In Which Vanir Attempts To Write About D&D Because He Was Playing Super Mario Galaxy And Forgot To Draw A Comic

2007 November 19
by Vanir

So I’ve been playing Super Mario Galaxy for the last couple days, which is why *ahem* there will be no comic today.

That game is completely insane. Nintendo basically designed a platform game engine with really flexible physics and gravity, and told their designers to do whatever the hell they wanted.

So you end up with a bunch of levels that are loosely related to each other at best, but instead of being dumb they’ve figured out how to make it fresh – every level.

With most games, there’s a certain point at which I go “okay, enough with the <insert annoyingly repetitive item here>“. I don’t know if it’s because of the smaller, freer level design but I haven’t gotten annoyed or bored yet.

What does this have to do with D&D, you ask? Ever run a campaign where it just keeps grinding and grinding and everybody’s listless and the Next Big Thing seems to just fall flat for all the players?

Lose your mind a little bit. Throw something weird at them. Take them out of the carefully-constructed box they’ve all been living in and replace it with a propeller beanie. It doesn’t have to be outlandish or break the plot you carefully constructed over the last months. But do something that requires them to use abilities their classes have that they don’t typically use.

For example: life’s been getting in the way of our group playing regularly or very late, so all Dante and Kanati have been able to run is short sessions of 2-3 hours. In this time it’s been a lot of exposition and a lot of preparing the armies we’ve constructed for war. And somehow, a lot of our game time has been eaten up figuring out how to keep them fed so they don’t die on the way to the front lines.

Under normal circumstances, this would have bored me to the point of committing seppuku. But this weekend, our friend Sirgeekelot’s paladin was trying to figure out how to feed his troops and came up with a wild plan to have his troops march through a line of towns on the way and use sending to notify the churches to start canned food drives right now for their arrival.

It was a great idea, but then I realized clerics were good for more than just healing. “Say guys, can’t clerics cast create food and water?” And due to our backstories, we had a Lot of clerics. And bards can cast it too, and I had a Lot of bards. Sirgeekelot’s quote afterward was the best: “Not only will we be able to feed our troops, but it will be Thanksgiving every day”.

Stepping out of the box on these player abilities, at least for me, brought some fun to an otherwise boring situation. As DM’s, you can try to nudge people toward this. As players, it is your sworn duty to put on that propeller beanie and give your DM as many aneurisms as you can.

Sometimes I’m glad I don’t have to DM a campaign that I’m playing in. <grin>

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Dave The Game permalink
    November 20, 2007

    Coming up with fun uses for spells (and somewhat unexpected, but still within the scope of the spell’s description) is a large part of the fun in D&D. I played in part 1 of a NASCRAG module last night and was reminded of that fact.

    (also, I’m jealous that you’ve gotten to play so much Mario Galaxy… gotta wait until after finals myself…)

  2. Omnius permalink
    November 26, 2007

    SMG is quite amazing… the last two days of bed rest finally gave me a chance to take it out of the case and give it a play… and I’m in love. It’s stuff like this which is slowly turning me into a Nintendo Fanboy.

    The only thing I can’t get used to is running around objects – when you do so in a certain direction, the control axis seems to shift suddenly in relation to the camera, and if you don’t adjust the control stick just right you wind up running in circles.

    Still, an amazing game.

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