Originally Posted by MLai
I really like this idea; the idea that they're not permanently stuck in the D&D world, but merely "dream" it each night. It's been done before: .HACK, Accel World, Sword Art Online....
I like the idea because with this angle, conflicts between characters in the "game world" carry over into the real world. Teenagers who are real-life friends or at least classmates can become opposing sides in the game world. I don't want over-the-top shonen rivalries, though. I want realistic reasons why kids can become enemies in another world. Off the top of my head:
(1) "Dude, lighten up. Who cares what happens to them? It's only a game/dream/not-Earth!"
(2) The flip side where a kid with an intense worldview (Anonymous, for example) finally finds an outlet in the D&D world, and as a result comes into conflict with his classmates who have more conventional moral scales.
The issue I with that is D&D isn't an MMO -- what distinguishes D&D is that you became
a dramatis personae for the time you're role playing -- not merely You the Fighter or You the Wizard, but the person behind those skills who has a personal reason to face danger and death. That character is still you, a part of you went into it and you become the animating force behind it, but it's not You.
My idea would give the Ranger a real life of his/her own, his own memories and place in his/her setting. To him/her, the dreams of our modern Earth are vague and wondrous in their own right. He/She is a different person there, surrounded by things not imagined in their world. Of course, from the perspective of the Earth-self, it's much the same. Both selves share the same disbelief in each other's reality, but thoughts, images, and emotions bleed through. Eventually our cast of characters would realize they're having the same reoccurring dreams in this fantasy world/real world, which would be troubling or reassuring depending on your viewpoint. As the story progresses they and their parallel selves become more akin to one another, less able to discern between their lives and the lives of their doppelganger. Eventually finding some entity like the Dungeon Master pulling strings behind everything for some grand cosmic reason.
At least that's what I had in mind. There are a lot of ways this can be done without falling perilously into cliche, while still capturing the spirit of D&D that keeps attracting people to it even in the age of video and computer games, I think. You simply need subtlety and some imagination.