Welcome Adventurer, to a land of great myth and legend. Large beasts roam the lands of forest and plain: dragons, wolves, large beasts of combined animals like the winged lion/scorpion dubbed the Manticore. Beasts roam the seas and sky, taking countless lives for prey and wealth. However, there are those who are brave enough to fight against these beasts for reward, and to save the innocent peoples of the overworld. Those heroes, brave but few, can grow mighty in little time if they have the skill and luck. And that hero, Adventurer, can be you.
Dungeons and Dragons is only one of many fantasy RPGs, that is, a role-playing game. A normal person with a basic day job can be an accountant by day, and by evening, he or she can turn into an adventurer, maybe a Half-Orc Barbarian or an Elven Sorcerer. Those who play have the ability to be whomever they want, and become someone else to escape the mundane, everyday life.
Dungeons and Dragons used to be only played by those in the ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ categories, as it was somewhat of a mathematical game since stats had to be taken note of and kept track of using dice and adding up a lot of numbers to do things both in and out of combat situations. D&D was also used as a sort of escape from the everyday world that a lot of people who were happy with their lives didn’t understand.
The crowd of partakers has evolved from a bunch of grown men playing in their parents’ basements or some high school kids on a random get-together, and now it’s more openly played. People have even become famous or gained more fame by putting together a Campaign and posting live feed or videos online. D&D podcasts are popular, such as The Adventure Zone and Critical Role, which consists of some famous voice actors like Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey.
Not only have the people who play this amazing fantasy game evolved, but the game of Dungeons and Dragons itself has changed immensely. It was pioneered by just a couple of guys, and since its creation in 1974, it has evolved as the players have. Different fantasy races have been created, different ways to do magic, different character classes and backgrounds for more diversity and better connection to the player’s image of their character. The most recent edition of Dungeons and Dragons is the Fifth edition published in 2014.
While it seems like a long time ago, especially for an update, there has also been a significant rise in the creation of original races, classes, and all-in-all characters, called Homebrew. Avid players have made their own races with certain specificities, and once it seems to be good for them to use under the supervision of their Game Master, they can also publish it online to get it out there for more people to use. Countless races, classes, magic spells, and more are commonly used in campaigns because of the use of Homebrew, and the ‘spice’ that it gives to a normal character to make them that much more unique and fun.
In my experience, Dungeons and Dragons has been a wonderful source of fun and escape from the real world. I’ve listened to podcasts and watched streams of people playing, and much like movies, I find myself wandering in the world that they’ve created, following their trail and almost experiencing the adventure like my own.
Escape is a large further motivation for playing and listening to Dungeons and Dragons. I could escape the reality of my life by creating a character and living in a fantasy world. Nowadays with the pandemic, it can be even more of an escape to listen to podcasts of all sorts and try and find a way to escape the more grim reality that we are experiencing these days.
Finding new ways to play during the pandemic has also surfaced, as while school has zoom classes, a lot of Game Masters can also translate their campaign to an online format. I have participated in a one-shot campaign online, and it was a new but not bad experience. There’s not quite the same atmosphere as I was used to experiencing around our usual table, but it still worked out quite well. My Game Master set up a server on Discord, a messaging platform commonly associated with gaming, for us to continue playing on and receiving updates for.
Interested in listening to campaigns online? Check out Critical Role, live Twitch on most Thursdays at https://www.twitch.tv/criticalrole, with all previous episodes on YouTube and Spotify. The Adventure Zone can also be found on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/show/6OoAQesdLgYBOyfx8ji0bZ.
If Dungeons and Dragons and comic books take your fancy, a great local place to both build up a dice or mini hoard and check out some cool comics is Mayhem Collectibles at https://www.mayhemcomics.com/, with Ames and Des Moines locations.