The greatest fantasy worlds aren’t the ones we read in a book, or watch on the screen, they are the ones we create with our friends. There is no better escape from the mundane responsibilities of adulthood than to embark upon an epic journey of magic, mayhem and self discovery with some of the greatest minds you’ve ever known. Why watch someone else’s fictional characters experience the pains and joys of such wonderful worlds when you yourself can embody one of your own and create an amazing wealth of memories and experiences with your friends and family from the safety of your own home.
I always knew the fantasy worlds we built together through tabletop RPGs were special, but I could never have anticipated just how important having that safe space for self discovery and connection would be when the dreaded Covid 19 virus came knocking at all of our doors. As the virus took hold, dismantling lifestyles around the globe and stripping people of their ability to share in bold new adventures or even simple events with their loved ones, my friends and I have been fortunate enough to have a world of our own to enjoy together. Despite the lockdowns and the upheaval to all that is normal, our little band of adventurers have been able to continue making ever-cherished memories together in this fantasy world of our creation. We see each other weekly, sometimes more, have genuine experiences as we bring magic and connection back into our lives, over and over again.
How many of you can say you stormed a castle this week with your closest allies? How many were met with the majesty of a celestial wooly rhino or embarked upon a rescue mission to save an overly curious friend from almost certain death? How many can say they celebrated with hundreds of people under moonlight as spirit creatures danced around them?
We have been able to share in so many wonderful experiences, always safe from risks of what others like to call the real world. To help you get just a taste of the fantasy world of tabletop RPGs, let me share, with you, some memories my friends and I have forged together.
The Mind of a Monster
The oni stands over the cowering peasant as our adventurers watch anxiously, undeniably aware of the fact that if they act their cover here will be blown and the location of the heiress will become known to all those hunting her. As the oni pulls back his jagged blade with an evil grin, Avery releases a silent spell on impulse, a spell to capture the giant creature’s mind. She feels him struggle against the mental cage she has built for him and hears his fists clanging against the bars within her private mindscape as his physical form freezes in place. The oni lowers his weapons and laughs, leading the others in his group away, all the while screaming wildly within her mind. The peasant is safe for now, but as the others in the group share a knowing glance the mutual discomfort sets in. After all, how long can this mental fortress truly hold the beast?
The tiny assassin floats silently into the chamber, invisible, ethereal and entirely undetectable. Her allies hide in the wings, prepared for any misstep. The slightest error could mean an all out war with the ancient beast. As her blade pierces the dragon’s skull with expert precision, one thing is certain. Never, not for even the briefest of moments, had the dragon believed he could be slain here in the centre of his lair, surrounded by countless rooms filled with warriors trained and raised to serve him alone. His final thought as the point pierced his brain was a single question, ‘How?’
End of the World
When all the world seems to be filled with undead beings and fearful creatures of the night... When the blood stains the town square and brother turns on brother... When the screams of tortured souls cry out from within the long closed down prison...What better way to pass the time than to throw the biggest party this town has ever seen? Magical fireworks and flashing lights fill the space as an unknown band of talented musicians take the stage. With mead plenty and a dire need for laughter and frivolity in such trying times, the event seemingly goes off without a hitch. Any problems they miss will surely be revealed tomorrow, but for now the mystically moving tattoos from our tricky and talented tattoo artist will be the greatest source of scandal. Distant admirers become lovers, an awkward young man finds himself dancing the night away with a boisterous young woman, and everyone shares in one night, just one night free from the pain they had come to know all too well.
There are, of course, countless more memories we have created and shared together in this fantasy place I call home. Thank you to those who designed the means for us to adventure in this way, even in the darkest days of lockdown, and thank you to all of the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to explore these worlds with.