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D&D, the game that started as a simple set of rules in a long ago forgotten magazine called Chainmail. It's creator started out as a hobbyist into reenactments of historical battles with miniatures.
From this grew the simple rules that started D&D as we know it today. But why all the hype? What made it great?
From the beginning, it was not as simple as some would believe. It was not just a game, but a history lesson, lessons in mythology, and lessons into religion and culture. Much research went into the creatures in the game, as he wanted them as close as he could to the folklore and mythology they came from. This brought research into long ago cultures and religion.
There had to be a system in place to determine encounters and treasures found. This involved simple math for the players. For the more involved, it meant figuring out bell curves and percentages, the odds of certain numbers being rolled randomly.
What is one to do with all these items and treasures found? Well that is where economics came into play and how a society was ran from a simple tavern to the hustle and bustle of a thriving seaport.
I probably learned as much, if not more, from playing D&D as I did school. I read more to keep up on the new books coming out. I was always doing math. From the reading, I was learning many things others thought as boring subjects in school. I was a game master, so had to also learn how to get others to work together, have fun, and enjoy coming back for more each day or week after. This meant creating interesting plots and adventures.
During this time, higher up peers that where supposed to be teaching me, and knowing how to spot things found out with all their education things, slipped pass them unnoticed. One of my players was in a special needs classes and accidentally got put into my advanced math class. By the time they caught this, they could not explain why he was passing it and understood everything he was reading, as his special classes were for reading and math. Come to find out, he had a stigmatism in his eyes and just needed glasses.
Being sick and missing two weeks of school, a teacher had many questions for me when I came back as four to six students in many of my classes dropped almost one grade level until I was back. They learned what they thought was the simplest way of teaching a subject was not always that way for every student. It was my job as a Dungeon Master, as it was known then by, to ensure every player knew how to play their role and what to do in the game. This taught me many social skills and leadership skills I would never had learned. As I got older and more RPG games came out, I learned how to game master them also.
Whether it was Star Frontiers, Boothill, or Gamma World, there was always a story to be told. A plot to be followed and adventure to be had on the horizon.
D&D had become so popular that the first video games that came out on tape players tried to recreate games similar to it. The same with the first video game consoles. Then commodore 64 came out and actually had games based off the rules of D&D—what a joy.
Now I have taken what I have learned and started writing my own books. On what you ask? On anything, because as a game master I had to play all the other roles in an adventure that the players where in to make it exciting and wanting to come back for more. The shopkeeper that lived with his family trying to make a simple living in a castle to the wanted criminal with a bounty on his head in a western setting to the ace fighter pilot that shot down the most aliens in space. Or the comic relief eight foot tall bunny rabbit that ran around helping others in a Gamma World setting. I have learned about herbs and science from RPG games to player chess, and fetishes players might have had as they flirted with a barmaid or were getting tortured in a dungeon. I have had players way younger than me and way older then me, all with something I could learn from them.
All these experiences have made me a better writer, leader, and teacher. I still, to this day, play RPG video games and pen and paper games. When in small towns or not in places with a lot people, there are always MMORPGs to be played on computer or phone these days. So keep an open mind as there is always something to be learned, and all these experiences can help you in your writing, designing, and future endeavors.