June’s Muse of the Month is something that’s still a bit new to me, but has nevertheless been the source of many an exciting and inspiring experience: the fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons.
While I know many people probably wrinkle their noses at the mere mention of D&D – or worse, condemn it as witchcraft – it’s much more than slaying pretend monsters and collecting imaginary treasure. At its best, Dungeons and Dragons can be a collaborative storytelling experience for everyone playing. Each session, the Dungeon Master (or DM for short) is responsible for organizing an adventure and telling a story that focuses on the players’ characters. In turn, each player assumes the role of their character and interacts with the other players and DM in kind. In essence, the DM provides narrative thrust, prompts, and obstacles for the players to respond to, and, together, everyone moves the story forward.
As you might guess, the game works best when the players are the opportunities for developing the personality traits, ideals, and backstory for one’s character can be just about unlimited, especially if you have a DM who knows how to help tell a good story! One of my favorite things about D&D is that, when you get down to it, it’s really just a game built on cooperative storytelling. The characters and story line are what you and the other players make of them, which means that every D&D experience varies based on who’s in your group and what story they want to be a part of. Some groups would rather fight monsters and find treasure than focus on deep, interpersonal character development, and still others might be interested in becoming the fabled heroes in shining armor who are always there to save the day. There are just so many ways to play D&D!
And it’s not just about who’s sitting at the table, either. While the fantasy setting is a popular one for many players, there are plenty of ways to adapt the rules and tailor the game to feature sci-fi aliens, post-apocalyptic wastelands, futuristic cities, and just about anything else an ambitious D&D player can think of. Part of the fun is just in talking to the other players and deciding what kind of game you want to play, and how your character fits in with the rest of the group! Learning to work together and solve problems both as players and as characters is rewarding in and of itself, but a good session is an engaging and unique experience that will have everyone talking long after you’ve stopped rolling dice.
With so many different ways to experience and enjoy Dungeons and Dragons, it’s easy for a beginner to feel overwhelmed. Any newbies out there shouldn’t feel discouraged, though… overall, the D&D community is friendly and welcoming to newcomers, and there are plenty of resources online that can answer just about any question you can come up with! If you’re looking to dive right in, you might want to check the event schedule at your local board game shop or comic book store, as these places will sometimes host D&D game nights for local players. You may not find the perfect group immediately, but getting to see the game played in person is very helpful when you’re first learning how everything works.
Want to see some D&D campaigns in action, but aren’t ready to sit in on a real game? Click here to watch an episode of Critical Role on Youtube, or here to watch a session of Acquisitions Incorporated, or here to listen to the Adventure Zone podcast. (Please note that all listed campaigns feature adults using adult language, and may not be suitable for younger viewers.)
However, if you are finding yourself thinking of making a character, starting a campaign, or if you just want some more information, you can click here to check out the official Dungeons and Dragons page for new players, and here to use a quick and easy character sheet builder that keeps track of your stats and does all of the math for you. If you’d prefer to do all of that yourself, you can always download your very own Fifth Edition Character Sheet and read through a tutorial on how to fill it out yourself… or you can comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.
Good luck – and, more importantly, have fun!