Yesterday’s post about kobolds made me think about my old Dungeons and Dragons days. I used to play a lot of D&D. I mean a lot. I played a little in junior high and high school, but I really became addicted in college. My friends and I would play for hours on end, several days a week. When I lived with my friend Matt, he and I spent hours and hours discussing the philosophy of gaming, its mechanics, its dynamics, and so on. I even took a quarter off from college in my sophomore year to play even more D&D (well, that and to refresh my brain that had become stale on too much… well, whatever it was I was studying at the time). In short, I really loved the game.
While immersed in D&D, I discovered that I really enjoyed being the Dungeon Master (DM), the guy who created the settings that the players would explore and interact with, and who would create the storylines and plots that drove each game session. During college — and for many years after college — D&D and other role-playing games — was where most of my creative energies were focused. I didn’t do a lot of writing in those days. I created wizards and dragons and empires and desperate moral dilemmas for my players to muddle through. There was a time when I considered those years “lost” in terms of my creativity, since so much time I spent playing and DMing I could have spent writing. However, it was recently pointed out to me that those creative energies were not wasted after all; I provided thoughtful and challenging entertainment for dozens of players over the years. When I moved on to running Live Action Role Playing games, the scope of the sessions expanded from five or six to several dozen at a time. Creating storylines and plots that so many people could get involved in and enjoy was challenging and plenty of fun, but exhausting.
These days, I don’t run nearly as many games as I used to. Back in the day, it wasn’t unusual for me to run two separate campaigns at the same time, one session per campaign per week (yes, that’s two or more gaming sessions of six to seven hours each per week). Nowadays, because all of us players have lives and jobs and families that demand attention, the gaming sessions are much more sparse, with weeks or even months between individual sessions.
I used to bemoan those years when my creativity could have gone into my writing. These days, though, I’m pretty grateful for those years. I made a lot of great friends. I learned a lot about storytelling. And so even though I’ve moved on from Dungeons and Dragons (I play Pathfinder now), I’ll always be grateful to that game and all its myriad editions, and to the time I spent with it, and to the people I shared it with.
Edited to add: I don’t know how I could have failed to mention this, but I actually met my wife during a Dungeons and Dragons game. So that’s pretty cool too.