Anyway, I was particularly struck by the book's introduction, an image of which appears below:
I hope the text is legible to most readers' eyes. In case it isn't, the part that struck me was the last paragraph, which reads:
We stumbled upon Zarakan's Dungeon quite by accident while on a camping trip in the Southwestern United States. The following are some friends, enemies and situations we encountered while briefly exploring a small section of Zarakan's lair.Maybe I've completed my transformation into a silly old man, I don't know, but that paragraph really hit home with me. The way it's written, as if Don Greer and Rob Stern had actually discovered Zarakan's Dungeon while on a camping trip rang true for me, because, as a kid, I felt the same way about Quasqueton, Twilight's Peak, R'lyeh and many other places. Sure, my friends and I never physically explored those places, but we explored them just the same and our explorations of them affected me as strongly as my explorations of many real world locales.
For a lot of non-gamers, what I just wrote is simply crazy-talk. I certainly hope that anyone who's here and reading this entry understands what I'm saying, though. Imagined places may not exist, they may not be real in the common sense usage of the term, but that doesn't mean our experiences of them are mere fancy without any value. We may instinctively laugh at the guy who claims, "I didn't spend all those years playing Dungeons & Dragons and not learn a little something about courage" and yet, there is a sense in which that guy speaks the truth. I wouldn't hesitate to admit that I'm a better person for having spent a large part of my youth imagining myself to be one of many characters in several imaginary worlds.
Roleplaying has taught me a lot over the years, just as I am sure it's taught others. I see no reason why anyone should be ashamed to admit this. Indeed, I might go so far as to say that, as roleplayers, we do our hobby a disservice by not emphasizing this point about ourselves and the games we play. Indeed, I think it's this aspect of tabletop gaming that so strongly differentiates it from its electronic by-blows. We need to do a better job of promoting this fact.