Before you lies a door. It is completely ordinary in its appearance: Roughly seven feet high, rectangular, built from a dull, worn, colorless wood. A small metal handle is mounted at its halfway point. It is a door. And it is not a door. It is the pure, abstract concept of a door, distilled into a physical object. It is every door, to anywhere. It is what every door represents: Pure potentiality. The possibilities it presents are infinite. It can open on any place, on any time. And it is not alone: All around you are doors. For this is a city made of nothing but entrances and exits. Anything that can be passed through could, at any point, become a portal to somewhere entirely different. But this door is for you. This door is yours to open.
"I bust that s**t open with a screamin' Tae Tad," said Sean, a giant of a man sporting a pink Mohawk and a child's size Spiderman T-shirt that spoke more of insanity than of fond nostalgia. "That's how I open every door."
"What's a Tae Ta-" Wayne began, then stopped suddenly, fear flashing through his eyes. But it was too late. Sean was already showing him. Afterward, he sprawled on the floor, making a noise like seals barking, a hot red footprint welling up on his neck.
"I'd like to roll to see if I have the dexterity needed to turn the handle," Dan muttered into a ream of shuffling papers. He was a smallish man with close-cropped hair and eyes that practically begged you to victimize him. "But I don't want to actually turn it yet; I have a circlet that expands my field of vision here somewhere, and I'd like to use that to examine the exact angle at which the bolt engages first."
"Quick! What rhymes with turd!?" Michael, a long and spindly parody of a human being, slapped the stack of papers out from Dan's hands, ignoring the frantic screeching he emitted. "Nerd! And that's what you are: A turd."
I gave Michael an obligatory high five for a very-nearly sweet burn, then removed my glasses and pinched the bridge of my nose wearily, because I saw Jeff Goldblum do that in a movie once, and then everybody paid attention to him.
Some Goldblum roles get more attention than others.
"Nobody is opening the door, god damn it. You haven't even picked characters yet! We've been here for two hours!" It probably wasn't smart of me to volunteer as Dungeon Master. I was trying to piece together what I knew of a responsible human being from poorly sketched stereotypes in action movies. The results were...varied. Jeff Goldblum was proving fairly effective, but Robert Deniro was wildly inconsistent, and Captain Kirk was a disaster; I'd dropkicked the Welcome Snickerdoodles right out of Dan's arms the second he walked through my door. I meant to show dominance, but all I ended up showing was that I was willing to eat Snickerdoodles off the floor.
"I'd like to use a pre-existing character," Dan continued, picking through the scattered papers on the ground. He casually shoved Wayne's twisting body out of his way, "if you'd like me to roll for that, I have several tables I can consult-"
"I don't know about all this, guys," it was Chris who spoke. He was an earnest looking young man with a quick smile and open demeanor; everybody hated him. "I heard this Dungeons and Dragons thing was all about Satanism, and it makes you kill yourself."
He's probably confusing DnD with Dio. To be fair, it is an easy mistake to make.
"That's a lie!" Dan snapped viciously, "a lie propagated by coked-out, paranoid housewives back in the late '80s. Dungeons and Dragons is the very essence of imagination and teambuilding. I call it Teamgination!"
I reached over and dutifully slapped him across the face.
"Well, I suppose that sounds fun, eh?" Chris admitted. "I guess I'll be a Cleric, then: Healing is the highest form of politeness."
"Chris. Jesus Christ. I can't understand a word you're saying through that accent," I said curtly.
"What accent? I'm Canadian. I'm from-"
"Holy s**t. Holy. s**t. Your thick, deformed Northern tongue is just - it's just butchering my ears, Chris. Listen, you're gonna beeee..." I grabbed the page Dan had just plucked triumphantly from the floor and hastily scribbled on it, "Enoch, the healer. He's mute. Lost his voice to a...a f*****g jelly or something. Some kind of pudding cube. It stabbed you in the throat and now you can never talk again. I expect you to maintain character."
"That doesn't even make sense! Jellies don't attack with edged weapons, and you need a voice to cast healing magic, plus Enoch has been my character through countless campaigns. Our adventures are not to be discounted!" Dan pleaded.
"He's everything I want to be, but never can: Tall."
"Where are we, Dan?" I asked him simply.
"A sad walk-up above a discount eyeglass shop that I'm pretty sure is a front for the Russian mafia?" He replied.
"In the game, Dan."
"Sigil! The City of Doors, the Great Wheel, it sits atop the Spire-"
"We're in a f*****g Dungeon, Dan! And what do Dungeons have?"
"A...Master?" He answered himself, and lapsed into obedient silence.
"What do you wanna be?" I motioned towards Soren who, until now, had been rapidly and lustily texting without pause.
"I don't know, dead? Can we just call me dead, and all of you guys will mourn? Your little fantasy wives will weep for the secret love they've harbored in their hearts that died with me, and I can leave here to go make tender but vigorous love to a disinherited Hungarian countess."
"No, you have to pick a class," I responded unevenly. I had already cycled through Independence Day and was on to Lost World-era Goldblum now; I was quickly running out of quality Goldblum roles.
"Fine. Which one's the best guy?"
"There is no best guy," Dan interjected, "every class has its own unique skills and specialties that make them invaluable to the group."
"Yeah, yeah, I get it. I've seen Care Bears, Dan: We're all special in our own way. But which one's the