A few days ago I finished my “Thirteen Reasons Why” I love Eberron article, without knowing the theme for this month’s RPG Blog Carnival was precisely “For the Love of RPGs”. So I took it personally to write a more general piece.
In Dungeons & Dragons, identity is everything. By playing, we are allowed to define ourselves in epic terms about our perks and flaws. We can change who we are just by writing in a sheet of paper. Or tapping into an app, nowadays. We are offered a myriad of choices, starting with our race and our class: basically, what we were born with and what we decide to do with it.
I started with this issue because, hey, it’s June. It’s Pride Month. Enjoy.
When Fifth Edition came out with his now-famous paragraph about gender and sexuality, I realized why I loved the game so much: Because it never forbid what now explicitly allows.
“Think about how your character does or does not conform to the broader culture’s expectations of sex, gender, and sexual behaviour (…). You don’t need to be confined to binary notions.”
The rulebook goes on to give the example of elves and finishes with gender identity stating that “you could also play a female character who presents herself as a man, a man who feels trapped in a female body, or a bearded female dwarf who hates being mistaken for a male. Likewise, your character’s sexual orientation is for you to decide.”
I didn’t need the Player’s Handbook to tell me what my character could be or do outside combat. I had my DM for that. And that’s eventually the point that makes D&D what it is: the DM. I can’t fight real villains in the real life beyond protesting in a peaceful march, but in D&D I can gather power to overrule any tyrant. Overcoming challenges, team working and being creative is what lets you win. Everyone wins at the table when you share the goal. And a good DM gives you a shared goal. No one at the table cares if you’re gay.
A few years ago I read an article in The Huffington Post titled “How ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ Saved My Life”, where Levi Miles explains how they game helped him become “a confident, assertive and creative young man”. I loved that article as much as I love the game, and I realized the game was way more important for others than it was for me. After all, I treated it always as a hobby. But since I played for the first time almost 20 years ago, I have forged many friendships that have endured as many challenges as our characters have.
And that’s why I love RPGs. Because they are the catalyst for a coworker, colleague, classmate or acquaintance to become a friend. A true one at that.
This is a short article, but I don’t need thousands of words to express my love for RPGs. I just do.