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A Critical Hit: Dungeons and Dragons

                                                                                       Photo Courtesy: Alyssa Faykus

A group of brave adventurers sneak through the shadowy woods. The sun is setting, but there are no crickets signaling the coming night, or the last chirps of songbirds before they go to sleep. The woods are deathly quiet. Suddenly, the eleven warrior trips over a particularly protruding root, letting out a yelp as she tumbles to the ground. The distant sound of cracking wood and heavy footsteps fill the previously silent forest. A demonic monster breaks through the trees and towers over the party, howling and baring its teeth. As it begins to charge, the adventurers draw their weapons.

This wasn’t a scene from a video game or a movie. It wasn’t even a paragraph from a fantasy novel. This was me and my friends around a coffee table on a Sunday afternoon. My friend Alyssa was the clumsy elf that gave away our position. The rest of us laughed as we each rolled a twenty-sided die to determine which of us would attack first. This is a weekly ritual for us. For a few hours, we get to escape being stressed out college students and enter the high fantasy world of the popular role playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

While Dungeons and Dragons has been in the public eye for about forty years, it always hasn’t been for the right reasons. In the 1980s the game was under heavy criticism for allegedly promoting paganism, Satanism and even suicide. However, the moral panic of the past has subsided, and the claims have been proven to be untrue. Now that nerd culture has become mainstream, D&D can be found everywhere from YouTube web series to Netflix’s Stranger Things.

If you’re looking to start playing Dungeons and Dragons, but feel overwhelmed; that’s totally normal! When I started playing I had no idea what I was doing, but was very fortunate to have an experienced player to teach me the rules. Stop by SFA’s Game Club and see if anyone there would be willing to let you sit in and watch a session. Or if you want to simply consume some table-top roleplay media, I can recommend The Adventure Zone, an actual play podcast with tons of humor and fun. Friends at the Table, another podcast with some of the best worldbuilding and plot in a podcast I have ever heard. Or if you’re more visual, I would recommend checking out Critical Role, a series on YouTube run by professional voice actors.

If D&D turns out to not be your thing, that’s okay! We are in the middle of a table-top RPG renaissance and there are tons of games online and in stores that you can learn to play. Some of my favorite table-tops that are completely different from Dungeons and Dragons and I hope to play many more.

Savannah Stewart is a creative writing major at Stephen F. Austin State University. When she's not writing you can find her playing Dungeons and Dragons or listening to a podcast. Twitter/Instagram: meadow_light
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