Thursday, June 17, 2010

D&D: F1rst P0st1!111!!

Hmph. This isn’t exactly how I wanted to start off my regular schedule, by being late. But having no Internet poses a serious obstacle to posting. I might have to make the timing more flexible: Monday-Tuesday, Wednesday-Thursday, Friday-Saturday, or something like that.

Anyway, I can’t imagine how I managed to avoid writing about D&D for a full year, but I did. I got into tabletops via D20 Modern, with a group of high school buds holding occasional RL sessions. After we split up for college, the campaign died—well, it would be more accurate to say we took the brain-dead vegetable off life support. We turned to live chat campaigning and the D&D 3.5 system, but gaming occurs in fits and starts, and nobody can seem to find an open time and commit to it. Currently we’re on indefinite hiatus.

I had considerably more success once I noticed the Play-by-Post forum on the Giant in the Playground website, which I previously frequented for the Order of the Stick webcomic. PbP lacks some of the ambience of face-to-face gaming, but the upsides of flexible time commitment are tremendous. It’s the same reason I play most of my chess on the Facebook client: I don’t have to block out an hour for a chess game (or several for a D&D session), and can instead parcel out my time as it becomes available. In this system I’ve become involved in several campaigns, and I’m having a lot of fun. Progress is slow, of course; that’s the other drawback of play-by-post, the same way a chess game takes days to complete on Facebook. But that means I get more time to think, develop character ideas, and write.

D&D really stimulates my creativity. Lots of it ends up directed at the game itself, of course, but there’s spillover in other areas as well. My previous fantasy posts came not long after I began playing, and it’s no coincidence. It’s another source of regular writing, though hardly one I can claim is improving my productivity. Of course, if I wanted to get really involved in D&D as a creative endeavor I’d DM a campaign, but at that point I have to wonder about how the workload scales. Putting a lot of effort and ingenuity into that sort of project beats doing nothing, but it’s hardly a state of affairs I could maintain for any length of time—and campaigns take months or years.

D&D lends itself to a goodly number of theoretical discussions as well, and I plan to talk about those. Class balance (or rather, the lack thereof), party genders, the alignment system, integrating magic into a campaign world—all these are topics that I can discuss at length. So I probably will, since it means another update gets done on time. We’ll see how it goes.


Math_Mage said...

Actually, I think our little group could benefit from playing PbP. A couple of people who couldn't reliably play Friday evening or Sunday afternoon can take their lunch break to update their turn. Of course, I'd feel more comfortable advocating this if I were ready to DM it; as a player I always feel a little awkward suggesting that someone else do 90% of the work.

CEETTN said...

If you're not willing to advocate, the DM is ;). PbP seems like a fine system, unfortunately it seems like a system more geared towards story telling than gaming side of the game; combat may take a long time but if people are committed that shouldn't be too much of a problem. This is actually where google wave could shine like a thousand suns. Does everyone in our little group have one?

Math_Mage said...

Yes, we all do. Just checked. 'Course, that means I don't have anything to do with that invite sitting in my