"A cold wind brushes against the back of your necks. After a half-day's travel, you find yourselves standing before a dense, withered forest. In the distance, looming over the woods atop a steep hill you can see the manor you’ve been looking for. The townsfolk warned you away from it, but the mayor, who claimed that his daughter had been abducted by some foul being within, offered a reward for venturing into the blighted building and returning with her alive. You steel yourselves and prepare for what will hopefully be an uneventful trip to the Cursed Manor of Yahgrath."
Back when it was first conceived, Dungeons & Dragons was a game focused entirely on fighting monsters and collecting treasure. Today, we continue to vanquish monsters and seek riches, but things haven’t stayed exactly the same. In the 1970s, if you were ask, “What is my motivation?” or, “Why am I going into this dungeon?” you wouldn’t receive an answer beyond, “to find treasure.”
To be fair, a game doesn’t need to be more complex than that. However, while D&D can be played casually, some take it more seriously and elevate it from a mere game to a full-blown hobby. The most significant evolution the game has undergone is that players have begun developing plots for their games.
The passage I opened this blog with is one that I used while running a game of D&D to set the stage for my players. Keeping the end goal simple in D&D is important. Once you have a table of players interacting together in a fantasy world, they will discover things that they care about, and nine out of 10 times it’s not what you sat them down to do.
In the game described in the earlier example, nothing went how I planned, and it was glorious. My three friends had intended to rescue the mayor's daughter. That did not happen. They spent so long scouring the manor for treasure that she had been turned into a vampire, and when they arrived to save her she attacked them. They didn’t even bother trying to cure her and staked her on the spot. “Oh shit,” they all thought, “now what do we do?” After a moment, they gathered whatever they thought they could sell, burned down the Cursed Manor of Yahgrath, and rode off into the sunset as three noble heroes who planned never to speak of this incident again.
Nicholas Wrixon-Wood was born, raised, and is still living in Ottawa, Ontario. Nicholas is a fledgling writer with a primary interest in fantasy and science fiction, though he can appreciate a well-written story of any flavour. Currently studying at Algonquin College, he has an interest in exploring the different options that exist within the professional writing world.