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Dungeons & Dragons…And The Internet: The Age of Woke-Power Gaming

My age is showing but damnit, I want my old Dungeons and Dragons back!



You can stop reading now. Ok so you’re still reading. Fine, here’s a bit of backstory for you: in early highschool, I played the most epic game of Dungeons and Dragons imaginable. The stars were just aligned. A bunch of greasy teens basically cutting class to the point of failing, all just so we could sneak away into my buddies basement and become a group of heroes…some od us became villains as well. Our characters became entwined with our real-life personalities. Feuds in the game boiled over into our personal lives. It was beautiful.

And it was a large cast of players too! Cameo games were often and it kept things exciting. But there was always the core players. Our DM was, and still is, one of the best voice actors I’ve ever seen. His comedic timing and storytelling had the ability to disarm us and truly open the mind’s eye. He had the ability to take a bunch of scruffy squeebs and make us feel like true warriors. It was something special and I’ll never forget it until my brain is pocked with dementia.

Here’s the rub: that game (which lasted 4 years or some shit like that) was too good. I don’t know how to explain it other than this: you’re favourite song or movie….wouldn’t you love to be able to forget and experience it for the first time again? Yeah, of course you would. But you can’t. The enjoyment is still there but that feeling you get when you hear or see something that hits hard for the first time is irreplaceable.

We’ve been trying for years to replace it…or rather I have been trying to.

The Age of Power Gaming

In the years since that inaugural game, we’ve grown up but more importantly, Dungeons and Dragons has evolved too. And not just in the sense that new editions come and go. No, I’d say the biggest impact on D&D as well as other classic RPGs is the goddamn internet. Yeah, the very tool I’m using to publish this article with has been nothing but dirty to my beloved Dungeons & Dragons. We’ve used our collective knowledge of the game to unlock every dirty synergy in the game. Do a quick search of “broken 5e classes” and you’ll have the collective nerd conscious at your grimy fingertips.

I just want to be a regular-ass Ranger.

I want to hunt. I want to do some melee and then also shoot some baddies with my crossbow. I like the roleplay element of the game. I am utterly tired of the murder-hobo mentality. When even one member of the party starts down the path of min-maxing, everyone else almost has to follow suit. This is because people don’t create characters with huge offensive power just to then not use it. Being constantly pulled into fights while playing a character not built for it is brutal. I don’t like it.

When Did Being Evil Become So Evil?

I admit, this is where the old man yells at the clouds. But damn it, I think that in a fantasy setting, some creature types should just be evil. No grey areas around it. What I’m referencing is Wizards of the Coast’s attempt at being sensitive to racism and the notion of race-related negative stereo types.

There has been a new Sage Advice book released by Wizards of the Coast, updating not only Volo’s Guide to Monsters, but also the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Something quickly spotted is how almost all creatures have lost their old alignments. Mind flayers, beholders….no longer are they by default, evil.

yeah….right. It’s been polarizing in the Dungeons and Dragons community, to be sure.

The issue to me is two-fold. The biggest one to me is that, when I’m playing D&D, I just want to fight and slay evil creatures. I don’t want to be thinking that if I see a beholder in a dungeon somewhere, I now have to be like, “wait, what if this is just a lonely beholder looking for friends?”…famous last words, I’m sure.

Tasha’s Cauldron Messed Things Up

Aside from my somewhat childish wishes to just let evil be evil is how the game designers have decided to work around the issue by doing something that, to me, is ridiculous. As a result of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Wizards of the Coast changed how character race is handled. Players are now allowed to assign the benefits of their innate ability scores to any scores they wanted, rather than being restricted by a generic picture of advantages based on race.

I don’t know why this irks me so much but the idea of a Dwarf getting anything other than a constitution or wisdom bonus hurts me. It feels like a video game. I think it’s ironic and sad how video games spent years trying to capture the spirit of tabletop RPGs and now tabletop seems to be chasing video games. Like I said, old man yells at clouds.

I miss evil creatures who are just evil. I miss Elves who get dexterity bonuses. I even kind of miss THAC0…just kidding! No one misses THAC0.

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