirm criticals!"

You sure you shouldn't have made this an article, Scott? You're beginning to sound a bit like me over there...

I think by and large you're right, though it's hard to tell with so much metaphor and imagery in there...I must admit I got a little confused at moments lol. While good players can survive the game, I do think it encourages both that attitude and that demographic, particularly the new edition. The other editions were not nearly so limited and so allowed much more creativity in both the rules and the game. This edition, though, is a glorification of what you're talking about up there. And that's really sad. I think in it's mad grab for new "players" wizards is losing many of it's oldest fans along with its quality. It makes me sad cause I did start out with D&D and it sucks to see it fall apart like this. Oh, well. The bright side is that this forces me to expand my experience and try out many different games. So there's always a good thing about it - and, luckily, all the best games are avoided by the above like the plague.

I think it's more accurate to say that all the best *campaigns* are avoided by the above like the plague. All one has to do is peruse the message boards for various game systems to see what their core players are. GURPS for example is a fantastic system that seems to have a majority (or a grossly overrepresented vocal minority) of wizards skilled in the ancient art of quantum rules mechanics that are adherents to it's logical progressionism and nit picky rules lawyer encouragement. One look at their public verbal meanderings is enough to see that even there the people are more interested in stating out a jeep *just so* than they are in talking about the types of things we generally discuss around Gamegrene. A single point difference between one type of ammunition and another similar type can spark a multipage deluge of opinions and ideas and arguements and quoted reference material intended as proof of concept taken verbaitm from Wikipedia with liberal use of cntrlc cntrlv-ism, while I sit back and ask myself, "why do they care about this? Is it going to break the campaign? DOES THIS REALLY MAKE A LICK OF DIFFERENCE AT ALL?!?"

See, it's the *theory* behind gaming that entrances me and enriches my conversations about it. I could give a damn about knowing exactly how many points my tires are worth. I want grit! I want story! I want characters, damn it! An I'm willing to kill to get it, like a fiend searching the streets for an easy mark when his pockets are devoid of the necessary currency to fulfil his obligations to whatever monkey he has strapped to his back. I don't have much stomach anymore for the hacks and number crunchers...and if one persons math is more sound than anothers it's still no excuse for beating the rulebook like a bible and making those that are there for other reasons feel stupid for not bowing to some formula or another in an increased need to turn fanboyism into idolatry. The new gods are just the old in different clothing, speaking a different language. But a heathen god is still a heathen god and I won't bow to any of them.

So whether it's barbarians from the past shouting about how even though the world isn't flat *it damn well should be*, or new school calculus wizards with pages of algebra to represent their equipment or vehicles or just their damn shoes, I'm done with it all. The gloves are off. Gaming has changed, but I refuse to change with it. And I'm not reverting either.

For the record, I think that the barbarian hordes would trample the new school math geeks in any fair competition, measured on any scale...if for no other reason than the fact that they can't admit defeat or they have to accept that their ways are archaic, their methods outdated, and their very way of life is coming to an end. Likewise for the wizards, as they can always quote some page or other to back themselves up...but if no one listens it doesn't matter, and the barbarians can't hear them over their own ghastly roaring. The outcome is moot anyways...the next generation has arrived on the scene, and these 4th generation psions (or are they scions?) are laughing at us from the sidelines while they wait for the huns and the intelligentsia to kill each other off. And when the dust settles, they'll pick up our dice and have a game over our bones.

From now on I'm going to game with the lights off and the curtains closed and ignore the door if someone knocks for fear that the gaming cops have come for my 3.0 d20 and 3rd edition GURPS manuals. I'm going to ride this ugly middle-child style of gaming till it dies beneath me, and then drag it a few miles further out of denial.

Seriously, Scott, do you wanna make this an article? You could just do the cutting and pasting you mentioned just now and there you go (you should include an explanation of the symbols your using here, cause I'm still having a hard time following) lol.

But I agree. You gotta stick with what's good, and to hell with the rest of it. So you ride that middle-child, Scott. We're behind ya.

However, I think it's important to use some of the new things being developed and not withdraw into what you already have. Expanding your skills and perceptions is almost always a good thing, so don't close off completely. It's good to see the sun every now and then.

I'd make it an article, but it's already all right here for anyone to see. It's on topic, so if it remains a comment on someone else's article at least I can claim that it's partially concise. As an article, all it would do is spark a chain of people who already read it to say "agree" or "disagree", and that's not really the point. As a reply to someone elses article it has merit rather than just hubris.

I do agree that you have to stick with what's good; but not necessarily that incorporating new things that have just been developed is a good way to cross polinate. What I'm describing isn't withdrawing into material I already's withdrawing into a style I prefer and support. I'm sick of gaming that is influenced by gaming. I'm sick of gaming that is influenced by fiction that takes place within the same genre it's based on. Generally, I'm sick of things leaning on each other so much to the point that we can't tell where it all started and where it all ended so that to remove one thing we have to rip out the whole sordid mess at the roots and throw it to the side like a mouth full of bad teeth.

As for seeing the sun once in awhile; well, I guess we all have different tolerances to light levels. It seems to me that the trend has been to make The Sun version 2.whatever bigger and brighter than the last one. For kicks, some lame genius with the Blood of Past Sinners on his hands will try a different colored Sun and call it New. Not to sound old here...but I remember when we decided for ourselves via our own blinders how much sun we got, and at precisely which angle to turn ourselves towards it in order to prevent our backs being bowed under it's misplaced rays. That same sun...the original one that used to make our little flowers push up each still here shining brightly. But, like a prom date quickly forgotten for a young harlot once the reception was over and safe grad began and no one was watching, we all seem to think that this newer, younger, shinier sun is really what we want after all. At least, that's what It wants us to think while it plots against us and our wallets and our sensibilities.

Two examples to give this whole long tangle of words an anchor point; the best gaming related book I've read in years was the playtest version of Vox, and the thing I've looked at recently that inspired me the most while planning was an artists representation of the conclusion of any arguement; it was two black dots on a white background with a red line drawn haphazardly between them.

I can't really explain it any better than that, and deconstructing my metaphors would castrate them and render them obsolete...much like the rush to newer Suns has ruined the appeal we once felt for our old ones.

Dude, you love metaphors lol. It's ok, though I got this one (mainly because I originated it lol).

I hear what you're saying. I think it'd be cool for gaming to stand up on it's own two feet and not have to rely on other mediums. I personally believe that a lot of games are doing just that (ignore D&D for now) - they're coming up with original ideas and original ways to play those ideas. That's the "sun" I was referring too. When I was young I loved fantasy and read it nearly constantly. But, alas, I read it so much then that I have a hard time returning to it now, except to revisit old favorites. So you don't wanna do your preferred style so much that you kill it off. I highly doubt you really have any problem with this, though, Scott. I was speaking in general. I don't mean we should surrender ourselves completely to what's new and different, but to be aware of it and not push it aside simply because it's "new" is a good idea. Who knows, you might find some things that you like.

As for Vox I regret to say I haven't read it. I actually haven't had time to do much of anything gaming related lately. The artists rendition of the conclusion of an argument sounds brilliant. Do you have a link to it or something so I can see it? Your description was good but it's always nice to actually see it.

As to the metaphors, are you saying I actually have to reread your comments and slowly, painfully deconstruct them myself? Well, maybe if it were an article I'd put that kind of effort in, but for comments...? lol

I'm not realy suggesting that gaming stand on it's own two feet without influence from other mediums; I'm saying it would be nice if *gamemasters* and the *campaigns they run* in the *settings they develop* could stand on their own feet. In fact, it's more accurate to say that it's too bad gamers can't rely on influence from other mediums *instead* of having gaming influenced only by gaming. And when looking outside of gaming for influence for your fantasy campaign, for example, you *didn't* rely on fantasy literature or fiction or movies or anything to inspire you. Get inspired by something else. Think outside of the box.

To wit...
1) A fantasy campaign based on concepts taken from L. Ron Hubbards Dianetics
2) NPCs based on people described in Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness of Crowds
3) A main villain based on one of the heros from the bible
4) A scifi campaign based on The Duelists starring Keitel and Carradine
5) An entire horror setting based on a fight you saw down at the pub
6) A scene at a pub inspired by a pickle commercial

...I could go on. That`s just what I came up with sitting here having a beer at the pub on my lunch break. That list doesn`t even scratch the surface of what I`m trying to get at when I say `get out of gaming and into the world!`

And stop waiting for gaming companies to write the product that will change your life. All they will do is write products that change your bank account balance. (Not indie developers mind you; they are the special breed that actual write books to write books...if a profit comes, well wow! What a bonus!)

Until as gamemasters we learn how to get inspired by things that don't stink of whatever we found under our older brothers bed while searching for slurpee money, we'll never get the newbies described in the original article to buy in to what we're trying to do. Many people that get into gaming get into it for different reasons these days. We cannot appeal to them with the same old stodge time after time after time. As long as we try to, then we get precisely *the wrong type* of gamers sitting on the other side of our screens. We don't get gamers that are interested in something outside of the norm...we appeal directly to their preconceived notions.

This has two possible dubious effects:

1) They are okay with that, and we never get to run that great campaign we had in mind because we can't get them to stop killing things and taking their loot/saving the world/getting on the kings good side/revealing the doppleganger on the council and thus *winning the damn plotline*. They get hung up on the lame ass way we described it, and they get washed away by how much we had to dumb it down just to get them to sit on the other side of the table from us. Hence, we have told them "it's not like that" then proceeded to give them *exactly that*.


2) They leave after one session because we lied to them and promised them one thing and gave them precisely what has kept them away from gaming all along.

Either way, everyone at the table loses and the great gaming never takes place. Shortly thereafter, some new school 4th edition wunderkind comes along and tells them that we old school hacks just did it wrong and why don't they come over Saturday night for a quick romp to see how *real gamers* throwdown? Forever after, that player is lost to the dark side; like an estranged wife that is willing to give up your stable home, good credit, excellent background, and loving family for a fling with some stranger that flashed exactly the right smile at exactly the right time. (One could just as easily replace the estranged wife with the estranged husband and the metaphor still holds true...that particular NPC is easily interchangeable).

So I suppose to make people new to the hobby feel comfortable with it, we have to appeal to what makes them tick as players. More and more I am finding that what makes players tick is not what used to make them tick. It's not even the same thing at all anymore. Many of us old schoolers were influenced by someone elses gaming; these newbies are not. They are coming from a background of precisely nothing...except for maybe a bunch of negative connotations and wack preconceptions based on "those guys in the library that have no cool friends".

Newsflash...I was the cool guy that had all those friends, was in a band, was the turntablist DJ...and still ran three campaigns at a time for a bunch of dedicated “old school dungeon gamers“. However; those other friends of mine...the nongamers...they wouldn't play in any of them because it was too much of what they didn't like and not enough of anything *good*. I didn't steal half the drama club away to be my long term group (and amazing friends) based on dragons, dungeons, treasure, or "adventures". I had to move outside of gaming, outside of genre, outside of the enitre box altogether...just to get a group that didn't make me want to hurl my GMs screen across the room while screaming "stop thinking about it like that! get over your brothers campaign from grade 4, get over Gygax, get over Salvatore, and stop making rangers with two swords already!"

And yes; you have to actually reread the comments to get them. If it helps, most of it is imagery and not metaphor at all. Some of it is innuendo. And even more still is nothing but the rantings of a half-mad demagogue who was never intended for mass production.

In regards to this relating to the original article in any way shape or form... I understand precisely what Gamerchick was writing about. Old guard gamers don’t try very hard (in many situations; not all as I haven’t met every GM in the world) to make a setting or campaign appeal to new gamers. And it doesn’t stop with D&D either. Anyone ever tried to join a Traveller campaign part way through, especially if the group has been at it since the 70s-80s? How about one of those GURPS campaigns that tries to use everything at once because they want to time travel and ride dinosaurs with lasers on their heads? Anyone ever tried to play Call of Cthulhu without actually reading any Lovecraft or his ilk beforehand?

And then there`s Lensman; WTF is dexitroboping?!?

We need to push things forward. And we need to do it now. We’re losing the battle a little more every day to what gaming has become, and it’s our fault for letting it happen. The new blood won’t join the fold unless we can make gaming breathe again by treating it as proper fiction, proper literature, proper storytelling…and stop letting it be “gaming”, or even just “roleplaying”. We can’t just “let it slide” anymore. We, as gamemasters, need to make this thing live again and not let the companies that release the products tell us how to use them anymore. We need to inspire ourselves, inspire our players, and inspire each and every single session to levels of greatness that are up there with the most classic moments of storytelling in human history.

And if we aren’t willing to do that, we don’t need new editions of anything. All we need is Mordeheim and a bit of paint.

lol and Amen, Scott. I gotta say you just inspired me and I, in true fanboy fashion, have pasted this particular comment onto a word document and printed it out, so I can read it over and over again.

It's like a manifesto, man. You should totally make an article about this. You could call it "The Manifesto." That'd be pretty awesome.

Ok, joking aside (though I really did print that out) I totally agree. You just spoke to what I've been feeling for a long time, man. This medium has been slighted for too long, and deserves true storytellers, people whose names will become legendary like Tolstoy, Hemingway, Spielberg, Scorsese, Ibsen, Homer, Frost, etc., etc., you get the point. We have to consider ourselves real storytellers, telling tales that'll live on in the minds of those telling for the rest of their lives. This is not roleplaying anymore. We are not playing any longer. We are telling stories like they've told since mankind could speak and realized it was pretty cool that Ogg could take out a tiger and that Hogg knew the best places to find food. Storytelling is essential to survival and living a life worth living.

So, friends, Romans, countrymen, let's tell stories.

And Scott, you seriously should make that an article, man. Or maybe a book...I see the makings of doing gaming great things in you.

The real tragedy in regards to the medium being slighted is that *it's been slighted from within itself*. It's like me at the end of high school...everyone told me I was a bad kid and so I went out and was the worst kid I could be. "Gaming" (and by that I mainly mean roleplaying) and "gamers" have done it to themselves. The whole thing has almost become a complete mockery of itself. Self satire. A fat pimply unwashed nuisance with chips in it's beard. Tell someone something long enough and it may as well be true, right?

So now we're were we are now; like confusing teenagers that purposefully don't make sense so that they can whine about "no one understanding them", and then getting pissed off when someone pegs them just right so that they then have an excuse to scream out "don't generalize me!"


I will clarify an earlier point though; I *do* firmly believe that most gamemasters *around here* tell stories. I don't know if they tell the right ones to interest new players but maybe that doesn't even matter. If your players are happy, then you're doing a good job at whatever you're doing. But as we all get older (and some of us really are...) we're going to lose players and have to attract new ones. I, myself, won't change my whole style to suit the new breed of players and therefore hav to find a way to entice *nongamers* to take up the hobby. I've always preferred nongamers anyways, so have a headstart on how to do it. Everyone else will have to play over Skype once a month with their group from high school. (I kid; but dire post-apocalyptic doomscapes make for better reading than straight up factual message board posts)

Well, most any problem takes its root within itself. While that is a sad thing, it is also a beautiful thing, because it gives you control of the problem. It's within yourself. Outside problems are much harder to deal with or predict. I'd take an inside over an outside problem any day.

I like non-gamers better too. Or at least gamers with a very different perspective on things.

i just read this and im a lvl 18 monk and it helped me a tip for all dont play a monk

your right monks do suck