Intro to gaming

For some time now I’ve  been undertaking a part-time course to improve my writing skills and part of the course involves writing a short piece to be presented at a “reading evening”. While most of the other leaners in my group are of a similar level to myself, the reading evening is for all the adult education groups ran throughout our area and most are attended by people with learning difficulties or confidence issues and I really enjoy attending and appreciate the effort they put into their pieces and reading them out in public themselves.

Previously I had written pieces of fiction (usually with the idea of slipping some innuendo’s past the censorship of the organisers) but this year, having recently gotten back into gaming, I thought I would create a piece to introduce others to our great hobby. While veteran gamers will view this as very simplified, please bear in mind the target audience mentioned above.

My Hobby

Have you ever watched a film or read a book and found yourself thinking, “I wouldn’t have done it like that” or “That’s obviously a trap, why are you going in?”. Well with a role play game you are the hero/heroine and you can make the choices.

I have played the Dungeons & Dragons role play game in one form or another for 30 years now. It is basically a group of people getting together to play out tales of adventure similar to those in Lord of the Rings and similar movies. One person (usually me) acts as a story-teller/narrator or Dungeon Master, while the others play the roles of the heroes of the tale, saving the villagers from raiding goblins, exploring ancient ruins for lost treasure, or even hunting for the great dragon that has terrorized the kingdom.

The Dungeon Master (DM) sets the scene and portrays all the people and monsters the heroes encounter and the players decide their responses. As with all games there are rules for creating the players characters, running combat encounters (not everyone the players meet with will be friendly) and even rules for the DM to create balanced , fair and exciting adventures for his players. Most things are decided by the players ingenuity but for that random element certain things are done with dice rolls (such as combat or anything with a chance of failure) – you swing your sword round at the goblin – rolls the dice – but your strike falls short. The wicked creature grins as it raises its rusty spear and tries to hit you back.

Even though the players are pitted against foes and scenarios presented by the DM it is not Players v’s the DM to see who wins. The whole idea is for everyone to have a fun experience and to enjoy the game. While the heroes may triumph over their foes or find the treasure that has been lost for centuries, it can also turn out the other way with some of the heroes returning to their homes battered and bruised, carrying the body of a fallen comrade.

Role play games (and D&D in particular) have suffered from a lot of negative press over the years, with religious groups in particular being against the games, calling them such things as mind warping and leading to demon worship. Well in  30 years of playing I must have been doing something wrong then I as turned out ok (I think?).

In a television programme on Channel 4 at Christmas, people voted for the 100 greatest toys, and I was very happy to see that D&D came third (only beaten by Monopoly and Lego) and it was great to see some TV celebrities reminiscing over their former hobby. People such as Stephen Fry, Jeremy Clarkson, Eddie Izzard and Jason Bradbury all played D&D at some time (and how awesome would it be to see all of them sat round together playing again!).

I believe role play games are great ways to express creativity and to socially interact with people who have similar interests. It promotes working as a team to overcome obstacles and lets your imagination roam free.

So, who’s brought the dice? Those goblins won’t go away on their own!


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