“…You have to go to them sometimes.”
A note on timing: I wrote this in December and never posted it because I was in too much of a mental slump to proofread it.
Tonight is the finale of “Little Busters” the Tales from the Loop game I have been playing online.
I definitely knew I was going to get a little emotional at the end, and I was right. But I need to do a little backtracking first…
Tabletop Roleplaying Games and me!
When I was twelve I was already primed and ready to discover D&D. I had inhaled the Dragonlance books when I was 11, I would hide in the hayloft and read them when I was supposed to be doing farm chores… nobody was pleased with this.
My younger siblings and I were in the middle of a custody thing with my foster parents, and on the weekends we got shunted off to the grandparents where we would play Dungeons & Dragons. It was that set in the black box, so we had everything we needed to ignore the world and sit in the basement and play. When I think about that box, I can still smell the woodstove and the musty old encyclopedias we grabbed off the shelf for name ideas. As the oldest, I was, of course the DM. Naturally.
This little happy bubble of gaming was popped when I tried to play with people in my local high school. It was not a kind place for women, as I was identifying as at the time. I played a pixie rogue named Mosquito with an all male group, and it was a struggle sometimes, but I kept quiet and didn’t object, even when I was being objectified. I just wanted to play. Being docile was the only way. I regret not speaking up, but back then, how could I? I think my silent complacence probably led to a lot of those guys thinking their behavior towards women gamers was completely fine, and I regret my part in it.
Post high school I dabbled for a moment in 3rd edition, back in the safety of playing with my brothers, and eventually I was in a 4th edition game with some folks which had one of the best DM’s I have ever had to this day, but adult stress and scheduling got in the way, and it ended abruptly. I shrugged and gave up, resigning myself to finally being too old for D&D.
Six years later…
It was here, in this tabletop dry period where a friend suggested I check out Critical Role. “There is a lot to have to catch up on, but they are about to start a new campaign tonight!” So I shrugged, and settled in for a night of… watching other people *play* D&D?
I. Was. Floored.
Up on the screen was a bunch of adults, playing this game, having a great time, and they were all clearly my age, or thereabouts. Not only that, but there were a lot of women! And some of the characters seem like maybe they might be LGBT?! I was instantly in love. And I wanted back in. If they can play D&D, then I sure as heck can get back in. Why did I ever think I was too old?
The thing was, everyone around me varied from interested but too busy, to interested but could only play when I was at work, or some mix. I did get to play my first 5th ed game as a one shot at PAXeast 2018, which was great! I figured, “you know what, if I can just play a one shot here once a year, that will be enough. I will survive. It’s fine.” August rolled around, and puttering around on Twitter I saw a post that my pal Litza had retweeted by some fella named Gnomedic who was looking for people who wanted to play an online “Tales from the Loop” game. I replied that I was interested but a complete novice, and they both encouraged me to apply. So I did.
And that, of course, if you read the beginning of this, is history, as they say.
I joined the game, and made some amazing new friends. I was of course, terrified to try to roleplay with strangers, let alone knowing there would be other strangers watching, but Gnome, and Pro, and Kristine, and all the others made me feel so welcome, and their kindness gave me courage. The characters and the world crafted by everyone involved was so inspiring, it fueled my own creativity and led me to begin thinking I could DM again.
As chapter one closes tonight, I will take these friendships forward, some of them to other games, some of us continuing our journey into chapter two. And as I continue to branch out more in the online ttrpg community, I will never forget that it was the chance Gnome took on me to bring in a complete unknown, and the joy that it brought to my life that opened up this world to me. I have a lot of “firsts” in my roleplay experience, and this is another first I will never forget.
To: Gnome, Pro, Kristine, Michael, Djinnaya, Robbie, PB, Red, and Kenny, I will never forget our little weirdos. ❤