Sunday, February 6, 2011

Community: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons


The title of last week's episode of the NBC show Community was, intriguingly, titled "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons". The show is already one of the favorites for me & the girlfriend; we both really enjoyed the episode, and it pretty clearly came from someone with a great fondness and knowledge of the game. We watched it online at Hulu (available for the next 30 days). Here are some observations:

(1) While the adventure is fictional ("The Caverns of Draconis"), the trade dress and all of the other many books shown on camera are faithfully late-era 1E AD&D. For example, the Gary Gygax DMG appears in numerous shots (2nd cover with orange spine; i.e., 8th printing 1983+). Module Q1's "demonweb" map is in front of Abed while he DM's the supposed adventure.

It's interesting that none of the later iterations of D&D seem to be "sticky" in popular culture. Early-to-mid-1980's (the exponential fad years, of course) D&D is stuck in people's minds; and I think some of the asserted success of 3E publishing and even the OSR bears that out.

(Side anecdote: One of my best students mentioned last week that her slightly-older boyfriend recently re-acquired all of his original 1E AD&D books off EBay, and is now excitedly teaching her the game.)

(2) The DM rolls all of the dice. That was maybe the one outright jarring thing to see; although of course there's no mechanical reason not to do that. Possibly it read better on camera to have the one uber-geek handling the dice. (?)

(3) The adventure semi-accidentally winds up involving a big flock of Pegasi as a key plot point... kind of like, you know, the thing I posted the day before this episode aired last week. Freaky.

4 comments:

  1. My players had me watch before our session Friday. It was funny.

    Some other things I noticed: the way the players took pregens and how the disparity between those and the players made the game more amusing and the way everyone was waiting to see the result of the dramatic die roll because they knew what the roll had to be. :)

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  2. This ranks up there with Bender;s Game as the best of the D&D sendups. Awesome!

    Makes me want to start watching Community.

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  3. Definitely agree with that. One P.S. for me: It's also interesting that D&D is common enough that at least 3 totally separate character/camps are accustomed to it: (1) Abed, (2) Fat Neil, (3) the guy who helps Pierce.

    And Paladin, Community really is our favorite TV show at the moment. The pilot was rocky but it got better rapidly; they do a lot of really good genre-spoofing for given episodes. (Note we don't have real TV, only Hulu: no access to HBO stuff, etc., so possibly take that into account.) Although I can see a few cracks starting to form, they may have trouble staying strong after season 2.

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  4. I haven't seen Community yet but have heard good things.

    The hilarious first episode of the 4th series of IT Crowd has a hilarious role-playing session, though it is not D&D specific. IT Crowd is geeky enough not to need to be specific that way. Also geeky enough to get all the role-playing elements right.

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