… sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude, in Los Angeles.
–The Stranger, The Big Lebowski
Over a year ago I was approached by a couple of my friends in an unusual way. We were enjoying an evening out in Columbia, Missouri and at one point two of my buddies kinda motioned for me to the side.
They asked if I had ever played a game called Dungeons and Dragons. I had heard of this tabletop Roleplaying Game as most have: through jokes about geeks in media and television shows. It’s everywhere. It has been a game for any self-identified nerd to obsess about since the 70’s. When he asked me if I knew what it was, my mind immediately went to the Community Episodes about D&D.
They told me that they were looking for another person who would like to play. Little did I know that i would be thrown headfirst into a world of characters and plots not unlike those I found in fantasy books my whole life. Instead of experiencing the story from an outside perspective though, I was put in control of a character who himself was thrust into an adventure with the potential for wealth, glory and the discovery of magical items.
Over time, my DM (Dungeon Master) helped me with roleplaying my character as he lead us along a journey in which we fought formidable foes. From displacer beasts and doplegangers, to Wizards of the infamous “Academy” and Dark Knight’s serving the evil doings of larger masters. He had been playing for over a decade and would only ever think of playing Dungeon’s and Dragons Version 3.5.
Pathfinder? Hell No!
Hey, what about DnD Next? WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS? A Democracy?
For months we adventured away on the continent of Gaia (a world created entirely by the DM) and I read everything I could get my hands on. I bought a players handbook because I was tired of using someone else’s. I downloaded PDF’s of other handbooks and spent hours researching things online.
I became a junkie. I was always asking my friends to get together. It got to the point that my DM was too busy with his Master’s Thesis, and he decided to hand over the reigns a bit.
It was my chance as a storyteller to let loose. I really put a lot of effort into a new campaign for my friends. I did extensive background on the place they were in and the people they would meet. And when it finally came time for the first event…
It was hard.
It was fun too. But mostly hard.
I knew that my players had had fun too, but they recognized that I had a long way to go as well. A lot goes into leading a group of unruly characters across a desolate landscape into the jaws of a monstrous foe. It was probably too much for a newb.
Then right when I was ready to give up, I found him. Wil Wheaton.
Wil is a champion of geek culture and a stand up guy. He has created an online following not to be tested. An avid Redditor and blogger for years, Wil is in the thick of internet content production of all sorts.
He hosts not one, but two shows on the Geek & Sundry Channel.
He was a young actor on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
He has invented his own roleplaying games.
He brews his own beer.
He’s a voice actor for animated shows and video games.
He has published several books.
He brews his own beer.
He’s Gordie from “Stand By Me”.
He’s appeared on shows like SyFy’s “Eureka”, TNT’s “Leverage” and CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory”.
I repeat: He brews his own beer.
I came across this man, while searching for Dungeons and Dragons things online. I found a “celebrity” D&D event on youtube. He was the only one I kind of recognized. I looked him up and found his show “Tabletop“.
I got sucked into “Tabletop” quick. It’s a shows in which Wil Wheaton plays awesome tabletop games with really cool people. He’s had a lot of recognizable faces on episodes of his show and it seems like he is really good friends with over half of them.
From what I gather the show was not always funded very well, but after a super successful kickstarter campaign, Wil finally had the funding to put together something great. Geek and Sundry supported him and he is now nearing the end of season 3. Some really cool games were played on this show that gave me great ideas for my Dungeon’s and Dragons Campaign.
After reading more about Wil, i found that he was starting a new show. It is called Titan’s Grave: Ashes of Valkana. Sounded like a video game, so I clicked.
AMAZING. So amazing i will have another post devoted entirely to this show. It’s great. I can’t stress that enough.
Episode by episode Wil walks four adventurers through a campaign he has created. It’s set in a world where magic and science meld into formidable forces to be used for both good and evil purposes.
I have used this show to start three different people, who have never played tabletop RPG’s in their whole life, on a Dungeons and Dragons Campaign. It helps them see how gameplay goes with a roleplaying game and gets them in the mindset of creating a character within a world. Even my Dungeon Master begrudgingly enjoyed the show and wanted to keep watching.
“It’s not as good as 3.5 though…”
What’s so great about the show is that the people playing these characters are just attractive people sitting around a table having an amazing time participating in collaborative storytelling.
It’s something we all have a knack for in our own way. When we recount things that have happened to us, we tell a story. Whether or not we are comfortable doing it is another thing. I cannot stress enough that anybody, ANYBODY, can get into games like these though, because in the end, you are just sitting around a table, talking with some friends.
Wil’s show threw me back into the world of gaming right when I was ready to stop. At the perfect time, it opened my eyes to the potential of these creative outlets to bring people together in a way I have seen only in the rarest of circumstances. And for that I thank him.
Wil…Keep up the good work and don’t let trolls get you down. In the end, that’s all they are. You’re the one creating some crazy awesome stuff.