Thursday, May 3, 2012

Meet the Dweebs

Why is it every time I meet D&D players in the real world, they always turn out to be such fucking dweebs?

On the bus home yesterday I sat across from a twenty-something couple in an intense argument about whether or not it would be possible to strangle a god to death; she was arguing for, and he was arguing against, and it became clear after awhile that he was her DM in the game they were playing.  So naturally I spoke up and got involved.

After the initial shock of meeting someone who's almost fifty who understood what they were on about, we got into a three-way discussion about a flood of "practical" game advice - mostly given by them to me.  I learned really important things about why NOT to game with the Devil (he cheats); about how to beat Death (take his scythe away); about the exact wording of wish spells; about how duplicate gods exist in multiple universes, so that if you kill one here the others will be aroused; and how having mass numbers of attacks enables you to kill gods and thus become one yourself.  There was a great deal of discussion about super-powerful magical weapons and which ones are best wished for when you get a wish.  And all this in just under 23 minutes.

I'd say the game is divided between people who would read the above and think, "Good Discussion," and those doing a face-palm right now, thinking, "Oh my gawd this same old shit again."

Guess which camp I fall into.

There's no wonder in my mind why people who do not play this game see players as a bunch of flakey morons.  I can imagine what the others on the packed bus thought while probably not comprehending most of it.  If someone else did know, he or she wisely kept quiet.  I kept quiet for the most part, letting them ramble on in that "keen" or "cool" way people have of getting excited about their thing.  I did say that I had a world.  I didn't offer details, however, and naturally they asked no questions - that type never does.  I learned that they were players of Pathfinder; they got off the bus having no idea what edition I played.

I have to laugh when a conversation about playing the game includes the phrase, "Whenever I have a wish spell ..."

In thirty years of play I have given exactly two wish spells to players.  One resulted from a Deck of Many Things.  I can't remember what it was used for; I think the party returned to somewhere.  The other resulted from a randomly rolled scroll - and it was used to resurrect a permanently lost player character (a mountain fell on him).  My personal opinion is that I don't fuck players who use wish spells by twisting words or reading everything as an entendre.  That sort of thing popped up out of Victorian morality, based on the premise that anyone who ever gets anything for free should be punished for the good of their souls.  I have a more Chinese opinion about these things.  I think a player should be given precisely what he or she wants - which often will not be as wonderful as they hoped.

Oh, during the discussion about becoming a god I learned that the fellow's character in another campaign had become 25th level after a year and a half of campaigning.  I'm never clear about the structure of measuring these intensive games of plentitude - once you blow the doors off restraint, what keeps you from making the treasure 60,000 gold for killing four trolls as opposed to 40,000?  When you massacre 113 frost giants with 113 swings of your sword, do you give 1,000 gold per frost giant or 2,000 gold?  How does one decide, exactly?  Is one necklace of missiles ever enough?  Shouldn't everyone have a bag of holding, and isn't it necessary that every member of the party have some kind of artifact, just so no one feels left out?

I've never been clear on those things.

My apologies to all the pud-pounding fantasy fan-types out there, but there really is a more sophisticated way to play this game than figuring out how many magic swords you can hang around your waist.  See, it's like the two ways to see the purpose of movies.

There are fans of a movie like Transformers, where the thrill is about big honking robots fighting.  The reason is entirely unimportant.  The only reason to have actors at all is because they're cheaper to film than CGI.  You need to plant people in their seats for 120 minutes, and since the budget only allows for 10 minutes of CGI, you've got to fill the other 110 minutes with something.  It might as well be with Megan Fox and some dweeb with which the audience can identify.  Gamers who like this sort of thing just want to be big robots, smashing around, and the more magic the better.

I'm more of a Ratatouille fan myself, where the big climax in the film is making someone change their mind.  If there were giant robots in the world, it would probably take about five minutes for them to start fighting each other.  So, not much effort there.  But people actually have minds that CAN change, yet it happens with such infrequency that it's possible for human beings to get excited about it. Therefore, my games are about changing people.

I'd rather play a game where players think, where curiousity carries more weight than wishing and getting.  I'd very much rather stop meeting freaking morons who think the opposite.