Corey and Lori's Quest Log


Corey and Lori’s Quest Log

“Modern Lessons from Classic Games”
Part Three: Dungeons & Dragons

“We were playing a game.” “No game.” – Joel Rosenberg, The Sleeping Dragon, 1982.

Dungeons & Dragons™ is the most important game introduced in the last 50 years. Without it, the landscapes of both live and computer gaming would look totally different. It’s certainly been influential to us. Our games wouldn’t exist at all without the influence of Dungeons and Dragons. There’s a very good chance Corey would still be designing productivity software if we had never discovered Dungeons and Dragons. Lori would still be a schoolteacher, and we’d never have met each other.

D and DWorld of Warcraft would not exist without Dungeons and Dragons. Nor would Everquest, Ultima Online, Zork, any other text or graphic adventure video game, nor thousands of others. I don’t think we could say that about any other modern game. Exaggeration? I don’t think so.

 

What Makes Dungeons and Dragons Different?

How is Dungeons and Dragons different from playing Cops & Robbers, or Knights & Knaves, or tag? Dungeons and Dragons has rules and structure. Characters have specific abilities and restrictions. A player can’t say “I leap over the 50 foot chasm” and expect it to work… unless they know how to fly. They might be able to say, “I cast a Fireball,” if their character happens to know the Fireball spell and has one ready. So a Dungeons and Dragons character can do a lot of things the player can’t do in real life and can’t do things just because they make a good story.

Another critical aspect of Dungeons and Dragons is the concept of experience levels and experience points (XP). These have been adopted by most current role-playing games. We used a different system in Quest for Glory – individual skills and talents that improved with practice – but that really is just a variation on the XP theme. For all practical purposes, Dungeons and Dragons invented the idea of playing a single character with skills that improve over the course of many sessions of playing that same character. Since then, almost every role-playing game has been built around that concept. That’s pretty revolutionary!

Storytelling and D & D

But Dungeons and Dragons isn’t just about the rules. It’s also about playing a game where storytelling is as important as the game mechanics. A couple of Corey’s Bard characters come to mind. Each of them wrote a song about one of their adventures. In one case, our low-level party took on a much more powerful creature with the help of some magic. It could have been just another hack-and-slash moment, but the Bard immortalized it in song as “The Slaying of the Remorhaz” (giving himself a starring role, of course). Similarly, Carolan wrote a song, “You Can’t Keep Carolan Down,” about her adventures. Turning the gaming into a story has helped us remember that campaign many years later.

What makes Dungeons and Dragons so memorable? It’s the characters, the story, and the interaction between the players. We brush aside the boring parts, “Um, let’s see. I get +1 to hit from 16 Strength. Oh, wait, that’s damage, not to hit…” We remember matching wits with a Master Vampire, organizing a village to stand up against an ancient Red Dragon… or making a deal with the Dragon to stop attacking the village. We remember joining together to face an enemy that would have totally destroyed any one of us alone. This is the stuff of great storytelling made all the richer because we are participating in the story and helping to write it.

More than a Game

Dungeons & Dragons is the “more than a game” that helped us to write our own life story. How about you? Have you been influenced by Dungeons and Dragons or other “paper role-playing” games? How did it change your life? Or do you think I’ve exaggerated its importance, and there would still be lots of fun computer and video games if Dungeons and Dragons had never existed? We want to hear from you.

Dungeons and Dragons

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Comments

  1. Craig Says:

    Hey folks,

    I first played Hero’s Quest (that’s right) back in 1992 on a beat up old Tandy my best mate’s uncle revamped for us. We soon found a pile of AD&D 2e books at a garage sale and that, as they say, was that.

    Now, many years later, we have come full circle and I have run the Quest for Glory campaign on table top for our children, nieces and nephews.

    Thank you for all your hard work and for giving me oodles of material to entertain the kiddos with 😀

  2. James Says:

    That sounds like a wonderful holiday weekend. I would love to hear how this years goes, or any previous for that matter. Story has ever been the primary thing I’ve considered for every game I’ve tried to run. The only problem I run into is a general lack of heroic characters. Although I have to admit that I also really take pleasure in the variety of systems they have and the mechanics of how they work.

  3. Lori Says:

    Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we invite our friends from all over to come to AardvarCon, a gaming weekend at our house. Our friends are Role-Players, and we still use the old rules of AD&D 2 more or less. It’s not about the rules, it’s about the story.

    Live RPG’s with friends are still better than the best of computer games.

  4. James Says:

    I agree that D&D has paved the way for just about every other fantasy game as well. One of my first RPG books was the 2nd edition revised book. I never actually got to play it at the time but I would read it almost constantly. Even now with the release of 4th edition I still keep a enthusiastic eye out and still enjoy picking up 2nd edition books when ever possible.

    And I definitely credit not only D&D but you guys who created Quest for Glory for the desire and creative spark that was necessary for me to start creating my own fantasy world that I hope to someday make something of whether it be through novel writing, game design or simply as a background to play D&D and other fantasy RPG games to.

    It brings joy to my heart to read about the games you play in. Its just another way to bring us all together in different ways that not everybody has the pleasure of being able to be involved in.

  5. Lori Says:

    Hesam:

    We still enjoy playing D&D, although we play a bit fast and loose with the rules (see the Avast, Ye Hearty’s article for an idea of how wild our games get).

    We just had a group of friends over last weekend for gaming. Certainly being experienced at running D&D games helped me design QfG.

  6. Hesam Says:

    Hey Coles!,

    Big Quest for Glory fan over here. Thanks so much for your hard work through the years. Your games meant a lot to me.

    As a big fan of fantasy fiction and adventure gaming, and someone who has been living with an active imagination all his life, I think it was pretty much inevitable that I would get into D & D at some point. In the end I didn’t play it for very long, but the experience showed me that sharing a story with relative strangers really brings people together. As for its impact on the gaming community (across various media), I agree completely. Books, computer and console games, even movies have been influenced by the ideas in D & D. Things like XP, levels, spell lists, character classes, alignment, hybrid characters, races.. these were all codified in Gygax’s great game. It’s the Hammurabi Code of gaming. :)

    Anyway, again with the thanks. I really did (and do) enjoy the Quest for Glory games. You can be sure I’ll e-mail Vivendi with my opinion too.

    Looking forward to following your blog,
    Fellow geek, and about as stealthy as the average Goon,

    Hesam

  7. Corey Says:

    Thanks for commenting, oughttobe.

    The newest blog is always on the main page, so I don’t think it gets a separate link until we add another post and move the previous one down.

    We’re still experimenting with WordPress and this site, so it’s a learning exercise for us. That’s why there is no official public link to the blog yet.

  8. oughtobe Says:

    Does the newest blog not have a dedicated page?

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