Why Everyone Should Know Edward Gorey.

Don’t know who Edward Gorey is? Don’t worry, this article has everything you should know.

On my journey to Vancouver, B.C. last year I discovered the author and artist; Edward Gorey. I had not known about his works before the trip, but it has haunted and inspired me since. During a trip to a local market in Vancouver my friends and I happened upon a small paper shop. In it one could buy calendars, postcards, regular cards, books, and more. I was not planning on buying anything, but a small booklet of postcards caught my eye. It was a collection of several “monsters” that Gorey had drawn in his books. Some were wonderfully dark or mischievously cute, but each was weirdly thought-provoking.

Generally, he writes books that seem perfect for a child; however, they have some adult undertones. A Smithsonian article speaks to the surrealism of Gorey’s art. Even though I have only had the pleasure of seeing and reading some of his work I have noticed that many of his characters speak to the suffering and hard ships of life. One character in particular is an almost adorable penguin-like creature that shows up in Gorey’s book The Doubtful Guest. I have yet to find anything that suggests the meaning of this “monster” because Gorey was careful not to explain his works. I believe that the penguin creature personifies depression. You can read the book for yourself here. The story may be about the father figure’s sudden depression and how the family deals with it. The last page of the story depicts the creature sitting near the family closest to the father, who is the only one who has a cloud of shadow around his head.

Another “monster” from the postcards is a raven that warns, “Beware of this and that” in The Epileptic Bicycle. Now, I have yet to read the book, so perhaps my interpretation is off. However, from seeing that image on one of my postcards, it reminds me of the small and large hazards of daily life. If we’re going to use riding a bicycle as an example then let’s look at the dangers. You have to be weary of falling off the bike or running into something. You have to watch for bumps, people, cars, holes, trees, and many other objects in your way. You also have to be ready if your bike breaks while you’re riding it. The bike could be a symbol for your life and all of the things that could go wrong with it are the obstacles in it. You can maintain your bike and be careful and the bike will ride smoothly, or you could be risky and maybe open up new avenues to travel down. Anyway, there are so many metaphors for that image.

Then again, maybe Gorey wanted everyone to see something different within his works. Either way, his art and words have struck a chord in me, and I don’t believe I’ll be forgetting his “monsters” anytime soon. Edward Gorey is unfortunately no longer creating these pieces of art after his passing in 2000, but you can (and I definitely will) buy his books in the form of Amphigorey, Amphigorey Too, and Amphigorey Again.

I’d love to hear what you think of Edward Gorey. Leave me a comment below!

-Sabrina Arnold (iwouldliketonerd)

Things to Know for Your First D&D Campaign

Here’s what I learned during my first Dungeon Master Experience.

Becoming a Dungeon Master for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign can seem pretty daunting, so as a first-timer here is what I have learned so far:

Organization is key

If you’re not organized then the campaign will be spent looking for that rule that you think exists instead of exploring the world you’ve laid out for them. Having notes on locations, npcs, and quick rules helps a lot. Your players will ask questions and you should be prepared to answer them. Tonight I had a Tabaxi ranger questioning an herbalists about how a specific illness was transmitted. Then a player wanted to insight check someone else and, as a DM, you have to know what rolls the person being scrutinized has to make to try to contest that check. Some people can sit down at a table with minimal preparation and improvise everything, which is seriously impressive, but I know that I have to be organized to present the story in a way that doesn’t pause the game all the time.

Improvisation will always happen

The players will almost never do what you expect and a DM can’t create and remember every single detail of a story before it plays out. You have to leave a lot of it open and have a general idea of how things work or how characters act and what they know. It’s the most challenging part, but it also keeps things so interesting. It’s what keeps D&D from being monotonous. Embrace the improvisation!

There’s a story and your players will break it

For weeks I had molded and repeatedly altered a story that I thought would be easy to follow and have twists and turns that made it fun for the characters. They did not do what I thought they would. Let’s just say that my main villain hiding in plain sight was ousted by a Half-Orc paladin using their Divine Sense in that short span of time the villain was around. That’s how my fiend was found out, and I won’t get to do that elaborate and dramatic reveal that I had planned down the line. And that’s the beauty of a game like D&D because the players aren’t being railroaded down a certain linear path.

Be open with your players

Before my campaign I had a chat with my players about what they wanted in a D&D game and some things to remember. We discussed how everyone wanted to roleplay and how sometimes things can get tense during a game, so just keep in mind that people are playing as a character and those emotions may be vastly different from how they feel about you as a real person. For example, the Tabaxi and a Lizardfolk player got along surprisingly well; whereas, the Half-Orc was not a fan of the Tabaxi. The feeling was mutual and they got in an argument, in character mind you, and were completely fine after the game ended. Allow for that tension and resistance in your game because it makes the game feel more real, but check in with your players to make sure all is well afterward.

Have fun

Honestly the purpose of Dungeons and Dragons is to have fun. Both the DM and the players get to stretch their creative muscles and everyone shares this world that is theirs. It’s a special place, really.

I’m very excited to continue my campaign and see what happens. I know I have so much more to learn as both a player and a DM. Let me know what you’ve learned during your campaigns below!

-Sabrina Arnold (iwouldliketonerd)