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Dungeons and Dragons (or DnD as it's more commonly known) probably conjures to mind images of nerds or pre-pubescent kids huddled in their parent's basement wearing silly costumes and casting fireballs at each other, and even though this illusion is changing due to the success of streams like Critical Role, I feel compelled to introduce more people to this imaginative game and the experiences it provides. So let's get started!
10. You get full creative control over your world/character.
I'm not kidding when I say that you get full creative control over your world. It can be literally ANYTHING. As a Dungeon or Game Master, your job is to create the world that your players will play in. Your campaign can span over an entire world you've created, or maybe just a couple islands. There are also modules created specifically for DnD by Wizards of the Coast, and plenty PDF files online with other people's campaigns that you can run. I would suggest running a few pre-made campaigns before trying to create your own world, as it can be a little daunting if you don't have much experience.
As a player, you get complete control over customizing your character, but I will say that you should consult your Dungeon Master and make sure that your character isn't game breaking. Other than that, you can be just about anything! Want to be a human wizard with a pointy hat, a wooden staff, a pipe, and long gray robes (you all know where I'm going here)? Then do it! You decide you want to be an elven woman who can conjure storms and transform into animals, there's a class for that. You get so much control over your character that you just don't get with things like RPG video games, which brings me to my next point.
9. It provides a similar experience to RPG video games, but with your friends!
Don't get me wrong, I love games like Skyrim and Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but it can get pretty lonely in those massive worlds when you don't have fully interactive companions. Something I've always wished I could do is run around the beautiful, mountainous landscapes wreaking havoc with my friends. DnD and other tabletop role-playing games allow just this! When you and your friends sit down at that table, you get to run around your Game Master's world having a good time killing goblins, dragons, and more. Role-playing interactions are also made way more fun because you have multiple characters with different charisma levels which makes social encounters vary by who you're playing with.
8. There's literally nothing you can't do if your Game Master allows it.
The Game Master is a very important individual when playing tabletop role-playing games, as they control the outcomes of the dice rolls and all of the non-playable characters (including the monsters and enemies). However, the Game Master, for the most part, doesn't control what your character can do. That's up to your creative process and the dice roll. This means that if you want to haul off and punch that rude bartender in the face because that's something your character would do, then, by all means, roll those dice and cause a tavern brawl!
That's the beauty of the roleplaying game, and who knows, you might even meet a cool guard character as he's hauling you to the jailhouse!
7. It gives you a lot of creative writing practice, as a player and a Game Master.
Something about tabletops that I particularly enjoy is the story. Now I'm not saying every game you play has to be full of tons of story and plot hooks; if you're just in it for traveling, homeless, across the countryside, pillaging every village you find, that's great! I, on the other hand, like a little more substance to my campaigns from time to time.
That being said, as a Game Master your job is to create a world for your players to run around in and explore. This allows for a lot of creative writing practice. Even if you're just running a pre-made campaign many of them have moments and encounters where you're going to have to make up some descriptions or a character to get your players heading in the right direction.
6. You get to experience and imagine places just as though you were reading a book, but it's interactive.
There is some DnD software online along with miniature figures, battle mats, and even sets that Game Masters can buy to build their own environments. As cool as these things may be, they are not required for you and your friends to play the game.
For instance, my group does everything in the "theatre of the mind," or in our imaginations, so it's much like reading a book. Everyone at the table has a different idea what the forest you're in looks like, what way the wind is blowing, the shades of the leaves scattered along the cobblestone streets, etc... This makes everyone's experience at the table extremely unique, the same as anyone reading a book. The descriptions of the Game Master are going to be received differently by all the players just as an author's work is to his or her readers.
This goes for the players as well. You are in charge of making up your character, and along with your Game Master, how that particular character connects to the world and the adventure through their backstory. Whether you're a noble knight who was banished from his court due to a jealous rival framing him, or a bard seeking to become the greatest explorer and scribe the world has ever known. It is up to you to create the personal journey you want your character to go on.
5. It's good mental math practice, and no, it's really not that complicated.
Like any good game, there is failure and success. With tabletop role-playing games this is determined by dice rolls and ability modifiers that are decided by your class, race, and other factors. This combined with different numbers for weapons and magic mean a lot of quick adding in your head or on scratch paper. I promise these numbers aren't that complicated once you actually get into it and break it down step by step. Throwing all of these things at you right now might seem like a lot, but hey, they taught you addition in elementary school for a reason.
4. The dice make it so much more fun!
Dice are a staple at casinos and in other forms of gambling, but why waste your money there when you could just accidentally trip your half-elf sorcerer down a flight of stairs? That's the beauty of dice rolls in these games, the thrill. In DnD you will see a lot of twenty-sided dice, or as they are more simply portrayed, a d20. This is the dice that you will be using most for things like ability checks, attacks, and other cool scenarios.
The dice in tabletops bring a very interesting luck aspect to the game that I enjoy. It brings a real sense to the game and also a miraculous one. Maybe you're trying to sneak into a window, something your tiefling rogue has done a thousand times, but this time you roll a natural 1 and critically fail, falling from the window and alerting the guards to your presence. It could also go the other way: your halfling bard rolls a 20 and despite his incredibly awful strength score, he manages to pull the little girl from the flaming building just before the ceiling collapses.
3. Role-playing is always a good thing, even if it's just to make your friends laugh.
Another thing that my group loves to do is really get into character by making up their own voices to match their characters and also try to match their mannerisms with their character's in-game, changing their vernacular or otherwise changing their tone to add a growl to an intimidation check or a sultry voice whilst trying to seduce a fellow traveler. It is always fun and can lead to some cool or even hilarious moments when they try to act out a natural 1 roll during a social encounter. Remember, role-playing games are supposed to be fun, so be silly! Growl like an angry barbarian! Breathe heavily when your plate- armored, short-legged dwarf runs across the battlefield! Don't be afraid to play your character!
2. You can meet new people and discover new places in real life.
This, of course, depends on how you get into the world of DnD, but I can promise you that even if you are just playing with your older brother or second cousin you are probably going to meet one of their friends. I reconnected with a lot of people from my past through DnD that I thought I'd never see again just because I decided to run a campaign and they asked if they could join. Now we're really good friends, so go out there and socialize.
Another cool thing I've done thanks to picking up DnD is visited some really cool dice and card shops that I never would have known existed. One of them sells handmade dice bags, which is where I got mine. My boyfriend and I also discovered a really cool game shop that was also a cafe that had one of the best espresso beverages I've ever had (definitely in the top 10), and I would have never even thought of visiting it if I didn't play DnD.
1. It gives you and your fellow players experiences to talk or tell others about.
I love the story-telling freedom that DnD and other tabletops give to their players and their Game Masters. The number one reason I am so enamored with these games is that they allow me to escape reality for a spell in a unique and capturing way that leaves a lasting experience in my memory. I can then share these experiences and recount these memories with my group and discuss our different perceptions of the events that transpired. To me, it is this aspect of creating and sharing a story with active participation from others that makes it such an interesting and fun time.
If any of these reasons have peaked your interest enough for you to look into the wonderful world of tabletop roleplaying games, I suggest starting with DnD fifth edition as a starting ground. It, in my humble opinion, is the easiest to learn and the most commonly played so you can run down to your local card and game shop and find the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide. After you make a character or create your world with these tools you can return and hopefully join a campaign or create one of your own! Thanks for reading!