|Where it all started|
That of course is a real signifier as to the fact that I'm not an "old school" D&D gamer. many of them consider the mid-80's advent of the Dragonlance media tie-in fantasy novels, and the game setting they're based on, to be the game's true death-knell. To many, taking the game away from the small, grubby stories of treasure hunters and scoundrelous tomb-robbers and featuring epic, save-the-world style quests with Good and Evil standing against each other was anathema to what the game was all about.
Unfortunately for these grumbly grognards, this newer kind of gameplay not only became popular, it became, in a way, the de facto sort of game played by D&D groups. A ragtag band of heroes - a fellowship, if you will - comes together to take on a quest to defeat some ancient evil that threatens the land. As the characters grow in experience and become more badass, the threats they encounter likewise become more terrible, almost as if some higher power were making sure they were challenged, but not too challenged, in their adventures...
But that's a whole other article for another day.
|Let's be honest. This is badass.|
|This is some epic-level shit going down.|
I realize now, engaging in the world-building of creating a campaign setting, the D&D player is learning the same tools that writers need in order to flesh out the "worlds" they write, even if those worlds are historical or contemporary to the writer. You learn how to build characters, give them motivations, connect story lines and look back at the origin of a conflict, as well as forward to the inevitable resolution. You think of infrastructures and consequences, creating mood and drama, finding themes and setting tone. You learn how to challenge your protagonists, and to make sure that the scale of the challenges they face falls within the sweet spot of tough enough to make things exciting and worthwhile, but not so hard that everyone gets slaughtered, or some deus ex machina is needed to pull everyone's bacon out of the fire. You learn that when a character dies, all the player (aka, reader) asks is that they die well, with a bloody sword in hand and a pile of foes all around. And when the bad guy gets his comeuppance, it's satisfying and worth all the trials and tribulations that came before.
So here's to you, Dungeons and Dragons. Forty years and still going strong, the grandfather of all role-playing games - including most modern video games - and the sandbox where so many writers created their first stories.