(D. Pina is a teen librarian and Kevin Wadlow is a reference librarian at Boone County Public Library.)
Dungeons and Dragons (or D&D) has gone through 5 different versions in the time since it started out as a set of rules for wargaming in the 70s. There have been D&D board games, video games, movies, action figures, books, and even its own Saturday morning cartoon back in the 80s. If there hasn’t been a D&D breakfast cereal, that’s likely only due to the difficulty in making icosahedron shaped marshmallows. You, or someone you know, might even have watched or listened to people play D&D! Nearly two million hours of D&D have been watched since gaming groups have started to showcase their games, called liveplays, on Twitch TV. Celebrities like Stephen Colbert, Deborah Ann Woll, and Terry Crews have all appeared on various podcasts and Youtube videos playing D&D, and the list of celebrities playing the game keeps on growing. Stranger Things features the game throughout the show, which has introduced it to a new audience. Every day, curious and interested viewers venture into a world of daring deeds, dastardly dragons, and dangerous dungeons – and decide they, too, want to play!
But why should YOU be interested? What do all of these people get out of playing D&D? We are here with five reasons YOU should be playing:
REASON 1: Making friends while getting treasure!
D&D is a great way to get out there and make new friends. Together, you will solve problems, rescue the innocent, and even earn cool rewards like a talking sword or shoes with wings that make you fly. In order to accomplish these great deeds, you will have to work side-by-side (listening, compromising, and engaging) with other people at your table. You won’t be able to take down that dragon alone, but, together with your friends, you will be able to acquire riches beyond your wildest imagination. It’s the ultimate team building activity!
REASON 2: Shape the world through YOUR actions!
D&D is a collaborative storytelling experience where a chance meeting with a stranger (perhaps you!) can change the fate of the world. While there are rules to playing D&D, how a group of characters achieves a particular goal is open ended. “A group of goblins stands in the path before you. They haven’t noticed your group …yet. What do you do?” Does your character rely upon their agility to sneak around them? Does your character use their innate charm to persuade the goblins that you’re all friends here? Do you launch a fireball in their direction? All of these options are available, and all of them have consequences, which shapes the story.
REASON 3: It’s easy! (No, seriously. It is. We promise.)
The Dungeon Master (the individual who organizes the game) describes a situation and the players respond to it. That’s it. Even when dice are rolled to determine an outcome, the math is all simple addition or subtraction. Best of all, even if you’ve never played D&D before, you’re probably already familiar with how it works. If you’ve ever played any kind of video game where you made a character, equipped armor and weapons, and leveled them up through combat or achieving objectives, you owe all of that to D&D. If you haven’t played video games before either, that’s okay. There’s a good chance that you’re aware of these concepts through pop culture references.
REASON 4: Learn to be you!
As a role-playing game, D&D can help you get out of your shell. It’s rolling dice, swapping stories, and being yourself while getting to be someone else. Maybe, in real life, you’re kind of shy and not very outgoing, so talking your way out of situations, or confronting someone, may seem out of your reach. Maybe you have a hard time cooperating with others, and relying on other people doesn’t come naturally. In D&D, these aren’t limitations, they’re challenges! And, once you’ve overcome a challenge in the game, you can take what you’ve learned to real life, because you’ve experienced it for yourself. Playing D&D can help you learn to be you.
REASON 5: You’ll have a great time!
D&D not only nets you social and personal growth… it’s also FUN! While the meaning of fun is subjective, nothing quite beats being able to brag that you defeated an evil wizard instead of spending your free time as a couch potato. Most groups develop in-jokes, and sometimes you or your friends will pull something off so amazing you can’t help but smile.
Are you interested in playing yet? If so, we play D&D at the library! The Scheben Branch hosts Dungeons and Dragons for teens on select Thursdays, including July 1, 15 and 29. We hope to see you there! If you would like to DM a game, please contact D. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–D and Kevin
D. Pina is the Teen Librarian at the Scheben branch and forever DM to many friends. They enjoy coming up with weird adventures and even weirder characters!
Kevin Wadlow is 100% a real human being and definitely not three gnomes stacked on top of one another wearing a trench coat. He is an avid reader, tabletop gamer, and drinker of coffee who enjoys drawing things of strangeness along the way. When the zombie apocalypse comes, he will probably be eaten first after saying something about how he fully expected to go out like this.