Some people have poker nights, others have fantasy football leagues. Me? I have Dungeons & Dragons night, every week. The stereotypical pinnacle of nerd culture, the definition of dork. But D&D is one of the most important parts of my week.
It started when I was in school. I was getting to the part of my life when work and homework were becoming more important, and going out and partying was becoming a luxury, not a frequent occurrence. I was looking for something to do for fun, something that I could do with friends that we would all look forward to. Luckily, I had such awesome friends (and thankfully as dorky as me), that they did not even hesitate to indulge me.
That was the start of a passionate affair from the responsibilities and mundane movements of the real world. I would spend hours every week – usually when I should have been doing homework – preparing for those nights. I took on the role of Dungeon Master. For those of you out there who have never been fortunate enough to play D&D, the Dungeon Master is the one who runs the game, tells the story, and decides what happens. Everyone else is a hero playing through whatever epic you are telling.
And did we ever come up with some tales. Misfortune, critical hits, the general hilarity of someone yelling Magic Missile! when they cast a spell. And it bled over into our normal lives too, the go-to topic of conversation whenever we saw each other. Jokingly yelling out our D&D names to one another instead of our real ones.
My friends nicknamed me DM Dougie Fresh.
Dungeons & Dragons let me explore my imagination, too. It let me write adventures that involved the same lore, characters and towns as the books I have been reading since childhood. And then those adventures came to life.
Since then, I have finished school and our party of adventurers disbanded. I missed Dungeons & Dragons, a new passion that had been sparked but was now fading, like I had witnessed happen far too many times. But the fire never went out, and I pulled together a motley crew for another party. Now we play D&D every Wednesday.
But, most importantly, D&D gave me confidence. Before I started playing it, my love for fantasy and everything geek was reserved for just my immediate circle of friends. Even after the first few weeks, when we all had uncovered this hidden gem, we would only admit to playing it with nervous giggles. But at some point something clicked, a switch flipped inside me. It turned from "well, don't tell anyone" to "We played D&D last night and this happened and then that happened and she rolled this and ended up tripping and dropping her weapons everywhere". People get a What Happened Last Week synopsis of our Wednesdays if they just ask how my night was.
It is funny how a game, one fueled almost entirely by your imagination, can invoke such strong emotions. Some of the tales we told will stick with me forever, accompanied by sequels as new stories unfold. So if someone asks me if I ever have any plans on a Wednesday, I smile and say yes. I am going on an adventure.
So what is your Dungeons & Dragons? What is that one thing that you look forward to doing? The thing that makes you a dork like me, but something you wear with pride. What is one of your quirks that makes you who you are?
DM Dougie Fresh signing off.