Dungeons and Dragons has a complicated history. There was a time when a fair amount of people thought D&D players were satanic worshipers performing pagan rituals in somebody’s basement. The people who didn’t fall for that and still played might have ended up the target of bullies who saw the game as something that made a person weak or vulnerable.
Television shows like Community, The IT Crowd, Freaks and Geeks, and the more recent Stranger Things have brought D&D back into the public conversation. Those shows have done a pretty solid job of showing what Dungeons and Dragons can really do and the level of creativity that it can inspire.
Dungeons and Dragons was started by E. Gary Gygax back in 1974. Gygax, along with gamer Dave Arneson built the first rules. They borrowed some money from Brian Blume and with some help from Don Kaye, they founded a company called Tactical Studies Rules (T.S.R.). The first run of the original D&D books were put together by hand in Gygax’s basement. Eventually the game took off and gained a die-hard following.
The basics of the game are that a Dungeon Master (D.M.) makes up a story and a world either from a pre-written book or their own imagination. Then the players populate that world with the characters they make up and decide what to do based on whatever they want to do.
The true genius of the game is not the rule books or all the supplements of settings and monsters manuals. The best part is all the stuff in-between; the empty spaces that we fill in as players. There is no other game that captures and encourages imagination like Dungeons and Dragons because the possibilities with any given game are endless.
No matter how big the latest video game is, it will never be as big as the world built by D&D. There is nothing greater than a group of friends sitting around a table crafting a story together.
D&D has even been used as therapy to help people with social difficulties or anxiety in public situations. We all need relationships with other people and Dungeons and Dragons is literally a game that cannot be played alone. Walking around in a fictional world and standing in the shoes of an imaginary character gives many people a safe bubble to interact with other people. This is something they wouldn’t do otherwise.
Dungeons and Dragons is an exercise in teamwork that will form a bond between a group of friends unlike any other. If you enjoy games and are looking for a safe way to step outside your comfort zone, then you should give it a try if you can. Find that nerdy friend who owns way more dice than they could ever need and I bet they will know how to get you started. Just don’t forget to check for traps and never (never) split the party.