Dragon 386 - Editorial: How Do You Spell Victory?

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Dragon 386
How Do You Spell Victory?
Dragon Editorial
By Chris Youngs

In this month's Dragon Editorial, Chris discusses bittersweet victories, and the oft lack of such in D&D, despite their proliferation in popular media, and why he thinks they should happen more often in D&D.

Talk about this editorial here.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?


A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

This article perturbs me.  The author is trying to compare two absolute classic works of art, the Count of Monte Cristo and The Empire Strikes Back with a game in which his players had a near TPK because of poor dice rolls. 

What makes that book and that movie classic is the depth of character development that happens all the way up to the final climactic scenes. 

But Chris doesn't give us any backstory on the party or why this fight matters to them.  It's just an account of a battle with big baddies gone horribly wrong.  Oops.  Here's a blank character sheet, reroll please. 

Maybe it's because the people in Chris' party just aren't role-playing and don't exist except to test out game mechanics.  Or maybe it's just that he's neglected to give the reader all the reasons why we might care about them.  Which prompts the question about whether the party really cares about themselves or winning on some higher level beyond the emotion you'd feel about a game of Monopoly?

Just today I read a story from a player who started out playing two characters.  He made them best friends and seems to have role-played out some of their interactions (which may have looked a bit schizophrenic at the table, but what the hey) and then one of them died.  The other tried to get his buddy raised from the dead, and as a low level character couldn't afford it.  The body rotted.  He still carried around the bones, hoping for a Ressurection spell to bring his friend back.  When he finally scraped together the gold for that, poof! the spell failed and his dreams of bringing back the friend finally died.  After that, the character went a bit mad.

Now THAT's a story.  That's also truly awesome roleplay on the character's part and possibly (we can't know) some decent DMing too.

Funny, over the years I've experinced more than a little of this sort of thing.  A player comes up with a great backstory.  The DM and player move the story forward to a point where the character's story is resolved, but resolves in both victory and defeat.  Sometimes the character retires at this point, as their quest has taken over their entire lives, and without the quest, they have no goal to keep moving towards.  Other times the character makes a great sacrifice so that the rest of the party can carry out the goal.  I think this is the sort of thing Chris is alluding to.  If he doesn't find it in his own game, its nobody's fault but his own.

IMHO, D&D when well played, isn't just a tabletop miniature game, its an epic story of triumph and sometimes fall.  A near TPK with no emotion and no context doesn't measure up - and shouldn't.

What Would Galstaff Do? Random GM Tips: Three Clue Rule http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/three-clue-rule.html
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