Sunday, July 06, 2008


Speaking of warriors, princesses and sorceresses. . . I played Dungeons and Dragons this week for the first time in 6 or 7 years.

It was fantastic.

I told the story before about meeting Joshua on the El and inviting myself over to his house to play. I've also told you before about learning to play D&D with my ex-husband and his friends.

So, Monday night, I drove out to Joshua's house, which was a little bungalow that has been entirely given over to gaming. Every wall was covered in D&D maps, white boards or shelves to display miniatures and action figures. Book shelves were everywhere and stuffed with rule books. The most amazing part of the decor was that the giant dining room table had a gingham table cloth that had perfect 1 inch squares so that once the clear plastic sheet was laid over it, it could be written on with overhead markers. So, Joshua could draw the landscape of certain settings if we were going to be fighting and we could put our miniatures in perfectly scaled relationships to each other and to the savage mutant monkeys that were attacking us.

Their roommate is a minor local celebrity. At least, when I tell people that he does the Weird Chicago Tours, my friends say, "Oh yeah!" in recognition. He's kind of cute. I wonder in the fact that he's a professional psychic and ghost hunter puts him out of the running.

The group was Joshua, his wife, Scott and Darrin. All four were, as my dad says, straight out of Central Casting. Darrin was a big bearish oaf of a guy who smiled the whole time. He dropped his giant gym bag full of rule books and jumped in immediately to help me put the finishing touches on my character, laughing at my jokes and enjoying my slightly abrasive retorts. Scott looked a little like Steve Buscemi and had a giant red velvet drawstring pouch to hold all of his paraphenalia.

I loved it. It was like coming home.

I mean, I made my own dice bag for the occasion. If you click on the picture, you'll notice that the bag is lined with flannel to give it the appropriate-looking heft and that it was designed to fit my mechanical pencil, my halfling miniature and the plethora of dice I bought that morning at Gamer's Paradise, having discovered that my ex-husband got ALL the dice in the divorce.

This group plays a little differently than what I am used to. They focus less on storytelling and character development and play it more like a computer game, calculating strategically what choices they should make about the character now so that later, it can increase in levels in the most efficient way. Almost like getting experience points and being the most powerful you could possibly be was like crack. That will make it less fun for me in the long run, but they responded well when I said that I wasn't going to do what they were encouraging me to do because it wasn't in my character's nature.

It feels good to be expanding the foundation of people that I am friendly with. Even if the number of people that feel close enough to be totally myself with remains small, I might soon have a wide enough base of a variety of personalities that I will always have someone availalbe to match the individual facets of myself that I want to be at any given moment. You know, like my nature is a 20-sided die and only one side of it can ever be facing up at one time.

And, as that network is being built, I'll be having fun killing savage mutant monkeys and hearing other nerds like me laugh at my jokes.

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