Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The ever-evolving opinions of society have made me more secure when talking about my love for fantasy books and Dungeons & Dragons in particular.

This week for Insecure Writer's Support Group, I want to talk about how writing and reading has changed for me over the years. Specifically, I used to be insecure talking about how I liked writing and reading things that were considered trash. But I don't feel this way anymore. I feel like it's okay to admit to reading comic books, reading fantasy novels, and writing trash of my own. In fact, my own tastes toward writing and reading has become so mainstream that in a way, I'm not weird anymore.

In my youth, being a nerd wasn't a good thing. If you were a nerd, you stood a good chance at getting taped to a pole, ridiculed for reading fantasy books instead of things that were considered intellectual like the Scarlet Letter or anything that Hemmingway wrote. And yeah, playing games like Dungeons & Dragons branded you as a Satan worshiper. You just didn't talk about it if you wanted to keep your books (some parents who found out their kid played D&D would throw their books in the trash or burn them). Others would simply punish them, keep them from hanging out with "bad influences," and increase the amount of time their children spent doing church activities.
This headline and news article is pretty typical of the way people thought of
my hobby when I was a young man. So my friends and I never really discussed
it except among those that we actually knew also enjoyed the game. I want to
say though that I think it was D&D that influenced me to write. I made all of
these characters and used short stories to kind of tell their lives. Did it stunt my
growth? I have no idea. Maybe it did. Maybe if I'd focused on other things I'd
have some great occupation these days and be a world-renowned surgeon. But
it is what it is, and I identify as a nerd and accept that. It's who I am.
That being said, I recently got back into playing Dungeons & Dragons. I used to play it about ten years ago and then quit. With the release of Fifth Edition from parent company Wizards of the Coast I figured that now was as good a time as any to learn the new system and see how much things had changed since the last time I played. I gotta say, I've been having a really good time and as a bonus, I've been making some new friends that are fellow nerds/geeks. This is always good as it's more difficult to make friends as one gets older.

Last night, the new R.A. Salvatore book that accompanies the release of the "Rage of Demons" storyline got released (it's called Archmage), and I downloaded it onto my iPad to read. This book comes along at just the right time for me, what with my renewed interest in fantasy tabletop games and all things "dark elf."

The gist of the story is that in the Forgotten Realms (the fantasy setting for Dungeons & Dragons) all of the communication that transpires between the underdark and those living on the surface suddenly goes quiet. Of particular interest is a drow city by the name of Menzoberranzan: a place that's huge by medieval standards and even more compelling because it's miles underground. As one of the greatest drow cities (that's the race of the dark elves), the overwhelming silence and disappearance of merchants that travel the highways of the underdark is troubling.
This is an artist rendering of the drow city Menzobberanzan.
What basically happened is that a spell cast by one of the most powerful wizards in the city went awry. Intended to seal the power of the drow for good, the spell instead opened a permanent portal to the Abyss, an alternate dimension where the most powerful demons in the mythology happen to reside. So naturally, all of these demons poured through the opening and into this dark elf city.

The cover of the module (to be released later this month) called "Out of the Abyss" (and released in conjunction with Mr. Salvatore's first novel in a brand new trilogy detailing the events I'm telling you about here in this post) features a creature called Demogorgon, a.k.a., the prince of demons. He's a two headed monstrosity that towers some twenty feet tall; the cover illustration shows him tearing down the many structures of Menzoberranzan like they were toothpicks.
This is Demogorgon tearing down the walls and turrets of Menzoberranzan
It's exciting especially considering how powerful and evil the drow actually are as a race. For them to be confronted with something that's even mightier (and possibly more evil) rings of poetic justice. But it could also mean apocalypse for those who call the surface home. I mean, once Demogorgon and his cronies finish the drow off, what's to stop them from pouring out onto the surface world and wreaking havok there? It's just the kind of excitement I was looking for, and it's refreshing that I can feel so comfortable sharing it with you without the feeling of being judged. So yeah that's what I'll be reading this week. :)

I'm glad that I live in the time of evolving opinions. It makes bearing one's true self to society so much easier. And thus, I suppose, it is just another example of how a once insecurity becomes a security once broad acceptance of one's differences is achieved. 


  1. I didn't understand any of that. Nerrrrrrrrrd!!!!

  2. I understand, as I've spent hundreds of hours play D&D. There was a group of us at school that always got together to play. (We were already band geeks, so it didn't matter how much geekier we got.) And my wife and I played with friends for many years. Forgotten Realms put out some great modules. Although I think our friends preferred playing the ones from Ravenloft better.

    1. Ravenloft! I loved those adventures, however, they were really really mean. So many total party kills...

  3. I do not understand why people would think that imagination could be trash.

    In India, most of the Hindu Mythology books seem like they are made up of stories that could interest only children. Yet people who believe in Hinduism take those books very seriously and they believe that each event actually happened long long time ago. To an outsider they seem improbable and imaginary but to the believers they are very real happenings that actually took place.
    Dungeons and Dragons game does seem very involved and in detail but if teenagers and even adults are enjoying the game, more fun for them.

  4. You hit on something profound here. I think it's nice that many of us can fully embrace the things we like. And technology makes it easy to share our love of the stuff we're into and find others with common interests.

    That Demogorgon is BAD ASS, by the way.

  5. I have the worst of both worlds. When I write that my first novel was based on my love of D&D I figure I lose a bunch of potential readers right there, and then when I say that I did it because I didn't like any of the official D&D novels, I figure I lose more who really do like Drizzt and the rest of them!

  6. I've always wanted to play D&D and never have. I have to find a local group me thinks.

  7. There was as time when my love of art and history set me aside from the popular kids. But now I don't worry about it. The nerds are now running things.

  8. I love how geek has become chic. Just saw a kid today wearing a Harry Potter T-shirt and had a bunch of fantasy-themed stuff on his desk. I guess it's just a matter of finding one's tribe.

  9. Geeks and nerds are just people who blossom early. And if fantasy is trash, then why are books like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, etc. now considered classics? But now times are changing and all kinds of genres are being accepted, and that's good.

  10. Every generation has something that parents associate as "evil" and inappropriate. Nerds have become so popular now they are practically normal people, lol. Times change, and we hope people change too.