The Lord of Eberron reaches out to fans

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The Spectrum

Crafting a world of myth and magic is a hefty job. Take it from renowned Dungeons & Dragons writer Keith Baker.
Artfully weaving a story that's as complex as it is compelling, famed game writer Keith Baker attended this year's UBCon. Greeted by a crowd of gaming enthusiasts, Baker helped bring this year's event to new heights.
Baker first earned recognition when he won the Wizards of the Coasts' Fantasy Setting Search in 2002 with his self-generated campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. The award granted him an unprecedented $100,000 grand prize for his stylized, battle hardened world known as Eberron. He described his highly acclaimed campaign as, "the logical evolution of society and magic as humanity enters a time [just] after a long period of warfare."
A few lucky gamers were given the opportunity this past weekend to experience the D&D campaign like never before: through the eyes of its creator. Baker gave 12 Dungeons and Dragons fans a game of epic proportions, or at least what could fit into the four-hour block allotted for the event.
Baker, himself, played the role of the dungeon master. A dungeon master, or DM for short, is one who controls the story and flow of the game by controlling the monsters and non-player characters who inhabit the world.
"For the first game of Dungeons and Dragons I've ever played, it was nothing like what I expected it to be. It was a lot of fun," said Michael Doohaluk, a freshman computer science major.
Dungeons and Dragons has existed in one form or another for 35 years. Since the game's introduction, its popularity has grown to astounding numbers, with estimates of about 20 million people who have wielded the infamous d20 dice.
When asked for some tips on becoming a better DM, Baker stated a few basic strategies to help players feel more connected to their setting and have a better overall experience.
Going against the ideas of version 3.5, Baker's first bit of wisdom warns participants not to "make a dice roll you don't want to succeed, nor make one that you want to fail. Everything doesn't need to be a dice roll, and every dice roll doesn't necessarily need to count. That's what the DM screen is for."
This advice leads into his next point of trying to work with the players to build a game that everyone is able to enjoy.
"Too often are the DMs working against the player when they should be working together to make a collaborative fun experience," Baker said.
Baker's last piece of advice for gamers was one that should be carried into all aspects of life.
"The only way you can fail, is if you don't have fun," he said.
Those words embody the spirit of the game. In an era where stories are too often told through the big screen or over the dull hum of a CPU fan, gamers need a realm where creativity just flows naturally and players of all ages can be storytellers with a unique tale to tell.
Baker has spent the past few months traveling internationally, staying with fans of the game and writing articles for Dungeons and Dragons Insider. Baker said that freelancing gave him more freedom than a desk job at Wizards would.
His Eberron campaign book is filled with signatures and stories from past players and those who partook in this past weekend's events are now archived in that book for another generation of D&D fans to admire years from now.
Baker has also been working on a table-top card game called Gloom, in which players attempt to make their character as miserable as possible through a series of unfortunate events, while attempting to make their neighbors happier through event cards.
Though nothing is explicitly planned for this year, Baker is hard at work developing scenarios for D&D Insider while still creating his own campaign. In the meantime, he will be traveling around the country, allowing others the chance to attempt to decipher the cryptic plot-points of this traveling storyteller.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com