Spoiler Warning! Underdark Without Darkvision is a based on my experiences on playing Out of the Abyss campaign and will include a host of spoilers. Thread carefully!
Second session for my human ranger on his way Out of the Abyss was a bit different from the first session. Or for any other session I have played since high school for that matter. It was a series of random encounters of which only one dealt with something else than fighting the horrible monsters of the Underdark.
As there is not that much to tell about the session itself I think that this time I could discuss the nuances of the game. Which pretty much sum up into “Underdark without nightivision”.
Dungeons and Dragons is a clearly a game. You are supposed to min/max your hero to survive any event and then maybe add a little flavour to the mix if it keeps the things interesting. This point has been brought up by a several of our Guild members – though maybe in a a more covert style.
In fact this same campaign is ran by two different DMs on our forum and the conversation about it (and things linked to it) is quite active right now. As always it is great to see a lively debate about roleplaying games so I intend to use this post to clarify my point. And to think the reasons why I chose the non-maximised way to play this campaign.
My fellow Guild members have a clear view about Dungeons and Dragons. It is a game where you fight against monsters, raise levels, get the loot and have fun. That’s true. No argument there. They also know that you are supposed to play it so that you make a best character you can and look out for the best way to make your hero the best they can be.
This I have a problem with.
Why should I do all this when there are people on the table who are bound to know the system more thoroughly than me? Why should I care if my character is a in constant danger while fighting in the dark? Ok, the later part is actually quite easy – it puts the other characters into a danger too and can hinder their game. That is not what I am trying to do. I want to fight the monsters, gain levels, get loot and have fun. It is only my methods that differ from them.
Some people get their kicks out of trying to solve the best way to distribute food amongst the group (this conversation went on for about half an hour of our second session), some people want to find the maximised way to use their magic (this lead into our DM warning the player to not to mess with the God of Magic), and some people get upset when they just did not have the time to put up the armour on last session and this had to be changed during the second session.
The last example was me but I can understand the reasons why the other players in our group were interested in those other concepts. It is as understandable (to me) as the heated argument about “can I use a spindown life counter as a d20 in a rpg?”. These kind of arguments, problems and conversations reveal to us (and to others) what kind of players we are.
It is actually quite appropriative that the same company that has published the Dungeons and Dragons has discussed this issue between players already.
Wizards of the Coast has detected several “player types” for Magic the Gathering. Since it is a game that has a diverse flavor and a wide range of rules it should be relatively easy to compare it to Dungeons and Dragons (though I might need to add that since it is a different game it will not be that accurate).
I am a Vorthos player. I like the game for the flavor and I like the consistence the rules bring to the game – put on the other hand I have no problem with bending or changing the rules if it suits the narrative of the story. If it is ok with other players.
Some of our group on the other hand are clearly Spikes. They like to “win” the game. It is not that much about winning the other character but about “playing whatever is the best”.
For me this is not a problem. I can deal with a Spike in a gaming table (and on forums) but I think there are times when a reminder is needed. Not everyone is like them and enjoys about the game the same way they do. It does not mean they are wrong or should change the way they play it just means they as a group they should set side their differences and find a way to enjoy the same game from different views.
As a final note I might also add that I’m not trying to annoy the other players with this. I just deemed it interesting to play a character not suitable in the environment. If I come up with a pair of Darkvision Goggles will I use them? Sure! It would be stupid not to and I’m not into that kind of stupidity. By this I mean that if the narrative and the game change the way I perceive the story – it is ok. Actually it would be awesome.