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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | Last updated: 8:30am

Dungeons & Dragons: Slay the stereotypes



In the world of gaming, there’s only one game that reigns as the undisputed king of geekdom. This game, if you haven’t already guessed, is Dungeons & Dragons. Despite that, I’m here to tell you that your pre-conceived notions are crap — D&D doesn’t deserve half the stereotypes attributed to it.

Somewhere along the line, D&D got a reputation for being a game only played in basements by pasty-faced people with no social skills and that its players dress up like wizards — hats, capes and all. This perception is wrong and nothing but a product of ignorance.

In fact, what most people think of D&D is actually the opposite. Unlike a lot of video games, it’s entirely social. You need other people to play, and the sessions can last for hours. Also, never once have I seen anyone dress up during a game, and while there are surely some players that do, it isn’t some kind of requirement.

D&D is the epitome of gaming in the sense that the possibilities are endless. The game is designed to allow players to do anything their minds can imagine. Typically players engage in fantasy adventures, slaying dragons and questing through dungeons — where do you think the name came from? — but there are variants that can change that entirely. Do you like modern or future settings better? There are rules to allow for guns. Even better, the rules are completely flexible and can be changed to suit the players’ desires.

For the multitude of people that don’t know how the game works, let me break it down for you. First, you need a group of people and a couple free hours a week.

Second, someone in the group needs to step up and be the Dungeon Master (and preferably its the most creative one in the group, because with the DM, everything is in their hands, such as creating the story, deciding the rules of the game and figuring out what challenges the rest of the group has to face).

Third, everyone else has to make his or her own character. There are multiple “classes” for everyone to choose from that all serve specific roles.

Once that’s done, there are a number of statistics that need determining, something easily decided with a couple of dice rolls. As soon as characters are made and the DM has a plan in place, you are ready to play.

The rules may seem complex but they are easy to learn, especially while playing. Most of the rules are based around the rolls of a 20-sided die that determines how well your actions go over.

(Oh, and did I forget to mention that as long as your DM can handle it, you can do anything? This is probably D&D’s second best feature — the ability to do anything you want.)

Players also don’t need anything more than a computer to play. It helps to have a physical map drawn out and models to represent the players and enemies. But the entire game can be played without anything but character information sheets with online simulators to mimic rolling the die and everything else just limited to an active imagination. With a bit of creativity, it can cost nothing to play.

Now this game isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK. It’s a pretty big time commitment. Regardless, think twice before you make fun of D&D players because you might not be that different.

Think about it: What other popular game is a dumbed down version of D&D without a story and fantastical elements? Any fantasy sports game. That’s right — think about it. In a fantasy sports game, there is a multitude of athletes (characters) that build up various statistics by gaining yards, hits, field goals, etc. Based on how good those stats are, a team gets a certain amount of points. The two aren’t that different since they both come down to the numbers.

The important thing to take away is don’t look down your nose just because someone plays D&D. It’s a game like any other — better, even. Given a chance, D&D is one great game.

— Jason Krell is a junior studying creative writing and Italian. He can be reached at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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