Fantasy Grounds College

How Fantasy Grounds College Taught Me to Overcome the Human Condition and Love Gaming Again

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In the ’80s it was a lot harder to be “cool” and a “nerd” than it is now. Back then those words were mutually exclusive. Dungeons & Dragons was not cool. It was something weird that only “weird” people played, or for kids to horrify their parents with. In those days, as both a female and a nerdy kid, you had to have thick skin.

gaming D&DSure, there wasn’t internet bullying yet or social media sites designed to capture and document your every embarrassing moment for everyone to see for all of eternity. Instead of internet, you had foresight, an almost seer-like ability to know that someone was going to throw gum in your hair, trip you, or make fun of you because you just didn’t fit any conventional social norms. In the ’80s conformity was everything. I think the band Rush said it best in their 1982 song Subdivisions “be cool or be cast out.”

Times are a-changin’

Still, if you were lucky, you had your friends. A cadre of likeminded “losers” to escape with into a magical world of mythical monsters and lands unknown, limited only by imagination. In the end, you grow up, you move away, and somewhere along that road, you learn “normal” people are boring, your weirdness has transitioned to individuality and the whole world changed.

Suddenly, you could make a living – a very good living – doing things you were mercilessly tortured for enjoying in your youth. Nerd, a once harsh and brutal word, transitioned into a newly coined term of endearment, “geek.” As I already mentioned, being a nerdy female was pretty difficult in the ’80s, but being a geek in the 21st century was even harder, but for completely different reasons.

In the ’80s nerd culture was much simpler, it was us vs. them. That was it. In the “Age of the Geek,” things became much more complicated. What was once a single tightknit culture splintered into pockets of specific interests and genres. These interests could overlap, certainly, but you had to prove yourself worthy of belonging to that group. It was no longer acceptable to enjoy something, or even  like it; you had to know it, inside and out. If you didn’t, you were a poser, a fake, or a wannabe.

My gaming story

The inmates had taken over the asylum and the nerds had become the bullies – this is where my story truly begins. If you’re still reading, I want to thank you, sincerely.  Whether anything I am writing makes sense or not, it’s still hard to express and write about. For the sake of my own wellbeing, I won’t dredge up what would amount to almost two decades riddled with sexism and chauvinistic behavior. It wasn’t all bad, don’t get me wrong, but finding a long-lasting gaming group that didn’t fall apart due to drama, prejudice, or internal conflict was impossible. By 2016, I had given up completely, or so I thought.

Fantasy Grounds wasn’t new to me. I had heard about it several years ago but was always deterred by the steep learning curve. I also have difficulty learning by watching videos; I learn by doing. Still, I missed D&D and thought I could watch videos and mimic what I saw. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it might be enough. It wasn’t. By my third day, I wanted to cut my losses and quit. I was terrified to post anything on the forums, terrified to ask for help. In the past, regardless of how carefully I worded a question, how neutral I tried to make my tone, I was usually berated or ridiculed.  Sometimes just for being a girl. Forums were not a place to ask questions, or get help. They were a Thunderdome.  

Nevertheless, I really wanted to learn this program. It took me another entire day to gather up my nerve and write a post asking for help. Within 40 minutes, I received a response, a very helpful response. Within another 30 minutes, I had several more. Not a single scoff, not a single sexist snarky answer, just valuable useful friendly information. The most useful of that was the suggestion to look into Fantasy Grounds College. That was when I fell in love with gaming again.  

Fantasy Grounds College

Fantasy Grounds College gaming D&DWhat can I say about this amazing ragtag community of gamers that hasn’t already been said? Never have I met a group of people so patient and understanding; a crew focused on teaching others. I actually found cool nerds! People willing to explain and dedicate one on one time so I could  learn interfaces, modules, combat, and mechanics.

This was not special attention. The folks at FGC want their students – yes, we are all students, it’s a college after all – to learn the Fantasy Ground program. They want you to love it, and they want you to take that knowledge and pay it forward.

Founder Laerun and his esteemed colleagues are doing this because they love Fantasy Grounds and understand that while the program is powerful, it’s also not intuitive. No one is being paid here, this is a true labor of love.

That being said, there is a Patreon page available for those who want to give a little more. It’s not required, and the money goes towards tools, artwork, maps, and modules designed to enhance the gaming, and training experience. 101 training classes are always free.

So, if you were like me, reminiscing about  those good ol’ days, certain that there are no gamers who can emulate the friendship and camaraderie of the character’s from ‘Stranger Things,’ why not try Fantasy Grounds and check out Fantasy Grounds College? Seriously, what do you have to lose? I can’t promise you’ll come face to face with a demogorgon, but I also can’t promise that you won’t.

Elyunn,
Gamer4Life

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Owner of BeholdHer Gaming, LLC.
Lover of all creatures great and small. Gamer. Modder. Gardener and cheese enthusiast.

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Owner of BeholdHer Gaming, LLC. Lover of all creatures great and small. Gamer. Modder. Gardener and cheese enthusiast.

7 Responses

  1. Eric W.
    | Reply

    In the late 90’s, I had a teenage co-worker tell me that her mom had tried to get into playing D&D in the early 80’s. After talking with her mom about me, her mom decided to sell me her MINT collection of AD&D (1st edition) rule books and modules… including the Giants series, the original Ravenloft module, and (sadly she didn’t have THE expensive version of) Deities and Demigods. She let me sell it for her on consignment with a few things kept for personal use. I tried to convince her to join one of the groups that I ran (one of which included two women of about the same age), but her experience with misogynistic gamers in the past had completely turned her off from the idea. Her daughter/my co-worker however, became a life time, die-hard gamer, in part (I believe) due to the inclusive environment that she started gaming in.

    • Elyunn
      | Reply

      Offering a safe environment for gamers is highly underrated. Also, as a female DM, I was never comfortable inviting people to my apartment to play. I wanted to live in that perfect world where you could trust strangers, but as a single female living alone, there was just no way.

  2. AARON C MARX
    | Reply

    This is a great article! More please!

  3. Doug Davison
    | Reply

    I’m glad to hear that you had such a good experience with the FG community. The helpfulness and welcoming nature of the community is one of the reasons why I bought the company back in 2009. Having someone walk you through the basics can make all the difference. Groups like the Fantasy Ground College are completely volunteer but I think they are very representative of the community at large.

    -Doug

  4. Anthony
    | Reply

    Very nice post! Like you I always had a group that fell apart one way or another and that was always frustrating for me. With FGC I always feel as though a game, discussion, or just lively helpfulness is going on. I really think that it has helped the community tremendously.

    Very nice article! Can’t wait to read more work from great writer.

    • Elyunn
      | Reply

      Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say. I don’t consider myself much of a “great” anything and sharing personal experiences is very difficult for me, heck for anyone. So believe me when I tell you how much it means to me to read that.

    • Doug Vehovec
      | Reply

      I really gotta set aside the time to get in on this Fantasy Grounds. Between my schedule and adulting it is nearly impossible to have a regular in-person group. Also, like Anthony I am pleased as punch to have another wonderful contributing writer with Elyunn!

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