Michiana Chronicles: Roll 20

Jun 18, 2020

What in the world is going on in the world? Without reducing the gravity of the really important, painful truths we are working on together, may I invite you to step aside into escapist delights?  Let your mind wander, close your eyes if you aren’t driving and step into the woods.  As you walk along the sun dappled path, leaves crunch under your feet and the smell of damp earth fills your nostrils.  Birds twitter and a squirrel runs across the path.  Your senses tighten within the idyllic moment and you pause.  You release your canteen and survey the path ahead seeing nothing.  You unscrew the copper lid from the wine skin and tip it to your lips filling your mouth with coppery, metallic tasting liquid.  You cap the bag and as you return it to your belt you hear them. In the bushes up to the right there is a snort, a jingle from armor and you wave your hand for your party to stop.  You draw your bow and arrow knowing it is likely an Orc patrol. You should be able to dispatch them easily.  You are a fighter, the woman behind you a sorceress, the two dwarves behind her have been spoiling for an encounter.  The Elven Cleric will pray, and fight, and afterwards heal any wounds around the campfire or at the ubiquitous inn where it all begins.

Credit Heather Curlee-Novak

I am a perfectly normal, well mostly normal woman of a certain age, and for the first time in my life, I play Dungeons and Dragons.  It started when our tween daughter Portia spent more time in her room reading about dragons and warrior cats, and less with us.  We wanted a way to connect, to play together as she grew older and away from us.  I bought the Essentials and Beginners Kits as Christmas gifts for my husband. I was clueless about the game and wanted to have everything we could need to start.  I bought beautiful pewter figures from The Griffon in downtown South Bend.  I chose a pretty woman in a dress, someone with a bow pulled taut, a big guy in armor with a sword and a person with a walking stick and a tiger.  I had to have lots of help picking them out.  I now know they are a Sorceress or Cleric, a Ranger,  a Fighter and a Druid.  I have learned a lot of things since Christmas 2019!

At first we just read everything over and over.  I posted the words  “Dungeons & Dragons?” On my Facebook page, too embarrassed to elaborate. I only played one time in high school, but I knew playing admitted some things I wasn’t ready to say out loud. I’d hoped someone who played would respond and draw us in...and they did.  Michael and Marci embraced our spindly, tentative steps into D&D with the Mines of Phandelver adventure in the Beginners Kit.  Now my husband is “DM” (Dungeon Master) for “The Dragon of Icespire Peak” adventure.  He draws out maps for the figures, offers us lego structures for visual perspective in combat, and fights with me. We have disagreed several times about whether Vani Greenbottle, my Halfling Rogue character, has an athletics check high enough to climb the pole out of a pit.  SPOILER: She doesn’t. Part of the fun in the game, is that when you want to do something, you often have to roll a 20 sided dice to see if you will be successful.  The DM will decide and often tell colorful interpretations of what happened with your effort.  Roll 20 affects actions, combat and also your character’s ability to avid harm, sense trouble or discover secrets along the way.

I’ve since learned many fine folks play D&D.  They aren’t the 40 year olds living with their parents of legend.  They are professionals who need to escape for a few hours.  Parents wanting to grow and learn with their kids. Older people rekindling their love for storytelling.  D&D is showing up in TV and movies and have you watched Critical Role? Both of our daughters play and add such nuances to each character that playing together is a highlight of my week. We have bought more books and delved deeper into worlds away from our own.  We have bought  multiple pretty dice sets...for some reason you always want more.  #DiceDragon We have several dozen figurines, some pewter, some painted plastic.  They sit on the the door frame of our dining room so we can enjoy this new adventure all week. 

Our real world is hard right now.  It is filled with giants and dragons and evil that seems overwhelming.  Do the hard things first, and then allow yourself a break. Head to a game store. They will help connect you to a game or get you the supplies needed to escape for a few hours.  Sit down to a D&D game, close your eyes and travel to the forest...we could use your help battling these Orcs!

Music: "Forest Lullaby" by the Fiechters