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'Mortified' Podcast Delves into Angst-Written D&D Diaries

Awkwardness and growing up embarrassed is part of the human experience. It's also the bread and butter of "Mortified," a popular podcast series that has also spawned a documentary/concert film and a Netflix miniseries.

So it was only a matter of time until the TTRPG experience was highlighted. Sunday's episode (No. 178) features stories about how kids from the late '80s and early '90s discovered Dungeons & Dragons - told from the pages of their own journals and diary entries.

"In the real world, I was surrounded by morons who wouldn't listen to me. In the world in my computer, I was a god," says guest Matt Craighead in between passages from his journal. "If I could defeat my enemies, then everyone would realize I was better than them."

But in case you're worried our favorite pastime gets dragged through the mud, fear not. While there are titters at his pride in reciting his character's D&D conquests, it's other details in Matt's diaries that bring out the belly laughs.

"Jan. 31, 1992: I have a LOT to report on a LOT of stuff. First. My absolute total hate of girls. Here is a list of them: Karen (BLEH!) Meggie (Yuck!) Christy (Stupidity-Stupid)..."

New York Times writer and essayist Ethan Gilsdorf also talks about how the game helped him deal with being a "bored kid in rural New Hampshire" living with his disabled mother.

"One of my favorite characters was Lord Eleron. We spent a lot of time together," Ethan says as he shows the live audience Eleron's character sheet. "He spoke 5 languages and had 10 henchmen... and at last count 231,840 XP."

Ethan took it even further, as he explains:

"I also wrote these bizarre letters to my father and my stepmom... 'April 17 1981: To William of the North and Susan the Mystical..."

The letter makes heavy use of the suffix "-eth," bringing more of the laughs. Ethan explains his weird use of the US Postal Service as trying to chronicle a fictional life for the benefit of his dad and stepmom in Montreal.

"My world had no rulebooks that made sense," Ethan says in the podcast. "But when you're the Dungeon Master... that was my way of expressing control over the world - by building a new one."

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