Five Things I've Learned Playing Dungeons & Dragons

Last fall, my boyfriend convinced me to try something that I was moderately familiar with, but had never actually tried before: Dungeons & Dragons. If you’re not familiar with how it works, essentially one person, called the Dungeon Master (or DM for short), verbally guides 3 or more players, called a party, through a high fantasy roleplaying adventure. For example, the DM might say, “You’re walking down the corridor. Ahead of you is a fork in the road. Do you want to go left or right?” From there, the party could decide which way to go, and the DM will describe what they see as they proceed. 

It’s not all “left or right” though- there’s plenty of monsters to fight! People to negotiate with! Crime lords to double-cross! It’s a wild adventure, limited only by your group’s imagination, and I’m here today to share with you the five most interesting things I’ve learned in the past year. So buckle up and let me learn you a thing about D&D!


1. Creating your character can be a lengthy, but mildly therapeutic process? 


The character I play right now is a butt-kicking female fighter named Xena- yes, like the warrior princess. Why did I choose that name? Because I always wanted to be a warrior princess, so I made a character who could act like one. Her strength is higher than most of the other characters, and she carries like eight different weapons on her at any one time. My boyfriend walked me through the character creation process, and making this awesomely powerful woman out of thin air was magnificent. You don’t have to be a fighter, either- there’s a bunch of different options for the character you could make. You can use magic, or play an instrument, and have whatever personality you want. It’s been a really fun way to explore creatively!


2. Speaking of therapeutic, saying words like “I want to hit it with my sword” is catharsis in and of itself.


I don’t really feel like I need to explain this one that much. I know it’s not the same as actually attacking a giant monster with a longsword, but those opportunities don’t arise very often in real life, so we just have to take what we can get, okay?


3. You don’t actually need much skill to play!


This one surprised me, and was a large part of why I stayed away until last year! But D&D doesn’t really require that much skill. The skill really comes into play if you’re running the game as the DM, but if you’re just a party member, all you really have to do is think like your character and roll some dice. An impressively large chunk of the game is just chance. When in doubt, blame the dice for rolling poorly.


4. Sometimes, the most chaotic decisions lead to the most interesting story arcs. 


“Like, yes, everyone knows that throne is obviously cursed, so we shouldn’t sit in it, but man, don’t you just wanna see what happens?” -a party member shortly before his character almost died from sitting in aforementioned cursed throne

Really though, I’m not saying to make stupid decisions in REAL life. I’m just saying it can be fun to make odd decisions in D&D because there’s zero real world consequences. Trust me: the pure and utter hilarity/chaos in trying to run away from a sudden tidal wave of acid is so worth the stupidity it took to open the booby-trapped chest in the first place.


5. Finally: friends who adventure together stay together.


Yes, yes, it’s sappy. But it’s true! I have great friends now who will read this article and will chuckle to themselves when they read about the cursed throne or the wave of acid, because those things both actually happened in our game. It’s like I have one big, yearlong inside joke with six other people, filled with a million different mini inside jokes. No one else will understand exactly what I mean when I joke about that time a guy had to sit at the magical DMV! Those words just won’t make sense to anyone else! But my friends who play D&D with me would get it, and our friendship would be reinforced for it. I know there’s a million different ways you can bond with your friends, but I’m really glad this became one of mine.