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Dungeons and Dragons Soup for the Soul

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Written by Jasey “you all meet in a tavern” Roberts 

The truth is, historically, I’ve always hated “high” fantasy. The fantasy I’ve enjoyed has always had a dose of contemporary flair: the lasers and spaceships in Star Wars, the modern setting and clothing in Harry Potter, but never the vanilla swords and sorcery of, say, The Lord of the Rings. Elves and dwarves and councils have always made my eyes glaze over.  

But recently, for whatever reason, I’ve become super into all of these things. One morning when the seasonal depression was beginning to set in especially hard, I was standing in my kitchen in my boxers, spreading Nutella on rice cakes and eating them over my trash can, I got a sudden urge to tell Alexa to play “Concerning Hobbits”. I listened, my face scrunching, and eventually, put my hazelnut-spread covered hands over my face and wept.  

This is how I began my slow descent into neckbeard-dom. (And this is not to imply that liking fantasy makes you a neckbeard, but it is meant to imply that if you’ve grown a literal neckbeard as I have, then that makes you a neckbeard.) It began with me watching all of The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time in a decade, crying, reading the books, crying again, and then picking up the Dungeons and Dragons core rulebook so I could create my own epic setting, a la Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  

If you aren’t in the know, Dungeons and Dragons, more popularly known as “the game the kids from Stranger Things play,” is a tabletop role-playing game. Kind of like Pokemon or Skyrim or World of Warcraft or any other RPG you might’ve heard of, only instead of being a video game it’s a game that is played with rulebooks, paper, pencil, and special dice. There are player characters who go on fun adventures, and then there are players called “dungeon masters” who create the game world and all of the non-player characters who inhabit it. For the most part the “dungeon masters” act as referees and tell the other players whether their actions succeed or fail.  

 This is where my interest in fantasy began to delve into an obsession. Instead of paying attention in class or doing my homework, I would open OneNote and write lore for Carthrage, the setting of my D&D campaign. Carthrage is primarily inspired by Arthurian legend, medieval poetry, and other useless things I learned about as a Lits major. There are magic lakes, swords in stones, pasty villagers with bad British accents, and evildoers who say “thou” a lot. It’s a Dungeons and Dragons soup of sorts, with lots of borrowed elements from different fantasy worlds.  

Carthrage will never become a playable campaign though, mostly for two reasons. The first being I’m attempting this project on too large a scale. The island of Carthrage has a population of around 1 million, with around 16 different towns/settlements. This complicates things when I attempt to come up with my seventh tavern name for the city of Waterford, and the names of each of the members of the family who run it.  

The second complication being you need friends to play D&D. The core rulebook has no parameters on how to achieve this step, but if anyone has any suggestions, my ears are open.