Decades passed, D. & D. movies and cartoons came and went, and the game remade itself over and over. But interest fell like an orc beneath a bastard sword. The game’s designers, surrounded by copycats and perplexed about how to bring D. & D. online, made flat-footed attempts at developing new rule books to mimic the video games that D. & D. had inspired. Gygax died, in 2008, occasioning a wealth of tributes but little enthusiasm. Then, a fifth edition of D. & D. rules came out, in 2014, and, somehow, the culture was receptive again to bags of holding and silver-haired drow. People started buying up these volumes in droves. “More people are interested in D&D than we thought,” the game’s lead developer, Mike Mearls, said, as print runs repeatedly sold out. “Who are these people? What do they want?”
The structures the designers made are also simpler and more subjective. If a player thinks of something clever, you don’t have to thumb through a handbook for a strictly defined bonus.
“Ever since we were primitive sitting around campfires, we’ve been telling stories to each other, and listening to each other tell stories to each other,” a D. & D. designer explained. “There’s really nothing out there that can perfectly emulate it digitally.” And we know that Gygax would approve. Earlier this year, a graphic novel titled “Rise of the Dungeon Master,” based on interviews for a Wired article by David Kushner, depicted the D. & D. creator robed and on a throne, playing one final session just before his death. “D&D is not an online game,” he told Kushner. “There is no role-playing in an online game that can match what happens in person.”
Dungeons & Dragons – D&D to fans – isn't a straightforward board game like Monopoly or Clue. It's more like an operating system, an elaborate framework on which players can build their own scenarios.
Richard Garriott encountered the game at computer camp in 1977. After organizing D&D sessions back home, he ported the role-playing experience into PC games like Akalabeth and later the Ultima franchise. He says that D&D's primordial game engine was a perfect match for number-crunching home computers. "D&D allowed people to build a numerical representation of themselves, a numerical representation of a monster, a numerical representation of how a character and monsters could interact," he says. "If there had never been D&D, computer games would be more like simple arcade games, like Pac-Man and Pong."
Essentially, D&D is collaborative storytelling. Players pretend to be fantasy characters who embark on a group adventure. They battle monsters, explore terrain and roll the dice to decide outcomes. A Dungeon Master guides the narrative.
More people are playing, partly, because it has never been easier. D&D used to be a nitpicky, number-crunchy affair. Then, in 2014, Wizards of the Coast released a new edition — the beloved 5th edition — that is more streamlined, more spontaneous and less rule-driven. As the longtime L.A.-based player Barry Thomas Drake, 58, explains: “No more arguing about the precise number of mouse hairs you need for a certain spell.”
Arellano maintains a home library of more than 1,000 D&D-related books — on the history of China, Africa, Egypt, on coinage and trade and castles. “Because you never know when you might need to describe the proper layout of a burial vault.”
Dungeons & Dragons is a game that's played first of all on the tabletop — at least originally it was. It's a game where you all get together. The game is refereed by someone called the Dungeon Master who kind of describes what the rest of the gamers see and hear. So the rest of the participants who work together cooperatively make these various characters like fighters and wizards and thieves and whatnot, and you kind of react to what the Dungeon Master lays out before you.
Many of the derivative games — and maybe it's all of the derivative games we've talked about — whether it be computer role-playing games or whatnot, they actually lack most of the most important fundamental elements of a role-playing game. ... That is, sitting around with your friends and participating in this kind of group storytelling exercise: actually being in a room physically sitting at a table with nothing but pencils and paper and dice.
How D&D normally works is that there’s a game master who is running the game. They’re the narrator of the story. And the different people are the different characters in the story. It’s an interactive story—the dungeon master will tell you, This is going on; this is what you see. And then you get feedback from the players on what they want to do. It can be a never-ending story.
This one in particular tells my opinion on why origin stories are a bad thing for D&D:
As false to the game form as the pre-scripted "story," is play that has little more in it than seek and destroy missions, vacuous effort where the participants fight and kill some monster so as to gain more power and thus be able to look for yet more potent opponents in a spiral that leads nowhere save eventual boredom. So pure hack and slash play is anathema to me too. Tactical, and strategic, play is a fine addition to the RPG, and if it is in-character, something I see as desirable, In this category fall such things as exploration, economics, politics, and even intrigue.
At its core, Dungeons & Dragons is a group storytelling game. You can think of it a lot like a collective choose-your-own-adventure book. One player prepares a fantasy story of sorcery and adventure, then the rest of the players take charge of characters in that story and gather together—preferably around a kitchen table—to cooperatively tell the tale. Maybe the story you'll tell is a mystery. Maybe it follows the classic hero's arc. Or, heck, maybe the story is just thin window-dressing with a series of spectacular battles. D&D is all of these things, and just as there is no single best way to tell a story, there is no "right" way to play D&D.
the entire game flows from a simple three-step process, looped over and over again:
1) The narrator of the game or Dungeon Master (or simply DM) describes the environment. 2) The players describe what they wanted, or were attempting to do. This usually involved throwing around some dice. 3) The DM refereed the success or failure of what the players attempted, and then narrated the results of the player's actions.
While turn-based games favor more strategic and transparent play, they can feel a little stodgy to players used to action-oriented titles. Real-time games, on the other hand, are more immersive and multiplayer-friendly but can also easily overwhelm new players if they are not well-paced. Turn-based games, of course, descend directly from the board game tradition which predates video games. Indeed, the fanbase for turn-based games still overlaps significantly with the fanbase for board and card games. Real-time games (excluding sports) were only truly possible with the advent of computers.
I prefer turn based, it seems more strategic to me instead of reacting to real time events.
I just recently played Divinity Original Sin EE and Pillars of Eternity back to back, the former being turn based and the latter real time with pause. I found that I was almost playing PoE like a turn based game in some respects - issue commands, pause after they were carried out, then issue new ones, repeat. If I wasn't continually adjusting what I wanted each character to do, I fared worse in the battles.
Good turn-based combat is a puzzle, where you're trying to get as much use from the limited actions and resources available to you. The fun part is figuring out how to solve the puzzle.
If you could jump on a development team and direct a project, who would you join?
Oh, I'd probably like work with the Neverwinter Nights people [BioWare] at some point. They seem to have a good notion about what to do. I've learned enough about computers and programming from this school to understand this better over the last four and a half years. It's easy to say "Oh, they're not doing it right." But, could they do it any other way? Well, the answer is probably no, at this point. Also, you've got to get the game done in a couple of years.
The game organizes the chaos of combat into a cycle of rounds and turns. A round represents about 6 seconds in the game world. During a round, each participant in a battle takes a turn. The order of turns is determined at the beginning of a combat encounter, when everyone rolls initiative. Once everyone has taken a turn, the fight continues to the next round if neither side has defeated the other.
Combat Step by Step 1.Determine surprise. 2.Establish positions. 3.Roll initiative. 4.Take turns. 5.Begin the next round.
BioWare planned for Baldur’s Gate to be a blend of old and new. “It was kind of this examination of the old Gold Box games in terms of their depth and their adherence to the [D&D] rules,” Oster says, referring to a series of D&D RPGs produced by Strategic Simulations, Inc. in the late ’80s and early ’90s. “But then bringing that forward into an almost real-time-strategy-style interface.”
“It became pretty obvious pretty quick that there was no way you were gonna be able to play the depths of D&D in real time without ever pausing the game,” Oster says. “That’s when we came up with the ‘pause and play’ plan.” That addition enabled players to stop in the middle of the game, queue up commands to their party, and then restart the real-time action. Although Baldur’s Gate didn’t invent this “active pause” approach, it did help popularize it. “When you play Fallout to this day with the V.A.T.S. system for the slow-motion targeting, I think you can trace the origins of all that back to the ‘pause and play’ idea,” Greig says. Those mechanics made Baldur’s Gate a technical improvement upon previous RPGs...
Baldur’s Gate became the best-selling game in the two weeks following its release, moving 175,000 copies in that time and vindicating BioWare’s pre-release outreach. It topped 500,000 by the end of February and hit the 1.5 million mark by May 2001. “This is a 100 percent standard procedure now for any game,” Greig says. “A key part of the marketing is engaging with the core audience and doing developer diaries, and they’ve got teams of people whose job is just to do this.” Inadvertently, BioWare had helped guide developers in how to sell games as well as how to make them.
“The ones that have been successful haven’t tried to remake what we did, because when we made it we weren’t trying to make Baldur’s Gate,” Kristjanson says, adding, “You can reduce that too much to, ‘Oh, this should be authentic D&D with the numbers.’ Well, even D&D isn’t authentic D&D. It’s every group has their house rule, and that house rule is because of the way that your particular collection of awesome weirdos wants to play it.”