How I Saved My D&D Relationship With Roleplaying

2007 August 15
by Vanir

Have you ever felt bored at the D&D table, waiting for the boring parts to be over so you can try out your new battleaxe +1? I used to be like that too.

When I was 11, it was enough for me to know that I was a fighter, and that there were some orcs to be killed. As I got older, I started to get a little bored with D&D. The rules seemed a little pedantic and the payoff just wasn’t there for me anymore. If I wanted to run around and kill things, I could just play a videogame and it would be much faster.

Then I discovered what a tabletop game with your friends offers that videogames can’t: roleplaying.

Roleplaying offers you the chance to be more than just a guy with an axe. Now you don’t have to either fight or run away. Fake an epileptic seizure so your buddies can sneak past a guard. Chat up the barmaid at the bar to gather information. Let your bard smash his lute on stage because it’s totally punk rock, and let him regret it later. Think outside the box. The box is no fun.

When you truly roleplay a character, the rules are still there. The difference is, it’s not the whole game anymore. Hell, it’s not even most of the game anymore. Finally, you understand that when the PHB refers to the rules as “guidelines”, it doesn’t just mean “these are rules you can bend”. They are there simply to ground the events of the game in a slight modicum of reality. Which is probably good, because a player’s imagination is really, really powerful. And fun!

Roleplaying brought D&D back to life for me. These days, my favorite session of any campaign is the very first one, where everyone meets for the first time and gets to be themselves before the shit hits the fan. These days, combat is the boring part.

I might also add that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the standard dungeon hack. If that’s how your game works and everybody you play with can’t wait to do it again week after week, then you are doing everything absolutely right. You could all dress like ballerinas and have pie-eating contests to determine combat initiative for all I care. The objective is to HAVE FUN, and it’s ultimately up to you and the people you game with to decide how to do that.

You’ll be seeing a lot more about roleplaying from me and my esteemed cohorts here on StupidRanger. While I find roleplaying really rewarding, it does have its pitfalls (most of which I’ve fallen into, causing me frustration and our DM Dante numerous aneurisms). I’d like nothing more than to share this little bit of magic with everyone. I hope you have as much fun with it as I’m having!

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