Monday, 12 February 2018

What is it about D&D?

What is it about D&D?

I’ve always been a gamer. I played mostly cards and kiddy board games when I was just a lamb. As a teen it was all about Nintendo and Super Nintendo. In high school I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D second edition) and then the World of Darkness games in the years that followed. For a long time it was some combination of those until about 10 years ago, when I was introduced to the German style board game. I was in an exclusive relationship with Eurogames until in this last year I played the fifth edition of D&D. So what is it about D&D that has me wanting to play my human variant archer more than I want to play a favorite euro like Castles of Burgundy?

To answer that question six unique aspects stick out to me. Character Creation, Character Development, Problem Solving, Socializing, Teambuilding, and all the Pretty Dice.

1 You can be anyone you want to be!
There are so many choices when deciding what kind of character to make. There are all the classic archetypes. You can make a character close to you your own personality traits so the role playing part comes more naturally. You can make someone that is the exact opposite of you keeping you on your toes. Try playing an opposite gender character or no gender at all. Make a very well rounded character but I usually find those play boring. You can max and min your stats to be the strongest one out there but so uncharismatic that is can be a problem for you party. Making a character that plays to all its strengths is great but sometimes making one that is a class that uses its weaker attributes can be really fun to play. My best character is a Kobold Barbarian Fighter that uses a Great Sword. Now it only works because I have a belt of giant strength, but because I am small I always roll attacks with disadvantage, unless pack tactics or attacking recklessly. But when I pull off that critical hit though, there is no stopping me and it’s awesome! Although, if I run into a no-magic zone things will get interesting.

2 Accumulating the most precious resource, Experience Points!
To multiclass or not to multiclass? I’m pretty sure there is a great debate on how to optimise your character. I used to just make my character based on what race and class seemed cool at first level. Now that I am more experienced I tend to look at all the options of a class. Would I be ok if my level 20 character didn’t get those last three class upgrades to get three levels in another? Also planning out my character’s stats, how many hit points will they get each level, should I increase an ability score or take a feat? Of course some decisions will be based on if you are on a long term campaign with a regular group or do you just play adventures league modules at your FLGS (friendly local game store). And there is also the treasure! The more gold you can accumulate the better gear you can buy, or do you save it because you rush in without thinking and need a lot of resurrection services? What about if your DM uses the Critical Hit table and you lose a hand? That is going to change how your character develops and make for some interesting work arounds. And finding just the right magic item for you character can feel like hitting the jackpot. Getting the Bracers of Archery for your Archer or the Gloves of Thievery for your Thief can make your night and get you so excited to play your next session you’re asking, “So, who’s up for another game tonight?”

3 Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
I recently read a comment about D&D asking “Why is D&D so empowering?” It’s the problem solving for me. In the real (world) you can be presented with waaay more problems than you can solve. In your character’s world you and your party have a variety of skills to draw on to solve any obstacles you may be presented with. Sometimes you don’t have the skills on your character sheet to deal with the present problem. That’s ok, because you have the chance to roll the dice to see if you have an inkling of what to do, or gain some clue as what to do. And there’s always they option of just fight your way out. You usually feel like goal accomplished, that was awesome, how empowering! In the real, if you run out of things to try to solve the problem you could be poo poo out of luck with no roll of the dice for help.

4 Yikes I’m a social phobic introvert!
Here we are at the socializing part. I’m not good interacting with people. I sweat, I stutter, I blush, the more one happens the more the others happen. I tend to relive conversations and analyze and reanalyze what I said and what I should have said, it’s exhausting. The first thing that D&D helps with in socializing is that I’m not me, I’m Nala Jenkins the Kobold Barbarian Champion, or Riswynn the Dwarvin War Cleric, or Payella Tealeaf the Halfling Sword Swallowing Bard. Also the Players Handbook is an instruction manual on how to interact with friends and foes! That is great because there is no one manual for how to interact with people in the real. It really would be helpful if there was just one standard manual instead of 7.6 billion individual ones. That being said the FLGS that we mostly play at is really inclusive. All ages and genders play with rarely any issues. I always feel comfortable and welcome. Comfortable to the point that I am now a Dungeon Master! I know, who would have thought?

5 Here my opinion counts!
Because of my excessively shy and introverted nature I never can get a word in edgewise when conversing. I’m also a soft talker, so when I do speak it’s often not heard due to being chronically “talked over.” Yes it’s a hot topic, but here’s the thing when you are part of the adventuring party, we each get a TURN to speak! When coming up with a plan to defeat that Beholder I might come up with a vital part of the plan. I may only be the sword juggling distraction but you still feel like without you the group may not complete the task presented.

8 Dice Dice Baby!
There are so many dice to choose from. There are clear, opaque, speckled, sparkled, swirled, marbled, layered, solid, pearlescent, translucent, or glow in the dark. They can be made from acrylic, wood, stone, gems, or metal. And the colors, you can nearly get any color you can imagine! It’s really hard not to have a dragon’s hoard size of dice. You can go classic and just have dice in your favorite color. Sometimes you need to use a specific set for a certain character. Sometimes you need red swirled with yellow for you Flame Tongue Great Sword or sickly green for your Yuan-ti acid spray or electric blue for your character that took all the lightening spells! Sometimes you need enough sets that when one starts rolling 1s you use the next backup set. And then there are all the superstitions surrounding dice so you need sets for those circumstances, but that would be a whole other write up.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Geek and Sundry: How Did Board Games Change Your Life?

Geek and Sundry is asking a question; How did board games change you life?

A very interesting question for me especially since this year Tabletop Day falls on a trigger date for me.  April 29th.  This feels like a good time to share this story.

April 29 2011 should have been the day our first child was born.  

Whoa hold the phone!  I know this could be a sad and maybe taboo topic but I mean this to be an inspirational story.  Please, stay with me. 

It had taken a long time to conceive and we were overjoyed at the news, and then immensely devastated with life’s turn of events.  I can’t tell you how long it was after that we discovered this little game called Carcassonne.  Because you see, grief like that, it distorts your concept of time.  
During that period in my life, I felt lost.  I didn’t know how to function around people any more.  Something horrible had happened and I felt disconnected from life.  I felt disconnected from everyone.  Even Justin.  

But this game.  It was almost magical.

It gave me something interesting to focus on.  Something fun.  Because fun was a foreign concept to me at that time.  This pile of cardboard and wooden bits gave me what I needed to build a bridge reconnecting myself to life and relearn how to interact with people again.  

Seems strange, I know, but at times like that, many couples drift apart in grief.  We didn’t experience that but for awhile I couldn’t find myself anymore.  

This shared experience of finding this whole new culture to immerse ourselves in gave me something to share and to bond over.  It was a life preserver in the sea of my grief.  

Immersed we were, we jumped in with both feet and in up to our necks!  All the new concepts and terminology we learned together in a short period of time.  It was intoxicating.  Not a distraction from the loss.  But a new focus.  A passion ignited for this hobby that I will be forever grateful for.  

The grief was still there, it always will be, tucked safely away, and that is fine.  That is normal.  Because love never dies.

My life would be a lot different every April 29th if our children were born on earth instead of to heaven.  I’m not saying life would have been better, or worse for that matter.  I’m saying, “I’m present!” in the here and now and that, is wonderful.

I’m thankful that I’m at a point now that I can open my home to people on that date “April 29th” instead of closing the curtains and shutting out the world.  

A big part of my healing has been sharing this hobby with my Sweetheart (sometimes Rival) Justin.

Thanks for reading this.  

Remember, if you are lost, you will find your way to be found.  

xoxo, Charla

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Gloomhaven: Small but Mighty Heroes Part I

Gloomhaven: Small but Mighty Heroes

I am Ratacast, prime hunter of the feared pack, Nittenhoth.  I had everything I could ever want, first pick of the hunt, choice of mates, free roam of the wood, and the next chieftain would have been me should I have chosen it to be so.  Then the strangers came with their offers and threats, which I laughed at.  Now it is all gone; my family, my pack, my power.  All dead, or worse - enslaved.

Traveling to Gloomhaven was a fool’s errand, but the consequences of my actions have shown me to be the greatest of fools.  Then I met Trixie, on the same road as me to the city.  At first we ignored each other, for what could a Vermling and a Quatryl ever have to say to one another.  Soon, however, we found ourselves quietly watching each other’s backs.  Two pecks; ignored, mocked, or attacked as easy prey.  We worked well together, her Quatryl mechanical expertese lent itself well to killing bandits and other road scum while I dominated the weak willed to their deaths.

She is obsessed with the order and understanding of her mechanical toys, and wishes to bring such law and order to the world.  Now I have met a bigger fool than I, but I will help her in this foolish quest so long as she helps me bring vengeance down upon those who destroyed my pack.

After a long and arduous journey we made it to the gates of Gloomhaven.  They turned us away, laughing.  I honestly don’t know who is more angry.

Trixie knows many things, she knows other ways into the city.  We fumbled our way through a ruin, half buried in the filthy waste of the city, and found a tunnel leading beneath the walls.  A bear and a pair of wolves, all half starved and driven mad by starvation, greeted us.  The animals were no match for our prowess, but the two imps who had been controlling the animals were a bit more of a challenge.

We delved further below the surface and found a corridor filled with mist, mist and demons.  Crystal shards and gouts of flame swirled through the hazy air to form horrid things of nightmare.  They came for us, but we destroyed them both… barely.

Reaching back up to the surface, we opened the door to a garrison of drunk guards.  Trixie stepped forth, ready to explain our folly and ask for entrance to the city, but they would not listen.  Laughing hysterically, drunk on cheap wine or bloodlust, they attacked us.  We had no choice but to put them down.  The bodies are hidden, our sins will not be known to the people of our new home.

We found rooms at the Sleeping Lion Inn, but were quickly involved in a massive brawl.  I wanted to jump right in and bash some skulls (or mindbash some idiots into bashing in some other skulls for me… he he he), but held off for Mrs. Lawbringer to take the lead.  Already perturbed at our less than welcome treatment by the foolish humans, she pulled out her handbow contraptions and started putting fools down.  It was a good fight!

This is only the beginning of our story. Soon, people are gonna know our names!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017