Today is Veterans Day in the United States, also known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in many other countries.

Serving in the military is simultaneously dangerous, boring, stressful, exhausting, and frustrating. And the pay frankly sucks. But it’s also one of the most satisfying jobs you can ever hold. Soldiers (and sailors, airmen, and marines) not only volunteer for it, quite a few of them reenlist, and even make a career out of it.

To all the veterans out there, and to their families, a heartfelt thank you.

Gaming and the Military

There are a great number of military traditions; any soldier will tell you that “being volunteered” is definitely one of them. As the resident veteran, I’ve been volunteered by my fellow Gnomes to “write something military” in honor of the holiday. (Thanks for the flashback, guys! Can I sweep the motor pool, too?)

Since I wasn’t “gaming while enlisted”, I can’t reliably address the state of gaming in the military, although it is quite prevalent in all branches of the service. Heck, there was even a gaming convention in a war zone!

But military experience definitely influences my gaming. A couple of examples:


The infantry (hoo-ah!) would be useless without leadership, one of my favorite gaming topics. Even in OSUT or Basic Training, I learned that a leader has to earn respect, and carries a heavy responsibility. Later, as a soldier who was almost always placed in a leadership role, I had to apply those lessons, and even learn some new ones.

As a GM, I regularly rely on lessons learned while serving. Leadership is indeed power, but any fan of Spider-Man will tell you “with great power comes great responsibility.” Most directly related to gaming, I’ve discovered that once the leader embraces his or her role, nearly everything is easier for the entire group. So don’t be afraid to take the wheel.

Combined Arms

One side effect of tactical training is an appreciation of combined arms. An infantryman backed by armor, artillery, engineers, intelligence, and fixed and rotary winged aircraft is much more powerful than one backed by more infantrymen.

The gaming equivalent of the combined arms unit is the well-balanced adventuring party. As a GM, I can challenge the players not by throwing bigger and badder opponents at them, but by exploiting synergies to build a self-supporting group more powerful than any one component.

Be advised: If you are sitting at my table, and you see Kobolds, do not — I say again: DO NOT — take them lightly. That is all.

What’s your soldier’s story?

Enough about me; let’s hear from y’all.

Did you serve? Did you game in the service? What did you learn in the military, or even from exposure to the military, that you use in your gaming? Got any good stories to tell? (Somewhat clean ones, preferably.)

Sound off, and let us know!