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When I first got started in tabletop roleplaying games, they were all sprawling, amateurish, homebrewed make-it-up-as-you-go affairs. After playing that for a few years, getting into D&D was difficult for me. I still don't really approach it in the same way most people do.

A lot of players I've known get really frustrated and simply can't have fun if their character isn't all-powerful, or at least competent, both in social situations and in battle. For me, I have no problem playing someone who is confused, incompetent, or even dangerously clueless. I've been known to giggle like a madman while sending innocent characters headlong into danger that I refuse to metagame or munchkin my way out of.

I suppose it's because I approach roleplaying less like escapism and more like playing a part in a play or movie. Actors often prefer to play villains and comic relief characters, even if it's the hero who winds up looking good and getting the girl. I don't need to fantasize about being stronger or smarter or more powerful. I just want to fantasize about being interesting.


(Sunday afternoon, INT: EB and JH's apartment)

EB: You know, one thing that I find interesting about the change from three point five to fourth is that they've removed the ability to be incompetent.
JH: How so?
EB: Well, in three point five, if I built a wizard with an eight strength, took him all the way to twenty and never put any points into Jump, he'd be an incredible master of mystic arcane forces, but he'd still be at a negative one to jump, no better than he was at level one.
EB: In fourth edition, not only do I add one half my level to all checks, but my abilities all go up by one at eleventh and twenty-first, whether I want them to or not. So if I build a wizard with an eight strength, by the time I get to thirtieth level, he'd be at a plus fifteen to Athletics.
JH: So you object to the idea that adventuring is a full body workout that exercises all aspects of your character at once?
EB: Oh, I never said I object. I just find it amusing that an epic lawful good cleric of the angelic avenger paragon path would have a plus fifteen to pick someone's pocket.