Why I’m Thankful for Dungeons and Dragons: Camaraderie
All this month we’ve been asking our Dungeonmastering.com contributors what D&D means to them, whether its delving into their Geek past, looking at how the game currently manifests itself in their lives, or wondering what the future with it holds. Here is the last piece in this series, from Matt W., aka Darkwarren:
There are more reasons than could fit on a d100 I’m but I’ll try to pick one.
Humans love to play. In fact, many claim that we need to play. We learn and grow (physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, etc.) through playing games and sports. As an educator and parent I see this first hand. So it does not surprise me that D&D and such roleplaying offers us many things for us to be thankful. But personally, I am thankful for the camaraderie. This past October it has been twelve years since I sent an e-mail out to some stranger named Roberto. I had graduated college, moved back to my hometown, and the third edition of Dungeons and Dragons had come out.
Putting things in context: I started with the Red Box edition with my older brother and his friends, stuck through AD&D and AD&D 2nd edition, but as I entered high school and college I did not have many friends who were interested in playing around a table so my gaming became a lone enterprise at the PC. Pool of Radiance, Eye of the Beholder, Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, all those great D&D computer games of the nineties were how I played D&D. There was problem solving, leveling, even some custom character crafting, but no real roleplaying. I did not notice it at the time, but it was lacking something else: other human beings.
Third edition was coming out. I read about it online. I graduated, moved home, and bought the Player’s Handbook. I found a post on a local gaming store website. I e-mailed this Roberto guy and we met one night in that same store with a few other strangers. I rolled-up a thief named Timault Azal-Darkwarren and he and some of his friends started exploring the Sunless Citadel.
Of the six strangers who met that particular night only three of us stay in contact with each other. Roberto and I still play relatively weekly and while some guys have come and gone, our current group includes seven who meet weekly at my house. Our gaming careers coincided with 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder as we tried more than a few Adventure Paths: Shackled City, Age of Worms, and Savage Tide, all of which were stopped mid-campaign for a variety of reasons. We finally completed our first Adventure Path, Curse of the Crimson Throne, almost two years ago. And we’re currently working our way through Kingmaker with our party of all Dwarves.
We’ve also tried to branch-out in those twelve years as with Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century, The Dead, and a myriad of board games on our Plan B nights when we all can’t meet for D&D. We’ve shared thousands of personal stories, books and movies. And we begin every session with a home-cooked meal.
But the best part of our group, what I am most thankful for, is that we have shared our lives with each other. We have seen girlfriends become wives, we have celebrated the births of children, and we have all shared the pain of loss. I find that level of camaraderie is rare nowadays. These people have become uncles to my three sons. They are collectively known in my house as “The Guys.” My sons await every Thursday night with anticipation and anxiously ask, “Are ‘The Guys’ coming tonight?” This Thanksgiving, when we took a break from gaming to spend time with our families, all of us were thankful for the friendships forged these past twelve years.