002 - The Functional Rhythm of D&D
Play • 32 min

#002 - A tabletop role playing game, like 5e Dungeons and Dragons,  is like a Jazz Combo. It’s freeform, creative, and fun. It also has an underlying structure that keeps everyone improvising together. This provides the scaffolding necessary to create fun songs in the moment with people you care about. It’s a lot like riding a bike. It’s a little tough to get the feel for it at first, but in the end the simple, rhythmic cadence gets you anywhere you want to go. 

You can find the Full Show Notes Here:


I like to call this rhythm theFunctional Unit of DND. 

Why are these rules so important? 

Because they make choices matter. 

Without consistent rules, players’ decisions don’t matter. When you can’t reasonably predict an outcome to your choice, then there is no true agency. It doesn’t matter what you do. Choices don’t matter if the outcome is random. If everything is random, then the story isn’t theirs. 

This cycle is where the magic happens. Stories come from the rhythm of the game. When you and your table master this functional unit, the structure falls away and epic stories flourish. 

Here’s a recap of the functional unit

  1. The Game Master and Players know the rules of the game, the characters, and the world. 
  2. The Game Master sets the scene and invites the players to act
  3. The players view the world and act, with a specific approach, to reach a specific goal
  4. The Game Master uses the rules to resolve the action and changes the rules
  5. The Game Master resets the scene and invites the players to act again

I’ve got a cheat sheet you can use at your next game. Find it here: 

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