Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lessons Learned From Dungeons & Dragons

An article entitled "All I Needed to Know About Life I Learned From 'Dungeons & Dragons'" was posted at the Salon on Monday. The piece lays out fourteen lessons the author (Ethan Gilsdorf) has learned from playing roleplaying games and its rather charming in its sincerity. Feeling somewhat inspired, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the major lessons I've learned while playing roleplaying games that also affect my life away from the table.

#1. Teamwork is Very Important
When playing Dungeons & Dragons, the party must work as a team to complete a given quest. While each character has their areas of expertise and might take the lead at certain intervals, they can't finish the adventure alone. In real life, working together instead competing against each other makes things a lot easier. Don't be afraid to ask for help and realize that working as a team can be beneficial to everyone. 

#2. Learning How to Handle Unexpected Situations
When running Dungeons & Dragons, your players will most likely do something you weren't expecting. Instead of freaking out, just take a deep breath and quickly figure out the best way to handle the unexpected action or turn. If the players decide to just kill the doppelganger disguised as the king instead of revealing his true identity, figure out how to work that into the story and make their choice have consequence and meaning. In real life, be ready to adapt when a situation goes down a different path. 

#3. Each Problem Has Multiple Solutions
When I first started playing roleplaying games, I thought the only point of the game was to kill stuff and take their treasure. However, as I've grown up, I realize that is only one element of the game and you could handle any problem in a multitude of ways. Instead of killing the bandits, you could try talking to them and maybe find a nonviolent way of handling the situation, or you could run away and lead the bandits into an ambush with the local militia so they can be captured & legally punished. More often than not, there is more than just one solution to a problem. 

#4. Change the Rules
While playing a roleplaying game, you will occasionally run into a rule that hinders the group's enjoyment of the game. However, the great thing about pen & paper games is that you can always change or ignore that rule. You don't have to abide by it just because its in the rulebook. In real life, don't be afraid to break society's rules as long as you aren't doing something illegal or hurting someone else. 

#5. Have Fun
This is probably the most important lesson I've learned from playing roleplaying games. It doesn't matter what kind of game you are playing or what rules you are using. As long as you and your group are having a good time, you're doing it right. Life is too short to worry about what people think about you the entire time. As long as you're enjoying yourself and not hurting others, you should be fine. 

Question Time: What are some of the lessons you've learned from playing roleplaying games?