The Other Columbus: Game of Groans and The Hot Takes of Destiny

Scott Woods
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in "Game of Thrones"

I find myself a man pulled between worlds. On one hand, I bask in a world in which, thanks to HBO's “Game of Thrones,” the Dungeons & Dragons aesthetic has become so mainstream that any and everybody has an opinion on That D&D Life. At the same time, I despise the knee-jerk hot take-ness of it all, fueled by the gaping maw of unrelenting social media.

I played D&D for much of my youth, managing to convince my God-fearing mother to underwrite my dungeon-trawling habit for many years. I've waited half my life for those late-night gaming marathons to come full circle and become cool. Now we live in an age when I can walk into a barbershop and engage the barber, a weed man and a DVD bootlegger about a show that's basically D&D without the dice and Cheetos breath. But — and I say this as someone who binged his actual imagination to pad out a weekend-long marathon session of adventure crawling — all of the hot takes are exhausting, not because there are so many, but because they are so ill-informed.

If you ain't ever rolled a 1 on an initiative check against a Red Dragon in your lonely buddy's basement on a Saturday night, I really don't care how inconsistent you think Drogon's firebreathing is in terms of hit-point damage. And all the fashionista shade over Brienne of Tarth's short hair and formless armor clearly comes out of the keyboard mashing of people who have never attempted to fend off a horde of slavering hobgoblins more concerned about the similarity of human flesh to mutton chops than the haute couture that's all the rage in Winterfell that season. And if you at any point during this series thought that Daenerys was going to Harriet Tubman her way through Westeros, you clearly don't know what a chaotic-good alignment means. I was giving “Thrones”-styled hot takes when I was 12, and there was no TV show assist. You either had storytelling skills or you didn't, son.

I love that we're all able to openly engage one another about barbarians and undead armies and not get moaned out of a family gathering for beinga nerd. Two generations of D&D players took those hits so that you could sit on your couch and tweet about sword-cleaving stats you don't understand.By the time you read this, you will have been subjected to hundreds of random observations and theories, almost none of which were asked for by anyone. Take it from an old Dungeon Master: Few of these people know what they're talking about. Whatever you saw, you saw. Whatever you enjoyed was yours to enjoy.