Dungeons and Dragons: It not just for the basement dwellers anymore

Joshua Cunningham

Some of you may have heard of the game Dungeons and Dragons. Now before passing judgment, I’m going to ask for you to briefly suspend it and remember that Nerd and Geek culture is on the upswing. I’m going to assume many of you have lined up to see Superheros fight it out, sat through the long adventures of short people with hairy feet or witches and wizards going to school and played video games that have blown your mind. The world has begun to embrace this culture, which makes me so incredibly happy. Though we now have begun to see Dungeons and Dragons get more and more spotlight. People like Vin Diesel, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert and many other popular figures are now proclaiming their love for the game. Also with programs such as Critical role on twitch and RollPlay on YouTube, Dungeons and Dragons is accruing a giant following online. This all collates to the realisation that the time of Dungeons and Dragons has begun.

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a different experience to what most people would consider a “game”, it is not played on a screen or on a game board it is played primarily in the collective imagination of its players. This means that the usual constraints of regular video games, no longer exist. The world is literally built by your imagination and can be as endless and crazy as you want it to be. This might sound daunting but it is incredible how easy it is and it requires three easy steps. 1. Gather pencils, paper and friends 2. Prepare various snacks and beverages 3. Let the adventure begin.

The general layout of the game is around a table, each player has a sheet with your own characters information on it such as basic stats, what your equipment is, name, shirt size, etc.  The key to your experience of D&D is the character you choose to make and they can be whoever you want them to be. Your character could be a dwarf who likes to hit things, an elf with a god complex or even a giant hulking barbarian who only wants to read his books. It is who you want to be, who you want to create and it’s unbelievable the calibre of characters that are made with such ease. From here everyone around the table looks to one person….the Dungeon Master (DM). No this isn’t a latex and whip dungeon master, this is the creator and facilitator of the world that you are about to explore. The dungeon master creates the story arcs, world maps and the characters within. They then inhabit these characters and decides what will be thrown at these intrepid adventurers. This might be a strange concept to people who have not experienced D&D however I have always liked to think of the Dungeon Master as a game cartridge of sorts. Yet the capabilities of this particular cartridge are like nothing you have seen before. The people around the table are then the characters in the game, however instead of being forced down a predetermined story route laid down by the game creators, they can do whatever they want. Want to go slay a dragon….sure, drink all day in a tavern…why not, go in the complete opposite direction and begin a quest to find your long lost childhood companion which happens to be a small cricket….go for it. It’s completely up to the players, what they want to do and the responsibility of the DM to create a world and characters around it.

Which leads us to the act of role-play. Everyone has at some point in their lives acted on stage in a school play or taken a drama class. In a sense, role-play is similar to this, but instead of inhabiting a character some playwright came up with in the nineteenth century, it’s a character you made. You brought this character into the world, it is only right that you embody them. This means you react how they would react, you fight how they would fight and so on. This leads to some incredible moments around the table as you see these characters come to life in front of your eyes. It also leads to some otherwise hilarious moments as you see these fun quirky characters attempt to interact with the denizens of the world. Try convincing an innkeeper it wasn’t your fault that the barbarian of the party broke six tables, four chairs and knocked out the minstrel and you’ll know what I mean.

This might sound daunting but not to fear. D&D is rarely taken so seriously that new players feel out of place, it’s surprising how welcoming the environment can be. This derives from D&D not only being an incredible world that you can inhabit it, but similar to regular tabletop games, it is a very social event. For me personally, there is no greater experience than sitting around a table with drinks, snacks and friends letting our combined imaginations create something unique and exhilarating. Not only that but it’s a place devoid of judgment and a place that creativity and craziness is heavily encouraged.

Dungeons and Dragons is growing bigger and bigger and it’s no wonder why. It manages to foster an environment that allows for friendship, creativity, fun and a sense of adventure all at the same time. So I remind you, if you ever feel the need to explore deep dark dungeons and meet crazy characters and let your Geek flag fly, it’s but a pen and paper away.

Please note any views or opinions presented in this piece are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of the Rotaract Club of Brisbane Rivercity or Rotary International and its subsidiaries.