Magic the Gathering in the basement of Ramsey Abbey

Like many, I was first introduced to the world of miniature wargaming and tabletop roleplaying games around the time I entered secondary school. I was already a huge fantasy nerd before then, enjoying books like the Lone Wolf series, or the Fighting Fantasy “choose your own adventure” series that my mother would often find in charity shops. As time went on I discovered more worlds, and games to go with them. I could go to sleep one night after chasing villanous beings through the Forgotten Realms D&D campaign setting, and wake up the next day looking forward to some all out gang warfare while playing Games Workshop’s Necromunda. No matter what I dreamed of playing, no matter what setting it was in, there was always something there to scratch the itch.

It’s now more than 20 years since those early days, and yet my passion for engaging in fantastical worlds still exists. More recently, its an interest I have been able to indulge in through more advanced means; computer games. Even now, the thrill of completing dungeons and raids in games such as Elder Scrolls Online brings me joy. Compared to the tabletop games though, there’s always that little something missing, like the look on your opponents face as you merrily destroy the tank he just spent two weeks building and painting (through good dice rolls, not for real!), or the tension right before that critical dice roll. Party chats and Discord are great tools, but they are no replacement for that real, human, face to face interaction that tabletop gaming can bring.

The idea of opening a hobby space and shop has always been in the back of my mind, and as my interest in computerised experiences starts to wane (which roughly translates as “now Im older and my reflexes are slower”), I felt that now is the time to realise the dream. To provide a space where people like myself are free to argue over wether Gandalf could beat Dumbledore in a fight, or which starter Pok-e-mon is best (Its Pikachu, by the way). A place where people could get the support, the friends and the resources they need to immerse themselves in whichever fantasy or sci-fi world they choose. But what to call it?

There were several choices, but I wanted something that was personal to me. I thought back to those years at the Ramsey Abbey, spending time in the basement, playing Magic the Gathering, and all the time spent in friend’s bedrooms playing Dungeons and Dragons. Then I remembered a now classic PC game that came out around the late 90’s based on the 2nd edition D&D rules, Baldur’s Gate, a game which was also hugely influential to me. I remembered the times I would take my PC to a friends house, and the countless number of times I started new games either solo or as part of a group. The detailed world and incredible story drew us all in, it was a place where we could play the part of cunning wizards, or hulking barbarians, and with every new game and every fresh start, there was always that one library where everything kicked off…

Candlekeep…

Where Adventure Begins…