and Dungeons and Dragons.
By Mathew Bell.
Your calm closed eyes are pierced by a warm beam of mid afternoon light. The reaction blurs your vision as you blink to consciousness. You shake your head to remove the grogginess of your slumber and you are now able to focus on the rough wooden table surface pooled with a small puddle of drool. The chair you sit on aches your lower back and as you turn to look around, your eyes narrow with curiosity, other tables fill the space of this delicately decorated tavern but this place is unfamiliar, unsettling and bleak. How did you get here? Where are you?
A sudden thump from behind the bar echoes out into the lifeless, dusty area where you sit. This is the bait- in this moment the Dungeon Master is setting you up to begin your journey. You choose to investigate. You are slowly led to the bar, every moment explained in suspenseful detail. On the other side is another character in this situation; he has a name, a family, his own story, emotions and goals- but you don’t know them yet. He is tied up and struggling on the floor, this stranger is gagged but the muffles of panic can be heard and seen on the expression of his terrified face. But he hasn’t noticed you yet, what do you do?
In the world of Dungeons and Dragons, groups of people are guided on an imaginative adventure to glory or destruction. Defined by character decisions and dice you can experience a variation of emotions, solve the puzzle and save the girl or get it wrong and the person you were heroically or greedily determined to save is crushed by a vicious beast, splattering you and your team mates in a blanket of disgrace. Either way, you are participating in an adventure of discovery, planning, character development, problem solving and risk for reward.
Sure there’s rules, RNG and consequences, but succeeding on a difficult roll to distract a stirring crowd from witnessing your team mate maliciously poison someone’s drink, by tap dancing on a tavern table and shouting “hey everyone look at me!” is ridiculously fun, addictive and satisfying. Some players and Game Masters might take things seriously, others loosely, but it all comes down to working with everyone’s qualities or simply finding the right group. This game breaks us away from reality for a session of exploring an alternative universe and becoming a story told in future tales. Perhaps your story will be told as an uplifting speech before a glorious battle or your legend becomes a deterrent for the next generation of ambitious adventurers.