Geek Confession: I Don't Enjoy DnD
One of the things a lot of us did during the recent lock-down was play a lot of games: tabletop, videogames, mind games, etc. Probably a lot of us joined an online Dungeons and Dragons group. I include myself here because that’s what I did. My experience with Dungeons and Dragons was brief; I think I played it every week for about a month. While I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it somewhat, it’s definitely not my favorite thing in the world.
I did enjoy the lore and fantasy adventures. I could say things as my character that I wouldn’t say in real life. But then came the waiting. I had to wait around while the other characters decided to what to do, and then take turns doing it. Another one of the things that I hate; waiting. I’m a man of action; really dislike sitting around, doing nothing, while other people make up their minds. It’s annoying. So there I sat, on a Sunday afternoon when I could be out doing something fun, playing a game that I didn’t really care for. The games dragged on for hours; I realize DnD players enjoy playing long games, but as I’ve said before, I have a short attention span. The games would go for four or five hours, and I’ve been given to understand that these are considered “short” by DnD standards.
Then the time came to level up. I put the info into DnD Beyond, and it modified my character sheet; at least it did that a couple of times. By the time I got to level 3 or 4, DnD Beyond stopped working; it wouldn’t let me level up anymore. The DM told me that in order to level up more, I had to buy a subscription, or do it by hand. I replied (quoting Meat Loaf): “But I won’t do that!” I took maybe ten minutes to think. Did I care about this game enough to put the time into filling out a character sheet by hand? Did I care enough to pay actual money to do it digitally? The answer to both was “nope” so I bowed out. While I don’t necessarily regret my time playing Dungeons and Dragons, you’d have to pay me to get me to do it again, and I don’t mean minimum wage. Again, I’m not saying you’re stupid for enjoying it, it’s just not something I enjoy.
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I didn’t realize the insane popularity of J.K. Rowling’s work until I had my own computer with an internet connection (I believe I was between 16 and 18). Potter references abound on the internet; the problem was, I didn’t understand any of them. They might as well have been making posts and memes in German. You see, I’ve never read Harry Potter.
My sister and I were pretty young when Harry Potter came out. I was barely reading at all, in fact (I was a late reader). So my parents felt that we were not at a maturity level to comprehend the difference between fantasy and reality in Harry Potter. These were realistic children, living in a realistic world, casting realistic spells. So it was out
The second reason being that my mother has a bachelor’s degree in education. She is very well-read, and something of a literary critic. Mind you, she had no problem with the so-called “occult” elements in Harry Potter. We read The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Black Cauldron, A Wrinkle In Time, and other fantasy books growing up; magic wasn’t the problem. My mother, in her critical eye, thought that Harry Potter was rather poorly written. Calm down. Breath in and out slowly, dear reader. It’s not the end of the world that someone doesn’t like your favorite book. You still reading? Okay, I’ll continue. My mother also held the opinion that Harry himself was, well, a brat, with a bad attitude, who got whatever he wanted anyway. She felt that sent kids the wrong message. I wouldn’t know, so I’m not rendering an opinion.
While I still haven’t read Harry Potter, due to the proliferation of memes in the internet circles that I typically run in, I’ve become Potter literate. I understand most of the references now, only because I’ve had to look it up. It was rather annoying for a long time; being left out of a joke is frustrating. I recall visiting a friends’ house, where they have displayed on the wall the banners of the four houses; it took me about three years before I realized what they were. I would go there fairly frequently and every time I scratched my head trying to ascertain what they were.
While it is frustrating sometimes, I don’t feel as though I’ve been deprived. I had a rather rich, imaginative childhood, with or without Harry. I don’t see myself reading those books any time in the future either. My reading list is extensive enough without adding another series to it. That doesn’t rule out watching the movies, however. And nothing against the franchise itself, but it has a rather “toxic” fanbase. Many (probably about half) of the Potterheads I’ve met take the franchise far too seriously. It’s almost like a religion to them. I understand being emotionally attached, but this really isn’t that big of a deal.
In the end, Harry Potter doesn’t really seem like something I’d be all that interested in anyway. As I’ve said in other articles of this type, I’ll be content to let others enjoy it.
All my friends love The Lord of the Rings. Understandable. I’m an epic fantasy fan myself. The huge themes, epic conflicts, and landscape of The Lord of the Rings make it a fantasy classic. I do consider it one of the best books ever written; I just don’t like it.
I say that so you understand that I don’t “hate” LOTR, or that I think it’s terrible and people who like it are idiots; I hold it in very high regard, right next to Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton. And like Chaucer and Milton, I find it incredibly boring.
I have a regrettably short attention span. It’s been like that as long as I can remember. I didn’t enjoy long, tedious books as a child, and I don’t enjoy them as an adult. A book has to have either high action or interesting concepts that challenge my mind or spark my imagination in order for me to bother finishing it. LOTR has interesting concepts but layered under pages and pages of unnecessary facts. Or at least facts that I consider unnecessary. Who cares what sort of soup they were eating? It’s totally irrelevant!
I read up to the end of the Two Towers when I was in middle school, fully intending to read The Return of the King, but it never happened. Last year, I attempted to listen to The Fellowship of the Ring on audiobook so I could get the full story, but I simply lost patience. For the few who haven’t read the book, but have seen the movies, YEARS passed between Bilbo’s birthday party, and Frodo’s embarking on the quest. It was an entire week between Frodo’s departure from Bag End and the meeting at Bree. All covered in excruciating detail.
Now, this is not to say that I also dislike the movies; I love them, in fact. Truly. They have their weaknesses of course, but they have even greater strengths. The movies only cover the most salient facts of the books. There was a ton of stuff they cut out, and they still take several hours to watch!
I do not mean to disrespect Tolkien; quite the contrary, the world that he created has defined fantasy for generations. I express a genuine love for the Silmarillion and the Children of Hurin. For some reason, I tend to prefer those. I suppose because they are several smaller stories wrapped up in a larger narrative; unlike LOTR, which is just one long story told in a ridiculous amount of detail. I want to like it, I do, but it’s just not my thing. But if you like LOTR, revel in it! Be an unashamed LOTR fanatic!
I'm Ian Wilson; an eccentric comic artist, just telling a story.