As many of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter know, I absolutely love a bit of Dungeon and Dragons. I grew up around my parents and their friends playing the game but didn’t play until the fourth edition of the game and its ruleset was released in 2008 when I was nineteen. I completely fell in love with the game which is a mix of roleplay, dice rolling, maths (groan, I’m still bad at this part), using your imagination, puzzle solving skills, battle tactics and so much more. I’ve always had, what I consider to be quite a vivid imagination and the game helped to feed into it more and to rediscover my love of medieval era fantasy, especially in regards to reading which I hadn’t done since over reading the Hobbit as a child.
For a long while, playing games like Dungeons and Dragons was something only stereotypical “nerds” did, made fun of for years in film and literature you could almost always bet that the token uncool or “nerdy” character would be a pasty white male who lived in their mothers basement and played Dungeons and Dragons. Now, in 2019 the role-playing game is finally having its time! Millions of players across the world and gender spectrum and from all walks of life and it feels blooming fantastic if you ask me. Not only does Dungeons and Dragons bring people together and help them to explore outside of themselves and for some, from their comfort zones, I feel it’s brought a different kind of storytelling than the conventional novel back into the spotlight thanks to shows like Critical Role, High Rollers and Dice Friends as well as the magic of social media and Wizards of the Coast knowing how to use it, not to mention services like DnD Beyond that take away the, sometimes daunting, task of the paper character sheet and delivered a digital system where you can cast spells, check stats and more with a touch of your finger so it’s so much more accessible to more people.
With Dungeons and Dragons, you can be a player and let your Dungeon Master weave a story around you where the actions of you and your party will determine the story. Feel like playing a Dragonborn Barbarian from a gnome run orphanage who’s searching for the secret to immortality? Or an argumentative hill dwarf paladin who sold everything they own to attend adventuring academy? Go for it. I’ve got a few reviews of some “Choose your own adventure” style books etc coming up soon and if you enjoy those trust me this is a whole new level. Your group gets attacked by a party of goblins? Want to fight them? Great! Want to try and talk them round peacefully? Also great! Want to deceive them then shoot them in the back and steal their loot? Brilliant. This interactive storytelling that reacts to you and your choices is the reason I play video games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age but nothing beats a few friends (or even complete strangers!) sitting around a table (IRL or digital as that is an option as well now!) and going on a damned adventure. Books are great, I love them but now I’ve dabbled I know that I need my weekly dose of Dungeons and Dragons to placate my story needs.
Want a bit more control? Have great ideas for stories but have a bit more trouble executing them or physically getting them down on paper? How are you with improvisation and on the fly storytelling? Sound fun? Thrilling and terrifying perhaps? Then the role of the Dungeon Master could be the one for you! This past weekend I came up with a three and a half hour session in an afternoon purely based on a loose premise and player interaction, when asked about the layout of the keep we were in I suddenly found myself sketching this place I could see in my minds eye but would have trouble perhaps describing it in words on a page but here I was with my players interacting in it. I was blown away and those moments where you can surprise yourself as well as your players is one of my favourite things about being a DM. It’s such a freeing feeling and as someone who likes to consider those of super detailed ins and outs but tends to be unable to make a choice half of the time this forces me to make a choice on the spot and stick with it and make it good.
There is so much more to discuss about D&D but I really just wanted to focus on the storytelling aspect of it and how it brings another dimension to the entire experience and can nurture the storyteller in all of us. Do you play Dungeons and Dragons or a similar role-playing game? Do you find that kind of storytelling exciting and liberating or daunting? Let’s discuss!