Dungeons and Dragons. Admit it, you’ve heard of it. Lord knows I’d heard of it. For the longest time, though, my experience with D&D has been pretty… Mixed.
I’d first heard of Dungeons and Dragons when I was a wee little lad, living out in Western Kansas. Western Kansas, for the record, is the single reddest part of one of the reddest states to ever red. Meaning that if you ever brought up D&D, regardless of context, you’d be getting a lecture about how it was the work of Satan, and all yall chilins should shut the fuck up and read your damn bible. I didn’t see the connection as a kid, but I ended up following the advice on the grounds adults are smart, and always know what they’re talking about.
Then I got older. Suddenly, I realized adults aren’t all that smart. I mean shit, most of them voted for Bush. Twice.
I also quickly learned that individuals who declare that “[X] is the work of the devil” are either VERY poorly informed, or sanctimonious pricks. They said D&D promoted Satannism, but they also said Harry Potter promoted Satannism. Because apparently, Jesus is the only person allowed to cast spells I guess. They said Pokémon promoted Satannism. I’m still trying to figure out how they came up with that one, honestly. These same people said stuff like The Life of Bryan was blasphemous, and that The Da Vinchi Code needed to be boycotted, and that The Passion of the Christ was the single most important movie ever made. Life of Bryan is hilarious, Passion of the Christ was nothing but a two hour snuff film starring Jesus, and… Well, The Da Vinchi Code wasn’t great, but heaven forbid something come along and challenge your perspective on life. Slowly but surely, I was starting to realize these people were either stupid, or sheep. And let’s be honest, sheep aren’t very smart to begin with.
But I’ve already gone on that tangent about my time in Christianity, so let’s move on.
of all the things I did as a teenager that were in blatant defiance of the right-winged, uberchristian culture I was born into and forced to endure, picking up Dungeons and Dragons actually wasn’t it. I didn’t think it was a product designed to promote Satannism… But it was pretty damn nerdy.
Evidence may suggest otherwise (especially in hindsight), but I never really considered myself a nerd in high school. I wasn’t good enough at sports to be a jock, and a lot of sports were out of reach for a one-eyed individual such as myself. I wasn’t a goth kid, because my family had a dog that shed like crazy, and black clothes were a magnet for white fur. I wasn’t a theater kid, though lord knows I tried. I wasn’t a cool kid, because to this very day, the more popular something is, the more I tend to avoid it like the plague. I wasn’t a hit with the ladies… Partly because impaired kids are NEVER a hit with the ladies, but mostly because I wasn’t a people person back then. In a lot of ways, I’m still not.
The only REAL clique I truly fit in with were the kids I dubbed “the metal clique”. They were like goths, but the music was better, and it was less “the world sucks and I want to die”, and more “the world sucks and I want to burn shit.” They were like jocks, except none of us were ever going to medal in anything. Depending on your taste in metal, you could probably mesh with theater kids, though you’re a lot less interested in acting out The Crucible, and more interested in recreating something you saw GWAR do on stage. Not entirely sure if anime is TRADITIONALLY part of the metal culture, but Yu Yu Hakusho was considered quintessential. Largely because we were all Yusuke Urameshi. But I digress.
You’d really think something like Dungeons and Dragons would appeal to a group like this. It had metal imagery like dragons and epic battles resulting in massive carnage and bloodshed. Blind Guardian, and other bands of that subgenre wrote songs based on D&D, and D&D esque franchises like Dragonlance, or Lord of the Rings. And of course, the Christians hated it. Sounds like the perfect match… Except nobody was even remotely interested. We may not’ve OFFICIALLY been the cool kids, but we weren’t about to get bumped to the same table as the nerds for fuck sakes.
I didn’t show any REAL interest in D&D until my adult years. And even then, I didn’t start out with D&D.
Somewhere around 2013, my friends and I tried our hand at the ole tabletop RPG. However, we went with Shadowrun. It had cyberpunk elements, which one of my friends was, and still is into. I myself was also interested in Shadowrun for more or less the same reason at one point. So we ended up trying our luck with Shadowrun. And… Honestly… It was a disaster.
One of our friends didn’t get the concept of rollplaying at all. The GM didn’t really explain the rules, character customization, or really ANYTHING all that well, and in the end, we just made shit up and rolled D6 for everything. The campaign we ended up picking at first was clearly not intended for beginners. In fact, reading a little more into Shadowrun, I’m starting to think Shadowrun IN GENERAL isn’t for beginners. I know for sure it’s the one D-20 game I’ve ever seen that doesn’t use a D-20.
So yeah, our attempt at a Tabletop RPG group was pretty much the equivalent of giving birth to a stillborn baby: a lot of pain and agony for a result that left a lot of us depressed for weeks at a time, wondering where the hell we went wrong. What, too dark? The original line was going to involve compare it to performing a wire hanger abortion on yourself. And it’s at this point I realize I’ve been watching WAY too much Zero Punctuation.
Though our group didn’t succeed, like, at all, I still found the concept of the tabletop RPG intriguing. It also helped that around the same time, The Spoony Experiment, and a couple other TGWTG personalities I liked at the time were trying THEIR hands at… I think it was Pathfinder? Either way, as I watched, and learned the rules, I realized something: this game is actually pretty fun when everybody knows what the hell they’re doing.
My friends and I haven’t tried a D-20 game since, but I’ve still found myself interested in the world of D&D. I’m far from the most knowledgable person on Earth, even after three or four years of on-again-off-again research. It also doesn’t help they put out new editions every seven or eight years or so, and change FUCKING EVERYTHING in the process. In any case, I find myself making D&D characters in my spare time on occasion. I imagine up a campaign idea that, with a large degree of effort, could actually become something worthy of recording and posting on-line. Hell, I even listen to a podcast that’s basically a dude and his friends playing the game!
highly recommend this podcast, by the way. It’s pretty entertaining. Even when they aren’t playing D&D and just talking about video games or whatever. Bird is my favorite. 🙂
One day, I may find a group of like-minded folks who’ll welcome my novice ass into the fold, and I can actually try this out. If nothing else, it gives me a reason to buy that Cthulhu dice set and dice bag. Till then, my fascination is more of a spectator sort of thing.