Tabletoppin’: D&D Withdrawal

Tabletoppin’: D&D Withdrawal

I don’t know if anyone can call themselves a deep down, true blue nerd if they haven’t tried Dungeons & Dragons. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your thing, but I can’t imagine being part of the geek community and never wondering what it would be like to play. It’s such an integral part of so many of the geeky joys we have today – board games, video games, fantasy books and films… Once you’ve played, it’s difficult to conceive of all these things existing in the same way without D&D.

Fantasy was my first geek love. Though now I enjoy reading everything from scifi to game lore to comics (and “normal” books besides), fantasy fiction grabbed me before anything else ever really had a chance. I remember devouring Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey books long before I even had a concept of all the different genres of fiction (I assure you I’ve moved on to some better fantasy). So obviously when I learned about Dungeons & Dragons, I was intrigued. A way to place yourself inside the fantasy world? What could be better?

Unfortunately, the first time I ever really got to try D&D, it was as a 13-year-old idiot. My best middle school friend’s older brother magnanimously allowed us to play with him and his D&D buddy, and I showed him why he really shouldn’t have bothered. Put on the spot with older kids I didn’t know, nerves overtook me and I acted out in the only way I knew how – by trying to be funny. Of course, as I was 13 and an idiot, this strategy flamed out spectacularly. I didn’t play again for 15 years.

About a year and a half ago now, one of my high school friends discussed his desire to start a game. I had been searching around Meetup groups to try and learn how to play (with no success, as most people weren’t overly keen to school a newbie), and my husband was intrigued as well. Somehow, we cobbled together a few more friends and started to play.

And here we are – a year and a half later, and we’re all addicted. Or, at least, my husband and I are addicted. After a brief tutorial campaign, we created original characters, and have been journeying through our DM’s brilliantly created custom campaigns ever since. Our bookshelves now sport multiple D&D books and nearly 200 dice, to say nothing of spell cards, figurines, and notebooks full of our adventures. Every Sunday we play, and get to escape from the mundane for a few hours into a world of magic.

Or, at least, we used to play every Sunday. Lately life has been severely getting in the way. A spate of illnesses took down our crew one by one as 2015 closed and 2016 began. I attended a function today that monopolized my afternoon. And in February, weddings and conventions knock out at least two of our special Sundays. What’s a girl to do? I miss my little gnome druid and her hedgehog companion, Mr. Prickles. I miss fighting dragons. I miss that sweet, sweet loot. I miss it all!

Honestly, I am suffering here. There’s just something special about getting a D&D group that really works together. I’ve done a few games here and there since joining this group, and the chemistry just isn’t the same. There’s a real sense of trust we have – and a real sense that these adventures really have happened, and we really did get it done to make it through! Obviously I know that sounds ridiculous, but these people are my party, man! And I miss them.


Hopefully next Sunday the adventure can restart… otherwise I may be in real trouble.

Fan Rants: Death Eaters & Stormtroopers

Fan Rants: Death Eaters & Stormtroopers

This isn’t maybe a rant so much as it is a question. Probably not the best way to start off a category titled “Fan Rants,” but I have to get you in the door.

Anyway, it’s a simple question. And that question is… why? Why, in fan culture, do so many flock to the nefariously exclusionary? It’s not that I don’t understand the allure of the villain. Villains are reckless in a way we nonfictionals can’t be. They know what they want and boy howdy do they go for it! There’s something about that, no matter how bad the thing is that they’re going for, that’s kinda cool. Respectable, even.

But with these dudes, the two-word one-two punch of the fictionalized freakin’ NAZIS… why? What’s so appealing about them? Is it their penchant for dressing exactly the same? Is it their masked ability to be unconscionably cruel without fear of reprisal? Is it just how very, very bad they can be? What? What is it?

I’ll admit it now, as anyone reading this will undoubtedly be thinking it – yeah, I’m a bit of a goody two shoes. I guess. I think all people deserve respect, anyway, and that people who aren’t hurting anybody shouldn’t be treated poorly for whatever non-hurting-anybody differences they may have. Funny thing is, most of the people I know who think the Death Eaters and Stormtroopers are cool… believe the same things! Kinda fries the circuits a little bit.

Let’s be real for just one second. These groups are both founded on the core value of sameness. They are the Borg. You will be assimilated. They don’t want people who are different. They don’t want people who shake things up. They don’t want people who go for it, unless “it” is getting rid of those people who don’t fit into the mold. They want mindless obedience and the status quo. So it straight up boggles my mind when people who pride themselves on having a unique perspective idolize these weirdos.

I’ll speak mainly to the Death Eaters now, since even though I am a huge Star Wars fan, I have read the Harry Potter books just about every year since I was 15, and let’s just say that’s quite a few years and leave it at that. I feel pretty comfortable in my understanding of the series.

So, the Death Eaters, right? Nazis, right? What is the Death Eaters’ main cause? Blood purity. AKA, keeping the wizarding bloodlines “pure” from any intermingling with the Muggleborn gene pool. Not that there appears to be any difference whatsoever in the skill level of pureblood and Muggleborn witches and wizards – these jags just don’t want anyone else “stealing” their precious magical power. They elect a noseless psychopath that they don’t even like to be the leader of their little crusade, all so they can be the bosses (sort of, it’s not like Voldemort shares the throne all that much) of magic land. They are literally the worst.

Beyond being the wizarding world’s answer to the KKK, the Death Eaters tend to hail from the most hoity-toity, old money families. Because of course they do. They’re all about power and reigning supreme over everyone else. So I’d maybe, kinda sorta get the fan love, if the fans of these guys were privileged, popular people who were used to keeping others at arm’s length and spending most of their time creating more power for themselves. But they’re not! And that’s the wildest bit. Wilder even than liking guys who are obviously Nazi KKK racist dirtbags (I mean, plenty of people today have Nazi fetishes, so as much as I am not in that club, I get that some people dig that unsettling shiz), is that the people who like them are exactly the kind of people they’d hate. Outsiders. People who stand out and bravely defy the way things are when the way things are aren’t okay anymore.  The only Death Eater who ever fit that description was Snape, who most of the other Death Eaters basically despised, and who was a double agent anyway.

The whole thing gets under my skin a little. Every time I see someone sporting a Death Eater tattoo or proclaiming love for a Malfoy (apart from Narcissa – we cool), that little niggling feeling returns. Why? I want to ask. But I know there are no answers that I could fully understand.

The Comeback Kid

I’ve been thinking about returning to blogging. Just thinking about it, mind you. After spending over a decade faithfully typing up every nuance of my high school, college, and early employment days on LiveJournal, it’s been hard in the intervening years to find a voice on the internet. I’m past the point of thinking that every tiny detail of my life is interesting, but still hovering in the zone where I have something to say, maybe, probably. Hopefully. And I want to share it.

If I can speak with any authority on anything (and no one can without some keyboard vigilante punching holes in every word they say – such is this beautiful creature of the Internet), it’s on being a geek. A nerd. A dork. A loser. These are titles I claimed before I wanted them, before it was a badge of honor to be classed a “geek.” Truly, this is the renaissance of my people, and unlike those who complain about being geeks before it was cool and, I guess, longing for those halcyon days where everyone laughed and made fun of us, I’m thrilled to be riding the crest of this counterculture tidal wave.

Truly, it’s a bright and shining time.

So if I return to this blog, I’ll probably do so in the form of discussing whatever nerd-topic is fresh in my mind. I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just an everyday geek living an everyday life, slaying whatever everyday dragons come my way.