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Column: You’re never too old to play pretend

Photo via Jade Sewell.

Prior to watching “Stranger Things” in 2016, I had never heard of tabletop gaming, or “Dungeons & Dragons” for that matter.

Even after finishing the show, I wasn’t quite sure if people still played the game.

I can’t say I was all too concerned by it; the gameplay I saw in the show was confusing and seemed much too difficult to bother learning.

If I did want to play, I had no idea where to start or what to do. As far as I knew, there was no way to play the game that would be practical, and I can’t say I cared all too much about it.

Until the first quarantine.

Over quarantine, I stumbled into a “D&D” Discord group filled with both green and seasoned “D&D” players. Though I was reluctant, my internet friend Savana convinced me to join.

My first campaign included a long-time dungeon master (DM), an experienced player and two other first-time players.

Though all of our games took place over Zoom, and coordinating time zones was an absolute pain, we managed to launch a successful campaign.

I had an incredible time generating a backstory and engaging with other players in character. I felt like a kid running around on the playground playing make believe again.

There are also unique elements to “D&D” that only a more mature audience can understand, such as developing a rich backstory, creating character motivations, understanding what the dice rolls mean and solving “complex” puzzles. But they certainly aren’t the barriers one might assume them to be.

Last month, I began my first in-person campaign, playing a druid named “Belle of Delphine” who is trying to decode a text in an ancient language lost to her druidic order.

Maybe it sounds like nerd stuff — I certainly avoided it at first because of that stigma — but I promise it’s a good time.

If you’re looking for a creative outlet, “D&D” is the ideal place to start. Whether you’re into extensive creative writing, art design, acting or performing, “D&D” has something to offer.

“D&D” has allowed me to rekindle a dormant part of my creative being that I hadn’t unlocked in quite some time. It has also allowed me a unique sense of camaraderie with the players in my party. You learn a lot about people by seeing who they want to pretend to be.

“D&D” has been my respite from the stress of college and student teaching, and the Thursdays I play are always the highlight of my week.

I certainly plan on continuing to play after college, and I encourage anyone seeking an artistic release to try their hand at this riveting and versatile game.

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