Failure. We fear it. We hate when it happens to us. It drives us to do better, to be better, to learn from our mistakes. Aristotle was the first western thinker to analyze dramatic theory and defined tragedy and comedy, but core to both expressive modes of narrative is the idea of failure. In a tragedy a protagonist is brought low by the extent of their failures. In comedy we laugh as we experience the protagonist’s story as a series of errors, mishaps, and misunderstandings. Failure drives them both, what is different is a matter of tone and perspective. A character who always gets what they want and nothing bad ever happens to them is both boring and totally unrelatable to us as human beings. So why should our D&D heroes succeed ad nauseam or constantly roll 2’s all night?
I love D&D and the d20 system, but sometimes I…
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