Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dreaming D&D

I had an unusual dream last night, sort of a “Willie Wonka and Dungeons and Dragons”. I received an invitation (my “golden ticket”) to a special pre-GenCon D&D game hosted at the home of Roy Thomas. I got my wires crossed on this part as, obviously, Roy Thomas is a figure in the comic book field, not the RPG field. And yet, I suppose I invented him because the D&D field never had a Roy Thomas – a no. 2 man under Gary Gygax who took over running his company for him, but kept it going in the same direction (like the character Jo Jo in Knights of the Dinner Table).

“Roy Thomas” had a huge estate not far from where GenCon was being run. The front yard was full of cars of gamers who showed up early for the con, though where all those gamers went after that, I have no idea. Only four people had been chosen to play in his game. “Roy” was an eccentric; he had a 300 ft. long swimming pool in his huge backyard, but he had pet messes all over his kitchen floor covered in dried stains of some cleaner that had never been wiped up.

Two of the other players, both white, dark-haired 20-somethings, had a previous financial arrangement with “Roy” -- for a fee, they would be allowed to consult his gaming collection after the game. The youngest player was a teenage boy with a bright shock of blond hair. I played a dwarf and did my best Gimli imitation.

It is, perhaps, not surprising that “Roy”'s DMing skills were not as good as mine in my dream. Every player started with one rumor whispered to them at the start of the game. I don't remember what mine was, but it seemed unimportant. The rumors were unimportant at best and detrimental to the game at worst – the youngest player's rumor was that my dwarf was a criminal of some kind. We were given nothing to do at the start of the game except hang around and roleplay with each other, which could have gone better had the youngest player not have blurted out his rumor in front of my dwarf. To add to the roleplaying experience and help everyone else get into the game, I grabbed the boy and pretended to rough him up as our characters, but “Roy” and his co-DM (a friend, I suppose, who just happened to be hanging around for the game) were terribly upset about this, breaking up the “fight” and chastising me for acting instead of just stating my intentions.

The game did not progress beyond this set-up period and I wonder if it ever would. “Roy” seemed to have no sense of establishing a pace for his game. He was more interested in throwing out trivia about the early days of D&D, like how the stirge monster was named after a player whose last name was Stirge (or perhaps Sturges?). I wandered away from the table to look for his gaming collection and found, what books were sitting out at least, it was no larger than my own.

I woke up not long after that, initially disappointed that the revelation about the word 'stirge' was only part of a dream. The dream did seem to have an intriguing lesson to it, though. I came to that game, in the dream, excited that I was going to get to game with a famous gamer and found he was not as good, or at least no better, a gamer than I was. My dream was inspired by reading a lot of Knights of the Dinner Table from 2008 (and a Hard 8 storyline) lately and learning that the druid class was originally written, not by Gary Gygax or Brian Blume, but by Dave Sustarre. It was about wanting to know the secrets of the game and wanting to feel like I was in the same league as the big creators of the game.

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