“D&D,” by Jaimen Shires

Apr 28th, 2021 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

I played in a D&D campaign, once, as a teen. It didn’t go well. Dungeons and Dragons? It was mainly drinks and drugs. I don’t think we made it to any dungeons and I’m certain there was never a dragon.

I played a dwarf/thief hybrid, which I thought was a cool combo at the time but was informed (once it was too late to reconsider) that dwarves make the worst thieves. Why? Short and clumsy, with fat sausage fingers that are terrible for lock-picking. Right. Oh well, it’s just a game. Crack another beer, light another toke.

We stopped through a hobbit town and one of us quickly remarked that the Shire was known to have the finest of smoke, so we asked if it was possible to purchase some. It was. We bought a pound each. Imaginary weed felt better than imaginary gold pieces. It was an easy purchase. We quickly rolled dice to see how fat the joints were that we were rolling and our DM reluctantly kept track of how intoxicated our characters were getting while reminding us that we had received a hint from a hobbit about a treasure outside of town.

“Who needs treasure? Does this town have a pub?”

He informed us that it did. We went and drank imaginary mead until we were cut-off and everyone’s characters stumbled out of the pub except for mine, who could handle much more booze.

At this point, I felt like I was winning. I was the only member of the party (besides our DM) who could still hold their weapon with skill and confidence. This was about when we noticed the time – the actual time – and became worried we’d miss the real beer store before last call.

The game was put on pause while one of us offered to drive more more refreshments. We handed him our real-life money and he headed out the door. The rest of us rolled more real weed and were intending to smoke it when we heard the loud crash out front.

A car accident. Well, kinda.

Our party member managed to smash into the parked truck of the DM while attempting to drunkenly pull out of the driveway. Both vehicles were damaged. We missed last call. Our campaign abruptly ended.

It was a fun night, though. I received a small glimpse into a world which I definitely didn’t take serious enough at the time. The DM had one of those massive, five-gallon glass jars filled right to the rim with various sized and shaped dice of every colour of the rainbow and dozens in between. He had charts and graphs and spreadsheets and maps and a secret book which held the meat of this beautiful campaign he had written out. A campaign that we never got to see beyond a small little hobbit town with cheap weed, an inviting pub that served some potent mead.

I never did get to test my dwarf/thief in action. Never swung my imaginary axe, never picked an imaginary lock. We called a cab, and had it drive us all home to sober up.

So, yeah. I played once, but I really didn’t play. We wandered from the written path and paid no attention to the story that was laid out intricately before us. At the same time, that’s not entirely our fault. We were truly children in this new and fascinating world, staring around in marvel as we asked if something existed before our eyes and were told by this god across the table that yes, the thing we imagined was truly there, and we could interact with it.

Maybe someday I’ll try again, but I’ll still drink and smoke if I do. At least I won’t be such a child in the future, and I’ll treat the DM with the respect they deserve. Dungeon Masters wield delicate worlds and allow others to walk through them with weapons capable of destroying everything, in more ways than one.

I’m sure he ended up playing that campaign with other party members and I imagine it went off swimmingly. At least I should hope so, because DMs really do deserve respect for their craft. They are writers, they are world-builders, and then they act as active guides through these worlds they create. Worlds which only unfurl into their true splendour by venturing deeper within them, with the help of unpredictable companions. What’s not to like about that?


Jaimen Shires is a Canadian author, born and raised in Leamington, Ontario. He has released two books, Vote Bob and Bird Droppings. The first is the opening novel in a series titled The Fiending of the Masses, while the second is a collection of observational anecdotes about birds. Jaimen’s work has been featured in a small handful of publications and his poetry has been recognized by the City of Maple Ridge, where he currently resides. At the moment, he is working on the follow-up to Vote Bob, as well as preparing a collection of poetry for release.

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