Thursday, September 23, 2010

I've Created a Monster

Last night, I got a call from Sunny that went something like this:

“Hey Sweetie, just letting you know I got to work alright.”

“Ok, I meant to ask y…”

“And I talked to (friend) and (friend) about playing Dungeons and Dragons with us, and (friend) said that she’ll look into it to see if it’s something she’d like and (other friend) has played before and really likes it so he’ll play with us if we can…”

Now imagine that last part all delivered in one breath like a chipmunk on speed.

Then, he gets in from work this morning at 6.30am, after working her regular twelve hour shift and asks, only half jokingly…

“Hey, do you mind if we stay up until 2 when Cornermagic opens so I can go buy myself those cool pink and black dice and pick out a mini for myself?”

“Ummm…no. We can’t. But you’re off work tomorrow so we can go then.”

“But I wanna go noooooowwwwww.”

Yes, I’ve created a monster. An awesome, awesome monster…but I had to take a few minutes to explain a couple of things to her.

I love that she’s so excited and can’t wait to play again…and just to be absolutely clear, I’m not complaining. I know to the vast majority of gamers out there, complaining that your wife or girlfriend is being too impatient to play DnD is the equivalent of complaining there are too many Victoria’s Secret models arguing over who gets to sleep with you first.

…but, at this point, she doesn’t really get what it is I have to do to make a game happen.

Giving her a quick introduction to the game was relatively easy. It took me less than 30 minutes to write something up, and for the combat/exploration phase, I drew out a very simple dungeon (well, crypt in this case) on a couple of piece of graph paper, and made paper tokens for all the characters. Then, I just pulled a couple of minion types and low level bad guys from the monster manual and let her have at it.

Writing an actual game is a completely different thing, and even running a pre-made game takes a lot of preparation. Oh…and running something like ‘Keep on the Shadowfel’ just isn’t doable with ½” squared graph paper and hand-cut paper tokens.

I also pointed out that to run a game and keep it moving along, each player really needs around three of each type of dice. Sharing a single set between three players is going to bog things down a little (especially if that set is my set… I don’t want other people using up all the good rolls).

Last, but by no means least, there’s just the inherent difficulty of running a game for all new players. Optimally, you bring in one new player into an established group.

You see, when there’s one new player in an experienced group, there’s multiple people there to help out the newbie and keep things moving. When you’re trying to ‘sell’ a game to new people and have to stop every single turn to explain what stats mean, show them what dice they need to roll and what modifiers to apply, it stops being an adventure and becomes an exercise in math where no-one really knows what’s going on.

It’s the difference between a critical hit that snatches victory from the jaws of defeat and “Oh, so it’s dead? How did that happen?”

Plus, there’s the roleplay side. When the newbie is playing with experienced players, not only is listening to the in-character banter really entertaining, (and sells the session as an adventure and not just a bunch of dice-rolling), it helps pull the newbie out of their shell and into the game. It’s hard to feel silly about having an in-character argument with an NPC when the guy next to you has just stood up and roared something about ‘The axe of his Fathers’ after scoring a critical hit on the big bad of the dungeon.

Well, tomorrow, we’ll go get her dice, and if we can, a dry-erase battlemap, and I’ll run her through an official first-level dungeon delve (after making her a character that will stand a chance and adjusting the encounters to fit a two person party instead of five) and see how that goes.

Hopefully, by the time we get over to England, she’ll know how everything works and then I can see about setting up and actual gaming group.


Sunny said...

Heh!!! See my Blog for a reply to this one.... I love you sweetie.

Evan 08 said...

...I don’t want other people using up all the good rolls...

Spoken like a true gaming geek.