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(but I still feel the faded scars of claws digging at me from below)
March 21, 2012 2:18 PM   Subscribe

The AV Club's Todd Van der Werf enters the Dungeon "I’ve been at this for three days straight, and I need to start getting back to my everyday life, to start settling back into my real role as a TV critic with -3 dexterity. I go through the motions of playing the good guy, of standing in front of doors as we open them, in case they’re booby-trapped. This, of course, is how I end up getting splashed with copious amounts of acid, which begins to eat away at my health. (“It’s not a second-edition game unless there’s a room full of acid,” Brett says, and everyone agrees.) Instantly, I’m into it."
posted by Sebmojo (52 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think he oversells the whole Fundamentalist-ire point.

True, a lot of very conservative Christians were more than a little leery of if not downright hostile towards D&D back in the day. That's mostly faded now, or has at least lost its cultural cache even within conservative Christian circles, but it's still there if you run into the right group of people.

The author suggests that this hostility is based on two things: (1) the lack of punishment for evil deeds, and (2) the relative lack of structure inherent in roleplaying.

I think both of those are crap reasons which hide the main one, silly as it may be: they were really, honestly, worried about the "demonic" overtones of the game. No fooling. I don't see any evidence that anyone actually looked at the games closely enough to pick up on either of those things. And I remember reading the articles and stories about how bad these games were.

There were other issues though. One was the idea that the games were just too involving, the suggestion being that your grades would suffer, etc. There were also plenty of parents who weren't all that thrilled by the whole violence idea. Here's an actual transcript of a 1994 article in a Focus on the Family magazine.

But really, the group itself published what had to have been an absolutely terrible RPG "that helps you memorize Scripture and learn to engage in spiritual battle." So the idea that RPGs, as such, were simply too free-form and left-wing for Fundamentalists doesn't hold much water. Definite squeamishness about the magic and violence, but very little about the punishment of evil or the lack thereof. And I have no idea why he thinks highly variable game play is "hippy" or "left-wing". None at all.
posted by valkyryn at 2:51 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I remember as late as 1996, when I was a mere 13 years old, being cautioned by a guidance counsellor that D&D would "mess me up" and "make me kill myself". (Amusingly, the horrific bullying I had to deal with was "boys being boys". Truly a a fucking genius.)
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:07 PM on March 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Perhaps, but Van der Werf has mentioned his fundamentalist upbringing stunting his Pop-Culture fandom many times before, and it's clear that it's something he still works through.

I know my mom, who has never been fundamentalist, was afraid of D&D when I was a kid, but in her case (and I suspect many others) the worry wasn't because of any satanism or anything, but because of the rumor of a college kid killing himself when his character died in the game. That's how you terrify an otherwise sensible parent.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:09 PM on March 21, 2012


That's funny.

When I was a kid in 1989, I had heard from "60 Minutes" that hanging over D&D was the shadow of boys killing themselves. While I did not play the game until later, that summer my "Ultima III" characters were wiped out by orcs in a pixellated forest. Like some of the other harsh Apple II games of the period, this one committed the death to the floppy disk drive, permanently, so that you would stay dead even in saved games. I would never see my Bobbit Fighter again and I remember wondering if I was so upset that I might kill myself like the other boys.
posted by steinsaltz at 3:11 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Straight Talk on Dungeons and Dragons from the Chick Tract folks, for the fundamentalist perspective.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:12 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


because of the rumor of a college kid killing himself when his character died in the game.

Yeah, I definitely remember that being a concern, and it's discussed in the article I linked above and the Chick Tract.

Again, I totally get that the author would have been receiving all kinds of weird warnings about D&D from his Fundamentalist upbringing, I just have no idea why he identified those two things as being the cause.
posted by valkyryn at 3:14 PM on March 21, 2012


I remember as late as 1996, when I was a mere 13 years old, being cautioned by a guidance counsellor that D&D would "mess me up"

To be fair, you did become the Dark Messiah
posted by Hoopo at 3:28 PM on March 21, 2012 [20 favorites]


the group itself published what had to have been an absolutely terrible RPG "that helps you memorize Scripture and learn to engage in spiritual battle."

zomg, it's still out there. A review.
posted by Zed at 3:40 PM on March 21, 2012


Some people just don't appreciate Fantasy Worlds that conflict with their own Fantasy Worlds.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:46 PM on March 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow, a really strong pull quote here:
When I watch the video now, I see how silly it all is, how overwrought Carman is about the need to feel persecuted in a land that will do no persecuting.
That sentence stopped me dead; it sums up so, so much.

I saw a lot of the fear of and hate toward D&D when I was a kid; I wasn't quite on the front lines, as nobody ever demanded I stop playing, but I certainly had skirmishes with people who thought it was a bad idea. And, in retrospect, I think the fundamentalists were right.

What's that, you say? Is Malor even nuttier than usual? Well, maybe, but I don't mean that they were right in the sense that D&D led to suicide or the worship of demons. Rather, D&D encouraged multiculturalism and open thought, more strongly than any force I can remember in my youth. It pushed you to learn more about various belief systems, and, most critically, it presented most belief systems as equally valid, because they had divine forces backing them. If you were raised Fundamentalist, even if you played a D&D character that very closely approximated your true belief systems, you absolutely would end up questioning your own faith and the faith of others. The framing of faith in D&D is fundamentally incompatible with fundamentalist thinking about religion, and any fundamentalist who plays it for any length of time will either stop playing, or stop being completely fundamentalist. I don't think you can carry both worldviews in the same head at the same time.

So, to fundamentalists, it was a threat, because it taught kids to think critically about faith, that doing what they were told wasn't always the right idea, that creativity, flexibility, and perseverance, accompanied by occasional bolts of blind luck, would get them farther in the world than any set of dogmatic beliefs. D&D was a mental virus that could, if it took root, mostly or completely eradicate their systemic conditioning.

So they (literally) demonized it. They had to. If their kids played it, they'd eventually stop being what they thought of as Good Christians. They might develop actual spirituality, instead of just parroting the tired truisms of their particular religious community. Or they might leave faith behind completely.

I doubt they realized this, because again, I don't think one can truly understand D&D and also be fundamentalist. But they could see the demons in the books, and observe the effect of playing on their kids, and the conclusion that it was a dire threat would be immediate and correct, even though they'd completely fail to understand why.
posted by Malor at 4:00 PM on March 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


This is the quote that really did it for me:

You drive down the highway and are surrounded by other people who have thoughts and dreams and desires and hopes that are just as real and pressing to them as yours are to you, and you will never know what that’s like.

That's the appeal of role-playing, as I see it, in a nutshell. It's about the ravenous search for perspective. What does the world look like if I'm not me? Why do other people act like they do, instead of like I do? How different is it, really, inside someone else's skull?

Reading, hallucinogens, and role-playing have all been part of that quest for me. What's it really like to look at the world through someone else's eyes? Pursuing that, I've learned a lot about compassion and about the limitations of my own perspective. I'd never have expected as much when I first picked up a d20 to go goblin-hunting back when I was fourteen, but it's been an incredibly worthwhile pursuit.
posted by MrVisible at 4:48 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


To be fair, you did become the Dark Messiah

I thought it made sense that a white devil would be the black jesus.

I think a lot of stupid shit, though.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:49 PM on March 21, 2012


I think he oversells the whole Fundamentalist-ire point.

I know he's exactly right on the money about it, and that fear still hangs over the game today in some circles, and if you forget it happened you blind yourself to the next time it happens, to the next time it will happen, if the world lets it. Like with Harry Potter, as toothless a thing you could imagine but oh god kids are playing it and it has wizards in it FLEEEEEE.

True, a lot of very conservative Christians were more than a little leery of if not downright hostile towards D&D back in the day. That's mostly faded now, or has at least lost its cultural cache even within conservative Christian circles, but it's still there if you run into the right group of people.

Phooey to them, then, now, and if they try it in the future. If there is a God, I'm sure he would prefer people use their minds, and imagine, and try to see the wonder in the world, instead of staying hooked up to that plow and chewing the contents of that feedbag.
posted by JHarris at 4:49 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid in 1989, I had heard from "60 Minutes" that hanging over D&D was the shadow of boys killing themselves.

Yeah, the news does that sometimes, lets themselves get pulled aside by some silly, sensationalistic thing, and 60 Minutes is nowhere near immune to it. It's like -- tens of thousands of people die every day but that's not news, but people suspect that a kid might have killed himself over a D&D character and that's a sign that Something Is Wrong. Whether a story breaks through the cracks is largely determined by how white and affluent the victims are, and how dissimmilar it is to a constructed version of what normal life is like it is considered to be by the producers. So: a bunch of kids sitting around a table rolling dice and pretending to be elves, and one of them kills himself. Why that's not school, sports or TV: roll it!
posted by JHarris at 5:01 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think both of those are crap reasons which hide the main one, silly as it may be: they were really, honestly, worried about the "demonic" overtones of the game.

My friends and I used to play Magic:The Gathering at our Christian highschool, back in 1996. It was banned pretty much as soon as a teacher saw what was on the cards - M:TG has nothing really to do with "role playing" and the deeper questions of punishment etc. The school was just scared of magic and wizards and dragons and sorcery, as if printing pictures on a piece of cardboard made it real...
posted by Jimbob at 5:09 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love that Fiasco was one of his gateway drugs on this little trip. It's such a great game.

(My mom had to check out the game when I was in high school in the mid 80s before deciding Satanic panic about the game was bullshit and it was an OK hobby for me. But she had to check it out--and she's by no means a fundamentalist.)
posted by immlass at 5:18 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


On the recommendation of this piece and the Wired article linked to it, I went and bought my first RPG in...shit, twenty years? Me and my boys are going to try out Fiasco.

I'm reading the rulebook now. Holy shit, this is going to be awesome. The designer is a crazed genius.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:20 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


it presented most belief systems as equally valid, because they had divine forces backing them. If you were raised Fundamentalist, even if you played a D&D character that very closely approximated your true belief systems, you absolutely would end up questioning your own faith and the faith of others. The framing of faith in D&D is fundamentally incompatible with fundamentalist thinking about religion, and any fundamentalist who plays it for any length of time will either stop playing, or stop being completely fundamentalist.

You're right, Malor. This is almost indistinguishable from what Fundamentalists mean when they say, "If you play D&D, demons and devils will get into your head and you'll lose your faith."
posted by straight at 6:28 PM on March 21, 2012


immlass: of course, because that is exactly how religions work, right?
posted by idiopath at 6:28 PM on March 21, 2012


It turns out the game he was playing that he describes in the introduction is not Dungeons & Dragons (although it sounds very much like an iconic scene from classic module Tomb of Horrors), but an indie game called Dungeon World. It turns out it has an iOS App version of the rules. I picked it up and have been reading it, it seems interesting!
posted by JHarris at 6:35 PM on March 21, 2012


And BTW, back at the Depressing Christian Private School I attended, I got in deep trouble once when someone caught me with an issue of GamePro -- and not because they sucked either, but because there was a picture of a pirate in the magazine, an ad for a port of Atari's arcade game Skull & Crossbones. All because they thought the pirate looked demonic. This actually happened.
posted by JHarris at 6:37 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is almost indistinguishable from what Fundamentalists mean when they say, "If you play D&D, demons and devils will get into your head and you'll lose your faith."

It's their alternative explanation, because "being influenced by demons and devils" doesn't sound as bad as "looking outside their narrow blinders-on perspective."
posted by JHarris at 6:41 PM on March 21, 2012


Is it okay to link back to my post about finding an RPG? I hope so.
posted by jiawen at 7:22 PM on March 21, 2012


Hoopo: "I remember as late as 1996, when I was a mere 13 years old, being cautioned by a guidance counsellor that D&D would "mess me up"

To be fair, you did become the Dark Messiah
"

Nope. I'm THE Dark Messiah. Started gaming in 1981.

At a Catholic High School. So I get to add in possible desecration, along with Satanism and witchcraft.

So, ya'all can start worshipping now.
posted by Samizdata at 7:27 PM on March 21, 2012


Oh, COME ON!

Fear me.

Please?

Just a little?
posted by Samizdata at 7:33 PM on March 21, 2012


If by "demons " and "sorcercy" they mean "math" and "cartophagrahy," then yes, Dungeons & Dragons was the Devil's own nectar.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:33 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


" But she had to check it out--and she's by no means a fundamentalist."

Well, you know, that's what good parents do: pre-watch movies, find out what texting is, read up on video game systems -- educate themselves on things that are new and/or strange before making a decision about whether their child should be allowed to do it. It's as bad to allow everything as to forbid everything.

I don't play D&D, but my husband does, and tho my kids are little (still pre-watching G movies!), I have, via the mom-network, demystified D&D to parents of needy teenaged boys (all boys so far) several times. Although really hearing that a married adult with a college degree and a job enjoys it usually does as much as the actual explanation.

You're welcome, gamers. I'm winning gaming permission for more proto-gamers every year!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:37 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


*nerdy teenaged boys, but I guess most teenagers are pretty needy too.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:39 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it okay to link back to my post about finding an RPG? I hope so.

Hey, Harvey Jerkwater, if you haven't yet, take a gander at the free monthly Fiasco playsets on the Bully Pulpit site.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:45 PM on March 21, 2012


It turns out the game he was playing that he describes in the introduction is not Dungeons & Dragons (although it sounds very much like an iconic scene from classic module Tomb of Horrors), but an indie game called Dungeon World.

Heh, Tomb of Horrors would be a fascinatingly awful way to introduce someone to D&D. "You mean we just keep rolling up characters and throwing them into this horrible meat grinder of brutal traps? Is this a metaphor or something?"
posted by chaff at 8:13 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]



Tom Hanks starred in Mazes and Monsters....

Between this and all the Judas Priest I listened to my parents were convinced I was going to murder them in their sleep and then drink thier blood.

Mostly, it led to me taking an interest in math and computers because gaming is all about finding minimums and maximums to exploit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:18 PM on March 21, 2012


Heh, Tomb of Horrors would be a fascinatingly awful way to introduce someone to D&D. "You mean we just keep rolling up characters and throwing them into this horrible meat grinder of brutal traps? Is this a metaphor or something?"

Interestingly there's a spiritual successor to Tomb of Horrors for a 4e derivative called Fouthcore - REVENGE OF THE IRON LICH!!!!
(You have to write it with the capitals and the !!!s, it's sort of a thing).

It's just phenomenally good.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:23 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know he's exactly right on the money about it, and that fear still hangs over the game today in some circles, and if you forget it happened you blind yourself to the next time it happens, to the next time it will happen, if the world lets it. Like with Harry Potter, as toothless a thing you could imagine but oh god kids are playing it and it has wizards in it FLEEEEEE.

I'm about as big of a Harry Potter freak as you're likely to find, though I didn't start reading until after Goblet of Fire had been published. I was a natal hipster, resistent to it, but a friend of mine had lent me the first book for a flight to Colorado to see my folks, and it was better than nothing.

After doing the crossword, and looking around, and getting bored, I cracked it open. By the time we got to Crested Butte my first task was to immediately run out to the bookstore and buy the rest of the books.

I found them in a Christian bookstore (which I think no longer exists in Crested Butte.) I asked the clerk about it, as it was at the height of Christian Harry Potter paranoia, and she looked at me like I was the crazy one and said something like, "they're about a teenage boy learning to be brave enough to fight evil no matter how much it costs him. Of course we carry them."

But then, Crested Butte has always been a uniquely cool town.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:06 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Tomb of Horrors is described in its introduction as Gary Gygax's response to D&D experts who are feeling sure of themselves, so yes, bad to introduce people with.

But on the other hand the pure D&D ethos has seen few fuller expressions. You're not fighting the monsters, you're fighting the dungeon, the monsters are just one of many tools at its disposal. A mostly-traps dungeon at lower levels might be awesome, and I've thought about constructing one.
posted by JHarris at 12:46 AM on March 22, 2012


I feel bad that he hadn't (at the time of his writing) tried out White Wolf, which to me is right in the middle between his two styles of games, allowing the luck of dice rolls to verify the success of creative ideas in shaping storytelling.

God I want to play Mage right the fuck now.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:52 AM on March 22, 2012


My friends and I used to play Magic:The Gathering at our Christian highschool, back in 1996. It was banned pretty much as soon as a teacher saw what was on the cards - M:TG has nothing really to do with "role playing" and the deeper questions of punishment etc. The school was just scared of magic and wizards and dragons and sorcery, as if printing pictures on a piece of cardboard made it real...

Of course in that era, even many secular schools were banning Magic: The Gathering, not for the imagery, but for the gambling element; the optional rules for card Ante were still being supported by newly printed cards as late as 1995 and weren't fully depreciated until later. M:tG was relegated to the same status as Pogs and Marbles: games of skill that could lead to kid-to-kid disputes and angry parents due to the fact that disproportionately valuable property is changing hands.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:51 AM on March 22, 2012


Tomb of Horrors would be a fascinatingly awful way to introduce someone to D&D.

I met the future mr. epersonae when I was 22 going on 23; he'd been playing D&D since he was 8 (and dealt with fundie freakouts), but I never had. He persuaded me to come play with two of our co-workers, including a guy who he'd played D&D with since at least junior high.

For some damn reason, we started with Tomb of Horrors. FIRST THING, I fell into a 100'(?) pit, and because there was no way for me to get out or for the rest of the party to rescue me, we determined that my character starved to death. (I think we switched to a more introductory module after that, which included the dwarf Perstorp Xytec and his Bowl of Endless Blood. Ew. At least Joan the Druid lived through that one.)

And yet...15 years later I'm still playing.
posted by epersonae at 7:14 AM on March 22, 2012


Well, you know, that's what good parents do: pre-watch movies, find out what texting is, read up on video game systems -- educate themselves on things that are new and/or strange before making a decision about whether their child should be allowed to do it.

Investigating your child's hobbies on the basis of Mazes and Monsters and Pat Pulling (never mind the Chick tracts) is less being a "good parent" and more demonstrating a a certain inappropriate credulity about, well, everything. It'd be like having a cow about the latest Fox news freakout about teenage behavior without checking Snopes first. Also, by the time I actually got together with a group, I was old enough to watch an R-rated movie on my own and, with an adult's perspective, I'm pretty sure my mother should have been far more concerned about the college/grad-school students and ex-military men I was gaming with than the likelihood that I was going to kill myself if my character died.
posted by immlass at 7:17 AM on March 22, 2012


Mostly, it led to me taking an interest in math and computers because gaming is all about finding minimums and maximums to exploit.

Grumble grumble, munchkins, grumble grumble.

I will have to check out Fiasco though.
posted by Hactar at 7:41 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


One was the idea that the games were just too involving, the suggestion being that your grades would suffer, etc.

This is the reason my parents would not let me play in middle school, never mind the fact that all my friends who did play D&D were at the top of the class and in all the accelerated learning programs. You could make the argument that D&D is a gateway drug, though. Through D&D, you are introduced to orcs and elves and trolls, and your interests in these creatures leads you to Lord of the Rings. Once you get into Lord of the Rings, it won't be long before you're turned on to Led Zeppelin. And before you know it, you're a grade-A stoner, my friend.

Also, when I finally played D&D, I had a terrible DM, because I found it the most boring thing ever. What I thought would be an imagination-fueled adventure turned out to be a slightly nerdier game of Yahtzee.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 7:44 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my junior high, there was no issue at all with playing D&D. The only time someone objected to my playing D&D was after college when my mom objected to my having my skeevy friends over to play in the living room.
posted by happyroach at 11:17 AM on March 22, 2012


. . . never mind the fact that all my friends who did play D&D were at the top of the class and in all the accelerated learning programs. You could make the argument that D&D is a gateway drug, though. Through D&D, you are introduced to orcs and elves and trolls, and your interests in these creatures leads you to Lord of the Rings. Once you get into Lord of the Rings, it won't be long before you're turned on to Led Zeppelin. And before you know it, you're a grade-A stoner, my friend.

The Venn Diagram for accelerated learning students and grade-A stoners at my high school was a single circle. I'm sure I'm not the only one on The Blue who was a part of this phenomena.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:46 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have, and have had, straight-A stoner nerd friends. I often think of what my life could have been like if I got into drugs and developed a few social skills. I am pretty sure staying sober and at home ruined my life.
posted by idiopath at 6:08 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my fundamentalist elementary school's lurid, anti-D&D tales included the lovely detail of "a kid" deciding to give up D&D before it was "too late," throwing his figurines into a fire. The figures screamed as they melted, of course.

And they wondered why I turned out so weird.

While the story made an impression, it didn't dissuade me from eventually getting hardcore into D&D (and other games) and buying the books myself multiple times, because my family kept throwing them out.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:24 PM on March 22, 2012


To sidetrack this a bit considering that this is "the" active D&D thread at the moment, Mike Mearls of WOTC, who despite being one of the guys behind 4E seems to be a pretty "with it" guy who has recently run an OD&D adventure and has a good sense of the game's history, has announced one of the major design principles of fifth edition: Pony player characters and Equestria as the default setting it should be possible to run an adventure, from start to finish, in an hour.

He and Monte Cook have been making noises that the next version of 5E, in an attempt to appease all the various diverse audiences for D&D, will be modular in construction, with the players able to use and discard whatever aspects of the game they like, so I have no doubt that the one-hour version is without more time-consuming aspects such as miniatures. But still, the thought of being able to get through an adventure that quickly is very VERY appealing to me.
posted by JHarris at 9:38 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Venn Diagram for accelerated learning students and grade-A stoners at my high school was a single circle.

For some reason the rightness of those sentences stares out at me.

I often think of what my life could have been like if I got into drugs and developed a few social skills. I am pretty sure staying sober and at home ruined my life.

And this, too. <sigh>
posted by JHarris at 9:41 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


("These sentences?" NUMBER FAIL.)
posted by JHarris at 9:42 PM on March 22, 2012


See, role-playing games simply don’t punish you.

>Heh, Tomb of Horrors would be a fascinatingly awful way to introduce someone to D&D. "You mean we just keep rolling up characters and throwing them into this horrible meat grinder of brutal traps? Is this a metaphor or something?"


QED
posted by ersatz at 7:48 AM on March 23, 2012


I had a pretty hard-core intersection of D&D and religion when I was a kid. From about 5th grade though most of high school, my social circle was pretty heavily dominated by D&D... it was just kind of accepted that that's what we'd be doing all weekend, every weekend. And it was awesome. In the meantime, my grandmother was an extremely conservative Catholic who organized a Legion of Decency for our town. Totally unaware of how into the game I was, she got a bee into her bonnet about D&D, and her Legion harassed the local bookstores into not carrying anything even remotely related to the game. She kept this up for years, never ever becoming aware that I was into the game at all (her efforts didn't do much more than inconvenience me and my friends, as we could always just drive half an hour into Omaha for dice and modules).

Her Legion of Decency also successfully got gas stations in town to stop selling Playboy, and even bullied the local cable company into dropping MTV. I always get kind of a kick out of the ultimately unsuccessful war she waged against the cornerstones of 15-year-old-boy life.
posted by COBRA! at 8:06 AM on March 23, 2012


it should be possible to run an adventure, from start to finish, in an hour.

Woah, I'd declared myself permanently done with D&D, but I'd try it again if they're getting away from minatures and going toward a streamlined route. I don't have time for 4+ hours a week again but I'll try an hour or two here and there.
posted by immlass at 8:11 AM on March 23, 2012


It turns out the game he was playing that he describes in the introduction is not Dungeons & Dragons [...] but an indie game called Dungeon World. [...] I picked it up and have been reading it, it seems interesting!

(Jharris knows all this already, having been reading it, but for everyone else...)

Dungeon World is a re-skinning of Apocalypse World. I haven't played DW itself, but I've been playing AW and it's an attractively simple system. DW uses the familiar 6 D&D stats, but in a range of -3 to +3. All your actions boil down to a discrete number of "moves", skills that are sometimes very broad (i.e. "hack and slash" for all close-range combat.) For everything, you roll 2d6 and add your relevant stat, e.g., Strength for hack. On 1-6 you fail, on 7-9, you succeed moderately, on 10-12 you succeed with a bonus. As you gain experience, you can choose additional moves particular to your class.

It's a $5 PDF or if you already have AW, the add-ons you need for DW are free (though you could probably take a shot at it without AW...)
posted by Zed at 10:00 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and there's a new D&D 2e derivative called Myth and Magic with substantial free starter guides.
posted by Zed at 2:01 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


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