The game of Dungeons and Dragons certainly has come a long way since its humble origins in the mid 1970s. What began as a basement-dwelling, bully-targeting, clandestine hobby for many nerds has now become more popular than ever; thanks to podcasts, YouTube, Twitch, and other online streaming services. No longer is the game a niche passion, but a widely-popular and celebrated pastime.
If you’ve never sat at a table and pretended to be a wizard before, you may be wondering… what exactly is Dungeons and Dragons? Well, it’s complicated. D&D is a collaborative story-telling game that takes place primarily in the collective imagination of the people playing it. It’s like a wonderful combination of a book, a board game, and a video game all mashed into one. Each player assumes the role of a fantasy character belonging to a group of adventurers; think The Lord of the Rings. They work together to save villages, explore ancient catacombs, solve puzzles, and of course, kill monsters.
However, one player at the table has a special role: that of the Dungeon Master (DM). It’s the DM’s job to plan the quest and to act as both a narrator and referee during the game. They also embody any other characters in the story that are not the heroes – everyone from the shop clerk to the cave troll. A detail-oriented mind that is comfortable with improvising… that is the making of an excellent DM.
Dungeons and Dragons is such a fantastic game because it can be whatever the players want it to be. Non-stop action? Certainly! A deep and nuanced story where the players have total agency over the plot? Absolutely! D&D embraces our innate human desire for story-telling – it’s a game that celebrates togetherness and the infinite wonders of the imagination.
-Brad Walker (Theater Artist and Professional Dungeon Master)