When I (Tricia) first moved to Vancouver, I was 30 and interested in making friends through something that had always intrigued me: Dungeons & Dragons. I grew up in a conservative Christian circle that never really went hard on the Satanic Panic movement of the 80s and 90s, but why risk it, you know? Even when I was older and no longer scared of imagination games with friends summoning actual demons, I didn’t find myself with friends who wanted to play. But then I moved to a new city, and I was determined to create the social group that I had always dreamed of.
I joined a Meetup group for nerdy ladies in Vancouver and wrote a post saying that I wanted to join a D&D group – was anyone else interested? Rachel was one of the first people to reply. We set up a time to meet in person (also with Anne, who still plays D&D with us – hi, Anne!) at the Stormcrow Tavern on Commercial, RIP. I won’t say that it was love at first sight, but looking back on this origin story, I’m struck by how we were already working together to get things done.
In September 2019, our group of four nerdy ladies got together to play our first D&D session. Rachel DMed, despite having only played D&D one time before, and together we made our way through our first one-shot. I was in love – both with D&D and increasingly, with Rachel. I was in the story for chaos and pet monsters, so I stole an egg from the giant snake we killed and dropped it into a magic potion we later found. Rachel went along with every twist I threw her way, and the adventure ended with my halfling rogue holding a cracking egg….Zink the Mood Ring Snake was born!
For a few months, we played our way through the beginner’s Phandalin plot, but our creativity soon demanded more. I suggested that we work on creating our own dungeon, and okay, yes. It was also a shameless attempt to hang out with her one to one. It worked.
We made Glowtopia, a dungeon that quickly became too convoluted. The underground dwarven adventure park soon turned into multiple levels with escaped dragon hatchlings, a hidden gnome society (with an overt Twilight Edward/Bella/Jacob subplot, oh my god), and a minecart ride gone wild. We only ran it once, but what was a D&D failsure was a relationship success. We could work together, navigating conflict and opposing creative ideas. We discovered that Rachel was better at the worldbuilding and I was better at character depth and relationships. We found the places where we complemented each other.
It took an entire year for us to start dating, but I believe that time of friendship, nerdiness, and creative partnership set us up for success. We had already had our first fights, since we are both stubborn and competitive and cling to our ideas. But we had learned to value each other’s skills, and to prioritize communication with the goal of compromising. And most importantly, our relationship was built on FUN.
Through D&D, we got to be ridiculous with each other. Stupid voices and monster screeches meant we didn’t have to pretend to be cool in front of each other. We ate snacks and drank wine and got incredibly silly, both in our times alone and with friends around the D&D map. We learned about each others’ interests, and Rachel in particular is the absolute BEST at giving D&D gifts (get you a girlfriend who writes an entire pirate campaign for you!).
Once we finally started dating, we found ourselves in the best position in the world: Both DMs, both players, we could create and play in each other’s worlds every week. Rachel is still running the aforementioned pirate campaign (in which I play a nonbinary hadozee), and I run a Curse of Strahd campaign (in which she plays Ireena Kolyana). We help each other work through sticky DM situations and we share fun D&D merch or ideas we find online. It is a blast.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. Date your DM. It’s a really good time.