The Art of Imagination, part 1: How It Can Be Used Daily with D&D.

Back in the summer of 2008, I was stuck at home a whole lot because of a little issue I had with vertigo.  A little issue in the sense that I had bad vertigo 24 hours a day/seven days a week.  But that’s another story in itself.

Anyhow being as I was stuck at home and they were releasing a new version of Dungeons & Dragons, I decided to get the core books (for the uninitiated that means the Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual).  I hadn’t played D&D in years and figured it would be a great place to start playing with my now ex-wife.

Zoom ahead to 2011.  Yeah.  Never got around to actually playing until one day I sat down and played with my 7 year old son.  We had a blast.  We roleplayed!  In fact, even before playing this basic D&D adventure we had been playing the tile board games for D&D that Wizards of the Coast had put out.  The board games aren’t roleplaying games, but you know what?  That didn’t stop me and the monkey prince from putting some roleplaying into it.  Once he realized what roleplaying was, it was just gonzo from there.  It.  Was.  Fun.

Recently, Wizards of the Coast announced that they’ll be doing a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons (known as 5E) to be released in probably two to three years.  They want to take their time and get fan feedback about what they’d like to see, what they feel worked in various editions or what didn’t.

Which brings me to this post.  Possibly rant.  I haven’t really figured that out yet.

Probably the single, biggest complaint that I’ve heard over the years since 4th edition (4E) was released was that it took away roleplaying from a roleplaying game.

You know what I think? Bullshit.

If you can’t figure out how to put in imagination, in any kind of situation, you have a problem.

If I can play a board game, with a seven year old, and put in roleplaying – developing personalities and actions for the little figures we’re using – then someone who professes themselves to be a roleplaying gamer can.  If they can’t, they really should find some other game to play.

Look. It’s simple, really. I’ve read the people who say “But it’s all about the tabletop combat, with miniatures and maps, and blahblahblah, etc., etc., etc.”  You know what?  That’s what D&D was when it started: it was tactical rules.  Then a couple of smart guys decided to have a bit more fun with it.  And so a legend of roleplaying games was born.  Oh and how it expanded from there.

4E has some tactical rules – ongoing damage, blah, etc., to add some flavour to the game.  Something a little more realistic in effect for a fantasy setting.  Someone throws fire at something else, well of course there’s going to be some residual ongoing damage.  Tough.  Deal with it.  Learn to use it, embrace it.  Again, if a seven year old can do it, a thirty year old should just quite the whining.

People are upset that it took out the “out of combat” roleplaying.  Make it up.  House ruling it is one way.  Another is to learn to use what’s in the rules (if you don’t want to house rule it), and WORK with it.  I used the skill challenge in the starter set with my son.  I didn’t even have him role for some of the skill challenges because his answers prompted me to NOT use them.  If he, as one of the characters, gave me an answer the NPC was on the fence about, I had him role and the role prompted the next response.  Give and take.

(To be fair, I did play a little easy on him because 1) he’s seven; and 2) it was both our first time using skill challenges for an encounter.)

I’m lucky in that I have an abundance of imagination.  I was lucky that I had people in my life encourage it.  Everybody has imagination, to some extent.  But to be playing a fantasy game to begin with, one should already have that imagination in use.  Blaming someone else because they didn’t give you rules on how to use your imagination in a fantasy game is an issue you should look into.  Look deep into yourself and consider if you’re being an ass or not.  “Oh, poor me.  I can’t possibly make myself break this rule so that I can roleplay.  But I can make myself break these other ones constantly because I think they’re dumb.”

The brain is a wonderful, interesting, frustrating thing.  If you’re playing a fantasy game, let the brain do it’s thing.

Okay.  So.  Maybe more rant than not.  🙂


About Brandon Williford

Dad. Writer. Creator of things. I sound like I should be fun.

Posted on January 15, 2012, in Commentaries, Just Plain 'Ol Personal, Rant and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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