Sunday, May 23, 2010

Where it All Began Pt. 4

Now with dice I could almost start playing Dungeons & Dragons. The last piece of the puzzle was someone to play with at every available moment. So, I did what any normal person would do and tried to run games for my father, brother and mother. These games invariably ended in disaster. If you ask my mother about those sessions all she'll recall was me saying "You can do whatever you want" at the start followed by "You can't do that" as soon as she tried to do something.

The disasters were largely associated with my in inability to convey the fine line between being able to do anything you want and the necessity of the dungeon master to control that freedom through the use of the dice. It seemed like a simple idea to me but perhaps that goes to the heart of why there are so few roleplayers.

I can't be too hard on my mother, she got me my first dice and photocopied large tracts of Dungeons and Dragons rulebooks and character sheets for me at the school where she worked. In fact she had to contend with an evangelical christian lady in the office who, despite not owning the photocopier, refused to allow my mother to use it to copy "the work of the devil". My mother, resourceful as she was, waited until she went to lunch or home for the day to get it done.

Those of us old enough to remember roleplaying in the eighties will recall that admitting you played Dungeons and Dragons meant you were in league with the Devil. The funny thing was that none of the coolness that kids into heavy metal had because they were listening the music of the Devil rubbed off on those of us playing the game of the Devil. Roleplayers were evil nerds. It was quite a time and a lot of that stigma still exists today.

Here's a link to a 60 minutes (!) segment on the evil hobby from that time to get a feeling for what it was like and what the world, to varying degrees, thought of it.

60 Minutes on Dungeons Dragons 1985 Part 1

60 Minutes on Dungeons Dragons 1985 Part 2