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Manticores, goblins, and dragons, oh my!: Dungeons and Dragons table top game enjoys resurgence with new generation

As supernatural and fantasy genres have enjoyed a resurgence, the tabletop role playing game, Dungeons and Dragons has (D&D) reached a level of popularity that eclipses the amount of people who played in the 70s and 80s. The game centers around imagination and allows players to create their own character whose destiny is determined by a roll of the dice. No two games are alike, keeping the game fresh and pulling new players as it propels them into a world of adventure.

“A friend roped me into playing,” junior Ben Dubois said. “I had no idea what was going to happen. I liked it enough to come back to the next meeting and the one after that and just kind of wound up playing it.”

As the game grew, players found groups both in person and online to expand their understanding of the game.

“I first heard about Dungeons and Dragons when a few people at my community theatre were playing so I decided to try,” junior Robyn Toback-Wolf said. “I played with college kids for a while and then that love for being with my friends turned into a love for playing D&D.”

The game has expanded tremendously over the past few years and the community continues to grow due to the unique features D&D has to offer. 

“D&D is kind of like a video game but you have complete control over what you do,” Robyn said. “In a video game players have the option to go do a quest and they can go mess around in the city but in D&D you don’t have to do either if players don’t want to; they can go wherever they want and do whatever they want. The DM (Dungeon Master) probably wants players to do the quest but if they hate him they don’t have to.”

The ability to make your own quest in each game gives each player the freedom to make each match their own.

“Playing D&D is not like sitting down for an evening with your family and playing monopoly or a game of UNO,” senior Quinton Ford said. “Instead it’s this very long experience. Sometimes it’s like this big story that players get to be a part of and play in while creating a character.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic altered the ability to play, the group found a way around social interation.

“Before the pandemic we would go to each other’s houses and play all the time together,” Robyn said, “but of course we have had to play over discord now, and I definitely prefer playing in person because facial expressions and movements add a lot to character and I prefer us using actual dice instead of using a bot.”

Despite the negative effects of playing over discord, the D&D community appreciates the efforts to keep the game going. 

“We play a lot of D&D online,” Ben said. “The official website has done a great job of giving resources and the community really helps with keeping the magic alive and even though you’re doing it remotely you get to kind of be together.”

The group will continue to play over discord for both safety and convenience, but they hope to transition to in person again.

“Usually, we play over discord so we all join a voice call and use a bot on discord to roll the dice,” Robyn said, “but whenever we do play in person we usually go to a friend’s house and sit at their table. We also go to Clockwork Games where they have an entire room just for people who play RPGs to go hangout.”

A major aspect of D&D is the ability to either create your own character or to lead a game as a game master.

“I have a wizard I play and he is very inquisitive about everything but he is still very fresh to the world for how smart he is,” Quinton said. “He can be pretty stupid sometimes and it is pretty funny to play off of that.”

Some players even create multiple characters and choose which fits each game best.  

“I have multiple characters, but I would say that my favorite is probably Claire Havenspeare, she is a human fighter,” Robyn said. “She uses a bow and her backstory is that her parents wanted a beautiful child so that she could marry rich. They asked a wizard to make her beautiful, the wizard did but put a curse on her that if she ever marries, she will die in her sleep. So she has to live with herself and how she is a disappointment to her parents.”

These create your own characters make for unique situations and story lines that pull players back.

“There can be really funny scenes with characters interacting and very serious moments of tension,” Quinton said. “It can be very dramatic, chaotic, and it’s really fun.” 

With different groups of players and different sets of characters, each game of D&D is completely different from the last.

“What I most enjoy about playing is that every time I play it is never going to be the same,” Robyn said. “There are so many factors that can affect a session of D&D. There is no way two sessions of D&D will ever be the same because players get to create their own character and they decide how he is going to be and how he is going to fight or even give him a funny accent.”

Since 2015 players have seen a resurgence in the game, partly due to a podcast called Critical Role that involved several famous voice actors.

“I have started to get some friends in person and online to play even if they haven’t played before,” Robyn said. “It used to be thought of as a demonic taboo but then suddenly, when 5th edition came out in 2015, a couple people started playing it then a couple more and before you know it everyone was playing it.”

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