The idea behind Unique Drops was to initially cover video games that we wanted to read about. Eventually, the plan was to expand into music, art, and forms of geekdom: cars, comics, movies, etc. Today, we make the first foray into the world of pen and paper role-playing games. Tomorrow, there will be an interview with the writer of Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer.
Pen and paper role-playing games, aka tabletop RPGs, are one of my deepest and most beloved hobbies. Video games are the first love, but tabletop is the irregular tryst. My exposure started early, reading the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual in my local public library. I had no idea how to play AD&D or what a d20 was, but the stats, monster descriptions, and art intrigued me to no end. Kobolds, Hobgoblins, and Mind-Flayers sharing space with entries for real-life animals, like a whale or bear unlocked this desire for anachronism and lore.
In middle school, my group of neighborhood friends would play the AD&D Dragonstrike boardgame over and over. With its cheesy video and audio CD, the game sparked my imagination. When I started playing AD&D 2.0 (then later DnD 3.0), Mage: Ascension, Vampire: The Masquerade, things got serious. I had my own set of dice and folder filled with character sheets, graph paper, and crude drawings.
Video games will always be my first love. However, tabletop RPGs provide something that is (for now) impossible in video games. In a tabletop RPGs, a player can do anything and affect the game world is extraordinary ways. While Grand Theft Auto and the Elder Scrolls games have a multitude of possibilities in an open world, Dungeons and Dragons is actually limitless. MMORPGs are constantly trying to provide a group dynamic while letting players change and affect the world at large. In a game like Shadowrun, the idea that your player group can alter the world is understood.
Of course, tabletop RPGs require a lot of preparation and engagement for any type of emotional impact. After installing, videogames are self-sufficient. Unless someone is playing an old MUD or text-based adventure, the world is created and visualized for the player.
I wonder if video games will ever approach the do-anything-anytime, infinite possibilities of tabletop games. A game that is never ending and always new with unending customization would probably be the last video game that you'd ever need to buy. For the time being, one can always roll some dice, create a character, and play some tabletop.