Friday, March 07, 2008

The Game is Over

Everyone else has already beaten me to the clever quips regarding saving throws, so I'll refrain. But the news was sad all the same; Gary Gygax, patron saint of nerds everywhere, died this week.
It made me remember all the fun times I had playing D&D. One thing that struck me in this age of online games was that this game required face-to-face interaction (even if the faces were always buried in various manuals, player character record sheets, maps, and screens).
In middle school, we were banned from playing D&D during our free time. Our English teacher (who didn't care much for me anyway) told us we weren't allowed to have anything D&D related in her classroom. We played at lunch every day... seems to me that it would be more desireable to have a group of seventh grade troublemakers all huddled around a table playing a game every lunch hour than the alternative...
I was usually the DM (Dungeon Master) for those games, I think because I knew the game better than most of my friends. I remember one friend who unfortunately had a different lunch period than the rest of us - he had to leave lunch early. So his characters ended up getting picked on by the others' (getting the most unfortunate shifts to stand watch, etc.). Another personal (real) feud played itself out with dice rolls (to the death).
My friends and I had a little club (we called ourselves the Dungeon Masters' Guild) and we often met at my house (as Matt's little brother always wanted to play even though he didn't really know how, and then he'd cry when his character got killed; and Kevin's sister had a huge crush on Pete, which made it uncomfortable to play at Kevin's house). So we'd play at my house, and some times we would be fortunate enough for my brother (the Dunce) to be our DM. He was a way better DM than I was, and he brought a higher level of sophistication to our game (including allowing the various players to go our own way and make our own decisions instead of simply group-speak dictating what everyone did - the funny thing about this that we didn't figure out as middle schoolers was that we needed the other characters in order to succeed. Without the whole team, and especially when one of us got greedy, we ended up dead).
I remember staying at my friend David's house for an all-night D&D marathon. It was fun, and we enjoyed all the cookies we could eat and all the Coke we could drink, but by the wee hours of the morning, as we got tired and grouchy, our characters ceased to get along and we didn't try the overnight game again.
I loved D&D. Besides spurring creative thought, it helped increase my vocabulary, and it allowed nerds to be powerful.
So anyway, Gary Gygax was an influence on my life, even though I never met him personally.

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