Friday, June 28, 2013

Real Life vs. Dungeons and Dragons

I woke up this morning to the symphony of a thunderstorm.

I'd missed thunderstorms. The Tacoma area, where I was stationed last in the Army, got months and months of rain but very little thunder and lightning activity that I can recall.  Phoenix, where I moved after Tacoma, was the opposite: lots and lots of thunder and lightning but not very much storm to go with it.  In the desert it seemed sometimes like Odin forgot to turn on the sprinklers when he started his fits.  Then I moved to Anchorage, where the atmospheric conditions just never do get riled up enough, thanks to the general lack of heat up there, to coax out the full fury of nature.

Not so down here in the South, though.  Biloxi, Richmond, and now Memphis, all do get some terribly awe-inspiring, wicked t-storms.

I love 'em.  Most of the time, I should say.

It's funny how differently our reaction is to these events depending on our own plans, isn't it?  When I'm at home, snuggled into the sheets, hearing and feeling the natural fireworks outdoors is awesome.  When I'm headed out to golf or to fish, though?  Not so much.  Baseball players and fans are well known for being disappointed by stormy weather.  With farmers, meanwhile, it depends on the timing--storms while planting or harvesting can bring disaster, but at other times the crops desperately need the rain.

Laying there snuggled in as I was this morning, I couldn't help but expand mentally on the differences in reactions to storms and then to think about my old Dungeons and Dragons group.  Strange connection, I know, but the fact that came to mind is that they never experienced good ole' thunderstorms.

At a certain level--why would they?  After all, D&D is a game about going places, meeting people and monsters, and figuring out which ones you need to kill to get the maximum lewt and that most important of awards, the ex-pee.  There's really no need to bring up the fact that in order to get to those places, our noble band of heroes might have to slog through a few miles of miserably-pounding rainfall on a freshly muddy road while dodging lightning bolts.  There's no Challenge Rating (that I know of, anyway) associated with storms, nor is there (again, as far as I know) a lewt table associated with beating (aka surviving through) one.

It's just assumed, I suppose, that sometime during the twenty-three second pause in the action while the Dungeon Master gleefully describes your trip by way of "You all walked for three days and then arrived at..." that the party just kind of travels.  There's no good travel days, no bad travel days, no good weather, and no storms.  There's just a beginning, an end, and a hazy stretch in-between. Unless, of course, your party meets a band of bandits or ogres or dragons or anything else with a Challenge Rating along the way--but in that case, that becomes a stop in itself.

That's quite the opposite of how life treats us, isn't it?  Take, for extreme example, my family's most recent journey down the Alaska Highway.  The Dungeon Master would've said, "you drive for two weeks, and then you arrive at the dungeon--er, house--you do think it's just a house, one you would never suspect might face an infestation of massive insects--in Biloxi."  That's it.  No mosquito scourge.  No driving through a forest fire at 20 mph.  None of the good stuff, or the bad.  Just--You Arrive.

Hmmph.  And that, I must add, is our fantasy world, the world we use to escape into, a world in which the journey is rather boring and normal and, thus, overlooked.  The only thing that matters, it seems, is the destination.

Or is it?

Anyway, that's something to think about for today.  I'm expanding the idea for a post in the future, one in which I hope to present an actual set of D&D characters going through a real-life start to the day.  You see, as I lay there in bed this morning, what I was really thinking about was how much I wanted to stay there, snuggled in beside my wife and puppies, instead of tackling some (albeit interesting) stuff at work.  Rain does that to me, really; one one level it's spiritually invigorating, while on another it saps my desire to leap out of bed and face the world.  Wouldn't it be likely to do the same to our characters?

Of course, the scenario I'm writing won't likely ever appear in a book.  After all, who wants to read a fantasy story where fantasy matches reality?  Hopefully what I'm in the midst of creating, though, will be humorous and interesting enough that you want to read it at least in short doses.

Till then,


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