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Chronic Migraines / Pain Causing You to Withdraw and Isolate? Missing out on the simple joys of socializing and simple fun? Anxiety making group activities a burden most can't understand? During your periods of reprieve, want to have fun in a no-judgement zone and connect with people in a real, authentic way? This is a group for anyone who identifies with the above.

More and more people are playing Dungeons & Dragons these days. It's a means of escape, of human contact many of us have been missing. It's a chance to drop the inhibitions and be silly, be heroic, or just try to feel like the you of old. It allows us to be someone different or just enjoy the moment with the group navigating an adventure. I'm looking for others who have either missed out on years of a hobby, maybe want to try something new with a group who understands what you're going through day-to-day: true solidarity.

For some of us, everyday life often doesn't have much "life" in it. We have to snatch the moments we can to socialize, to have fun -- to be human. I'm gauging interest if there's a group of similarly-affected and like-minded people in the area who might want to get to know a group and understand we're all struggling with similar issues and difficulties. Believe it or not, people are using games like D&D more and more for a variety of group therapeutic uses as more studies are beginning to demonstrate.

So why have I personally decided to reach out for this endeavor? Like some people, there are a variety of chemical, scent, food, and weather triggers that feed a very nasty chronic migraine problem. It makes going out to any place a dangerous affair, and the amount of those chemicals present in many peoples' colognes, body sprays, perfumes make casual social interaction or even going out to dinner, shopping or to a movie outright brutal or impossible.

Others with chronic conditions can attest to the isolation this leads to: the precise reason I want to help a group snatch some moments of joy and hopefully make some understanding friends / compatriots in the process.

Organizing any interested parties will take some time. For those who might be interested, we'll be sure to have initial conversations between us and eventually turn it into a full group meeting to hash out individual expectations and desires, along with finding a location (already some leads) and finalizing conditions to put everyone at ease and safe. There are people out there eager to help spread the joy of this and other tabletop role-playing games. Once everyone's ready, we can have a quick one-night adventure and see how people respond and what else they might like to explore with the game.

This is a group for those coping with the burdens of chronic pain, anxiety, and the related social isolation. I'm starting this group as an outreach to those like me who want to have some fun with no pressure nor judgement on those who might be curious but have no experience playing. If there is interest beyond a typical group of 4-6 here in the Valley, it would be even better to help establish a larger umbrella group.

Those who are interested, please feel free to inquire about the following suggestions and requests as I welcome your questions. Please do note the following general guidelines:

• Ages 18+ -- People have been enjoying this game for over 40 years, young, middle-aged, and beyond so do not be intimidated by that. Ask with any questions / concerns you may have.

• We will be focusing on 5th Edition for those familiar, as it's flexible and robust for all levels of play. Along with this, we may have forays to other games should the interest develop, possibly incorporating other tabletop games as a change of pace occasionally.

• For the Game / Meeting Sessions: Those who want to participate will need to hold off on wearing colognes, perfumes, body sprays, strong deodorants, or bringing food with raw onions. We want this to be an enjoyable experience for any others who may have chemical sensitivities. Please feel free to ask me should you have any questions for clarification beyond what I've stated above. Due to the severe effect from these particular items, this is one guideline that's essentially Gospel.

• Experience with the game is not necessary. I'm happy to help with any questions, and will walk through basic play and rules with players. Some coaching is always inevitable to help people learn and enjoy the game faster and at a deeper level. While Min/Maxing has its uses in any game, playing a character with flaws can create an interesting and very entertaining experience.

We want to avoid the "Your Fun is Wrong" type of philosophy. D&D games can be as varied and unique as the people playing them. As stated initially I want to create a fun, judgment-free atmosphere and keep things light for everyone. The main goal is having fun with others, bottom-line.

• Players won't be expected to put on any accent or silly voice they don't want to, so rest easy on that front. We'll ease into the roleplay aspect slowly and organically. Some people like a more fully immersive experience and I will be happy to accomodate. There are lots of Internet videos regarding the initial intimidation of role-playing games and I will provide links for many. I want to alleviate that apprehension as much as I can. Ideally, as everyone gets comfortable with the group and the game, a deeper experience may be desired.

• I'll be happy to discuss concerns, questions, ideas, etc. as players have them. We'll all be playing this together, and the players' actions will shape the story's direction as things become more second-nature and choices begin to have unique consequences for the group's party and the story's world.

Please, do feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you might have, and as more information regarding location and other specifics become available I'll be updating this space.

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