There are a lot of things that most role-playing games just assume, miss, forget, don’t take into account, or throw their hands in the and shout to the uncaring heavens “But we can’t come up with a die rolling mechanic for that?” What things stand out the most? Well relationships, sex, and food. I’m not really interested in the first two. Having known and seen a lot of gamers and worse listened to them talk about their meat-life interactions with someone that they find attractive the last, and I do mean last on a very long list, thing I want to do is listen to them talk about faux relationships and the potential sexual position combinations between a dwarf and halfling- “But what would she do with her beard?”
Trust me once you have heard that once you never need to hear it again. However meals, eating, the joy of sitting down just about anywhere and being social over food that I do care about. Why? Well most cultures bond over dinner a place to share the fruits of cooking and/or baking, a chance to unwind, and a relaxing way to carry on a conversation about the day. If most characters are friends, maybe even bordering on a surrogate family situation, that spend years traveling around the world, dimensions even, fighting just about anything and everything that gets in their way, and saving the world or at least relieving others of their gold or money, shouldn’t they have more time together just shooting the shit?
Sure in the middle of the 15th level of the Evil Dungeon of Ganipganop still being chased by the “evil” elves, who just happen to be evil because they live underground, from level 14 is hardly the time to break out the fine china and catch-up on the days travails. Yet, after a day of running, fighting, tripping, lighting torches, and wondering just what in the hell a giant cube shaped jelly was doing in the hallway not being smeared on toast by the “evil” elves maybe lighting a campfire and roasting some “meat” on a stick over a fire would be a good way to relax, plan, and most of all bond. Because 15 levels underground my character is going to start to wonder what he sees in these “friends” who like to hangout underground instead of…well anything that does not involve traveling underground for wealth beyond my character’s wildest dreams that may or may not be there. What is guaranteed to be their?
Darkness, lung cancer from all of the torch smoke I have to inhale, dust, mold, dampness, wet clothing, abrasions, potential trip hazards, potential ankle twisting incidents, holes to fall down into, cave-ins, and asphyxiation as one has to wonder how breathable air gets down 15 levels underground which by the way a level underground is not a standard of measure like 10th floor is always X feet from the 1st floor.
Why couldn’t our group of friends hang around in town or the city where we could catch a good meal? Five star dinning, and evening of eating sumptuous meals served by anyone other than us, and cooked by anyone other than us. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? But no, we have to go looking for a hole in the ground to explore. I think on my resume it says wizard not spelunker and this wizard having spent at least a large chunk of his life so far studying is more than happy to perform magic tricks, earn some money, and then off to the good life.
So remember the next time you are 15 levels underground wondering where your next breath is coming from that you could have been sitting at Spago’s living the good life.