Disclaimer right off the bat – This blogpost will be talking about Dungeons and Dragons, and if you have no interest in the game keep reading anyway. It’s really not as nerdy as you think, and can be one of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll ever have. So, read on and, if you like the sound of it all, give it bash with some friends.
The above disclaimers works for swingers parties as well.
There are many pastimes that get used to get scrutinized for being utterly nerdy; Magic the Gathering, watching classic Stark Trek, running Linux to name but a few. But none, and I mean none, were ever been ostracized as much as the role playing game that is Dungeons and Dragons. The people who play it were often depicted as ugly, fat nerds with greasy, limp hair and acne, hiding out in basements shunning the light. I remember being shunned for watching Doctor Who in my first year of secondary school, and more so when I mentioned it wasn’t the new series but a story from 1974.
But, then, slowly, things changed. And I don’t know why, or ever how, being a nerd is suddenly cool. Like, really cool. There are comic movies making billions of dollars on the international box office, Doctor Who has a new, cool, face and is back to being a key part of the schedule, and as people are playing video games for a living.
Huge budget television shows feature nerds, one terrible sitcom that shall not be named was even based entirely on them albeit terribly. and one in particular embraced a key granddaddy of nerd – I speak of course of the hyper-popular Stranger Things and Dungeons and Dragons, that is so key to the story that they’ve named their major monster after the game.
I’ve recently started playing Dungeons and Dragons, as I’ve never really had a chance to get my hands on it before. Except for a few sessions of Pathfinder I played with some friends back in 2015, I literally had no experience with Role playing, except playing through the Ultima games. My friends group were talking about D’n’D one day and realised that we all were interested in it and wondered what was stopping us from starting our own game. We quickly found out that the answer was ‘nothing’, and have been playing weekly ever since,as the mighty group ‘Ructatrix’.
We haven’t been playing long, at least not together as some of our party have been playing the game for years, but we’ve all learnt one thing – we adore our characters, and are loving the game. It can be frustrating, it can be heartbreaking, and you can leave annoyed at someone in your band of weary warriors, but you never stop enjoying it.
Even when my first character, a halfling ranger called Linkara Pendaryn, whom I wrote a long and deep backstory and had planned such grand things for with our DM, was killed by one demogorgon attack and a particularly bad roll of a d20 die, one of three of our group that didn’t make it. That was session where I left distraught. He was not just a character from a game for me and the other members of the team, but they were real people with developed characters and personalities, all the dead members of the group were. It hit the group so hard, that we lost two characters that we loved and adored, who were nice and calm, one of which was a young child, and a character that was a monumental knob, that we had to create a memorial post on our Facebook group.
It quickly stopped being a simple game for us, as it became suddenly became very real that these characters we lovingly created could die at any moment, and that became very obvious by the secondary characters we made – all of them bastards.
It has got to such a happy place for me that I like forward to game days more than you can believe, and leave each session buzzing and excited for what the next week will bring. It’s a sodding revelation that everyone should experience at least once – the total control over the game and how it works, your actions having complete influence on the story with no mercy if you do mess up. You’re constantly both in control and at the mercy of the world you’re playing in.
And if you can’t wait for the next week’s session, and you know I can’t, there are dozens of podcasts and blogs to keep you going, with the superb Critical Role Podcast, by Geek and Sundry, lead by the mega-talented Matt Mercer is the pick of the bunch: a group of some 8 voice actors, with the odd special guest, play through their world of the Vox Machina, with huge laughs and horrible lows, while educating you of the best way to play the game as they go. A must listen if you’re new to the game like I am, or a seasoned DM like others in my group.
I was talking about my new, nerdy hobby with some people from work this week, and they got interested in what it entailed, how it worked, and was it really as geeky as it looked in the films. When I’d answered all their questions and dozens more thereafter, they were still excited by it and wanted to know how they could get into it to, which genuinely caught me off guard.
Even in 2015 playing Pathfinder (which I always described as D’n’D when talking to people) people would look at me weird when I talked about my character and the adventures we’d been on together – and I’m so very thankful that things have changed.
I am so happy that I have discovered DnD when I have, as a great way to have a silly amount of fun with some close friends, a way to practice improvisation, and it’s given me the chance to improve my writing – my DM has allowed me the option to run a game one day, which has lead to me writing a very convoluted and Easter-egg filled Doctor Who-based oneshot.
If you are even the slightest bit interested, head online and find your local Role Play Gaming community (make sure you spell it right, or you get some fun NSFW results), and ask to join or help in starting your own game with mates. It’s never been more acceptable to be a nerd, so take advantage while you can.