With tabletop RPGs, sometimes you just want to play the damn game

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Arbor Jade, a Free DND 5E Adventure Brought to You By Nerdarchy for Tabletop Day
The TitansGrave role-playing game show is a top-notch production
Role-playing gamers at the Burg-Con in Berlin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here at Nerdarchy, you could say our bread and butter is talking about tabletop role-playing games, most commonly Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition. We have videos and articles and a forum and Facebook pages and even a store, all dedicated to discussions, chats, disagreements, occasionally even arguments. We love to talk about our favorite games, to break them down and rebuild them, to study the ins and outs, to try different character classes and rules, to discover everything that can be done with everything.

It’s what we do. It’s what a lot of gamers do. Nerdarchy is by no means the only website or YouTube channel dedicated to tabletop RPGs. It seems a lot of people have a lot of opinions when it comes to tabletop role playing.

Even within Nerdarchy, each of us has our favorite games, our particular favorite classes, spells, etc. Each of us writers has our own unique styles of play and writing, our unique subjects to discuss here on the site. Over at the Nerdarchy YouTube channel, each of the guys over there (and their occasional guest) has their own personalities and styles, their likes and dislikes, and so on.

The Nerdarchy YouTube channel has thousands of hours spent discussing tabletop RPGs, and here at the site we probably have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words talking about the same subjects.

We like to dig. We like to delve. We like to talk. There’s not a part of the tabletop RPG phenomenon we won’t touch in some fashion or form.

Yet, we’ve still not said it all.

However, to approach things from a different angle, sometimes all that reading and talking and studying of tabletop RPGs can become downright tiresome. Sometimes you get burnt out. This might be a little more common for Dungeon Masters than players, as usually the DMs and other game masters tend to put in more preparation time than players, but it can happen to anyone at any time.

Maybe you’ve been playing every night of the week, or maybe you’ve been GMing for a year or longer. Maybe you’re just busy and life keeps your mind elsewhere and you don’t have time nor the mental strength to deal with gaming.

Or sometimes maybe you just get tired of all the hoopla surrounding the gaming world. You don’t want to think about the online nerd fights. You don’t want to watch another video. You simply don’t want to talk, chat, read about or even think about what goes on behind the scenes, what happens under the hood.

You just want to game, damn it!

You just want to sit down at a table (or in front of a monitor), set out your dice, grab a pencil and paper, and start playing.

This happens, too.

A fellow player once told me, re-phrasing Socrates, that “a game unexamined is not worth playing.” I disagree.

Texas Hold’em … yep, it’s a game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, it can be entertaining, instructive, maybe even personally constructive, to explore all the parameters of a tabletop game. There’s a lot there to discover, after all. But that does not mean one has to do so to enjoy the game. I can learn the basics of poker and still have fun playing without going out to buy books on cards for hours of study time. I can still roll some dice at a Monopoly board without getting into all the statistics and facts concerning the game.

At the heart of it all, at the end of the day, it’s still just a game. Even Dungeons & Dragons, or Pathfinder or Deadlands or whatever your preferred tabletop RPG happens to be this week.

Don’t get me wrong. Tabletop RPGs can do fabulous things. They can build friendships. They can change lives. They can save lives, at least emotionally and mentally, maybe even socially and physically and spiritually, under the right circumstances. Still, they are a game. We can study them. We can talk about them. We can make them into something huge. But a game they are and will always be.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that. Sometimes we need to just sit down, shut up, and roll some dice. Whatever happens, whether our characters live or die, whether the DM is in top form or not, there will always be more opportunities for more games.

To quote late novelist John Gardner on literary criticism, “By its nature, criticism makes art sound more intellectual than it is …”

Sometimes we do that for tabletop games, all of us, here at Nerdarchy and elsewhere out there in the great big World Wide Web. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But sometimes one has to take a break. Sometimes one needs to step away from the dice or the keyboard or whatever.

And that’s okay.

You can always come back.

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Follow Ty Johnston:
A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, beer tasting and recalling fond memories of his late wife and their beagle baby, Lily. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.

  1. Merlin
    | Reply

    I read your Article…I agree with you and so would “Gary Gygax”. Gary used to say; “If your not having fun, then you’re doing it wrong”…. I’ll tell you how I know of & him later, should you desire. You’re right Table Top RPG(s) were never meant to be competition’s and mad mark-up’s, they were for friends whom didn’t have much could do a lot while laughing (most of the time at each other…LOL). In any case thank you for the article, I enjoyed it.

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