Last week I finished 13 weeks of D&D Encounters, a weekly Dungeons and Dragons game that’s designed to get new players into the game (or old players back into it). Instead of marathon sessions that are hours long, the encounters take a couple hours and are designed for people who maybe can’t make it every time.
Probably because of my interest in sci-fi and fantasy literature, along with my penchant for performing, I’ve been interested in D&D since it came out when I was a teenage, but we never lived anywhere with a large enough population of geeks for me to get into it.
So when I found out about “D&D Encounters” I decided to make the once a week commute into Anchorage to participate — and I’ve had a ball.
I’ve had so much fun that when the new Encounters session starts next Thursday — even though the last one ended last Thursday — I’ll be driving in again, carrying my little pouch of funny-shaped dice and my papers that detail my new character, a Drow thief named Zahn. He carries a hand crossbow and his strategy involves hanging back in the shadows and picking off the monsters one by one.
D&D Is For _________ (Fill In The Blank)
I know D&D is a geeky thing, but I don’t think most people give it a fair shake. A lot of the people I know (including relatives) stick D&D into the same category as Ouija boards, Tarot cards, and seances — things good Christian people shouldn’t play with.
But it actually belongs in the same category as playing cowboys and indians, chess, and storytelling. It’s a strategy game for creative people. I’ll admit it can be a little complicated and intimidating to get started, but that’s what’s so great about the Encounters sessions. You can show up with nothing and they’ll let you pick from a selection of “pre-rolled” characters so you can just jump in and start playing.
About halfway through the last campaign (group of encounters, or fights) the entire party of adventurers I was in got killed (called a TPK, or Total Party Kill) and I had the option to “bring back” the guy I’d been playing or pick someone else. I took that opportunity to build my own character and switched from being a defender to being a striker — someone whose job is to jump in and do massive amounts of damage on the Big Evil Dude.
In the upcoming campaign I’m going to remain a striker, but switching from a guy who jumps in and fights up close with swords, to a guy who hangs back and takes out the enemy with a crossbow. I’ve already created the character and had the chance to play him in a couple fights last Saturday. I’m already seeing some potential problem areas with a character like that, but part of the fun is figuring out your weaknesses and compensating — at the same time you’re figuring out the weaknesses of the bad guys and capitalizing on them.
An Example Of Why I Like D&D
If you’re not going to jump up and go to your Friendly Neighborhood Game Store and sign up for Encounters (it’s free!), then do me a favor and watch at least the first video down below. It’ll take you 10 minutes and will give you a taste of what we do every week.
Okay, we might not be as “entertaining” as these guys, but it’s the same feeling — on a more local level.
Warning: The videos are not rated G, or even PG, because of language. In our local sessions the DMs (guys who run the games) smack people who swear, but in the videos they don’t have that restriction, so if you can’t handle that kind of stuff, skip the videos. But really, you should watch at least the first one! :)
PAX Celebrity Game
* Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqXqK3ZlqWI
* Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V_6oSkEC-0
* Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ANIANMKhaM
* Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8HHXzKq3Uw
* Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT7Nci4BEZ8
* Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAtoI7StAhQ
* Part 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7RPPldJIiU
* Part 8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHI93hAPdyk
* Part 9: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM7xJ84LMA0
* Part 10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtoUl7w4NZ4
PS – Yes, it’s that Wil Wheaton in the videos, from Stand By Me, Star Trek, The Next Generation, etc.
PPS – They don’t really get into the swing of the game until the second video and don’t start battle until even later than that, but don’t skip ahead. Just watch ’em. :)