Adult Nerds Playing Dungeons and Dragons

One of the things that I’ve picked up in recent years is my old hobby of playing Dungeons and Dragons. It was something I enjoyed playing back when I was much younger, despite being told not to by my parents. I’m sure I was at real risk of being turned into a demon or something like that (despite the whole satanic panic being complete and utter nonsense), since I was playing with friends who came from more religious families than my own, but somehow I ended up okay. I was also forbidden from watching The Smurfs and Alf, so take the whole of that as you will.

Player's Hand Book
Wizards of the Coast really knocked it out of the park with the 5th Edition books. If you’re honestly curious, this is the best place to start, and I really suggest picking up the book

I disobeyed, naturally, my best friends in high school played it and we had all sorts of fun enjoying the game. D&D helped feed my creative side, it got me interested in writing (which was a feat, given that my two worst subjects were Spelling and English), and it helped tapped into my love of art and design. It’s an odd sort of full circle, really… playing D&D got me into writing, and eventually, when I came back to it as an adult it was mostly because I needed an outlet for my writing.

It was when I was back in Arkansas playing with a couple of coworkers and their friends/family. It was really the first “adult” campaign that I’d ever been part of. I think I played one game after college with a coworker… a Planescape adventure where I got to continue my habit of torturing DMs with unorthodox decisions when I used a body of a downed ally as a club after my weapons were taken.

What, I’m not exactly known for my straight-forward way of thinking. There’s a reason that I’m usually the dungeon master. Though, to be fair, in that game in Arkansas, I was a player, and I’m pretty sure that the DM will back me up on being unorthodox as well as a touch overpowered with my crazy bard that picked skills that made sense to the character and were somehow strangely applicable to the adventure.

For just under a year now, I’ve been running a game of 5th Edition with a coworker and a mixture of our friends to varying success (being an adult is hard, sometimes). It’s a world that I’ve been working on in some form since… I guess about twenty years at this point, and weaves through my art, stories, and just general writing. I’d actually started pulling it together for that Arkansas group, when I ran the last couple of sessions before moving.

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The trick is to make up my own and modify the monsters for Panterl.

I’ve got a whole bunch of scattered information scattered around, but part of the world and ideas are available on a website that’s just a wiki page right now, and will eventually be replaced when I magically find the time to build a website. If only I knew someone who did something like that for a living. You can go look at Panterl.com if you want to see a lot of red links and a bit of background information, though I’ll be honest. Most of it is just an excuse at making up funny sounding words.

Playing a game like this is vastly different as an adult than it was as a teenager, and, in a lot of ways, it’s a lot more fun. It’s not just that beer is usually involved, it’s that we as players are just more complex. It could be that all the years of bitterness that build up being an adult. Anyone that played as a teenager probably has a handful of embarassing stories they can tell about their games, but not until you get them good and drunk.

I’ve found that adult characters just get more complex… we’re not always looking for the hack and slash or the loot or the lovely lad or lady (though, all of those things can be fun).

The interesting thing we’re doing with this game, however, is that we are recording it. It started out as a simple thing using a tabletop recorder, but we’ve gotten a bit fancier in the past few sessions. Microphones for each cast member, a multi-channel recorder, headphones, and this past session, I started to play around with using a soundtrack mixer to add ambience (it… needs some work).

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I think Chad takes the pictures so he doesn’t have to be in them

We’ve been slowly building up our AV supply, which is a pretty weird place for me. I’ve never been all that into audio systems or the like, past a decent pair of headphones, so this has all been a learning experience for me. It’s also, in some ways, forcing me to be a better Dungeon Master in running the games. I’m not sure I succeed all of the time, but I have to think more about the descriptions that I use for things, pushing the players to interact more, and be very specific with things like directions.

I’m not about to turn this into anything other than a fun hobby and side project… podcasting won’t be a new career anytime soon, but it has been a fun little adventure in gaming as an adult. In the future, once we get it all mixed, edited, and actually posted, I’ll probably start sharing it here.

Goodbye Last Year, Hello New Year

I joke about 2016 and all of the celebrity deaths, while knowing full well that there were likely no more and no fewer deaths this year than any other. It just stung a bit more this year, with Bowie, Prince, Rickman, Fisher, Vigoda, and so many more leaving us. A bunch of them weren’t a surprise, even when any death is sad, some certainly aren’t all that shocking. Some of them certainly were, since I was pretty sure Bowie would outlive us all.

This certainly was a year of some pretty awful things. It should be clear exactly how I feel about the upcoming change in administration, but I’m not going to go into that here. I we almost all will learn to regret it over the next few years, since the people it will hurt disproportionately are the same ones that brought about the change. At the same time, I have little interest in crying and wailing over the thing… that won’t change the reality of it.

I live my life with a few basic ideals, and one of them is that regret serves little purpose. Learn from your mistakes and from the past, but no amount of obsessing over what has past will change anything that has happened. You can only affect what is to come, so no matter how bad you think the world is around you, instead of complaining about it, actually do something to change the bit of the world around you that you can control.

I’m not one for resolutions, mostly because I don’t think you should wait for an arbitrary day to decide if you want to change or not. If you want change, start local, and don’t be afraid to accept small steps to get there. Nothing worthwhile is ever gained when you only focus on the end step instead of all the steps that got you there. So here’s to a bunch of small steps in 2017.