The dice certainly provide an element of drama to the game but so does the story. AD&D 1e is a campaign-based game (i.e. story-based) and much more so than, for example, the distopian theme of Cyberpunk can allow or later editions of D&D. It was for that reason I choose the game to bring people together and create friendships. It is really hard to bring people together and facilitate deep meaningful relationships when everyone is out for themselves (or "just playing their character
"). We have real life for that kind of stuff.
You miss the purpose of the group in the comment about individual characters being out of the ordinary. If I say we do not play a game we make friends, would that shift your paradigm? (I mean we play a game but not to play the game. We do it to meet friends.)
With character generation and stats, we found the 4d6 discard the lowest option the best, because if you stuck to the rules, you got crappy stats, and who wants a hopeless character. The characters are meant to be out of the ordinary, and feeble characters have no hope of advancing against high level enemies unless they're significantly bolstered by magic items. Is that how you deal with low stats (giving them magic items)?
It's kind of like playing golf. No one wants the play-by-play announcer on the greens. They want to enjoy their time outside. But you have to remove the competition from the game when it is in reference to our group. This leaves people, strangers when they start, outside of their daily life and working together.
Take a "feeble character," to use your descriptor. Such a character will rely on the other players. (Note I am focused on players, not the characters.) Having a low score in the statistic Intelligence (on paper) reflects dice probability. It does not straightjacket players to playing feeble-mindedly. That is a later invention not the original intention of role-playing. One player in my group is a wizard who has the highest statistic in strength (the maximum number in fact) and his lowest in wisdom. That's just the way it rolled in order.
He can more easily kick in doors and bend bars by the probabilities of success but that does not mean he is a muscle-bound Conan. He still has low Hit Points and his Health Points are a matter for another statistic to determine. The statistic affects the probability of chance but it does not affect the role-play. It effects success of a certain action being checked.
No one meets people by being a robot. I have been to many, many, many, too many business mixers with women in short cocktail dress and men in ostentatious suits and everyone I have met in such circumstances are automatons. They are playing their roles to either look attractive or look successful and deviate from those roles very infrequently, often when in their little corner with people they know, and even then they're usually playing another role. So this group is about being free and being authentic.
The mask of the game helps bring that out, same as the story informs the mechanics. My group really does not need to know the rules to enjoy the game because the game is not the thing. Making friends is the thing. The game gives players a chance to work together and find themselves as friends together. Often times, this translates back to the real world.
Players advance to high levels (survive) by sticking together – an uncommon sight in our real world today. Players good at surviving will reveal something about the player more than the character they play on paper. And, as a story-based game, this process is ongoing.What a game today!
A new person joined us. Six characters went into an area to explore: the woodsman fighter seeking to slay evil, a magic user searching for someone, a thief seeking easy passage to gold, and a cleric recently arrived to town on a mission for his Community. They were joined by a Half-Elven cleric, whom the woodsman had rescued from the clutches of a racist Elven lynch mob, and an Elven fighter returned from border patrol to his mother after his brothers had been killed, subsequently employed by the woodsman with the promise to care for the mother should this man die.
There was a period of getting to know the new person who had arrived into town before setting off to explore the ruins. Once there they navigated into a trap and were surprised by slings and spears. A pitched battle ensued with the thief hanging back the entire time.
Out of spells the magic user rushed into the fry as the Elven fighter fell to dire weasels and was consumed. The cleric, too, fell to the slings of dogmen as he stood along side the woodsman. Grasping two swords and blind with fury, the woodsman swung at the dogmen that rushed him, at first beheading two that stood before him but then, blinded by rage, missing his mark. He stumbled nearly dropping both swords but recovering them, each in the opposite hand. Spear pierced him repeatedly while he fought valiantly to shrug off the blows and deliver death to his enemies. The new party member also joined in the fray, pelted repeatedly by stones while the magic user directed an unseen force clutching a torch to burn individual dogmen. When the magic user, suffering a grievous bleeding wound, fell beside the Half-Elven cleric, the cleric reached out to him from where he lay near unconsciousness with a weasel breathing down atop him and asked divine favour to heal the magic user before passing out from his own wounds.
Now the new party member and the woodsman faced the onslaught. Dogmen were laying on the ground everywhere and one of the weasels lay in death tremors from the wizard's consecrated blade. Swinging wildly, the woodsman brought both swords down on the head of the dire weasel delivering severe punishment for the life of the Elven fighter.
Bloodied and enrage, the weasel made ready leap at the woodsman. The Human cleric swung at the weasel and missed. Quickly the woodsman recovered his speed and slew the last of the dogmen before falling onto the weasel striking the weasel and sinking his blade deep into the creatures hide forcing it down with his weight.
And the battle was done. The Human cleric worked to bandage the Half-Elven cleric and both he and the woodsman tended to the wounds of the magic user. The thief remained hidden and safe throughout. But one of their number, the Elven fighter, had died the death of a hero at the side of his comrades. The woodsman would have to fulfill his contract.
It was an intense finale to our game today. Players relied on each other assisting as best they knew how, reacting to the fortunes of the dice. Say what you will about imagining things but there is something real that gets shared when others come to your aid even if the experience is just make-believe. The characters, and the players, became a tighter unit.
I found this episode of Freaks and Geeks today. I think the episode represents a balanced view of what we, 4 men and one woman, do; and the type of fun we have getting to know each other through our stated actions and risk taking.
In the meantime, maybe you would care for a film favourite of D&D players everywhere?