I was an ignorant jerk when I was a kid.
I’ve always been into the “nerdy” culture. I read comics. I loved superheroes. I was even a band geek in school (no offense to band geeks, I loved being in band). But, stupidly, I bandwagoned onto the “popular opinion” of the mainstream public that Dungeons & Dragons was for super-loser nerds who lived in their parents’ basement.
Of course, today, I regret ever feeling that way. But, ask me fifteen years ago? I would’ve said that, within all of geekdom, I draw the line at D&D.
I honestly don’t know where this opinion came from, that’s the really sad part. It was just…there in me. I think that speaks to the popular media of the time, or the pulse of pop culture in the 90’s, that the negative stigma of D&D is so pervasive and so ingrained that I grew up knowing that it was for the loseriest of the losers.
That not even I would ever play it.
I wish I could take it all back. I wish I had more friends back then to pressure me into playing. I wish I could’ve been a part of this movement from a very young age, I really do. But it took me until I was well out of high school. I think I was already married, in fact (2010 was when that happened, btw).
My very first foray into Dungeons & Dragons was with the Wrath of Ashardalon board game. My step-brother introduced me to it. At this time, I was still of the thought, “ehh, isn’t that still just Dungeons & Dragons?” and was hesitant to play.
It was one of the most fun board games I’ve ever played at that point. I had a blast. I gained so much experience, in fact, that I was – I think – one of the only players to level up his character.
That gave me the itch (I now own my own copy of “Wrath”), and it was some time after that when a friend and I arranged to start playing our own game of actual D&D. Dawn, in fact, one of my players in my current Curse of Strahd campaign, was the one who helped baptize me in the D&D waters. She DM-PCed an unfortunately short-lived 4E game with me and our good friend, Jeff.
I was a young, Cavalier-class human with a bastard sword who loved to kick ass. It was awesome. See, I grew up an only child. I had a couple good friends, but it was never a super-stable thing. So, really, I grew up relying on my imagination and fantasy to play. You’d think someone like me would be perfect for Dungeons & Dragons. …And you’d be right. I took to the game with heart and gusto, I wanted to learn more about it. I wanted to play again and again. It was like a drug.
For some reason, though, it took me a while to do it again. D&D 5E was released, and it was a huge deal. I somehow found the Acquisitions, Incorporated series and was devouring it, going back into the Penny Arcade archives to listen to their original podcasts of the game.
In 2014, I was in the show Dreamgirls, and started talking with some cast mates about starting a D&D game of our own. I got the 5E Starter Set. One of my friends knew a guy who could DM for us, and it was on. Our group quickly grew to NINE players. After finishing the Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign, our group split into two, with me DMing my half – DMing for the first time ever.
That whole group eventually dissolved, unfortunately, after we had begun the Hoard of the Dragon Queen campaign. Around this time I was working on Muluth as a campaign setting. I wanted to start a game there with new players. That ended up not working out. Then my son was born, last year, and it became unclear whether or not I’d be able to devote time to the game.
I worked it out, just in time for the release of Curse of Strahd. I cannibalized my previous HotDQ group, got a couple new players, and we began. This group has grown and morphed as well, and I’m experiencing a heyday of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s excellent, and I’m overjoyed to be able to play this game regularly in a time when it’s actually popular to do so (not that that matters – rather, it’s easier to access!).
That’s my story. It wasn’t pretty, but at least there’s a happy ending. Until next time – Well Met!