Have Fun

There’s going to be an underlying rule that I’m going to follow for the coming year if the past 2 days have been any indication. Oddly enough, this rule has come from Dwarf Fortress, and it’s one worth keeping in mind. If you’ve played this little gem of a freeware game, you might be familiar with the term “Fun”.

No, I don’t mean regular fun, as in having fun on a swing at a playground. The kind of fun I’m talking about is one of the chains on the swing breaking, sending you flying. Now you can do two things:

You panic as you’re sent flying.  Hit the ground hard, and cry for hours. Feeling completely humiliated about the experience and being to afraid to confront anyone around you about it. After long enough, you’ll develop a fear for swings and start mentally breaking down at the sight of them.

You could laugh it off and have fun with it. You’re sent flying with a cheer. The whole thing about swings is how you swing forward back and forth, right now you’re flying forward at a much faster pace. Since you’re not in a complete state of panic, you move yourself to a position that wouldn’t hurt you as badly when you hit the ground. After landing, you immediately run towards another swing, picking up where you left off.

Sounds harsh or weird? Well, so’s Dwarf Fortress. As the game has no real goal, purpose, ending or even an easter egg to make as a possible goal, the only way the game can end is losing. And you’ll be doing a lot of it. There are enough ways to create efficient fortresses that will never fall, but those dungeons are deemed boring. There has to be a conflict or challenge to overcome. What’s the point of playing if there isn’t?

Instead of getting upset about losing your fortress to a group of raiding yetis, zombie whales, lava floods, famine, disease, angry elves or whatever it was that decided to kill you and every single dwarf of yours off, you could actually try to make some amusement out of it in your own way.

This attitude makes it much easier to let go of your now broken down fort and start over anew. Plus if you apply it well enough, it works outside of the game as well.

Now, what’s led me to think about this to the point it’s my first post of 2011? Holy crap, it’s 2011 already, when did that happen? *ahem*

Two separate stories, both took place during the past 48 hours. I’ll start with the less serious one.

A few of my friends decided to play DnD online over Skype. Most of them have absolutely no experience with the game, and not a single clue as how to do anything. They needed help in pretty much every aspect, because DnD is quite a confusing and deep game. Especially for new players. The DM didn’t really seem to care much about the enjoyment of others and mostly went in with a “play to win” attitude. Considering nobody even knew how to play the game, this did not go well.

On a quick side-note, I did not play along. I watched one of my roommates, Sky, as she played. So I saw the whole game happen as I looked at the screen over her shoulder.

DnD DiceThanks to a lack of knowledge or ideas of what else to use, they decided to make an ASCII map for character placement and dungeons using the World of Text site. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s one of the few aspects that worked out quite well. For monsters and basic control, we used online version of DnD 3.5 rulebooks, including a DM book and a monster book.

Now here’s where things start getting sketchy. First of all, nobody got any explanation as to what good or bad stats are for each character class. The DM looked at all the character sheets and basically said they’re okay. The character sheets were not okay, as nobody had any idea what the stats do and which ones they’d really need for their respective classes.

Then the game starts. With a basic single square-shaped room, all 4 of the characters grouped together on the north side of the room. On the south 6 monsters lurked back at them. The monsters moved first.

Now, when I say monsters, I mean Blink Dogs. Admittedly, I don’t know DnD that very well, so I can’t comment on his choice all that much. What I do know however, is that they do not attack by rolling d20s. This is what the DM did. Most of the player characters could have easily been one-shotted. He got most of the bonuses wrong too. I’ll assume this is why he didn’t want anyone to look up the stats of the monsters, as he didn’t reveal a single thing about them.

Yes, I know Blink Dogs might not be the strongest enemies out there, but when you lie about the stats, use the wrong dice on purpose, skip people’s turns a few times, and then worse yet, gloat about your victory and how weak and dumb the newbie players with no understanding of the game are… That’s not a good game.

How did the players tackle this game? When things started looking dire, especially after everyone tried normally playing and attacking the first turn and then not being able to damage any of the monsters conventionally… They started having Fun.

The Bard ran into a corner, where he committed suicide by singing very, very badly.

The Cleric picked up one of the dogs and tried to equip it as a weapon.

The Fighter tried building a pyramid from the corpses of her fallen comrades.

All the while, the entire team kept trying to find ways to open the door leading back outside, which was locked because of magic. Or there was  dragon behind it. Then they tried wielding each other’s bodies. After that they tried to wield each other’s bodies as nunchucks. Then they looked at their equipment and got creative ideas with rope, blankets and oil.

There was a lot of laughing and fun had by the players. No matter how badly they were getting their asses kicked.

The DM however, was not amused. At least, he wasn’t until everyone was dead. Then he started laughing and gloating about his victory. Shortly after, a new DM was appointed. Something that made him upset to the point he ended up leaving the group.

Lots of drama ensued, but the game is still going on, and people are going to have Fun with the next one as well. Although this time Fun might not be anywhere near as suicidal.

The other story I wanted to share? New Year’s Eve. At home.

Without a single mention, warning, or hint, a bunch of drunk people suddenly raided the house. I say raided, as they were invited obviously, because only one person had agreed to it. The one person inviting everyone over. Telling others you’re having a very loud group of people over was apparently nowhere near the top of his list of priorities. Instead, me and the other roommate, Sky, spent it in my room watching online videos and movies while chatting online on Skype. That aspect of it was Fun. The bit where drunken people were banging on our walls or playing our games..? That wasn’t so much Fun, I’ll admit.

What all of this did do however, was help me seriously pick a resolution for the coming year. Two, counting having more Fun in how I do things. At least there’s one good side to all of it.

On a side note, anyone got any pointers for a new person DMing in DnD? I’m trying to help the newly appointed DM with this, but I have even less experience or knowledge of how the game really works. So far we’re just trying to figure out how to set everything up as we go along. any help with this would be highly appreciated.


4 thoughts on “Have Fun

  1. Rule #1 for DMming: Expect the unexpected.
    Never assume that everything you had prepared will occur. The players will ignore the most important NPCs you’ve created, they’ll kill the strongest bad guy with ease while nearly dying against a bunch of sewer rats and they’ll probably forget they have half their items which you plan to use in puzzles.
    Rule #2: Don’t tell your players what to do.
    Not only will they expect you to tell them every single time they run into the smallest issues, making them lazy,if they for some reason don’t agree with your suggestion, they will do the exact opposite and kill innocent people or set fire to houses.

    That’s from my own experiences, at least.

  2. Pingback: Dwarf Fortress « Remy van Ruiten

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