Tuesday, 1 May 2012

My Reply to Steve Winter's Post on Howling Tower

 ...About Challenger

(The question was what balance there should be in D&D of story to combat/game mechanics)

 Hi Mr. Winter,

Firstoff, great post. I've loved your blog ever since I first found it (through twitter) and followed it instantly (on blogger).

I've actually enjoyed both play-styles (like yourself) very much at different points in my long gaming career. What I don't like (similar to yourself) are the people who keep trying to argue that D&D is 'only' a game or 'only' a combat simulation.

I write novels, so I have to say I really love the 'role-playing' side of the game. Really, role-playing and story are what separate D&D from all other games (and video games). If we lose the story/role-playing we lose D&D (I think).

I'm currently in a "Role-playing" phase but there are times when all I want to do is wade into the dungeon and whack a lot of monsters to get treasure. I don't really care what the story is, I just want to have fun and not worry that much.

However, my 'combat crazed' phases tend to wear out faster. This is because all the fighting tends to get competitive and eventually you get to the point of thinking 'why am I even bothering? I could just kill stuff on the computer instead'. It's always at this point where I have some great idea for a change and throw role-playing back into the 'story' of the game.

So, to sum up. I think both have a place in D&D and should probably be in balance. If the scale must tip, I think it should tip towards story: it's what makes D&D D&D and not a computer game/miniatures game/card game. Really, D&D inspired a lot of these things; why should it emulate them?

I know I'm treading on dangerous turf here, but I think 4e went too far to the 'combat' side of things (I like 4e!). I'm hoping 5e will tip back in favor of story-telling, or at least give it at least 50% attention in the rule books/content.

I just 'love' the stories D&D can create. It's the epic tales of your heroes you remember long into your future, not what you rolled to kill a dragon. I still have happy memories of exploring from way, way back. The fights weren't quite as memorable. It was the camaraderie, the sense of place, the adventure, the exploration, the characters, and the 'sense' of story in general. Kind of like a good book. D&D actually got me started in writing and I love writing. If there's one thing I like better than gaming, it's writing. However, I owe the 'game' aspect my start in writing because it encouraged my earliest writings (adventure notes) and reading (rule-books for a great game).

Thanks for reading!

David L. Dostaler
Author, Challenger RPG a Free Roleplaying Game

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