Thursday, October 25, 2007

Two Matters of Grave Importance

Pal and one-time collaborator, Chris Radtke, writes to ask if I might turn the mighty tide that is the Beeswax audience towards a vital debate raging on his website: Who would win in a fight, a minotaur with a trident or a centaur with a crossbow?

What makes this different from other nerd fights circulating the internet is the caliber of celebrity judges. George Clooney? Paul Reubens? Jennifer Love Hewitt? Ozzie? Yes, all these and more. My favorite may be unflapped Tiger Woods, who responds as though it was the most normal, even routine, question in the world.

Okay, now, the subject of this debate is as close as I'm going to get to an appropriate segue-way for a topic that has been weighing heavily on me these last few days. Bear with me a moment, will you? I'm not shy about letting my geek flag fly, right? You've seen me draw superheroes in the past, and you know I'll do it again. But before I was a comics geek, I was a role-playing geek. And any role-playing geek my age was weened on the polyhedral teat of Dungeons & Dragons. It's not a system I remember fondly. In fact, I hold D&D in the kind of disdain you can only summon for a childhood love outgrown: the rules are sloppy; the random attribute generation means either lopsided characters or cheating; the emphasis on walking through rooms killing monsters and looting their bodies is narratively impoverished; and, worst of all, the untextured high-fantasy aesthetic is just plain puerile and annoying. And, goldang it, why all the dice? Build a game on a pair of ten-sided percentile dice and be done with it.

So why do I keep daydreaming about this?

What's even weirder is that I don't even want to play. I just want to read the new Player's Handbook and roll up a few characters. What the hell is wrong with me?


Unknown said...

I'm down with a little D&D!

Pulpatooner said...

We'll put the kids to bed, assure our wives we love them, and then go kill kobolds VOIP-style!

Unknown said...

So you are the DM I assume? I was actually a DM for many, many years. My pal Duane is still on my case about finishing a long running game..

Pulpatooner said...

DM? Whoa, there, buddy. I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to that quite yet. It's a lot of work, and I'm pretty tightly scheduled as it is. Which is not to say that I haven't been building a campaign world in my head for the last week. A really, really elaborate campaign world, with totally different races, cosmology, and history than D&D's default. Which is why I probably shouldn't DM. I'm a little prone to falling down my own rabbit hole.

Unknown said...

Damn, with a pissy little pistol crossbow like that, horseboy hasn't got a virgin's chance in hell. But if you give him something real with a 150 lb. punch, and we start the fight at 100 meters, and he's maybe got a second loaded crossbow waiting in case his first shot missess... a ferget it. Horseboy's toast.

As for AD&D4, I dunno, just from the demo video I still get a "room after room, monster after monster" kind of feeling, which is as you said what made D&D so boring way back when. If I want to play "killthemonster getthegold buybetterweapons killbiggermonsters getmoregold" I can reactivate my WoW account.

Shobo said...

I missed out on D&D myself, I did see the cartoon though!

I remember when I came to the States a few guys got me into something called battle... mechs... or warrior mechs or something. Basically giant robots shooting at each other. I seem to remember lots of stuff about "hills" and "gauss rifles".

... hope that helps!

Pulpatooner said...


Yeah, I agree that the new version just seems to exacerbate everything I didn't like. Also, ain't none of it work on Mac. So, the mystery is, why am I so intrigued?

Maybe it's just heart-break that Steve Jackson is no longer supporting GURPS, which was my hands-down favorite role-playing system. Not that I ever actually played it, but it was great fun building characters for it.


Yes, that helps a lot. Thank you.

The Ichthyophile said...

I have to agree with Tiger Woods. Pinpoint accuracy and a quiver full of arrows would win. It's not contest.

Fire up the grill, we're having steak tonight!