Mar. 13th, 2009

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Having a group of people to play Dungeons and Dragons with is really awesome.

If you rolled your eyes at that sentence, skip to the last couple paragraphs now.

However, I have discovered that in order for my life to be truly complete, I need a second group of people distinct from the first who also appreciate D&D to tell the lame (AWESOME) stories about our campaign to. Sadly I have not yet found this second group.

I do realize that "oh my god, let me tell you about this *hilarious* thing that happens in my game last night..." is in fact one of the dorkiest ways to start a story, especially when the following story is about abusing game mechanics, so I have lj-cut this part for your protection.

Read more... )

I'll admit that this game does also make me want to gather friends and start running my own game, because I haven't done this since I used to play in high school with my brothers and I really forgot just how much fun it is -- cooperation and competition, luck and strategy, storytelling, joking around, getting all excited when you figure out exactly how to line up loopholes in the rules, debating and cajoling over creative answers to situations.

To take a step back -- I think part of the reason why hanging out with and joking around with smart MIT people or lots of the engineers at work is that everyone has this fundamental base of knowledge that we share and can immediately build interactions on, and the people are quick enough on their feet to immediately apply that foundation to seemingly-unrelated interactions. I think of when half of my dorm hall was taking 6.002 (intro to circuits) and we all learned about metastable states and it was the best joke and metaphor and explanation for everything for a while. I think of talking today about a coworker's food allergies (poor guy) and in rapid succession comparing it to the 12-ball problem (a common interview-type brainteaser question) and talking about it in terms of bug repro steps (and how much it sucks when one of your steps is "continue for two weeks") and debating what interactions would have to be possible for it to be an NP-hard problem. And lots of our conversations go like this -- because even though I'm ten years younger than these guys and I've only known them a few months, we all have this common foundation. In the middle of some random conversation I can make a joke about multiple inheritance or NP-completeness or collapsing waveforms and everyone will have the background to catch the reference and the brains to understand the connection, catch it and run with it, riff on it further. And because the human brain totally works on analogies, there's this immense store of patterns that we all share that we can easily use to discuss other things and very quickly cut to the interesting parts.

I'm sure this happens in other groups too, anywhere you've got smart people with common knowledge -- certainly you see it in the arts, listening to music where the composer can riff on another theme that the musically-literate will recognize the melody or harmony of, reading books by authors who like allusions is all about this (in my bus reading this morning, a pulp mystery novel, describing a mazelike government building: "Maybe if I'd had a pretty girl and a string." Which is of course a reference to Ariadne and the labyrinth of Greek mythology, and a joke and a potent illustration all in one.) It's part of what makes gaming so damn fun too -- you have this set of concepts that you're all familiar with, a common structure to play with, such that everyone understands why it's awesome when the punchline is, "And on top of all of that, he got combat advantage out of it!"

Which is all part of the joys of having common interests with people, I suppose, or even a subset of that. I suppose the conclusion is that when I go out and meet people and attempt to make friends and all that, I should lead with really dorky and absurdly specific jokes, and go straight for the people who laugh. :p

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August 2010

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