Today we embarked on the first step of that teenage nerd right of passage. It’s a time honoured tradition where a young adult throws off the shackles of reality and embraces the land of fantasy, creating an imaginary avatar with which to navigate a brave new world. A whose strings are held in the hand of another whose transcendence from human to god is all too pronounced. A shrine to the mercy of statistics and chaos, coupled with vivid imagery. A world filled with mysterious dungeons and a bestiary including all manner of critters, from benign squirrels to fearsome dragons. It’s… well it’s D&D of course.
Dungeons and Dragons. A game I haven’t touched for years, through no lack of interest, but a lack of time and dedication. I’m sure a lot of people have ideas about what D&D actually is. Most of them honestly probably skirt correct notions. You’ll definitely have some vague concept, but in reality it’s shit tons more fun than one might expect. Or maybe I’m just squarely in the demographic. I’m no expert, I’ve played a couple of times, but Dungeons and Dragons can basically be described as such:
You get a bunch of players and a Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master goes off and creates a world on their own. This could involve maps, storylines, potential outcomes in potential locations, small villages, dungeons, anything. It’s set within a fantasy environment with an enormous roster of monsters, magical spells and arcane technology. Within those restrictions, imagination is your limit. As the Dungeon Master is creating an entire world, they decide how far they want to go. The more creative and evocative the world, the richer environment there is for players to experience. The Dungeon Master won’t usually show players the environment they’re exploring, but will keep this information hidden until players discover it. Let’s look at the players now.
The players are a bunch of adventurers experiencing the Dungeon Master’s world. They each create characters from different classes. These might be Barbarians, Druids, Bards or Clerics. There are tons more and it’s insanely customisable, but we’ll keep it simple for now. As a player, you can make your character as in depth as you want. You can form elaborate back stories and personalities. It all depends on how deeply you want to role play or act as this character. I’d assume if you were playing D&D, this idea holds some appeal. Characters might have special skills, spells or weapons to use in order to defeat enemies or accomplish tasks. That’s the basic run down of making characters. So you’ve got a Dungeon Master who’s made the world and a party of characters who reside within it. What’s next? Adventure!
Remember how I said the Dungeon Master would keep information hidden? That’s because the players need to explore to discover its secrets. D&D is not like conventional games. In its basic sense everyone has a written character sheet and uses the information on that to roll dice and find the outcome of their actions based on probability and statistics. THAT would sound boring, if it wasn’t for the role of the Dungeon Master. The DM is basically a storyteller, pulling characters through an interactive story. They assume the roles of the characters they’ve created and affect the story as it’s being created around them. As a player, decisions you make will affect how events evolve and change. You’re not drive to take a particular route, players can decide to do anything they want. How does that work? Let’s look at a scenario.
You’ve entered an antiques store in a small village. Your party is looking for information on a murdered gnome and you think the wiry elf behind the counter may have some clues. What do you do?
Well, you could.. examine your surroundings?
The walls are sturdy timber and you’re surrounded by small tables covered in dusty relics.
Did you want to talk to the owner?
He seems to sigh as you walk closer. “Yes?” he starts “what do you want?”
You decide you’re not fond of his tone. You jizz on a rusty looking teapot to your right.
TOTALLY a legit move. I mean, anything is. I don’t know what it might accomplish, but that’s for you to decide. You could have tried to persuade him to give you information, threatened him, killed him, tried to buy something (even tried haggling), started swinging a large knotted rope around and smashed everything in the store. You could’ve immediately set fire to the place, or left instantly because you didn’t like his tone. The game has combat and exciting magical items to discover. If you’ve got a great Dungeon Master they’ll sort out a compelling narrative for you guys to follow. If you’ve got an excellent party you’ll work together to try and overcome adversity and explore the recesses of someone else’s imagination.
I mean, my character is basically an Animorph with an anteater skull totem. How would I not want to play this?