Back in, oh, 1987ish my then stepfather Peter introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons. For a nascent geek it was a whole new world for me. I wasn’t popular in school, i was dealing with the vagaries of a split family, I sure as hell had no idea how to talk to girls… some things never change… but in the fantastic worlds that unfolded before me I could be anything. I could do anything. It was liberating and empowering. My first character was a half-elven thief/assassin whose name I can’t remember at the moment, but he was followed by a catalogue of characters whose adventures have stuck with me for many, many years.
Snow-Walker Bearchild, the Feralan ranger with his companion polar bear Bathsheba, who died in an acid pool in the Temple of Elemental Evil and in the process inadvertently created a wild magic zone in Greyhawk… Elfax the Druid… Rathlanahue dePorungal and his jozhal adventures in the Dark Sun setting… and now, most recently, Humbrook Odallil, the Gnome Tempest Cleric, who doesn’t actually worship the deity that’s channeling lightning through him, and frankly, finds it all very rude and invasive.
Roleplaying games let us step out of our own heads, and step into someone else’s. They let us work together to play a game where there isn’t necessarily a winner or a loser – the game is about creating a tale together. The Storyteller or DungeonMaster or GM or whatever you call them, will guide and shepherd the plot, but ultimately you are in control of your character. You make the decisions for them, choose how they react to the circumstances. Yes, the dice play a role, but in the end it’s you being taken for a theme park by your GM and you get to choose all the rides. It really is a grand adventure, and for some of us it’s a way of coping or processing, not necessarily of escaping but in some cases a means of coming to terms with grander events in our real lives.
One way or another, it’s a stupid amount of fun when you play with people who grok the same way you grok, and now, for the first time, I get to teach the two human beings closest to me, what it’s all about.
Trym Tealeaf is a halfling druid with no social skills and the capacity to hold a grudge for years. Derk Balderk is a dwarven paladin known for his winning smile and definitely not for his smarts.
And me? I’m the guy who hasn’t actually GM’d a roleplaying game in about 18 years. Today’s post is short because I have a lot of reading to do…
Wish me luck.