The King is Dead

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

(NSFW) D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge: Why I Didn't Participate inthe D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge

The pall of failure and shame overshadows my memories of Dungeons & Dragons.  What joy I felt playing the game with my high school buddies is dimmed by embarrassment over my juvenile behavior and a painful falling out with my family that occurred last year.  While I will always be thankful to the system for introducing me to pen and paper roleplaying games – and while I will always love the Forgotten Realms – I cannot look back on D&D itself with much love.

(More self-pity and naked she-monsters after the cut)




I shouldn’t be quite so harsh on D&D.  The original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual was, after all, one of the seminal texts that informed my sexual identity.  The jutting breasts of the gynosphinx, aggressive stance of the succubus, and just the overall freaky weirdness of all the half-naked lady-monsters seared itself into my eight or nine year old brain forever.  (I’d almost think it was a plot by my mother to make sure I’d grow up heterosexual if it wasn’t for the fact that the book mysteriously disappeared several weeks after she bought it for my brother and me.)  For that, I must be forever grateful.

Of course, it was lack of sex (well, lack of someone I could futilely lust after) that got me playing the game in earnest almost a decade later.  My first girlfriend dumped me because – in a retroactively hilarious mix-up – she thought I was playing D&D with the guys and excluding her from the games (which she wanted to play too because she was a fantasy fan).  I wasn’t.  I was reading the early Forgotten Realms novels and sharing those around with guys, and occasionally we would all play The Bard’s Tale II together (which was weird because it was a solo computer RPG), but we weren’t playing tabletop RPGs yet.

(At least, my brother and I weren’t.  I got the impression later that some of the other guys had been gaming together for a bit without inviting us.)

So I bought the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition books and started gaming.  The dumbass horny teen fixation on visiting brothels was only par for the course back then (especially when you had Ed Greenwood’s lovingly detailed festhalls to spur the imagination), and I can’t really be embarrassed by that.  What I can be embarrassed about is the aggressive favoritism I showed my brother and the weird quasi-bullying I allowed towards the new guy.  I’m red-faced to remember how the way the other guys killed the new guy’s character was one of our favorite gaming memories for years.

The blatant favoritism I showed my brother in those years has bitten me in the ass repeatedly since then.  I let him cheat on ability rolls and handed him magic items that let him lord it over the other players.  It gave him a sense of entitlement that led to him thinking he was the star of any game I ran and resulted in him actively sabotaging the games he attended in later years in order to put the spotlight solely on himself. 

We grew apart during my college years, and he took a real dislike to my wife for reasons he never explained.  We’ve tried to patch things up repeatedly over the years by gaming together, but he has pissed all over those efforts.  You can’t run a two PC game if one of two players refuses to talk to the other one.  You can’t run a game if one of the players keeps wanting to change the rules every session.  You can’t be an impartial arbiter if one of the players cheats.

You don’t have to game with someone who doesn’t respect you... And if they don't respect you when you're all sitting down and trying to cooperate to have a fun time -- doing something pretty silly -- then it's pretty easy to see they don't respect you in "real life" either.  It hasn't been D&D's fault (and a lot of the stupidity has been mine), but D&D has been a microcosm of all the stupidity in my life.

But I'm probably going to buy the D&D Next Forgotten Realms guide anyway.

"I'm Troy McClure, and I'll leave you with what we all came here to see: hardcore nudity!"







7 comments:

  1. Brothers. You can't live with 'em... pass the beer nuts.

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  2. Damn, that's all-around unfortunate. It's always so sad when siblings have fallings-out. FWIW, I've definitely felt the sting of wince-inducing adolescent gaming memories as well.

    On perhaps a lighter note, there's a specifically non-D&D blog challenge coming up in March that you might want to check out. Here's the link:

    http://tomboftedankhamen.blogspot.com/2014/02/march-madness-non-d-osr-blog-challenge.html

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    1. Thanks for the sympathy. I'm sure he feels that I'm the jerk.

      I'm really, really tempted by the non-D&D challenge, but I'm not sure what to write besides "We tried playing Pendragon once and nobody else liked it." :)

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    2. Well hell, even if you just talk about Savage Worlds for every answer, that would at least be something... ;)

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  3. I think you left out the harpy, but I understand.

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    1. Oops! I don't think I owned a copy of the Monster Manual when I wrote this post. I have corrected that since then (and, honestly, I've fallen pretty hard for D&D 5e).

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