Twitter’s #DND is righteous! In the 1970’s slang essence of the term.
It has its flaws, sure. It’s rife with modern players and fan art of weird character concepts that frighten and confuse this simple RPG caveman. Things like tieflings, dragonbones, and drow. (Seriously? You’re going to play as drow? Half-orcs are bad enough, but at least half-orcs, as half-breeds, are a half-decent race.) At least providing all these new and pointless character classes allows players to pretend to be creative in new and exciting ways.
Yeah, way too many people spend time beefing about the dice not behaving themselves. That sounds like complaining that the wheels on your car keep spinning to my ears. The randomness isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. It adds drama and mystery and suspense, and if you can’t handle that sort of thing, you’re in the wrong hobby. You should probably just stick to network television shows – you won’t find any of that stuff there. I assume these are all tongue in cheek references delivered in a light-hearted manner similar to the way I complain about my daughter’s disappointing decision to skip the drudgery of a career in favor of raising four strong and healthy sons. “Who’s going to pay the salaries of my abusive retirement home staff?” I ask her on the regular. Even if it isn’t the same sort of thing, I sleep better safe in my denial cocoon.
Granted, a massive chunk of Twitter D&D is groups begging for people to watch their tedious live-play games. There are at least four bots that won’t stop up with the random useless garbage. Oh, and you can’t forget the interminable left wing whine-o-thon that runs through the place like a tear-filled subterranean aquifer. Especially this past week when the pillars of D&D earth were shaken by the defeat of their beloved Robo-Crone at the hands of the God-Emperor, long may he reign. It can get frustrating listening to DMs offer up great little sandbox drop-in encounters only to learn that the encounter is actually the next chapter in the game by god no matter what the characters do.
That might all sound highly negative, but it’s not. Sometime it feels like eating the delicious undigested peanuts in somebody else’s turds or making silk purses out of orc’s ears, but man I loves me some peanuts. And Twitter D&D moves crazy fast. In minutes you can scroll through dozens of useless tweets and hundreds of ads for Live Play video streams – I think there are more live play podcasts than there are actual D&D players, those things have been multiplying like tribble-rabbit hybrids lately. Which makes sifting through the streambed to find the nuggets of gold quick and easy.
But the best part of trolling trawling Twitter D&D is the little glimpses of people who notice the underlying foundation of the game. On a regular basis you can see people catch a glimpse of the glories inherent in Three-Dee-Six-In-Order, or clerics that are spell-less at first level, or starting out with a 1 HP wonder and somehow scrabbling along to second level. Usually, these poor misled modern players have a moment of, “Eureka!” where they feel like they’ve discovered something new and amazing. It’s wonderful to vicariously live that moment with them through the twit box. It might be the first moment of true discovery they’ve had playing the game in weeks, and you get a front row seat.
Look. I know I’m a curmudgeon. I know I’m regressive and abrasive and handsome and obnoxious. Most of tabletop gaming is an alien landscape to me. It’s littered with strange ways of thinking that sound lazy and dull and repetitive to a guy (like me) who was weaned on the sense of wonder that infuses every book in Appendix N. They play humans in funny rubber suits and call them ‘races’. They eschew dice – dice! – because sometimes fate doesn’t cave in to their tantrums. They play 4th Edition and enjoy it. Unironically even. The mind boggles.
And yet, even this crotchety DM finds a dip in the Twitter D&D pool refreshing. There are so many wonderful people blundering around in the dark, sharing their discovery of the oliphaunt’s tail, or his trunk, or his leg, or his engorged johnson. Even if they can’t quite make out what the animal is, and even if the ones giving that patient beast an inadvertent handjob don’t quite know what they are doing…it’s still a hell of a lot of fun to watch. It rejuvenates this old lich’s bones and inspires me to push my game in new and exciting directions of its own.
Never in the direction of using material written after 1985, tho. That way lies madness.