Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Kübler-Ross Stages of Grief, D&D Encounters, and Me

Those of you who read this blog, may have noticed that I devoted two posts last week to my feelings about the D&D Encounters program. While I don't think my posts were as filled with internet anonymity syndrome and ranting ire as other blogs, I did notice upon reflection that my reaction seemed to match the first two stages of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief.

I normally think of myself as too reflective to be caught up in this model of behavior over something so small -- in the grand scheme -- as whether or not I can buy a copy of the D&D Encounters version of KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS. Apparently I was wrong.

The two posts are filled with Denial and Anger. "They can't do that," "This aggravates me," and other similar statements are scattered throughout the two posts. I'm really quite taken aback by how much these two posts exhibit the emotions expressed in the first two stages of grief, but did I continue through the stages?

In a word...Yes. Yes, I did. I have finally come to acceptance, but not mere "that's okay" acceptance. They got me but good...

Let me explain.

On Saturday, I began bargaining. Not the kind of bargaining that I did in the second post, which was of the "If I express disappointment in the proper tone, maybe they'll release KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS for sale at a later date." No, this was genuine "should I go to a D&D Encounters event and should I see how my schedule this fall lines up with the whole Wednesday schedule" bargaining. I was even wondering if my local store would allow D&D Encounters on Thursdays or Fridays, as one of the commenters here mentioned. I was full on negotiating.

I don't think I ever really experienced depression, at least not in any strong way -- this isn't that important after all. But I did feel a little "remorse" that I am currently not getting to game as much as I want, and that is similar.

So, I decided to do something about it. I went to a D&D Encounters event at my local store. A very nice employee, who is far more familiar with 3.5 and Pathfinder rules than with 4e rules, ran a session for me and four other gamers. The other four players -- a college aged "min/maxer" who typically plays 3.5, a 30 something man who was there to have a good time, and two tween-age girls -- had all participated in the other adventures of the season, but all were relatively new to the rules set. All of them got the concept of roleplaying and having a good time, but none had an encyclopedic knowledge of 4e's rules.

In other words, the group was exactly the audience the program aims to recruit -- one hardcore lapsed gamer, a casual gamer, and two new gamers.

For this group of players, with their level of rules knowledge and expertise, the encounter was quite challenging. Given the GM's lack of familiarity with the rules set, he could only help them in their decision making so much -- and he did his best. I quickly found myself giving small pieces of advice to the newer gamers, but not making their decisions for them (only helping when they asked what something meant and opening discussing my intentions when I acted). We finished the encounter, by the skin of our teeth, and I had a great time.

It was everything my gaming jones needed. It was one of those wonderful, clumsy, new, exploratory gaming sessions you can only have when you have new players experimenting with what they can do. It was great fun with a great group of people.

When I came home from the event, I realized something had happened. I had come to accept D&D Encounters as a vital thing. So much so that I'll be going next week and for many weeks to come -- overall attendance depends on my MBA schedule, but for this quarter Wednesdays are free.

I have not only accepted D&D Encounters, I have fully embraced them. I can't wait to play KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS with this group. I am eager to see what it is like to witness an adventure that introduced me to the hobby through they eyes of people who have no idea what the CAVES OF CHAOS are.

I'm picking up a Red Box in anticipation.

Damn you Wizards!


Eric Lytle said...

The Caves of what?

I died on that darned hermit in the wilds encounter the only time I played Keep on the Borderlands.

The FLGS I go to is talking about starting DnD encounters on the following Mondays, so I may be going to these as well. The only problem is that is their normal 4E night and people there want to take on the encounters en masse instead of 1 per week. sigh...

I'm glad to hear you are getting a chance to play 4E and btw the red box is a hoot. The introduction to the system CYOA style is in particular a cool feature that has been missing from RPG startes that I have gotten recently e.g. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying.

Kilsern said...

I am not a 4E man, but I am not a 4E hater either. I've just chosen not to purchase any 4E products, because frankly, I don't need them. I've been an old-guard guy since the 90's. I started with the Tom Moldvay Basic D&D box, and did "upgrade" to 1st Ed. AD&D and later tried 2nd Ed.. It was with 2nd Ed. that I realized I had it right the first time. I later purchased the Cyclopedia rules and played them through most of college (when not flirting with GURPS and various White Wolf games). I later tried 3.0, enjoyed it at first, but became bogged down in Feats and skills. Just this past year, after a long period of playing only WFRP (1st and 2nd editions) I returned to my dungeon delving roots. The group I am with now could not wrap their heads around the concept of "race as class" and descending Armor Class, so I downloaded Basic Fantasy RPG, and have been happy ever since. Being happy, I have no desire to try a 4th Ed., after my disillusionment with 2nd, 3.0 and 3.5. I have nothing against WoTC for making a new edition, hey it's a business and they have to make money; however, my money is spent elsewhere.

I do have to admit though, even though I know little about it, their weekly Encounters sound intriguing, but I can not commit to every Wednesday. The Red Box does look spiffy, but I have the original Red Box put out by Cook.

Overall, I have no desire to get involved with the flame wars of "old versus new", I likes what I likes, and hope you enjoy your own flavor as much as I enjoy mine.

Christian Lindke said...

Mystara is still my favorite world and the Moldvay box will always have a special place in my heart.

Kilsern said...

The Known World used to be my default setting, I never got too much into the history of the setting, buying the gazetteers and such. These days, I'm building my own world (my main map though is shamelessly borrowed from the Cyclopedia Known World map).