Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Embiggen the Tent!

Blogger and journalist Shani O. Hilton has started tabletop gaming:

DnD is pretty easy to pick up, and it seems, depending on the person running the game, sympathetic to the newbies. It’s certainly no more complicated to understand than baseball or football. And really, it’s as fun a way to spend a few relaxed hours with friends, pizza, and diet orange soda as I can think of.

I have to admit my own bias here: I've never done the tabletop thing.  I have seen a huge resurgence of interest in it in the last yew years, though.  Friends of mine back in Boston have D&D groups.  Penny Arcade has become as much about miniatures as it has about consoles.  PAX has tabletop rooms, in addition to console, PC, and handheld spaces.

I'll never, ever be a card-collecting game person.  (I had a boyfriend in college who, after teaching me to kick his ass in Heroes III, tried to get me onto Magic.  Not.  Happening.)  I'm scared by math and by miniatures and by having to store items in physical space.

But at parties, I've had a blast with the random board and card games friends have brought by.  (Yes, I throw that kind of party.)  I've been scared off by 20 years' of unwelcoming nerdboy players of D&D... but I feel like the time of communal tabletop gaming is ascendant.

So after playing random pick-up games in the hall with strangers at last year's PAX East, this year I'm feeling emboldened by how much more welcoming the community seems to be getting.  I've decided that one of my goals for PAX is to try a tabletop something, and I've had someone offer to guide me.

Video gaming has gotten more inclusive, and continues to do so.  In this very socially networked world, in-person gaming seems to be doing the same.  I hope I get to play something fun.


  1. I used to play Advanced D&D Second Edition or some monstrous name like that. The rules were pretty awkward, so we basically said screw it and just did cooperative story telling with dice (numbers to beat made up on the fly - come on, is that really as arbitrary/unfair as letting the DM decide how many orcs are attacking and who they gang up on?) I've heard that 3rd Edition slims down the rules considerably. I would love to play if anyone around here did.

  2. Though this wouldn't help you find a group--in fact, this probably makes it harder since DnD is by far the most popular game, when I still played, the group I was in made the same transition in play style by we did it by picking up some other rpgs like Ars Magica and Vampire, etc. And beyond changing the world the mechanics the system had a lead Storyteller instead of a Dungeon Master, so the game systems were meaningfully built for a different sort of play. They're a bunch of lesser known games and systems that do that to varying degrees.

    I've heard the same thing about 3rd edition DnD--I think they're up to 4th, actually--though since miniatures are common thing in it now, I think it still has a dice/mechanics focus that I went away from last I played.

  3. I DM'd for a tiny group playing in basically the Highlander universe with competing immortals. It was pretty cool although it probably infringed on a number of copyrights.

    I always wanted to try Masquerade.

  4. I used to do the LARP thing, which is like the cousin of tabletopping. I loved character generation and world building, but found actual playing to be super overwhelming, usually do to the players involved. But at Gally a few years ago, I tried D&D for the first real time, and it was a blast. I think it helped that I was surrounded by friends.

    I did, however, play Magic like a mofo back in high school. I wish I hadn't given away all my cards... I totally miss it.

    This is to say: if you want to do some tabletop gaming this weekend and want a friendly face, I'm in!

  5. I went on a LARP weekend once. There was this guy I kind of liked, and he was a LARP-er, and he described it and it sounded like fun so I went.

    Then this OTHER guy spent the whole weekend trying to, er, get into my tent, shall we say.

    There were a handful of nice folks but yeah, the people at the LARP definitely turned me off from doing it in the future. Even if it IS fun to hit people with nerf swords.

  6. Had I known you at the time, I might have dragged you to this UMass Vampire LARP. It was odd, and I ended up walking away about 45 minutes into it. I watched TV in the basement of the Student Center and waited for my room mate to come hang out.

    Like most things, it's 90% about the people.