What Dungeons and Dragons taught me about the Game of Life

Remember in college when you played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time?  You don't? Okay for those of you who were busy having sex in college like normal students, let me

 If only we could roll for our college grades Photo Credit:  Scott Akerman

If only we could roll for our college grades
Photo Credit: Scott Akerman 

give you a crash course.

In Dungeons and Dragons, by rolling special dice, players create characters with different races, classes, abilities and alignments.  (See this D&D Character Generator for examples.) 

Each of these choices have strengths and weaknesses, advantages and drawbacks to consider.  Different classes — paladin, thief, wizard, barbarian, elf, dwarf, holy man — have slightly different rules for role-playing that character.

For ability you have things like:

  • Strength     Intelligence   Constitution
  • Dexterity    Wisdom         Charisma

Photo Credit:  Kyle Nishioka

Not sure what she is but you need a lot of experience points to score with her Photo Credit: Kyle Nishioka 

No character starts out with high marks in all attributes, unless you are very lucky at rolling the dice when building your character.  As these characters move through their adventure, they gain experience points which help to enhance and augment their skills and abilities.  In D&D your alignment determines how your character acts.

In Real Life, you don't get to pick your race or social class nor do you get to roll for your abilities.  And some people are born luckier than others, with access to better resources and opportunities.  But you do (hopefully) gain experience as you navigate through this crazy thing called Life.

IRL you will also met people who have different abilities, alignments, skill sets and class, and sometimes lack thereof.  Some people didn't grow up in healthy stable environments or didn't catch the same breaks as others.   You might work with somebody who is only out for self gain, or work for someone who is indifferent to the causes of others.  In DnD this is known as conflicting alignments.  IRL, it can be a minor inconvenience or the nth Circle of Hell.

Maybe you have a manager who is very Charismatic but just not technical enough to understand what you do.   Or a boss who is very much by-the-book and shows no sign of a sense of humor.  Very few bosses have high marks in all abilities and if you are very lucky, you get one who has the right combination: Smart enough to know what value you bring to the table, but confident enough not to be threatened by your skills.

It's not limited to the job either.  You will have friends and lovers who have these same attributes in varying amounts.  IRL you might have dated someone hotter than you but not necessarily smarter.  Or vice-versa.  You might have a friend or two who are fun to have a beer with, but cannot be depended on when the chips are down, or even to just help you move across town.

The secret to "winning" Dungeons & Dragons and the Game of Life, is to play to your strengths, mask your weaknesses and align yourself with people who compliment your skills and abilities.

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