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Monday, January 19, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons

I play Dungeons and Dragons. I know, it’s true, and astonishingly enough, I am not a teenage boy, I do not live in my parent’s basement, I have absolutely no tape anywhere near my glasses, which I only wear when I’m ill, and I have never owned a pocket protector. I’ll admit when I started playing, I didn’t expect it to become a lifelong hobby, but I’m certainly not complaining.

My introduction to the game came in the 7th grade with Ben, a guy in my class who had a crush on me. One day, I noticed that he was gathered around a table in the library with a few other guys. They had books and papers, and dice, and it sounded to me like they were telling some kind of story together. Ben would describe a scene, and the boys would in turn tell him how their characters were reacting. Fascinated, I asked him what they were doing, and he told me they were playing Dungeons and Dragons.

I didn’t start playing right then, because apparently Dungeons and Dragons was something only boys played, but oh, I was intrigued. I had spent the entire previous year pretending to shoot Cylons at recess, and I was ready for something new. No, I started playing when my Home Room teacher, Mr. Byrne taught a class on how to play it. The half hour after lunch was spent in something the school called “Exploratory”. Teachers were allowed to teach something they really enjoyed like crafts or hobbies, and we could sign up for the classes we liked. Mr. Byrne actually offered a class on Dungeons and Dragons, and I HAD to sign up!

Mr. Byrne became my first Dungeon Master, the person who told the story. He taught us how to make characters. Characters had their own jobs and abilities that they brought to the game. There were types of fighters, who could use swords and other weapons to fight enemies. There were thieves who were good at sneaking and disarming traps. Magic users could use magic to cast spells, and Clerics could heal. My first character was a thief. Using a purchased adventure, Mr. Byrne carefully described to us our first dungeon. He’d tell us what the rooms looked like, and using our characters’ abilities, we would tell him what we’d choose to do. As a thief, my character took the lead, sneaking through ancient hallways to uncover traps and search for treasure. We’d run into monsters, and fight them using our character’s skills, and some dice. I was hooked. It was absolutely the best thing I had done since last year's Battlestar Galactica days.

At the end of the class, I had graduated from my first dungeon, and was ready to try something new. Thankfully, because Ben had a crush on me, he graciously allowed me to play in his game with the other guys. I joined them around the library table, and I’m pretty sure I saved their character’s pretend lives more than once.

Unfortunately, the game didn’t last forever. Ben moved to a new school, and the game dissolved. I wandered off to do other things. Occasionally, I’d have a chance to play in high school, but never in a regular steady game. If you asked me then if I’d still be playing when I was a grownup, I would have answered no. It’s funny how life changes things.

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