What’s the single most important lesson you’ve learned from DnD?
As I just said, I’ve taken a lot from DnD. My teaching style is profoundly influenced by my growth as a DM, which is how I can walk into a classroom where there are three of seven students present, only two of whom have done the homework, and turn their combined 11-minutes of presentation into a two-and-a-half-hour class, incorporating both a visit from my boss and one student’s decision to use a massive picture of “blue waffle” as part of her presentation.
If you don’t know blue waffle, don’t look up blue waffle. Just trust that it was something you don’t want to see–you know the internet, you know I know the internet, and you know you can trust me that you don’t want to see it. Of course, if you didn’t click the cut first, then you’ve suffered already; look before you leap in the future!
So while I could talk about a variety of things, and my chest burns with the hunger to do so, I’d say the primary lesson I learned from DnD is confident improvisation. In high school I was an extemporaneous speaker and monstrously good at it. I went to Nationals twice and genuinely stopped even trying to manage my trophy collection, and the key thing is this: I didn’t know shit. I was a smart kid, sure, but I was profoundly ignorant about huge swathes of international and domestic politics, history, and even geography. However, I had a big afro and a bright orange V-neck sweater and a voice that cracked, and I’d come into a round and talk about Godzilla for five solid minutes. I’d cram two minutes of vague references to Augusto Pinochet or Putin or the consequences of NATO involvement in Bosnia around the edges of my Godzilla story, or my Dracula story, or this one time I painted this weird-ass Bridge to Terabethia story about kids finding a mine as a way to explain resource exploitation in South America. I’d do these things, and I would destroy. My senior year I beat a dude who had newspapers in about a half-dozen foreign languages delivered to his house solely so he could stay fully abreast of current events; I beat him often, but in this case I beat him for a National tourney berth that he wanted so badly he ended up flying out to the tournament on his own dime just to…I dunno, breathe the tournament air I guess? That was my second year out there and I didn’t actually care about my performance, but confident improvisation!
I’ve obtained probably six times as many jobs from conversations I struck up with strangers than I’ve ever gained from sending in a resume or responding to a posting. I parlayed asking my wife if I could help her find a book into the thing where she’s my wife now. I once gave a toast to all 26 members of my graduate program at the pre-graduation dinner, unplanned, unprepared, and despite the fact that I really can’t fucking stand about a third of those people. It was sweet, and warm, and included nods to the guys in the other program and their faculty despite my not knowing any of them.
I get nervous around people, I’m constantly amazed that I still know how to make a car go from a place to another place (and yesterday drove out of the house with a dropcloth from painting still sitting on the back of my car and my side mirror popped flush with the window, because I’ve driven maybe eight times in the last fifteen months). I can’t change a tire, know how to cook roughly three entrees, and without Stacey organization and financial skills (and assistance, frankly) I wouldn’t even know how much my student loans are, let alone how I could pay them.
But you walk me into a room of strangers, give me a topic and maybe a cocktail, and I can fill my bellows-lungs and talk for twenty entertaining, warm, charming minutes. All because I picked up two books (minus a page or two) twenty-damn-years-ago and never looked back. Shit, I just dropped about 2700 words in the last two hours while playing video games, because I had prompts and felt like typing.
So thanks, DnD. You’ve made me the man I am today, the men I’ve been getting to this point, and whomever I end up being tomorrow. I love you.
Also, special thanks to David at The RPG Corner for inadvertently putting me on this blog-hop. It was a great piece of motivation for getting me writing semi-regularly, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I’ll probably piggyback onto the next thing thanks to dude as well, though on my own timetable of course. Thanks also to D20 Dark Ages for doing this thing too, because otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this thing!
6 thoughts on “Boppin’ and Blog Hoppin’: Day Twenty-Eight”
Thanks for doing this–a genuinely enjoyable read. It’s always nice to find someone’s answers that are as wordy as me. 🙂
In reference to a couple posts back and doing a one-on-one (or “duet,” as some call it) with your lady, I’ll just say that Des is not exactly all that into game mechanics, system mastery, or character creation, and she does better in a group environment, too. Yet we made it work. It probably only could have worked with her being my wife; if she was just a friend, it would’ve fallen apart. And there were points where I had to pause the game mid-session and make sure I was presenting things in a way that worked for her, because I was making certain assumptions about play-style that I realized didn’t apply to her. But it was a great experience, and I hope you can get some experience from it as well.
There’s another blogger who does a lot of “duet” games with his wife, if you want to go digging through his archives. Here’s a recent post where he tells the sweet story of how they got started:
The same blog turned me on to a pretty sweet series of columns from RPG.net that I wish I’d read before doing the Solo GPC; lots of good advice to be had:
Both links added to the 15-odd tabs I currently have open! Glad you enjoyed giving the posts a read; you also get the credit for being a big push along the line to my wargaming, so at this point you get credit for a significant portion of the posts on the blog entire.
I was a bit apprehensive about jumping into that next blog hop since I’m on the more–progressive is probably a value-loaded term, contemporary maybe–side of the OSR divide. I was pumped to see that the questions were aimed at being a bit more inclusive on that end, so I’ll get to dive into Rifts and Alternity and all the madness on the way.
Just put a guy on Day after Ragnarok, too! You run any of that recently?
I’ll admit to feeling a bit chuffed when I see how much fun you’re having with minis gaming. If you’re ever passing through Santa Fe again, we’ll have to get a game of Epic 40K set up–I’ve got enough minis for the both of us.
I actually ran a couple sessions of DAR at the end of the year! Oddly, it just put me in the mood to run some classic D&D, so I put that campaign on ice to start up my current old school Forgotten Realms campaign. You can check out the Obsidian Portal wiki I set up for the DAR campaign here:
In the event I ever returned to the dark jaws of Santa Fe I’d bring my damn daemons and do a proper! But–and this is regardless of how much you and Des travel–you will almost certainly be somewhere else near me before I return to Santa Fe, because the overall experience there was…inauspicious. Returning would feel like the beginning of Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.”
Privacy settings prevent my accessing that link, btw.
Well, I was thinking more like if you just happened to be passing through on a road trip or similar. A shaman once told a friend of mine that people come to Santa Fe for two reasons: to stay forever, or to be chewed up and spit back out into the world. I recognize that your experience was in the latter camp. 🙂
(Privacy settings fixed for the link.)
That is the best description of SF I’ve ever heard (and the best possible story behind it). That’s also an incredibly well-produced Obsidian Portal page.