When I was a kid, maybe 12? I played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with my cousin and some other kids. My cousin was the Dungeon Master (DM). I distinctly remember a session where we were arrested and put in a local jail. During our daring escape, we let everyone in the jail out and it caused a village riot. I think I was a monk, maybe a cleric. This chaotic mess was a really fun time for us. I also remember the picture in the monsters manual for something called a Succubus which made my prepubescent loins awaken.
These sessions helped my imagination grow and flourish. I could imagine rich worlds with ferocious monsters and epic adventures. We really had very little other choice to exercise our imaginations. Television had like 7 channels. There were no video games yet. No computers. Nothing. Just some weird books, some dice, and our imaginations.
Right now, because of the quarantine, my family (like most of you) are stuck in a house together for long periods of time. We decided to give D&D a try and it has taken root in our household.
The books are now on their 5th edition. The rules of D&D have changed over the years, but the fundamentals are the same. We use D&D Beyond instead of using paper for our characters. It has many benefits, the most important is that it takes care of alot of the mechanics.
My middle child is the DM. He has been getting better at it imitating orc voices and creating fun characters. Each has their own personality.
My youngest son has had a bit of trouble role playing because he wants to be “himself” as a character. In D&D you can play many different types of people, even evil characters. Here is a chart to understand the alignments.
Being able to pretend you are an evil rogue is sometimes freeing. It let’s you exercise your mind in ways you would never do in your day to day life. I don’t believe that this sort of imaginative play leads to people becoming evil in the “real world”. However, since he wants to be himself, it means our party is typically on the good side of the spectrum.
It hasn’t been completely a success. We have different goals and playing styles and haven’t yet settled into a comfortable rhythm. However, there are many times when we laugh uncontrollably at the situations we find ourselves or get excited about a really close combat where we pulled off an unexpected victory.
Why am I mentioning this now?
Because George Floyd and the subsequent riots and the complete lack of leadership is making me miserable. We treat minorities in this country like second class citizens. White people are given every benefit of the doubt and black people are given none. We institutionalize racism into every law and every fiber of our country’s laws and customs. We segregate schools through a myriad of ways, we disenfranchise votes, we put young black men in jail for crimes that white people regularly are given a free pass. We are not being nice as a society. Not even close.
We have people who don’t believe in vaccines, don’t believe the world is round, don’t believe in climate change, don’t believe in science, and don’t believe the government can do good in the world. Yet, they believe wholeheartedly that a Russian bot is telling them the truth about an insane conspiracy theory about Q. Our education system is a mess. Our civics are a mess. I just want to scream at the world like this:
So instead of ranting and raving, I am talking about D&D instead. It’s a fun escape from the insanity of our world, give it a try.
We are currently in quarantine with a curfew. I could not have possibly imagined this world 1 year ago. I hope that next year, it will be a world that I can’t imagine today, but instead of being filled with chaos and nightmares, it is filled with joy and fulfillment.
Side note: I can imagine online games that focus more on imagination and party interactivity and less on graphics. I’ve been researching, but so far nothing jumps out at me.