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  • All I Really Needed to Know About Games I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons

    [08.18.09]
    - Lewis Pulsipher

  •  As a Player

    It's more fun with more than one person.

    Traditional video games have been one-person affairs, playing with/against a computer, for decades. Now we're starting to change that, to where more than one person is involved, all but the most solitary or anti-social are going to learn that games were originally social affairs, and video games are now joining that tradition.

    Cooperation is required for survival.

    In the real world, of course, one person on their own in a dangerous situation is often a dead person. The same is true in D&D.

    Think before you leap.

    So many poor players seem to have their brains turned off. Nowadays some video games don't give you time to think, but many do -- use it.

    Get organized!

    So many adventuring parties fail from sheer lack of organization. D&D showed how much difference "having your stuff together" made.

    Don't run headlong where you've never been.

    Well, duh! But it was (and is) amazing how many people would "run away" in a direction they'd never been -- and regret it.

    Keep track of the stuff you've got; otherwise you may forget something that could save your butt.

    When things go bad in D&D, it's time to look at what you're carrying, at your magic items and spells, to see if there's something that will help; otherwise you'll sometimes forget what you've got.

    Always have a viable "Plan B".

    Duh! again. Yet, so often, players have none. No reloadable saves are available in tabletop D&D, so we had to "do things right the first time" (which could, itself, be a lesson learned).

    Always have a way out.

    See above. The fundamental Plan B is getting away to fight another day.

    Don't depend on luck.

    When I first saw D&D, I said, "I hate dice games." But I discovered that it wasn't a dice game, played properly. It is a microcosm of life: do everything you practically can to avoid having to rely on a die roll to save your bacon. You won't always be able to, but you can minimize the number of times you have to life-and-death roll the bones.

    My favorite example of failure: high-level characters faced a poison-cloud-breathing iron golem. By swapping items, the party enabled two clerics to have saves of "2" -- that is, only a 1 on a d20 would be a failure. Advice to have only one cleric go in, so that the other could neutralize poison if necessary, was ignored.

    Both rushed in, the golem breathed, both rolled "1's". Fools. And there was no "Plan B". Others killed the golem without further loss, but both clerics were dead.

    R.I.P. Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson.

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