Compared to a fireball spell, wild shape, or even +2 to Con, dark vision is a pretty ho-hum Dungeons and Dragons ability. Only the lowly 10′ pole might be less interesting than an ability to see in the dark.
But dark vision is one of my favorite D&D character attributes.
I’m writing this in the summer sunshine, but one thing a Minnesotan knows in their bones is that winter is coming. So although the weather is perfect now, the season’s change comes soon enough. Darkness will fall here. The sun will rise late and set early, meaning everything we do is likely to be happening in low light conditions. And when you are living life out in the dark, bundled for warmth, trudging through piled snow, you know very well what might happpen.
You could get hit by a drone.
Pedestrian-drone incidents remain at a historically high level. I read it on Facebook.
Which wasn’t at all where I was going with article, but I had to wedge in a ham-fisted joke because I’m incapable of being earnest without at first trying to deflect or at least cut the tension with a little goof.
But I feel it’s important to sit tight with a little heavy emotion for the next few hundred words, as there are many folks out there who feel like their every day is “low light” conditions.
Depression is tough. Your life might feel like a dungeon crawl. Instead of living “your best life,” it’s a dark slog where you feel you are chewing your way through slime molds, rotting oozes, rat swarms, and the occasional madcap derro on your darkest days. Old school Christian theologians would have called these moments the “dark nights of the soul.”
When life feels like a dungeon crawl, it might seem odd to articulate your hope on the words “dark vision” being scrawled on a character sheet. But when it feels like the lowly torchlight only casts more shadows, it’s comforting to imagine we’ll get a visual that cuts through the darkness, even if it’s in black and white, and not full technicolor.
At worst, our social media universe can mean tweeting at all people and no people all at once, which ironically serves to keep a feeling of isolation. But at best, connecting with fellow nerds online can help us to understand we are not alone, either in our hobbies, nor in our dark nights of the soul. For proof:
— Nate (@Zombu47) July 24, 2017
It's a creative outlet I can play with my closest friends. Depression focuses me inward and on stresses, #DnD helps me think differently
— Chris (@Civil_Foxglove) July 23, 2017
The game helped get through a lot of phases of loneliness, it helped me express my creativity and ultimately out of depression
— Death By Mage (@DeathByMage) July 23, 2017
It's communication for people who might not otherwise know how or be good at. It's community. It's a platform with little risk in attempts.
— Matthew Blake (@UncommonFox) July 23, 2017
When I was a kid #dnd got me through some tough times. Most of the kids I played with were also from broken homes.
— Grand DM (@Grand_DM) July 23, 2017
That’s just a sampling of folks who shared that a tabletop RPG like D&D was a small help when the steps ahead were cast in shadow. (Here is the full thread if you want to dig in, and we certainly hope Nerds on Earth is a place that shines a little light in dark corners.)
Stepping into a dark cave to face an unknown presence is a terrifying task. Sometimes our access to hope feels like a great dark space, littered with traps we fumble around. Dwarves and elves can see in the dark and I envy that.
But do keep hope.
We don’t have dark vision and that can feel lonely, isolating, and terrifying to not be able to plot the steps ahead. But light a torch where you can and keep the courage to continue venturing forth. And never ever lose hope that there will be light ahead.
So if there is something dark in your life, write your feelings down on it. Then tear that sheet of paper into tiny pieces, throw them up in the air like they’re confetti, and walk through it like you’re Prince strutting into a bachelorette party.
Because it’s time to strut toward that light.
And, please, do know that you can reach out to us or share your dark vision story.