Diving into the world of Dungeons and Dragons
Dungeon and Dragons have been around for a long time. I’ve always been aware of it (pop culture references certainly made sure of that) and I’ve always had a vague feeling that I’d try it one day. It wasn’t until I received the D&D 5e Starter Set for my birthday this year that I seriously considered having a go.
This is what I discovered.
D&D for a Writer
Writing is a lonely thing. We all know this by now. You sit by yourself, imagine a world, breathe life into characters, and set off on the plot. Sure, fleshed out characters seem real enough to us, but this requires a certain kind of suspension of disbelief.
Dungeons and Dragons – while it is built on rules and dice rolls – is a form of improv storytelling. If you’re lucky enough to have willing friends, a session of D&D is a writing stint involving funny voices, jokes, and moments of suspense.
Someone mentioned that it is the “jazz of storytelling” (if it’s you, please give me a shout out on Twitter). A jazz musician needs a working knowledge of almost every aspect of the musical craft. This allows them to improvise in collaboration with the other players – resulting in a piece of music that is never the same. Roleplaying is just the same for a writer.
Dungeons and Dragons really is like the jazz of storytelling
As a DM (Dungeon Master), you cannot plan for every crazy decision your players make (railroading them doesn’t work either). Instead, you need a similar working knowledge of plots, characters, motivations, atmosphere, and every other aspect of a story. This is an amazingly magical thing!
All Kind of Creative
Not only has D&D tickled my writer bone, but it has also allowed me to dust the cobwebs off an old talent of mine: art. Drawing, crafting, you name it. The pen and paper nature of tabletop allows for a lot of creativity: from drawing maps to writing taunting letters from the villain.
When last have you shared a fantasy map with your friends? When last did they regard it with the pondering eye of a serious adventurer? Childhood feels, right there.
From drawing maps to writing taunting letters from the villain, D&D brings out the artist and the writer in equal measure.
This scope for creativity is certainly not limited to the DM. The players must represent their characters in some way. Some might draw their Drow Monk with a drinking problem. Others might write pages and pages of backstory (material that will aid in crafting the story world together).
Personally, I could not afford tons of miniatures and pre-drawn maps. Enter the crafter.
For the creature and status tokens, I created a grid on MSword and populated them with icons. Colour them in, cut them out, stick them on cardboard, cover them in plastic, and voilà miniatures for a game map! If you guys would like, I can add my grids to my Patreon page.
Role for Entertainment
Why aren’t we all playing D&D? Perhaps those same pop culture references cast it in a bad light: something for antisocial geeks basements. Perhaps.
Be that as it may, D&D and other roleplaying systems have seen a surge in popularity. Web shows like Dice Camera Action and Critical Role have enthralled millions of viewers. The latter certainly has me hooked – trust me, when you have some time, check it out. It certainly made me a #Critter.
The only catch with D&D for me is that you need a group of players. With busy lives and conflicting schedules, gathering a regular group can be quite a challenge (this has been the biggest challenge for me). A friendly follower on my twitter suggested that I give Roll20 a go. I’ll try it out in the next few weeks and let you know what I think.
If you have any thoughts on or experiences with this platform, please share below. It would be a great help.
I can wax lyrical all I want about this, but the only way you’ll truly understand is if you experience the magic yourself.
Have you played? Do you have amazing stories? Please share below.
I’m developing quite a passion for this. So, depending on how this is received, I may make D&D a regular feature here on Calliope’s Prisoner. Writing is my life and I love sharing my knowledge and experience – so, perhaps, I can apply this knowledge to D&D and help you craft adventures that take your PCs on amazing journeys.
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Happy RPGing, everyone!
I want to D&D
Just a post script to those who feel the urge: if you live in South Africa (like I do), Loot offers many of the source books you need to start playing.