I believe in the power of slaying dragons. And rescuing princesses. And defending innocent villagers from ravaging hordes of brigands. I believe in the power of shared imagination, of storytelling, of social interaction. In short, I believe in Dungeons and Dragons.
I first played D&D way back in third grade. I remember that first adventure, the mystery, the excitement of the unknown. I remember the thrill of my character opening a door and seeing orcs for the very first time. It seized my imagination. I was hooked.
D&D is a game that can be a simple or as complex as you choose to make it. The game 8 year-old me played is vastly different from the game 37 year-old me plays. But the basics remain the same. The player creates a character, the player’s avatar who interacts with the imaginary world. Dice of various shapes determine success or failure of actions within the game. The Game Master creates the adventure, acting as referee, opponent, chief magistrate and primary arbiter of fun. From here, the possibilities are limitless.
My family moved around a lot when I was growing up, and my first order of business at each new school was finding a local gaming group. I met my best friend that way. We spent many an adolescent hour rolling dice, arguing rules, gathering treasure and saving worlds.
After many years hiatus, as we grew into men, had families and found our places in the world, he is back at my gaming table. Every Thursday night we gather with a varied group of friends. I met two in college. I play softball with another. We vary widely in our beliefs, our politics and our life experiences, but we all connect when we roll dice, argue rules, gather treasure and save worlds, our adult friendships made richer by echoes of childhood bliss and promises of future adventures.
My daughter is only four, too young to understand the rules of the game. But every time my gaming group gets together, she sits at the table with us, for a time, rolling dice, playing with the monster figures and trying, desperately, to add her Cinderella doll to the mix. Cinderella, she insists, can use magic and has a big sword, too.
She is too young to play now, but I look forward to the day when she sits across the table from me, first character sheet in hand. I will look at her and say, “You have opened a door to a ten by ten room. You see an orc. He is guarding a pie.”
And she will enter that world of shared imagination, where old friendship are continually renewed and where there is always time to explore one more room.
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