I knew the world of tabletop RPGs since 2010, after I had a really bad experience with the Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. It wasn’t because of the game per se, but because of the people I played with. So I put my dice away and reused them again since 2016, when I approaced the Fifth Edition in a better enviroment.
I thought of Dungeons and Dragons as a fun game to play with my friends, but never as a way to deal with some of my personal issues. My opinion changed after I played Tomb of Annihilation.
The jungle is full of death! And horrors! AND DEATH!
December 2017. My friends propose me a new Dungeons And Dragons campaign, since I haven’t played a game with them in months. Tomb of Annihilation. “Great”, I thought, “I suck at staying alive and ToA has a really high rate of deaths”. I was afraid of not having much fun since I was famous for making my characters die in three sessions, if I was lucky. I dedided to give it a shot anyway, since I missed playing with them.
I chose to use a premade character, a human named Kundé, made by my DM. Kundé was a fighter and traveled with his Adrosaurus Tindo. He fought in a war despite his young age, and lost a friend during the battle. I had full freedom on Kundé’s personality, and on how to role him.
First session. Me and two friends were DMed by my best friend. We found an ancient temple in the jungle after days of marching and we decided to enter and explore. Kundé was inside the temple with another PC, a rogue half-elf named Nelaria. They only knew each other for a few days, but Kundé was attracted by her.
They were figuring how to proceed, when Kundé accidentaly triggered a trap. Because of that Nelaria died.
And that’s when Kundé started suffering of PTSD, It was something we shared since I’ve had it since my childhood.
At that time, December 2017, I never wanted to think about my mental illness. It was something I didn’t want to deal with because it looked like an unbeatable monster who devoured everything good in my life. I was sinking into my own depression and I didn’t feel I had the power to even ask for help.
I was in a jungle full of horrors. Just like Kundé was.
Our sessions went on, and Kundé was devoured by guilt and fear about dying. And, even worse, seeing someone he cares about dying. Kundé kept exploring the jungle, but he was haunted by nightmares, living every moment of his life in fear. Sometimes even having panic attacks.
After the death of many adventurers and of his Adrosaurus Tindo, Kundé started being reckless in combat, thinking about finally die to end his misery. He was lost, thought that he didn’t have any more reason to live.
Then, one fateful night, something in Kundé changed.
After a near-death experience, a fall that few would have survived, Kundé started having hope again. He wanted to protect his friends, even if he was scared to go deeper in the jungle and to fight the evil Ras Nsi.
As Kundé was confronting with his fear, I was going deeper into my personal jungle. My personal Ras Nsi was my PTSD, an evil foe that was not letting me live a normal life. And, just like Kundé, I needed to confront it.
And I actually did it.
By June 2018 Kundé’s campaign was coming to a closure and he found the strenght to keep going. For himself, the friends he lost and the ones that were beside him. He died in the final battle, like a hero after freeing the trapped souls of the dead. He died in peace because Kundé was afraid no more.
As for me, during that time I reached for professional help, and it made a tangible difference in my life. I’m a new person, no more scared by the bad things that happened, and it’s thanks to my friends, my psychologist and a human warrior named Kundé.