It’s 2 in the morning so I’m going to ramble for a little bit about this fun little game called Dungeons & Dragons and why it matters so dearly to me. You might have already heard this from me before (especially if you follow me on twitter) but bear with me.

I’ve been playing DnD for a over decade now, though I’ve been familiar with it since I was kid growing up outside Lake Geneva, WI (it’s hard to avoid when that’s where the whole thing originated from). I had cousins who loved it but most of them were older boys who didn’t really care for a whiny girl to join (I can’t really argue against that – I was a pretty whiny brat).

When I was in college, I had a pretty rough time. Depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, rehab, the works – I was a mess. I was 20 years old when I was invited to join my first game (I’m 31 now for those counting). I didn’t care so much for the other players, nor did I really understand the rules, but I definitely understood the element of escapism. It was exactly what I needed at the time in my life. I loved being someone else. Someone stronger. Faster. Taller. Magical. Someone with much higher charisma than the awkward and insecure woman-child I felt like in real life. My relationship with DnD has changed a lot, but that feeling hasn’t. It’s still true.

I’ve grown a lot over the past ten years. My play style has definitely evolved. I try to push myself to be different types of people that I wouldn’t normally be: sexy, shy, ill-mannered, confident, nervous, loud, anything. It’s hard but I love that part of the challenge. (I had never played a barbarian until my husband suggested it to me a few years ago and now I’ve found it’s by far my favorite class – and the one most requested for me to play by friends.)

After playing this game for so long I’ve come to understand the technical aspects of it pretty well, but it’s the emotional elements of the game – the journey of the storytelling – that keep me at the table. The emotions from me, my characters, my friends – it brings us closer together. More real. The people I play DnD with have become the people I trust the most in my life. There’s something about RPGs that enable people to leave their walls behind and open up to each other. I find myself to be the most real version of me when I’m playing my fictional character.

January will mark 2 years since I became sick and have had to watch my own body begin to deteriorate around me. I lost my job, I lost some friends, I’ve lost most of my ability to walk. My day to day life has drastically changed from what it used to be. It has been the most trying time of my life. But every week I play this silly game with those I love and it keeps me going. I get to be someone who can run and jump and save people and hunt and protect and I get to be myself – silly and hopeful and relaxed – with my traveling companions in a made-up world all our own. This game has helped motivate me. Has kept me from giving up on my worst days.

I never expected 10 years ago to be so indebted to a tabletop game. But Dungeons & Dragons has saved my life on more than one account and I will forever be grateful. I play in 2-3 campaigns a week now and between doctor appointments and hospital visits, it’s what keeps me sane. Escapism isn’t always the healthiest coping mechanism but let me tell you, my therapist very much approves of it because it gets me to socialize, have fun, and reminds me of my own inner strength. She’s so into it that she’s even started doing her own research about the game and how it helps in psychology, especially with kids. One of the first things she always asks me in our sessions is “So how did DnD go this week?” She knows that’s the best way to get me to start talking. It’s a whole other world to her but she recognizes the mental care it gives me and encourages it.

Sometimes, like now, I just get really really emotional over DnD especially seeing how incredibly popular it’s gotten in the last few years. It’s wonderful. I’m thankful Jake got me back into Critical Role too because I’ve met so many new friends through it. This community has grown so much in the past decade it’s overwhelming but in a good sense. Almost all of my friends have at least heard of or seen a DnD campaign in progress or tried their hand at an RPG game, and it blows me away how inclusive and welcoming the world has become since I first began my DnD journey.

All of this is really just to say, thank you to all my friends and to the good folks at Wizards of the Coast for working so hard to make this little tabletop game the best thing in my life. I wouldn’t be the same person without it. Hell, I might not even be here at all. So thank you.

Animal Allies Oracle Cards by Jessica Swift

One of my fave pattern designers and painters is Jessica Swift (I’ve written about her before on this blog) and I happen to have four or five of prints hanging up around our house (plus I am a proud of her adorable rainboots). I’ve been a huge fan of her Animal Totem art since she first began them as daily art projects at the beginning of 2016 (you can read that story here) and I was ecstatic to learn a few months ago that she was turning those paintings into an oracle deck!

Suffice to say as soon as I got the email that the preorder was up I mashed that button so hard. And I’m stoked to tell you that I now hold the final product in my hands and I’m blown away by how perfect and just how accurately they represent everything I love about Jessica Swift and her work. Her work has always spoken to me and this deck has quickly become a daily motivation for me.

My favorite card (& painting) of course is the coyote, but each animal chosen for the deck has the potential to bring about change and inspiration to the every day. I’m so grateful that Jessica brought this beautiful product into existence. You can pick up your own Animal Allies Oracle Deck on her website!

Happy teN7 Day, Mass Effect Fans!

Happy N7 Day, friends! Or should I say, teN7 Day? Okay so I’m a few days late, but considering Bioware is making this a week-long celebration in honor of their Ten Year Anniversary, I’m still technically on time.

I don’t have much to say that I haven’t already said about these games. Did you know my wedding theme last year was Mass Effect? Or that these games got me through a really tough time? Or that my husband made me a custom Fem!Shep Funko? Yeah Mass Effect is such a big part of my life, I have it tattooed on my body. This month marks 3 years since I finished the original trilogy for the first time (and 3 years since I got that tattoo).

I definitely would not be the same person or be in the same place in life it wasn’t for Mass Effect. It literally changed my life. For good and for better. I’ve started a second playthrough of Andromeda but I’m filled with nostalgia. I think it’s time to return to where it all began. Shepard will always be my Commander.

If you have asked me in the past why I love Mass Effect so much, why this video game has changed my life, why I have the N7 insignia tattooed on my arm, I want you to watch this. Even if you don’t know anything about Mass Effect. This video conveys so much in a short amount of time why these games are so beloved and important to so many of us. Why we follow Commander Shepard, as human and flawed as she is, to the ends of the Universe and beyond.

“I think people keep coming back because it feels like home.”

The moment I heard that opening screen music from the first game, tears came to my eyes. It really is like coming back home again.

Samhain Blessings! The Wheel Keeps Turning.

Today I turn my thoughts to those who came before me and made the footsteps I follow in. I am grateful to my ancestors for the work they did to provide me with lessons that guide my moral compass on the path I now walk. Today the veil is thin between our worlds and I feel them closer than ever.

As the Sun God and Mother Earth fall asleep and the Dark Ones bring forth the longer nights, I am thankful for the things in my life that keep me moving forward, especially my friends. A new year approaches with new excitement, new obstacles, and new opportunities. Everything changes and this time of the year is a good reminder that nothing stays the same forever.

“To my ancestors
Who mark the path before me,
My breath is your breath.
My bones are your bones.
We are all relations.
I drink water for you.
I take in food for you.

Together we share the fire within.
Together we stand in the light.
The bright stars are what we are from
And the Dark of night is where we return.

Tonight I honor my ancestors
And celebrate the gift of remembrance.
Your blood runs in my veins,
Your spirit is in my heart,
Your memories are in my soul.
May your blessing be upon me.”

My soul speaks with the ones who have passed but my heart beats for the living who surround me. I spent last night with good friends to reflect with, good food to feast on, and the magic of bright fires in all of us. We had a Samhain fire before it rained and gave offerings to the flames, ate marshmallows, and feasted on good cold-weather food while playing a special Halloween DnD one-shot game (I was a werewolf barbarian who had a thing for black cats).

Blessed Samhain, my friends, and have a safe and happy Halloween! 🎃