Tag: team telenovela

Gothmatum: A Thin Dark Veil

A journal entry for Gothmatum Baenre.

I am aware that, as long as my life can be and as much as I may discover, there are some things I may never understand.

For example: necromancers tend to fancy themselves “masters of death”, then give themselves over to curses such as lichdom and vampirism.

They lie to themselves.

These are states of undeath. They are born of a fear of death, not mastery. Those who seek such states retreat to remote, dark places. Crypts and foreboding castles are the order of the day for these so-called “masters of death.”

Cowards and fools, to a one.

Life and death are separated by a thin, dark veil. Those who live can see death. When she comes, the living can run from her, try fight against her, or reach out to touch her. She has no master. She simply is. She lingers on her side of the veil, patient and eternal. She cannot be wielded like a sword or staff, but she can be understood.

That is my goal. Not to master death, but to understand her.

The nature of the veil is of greatest mystery to the living. Those who cross it are never the same, should they return. Souls are carried to other realms, other planes, or simply are lost forever. How does the transition work? Is there a mechanism somewhere in the cosmic clockwork of the planes? Or is it truly a duty of a psychopomp to take the soul by the hand and guide it to its destination? The nature of the veil — what scholar who truly wishes to understand death would not make that their primary focus?

This is the goal to which I have dedicated myself. Many who claim the title of necromancer merely wish to dominate others with their animated corpses and fearsome spells that bring death. But do not evokers also bring death with fire and lightning? What of those illusionists who fool others into thinking that ravine is solid ground. No — true necromancy lies in studying the veil between life and death. Seeking to understand it. Maybe, for just a moment, penetrating it.

I have spoken to one who has crossed that veil in both directions. He claims his soul went directly from Mount Celestia and back with no stops between. Does he merely not remember the journey? Is the veil both thin as a razor and infinite as the void? These are the questions to which I seek answers, not “how do I cheat death” or “in what way can I extend my life until it is the thinnest of threads linked to a shambling corpse that plays at still being a wizard”?

The paths to the answers are dark. There will be false turns and pitfalls into roiling seas of madness. But I will find those answers. I will negotiate those turns, avoid those pitfalls. I have seen Death with my own two eyes. Now, I shall find ways to understand her.

That, in my mind, is true necromancy.

D&D Matters

I’m really glad I started playing Dungeons & Dragons again.

It’s taken me the better part of a year to feel comfortable going out-of-doors again. I was walking around like a man with my skin peeled off, and the fresh air and particulates of the outside world stung like a son-of-a-bitch. I had to take that time, in a place of safety and solitude, to reacquaint myself with myself. Take a good long look in the mirror. Start fixing some shit. Get better.

Then I started going out to watch soccer matches again, and I made a friend.

She noticed my d20 ring, a souvenir of days gone by that has only the meaning I’ve given it. No other associations, no bad memories. Just a spinning random number generator for rolling skill checks in the real world. We got to talking about D&D. And she mentioned a game she was in on Monday nights. Without knowing what I was doing or why, I jumped at the chance.

Then I got nervous.

You see, I might have gone a bit too far the other way in correcting myself. I was a little hyper-vigilant. I had trouble trusting my instincts. Here was a smart, lovely, challenging person who saw in me enough value and goodness to invite me into another part of her life, and I was asking myself a bunch of questions — do I have the right reasons for doing this? Am I going to be an invasive presence? Will I get along with everyone? Should I be scared?

In order: yes, no, yes, and no.

My partner told me so. A few times. I can be a little thick-headed; it’s an aspect of myself I’ve had since I was young. Still, the answers were conveyed to me in love, even if they had to be repeated. I finally quieted the head weasels, drew up my character, and headed downtown. My head was on a bit of a swivel before I got into the Raygun Lounge. I didn’t know how my Paladin of Bahamut would go over with these new people.

I guess the best way to put it “like gangbusters.”

He had to leave the party at one point because a fellow party member made, in his opinion, a monumentally bad and immoral decision. So I reintroduced one of my favorite characters, a dark elf necromancer, to the party. Again, he was a big hit. Sure, he was the complete opposite of my paladin in personality and motivation, but therein lies the challenge. And since my life isn’t exactly on hardmode, being the sort of white male of education and relative means that often serves as a poster child for the Patriarchy, I tend to game that way. See also my pacifist/stealth run of Deus Ex Human Revolution’s Director’s Cut that is my current PC gaming ‘project’.

Long story short: I was worried over nothing.

With everything going on, within and without, it’s been difficult to fully engage with my writing brain. Certain parts of myself have lain somewhat dormant while getting better, engaging in self-care and self-correction, and generally being an isolationist hermit have dominated my time. Being with others and collaborating in telling a story about people making bad choices has started reawakening my own storytelling synapses. If nothing else, it’s underscored my need to shift my career path away from banging out code for a living to making words happen. That’s been mostly what I’ve been looking for when I’m on LinkedIn looking for a new job that has nothing to do with start-ups — I am unsuited for such a life. Perhaps I’m just too old at this point.

Anyway. Dungeons & Dragons.

The classic role-playing game matters to me because it hits all of the right buttons. It’s escapism. It’s storytelling. It’s interacting with other humans, revealing parts of oneself in a safe environment and bouncing off of one another and the Dungeon Master in delightful and intriguing ways. It’s taking chances. It’s putting on a performance in the ‘theatre of the mind’ just because you can.

I want to start my own group, and guide people through the bones of a story I construct, and watch them flesh everything out and make it a living, breathing thing that we all enjoy.

Storytelling matters. Collaboration matters. People, their dreams, their imaginations, their fears, their potential and ambition and passion — all of that matters.

All of that comes together in Dungeons & Dragons.

That’s why it matters.

Tuesdays are for telling my story.

Art courtesy Wizards of the Coast

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