The Appeal of Dungeons and Dragons

This post started on Facebook, although it was really on Twitter. Wil Wheaton posted this:


This made me think back to when I was a kid. I never played Dungeons and Dragons, but I did play another RPG called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness.

TMNTrpgBack then, I didn’t know anyone that played D&D, but I knew people who had this particular RPG. And you know what? I don’t think we ever actually played the game. We created characters, and we spent a lot of time doing it. I made so many characters in my free time, but it was what I loved doing. The character creation was a lot of fun, and I just kept wanting to make more and more characters. Have you ever felt that way about games like D&D and TMNT?

DnD5thEditionBut back to Dungeons and Dragons.  Wil Wheaton’s post had me thinking about how I’d like to get my hands on the Player’s Handbook (and probably Dungeon Master’s book, and other resources). I’d actually like to play it if I knew anyone who does. However, I don’t know if I would even get that far. I’d probably be having too much fun creating the characters. But is that so bad? I mean, I could create characters I could use in a classic fantasy story. But that’s been done before.

And that brings me to another point. I wonder how many authors actually create RPGs like this for their fantasy books. I know some series, like Forbidden Realms was created to support their RPG system. But what if the book was first, and the RPG later? If you write fantasy (or even science fiction), would you consider creating an RPG system for your world? I think I would for Ariadne.

Let me know in the comments below: Have you played any of these RPGs? Would you create an RPG for your books? I’d love to hear from you.


19 thoughts on “The Appeal of Dungeons and Dragons”

  1. I used to play D&D 30 years ago. I had all the manuals and everything. Don’t now – I sold them. The game didn’t suit the playing style I and my friends had, and beimg Tolkien enthusiasts we shortly came up with a fantasy rpg game of our own which avoided the D&D idea and which instead was based on the ‘rule of funny’. We had a general storyline/world setting within which the adventures were played, the adventures themselves becoming drivers for further events. I wrote a lot of them down. However, they wouldn’t make a good novel because the structure was wrong.

      1. The rules we came up with were fairly simple and involved minimal die-rolling – basically it involved establishing a random percentage with a couple of d10s, then seeing if it could be met. There was (as I recall) also a basic system for combat involving die rolls. But the broad essence of it was to ditch the endless rules of D&D, and especially the character generation system – which was too easy to subvert. We also invented various creatures to inhabit the wilderness.

        Because all of us were Monty Python fans and liked ‘Bored of the Rings’ just as much as Genuine Tolkien, the main logic was ‘if it’s silly, it probably works’ – the game, I suppose, bore the sort of conceptual resemblance to D&D that ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ does to a serious rock band. In a way it was closer to ‘improv theatre in character’, but we all knew each other quite well and had much the same vision for the fantasy world. That was developed by me and one other player in substantial detail, especially the map – exploring which became one of the dynamic drivers of the game ‘story arcs’. None of it, though, was suited to a novel – the pace and structure was entirely different.

  2. I play neverwinter online but my husband actually plays D&D for real. He’s a pretty good dungeon master too. I also bought him the player book, dungeon book, monster book and starter set for the holidays/his birthday and he was pretty happy with it so..

  3. Try Numenera by Monte Cooke. Set on Earth ONE BILLION years in the future. The rules are superb, the setting is awesome and the rule book is an absolute work of art and a joy to read. Not sci-fi, not fantasy, but a blend of everything you can imagine

  4. I’ve played D&D (and similar games) on and off since I was…10 or 11, I think. Currently I’m in an ongoing 5th edition game via, which is a browser-based virtual tabletop that I’d recommend for anyone who games with friends far away. I know there are other tabletop-simulators out there too, including 3D ones.

    Anyway, I’ve been playing forever, and I’ve also been creating my characters in these games forever, often just to stat them out and never use them. I’ve taken stabs at making my own system too — slightly more modeled on the White Wolf type, but also with some elements of classless MMOs. It’s been a while since I messed with game creation though, so most of the info in my files is wildly out of date compared to the current state of the book-world.

    1. Just had to check out Bookmarked for later, though.

      I haven’t played any games like that since junior high, so I think I’m incredibly out of date. I just want to look at the books, then consider whether I want to play.

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