In a world where video games have become hyper-realistic and intensely intricate, where your emaciated imagination slowly withers from lack of use, there is a glimmer of hope — a rebellion is forming. You perhaps have seen it, even participated in it, but have been unaware. In these times your brain yearns for a break from the constant external bombardment of being told what and how to imagine. It is screaming to be set free, to become creative, and to engage with other like-minded souls. Some have sought to counter the dulling of their brains with mind-challenging games — e.g., Scrabble, Cranium, and Trivial Pursuit. Others seek more, for they have tasted adventure blasting from their screens, they have been transported to other worlds, they have metamorphosed into someone beyond themselves. I was one of these people. I sought more.

Enter the game leaving all else behind. Forget yourself. Become the character. Tell your story. These are the rules that I learned after that first role of my 20-sided die. These are the rules I follow every time I play Dungeons & Dragons. A criterion of the imagination, a mash-up of improvisational acting, storytelling, and board gaming that transports you to another realm. Say what you will, until you create a character, embody them, write their history and fight to keep them alive, you can’t fathom what this game truly can be.

In my specific campaign, I immediately spotted some opportunities to flesh out this world in which my character found himself. Our Dungeon Master had a simple map of the world he created years upon years ago. I took it upon myself to translate and update this map utilizing my skills as a graphic designer. Thanks to the guidance of the amazing people at the Cartographers Guild I was able to produce a map that echoed the rich and vivid world that lay in my imagination.

While recreating the world of our campaign I could not help but be transported. Imagination stimulated, oceans, seas, mountains, valleys, forests all calling out for names and becoming real places with rich, complex histories. I watch as my character’s past materializes and evolves. I create new cities and landmarks, I trace not only his personal history but his lineage back through time. For a while I am a god. However, the real fun is not creating the playground, it’s the adventures that happen once you step inside.