Seeing that the country I live in is now stuck in a state of quarantine, it’s become impossible to hang out with friends like I used to. However, my high-school friends and I have found a means to connect together over online games. Not online videogames, but online board games.
Despite not being able to play in person, this tool has allowed my friend and I to play together. It’s fantastic, as it simulates an actual 3D playing environment, allowing players to interact with virtual board game pieces including dice, cards and tokens. It’s been a great source of laughter and a good chance to reconnect.
We mostly play lighter party games, including: Coup, Cards Against Humanity and Secret Hitler. However, there are plenty of more serious, longer lasting board games available.
Dungeons and Dragons (DnD)
I have previously had some experience being a dungeon master (DM) for groups of my friends. So I decided to go back to running games during this break, only remotely. I run my games over a different tool to other board games, Roll20. This allows me to create maps which players can move their tokens around on.
I find running DnD games (DMing) to be a particularly unique experience. Since I’m creating content for others to enjoy, there is a lot of focus on understanding how to make a game which is enjoyable for different participants. Since DnD is such an open format, it lends itself to many different styles of campaigns, the focus can be on politics, exploration, combat mechanics and puzzles amongst other engagements. I find the challenge of balancing these, particularly in a group where some people enjoy certain aspects more, to be particularly rewarding.
Recently, I definitely developed a bit of an obsession for worldbuilding, particularly drawing maps. I enjoy the very rules based and structured way that maps are created, yet also the creative aspect of being able to lay out things in ways I think create interesting stories. It’s also a very meditative activity, allowing for me to spend an hour drawing without to feeling stuck.
Map drawing has also taught me a lot about how to use software tools, primarily inkscape. Nowadays I use an old Ipad as a touchscreen (using the mostly useful app I have ever found on the Apple app store). This has also served as a route to get me interested in drawing on digital media more broadly.
It’s a shame I didn’t try DMing earlier during term time. I realise that I was very busy, but it’s definitely an activity I enjoy and which inspires me greatly. Maybe I’ll try it next year, once the UK is no longer stuck in lockdown.