Let me pause briefly before I continue the story about me and Ugla;
There is no computer role playing game that will ever capture the immersion and feeling of playing a character like pen and paper unless you also play that character as a group. But there’s something about ‘real time’ that render the immersion into your character play almost useless. It’s not like you’ll take your time orating ‘out of here fiend because I shall smite you’ while running around hitting left mouse button as quickly as possible, keeping an eye on hit points and such in the case you need to heal or maybe heal others.
Real time, as strange as it sounds – will generally doom any attempt to ‘get’ into it. Then there’s the fact that as a DM will give you the understanding that the glamour around you in a tavern is actually rowdy fantasy version of people eating, drinking, singing and playing in the way the buttery light from a candle or crown of candles smoothes out shadows with the deep richness of sound, smell and tastes; funky tobaccos, incents, mead, ale and pig roast. Now try to get that same sense out of 3-4 fairly in-animate and unresponsive NPCs, a guy standing on the bar selling loot to the barkeep and yet another one jumping up and down for the fun of it.
Don’t get me wrong – while the imagery is getting better and better – sound melds together with an increase in graphic perfection – what the mind can conjure in pen and paper will always triumph the stilted tapestry of any game – offline or online.
But that’s not why I’m writing this – I truly enjoy this game but in a different way and what I cannot get out of playing the game – that one extra dimension – I’ll add to this blog. To use a little literary license to smooth out the rough patches from our online experience; the conversations we really never had (other than yelling at our younger son as he was picking another pointless argument and fight with our daughter while we were running around jumping, skipping and flailing our weapons) or that personality quirk that you’ll never see in any online game that distinct the character from the real person. The cowardly barbarian, the snotty elf, the burly and grouchy dwarf or the fun loving chirpy rouge.
I understand that some try; that their real wish is to get back to that world they visited when they were young, the dice they threw and the RC cola they shared over the imaginary battle turning sour because the dwarf got mad and left the ranger and rouge to handle a couple skeletons alone since they didn’t even bother telling him about the trap he blundered into. If you try to do that today people will simply think you’re out of your mind and kick you out – even though it would be completely in line with a grumpy dwarf.
Or the kind of argument my bard would have with the sorcerer that supposedly threw feather fall on him but turned out to only work on him so the bard ended up plummeting to his demise. I could see that would be a perfect moment to role play but it’s usually lost in the laboring of transporting spirit stones to shrines in order to move the game along.
You’d think a pen and paper game would be more statistical and mathematic in nature, but it’s actually the other way around; with the hectic real time battle the role playing becomes a matter of mouse clicks, skills, feats and spells – coordinated by a glance at the hit point bar and the ever casting of heal, Spirit shield, fire balls, haste, bard songs and the such that people end up running around like lemmings smashing things rather than admiring the scenery and gab about the immense drop from one high ground to another.
I don’t think there will ever be a game like that – but I’ll try to take the bits and pieces of our adventures online and bake it into a story with a little bit more character, so Kuulu actually seems more of a flawed spell casting individual because of his background and experiences rather than how well I did healing a group of people running around hacking at things until someone died or not. Or that Ugla is this simplistic straightforward tank I hope to tell you about rather than my gentle and wonderful wife.