Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I Play Dungeons & Dragons


Recently I've gotten back into playing Dungeons and Dragons. For those of you staring blankly at the screen, Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop fantasy role playing game. (Not the sexy kind, for you random perverts who may have accidentally wandered on to my blog...an actual turn-taking, dice-rolling type of game.) Each person plays a specific character with different abilities, personalities, races, and classes/jobs. Another person is the Dungeon Master (DM) and they are basically the storyteller, other characters or bad guys, and the referee/rule keeper.

My first introduction to D&D was as a young child. My Dad started out playing the original game with friends and family and when I was old enough, I went along with him. I poured over my his manuals and papers - especially the Monster Manual - and the game really intrigued me. I mainly watched, but occasionally played a monster or sidekick. When I was in High School, D&D became popular again amongst my group of geeky-minded friends. However, many of them became so concerned with the rules and legalities that it no longer became fun. I drifted away from it and basically forgot about D&D until some of my cousins started playing at a local library group. I couldn't join them since they meet during the week (and it's quite a drive) so another one of my cousins and I started talking about starting up our own little group within our family. I have four cousins who play, along with my Dad who DMs. (Hopefully I will eventually be able to DM as well...I just have to find some time to do some more studying and brushing up on my skills.)

So why do I play? I've had several people tell me recently that they can't believe that I as a mother and wife would be such a "geek." (They obviously do not know me very well. I have a whole section of posts on here related to the subject of geekery.) They cannot understand why I'd want to sit around for hours playing a game where you just roll dice and make up stories. I think they don't realize that D&D is a lot more than that, at least to me:

  • Dungeons and Dragons requires imagination. Your characters are explorers in a relatively unknown world, who get to go on fantastic adventures. You meet strange and sometimes scary creatures. Yes, we are sitting at a table, rolling dice, writing things down, looking at books or pictures...but we're also imagining those worlds and creatures in our mind's eye. We're discussing what we would do in that situation, given our resources. We get to make choices based on those and see what happens. 
  • In addition to requiring imagination, D&D also requires that you play a part, or act. Your character is going to have certain abilities or weaknesses and you get to act out what they do accordingly. You also learn to expect the unexpected. The character I've been playing recently is a rogue, or thief. She's pretty dexterous and nimble, but the dice aren't always in agreement. Upon sneaking through a castle, my rogue decided to quietly sneak into a room. I rolled a critical failure (i.e. a ONE) and ended up blowing the door open, somersaulting into the room, and alerting everyone in there to my presence. Not quite as stealthy as I had planned....
  • Throughout the game you get to solve problems, puzzles, or riddles. The quest you're on may require you to get information from someone, follow a map, or find a hidden treasure or tower. You may come up upon a trap and have to figure out how to get around it or through it. Or you have to figure out how to outsmart or out-move a creature blocking your path. You also learn battle/combat strategy - how you can use your abilities best, help out your fellow comrades, or how to overcome your weaknesses.
  • My cousins are getting older and although we all grew up basically within blocks of each other, we're spread out more now. We all have our own families, responsibilities, and activities so we don't get to see each all that much, sometimes only at holidays. This is a wonderful time for us to get together, visit with one another, and have fun.
  • The "have fun" part I mentioned? Yeah, we have a lot of that. We laugh, develop inside jokes, sometimes do completely off the wall things, and just enjoy playing the game together. After we got home from playing at my parents house one time, I was having this horrible pain in my stomach. I realized that part of it was probably from the seventeen cans of pop I consumed (a slight exaggeration), the pizza, the pretzels, the chips, the cake, and seven hundred cookies. (Probably not an exaggeration on that last one, though....) But it didn't feel like that type of pain really. I finally realized it was from laughing! Seriously...I pulled a muscle, laughing!
  • My eldest son has started playing with us. I like having him join in because it reminds me of me as a little kid. He doesn't get it completely but I love his enthusiasm. He's already a pretty imaginative kid and he really enjoys being with the "big kids" and getting to play along. I'd rather him sit and play with us and use his imagination rather than mindlessly sit in front of a television set.
Anyway, D&D is something that's not for everyone of course. But I hope this helps to explain why I enjoy playing it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Finding God at the Kitchen Sink


I recently finished reading a book called "Finding God at the Kitchen Sink - Search for Glory in the Everyday Grime" by Maggie Paulus. It was a quick read for me, full of pictures and heartfelt stories from a fellow mom and wife. Here's a bit more about the book and it's author:
Reminiscent of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, Finding God at the Kitchen Sink is a collection of reflections, written for those who long for solace in the middle of chaos and those looking for grace in a fallen, confusing and disorderly world. Maggie writes about seeking God and finding Him everywhere, in His creation, in His Word, in relationships and in the details of everyday life. Her gut-honest perspective helps us see that God shows up even where we least expect Him, in the pain and ache of life. Interspersed amongst the written reflections are Maggie’s own pictures, which serve as visual reflections.
Maggie Paulus is a beauty seeker. She looks for God each day in His Word, in creation, in the people He has given her, in the ache of life, in the humdrum—at the kitchen sink—everywhere! Maggie lives in Michigan with her bearded husband, three rambunctious kids, and one cat. When Maggie’s not capturing life in words and photos, you’ll find her digging in the dirt, eating chocolate, prank calling, and garage sale-ing with her family. Maggie loves God and people, and wants to love them more. Learn more at www.maggiepaulus.com
While reading this I felt like I was reading a dear friend's blog. I read it a little bit each night. After I put the kids to bed, I spend time working on the house, lesson planning, and other tasks until finally collapsing into my bed. Upon collapsing - okay, I don't collapse every night...but quite a lot of them - I'd read a bit before turning out the light. What a great inspiration it was before falling asleep! Maggie writes about normal things - taking care of her kids, washing the sink, walking on the treadmill, her son bumping his head - but she reveals magnificent things about them. Sprinkled liberally throughout is scripture and prayer that gets to the heart of the lesson she's learned or something that God has revealed to her. The pictures that fill the pages look a lot like ones I would take of my children and home life. I'd recommend this book to all my mom friends and suggest to them to take an afternoon or evening when the kids are occupied, curl up with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee, and enjoy reading about making the everyday extraordinary.

If you're interested in reading an excerpt from Maggie's book, please visit her website. You can find links there to purchase the book through Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, or Moody Publishers. You'll also find her blog posts about finding glory in the grime, social media links to follow her elsewhere, and a free download to decorate your home!

Moody Publishers is giving me the opportunity to give away a copy of Maggie's book to a reader! If you'd like to enter to win a copy, please check out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck! (Giveaway opens at midnight)
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