On Friday night, we put on our best suit of chain-mail armor, grabbed our sword, and journeyed to the Superhero Supply Store in Brooklyn, using our arcane Elvish tracking abilities to locate the secret door (hidden behind a bookcase) leading to the back-room dungeon which played home to Dungeons & Dragons (With Girls!), 826NYC's latest charity fund-raiser. Since Dave Eggers co-founded 826NYC — which aims to help New York's schoolchildren improve their creative-writing skills — their events have typically featured a dazzling array of the hip stars that decorate the McSweeney's constellation (think Karen O, Sarah Vowell, Jon Stewart, and Amy Sedaris), all trying to absorb each other's mojo.
But, by the light of our glowing magic swords, the only stars to be seen were the real live girls (!), who were unhappily absent during all of late-night hours we spent rolling twelve-sided die in our youth. As we explored the dungeon, we saw that there were even more changes to the rule book we used in our parents' basements; for starters, there were adult beverages to go along the usual provisions of Doritos, Oreos, and pizza, which helped the grown-up geeks muster the fortitude and nonchalance to conquer the normal host of monsters and social anxieties. Also, magic items both useful and hilarious (we had the argyle socks of levitation and the magic lock-picking hamster) were purchased with real money. And once the adventurers started to encounter the malevolent oozes, talking baboons, and demonic lab assistants scattered around the dungeon, you could pay the dungeon master $10 to resurrect your fallen hero, and, more exciting, pay a dollar to reroll any of the dice that might've provided you with a face full of dragon breath earlier in the evening.
So how'd we do? Did we slay the dragon and win the crown (and with it, the kingdom)? Sort of. We killed a dragon and won our table's crown, but, astonishingly, the overall winner was one of the real live women. Of course the real winner was our 15-year-old self, who enjoyed the greatest night of nerd poker ever. —Ehren Gresehover