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NoDo you remember the games you used to play as a child? The ones where you pretended you were someone else and your friend was another someone else. During this game you would say things like, “pretend I’m a monkey and you’re trying to get me out of this tree.” I remember in kindergarten I was playing house. I was the father and I had to go out to work. In this context ‘work’ was behind the teachers desk where I would push a button all day. (All day of course lasted about thirty seconds, then I would go home and have a satisfying plastic meal with my family.)  The button that was pretending to be my job was in real life the intercom. That day I called the office at least twenty times. Each time enraged the adults involved just a little bit more. When my teacher pulled everyone together and demanded to know who kept pushing the intercom button I could honestly say I didn’t know. Sure I was pushing a button, that was my job, but it wasn’t an intercom button, it was a factory machine of some sort. I was making crayons, not calling a school office that wasn’t even in the same world as my little family. (A family made up entirely of five year olds qualifies as little.)
Now, nostalgia aside, what if I told you that I never stopped playing those games? And that there are people all over the world who grew up into mostly well adjusted adults who play pretend on a regular basis? Now before you discount me as a loon of some variety (which I am but that’s not the point) I’ll tell you what I’m talking about. RPG’s. Dice and character sheets and figurines and mountain dew and dungeons and dragons and a tyrant behind a screen who holds the fate of your character inside his hidden statistics table. (Add lasers and magic tricks and you’re playing an XDM game, but I’m getting ahead of myself.) In these games you get to live in another world for a while, a world where things are more complex and yet simpler. I guess they are just different.
Not that Role-Playing is just about escape, or even entertainment. These games test us in ways we would never be tested in real life. Like all stories they allow us to examine ourselves at an academic level. It’s safe. When we make a mistake, like poking the bear, we can learn from it, instead of being mauled. Of course our characters are mauled, then we have an interesting story to tell people about our stupid halfling navigator who thought the sleeping bear might give him directions to the dark tower.
Every player has these stories, some of horrible failures, sometimes of epic wins. I once killed a dragon with a violin. (My party helped, I guess.) All of these stories have something in common, they come from really fun games. When people aren’t having fun they don’t play at the top of their game. (The pro sports are riddled with athletes who play far below their potential because they are bored.) Games get boring when the players and/or game masters get bogged down in heavy rules, minute calculations and, worst of all, arguments. The common game has become a cold and needs a cure.
That cure has come.
The secrets of the XDM have been passed down in secret through the centuries, and like all good secrets it is best hidden in the public record. That is why Grand Master XDM Tracy Hickman (Grand Paladin-Lord Horned Dragon) decided to publish the secrets. Helping him in this endeavor is Curtis Hickman (Grand Mega-Lord Taloned Griffin) master of the black arts and Howard Tayler (Grand Chief Number One Archduke Fanged Titan) master of the . . . um . . . visual and comedic arts. (I myself was once an Archduke Lurching Kobold but I lost a bunch of levels for granting them to myself. Now I can barely even dream of being a Flaming Gargoyle. I won’t share with you what I really am, it’s too shameful.)
The XDM philosophy is all about fun, the G in RPG does stand for game. If something enhances the fun of the game, add it, if something takes the fun away, take that something away. DM’s are creative people by nature, XDM gives them license to build the perfect game. So, the question you might ask is, “Why do I need a book for that?” You don’t, unless you want the rockin’ techniques, magic tricks, and of course official XDM status with all of the rights, privileges, and honors thereunto appertaining.
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