Monday, March 21, 2016

Culture Corner 3.21.16

DM: "The kobold in the ornate armor turns around the corner and as he does another kobold from the opposite side of the corridor notices you and  happens to know who you are. He walks up to you and says something along the lines of 'what are you three doing here?' The ornate kobold hears him and begins to look over his shoulder. You have a moment before he completely turns around and your cover is blown. What do you guys do?"

Blackbird: "How silent do you think slitting this loud mouth's throat would be?"
Relius: "Do we really need to kill him? Eloise probably wouldn't like that."
Blackbird: "She doesn't want anyone to die, but we kill people anyway."
Basil: "But she has a whole opportunity fund for these poor little fellas"
Blackbird: "Your poor little fella's about to bust us."
Relius: "Hey, don't you have that dimensional dagger?"
Blackbird: "Oh my god, yes. I can create a portal under the kobald to keep him out of our way."
Basil: "What if you place the other portal above him?"
Relius: "So that when the ornate one looks behind him he'll just see his friend falling infinitely into the ground and out of the ceiling?"
Blackbird: "Even better. What if I just place one portal under him and keep the other for later so that I'll have a kobald projectile when i need it."
Basil: "Yes!"

DM: "So are we settled? You guys are doing that? Well, as the ornate kobold turns around you place a portal with your dimensional dagger under his friend and all you hear are faint screams. The ornate kobald shrugs and continues his way into the bath house."


Collaborative story telling is the best way to describe Dungeons and Dragons or any other tabletop role-playing game. If you're not familiar with DnD, the premise of the game is to tell a story with a couple of friends where one person sets the world and the rest of the group have individual characters with their own sets of abilities, backgrounds, quirks, and personalities that interact with the world. When I play, my character is a gnome monk named Basil who collects cats and religious skulls; most of his actions are determined by how chaotic the result will be no matter how good or bad, and he has a habit of collecting seemingly useless things.
This is basil.
Most games are set in the typical fantasy setting, but nothing's stopping you from having your adventure on a pirate ship, in space, or in mundane life if you want to depress yourself. Everything you do is determined by the group or impulses by an individual that the DM (Dungeon Master - the person who creates the world and non-player characters) picks up on. There isn't anything you can't do. Well, that is if your dice rolls are on your side.

In order to keep things interesting and to avoid solutions that appear too easy or convenient, players need to roll dice to determine success. Here's where the fun of DnD comes in, that is if storytelling isn't good enough for you. Every major action that your character takes needs to be determined through a dice roll, typically with a twenty-sided die. Since the range of success is from 1 (a critical fail) to a 20 (a critical success) the outcome of any given event is very dynamic and is subject to randomness. So not only are you in charge of the story you're telling, you're also subject to the world you live in and your ideas might not translate completely to the way you intended.

This is a joke that gets thrown around a lot in DnD. Let's say that you're in a battle with an ogre and you decide to punch him but you roll a one, a critical miss. The DM could have you break your hand because maybe the ogre's skin is too tough ~or~ maybe they could say instead of a punch you accidentally give the ogre a light caress of the arm. The ogre can then attempt to hit you but also critically miss and the DM could have the ogre accidentally hug you. You then in response yell at the ogre to intimidate it. You roll a critical fail in intimidation. You say, "I love you," instead. You and the ogre fall in love.

I like to say that DnD is a form of improv where no one is obligated to be funny, but if you're around the right people you'll have fun and funny situations will come up anyway. It's really hard to pull together a game of Dungeons and Dragons because of all the prep work and scheduling (it's really hard to get people with busy schedules to be together for a prolonged period of time on a regular basis), but in the end it's really worth it.

- Christian

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