I never really got into Tabletop Role-Playing- in fact I didn’t want to. Then over the course of a single year, not only did I realise that they were right up my alley, but I decided to make one. Welcome to my multipart series.
So...we’re all familiar with nerd stereotypes, right? Like, derogatory stereotypes. There’s always a few staples- basement, videogames, comic books, and D&D. Over the years, many of those got chipped away and brought into the mainstream (allowing me to keep saying, “I’m not a Nerd!”) but D&D stayed there. It never crossed that threshold for me.
In fact, a few years ago I was speaking to this guy, an acquaintance at best. We were joking around, making pop culture references, and just all around having a good time. Eventually, he’s like “You should play D&D with me & my buddies some time.” ...and I looked at him like an evangelical being told the existence of porn wasn’t a sign of impending apocalypse- by their own pastor. He continued, “Seriously, it’s just me and some buddies. We get some booze, a little smoke, and sit around cracking jokes, making pop culture references, and playing D&D. It’s a real good time.”
I looked at him quizzically and said, “I mean, it sounds kinda dope. If it wasn’t for the super nerd shit at the center.” This was his turn to become the dismissive skeptic.
“Dude, you literally just made a reference to Batman, DBZ, and Metal Gear in like, a single sentence. You ARE a nerd.”
I didn’t realise it at the time, but he just put a huge crack in the wall of Lies-I-Tell-Me. I shoulda stayed in contact.
So fast forward to 2016. Remember 2016? There was a singular event that occurred that year. One that seemed to potentially hold ramifications for the future. Something that, despite how important it was here Stateside, was examined by the whole world as well. 2016 managed to polarize conversations online immediately afterward. In fact, it’s hard to remember anything else that occurred that year.
Of course, I’m talking about Stranger Things. The first season released in July and- for anybody who *isn’t* familiar with “Nostalgia: The Series”- it heavily featured Dungeons & Dragons. Despite being set in the crescendo of America’s “Satanic Panic” era, D&D was shown as just another type of entertainment in the show, like video games or movies.
I’m sure that it didn’t phase many people, but I grew up in the second wave of evangelical panic. I had to hide the worst parts of my favorite Hip-Hop and video games, and missed out completely on the “witchcraft” of Harry Potter. So to see these kids playing a structured make-believe was shocking, even though I was a 26 year old adult.
Around the same time, I was enjoying a YouTube channel that spun off from CollegeHumor called Drawfee. They had recently begun their own D&D variant called Drawga, and you can watch that here:
So I finished out the year with some misconceptions shattered and some curiosity beginning to blossom.
I think that’s about where I’ll stop this first part. It’s pretty long already, and the next bit is meaty too. So yeah, that’s me. That’s my lack of TRPG knowledge, and my first inkling to learn more. Next week, I’ll talk about how I got into D&D, where I got the idea to make one, and dipping my toes for the first time into a real game.
Feel free to leave a comment talking about TRPGs (including your favorite games, media, etc) or just to berate me. I hope to see you in the subsequent parts.