#313: The Newest Group

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Starting a new Dungeons & Dragons group is always a daunting task. There’s the issue of finding an appropriately knowledgeable and qualified DM, and of course finding players that are willing to play according to the group’s expected play style. By that I mean, not letting players act like jerks or chaotic evil dirtbags. That can definitely happen from time to time, if you let players play exactly how they want to. It’s important to set standards and limitations to what players can and can’t do, as a Dungeon Master, to ensure the game progresses smoothly and without complication. I’ve had some groups end because players got frustrated with each other and weren’t able to reconcile their differences. It can be frustrating to watch unfold, as people argue with each other over what’s the appropriate way to handle a situation.

But that’s not what D&D is all about. It’s about making memories and telling stories with your friends, it’s about making new friends in the process, it’s about developing your own, originally-created character in a social role-playing world of your imagination. It’s about all of those things and a lot more that can’t fully be described in a short blog post. I owe so much of my development to this game, and to think it will only continue further with a group at work is awesome news. I’m so stoked to hear what the kids decide to do, and where they take the story we’ve been working on together.

What I’m looking forward to most about joining a group is being able to sit back and relax as a player, while also meeting new friends in the area. Since starting my job in Norwalk, I’ve still been hanging out mostly with people I know from the New Haven area. It’s not the same.

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#268: The Last Minute

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Ever wait until the last minute to do something? That tends to be me in that position, wandering around, waiting for a sign of what to do, only for something to finally show up and excite me into action. That was me tonight, when I decided to queue up for a Mythic+ dungeon on World of Warcraft the day before the weekly dungeon reset. I realized at night that I wouldn’t be getting a good box the next day if I didn’t run a dungeon at all, so I queued for an Atal’Dazar +6, which means I’m committing myself to at least 30 minutes or so of dungeoneering on my elemental shaman. Usually, when I’m about to start a dungeon, I go through a checklist in my head of whatever else needs to be done beforehand: do I have water nearby? Have I prepared the necessary materials in game? Does anyone else need me right now? Will anyone need me in the next 30 minutes? (Always unpredictable; anyone could call me at any time, and people do that sometimes in the middle of dungeons. It makes for awkward conversations.)

The last minute, though, is when you usually feel the most motivation to do a particular task. The heightened anxieties, the excitement in the air. It’s usually the moment when people feel the most stress, but to me, that stress is productive, positive, and enthralling. Not to say that I always leave everything to the last minute; that wouldn’t be the case at all. But when a bunch of tasks are piled on someone all at once, you will naturally have to make a few concessions here and there; one task gets completed now, the other one perhaps later, the last one in the last minute. I don’t volunteer for all of my tasks to be completed then; it just so happens to end up that way when you’re given a lot at once.

#125: The Second Return

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After a long absence without playing Dungeons & Dragons with my friends, it’s finally made its return and I couldn’t be happier.

Now, you might be thinking, hasn’t Anthony written about D&D before and doesn’t he currently DM a group? The answer to that is, of course, yes, but it’s more complicated than that. I am currently DMing a group of friends through my own self-made campaign, but I am also a player in another campaign with a different group of friends, and the latter campaign is what I’ll be discussing briefly in this blog post.

So, in case you don’t know, Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons are both owned and operated by the same company: Wizards of the Coast. As a result, the developers of D&D published a guidebook recently that allows players to explore and create a campaign using one of MTG’s most fabulous and interesting locations: Ravnica. Because all of our friends used to play MTG to some degree, it fits that we would decide to return to D&D using an MTG setting.

The DM is one of our friends who hasn’t DM’d much in the past, but his lack of experience allows us to fill in the gaps and explore options through the story. The story still has a definitive beginning, middle, and end to it, but we are allowed to make our own story out of what’s available.

I play a centaur cleric named Cassio Stormbringer, and my friends play a multitude of other races, such as minotaur, half-elf, and human. The variety of races allows for some interesting interactions in our party.

Overall, I’m super happy that D&D has made a second return in my life. It’s one of the most consistently great things going on.

#99: The Return of D&D

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D&D made its miraculous, fantastic return over this past weekend, and I’ve been eager to write about it since it happened. What’s more monumental and exciting than an evening full of role-playing, creative writing, and friendship born through an online medium? The friends I’ve met through D&D are known primarily through D&D, and they exist just in that realm, but when we return to it, I feel like I’m returning to talk with long-term friends again. I have friendships with these people that transcends and supersedes what normal friends are like. We are

On this past Friday, I played D&D at a sleepover with friends who care about it quite a lot. They took it a bit more seriously, choosing to have a more stern and deliberate campaign than the improv-based, comedy-focused campaign I participated in on Sunday. It was interesting to see this dichotomy develop between the two separate campaigns; on the one hand, I loved having the chance to stretch my stuff in a serious story-line with actual implications to it, but on the other hand, it felt great to be loose a bit and explore the fantastical world that takes up my mind. Being a Dungeon Master is tough, but rewarding work! I love the opportunity to develop a campaign with my friends regardless, whether as a player or as a character taking part in the story. There’s so much value in having friends that are willing to role play and have fantastical experiences with. It helps me test my writing abilities while also hearing in a live setting how those abilities are manifesting.

It also provides me with an outlet for my creative writing. I don’t think that creative writing is just something that involves line breaks and stanzas in poetry; there are so many layers to being a creative writer, and preparing a Dungeons & Dragons campaign has to fit into one of them. It just so happens to also be a friendly activity, too.

My nose is feeling a bit stuffy, so I’m going to stop writing here for now. Perhaps I will return to write more of this later.

#14: The Fantastical

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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.