I have heard of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) since I was a kid – of a nerdy pass time when a group of guys would sit down around a table and role play being heroes who fight dragons, ghosts and other evil beings. It wasn’t until we started (with the initiative from my friend and a true geek Martynas) our own campaign I realized, how precious and fascinating this game can be.
So what is D&D? In short, it is a ruleset slightly boxing in what can be done within the setting chosen by the Dungeon Master (DM). Most of the conflicts in the game are resolved by rolling dice – 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 or 20 sided (aptly named d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20, that last one being the most important). Unsurprisingly, rolling low is not a good outcome, while rolling 20 is great success.
Apart from the general rules, D&D books describe a medieval magic world, with evil creatures and monsters, deities and gods that interfere with the lives of mortals as well as what type of heroes players can become, their eating requirements, world economy, weapons they can find etc.
Say you always wanted to be a great fighter, protect the innocent from harm and get revenge on a group of bandits who murdered tens of people in your village. By using the D&D rulebooks, you then customize the character, decide on a name and then.. role play him or her. Yes, that’s right, act as much as you can; do the voice as close to one the hero could have (say you are a dwarf – a rough low voice would suit the character best).
The DM would then introduce you to whatever setting (adventure or a whole campaign) he wants – maybe he decides to invade the world with demon lords or try to resurrect an ancient dragon; perhaps the heroes find an entrance to an abandoned mine, filled with treasure (and traps); or the heroes get tasked to solve a mystery of a small haunted village.
And then the freedom begins. What would you like to do? Heroes can go anywhere, do whatever they like (of course, preferably, related to the quest they are given) and solve problems in any way they want – maybe they have a barbarian in their team, somewhat a dumb individual, whose favorite means of conflict resolution is smashing stuff with his / her axe. Or maybe a stealthy approach would work best, when an assassin would simply, before the fight begins, kill the most dangerous of foes or at least gather as much intel as he / she can. Or maybe just talk their way out – not all conflicts can and should be solved by force (much like real life).
During our main adventure, which has been going since January 2015, Martynas would be the DM; but recently, after he went on vacation, I took up the role. I had not expected how fascinating it would be to act not only as 1 character, but ALL of the characters not controlled by other players. Pretend to be a zombie, a ghost, an evil mage or anything else you can imagine. Think about how they would react in certain situations, whether just run in blindly, or be crafty and prepare an ambush. Create traps or problems the heroes would have to solve (and then see how they completely ignore the path I have led them to and do something crazy (that actually works)).
What I love about D&D is the creativity and freedom you can have while playing – unlike movies or books (completely unchangeable), games (there is no true freedom, because everything has to be predetermined in order to actually develop the game and fit a budget) – a D&D campaign will always be changing, developing, there is even no actual ending – after completing a quest heroes can take another one.
And it’s just hell of a fun time where you can laugh when something goes horribly wrong or an idea a hero has fails – or succeeds.
Final note – it’s not only your average geeks who play D&D; last autumn, in my honest opinion, the truest magical fantasy movie was released – The Last Witch Hunter, starring Vin Diesel – not the type of guy you would imagine as a geek. Yet, check the video he made in cooperation with an awesome team of Geek & Sundry:
He has played D&D for years; so if a ripped badass can enjoy roleplaying, so can anyone:)