In the debate between fantasy and science fiction, I’ve always leaned more towards fantasy. Magical spells, elves and half-orcs, epic quests, and limited technology are some of the hallmarks of a fantasy story, and to me, when these elements are combined in the right order and with the right attention to detail, they result in some amazing stories. Lord of the Rings, for example, remains one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time (and for good reason). World of Warcraft is still the most popular video game in its genre, 14 years after its initial release date.
Knowing all this, it probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading that I love Dungeons & Dragons. (In the future, this might seem outdated to people, but D&D has undergone a bit of a resurgence recently due to podcast storytelling. I just enjoy it, okay?) There’s something about gathering a group of like-minded people and entering a make-believe world together that feels fantastic. The camaraderie that develops, the layers of personality you unveil, the world in everyone’s creative imaginations. Working together with people to create something special, a space where all feel welcome in. No wonder D&D has found a resurgence in today’s climate; escaping from reality for a time to play with friends can be soothing, especially when the supplemented reality, the world of Faerun, requires intense concentration to follow completely.
I’ve had a few failed D&D groups, as well as a few successful ones. Some groups are destined to fail, and it sucks to see it happen. The group I’m a part of currently, in which I’m the DM during an interim campaign, is definitely on the successful side of things. It’s five people, and we gather over Roll20 to video chat and catch up on each other’s lives. It’s become an awesome way to connect with friends from across the country, whom I haven’t seen in person in years, and meet new people. You learn so much about people through how they play D&D.
An added layer of anxiety and stress comes from being the DM rather than just playing, as the game depends on your impromptu imagination, but it’s oddly exhilarating, too. Some types of stress aren’t as debilitating as they seem initially, once you’re in the thick of it. True anxiety is felt when the mind disassociates from the body, when you start thinking about how you’re thinking, but to me, with how busy things get during D&D, that feeling is impossible. You are swapping out characters, moving set pieces around in your head.