December 30, 2019

How TTRPGs Are Depicted in Memes

Today’s #newbieTuesday post is about the portrait you see of the tabletop role playing game/Dungeons and Dragons community and experience you see in memes.

To be clear, I love memes. I’ve probably spent an unfortunate amount of my life browsing meme after meme. So I’m certainly not coming after memes with today’s post.

Instead I’d like to specifically address some of the common themes memes show about the TTRPG community: the “murder hobos,” the chaos, dysfunction, the lack of cohesion etc.

Admittedly, because tabletop roleplaying games empower players to make decisions which materially affect their world – as characters in any story would be able to do! – it stands to reason that there are ripple effects to those decisions.

The classic meme-based example is something like “Party enters town. What do you do. Barbarian: MURDER” – hence “Murder Hobos” – or the Rogue stealing/being loot-focused or the Paladin being self-righteous. Or conversely, it’s “GM: prepares intricate back-story, plot, villain motivation, setting for players. Players: “TIME TO DIE, EVERYONE!”

I can only imagine how new players, not being familiar at all with what Dungeons and Dragons or TTRPGs in general can really be like, must think about the experience. And that’s the portrait I’m talking about. Sure, there have been many, many DnD campaigns that have gone completely off the rails, been totally chaotic, had great GMs whose hard-work was completely under appreciated/under utilized and terrible GMs who reveled in the punishment and pain of the players.

But if there’s one think I would have new and/or prospective players take from this post it’s that you don’t have to accept those circumstances as being a natural part of the TTRPG experience if that’s not your intent. As I’ve posted about many times over the past several months, there is both an art and a science to being a GM and a player and improving is something everyone can do, no matter who you are, without sacrificing one iota of fun and love of the game. And frankly, practicing discipline in those areas where we can all improve as a group of storytellers will absolutely yield greater fun.

Playing stories together at a high level is an almost indescribable experience. If you want and thrive in that chaos and that’s what’s best for the table, all the power to you – sincerely! But if you want to play and experience stories together at higher levels, take your investment seriously and learn, practice, and apply those methods to your game play. I promise you will not regret doing so!

You don’t see the basketball community judging itself by the performance of pick-up players at your local YMCA. New players: please don’t judge the TTRPG community through memes, as relatable as they may be!