Thank you, Dungeons and Dragons

fadnibleIt all started because I wanted to be cool.

I was hanging out with my friend Chris, and he brought up that he was planning on playing Dungeons & Dragons that night with friends. At the time, I had heard of the game (due to my interest in fantasy and my crippling loneliness) but I had never really sat down to play it. But since I wanted my friend to think I was cool and hip, I acted like I knew what I was talking about. I told him I had played a few time before, and I usually preferred warriors over magicians because ‘I liked the build of their character class’.

Yeah, I thought it sounded intelligent too…

In the end though, it was convincing enough to have Chris invite me over to play with his group. I only had a few hours to do a quick AskJeeve’s search on the rules of D&D!

I ended up playing a rogue… and I barely was able to follow the rules while we played. However, the group was amused with me, and slowly but surely, I was adopted into my group of high school friends. Every weekend we’d meet up on Friday or Saturday and we’d run an adventure. And while I usually ended up becoming the comedic character of the group (I was notorious for having David Dice Syndrome (DDS) back in the day), I had fun. We had fun.

Dungeons & Dragons gave me an outlet in high school to explore a lot of things I never got to explore. It allowed me to be more outspoken. Negotiating a fair price for a stay at the inn as my rogue helped me find confidence when I was trying to debate during speech and debate class. While I never wanted to sacrifice myself in real life, I felt the slight rush of it when I decided to sacrifice my level seven (It took a half a year to get there!) warrior to save the party from being devoured by a plaguebearer beast. And yes, while it might sound a bit corny to say, facing off again two ogres and a horde of goblins did help me learn some level of bravery when I had to face off with punks at my school who thought I wouldn’t fight back.

I eventually moved on from playing Dungeons & Dragons. I played Vampire the Masquerade where I learned the art of backstabbing and wearing tight pants. I played FATE where I learned that freedom is another word for anarchy and I relied on the backhand from hard-set character creation rules. I even helped create a roleplaying game along with Chris, and I learned there that I’m not very good with number crunching and turning things in on time! The point is, roleplaying games taught me a lot of things about myself that I don’t know I would have found without it.

I know next week is Thanksgiving for us Americans. And yes, I know that is when I’m suppose to raise my goblet of wine towards the turkey and say what I’m thankful for, but Fandible has always been about bucking tradition: I’m raising my goblet right now – yes, I have a goblet at my work cubicle! It’s not weird. – and I’m saying ‘thank you’ to Dungeons & Dragons and roleplaying games in general. You taught me a lot about life and about myself and, strangely enough, about the breeding practices of goblins (I don’t want to talk about it…)

So. Thanks. I guess?

I know I’m not the only one that gained something from roleplaying games. I’m sure each and every one of you has been able to explore things or learn things from roleplaying games. So, I’m going to leave this post today with the following question: How have roleplaying games touched your life? What positive things have you learned from it?

Oh – I should also probably mention that I’m thankful to roleplaying games for introducing me to Angela and yada-yada-yada.

I look forward to reading your responses, Fandlites!


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About the Author
Billy started out his roots like many roleplayers - D&D. Playing it and then Vampire all through highschool and college, Billy picked it all up again when he made the move from Michigan to New York. Now working in publishing, Billy does what he can to view roleplaying games through a narrative's lens. Does that sound classy as balls? It should.

1 comment on “Thank you, Dungeons and Dragons

  1. Syren says:

    Roleplaying has done a lot for me over the years. Its built up a serious area for me to let out what creative juices I have trouble putting to paper any other days, it gives me a complicated escape from the daily grind of work, it has almost destroyed me at least once, it saved me in the same way, and it even led me to the man I love today.

    I had always been prone to pretending to play characters, just me and my brother, but I never went much beyond that until I was 10ish. I visited a forum for a popular webcomic at the time, 8 Bit Theater, by Brian Clevinger. I oddly only ever spoke with him rarely, and he doesn’t visit very often these days though he may toss down some teaser pages for his bigger projects now and again. I’ve roleplayed there for years now, the folks I consider my circle still chill there.

    What I learned there is there are lines people aren’t prepared to deal with sometimes. Which is true enough with real people as roleplayers.

    I was playing a magical high school game(more anime than hogwarts) where the GM had made a pretty specific social attack on my character. He was a gifted baseball player and he’d gotten kicked off the team because of one of the NPC’s. And it broke him since baseball was a really central thing to how he ran his life, and the way I played him after that… Well the people I was playing with then weren’t ready to deal with it. It made them uncomfortable, but instead of talking to me about it they kinda just let it sit under and ultimately secretly spoke to the GM about it. He ended up having to kick me to keep them comfortable, something he wasn’t ultimately happy to do but it still happened. That almost killed role playing for me, at the time and honestly still I take playing my character fairly seriously, I get stuck in my ways in how they are and even if what they do is a bad idea if it is within the realm of them I was willing to do it. I felt like I’d been ostracized for role playing someone who felt like he’d had everything taken from him that made sense.

    I hardly would have expected another game would end up helping me. A game of Exalted, it was my first fully functioning pen and paper role play.

    What I learned there is that sometimes mechanics are stronger than common sense. I also learned that adding a system doesn’t always add structure when there are flaws in the logic of the creators.

    Which White Wolf has been known to do I’m sure you are aware.

    And that actually helped me deal with the insane horror of the military bureaucracy in time.

    Regardless of the madness of the system, and how it kinda felt in Exalted where our glorious sword princess began to punch her way to world domination I still had fun. Moreover I had fun playing a character that went against the grain of what was plain and logical in the system, and whom had the moral flexibility I grew to make my trademark. It cemented the kinds of folks I would play with, and it opened me up to more pen and paper stuff after years of failed ventures.

    Meanwhile I was still free forming across the internet and someone whom had seen me but not actually played with me ended up asking if we could so some one on one adventures. I said sure and between talking about our opinions on various things and struggling through getting our role playing styles to mesh we kinda hit it off. Before I knew it I was heading up to Ottowa to visit when I was around Chicago. Off to a date with the former Camarilla Prince of Montreal. God so nerdy.

    Still he taught me that struggling through some of the troubles other roleplayers have syncing can help you get to something you might really enjoy. Which can be very true about things other than roleplaying styles.

    These days my life almost revolves around roleplay, I listen to podcasts like you and RPPR when I’m doing brainless tasks like sitting on the bus or scrubbing wax off a floor. I break my boredom by hitting up my boyfriend or my friends with whatever new adventure we are into. I am always looking for the next system I might be into and wasting around reading about lore just because. It is the rock of my life, and I couldn’t imagine what I might be without it.

    It taught me we always need something to look forward to. It helps us to keep moving forward, and dream about the potential that can come.

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