I'm notoriously late to the party on trends, fads and popular culture. Prime example: I've only recently discovered Twin Peaks. I binge watched the first two seasons, devoured the movie, and have been working my way through Twin Peaks: The Return. I have only one episode left to watch now. And watching The Return made me realise something. I LOVE it when a story moves on. I am probably one of only about four people that actually liked WoW's Cataclysm expansion, because I enjoyed how everyone's story had developed. It made me feel like there actually was a life happening when I wasn't around to see it. The state of Southshore, the name change on Lucy Moran's deskplate, little things that belie so much more happening.
And so, as the year turns, our stories change too. (Nice segue, eh?) At the start of 2017, there was no way for me to imagine the year ending how it has. I'd just gotten out of a job, where I was bullied just for turning up, because the supervising nurse decided she didn't like me. It was a sad and tough Christmas, for other, personal reasons, and the first few months of 2017 weren't much better. I hadn't ever touched a d20, let alone considered becoming a dungeonmaster. I got talking though, to one of my relatives who had experience with 3.5, and the stories she told me about her paladin and the fun she had made me curious to try this game, and so in May, I ordered the Starter Set with the intention of roping in my family to play. I bought them each a set of dice, and we sat down for our usual board games one day and I pulled it out and handed round the character sheets. Me being me, I hadn't really read the books properly, I thought I'd just work it out as I went along. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but we muddled through a goblin ambush, and they made their way to a mysterious cave, and before I knew it, we were all hooked. We're still playing that game, perhaps one session a month, and having a lot of fun with it.
I've come a long way in a short time since then. I never thought of myself as a writer, or someone that could improvise, or even someone who is creative in an original way. I felt like all I would amount to was someone who just copied what other people could do, whilst working a mundane job, but I now know I'm so much more. I have DM'd 63 sessions (I count them) and I've played a couple of sessions. In August I started my Monster Manual project, which got me noticed by the community and led to me being interviewed for Dragon+. I made my first Twitch streams, including a live game, with some amazing people, just a few of the friends I've been lucky to find through this incredible community, some of whom are absolute giants and legends in the world of Dungeons and Dragons. I've written my own homebrew campaign, which 11 people currently play in, and I also wrote my first adventure and published it, and some people have paid for it. Me, writing?! Most importantly though, I have not only been able to manage my anxiety and other mental health problems in a way I never dreamed of before, but also I have brought D&D to people other than myself, through running sessions and teaching players at my local tabletop gaming club.
So I look forward to 2018, feeling proud of what I have achieved in the past 8 months, and making big plans for the future. I want to make my local live games Adventurer's League official. I want to stream more online live games with my new friends. I want to keep running that homebrew campaign and give my players an amazing gaming experience, and write more oneshot adventures and publish them. I want to keep being creative with yarn, and get some items in my Etsy shop so I can make a little coin. I want to continue to be a strong, positive rolemodel and a voice speaking up for diversity and representation in the community - It's already an amazing community indeed, but there is always room to do better. And I want to save up enough money to get myself out to the US, attend a PAX convention, and meet some of these amazing people that have changed my life in so many positive ways. Mostly though, regardless of what I do, I want people to think of me as kind, and I shall continue to strive every day to achieve that goal by living it. As Mahatma Gandhi said, 'Be the change that you wish to see in the world.'
I hope that 2018 brings you many good things to enjoy, and that you have the strength to cope with anything difficult life throws at you.