I really liked this quote from John O'Neill, so I'm reproducing it here:
"For myself, I learned a great deal at the gaming table, and it has served me extraordinarily well. I'd been a Dungeon Master for over a dozen years by the time I entered the workforce, which meant that I had copious experience bringing people together around a table, gently guiding an argumentative team to the conclusion I wanted, running meetings and giving presentations with virtually no advance warning, and looking poised and in control when dealing with wildly unexpected situations.
"Years later, sitting in Dave Kenzer's office at Motorola as we worked together on a complex investment scheme, I put my feet on his desk and confided, "You know, I've negotiated to buy companies for a quarter of a billion dollars. I've started a few companies, and been on the Board of Directors of more. I've managed teams of salesmen. I studied English in Canada, and got a Ph.D. in Engineering in Illinois. And none of that — none of it — has prepared me for this job as much as being a Dungeon Master."
"That's the first thing you've said about this deal that's made complete sense," said Dave.
Today's the day for my own tribute. But beware.
At the start, it didn't seem like much
(At least, for those of us old enough to remember the start)
Back before fangirls existed anywhere but our imagination
(for good and bad)
We all got into it for various reaons
Because our friends introduced us to this wonderful world
Or we wanted to escape this one, at least for a couple hours
And let he who never bought a game because of the hot chick on the cover cast the first stone
And yes, times and technology have changed
But we're still doing cool stuff in our imagination that probably wouldn't work out in real life
Yeah, we're the butt of jokes that are often all too true
But as the A-Team taught us, you gotta love it when a plan comes together
And there's the Philip K. Dick style question of whether an imaginary memory of an awesome triumph is any less pleasing than the memory of a real one
RPGs taught us so many lessons
Even if the DMs weren't always the greatest
Or the players had different goals for the party
We learned that life didn't always end up like the cover art
And that what sometimes seemed like an awesome idea
Didn't always turn out
But when you had a great GM
And some players who wanted real roles
You tasted at least one form of alchemy that works in the real world
In other words, fun
With a 100% chance of at least one conversation about boobs
And plenty of laughs
We put a little of ourselves into our characters
Made ourselves better, stronger, faster, and way more badass
Without harming the real world
We put up with different personality types
(And I daresay improved on a few)
Making it our own
Dealt with people who always wanted to play hot-assed ninjas
Or booty-seeking pirates
Or even bards
Or those who'd eat ninjas and pirates for breakfast while they smacked around a bard
A little diversity helps a party, after all. Or not.
Sometimes what came out on the tabletop was rather, errr, revealing
Made me wonder, sometimes
But we rolled with it, because there were advantages
We took on noble (and dangerous) creeds
In service of nobles or scoundrels, depending on the paycheck
Dealt with rules lawyers
Backed them up
Or told them to shut the hell up and let us enjoy the experience
We created unique characters
Because by the Power of Greyskull, even if it doesn't exist, it oughta
Dressed them up in cool costumes.
(Of course, there's some outfits you just can't hope to beat)
Don't forget armor!.
Or something we called armor.
But I'd always welcome out-of-the-box thinking, like dispensing with both.
An awesome enough PC doesn't even need a name.
Because, in the end, it's just a game -- or it had better be.
We faced strange adversaries
(frequently with Ninjas)
And learned that the difference between "ridiculous" and "too cool for words" was all in your attitude.
I think the real world could use a little more of that attitude.
On second thought.
But then on the third hand
Oh, now I'm lost in my imagination again, am I at the end or the beginning?
So off we'd go with our players and companions
Allied NPCs who were sometimes even cooler than we were
Into those strange new worlds
We'd unfurl our banners
Take weird or impractical weapon in hand
And go explore an impossibility (or at least an improbability)
Where a failure could often be more exciting than a success
And you'd meet people and things you'd never get a chance to see in real life, and probably wouldn't want to
Sometimes we'd fight
Sometimes we'd run
We'd change things wherever we went
And eat enough junk food to choke a unicorn.
But we usually made it to the end. Sometimes we'd even be shocked.
Even if the GM's description left a little to be desired.
We'd invent way cool stuff
Newbies would learn a few hard lessons
But we'd teach them how the world worked (or how to work the world)
Just when and how to deal with a trap
And more importantly, to expect a trap exactly because it doesn't look like a trap
Improvise your way to victory
By exploiting your opponents' weakness, be it obvious or no
With creative use of the carefully chosen abilities
I said, CAREFUL
We'd accept slightly weird outcomes
Or definitions of a reward
As long as it kept to your character's alignment
We'd cheer on great bits of roleplaying
And laugh in the face of failure.
And fall on the floor and hyperventilate over a truly epic failure
And learn to roll with the punches
Because after midnight you never know what a tired DM might come up with
We assimilated a little bit of our characters, sometimes even took bits of them into the real world
Some of us even ended up with people we met gaming
And saw life in RPG terms. Maybe for the better.
Some might benefit by working a few things out on tabletop where they wouldn't bother the rest of us.
We sometimes wish we had some of the skills our characters do
Or their balls
But even if we don't let out a battle cry and draw sword, we're at least suspicious of stuff that looks or sounds too good to be true
And we're good at forming our own ideas and philosophies, thank you very much
We make sure we've got the right tools and a plan before sitting down to an important task
And have definitions of beauty and possibility that don't come out of a glossy magazine
It all comes down to you and your friends having a good time, not hurting anyone but a few bags of Cheetos.
For all we've learned, for all we've laughed, for all we've won and lost and become.