Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Dungeons and Dragons
In the middle of our last East Coast trip, Lindsay Greene spearheded an activity that I believe will transform our road experience from here on out.
He suggested we start playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Neither Dave nor I had ever gotten into role playing before because, um, we're not total nerds. Just kidding (kind of). Well, I did play D and D once, but I've never immersed myself in the land of enchantment and elves and trolls and wizards and warlords and all things vaguely Tolkienish. Lindsay had played some back in the day, but had pretty much forgotten what the deal was. But it seemed like a fun way to pass the time, as well as a good excuse to by many different dice of many side types. We have now, traveling with us, 4,6,8,10 and 20 sided dice. Or dyes? Or die? Who knows? Probably a more exoerienced D and D player than I.
Anyway, we haven't bought a 100 sided one...yet.
Speaking of dice, according to the Players handbook, it's bad form to touch another players' dice. In the baby bus, this knowledge has only led to much giggling and touching of other people's dice.
So Lindsay procured a players handbook and a Dungeon Masters handbook and we all started in on the game without any real knowledge as to what we were doing.
And what are we doing? In a word? Math.
Dungeons and Dragons is basically one extended addition and subtraction session. You start by creating a character, which is basically quantifying as many qualities as one can. Strength. Charisma. Fortitude. Stealthiness...this list goes on and on. And for novices like us, it seems like it takes FOREVER. Because in addition to these suddenly quantifiable qualities there are all these variables. Want to buy some armor? Cool. What kind would you like? Well, the leather will give you a plus 1 in Armor Class, but won't do much against magic or large melee weapons, while the Chain Mail will give you a plus 4 in Armor Class but will give you a minus 3 in Stealthiness. And what powers do you want? The Flourishing Pierce will only deal damage to your opponent on if you roll a twenty sided die over your enemy's armor class and then roll and eight sided die plus add you strength modifier and the square root of your age plus half your shoe size.
Or so it all instructions seem to read to novices like myself and Dave.
As a woman playing a game made by boys for boys, I was struck by how much these character creations lacked, despite their mind boggling complexity. For instance, there's no quantifier for love, no modifier for friendship. This is kind of weird considering the game is built around the idea of group play. You would think that fighting and defeating multiple magical foes would create a strong bond between the members of a roving band of magical adventurers. And it would stand to reason that the longer you adventured, the stronger the bond would be, and that this would provide everyone with individual as well as group strength. Unless of course, someone broke ranks and sided with the enemy.
But there's no betrayal index. No anger modifier.
Anyway, despite some (to me) glaring shortcomings, Dungeons and Dragon ended up being really fun. It transformed the long car rides from drudgery to be dreaded, to fun times to be looked forward to. Many pre-D&D mornings, Dave would start to count down the miles as soon as he started driving. That's rough when your traveling 350 miles. But post-D&D we were all psyched about going out and searching for treasure, or fighting Giant Rats, or doing whatever Dungeon Master Lindsay had in store for us. We got excited that we could use our character voices, which inevitably included bad British accents and words like henceforth. We even included Lisel (when she wasn't watching a movie or napping) as our official dice roller. Is there anything cooler that rolling many dice of many sides? No. The miles just flew by.
And now we're a little hooked. We have some at home games planned, and we'll definitely be rocking exploring some Dungeons and slaying some Dragons on our next big trip. Are we giving into nerdiness, or just admitting our already existing inner dorks? Who cares? It makes the road more fun, and that's good enough for me.