I know what you’re thinking: Why is a guy devoted to being cool attending the Dungeons & Dragons 30th-Anniversary party? Isn’t that game for geeks? Well, allow me to shatter that myth. The truth is, true cool has never been about being popular; rather, it springs from a sense of empowered alienation. Much like heavy metal—my other formative obsession—D&D provides a sheltered sense of belonging and confidence to the more introverted, intellectual kids on the block, the ones who’d rather throw ideas around than a football. I know, because I used to be one of them. Come to think of it, heavy metal and D&D have quite a bit in common: Aside from appealing to outcasts, they both began in the early ’70s, and have been accused of corrupting youth and leading them into Satanism. Also, fans of both tend to get high. Think about it: You’re sitting in a basement for hours on end, playing a game of pure imagination—smoking pot is a no-brainer.
To celebrate their anniversary, the Dungeon Masters over at Wizards of the Coast (D&D’s parent company) transformed a swank Midtown Manhattan loft into a magical realm decorated with tall kiosks displaying artwork and anecdotes from throughout the game’s history, plus battle scenes depicted with elaborate miniatures, a posh spread of delectable hors d’oeuvres and, of course, an open bar. As I feverishly consumed a bottle and a half of mead (okay, so it was just Chardonnay) and a couple of trays’ worth of gourmet munchies, I thumbed through their new coffee-table book 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s an elegant tome filled with stories and testimonials by famous former fantasy geeks like the Daily Show’s Stephen Colbert, action star Vin Diesel and indie musician Ben Kweller, who was in attendance. I was also quizzed by a young maiden with a clipboard (yes, there were actually girls there!) to determine what type of character class best matched my disposition. According to her, I was a rogue (an assessment no doubt shared by many other women I’ve known).