A few days ago, while trolling around RPG.net, I came across a pretty standard thread in their d20/D&D forums. Quite simply, the thread posted the question "What's the best setting for D&D?"
Immediately, I started running down my favorites in my mind, about to post my opinions. I contemplating picking Planescape, then Ravenloft, then Dark Sun.
But as I deliberated between my options, weighing what I liked and didn't like about each, something strange occurred to me--something that I never really considered throughout all of my years of gaming.
You see, friends...I don't think I actually like Dungeons and Dragons.
I can hear you gasping from here. Please, take a deep breath. You're probably asking, "But, Warlock, you've been playing D&D for years! You constantly regale us with epic exploits, thoughts on your new campaigns, and the like! How can you possibly not like D&D?"
It was about as shocking to me, as well. I've been playing some variation of D&D for over 15 years now, in any number of campaigns and one-shots. But (bear with me here!), I don't think I was actually enjoying D&D.
|Not your "typical"|
My favorite thing about Ravenloft isn't the fact that it's D&D. Rather, it was the vulnerability of the heroes, as they made their way in a world ruled by Hammer movie monsters. I loved the investigative nature of things, the rarity and superstition surrounding magic, and the swashbuckling-action-meets-creeping-horror feel. Again, the "standard fantasy" was thrown overboard.
All of the things that I enjoyed about D&D....were the very things that made them not D&D. These settings were set apart because of their individuality, and TSR/WotC even made significant efforts to keep them separated. Dungeon Masters were encouraged to keep the settings and rules separate, due to their massive differences, while they simultaneously put out game material like Spelljammer, which meant to link them all...
I cut my teeth on Dragonlance, back when I was in high school, but by the time I hit college, I'd all but dropped the series. There were no ethical questions to be explored, no tension-filled investigations to be had, and no inversions to keep me interested. Elves, dwarves and humans were good, kender were irritating, and dragon-men were bad. Everything was so...cut and dried.
|Great game...but not for me.|
While I'd love to revisit Ravenloft sometime, I can tell you right now, I don't think I'd ever use any form of D&D mechanic to run it. Rather, I'd probably use All For One--Regime Diabolique, by Triple Ace Games. If I wanted to play some Dark Sun, I'd probably just use Savage Worlds. For Planescape? Well...I haven't quite figured that one out yet...
But still, there's a bit of an empty void in me right now, realizing that in all actuality, I may never have enjoyed the fundamental game that started the hobby that I love, cherish, and hope to work (more) in. It's a strange feeling....