‘Dungeons and Dragons’: The world’s greatest role-playing game

Dungeons and Dragons. What comes to mind when you heart those words? Perhaps you are a veteran of the tabletop role-playing game, and just hearing those words brings back memories of your adventures in the D&D world. More likely, you have no idea what I am talking about, and maybe think Dungeons and Dragons is some kind of video game. At the very least, one phrase comes to your mind: nerd stuff.

There is a common misconception that Dungeon and Dragons is only played by socially outcast nerds with no social life. I am here to dispel that myth; it is false. It’s not a video game either. D&D was made before video games existed. Instead, D&D is what is called a ‘tabletop role-playing game.’

But what does that mean? Basically, in D&D, there are two types of players: the Dungeon Master (called ‘DM’ for short) and the players. The DM referees the game, and is sort of the god of the world he creates. In a video game, he would be the system, the thing that controls all of the monsters and non-player characters, as well as describing the environment and world that the players are in. There is typically only one DM, and everyone else is a player. 

The players each create a character from a variety of races and classes, which are jobs, and they pretend to be their character, and react how their character would react in the world that the DM describes. The best part about character creation is that you can really be anything. If I want to be a dwarven merchant who lost his parents to a dragon attack when he was four and now wants revenge, I can.

Once characters are created, they enter the world that the Dungeon Master has created. He’ll describe the environment, and the players get to choose what they want to do with the scenario he has set up. This is the real draw of the game: the freedom. You can do anything in the D&D world if you want to. If the DM says, “you are surrounded by orcs, and help is miles away,” you can respond to that situation however you want. You can attack them, try to make peace, even bribe them to let you pass.

Does this mean there are no rules? No, of course not. The way randomness is handled in D&D is through the use of exotic dice, ranging from a four sided die to a 20 sided die, also called a d20. Whenever you want to attempt something that has a chance of failing, you roll a d20 and try to get over the DC, or difficulty class. For example, if you want to arm wrestle one of the aforementioned orcs to assert your dominance, the DM might say, “Okay! Roll a strength check.” You would roll your die, and if it got higher than the DC the DM set in his mind, then you succeed, and beat the orc in arm wrestling.

But of course, not everybody is going to have equal skill in every category. A rugged barbarian would have a better chance at beating the orc in arm wrestling than a shrimp wizard would. To show this in the gameplay, everybody has six different ability scores, which represent your expertise on one of the following attributes: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Each of these scores has a modifier, a bonus you add to your d20 roll that increase your chances of passing the DC. If a barbarian, who has a +4 to strength attempts to arm wrestle the orc, then the DC is technically 4 lower for him because if he rolls 4 under the DC, his check will still work because his strength modifier increase the total of the roll to be over the DC.

I know that’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but that is just the technical stuff, for those curious about how the game works. To sum it up, you pretend to be a character in a fictional world in your imagination, and you make decisions, as in that world, and the success of those decisions is determined by your dice rolls and how good your character is in that particular field. This system is the basis for the technical part of the game, to make sure the game is fair, but the rest of it is up to you. 

I’m serious about that. Although this game is designed for the world you create to have a medieval-fantasy setting, you can make it whatever you want. If you want your story to take place in outer space, you can do that! Want to add laser guns? Simple, just make up some basic stats for it, and it’s as good as real. Remember, the stats are not what drives this game, imagination is what is. As long as you adhere to the core rules, you should be fine.

Making your own things for D&D, whether they be rules, weapons and armor, classes, races, items, or anything else, this process is called, “homebrew.” Homebrewing your own things can really make your adventure stand out. But say you don’t have time to create your own stuff, you just don’t have the free time to whip up some unique ideas. First of all, as a DM, it takes a lot of planning and effort to make a successful adventure. You’re going to want to spend a lot of your free time preparing for the next time you play if you want to get into this game.

But for those who really don’t have the time, or just want to see what other D&D players, both DMs and players, have come up with, then may I suggest www.dandwiki.com? This site is home to thousands of user generated pages, including everything from homebrew classes and races, to entire settings for your worlds. The site even has fan-made content from existing fiction, meaning you can play as people like Link from the Legend of Zelda series, Iron Man from the Marvel franchise, and even Jedi Knights from Star Wars.

Why else should you use D&D Wiki? I would say that it really helps you understand the full concept of D&D itself. By spending time on fan-made pages, you learn how to effectively make your own homebrew stuff by seeing what others are doing. You may have a concept or idea in your head, but don’t know how to implement it into the game. Chances are, you can find a rule or take inspiration from something on the Wiki and use it in your game. 

Here’s the thing: www.dandwiki.com is currently blocked by the school, meaning you can’t use it on your iPad at all, even when you are at home. Now, I know that the school has good reasons for blocking sites, and those reasons usually boil down to one of two things: they are not appropriate or they waste time. Allow me to explain why D&D wiki should not be blocked for either of these reasons.

First, the argument that this site wastes time in school. Well it’s true that I would spend a considerable amount of time on the site, both in and out of school, that doesn’t change a thing about wasted time. There are plenty of ways to waste time on your school iPad, even if the district were to block all the gaming sites in the world. Basically, using your iPad to waste time is a choice that the student makes, and blocking time wasting sites is not an incentive not to waste time.

Secondly, this site is by no means inappropriate. It’s true that Dungeons & Dragons is a generally mature game, that usually refers to the mental age required to play it effectively rather than if it has blood or not. You have to be older to play it, but that doesn’t mean every game is an edgy blood soaked battlefield. It’s up to the DM and players to agree upon if they will describe mature things in the game. There is a total ban on all foul language and mature content on D&D Wiki, if that is the issue.

So yeah, that sums up my article on Dungeons and Dragons. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, go ahead and check it out. All you really need to play is a Player’s Handbook, which you can find online for like $30. If you want to check it out, you can buy a starter pack for even cheaper, which gives you a premade adventure and premade characters for you to play. 

Also, as it turns out, the co-creator of D&D, David Lance Arneson, is a graduate from this very school! I didn’t even know that until I wrote this article. I mean, I knew the game was made by people in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but I never knew how close I really was to the creators of this game. 

If you want to find out more about David, check out this article:  https://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2019/05/david-arneson-the-co-creator-of-dungeons-dragons-developed-the-game-in-minnesota/

So, if you have a creative mind, and are feeling bored with the limited choices of video game adventures, then consider playing one of my favorite games of all time: Dungeons & Dragons.

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