Dungeons and Dragons is a fun game and I think everyone should play it.
By Eric Porco
As I write this I am listening to a Dungeons and Dragons livestream on the popular live-streaming platform Twitch.Tv. In this particular storyline or “Campaign” I have been watching, a group of five people from various backgrounds united to complete ancient Elven trials to inherit a giant magical city-state, only to through various mistakes and mischief the literal days following the beginning of their rule blow up half of it and accidentally transport themselves to a giant planet-like space whale drifting through the galaxy.
In my own campaign that I run for my friends, my group has embarked on a journey across the hostile desert sands to assassinate an old sickly bishop of a large imperialist empire, by the request of his mysterious and exiled son. Already has my group closely crossed paths with death, and has only nearly evaded it. What I hope to communicate with this is that Dungeons and Dragons, or “D&D” for short, is really fun.
Dungeons and Dragons is a “Role Playing Game,” and pretty much the inspiration for the genre itself. D&D at its core is a storytelling mechanism. The game itself works through a group of players and one “DM” or Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master essentially takes the role of the storyteller and the world itself, setting up and explaining each scenario and the world to the players.
The players all make characters, who take up various roles and archetypes called “Classes,” and who the players essentially can use to interact with the DM’s world. The DM essentially sets up the narrative and the world for the players, and the players interact with it and through their interactions form the story.
In addition to this, D&D also sets up rules for these interactions, having the attempted actions by the players success being decided by dice, and most commonly, a 20 sided die. This 20 sided die and the DM essentially dictate the ability of the player characters to affect the world.
Say for instance, a player wants to shoot an apple hanging on a tree. The player would tell the DM “I shoot the apple off of the tree,” and then in the DM’s head they would select a minimum number that the player would have to reach with a 20 sided die to succeed on their action. The player would then roll a 20 sided die, and if the number that they roll after being adjusted for their character’s stats reaches the DM’s set minimum, would succeed. The DM would then dictate to the players the outcome, in this case, the apple being hit by the player’s arrow and falling off of the tree.
It may sound daunting, but once you do it a couple times you would likely be surprised how easy the game is to play. What a D&D session looks like after people have settled in is the DM explaining the storyline and the events following it, and the players deciding to act on it according to how their characters would, rolling their D20s when the DM deems an attempted action necessary, and then the DM explaining the outcome of the player’s rolls and decisions.
The game at its core follows a relatively simple formula, that due to its somewhat simple nature allows heavy adaptability and modification to DM and player standards. But enough of explaining the game itself, there are a multitude of reasons as to why you should play it.
We all most likely enjoy some kind of TV shows, books, anime or movies with their own great stories and happenings. D&D offers you a chance to star in your own story alongside your friends. Through the Dungeon Master and the relatively simple guidelines and rules D&D gives you, you can essentially weave your own story and character arcs alongside your friends, even modeling it after and if you feel so inclined playing in the worlds of your favorite media. D&D’s adaptability allows people to craft their own stories and characters, and to live out their own personal stories as opposed to simply consuming other’s stories all the time.
Another big reason many would play D&D and a large reason I do is the social aspect. D&D is a game that relies on having multiple people playing it in order to function. It is a way to keep up with friends and even family, and gives people a regular shared social activity to engage in with others. Having a regular three or so hour session a week to look forward to in the past has been a powerful tool for keeping up with friends, and even forming them for me. Writing your own stories is cool, but your ability to share the same world and story with your friends is something quite unique to D&D, and many inside jokes and close friendships have in fact been formed by D&D.
In addition to the social aspect, D&D allows something unique in how it allows you to step into the boots of another person for a while. For a few hours a week you can essentially enact the life of someone else, and D&D can act as a healthy escapism for some people. You can step into a world for a while where the main struggles instead of homework and service hours are defeating the evil dark lord oppressing the masses. People who struggle with personal identity can step into a world where it isn’t a question. D&D can offer a level of immersion in it’s escapism few other things can provide.
If anything that I’ve said interests you I would implore you to consider playing it with some friends, or looking online for people to play it with. It’s an incredibly fun game to play and for those interested there exist many online softwares that greatly lower the monetary barrier to entry. In addition to this, the D&D starter set and essentials kit that give you all you need to start playing with your friends are both available on amazon and other websites for around $15-30. D&D is a very fun game that allows for many unique stories to be told, and I implore everyone interested to check it out.