35-year-long Dungeons and Dragons game slays the distance for Sask. friends

Robert Wardhaugh started a 35-year game of Dungeons and Dragons, when he started playing the game in his parents’ home in Borden, Sask., back in 1982.

Robert Wardhaugh started playing in Borden, Sask., in 1982 and has continued the game with the same group

Robert Wardhaugh has kept up his Dungeons and Dragons game for 35 years, with the love of the creativity involved and with the hopes of keeping long-lasting friendships alive. (The Game/Instagram)

Imagine if the boys in Stranger Things were still getting together to play Dungeons and Dragons today, having collected more than 20,000 hand-painted figurines, a basement filled with elaborate war game terrain, and three decades worth of stories.

That's the magic that Robert Wardhaugh has created, after he first started playing the game in his parents' home in Borden, Sask., in 1982.

Despite the challenges of time and space, and the fact that he now lives in London, Ont., he is still playing the game with several of those same buddies.

"From an early age, I didn't like losing friends," Wardhaugh told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning host Leisha Grebinski.

The basement in Robert Wardhaugh's London, Ont., home is dedicated to Dungeons and Dragons, with Wardhaugh collecting multiple terrains. (The Game/Instagram)

He said men may not be "particularly great" at maintaining friendships in the face of challenges like work, distance or family demands. But when he first began playing Dungeons and Dragon, he saw the potential to create an epic, never-ending game of creativity — one that would slay any obstacles in the path to friendship.

"If I could create something like that, my friends would always come to me, no matter where I was." 

It worked.

'Words don't really describe it'

Alan Nichol started playing the game in his teen years, after meeting Wardhaugh in Saskatoon. Now, Nichol travels three times a year to wherever Wardhaugh is, to take part in the game.

Computer technology helps the friends stay in touch as well, with the group playing several sessions a week together over video. 

Wardhaugh's entire basement is dedicated to Dungeons and Dragons, and he has collected thousands of figurines and props along the way.

"Words don't really describe it; it's amazing," said Nichol.

Robert Wardhaugh says he's collected more than 20,000 figurines during the course of his Dungeons and Dragons hobby. (The Game/Instagram)

Nichol said he plans to stay in the game as long as Wardhaugh is around, and Wardhaugh said he's in it for the long-haul.

"I'll play the game as long as I'm alive and I'm able to keep on thinking," Wardhaugh said.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning, Victoria Dinh