When my friend Lauren came to me saying that her boyfriend Marcus was wanting to run a Dungeons and Dragons adventure, I found myself more excited that I ever had been about a game in my life. I was at a point in college where I wasn’t really excited about the video games I played anymore (unless they were co-op), and found that time with my friends was really what mattered to me. Lauren really sold it to me, talking about how her dad had played and GMed for years, and Marcus told me exciting times with his friends in Germany about it. I honestly was giddier than I ever imagined, even though I tried to play it cool.
I had some reservations. I still believed in the D&D stigma that people who played were all nerds who just sat around getting cheeto fingers pretending to be a kind of hero they would never be (I promise I never bought into the satanic crap at least). However, it coincided at a time where I felt a little bit pessimistic about myself and future, finding the career path and study I had chosen harder than I ever thought with little ability to shine as a truly outstanding person amongst my class. So yeah, maybe I wanted to be a hero in my story for once.
Making my character was confusing at first, but I was helped by Marcus’s kindness and patience. Then, the first session hit. I became a human monk of Pelor whose name is lost to my memory and the trashcan of my old apartment. And by become, I really meant become, I tried my best to jump into being the annoying proselytizer, wanting to convert people to the faith and helping the lowly. I made decisions solely based on that one thought. And it was exhilarating. I beat down villains and monsters, made vows on my honor, and performed feats of athleticism that I could never do in real life. A little escape from reality that would be the gateway dose to one of my greatest enjoyments of all time.
The adventure continued into campaign, and my monk died soon after. The whole experience sparked my imagination, making me think of more in-depth characters, as they dropped left and right (let’s just say I didn’t always make the best decisions in battle, but hey they were in character decisions!). Many Sundays passed with my core group of my friends Lauren, Marcus, David, Foster where we cooked good food, hung out, yelled, laughed, all around a bunch of dice rolling around determining our avatar’s fates. I learned to associate DND with my friends, good times, as campaigns rolled around and new friends came and went.
Becoming a Dungeon Master, after wanting to try for so long, also got me hooked. Creating a world allowed me to play characters I had thought of that I believed would never see the light of day. It also let me spark my creative thoughts that I had thought long died after multiple attempts of starting a novel in my life, but always quitting halfway through. The demand and co-op writing my friends gave me as a DM forced the spark out of me, and I loved it.
The last nail in my coffin came at a time when I began to feel burnt out from DND. Too many demands, and long prep times began to wear on me, and made me think why I even wanted to spent so much time on this. Then, I found Critical Role, a live stream of DND with a bunch of voice actors, and the happiness and joy I saw on that show reminded me that I wanted to bring the same to my players. I wanted to bring them a story they were attached to, and characters that felt alive to them, just like all the stories I had read in my life. I wanted to bring my imagination to life and share it with people, one of the oldest human traits of the need to tell stories manifesting in such a deep way for me, and an outlet came out in the form of DND, reinforced by Critical Role.
Dungeons and Dragons is a game. But to me, Dungeons and Dragons made my friends closer to me than I ever could have believed, in our shared storytelling and time spent together. I’m scared that someday I won’t have time or people to play this game anymore, but the way I feel about it and the good experiences I’ve had about it, will never change.