That time I... found God after I fought a dragon
Through Dungeons & Dragons, student Joseph Lyons learned more about himself and God. | Becky Mitchell/THE CHIMES
Neil Gaiman in “Coraline” once said, “Fairy Tales are more than true, not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
I am a DM
Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D, consists of a tabletop roleplaying game in which a group of people gather together and play through a story crafted by one member of the group entitled the Dungeon Master, or DM.
Quite simply, I am a DM, and I have run these games for a total of six years now. I have seen a dwarf fight 10 men simply because someone told him he could not, an ancient evil beaten by a donkey with a spear tied to his head and a dragon pinned for a three-count by a monk named El Fuego. Far more importantly, I have seen people enjoy a game that, in my experience, has the unique ability to bring people through anything going on in their lives and show them they can beat it.
Before I would see all these things through my eyes as a DM, I saw them first in myself when I started as a player. In my youth, I moved constantly in and out of hospitals due to carbon monoxide poisoning. I did not get through these times with a strong faith, diligent prayer or even the word of God. No, God used a young pastor to save my wretched soul by having him bring me into his game of Advanced D&D, the second edition of D&D –– to some, arguably the purest experience of the game. The pastor and DM of the game helped me create a character named Leot Extris, a human ranger with a penchant for flair and a desire to make himself known.
God worked in me
Leot Extris got me through my everyday life of doctor visits, medical tests and a soured attitude that came from dealing with it all. Every time I picked up the dice to roll to see what I could do, I got to see myself as a hero and as an adventurer who stared down the creatures of the dark and unknown dangers of afar. I could see myself as more than a sickly kid who got scared of needles and disliked the oppressive atmosphere of a hospital.
God worked in me through all this, showing me my identity and what it consisted of, through a game. To our God, I am seen as the same hero I played, and God showed me his majesty through the brilliant imaginations of my fellow players. Every week I got to see God’s creative attributes played out through my companions’ wacky schemes and my DM’s dedicated world-building.
Sometimes God even showed me some of his characteristics through these people as well. I have always held quite literally to the idea of Imago Dei, so the holiest things I have ever seen happened every time all of my co-adventurers started laughing and cheering to a job well done with a smile written on their faces which showed it came from their hearts.
As I grew, I learned the skills of a DM, but more importantly, I started to see outside of myself. Every game I have ever run encouraged people to be their best selves and sometimes just as importantly worse selves with their friends. I have grown and built lives with these people.
Most of the time, I ran games for friends from school, but I moved around a lot throughout my life so I have also run games through website forums, skype calls, online video games and one time even an extremely interesting detective game played through letters. It never mattered the medium, or even the game, instead connecting with these people and going through adventures with them became the ultimate point.
Like I said, I have DM’d for six years now, and I tell you that I do plan to make it 60, God allowing. Because, trust me, I have heard all the criticisms and excuses out there. Some people believe the game had roots in the demonic at one point, however every form of entertainment had roots in the demonic at some point to certain Christians.
find your thing
Some believe only nerds play the game, and I cannot say they are wrong, but why let that stop you from enjoying something? Some think it is hard to get into or understand, and that they do not have people who would play with them. If that is your reasoning, by the way, please check out Biola’s own Tabletop RPG Club or even feel free to email me. Finally, I have known some to say D&D wastes their time and does not add to their lives physically or spiritually.
To them I would like to say that this life has a lot to offer, and God has blessed you tremendously by putting you in a country where you can enjoy a lot of these things with relative ease. Personally, I play a game of collaborative storytelling that has led me to discover my identity and whom I follow as my Lord.
Maybe D&D just does not seem like your thing, but I beg of you to at least find your thing and get to know God, not just through devotionals or bible reading but through an activity he has given you to enjoy. However, if D&D at all interests you, please come and join us in a game sometime. Fair warning though, my friends and I are elves.