Let me tell you a tale!

Hello everyone! My name is Ethan, and I have been an unrepentant D&D addict since I first started playing in 2004, when my aunt and uncle bought me the 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game boxed set, and further bestowed onto me his collection of 2nd edition D&D books, which I still treasure to this day.

I didn’t know how to play at first. I gave my best pass at understanding the rules. I ran a few awkward games for friends and my siblings.  I’m sure I probably followed about 10% of the rules I had access to and about half of that was accidental. But the spirit of the game - the art of making up fantastic stories, dreaming up an imaginary world, and populating it with weird creatures - that I had been preparing for all my life.

I’ve always been a ravenous consumer of science fiction, fantasy, and blends thereof. Whether I read it, watched it, listened to it I always wanted more. I always felt like fiction was more than just an escape mechanism for a boy of humble beginnings in a relatively remote rural town - fiction gives back far more than it takes when you let it carry you away. When you don your armor and storm the castle, placing yourselves in the shoes of the hero, you find a kind of resilience and courage you might not know you had. You learn to stand up for the weak, to face your fears, to take risks for the greater good, and to forge on with a deep thrust for adventure. You learn that heroes aren’t only defined by what others ask of them, but what they ask of themselves.

I took a few brief breaks from actively playing during my undergrad years at Purdue. I pursued a degree in Linguistics, finished my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and went on to pursue my doctorate in Linguistics. Looking back, I think to myself that the same things I admire about fantasy are also what I love about the cognitive sciences. By sharing and telling stories with one another, taking up the mantle of our forebears and honoring mankind’s legacy as storytellers, we reveal that we have so much more in common than our superficial differences would have us believe at first. We see ourselves as the heroes, more often than not. We champion the causes important to us. We recognize the values of bravery, perseverance, and sacrifice. And as a species, we have a healthy appreciation for the mythical.

So when I think about why I like to be a Dungeon Master, why I like to be new players’ ambassador to the ritual and tradition of tabletop roleplaying games, I recognize that I enjoy watching people immersing themselves in the richness of a shared story. I like seeing how they react to those empowering feelings of having some tangible impact on their destiny and the world they inhabit, if only briefly. I like watching players surprised by their own creativity, coming up with ideas they never knew they could. When we are in the game together, the differences among the different players feel less real for just that moment. We are more than rich kids playing with poor kids - we are heroes. And we hope that when we wrap up our games, we can each take a little bit of that heroism back home with us.

That’s what I envision as the primary mission of Lyres for Hire: to unite players under a shared, collaborative story in which we can all be the heroes.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published