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Why everyone should play Dungeons & Dragons

written by Antony "Tony_the_Brit" C. May 14, 2016
Facing a giant alone

The obvious reason why everyone should be playing Dungeons & Dragons together is because it’s awesome. Please allow me to elaborate on exactly what makes this game so awesome.

Dark ELves and Catacombs

I’m just going to clarify something really quick. When I say Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D, I’m not referring to any of the many great video games out there that bear the name ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ in their title. I am, in fact, talking about the epic greatness that is the role-play gaming. A game that allows you to sit in a room with some of your favorite people in the world and live great adventures together. An experience that can be mysterious and suspenseful, vicious and brutal, inspiring and beautiful, or ridiculous and corny, and also everything in between. There are worlds of fantastical creatures, amazing treasures, and powerful spells just waiting for you to grab a bag of dice and invite your friends over.

A fight breaks out in a tavern

Friends. It can be difficult sometimes acquiring these “friends”. A lot of us that proudly admit to being a geek, or a nerd, or a bit of a dork, can admit that finding things to talk about with people can feel more than a little awkward.

That guy must be sort of cool because he’s wearing an IronMan shirt, and that girl has a Star Wars tattoo. What do you say? Finding a way into a conversation with someone that will grab their attention can be terribly frustrating. However, “Have you ever played D&D?” can be a great attention-grabbing ice-breaker. It doesn’t have to be the first thing you say, but it could be.

Imagine for a moment you’re walking through the breakroom at work, or even the lunchroom at school, and hear a discussion about Game of Thrones. “Have you ever played Dungeons & Dragons?” (pause for 3 seconds or a response) “If love Game of Thrones as much as I do you’d probably love D&D”. People will inevitably have questions about what Dungeons & Dragons is, or saying things like “I don’t have a good imagination”. Do you know what’s happening right now? You having a conversation. With actual people – about something you love.

You won’t be able to convince everyone, but you may be surprised how many people are open to the idea, or at least willing to discuss it. You might begin to develop friends that don’t play, but still like hearing about the adventures you have with the ones that do play. Not everyone that plays will keep playing either. Sometimes, despite everything, someone will lose interest. That’s okay. They had fun for a while, and they might go on to find another group of players that fits their style of play better, or even find a different game. You introduced them to new ideas, and no doubt they taught you something too. They might even have introduced you to your new best friend.

Facing a giant alone

Valuable life lessons. Playing Dungeons & Dragons introduces you to several ideas that can be used to help improve your life. The most important of which, in my opinion, is that gaining experience makes you a stronger, smarter, more powerful, more charismatic or well-rounded individual. The choice is yours which path to take, as is the level of risk you’re willing to take in order to gain that experience. You can make bold moves that might ruin a friendship, bring down buildings, or kill you, without any real risk. You’re not really trying to sneak past a sleeping Minotaur while wearing full-plate armor. You’re sitting on a couch eating someone’s homemade cookies, rolling dice. If you die you can either draw up another character sheet and try again, or beg your Dungeon Master to find some cool way to bring your character back from the dead. You can practice making decisions for yourself, and talking to people, without causing any real harm or embarrassment. You may not be able to cast spells or pick locks in the real world, but you will learn how to communicate better, and that will make you feel more confident, make new friends, and be generally happier and more successful in life.

Of course, not every group of Dungeons & Dragons players is the same. The Dungeon Master, the person who tells the players what is happening in the adventure, might be deliberately harsh. They might place your characters in situations that will likely get your characters killed, forcing you to create new character sheets each time, until you figure out how to best use the strengths and weakness of the other members of your adventuring party. Alternatively, they might have a very relaxed style, allowing the characters to do more or less whatever they wish and only presenting them with challenges they know the group can handle. You will also find the players each have their own quirks, and can see how their preconceived notions will affect their decision making. The more you play, and the more groups you play with, the more you’ll come to see these tendencies in other people outside of you group, and already know how best to communicate with them.

Putting the Dragon in Dungeons & Dragons

Finding your people. I have learned that I’m happiest when surrounded by my people. People who have become my best friends. Even when I’m not with them, I’m comforted by the knowledge that they’ll be there for more, and I will be there for them. That we’ve been on amazing adventures together while eating junk food and soda in my living room. It will take time, and experience, and not more than a few different attempts to find them. Dungeons & Dragons teaches you this too. You don’t often find what you’re really looking for on the first try. There’s another task that needs to be accomplished first before you can proceed with the next part of the quest. When you’ve found your people, and have all the equipment you think you need, you can face anything together and come out stronger. There will be tragedy and loss on the way, but as long as you have each other, you can keep going. Only death can stop you.

What more could you ask for? Oh wait, that’s right! You also get to leave the real world for a few hours a month, with some amazing people, and journey to distant lands, meet fascinating new people and immerse yourself completely in a fantasy realm. Hunting down dangerous monsters and terrifying villains. Seeking out powerful artifacts and wealth beyond counting. Finding out just how to deal with a pit trap the hard way. Talking to ancient gods. Doing things that you could never hope to achieve in the real world where dragons and magic don’t exist. Then maybe, perhaps, pumped up by the feeling of victory over the Arch-Necromancer and his undead minions, you feel bold enough, entitled even, to ask your boss for that raise!

Any tabletop fans? What’s your favourite game to play with your friends? Sound off below!

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