Tag Archives: Game of Thrones

Writers: Play Some D&D

It’s been pretty well established by this point in my life that I am a nerd of many sorts. Theatre, sci-fi, fantasy, board games, video games, math, logic, philosophy, mythology, religion… there’s a lot of nerdy in me. So it shouldn’t come even remotely as a surprise that I have played a LOT of Dungeons & Dragons in my day.

My first introduction to the game, though it was ultimately not an accurate representation at all, was back in the summer after my 7th grade year when I was 12 years old. It was, I believe, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition… I don’t remember much of it at all, but again. Not very accurate. Still, somewhere in my room right now is the first character sheet I ever had.

Since then, I’ve played 3e, 3.5e, 4e and am currently in a group playing the D&D Next edition. I’ve been the Dungeon Master for two different (ultimately falling apart) 3.5 campaigns. I’ve played Pathfinder, Iron Kingdoms and even a d20 system a friend of mine created. I’ve done some role-playing online and have oodles and oodles of ridiculous stories to tell about the various campaigns.

Most people find the game to be instantly associated with the nerdiest of the nerdy. I suppose that’s a little fair… while high fantasy and the like have been becoming more and more acceptable over the years (just look at the successes of Peter Jackson’s interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” books, as well as HBO’s “Game of Thrones”), it’s more acceptable to observe fantasy, not attempt to live it out. D&D and other role-playing tabletop games are predicated on the notion that one designs a character with a story and interjects themselves, via that character, into a fantasy world. Granted, not every tabletop RPG is set in fantasy, but that’s where D&D began.

Even so, despite it being “super nerdy,” it has seeped into our culture just a bit. You have the people that seem to think D&D is something where people learn witchcraft and are members of the occult… As well as the people that know how laughable that is and like to point out how sessions of D&D usually go. Season 2 of the absolutely wonderful TV show “Community” has a fantastic, hilarious and kinda accurate episode titled “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” that is well worth the watch (you need Hulu Plus for that link, sadly).

The point is, though, whether you think it’s crazy nerdy and has some ridiculous stigma on it or not, if you’re a writer… I think you would do well to play this game.

I realized the other day, when writing the background for my character in the current campaign I’m playing, I’ve written more detailed character story and background for some of my D&D characters than I have for some of my characters in my stories and scripts. That’s not to say that I don’t have good backgrounds for the non-D&D characters… I just don’t tend to write them out and consider all the aspects of their previous lives. However, in D&D, I tend to tell very detailed stories about their pasts and how they came to where they are now.

It’s a really good writing exercise, especially when you limit yourself. As someone that tends to prefer the classics of poetry and art, where the product must conform to a certain style or limitation, I feel that talent, skill, creativity and thought are more thoroughly applied and utilized than in styles where slapping anything together counts. Anyone can buy three blank canvases and call it art or take random paragraphs from random books, tape them together on a page and call it poetry. But how many people can write something truly heartbreaking and moving with only 140 syllables in 14 lines of iambic pentameter and a rhyming scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG? I refer of course to the sonnet, of which some guy named Shakespeare wrote several.

It’s not easy to make something conform to limitations. But it is certainly an exercise worth trying, especially if you find your characters lack depth. Here’s my suggestion, as these are the ways I’ve found the most character work: Find some people to play D&D with. Find other writers or friends that know what they’re doing. You can do a preset campaign or let yourself/another writer write a story/world for you all to play in. But when you’re making your character, give yourself restrictions. In most versions of D&D, you can give your character flaws, which detriment your character but allow for extra benefits to balance it out. A lot of people will do this to make ridiculously powerful characters, but don’t focus on the game play so much as the character. People are flawed. How does that affect your character? Alternatively, ask your DM if you can bend certain rules, so long as you get a good story out of it.

For example, the current campaign I’m playing is in D&D Next, which is still basically in beta, so there’s a lot missing. My favorite class, the cleric, only has three domains to choose from at the moment… and none of the gods of Faerun in the domain I want to use have the right alignment for my character. I could have just changed my character’s alignment, but I decided to write a story behind it. Why would someone that disagrees with a certain deity’s way of life be a priest for that deity? And so, my story was written.

You don’t necessarily have to play D&D or any tabletop RPG to pull off this exercise. But I think D&D is a good template with a lot of creative options you may not consider… and playing the game will let you see how honest you can be to your character and keeping him or her consistent in certain situations. Plus… D&D with the right people can be LOADS of fun. 🙂 Give it a try some day.

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TV Is Back!

What a strange thing for me to say, right? But with the Emmys yesterday and the upcoming season premiers of so many shows, it seems like the return of television. For example, “How I Met Your Mother” and “Castle” both premiere tonight.

It’s funny, because “White Collar” just took it’s mid-season break. Seriously, television is really weird and amorphous. And getting its start later and later in the year, it seems.

There are several shows I’m excited to have start back up… Like the two I mentioned earlier. And others, like “30 Rock,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Once Upon a Time.” Exciting times.

I also watched the first episode of “Game of Thrones” the other day. I’m sure that once I get into that, it’ll make my list of things I’m excited about the return of. …is it bad if I say one of my favorite parts of the show is actually the theme song? It’s a really awesome theme song.

…I don’t really have much else to say. I’m still fighting off the tail ends of this being sick thing. Yes, I should probably see a doctor. Maybe will do soon. We’ll see. Want to see if the Tylenol and Gatorade works first.

Until then, TV in bed for me.

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“You Have Died Of Dysentery”

So, I’m still feeling terrible ill. I broke my fever, thank goodness, but at what cost? While my fever was going, the intense stabbing pains in my intestines had actually stopped. Once the fever broke, they started again. And it super sucks and super hurts.

If my Googling and subsequent Wiki’ing has been any sort of accurate, I likely have been infected with Campylobacter. It’s apparently the most common bacteria involved in food poisoning and causes symptoms like headache (I never have those), vomiting (none of that, thank God), and dysentery.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-

Dysentery, for those fans of “Oregon Trail,” was pretty much the most feared cause of death in the game, so I understand. It even killed one of our presidents, I do believe… Zachary Taylor, I think. I’m not positive and feel too ill to do much research into that little factoid right now, though.

What dysentery does, though, is it tends to cause abdominal cramps, pain, diarrhea (often bloody and mucusy), and fever.

…Sounds like me. Yaaaaaaaaay.

The internet tells me this will last 5 to (at most) 10 days, most likely. I’m hoping the initial 5 to 7 days I read is more accurate. Because I don’t have health insurance, but if this lasts more than a week, I’m asking a roomie to throw me at a doc-in-the-box.

Self treatment isn’t too difficult, though. I’ve started drinking Gatorade today (we had some at the apartment left by one of the previous tenants that roomed with one of the current roomies… it’s awful). I’m going to have to buy more tomorrow. I still haven’t eaten much of anything, mostly out of fear of the pain. I ate another bowl of cereal with milk this morning and I really need to stop that. For now, I’m sticking with bananas and grapes. I’ve eaten two bananas today, in addition to the cereal. That makes the food tally: Four bowls of cereal with milk, assorted juices and two bananas. And a few grapes. That’s all I’ve eaten over the past several days.

…I guess I should go get some soup or something.

I also bought some Gas-Ex today, to see if that would help.

Nope.

The benefit of being bedridden is catching up on TV. I finished up with “Doctor Who” (just since 2005, of course) and even started to watch “Game of Thrones” today… but my internet is mean and I really need Netflix to watch that.

I really like the theme song, though.

…anyway… I’m going to go pass out and try to watch more TV stuff or something. And do that getting better thing. Hopefully that’ll happen, too.

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Dungeons & Dragons & Guns… Oh My?

So, people that know me personally, and know the extents of my nerdiness, know that I’m fond of the Dungeons & Dragons game. I have played many a game involving dice with more than 6 sides, some D&D, some not. I’ve played, I’ve been the dungeon master/creator of the story, I’ve even beta’d a new d20 game a friend of mine created. Ever since high school, I’ve been sucked in to the 3.5 Edition of D&D and I haven’t looked back.

Of course, as time goes on, editions tend to continue being made. Recently, within the past few years, they made a 4th Edition of D&D. And boy did that cause a lot of controversy, especially at its initial stages. It seemed almost like a complete overhaul, especially in the Forgotten Realms storyline, dumbing down D&D to make it easier for the casual gamer. The Wii of D&D. It’s the edition that you don’t necessarily mind playing because it has some familiar stuff, but you can’t really get too serious about.

Well, I haven’t had a campaign to be a part of lately, unfortunately. Gaming has always been a nice release, and tabletop games don’t necessarily potentially crash on you when your hard drive is over-full and your computer is running too hot too long. Plus, tabletop role playing games allow for camaraderie and some acting, and I do enjoy acting.

So, a friend of mine is DMing a 4.0 campaign with some people I know. I was teasing him about it, and about how 4.0 sucks, 3.5 is better. He asked if I wanted to join. …since I’m not doing any campaigns now, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out.

Now, I’ve played essentially the same character for a long time. Kiev Svbodny, the chaotic neutral half-elf cleric who carries homemade Molotov cocktails, a quarterstaff and two steel punching katars with a strip of flint down the center (for lighting the cocktails) and slide on like brass knuckles. I’ve had different games where his story is tweaked, like games where I was exiled from my village for my cockiness versus games where I’m looking for my half-brother. I’ve given him a prestige class in Loremaster before, to slake his desire for knowledge, as well as professions as librarian and bartender to get access to knowledge and earn some cash. He’s a cleric with a fondness for fighting in the front, alongside some nasty summons, but one that plans for contingencies and scenarios first (hence the long-, mid- and short-range weaponry).

Translating that character into the Zeitgeist world living in D&D 4.0 was… difficult. Things had to change.

Now, instead of punching katars, Kiev has two pistols. Which he can fire several times in a row without wasting time reloading. And can shoot while moving, if I understand correctly. To a pretty good accuracy. Also, he has a few knives.

The system is one that will take some getting used to. Magic is totally different in 4.0, and it’s even MORE different in the Zeitgeist setting. But I suppose I’m willing to try it out. It could be fun.

Just know that whenever I DM, it’s going to be 3.5 or nothing.

(Today’s post brought to you by my spending all day character creating, playing a Game of Thrones card game despite my knowing almost nothing on the series and stage managing rehearsal for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”)

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