“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.” – Vincent van Gogh
At the radio station in which I work, my friends and I are building a group to play Dungeons & Dragons. About half of the group has played before and know the mechanics of the game well. The other half are completely new to the game.
I am part of the other half.
One of the people in our group, when they learned this, said something along the lines of, “Wait, you’ve never played before? But, you love fantasy! I’d have thought this game would be right up your alley.”
They’re right. This game is something that would fit perfectly with my love for storytelling and fantasy.
However, I actually couldn’t help but be embarrassed. How could I claim to be a fan of the fantasy genre without having ever played Dungeons & Dragons?
First off, I feel it’s the same way about being a “true” fan. You don’t have to know every single detail about something to be a “true” fan. You just have to strongly like the content. That’s literally the only requirement for being a fan. No need to be an expert.
With that said, I was still embarrassed.
The truth is I didn’t have many friends who had the same interests as I did when I was a kid, and that’s because I didn’t have many close friends to begin with. I’m an only child, so I lived a little bit of a sheltered life in the sense that I wasn’t always allowed to go out and play with other kids.
As I got older, this changed, of course, but I still struggle with having close relationships with friends, and Dungeons & Dragons isn’t a solo player game. I never had the chance to play until this year, when I found friends who were not only fans of the game but were patient enough to have someone who knows nothing about the game, like me, join them.
When I was younger, fantasy actually became my safe haven. I spent a lot of time daydreaming about fantastic lands and mythical creatures.
I played games where I could escape to completely new worlds, my favorite being World of Warcraft.
It’s funny, because when I started writing fantasy stories, I didn’t even know the genre was called fantasy at the time. I saved those stories in a folder called “Other” until I finally learned with some research that fantasy is the genre that I loved most.
The fantasy genre became my home, and I often envisioned myself as a lone traveler exploring fantasy worlds.
As van Gogh said, I feel as though I have a great hearth within me and beside it lies a book with all the adventures I want to tell. However, right now, I’m merely a small cottage off to the side that no one pays any attention to.
That’s ok. My fantasy stories have always been written for me, to put a smile on my face. Though my ultimate goal is to share these stories as an author, I’m ok with writing my daydreams down, even if the only person who reads them is me.
Everything fantasy-related has a special place in my heart, because it makes me happy.
So as I fill out my character sheet for my first D&D campaign, I am no longer embarrassed. I know that my journey within the fantasy genre began as a solitary one, but it is now evolving to one where I can share adventures and stories with friends.