Thoughts from series writer/creator James Rodehaver
Walking In Circles is all about Dungeons and Dragons. Sure, I would like it to be accessible to everyone, but the sun around which it all revolves is a big fat 20 sided die. I can’t help it. It’s ingrained in me. It helped shape me.
When I was very young, I would watch my Dad play with his friends and I was completely enthralled. I would go through the rulebooks and roll up characters and absorb as much information as I possibly could about being a badass monster slayer until my Dad finally bought me the starter set. He ran a series of beginner adventures for my sister, a friend of mine named Tiffany, and me. There were premade characters for each of the basic classes and I chose Morganth The Mysterious. He was a wizard, which means his stats were mostly garbage and an angry house cat was a serious health concern; but he has Magic Missile and other classes don’t, so how is this even a decision?
So, we roll through some scrub dungeons and we get to kill some monsters and find treasure and save "The Town." It was so cool. There are people on this Earth that will tell you it is the exact opposite of cool to sit down with a bag of dice and pretend to be a wizard who kills monsters on a grid using a spread sheet of stats to determine the outcome of your actions. These people are so stupid. I’m not saying D&D is for everyone, but people who hate on it are just fools.
That was all the Dungeons and Dragons I got to play for a while because there is only so far the beginner box can take you and even though I was hooked, my sister and Tiffany didn’t get into it as much as I did. It wasn’t until high school that the game really changed my life.
One night I was in my room reading a book, like you do, when my Dad came in and told me he was starting a new game. He needed an extra player, and was there any chance I wanted to play?
YES! SWEET JESUS ABOVE YES ME ME ME ME ME! You better believe I even had a character all ready to go for just this very moment. This time, I would be playing a fighter/wizard because Magic Missile AND a sword.
For the most part I was a cliché nerd. Not so athletic, really shy, very quiet, thin and bony. I wanted everyone’s gaze to just pass over me without noticing, because I was fairly convinced that if I was noticed the outcome would be dreadful. I worked so hard to stay under the radar that when someone outside my tight circle of friends knew my name I was totally baffled and wondered what I’d done wrong. Dungeons and Dragons was different. I sat amongst adults, made decisions, voiced opinions. As Morwyn the fighter/wizard I rushed into a burning building to save a child and was almost assassinated by the fiends who set the house ablaze. I slid across an icy land bridge past a group of hungry yetis to gain access to an ancient temple. I stood against the forces of evil and shoulder to shoulder with other heroes who respected me and treated me as an equal. I wasn’t just a shy, awkward kid, I was One of Them.
I have to give a lot of credit to my Dad and his friends. I was just a teenager, they were in their thirties, I had very little experience playing and they had been at it for decades. Never-the-less, they accepted me with such ease that from the moment I sat down I felt like a part of the team. We saved the world together.
Some fathers take their sons to baseball games, and they bond over home runs and hot dogs. My Dad took me to role playing games, and we bonded over hit dice and hobgoblins. So, when I write about Krag, Markus, Garand, Angie, and Alex, I’m always thinking of Jeff, Darla, John, Brenda, Jim, and my Dad. They all gave me something I so desperately needed in those weird, turbulent years of adolescence, and I will never forget that.